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August 27, 2009

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One of my favorite images is the crippled, caged pigeons Dr. Konstantin Frank kept at the winery, telling visitors their deformities were caused by consumption of hybrid grapes.
A fleck of truth, of course. High ethyl carbamate levels in hybrids were a concern. But research by NYSAES's Don Splittstoesser ended those fears.

"Leon Millet" appears to be a spelling error, much like "Gewurtztraminer", not exclusive to this fine winery.

I can claim to be the only person to have noticed a local winery happily selling one of their whites as "Seval Blanc" (sic).

Then there was the Rhone-style wine that debuted when I was living in Australia called Nine Popes, which the owner explained on the back label was the English term for Chateauneuf-du-Pape.

I must admit, I need an education in this area of hybrid grapes.

Save your time Michael, that's like a Belgian brewmaster saying I need an education in the area of Natural Light.

Keep in mind that when you use the word "hybrid" that some so-called native American varieties are hybrids, too, although not by man, but by nature, and with vinifera in their bloodline: i.e. Catawba, Isabella...

It would be more informative to refer to hybrids either as French-American hybrid, Cornell (or other) University hybrid, field hybrid, et al.

I don't know what all the fuss is about, really. You either like a wine or you don't. Why should the grape's parentage be of concern other than academic and to identify characteristics?

What am I missing?

Peter, the name Seyval Blanc was applied to separate the Seyve-Villard 5-276 from its many red and white counterpart Seyve-Villard hybrids.

Thomas, you wrote:

"I don't know what all the fuss is about, really. You either like a wine or you don't. Why should the grape's parentage be of concern other than academic and to identify characteristics? What am I missing?"

Hybrids have a reputation for being sweet wines. Certainly, if you read comments like the one posted above by jim, hybrids have a reputation for being inferior wines. Surely this is not new to you. Thus, when a trend emerges showing more wineries making hybrids in dryer styles, it's worth discussing. And in the context of the discussion about the NY Wine and Food Classic, it's timely.

Evan,

I have no idea from where a reputation for French hybrids being sweet emanates.

The premise that Vignoles is sweet is correct, as most of them are produced that way--as well as many Vidals. The balancing act required to produce Vignoles in a dry style turns some winemakers off to the effort. The acids in that grape generally are formidable. But sweet Seyval isn't a normal practice--they range from dry to semi-sweet. Same with others. I've been consuming dry versions of French-American and Cornell hybrids for 25 years, both whites and reds.

With all hybrids I have my likes and I have my dislikes, completely subjective. That is no measure of superiority or inferiority--it is a measure of aesthetics.

In the end, it's all about preference. Like Jim, I think light beer is deplorable tasting stuff, but it's not inferior to other beer--it's just deplorable tasting stuff to Jim and to me. Since many people drink it, it can't possibly be considered inferior by them. I may not agree or understand their choice, but I certainly don't feel superior to them.

This superior/inferior thing is partly responsible for wine still being regarded in the U.S. as an elitist product.

I can understand why Evan might think acid was added to our Vignoles - it certainly has an amazing amount of natural acidity. The 2008 clocks in at 11.5 g/L. No acid adjustments needed! No sir-ee.

And with the Leon Millot, we spell it with the 'ot' as far as I've ever noticed. I just rushed out and checked our tasting room notes. They cleared. Not certain where the 'et' came from, perhaps a stray misspelled reference.

Cheers, Staci

Staci,

We've really enjoyed pouring that Vignoles for friends. Very nicely done. Even in tasting Anthony Road's Vignoles TBA next to the Riesling TBA, it's clear how much natural acidity Vignoles has. I hope my rather flippant remark didn't offend you.

Thanks for clearing up the Millot mystery. Must have seen a tasting sheet misprint. Very inky wine; probably needs its own post in the future. Cheers!

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