Monday, February 28, 2011

Leon Millot Grape and Wine

This is another little hybrid that was developed in France.  In fact it is has the same parentage as its more well known sibling Marechal Foch.  Two other hybrids came from this same cross including Marechal Joffre and Lucy Kuhlman.  Leon Millot is an early ripening black grape with small bunches, often 2-3 per shoot the largest usually about 70-80 grams.

It is cold hardy to approximately -25 to -30 c and while bud break is relatively early it is a little later than Foch making it appealing to those where later spring frost can be an issue.  It is also known to ripen a few days earlier than Foch but these accounts appear somewhat subjective.  Typically it ripens in 135-140 days, with flowering to harvest being about 85-90 days.  What is known is that it regularly ripens to the same brix as Foch but does not have the high acidity problems that Foch can have in some years.  In fact the juice chemistry is often excellent for wine making.  Leon Millot is relatively disease resistant but can suffer from powdery mildew. In our two years with fruit on our vines I've seen no disease except some late season mildew on the canes, post harvest.  However, overall Foch is suppose to be more cold hardy and disease resistant.

This grape produces a highly coloured wine and was apparently used as a blending component to lighter coloured wines such as Pinot Noir as it enhances the colour without altering the quality.  While the deep garnet colour is typical and valued,  perhaps most important of this disclosure is that the quality of the wine made from Leon Millot blends well with Pinot Noir without altering its quality significantly.  This is a testament to the quality of wine that Leon Millot can make.

Other accounts share in this sentiment in that the grape can make a better wine than Marechal Foch with better chemistry and more distinct berry aromas (see link).  In the several that I have tasted I'd lean towards the Millot as being a better wine than the Foch.  Perhaps as important is the spectrum of wines that can be made from this variety from rose' to medium bodies reds.  This allows some flexibility in the vineyard and winery.

Leon Millot is widely grown on Vancouver Island and Nova Scotia in Canada and rarely outside these locations.  However, there is a vineyard in the Okanagan that grows Leon Millot and the wine has received alot of attention for being excellent.  The vineyard is Hollywood and Wine and is located in Summerland, BC.  Here is a link to the vineyard,.  Several wineries in Nova Scotia grow this including Domaine de Grande Pre and Jost Vineyard.  Mistaken Identity Vineyard and Gary Oakes Vineyard are two wine Island vineyards growing this variety.