This recognition did not come from any board of examiners, the wine industry or even the United States Government, but rather from an Austrian, Maximilian Josef Riedel. If the name does not ring a bell, he is the representative for Riedel Crystal Glassware of North America. Riedel Crystal has, for years, manufactured glassware designed to develop and enhance the properties of a specific grape variety so as to bring out all of the true attributes of the wine, which is often subdued by common wine glassware. Their latest glassware honors our Miss ouri state grape, the norton and lifts it to the heights which it truly deserves and which it has been denied for years.
The norton grape has been grow in the Midwestern states for almost 200 years. In the 1873 Vienna World Exposition, a Norton wine from Missouri won a gold medal in the dry red wine competition beating out all the French wines. A noted wine critic of that time remarked that Norton wine from Missouri would one day rival the great wines of Europe in quality and quantity.
That all ended with the 18th Amendment to the Constitution; the Prohibition Amendment. Since wine could no longer be legally made, the growers pulled out the norton and planted the commercially viable concord, the main ingredient in grape jelly, jam and juice. Up until just a few years ago, the norton languished in anonymity until a few adventurous vineyards in Missouri resurrected it. Now, that a special glass has been designed for it, the norton has come of age.
While this may seem a little silly, it is a known fact that all wine tastes better in a glass specifically designed for it. The curvature of the bowl, the height of the bowl, the thickness of the glass all comes into play in bringing out the true qualities of a wine.
With the proper glasses in place, yes, we did buy them, we will look at some of the norton wine currently made in our state and report what they really taste like. As an experiment, we taste these wine in a generic wine glass ($1 at Dollar Tree) and then in the Riedel Norton glass.
Cross J Vineyards by Stone Hill 2007 Norton. This is a premium wine that can give the current vintages from Bordeaux France a run for their money. This wine stands tall reflecting the deep black cherry and pomegranate flavors that made red wines so popular. It also has a very long and complex, fruit filled finish. These flavors and aromas were strong and obvious in the Riedel glasses but almost non-existent in the common glassware.
St. James 2003 Norton. The St. James 2004 Norton is a red wine that is a big, dark, full bodied, dry wine of great depth and character. The wine displays the aromas of mixed berries which mingle with flavors of vanilla, black cherries, blackberries and pepper. These flavors and aromas were very obvious in the Riedel glasses but were almost indistinguishable in the $1.00 glass.
Stone Hill 2006 Norton. This wine displays a rich, full-bodied red wine character, balanced with summer dark berry aromas. It shows both red and black fruits on the palate and a unique, but intriguing flavor profile, soft on first taste but firming up with a good core of acidity in the finish. Again, the norton glass did much more for the wine than did the generic glass.
Just as a side note, Cynthiana wines are also made from the norton grape and are a bit softer and more fragrant than the one bottled under the norton name. These wines too benefited from the Riedel glassware.