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Sunday, May 24, 2009

Fox Valley Winery - Oswego, IL - May 23, 2009

We were more or less in the area and popped in to try some wine. We have not been to this winery for about three years now it seemed like it was time for a revisit. Oswego is a bit south of Aurora, which is a western suburb of Chicago. Here's their site.

When we arrived it was pretty dead, but by the time we left it was hopping. The woman working - sadly I didn't get her name - was extremely friendly and helpful. This is a family run winery and I feel it shows (whether she's in the family or not, I don't know, but she clearly cares about the place).

The deal is they let you try three wines for free. If you want more than three, each pour is fifty cents after that. They also have a few different options for flights, which we did, and tasted a total of twelve wines.

Here's the notes:

2005 Traminette - Dry with nice minerality and notes of unripe stone fruit. There's a touch of honey which is interesting since it's a dry sort of honey. A better description defies me.

Riesling - Light peachy nose. If you dig Auselese style German Rieslings this may work for you. Fran felt it was a bit lacking in acid, I think it was fine. Notes of citrus and stone fruit.

2005 Vignoles - the dominant fruit in this one was cantaloupe but I also got some honeydew and muskmelon and just a pinch of pear. If you dig melon, this would be a good one to try.

Niagara - Niagara, in wine anyway, is basically the white Concord grape. This one, I have to say, really elevates the varietal. Yes, it's sweet and basically simple, but there's a crisp backbone, some nice acidic fuzz that makes the only Niagra (that I can recall) ever being worthy of a recommendation.

Deux Blanc - Not much going on here other than some floral and even petrol notes on the palate. It's a very light wine that could probably work with food that you don't want your wine to interfere too much with, but it's not doing much for me.

White Sangria - I'm sure it's good since it seems to sell well, but it's not my style.

George's Red - Basically a decent (native) Midwestern red wine. Funky, a punch of acid, earth, carob, and raspberry. If you've never had a Midwestern red, this may not be a bad one to try as it's easily on par with a lot of reds that other IL wineries sell for double the price.

2005 Heritage Collection - I'd just call this one a bit thin. Blackberry and cherry notes, but nothing struck me as remarkable.

2004 Chambourcin - Many, dare I say most, Chambourcin have a harsh and funky thing going on that make them quite unpleasant. This one seems a bit lighter on the acid that makes it more palatable. Raspberry, earth, mint, carob - all the trademarks, but in a nicer form. I will say both on the nose and mid palate there's a very peculiar bacon component that is kind of intriguing.

2004 R.A. Faltz Vintner Reserve - This is a tough wine to discuss. It tastes like a very well made wine of hybrid varietals - meaning it's better than many of its peers but it's still just not to my palate. It's smooth, nicely balanced, and raspberries dominate.

2004 Petite Sirah - An almost motor oil quality comes through on the nose. The palate is quite big with black pepper and black fruit.

2005 Cabernet Sauvignon - Cedar/cigar on the nose. More formal notes coming soon.

I'm going to make a bold declaration here which I'm making only after I've consulted my notes from other winery visits and from other local wines and cracking open the box of Cab and pondering through a glass.

The Petite Sirah and Cabernet Sauvignon are easily the two best red wines made in Illinois that we have had. The grapes are imported from California, so purists may not count it, but Fox Valley is by no means the only winery in the Midwest to get grapes brought in, and we've tried many of them. Both wines go for $20 and both earn unqualified recommendations. The Cab is available in a box - yes, a three liter box - for $39 (and yes, I bought one).

In terms of their wines that are made from locally grown grapes, not one of those nine (the sangria doesn't count) were bad. The whites were uniformly solid and the reds all were worthy of what I call asterisked praise (*good for Midwestern hybrid grapes).

If you're near Chicago, this place is definitely worth the drive on a day off of work.

Fox Valley Winery
5600 Route 34
Oswego, Illinois 60543

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