Many wine drinkers are familiar with the Sangiovese grape without realizing it. Sangiovese is the predominant grape in Chianti blends. Those rustic looking bottles one finds at their favorite Italian restaurants are most likely made with this grape. Sangiovese is the primary grape of the Tuscan region of Italy.
My favorite Sangiovese comes from Barboursville Vineyard and Winery in Virginia. Their winemaker blends Sangiovese with up to 25% of other varietals – Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Petit Verdot; and after fermentation in stainless steel, it is aged for 6-8 months in French Oak Barrels. The result is a light-bodied wine with a lingering finish with flavors of plums and red berries.
I’ve also enjoyed a Kentucky Sangiovese produced by Elk Creek Vineyards and Winery. Elk Creek’s Sangiovese is a soft, dry medium-bodied red. Recently we also tried their Estate Sangiovese. Estate wines are made from grapes grown at the vineyard. It was very good and is a good example of the high quality of grapes grown in Kentucky.
Sangiovese wines are excellent and I recommend them, even to someone who does not usually choose a dry red.by admin
Even though Malbec originated in France, it is best known in Argentina. Wines made from the Malbec grape are deep in color and intensely flavored. Tasters generally recognize blackberry, plum, pepper, or leather flavors. Most Malbecs are aged in oak barrels, but some vintners choose to age it in stainless steel to bring out the fruit flavor.
This week I had the pleasure of drinking a Malbec from the vineyard of Gabriele Rausse, of Virginia. The wine was robust and mellow at the same time, inky in color, flavors of strong black fruits and pepper, with a spicy aroma. Wines produced by Rausse reflect his Italian heritage and are some of the premier wines of Virginia.
Some Kentucky wineries are producing Malbec wines. I was quite impressed with the Malbec offered at Grimes Mill Winery in Lexington.
Due to the intense flavors and tannins, Malbec is favored by those who enjoy big reds. Beef, Italian foods, as well as Chili would pair well.by admin
Most people spend a lot of time planning trips and choosing spots to visit while they’re traveling. Often we miss out on great finds close to home. That is what happened to me. While spending time visiting wineries in the state and in the region, I overlooked visiting a local winery. After all, I could go there anytime. Saturday evening I finally visited Verona Vineyards. While it was worth the wait, I can’t believe I hadn’t visited sooner. The vineyards are lovely, the winery is located in a charming tasting room, and the wine is really good.
Verona Vineyards (Isn’t that a great name for a winery?) opened in the summer of 2011. The owners are Charlie Payne, his daughter Peggy Payne Montgomery and her husband Dan Montgomery. Charlie oversees the day-to-day activities at the vineyard. Peggy and Dan both have outside careers, but spend a lot of their time running the winery. Dan is the winemaker and is producing wines that visitors will enjoy. The winery is open to visitors on Friday evenings and on Saturdays. Special events such as Saturday’s Art Show are frequently held.
The vineyard was planted in 2005, mostly with Chardonnay and Cabernet Franc vines, later Dornfelder was added. Wines from those grape varieties are offered for tasting along with some sweeter selections of Muscato, Riesling, and Gewürztraminer. The sweeter wines are made from purchased juice.
As a lover of big reds, my personal favorite was their Dornfelder. The Dornfelder is a relatively young grape variety having been developed as a cross of two other red varieties. It is one of the most popular red grapes in Germany. Dornfelder wines are a deep red with a floral aroma and flavors of berries.
On Saturday, we strolled through the booths of arts and crafts vendors, dined on barbecue sandwiches, tasted the wines, toured the winery, and drove back to the vineyard. We were welcomed by the owners and made to feel at home. This won’t be our last visit.
Wine is a fun topic to discuss. Starting this week, I’m choosing a wine to recommend and am starting with one of my favorites – Norton.
The Norton grape is also called Cynthiana. Dr. Daniel Norborne Norton, at his vineyard in Virginia, developed Norton as a hybrid of a vitis labrusca and a vitis vinifera grape. His goal was to grow an American grape that could produce a wine that would compare to a big European red. He was successful. It was the most popular wine grape in the late 1800’s, but it nearly died out when prohibition stopped the production of wine commercially. In the last few years, Norton has reemerged as a popular wine grape in many states nearby. A number of Kentucky wineries have begun producing Norton wines, some as their selected reserves, and these wines are growing in popularity. The Wild Vine: A Forgotten Grape and the Untold Story of American Wine, written by Todd Kliman, is a good read for those interested in the Norton grape.
Wines made from the Norton grape are full-bodied, deeply dark in color, have a robust fruit flavor, and hold up well to aging. This wine appeals most to lovers of the big reds. I’ve tried Nortons from French Lick Winery in Indiana, Chrysalis Vineyards and Horton Vineyards in Virginia as well several from Kentucky.
There are several Kentucky wineries producing Norton (or Cynthiana) wines. At Chrisman Mill Vineyard and Winery, visitors have a choice between a Norton aged in American Oak and a Norton Reserve aged in French Oak. Lovers Leap Vineyards and Winery and River Valley Winery offers Cynthiana wines. Smith-Berry offers an unoaked Norton and brings out the fruity flavors. Wight-Meyer’s Norton is aged in oak for 12 months.
If you love red wines as much as I do, try Norton. You’ll find the flavors distinctive.by admin
Kentucky’s official wine festival at Nicholasville was a big success. We went late in the day on Saturday and the wine tent was crowded with people who were enjoying tastes of Kentucky’s wine as well as wine offered from domestic and international wines. Everyone seemed to be enjoying themselves.
Chrisman Mill Vineyards, Prodigy Vineyards & Winery, Generation Hill Winery, Talon Winery and Vineyard, StoneBrook Winery, Rose Hill Farm Winery, as well as, Best Vineyards Winery and Indian Creek Winery from Indiana had booths and were offering tastes of their wines. Visitors who were expecting Wight-Meyer Vineyard & Winery and Purple Toad Winery were disappointed because they were unable to be at the festival.
Since the first year, the festival has grown and is becoming one of the most popular in the state. It is a really good time, start planning for next year’s fest.by admin
If you’re driving through Eastern Kentucky, you should stop and visit Rock Spring Winery in Grayson. The winery is located about 14 miles from I-64. We stopped in on our way to Virginia last month. Dr. John and Sue Bond opened their winery on their hillside property in Carter County in June of 2010. The views of the vineyard and the surrounding hills are definitely worth the visit.
Visitors will find an eight-acre vineyard, a lovely tasting room and an old fashioned barn used for events. They offer wines ranging from Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay to plum and elderberry fruit wines. The winery is a great spot to buy a bottle and relax on the patio and enjoy the beautiful Kentucky views.
It was two years ago this month when I woke up one morning and realized I had dreamed the beginning of a book about wine. I decided that I wanted to write it and started a book called A Wine Lover’s Odyssey Across Kentucky. Since then, I’ve been writing, researching, visiting wineries (yes, that means tasting wines), doing interviews, rewriting and taking photographs. I contacted a publisher and completed edits. Now I’m beginning to see the end. I have seen the designs. For the last month, I’ve been busy reviewing the book, and it is almost ready to go to the printer. My dream is almost a reality, and I should have some news soon.