I’m not even going to ask, because I know that most of you have never heard of the Noiret grape.

Developed by Cornell University, it’s one of the newer hybrids out there (it’s a cross between NY65.0467.08 and Steuben), having been released in 2006. According to Cornell’s Bruce Reisch, wines made from Noiret “are free of the hybrid aromas typical of many other red hybrid grapes. The distinctive red wine is richly colored and has notes of green and black pepper, with raspberry and mint aromas, and a fine tannin structure.”

It ripens mid-season too, which has mad it an increasingly popular blending grape in the Finger Lakes, bringing color and spicy qualities. So far, I’ve found most wines featuring large doses of it mediocre or worse. They are peppery alright, but a bit hollow and lacking the body to stand up to that spiciness.

Even so, I went into my tasting of Ravines Wine Cellars 2010 Keuka Village Red ($13) — a blend of 60% Noiret and 40% cabernet franc — with high hopes. Winemaker Morten Hallgren is among the most talented in the region. Besides, he does impressive things with his lone white hybrid wine, Keuka Village White, which is a blend of Cayuga and Vignoles.

Again, I was a bit underwhelmed with Noiret. There is certainly a heavy sprinkling of white and black pepper atop blackberry and plum fruit aromas, along with an interesting hint of orange peel.

Lighter bodied, the palate is even more peppery with cherries replacing the plums and blackberries. Soft in flavor and mouthfeel, there is a bit of acidity on the finish. It’s easy-drinking and well suited to your summer barbecue (it could even take a slight chill I’d think) but overall, not all that interesting.

Producer: Ravines Wine Cellars
AVA: Finger Lakes
ABV: 12%
Price: $13*


(2 out of 5, Average)