Blanc du Bois – For the Hot & Humid
Blanc du Bois is a hybrid grape generated by Professor John Mortenson (a Texan) at the Univ of Florida in 1968, by crossing another hybrid, Florida D 6-148 with Cardinal, a CA table grape. The variety was named for Emile DuBois, a grower who emigrated from France to the U.S. in 1882. It was released to commercial growers in 1987, and has now spread across the southeastern states from Florida to Texas. Hallmark characteristics include crisp acidity, fresh fruit and floral aromas, along with citrusy flavors. Blanc du Bois can be used to produce dry, off-dry, sweet, sparkling and even fortified dessert wines, such as in the style of Madeira.
Perhaps the most important characteristic of Blanc du Bois is its resistance to Pierce's Disease, a serious issue in more humid climates, and a major threat to the Texas wine industry. It is also resistant to downy mildew, and grows well on its own rootstock, so grafting is not required. Coupling the hardy nature of Blanc du Bois with the capacity to produce relatively high yields makes it economically attractive to many growers.
Vitis Viniferia grapes (Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Chardonnay, Viognier, Tempranillo, etc.) are particularly susceptible to Pierce's Disease (PD) which attacks the xylem of vines (the sap conducting corridor between the bark & soft wood). A research team, led by Dr. Mortenson, at Univ of Florida’s Leesburg Research Station, developed Blanc du Bois as a new grape with essentially full resistance to PD. This hybrid grape had parentage from native American muscadine grapes which are naturally resistant to PD. For the past 25 years, Blanc du Bois has proven a good source for white wines in the hot and humid regions of the American Southeast, especially east and south Texas.
Haak Vineyards and Winery, Santa Fe, TX, northwest of Galveston near the Gulf Coast, has led the way in cultivation and vinification of Blanc du Bois in Texas. Building on the success at Haak, a number of Texas vineyards now grow Blanc du Bois and many wineries are producing wines from this variety. Dry Blanc du Bois wines tend to show citrus & grapefruit aromas and flavors with hints of lemon drop, banana and honey – similar in some ways to Sauvignon Blanc. Off-dry Blanc du Bois wines have a clean, crisp character with aromas and flavors of peach, pear and pineapple – similar to many off-dry Rieslings.
Although Blanc du Bois may never garner the public exposure and popularity of many other white grapes, this sturdy variety has shown it can grow well in a challenging climate, avoid the problems of PD, and produce consumer friendly wines. Lost Oak Winery produces both dry and off-dry versions of Blanc du Bois. Included in the June Texas Wine Collective Club Release is the dry Lost Oak Winery Blanc du Bois 2020 Texas appellation, an easy drinking blend of Blanc du Bois (94%, Skinner Bridge Vyd, Canton, TX, Van Zandt Cty) and Malvasia Bianca 6% (JLor Vyd, Burleson, TX, Johnson County). With a lower alcohol level, bouquet of lilacs and star fruit, flavors of peach and key lime citrus, and a bright crisp finish with notes of minerality and ginger, this is a fun wine for summer sipping. Pair with charcuterie cheese trays, chicken salad, ricotta-stuffed chicken breast, or lemon ice-box pie. This is one of the best Blanc du Bois wines you will taste.