4 wines leading the Missouri wine renaissance
Because Missouri’s climate is harsh for vitis vinifera (the most familiar grape species – think: chardonnay, cabernet sauvignon), regional producers discovered the varieties most conducive for winemaking are French hybrids and native vines, which can produce wine despite our humid summers and cold winters. These wines have garnered a reputation for being cloyingly sweet, lacking complexity and having a musky, ‘foxy’ taste profile. After several years of judging domestic and international competitions, however, I am happy to report higher quality and more serious styles from local wineries are on the rise. Two popular hybrids, the versatile white Vignoles and the red berry-forward Chambourcin, are making strides to become darlings of Missouri at the hands of passionate winemakers. Time and again, I have found myself gravitating toward the following bottles.
2022 Noboleis Vineyards Dry Vignoles
German-influenced Augusta, the U.S.’s inaugural viticultural region, is home to many notable wineries including Noboleis Vineyards. Their Dry Vignoles is light-bodied but highly aromatic, expressing fresh pineapple, lemon curd, ripened white peach and lemon verbena. Zesty acidity balances the tropical focus of the wine leaving the palate dry, but the impression of juicy fruit lingers.
$26. Noboleis Vineyards, 100 Hemsath Road, Augusta, 636.482.4500, noboleisvineyards.com
2021 Röbller Vineyard Vignoles Reserve
Winemaker Jerry Mueller has something special at New Haven’s Röbller Vineyards: Whereas most Missouri vineyards sit atop clay-heavy glacial soils, Röbller features a deposit of Pennsylvanian Period limestone. (Other notable wine regions with limestone-based soils include Champagne, Burgundy and the Rhône Valley.) Mueller’s European approach for this crisp white wine, like churning the sediment left from spent yeast cells and allowing the fermenting wine to remain in contact with that sediment for 12 months, highlights his site’s pronounced minerality. Similarly, his diligence in choosing yeast strains that support the desired mouthfeel also contributes to the wine’s quality. The result is a pristine example of Vignoles with fresh golden apple, lemon zest, river rock and underripe pineapple wrapped in creamy texture.
$25. Straub’s, 8282 Forsyth Blvd., Clayton, 314.725.2121, straubs.com
2020 Eagles’ Landing Edg-Clif Chambourcin
Advanced sommelier Eric Taylor is at the helm of Eagles’ Landing, applying a modern edge to local grape varieties. His style is retaining freshness in his wines while showcasing varietal characteristics. The winery’s Terroir Series takes a dive into how Chambourcin thrives in the ancient soils of the Ozarks. The elegant 2020 Edg-Clif Chambourcin hails from silty loam over Potosi dolomite with small outcroppings of Precambrian St. Francis volcanic rock on a bluff overlooking the Fourche a Renault stream. Eagles’ Landing utilizes whole-cluster fermentation, resulting in an exotic expression of Chambourcin offering notes of watermelon rind, crushed cranberry, fresh violet and sage. The wine is light-bodied like Gamay from Beaujolais, France, while moderate tannins are aided by nine months of neutral French oak aging.
$25. Eagles’ Landing, eagleslandingwine.com
2017 Röbller Vineyard Chambourcin Reserve
Solidifying that Missouri can produce world-class wines, Karen MacNeil’s Third Edition of The Wine Bible features Röbller Vineyard’s Chambourcin Reserve, the first time a wine from the state has been described in the publication. The vineyard’s situation on a river bluff range and the use of dry farming methods leads to quality Chambourcin with a distinct herbal and earthy note, reminiscent of the vinifera grape Grenache from France’s Rhône Valley. 2017 was a warm and dry vintage, so Chambourcin Reserve showcases ripe strawberry, Morello cherry, dried thyme and soft baking spices from 12 months spent in new Chinkapin oak barrels. There is true finesse in the Röbller reserve line that I believe any fan of European wines would appreciate.
$40. Wild Olive Provisions, 2201 S. 39th St., St. Louis, 314.300.8089, wildoliveprovisions.com
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