Catawba: I make a back-sweetened rose' wine with these grapes. Currently I grow 5 of these vines and that gives me around 10 gallons yearly.
Widely grown in Ohio and Central NY as early as the mid 19th century and widely used for sparkling wine, Catawba was the most popular grape cultivated in the US prior to the introduction of Concord, and was the major variety used for wine production in Ohio prior to Prohibition. Catawba is a spicy-flavored, red slipskin grape. Clusters are medium to large and well formed; fruit is medium-sized, round and purplish-red with a distinctive flavor.(From Double A Vineyard)
The Concord grape is a cultivar derived from the grape species Vitis labrusca (also called fox grape) that are used as table grapes, wine grapes and juice grapes. They are often used to make grape jelly, grape juice, grape pies, grape-flavored soft drinks, and candy. ( wikipedia)
Like the Catawba, I back sweeten this wine prior to bottling. These native varieties- Concord, Catawba and Niagara have a high acid level which is too high to bottle the wine dry, so back-sweetening is necessary. I prefer not to use chemical means to reduce the acidity such as calcium carbonate. I'd rather just back-sweeten and the wine comes out slightly sweet, tart and pleasant to drink on a summer's day. Most wine drinkers don't prefer concord wine due to its foxy flavor and sweetness. Although I prefer reds, concord is one of my favorite wines to drink.
Corot Noir: Corot Noir produces distinctive deep red wine with attractive berry and cherry aromas and can be used for varietal wine production or for blending. Corot Noir is considered to represent a distinct improvement in red wine varietal options available to cold climate producers.(Double A)
This grape challenges me to make a great wine with it; and so far I'm winning. This wine is fermented to dryness and then put through malolactic fermentation. After MLF is complete it is then oaked with American oak. This grape is challenging because it always has an off odor early in it's life which dissipates over time into a nice bouquet ( I can't explain it)
Compared to my other red wine vines, this vine has suffered winter damage during a polar vortex winter a few years ago which resulted in crown gall of which I need to bypass the gall with another trunk (spare parts viticulture.) Other wise these vines are disease resistant in my vineyard and grow rather well. They're just more sensitive than my other vines.
Frontenac: Frontenac produces grapes with high sugar and high acidity used to produce dry red wine, rosé, and port. Wines typically present aromas of cherry and other red fruits. Acid reducing techniques are often used by the winemaker.
This grape gets similar treatment as the corot noir. It is fermented to dryness, put through malolactic fermentation and is then aged on French oak for a short time. This grape ripens with very high acidity, upwards of 1.1% T.A. I try to allow it to hang for as long as possible to lower the acid but mother nature has a way of keeping me from doing it for long. Folks complain of the high acid but there are options to deal with it such as:
- Malolactic Fermentation
- Cold stabilization
-Calcium carbonate ( I don't prefer this method
When making this wine, all that I've had to do is MLF and the acidity comes down quite a bit. I use Viniflora ch-35. This malolactic bacteria works well under adverse conditions which is perfect for a less than perfect winemaker like myself.
Another known issue with this wine and other hybrids is the low tannin or the tannin isn't released. In this case fermentation tannins and aging tannins are needed. In the beginning of fermentation I use Tannin FT Rouge. I just read tannin becomes bound and some wineries are experimenting with adding tannin after fermentation is over. I have yet to do this. Once the wine has been oaked I use Tannin Complex. When using this tannin, bench trials are needed to determine the best addition rate. I've read some wineries are adding twice the recommended amount! I have yet to try such an addition but I plan to because last year's wine was lacking in the tannin department.
Niagara: Niagara grapes are a variety of the North American grape species Vitis labrusca and are used as table grapes and for wines, as well as jams and juice. Niagara is the leading green grape grown in the United States. (wikipedia)
After harvest, the grapes are immediately crushed and pressed and the juice fermented. The wine is back-sweetened prior to bottling. This wine, like the catawba and concord, the acid isn't really tested because I know it's sky high! Balancing the acidity with sweetening is fine for me and gets great results.
Léon Millot is a sister of Marechal Foch, earlier-ripening and typically more productive. Wines are similar to those made from Foch with distinct berry aromas and are often blended with Foch. (Double A)
Growing many different varietals poses different challenges. Each grape blooms at different times and need sprayed and tended to at different times rather than all in one wave. Eventually they come together but it's tough in the beginning. I deal with this because it brings diversity to the cellar! Instead of having just one or two kinds of wine, I have a bunch!