The quest to visit more Minnesota Wineries continues and I think I have found my favorite. Alexis Bailly has been around the longest of all the wineries in Minnesota and you can tell. They have it down! They know what they like, they know what they can grow and they know what sells.
The have a beautiful barn for a tasting room with amazing timbers, a fireplace (it was on when we were there) and the cutest winery dog I have ever seen. The best part of visiting Alexis Bailey on a cold Sunday in May? The owner was there enjoying some wine and loved that we stopped out. We got to hear the vision, how they got started and what works for them.
Opting to taste all the wine (it is the only way to accurately describe what they have to offer!). I actually really liked all the wines but my favorites were the Seyval Blanc, Rose Noir and the Voyageur. I wanted to buy all of them but limited myself to one bottle of the Rose Noir.
STYLE: A bold red wine of blended old world french grapes and new varieties developed to survive Minnesota winters
ALCOHOL: 13%, no residual sweetness
Our Voyageur wine was named for the French/Canadian pioneers who paddled the waterways in their birch bark canoes from the St. Lawrence seaway through the Mississippi, finding their way to Hastings led by our 4th great grandfather, Alexis Bailly.
Our wine reflects that pioneering spirit in taking our old world grape varieties from France (the Leon Millot and Marechal Foch grapes) that were the orignal plantings in our vineyard in 1973 and blending them with the new world grapes developed at the University of Minnesota (the Frontenac grape).
The wine is deeply colored with rich flavor, bold and opulent fruit flavors of black berries, smoky vanilla aromas from extensive aging in new mid-western oak barrels, a wonderfully balanced wine that drinks deliciously when young yet rewards you with greater complexity as it ages from 3 8 years in the bottle. Pair with similarly robust foods, hearty pastas, grilled meats, wild game, but know that it drinks soft and supple all on its own.
RATAFIA ($19.99/500ml btl)
STYLE: A red fortified sweet dessert wine infused with other fruits, herbs and spices
ALCOHOL: 19%, Residual Sweetness: 12%
This delightful orange-infused wine blends rich, red grapes with tangy citrus and notes of vanilla. Toasty. Spicy. Nutty. A unique fortified wine that works as an aperitif, cocktail or dessert. The bottle comes from Italy, but the wine is an ABV original.
HASTINGS RESERVE ($18.99/btl)
STYLE: A red fortified sweet dessert wine
ALCOHOL: 18%, Residual Sweetness: 8%
A delicious sweet and fortified dessert wine, our Hastings Reserve is made in the style of a ruby Port, emphasizing both youthful fruit and a maturity of flavor. With an abundance of jammy, berry fruit, the rich, raisiny flavor is enhanced by the warm and spirituous addition of brandy.
Made from a number of different grape varieties including Frontenac, Marechal Foch and Leon Millot, we blend wines made from several vintages, each wine aged for at least 2 years and up to 8 years in a combination of French, American and old whiskey barrels. The result is a wine of magnificent complexity and depth of flavor. Drinkable upon release, this dessert wine can age in the bottle for 5 to 10 years and provide the patient drinker with an even more incredible intensity of flavor to savor.
STYLE: A dry red table wine
ALCOHOL: 13%, no residual sweetness
Our newest varietal, the Frontenac grape was developed at the University of Minnesota to survive the extremes of the Minnesota climate. We make a big, robust style of wine from this hardy grape, loaded with black berry fruit and a deep, richly pigmented color (a real tooth-stainer!). The wine is aged in 60% new oak barrels in order to give the wine a smoky, earthy balance to its intensity of fruit.
We use a majority of Minnesota grown oak, staves produced from trees grown in Houston County south of Winona, then sent to California to be coopered into barrels by a French company.
For the first time, we will not have to bury our vines to get them through the winter. The Frontenac has been recorded as surviving -35 degrees below zero! This is a promising new wine for our future.
COUNTRY RED ($14.99/btl)
STYLE: A dry red table wine
ALCOHOL: 12%, no residual sweetness
Blended from a variety of hearty grapes, we use both French and American hybrids that were developed for the type of cold climate where we grow our grapes.
A dry red similar in style to the earthy wines of the Rhone Valley in France, the Country Red is light to medium bodied with a taste of cherries and a hint of spice.
With no designation of grape, and no commitment to a single vintage, we are able to make a wine delightfully suited to our tastes. The Country Red is a wine with no pretense, just pure hedonistic pleasure in every bottle, meant for every day drinking, and styled to go with everyday meals.
ISIS – ICE WINE ($38.99/375ml btl)
STYLE: A sweet
ALCOHOL: 14%, Residual Sweetness: 14%
ISIS is made in the style of the famous Eiswein from Germany. The grapes are frozen, but it is only the water that freezes, and is then removed as ice. What is left behind is a wonderfully sweet juice to ferment into the luscious nectar known asISIS.
Reminiscent of ripe apricots and peaches, citrus fruits and honey, the crisp acids maintained in our cold climate naturally balance our ISIS – Ice Wine. As we continue to struggle with the white grapes we traditionally have used to make this wine
( many of them have died off in our vineyard from lack of snow cover in winter), we look forward to the new varieties we are planting to replace them beginning this year with the LaCrescent, a variety developed at the University of Minnesota.
SEYVAL BLANC ($14.99/ btl)
STYLE: A dry white table wine
ALCOHOL: 11%, no residual sweetness
The Seyval Blanc is our premium white wine. Named for the French Horticulturist who developed the variety during WWI, the Seyval came to the United States in the 1960′s when pioneers, like David Bailly, were looking for wine grapes that could be grown outside of the norms of Califonia. With its balance of clean bright fruit and a dry crisp finish, the Seyval is a wine that is both elegant and appealing.
COUNTRY WHITE ($12.99/btl)
STYLE: A semi-dry white table wine
ALCOHOL: 11%, Residual Sweetness: 1%
Fruity, soft and slightly off dry, the Country White is an easy drinking wine to take pleasure in drinking everyday. Named for the Vin du Pays wines of France (translated as Country Wine) to reflect the regional wines that are distinctive and meant for local consumption. This is a charming wine meant to be drunk while the fruit is young and fresh. It has broad appeal and can be enjoyed with or without food. Serve well chilled.
ROSÉ NOIR ($12.99/btl)
STYLE: A semi-sweet rosé wine
ALCOHOL: 11%, Residual Sweetness: 1.5%
This is a popular and easy style of blush wine that is light-bodied with semi-sweet fruit that will remind you of raspberries. We suggest serving this wine well-chilled in the company of good friends, on a picnic, or any time on its own. The sweetness of the wine is well balanced with our cool climate acidity, so it is never cloying and allows the wine to match well with food.
BAILLY’S RESERVE CHOCOLATE PORT ($19.99/btl)
STYLE: A rich ruby port wine infused with chocolate
ALCOHOL: 19% with 9.5% residual sugar
Our newest wine takes our port one step further by adding natural chocolate essence to a special blend of our Hastings Reserve creating a sexy, romantic dessert wine that captures the delicious alluring flavors of both the grape and that most intoxicating flavor of all, chocolate. Enjoy sipping a glass all on its own at the end of a meal, like a chocolate pie in a bottle.