Care to dive into some mold-infected wine? We did – and it tastes glorious.
But It Is A Noble Rot…
A great deal of a winemaker’s energy is spent trying to prevent maladies in the vineyard. Insects, birds and other animals, diseases and weather can wreak havoc with the growing vines.
Care must be taken to avoid molds that can ruin a crop. There is one case in which winemakers pray for mold – botrytis cinerea.
The Friendly Fungus
French legend has it that a chateau owner in France’s Sauternes region told his workers not to harvest his grapes until after he returned from a trip. By the time he returned, the grapes were infected with a gray mold. Despite their disgusting appearance, they were made into wine. The wine was so outstanding that the owner declared the vineyard afterward would only be picked after the fungus arrived.
Conditions must be just right for the botrytis, or noble rot, to occur. The botrytis dehydrates the grape, leaving a more concentrated sweet juice behind which is perfect for dessert wines.
In the Burgenland region of Austria, the abundance of humidity is naturally created by Lake Neusiedl and a countless number of smaller shallow lakes around the vineyards. The Muenzenrider family has been involved in winegrowing for generations. There 20 hectare estate includes a variety of grapes including Scheurebe, also known as Sämling 88 in Austria and Germany.
Your Assignment: Mold
As part of a recent assignment for my Certified Specialist of Wine class, I was to find and taste a botrycized wine. The Trockenbeerenauslese, or TBA, was the choice for me after seeing the $90 price tag for Sauternes.
I was able to find a 2004 vintage on clearance at Churchill’s. Luckily the high sugar content of the wine means the potential for aging is very long.
In the glass this TBA is a deep amber color with the wine being somewhat opaque. A wine like this certainly must be savored first with your nose to enjoy the bouquet of swirling sugary smells.
On the palate the wine is medium to full in body. It is very smooth and thick compared to a still wine. The high residual sugar is balanced by the natural acidity of the Sämling grape. The result is a pleasant flavor profile of dried fruit and honey with a nutty aspect. This may be a perfect wine to accompany pecan pie!
If you are seeking a rare, sweet treat an Austrian or German TBA may be just what you need. The cost is much lower than the celebrated French dessert wines and certainly more of a bargain than traditional ice wine. Unlike what may be in your refrigerator, this mold is quite tasty!