Cépages rouges

BALTICA

Very early red variety. The production can be low, except in fertile soil. Highly sensitive to foliar phylloxera, and fairly susceptible to powdery mildew.  Early bud break, moderate to medium vigor. The vine can be pruned to lower cordon, because of its semi-erect growth habit. Small clusters with small berries. Currently, it is the only red variety adapted to very cool summer regions, such as Gaspé Peninsula and Magdalen Islands.  

Varietals: Good rosé. Acceptable red wine during warm summer.

 

FRONTENAC

One of the most productive varieties, it yields 10 to 12 T/ha; a normal production for the Montérégie area (1250 degree-days) where it is much appreciated.  The establishment is fast, very vigorous, and suitable for different soils. The bud burst period is phased out with a strong acrotony (the far-off buds on the stem open first, which delay the bud burst at the base): this helps for an excellent fruit set after a late spring frost. Erect growth habit, loose clusters, 100 to 200g. It can be slightly sensitive to powdery mildew, black rot, anthracnose, and foliar phylloxera: 2 to 3 annual treatments are generally sufficient. The must is high in sugar and acid. It is harvested at the beginning of October at 23-25 Brix, and 10 to 12 g of acidity.

Varietals: Produces very good rosés and ports. Assembled, it brings lots of body and fruit (black cherry, prune), but alone, it lacks tannin. Drinkable when young, but will improve with age. 

 

MARQUETTE

In trials for 10 years in our region, this variety is definitely not as hardy as the Frontenac. Its early and synchronized bud burst requires planting this variety only on good sites. It grows well right up to l’Ile d'Orléans with a sugar level of 23 to 26 Brix. The establishment is fast, erect growth habit, highly vigorous with abundant growth of internodes. Good disease resistance, sometimes with slight powdery mildew. Yields 7 to 10 T/ha. At equal number of buds when pruning, the yield doubles when trained to upper cordon. Produces good wines that resemble the syrah, with white pepper and cedar aromas.  

Varietals: Currently, it is the best hardy red variety. Better to drink when young, does not significantly improve with age. The pH measurement helps to determine the optimal harvesting time; must avoid picking grapes too ripe. Has good tannin, and the acid is easy to control.

 

PETITE PERLE (will be available in 2015 in small quantities for trials).

The best variety from Tom Plocher's breeding program in Minnesota.

Lower production cost when trained to upper cordon because of:  late bud burst, good vigor but manageable, drooping growth habit, little adventitious buds development, few internode development, bearing loads easy to control with only one pruning in the spring, extremely early lignification, and good resistance to disease including rot on bunches.

Compact clusters of 120 to 150 g. Clusters from the secondary buds are as large as the primary buds.  It is an advantage because this variety is not as hardy as the Frontenac. The yield target is 8 T/ha. The must has low acid and beautiful color. Ripens at 23 Brix, but can be pick under or over ripe.

Varietals: Produces fine red wine, tannic, low acid, and not very fruity. Generally assembled with15-20% of Frontenac.

 

SABREVOIS

Hardier and much more disease resistant than the St. Croix, which has the same parents. Must also be pruned on upper cordon due to low bud fertility on lower cordon. Slow to establish, but has enough vigor. Low production cost, yields 8 T/ha when pruned half-long (more buds); little internode development. On well-ventilated sites, some growers will apply only one fungal treatment. Extremely sensitive to sulfur. The sugar level rarely exceeds 19 Brix with medium acidity.

Varietals: The wine ages well, but not everyone appreciates it because of its smoky and strong meat taste, sometimes too intense.  Very hot summers and southern exposure bring out these characteristics. Some growers make rosé.  

 

ST-CROIX

First variety created by Elmer Swenson in the early 1980s that had impacted the viticulture.  Unless it is planted in a thin and dry soil, this vine has to be trained to upper cordon due to its drooping growth habit and high vigor. Sensitive to mildew, black rot, and excoriose. Susceptible to coulure because of its high vigor, and the difficulty to assimilate the boron.

Varietals: Produces good fruity red wines when choosing appropriate yeasts, and a semi-carbonic maceration. Produces good rosés, and recalls St. Pepin for the white wine. Regardless of the season, the sugar level will rarely reach higher than 19 Brix, with low acid. 

 

RADISSON

Previously known as E.S. 5-17. Almost hardier than the Sabrevois, this variety is also disease resistant, and slightly susceptible to powdery mildew. Very good extraction rates. With very high bud fertility, it needs special attention to bearing loads. Good yield. Interesting alternative to St. Croix. Variety for areas with 1000 to 1100 degree-days. In warmer regions, it loses lots of fruit taste, and develops undesirable flavors during the wine making process.

Varietals: The must has low acid, is slightly sweet, and light-colored (20 Brix), which give the vine some qualities when blended with Sabrevois and Marquette. Beautiful grapes with some potential for table grapes.

 

COMMENT

We still often hear that Quebec will never be able to produce good red wines because of its cold climate. The most common reason is that the summer season is too short.  This thought comes from the first experiment in making red wine in Quebec – 25 years ago! The established varieties were originated from regions where the climate was significantly warmer than here. Mature tannins are essential to produce quality red wine, and the grapes could rarely reach their full potential, only if the season was favorable. That’s why the grape growers had to get around the problem by creating varieties that were hardier and better adapted to our climate. The end result of years of experimentation by the breeders is the Marquette, the Frontenac, and the Petite Perle.  This is just a step towards developing new varieties that are cold hardiness, disease resistance, and therefore, more productive with lower production cost.

Mariette LagueuMarquetteSerre Viticulture A&MAdalmiinaSerre Viticulture A&MPetite perleAlain BreaultES10-18-30