Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Indiana Part One

Some travel has distracted me from my duties here. A weekend in Philly for an Eagles game at the Link (kinder, gentler and duller than the Vet) followed by a busy week here and a trip to Anderson, Indiana for some of the most fantastic wacky racing events ever witnessed, explain the long gap even if they don't excuse it.
However, a few days with a friend in Columbus, Indiana afforded me an opportunity to tour a few wineries and taste some of Indiana's vinous offerings. I will present these in a three part series beginning here. We'll start with the least impressive of the trio of visits.
As a prelude/reminder, all fifty states have at least one winery though many of those focus on fruit wines or import their grapes exclusively from the west coast. Those two styles of production do not interest me at all. Instead, I enjoy exploring the places that use some local grapes, be they vinifera (the classic grapes, chardonnay, cabernet, etc.) or hybrids (created from varieties from different species of vines, usually producing hardier plants). There are flaws to many of these latter wines but they display regionality and therefore intrigue me.
Easley Winery has done what they can to beautify their setting in "Downtown Indianapolis." They have a nice deck, hosting concerts from time to time, but we were there on a Monday, so it was relatively quiet. Upon entering, a powerful stench of old wine, bleach and a generally unpleasant funk nearly caused us to turn around and leave. My friend, less charitably but more accurately, described it as "backed-up sewer." It did not add to our experience.
After explaining my desire to taste dry wines from local grapes our host produced a single bottle. Their list of wines shows twenty-five bottlings but even more exist as we tried one off the list.
Chambourcin produces some solid wines and appears to thrive in many areas based on my domestic travels. Lacking a bit of polish but displaying good weight of fruit and mouthfeel make this a grape to watch in the U.S. It's hybrid status is accepted but the specific parents remain mysterious.
Easley's version offered a deep, red color which approached purple at the core. Plenty of dark fruit dominated the nose and the palate with a juicy, appropriately weighty palate-feel. Plums and just barely underripe blackberries came to mind. It was a lovely drink, if a bit rough on the back end. Food would easily mitigate the tannic presence and made this tasty wine a must buy for us that day. $15
I alone risked the taste of the second wine offered, Orchestra Red, which host and wine list admitted belongs in the off-dry category. After jokingly telling the server, "Sure, I'll try it. It can't hurt for too long," I sipped and spit. Too sweet for me with little to recommend it. The tasting ended as they had nothing else but wines produced in Indiana from California grapes and sweet wines. We purchased a bottle and welcomed the fresh outside air.

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