Horton Vineyards 2007 Norton
Mar. 5th, 2011 @ 09:58 pm
Norton/Cynthiana is a variety of grape unique to the United States. |
I've been dying to try it, but you almost never see it west of the Rockies. I've been trying for years to find a vineyard that will ship to Nevada, but no dice. When I found a bottle of it at my local Total Wine, I literally yelped in delight and startled the poor guy next to me.
The label on the bottle suggested letting it rest for 7-10 years, and next time (and, oh yes, there will be a next time) I'll do so.
Color: And you thought Petite Sirah was dark! This wine is inky red-black in color.
Nose: Plums and cherries and yeah, it smelled sharp.
First Impression: Cherries, plums, and concord grapes, but a very dry concord grape note, and then a loooooonnnngggg finish of spicy orange peel. The wine was quite sharp overall, very tannic.
Breathing room: Still a bit sharp and tannic, mouthfeel was still astringent. (My next bottle's going to hang out in a cool dark place for 7-10 years.) Cherries, and plums and the spicy orange peel finish is now something between "Constant Comment" tea and a blood orange. There's definitely a note of cloves and blood orange in the nose after it breathes a bit.
This is right up there with Gewurtraminer and Pinotage in terms of the unique and distinct flavor department.
Should you wrangle a bottle, I suggest pairing it with something spicy (but not spicy hot) and tangy flavored: hearty Eastern European food, or ribs with a good vinegar-base sauce.
Horton Norton. Heh. :-)
Horton makes a few dozen wines. My favorite of theirs is a Tannat - they are still selling their 2002 Tannat...
Happy you saw our "local" grape though, even if I'm not the biggest fan of Nortons :-) A lot of Norton makers around here do a lousy job of creating a wine with any finish whatsoever, though.
Reading your description I felt like the taste of my last Norton just came back!
When I tried Norton for the first, Bordeaux came to my mind, having taken a tasting trip there recently.... but I like your description way better, nicely done :)
|Date:||March 9th, 2011 09:04 pm (UTC)|| |
There are 238 Norton wineries today in 23 states. Finding that exceptional Norton wine is like kissing a lot of toads to find that prince(ss). The Norton that you got I presume was one of Horton's "Tower" labeled Nortons. Generally not really grand at all, but at least an introduction. After tasting now 105 different Norton wines from sixteen states, we have found a few exciting Nortons and a handful of other really good wine examples which vary annually due to production whims. Many people want instant wine gratification upon purchase, but here is where that does not work since most Norton wines need to be put away for several years, ~ something most people are not willing or able to do. To date, we've found only a few "drink now" Norton wines; as, Westphalia and Peaceful Bend in Missouri and Castle Gruen in Virginia. And wineries that hold back their wines four or five years also consequently charge you more for these wines (Stone Hill Cross J Norton as example). But not to discourage you in Norton wine purchases, you will enjoy even younger Norton wines if you let your bottles rest for a few weeks after purchase (travel bottle shock) and make sure to let your Norton wine breathe for no less than 40 minutes before serving. Your first sip will smack of malic acids (+ tannins), but quickly settle down with the second sip, etc. Depending on your travel location, do try the best Norton wines within the following states: White Oaks (AL); Mount Bethel (AR), Three Sister (GA); Century Farms (TN); Elk Creek (KY); Stone House Vineyards (TX), Castle Gruen, Cooper, DuCard, Chrysalis (VA); Stone Mountain Cellars (PA), Heinrichshaus, Stone Hill's Cross J, Montelle, Robller, Peaceful Bend and Westphalia (MO). Please do not compare Norton wine to California and European vinifera, since it's truly an American wine which reflects our American culture. Doug Frost, a Kansas City wine writer and master sommelier expressed Norton wines best as "powerful, muscular, crazy intense in malic acid and capable of staining teeth or even wineglasses. [The wine is] probably something most drinkers have to learn to love, with its rough and rustic personality often evident." Another concern for many is the cost of Norton wines. Realize that grape production can be less than one third per acre with Norton grapes as compared to other grape yields because of its small size and extremely seedy fruit. There are other factors involved also, but generally expect to pay $18-$25 per bottle. Most less expensive Norton wines reflect anticipated quality, but here we also have some fine exceptions; as, Horton ($12-$15 VA), St. James ($8-15 MO), Illinois Cellars ($7 IL). and White Oaks ($13 AL). Try to find Norton vineyards with older vines which combine well with more experienced Norton vintners. But here again, we have been pleasantly surprised with new Norton upstarts who make amazing blends to camouflage their young green Nortons. Do yourself a favor by enjoying Todd Kliman's novel-like-Norton biography, The Wild Vine, with a Norton wine in hand.