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Posts Tagged ‘Botrytis cineria’

Sticky Chocolate Pudding & 2009 Fleur du Cap Noble Late Harvest

Preparation Time: 30 minutes Baking Time: 40 minutes Yield: 4-6

A yummy 'personal' chocolate pud with a sprinkling of castor sugar

Those of you who follow this column with any regularity will know that I am inclined to steer clear of baking, not because I don’t like to bake, but because I find it intimidating. It is a most precise undertaking, where small deviations in quantity or method can have catastrophic results.

Accordingly, I am inclined to find a recipe that works well and stick to it, rather than to “tweak” as I am so fond of doing in other branches of the culinary arts.

Dear Wife Eppie’s Gran, Mary Robertson, hailed from Orkney (oft incorrectly referred to as “The Orkneys”) just north of the Scottish mainland. Interestingly, when Orcadians speak of “The Mainland”, they refer to the largest island in the archipelago, “Mainland Island”, whereas the Scottish mainland is referred to as Scotland. But it’s perhaps understandable, considering that Orkney was only annexed to the Scottish Crown in 1472, having been a Norwegian possession since 875. Read more…

Out of the rot comes forth sweetness

June 23, 2010 1 comment

Die Bergkelder's 2009 Fleur du Cap Noble Late Harvest, the first vintage to be made from Chenin Blanc

Pieter Badenhorst of Fleur du Cap is the first winemaker I’ve listened to who actually explains the intricacies, pitfalls and barnacles inherent in making a noble late harvest (NLH) or noble rot wine.

Most all other explanations I’ve heard are glib and misleading, as if this benign fungus invades the vineyard and gently turns the grapes into super-sweet raisins, while the viticulturist and winemaker sit back with arms folded waiting for the right moment to harvest.

Nothing could be further from the truth. The fungus Botrytis cinerea infects grapes during the flowering stage but it manifests much later during the ripening stage. Intense humidity followed by longer dry warm periods at just the right time, results in noble rot (édelfaule in German), whereas sustained humidity with no warm periods of relieving dryness, leads to grey rot, The former is divine the latter, disastrous.

The most prevalent legend about the origins of botrytised wines says that the Reisling producers of Schloss Johannisberg (Geisenheim in the Rheingau region, not Jhb SA!) had to wait for the permission of the estate owner, Heinrich von Bibra, Bishop of Fulda, to commence the harvest. In 1775, the abbey messenger was waylaid en route by brigands and the ensuing delay of three weeks allowed the Botriytis to take hold. The shrivelled, raisin-like grapes were considered worthless, and given to the local peasants, who made a surprisingly good sweet wine, the very first “late harvest” or as it became known, Spatlëse. Read more…