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Mirabelles - Plums What is the difference?

Posted by mes111 6 (My Page) on
Tue, Feb 11, 14 at 8:51

I tried searching for information on the net about the differences between Mirabelles and Plums but I just kept getting more and more confused.

Does anyone here have any actual hands-on experience growing mirabelles and can share information about flavor, habits, growing requirements etc.

Thanx
Mike


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: Mirabelles - Plums What is the difference?

Hi Mike, I grow Mirabelles. They are a tiny French plum that are very sweet and perfume-like in flavor (to me). The Mirabelle de Metz is primarily yellow and makes great jam. The Mirabelle de Nancy is a better fresh eating plum, but I eat them both from the tree. The plum is larger than a sweet cherry. Everything about the tree seems minature. The fruiting spurs and the small white flowers. Mirabelles are a delicacy which I have been eating for years. Or. . .occasionally drinking in a bit of eau de vie. They are originally from China, then found a serious home for propagation in Alsace-Lorraine. This area in France made famous by 'quiche' is also famous for mirabelle plums. They are considered a European specialty/delicacy plum. They are fabulous. Mine have taken four years to just start fruiting. I will have my first large crop on my three trees this year. My zone is a bit warmer than yours. Check the temperatures in Metz or Nancy France to see if your climate will work. I do know that Konrad, way up north in Canada has grafted branches of Mirabelles. They are my all time favorite plum. Mrs. G


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RE: Mirabelles - Plums What is the difference?

MrsG

Thanx....

They do look interesting. I think I'll give it a try with 3 or 4 varieties to start.

Thanx
Mike


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RE: Mirabelles - Plums What is the difference?

Mike, stick to the real ones (Metz and Nancy) they taste the best. Nancy also is yellow but has a red blush and red specks on it. It is tedious to remove the pits but well worth the work. Mrs. G


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RE: Mirabelles - Plums What is the difference?

Yes,...Mrs.G is bang on with the info.
I have a top grafted branch producing for around 10 years now,.. this is the Nancy, very sweet!


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RE: Mirabelles - Plums What is the difference?

Konrad that photograph is gorgeous!!! Lets pick them now!!! Mrs. G


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RE: Mirabelles - Plums What is the difference?

I saw six varieties (including Metz and Nancy) described in the Raintree Nursery catalog.

Do you know of any other sources for these and others?

Mike

This post was edited by mes111 on Wed, Feb 12, 14 at 7:49


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RE: Mirabelles - Plums What is the difference?

Hi Mike, Terra Madre sells mirabelle. Thats all I know. Google works. Mrs. G


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RE: Mirabelles - Plums What is the difference?

Mike, what do you plan to use the plums for? I've never eaten a Mirabelle, so must plead absolute ignorance, but of plums I've tried, Damson seems best for cooking- its astringency becomes an asset once the plum is cooked. It is also relatively easy to grow and extremely productive.

However, eating off the tree is another story completely. I manage an orchard with 3 very large Damsons and the owners let a lot of friends come to pick fruit, but they usually leave the Damsons alone. Most Americans don't appreciate the culinary aspects of fruit beyond apple pie and strawberry shortcake.

Mrs. G,, how would you compare the flavor of Damson to the mirabelles as preserves and in tarts? It surprises me that those two are highly rated for fresh flavor (very sweet) but also are extremely valued by the French as culinary plums. I'm guessing it is the aromatics that provide the kick and you get the acid from something else, like lemon juice, in your recipes.


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RE: Mirabelles - Plums What is the difference?

HM

My main focus is for fresh eating. Then, as dehydrated and canned treats over winter.

Watching "moonshiners" on TV I was thinking of playing around with making some assorted ciders/wines (not distilled hard alcohol) .

My whole "orchard" fantasy started after I bought my place in upstate NY and happened to stop at a roadside farmer's market where I tasted all these apple varieties that I had never heard of before. ( Hey... did you know that there are more than the 6 varieties that the A&P carries?).

And better yet... I could grow them myself, maybe. :)

Well... one thing led to another and now 3 years later .... I babysit 60-70 trees.

The depth of the knowledge and detail that goes into growing good fruit is fascinating. I, as most others, had no clue.

It is like a symphony, if the pieces fall together its magnificent. But if any single part is off, the symphony is flat. Much like our fruit. We can always get some fruit but we need to pay attention to the detail to get a fruit we are proud of. The stars and our efforts must align.

This fascinates me. To me it is magical. So now I am on an exciting voyage of discovery and just beginning to find out what is possible with these.

BTW... I could NOT find any MIDDLEBURG apples trees online anywhere even though I am right next to Schoharie County NY, the home of that apple. Anyone out there who can help????

Thanx.

Mike


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RE: Mirabelles - Plums What is the difference?

Hello, we grow mirabelles, De Metz, Nancy, American, Geneva 858, and ordered a Parfume de September for this spring to extend the season. They are very sweet and aromatic when ripe. We have never cooked with them because we sell every one we get. People love them. We sell them in pint baskets and always sell out. People are sad when the mirabelles are finished.

Not to say they don't have problems. They are very susceptible to black knot, brown rot, crack it conditions are wet near harvest, and the wasps and bugs love them as well. But they are so productive that if 80% of them crack, you can still make money on the tree.


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RE: Mirabelles - Plums What is the difference?

They sound almost like the wild plums we have growing here. They grow in thickets and spread like crazy. The plums get about the size of a quarter and are great for making jelly or wine.


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RE: Mirabelles - Plums What is the difference?

Thanks Plum, I'm becoming curious enough to give them a spin- you want some Earli-magic wood, right? We could do a straight swap.

EM is not prone to cracking or much to brown rot either- usually ripens before the really hot humid weather. Cool rain doesn't seem to crack plums as much. Sept. plums only cracked on me one year when we had a monsoon in Aug a couple of years ago when bottom land farmers along the east coast were all flooded and lost their crops to 3 weeks of continuous rain. First cracking then ants destroyed my late crop.

Other wet years my Valor plums have been unaffected in any way, still getting up high brix along with no big rot issues or cracking.

For some reason, Santa Rosa type plums don't crack too much either, but most won't survive Z4, I believe. I'm hoping EM is an exception as advertised by Hilltop (when they used to carry it). So far I've never seen any cambium wounds on any of the trees I manage, but I don't manage many. Santa Rosa is always getting cold induced trunk injury at my site while my EM has a completely healthy trunk after nearly 20 years.


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RE: Mirabelles - Plums What is the difference?

Hi There,

I am interested in Mirabelle de Nancy and Parfume de September. Raintree said de Nancy needs cross pollination but Parfume is self fertile.

Do youknow if Parfume can cross pollinate de Nancy? If not, what other Mirablle will a good match re. pollination for de Nancy, please?


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RE: Mirabelles - Plums What is the difference?

H-man and Manuang.

Mirabelles have been 'un-obtainium' here in the US for years (the Metz and Nancy) varieties. There is an American mirabelle (supposedly an old offshoot of a plum originally from France) and the Geneva Mirabelle created at the Geneva station here in the US. The Metz, the Nancy, are both different plums. Metz makes the very best jam. It is very fragrant and sweeter than any any Damson. Don't get me wrong, homemade Damson jam is fantastic, but Mirabelles are simply. different. Damson jam has that wonderful tangy bite to it, where by, Mirabelles have more sugar content. They have a perfume to them that other plums do not, which is why they are added to grain alcohol to make 'mirabelle eau de vie'. The process is easy and there are recipes on the internet. They are a 'specialty-delicacy' plum. Not many people grow them, as they do not know about them. Plum Hill Farm knows their value, however, in never making jam or cooking with them, their true appreciation is diminished. They should save some for themselves! I make Mirabelle jam, that is as good as gold. My Mirabelle tarts has every european pal oohing and ahhing every fall. They are that special. I have not only three Mirabelles, I also have the other French and Belgian favorite a Reine Claude, and lastly an Italian plum prune, so my pollination is excellent. The Nancy type is better for tarts and eating fresh. But I eat both right off of the tree and am in heaven. They all bloom at the same time. Hope this encourages you to plant at least one! Mrs. G


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RE: Mirabelles - Plums What is the difference?

Thanks, Mrs. G.,

Due to my limited space and my unlimited desire to have all kinds of trees in my small yard, I will need to narrow my E. plum to a few. Thus, it's best if I could maximize the pollination possibility.

Your comments on Mirabelles are really helpful and appreciated. Thank you so much.

By the way, we are getting snowed in for about 10-12". No school, no work!!!.


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RE: Mirabelles - Plums What is the difference?

The European plums you already have will pollinate your Mirabelle really well. The sleeting rain has just stopped,now the snow will begin. What mess. Everything is cancelled here today and probably tomorrow too. I'm watching for ice on branches. Ugh. Mrs. G


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RE: Mirabelles - Plums What is the difference?

Thank you Mrs. G for a very thorough explanation- perfumed with a mother's pride, although I trust your evaluation. All serious fruitnuts share the trait, myself included.

Of course the fact that anyone oohs and ahhs your tarts and preserves is a given, doubt the response would be much different if you were using Valors, which my wife uses for her tarts (her crust includes crushed almond biscotti). You need to compare side to side to really appreciate the differences unless you've a chef's memory in your palate (I do not). Maybe the perfume of the mirabelles is easier to remember though.

I did compare Damson side by side with Valor and others this year as preserves and the benefit of the astringency was very apparent. I was surprised how sweet damson becomes if you wait and wait. I suspect you can't purchase ripe Damsons anywhere in this country. They color up over a month before the flesh turns amber.

I also tasted quite a few Green Gage or Reine Claude this year and found it was a much better plum, apparently, when grown in absolute full sun. More finicky than other plums in many ways, I guess.

Until this year the only productive gage in my orchard was Oullins, which is strangely turning into an unreliable cropper. I'm wondering if it isn't that leaf hoppers especially feed on it (should have mentioned before that they go after certain E plums but not Japs). It can be a very difficult pest to control if you are trying to go low-spray. It causes early defoliation of susceptible plums.

Mike, I'm working- got over 150 feet of driveway and other shoveling to do. Going back out to finish the heavy stuff after this.


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RE: Mirabelles - Plums What is the difference?

H-man, my grandmother had a Damson and greengage of some sort and made the best Damson plum jam I ever ate. Funny but I looked for a Damson to buy last month, but my favorite nurseries, either did not have them in stock or were sold out. All I really don't need is another plum tree, that would make six, but I'd really love a Damson too. It is really too bad that it take 4-6 years for a Euro plum to start fruiting. No precosity there! Our snow starts tonight.

This post was edited by MrsG47 on Thu, Feb 13, 14 at 17:49


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RE: Mirabelles - Plums What is the difference?

"the benefit of the astringency was very apparent"

Yes, it is! Even MrsG was raving about the currants, and they are super tart fruit! I'm interested in cherry plums and hybrids of them, but don't really know much about them.
Also wanted to mention Grandpa's Orchard has Damson on Marianna 2624 for $23.99. A top 5 nursery by Garden Watchdog for hardy fruit trees.


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RE: Mirabelles - Plums What is the difference?

Mrs G. why don't you try a couple of splice grafts on another tree this spring- that is a lot of plum trees if you are not selling preserves. A splice graft is so simple that even I have good success with it. AM Leonard sells an Italian double bladed pruner that makes perfect cuts for performing these grafts but I used to do it with a Felco.

I keep the three Damsons I manage very tightly summer pruned but there must be some useable wood on them I could send you.


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RE: Mirabelles - Plums What is the difference?

Thanks H-man. I can purchase the double bladed pruner, but where do I get the Damson scion wood? I'll email you my address with the info you need. I'd love it. When can I begin my first splice grafts? I'll buy all the extra things I need for proper grafting. Will my Italian Prune Plum be the best candidate? It is the oldest plum tree I have. It is nine years old and very healthy in full sun. Many thanks Mrs. G


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RE: Mirabelles - Plums What is the difference?

Mrs. G, I will be more thorough on a direct e-mail but just in case anyone else is interested, I like to graft on water sprouts well positioned to become new scaffold branches, unless I'm changing over an entire tree, in which case I may use a low water sprout connected to the trunk to become the new trunk.

For a branch, the water sprout may either be on the trunk or at the beginning of an existing branch.

I let the graft grow straight up for a couple years because that provides best growth and then I spread it to 65 degrees or so, often using the branch the graft is on as an anchor to string it to.

The more vigorous the tree you are grafting to usually leads to the more vigorous graft if the graft takes well and is in position for lots of light. As the graft grows I cut away any competing growth that blocks sun from it. I gradually remove the original branch if the graft begins on one or if it is on the trunk I gradually remove the scaffold beneath it.

Grafts will often create two shoots of near equal vigor, you can pull the least vigorous one to below horizontal and it will likely bear fruit very quickly and be subdued enough not to interfere with the dominant shoot.

You want wood of scion to be same diameter as water sprout you are grafting to- for the water sprout you are cutting to thicker wood while with the scion you will be cutting up stem so it will be getting thinner. Therefore the water sprout will look a bit thinner than the scion where you cut to get a perfect fit.

I think wood about the diameter of a cheap BIC pen to be the perfect size. I only use enough length to allow two buds beyond the connecting tape of the scion.

It the size is not equal, make sure the cambium lines up on one side of the scion and sprout. If it heals quickly on just one side the graft will likely survive and callous over the poorly matched side as well.

My arms are so tired from shoveling snow. I moved a foot of it off my driveway yesterday, only to find another 6-8 inches of soggy stuff out there this morning. Fortunately a kid driving a plow got stuck at my neighbors house and after I helped get him out he ran it on my driveway and did 2/3rds of the work for me this morning. Gave me time to write this. My wife says God sent me an angel. That's a comforting thought.

As far as which tree to graft to, I'd either use the most vigorous one (surprised if that's the Italian) or the one with more fruit than I can use in its season.

The Damsons ripen quite late if you want the flesh to be amber and of maximum sweetness. They aren't ready until sometime Sept here.


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RE: Mirabelles - Plums What is the difference?

My arms are so tired from shoveling snow.

My arms are tired from blowing snow. I had to blow out our whole hilly road because the plow got stuck. Thats the only reason why I bought a snow blower, the plows here can't handle our hilly street when there is more than 3-4 inches on it. We use to just have to wait for the backhoe to come which was the better part of a week.. no fun!

I guess I should make an on-topic comment.. one thing I found about the few Mirabelle fruits I got was they were very low in acid, and I didn't find them nearly as exciting as the Japanese plums. Mrs G I would be interested in the acidity of the Mirabelles you have eaten.

I have had troubles getting my Mirabelles to fruit, mostly related to planting them far too closely and not knowing how to prune them for several years.

Scott


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RE: Mirabelles - Plums What is the difference?

Yeah most low acid fruits are not appealing to me. Some exceptions. These could be? I'm going to have to find some next summer. How do you prune them? Something different from regular plums?


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RE: Mirabelles - Plums What is the difference?

MrsG and Hman, we make so much jam already I really do not need another jam type. Jam is a relativity low margin item, and our season ends sometime in October (depending on ripening) so late ripening jam fruit would have to be mostly wholesaled or frozen to use in the early summer (jam is best made fresh).

I would suggest American Mirabelle or Nancy as the best. I have not fruited Geneva 858, I bought trees from Raintree which produced green plums (never turned yellow even when ripe), they replaced them and the new ones also produced green plums, so I grafted over them. I got one from Cummins a year or 2 ago, so we will see. De Metz is smaller and ripening is very prolonged so I like American best and Nancy next but since they ripen at different times I grow both.

I got my American Mirabelle from Grin 15 years ago or so. At the time there was passport info saying it was an American cross (not French), but since then GRIN has moved to a tree from Todd Kennedy with no passport info. It has a little point on the stem end, is larger than Nancy, much earlier and very good but has no red blush. Tree is dwarfish and dense, you pick them when they start to turn a little orange.

If you like Mirabelles, there is another plum with similar flavor but much larger called Alabaster, a yellow French plum also available from GRIN which is very popular here.

Last fall a Lady came looking for plums she had at a wedding reception at a fancy resort whom we wholesale to because she had never had such a good fruit. It was Alabaster she was looking for so she could send a basket of them with the bride and groom on their honey moon.

Hman, send me your address I will send you American and Nancy, you have my address.

Eric


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RE: Mirabelles - Plums What is the difference?

Scott, Mirabelles are not acidic, they are a sweet, sugary fruit. I tend to plant the most 'authentic' possible varitieties of Mirabelles, I can find. Nancy and Metz have historically been my favorites, so I just stick with what I like. Mrs. G


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RE: Mirabelles - Plums What is the difference?

"I tend to plant the most 'authentic' possible varitieties of Mirabelles"

Plenty of heirlooms around

Gras Romanesc Plum -
The distinctive blue skin and sweet, rich, yellow flesh of the revered German plum selection, Herrenhausen Mirabelle, have been popular since the late 19th century.

Parfume de September E Plum -
This sweet, highly flavored, aromatic Mirabelle plum from France ripens two weeks after the other Mirabelle's, holds well on the tree and can be picked for three weeks, thus extending the Mirabelle season. The fruit is small and yellow/orange. The tree is very productive and self fertile. Finally available to American gardeners. Sometimes fruit or leaves are streaked with white. This is a naturally occurring trait specific to this cultivar.


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RE: Mirabelles - Plums What is the difference?

I found the passport data from my American "Mirabelle", and it appears it is a damson? fooled me.

American Mirabelle
Small sweet, golden yellow damson, flavor very good fresh and culinary use, season early, resembles mirabelle, but much larger. Org in Geneva Exp Station in 1911.


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RE: Mirabelles - Plums What is the difference?

Plum Hill you are right, I found the same information, however, there was a second source that said The American mirabelle was probably a cross between a wild plum and an un-named plum of French origin. The description of this plum precedes 1911. Didn't bookmark the page! Ugh. Oh well. Mrs. G


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RE: Mirabelles - Plums What is the difference?

Plums are by nature a low acid fruit- just like pears. Some may have some tartness around the skin, but the most popular varieties tend to be the sweetest- at least when fully ripe, which is how folks tend to like 'em best.

Astringency is not the same as acidity although it interferes with the sense of sweetness in a similar way and the negative aspect of it is nullified by the additional sugar used in preserves and other deserts, turning it into an advantage.

I'm guessing that what makes these Mirabelles special in the kitchen is their aroma or bouquet. Mrs G refers to it as their perfume.

As much as I respect Scott's opinion on all things fruit (and most other things he's ever revealed here) I am intrigued that the French consider the Mirabelles an ideal culinary plum- they do have access to the full range of wonderful plums.

Japanese plums are not as interesting to me in the kitchen, although the red-fleshed ones are spectacular as sauce or preserves.


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RE: Mirabelles - Plums What is the difference?

H-man, The mirabelle is a culinary prize because they are grown in France and the French so deemed the plum exquisite. They have had the last word in cuisine for ages. Its really amusing, but that simple and that true. The last simple truth is they are delicious. Mrs. G


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RE: Mirabelles - Plums What is the difference?

I understand the French influence on European cuisine, but that doesn't explain how they came to use any given variety of fruit for any given purpose, as if it is just an arbitrary decision and becomes law on whim.

It is the mastery of the qualities of ingredients as much as anything else that makes a good chef- not to say their choices are infallible. It was Scott who pointed out that Golden Delicious is their cooking apple of choice, currently though not historically. They were also wrong about the value of CA wine and the vast superiority of their own product.


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RE: Mirabelles - Plums What is the difference?

Interesting thread. Thank you all for the useful information. BTW, what does GRIN stand for? A google search did not return anything useful. Thank you.


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RE: Mirabelles - Plums What is the difference?

H-Man this is an easy one. An entire region in France has devoted itself and prided itself, in growing the finest and largest amount of Mirabelle plums in the world. They have been growing them since the 16th century. As in grape vines and soil, the 'terroir' is of most importance.

California wines got a bad rap for a very long time. The vines were too young, the 'terroir' took time to correct and the best vintners had not yet been hired.

As for Mirabelles' late every August Metz has a two week festival devoted to the plum. It is quite fabulous. The eau de vie a 'Mirabelle' is world renown. Like the region of Champagne in France, true champagne must have the appellation of Champage, if not its a simple sparkling wine. We all know this. However, Eau de Vie de Mirabelle has its own appelation, as well, as the orchards growing this fruit in the Lorraine area of France. It is comparable to the 'Cavaillon' melon. It too has its own society, appellation, sticker and festival. It is just that special. I grew up with them, so I am rather partial. . . biased? Mrs. G


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RE: Mirabelles - Plums What is the difference?

Andrew321

GRIN - the written sentence can sometimes be misunderstood and taken the wrong way. So just to let the reader know when I am saying something "tongue in cheek" or not meant as a serious comment etc.

Mike


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RE: Mirabelles - Plums What is the difference?

GRIN is the national "germ bank" for crops and plants. Prunus are held at Davis Ca.

GRIN National Genetic Resources Program

www.ars-grin.gov

GRIN Home Page ... Welcome! In 1990, the U.S. Congress authorized establishment of a National Genetic Resources Program (NGRP).


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RE: Mirabelles - Plums What is the difference?

Mrs. G, that is interesting- were you raised in France or did your family vacation there a lot?

I went to a lecture on the Green Gage plum (might as well use the English name as it is through England that it arrived in America) during the NAFEX Virginia meeting years ago and it is treated by the French in much the same esteem as the Mirabelles.

That is a very distinctive plum but so much more finicky than other fine plums bred for our climate. The one I have on my property produces only so-so fruit, I'm guessing because the sun disappears in the afternoon. It is growing in the same "hole" as a Valor which produces far superior fruit. On another site the owner had me cut her Green Gage down because she didn't like the fruit- it was also at a site with limited sun.

At a site with dawn to dusk sun that I manage, the GGs are amazing- not better than Valor to my palate but more distinctive visually for sure and more distinctive taste-wise from prune-plums, which have a certain sameness to them.


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RE: Mirabelles - Plums What is the difference?

Mrs. G, I think you may be being overly generous to the French arbiters of taste towards evaluating CA wine. The story on this side is that they had to be tricked into comparing theirs to ours in a blind taste comparison before they could "taste" the value of wine from CA. That was in the '70's, and I believe there were plenty of old vines well before that.

Of course, that is the CA version.


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RE: Mirabelles - Plums What is the difference?

Wait, it may not be about he age of the vines at all. White Stag, one of the big winners at that test was only 7 years old so the vines of its winning entry must have been only 3 or 4 years old.

Why would old vines make better wine grapes? I know nothing of wine- I'm an ale drinker. Wish much of the land in Nappa and Sonoma used for grapes was growing plums, peaches, nectarines and apricots instead, like it was when I was a boy there.


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RE: Mirabelles - Plums What is the difference?

H-man, yes to all of the above. I'm in France three times a year. I spend alot of time in orchards. I think 'wines' needs its own forum! Mrs. G


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RE: Mirabelles - Plums What is the difference?

I planted a Reine de Mirabelle from Raintree last year. Has anybody tried one of these? Are they similar to the other mirabelles?


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RE: Mirabelles - Plums What is the difference?

Yes, they are larger and good. Mrs. G


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