Baco Noir is a hybrid grape variety that used to be more common in the Okanagan Valley until the late 1980’s. In planting the vineyards for Ancient Hill, Richard and Jitske Kamphuys sought to create wines with intense fruit flavours using only grapes that were appropriate for growing on their property northeast of Kelowna. “I want to make really tasty wines,” says Richard. Baco Noir turns out to be perfectly suited to the unique microclimate of their estate vineyard.
Making Baco Noir the flagship wine on this special property has been working out well for Ancient Hill, who have developed a fruity, concentrated style.
Most hybrids are made by crossing Vitis Vinifera grapes with Vitis Labrusca grapes. In 1894, French nurseryman Francois Baco opted instead to use a Vitis Riparia for the crossing that resulted in the grape he called Baco Noir. The result is that this grape does not suffer from the off-putting, foxy flavours normally associated with Labrusca hybrid grapes. Two different tank samples of the forthcoming vintage of Baco Noir show very dark colour, intense fruit flavours, and full palate without being overpowering. The variety is easy on tannins as well so for those who like their red wines smooth without grippy tannins (like Syrah), Baco Noir could be for you. The 2012 Baco Noir will be released just in time for summer.
Ancient Hill will be hosting a Dutch ‘King’s Day’ get together at the winery on Sunday, May 3rd during regular opening hours.  Contact the winery for more details.

~ Luke Whittall