Behind the bottle

I will have a “Behind the Bottle” feature in Edible Manhattan magazine on the Anthony Road Martini Reinhardt Selection 2006 Vignoles Berry Selection from the Finger Lakes. And I just got a bottle of it in the mail.

This is the first time I’ve tasted a wine made from vignoles, a not-widely planted hybrid.

From the OCW:

also known as Ravat 51, French hybrid popular in cooler wine regions in the eastern United States. It can make fresh, delicate white wine and is particularly well suited to sweet wine production. The low-yielding vine was bred by Ravat from Seibel and Pinot Noir.

Here’s the definition from Appellation America:

Popular in northeastern and midwest regions of America, this white wine-producing hybrid produces an excellent dessert wine, especially when picked late. The fruit can develop very high sugar content while acidity remains high. Vines are hardy, with moderate vigor and productivity. Bud break is late, reducing the risk of spring freeze injury. Clusters are small, very compact and very susceptible to Botrytis bunch rot in humid conditions.

I spoke to winemaker Johannes Reinhardt about the wine, and it’s made much in the same way as the beerenauslesen of his native Germany. In 2006 the grapes were left on the vine until they reached Brix levels in the 30, picked and left to macerate overnight, when they picked up another two Brix.

The sweetness is balanced by the grape’s naturally high acidity and it shows up on the palate. The wine is pale amber and clear with a white rim. Not very aromatic, it is clean with light aromas of caramelized pineapple, orange and pear and sultana (white raisin). It’s medium sweet with medium alcohol, high acid and no tannins. Medium body with medium pronounced flavors of sultana, cardamon and honey. There’s orange in there too. More like Valencia orange.

This is good quality wine, the acid makes the sweetness level, which Johannes told me was 145 grams per liter, seem to stay in the background. The fruit aromas and flavors are subtle, but would pair very well with strong cheeses or something like a crème brûlée.

2006 was the first year Johannes made a berry selection wine since he started at the winery in 2000. In that time he aslo made two dried berry selection wine, equivalent to the German trockenbeerenauslese, or TBA, which is made from grapes affected by botrytis, or the noble rot.

It all depends on the weather and his gut feeling about how the grapes will ripen. He’ll soon know which type of wine he’ll produce this year.

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