Today, I offer you two for the price of one… tasting notes on 2 wines that is! After popping open both vintages of this Umpqua Valley Baco noir in order to taste them side-by-side, I learned the 2016 was no longer available. But, for anyone who might have a cellared bottle from the 2016 vintage, these notes are for you!
Marc Girardet is a second generation winemaker and his dad, Philippe, is credited with bringing Baco noir to Oregon back in 1971, a few years before his son was born. The varietal is a unique French-American hybrid grape with low tannins, high acidity and abundant fruit notes. More commonly found on the East Coast, Baco noir is resistant to mildews, rot, and phylloxera.
From the beginning, the Girardets have planted unusual grapes on their property– creating a test vineyard of sorts. More recently, Marc has continued that experimentation into Italian varietals. Currently, a wide gamut of different grapes can be found growing in their estate vineyards. Along with Oregon staples Pinot noir and Pinot gris, Girardet also produces Seyval blanc, Riesling, Sangiovese, Barbera, Teroldego, Syrah, Tempranillo, Chardonnay, and Cabernet sauvignon.
The Umpqua Valley is now home to a few more Baco noir producers but Girardet will always be known as the first to roll the dice on the cool-climate grape. Interestingly, both bottles of Baco noir tasted a bit like a mashup between Merlot and Grenache. Tart, raspberry notes, similar to those often found in Grenache were quickly tamed by a wonderful smoothness, much like Merlot. This winning combo makes Baco noir is a very versatile, food-friendly wine!
Shale Rock Vineyards, Umpqua Valley, Southern Oregon, Oregon