Missouri is celebrating Vidal Blanc throughout the month of June.
Known for its crisp and clean flavor, Vidal Blanc is a French-American hybrid-white grape. In the Missouri wine industry, it accounts for 5.9 percent of the grapes produced in the state, growing on a total of nearly 140 acres.
“We have made every imaginable type of white wine out of it,” says Chuck Dressel, president of Mount Pleasant Estates in Augusta.
His winery has been growing Vidal Blanc since the early 1970s, or as he puts it, for as long as he can remember.
“We were one of the first ones in the United States to make ice wine from it,” he says. “We’ve made sweet wines, dry wines, barrel-fermented wines.
“With a higher tonnage, you can make a Riesling-style wine, and with a lower tonnage you can make an elegant, Italian-style white wine. It can also lend itself to be with oak and make a really lovely Chardonnay-style wine.”
The taste of Vidal Blanc is driven by orchard fruits — pear, apple, lemon and grapefruit all contribute to the flavor composition. In fact, Dressell says, “A great Vidal Blanc just tastes like the best pear you’ve ever eaten.”
Different vintners take different approaches. Dresser’s winery chooses to blend it with other white grapes to create blends with a profile similar to Pinot Grigio. Mount Pleasant Estates also releases a Vidal varietal that is popular with consumers. Some producers use the grape to craft a sparkling wine.
Vidal Blanc — especially its drier, oaky versions — pairs well with light foods: seafood, chicken, mozzarella, split pea soup, citrus, butter, asparagus, broccoli, melon, ceviche, sushi and pasta with a light cream sauce all complement Vidal’s flavor profile.
Missouri Wines describes the scent of Vidal as a fresh summer garden. Along those lines, its Vidal Blanc Month initiative has adopted the tagline, “Missouri Wines invites you to enjoy a backyard vacation with Vidal Blanc.”
Participants can use #VidalMonth on social media for further information or to share their own Vidal Blanc observations.