A week later Dezel and I organized a bloggers tasting of Norton wines at Chrysalis Vineyards with Jennifer McCloud leading the tasting once again. Along with several that I had accumulated while traveling to Kansas City, McCloud pulled a couple from her cellar as well as several older Chrysalis wines. The result of the tasting shows that, handled with care and aged, Norton wines are very drinkable and can exhibit the same complexity as wines made from viniferia grapes. We also found that the wines needed to be decanted before tasting as many had some reductive characteristics - but after several violent shakes of the glass - the aromas and flavors were properly released. Each of us had our favorites, and with McCloud's dedication to the grape there was no surprise that her wines were very good - whether the high end Locksley Reserve, the Estate Bottled Norton, or the fruity Sarah's Patio Red. The Westphalia Vineyards Norton was my favorite from the Midwest - this was a full bodied where the acids had been tamed and the wine mellowed to a smooth and very drinkable wine. And as expected the Stone Hill Winery Norton was quite nice. In neighboring Kansas, the grape is often referred to as Cynthiana and Holy-Field Vineyard & Winery releases a version that stands up to both time and being opened for over a week. The flavor profile from this wine most closely resembles those from Chrysalis - bigger than many of the Missouri wines but tame in its acidity.
During this tasting, Hump Astorga, Director of Culinary Operations at Chrysalis, showed how Norton is also a very food friendly wine. We set aside our favorites and paired them with two
of his creations: Bouches with Thyme-scented Goat Cheese and Applewood Smoked Bacon and Garlic Crostini, Locksley Estate Venison Pate and Norton-laced Cranberry Chutney. He explained how to pair wine and food and the idea to balance the acidity in the wine with the flavor and acidity in the food. Obviously us mortals don't have the culinary skills to craft these items, but the idea is the same: wine is meant to be to enjoyed with food - Norton included.
Take a peak at the DrinkLocalWine.com website and think about heading to St. Louis this weekend. You will earn why Norton is truly the "Great American" grape - the only indigenous grape variety that can be vinified into a full bodied comparable to the noble European grapes.
Thanks to Jennifer McCloud for hosting these events; Hump Astorga; and all the participants; included Michael, Dezel of My Vine Spot, Chris Parker from New Horizon Wines, Raelinn from Wine Ophelia, and Alleigh from A Glass After Work.
Wines we tasted from: