Wine makers are constantly looking for hardy grape varietals that can produce great wines in virtually every region. Baco noir is a sturdy grape that lends itself well to some of the most demanding growing conditions. While still not as well known as its red wine counterparts merlot or pinot noir, baco noir is gaining a reputation for dependable harvests and top quality wines. Particularly suited to the Canadian wine industry, baco noir is the darling of vintners and wine drinkers alike; it is the little smoky wine that could.
Baco noir grapes
This little hybrid grape comes from the French Folle Blanche cognac grape and the Vitis Riperia grape native to North America. This blend proved hardy enough to survive the considerable challenges of growing grape vines in Canada. These vines are especially suited to growing in the Great Lakes regions of North America that are noted for having difficult heavy soil conditions and long cold winters; the bane of more delicate pinot noir grapes. Southern Ontario and Eastern Ontario, as well as Nova Scotia further a field, are providing some of the best baco noirs available.
Baco noir characteristics
Taking a few moments to notice the aromas and tastes of a typical baco noir reveal these wines wonderful characteristics. The most common notes are reminiscent of red fruits that are rich and dark – think plums, currants, and blackberries. Some baco noirs will have notes of cherry but usually not as predominant as in pinots.
Other traits include delicate aromas of cedar notes or oak. Most baco noirs are oak aged but even those that are not will have a slight oakiness. Common layered flavors include hints of chocolate and cocoa. More often than not, there will be a very slight smoky essence detected that makes one think of barbeques. Perhaps this explains the interesting observation from one Ontario wine maker who referred to baco noir as the smoky bacon wine that is perfect for perfect pizza night.
Baco noir food pairing suggestions
Baco noirs tend to have low concentrations of tannins, giving them incredible versatility when selecting dishes for pairing. All too often, a wine’s acidity will clash with tomato-based sauces or overpower the subtleties of cream sauces. But baco noir pairs beautifully with grilled meats, especially steaks and lamb, but the possibilities are endless. These wines are great with the sweet and spicy flavors of Indian curries or barbequed ribs. Heat up or order up that pizza for an impromptu weekend meal accompanied with a glass of baco noir. For an elegant ending to the meal or light entertaining baco noir matches well with a selection of aged hard cheeses (cheddar, havarti, smoked gouda) and 70 percent (or higher) dark chocolate squares.
Baco noir wines to try
Henry of Pelham in Niagara is one of Canada’s trailblazers in making Baco noir as the white wine drinkers of the 1980s shifted their tastes to reds. Baco noir grapes were easier to grow and produced quality offerings that are now staples on LCBO shelves. Their 2007 Baco Noir vintage features a slight blueberry hint but is never sweet, and it has the rich dark fruit flavors and smoky layers make this classic. Highly recommended to serve with grilled venison or other game meats.
Waupoos 2008 Baco Noir of Eastern Ontario produces a solid baco noir rich with plums and blackberries and the trademark cocoa notes. The subtle barbeque essences compliment that meat and cheese pizza or grilled hamburgers.
Sandbanks Estates Baco Noir also of Eastern Ontario features this wine as an annual favorite. The 2008 vintage stands up the test, featuring a rich deep fruit taste with plenty of blackberry flavors and some classic oaky notes. Team up with a rich cheese platter and dark chocolate; a match made in heaven.
Baco noir wines are quickly gaining a loyal following among discerning red wine drinkers looking for something with more body than a pinot noir but with enough versatility to experiment with meal pairings. As with any good wine, the ultimate enjoyment is found by sipping a glass on its own and baco noir will not disappoint. Pinot noir and merlot may soon become the runners up.