As we mentioned in the last article, hybrid wines are one of New York’s greatest assets in terms of the global wine industry. A key player in the hybrid community is Baco Noir, which happens to live in upstate New York as well. It was created by Francois Baco in the late 1800s by crossing a French variety of vitis vinifera with an unknown, North American vitis riparia.
It was brought to North America in 1951 and took hold in the cooler regions like parts of Canada and the northeastern region of the United States, particularly New York. Many believe it was widely adopted because of its resistance to phylloxera, the tiny root-killing bugs that can infest and destroy a vineyard.
Baco Noir is a red grape that, unlike most of its red peers, has a reddish-colored pulp rather than white, and it can be used for many different wines. It’s great for the robust, intense reds like Bordeaux-style blends and Cabernet Sauvignons but can also be used for delicate rosés. It presents a robust palate of rich fruits and a high acid level, so like a classic Pinot Noir, it’s great with hearty meats and vegetables.
The unique factor in Baco Noir that truly makes it special is that half of its lineage comes from America, which is pretty rare. The vitis riparia part of the gene pool has the largest geographical range of any indigenous North American grape and can be found across most of the eastern half of the continent. Its tendency towards cold climates is what help it not only surviv, but thrive, in places like Hudson Valley, New York, where it is a signature grape.
Many have considered Baco Noir to be a poor quality wine and not worth the attention of upscale vineyards or consumers but there are many wineries in upstate New York and Canada are working to improve the reputation of this hybrid beauty.
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