By Lenn Thompson, Editor-in-Chief

Stoutridge-frontenacStoutridge Vineyards located in Marlboro, NY, is still one of the newer producers in the Hudon Rivery Valley AVA. It opened in 2006 and is built on the site of
vineyards planted in the late 1700s. A winery on the site was closed in 1902 by prohibition.

Owned by Stephen Osborn and Kimberly Wagner, with Stephen also serving as winemaker, Stoutridge produces a variety of white, red and rose wines, mostly with French-American hybrid varieties.

Varieties like Frontenac, a University of Minnesota-born hybrid released in 1996. It was grown from a crossing of the complex interspecific hybrid Landot 4511 and a very cold hardy selection of Vitis riparia. It's known for producing loose clusters of dark, highly acidic, high-sugar berries.

Of course most importantly for cool-to-cold and other challenging growing regions, it is extremely cold hardy (below -30C), highly resistant to downy mildew.

I'm sure that I've tasted Frontenac before I uncorked this bottle. It's probably been an unnamed component in multiple "proprietary blends" that I've tried over the years. What I can say with certainty is that this Stoutridge Vineyard 2007 Frontenac ($24) is the first varietal (100% in fact) Frontenac to cross this palate.

It's easy to see why it's used for blending — the color is dark violet-purple, almost black at the core, and it's extremely aromatic, filling my living room with briary, just-crushed black raspberry aromas with a little dusty prune and dark roast coffee in the background.

That intense black raspberry character explodes in the mouth, especially on the attack, As it crosses your palate, there was an interesting pina colada note (probably from American oak), but then it falls off quickly. It's medium bodied and the ripe tannins are light. It's the acidity that really provides the structure here. Almost too much structure, really. Most people won't be used to this level of acidity in a red wine, but I think it's pretty well balanced.

I actually really enjoyed exploring this wine over the course of three evenings. I think it needs food to balance that acidity, maybe a rich duck dish with blackberry sauce? Maybe pork belly? Something fatty for sure.

I love trying new grapes, so this was a fun one for me.

Producer: Stoutridge Vineyard
AVA: Hudson River Valley
ABV: 14%
Rating:  25
(2.5 out of 5 | Average-to-Very Good)

(Ratings Guide)