by Dave Nelson
Wine gets lost in the passionate "local" food movement. While locavores wax rhapsodically about farmers, cheesemakers, beekeepers and brewers, wine producers close to home are virtually ignored. With "Show Me Wine," Gut Check sets out to determine -- on a bottle by bottle basis -- whether we're missing the boat.
The Wine: 2009 Stone Hill Vignoles
No reason to mess around. We're starting at the top here, with the wine that just won the Governor's Cup -- the grand prize at the Missouri Wine Competition, and also Best White Wine at the Mid-American Wine Competition.
The Grape: Vignoles is a hybrid that's one of the more successful white wine grapes grown in Missouri (along with seyval blanc and chardonel). It's fermented into a broad range of styles, from bone dry to sweet, and it seems to do best with just a touch of sugar to balance its acidity. In addition to the semi-sweet rendition we tasted, Stone Hill released a dry vignoles in 2009 that brought home a best-in-class award from the Mid-American Wine Competition.
The Producer: Stone Hill enjoys a fine reputation, and with three locations -- Hermann (the mothership), Branson and New Florence -- and wide distribution, its wines are easy to find. Tracing its lineage back to 1865, Stone Hile was the second-largest winery in the country when it was shut down by Prohibition. Things didn't get restarted till 1965, but Stone Hill has had a successful run since then, picking up some 3,500 medals and awards just since 1993.
What's It Like? It pours out of the bottle the color of pale straw, but the aroma offers up a nice one-two punch of ripe peach and tangerine. There's enough acidity to bring it up short of cloying, but this wine is definitely on the sweet side; viscous, even. If you can drink more than a few sips without chewing on something solid, you've got a stronger sweet tooth than Gut Check.
Food Matches: This one would probably work with melon, crème brûlée (hi, Ian!) or other modestly sweet desserts. If your dessert is sweeter than your wine, it will make the wine taste harsh and acidic. When it comes to a main course, you might try really spicy Asian or Louisiana-inspired dishes; the wine's sugar and acidity can provide a buffer to the heat.