British wine critic Jancis Robinson has something of a romantic debt to American wine. Robinson and co-author Linda Murray have now written American Wine, a comprehensive book encompassing a range of United States wines from the well known to the obscure.
There's a rather feisty attitude among many wine drinkers, buyers, sellers and writers who inhabit "the other 47." With panel topics like, "We Don't Need No Stinkin' Vinifera," wine fans who don't live in California, Washington or Oregon gathered in St. Louis recently for the third annual Drink Local Wine celebration.
Author Todd Kliman’s history of the American grape, Norton’s Virginia Seedling, starts off in an almost sultry manner as he teases the reader by veiling his intent. What begins to look like an unhealthy promotion of a single vineyard, Chrysalis, breaks the bonds of being a wine book and launches into the story of an American epic, a battle against nature and God: the stuff of Manifest Destiny as fought by American outsiders.
The heritage of the grapes that make our favorite wines has always been European, but will it remain so? Are there currently legitimate rivals to the vinifera monopoly that has ruled our palates? “Drink American” could be the slogan for the United States’ fairly recent class of vanguard winemakers and vintners declaring that there are.
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.