Before we begin, I must make amends with a certain basement. In Kansas, the threat of tornadoes is as much a feature of summer as the dust of gravel roads, June bugs, and watching the fields turn that perfectly ripe shade of wheat. Every Midwesterner knows the thrilling terror of heading down to the basement on a stormy summer evening.
Our basement is a cellar — complete with rock walls, dirt floors, rickety stairs, odd smells, dim-lighting, and drafty nooks and crannies held together by cobwebs. Our cellar is a long-time home to spiders, insects, and snakes — oh my! The bug traps down there are reminiscent of scenes from Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom.
You may be wondering why I’m going on about this — “Get on to the wine already!” — but I need to make peace with our basement.
As you may have guessed, by junior high — tornadoes or not — I was thoroughly disgusted and disappointed in our “basement.” My elementary school wonder and morbid delight in the fright of our cellar was replaced with the self-conscious disdain of a tween who compared everything about herself to her friends — including basements. Ridiculous, I know, but nothing says BEST SLEEPOVER EVER to a dorky fourteen year old like a finished basement, ready to be filled with music, snacks, and movie marathons. Obviously, poor Mr. Cellar would never elicit high-pitched giggling, and frankly, there is no good spot to plug in the necessary hair straightener and/or crimper.
So, I resigned myself to the fact that our non-basement had almost no redeeming qualities, just bare minimum safety for the unlikely occurrence that our house would someday be subjected to a scene from Twister.
BUT NOW, after a week of Kansas wining, I happily admit that I was wrong. Oh so wrong.
Our sad little hole of a basement is actually a fully organic, all-natural, locally-built, temperature-controlled old-time wine cellar. Who needs a pool table or television or sprawling couches when you have wine and 19th-century ambience? Wine is all you need for an evening of tornadic activity!
In fact, I think this is a new DIY thing. Yep, watch the rural hipsters begin declaring their unfinished cellars their “wine tasting hobbit holes” while the city hipsters cram into their water heater/furnace closets for wine flights reminiscent of a #cupboardunderthestairs.
No one brings back ugly crap quite like young’uns…and upselling terrible places for drinking is just the kind of un-extravagant anti-reality thing our distractedly hopeful yet economically devoid generation can get into. You’re. So. Welcome.
All right…you’ve waited long enough. THE WINE.
BlueJacket Crossing Vineyard & Winery — BEST WEDDING VENUE
This winery is a great venue for weddings and other events. Before I got into wine, I would have never thought about getting married at a winery, and many places don’t have their facility set up as a larger venue — but a place like BlueJacket would make the perfect wedding spot. For Kansas couples that don’t want to celebrate in a barn — maybe you’re going for a “countryside” but not a “country” look — check it out.
THE WINES. Both Traminettes had notes of peach, but the lime-citrus notes came out in the off-dry while the semi-sweet had a more apricot flavor. The Wolf White was a semi-sweet Seyval-Muscat blend with light fruits, honey and a hint of orange. Betty’s Blush* is a sweet Chambourcin blush that turned out to be my mother’s favorite. Butter-creamy but not heavy, fruit-forward but not syrupy. Wolf Red* is a Chambourcin-St. Vincent blend tastes delicate like a pinot noir, perfect for those transitioning to reds. The rep had us taste a tomato-basil cracker between sips, and suddenly, all we could think about was pairing this with Italian food. The Norton Campfire Red* is a full-bodied Norton, aged in oak 3 years (yes, that’s correct), with hints of a black cherry that reminded us of a dark cherry-vanilla coke. The 2014 St. Vincent Reserve is a pinot-noir style red aged in stainless steel barrel with oak chips; bright fruits like strawberry and cherry with just a hint of something green. Last but not least, the 2013 Majestic Red, a 50-50 Norton-Chambourcin blend, is barrel-aged and wonderful.
Davenport Orchard & Winery — BEST KEPT SECRET
If you commute on K-10, this is the place to go after a long day at work; their hours are clearly tailored to the 9 to 5er. What else? The awesomeness of Daveport is threefold (#friendsreference):
- It’s Divey. Are you feeling funked out from a long day at work? No problem. Are you wearing sweats? Perfect. This is the place for that low-profile mid-week tasting you need because Wine Wednesday can’t come soon enough.
- It’s Artsy. As we saw with the Hess Collection, mixing art with wine is the way to go. I recommend that all wineries ooze art and music because duh. While the Hess Collection has a Napa-sized sense of pretension (I ain’t mad at it), Davenport’s arts scene is groovy — each Davenport wine has a different label designed by a local artist. Dig it.
- It’s Limitless. At Davenport, you taste for free. Which wines? Any of them. How many wines? All of them. WHAT!? No fee, no pre-set list — simply no limits. How is that even real? It is, my friends. I have found the portal.
Here’s some information on what we tasted, but we tasted so much it was a bit hard to get it all down. Check out their wine page here.
2013 Norton Besame: An unaoked, dry red.
2012 Norton Matrot*: A red aged in oak 20 months, earthy and oaky.
2013 Norton Bluesman: A red aged in oak 15 months, charred and smoky, good resonance.
2012 Chambourcin: A red aged in oak 22 months.
2013 St. Vincent Jazzman: A red aged in oak 15 months, lighter like pinot noir.
2014 Norton Besame: An off-dry red.
St. Vincent Mandolin: A red offered sweet or off-dry, some cherry.
35th Sweet Red Blend: A Fredonia/Norton blend with a hint of cotton candy (or jolly rancher!)
Niagara Sweet White*: A fruit-forward white
Ludmila Vidal Blanc*: A white offered sweet or dry, aged in oak 1 month.
Chardonnay: A chardonnay without malolactic fermentation.
Pinot Gris: A dry white, intriguing and clear.
Peche: A 100% peach wine, frighteningly sweet.
2011 Norton Olde-Squidde: A port-style wine.
Time to enjoy our wine purchases, safely kept in the Copperhead Corner Wine Cellar & Tornado Retreat. #winetempleofdoom
Check back for a post from MEXICO, and take a look at the summer wine posts you may have missed: