The last stop of the day proved to be the most picturesque. No surprise then that Mallow Run has a large parking area. Vineyards dominate the landscape until one climbs the few steps to a deck before entering the tasting room. A pleasing vista opens up and is the same view available from the tasting room as well.
The two strangest things about the place became readily apparent but did not spoil our visit. The tasting bar, more than capably run by a lovely young woman, is much too tall and they do not have stools to handle the extra height. I fared okay but my companion was clearly unsettled. Our host explained the bar had been built at a normal height and then they had to add counters to allow glasses to hang underneath. Seems an odd decision but a quirk shouldn't ruin the experience.
Next, it was my turn to be unsettled. Upon asking for a spit bucket I was told she did not have one. A sink on the other side of the bar was not offered nor was a cup of any kind. Perhaps no one spits in Indiana? Surely since September of 2005, when they opened the tating room, one other person asked to expectorate? She accommodated me as best she could but it did not appeal to me or my friend. "Just spit back in the glass and I'll rinse it out." The 2008 Indiana Winery of the Year was off to a questionable start.
The whites did little to allay my concerns. We found them too sweet. The seyval blanc had no grapefruit note, instead featuring a more viscous nature with an arduous balancing act between the sweet overwhelming the tart and vice versa. The impression on the palate was not of a trapeze artist impossibly high in the air coolly and calmly traversing a chasm with dexterity but of a teenager in training to do the same act. The wine was all gawky discomfort, moments of balance followed by wild gesturing from one side trying to cover up a slip on the other.
The traminette, the signature grape of Indiana, is a hybrid relative of gewurztraminer and fared much better in my mouth. I wanted it to have less sugar but found the wine well made with a great unctuous mouthfeel and incredible spicy quality. Not quite pepper and not quite heat, but spicy without a doubt. I began craving Thai food almost immediately and the wine would perform beautifully with spicy seafood to absorb the sweetness of the wine.
We also tried an estate grown chardonel, mistakenly described to me that day by our well-meaning young lady as a cross between syrah and chardonnay. In fact it is a cross of seyval and chardonnay. Too bad, I so wanted to rename it syrahdonnay or chardonn...ah. Nothing wrong with it but it was a bit nondescript.
We moved to reds and found much more success. Marechal foch led off and while my companion found it lackluster, I fell in love. Goldrielsing is one parent but the important message to receive about the grape is its similarity to Beaujolais. Pinot noir comparisons abound as well but I think those are delusions of grandeur. At any rate, this spoke of BBQ and warm days in the sun. Steps to enjoy, 1) buy Marechal foch, 2) chill, 3) swill. Perfect pizza, burger wine too.
Mallow Run's chambourcin displayed plenty of pepper spice notes and a medium body. Tasty, if a bit rough, the spice carried the day and offered complexity where the wine lacked more meaningful depth. I predict Easley's version would win most blind tastings, however.
The chambourcin rose made a delightful finish and they sold us a few bottles of this. At $13 a bottle, this wine offered good value. The nose hinted at sweetness but delivered depth and dryness without being harsh in any way. My mouth enjoyed the texture much more than I thought possible and despite its inelegance it made me happy. Having pink wine available allows an occasional night of pretending the weather is nicer than Indiana winters will ever be. A little glass of summer is something everyone needs now and again.