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Know Your Grapes: La Crescent

We have already discussed the University of Minnesota’s cold-hardy wine grape program when we discussed Marquette here. Let’s discuss a white UofM varietal gaining a lot of attention these days, La Crescent. First marketed in 2002, its bracing acidity and complex bouquet allows it to assume a versatile place in a winery’s lineup. Need an aromatic dry white? An off-dry or semi-sweet floral beauty? A zippy bubbly or even a dessert or ice wine? La Crescent could check all of these boxes. Marquette may be getting all the love these days, but La Crescent may in fact be the true star of the UofM show.

Like many hybrids, its parentage is complicated, but we do know Muscat Hamburg, Seyval Blanc, and St. Pepin are among its ancestors. The Muscat is particularly noticed, as a nose of peaches, citrus, and tropical fruits are standard, as are high acidity and medium body. Like many UofM hybrids, it lacks the foxy and herbaceous notes that have held back other hybrids.

La Crescent is bred to be resistant to -36°F, and can resist all but the worst polar vortex. Like most UofM hybrids, its requires a license to grow, likely due to needing a vigorous spraying and canopy management program in humid climates, requiring a full-time winemaker.

La Crescent has found a home outside the Upper Midwest in Illinois, Vermont, Iowa, and Indiana. While it is made in a variety of styles, it is often made with a touch of sweetness to balance out its acidity.

Serve La Crescent with a chill on it and pair with any buttery chicken or fish dishes.

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