Because of my interest in New York and other northeast wines, I’ve tasted a great many red hybrids over the years, but never Leon Millot.
In fact, I had never even heard of Leon Millot learning that Keuka Lake Vineyards on Keuka Lake in the Finger Lakes has a bit of a cult following for its rendition. I have yet to taste that wine, but was able to get my hands on a bottle from Altamont Vineyards & Winery in Altamont, NY — which happens to just be 15 miles or so from my where my wife’s family lives. I hope to visit in the spring sometime.
Not knowing much about the grape, I did a little online research and found this on Wikipedia:
“Léon Millot is a red variety of hybrid grape used for wine. It was created in 1911 in the Oberlin Institute in Colmar, Alsace, by the French viticulturist Eugène Kuhlmann (1858–1932) by crossing the hybrid grape Millardet et Grasset 101-14 O.P. (which is Vitis riparia × Vitis rupestris) with Goldriesling, which is Vitis vinifera. The variety was named after the winemaker and tree nusery owner Léon Millot.
Léon Millot ripens early, and has high resistance against fungal diseases. It is therefore suited for cultivation in colder climates. It gives powerful wine with some foxy aromas.”
If you’re a fan of of Leon Millot and are expecting “powerful” and “foxy” you may be let down by Altamont Vineyard & Winery 2008 Leon Millot Reserve ($17). I didn’t find it to be either.
The nose isn’t particularly effusive, but features black cherry and currant fruit with hints of woodsy spice, camphor, and coffee.
Fresh, bouncy acidity provides structure on a low-tanning palate that delivers a serious dose of oak — coming through mostly as chocolate and chicory coffee — over top of black cherry flavors. The mid-palate is a little dilute and the finish is a bit short with a mothball quality that I didn’t love.
Producer: Altamont Vineyard &Winery
AVA: New York
(2 out of 5 | Average)