Saturday, November 18, 2023

Grape Spotlight: Louisiana Blanc Du Bois from Landry Vineyards

Pierce's disease is a bacterial disease caused by Xylella fastidiosa, which lives in the water-conducting system of grapevines and is spread from plant to plant by sap-feeding insects. Glassy-winged sharpshooter, an exotic plant pest, is a key vector. Symptoms of Pierce's disease in grapevines include leaf scorch, where leaves become yellow around the leaf margins or between the veins, and the outer leaf area may dry suddenly while the rest of the leaf remains green. Affected leaves are less vigorous and smaller than healthy leaves. 

Grape growers in the Southeast and Texas are susceptible to Pierce's disease primarily because of their humid climate. Native muscadine grapes are mostly resistant to the disease but not Vitis Viniferia or French Hybrids. Enter Blanc Du Bois. Researchers at the University of Florida’s Leesburg Research Station, began a program to create a new grape that was fully resistant to Pierce's disease. Led by Dr. John Mortenson, in 1968, the team was able to develop a complex hybrid grape from crossing a Florida-developed muscadine hybrid (Florida D 6-148) with the Cardinal (a Vitis vinifera L.) table grape. They called this new white grape Blanc Du Bois, after Emile DuBois, a noted grower who emigrated from France to the U.S. in 1882.  As a wine grape, it is known to create white wines with floral and citrus flavors with decent acidity. 

Blanc Du Bois is now found in parts of Texas as well as Florida, Georgia, and Louisiana. In the Pelican State, Jeff Landry has been cultivating Blanc Du Bois since he founded Landry Vineyards in 1999. The winery and estate used to be located in eastern Louisiana, but moved post-Katrina to West Monroe, in north-central Louisiana, where the soils, hills and climate are more suitable to growing wine grapes. In the new estate, they cultivate 16 acres of vines, specializing in Blanc Du Bois, Lenoir/Black Spanish and Crimson Cabernet (I envision a few more spotlights).  Over the past 20 years, they have improved the quality of the their grapes through canopy management, cover crops, composting, leaf pulling, and other vineyard practices -- many from recommendation from Viticulturist, Fritz Westover.

I purchased this Landry Vineyards Louisiana Grown Blanc Du Bois ($13) while in Lafayette and this Louisiana Certified Craft Beverage is dry and flavorful with a floral aroma and citrus profile. There's also depth which hints at some type of oak treatment. Would only ask for a little more acidity - otherwise a pleasant wine at a very reasonable price. 

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