If you have been visiting the Octavian Vaults site for a while, then you will no doubt have been enjoying our great wine features on everything from the best way to invest, to storage advice. Today, we look to focus on an area that has accumulated some myth over the years, that of noble rot. 

This is something that due to its somewhat unsavoury name, has confused wine novices and investors alike. We have therefore produced this guide to noble rot and how it affects wine flavour in order to dispel any of these myths and show you how it can indeed be very positive for some types of wine.

So, What Is Noble Rot

Firstly, let’s take a look at just what noble rot is.

Believe it or not, noble rot is actually a fungus that loves wine grapes. Many do however refer to it as a beneficial fungus, due to the properties and impact we are about to discuss. The posh name for this fungus is Botrytis Cinerea, hence the fact that you may hear experts refer to botrytis wine. This is basically noble rot wine or any type that has been affected by this ingenious form of fungi. 

However, do not be fooled into thinking noble rot is always a good thing. If you are looking for the unique flavour that the fungus provides, then great; it does need to be harnessed with caution though. 

If the weather is particularly wet and the noble rot is allowed to set in too much, then this can destroy wine crops irreparably. Due to the fact that grapes tend to become infected with botrytis when they are ripe, this obviously needs to be closely monitored and controlled, something that many wine experts have taken decades, even generations to perfect.

Noble rot only officially takes place when the grapes are then exposed to drier conditions and start to look more “raisined”, it is then that they become perfect for creating the fine, sweet desert wines that you may have enjoyed in some of the more sophisticated restaurants around the word, or perhaps as an investment option. 

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How Does This Happen?

A common question about noble rot, is just how this process creates such a different and increasingly popular wine.

It is really all about what happens when these grapes start to look more like raisins, as already discussed. This takes place due to the fact that the grapes have started to lose their moisture, whilst keeping all of the sugar content they had before the process began. This creates the taste that you will only find in these desert wines or super sweet table wines.

This does create a small headache for vineyard owners and producers though, as the loss of water means that more grapes are required to make good amounts of the wine; one of the reason your desert wines tend to come is smaller bottles.

Noble rot is actually a form of Ascomycota, one of the most popular types of fungus. Other ascomycotas contribute to the production of things such as Blue Stilton Cheese and also in nasty afflictions such as Athlete’s Foot. Fruits such as Strawberries also form this type of mould, which was famously used to create the first penicillin.

So, as you can see the fungus can be a foe or a friend, depending largely on how it is cultivated and managed. Either way, its properties are quite genius.

What Else Is Common In Botrytis Wine?

Another result of the aforementioned process is that desert wines or any other product of noble rot wines, is a higher alcohol content. These wines are essentially far more concentrated than your Bordeaux or Merlot and this is what creates the unmistakable flavour, with this comes a higher ABV. 

The increased amount of phenylacetaldehyde, an aroma-delivering compound, creates this affect and is one of the key reasons for the process being so successful among wine expert and consumers.

The message then is rather simple regarding noble rot and botrytis wines, it is something to embrace and not be scared of as a wine producer or investor. Provided it is approached with the correct level of expertise and care and despite its rather scary name, the fungus can help to make some of the best wines in the world.

If you enjoyed this article from Octavian Vaults, then be sure to take a good look around the rest of our news section, where you can find advice pieces on everything the fine wine investor needs. Alternatively, if you are an investor who needs to store some fine wine in the finest facilities in the UK, then just make an enquiry through this site, or give us a call on 01255 818 714.