Recap: Slow U – The Amazing Norton Grape with Todd Kliman

On Thursday Nov 4, a capacity audience of 40 attended a reading/wine-tasting/potluck food pairing led by Todd Kliman, noted food and wine editor/critic of the Washingtonian Magazine. The venue was the chic and snazzy upstairs Washington Printmakers’ Gallery at Pyramid Atlantic Art Center in Silver Spring. Todd read from his book, “The Wild Vine” based on the Norton grape, which many call the only indigenous American grape capable of producing a worthwhile red wine.

The first half hour was “meet and greet” time, where attendees had the opportunity to taste a delicious Viognier contributed by Chrysalis Vineyards, VA (the only white wine for the night). Todd started us off with the 2006 Norton from Stone Hill Winery, MO, followed by the 2005 Norton from Chrysalis – it was interesting to compare the different styles (MO vs VA). Next came Sarah’s Patio Red from Chrysalis, an easy sipping wine that went particularly well with a salad of arugula, Parmesan and apple. The 2009 Barrel Select Norton from Chrysalis followed – a very young and grape-y wine, that one might wish to cellar for some years. The “Big Gun” Nortons came next – the 2005 Chrysalis Locksley Reserve and the 2006 “Cross J” Norton from Stone Hill. These are the two vineyards’ top
wines, and attendees had a chance to compare the styles and floral/fruit notes in each. We ended with an exquisite port-style dessert wine made from Norton grapes at Rappahannock Cellars, VA – their “2007 Red Dessert wine” (which we tried with chocolate brownies).

“Norton is a grape with a very strong personality, one that few people are indifferent to,” Todd told us, interspersing the tasting with commentary and readings from his book. “Either you love it or you hate it.”

As big a draw as the wine and the reading were the outstanding dishes attendees brought for the potluck – foods that paired especially well with the Norton grape. Highlights included (but were not limited to) eggplant empanadas, chicken with sherry and pine-nuts, goat cheese filled dates, rare roast beef, spinach with apples, barbecue chicken wings, potatoes slow-cooked with prunes, fresh home-made pretzels, barbecue tofu, bacon
wrapped almond-stuffed dates, the above-mentioned arugula salad and brownies, as well as various cheeses, meats, flatbreads. Let’s just say nobody went hungry or unsatisfied.

Thanks to Annie of Washington Printmakers for letting us go all the way from 6:30 to 9:00 p.m. And of course to Stone Hill Winery, MO, Chrysalis Vineyards, VA and Rappahannock Cellars, VA for their generous contributions that helped make this event such a success.

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