Monday, November 12, 2012

Modern varieties of winegrapes continue to make inroads

The rise of modern varieties of winegrapes* continues:

Here is a good article describing how much a panel of wine lovers in California liked wines made from Marquette grapes in many northern states (Marquette was developed to prosper in cold climates).

The list of modern variety winegrapes that make good wine is growing. Each grape performs differently in different soils and climates, but for the PacNW, such a list might include (but is by no means exclusive--there are others, too):

Whites: Cayuga (and this one may be head and shoulders above the others), Interlaken, Traminette (if it ripens quickly enough), Esprit, Briana, Jupiter, New York Muscat (the last two make Muscat-style whites)

Reds: Leon Millot, Marechal Foch, Regent, Cascade, Burdin 6055, Noiret

1. These are crosses of Vitis vinifera (French winegrapes, which have great flavor for wine) and American grape species (which have more disease resistance and which ripen earlier). It is old-fashioned crossing--putting the pollen of one grape on the uva (egg) of another, and a few years later you find out what you've got (because it takes a few years for a grape to mature enough to bear fruit). Sometimes (including lots of additional crossings--each of which takes more years) a terrific new variety is developed.

2. Some call the modern varieties "hybrids," but that term  is perjorative to some people, as "hybrid" is a synonym for "bastard," "crossbreed" and "mongrel." Hey, we are all mongrels but the term is negative.

3. Why the push for modern varieties of winegrapes? Because they are so "green." They don't require fungal sprays (unlike vinifera, which require so much spray that Europe is considering regulating their spraying. Even if the grower uses organic sprays, it still requires a lot of tractor fuel to apply all those sprays). They ripen earlier, which is an advantage in the PacNorwest (it's more likely to beat the Fall rains and it can even sometimes avoid the predations of birds, without having to install nets).

4. I choose not to grow Marquette because it has very high acid and thus is much more work in the winery. Ditto with Baco Noir.

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