Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Baco Noir: An unsung gem among New York wines

Ready for this week's harvest.
Ready for this week's harvest at the Hudson-Chatham Winery.
If you haven't yet treated yourself to a well-made Baco Noir wine, the accompanying image of the about-to-be-picked grapes at the Hudson-Chatham Winery may entice you. They are at peak ripeness and are the target of anxious working hands this week.

Carlo DeVito and his crew at the Columbia County operation make a very nice baco noir, perhaps the best in the Hudson Valley. While it is not among the most popular of wines, Baco Noir has a certain uniqueness about it that should please the more adventuresome wine drinkers, particularly those looking for a less perfumy alternative to Pinot Noir.

The grape is a hybrid red wine grape: a cross of of Vitis vinifera var -- the common grape vine, the French wine grape Folle blanche, and an unknown variety of Vitis riparia (commonly known as River Bank Grape or Frost Grape), a native American climber.

Baco Noir’s origins can be traced to 1894 when French grape breeder Fran├žois Baco was experimenting with crosses to make disease-resistant vines that retained their French character. It has a growth preference for cooler climates, thus its slowly growing popularity in Upstate New York. It's a dark-fruit flavored wine -- think plums, blackberries and blueberries -- with a nice acidity.

Hudson-Chatham Winery will be the site of a Saturday, October 18, event titled "Baco-nalia!" that is planned as an annual Baco Noir celebration. On that date, all five of the winery's Baco Noirs will be available for the first time. They are: Baco Noir Casscles Vineyard Reseve, its classic; Baco Noir Old Vines, from 60-year-old vines; Field Stone Baco Noir, aged with stone from the facility's own fields and local oak, and two new wines -– Baco Noir Block 3 North Creek Vineyard, an estate wine, and Baco Noir Middlehope from a small 35-year-old vineyard recently revived in Middle Hope, NY, by Steve Casscles and Hudson-Chatham Winery.

There will be a 1 p.m. vertical tasting of older vintages of all the Baco Noirs, then a Baco Noir wine dinner with all five wines. Advance reservations are necessary for both, and can be made online or by phone.

Hudson-Chatham Winery is located at 1900 Route 66 in Ghent, about midway between its two namesake towns. Phone: 392-9463.

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