Capricious Mushroom and Nonchalant Tributary
Man has been growing vines worldwide, yet there is a unique phenomenon that cannot be domesticated: the development of the Botrytis Cinerea mushroom, the source of sweet Sauternes wines’ noble rot.
For a balanced development of this unpredictable mushroom on ripe grapes, an alternation of humid autumnal mornings and sunny afternoons is necessary. Without the former, the mushroom cannot fully develop; and without the latter’s assistance, it transforms into common grey rot. In Sauternes, the conditions for the development of Botrytis Cinerea are ensured by the Ciron, a nonchalant tributary of the Garonne which envelops the vineyard in morning mists, as the harvest nears. The mushroom grows, creating many micro fissures in the grape’s skin, which becomes the stage for an enzymatic process which lowers the acidity of the wort and creates aromas specific to noble rot. At morning’s end, the mist leaves way to the sun which dries the grapes and interrupts the mushroom’s development. The micro cracks allow the evaporation of water contained in the grape. Its volume diminishes and the sugar and aroma concentration naturally increases. The next day, the sun will once more to leave place to morning mists…
Noble Rot and the Chateau Grillon
For the alchemy to be perfect not only do the grapes need to be impeccably ripe before the development of the Botrytis, the morning fog needs to be as intense as possible as the harvest draws closer. The château Grillon is ideally situated atop the northern extremity of the Barsac calcite plateau. This height and the soil’s texture guarantee an ideal natural drainage for the maturing of grapes. Moreover, the Ciron flows just 200m north of the château’s first parcels – in Grillon; noble rot has found its promised land!