A Lion With Lamb

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Missouri Norton Adds Bold Elegance To Easter Fare

BY KATHY CASTEEL

If your Easter tradition calls for lamb at your table, pair it with a rich, bold Missouri Norton. The earthy, dark fruit flavor in this full-bodied wine with soft tannins is a natural accompaniment to the spring entrée.

Norton is Missouri’s state grape, derived from the wild vine Vitis aestivalis (European wine grapes are Vitis vinifera). Native to North America, it thrives in terroirs from Kansas to Virginia, where it was developed in the 1820s by Daniel N. Norton. The dry red wine the grapes produce is a staple of the Missouri wine industry.

The deep blue skin of the Norton grape produces an inky, purple wine with some of the highest levels of anthocyanins found in any grape cultivar. Anthocyanins are polyphenol compounds that get a lot of credit for their healthy properties in the body — antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial and anticarcinogenic.

It’s nice to celebrate spring with such healthful imbibing, but the real enticement with Norton is its delicious flavor. Mount Pleasant Estates in Augusta produces three fine Nortons for your sipping pleasure.

Mount Pleasant Winery Norton is a ready-to-drink wine with a pleasing taste of berries, spice, toasted oak and vanilla. Soft tannins give it a bit of structure; the long, spicy finish will have you reaching for another sip. Serve with lamb, wild game, barbecue, pizza, sausages and cheese. Widely available throughout Columbia, this everyday Norton runs about $13 a bottle.

Mount Pleasant Estates Norton is the winery’s premium offering. The intense, dark fruit aroma carries earthy undertones and traces of spice to the nose. Ripe cherry, currant and smooth plum flavors balance with a slightly acidic fresh cherry aftertaste that lingers in a satisfying finish. This estate wine will age nicely in a cellar, too. It pairs especially well with lamb, wild game and sharp cheeses. The Estates label is pricier ($31) and is available only at the winery in Augusta.

Through a partnership with Bethlehem Valley Vineyards in Marthasville, Mount Pleasant also produces Bethlehem Valley Norton, a $28 estate wine with smooth flavors of dark cherries, plums and currants. This label, too, is only available at the winery in Augusta.

Mount Pleasant is the oldest winery in Augusta, founded in 1859 by German immigrants Georg and Frederick Muench. The winery is a popular destination for wine lovers with a terrace that offers spectacular views of the Missouri River valley, a tasting room, cellar tours, wine classes, winemaker dinners, holiday events and other entertainment.
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In 1980, Augusta was designated the country’s first American Viticultural Area, eight months before Napa Valley.

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