Friday, June 1, 2012
Wine Country: Indiana - Turtle Run Winery
Turtle Run Winery is in Corydon, Indiana, less than a half-hour west of Louisville, Kentucky. If you can’t imagine a turtle running, try wrapping your head around the notion that Indiana just may have some of the best terroir in the country.
Turtle Run’s owner Jim Pfeiffer tells me his property is situated on one of the best limestone deposits in the world. That limestone is prized by builders and winemakers alike. Wherever you find grapes growing in limestone-based soil, you are likely to find some outstanding mineral characteristics in the wines made from them. “Our grapes generously provide us with incredible depth and complexity,” Pfeiffer says.
Pfeiffer also breaks down American oak to specific regions, saying that “Minnesota oak has different characteristics than oak from Ohio, Tennessee or Kentucky.” Pfeiffer helped form the Indiana Uplands WIne Trail.
Pfeiffer proudly notes that his Turtle Run Traminette turned up on a list of best wines under $20 available in Indiana, a list compiled by wine writer Howard Hewitt. “There were a few American wines on the list,” says Pfeiffer, “and only one outside of the West Coast. Our Traminette was ranked as the number five wine overall.” Pfeiffer is sure that only the lack of national distribution keeps his limestone-rich terroir from being widely recognized, and he may be right. All four wines we sampled for this article were produced from grapes grown in the Pfeiffer Vineyard, in the Ohio River Valley AVA in Indiana. The samples were graciously provided by Turtle Run Winery.
Traminette 2011 (green bottle) is barrel-fermented, as opposed to the stainless steel treatment given the blue bottle version. At 13.1% abv, the wine is just as enjoyable, though. A beautiful, rich, golden color appears very pretty in the glass. Aromas of earthy honeysuckle, apricot and tropical fruit mix with mellow vanilla notes. There’s a slight effervescence with this Traminette, too, upon opening. This dissipates over time and disappears completely when ice cold, so don’t give it more than a bit of a chill. The ripping acidity also diminishes when too cold. The oak notes support the intense pineapple and guava flavors, and a big spiciness makes a play on the palate, as well.
Chambourcin 2010 carries a 13.9% alcohol number, and appears of medium density and color in the glass. The growing season for the Turtle Run Chambourcin grapes was marked by hot weather and drought, and both elements work in favor of rich, concentrated aromas and flavors in grapes. The nose is more fruity than spicy, and more spicy than earthy. Aromas of black cherry and black pepper come forth in a West Coast kind of way - rather unusual for a grape one is more likely to find in the Midwest or East. This French-American hybrid hits the palate with dark fruit, clove, a touch of leather and cocoa and a really nice level of acidity.
Terroir in Indiana? These four outstanding wines make a good case for it.
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