Noble rot played a part in many of our top dessert wines, writes RALPH KYTE-POWELL.
Sweet white wines are a real success story of modern New Zealand wine. Kiwi winemakers have mastered the risky processes of growing, harvesting and making sweet wines, and in Cuisine’s dessert wine tasting that mastery was readily apparent. The top scoring wines were predominantly made from grapes influenced by the “noble rot,” botrytis cinerea. This mould infects ripe grapes in certain mild, humid weather conditions, transforming the fruit into something of such sought-after value that it completely belies their ugly, spoiled appearance. In the right circumstances, botrytis intensifies sugars, flavours and acidity to add luscious sweetness and complexities to the wines it produces. It’s the secret of great European sweet wines like French Sauternes and German beerenauslesen. Other highly rated wines were made from grapes that had reached super-ripe levels naturally on the vine, without botrytis, and a couple were made using freezing techniques to concentrate the juice. Whatever production techniques were used, standards are stunningly high.
World class sweet riesling from the estimable Dr. John Forrest. It has brilliant deep golden colour and delightful aromas of orange peel, mandarin, and cumquat marmalade. There’s also a light toastiness to add savoury dimension. In the mouth it’s very sweet, and it has great concentration without heaviness, leading seamlessly through a lingering aftertaste. Superb with tarte Tatin.
Made from 75% botrytised grapes, this outstanding sweet wine has fragrant lavender …2
Sweet Marlborough gewürztraminer showing plenty of botrytis influence that would make a …3
In France’s Loire Valley chenin blanc makes outstanding botrytised sweet whites. Loveblock’s …4
VT stands for the French “vendange tardive” meaning “late picking.” This is …5