The Norton grape, also called Cynthiana, is one of the most widely grown grapes in Kentucky. One of the reasons for its popularity is its heartiness; Norton is able to withstand temperatures as low as 20 degrees. The grape, a hybrid of a vitis labrusca and a vitis vinifera, was developed by Dr. Daniel Norborne Norton, at his vineyard in Virginia. The oldest “American” grape, it was available as a varietal in 1830. Norton was quickly recognized as the American grape that could produce a wine to compare with big European red wines. 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.
In mid-summer, the Norton grape gives no hint of the deeply dark wine that is to come. Like with most grapes, the grapes begin green and later develop their color.
By harvest time, the grapes have ripened to the lush colors we lovers of the grape and the wine have come to expect. The deep, dark, almost inky color of the grapes give Norton wines that that deep garnet color.
A number of Kentucky wineries produce Norton wines, some as their selected reserves. For lovers of the big, bold red wines, this one is a favorite with its aromas of spice, and flavors of cloves, nutmeg, and cinnamon. Whether you discover a Norton or a Cynthiana, give it a try. The wines the grape produces are memorable.by admin
Bella Misto is a dry red wine that we discovered last summer on our trip to Raffaldini Vineyards in North Carolina. The wine is amazing. Bella Misto is roughly translated from Italian as beautiful mix. The wine lives up to the name. A blend of eight grapes, the first three are Montepulciano, Sangiovese, and Petit Verdot. A dense color and smooth texture gives this wine deep satisfying dark fruit flavors with a lingering aftertaste. Bella Misto has become a favorite.
January weather has been dreadful, but a bottle of Bella Misto, a lovely warm fire, and that special someone made it much more bearable. Hope you have managed to find a way to stay warm. Let’s hope for an early spring.
Verdelho is a white wine grapes most often associated the island of Madeira, or Portugal and Spain. The grapevines were introduced in Australia in the early 1800s, and much more recently in the United States. Chateau Thomas Winery, in Indiana, makes this wine from hand-harvested grapes, shipped in a refrigerated truck from a vineyard in Lodi, California. Verdelho has aromas of honeysuckle, peaches, and limestone. The wine has mineral flavors with spicy, nutty, overtones, with a lingering finish.
While no one would describe Verdelho as a light white wine, the full-body flavors add a dimension to the enjoyment of this wine. Though this wine is not as familiar to white wine lovers as a Chardonnay or a Sauvignon Blanc and is harder to find, I recommend giving it a try if you get a chance.
Readers will know that Barboursville Vineyards remains my favorite winery and generally I choose one of their wines to celebrate special occasions. We recently celebrated a birthday and opened a bottle of Octagon that we were saving for a special day. This was the 2005 vintage.
Octagon is the premier red blend created by Luca Pascina, the winemaker at Barboursville. Vintages of Octagon have been served to Queen Elizabeth and at events in Washington, D. C. Wine competitions and wine ratings have consistently given this wine the recognition it deserves.
The 2005 vintage was a blend of Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Cabernet Franc. The complexity of this wine allowed for each of the specific flavors to be tasted, but it was the blend that was noticeable on the finish. The wine was definitely worth waiting for and my only regret is that it is no longer available at the winery.by admin
“3 Reds by Wight” is a blend of 50% Petite Syrah, 20 % Cabernet Sauvignon, and 30 % Cabernet Franc and is 100% Kentucky Proud. Jim Wight has proved, with this exquisite red wine, that Kentucky can grow quality varietals and produce quality wine.
The wine is a dry red with aromas of berries and spices. While the wine will benefit from aging, today it is a lovely dry meritage styled wine. There is a dry, tannic structure with flavors that remind one of an old fashioned blackberry jam cake. The first taste is one of berries and dark fruit, while the finish has blackberry and spice flavors.
We saved our first bottle for a Valentine’s celebration and it made for a memorable evening. We toasted the day with crystal wine glasses engraved with “3 Reds by Wight”. Now we look forward to the next special occasion.by admin
A wine’s vintage is the year when the grapes were grown or the wine was produced. Most wineries release new vintages each year of their most popular varietals. Unfortunately, some years have a bad growing season and a vintage is not released. A specific year might also produce a wonderful crop and the vintage is one of the best. If you especially love a wine, you always look forward to the new release.
Recently, Chrisman Mill Vineyard and Winery released the newest vintage of their Norton Reserve, one of my favorite wines. While each vintage of the Norton Reserve has been good, they have been slightly different. Norton Reserve is made with the choicest grapes of the year, fermented separately, then aged for 12 to 16 months in French oak barrels. The wine is deep purple in color with the flavors and aromas of spices, such as cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves. The 2011 vintage is quite exceptional.
Norton wines are always big reds, so keep that in mind when you try them. Norton Reserve is a really big red, with big tannins and a smooth finish. If you enjoy Norton wine, be sure to give the Norton Reserve a try – you’ll be glad you did.by admin
Wine lovers have probably heard about and tried a medium-bodied, red Pinot Noir. Many wine drinkers enjoy the cherry-berry like flavors and aromas. The Vin Gris de Pinot Noir is a white wine made from the Pinot Noir grape. Winemakers achieve this style of wine by running off the juice and removing it from contact with the skins. The wine is then generally aged in stainless steel rather than oak barrels.
While in Virginia, we bought a bottle of Vin Gris de Pinot Noir made by Gabriele Rausse Winery. Rausse is an Italian winemaker whose wines reflect his European heritage. His vineyard and winery. located in Albemarle County near Monticello, is not open to the public for tastings, but it is definitely worth it to seek it out at wine shops in Charlottesville.
We tried it this week and I have to say that I wish I’d bought more. The wine was excellent with floral and apple aromas, the color of a pink pearl, with a crisp finish.
All of Rausse’s wines are exceptional and maybe I loved it because of the winemaker, but I am now more open to try other Vin Gris de Pinot Noirs. Several other wineries are making this wine as well. If you find one, you might want to give it a try. I think this wine would appeal to all white wine lovers and many red wine lovers, because of the versatility of the flavor.by admin
While visiting Smith-Berry a couple of weeks ago, one of the wines that we enjoyed tasting was a new Petite Sirah. Chuck Smith’s Petite Sirah took a Silver Medal from the San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition and it definitely deserved it. We opened a bottle last night and were once again impressed with the full-bodied flavors of blackberries with a touch of black pepper, the deep color and the smooth finish.
Petite Sirah was developed in the 1870’s in the Rhône Valley of France. It is a cross between a Syrah and Peloursin, a minor Rhône variety. Petite is used to describe the size of the grapes themselves. which allows for a high juice to skin ratio. This provides the wine with high tannins and acidity enabling it to age well. This grape has become a popular choice of California vineyards. Once used only for blending with the jammy Zinfandel, now wineries are producing Petite Sirah as a single varietal wine.
Petite Sirah is a bold red wine and pairs well with steaks, making it an excellent choice for those evenings of grilled dinners. I recommend giving it a try. Smith-Berry’s is one of the best of this varietal.by admin
Barboursville Vineyard and Winery, years ago, created a blended Bordeaux style wine called Octagon. This wine has won a multitude of awards over the years, has been served to Presidents and Queen Elizabeth II. The most recent vintage received a 90 by Wine Enthusiast. The blend is made up of Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot and some years Petit Verdot.
While many wineries create blends to correct deficiencies in the varietals, Barboursville creates Octagon from the best of the varietals and the result is amazing.
A few years ago we purchased two bottles of the 2004 vintage, which sold out quickly because of the quality of the wine. We decided then to cellar a bottle until our 45th anniversary. Last Sunday we opened that bottle. It was definitely worth the wait. After letting the wine breathe, the smooth, elegant flavors and aroma were exceptional. The wine aged well. The complexity of each of the varietals were at their best.
A few years ago, I tried a port wine and was very unimpressed. Since then, I turned down tastes of port when they were offered at a winery. Last year, however, my husband and I tasted Heaven’s View Port made by John Doty at French Lick Winery in Indiana, with his ripest Norton grapes. To our surprise, we both enjoyed it. We’ve tried other Ports and enjoyed them as well.
Port wines are fortified with brandy. Their alcohol content is higher than wines, usually about 20% (Wines have somewhere between 12 and 14% .), and are rather sweet. Ports are best for sipping after dinner.
Several other Indiana wineries are making excellent ports. Along with Heaven’s View Port, I recommend Vintage Port made by Chateau Thomas Winery, Maximum Port made by Oliver Winery, and Old Barrel Port made by Brown County Winery. A small glass of one of these ports is an excellent way to relax before bedtime.