Norton wine variety in Australia

Just Starting with Vinodiversity?
Check out this Six Pack
Norton is a red wine wine variety from the species Vitis aestivalis, originating in the eastern United States. It is now being trialled in the Hastings Rivers region of New South Wales.

What are American Vine Species?

All grapes belong to the genus Vitis. Most wine throughout the world is made from the Vitis vinifera species (also known as European Vines) significant amounts are made with other species native to North America. V. aestivalis is one of many species used for wine production and the principal variety is Norton. Other species including V.labrusca, V.rupestris, V.riparia are used in the US for winemaking but with declining popularity.

The wine produced from American vine species often has a distinctive flavour, often referred to as 'foxy'. This is mildly unpleasant to most consumers and winemakers try to minimise it.

American can vine species are resistant to many diseases and to the Phylloxera louse. Thus they are used extensively as rootstocks with European varieties grafted on to them.

The other important use of American vine species is as co-parents of hybrids with V.vinifera species. These hybrids, called French Hybrids have resistance to pests and diseases such as Downy Mildew and Powdery Mildew which are common wherever and whenever there is summer rain and humidity. Unfortunately the wines made from these hybrids often retain a hint of 'foxiness.'

In Australia the most successful hybrid with American parentage is Chambourcin. This is used in NSW and Queensland where summer rain can be a problem. Another Hybrid, Isabella or Fragola is popular with home winemakers, especially of Italian descent and is also used by some commercial wineries.

Norton Wine Variety

Norton is widely regarded as the best of the American vine species to produce a wine which tastes most like wine made from V.vinifera. In fact many tasters cannot distinguish Norton from wines made with European varieties.

The variety originated in Virginia in the Ninteenth Century. Here is a description of the origin according to Brian Yost of The Virginia Grape

There is some mystery surrounding the actual creation of the Norton varietal, but in the 1820s Dr. Daniel Norborne Norton, of Richmond, Virginia produced the hybrid that bares his name.

It is believed that Dr. Norton was actively experimenting with grape cultivation, but the Norton may have been a mutation occurring outside of any controlled conditions. Mutation from seeds can easily occur, so there is some doubt surrounding the actual lineage of the grape.

The male parent, however, is almost certainly the wild vine Vitis aestivalis, which was crossed with an unidentified vinifera. Unlike other American varietals, it didn't have the 'foxy' flavors and produced a very drinkable wine.

You can read the full blog post at Norton - The "Original" Virginia Grape

Norton In Australia

In 2010 Bago Vineyards in the Hastings River Region commenced a trail with this variety. It will be a few years before we know if the vines grow well and make some good wines.

Do you know of any other varieties that have been recently introduced into Australia?

Contact me and share the news.

New! Comments

Have your say about what you just read! Leave me a comment in the box below.

Keep in touch with Vinodiversity

Just enter your details below and you will receive an occasional newsletter letting you know all about the alternative varietal wine scene in Australia and beyond.
Email

Name

Then

Don't worry -- your e-mail address is totally secure.
I promise to use it only to send you Vinodiversity News.
The Magazine
of this Website

Vinodiversity magazine
Now available!

Vinodiversity Magazine For iPhone and iPad

Varieties described on this site

Aglianico | Albarino | Aleatico | Alicante Bouchet | Aligote | Aranel | Arneis | Aucerot | Baco noir | Barbera | Bastardo | Biancone | Bianco d'Alessano | Blaufrankisch | Brachetto | Cabernet Franc | Carignan | Carina | Carmenere | Carnelian | Chambourcin | Chasselas | Chenin blanc | Cienna | Cinsaut | Clairette | Colombard | Cortese | Corvina | Counoise | Crouchen | Cygne blanc | Dolcetto | Doradillo | Durif | Fiano | Flora | Fragola | Furmint | Gamay | Garganega | Gewurztraminer | Gouais blanc | Graciano | Grecanico | Greco di Tufo | Grenache | Grenache gris | Grillo | Gruner Veltliner | Harslevelu | Jacquez | Kerner | Lagrein | Lemberger | Lexia |
Malbec | Malian | Malvasia | Marsanne | Marzemino | Mataro | Mavrodaphne | Melon de Bourgogne | (Pinot) Meunier | Mondeuse | Montepulciano | Moscata paradiso | Moscato | | Mourvedre | Muller Thurgau | Muscadelle | Muscat |
Nebbiolo | Negroamaro | Nero d'Avola | Norton | Ondenc | Orange muscat | Palomino | Pedro Ximenez | Petit manseng | Petit Meslier | Petit verdot | Picolit | Picpoul | Pinot blanc | Pinot grigio/gris | Pinotage | Primitivo | Prosecco | Refosco | Riesling | Rondinella | Roussanne | Rubienne | Ruby Cabernet | Sagrantino | Saint Laurent | Sangiovese | Saperavi | Savagnin | Schonburger | Shalistin | Siegerrebe | Souzao | Sylvaner | Taminga | Tannat | Tarrango | Tempranillo | Teroldego | Tinta Negra Molle | Torrontes | Touriga | Trincadeira | Tinto Cao | Trebbiano | Tribidrag | Trollinger | Tyrian | Verdelho | Verduzzo | Vermentino | Villard blanc | Viognier | Zante | Zibibbo | Zinfandel |