Louisiana-made beverages have come a long way in the last decade, with a flurry of new craft breweries and rum distilleries opening recently. But what about wine? Is Louisiana capable of producing wine that can complement our culinary tapestry?
More wine drinkers are saying yes, and their gateway grape is blanc du bois, a dry, fruit-forward white that pairs neatly with spicy foods and seafood dishes.
Grown in Texas, Louisiana and other parts of the Deep South, the wine variety’s crispness and acidity make it a good fit for crawfish, shrimp, oysters and lots of other native eats, says local food personality Jay Ducote. In 2015, Ducote partnered with Louisiana-based Landry Vineyards to launch a private label called Jay D’s Blanc du Bois.
“I tried the wine and really liked it,” Ducote says. “It meant a lot to me that it was a wine produced in the state with a grape grown in the state. It’s a true Louisiana agricultural product.”
Humidity in the Deep South makes it challenging to grow traditional wine grapes, which is why muscadine and other fruit wines occupy a longstanding part of our regional wine traditions.
But the blanc du bois grape was made for humidity. It’s a hybrid developed in the late 1960s by University of Florida researchers who were determined to create a grape resistant to Pierce’s disease, which is caused by a grapevine bacterium that thrives in humid climates.
Landry Vineyards has grown and produced the grapes for its blanc du bois since 2001. Once located in Folsom, the winery moved to West Monroe after Hurricane Katrina hit in 2005. A popular regional attraction, the winery features 20 acres of vineyards, a tasting room and production facility and hosts regular music concerts on the grounds in the spring and fall.
“The move to West Monroe has been good,” says Landry Vineyards Wholesale Marketing Manager Dan Nash. “It’s distinct because it has good hills and conditions for growing grapes.” The vineyard produces several different categories of wines including blends, fruit wines and traditional wines like chardonnay, merlot, cabernet sauvignon and meritage (which they call bayoutage), made from grapes grown on the West Coast. Its blanc du bois wine, produced with grapes grown on site, is a signature product.
In 2016, when Ducote cooked at the James Beard House in New York, he served Landry Vineyards Jay D’s Blanc du Bois 2015 with a course of blackened red snapper and Cajun tasso-corn maque choux and jalapeño relish.
“It goes well with so many of our foods,” Ducote says. “We serve it for a lot of our pop-up dinners, and it’s great for anyone at a crawfish boil who doesn’t want to drink beer.”
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This article was originally published in the October 2017 issue of 225 Magazine.