Saturday, December 14, 2019

Big Creek Vineyard's Frontenac (2017)

"Frontenac is what you grow when you can't grow Cabernet Sauvignon."  That is what the nice person at the tasting room for Big Creek Vineyard told me as I sampled Big Creek's wines with my beautiful Angel.  She tried to explain that, given Big Creek's vineyards are in Pennsylvania, which is slightly too far north for Cab Sauv grapes to grow well, the winemakers have cultivated Frontenac to produce a wine that could stand side by side with a Cabernet Sauvignon.

Frontenac is a truly American varietal, because it is a hybrid grapevine produced with Landis Noir grape with a native Vitis Ripara grape that is more resistant to the cold.  And, it can get very cold at the University of Minnesota, where the varietal was first crossed and tested. After successfully creating the hybrid varietal,  the vines made their way to vineyards, where winemakers used the grapes to produce dry sweet wines or rose wines. Some winemakers have even used Frontenac to make port (as I note below, I can totally see that). 

Located near Jim Thorpe, Pennsylvania, Big Creek Vineyards takes the Frontenac grape and produces a single varietal wine that, as I note above, is intended to stand on its own like a Cabernet Sauvignon wine.  The tasting was very interesting, and, I have not seen Frontenac wines around where I live (perhaps because Cabernet Sauvignon grows a little better around where I live), so I decided to buy a bottle and do a review. 

The Frontenac pours a solid crimson, almost burgundy color.  The color is very deep, almost impenetrable, suggesting a bold wine.  The wine's aromatic elements are expected, with cherries being front and center. I had some difficulty pulling other aromatic elements from the wine, and, my research did not produce much in the way of descriptors for the Frontenac grape.  (There was a lot about Frontenac Gris, but that is a white grape.)

As for the taste, I can totally see why this grape would make a great grape for port wines.  It is a solid wall of cherries, but not any cherries.  The types of cherry flavor one would expect from a port, just without the aguardente or, in cheaper versions, everclear. The fruit is so forward, that one cannot really discern any other taste elements, such as earthiness, in the wine. 

As the first Frontenac wine that I have ever tried, I have to say that Big Creek Vineyard hit it out of the park.  I would never expected a wine like this being produced in the State of Pennsylvania, as opposed to Maryland or Virginia -- or, for that matter, California or Washington. If you happen to find yourself in the Poconos, or, more specifically in Jim Thorpe, check out Big Creek Vineyards and this Frontenac wine. Until next time...


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