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.This entry was posted in Wine of the Week by admin