Botrytis, Bunch Rot, Noble Rot and Wine

Ah, Botrytis, or 'Bunch Rot', that fungus which can both destroy a crop and bring it to glorious fruition. On its darker side, botrytis is grey rot, attacking vineyards that are in damp climates, spreading through entire bunches of grapes with ease.


When botrytis is handled properly, it creates the noble rot wines such as Sauternes and Tokaji - deliciouly smooth and sweet. The story is that in 1650, a priest was making wine when an attack of the Turks delayed the harvest. When they realized fungus had grown on some of the grapes, they kept those separate, wondering how they would taste. They were quite pleased with the results!

The Germans were next to follow, and then the French, where Sauternes became world famous for its delicious wines. Chateau d'Yquem is the best known creator of French Sauternes. The best grapes to create noble rot wines from include Riesling, Gewurztraminer, Semillon, Sauvignon Blanc and Chenin Blanc.

Grapes must be harvested carefully, for the proper amount of fungal growth must be present on each bunch. Often harvests are done in several sweeps, picking out the correct grapes on each pass. During pressings, it is actually the later pressings that give the best wine, because of the chemicals and sugars involved.

Wine Glossary Main Listing
B Glossary Words



All content on the WineIntro website is personally written by author and wine enthusiast Lisa Shea. WineIntro explores the delicious variety and beautiful history which makes up our world of wine! Lisa loves supporting local wineries and encouraging people to drink whatever they like. We all have different taste buds, and that makes our world wonderful. Always drink responsibly.



Facebook