Saturday, April 25, 2015

Vertical Wine Tasting: August Winery Chambourcin 2011 & 2012

By Davina Horton


The other day I was walking down the wine aisle of my local Schnucks store, browsing their Missouri wine collection when I noticed that they had Augusta Winery’s 2011 and 2012 Chambourcin. Well of course, I had to buy them both. This was the perfect opportunity to do a vertical wine tasting!

Here’s a little background on the Chambourcin grape. Nearly every Missouri winery using these grapes whether it be to blend with other grapes, turn into rosés, or use to make 100% Chambourcin wines. This grape is a French/American hybrid and produces light to medium bodied wines that tend to have very fruity aromas and earthy flavors. Chambourcin wines are notoriously paired with pork dishes, barbecue, and other grilled meals.

You may wonder why I was so excited to do a vertical tasting. Even more so, what exactly is a vertical tasting? To do this sort of taste, you’ll need the same wines from the same wineries but from different vintages (years they were produced). This allows you to focus on the changes in the wine from year to year. It can be hard to get your hands on bottles of the same wines from wineries because they usually sell out each year and don’t hold back bottles.

I was especially interested in tasting these two wines because I know that 2012 was a great year for Missouri grapes. It was a dry, hot summer which made for an ideal grape growing season. A great example of this is the Chardonel grape. Before trying a 2012 Chardonel, I was never a big fan of that varietal. However, when I started sampling the 2012 vintage, my mind got changed completely. Nearly every 2012 Chardonel wine I drink is spectacular, and I know it has so much to do with the climate that year. I was eager to see if Chambourcins were just as positively affected in 2012.

We started our Chambourcin Vertical tasting by comparing the look of the two wines. Both were a dark burgundy with lots of legs. The 2012 was slightly more translucent while the 2011 was a touch cloudy. The aroma of the 2011 was very toasty, the oak really came through on this wine. It was very nose-warming and reminiscent of moss and fig. The 2012’s aroma was much more jammy with just subtle oak notes. It had a very fruity nose which was quite different than the 2011.

Upon tasting the 2011, we were surprised at just how light-bodied it was. With such an intense aroma, we expected something with more mouth-feel. The oaky flavor of the wine was lingering, and it finished with hints of raspberry. We both agreed that this would be a great wine to serve with a steak, grilled pork, or heavier pasta dish. The 2012’s had a much rounder mouth-feel. The oak flavor was much less harsh and was only present on the finish. The wine was also more fruit-forward. This would be a great wine to sip on its own or pair with some Gouda and crackers.

The difference between these two wines was enormous. It was hard to believe these wines were made from the same grape, at the same winery just one year apart. Time and the difference in climate really affected how these wines turned out. We enjoyed both, but if we had to pick, we would go with the 2012 Chambourcin as our favorite. We really enjoy jammy wines that are lighter on oak.

Augusta Winery is located in downtown Augusta, MO and serves a large variety of stellar wines. I highly suggest you visit their tasting room which is open year-round. Their staff is friendly and knowledgeable. If you can’t make it to the winery, check your Missouri wine section at your local grocery store or order off their website. Cheers!


Monday, April 20, 2015

Missouri Mead Mania

Originally published on VisitMO Spotlight
What’s all the buzz about meads? Mead (aka, “Nectar of the Gods”) is an alcoholic beverage made from fermented honey and water. Bees are a very integral part of our ecosystem, and mead has been made from honey since around 2000 BC, before beer or wine. It is thought to be the oldest form of alcoholic beverage on earth. It can be sweet, dry, sparkling or still. It is believed that the term “honeymoon” comes from the idea that mead was an aphrodisiac that newlyweds would drink on their wedding night.
Missouri wineries aren’t letting the mead trend go on without them. This sustainable beverage gives people a chance to support their local wineries, the ecosystem and enjoy a delicious, natural drink. If you’re looking for a new tasting adventure, mead offers a delightful array of flavors and styles. You can find Missouri meads throughout the state.
About 35 miles north of Kansas City, you’ll find Pirtle Winery in the quaint town of Weston. This winery is located in a building that was formerly the Lutheran Evangelical Church , built by German immigrants in 1867. They offer three tasty meads: blackberry, raspberry, and Pirtle Mead (100% orange blossom honey). The Blackberry Mead won the 2010 MO Governor’s Cup for Best Fruit Wine, and the Raspberry won the same award in 2012. The Pirtle Mead is a multi-International gold medal winner. This winery focuses greatly on quality, and it’s obvious they hold very high standards for their mead.
Southwest Missouri is home to Leaky Roof Meadery, named after the railroad line that brought together Kansas City, Clinton and Springfield known as the Leaky Roof Railroad. This meadery puts extra emphasis on empowering local agriculture and bringing the community together. You’ll usually find eight meads on tap, but the variety does vary based on the season and what the mead makers have up their sleeves. You can get their mead by the sample, pint, growler and even keg. Their flagship mead, KCC&S Cyser, is a slightly carbonated, semi-sweet mead made from blending honey and fresh pressed apple cider.
Next time you are venturing along the Hermann Wine Trail, be sure to stop at the Martin Brothers Winery to sample their impressive mead selection. Esther R. Martin runs this family business with her four sons who started making mead as a hobby. The winery is situated on a beautiful landscape of peaceful, rolling hills. This is a perfect place to enjoy an afternoon picnic complete with award-winning meads. You’ll be able to sample their unique Banana Mead and Prickly Pear Watermelon Mead, and hopefully chat with one the friendly Martin brothers.
Outside of Springfield, there is a winery that boasts a fairly large selection of meads. 7Cs Winery is off the beaten path and is full of country charm. They offer more than 10 meads, ranging from the more common, clover and raspberry, to the more exotic, jalapenos and habanero selections. You can take the green route and purchase most of their meads in recyclable pouches, which have less negative impact on the environment, and are lightweight and easy to carry.
Meads open up an all new tasting adventure while you’re out exploring Missouri Wine County. You’ll find meads at Wenwood Farm Winery in Bland and Windy Wine Companyin Osborn. Get on the mead bandwagon, and don’t be surprised if more meaderies pop up in Missouri.
For more Missouri mead see OOVVDA WineryHorst Vineyards, and Adam Puchta Winery.

"A horn of mead was never far from his hand." A Dance with Dragons, George R.R. Martin.