DSCN5476I think that Vignoles, a French-American hybrid grape, gets a bum rap. Sure maybe Ravat 51, as it is often called (J.F. Ravat was the creator), probably does its best work in late harvest/dessert-style wines. Take high sugar and natural acidity and add tight clusters that make it susceptible to noble rot and you have a grape well suited to sweet dessert wines that are well balanced and even complex. But Vignoles isn't a one-trick pony.

While it's true that Vignoles is never going to have the elegance, delicacy or grace of a well-made riesling, this Keuka Lake Vineyards 2007 Reserve Vignoles ($18) was the standout at a recent tasting of Finger Lakes whites.

It pours a pale yellow and the nose is rich and fruity with intense ripe (almost over-ripe) pear aromas mingling with those of musk melon and peach skin. A faint, distant note of gravelly minerals never really stepped forward, but really added to the complexity.

Medium-to-full bodied, the palate is similarly ripe and intense. The musk melon flavors come first, with the pear flavors emerging more on the mid-palate. The naturally bright acidity of Vignoles is there every step of the way, from the attack all the way through to a long, peachy finish that ends with a flavor that reminds me of the way my parents old gravel driveway smelled after a summer rain storm.

This is a wine that I'd love to pour for anybody who scoffs at the ability of crosses and hybrids to make delicious, balanced wines.

Producer: Keuka Lake Vineyards
AVA: Finger Lakes
Price: $18
ABV: 12.5%
Rating: 30
(3 out of 5 | Recommended)

(Ratings Guide)