Harvested when ripe and strung to dry" Espelette peppers are then "baked" at a very low temperature for a few hours to increase color and aroma. When their moisture falls lower than 12%, the peppers are processed. It has a lovely rich flavor with heat that is uplifting, but not intrusive. Due to its cultivation ONLY in the Basque region of France, it has an unique character. In 1999, it was granted AOC status giving it the same protection as, say Champagne sparkling wine. French rate it as a 4 on the 1-10 scale.