This isn't supposed to be a column on enology, but it's important to note that Noble Rot has shown up in Northern Virginia, to the delight of local enologists.

Translated, that means a fungus so rare and desired that it is honored with capital letters has gotten onto the grapevines, and it should affect the fruit and produce some great sweet wine--if, unlike the writer, you're into sweet wine.

Enology, by the way, is the science or craft of winemaking, and enologists are the winemakers. Metro Notes got into the subject a week ago today with a column on the unresolved dispute between the vineyardists of the two Shenandoah Valleys, Virginia's and California's, both seeking exclusive use of the name for their wines.

Back to the Noble Rot. Archie Smith III, vice president of his family-owned Meredyth Vineyards at Middleburg, said it was found on Aurora grapes when the harvest began Wednesday.

"Naturally, we're excited," said Smith. Noble Rot, otherwise known as botrytis cinerea, concentrates flavors by drying and shrinking grapes into something that look like fuzzy raisins, making the resulting wine sweet and rich. "That's what makes it possible for wineries in Bordeaux . . . to make French dessert wines that sell at fantastic prices," Smith said.