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gjgyjtyjtyBotrytis cinerea is a fungus that affects many wine grapes and causes them to shrivel into moldy raisins. The fungus responds to the humidity and warmth in the climate and attacks thegrapes. As the mold penetrates the skin its spores begin to germinate, causing the water inside to evaporate and the grape to dehydrate. With the absence of water, the sugar becomes more concentrated andthe botrytis begins to alter the acidity within the grape. Typically botrytis infection begins to take place in late September and can last till late October. In some years desiccation may occurleaving tiny amount of sweet liquor like juice within the grape.[1]
The infection rate of botrytis is sporadic with vines and bunches achieving full rottenness at different times. This requires harvestworkers to have to go through the vineyards several times between October and November to hand-pick the full rotted grapes. In some occasions, the usable grapes from a single vine may only produce enoughjuice for a single glass.[2]
[edit]Sauternes
Main article: Sauternes (wine)
Sauternes, such as Château d'Yquem, are produced in the Sauternes region (including Barsac) south of Bordeaux. They aremade from botrytis infected Semillon and Sauvignon blanc grapes. Semillon is preferred due to the grape's thin skin and susceptibility to the botrytis which gives the grape a high sugar content. Thesewines are noted for the balance that complements the honeyed sweetness.[1]
During fermentation, the juice is transferred into oak wine barrels where the high sugar concentration of must prolongs thefermentation time which can last up to a year. When the alcohol level kills off all present yeasts, the fermentation stops leaving the residual sugar at levels between 8 to 12% and alcohol levelsaround 14%.[2]
After fermentation, the wine is placed in an aging barrel for two to three years before it is bottled where it will continue aging. A Sauterne from a reputable estate can bottle age for...
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