Sunday, June 17, 2012

Honora 2010 St. Croix (VT)

We were in Manchester Center, Vermont, when we came upoin a small sign for Honora Winery. There, in the center of that quaint town, Honora had opened up a beautiful new tastingroom.

Patricia A. Farrington, CEO has been collecting and making wine for many years. She recalls times of making wine with her family growing up and developed a love for the process. So when it was time to name the business it was only fitting to choose a family name. Patricia’s great-grandmother’s name was Honor, Latin translation … Honora.

In 1993 she decided to move out of the hustle and bustle of city life and find a location in the small Vermont town of West Halifax. The first focus was to build the estate on the 200 acre farm and then to focus on the vineyard.

Because of the climates in Vermont, Honora is focusing on cold-weather varietals. Mostly the ones developed and researched by the late Elmer Swenson. We are growing a mix of both red and white varietals. They grow Frontenac, Sabrevois, Leon Millot, Marechal Foch and Prairie Star. In the spring of 2006 they also began experimenting with some vinifra including Gewutztraminer, Pinot Noir and Muscat. As of January 2010 they have approximately 10,000 vines planted on 11 acres with future plans to increase. Their first harvest was in September of 2008.

They also make wine using fruit from California and Washington State, but are currently focusing on the Paso Robles region.

Their first tasting room and retail location opened in May of 2009, located a few miles away from the vineyard in Jacksonville, VT. In August 2009 they opened our Halifax property to the public for weddings, events and tours. They opened a second retail location opened August 1, 2011 in Manchester Center, VT adjacent to the Equinox Resort property.

The tastingroom we were in was absolutely lovely, evoking a period in New England's history that we oft associate with it, but don't always get a chance to see. The ceilings were high, the archecture was was a great space.

So we decided to try some wine...
Now, generally as a rule, I don't review the California fruit wines, but I must tell you that the 2010 Chardonnay and the 2010 Albrino were both very, very pretty! And that the 2009 Cabernet Sauvignon was beautifully perfumy, with a flavor like jam in a jar! Fantastic! And that the 2010 Syrah was very, very nice, with a good finish!

But now its time to talk about the only estate wine we had from this relatively nw winery: 2010 St. Croix.

This is another Elmer Swenson grape. According to the Iowa state department of agriculture, "This hybrid grape cultivar was produced in 1983 by Elmer Swenson, a pioneering grape breeder who introduced a number of new cultivars that are hardy in the Upper Midwest. It was introduced by the University of Minnesota.

"St. Croix vines are vigorous and produce medium sized, somewhat loose clusters of grapes. It has moderate to good disease resistance, and is hardy to -28°F or better.

"St. Croix grapes produce medium to full bodied, dry, deep red wines with low tannins, good fruity aromas, and have currant and other dried fruit flavor aspects. Production often employs oak barrel ageing to add even more complexity to the wine’s bouquet and flavors."

The 2010 St. Croix was a lovely dark red, purple wine. It was made in a sort of Bordeaux-style, with rasperberry, blackberry, and a hint of cassis, which was rounded out by hints of saddle elather and spice. A passing whiff of vanilla. On the palate the berries came through, with big fruit up front, nice acidity, and solid tannins. A big, thick, rich red dry wine, perfect for charred steaks, grilled mushrooms, blackened anything. Great for roasted meats!

A very nice dry red table wine. Congrats to Patricia Harrington and to vineyard manager and assistant winemaker Janice Stuart!