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Daniel Paulson

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Re: Just to poke things up a bit ... my take on the future of Eastern wines ...

by Daniel Paulson » Wed May 24, 2006 3:23 am

Hello All,

I'm fairly new at this wine thing, but I'm learning! I'm somewhat surprised that everytime someone mentions Virginia, Horton is the first winemaker mentioned. I live about 40 minutes from Horton, but have not visited there yet. Is there something that makes Horton notable over the likes of, say, Barboursville, North Mountain, King Family, etc.?

Also, someone mentioned that the red clay soil of Virginia produces wines that don't age particularly well. What is the connection here? What types of soils do produce ageable wines?

Please forgive the blitz of questions...

Cheers,
Daniel
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Brian Gilp

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Re: Just to poke things up a bit ... my take on the future of Eastern wines ...

by Brian Gilp » Wed May 24, 2006 6:53 am

Daniel,

I actually think that Barboursville is making better wine right now than Horton or any other VA winery I have tried. However, my list of wineries visit is probably only a little over a dozen. I believe that the Barboursville portfolio is strong across the board without a really bad wine. Their vineyard manager and wine maker are two of the best in understanding how to make the best with what they have to work with in Virginia.

Horton gets mentioned for what they were doing years ago when they made what may have been the best viognier in the country. I use to go to Horton and stock up before I would go to the FL as I would get requests from a number of the wine makers up there to bring it up. I recomend Horton now to people for the very large variety of wine that he is making. While you may not find the stunning wine that they made in the past, it is hard not to find one or two that you like regardless of ones preferences.

As for the red clay soil comment I am not sure. True red would be an idiction that the soil is high in iron which is a problem. Generally though you want a subsoil that is more orange/red than you do grey. That indicates a soil has adequate drainage while a grey subsoil usually has drainage problems which is a real issue for getting the grapes to grow at all.
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Bob Ross

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Re: Just to poke things up a bit ... my take on the future of Eastern wines ...

by Bob Ross » Wed May 24, 2006 9:37 am

Welcome, Daniel. Hope to see your name here again in the future.

I got interested in Virginia wines about ten years ago when my daughter started college at UVA. We visited most of the Virginia wineries at that time, and tried many of their wines.

Horton is mentioned for a number of reasons, in part because of the Horton/Norton connection, partly because Dennis was somewhat controversial, partly because Parker reviewed the winery positively fairly early on. Kathrine gave me a bottle of Horton wine for Christmas in 1995; my notes read:

1993 Horton Mourvèdre Orange County Virginia. Gift from Kathrine. Parker NR: “This winery is emerging as one of the most interesting producers on the East Coast. Although more tannic and austere than the Côtes d'Orange, the 1992 Mourvèdre is impressive for its authentic varietal character, with its spicy, tree bark-scented nose and its firm, persuasive brier/berry flavors. This intriguing wine indicates that some Rhône varietals can excel in selected micro-climates and terroirs of VA - an astonishing thought, and one that would make the legendary American President, Thomas Jefferson, proud! Tel. (703) 832-7440.” Label: “The warm growing season of 1993 was ideal for the sun loving Mourvèdre. The Mourvèdre produces an intensely spicy wine with blackberry flavors. We blended in Syrah for a more tannic structure and a rich, smoky character. This wine is an excellent companion to rich cheese and meat dishes, especially those with a Mediterranean accent. Dennis and Sharon Horton.”

My reasons for Horton's fame for what it's worth.

I'm not sure about the red clay/lack of aging business, but I heard it a few times in the 1997 period. First, White Hall was then winning lots of medals and awards. Tony and Edie Champ were the owners, and Tony was quoted in an article as saying: "We have to compensate for viticulture drawbacks; we emphasize youthful intensity of flavor." One of the drawbacks he mentioned was the clay soil.

Lance Witherell was a retailer at a really good wine store near campus, and we discussed many Virginia wines. He had been a wine maker for a number of years and he told me that he and other Virginia wine makers had discussed why VA wines generally did not seem to improve with aging. He said that the red clay was considered a possible reason.

Not very scientific, but those are the reasons I mentioned the red clay -- you sure see plenty of red clay as you drive around the Commonwealth.

And, having tasting a number of verticals of Virginia wine, it's hard for me to remember one that really developed over time -- perhaps a few Hortons?

Again, welcome. Regards, Bob
Last edited by Bob Ross on Wed May 24, 2006 3:04 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Just to poke things up a bit ... my take on the future of Eastern wines ...

by David M. Bueker » Wed May 24, 2006 9:39 am

Daniel Paulson wrote:Hello All,

I'm fairly new at this wine thing, but I'm learning! I'm somewhat surprised that everytime someone mentions Virginia, Horton is the first winemaker mentioned. I live about 40 minutes from Horton, but have not visited there yet. Is there something that makes Horton notable over the likes of, say, Barboursville, North Mountain, King Family, etc.?

Also, someone mentioned that the red clay soil of Virginia produces wines that don't age particularly well. What is the connection here? What types of soils do produce ageable wines?

Please forgive the blitz of questions...

Cheers,
Daniel


I think Horton gets mentioned due to some past noteworthy successes. I think King Family is making the best wine in Virginia right now.
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Re: Just to poke things up a bit ... my take on the future of Eastern wines ...

by wrcstl » Wed May 24, 2006 10:45 am

I give up !!

This thread seems rather silly as I drink my $18 '03 Chablis, $13 '01 White Bourgone, look forward to this weeks arrival of $8-$15 roses from S. France and remember this weekends tasting of $20-$30 Chianti Classicos. I will leave the Nortons and Seyvals to the romantics. Great way to spend a Saturday picnic afternoon at a local winery but just can't seem to get enthusiastic about putting them in the cellar. Could probably make an exception for NY Rieslings but just have not had any.

Bob Ross: Surprised you didn't know Texas was in the Eastern United States. You and Dave make a good point on Virginia wines, like others I let my emotions rule my head.

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Re: Just to poke things up a bit ... my take on the future of Eastern wines ...

by Howie Hart » Wed May 24, 2006 11:26 am

wrcstl wrote:....I drink my $18 '03 Chablis, $13 '01 White Bourgone, look forward to this weeks arrival of $8-$15 roses from S. France and remember this weekends tasting of $20-$30 Chianti Classicos. I will leave the Nortons and Seyvals to the romantics.
Walt


Hi Walt - You echoed my sentiments regarding regarding Eastern vinefera and QPR, but from a different perspective.
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Re: Just to poke things up a bit ... my take on the future of Eastern wines

by Robin Garr » Wed May 24, 2006 12:14 pm

wrcstl wrote:I will leave the Nortons and Seyvals to the romantics.


Me too, Walt. But I think the topic here is a little different. I'd submit that - at least in New York, possibly in Virginia, maybe in Ohio and Michigan, the Supreme Court ruling is gradually going to change the playing field just enough that it's going to make it possible for at least a few Eastern producers and regions to break out as serious contenders. It's not going to happen overnight, and I honestly don't expect to see it happening with hybrids or, in most cases (Horton and Stone Hill possibly excepted), not with Norton.

But I'm really looking at it from a commercial standpoint as much as a wine-geek standpoint: More open shipping is going to make it more practical for some Eastern wine entrepreneurs to get a national foothold where that wasn't feasible before, and that's a change. And if they can make wines good enough to compete - and we WE have some evidence of this, particularly in Finger Lakes and Michigan Rieslings and Ontario ice wines - then I say more power to them.
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Re: Just to poke things up a bit ... my take on the future of Eastern wines

by Paul B. » Wed May 24, 2006 12:35 pm

Robin Garr wrote:... and I honestly don't expect to see it happening with hybrids or, in most cases (Horton and Stone Hill possibly excepted), not with Norton.

My opinion is that the opening up of wineries in the American heartland to wider markets could very likely see the development of viticulture based on non-vinifera (especially new-generation cultivars like those coming out of Minnesota) that is actually suited to the continental climate. Personally I would never wish to be a winemaker growing vinifera in a place like Missouri or Nebraska when there are cultivars that will handle the winters and the summer humidity and ripen consistently, and get far less disease than vinifera would. And, if we believe that the best wine begins in the vineyard, healthy vines and clean fruit (much easier to achieve with non-vinifera varieties than with spray-requiring viniferas) are one of the starting points.

The thing that many people leave out of the equation is the possibility of regional tastes actually adopting the flavours of such grapes as mainstream, and frankly this is what I think ought to happen. When the wine world promulgates a limited number of grapes as the only desirable grapes despite the existence of varieties that actually fit the terroir, it's a case of cultivating a "one size fits all" mentality (or, more to the point, a "one type of grape must fit all terroirs" mentality). This, essentially, is expediency.

The international market no doubt already seeks out that which is already familiar and judges it based on pre-set criteria. But I think that no less valid are the trends that see regionally-successful wines garnering strong local support and the local populations (as well as open-minded folks elsewhere) seeking said wines out. How else to account for the in-state success of Missouri's Cynthianas and Nortons, or even Virginia's Nortons ... or the hybrid and labrusca wines of Quai du Vin south of London, Ontario, where the winery staff say they don't even bother to advertise much because their customer base is consistently secure? I think that any opening up of the Heartland to out-of-state markets should therefore be viewed from both a regional-economics and international (e.g. as with our icewine exports) perspective.
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Re: Just to poke things up a bit ... my take on the future of Eastern wines

by wrcstl » Wed May 24, 2006 1:19 pm

Robin Garr wrote:Me too, Walt. But I think the topic here is a little different. I'd submit that - at least in New York, possibly in Virginia, maybe in Ohio and Michigan, the Supreme Court ruling is gradually going to change the playing field just enough that it's going to make it possible for at least a few Eastern producers and regions to break out as serious contenders. It's not going to happen overnight, and I honestly don't expect to see it happening with hybrids or, in most cases (Horton and Stone Hill possibly excepted), not with Norton.


Robin,
Two questions/comments. I thought Michigan pooped in their own nest and passed a law saying if you have to put local state wineries on the same footing as west coast wineries that they banned shipping inside of Michigan. I may be mistaken since it is hard to keep the individual state laws straight. Understood that NY went the opposite way and is now open.

Even though I am not a hybrid guy I can enjoy a glass of good Norton, just don't cellar them. Good ones are far and few between and agree with Horton and Stone Hill but would also add Chrysela as it is the best one I hve ever had. They don't curl my toes but can enjoy them at the winery on a pretty saturday afternoon.
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Re: Just to poke things up a bit ... my take on the future of Eastern wines

by Robin Garr » Wed May 24, 2006 1:29 pm

wrcstl wrote:Two questions/comments. I thought Michigan pooped in their own nest and passed a law saying if you have to put local state wineries on the same footing as west coast wineries that they banned shipping inside of Michigan. I may be mistaken since it is hard to keep the individual state laws straight. Understood that NY went the opposite way and is now open.


Walt, in Michigan, the perfidious wholesalers tried their best to kill the wine industry, but as I understand it, they ended up with a better compromise.

New York came closer to openness, but the mob^H^H^H wholesalers had some impact even there ... I believe their system is a little less "clean" than true California-style reciprocity ("you ship to us, we ship to you"), but thanks to the wine industry there already having significant economic clout, they were able to get a pretty good deal.

Norton, Schmorton ... I've had a couple that I liked, too. But at the risk of beating a dead horse, and in respectful disagreement with Paul's post in this thread, all I'm saying is that changes in state laws resulting from the Supreme Court shipping decision give Eastern states a more level playing field to compete. They're still going to have to come out with wines that the general public will buy, and that requires both good wine making and the judicious use of varieties that have commercial feasibility.
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Re: Just to poke things up a bit ... my take on the future of Eastern wines

by Howie Hart » Wed May 24, 2006 3:10 pm

Robin Garr wrote:They're still going to have to come out with wines that the general public will buy, and that requires both good wine making and the judicious use of varieties that have commercial feasibility.

I think it can only be done with whites. I don't think the East can make anything to compete with $5-$8 reds from CA (you did say "general public"), let alone Chile and Australia. Whites, however are a different story. I've had many good Easten whites at reasonable prices: vinefera, hybrids and labrusca.
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