Wine of the Month: Vignoles

Vignoles is a hybrid grape that was developed in the late 1920s by French grape scientist Jean Francois Ravat. He tried 50 times before he reached this magnificent marriage of Seibel and Pinot Noir, which he eponymously named Ravat 51. Although it was originally planted in the Cote D’Or region of Burgundy in France, it thrived in the northeastern United States, New York and Michigan in particular, where it was renamed Vignoles after a town near the site of its original planting.


Sharrott Winery Vignoles is semi-sweet with fresh acidity and lots of apricot and honey overtones. Our first vintage was very creamy, characteristic of the long hot summer of 2008. Successive vintages have benefitted from more variable growing seasons and strict temperature controls at harvest, resulting in crisper, lighter wines with aromas of apricot and citrus matched on the palate with a touch of honeyed sweetness.


Despite its easy-drinking nature, Vignoles is far more challenging in the vineyard than the glass. It needs to be in cooler growing areas and grows leafy vines. This makes it a popular choice for gardeners when they need a vine to cover a trellis but not so hot for winemakers tasked with managing leaf growth because the leafier the vine, the more energy is being misdirected away from the grapes to the foliage.

Another element that adds to the difficulty posed by Vignoles is its late ripening nature. It grows in tight grape clusters that make it difficult for breezes to blow through and dry grapes moist from respiration and rain, which can lead to rot or fungus. But not all rot is bad. During years when the conditions are warm and breezy enough to control the process, the grapes may rot just a bit and dry on the vine, developing noble rot, a condition that concentrates the juices and sugars inside the grapes, adding an elegant, honeyed sweetness to the wine that results.

Food and Cheese Pairings


Vignoles is very nice with spicy dishes or meals with a fragrant element. Coconut curries garnished with lime pair well, especially when there is a touch of heat to the spice, which makes the wine seem a bit drier and accentuates the citrus notes. Pork loin works well when prepared with some of the aromatic notes in the wine. A personal favorite is Vignoles paired with tenderloin seared and grilled after being stuffed with a mixture of apricots and pistachio nuts.

Vignoles pairs well with semi-firm cheeses and also works well as a marinade to add a touch of sweetness to chicken or lamb.

If you are feeling adventurous mix it with Crimson Sky for a Criminoles, a fresh and fruity blend of Vignoles and Crimson Sky.

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