7/21/2006

Virginia Wine: 2003 Chrysalis Norton Locksley Reserve


Last Sunday we were invited by friends, Dave and Lynn to their humble and happy home to enjoy some fine wine. They are VIP members at Chrysalis Vineyards in Middleburg, VA and had just received an unreleased 2003 Norton Locksley Reserve and a summer time favorite, Sarah’s Patio White as part of their membership privilege.



The kindhearted hosts prepared light fare and dessert, and we brought along some Belgium chocolates to add to the mix. Like us, our friends are also fairly new to the fermented grape juice, so we thought it would be fun and revealing to hear everyone's taste reviews of the Norton.


First a little spill on Norton, since Norton and Cabernet Franc are the flagship red wines of Virginia that have the potential to exceed expectation.

Norton, also known as Cythiana is one of the few Native American grape varieties that can produce quality red wine which rivals some European reds. Norton is hardy, disease resistant, and unlike Pinot Noir for instance can grow just about anywhere. The exact origin of Norton is spark for many debates. Some experts believe that Norton is a true native of North America, whilst others believe Norton is a hybrid between indigenous varieties and Vinifera varieties. Others surmise that Dr. Norton of Richmond first planted this grape in Virginia in the late 1820’s, hence the name.

The grape blossomed in the 1830’s and was widely planted throughout much of the Eastern half of the United States. The origin of this variety is quite a mystery, but the aroma and flavors are pleasantly revealing.

The Norton grape saw great prominence during its peak throughout the 1800’s, and excelled as a quality red wine. In Missouri the Norton grape fetched gold medals and high praise from acclaimed and renowned wine critics. Sadly enough, during prohibition Norton saw it’s untimely demise, but would emerge many decades later to dazzle the palates of a new genre.

Norton Grapes

Shifting gears to amicable and sometimes humorous conversation, our friends proceeded to pour the Norton Locksley Reserve. The Norton displayed a medium garnet color and agreed upon aromas of dark fruit and spice. This medium bodied wine presented nice jammy fruit on the nose, mid palate and finished rather nicely. As the evening grew our friends observed a bolder presence of dark fruit and jam in the wine. The table was split about notes of dark chocolate; for me my palate is rarely able to pick up on this flavor.

The evening was completed with a lighter and fruity quaffing wine, Sarah’s Patio White. Aptly named, Sarah’s patio white displayed peach and ripe citrus flavors with good acidity to the finish.

I would personally like to thank Dave and Lynn for inviting us over for such a delightful evening.

Readers if you are in the market for good Norton, Chrysalis is a good place to start in Virginia. There you will find the Norton grape in 3 different styles and in several other lighter blends they produce.

Happy Sipping!

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