Ohio State University researcher Patrick Pierquet is credited with helping to develop Itasca during his time at the University of Minnesota, and Montana winegrower Robert Thaden was among the first to plant this winter-hardy white variety soon after it was released to the U.S. wine industry in 2017. An offspring of Frotenac Gris, its natural brightness arrives early with aromas of kumquat, cantaloupe, apricot and beeswax. On the palate, it’s reminsicent of cool-climate Pinot Gris or brisk white Rhône blend, bringing a wealth of fresh-squeezed lime juice, starfruit and a spring of fresh mint that will quench a thirst and call for seafood. For those interested in acquiring plant material, Inland Desert Nursery near Red Mountain is an option, according to the home of the Golden Gophers. Last year, Thaden earned a pair of double gold medals during the Cascadia International Wine Competition for work with hybrids St. Pépin and Frontenac Blanc off his Miles City estate near this tributary of the Yellowstone River, so his delicious trailblazing with young Itasca is not a surprise.
Production: 20 cases