Three new Cornell hybrid varieties said to lack "hybrid taste"

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Three new Cornell hybrid varieties said to lack "hybrid taste"

Postby Robin Garr » Tue Jul 11, 2006 11:35 am

This might seem like the height of the obscure, but with Cornell's backing, the growing entry of New York wines into the national marketplace with open wine shipping, and the obvious commercial benefits to be derived from the development of new hybrid grape varieties that, as the story bluntly states, "are free of the 'hybrid aromas'", it's not out of the question that we'll see and hear more of these new varieties over time ...

Cornell releases three new wine grape varieties

By Joe Ogrodnick
Cornell University ChronicleOnline


Cornell officially debuted three new wine grapes today (July 10), Noiret, Corot noir and Valvin Muscat, which are broadly adapted to the wine-growing regions in the East and produce high-quality varietal wines that are superior to those currently available to eastern growers today, says grape breeder Bruce Reisch, professor of horticultural sciences at Cornell's New York State Agricultural Experiment Station in Geneva, N.Y.

Reisch developed and tested the grapes with Thomas Henick-Kling, professor of enology at the Experiment Station and leader of Cornell's enology program.

The grapes were released at the 31st annual American Society for Enology and Viticulture/Eastern Section Conference and Symposium, held July 9-11 in Rochester, N.Y.

Noiret (pronounced nwahr-ay), a mid-season red wine grape, is a complex interspecific hybrid resulting from a cross made in 1973 between NY65.0467.08 and Steuben. Corot noir, a mid- to late-season red wine grape, is a complex interspecific hybrid resulting from a cross in 1970 between Seyve Villard 18-307 and Steuben.

"Both Noiret and Corot noir represent distinct improvements in the red wine varietal options available to cold-climate grape growers," said Reisch. "Wines are free of the hybrid aromas typical of many other red hybrid grapes." Noiret is richly colored and has notes of green and black pepper, with raspberry and mint aromas and a fine tannin structure, he said. Care should be taken to grow Noiret on sites less susceptible to extreme winter temperatures and downy mildew.

Reisch said that Corot noir can be used for varietal wine production or for blending. The distinctive red wine has a deep red color and attractive berry and cherry fruit aromas.

Valvin Muscat is a mid-season white wine grape with a distinctive muscat flavor and aroma that is desirable for blending as well as for varietal wines. The complex interspecific hybrid grape resulted from a cross in 1962 between Couderc 299-35 (an interspecific hybrid known as Muscat du Moulin) and Muscat Ottonel.

Full story in the Cornell University ChronicleOnline
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Re: Three new Cornell hybrid varieties said to lack "hybrid taste"

Postby Dave Erickson » Tue Jul 11, 2006 3:39 pm

So, what are you saying here? They don't smell or taste like Vitis Labrusca? That's good, but it doesn't exactly make me want to stand up and cheer.

Anyway, it's my understanding that it isn't "cool climate" that's the problem for vitis vinifera in upstate New York, it's poor resistance to molds and viruses and whatnot.

I must admit, though, that "Noiret" and Corot Noir" have greater marketing possibilities to my ear than NY65.0467.08 and Seyve Villard 18-307.

Personally, I think the Finger Lakes gang will do better by working to improve the disease resistance of Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, and Gewurztraminer--to name a few cold-climate VVs off the top--than to bank on new hybrids, however attractive their names...
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Re: Three new Cornell hybrid varieties said to lack "hybrid taste"

Postby Bob Parsons Alberta » Tue Jul 11, 2006 3:54 pm

Guess we will be on Paul B`s blacklist if we are not too complimentary about hybrids!!
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Re: Three new Cornell hybrid varieties said to lack "hybrid taste"

Postby David Creighton » Tue Jul 11, 2006 4:20 pm

hi again dave - actually, the problem recently in FL HAS been the cold - lots of buds lost and even vines. i visited one place that did not intend to replace their merlot for that reason.
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Re: Where the hell is Paul B.?

Postby James Roscoe » Tue Jul 11, 2006 4:24 pm

Bob Parsons Alberta. wrote:Guess we will be on Paul B`s blacklist if we are not too complimentary about hybrids!!


Another attempt to draw Paul out and no go. Where the heck is he? Does anyone know? I'm starting to worry? Does he live in the Toronto area? I have some contacts up there. Maybe we should investigate.
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Re: Three new Cornell hybrid varieties said to lack "hybrid taste"

Postby David Creighton » Tue Jul 11, 2006 4:25 pm

Hi Robin - actually i've tasted a number of versions of the new valvin muscat (none of those names rolls off MY tongue) and i really liked them - very muscatty if thats a word. i think a number of the white hybrids are not identifiable as such - most esp. vignoles - which i count as one of the worlds great wine grapes.
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Re: Three new Cornell hybrid varieties said to lack "hybrid taste"

Postby Robin Garr » Tue Jul 11, 2006 4:31 pm

Dave Erickson wrote:So, what are you saying here? They don't smell or taste like Vitis Labrusca? That's good, but it doesn't exactly make me want to stand up and cheer.


To clarify, <I>labrusca</i> is really not the issue here. Rather, most of the standard hybrids, especially the reds (Baco Noir, Foch, Chancellor, etc.), have an odd, un-vinifera-like character that most wine enthusiasts don't care for, although it's by no means as repellent as the labrusca "grape jelly." The news here, if it's borne out, is that these new hybrids have more acceptable flavors.

Anyway, it's my understanding that it isn't "cool climate" that's the problem for vitis vinifera in upstate New York, it's poor resistance to molds and viruses and whatnot.


It's a little more complicated. Modern viticulture has eased some of the mold and rot problems. Cold can still be an issue, though, in two different ways: First, most vinifera varieties are still more susceptible to winter kill in deep freeze situations that can wipe out an entire vineyard overnight. It's easy to get vinifera for a few years, but plant it in a region subject to even occasional subzero freezes and eventually you'll lose your vines. More important, though, is the length and temperature of the growing season. Cabernet, for example, can be grown in New York or Ontario, but it's rare to see it ripen fully ... hence the regional "signature" of green, weedy, peppery Cabernet.

Personally, I think the Finger Lakes gang will do better by working to improve the disease resistance of Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, and Gewurztraminer--to name a few cold-climate VVs off the top--than to bank on new hybrids, however attractive their names...


I'm not really inclined to argue this point because I agree with it. :)

But that said, the region's economic potential would certainly be enhanced if Cornell, or anyone, can really come up with a hybrid that works in the climate AND tastes as good as at least some of the most popular vinifera.
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Re: Three new Cornell hybrid varieties said to lack "hybrid taste"

Postby Peter May » Tue Jul 11, 2006 5:22 pm

Dave Erickson wrote:
Personally, I think the Finger Lakes gang will do better by working to improve the disease resistance of Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, and Gewurztraminer--to name a few cold-climate VVs off the top--than to bank on new hybrids, however attractive their names...


Agree -- and also to try some different vinifera varitietes already proven in cold climates, such as some of the Swiss and ex-USSR varieties.
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Re: Three new Cornell hybrid varieties said to lack "hybrid taste"

Postby Peter May » Tue Jul 11, 2006 5:29 pm

Robin Garr wrote: But that said, the region's economic potential would certainly be enhanced if Cornell, or anyone, can really come up with a hybrid that works in the climate AND tastes as good as at least some of the most popular vinifera.


Agree. But thats what I tought was entire point of the breeding programme. To gain the advantages of native vines without their flavour disadvantages.

But I wonder if the hybrid breeding programme is now the point itself. Supposing a number of hithero untried vinifera varieties from cold climates - prove popular with wine drinkers and wineries (such as Rkatsitelli already is) then would the hybrid-vine breeding programme close down? I doubt it; no programme means no job.
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Re: Three new Cornell hybrid varieties said to lack "hybrid taste"

Postby Robin Garr » Tue Jul 11, 2006 5:37 pm

creightond wrote:Hi Robin - actually i've tasted a number of versions of the new valvin muscat (none of those names rolls off MY tongue) and i really liked them - very muscatty if thats a word. i think a number of the white hybrids are not identifiable as such - most esp. vignoles - which i count as one of the worlds great wine grapes.


David, I agree, and (I think) was at pains to single out <i>red</i> hybrids for abuse. In general I find white hybrids a lot more vinifera-like than reds, and I agree 100 percent that Vignoles is one of the great ones, certainly worth including in any world list of "noble" varieties. Seyval can get there too, at least some of the time - we had a brilliant one at Johnson Estate that could have passed for a Muscadet, chalk and seashells and all. Vidal I find less impressive, though, except possibly in ice wines. Too often takes on a turpentine character for me, and that's a problem. Oh, and Cayuga can be mighty nice, as Howie can demonstrate.
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Re: Three new Cornell hybrid varieties said to lack "hybrid taste"

Postby Paul B. » Tue Jul 11, 2006 8:15 pm

Well this new hybrid development at Cornell certainly hit me like a whack of fresh hay ... and of course it goes without saying that I'm excited to see the good people over at the grape research station continuing their work in this area. But, as with all things relating to taste, I have to add my (un)usual comments.

Robin Garr wrote:Rather, most of the standard hybrids, especially the reds (Baco Noir, Foch, Chancellor, etc.), have an odd, un-vinifera-like character that most wine enthusiasts don't care for, although it's by no means as repellent as the labrusca "grape jelly." The news here, if it's borne out, is that these new hybrids have more acceptable flavors.

Now, Robin and I have been at this for years now and the opinion cyclone shows no sign of letting up. You see, I continue to maintain my view that the hybridy taste is no more "disagreeable" than anything else that we learn to like and even praise ... even though some of these things are initially disliked (I'm sure we all have examples of such foods). Heck ... right this moment I'm enjoying a glass of red "Pu-Erh" tea that smells like something midway between a campfire and a swamp. Sure, some manufacturers might stoop to adding artificial flavours to cover up the bog-like flavours, but to me that's akin to preferring "wine coolers" to real wine because real wine tastes too sour. I will take my bog undiluted, thank you very much.

If a non-vinfera wine displays non-vinifera flavours, then all it's doing is expressing its "non-vinifera"ness. If the breeders come up with new hybrids that happen to lack these identifying aromatic and flavour signatures, then that's just fine ... but I still think that there's nothing wrong with actually loving those flavours and making a place for them on one's personal wine palette.

Ditto with the "grape jelly" aromas in labrusca. Really ... how often can the point be argued that 'tis a matter of personal taste? These aromas are only "repellent" among given beholders. There are those of us who enjoy them.
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Re: Three new Cornell hybrid varieties said to lack "hybrid taste"

Postby Dan Smothergill » Tue Jul 11, 2006 8:17 pm

Tom Mitchell at Fallbright has been very enthusiastic about Noiret. He is a frequent visitor at Geneva and kept us up to date on its development. I'm not a red wine maker, but the positive reaction to this has been something to behold. People badger Tom to get the little he has. Let's hope it turns out well. I do take some pride in the fact that it is 50% Steuben.
Another attempt to draw Paul out and no go. Where the heck is he? Does anyone know? I'm starting to worry? Does he live in the Toronto area? I have some contacts up there. Maybe we should investigate.
I'm getting concerned too. He lives in Mississaugua, and told me at NiagaraCool that he would be visiting Poland. Perhaps he is there. Does anyone know?
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Re: Three new Cornell hybrid varieties said to lack "hybrid taste"

Postby Paul B. » Tue Jul 11, 2006 8:20 pm

Hiya Dan!

Yes, I am in Poland now. Internet connections have been spotty (travelling between villages, visiting family, etc.) Lots of riparia hybrids and labrusca vines all over the place ... and that was a surprise. I always knew that Eastern Europeans grew them, but they sure do dot the landscape.

Thanks for thinkin' 'bout me.

Cheerio!
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Re: Three new Cornell hybrid varieties said to lack "hybrid taste"

Postby James Roscoe » Tue Jul 11, 2006 8:40 pm

YAY! Paul B is okay! I assumed so. It's nice to get the confirmation. I suppose we'll all get to hear about it upon his return.
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Re: Three new Cornell hybrid varieties said to lack "hybrid taste"

Postby Dan Smothergill » Tue Jul 11, 2006 8:52 pm

Thanks for thinkin' 'bout me.

You have quite a following Paul. Glad to hear from you and the news about Labruscas in Poland. Any Niagara?

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Re: Three new Cornell hybrid varieties said to lack "hybrid taste"

Postby Thomas » Tue Jul 11, 2006 9:21 pm

Dave Erickson wrote:Anyway, it's my understanding that it isn't "cool climate" that's the problem for vitis vinifera in upstate New York, it's poor resistance to molds and viruses and whatnot.


Dave, it's inter-related. The cool climate--really cool--plays a role in weakening the vines' resistance to diseases by doing damage to wood and growth.
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Re: Three new Cornell hybrid varieties said to lack "hybrid taste"

Postby Paul B. » Wed Jul 12, 2006 4:58 am

Dan Smothergill wrote:Glad to hear from you and the news about Labruscas in Poland. Any Niagara?

Dan, it's hard to say where the Niagara is. I've driven past some homesteads that had vines whose leaves sure looked like Niagara's, but there is next to no commercial wine production to speak of in Poland - it's all private plantings. I can spot a labrusca vine from an incredible distance away just by the leaves (hey, I've been at this since childhood!). In fact, on my grandparents' farm, they even have a couple of Noah vines! :D
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Re: Three new Cornell hybrid varieties said to lack "hybrid taste"

Postby David M. Bueker » Wed Jul 12, 2006 8:40 am

Paul B. wrote:In fact, on my grandparents' farm, they even have a couple of Noah vines! :D


Well at least they have two!
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Re: Three new Cornell hybrid varieties said to lack "hybrid taste"

Postby David Creighton » Wed Jul 12, 2006 12:37 pm

yes, robin, that is exactly what a great seyval should be like - muscadet. glad to hear you had one. and, you are of course correct about the red hybrids, by and large. hope to see you at mocool! david
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Re: Three new Cornell hybrid varieties said to lack "hybrid taste"

Postby Paul B. » Fri Jul 21, 2006 5:38 pm

News of these three new releases has been hitting the newswires quite a bit lately. I got about three additional e-mails based on the subscriptions I get. Hopefully we will be able to see some varietal wines from these grapes soon.

I wonder why GR7 (previously named Abundance and Rubiana) hasn't been heard of nearly as much since its (2003, I think) release? It, too, was made using a complex labrusca (Buffalo) as one of the parents, with Baco Noir as the other parent.

There is also the Marquette grape out of Minnesota that is said to offer Pinot-Noir-like wine with Frontenac-like winter hardiness.

There's much good happening of late!
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