Weekday Drinking Thread (24 to 27th July 2023)

Well it’s sunny, the balcony beckoned and it had been a very nice day at work, so here goes to starting the Monday thread.

An old favourite here: Côtes-du-Rhône Blanc, Guigal 2022.

Beautiful, round, fruit forward and a nice bit of oiliness on the palate. The only thing I’d say is that I decanted last time and it probably is worth it, as it’s improving with air. I love it and a very happy way to start the week. I hope there are folks enjoying some summer time off, and starting a similarly relaxing week!


An opportunity for a random cold light of day taste-off today. Had I been swept up by the seductive enthusiasm for tasting whilst at the cellar door but the same wine sampled when at home a massive disappointment ? Furthermore to taste against an old reliable straight bat full bodied southern Rhone ?

So, a mature Gigondas (One of the recent batch of TWS mystery damaged label fine reds) pitched against a Missouri Norton, to accompany a late lunch of cheese-filled tortellini and a rich tomato and basil sauce.

Norton, to refresh memories, is a c19th natural hybrid between v. aestivalis and an obscure french vinifera Enfariné noir, discovered by chance growing in his plant nursery in Virginia by Dr Daniel Norton. It still has some presence in Virginia but is now mainly grown in Missouri, a legacy of that State being the principal wine producer pre-Prohibiton. It likes chalky soil and is steadfastly winter-hardy.

I was delighted to not only find the Norton stood up well, remained delicious and not at all “hybridey”, but was the close winner with the meal, being a touch more peppery yet mellow, and on the medium-full body scale. The Gigondas, though lovely, was a bit too heavy duty and after the two of us took pours “volonté” from both bottles, there was more of the Norton consumed.

It would be terrific if TWS was able to import a Norton to add to the List, I’m sure members would find it a revelation.


Sorry - got my weeks wrong.


So you pitched a 15 against a 21 …… retaste in twenty years

Enjoyed but not for the first time this wine this evening.


This is a wine that’d grace any thread! Absolutely fantastic, and I’ll doubtless succumb to my first “First Release” purchase when the 2018 is made available in August (https://www.thewinesociety.com/in-bond).

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Actually Norton holds up well with age; I’ve tasted some 20+ year old examples and the best bottle of what we brought back this time was a 2014, but yes of course there was no attempt at a like for like; just a bit of fun to taste Norton alongside a tried and trusted vinifera blend which was readily to hand.

It really is the only hybrid I know of which can really mix it toe to toe with “proper” viniferas, though Marquette, Frontenac and Petite Pearl do come close.


Tonight a braised shoulder of wild venison in some leftover Gigondas, garlic, juniper berries and cloves with new potatoes etc. I would normally have chosen a red Rhone but it was a hot day so we had a bottle of Underraga finca Los Lomas rose. Very acceptable but a bit light for the venison. We finished up with some rather mature Gorgonzola for me and some Comte for Mrs K. Overall, pretty good and we might watch King Solomon’s Mines!


Ridge BBR Zinfandel 2018

Bought in 2021 with a voucher coming in at £20 per bottle. I only tried one of the five bottles purchased on receipt. It was quite “thin” relative to my previous Ridge experiences, so the other bottles easy to ignore. And as @peterm correctly observed, perhaps I was a fan of the blends vs the pure Zinfandel variety. I think he was right.

Retesting this however about two years later, it has put on weight. It’s developed a very good nose. The finish has doubled and I think it’s hit the start of its drinking window. It’s all come together. Still primary fruit driven but complexities emerging and greater balance.

Huge uplift in rating since my last sample. Perhaps I should start treating some new world wines with more of an old world wine ageing window. Being part of the BBR own label release I assumed good to go.

Have a good week all!


Interesting to know wonder if Norton will ever make it on to the society list … have you recovered from you states trip …??

Produttori Barbaresco 2012. Drinking well, with black cherry, flowers, good acidity, reasonably soft tannins (for a nebbiolo) that give a velvet feeling in the whole mouth. Everything well integrated, good finish. I think this will keep well for at least another 5 years.


Your evangelism for Norton has made me curious to try it, so I wish you luck in any campaign, though TWS does not currently feature a single US wine from outside California, Washington and Oregon.

I was reading your trip posts while on the N American west coast myself, and did have a (fairly cursory, admittedly) look for Norton in a few supermarkets and wine stores, couldn’t see it anywhere. I’d guess it’s a combination of a lack of awareness/demand and a lack of distribution capability and agreements, even nationally within the US, much less internationally. Possibly also production capacity?

If the Society buyer made a pilgrimage to Missouri et al, and deemed it worthy of stocking, I’m guessing TWS would have to be the importer itself.


Yes back to normal life again, thanks. The time difference is only 6 hours and so soon recuperated.
Invariably the reply to the standard question - “where are your sales made mainly ?” - when posed to Midwest producers, is mainly cellar door, Club member subscriptions and very limited presence in local restaurants. There’s also a myriad of complications for each State being able to send to other States within the USA. Unlike in Texas, where the local grocery chain H-E-B makes a point of stocking local wines, we found no such equivalent in the Midwest, so I imagine any attempt at importing Nortons would have to be with the producer direct. Those outfits possibly large enough to accommodate such an arrangement would include St. James, Stone Hill and Augusta/Montelle although the volume would still be relatively small.

there are also two modestly-sized Norton producers in Virginia; Chrysalis and Horton.

Maybe a future #bin series ?? !!


I know, my post above mentions both Oregon and Washington in addition to California, as the only US states from which TWS currently stocks wines

Ouch! my apologies - reached ‘California’ and stopped…! I’ll delete accordingly :face_with_hand_over_mouth:

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Norton would be an ideal candidate for the Bin Series


Chrysalis has the largest Norton vineyards in the USA (and thus the world) so they would be a better candidate; however TWS seem to prefer dealing with existing suppliers to source Bin series wines.

TWS has listed some Virginia wines before, but the importer of Virginia wines has gone out of business


National chain Total Wines have listed Horton Norton for many years. I have bought it from them in several US states.


Exactly my experience with BBR own label Ridge. First bottles a bit “meh” and poor value - but more recently it has been great, and really makes sense as a cheaper option from a quality producer.


Some summer sipping today with last of the garden broad beans and sage risotto.

Black Chalk (Hampshire) Dancer In Pink rosé 2022. Pinot noir and gris blend (see label)

Yeah it’s quite nice. Satisfyingly tart and appetising, subdued nose - maybe rose petals - taste just-ripe nectarines would be the closest I could get. Cellar door purchase and ISTR quite expensive but would rather not verify that.