A brief tasting of Minnesota (!) wines
by Thor Iverson
Minnesota wine. The very idea is absurd. And yet, the lure of a trio of wines from Alexis Bailly of Hastings, Minnesota is, on a recent visit to the homeland, ultimately irresistible. “Where the grapes can suffer” is a frequently-appearing tagline on the labels, and having grown up in Minnesota, it certainly fits. Frankly, one has to have a severely masochistic streak to even attempt winemaking in the land of 10 trillion mosquitoes and endless sub-zero days.
Alexis Bailly “Country Red” (Minnesota) – Pérlant and somewhat volatile, with a foxy, hybrid-ish core. But the fruit is good, albeit somewhat candied (more jarred Maraschino than Fruit Roll-Up, though there are some darker berries in the mix as well), and the winemaking is otherwise pure, fun, and almost joyful. With a little less volatility, this would taste like a fine chambourcin-dominated blend, which from me is fairly high praise. (8/07)
Alexis Bailly “Country White” (Minnesota) – Sweet, synthetic hard candies, with a cotton candy finish punished by sour, out-of-place acidity. This is pretty awful. I’m surprised; I would have thought the whites from this winery would have a greater chance at success than the reds. (8/07)
Alexis Bailly “Ice Wine” (Minnesota) – Very credible, with concentrated yet ethereal sweetness highly reminiscent of quality ice wines from elsewhere. The major “flaw” (the scare quotes mean it’s not actually an error, merely a lack) is a lack of otherwise identifiable character...either varietal or site-derived. But if there’s one thing that should be easy to achieve in a Minnesota vineyard, it’s frozen grapes. (8/07)
Copyright © Thor Iverson.