Sandhill Crane Noiret

Maker: Sandhill Crane Vineyards, Jackson, Michigan, USA

Grape: Noiret

Place of Origin: Michigan, USA

Vintage: 2010

ABV: 12.5%

Thanks to Oscar for helping me acquire this wine.

Appearance: Brick red with broad legs.

Nose: Black pepper, rose petals, cedar, smoke.

On the palate: Medium bodied and sweeter than the nose would indicate, but still not sweet. More black pepper, wood, black cherries, blueberries, with a faint herbal note. Gets fruitier as it opens up.

Finish: Slightly bitter and peppery. A bit of cherry juice as it fades.

Parting words: Noiret is a Cornell University hybrid, the result of a cross between Steuben and an unnamed hybrid. Most of the grape’s ancestry is North American, but there are no foxy flavors to be found here.

Going by the name, I was expecting something close to Pinot Noir, but there is no resemblance whatsoever. This is closer to a brash young Shiraz or Pinotage, which is not a bad thing, just something to be aware of. The grape’s peppery, rustic characteristics may be enhanced by the climate of South Central Michigan which is much drier and hotter in the summertime than Northwestern and West Michigan.

At first pour this wine is all black pepper and not particularly pleasant. Once it airs out it becomes enjoyable, especially with food. I can see grape this doing very good things for a red blend, perhaps providing some welcome spice to a less flavorful red, but it does fine on its own here. This price is a bit high (close to $20), but I think it’s worth it ¬†for a chance to try a wine from fairly rare grape. It’s worth giving a try if you are ever in the neighborhood. Sandhill Crane 2010 Noiret is recommended.