Did you know that January is Norton Month? Norton is Missouri’s state grape, so we are focusing on 4 of Missouri’s Nortons this month. To start, we are reviewing St. James Winery’s 2008 Norton Reserve, which is dry, full-bodied and spicy.
St. James is Missouri’s largest winery, producing over 200,000 cases per year and distributed to retail stores in 17 states. Owners Jim & Pat Hofherr opened the winery in 1970 and have helped resurrect the winemaking acclaim Missouri enjoyed prior to Prohibition. In 1987 St. James, Missouri became an official American Viticulture Area known as the Ozark Highlands AVA. St. James Winery is self-described as being the most awarded winery for fruit wines in the U.S., but they also have a great selection of dry wines.
Oh, Norton, my love. Norton is definitely my favorite grape in the Missouri region. It’s rich, dark berry flavors combine with spice, earthiness and oak. It’s definitely a rich, full-bodied dry red wine. Want to know more about the Norton grape, like where did it come from? Check out my review of the The Wild Vine: A Forgotten Grape and the Untold Story of American Wine.
This St. James Winery Norton Reserve is dark red and almost purple and has pronounced legs:
We had a bit of an aroma taste test going on, by pouring this Norton into two different crystal wine glasses. The larger one is a Vinum XL Riedel Cabernet Sauvignon glass red glass and the smaller is a generic crystal red wine glass. The larger glass definitely had more powerful smells of blackberry, plum, earth, oak, and a little chocolate.
This Norton has a very high flavor intensity of blackberry, vanilla, spice and oak. It also has a very earthy taste, that people either love or hate – and both my husband and I LOVE. We seriously cannot keep Norton in our wine fridge for very long. This is a complex wine, that is full of flavors with a finish that goes on and on and on.
From St. James Winery’s winemaker:
Sourced from a single block in our vineyards, Block 14, this elegantly structured wine is a dark reddish purple color with aromas of fresh berry fruit and cocoa powder. The palate is vibrant with flavors of vanilla, fresh berry, oak and a hint of bittersweet chocolate. Aged in oak for 18 months, the wine has mellowed and is ready to drink now or be cellared. Pair with grilled lamb or venison.
We are starting a new section to our wine reviews – pairing advice! I know that Midwest wine isn’t standard wine knowledge, so what do you pair it with? Nortons pairs with red meat like, steak, barbecue and lamb. It also complements dark chocolates, strong cheeses such as blue and Cheddar, and spicy seafood. We also regularly pair this with pasta and red sauce based dishes.
Wine Varietal: Norton
Wine Producer: St. James Winery
Produced and Bottled: St. James, Missouri
Glass used: Vinum XL Riedel Cabernet Sauvignon glass