Wednesday, August 14, 2019
Hudson-Chatham Winery & Respect For Hybrids: A New Estate Blend
They would miss out on a delicious wine, all because of their shallow views concerning hybrid grapes. This Red Table Wine is a blend of four hybrid grapes but you should't allow that fact to color your opinion about this wine. Hybrids often get little respect because they are not "pure" vitis vinifera like Cabernet Sauvignon, Pinot Noir or Chardonnay. Hybrid wines are far too often judged by the nature of the grapes rather than the taste of the wine.
Vitis vinifera is the "common grape vine" and the one most used for making wine. All of the major grapes of which you are familiar are likely these types of grapes, from Tempranillo to Syrah, from Sauvignon Blanc to Pinot Blanc. Hybrids are a cross of two or more Vitis species, such as vitis vinifera and vitis labrusca. They are often created by people seeking to create a hardier grape, especially for harsher northern climates. Because they are not pure vitis vinifera, some people turn up their noses at these hybrids, refusing to believe they can produce quality wine. Drop that pretentiousness and judge these wines by their taste.
It has gotten to the point that some fans of hybrid grapes don't even want to use the term "hybrid," to avoid the prejudices that the term can spawn. I believe we should embrace the term, and don't try to hide what is being used. Instead, we need to fight the prejudice by getting these people to taste these wines, to understand the quality that can be found within them.
Sure there are poor quality wines made from hybrids, but there are plenty of poor quality wines made from vitis vinifera too. There are also some excellent wines made from these hybrids, and a wine lover would be hard pressed to guess they were hybrids simply from tasting the wine. You should approach a wine without prejudices or biases, willing to taste the wine and let it stand on its own. If you do so, you will probably find plenty of delicious wines that you might never have experienced otherwise.
In the Hudson Valley of New York, one of the most ardent advocates of hybrid grapes is Carlo DeVito. Carlo, with his wife Dominique, own the Hudson-Chatham Winery and you can read my prior article for background on the winery. The winery produces a number of different hybrid wines from grapes like Baco Noir and Chelois. I've enjoyed a number of them in the past, and I recently opened a media sample of the 2016 Hudson-Chatham Block Two Red Table Wine, sharing it with friends during a meal of grilled ribeye and sausages.
This wine is a field blend of four grapes, Baco Noir, Chambourcin, DeChaunac and Chelois, and this is their first release of this wine, made from all estate fruit. The wine was inoculated, but underwent open top fermentation for approximately 21 days. It was subsequently aged in older French barrels, for about two years, and has only a 12% ABV. When I tasted the wine, I immediately thought of Beaujolais, a light, fruity wine with subtle spice notes. Easy drinking and delicious, it was the type of wine that makes you crave a second, and third, glass. It was perfect on a fine summer day with some grilled meats. It isn't a wine to over-analyze, but one simply to drink and enjoy.
In addition, if you were blind-tasted on this wine, you'd never know hybrid grapes were used. It would certainly be an example of a wine that could change your views about hybrids. So get over yourself and stop prejudging hybrids. Drink the wine before making any judgments. Carlo certainly understands the quality that can be produced from hybrids and wine lovers should broaden their palates and enjoy his wines, including this new red blend.