Cornell names its latest offspring

The wait is over.

Meet Noiret, Corot noir and Valvin Muscat, New York's three newest wine grapes.

As I reported a few months ago, the new varieties come from the patient nurturing process at the New York State Agriculture Experiment Station run by Cornell University in the Finger Lakes village of Geneva. Prior to their public release, the varieties go under code names. After release, it is up to winemakers to decide whether they'll use the names in their labelling.

Bruce Reisch, a grape breeder and professor of horticultural sciences at Cornell, said the newly-named grapes developed by Cornell are broadly adapted to the wine-growing regions of the East and produce high-quality varietal wines superior to those now being produced.

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 (nwahr-ay) is a mid-season red wine grape. It is a hybrid made in a 1973 cross between NY65.0467.08 and Steuben.

• Corot noir is a mid- to late-season red wine grape, It is a complex interspecific hybrid resulting from a 1970 cross 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," Reisch said. "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."

• 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 1962 cross between Couderc 299-35 (an interspecific hybrid known as Muscat du Moulin) and Muscat Ottonel.

"Valvin Muscat is recommended for the production of high-quality muscat wines," Reisch said. "Vines are well suited to good grape-growing sites in the eastern United States, and should only be grown on suitable rootstocks." Some care should be exercised to control disease, and fruit should be picked when the muscat flavor reaches its peak, he noted.

Click here for my pre-release tasting notes.

With the new varieties, whose names are trademarked, the Experiment Station now has nine wine grapes to its credit. The previous Cornell releases are: Melody, Horizon, Cayuga White, Chardonel, Traminette and GR 7.

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