Monday, January 14, 2013

New Haven's Gem

I occupy not a little of my free time by visiting Missouri wineries, driving to areas with high densities of wineries to try and collect as many "dry reds only, please" as I can possibly taste. I completed the Missouri Wine and Grape Board's winery passport program that lasted several years, and will be spending a weekend at St. Gemme Beauvais in Ste. Genevieve next weekend as the grand prize for all of my endeavors. I really don't think I should be rewarded, per se, for visiting all of these great places, but a weekend at a bed and breakfast well out of my price range is certainly welcome. I look forward to visiting all of the historic sites in town that I haven't been to because usually when I'm in the area I'm in the local pine woods, camping.

I feel remiss that there are at least ten wineries in the state I haven't visited yet, mostly because they're only open on certain weekends or are so far away that I would have to set out on a workday to get there in time. Also a little disheartening is learning of the closing of some very earnest and fine wineries in Missouri in the past couple of years; among one of my favorites was located outside of Warrenton, Rolling Meadows Winery, now up for sale (for a very reasonable price). Nevertheless, despite all of this, I've met some incredible winemakers and collected some terrific wines for my rack. Mixed within the 07-08 Oregon pinot noirs, I still have some 06 Nortons, but mostly 08-09s, and of late I have been drinking a lot of the 09 Chambourcins, since that varietal tends to fall apart after three years. In the mix are a few 04s and 05s from Oregon and Missouri both, and random French Cotes du Rhones that just sort of hang out there, waiting for company or a dinner party.

There are, however, a few wineries that are making wines that are meant for cellaring. Few and far between, one that stands out is Robller Vineyards Winery in New Haven.After several visits to Hermann, we launched out towards New Haven in hopes of finding good, earnest, noble wineries in the area. Robller Vineyards fit the bill in every way--great dry reds, personable staff, grounds for a picnic, a staff wanting to understand what the customer is looking for. I'm pretty easy to please at most Missouri wineries that are making dry reds: don't serve the sweet stuff you give to the folks who aren't really *into* wine, but let me linger over your dry wines, especially your Nortons. Robller is run by a father and son team, and they've been making wine for over twenty years. April 21, 2013 marks the 21st anniversary of the winery! They're hosting a big party in celebration of this momentous occasion.

As an inveterate pinot noir collector, I was intrigued by Robller's Le Trompier Noir, a blend that resembles pinot noir and ages well. I have a few 09s sitting still waiting for late 2013 or much later to see what happens to this complex and intriguing wine. I especially appreciated the attention Jerry gave to us when we mentioned that dry reds were our specialty, a history of his Norton production, a laundry list of the issues he's had making good dry reds, his successes, his challenges. This family winery exemplifies everything that a great Ozark winery should be-- earnest, hard working, producing great product. Robller's Norton is among the finest in the Ozarks, for aging and for drinking now.

Oh, and the wine? Supple tannins, rich texture, more of an international wine than a small batch homemade wine. He oaks his wines, of course, but the oak doesn't mask the cover of the Norton grape. His Le Trompier Noir is exceptional, drinking very well now, but also worthy of aging for at least five years. I get impatient with wine, which is why I invest in Bordeaux futures so I can't touch them, but this one, the Robller Le Trompe Noir is sitting in back of me just breathing down my neck asking me to open it, but I wonder, does it go in a Norton Reidel glass or a pinot noir Reidel glass? I guess I'll have to wait until I go back to New Haven to ask that question....

1 comment:

TNWT said...

Down to my last few bottles of Robller's '03 & '04s Norton. You are so correct in your praises for this unpretentious setting. Having had an 'adopted' family connection to the construction of this winery, my first Norton wine experience came from here around 1998(?)in form of a three bottle Christmas present. What a wonderful introduction it was to the world of Norton grapes/wines.