Thursday, November 18, 2010

Three Wonderful Reds From Horton Vineyards

Wine lover and entrepreneur Dennis Horton began his wine making venture with a small home vineyard in Madison County, Virginia in 1983. It did not take him long to realize that, although the Virginia summers were warm enough to ripen almost any grape variety, the humid conditions favored growing grapes with thicker skins and loose clusters. In 1988, Dennis and longtime business partner Joan Bieda acquired 55 acres for the beginning of Horton Vineyards. The task of establishing the vineyard was given to Dennis' wife Sharon. Together, they have made history.

While I traveled the Monticello Wine Trail, I made sure to stop at Horton, one of the most famous of Virginia's wineries. Most recently Dennis was featured in the very successful book, Wild Vines, the story of the Norton grape.

The tasting room was large, bright, and airy. And filled with people.


Horton Vineyards is proud to re-introduce the famous Norton wine, the original Virginia Claret. Norton is a native Virginia grape that produced the internationally prize winning clarets of the Monticello Wine Company of Charlottesville in the late 1800's. Horton's Norton has a dark, rich color. It also has a hugely intense, fruity aroma of plums and tart cherries. This spicy, aromatic red is aged in oak for 14 months. Absolutely a wine for game, sausage, spicy and robust stews, and grilled meats. Really something unique and different.

Tannat is originally known for making big, tannic wines in the Madiran in southwest France. I cannot lie, I have not had the chance to enjoy one of these wines, so I cannot compare Norton's version to the original. That said, Horton's Tannat a big, rich, full bodied, dry red wine. It's got big, deep fruits up front, with plums, prunes, and dark cherry, and hints of leather and spice. A lovely, lovely big deep red.


Of course I am saving the best for last. Dionysus is made from Touriga Nacional, uually grown on the Iberian Penninsula. This has big deep fruit up front. As promised, the dried dark cherries, damson plums and mocha aromas some through, with whiff of vanilla and smoke. The deep red wine has a nice dry finnish, with some pop, but more a smooth, soft finish.
Sometimes, when one is traveling, the wine tastes great in the tastingroom, but when opens a bottle at home, the wine seems lacking. With this, Dominique made large, thick pork chops smoothered in a spicey barbecue sauce, along with fresh cut green beans and Spanish yellow rice. The wine stood up to the spicy sauce beautifully, and for the fist time in a long time, we finished the entire bottle between us. Exquisite.