Know Your Grapes: Noiret
Noiret (nwarh-ET) was developed by Cornell University at their Agricultural Experiment Station in 1974. After years of testing, it was released in 2006, and was specifically designed for Northeast grape growers. A complex hybrid, it has Chasselas, Concord, Steuben, Chancellor, Diamond, Iona, and Catawba in its family tree.
Released with its sibling Corot Noir, the two are sometimes confused. Noiret is more cold sensitive than others in its category like Corot Noir and Chambourcin, mainly due to the thick trunks splitting in the cold winter. Breaking out to bud later than most, Noiret also must be planted with care in regions where winter comes early. Even in the best of autumns, it won’t get much above 22 Brix, and it must often be thinned in the vineyard to ensure the clusters ripen.
As the name would suggest, Noiret is very dark. Hallmark tasting and aroma notes include green pepper, black pepper, raspberry, blackberry, cherry, strawberry, stewed fruit, blueberries, and even mint. Foxiness is not noted, and tannins are moderate.
If you are looking for a vinifera comparison, Petit Syrah and Pinot Noir are the ones most often compared to Noiret (wait for our review on a Noiret this week for more discussion on that topic).
Most often blended, but single varietal bottlings are not uncommon, and Port-styles are popping up. Cab Franc is its most common blending partner. Without blending, long-term aging is not recommended. Oaking is recommended, as it really rounds out the tannins.
The Hudson Valley is unsurprisingly home to much Noiret, but Pennsylvania also grows an impressive amount. Iowa, Tennessee, Ohio, and Kansas.
Food pairings often include dishes in which black pepper plays a prominent role, especially beef dishes.