Norton is the grape that, in our opinion, undergoes the most changes in the transition from juice to wine. Our 2008 Norton Reserve was no exception, but the resulting wine is exceptional for its balance, wonderful aromas and tastes, and lack of undesirable characteristics many Norton wines harbor. Popping a ripe berry into your mouth and chewing with contemplation produces the wonderful taste of other ripe deep-purple grapes, with that particular Norton twang of earthiness and tart herbaceousness. Fermentation is fast and furious (but we keep the fermentation area cool by cranking up the air conditioning), and a foxiness seems to enter into the palette of flavors and aromas. Pumping into our Missouri white oak barrels with more fermentation to go, the wine’s youth causes a pucker, although the color is deep. A mid-winter sampling shows the tartness diminishing and things coming into balance. On bottling, a sample carefully considered delights with harshness gone, replaced with a balanced dryness acting as a foil for deep leather, coffee, and Norton (no other adjective will suffice) flavors.
Our 2008 Norton Reserve is lovely now, and we are sure its beauty will shine for a long time in the bottle. We could compare it to the ungainly fawn that becomes a brave stag, or to the tomboy with braces who becomes the town beauty—but that would be overkill. If you want to know what a really good Norton is like, try our 2008 Norton Reserve.