This past week we traveled to Westport Rivers Vineyard & Winery(MA) to meet with one of the owners(Rob Russell) to discuss grapevine grafting. Westport Rivers is approaching it’s 40th birthday in the next few years which is quite an accomplishment and is still being run by family members. They have been known over the years for their high quality sparkling wines from the important “Champagne” vinifera varieties. Their total vineyard acreage is a whopping 80 acres. What I did not know was that they had branched out into hybrid varieties. They smartly put these vines in the coldest areas of the vineyard that consistently made the vinifera struggle. After finishing our grafting discussion with Rob we gifted a chenin blanc to him. He then assembled a 4 pack of wines including still and sparkling wines for us to take home with us…very generous of him.
One of those bottles was a hybrid blend they now make from grapes grown in their vineyard. That bottle was a 2019 River Flatts Red made from 55% Marquette and 45% Petite Pearl which are both hybrids developed from the Univ of Minnesota grape breeding program. It’s been a long time since I have had a still wine from hybrid grapes. So, last night in the sleet I went outside to quickly sear a flank steak marinated in a South American concoction I found online for a Barbacoa style beef. We opened the River Flatts Red to have with this beef dish, red beans & rice, and green salad.
TN: Popped and poured from a bordeaux style bottle with a DIAM 5 cork. In the glass this wine shows a dark ruby & purple plum color and is nicely clear. On the nose I get a nice slight earthy leather aroma. In the mouth this wine hits with black cherry and red plum fruits leading to a spiciness finish. Nicely integrated tannins and the overall balance of acidity to the wine makes this a very nice wine. There is none of that greenness I associate with most hybrid wines. This matched beautifully with our flank steak and my sense is that this wine has the versatility to pair with hearty Italian or Portuguese red sauces or a nice burger. Rob told me that this wine spent some time in French oak following primary fermentation. Nothing is out of place in this perfectly balanced wine. In many respects it reminds me of a GSM wine. Very enjoyable and well worth the stop at Westport Rivers Vineyard & Winery if you are in the Westport MA area.