Archive for the ‘Norton’ Category

Wednesday’s Meritage – Wine Quiz Answer, #MWWC8 Theme, Water into Wine???, Wine in Numbers, About Champagne and more

March 5, 2014 6 comments

DSC_0369 Chrysalis Norton 2005Meritage time!

Let’s start with the answer to the wine quiz #93, Grape Trivia – Norton. In the quiz, you were supposed to answer 5 questions about the red grape called Norton.

Here are the questions, now with the answers:

Q1: Which of the following are synonyms of Norton?

a. Cynthiana, b. St. Croix, c. St. Vincent, d. Virginia Seedling

A1: While looks standard, this was a tricky question – did anyone noticed the plural on the “synonyms“? The correct answer here is Cynthiana and Virginia Seedling – both are synonyms for Norton, even though it seems that Cynthiana might be a slightly different clone rather than identical grape under a different name.

Q2: The winery in which state holds the trademark The Real American Grape®:

a. Arkansas, b. Missouri, c. Pennsylvania, d. Virginia

A2: This phrase was trademarked by Chrysalis winery in Virginia

Q3: Norton is an official State Grape of:

a. Arkansas, b. Mississippi, c. Missouri, d. Virginia

A3: Norton is a staple of wine production in Missouri, so yes, the correct answer is c, Missouri.

Q4: Norton grape generally classified as:

a. Vitis Aestivalis, b. Vitis Cinerea, c. Vitis Labrusca, d. Vitis Vinifera

A4: While there are some competing opinions, it seems the Norton is generally classified as Vitis Aestivalis (Summer Grape), which according to definition in Wikipedia is a “species of grape native to eastern North America from southern Ontario east to Vermont, west to Oklahoma, and south to Florida and Texas”.

Q5: As you know, Riedel is the best known wine glass maker, which creates wine glasses designated for different varietals. True or False: Riedel makes a special varietal glass designated to Norton

A5: Riedel created a Norton-specific glass (a stemware, to be called properly) in 2009

I’m glad to report that we had good participation in this quiz. Nobody was able to provide a full answer to the first question – but then again, it was somewhat of a tricky question so I’m accepting the partial answers here as well. Thus we have three winners – Suzanne from apuginthekitchen, Kirsten The Armchair Sommelier and Julian from Vino in Love – they all get the prize of unlimited bragging rights. Well done!

Now, to the interesting stuff around the vine and the web!

First of all, the Monthly Wine Writing Challenge, now in its 8th reincarnation, has a new theme. As announced by Kara The Sweet Sommelier, winner of the round #7, the new theme is Luck. You might need some luck to connect it to the wine, unless you have a lucky bottle, lucky cork or may be a lucky corkscrew – but in any case, put your lucky hat on and start writing. For all the details, including submission and voting timeline, here is the link to Kara’s post.

Remember Jesus? Yep, The One. Supposedly, he was able to make wine out of water, and this was definitely the miracle. So the new startup, called The Miracle Machine (hint, hint), intends to do exactly that – bring that miracle to all of us, mere mortals. A special device, a little bit of magic and, of course, an iPhone to control the magic, and the founders promise the wine which will rival Screaming Eagle, all done on your kitchen countertop, at a fraction of a fraction of a price. You can read more about the miracle device and watch the video here – as for me, I will take my chances with the local liquor store.

Number junkies, rejoice – I have a new set of numbers for you. As many times in the past, they come from Mike Veseth, who writes the blog The Wine Economist. The point of the numbers is really to illustrate the economic concept called disintermediation, which here has to do with a simple question – how many people does it take to produce a bottle of wine? Some wine businesses prefer to own vineyards, and the whole process of winemaking, and some are “outsourcing” as much of the process as possible to the other specialized businesses (like mobile bottling line, for instance), and this is what disintermediation is all about. The numbers are very interesting, if you think that it takes 4,000 people at E&J Gallo Winery to produce about 85M cases of wine worldwide, and then it takes only 95 people to produce 1.7M cases at Bogle Vineyards. But – take a look for yourself here, I think this is a very interesting read.

Next up – a very interesting article by Jancis Robinson, talking about what the wine drinkers are asking to have more and more in Champagne – in a few words, the demand is to have Champagne more complex (longer aging time on the lees), and more dry (like no added sugar at all). Of course you are better off reading it for yourself here.

Last, but not least at all, I want to bring to your attention an article about wine serial entrepreneur, Charles Banks. I’m always fascinated by the stories of the people who are told that they better give up, and they achieve their best results despite all odds ( Charles Banks was told that asparagus is all he can hope for to grow on the patch of land he acquired – and he managed to produce a great wine on that patch of land). I suggest you will find 5 minutes in your busy day and read this article – definitely worth your time.

And we are done here. The glass is empty – but the refill is on its way! Cheers!

Weekly Wine Quiz #93: Grape Trivia – Norton

March 1, 2014 20 comments


Norton Grapes growing in Missouri. Source: Wikipedia

Norton Grapes growing in Missouri. Source: Wikipedia

The Wine Quiz series is not meant to intimidate. The whole idea here is to have fun and learn something new. When answering the questions, it is fully encouraged to use all available sources of information, including Google or any other search engine. There are no embarrassing answers – the most embarrassing thing is not giving it a try…

Welcome to the weekend and your new wine quiz!

We are continuing our grape trivia series, with the focus still on the red grapes, and today’s subject is Norton, a uniquely North American grape.

When you ask people what is the America’s signature red grape, most probable answer you will get is Zinfandel. However, we need to remember that Zinfandel was actually brought here from Croatia and it still has its ancestors happily growing there – it doesn’t make it any less an American Signature Grape – but – there is actually a grape which is called The Real American Grape®, and this grape is Norton.

What makes Norton so special? The origins of the grape are somewhat unclear, most often associated with the work of Dr. Daniel Norton, who spent lots of time and efforts to create the grape which would survive in Virginia. You see, despite the similarities in the climate conditions between Virgina and Bordeaux, most of the European grape cuttings coming from France would simply die in Virginia soil. Norton, which was born some time around 1820, became the first cross of European and native American grapes which not only survived, but also produced very palatable wines. Actually, the wines were that good, that in 1873 at the worldwide competition in Vienna, the Norton wine from Missouri was declared the “Best Red Wine of All Nations“. I guess another mystery associated with Norton is the fact that even with such a high designation, it didn’t spread violently all over the United States. The fact that the Norton vines are very particular to the types of soil they grow in, plus mass destruction of the Norton vineyards during Prohibition (they were replaced with plantings of Concord), were some of the key factors standing in the way of Norton’s success. Today, Norton is successfully growing in many of the Mid-Atlantic states in US, but it is still mostly known locally, particularly due to the draconian wine shipping laws in US.

Norton has deep-blue colored skin, and it is known for the very high anthocyanin content, which in turn is associated with the number of health benefits, such as “antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial and anti-carcinogenic”properties, according to the Wikipedia. Norton wines are generally full-bodied, with an interesting earthy profile, good structure and showing off a red fruit notes. Norton wines can age quite well, and they actually require a few years in the cellar to be enjoyed fully.

And now, to the quiz!

Q1: Which of the following are synonyms of Norton?

a. Cynthiana

b. St. Croix

c. St. Vincent

d. Virginia Seedling

Q2: The winery in which state holds the trademark The Real American Grape®:

a. Arkansas

b. Missouri

c. Pennsylvania

d. Virginia

Q3: Norton is an official State Grape of:

a. Arkansas

b. Mississippi

c. Missouri

d. Virginia

Q4: Norton grape generally classified as:

a. Vitis Aestivalis

b. Vitis Cinerea

c. Vitis Labrusca

d. Vitis Vinifera

Q5: As you know, Riedel is the best known wine glass maker, which creates wine glasses designated for different varietals. True or False: Riedel makes a special varietal glass designated to Norton

Bonus: have you ever had Norton wine? What do you think?

Good luck, enjoy the quiz and your weekend! Cheers!

Daily Glass: Norton, a True American Grape

October 22, 2012 8 comments

Today was my wife’s 19th anniversary of coming to US, so I was looking for the appropriate wine to celebrate. I didn’t have anything from 1993. There were ’86, ’88 and ’90, but somehow opening those wines didn’t make too much sense. And then I saw a bottle of Norton. No, it was much younger than 19, but Norton is often called a True American Grape, so it should be perfect for the occasion.

So I pulled this bottle of 2005 Chrysalis Vineyards Norton Estate Bottled from Virginia (12.8% ABV), which I got during our visit to Chrysalis Vineyards about two years ago (here is the post about it). Somehow, from the moment the cork was pulled, the wine worked perfectly. It had that hint of barnyard aroma, just a hint, as much as you get from the well made Loire Cabernet Franc – a bit of explicit earthiness on the nose. On the palate, it was very restrained and balanced, quite dry – somewhat similar to Barolo, only without a bear claw grip of tannins, with some leather and again earthy notes. As the wine warmed up, it showed more fruit, some raspberries and plums, with good acidity, and it stayed very balanced until, well, the bottle was empty. In terms of rating, I will put Drinkability at 8.

I’m sure this wine will continue evolving – but this was my only bottle, so it is what it is. Oh well, at least it was a good bottle of wine, so no regrets here. Cheers!

P.S. I’m purposefully avoiding mentioning the debates, which were also an all American event today – let me only tell you that the wine was far more superior than the 5 minutes of debates I watched…

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