Since 1984 the mention, Late Harvest, can be used on the wine labels issued from the Alsace vineyards.
This traditional expression means exceptional wines made from grapes that have been harvested as late as possible in the season in order to be over-ripe.
The development of Botrytis cinerea or colloquially known as “noble rot”, promotes the concentration of aromas and brings power and incomparable complexity to these soft and sweet wines.
But this wine appellation, must meet criteria that are among the toughest of all in the French AOC.
The vine must be harvested by hand; sugar addition is not permitted and must have less than 243 grams of sugar per liter if it is a Black Pinot, such as Zind – Humbrecht Clos Jebsal. For Gewurztraminer it will be less than 220 grams of sugar per liter if it’s a Riesling or a Muscat.
Late harvest wines are cut out to be aged, even for very long periods for patient wine lovers!
The 3 exceptional vintages of the century for the late harvest Pinot Gris are, 1945, 1959 and 1983. Closer to our times, the 2010 vintage will be excellent, moreover, it is a small harvest.
The preceding very good vintages are, 2005, 1999, 1994 and 1989, to be enjoyed now since they have reached maturity.