Monday, 28 February 2011

Triomphe d'Alsace

The lowly hybrid Triomphe d'Alsace has never made a good wine and rarely even a drinkable one. We should know having tried to do so ourselves on several occasions and having tasted as many commercial examples as possible whether in blends or straight.

Triomphe's only virtue seems to be that the vine itself is immensely obliging. Whatever you do or don't do in terms of pruning, spraying, feeding etc. it will come through almost anything the English and for all we know Welsh, Irish and maybe even Scottish climates can throw at it with fruit ripe enough to make wine of sorts. It's the wine that is the problem - or has been until now.

We started off trying to get as much sugar and concentration as possible but this mongrel crossing (K319/3 Knipperle x Vitis riperia x Vitis rupestris or else Vitis riparia × Vitis rupestris × Goldriesling, no one seems sure) has a thoroughly unpleasant bitter characteristic which precluded it from making cooking wine, Sangria, vinegar or any use whatsoever. We then asked our winemaker, the brilliant Vince Gower of Stanlake Park to try to get more acid and less fruit into the equation and in 2009 he produced something almost drinkable if rather peculiar.

Our 2010 harvest was going to be our last attempt at making wine. In the meanwhile we had discovered that our grapes made a delicious grape juice so if we couldn't make wine this time it would be grape juice in future. We decided to try just one more thing - a blanc de noirs.

Triomphe is a teinturier with red flesh as well as skins so as well as being a ridiculous concept, it was never actually going to make a white wine and so it happened that we ended up with a pink one.

Vince has filtered and stripped out the unpleasant Triomphe flavours leaving a light, slightly watery but hopefully refreshing rose that could have come from one of the lower shelves at the supermarket. A triomphe indeed!

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