Seyval Blanc Grape Variety & Wine Profile
Seyval Blanc is another French-American hybrid grape that is outlawed for quality wine production in its country of creation because it does not have 100% vinifera genes. This grape is a cross between Seibel 5656 and Rayon d’Or, and it was created in 1921 by French grape breeder Bertill Seyve and his son-in-law, Villard, hence the names that it is known by, Seyve Villard and Seyval Blanc. For a bit of context, Seibel is a classification of grapes that originated with Albert Seibel, who was known for developing phylloxera-resistant grape varieties.
Though Seyval Blanc is no longer used in France, it is widely planted along the East Coast in the United States and up into Canada, and there are even some plantings in Oregon. It is also a popular variety in England and Wales, although, the E.U. ban on quality wine using this grape has caused some problems with production in the U.K.
In the vineyard, Seyval Blanc ripens early and is extremely suitable to cool and colder climates. The best soils to grow this variety are deep, loamy, well-drained soils that hold some moisture. Large clusters contain small berries and the fruit is very susceptible to powdery mildew and botrytis. Because the grape contains high acidity, many producers will use oak aging and malolactic fermentation to soften acidity and add body to the wines, which are usually extremely light in style. Seyval Blanc is popular in Ice Wine production in Canada when it is left on the vine into the early winter months. Its natural high acidity and lower sugar content at ripeness also makes it an ideal candidate for sparkling wines. Additionally, Seyval Blanc is found as a single varietal dry or semi-sweet white or in blends with other white grapes.
In the glass, Seyval Blanc as a dry single varietal is a light, crisp wine with high acidity and aromas and flavors of citrus, green apple, honeydew melon, and noticeable minerality. Some have compared it to a Chablis, and have even gone as far as to call it “East Coast Chardonnay,” due to its common Burgundian style and abundance of plantings along the East Coast of the U.S. from the Carolinas to the Finger Lake region in New York State.
Seyval Blanc Food Pairings
When it comes to food pairings, Seyval Blanc is best with summer salads, chicken, and seafood like clams, oysters, and whitefish. It is also a good match for dilled cheeses like Havarti. Semi-sweet styles of the wine would be perfect to accompany a spicier seafood meal like Thai shrimp.
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Written By Jacqueline Coleman
Jacqueline Coleman is a professional wine + travel writer, wine judge, columnist, and consultant based in Miami, FL.