Recommendations: Norton wines

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Todd Kliman argues in his new book, "The Wild Vine," that Norton wine comes into its own about 10 years after the vintage. My recent tasting of several Norton vintages dating to 2002 from Stone Hill Winery in Hermann, Mo., gave me an indication of how these wines develop. After about five years, the intense fruit began to turn earthy, with soy and mushroom flavors, while the grape's acidity mellowed.

A day after opening, the wines were even better. Not only had they softened, but they had become more complex while maintaining their bright fruit character. That was a definite indication that these wines should age well. Even so, my favorites were from 2007, probably a factor of that year's exceptional harvest throughout much of the United States. Norton fans should stock up on these and cellar them.

Here are my favorite Nortons from my recent tastings. The Virginia wines might be in limited retail distribution, but most are available from the wineries.

-- Dave McIntyre

Chrysalis Vineyards, Locksley Reserve, 2005
Virginia, $35

Stone Hill Winery, Cross J Vineyard, 2007
Missouri, $25 (not yet released)

Chrysalis Vineyards, Barrel Select, 2008
* 1/2
Virginia, $29 (sold out at the winery)

Stone Hill Winery, Cross J Vineyard, 2006
* 1/2
Missouri, $25

Stone Hill Winery, Estate Bottled, 2007
* 1/2
Missouri, $19

Stone Hill Winery, Estate Bottled, 2002
* 1/2
Missouri, $29

Paradise Springs Winery, 2008
* 1/2
Virginia, $29

Cooper Vineyards, Reserve, 2008
Virginia, $22

Horton Vineyards, 2005
Virginia, $15

Horton Vineyards, Courage Port
Virginia, $35


*** Exceptional ** Excellent * Very Good

Prices are approximate. Check to verify availability, or ask a favorite wine store to order through a distributor.

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