Hudson River Valley Wineries

This blog is dedicated to news, events, profiles and reviews of fine food and wine in the Hudson River Valley. We especially feature and spotlight the burgeoning wineries of the Hudson River Region. We accept and will relay information about releases, events, festivals and any toher happening related to food and wine in the Hudson River Valley. Send pertitnent information to

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Carlo DeVito is a long time wine lover, and author of books and magazine articles. He is the author of Wineries of the East Coast. He has traveled to wine regions in California, Canada, up and down the east coast, France, Spain and Chile. He has been a published executive for more than 20 years. He shepherded the wine book program of Wine Spectator as well as worked with Kevin Zraly, Oz Clarke, Matt Kramer, Tom Stevenson, Evan Dawson, Greg Moore, Howard Goldberg, and many other wine writers. He has also published Salvatore Calabrese, Jim Meehan, Clay Risen, and Paul Knorr. Mr. DeVito is the inventor of the mini-kit which has sold more than 100,000,000 copies world wide. He has also publisher such writers as Stephen Hawking, E. O Wilson, Philip Caputo, Gilbert King, James McPherson, John and Mary Gribbin, Thomas Hoving, David Margolick, Arthur M. Schlesinger Jr., John Edgar Wideman, Stanley Crouch, Dan Rather, Dee Brown, Susie Bright, and Eleanor Clift. He is also the owner of Hudson-Chatham Winery, co-founder of the Hudson Berkshire Beverage Trail, and president of the Hudson Valley Wine Country.

Sunday, March 01, 2015

The Nittany Epicurean - Well Made Baco Does Exist - Hudson-Chatham Baco Noir Old Vines 2011

Well-Made Baco Noir Does Exist
Nittany Epicurean
Michael Chelus
I'm a wine lover. That's no surprise to any of you. I have my favorites, but I'm always open to new varietals and blends. Some are favorites that I go to time and time again. Others rubbed me the wrong way one or more times and I tend not to return, for better or for worse. 

One such varietal of the latter category is baco noir - a French-American hybrid varietal commonly seen in the Northeast United States (especially in New York) and Canada. It's usually light to medium-bodied, offers good acidity and has lots of ripe red fruit notes. Unfortunately, I've never had a baco noir that I really liked. I've had several from New York and more from Ontario over the years and I've never been fond of them. The color was frequently dull in the ones I've had over the years. The wine often contained excessive acidity and lacked any balance. Most of the baco noir I've had in the past ended up being lackluster and very thin. While it wasn't awful, I was not convinced that the grape could make a good wine.

For some time, I've had an ongoing discussion about whether baco noir can, indeed, make a good wine with Duncan Ross, president and co-owner of Arrowhead Spring Vineyards in Lockport, New York. Duncan has told me time and time again that when grown properly and made with a deft touch, baco noir can turn into well-made, complex, interesting wine. No one said it's going to compete with world class pinot noir, but it can be a high quality wine that shows off what a cool climate has to offer.

Last weekend, Duncan poured several examples of baco noir to prove his point. This one particularly supported his point:

2011 Hudson-Chatham Old Vines Baco Noir - Masson Place Vineyard - Pulteney Farm (Ghent, New York).

This wine has received quite a bit of acclaim, including from one source that I'm admittedly biased toward as a contributor - the New York Cork Report. The grapes are from vines that are over 60 years old. The wine is handmade and aged in French oak. It is unfined and unfiltered.

This baco noir had a "typical baco" nose, as described by Jim Baker of Chateau Niagara in Newfane, New York. I then pushed Jim to describe that further and use few words. He narrowed it down to a very precise and accurate description - red currants. Jim was spot on! The nose had a hefty dose of juicy, ripe red fruit, especially red currant. The wine had great structure and an oak backbone. It was well balanced and offered ample acidity that would lend it incredibly well to food pairing, especially with things like roasted or grilled pork and lamb. This was much better than the poorly-made versions I had before. I was converted - baco noir can made good wine.
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