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If you’ve never heard of this variety – we like to think of Baco Noir as an in between for Pinot Noir and Cabernet. Ultimately yes – it’s delicious. Similar to Pinot Noir – but a friendly alternative.
Baco Noir has the ability to survive in harsh Winters and unpredictable climates. For this reason it is quite a robust wine, and is often aged because of its acidity; displaying a resilient and refreshing finish once lay down and ready to drink.
Heritage only to North America. Baco Noir is a light-to-medium body red wine; well known for it’s rich, dark colour with an attractive dark tint. It has rustic aromas of cherry and smoke.
Viticulture historians’ claim that the modern Canadian wine making industry owes much of its success to hybrid grapes, such as Baco Noir. Where up until the early 1950’s, Canadian wine growing regions were primarily Concord grapes that when vinified, and wines that made were a lot of the time ‘undrinkable’. It was only after growers started planting these hardy hybrids, that the wine industry started to take off.
While it does not express the distinctive foxy aromas and flavors of other Vitis riparia varieties. Its flavors are typically mixed berries and fruits such as plum and blueberry.
Today such hybrid varieties, make up the majority of North American wines. Pinot Baco is diverse too – “You can make it big and brawny, and make a more Bordeaux style of wine if you blend it (it’s a great blender). Or you can baby it and make it into something special on its own.” We’ve also seen some darker and oakier versions that lean into more rustic, savory notes.
This Forbes article from 2013 speaks to Baco Noir in the height of it’s fashion…”It may even be America’s most patriotic wine“.
“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.”
Baco Noir can be found only in Ontario and British Columbia in Canada and in New York, Michigan and Oregon in the USA.
If you are visiting Ontario make sure to try it. There are many vineyards on the way to Niagara Falls. Here’s a middle-of-the-market recommendation for a nice introduction.
Oh and did we mention Winemakers love it – as its a bit easier to grow.