Saint Croix Vineyards2004 Frontenac
The Frontenac grape is somewhat of a come-lately rising star of northern vineyards. Developed at the University of Minnesota from a cross of French-America hybrid Landot 4511 and native American Vitis ripara, the variety has only been commercially available since 1995. However, it is quickly winning the favor of growers across the Midwest and Northeast states, and even Quebec, due to its reputation for yielding a substantial red wine in climates that are typically prohibitive of such things. And this example from St. Croix Vineyards in Stillwater demonstrates this aptitude perfectly.
The immediate impression this wine makes is with its intensity of color – opaque – closer to BLACK than deep purple. Quite remarkable for a northern climate wine. Its intensity of color is pleasantly matched by its nose, which offers pronounced dark fruit character – notably black cherry, with a little spice and a healthy dose of oak influence, but the concentration of the fruit carries the weight of the lumber well, and the combination works harmoniously. There is also a very slight herbal stemminess – not to be mistaken for under-ripe character – which adds an additional dimension to the aromatic complexity of this wine.
On the palate, the acid is nicely balanced with the same black cherry flavors carrying through from the nose. Interestingly, the intensity of color does not translate into high tannin levels as one might expect, as it is unusual to extract this much pigment from the grapes without also bringing along a good measure of grippy grape tannins. This all translates into a wine that is supple but silky smooth, giving an almost sweet impression due to the juiciness of the fruit. Perhaps these qualities are inherent to the variety, and my limited experience with Frontenac gives me little to base such an assumption on, but one thing is for sure, St. Croix’s Frontenac has me keen to try more of this promising variety and this promising winegrowing region.
Reviewed August 31, 2006 by Adam Dial.
Brought up in a family with winery ventures in both California and Canada, Adam Dial seeks and appreciates diversity and individuality in wines. He is a Sommelier with more than two decades of experience in the hospitality and service industry, and is a respected wine educator, judge and industry advisor. In 2003 Adam Dial co-founded Appellation America.