Might Be America's Most Patriotic Wine
7/01/2013 @ 10:02AM |341 views
I first met Baco Noir in a bar. (I admit, this already
sounds like a bad perfume advertisement). I was part of a large gathering of
wine and food writers/bloggers and we were busy passing around bottles of
various wines. The buzz over the wine reached me before the actual bottle did:
“Oooh, Baco Noir, where did you find it?”
“Real American wine!” “Baco Noir,
let me see that bottle!” Naturally I wanted to try what all the cool kids
seemed to like. Once the wine, made by Hudson-Chatham winery, reached my hands
a quick scan yielded two surprises. One, the wine was made in the Hudson River
Valley and two; it was made from a grapevine with a curious provenance.
Most wine,including wine made in California, is a product of
Vitis vinifera—a European grape vine import that is the source of almost 99% of
the world’s wine today. Many moons ago,
when the phylloxera louse wiped out the vineyards of Europe, botanists set to
the task of creating a super vine that would resist the pest. Nothing much came
of it and European winemakers instead chose to take American Vitis vinifera
(which had proven resistant to phylloxera) and graft it to their remaining
rootstock. Grape growing returned to normal, save for one outlier: Baco Noir, a
hybrid created by Francois Baco, a native of Southwestern France. What’s
interesting is that Baco’s hybrid contains a blend of Vitis vinifera and Vitis
riparia, which is a purely North American, not European, species. So, our
prized Baco Noir has an American parent so to speak…which just brings out the
patriot in me.
I emailed the owner of Hudson-Chatham Baco Noir, and asked
him what it was like to work with this hybrid and if he thought it was more
American than Vinifera.
He writes, “Well, I’m not sure it’s THE MOST
quintessentially American, but it definitely American. Vitis riparia is one of
the parents of the grape, and it has the widest and largest geographical range
of any of the North American Vitis species. It is present across nearly the
entire eastern half of North America and the most western portions of the Great
Plains, and has also been found in Montana, Nebraska, and North Dakota.
Regardless, I’m in love with it; Baco can be so many things. You can make it
big and brawny, and make a more Bordeaux style of wine with it if you blend it
(it’s a great blender), or you can baby it and make it into something special
on its own.”
Hudson-Chatham’s version is a silk glove with Burgundian
sensibilities—like the hybrid it’s made from it blends the verve and bounce of
America with the elegance and nuance of Europe. Carlo notes that, “Many
versions I’ve had make big dark inky wines. We don’t do that. We make a much
lighter, more Pinot Noir style. We don’t let it sit on the skins too long. We
keep it light, and really chase the bright sour cherry and raspberry flavors.
We baby it in used French oak and aim to make it in a Burgundian style. “ A
style rich with raspberries, sour cherry, lavender and earth—and some cassis
lingering on the edges, just a stunning wine.
It wouldn’t be very democratic of me to wax poetic about
this wine and leave readers hanging.
Below you’ll see where it’s sold…and of course you can always buy
online. And, given the wine’s Burgundian proclivities, Oregon producers are
getting in the game as well. I made one
more discovery about the wine that night (as if I wasn’t feeling patriotic
enough), it was corked with an American-made cork from the Nomacorc factory in
North Carolina. (insert proud American sigh here).
The French-American hybrid grape Baco noir with clusters on
the vine. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Noir can be found through:
2010 Baco Noir can be found in NYC (see below) or Check their website.
The Wine Hut