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Inside the Vine: Grand Noir

If you have a special place in your heart for winemaking, you’ll love the story of our Grand Noir grape! Read on and discover the vine that was saved from extinction to create one of our favorite wines. 


You’ll often see us using the phrase “from grape to glass.” That’s because an excellent glass of wine all starts with spectacular grapes. While the terroir of a vineyard does add unique qualities, the care and expertise that goes into each vine is even more important. So, when one vineyard discovered an almost-extinct variety of grape, they took on the challenge of cultivating it and helping it thrive.

The success of this venture, and the one-of-a-kind wine it ended up creating, is what inspired us to start our “Inside the Vine” series. Here, we’ll dive into the details of different grape varieties and explain what makes each one so special. Your favorite bottle of wine likely owes its uniqueness to one or two specific types of grapes, so why not celebrate them!

This week we’re celebrating the Grand Noir grape and its journey from near extinction to being one of our most prized vines. 


Grand Noir Toscana IGT

Once you’ve tried a bottle of our Grand Noir, you’ll understand why someone would work so hard to save the grape it was named for.

Grand Noir wine - SECCO Wine Club

It’s been compared to a Pinot Noir, but honestly, it’s in a category all on its own. The texture is, in one word, velvety. Its black pepper and balsamic notes give it that classic pinot noir flavor. However, its subtle blueberry and strawberry flavors give it the perfect touch of sweetness. The mix of fruity and savory flavors make it particularly versatile when it comes to pairing with food. It’s spicy, light-body make it a delicious addition to Asiatic cuisines, light meals, or a variety of appetizers. 

But exactly where does this wine get its phenomenal flavor from? The grapes for which it was named after are all selected and harvested by hand, but that’s not the only special thing about them.


The Story of the Grand Noir Grape

In 1885,  this grape was created by Henri Bouschet at his Calmette estate in Southern France. He crossed the Aramond and Petit Bouschet grapes to create the Grand Noir grape we know and love today. Due to a variety of reasons, however, it almost disappeared forever.

When Piergiorgio Castellani found it growing on the Poggio Al Casone estates in Italy, he was inspired. He wanted to discover where this unique grape came from and what kind of wine it might create. His expertise with grapevines allowed him to graft a sample of this plant into his experimental vineyard. Once he was able to sample the wine produced by this particular grape, he quickly fell in love. The light-bodied, velvet texture with spice and berry flavors further inspired his passion for reviving this almost lost vine.

This led him to a fifteen-year collaboration with the University of Pisa to research and understand more about Grand Noir. In the end, his efforts saved this grape from extinction, and the Poggio al Casone estate now hosts the largest Grand Noir vineyard in the entire world. 

PALO61 estate - SECCO Wine Club

Why the Grand Noir Vine Almost Went Extinct

Honestly, it became rarer and rarer for several reasons, the main reason being how much care the vines tend to need. They’re particularly susceptible to powdery mildew, so it’s necessary to have an expert grape-grower on hand to regularly examine them.

It’s also a high-yielding vine that can require pruning in the winter or even green harvesting. While having a high-yield vine may sound like a good thing, it can often lead to diluted or unripe grapes. By removing immature grape bunches, it forces the vine to put more energy into the grapes that remain. Theoretically, this helps ensure more ripeness and more fully expressed flavor and aroma. This isn’t always necessary, which is why these grapes aren’t recommended for new growers. 

Basically, this vine is finicky. With the right soil and climate, it can grow beautifully. However, it needs small adjustments here and there to ensure it remains healthy and produces grapes with fully expressed flavors.


Go Grand with a Bottle of Grand Noir from SECCO Wine Club

We’re honored to offer this particular bottle to our club members because it’s truly a rarity in a glass. This wine is one of the best examples of the phrase, “from grape to glass.” Without the passion, dedication, and expertise of Piergiorgio Castellani, this grape may very well have gone extinct. So every time you enjoy a sip of this truly memorable wine, we hope the story of the Grand Noir grape enriches the wine tasting experience. 

We hope this story helped you understand why we work so hard to create and offer additive-free wines with the best ingredients. If you’re ready to be part of our story, be sure to subscribe to our Wine Club to get a discount on your favorite bottles every month. 

Not sure if you’re ready for full membership? No problem! Check out any of our bottles and feel free to snag one or two whenever you feel like it. Either way, be sure to follow us on Instagram for all the latest updates and new releases.