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Wine Diary

Patient berry selection on Heiligenstein

October 11, 2018

While most growers are celebrating the end of harvest in great weather, we are devoting ourselves to a patience game only made possible by this continuous friendly Indian summer.

The finest Riesling grapes are carefully selected and laid into our small harvest boxes. This procedure also includes the meticulous picking (“Auslese”) of those ideally botrytized berries, shrunken to raisins by the golden Autumn: just the material that “sweet dreams” are made of – we hope for one of the best sweet wines of the vintage!

Somehow selecting noble rot reminds us of an old fairy tale: the name of “Cinderella” or “Cendrillon” as it was called in the original French version contains the latin root word “cinereus” – “resembling ashes” and also appears in the technical term for noble rot: “botrytis cinerea”. In the ancient tale the mistreated step daughter “Cinderella” had to pick up a pot of peas sprinkled into the cinder of the open hearth. In the realm of fantasy little birds came to Cinderella’s help - responding to her kind of spell: “the good into the pot, the bad into the crop!” Now, unfortunately, we have to refuse the aid of our little starlings, sparrows & Co, it would be literally counter-productive, as our birds know exactly what for now is tasting best in Kamptal!

And so, our harvest crew is patiently picking the good botrytis berries out of the precious Riesling bunches, really unusable pieces being immediately cut to the ground. Only the almost dry and shriveled parts - though not yet covered by grey fungal spores - are collected. If they do not show volatile aromas, they will slowly accumulate in a 10-liter bucket during the day. Those pails are standing close by the harvest crates for the neatly cleaned grapes (see picture). At best, after two weeks of selective picking, we hope for 2-3 small barrels of TBA, which then might well belong to the most precious gems of the famed  “wine-treasure island” Zöbinger Heiligenstein.