Vidal Blanc is a hybrid grape — a cross between Ugni Blanc and Rayon d’Or — created in the 1930s by Jean Louis Vidal. If you’re from the sunny state of California, as I am, and have never heard of this varietal, that’s not surprising and nor are you alone. Because of the grape’s thick skin, it thrives best in cold, even downright icy regions. In fact, it is considered one of the great grapes of Canada, where it’s often used to create ice wines — wines created by picking the grapes when they’re frozen and contain more concentrated sugar levels.
Maryland does have cooler temperatures (sometimes dangerously frost-filled winters), which opens up the vineyard playing field to interesting grapes like Vidal Blanc. And, while this is no dessert wine, be warned my dry white wine lovers, that you’re in for an interesting twist ahead with the Big Cork Vineyards expression of this quirky grape.