Friday, October 1, 2010

L'Acadie Blanc grape and wine

This is truely an amazing grape. It was created in Canada in 1953 by O. Bradt at the horticultural research station at Vineland Ontario. In the early days it was only known as V53261 and was the result of a cross of Cascade (Seibel 13053) and Seyve-villard 14-287 (This same cross resulted in a sister seedling known as Veeblanc or V53263).

The vine was relatively successful in the trials in Ontario with the resulting wine quality being good to very good. However, in those days productivity was a critical factor and while V53261 was a good producer it did not measure up to what was being sought at that time.

The vine also showed excellent cold hardy properties (-31c), disease resistance and early maturity, requiring about 950 degree days of heat and 135-140 frost free days. With these marginal grape growing parameter, the vine was sent to the Kentville, Nova Scotia Agriculture Canada testing station for further evaluation.
Photo Reference Link

In testing in Kentville the V53261 was found to preform well after winters with -30c conditions doing significantly better than Seyval Blanc in side by side comparisons. The vine was also found to produce quality fruit with lower acidity and better chemistry balance than Seyval in summers with fewer than 900 degree days of heat. Over 18 years of testing this variety as averaged 18.5 brix with TA of 10.5 g/L, with average degree days of 982 c. The vine was found to suit the growing conditions of Nova Scotia quite well and was so names L'Acadie Blanc.

While the short growing season, good productivity, disease resistance, and cold hardiness are good reasons to try this vine. the most compelling reason is the amazing wine that this variety makes (See this link for more detail). It is virtually unknown outside of Nova Scotia but those who have tried it including yours truly can say that this grape makes an exception wine in the hands of a good winemaker.

I've tried several, Jost Vineyard makes a beauty with some residual sugar, somewhat reminiscent of chablis. Domaine de Grande Pre makes an excellent dry L'Acadie. Gaspereau Vineyards also makes a dry L'Acadie and like the other two noted it is very good as well. Other Nova Scotia wineries like L'Acadie Vineyard and Benjamin Bridge are now winning awards for crafting this grape as a sparkling wine.

This is truly a versatile, and an excellent grape vine and it is a shame that it is not offered in the liquor stores in the prairie provinces. I brought a few bottles of the Jost L'Acadie back with me from Nova Scotia on my last trip. We served it at a group wine tasting and in side by side comparisons against a nice BC Chardonnay and a New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc, the L'Acadie won hands down, was everyone's favorite.

We planted a few L'Acadie Blanc vines in the test vineyard to see how they work out in our climate and conditions. We really like this one and are hoping it grows well.