Vendange tardive is a term used in the wine industry to refer to late-harvest grapes
Vendange tardive is a term used in the wine industry to refer to late-harvest grapes. It is a French term that literally translates to « late picking. » This term is typically used when referring to sweet wines made from grapes that have been left on the vine longer than usual to ripen and concentrate their sugars.
Vendange tardive wines are often the result of favorable conditions during the growing season, such as warm and dry weather, which allows the grapes to fully mature and develop botrytis cinerea, also known as noble rot. This fungus dehydrates the grapes, concentrating their sugars and flavors.
The process of making vendange tardive wines involves carefully selecting and hand-harvesting the grapes when they reach their optimal ripeness. The grapes are then gently pressed to extract the sweet juice, which is often fermented and aged in oak barrels to develop complex flavors and aromas.
Vendange tardive wines are known for their rich, honeyed sweetness and intense flavors. They can range from medium-sweet to lusciously sweet, with notes of ripe fruits, honey, apricot, and caramel. These wines are often enjoyed as dessert wines or paired with foie gras, rich cheeses, or fruity desserts.
Notable regions that produce vendange tardive wines include Alsace in France, where it is primarily made with Gewurztraminer or Riesling grapes, and Germany, particularly the Mosel and Rheingau regions, where it is known as Spätlese.
Overall, vendange tardive wines are considered a luxury and a treat due to their complexity, rarity, and the labor-intensive process required to produce them.