Casanel Vineyards, just west of downtown Leesburg, has released what's believed to be the world's first sparkling Norton wine.
A native-Virginia, non-vinifera grape, Norton holds a quite distinctive flavor profile, often boasting rich, mouth-puckering rushes of jam, raspberries, even grape Popsicle. Typically, there's little in-between for sippers -- they either hate it or love it.
We caught up with Casanel co-winemaker Katie DeSouza to hear briefly about her exotic new creation, Red Spark.
So, wow, a sparkling Norton. Is this really a first?
It better be! I'm about 99 percent sure Casanel has the world's first sparkling Norton, if not that, then at the very least, it's the first of its kind in Virginia.
Why did you decide to give it a try?
Honestly, I was looking for unique ways to utilize the Norton in our new portfolio. I was familiar with customers' reaction to Norton as a red wine ... So, I wanted to experiment by changing people's perspective of it. I chose to elevate it by creating an elegant sparkling wine via méthode champenoise, or méthode traditionnelle. Labor-intensive and time-consuming, for sure, but extremely innovative. And delicious.
Where are the grapes from?
Chrysalis Vineyards in Middleburg. In 2014, I had already decided to use all of our estate grapes for another experiment involving Norton, our "Full Nelson" Port-style Norton, named in honor of my father. As of 2015, however, our sparkling is now fully estate.
Describe the wine for me.
It's a vibrant, sparkling red color, which perfectly complements its plush summer berry fruit flavors, such as currant and raspberry. There's a floral quality to it as well, reminiscent of orange blossoms and a depth from autolytic characteristics, ranging from cream to pastry.