Pennsylvania Wine School: What is a Baco Noir?

Chambour-huh? Vidal who? Need some help demystifying some of Pennsylvania’s most essential wine words? The PA Wine Land Post is at your service, schooling you on the grapes you need to know.

Varietal: Baco Noir (pronounced BAH-koh NWAHR)

Grown: Across Pennsylvania

Similar to: Pinot Noir or Cabernet Sauvignon

If you’re a lover of classic French reds such as Burgundy, Pinot Noir, and Bordeaux Cabernet Sauvignon, then keep an eye out for Baco Noir.

This versatile varietal is a hybrid grape, created in Southwestern France in 1894. Francois Baco bred the strain by crossing a Vitis vinifera vine (Folle Blanche) and Vitis riparia, a North American species. This was the era of widespread phylloxera infestation in Europe, and the goal was to create pest-resistant vines that retained French character.

The varietal became popular in Burgundy and the Loire Valley but has since fallen out of favor there while becoming incredibly successful in North America. (Interesting note: Baco Noir’s white counterpart, Baco Blanc, is the only hybrid variety that falls under a French AOC — “appellation d’origine contrôlée,” the official certification granted to prized agricultural products from specific geographic regions.)

Baco Noir can express itself in a variety of ways. Fermenting with the skins on for over a week results in dark, inky, tannic wines that recall Bordeaux reds — look for robust flavors of cedar, tobacco, leather, blackberries, and prunes.

When made into lighter, Pinot Noir-style wines, look for aromas of raspberries, blueberries, and strawberry jam, with flavors of sour cherry, lavender, earth, and oak. Savor a sip to detect herbal notes of black pepper, mint, and licorice.

Oak helps bring out the complexities in Baco Noir, and aging leads to lush, dry wines that pair well with red meat. You can also pair the varietal with other intense, umami-heavy dishes such as wild game, mushroom-and-lentil stew, french onion soup, or a spread of charcuterie featuring salami and liver pâté.

Below is a sampling of PA Baco Noir wines for you to try from all across PA Wine Land. Check your local wineries for more Baco Noir wines. Wines listed below were available as of the date of publication [10/18/18]. Contact the winery directly for current inventory.

Lakeview Wine Cellars, Baco Noir
Penn Shore Vineyards, Baco Noir

Bee Kind Winery, Baco Noir

Hidden Creek Winery, Baco Noir
Pickering Winery, Baco Noir

Glades Pike Winery, Baco Noir

Calvaresi Winery, Baco Noir

To learn more about other varietals grown across PA Wine Land, visit our Wine School library.

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