Noble Rot – Botrytis cinerea

  Noble rot refers to the benevolent form of the Botrytis cinerea fungus, also commonly known as botrytis bunch rot.  Infection of mature wine grapes in ideal conditions initiates a cascade of chemical transformations in the grapes, resulting in concentration of the sugars, producing a highly prized sweet wine.  Though the processes that occur upon infection are understood at a rigorous scientific level, the intricacies of cultivating noble rot remains an  art.

This blog began when I became a Thomas J. Watson  fellow in 2011-2012, after graduating from Haverford College with a B.A. in Chemistry.  During that year I  travelled to wine regions across the globe (hence the route) in order to explore the interface of science and art in winemaking.  Though science and art are often considered oppositional, the boundaries between science and art frequently are nebulous.  This lack of firm delineation is particularly apparent in winemaking, which is often considered to fall into both categories. My aim for the project was gain a deeper understanding of the complex relationship between science and art in this field.

The Watson year ended, but my adventure continues.  The noble route continues indeterminately.  I have a M.Sc. from Master International Vintage program run through the Ecole Supérieure d’Agriculture in Angers, France.  During the two years of this Erasmus Mundus masters program, I spent one semester each in France, Italy, and Spain, and finished with a 6-month internship in Dijon, Burgundy.  The broadly-focused program covered marketing, viticulture, and enology and opened up a wide variety of career paths.

I am currently working at a winery in the AOC Ventoux, at the foot of Mount Ventoux sandwiched between the southern Rhône and Provence.

–Alissa Aron

twitter: @nobleroute

alissa (at) nobleroute (dot) com

[all thoughts and photos, unless otherwise indicated, belong to me.  Please respect this fact and ask my permission if you would like to use them!]

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