American Wine Project 2018 “Rivals” Lacrosse

Lacrosse, a modern hybrid cultivar developed by Elmer Swenson in the 1970s, is a cross of Seyval Blanc with a cross of Minnesota 78 and Rosette (also known as Seibel 100) that is early ripening and cold hardy to at least -25 degrees F.

It’s hard to overstate the importance of Swenson to northern wine regions in North America – but that’s a topic for a future post.

American Wine Project is one of the small midwestern producers that I’m most excited about and this wine exemplifies why. Lacrosse is generally placed in the “kind of like riesling” camp of white hybrids – a camp with many grapes that generally taste absolutely nothing like riesling. Owner-winemaker Erin Rasmussen doesn’t treat it like riesling either.

She barrel fermented this complex, savory wine and aged it on the lees for 18 months, which contributes to that complexity and to its wonderful texture.

Hugely aromatic, the nose is layered with Asian pear, dried peach, honey-roasted nuts and a dose of savory Mediterranean herbs. The fruit qualities step forward a bit on a dry, super-fresh palate that still shows great fruity-savory balance thanks to a combination of plump orchard and citrus fruit flavors and spicy, herbal ones sprinkled throughout. Bright acidity and a gently gritty texture frame it all beautifully.

The finish, which is medium-long, shows a hint of honeycomb and orange zest.

It’s been some time since I was this taken with a white hybrid-based wine. I really love the fruit-savory combination here along with the mouthfeel. It shines brightest with food. After tasting, I enjoyed it with homemade pork fried rice.

Producer: American Wine Project
Region: Wisconsin
Vineyard: Harrison Hollow Vineyard (Vernon County, WI)
Winemaking: Barrel fermented and aged on lees for 18 months
Production: 50 cases
ABV: 11.9%
Price: $22*
Score: 91 points

* Review sample provided by the winery

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