Odd Fellows in Liberty, MO Some interesting new grape varieties

So we headed to the midwest to visit family and on the way made a stop in Liberty Missouri to first and foremost taste some Norton!  The winery we headed to was Belvoir Winery which is located in the Odd Fellows Home District in Liberty.  For those of you who like me are unfamiliar with the Internation Order of the Odd Fellows, they are a fraternal organization.  The Odd Fellows home was created as a new type of almshouse.  This was a place for their members widows and orphans.  It was looked on as a type of insurance.  Members knew that their families would be taken care of here if they passed.  It is significant in that they included children.  Most other almshouses did not include children, who instead were sent to orphanages.  The Almshouses required any able-bodied resident was expected to work on the property.  As such this was not looked at as charity.  This historic location is being turned into an event facility by Dr. John Bean and his wife Marsha.  In addition to the beautiful tasting room and tastings, they also host weddings and have Public Paranormal Investigations as the building is known to be haunted!

In addition to the International Order of the Odd Fellows history at this location, we also found some grape varieties here that we found to be “odd fellows”.  This was a great part of the appeal of tasting here.  We tasted 6 wines here, 3 whites and 3 reds.

Wines at the Belvoir Winery tasting bar in Liberty, MO

We began with the 2010 Chardonel. Chardonel is a cross between Chardonnay and Seyval.  I smelled pears and peaches and a little oak on the nose and got warm fruit in the mouth.  It was very pleasant.

We then tasted the Plumeria which is a blend of Traminette, Vignoles and Seyval.  This wine smells like fruit cocktail w/coconut.  A little like ambrosia.  It has a medium body has good acid and is very fruit driven.

Now to expound upon the grapes!  Traminette is a cross of Joannes Seyve 23.416 and Gewürztraminer. It produces wines with similar characteristics to Gewürztraminer.  Vignoles is another hybrid made from Seibel 8665 and Pinot de corton  This grapes characteristic flavors of apricot, pineapple and citrus made it similar to a German Riesling and it is often made into sweet dessert wines, while it also can be made in a dryer style.  Finally the Seyval known also as Seyval Blanc it is a cross of Seibel 5656 and Royon d’Or.  It has a citrus element and a minerality that is often compared to white burgundy.

On a side note, all of these grapes contain non-vinifera genes and are outlawed by the EU authorities for quality wine production.

On to the Sorelle Dolci which is a sweet dessert wine made from Symphony and Cayuga grapes.  We fund this to be less syrupy than many dessert wines and lighter than most late harvest.  We were imagining soaking fruit in it!

The Symphony Grape was created by Dr. Harold Olmos at UC Davis in 1948.  It is a cross of Grenache Gris and Muscat of Alexandria and was originally created for the hot growing conditions of the Central Valley in California.

Cayuga is a white grape created from the hybrids Schuyler and Seyval Blanc.  It can be used to make sparkling white and has fruity aromas similar to Riesling.  This grape was created at Cornell University and was designed for the cold-climate regions of New York’s finger lakes.  It was released in 1972.

Okay….so…I’m not sure on this one.  The logic doesn’t line up, but hey, that’s wine.  So we have one grape designed for California heat and another for New York cold, both grown in Missouri.

Now onto the reds and the 2008 Norton.  I have been reading “The Wild Vine” and was fascinated with this grape. When I was in Virginia we were not in the right region for Norton, so I didn’t have an opportunity to taste there.  Norton is the state grape of Missouri. This wine has a deep rich color and I found it to be lighter than expected in my mouth.  The aroma was rich with warm spice and cedar and a little hint of violet.  The tannins were smooth and warm and due to the weight of this wine it seemed like it might be great for pairings.  It reminded me most closely of a mix of Merlot and Cab Franc, but with its own personality.

Next we tasted the Casanova.  This must be a cuvee because it had no year listed.  It is a blend of Chambourcin, St. Vincent and Syrah.  This was our favorite wine and we took a bottle home.  This wine was fruit forward with nice red fruit.  It’s medium weight makes it a great table wine or sipping wine.  For a lighter bodied red it is Very fulfilling with lots of zing!

So the grape varieties here: Chambourcin is a french American hybrid whose parentage probably comes from Siebel and was developed by Joannes Seibel in the Loire Valley.  It often has expressive herbaceous aromas.  The grapes have thick skins so you get great tannins and lots of structure. St. Vincent has a burgundian character and again comes from uncertain parentage.  It is a late ripening grape.  Lastly Syrah…well I do love my syrah.

The final wine we tasted was the Lucky Pierre.  This dessert blend is mostly Concord with ChambourcinMi and Missouri St. Vincent.  The wine itself looks like a rose.  It is sweet and fruity but had a slightly off-putting nose.  Perhaps we just had a bad bottle that was corked or something.

All in all I found most of the wines to be juicy and approachable which I would imagine is very important in this area to appeal to local clientel.  It was fascinating to taste these varieties that I was unfamiliar with.  I look forward to tasting again at different vineyards to find was differences there might be in winemaking styles and vintages with these wines. And who knows maybe we could do a Paranormal investigation there!  I will admit that Ghost Hunters is a guilty pleasure.

I continue to be fascinated by wine and grapes and our country is filled with varieties that I have never tasted.  Michael recently was in Michigan and tasted a wonderful Riesling from there.  Maybe it’s time to plan a wine tasting trip there, or New York, or back to Virginia?  So many options, and those are just the tip of the iceberg.

In Vino Veritas, A Long and Winding Adventure

Veritas was another winery that Kathy recommended.  Located in Afton not far from 64 this winery is a stunning location for an event.  The winding roads going in made us grateful for the driver.  The tasting room is big and boldly designed in contrast to the white washed farmhouse looking exterior.  The flower baskets in bloom hanging on the porch speak of a simplicity that disappears when you enter the tasting room.    We peeked into the back event room which is tented in silky white fabric for weddings.

Verias Wedding Room

The tasting room opens up 2 stories with a large hanging cork sculpture that reads “LOVE” above the tasting bar.  There is also an elegant (while large) glass sculpture that graces the center of the tasting bar.  There are large leather couches to sit in and enjoy a glass if you like.

Here we tasted 8 wines beginning with the 2011 Sauvignon Blanc.  This Sav Blanc was clean and not too tart and I enjoyed it.   It boasts a little minerality alongside the grapefruit and lemongrass.

Next we tasted the 2011 Saddleback Chardonnay.  Modeled after the french Chablis they ferment this in stainless steel and then put it into neutral French oak for 4 months.

Their Viognier was lovely as I have found most Virginia Viogniers to be.

The White Star is a fascinating blend of Viognier, Traminette (which was a new varietal to me), Chardonnay and Vidal Blanc (again new to me).  This is a simple fun white blend.

The 2011 Rose was very nice.  This almost salmon colored Rose is Cab Franc & Merlot.  Again a fun rose.  Fun enough that they are shipping me a bottle.

The 2011 Cab Franc was my favorite.  It has a smokiness that I am a complete sucker for.  It is tart with low tannins with a lighter than usual mouth feel for a  Cab Franc due to the late rains of the 2011 season.  Still this easy drinking Cab Franc was on my list to take home.

Love Bar, Veritas Winery in Virginia

The 2010 Vintner’s Reserve is a blend of 42% Merlot, 17% Cabernet Franc, 25% Petit Verdot and 16% Cabernet Sauvignon.  It is barrel aged so you get vanilla, caramel and mocha as well as black fruits and a little hit of tobacco.  Kathy & Lisa picked up a few of these.  As much as I enjoyed this wine, I was still more enamored by the Cab Franc. Perhaps because of the difference in price ($18 to $35).

The final wine that we tasted is their most popular red blend called the Red Star.  It is a blend of Cabernet Franc, Merlot and Chambourcin (again a new varietal for me).  This is an easy drinking lighter bodied red.  Very easy drinking.

After our tasting we had a little time before the car service was due to return us to our hotel, so we grabbed a bottle of the Vintner’s Reserve and headed out to the patio to enjoy the company the wine and the view.

Over the course of the day we had asked about other local vineyards and one name popped up consistently Pollak.  This is a newer winery but everyone mentioned it.  So they either have great wine or a great marketing team or perhaps both.  It will be on my list for my next trip.

It was a wonderful trip, but I feel like I have just scratched the surface of wines in Virginia.  This state has sooo.. many varietals that I have not explored and I am deeply regretting not having an opportunity to taste some Norton.