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Nov 21, 2012 06:40 AM

Chrysalis Vineyards, Norton grape wine

For a gift, has anybody tried the Norton grape wines from Chrysalis Vineyards? What are they like, and would you recommend them? Do they stand as wine in terms of taste or are they more a novelty?
Also, if you know if anywhere in Boston MA that carries them?
Thank you
PS The vineyard was featured in a book called "The Wild Vine: A Forgotten Grape and the Untold Story of American Wine."

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  1. I've been to Chrysalis Vineyards (it is an easy hour and a half drive from where I live) and it is a beautiful place. However, I'm not a big fan of Norton in general. I do have some of Chrysalis' Nortons, including one of the Locksley Reserves that I plan to hold onto for about 10 more years just to see how it ages.

    In general I find young Nortons to be tart. but with a little aging (or three hour decant) they soften and the tannins, while smoky tend to smooth out. If you try to pop and pour you will be very disappointed as they are very tight until they get some air, dry, tart and somewhat bitter.

    You should expect Chrysalis Nortons (once they have been decanted for a while) to bigger with flavors of plum, black currant, tart cherry, and cocoa powder. The Norton is a very unique flavor profile, unlike almost anything else, but definitely interesting. It goes well with steaks or heartier foods like lamb, as it will overpower almost anything else.

    2 Replies
    1. re: dinwiddie

      Ah, thank you for this. As well being very difficult to find, this probably won't work as well for them as I hoped - one is borderline vegetarian, and this red sounds like it would totally overpower them. The interest in Nortons often seems to be, at least in part, the history and novelty of it rather necessarily than the out and out taste of it. One of the visitors to the vineyard online said (I think in 2011) that only white wine grapes are grown there, and that red grape concentrate is brought in for the red wines?
      Thank you again for your help with this.

      1. re: angelaangel

        >>> One of the visitors to the vineyard online said (I think in 2011) that only white wine grapes are grown there, and that red grape concentrate is brought in for the red wines? <<<

        Not true. See and scroll down: "Chrysalis Vineyards has now established what is believed to be the largest planting of Norton in the world, with additional vineyards to come. We hope to establish a new standard of excellence for the creation of world class wines from this classic American vine."

        Norton can produce an exciting and excellent wine. I've had many -- though by no means am I an expert -- both through the wine courses I've taught AND from my cellar for wines I've purchased for personal consumption.

        As dinwiddie says, these are wines that (generally) will benefit from aging, as they can be tart and astringent in their youth.

        More than 40 wineries in the US produce Norton (aka Cynthiana). The best I've had comes from Stone HIll in Missouri, with Horton in Virginia probably second. I don't recall having tried the Norton produced by Chrysalis. It's not a wine that you can find easily on the shelves in California, so for me to get any, I have to order it from the winery directly . . . and generally, I only do that if I'm teaching OR if I'm at a winery that produces it. But it's certainly available on the eastern US, especially in states where it is produced.


    2. Chrysalis makes a really nice Viognier.

      Many other VA wineries make Norton wine as well.

      1. I prefer the Locksley Reserve, although it is twice as expensive as their basic red Norton. The Barrel Reserve is also good. I'm not so keen on their Rose Norton - Sarah's Patio Red - its too bubblegummy and sweet for me, and I've not tried their port-style Norton.

        If you like big powerful reds then give Norton a try

        2 Replies
        1. re: Gussie Finknottle

          Thank you everybody for setting the record straight, and your own insights!