If you’re planning a Memorial Day cookout, be on the lookout for big, fruity reds that go well with bratwurst, burgers and barbecue sauce. Among options are robust dry reds made from norton grapes grown right here in our region. Also known as cynthiana, norton is a native American hybrid grape variety named for Dr. Daniel Norton, a prominent 19th-century grape grower and researcher from Richmond, Virginia. The following are two examples from Missouri and Illinois.
Augusta Winery 2017 Norton, Augusta, Missouri
Bought • Friar Tuck Beverage, 9053 Watson Road, in May for $14.99
Description • This red comes from Augusta Winery, which is one of the wineries purchased by the Hoffmann Family of Companies as part of its plan to transform the Augusta viticultural area into a national tourist destination. Since norton is Missouri’s state grape, it’s bound to play an important role in the development’s future. This deeply colored norton gets its enticing vanilla aroma from aging in Missouri oak barrels. Medium- to full-bodied, it’s a flavorful wine that tastes of rich black cherry and raspberry fruit along with notes of vanilla and spice.
Illinois Cellars 2017 Reserved Barrel Select Norton, Illinois
Bought • Friar Tuck Beverage, 9053 Watson Road, in May for $7.99
Description • This norton comes from the Mary Michelle Winery in Carrolton, Illinois. The winery is owned by the Hindelang-Berger family, which has been farming in the lower Illinois River Valley for three generations. Mary Michelle is also one of the largest U.S. growers of affordable high-CBD hemp flowers. Although it’s 2017 norton was aged in French and American oak for at least 10 months, the oak flavor is less noticeable than in the Augusta wine. A bit rustic, it’s a jammy red with moderate tannins and a touch of spice.