Norton: America’s grape

The Norton grape's acidity and “over-the-top fruitiness” aren’t easy to tame.

America’s oldest wine grape isn’t just for history buffs anymore, said Dave McIntyre in The Washington Post. Developed in 1820s Virginia, the hardy Norton grape did help wet the young nation’s whistle, but its acidity and “over-the-top fruitiness” aren’t easy to tame. Using new methods, a few vintners are making progress.

2010 Horton Vineyards Norton ($15). Virginia’s best-known Norton has a distinctive earthy note that lends it a touch of “old-world sophistication.”

2010 Cooper Vineyards Norton Reserve ($23). As Cooper’s vines age, its Nortons are developing new sophistication and consistency. The 2010 is “very good.”

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2011 Chrysalis Vineyards Norton Barrel Select ($29). Chrysalis borrows a technique from Beaujolais to soften Norton’s tannins, creating a “plusher” wine that’s suitable for early drinking.

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