A blog devoted to exploring wines made from unusual grape varieties and/or grown in unfamiliar regions all over the world. All wines are purchased by me from shops in the Boston metro area or directly from wineries that I have visited. If a reviewed bottle is a free sample, that fact is acknowledged prior to the bottle's review. I do not receive any compensation from any of the wineries, wine shops or companies that I mention on the blog.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Vincent - Finger Lakes, New York

Today's wine is very unusual and a little bit confusing. The grape itself is called Vincent, which seems straightforward enough, except that there is also a grape called St. Vincent which is completely different from this grape and which is planted much more extensively in the US (though it isn't common by any stretch of the imagination).  St. Vincent is thought to be the result of crossing Pinot Noir with Chambourcin in Missouri in 1973.  Or it may have been brought to Missouri from Wiconsin.  I don't know and I don't really care because the grape that I'm interested in right now is regular old Vincent.

Vincent is a hybrid which, of course, means that at some point in its genetic lineage, grapes from two different species were crossed.  Vincent is actually a hybrid created by crossing two other hybrids and since I'm not interested in running down Vincent's entire genetic history, I'll just tell you that it resulted from a cross between V 370-628 and Chelois.  The "V" in the first grape stands for Vineland, which is the research station in Ontario where Vincent was created.  What happens with these breeding programs is that they create a lot of different hybrids and crossings that are not themselves suitable for release, but which have some characteristics that the breeders wish to continue to pass along.  Generally speaking, until a grape has been found to be suitable for release, they aren't officially named so when you look through the family histories of some of these crossings, you just see a lot of letters and numbers that won't mean much to you unless you have access to the lab's records.  In this case, the VIVC tells me that V 370-628 has two grapes called Lomanto and Seneca as parents.  Lomanto is another hybrid while there are four different grapes called Seneca, three of which are hybrids.  Chelois is a Seibel hybrid.

So we know that Vincent's genetic past is long and complicated and has more branches than we care to count at the moment.  We also know that the grape was created by a guy named OA Brandt at the Horticultural Research Institute of Ontario in Vineland.  The first Vincent grape was created in 1958 and was released to the public in 1967.  As you might imagine, it was bred to be resistant to cold temperatures, a trait which it certainly possesses.  Like so many other hybrids created at these research institutes, it was also bred to be very productive, a trait which must be curtailed in the vineyard in order to make quality wines.  The grape is a late ripener and has the added benefit of deep pigmentation which increases its value as a blending grape, especially in colder climates where many red grapes do not develop very deep color.

I was able to get my hands on a bottle when I recently visited the Finger Lakes region of New York.  I picked up a bottle of the 2008 vintage from Fulkerson Winery for about $10.  According to their website, they are one of only three wineries in the United States making wine from this grape.  In the glass, the wine had a deep, opaque inky core with a purple rim.  The nose was fairly aromatic with blackberry and black cherry fruit that had a bit of a stewed character to them.  There was also a little plum in there and just a touch of earthy leather.  On the palate, the wine was on the fuller side of medium with fairly high acidity and very low tannins.  There were flavors of tart blackberry, sour cherry and a bit of cranberry.  It had a kind of bitter, seedy flavor to it that reminded me of the taste that you get if you bite into the seeds of an underripe blackberry or the taste right around a cherry pit. It was very tart with a persistent bitterness to it that had a kind of metallic edge to it.  The wine was drinkable, but it wasn't particularly enjoyable and to be completely honest, it's hard for me to say whether it's the grape or the winery at fault here, but I have my suspicions.

If you've been following the blog over the past few months, you'll notice that I've not had a lot of luck with other wines from this producer.  I did do a tasting at the winery and knew what I was getting into when I purchased the bottles, but I mostly bought them because they were so unique and interesting.  Unfortunately, the finished results have not been nearly as intriguing as the initial concepts with this winery.  I do have one more bottle from them at home (a Traminette) and, ever the optimist, I'm hoping maybe the fourth time is a charm with this place.

1 comment:

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