Baco wpid-img_20150123_205207.jpgNoir grapes are a North American wine industry success story, but as a hybrid grape, it attracts a lot of negative attention. A hybrid of European vitis vinifera Folle Blanche from France and an unknown varietal of indigenous vitis riparia that grows widely in North America, this is a hearty grape that can weather Ontario’s harsh winters. It is also naturally resistant to grape phylloxera, the plague that destroyed most of the wine producing grapes in Europe, most notably France. This humble grape was also the subject of an extensive vine pulling program in Ontario in the 1980s, but it still finds a few loyal producers.

Baco Noir is an unloved grape. The Internet is full of hatred of this grape, and I needed to figure out why. I’m not grapist, after all. This is only one of two hybrid grapes that qualify for VQA standards within the Ontario appellation system, so producers must be on to something if they grow this grape. I’ve always noticed Henry of Pelham wines in the LCBO for the elegant packaging, but I never got around to trying one. A 750 ml bottle will set you back $14.95 at the LCBO and packs a 13% punch. The estate is located in St. Catherines, ON in the Niagara Wine Route. We enjoyed a bottle at home on a cold winter’s night. The Baco Noir 2013 is aged in American oak barrels for 6-8 months at a time, and comes sealed with a genuine cork. The vineyard’s website encourages cellaring for up to 5 years. Wine does not last that long in our home.

Appearance:  Rich, deep purple colour in the glass with thick legs.
Aroma: Sweet aroma, with hints of strawberry, peaches and a definite oak aroma.
Taste: Spicy black cherry flavours, blueberry notes. Robust and full bodied. Peppery start with a definite tartness kicking in mid-mouth.

Aftertaste: Dry finish to the wine, more tartness. Sweetness lingers on the lips.

Overall: Pleasantly surprised with this one.

Shawna O'Flaherty

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