Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Wine Country Illinois: Lynfred Winery

The Now And Zin Wine Country series is an attempt to taste 50 wines from 50 states.  Wine is produced in each of the United States, and my mission has led me to try wine from 34 states so far.  The series has been to Illinois before, and now we are kicking off the new year with a return visit to the Land o’ Lincoln for some more Illinois wine.

Lynfred Winery is in Roselle, Illinois, in the northeastern corner of the state, a little west of Chicago and a little south of Wisconsin.  Winemaker AndrĂ©s Basso works with grapes not only from Illinois, but also fruit from California, Washington and Michigan.

Lynfred’s late founder, former restaurateur Fred Koehler, started making wine at home with his wife Lynn.  The winery calls his interest in wine “a hobby that got out of hand.”  The winery was made official in the 1970s and the awards started rolling in soon after.  No less than Robert Mondavi told Koehler he should get out of Illinois and move to California.  Koehler decided to stay with his roots.

Lynfred Winery Vin De City White,  $10

Billed as American White Table Wine, Vin De City White is a non-vintage wine made from five grape varieties - 32% Viognier, 28% Chardonnay, 23% Pinot Grigio, 9% Marsanne and 8% Roussanne.  The wine is made in Illinois, but it is made from grapes grown in California and Washington.  It is aged in stainless steel for six to eight months and has a 12.5% abv number that keeps the alcohol under control.  Bottled under a natural cork, the label sports a beautiful portrait of the Chicago skyline.

The wine has a light, straw color and a very aromatic nose, both floral and fruity.  Aromas of ripe peaches and apricots mix with honeysuckle.  The flavor profile brings great fruit - apricots, apples, white nectarines - laced with an earthy undercurrent.  A vibrant acidity makes it a refreshing and food-friendly wine.

Lynfred Winery American Sangiovese Reserve 2009  $30

This 100% Sangiovese wine also utilizes grapes not grown in Illinois - they are a product of Jones Vineyard in Washington.  This wine has seen a lot of oak, 30 months worth of American and French oak.  Bottled under natural cork, the alcohol content is 13.9% abv.  It is labeled as “for sale in Illinois only,” which may be due to a state restriction on the use of out-of-state grapes.

Lynfred’s Sangiovese is very dark in color and quite aromatic.  Minty notes of clove, cinnamon and black cherry decorate the nose, while the palate shows every bit of those 30 months of oak.  A large overlay of cedar accompanies the cherry and red berry  flavor.  The acidity is great and the tannins are firm, which led me to pair some food with it.  My holiday snack of seaside cheddar from Whole Foods, Gorgonzola crackers from Trader Joe's and  beef summer sausage from Hickory Farms married with this wine quite well.


Follow Randy Fuller on Twitter