Botrytis Noble or how to take advantage of a grape disease.
It is January, the holidays have passed and there is a date indicated in the calendar, the registration for the Vilaviniteca Tasting Contest for couples , this year the call has been such that in 30 minutes the places to compete have run out, and Manuel Lliberos, my tasting partner and I will not participate after 4 years in a row.
This event brings me as a memory the great experience that gave me tasting 2 very particular wines, one of them a Chateau d´Ychem 1997 and the one shown in the photo, a wine from the Tokaji area , this one in the 6th edition of the contest, when he already had a mobile phone with a camera.
As in the case of Ychem, both share a characteristic, the Botrytis Noble ( Botritys Cinerea , in this link you can learn a little more).
It seems difficult to put in the same combination, “botrytis” and “noble” , but the work of the cinerea that spoils the grape, in this case achieves an increase in the concentration of sugars that will give the peculiar characteristics of this wine.
And it was the Hungarians already in the 16th century who began this production, taking advantage of a harvest that cannot be missed, with manual harvesting and choosing grain by grain, which allows to achieve that virtuous sweetness with a balanced acidity that consuming one of these wines supposes. and they give it the property of a long aging. And that made it be considered by King Louis XIV “the wine of kings and king of wines”, or Tsar Peter the Great sent his army to make sure it reached St. Petersburg so that Catherine the Great could drink it. Even thinkers like Voltaire said of him “This wine invigorates every fiber of my brain, and produces deep in my soul a charming flash of intelligence and good humor” (which supports my theory that with good wine or beer is much more creative,
Tokaji wines are made mainly from 3 white varieties that survived the passage of phylloxera in 1885 which are: furmint, hasevel ü and muscat lunel . They are late-ripening varieties with high acidity that are also conducive to the development of noble botrytis, which have adapted to their environment and develop wines with long aging potential due to the aforementioned acidity. Then in the tasting they will be reflected.
One element that gives more value to this type of wine is the type of harvest, the harvest is manual, with visual inspection of the grape. This makes their harvest costly, and this is shown by the prices of these wines, which are perfectly around € 40-50 for a 0.50L bottle, depending on the type and concentration.
The bottle in the first image is more difficult to find in a store in the city of Castellón, but we have at hand one of the most representative wineries in the area, Oremus-Tokajy and behind this winery is the Álvarez de Vega family again Sicily (link to Tokajy-Oremus page), Elaborating from dry white wines to eszencia. In the case of the Aszú, they are measured in puttonyos , which are the 25kg baskets of botrytised grapes used to make it, the more baskets, the more sugar and the sweeter and more acidic the wine will be. It is measured from 3 to 6 puttonyos. In the case of being made exclusively with this grape, we already find the Aszú Eszencia.
Recently and to be able to write this article with more knowledge, I got an Oremus 5 puttonyos 2005 , which clearly shows this botrytis with aromas of honey, compote fruits, ripe peach or quince, in the mouth you can see the acidity that will allow it to age during (according to the texts) until 2050 and gives it the freshness that compensates for that also marked sweetness.
TASTING: Ideal to accompany the foie that we have to open this bottle, although to my taste, perhaps less sugar would have paired better, so a 3 puttonyos would have been enough.
It would also have gone very well with strong cheeses like Stilton or a good cabrales.
Let’s toast and health !!!.