Sandhill Crane Vidal Blanc, 2014

Maker: Sandhill Crane Vineyards, Jackson, Michigan, USA.20180425_094301.jpg

Grape: Vidal Blanc

Place of origin: Michigan (At least 75% Michigan Vidal by law)

Vintage: 2014

Style: Semi-sweet.

ABV: 12.5%

Price: $16 (current vintage on website)

Appearance: Pale yellow.

Nose: Peach, mango, papaya, wet limestone.

Palate: Full-bodied. Like pineapple syrup and mango nectar, but not cloying.

Finish: Clean, slightly tangy.

Parting words: Vidal is one of the best-known hybrid grape varieities in this part of the world. It’s most famous for its use in Canadian Ice wine, and is grown as far north as Nova Scotia and Sweden for that purpose. As you might have guessed from that last sentence, Vidal is cold-hardy and was able to produce good wine like this even in a Polar Vortex year like 2014. It’s grown fairly widely in Michigan, often for use in dessert wines, but not always, as in this case.

This Sandhill Crane Vidal is heavy on tropical fruit, but not overly sweet, which makes for nice porch sipping and pairs well with pork and chicken. $16 is a fair price, but much more would be pushing it for a non-AVA hybrid wine, even one of this quality. 2014 Sandhill Crane Vidal Blanc is recommended.

Jackson-Triggs Vidal Ice Wine Reserve

Maker: Jackson-Triggs, Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario, Canadawpid-2014-10-08-19.50.35.jpg.jpeg

Place of origin: J-T Niagara Estate, Niagara Peninsula VQA, Ontario, Canada

Vintage: 2011

ABV: 9.5%

Price: $24/187 ml (Binny’s)

Appearance: Dark gold with long, broad legs.

Nose: Canned Bartlett pears, mandarin oranges, Meyer lemon.

Palate: Full bodied, the syrup in that can of Bartlett pears, orange juice from concentrate, pinch of thyme.

Finish: A long lingering sweetness all over the mouth accompanied by a hint of golden apple.

Parting words: The Niagara Peninsula VQA is a blanket appellation for any wine produced in the Niagara municipal region in Southern Ontario. This area is bordered by Lake Erie to the south, Lake Ontario to the north, the Niagara River to the east and the city of Hamilton to the west. The region includes several sub-regions, including Niagara Escarpment, Niagara-on-the-Lake and their subdivisions.

Having water on three sides creates a micro-climate favorable for the growing of grapes, as one might expect. The climate remains Canadian, so early and late frosts and freezes are a constant concern. This is a problem for most types of wine production, but not for the production of ice wine, a style that Canada does very well across the board.

Picking the grapes while they are frozen concentrates the sugars like “noble rot” or the straw wine process does, resulting in a thick, sweet, aromatic (and expensive) dessert wine. In Canada and the northern U.S., the hybrid grape Vidal is often used alongside the more traditional Riesling. Vidal is used for its hardiness and ability to produce wines with high acidity and sugar levels in cold climates.

This one is a good example of a Canadian Vidal ice wine. It’s thick and rich but not flabby. The approachable pear and citrus flavors make it a good introduction to the style, as does the relatively low price. Jackson-Triggs 2011 Vidal Ice Wine Reserve is recommended.