Bacchus is the northern answer to Sauvignon Blanc. With a light, fresh, acidic taste, Bacchus is generally a wine produced in colder growing regions. Despite hailing from Germany, this wine is best known for being the poster grape of English wines. It entered popularity in the 1990s and has become a darling of wine lovers around the world.
The Bacchus Wine Grape
Bacchus thrives in the cooler climates of England, Canada, and Switzerland. The cold climate lifts the acidity of the grape, and keeps it from becoming too intense or sugary. Medium yields of the grape are preferred by growers, in order to keep the flavour from becoming overwhelming.
Visually, this wine is a pale straw colour that is reminiscent of a common Sauvignon Blanc or Riesling. The nose meets expectations with bursts of acidity and very gentle fruit.
On the palate, you will find medium-high levels of acidity, without too much interruption from sugars. Notes of cirrus and green apple come to mind, as well as gentle floral nuances and the occasional mention of butter.
Origins & History of the Underdog Wine
Created in early 1933 by Peter Morio, in Germany’s Pfalz area, the grape was a darling. He spliced Muller-Thurgau and a Silvaner-Rielsing cross to develop the Bacchus grape that he’d hoped for. It wasn’t all gravy at first; Bacchus was not permitted as a commercially available wine until the 1970s, and it wasn’t until the 1990s that the varietal took off. When this happened, it was a slow tide for the world as a whole to learn about this grape, but is now loved by savvy wine drinkers and novices alike.
Production & Winemaking
In Germany, Bacchus is used primarily in white wine blends. In these blends, even in small amounts, it imparts a floral accent to the wine. Often, Riesling is planted on the better vineyard sites, and as such, Bacchus has been relegated to the less optimal micro-climates in Germany. Even without the first pick of vineyard space, Bacchus produces enjoyable and high-quality wines that are known worldwide.
In England and Canada it is both added to blends and bottled as a single varietal. Of England’s vineyards, Bacchus represents 10% of total plantings, but much less of Canada’s. First planted by the English in 1973, Bacchus is now a staple in vineyards across England.
For those who like Sauvignon Blanc, Viognier, or unoaked Chardonnays, Bacchus is a great bet. I have found the light, fresh taste to be perfect for spring and summer evenings. This is a refreshing wine that won’t wear out your palate, or overpower common summer snacks. If you’re interested in trying new wines, but unsure where to start, I would recommend a Canadian or English bottle of Bacchus, such as Domaine de Chaberton’s Estate Grown Bacchus.