Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Sweet sells, but there's more

Wine trip to Rolla area and US 60 corridor

We have followed the wineries of the Missouri River from Rocheport to St. Louis. We have headed northwest and southeast and have explored Mid-Missouri. This year, we explored new and old places in the Rolla-St. James-Steeleville area, then we went south to wineries of along US 60.

Last year among wineries north of Kansas City, we noticed a strong trend toward sweet wines, which prevailed on our route this year. However, we also found winemakers who want to make classic dry wines often with oak, even though they recognize that sweet sells.

In the Ozark Highlands part of this year's trip, we ran into a lot of bold and earthy wines.

Heinrich Grohe's tastings are full of facts, lore and laughs. Photo credit: Jennifer Peaco


We stopped first near St. James at Heinrichshaus, an iconic place helmed by one of the elder statesmen of Missouri wines of the German tradition, Heinrich Grohe.

It was such a pleasure to get back in touch with his great wines. The last time we visited him, we made a video of our tasting with him. Heinrichshaus wines aren’t all made the same way. Results stretch from subtle (Traminette, Vidal) to bold (Chambourcin). 

Missouri Wine Snob notes

Chardonel: A little sweet, but the full body of the grape provides balance.

Chambourcin: Spicy in a zesty way, and dry.

Prairie Rouge: Earthy, lighter than most of his wines, and mysterious. Heinrich declined to disclose the grape varieties. Steve’s guess: Cabernet Franc, Concord and a white wine. To that combination, Heinrich had no comment …

After being spoiled by the robust Nortons of Tyler Ridge Vineyard Winery, I had to adjust my taste standards to appreciate Heinrich’s approach. It was actually delicate, serene, refined in a way that I didn’t expect.

Heinrich entered the debate about Norton/Cynthiana on the side that declares that they’re separate varieties. Cynthiana is an outgrowth of Norton, he said, referencing research at Missouri State University-Mountain Grove.

I’m not all that concerned about the botany. They might as well be the same; its what the winemaker does with the grapes.

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