Thursday, October 15, 2015

Did you know Louisiana makes wine?

A friend from Louisiana recently gave me my first Louisiana wine.  Although I knew that most states make wine, I had never seen one from Louisiana and wouldn't have thought it had a good climate for winemaking.  I do know quite a bit about wine from east Texas, but I hadn't considered that Louisiana is right next door, and there are strong similarities!

Like east Texas, Louisiana struggles with high heat, humidity, and Pierce's disease.  As a result, Louisiana, like east Texas, grows several hybrid grape varieties which can withstand these conditions and is experimenting with various winemaking techniques and styles to see what best suits these atypical grapes.  

Louisiana has 7 wineries:
  • Amato's Winery in Independence, LA
  • Casa De Sue Winery between Baton Rouge and New Orleans, LA
  • Feliciana Cellars Winery in Jackson, LA
  • Landry Vineyards in West Monroe, LA
  • On Cloud Wine in Shreveport, LA
  • Pontchartrain Vineyards in Covington, LA
  • St. Amant Winery in Amant, LA
You can see them on a map here.

I tasted Zydeco Rosato from Pontchartrain Vineyards.  Pontchartrain makes wine from estate-grown grapes as well as grapes imported from California.  Zydeco Rosato is an unusual blend of estate-grown Blanc du Bois, estate-grown Cynthiana/Norton, and California Syrah.

This rosé has an orange hue with aromas of peach, strawberries, flowers, a hint of citrus, and a hint of something vegetal.  Unfortunately there's also an aroma of burnt rubber.  This is a common side effect of using too much sulfur dioxide as a preservative.  The good news is that this aroma "blows off" in a minute or two and then the wine smells and tastes fine.

Zydeco Rosato is dry, with medium body, high acid, and oak influence which gives it a taste of vanilla on the finish.  The tasting note on the web site describes the wine as having a "hint of madeira."  Madeira is a fortified wine which is intentionally oxidized (exposed to oxygen) and maderized (exposed to heat), conditions which are normally considered faults in other wines.  So it's unusual to see a wine compare itself to madeira, but I do smell and taste an impression of madeira here.  It comes across as a hint of nuts and caramel, which is highly unusual in a rosé, but tasted fine if a little strange.  I enjoyed drinking Zydeco Rosato with a variation on this recipe for Winter Pasta (I made it with arugula and basil).  A bottle will cost you about $13.

Can I recommend this wine?  Yes and no.  No, because it's technically flawed and has some odd flavor characteristics.  Yes, because I have a lot of affection for wines like this, from small wineries in out-of-the-way places that are doing unexpected things with unusual grapes and blends.  These wines express their local character in a way that sets them apart, and though they may not be perfect, they're definitely fun and interesting to drink.


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