Since 1984, the classification of Vendanges Tardives on wine bottles designates great sweet wines made from grapes picked when over-ripe.
This can be added to labels of Alsace or Alsace Grands Crus appellations.
The Alsace wine-growing region boasts a semi-continental climate with very little rain and remarkable sunshine during the autumn which is notably favourable for extended ripening of grapes as well as the development of noble rot. It’s also ideal for later harvesting of grape varieties such as Riesling, Muscat, Pinot Gris or Gewurztraminer d’Alsace, often several weeks after the normal harvest time when the berries are ultimately at their best.
The Vendanges Tardives must have a particularly high sugar content when harvested and can only be sold after ageing for 18 months. The substantial efforts undertaken by wine-makers were rewarded by the official recognition of Vendanges Tardives by a ministerial decree from March 1, 1984.
The development of Botritis cinerea (Noble Rot) on the berries initiates a phenomenon of evaporation which boosts the sugar and flavour concentration, producing sweet and powerful wines.