Also called noble rot, this beneficial mold develops on grapes under certain environmental conditions. The mold causes the grape to shrivel, concentrating and intensifying both sugar and flavor. Most winemakers are exhilarated when noble rot descends on their grapes because it gives them fruit from which to make very elegant, intensely flavored dessert wines. In California these wines are usually referred to as late harvest wines and in France, where noble rot is called pourriture noble, they're known as sauternes. In Germany noble rot is called Edelfaule, and German winemakers are experts at producing a large variety of elegant botrytis-infected wines such as trockenbeerenauslese and some beerenausleses.
From The Food Lover's Companion, Fourth edition by Sharon Tyler Herbst and Ron Herbst. Copyright © 2007, 2001, 1995, 1990 by Barron's Educational Series, Inc.