French translation “pourriture noble”. ROT is TOR spelled backwards

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This is one of the hardest wines in the world to make, and one of the most labor intensive and expensive to produce. It is a gamble from the beginning to the end. Only perfect weather conditions allow the Noble ROT to occur in the vineyard and then very experienced winemaking is required to craft the finished product. We only produced this wine in 2006, 2008, 2010, 2014 and 2018.

Our Noble ROT is made on the model of Chateau d’Yquem. These are unbelievably sweet and unctuous wines that push all the buttons on anyone’s palate. We are brazening enough to say that our Noble ROT can share the d’Yquem stage in every way. It is made in the vineyard. The varietals are Semillon and Sauvignon Blanc, all hand-picked, barrel-fermented, and then aged in small barrels. We made only two barrels in 2018.

So what is Noble ROT? It is the perfect attack on wine grapes by the benevolent botrytis cinerea. If the weather is not perfect, this botrytis turns less than perfect, and it is impossible to harvest the grapes. Often a whole year’s crop is left hanging if the weather does not encourage good botrytis. If perfect, the grapes must be picked by hand, often grape-by-grape to reach elevated levels of sugar. In 2018, they were 39.8 brix.

Botrytis spores are present in many vineyards as part of the micro flora. Spores can prey on ripe grapes when the weather turns humid and warm near harvest. Grape clusters are then punctured by hundreds of botrytis spores, which leads to severe water loss, dehydration, and sugar concentration. Acids along with sugars are metabolized, glycerol magnified, flavors intensified in combinations not possible without botrytis. In the end the cluster looks like a soft raisin covered with a brown fuzzy blanket, requiring the vintner to often pick berry-by-berry to select the right grapes.

Noble ROT – French translation is pourriture noble. ROT is TOR spelled backwards, or read in a mirror, or through a beautiful bottle of luscious, sweet nectar. It is magic in a bottle.

These are unbelievably luscious and unctuous wines that push all the buttons on anyone’s palate.

Winemaker’s Note

The 2018 extended growing season allowed us to curate a wine that we only entertained a handful of times over the last two decades. This vintage of Noble ROT creates a paradigm between the beloved region of Sauternes and the Napa Valley we call home. Generous notes of dried apricot, tangerine, and orange blossom are complimented by heavy honey and candied ginger. The palate is plentiful yet balanced, with layers of crème brûlée, stone fruit, lemon verbena and a silky texture. The finish creates dichotomy between sweetness and freshness, that leaves you wanting more.