Wine labels used to be as austere as fine Chablis, and bottles as heavy as one of Babe Ruth’s bats. The aura was highly classical, with labels displaying coats of arms, Renaissance-style lettering, and lines as fine as those inscribed by monks wearing dark robes and wielding goose-quill pens. And then came the wind-down of the 20th century.
Bald eagles are regular winter visitors to Clarksville, Missouri, some 70 miles north of St. Louis, where a working lock for river traffic keeps the water open and the birds well-fed. The area may seem unlikely as an epicenter of organic food and wine, but a handful of locals are pushing the envelope to make that transformation.
When a bottle of Stone Hill 2001 Blanc de Blancs Sparkling Wine was broken across the bow of the U.S.S. Missouri recently, it was not only a tribute to the winemaker, the winery and the state of Missouri, but also a nod to history.
That was the system, we recalled. One course at a time. Finish the course, think about the next, talk about it, order it. A perfect way to turn a dinner into a celebration, to have an opportunity to chat, to observe the people in the dining room, even to join in to a couple of choruses of "Happy Birthday." We didn't leave until nearly 10 p.m., comfortably filled but not stuffed.
All went well for grape-growing through spring and summer in Missouri, but uncooperative weather in September and October threw the state a curve, and while the whites and some of the red grapes came through swimmingly, the state's most highly regarded grape, Norton, was so slow to ripen that some were still hanging on the vines in late October.