Review: 2019 Country Heritage La Crescent
When you grow grapes in regions not suitable for a wide range of vitis vinifera, you are always looking for the great grape hope. Finding a grape that can reliably survive your winters, deal with your late or early frosts, is disease resistant, and avoids foxiness is easier said than done. The subset becomes smaller when you further insist the grapes make wine you can actually sell.
In Indiana, that great hope is seen as Traminette, to the point of even making it the “State Grape.” To be sure, Traminette has its virtues, but let’s be clear, no one really gets excited about Traminette. (If you do, we want to interview you). It is an everyday workhorse grape that is fairly easy on rookie winemakers, but as for being capable of true magnificence, that ain’t it kid. Will Traminette have a place on Hoosier wine lineups for decades to come? Certainly. Will top-tier Indiana wineries move beyond featuring it in favor of other varietals? Also yes, and one of the varietals we believe will supplant Traminette is LaCrescent. We’ve thought this for a while. Our tasting panel sitting down with Country Heritage’s 2019 vintage further confirmed it. We debated and discussed the virtues of this wine for nearly an hour, discussing not only what was in the glass but what this could mean for Indiana wine.
To be sure, Country Heritage checks off several important boxes needed for good LaCrescent. A track record of success, experience with a whole lot of varietals in a whole lot of styles, and a commitment to innovation. Country Heritage has been growing LaCrescent since they first opened the winery ten years ago. It shows. LaCrescent needs good canopy and yield management, and a skilled hand on the sweetness dial. You don’t learn that over the course of one harvest.
On the pour, medium yellow in the glass. Jasmine, honeysuckle and orange blossom on the nose. Lots of lemon curd up front, giving way to honeysuckle and a delightful key lime on the mid-palate, with honeysuckle and citrus on a medium finish. Medium body. Bracing acidity is evident, but it is kept in check with sweetness. We want to emphasize this point, as it is something many winemakers don't nail. The sweetness is there, but is restrained and just enough to let the acidity shine and balance out. This is a semi-dry wine, not a semi-sweet wine. The whole wine reminds one of Gewürztraminer without any of the hand-lotion notes.
Time will tell if LaCrescent truly becomes a top shelf Indiana varietal, but for now, Country Heritage is making top shelf wine from it.
Wine: 2019 La Crescent
From: Country Heritage
Varietals: 100% La Crescent
Rating: 94 pts