This is the second of the two selections I brought back from the Vintage Virginia 2013 wine festival. The brief sample I got at the Horton booth put this wine on my “buy” list. Of course, it didn’t hurt that it was a varietal I’d never tasted. I enjoy new wine experiences. And then there was the name. The name of the wine made me immediately think of Dr. Seuss. You know … Horton Hears a Who. But in this case, Horton Makes a Norton. OK! I’ll admit that I have a warped imagination and sense of humor.
Horton Vineyards is a winemaker in Gordonsville, VA. Given that the Norton grape varietal – named for it’s creator Dr. Daniel Norton – was first grown in Virginia, this seems like a natural fit. From it’s origins in the Richmond area, Norton cultivation has spread to the Mid-Atlantic States and the Midwest. Evidently, the Missouri wine industry relies heavily on the Norton. This selection, however, is from it’s home turf.
Winemaker: Horton Vineyards
Appellation: Monticello, Virginia AVA
Notes: Not only do I like tasting varietals that are new to me, but I also like pleasant surprises. This wine, my friends, was truly a pleasant surprise. In the glass the Norton Horton made was a deep purple. On the nose I smelled tangy berries, earth, spice and violets. It was medium-bodied with good acidity and dry at 13% alcohol. The flavors for me were dark sweet berries at the fore (blackberry, black currant), a hint of pepper, notes of black plum and hints of fruit bread as well. Tannins were soft but present. On the finish I found a green, leafy note and cranberry. While I’m sure the wine could pair well with food, this is the kind of vino I like to just sip on it’s own because as it runs the palate you get an enjoyable variety of flavor experiences. It’s also a well balanced red in my opinion. The Norton wines were called Virginia Claret in the 1800’s, and there is something of the more restrained European tradition in this selection. I enjoyed it and was glad to note recently that it is available at my local Safeway!
Important: I am not a professional sommelier or wine connoisseur. See “About” for the full disclaimer.