On Saturday September, we were fortunate to attend the First Annual National Norton Festival in St. Louis Missouri. Organized by the Missouri Wine Country The event provided the general public a chance to sample a wide array of Norton wines from 25 wineries from Missouri, Illinois, Georgia, Texas, and Virginia. This event was the culmination of activities that began in August, at the 2007 National Norton Wine Competition.
We made it a point to visit the Gold medal winners first, and after tasting, agreed with the judges decisions; these were excellent wines. Best in Show Sugar Creek Vineyards & Winery's 2006 Cynthiana was smooth and fruity and somewhat similar to Westphalia Vineyards' 2006 Norton Reserve. Mary Michelle Winery's 2006 Norton was fruity with a little more spiciness at the finish. Bethlehem Valley Vineyards' 2004 Norton and Chrysalis Vineyards' 2005 Barrel Select 100% Virginia Norton and 2004 Locksley Reserve Norton where fruity, but possessed a little more character at the finish. Finally, we tasted the best dessert wine this side of Tokaji, Bommarito Estate Almond Tree Winery's 2002 Missouri Red Port. This may have been our favorite wine of the day.
Besides tasting these wines, we enjoyed tasting wines we normally would not be able to try such as Stone House Vineyards' (TX) 2005 Claros Norton, Tiger Mountain Vineyards' (GA) 2002 Mountain Cynthiana, Mary Michelle Winery's 2006 Illinois Cellars Norton, and Stone Hill Winery's (MO) 2005 Norton, Cross J Vineyards. The last was made from grapes from one of the winery's oldest vineyards. Plus, there were excellent wines from some of our favorite Missouri producers: Crown Valley Winery, Montelle Winery, St. James Winery, Les Bourgeois Winery, Baltimore Bend Winery, Cave Vineyard, Augusta Winery, Hermannhof Winery, Chaumette Vineyards & Winery, and the previously mentioned Stone Hill Winery. We will definitely be planning a trip Herman and Saint Genevieve next year.
We will post pictures and a longer description of this event at Compass Tours and a review of Chrysalis Vineyards and other Virginia Norton producers in the October edition of Virginia Wine Lover.
For those who are familiar with Norton or Cynthiana we strongly recommend this event. For those who have never tasted a Norton, try to find one in your area. You will soon learn why it is referred to as the Cabernet of the Ozarks.