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Maryland’s Way: A dinner based on historic recipes

As follow up to our recent Picayune Creole Cook Book dinner, our second wine cookery dinner shifted focus north to Maryland.  For this dinner Sudip and I were joined in the kitchen by Lou.  Lou was raised in Maryland which imparted a strong affinity for the foods of the Chesapeake Bay as compared to my Virginia upbringing which involved more southern food.  Lou suggested we cook from the Maryland’s Way cookbook

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This fantastic mid-century cookbook is in fact a collection of historic Maryland receipts dating back to 1634.  The receipts were gathered and published by The Hammond-Harwood House in Annapolis.  This house was built in 1774 and today operates as a museum.  Lou’s parents cooked from this book when he was young and today he possesses that very same copy, complete with a few old recipes stuck between the pages.

Lou texted a pictures from the book including an entry from an old house book, “it is usual to have terrapin, canvasback ducks, or game” and an 19th century extract regarding a dinner of the Ancient South River Club, “A fine lamb…Several dozen crabs must be caught…must have asparagus…potatoes and peas…I shall bring boiled ham, and a fine piece of beef.”  Sudip and I were hooked, immediately ordering our used copies of the book.  The book has many chapters ranging from Chesapeake Bay Fish, Diamond Back Terrapin, to Vegetables, and Fragrances and Seasonings.  There are even copies of old letters and menus.  All of this first fascinated Lou as a child and will fascinate anyone interested in the history of Maryland cooking.

The first order of business involved picking our menu.  In all honesty, the recipes sounded far more interesting than what is in the Picayune Creole Cook Book.  That, of course, is a more test-kitchen product whereas Maryland’s Way is a collection of family recipes each with their own language and method of conveying ingredients and direction.  One hundred years ago we certainly would have started with Maryland terrapin and Madeira.  In our case we managed to involve oysters, crab, rock fish, and ham.  There are many recipes for biscuits and rolls.  I was intrigued by the Maryland Beaten Biscuits but this involves hitting the dough with the flat of an axe for at least 30 minutes.  For formal company the recipe suggested 45 minutes of beating!  When it came to the vegetable side dishes we had a hard time focusing.  So many of the recipes caught our appetite so we focused in on onion pie, parsnips, beets, and sweet potatoes, many of the ingredients came from local markets.

Rockfish stuffed with crab

Rockfish stuffed with crab

The routine we are settling into involves the prepping of the ingredients in our individual kitchens then gathering at our house late afternoon.  We start with some drinks and cheese then cooked the dinner with which we drink other bottles of wine.  Lou and I picked the wines together.  Champagne was a requirement given the food, as was a few whites to go with the rockfish, one from Maryland and one from France.  With the ham we opened a pair of Maryland wines from Black Ankle.  I like to see some older bottles opened so we tucked into a pair of 1977 Dry Creek Vineyard, Cabernet Sauvignon before the fray of cooking.  Lou included a surprise bottle which he served with the ham.

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We started the afternoon outside on the deck eating goat cheese and drinking the 2002 Rare Wine Company, Les Mesnil, “Cuvee Sans Malolactique” Blanc de Blancs Champagne en magnum.  This only got better and better with air.  I would say it took at least three hours to open up to reveal the right about of white and yellow fruit, fine yet firm bubbles, and a mousse that was matched by the weight of the fruit.  A pleasure to drink now but I highly recommend letting this age another five years before trying again.

The rest of the Champagne was required for the start of our dinner so we switched to a pair of old Dry Creek Vineyard wines.   Dry Creek Vineyard was opened in 1973 by David Stare, representing the first new winery in the area since Repeal.  When David Stare presented a tasting of all his Cabernet Sauvignons vintages in 1980, from 1973 through 1979, it was the 1977 Vintner’s Selection that was the top wine.  David Stare stated it was “a little more complex with a big future.”  The Vintner’s Selection blends were in the range of 90% Cabernet Sauvignon and 10% Merlot.  The fruit was fermented in temperature controlled stainless steel tanks then aged in small oak barrels.  The 1977 vintage in California was the second in a row to experience drought conditions.  According to the Underground Wine Letter the “crop was not nearly as affected” as with the previous vintage.

Both of our bottles had fills of bottom-neck or higher.  The cork of the regular bottling came out easy with staining higher up the sides whereas the cork of the Vintner’s Selection was firmly seated with staining only at the business end.  Both bottles were in fine shape and drank well over the course of four hours.  I really liked the deep fruity aromas and flavors of the 1977 Dry Creek Vineyard, Cabernet Sauvignon, Vintner’s Selection, Sonoma County but it was the 1977 Dry Creek Vineyard, Cabernet Sauvignon, Sonoma County bottling that improved with air.  This bottle is a blend of 91% Cabernet Sauvignon and 9% Merlot that was aged in French and American oak.  According to the back label this should have been consumed by 1985.  Thankfully it was not for it was the first wine we finished, no doubt due to the remarkable liveliness.

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1977 Dry Creek Vineyard, Cabernet Sauvignon, Sonoma County
Alcohol 13.1%.  The nose is higher toned with red fruit and a smoke hint.  In the mouth, this old school wine, has bright red fruit that mixes well with greenhouse notes.  The wine maintained a tart grip, with lively acidity, and over the course of several hours the fruit fleshed out.  Endless energy which draws you back for more.  **** Now but will last.

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1977 Dry Creek Vineyard, Cabernet Sauvignon, Vintner’s Selection, Sonoma County
Alcohol 13.0%.  The nose is deeper and darker with animale notes.  In the mouth is deep, old perfumed red fruit, a tart middle, and good acidity.  There is plenty of fruit presence and even an inky, lipstick hint.  It becomes a bit unknit in the finish where the structure shows.  *** Now but will last.

Once the final cooking begins it becomes hard to take the time to jot down tasting notes. The following come from memory and a few words scribbled away.  The 2014 Basignani, Seyval, Montbray Vineyard had a very interesting nose but was rather devoid of flavor and quite short in the mouth.  It took three days for the 2009 Domaine de La Bongran, Cuvee E.J. Thevent, Vire Clesse to fully open up.  The nose mixed yeasty stones whereas in the mouth were complex, round flavors of cream and dried floral fruit.  Neat stuff.

The Black Ankle wines were very solid, slowly maturing, and in no way mistakable for a wine from Virginia.  The 2006 Black Ankle Vineyards, Crumbling Rock, Frederick County is a blend of Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Petit Verdot.  I would say age has softened the edges rather than add significant bottle age complexity.  The 2010 Black Ankle Vineyards, Leaf Stone Syrah, Frederick County offered most of its flavor in the finish where it mixed grapey flavors, sweet oak, bacon fat, and smoke.  The 2004 Beaux Freres, Pinot Noir, Willamette Valley stepped this up one notch by offering rich and filling Pinot Noir flavors unmistakably from the west coast.  It even had some pleasing complexity from age.  So in the end, not quite my style but enjoyable.

Cherry Glen Goat Cheese Farm, Monocacy Silver cheese
Fire Fly Farms, Mary Goat Round cheese
Grilled bread

1977 Dry Creek Vineyard, Cabernet Sauvignon, Sonoma County
1977 Dry Creek Vineyard, Cabernet Sauvignon, Vintner’s Selection, Sonoma County
***

Oyster Stew

2002 RWC, Les Mesnil, “Cuvee Sans Malolactique” Blanc de Blancs Champagne en magnum
***
Rock Fish stuffed with Crab

2014 Basignani, Seyval, Montbray Vineyard
2009 Domaine de La Bongran, Cuvee E.J. Thevent, Vire Clesse
***
Miss Fanny Chase’s Spiced Ham
Onion Pie
Parsnip Cakes
Spiced Beets
Sweet Potato Pone

2006 Black Ankle Vineyards, Crumbling Rock, Frederick County
2010 Black Ankle Vineyards, Leaf Stone Syrah, Frederick County
2004 Beaux Freres, Pinot Noir, Willamette Valley
***
Berry Pudding with Foaming Sauce

It was a fun evening with interesting wines and rather tasty food.  I am not a food historian but I must remark that most of our dishes had mace in them.  From what I gather this has less to do with Maryland specifically, rather it is the Colonial basis for some of these recipes.  That was a time when nutmeg and mace were commonly imported.

American wines for an American meal

December 1, 2014 Leave a comment

Inspired by my Thanksgiving wine research I decided to serve American wines for our Thanksgiving meal.  I opened up a pair of bubbles, a pair of whites, and a pair of red wines.  While this allowed us to match the variety of dishes and account for personal preferences, my real motive was to allow comparison amongst the wines.  Judging by the amount of wine left in the bottles the NV Thibaut-Janisson Winery, Blanc de Chardonnay Brut, Monticello and 2010 Keswick Vineyards, Cabernet Sauvignon, Estate Reserve, Monticello tied for favorite wines.  The Thibaut-Janisson was refreshing and so easy to drink while snacking on shrimp and cheese as we finished up the meal.  The 2007 Trump Winery, SP Reserve Brut, Monticello is not without its merits, the biggest one is that this is a mature sparkling wine.  It might be more of an acquired taste.  No one paid much heed to the white wines but I did.  For me there was too much of the sweet tropical notes to the 2013 The Vineyards at Dodon, Sauvignon Blanc, Anne Arundel County.  I preferred it several days later at room temperature.  I tasted the 2013 Linden, Chardonnay, Hardscrabble over four days.  It remained fairly tight, just losing its creamy start, so I would cellar this another year before trying again.  I had everyone taste the 2010 Keswick Vineyards, Cabernet Sauvignon, Estate Reserve, Monticello first due to its younger flavors.  This was a big hit with people taking big pours.  It was easy to see why for the dense fruit overlay everything providing a seductive drink.  I would try this again next year so that it can shake off some baby fat. The 2009 Weese Family Winery, Cabernet Sauvignon, Rockpile, Sonoma County was too old-school for most people which meant there was more to me to drink.  This was my favorite wine of the night and the next night and even the next night.  The wine proved young on each night but the flavors were spot on for their complexity transcended fruit descriptors.  If you try a bottle this winter be sure to accompany it with some food, otherwise cellar it for a few years.  The Trump and Keswick wines were purchased at the estates, everything else came from MacArthur Beverages.

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NV Thibaut-Janisson Winery, Blanc de Chardonnay Brut, Monticello – $25
This wine is 100% Chardonnay.  Alcohol 12.5%.  The color was a light white straw.  The nose had a delicate toast which eventually took on yeasty aromas of apple cider.  There was an immediately, bubbly mousse in the mouth followed by white fruit and a tangy finish.  The wine became rounder with air with a pleasing balance between apple flavors and some spices.  This solid wine had a lot of presence on the tongue and proved generally refreshing.  *** Now-2016.

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2007 Trump Winery, SP Reserve Brut, Monticello – $45
This wine is 100% Chardonnay that was aged on the lees for four years in a combination of French oak and stainless steel.  Alcohol 12%.  The medium golden-yellow color was a prelude to the rich aromas of spices and yeast.  In the mouth were robust flavors with very fine, bursting bubbles.  The flavors were clearly mature with a biscuit note.  With air there were fallen orchard fruit and a smoky hint.  ** Now.

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2013 The Vineyards at Dodon, Sauvignon Blanc, Anne Arundel County – $22
This wine is 100% Sauvignon Blanc aged for five months on the lees in stainless steel. Alcohol 12.6%.  The color was a very light, green straw.  The nose bore sweet, tropical flowers.  In the mouth the good, up front acidity made way to tropical fruit.  There was some ripe fruit, a rounded feel, some stones, and salivating acidity in the aftertaste.  Not really my style.  * Now.

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2013 Linden, Chardonnay, Hardscrabble – $30
Alcohol 13.5%.  The nose revealed gently toasty white fruit.  The wine was round, almost creamy in the mouth with tart, green apple fruit and a good mouth feel.  The good acidity outlived the creamy mouthfeel.  With air a slight hint of oak came out.  **(*) 2016-2022.

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2010 Keswick Vineyards, Cabernet Sauvignon, Estate Reserve, Monticello – $75
This wine is 100% Cabernet Sauvignon that was aged for 22 months in French and American oak.  Alcohol 14%.  There was a rather dark color of black cherry. There were fresh herbs on the nose that preceded the dense, fresh, young fruit in the mouth.  The wine was seamless with savory hints, cranberry and black fruit, and a tart, almost puckering finish.  This was a very fruity wine with lots of supporting oak, acidity on the sides of the tongue and a salivating finish.  **(*) Now-2020.

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2009 Weese Family Winery, Cabernet Sauvignon, Rockpile, Sonoma County – $44
This wine is a blend of 87% Cabernet Sauvignon, 9% Cabernet Franc, 4% Petit Verdot that was aged for 24 months in 50% new American and French oak. Alcohol 14.5%.  The color was a medium plus black cherry.  In the mouth were old-school flavors from the very first glass.  The red fruit had some riper flavor before black fruit and drying tannins came out.  There was a good balance of cocoa, some vanilla, and extract.  This should clearly develop well in the cellar but was quite enjoyable with food.  ***(*) Now-2022.

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Revisiting the 2010 Black Ankle, Leaf-Stone Syrah

April 19, 2013 3 comments

As I wrote in The Drink Local Wine Tour of Maryland Wineries post I picked up two bottles of the 2010 Black Ankle Vineyards, Leaf-Stone Syrah.  I could not wait to taste it from a full bottle so I pulled a cork this week.  I poured it straight from the bottle.  For the first hour it oscillated between showing attractive strawberry flavors and closing up.  I knew it had finally opened up when Jenn remarked that she was enjoying it very much.  This smelled and tasted like proper Syrah.  This is a great wine to try if you are inspired by the Drink Local Wine conference in Maryland.  It is true that it is not cheap but it is a serious example of Maryland wine.  This wine was purchased at Black Ankle Vineyards.

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2010 Black Ankle Vineyards, Leaf-Stone Syrah, Frederick County – $48
This wine is 100% Syrah which was aged for 18 months in 65% new French oak.  Alcohol 14.6%.  The light nose was grapey with tart purple berries and perhaps some lees.  It opened up after an hour with purple, grapey fruit which was concentrated with texture.  It had somewhat savory, cherry and strawberry flavors. There was good structure with some ripe tannins which pleasantly coated the inside of the lips.  I thought the oak complementary.  *** 2014-2020.

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The Drink Local Wine Tour of Maryland Wineries

April 16, 2013 2 comments

The fifth annual Drink Local Wine Conference featured the wines of Maryland.  It was composed of a media tour of Maryland wineries on Friday followed by a conference and Twitter Taste Off in Baltimore on Saturday.  I was only able to attend one day so I chose the winery tour.  I woke up that morning to thunder, lightning, and torrential downpours.  The storm faded away during my drive up to Baltimore and renewed my hope for some vineyard tours.  I did not know who was attending Friday’s tour so it was great to see a number of familiar faces Frank Morgan (DrinkWhatYouLike), David White (Terroirist), Todd Godbout (WineCompass), Michel Birchenall (Food Service Monthly), and of Drink Local Wine co-founder Dave McIntyre (dmwineline).  I met many new faces such as Michael Wangbickler President of Drink Local Wine (Through the Bunghole), Kevin Atticks Executive Director of the Maryland Wineries Association along with Marketing Director Briana Berg and Events Director Jade Ostner.  Several dozen people stepped onto the coach which would first take us to Sugarloaf Mountain Vineyard where we would also taste the wines of Elk Run Vineyards.  Our second stop would be at Black Ankle Vineyards where we would also have a lunch catered by Woodberry Kitchen.  Our final stop would be at Boordy Vineyards where we would additionally taste the wines of Cygnus Wine Cellars and Fiore Winery.  We would finally be dropped off for dinner at the Waterfront Kitchen in Fells Point, Baltimore.

First Stop – Sugarloaf Mountain Vineyard with Elk Run Vineyards

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We began our tour by visiting Sugarloaf Mountain Vineyards which also hosted Elk Run Vineyards for the sake of Drink Local Wine.  As our coach pulled into the parking lot Christian Schiller (schiller-wine) came out to join us.  I also had the chance to briefly meet Lenn Thompson of the New York Cork Report. Inside the tasting room, each winery poured four bottled wines along with four mystery samples from Sugarloaf Mountain Vineyards.  These samples included a pure Cabernet Franc, a pure Merlot, a blend of 75% Cabernet Franc and 25% Merlot, and a blend of 75% Merlot and 25% Cabernet Franc.  They are interested in releasing a new wine so these unidentified samples help reveal consumer preferences.  Sample C was preferred choice.

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I quickly tasted through the eight bottled wines then joined a small group for a vineyard tour.  I have visited Sugarloaf Mountain Winery several times over the years with my family.  My daughter’s friend from her first daycare is an O’Donoghue so we have attended both the Spring Bud and Grape Stomp Festivals.  On these visits we hung out at our picnic blanket and the tasting tent so we never managed a tour.  A handful of us walked up behind the barn with Mike to visit the Cabernet Sauvignon vineyard.  This seven acre vineyard was planted with 3,000 local cuttings of Slate Quarry Riparia in 2004.  Mike is a retired lawyer and now spends five days per week in the vineyard.

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The land between the rows contain grass though weeds sometimes crop up.  Though they rely on mechanical cultivation the weeds may become a problem so Round-Up is occasionally used.  The wind comes from the west, which is evidenced by the first several rows being bent towards the east, so Mike works the east side of the vines.  The vines are cane pruned with five buds per side.  He wants spacing between the vines so the last bud with apical dominance is pruned.  If this was not done neighboring vines would cross thus blocking sun and wind which would increase the chance of botrytis.

The ends of the vines were turning dark which signifies the flowing of sap.  Mike estimates bud break would occur this week. The vines have all been pruned for they are very delicate for several days after bud break.  If a worker accidentally brushed up against a vine it could knock off several buds.  After a few days they become hardy and green.

We tasted wines from the 2010 and 2011 vintages.  2010 was a hot, early vintage.  2011 was a soggy vintage with rain on 28 out of 30 days at Sugarloaf Mountain.  As of January Manolo Gomez has become the official winemaker with Benoit Pineau the consultant winemaker.  Many thanks to Susan Reed for once again providing answers to my questions.  And thanks to both wineries for providing us with tote bags and glasses.

Elk Run Vineyards

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My favorite of these four wines was the Merlot but the Pinot Noir had good strengths as well.  I believe this is the first pure Maryland Pinot Noir wine which I have tasted.

2011 Elk Run Vineyards, Gewurztraminer, Cold Friday Vineyard – $20
This had a musky, floral nose.  In the mouth this off-dry wine was soft with sweet white and yellow fruit.

2011 Elk Run Vineyards, Gypsy Rose – $18
This wine is a blend of Merlot and Pinot Noir.  The color was of pale dried roses.  There was soft, vaguely red fruit with drier flavors and some chewy, moderate acidity.

2010 Elk Run Vineyards, Merlot, Cold Friday Vineyard – $35
This  There was a subtle but decent nose.  In the mouth there were flavors of black cherry, smoke, somewhat ripe tannins, and a taut aspect.  It was decent overall with an agreeable amount of toast notes.

2010 Elk Run Vineyards, Pinot Noir, Cold Friday Vineyard – $35
The color was a light garnet, dried rose.  The light nose was more expressive than the Merlot.  There were cherry flavors along with tart red fruit, perhaps some licorice, and a tart middle.  There was a very gentle structure.

Sugarloaf Mountain Vineyard

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Though I enjoyed the 2011 Pinot Grigio my favorite of the quartet was the 2010 Evoe!  I last tasted this wine almost one year ago and thought it needed some time to settle down.  That year has greatly benefitted the wine and should provide for some fun drinking this year.

2011 Sugarloaf Mountain Vineyard, Pinot Grigio – $19
This wine is 100% Pinot Grigio which was aged for 6 months in stainless steel.  Alcohol 13.0%.  There was a very subtle nose.  In the mouth the flavors showed restraint but also had some ripe white and yellow fruit.  There was good acidity, a softer finish, and perhaps a note of lees.

2011 Sugarloaf Mountain Vineyard, Circe – $24
This wine is a blend of 73% Cabernet Sauvignon, 10% Cabernet Franc, 10% Petit Verdot, and 7% Merlot which was aged 5 months in 20% new French oak.  Alcohol 12.5%.  The nose bore very young fruit.  In the mouth there were grapey red fruit flavors which tickled the tip of the tongue.  It became very tart with red berries and grape tannins.

2011 Sugarloaf Mountain Vineyard, Comus – $26
This wine is a blend of 44% Cabernet Sauvignon, 35% Merlot, 8% Petit Verdot, 8% Cabernet Franc, and 5% Malbec which was aged 12 months in 25% French oak. Alcohol 13.0%  There were flavors of bright red fruit, structure, acidity, and a little bit of black fruit in the finish.  A little young and should benefit from short-term aging.

2010 Sugarloaf Mountain Vineyard, Evoe! – $39
This wine is a blend of 51% Cabernet Franc, 22% Petit Verdot, 16% Merlot, and 11% Cabernet Sauvignon which was aged 24 months in 25% new French oak. Alcohol 14.5%.  The nose was nice with black berries.  In the mouth there was focused, moderately ripe fruit with some grip.  There was enjoyable texture on the tongue.  My favorite.

Second Stop – Black Ankle Vineyards

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Our coach was sponsored by Nomacorc which Frank Morgan had recently visited and described the night before to Lou and I.  It took some time to reach Black Ankle Vineyards so I had time to meet Whitney Rigsbee who is a Media Relations Specialist at Nomacorc.  We were visiting Black Ankle Vineyards to both taste wine and to eat lunch catered by the Woodberry Kitchen.  I have tasted several Black Ankle wines over the winter so I certainly anticipated this visit.  Black Ankle Vineyards had posted the menu along with some pictures on their Facebook page which made us even hungrier.  I begin to anticipate lunch as well.  Glasses of their 2012 Gruner Veltliner were already poured so we were handed a glass as soon as we entered the tasting room.  The five wines we were to taste had been paired with a lunch course.  Shortly after the Gruner was handed out trays of Seasonal Tartines were passed around.

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The lunch was sponsored by the Maryland Office of Tourism and was meant to showcase  locally sourced food and wine.  Table were set throughout the tasting room.  Seats and power outlets were quickly claimed.  Present at my table was Frank Morgan, Whitney Rigsbee, along with Paul and Warren (Virginia Wine Time), and Virginia Wine Diva (SwirlSipSnark)

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The lunch was superb.  Whereas the 2012 Gruner stood out by itself, the 2011 Bedlam was brighter and more delicate in flavor, which let oysters shine.  I believe these oysters were briefly on the grill.  However they were prepared, this pair of savory oysters are amongst the best I have eaten.

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I could smell the lamb on the grill.  Spike Gerdje had brought a small team from his restaurant and they had set up just behind the tasting room.  The wines were poured before each course.  With aromas filling the entire tasting room I simply could not resist tucking into the 2010 Leaf Stone Syrah which was my favorite wine of the day.  Just as exciting was the main course prepared from two Suffolk lamb butchered by Woodberry Kitchen.  They were presented as sausages, confit belly, and chops along with potatoes and scallions.  Fortunately a partial bottle of the Syrah had been left on our table so we were able to recharge our glasses.  By the end of the lunch we were running out of time.  With the dessert course being served there was a bit of a rush.  Ed had confirmed there were still several cases of the 2010 Leaf Stone Syrah left so a number of us left our tables to purchase our bottles.  By the end there was quite a buzz in the tasting room which was of enjoyment and content.  This could have been the one event of the day and I would have been deeply satisfied.

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Maryland Wine Association
Luncheon at
Black Ankle Vineyards

Seasonal Tartines
Grilled Chesapeake Oysters
Next Step Organic Wheat Berry Salad
Whole Maryland Suffolk Lamb
Beiler’s Heritage Acres Cornflour Cake

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2012 Black Ankle Vineyards, Gruner Veltliner – (Barrel Sample)
The nose revealed white fruit then some weight yellow fruit aromas.  In the mouth the floral fruit had both good acidity and mouthfeel.  There were flavors of honeysuckle in this wine with good length and round aftertaste.  Nice.

2011 Black Ankle Vineyards, Bedlam –
This wine is a blend of Albarino, Viognier, Chardonnay, Gruner Veltliner, and Muscat.  There was a fresh, bright nose with herbs and the slight texture of white fruit.  In the mouth the flavors were of drier white fruit which was tart and mixed with acidity that made my tongue salivate on the sides.  There was a yeasty note in the middle.

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2010 Black Ankle Vineyards, Rollings Hills, Frederick County –
This wine is a blend of 47% Cabernet Sauvignon, 21% Cabernet Franc, 21% Merlot, 8% Malbec, and 3% Petit Verdot which was aged for 18 months in French oak barrels. Alcohol 13.6%.  The nose was of light red berries.  In the mouth there were berry flavors and a hint of something bright.  The flavors had density with acidity at the back of the mouth.  There were some grapey tannins along with fine-grained tannins in the structure.  There was a cool finish.

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2010 Black Ankle Vineyards, Leaf Stone Syrah, Frederick County –
This wine is 100% Syrah which was aged for 18 months in 65% new French oak.  Alcohol 14.6%.  The beautiful nose had depth with floral fruit that smelled proper and was evocative of the Northern Rhone.  The flavors were young and tight but still enjoyable.  There was some grainy texture to the fruit and a creamy feel to the blue, grapey, and red flavors.  There was a touch of lipstick in the finish.  The acidity was well-integrated along with a deft touch of ripe oak tannins.  Nice.

NV Black Ankle Vineyards, Terra Dulce II, Frederick County –
The color was a tawny garnet.  There was tangy red fruit in this fortified wine.  Herbs and acidity came out at first with the red fruit.  Then tea, tobacco, and more tobacco.  It was a little spirity at this point and could use some age for integration.

Third Stop – Boordy Vineyards with Cygnus Wine Cellars and Fiore

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The ride to Boordy Vineyards was a bit quieter.  I had the chance to hear about Jade Ostner’s experience with the growth in Maryland wineries and also to meet Andrew Stover (chiefwino and Vino50).  When we stepped off the bus at Boordy Vineyards the sky was gray and the temperature had noticeably dropped.  We were located in the Long Green Valley which is just north of Baltimore.  There was not enough time for a vineyard tour so we paused in front of the winery for a brief overview of the winery.  The winery is currently housed in the ground-floor level of a 19th century barn.

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Next to the barn a new similarly sized building is going up.  The new building will become the home of the winery.  As it is purpose-built, future wines will see more gravity and less pumps along with being raised with more accurate temperature control.  The original barn will become a barrel cellar.

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Boordy Vineyards produces three tiers of wines: Just for Fun, Icon Wines, and the Landmark Project.  For our visit we would be tasting wines from the Landmark Project.  These wines are produced from 100% Maryland fruit of which 95% is estate fruit.  The Landmark Project was begun in 2006.  It follows the guidance of viticulturist Lucie Morton which initiated a complete replanting of the vineyards.  The vineyards were replanted with closer spacing, 1 meter by 8 feet, averaging 1500 vines per acre for all 45 acres.  Four acres of Albarino will be planted this week.

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I started with barrel samples of the varietals used to produce the Landmark wine.  While I preferred the Syrah and Cabernet Sauvignon I also liked the strength of the Petit Verdot.  I would have enjoyed making my own blend from these samples!

2012 Boordy Vineyards, Cabernet Sauvignon (Landmark Component Barrel Sample) –
The nose was low-lying with almost musky notes.  There was ripe fruit in the mouth, vintage perfume, and an earthy/foxy note.  There was good mouth weight.

2012 Boordy Vineyards, Merlot Clone 15 (Landmark Component Barrel Sample) –
The fruit was sourced from a 4.5 acre vineyard with an additional 3.5 acres coming online in 2013.  This had a nose which stood out with red and black berries and a greenhouse note.  The mouth followed the nose with brighter acidity which drove the flavors on the tongue.  There were red grapefruit notes.

2012 Boordy Vineyards, Syrah (Landmark Component Barrel Sample) –
The fruit was sourced from a 0.7 acre vineyard planted in 2000.  The nose bore red fruit, a little greenhouse note, and old perfume.  There were mouthfilling flavors which had good structure and acidity.  The black red fruit mixed with old perfume and drying citric tannins.

2012 Boordy Vineyards, Petit Verdot (Landmark Component Barrel Sample) –
The fruit was sourced from a 1.1 acre vineyard planted in 2000.  The flavors were lively on the tongue with blackish fruit that had good concentration.  The flavors were a little tart with plenty of acidity.  There were fine drying tannins on the lips and cheeks.

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I then tried the bottled red wines.  The 2010 Cabernet Franc Reserve, the first ever, was drinking very well.   It would be my choice to drink while the 2010 Landmark Reserve ages.  It was a treat to taste the 2010 Merlot Reserve as it was a limited release for the Landmark Wine Club.

2010 Boordy Vineyards, Landmark, Cabernet Franc Reserve – $25
This wine is 100% Cabernet Franc which was aged for 18 months in French oak.  There were concentrated aromas of black fruit and violets.  The wine had a weighty mouth feel, power, and an inky finish.  Nice.

2010 Boordy Vineyards, Landmark Reserve – $35
This wine is a blend of 69% Merlot, 19% Syrah, 6% Cabernet Sauvignon, and 6% Petit Verdot which were fermented separately.  It was aged for 24 months in French oak.  The nose was light with racy blue and black fruit.  There was good fruit in the mouth along with concentrated drying tannins.  There were racy, weighty flavors in the finish.  The drying tannins mixed with vintage perfume in the finish.  The aftertaste brought some spicy, citric tannins.  This could benefit from a few years of age.

2010 Boordy Vineyards, Landmark, Merlot Reserve –
This was a warm vintage which was produced from shriveled, young fruit.  This had a nose of low-lying perfumed berries.  There was more structure to this wine with expansive almost grainy, blue and black fruit.  It had focused and a powerful structure at the end.  This needs age.

Cygnus Wine Cellars

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Up until Drink Local Wine I had never drunk a Maryland sparkling wine.  A few people on the bus had recommended those of Cygnus Wine Cellars so I had been looking forward to a taste. Unfortunately there was not a single bottle of sparkling wine.  I was not disappointed for I got to taste my two oldest wines from Maryland.  The Julian is always a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc which is only made in specific vintages and released after many years of bottle age.  I preferred the 2002 Julian for I thought it best balanced fruit, acidity, and structure.  The 1997 was interesting to taste and I imagine it will last for quite some time.

1997 Cygnus Wine Cellars, Julian –
This wine is a blend of 73% Cabernet Sauvignon and 27% Cabernet Franc.  The nose was aromatic, confident, and mixed some fruit with greenhouse notes.  There was acidity driven dry red fruit in the mouth.  Eventually a greenhouse note came out which followed the nose.  There were drying tannins in this wine which is very much alive.

2002 Cygnus Wine Cellars, Julian –
This wine is a blend of 50% Cabernet Sauvignon and 50% Cabernet Franc.  The nose revealed red candy aromas with a little underlying mixed berries.   In the mouth there were tart, acidity driven red fruit, cool red fruit in the middle, and an old wood note.  There was a drying, somewhat ripe, structure at the end.

2010 Cygnus Wine Cellars, Port of Manchester –
The nose had a different sort of red berry aromas with a subtle sweetness.  There was plenty of residual sugar which makes it sweet but mixed with normal ripe berries.  A dry structure came out.

Fiore Winery

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These three wines are all pure varietals.  I cannot recall ever tasting a wine made from Chambourcin.  This is a hybrid varietal which Mike and Rose clearly know how to handle.  It was my favorite of the trio and one I recommend you try.

2010 Fiore Winery, Sangiovese – $19
Alcohol 12%.  This was a bit riper and almost off-dry than I expected.  There were some cool flavors to the round, red notes.

2006 Fiore Winery, Chambourcin – $17
Alcohol 12%.  This had a subtle nose of blue and black fruit.  There were slightly earthy, ripe round fruit, grip, and good flavors in this different and interesting wine.  Well done for a hybrid.

2006 Fiore Winery, Proprietor’s Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon – $18
This wine was aged for over two years in American and French oak.  Alcohol 12%.  There was tart red, drying fruit on the tongue followed by a bit of old-school, wood box flavors in the finish.  It was tart with firm, drying, spicy low-lying tannins.

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I Get Fooled by Hard Cider

November 27, 2012 Leave a comment

This past weekend a small group of us gathered for a wine tasting and dinner at Lou’s house. There was no set theme this time but it did not take us long to figure out our contributions. Jenn particularly liked the 2011 Agrina, Portuguiser we recently tasted so she suggested we bring that and another Balkan wine. So I added in the 2007 Vino Budimir, Sub Rosa and 2007 Chateau Musar, Hochar to round things out. With two wines from Serbia and one from Lebanon we were sure to shake things up.

We started with the Domaine Overnoy-Crinquand, Rose Brut so I did not bother to take a note. The second wine, Domaine des Baumard, Savennieres was flawed. With the Domaine des Baumard flawed Lou quickly returned with a replacement. I was stumped and kept thinking it was some weird white wine from Pennsylvania. The wine was revealed to be Hard Cider from Maryland! Upon revisiting I could get the apple skins. With such a twist it was already a fun tasting!

We then moved downstairs into the tasting room to taste through the five red wines. The first wine was immediately obvious to me (having recently tasted it) as the Agrina, Portuguiser. It was a polarizing wine with half of us loving it and the other half not. The Paveil de Luze showed quite well at first with classic wood box aromas. It was less opulent than other 2009s and has a structure that will allow it to benefit from cellaring. The Vino Budimir, Sub Rosa is still young with a core of fruit that is still tight with tannins to match. The flavors are good but I would be inclined to cellar this as well. The Domaine Saint Damien was lovely, captivated everyone right away, and was the first to be finished. It continued to develop over the evening with intact bottles likely to do so for several years. It is a treat now but I would wait five years. The Chateau Musar, Hochar developed over the evening in fits and starts. I initially thought it quite soft and a bit disappointing so I rated it two stars. Upon revisiting it had fleshed out becoming enlivened by its acidity. On the second night, without any gas, it drank great. Who knows, this wacky wine might outlive all of the others. Jenn and I were getting ready to take off so I only briefly tasted the Domaine Cordier Pere et Fils, En Faux. Lou continued the cider theme by producing a vintage bottle of Ice Cider from Quebec! Take my note and rating for what its worth and certainly do not expect to switch your Sauternes with Ice Cider. But if you like Cider and apples this is pretty cool stuff. I can almost imagine why fruit wines were so popular centuries ago. Many thanks to everyone for their contributions and to Lou for both hosting and pulling out interesting drinks.

Lou double-decanted the Domaine Saint Damien one and a half hours before the tasting. I double-decanted the Vino Budimir and Chateau Musar one hour prior with the Agrina just half an hour. Everything else was opened shortly before tasting. All beverages were served blind except for the Domaine Cordiere Pere et Fils and the Domaine Lafrance. Please find my notes below in the order tasted.

2005 Domaine des Baumard, Savennieres
Imported by Ex Cellars Wine Agencies. This wine is 100% Chenin Blanc. Alcohol 13%. The color was a light yellow straw. There was a stinky, foxy nose,….bad yuck. Flawed.

NV Distillery Lane Ciderworks, The Jefferson Hard Cider, Maryland
This cider is made from pressed Newtown Pippins which were aged in American oak. Alcohol 7.3%. The color was a light golden-yellow, a touch cloudy. The medium strength nose revealed dried apricot, sweeter aromas, and floral hints. In the mouth the flavors were much drier and lighter, with a hint of citrus. It started off lively then faded towards the finish. After the reveal I picked up apple skin on the nose. * Now.

2011 Agrina, Portuguiser, Fruska Gora, Serbia
Imported by Winebow. This wine is 100% Portuguiser. Alcohol 13%. The color was light to medium ruby. The light to medium nose was scented with berry-liscious aromas. In the mouth this wine offered up bright, concentrated flavors of berries, some tartness, and lifted perfume. Very fruit driven. *** Now-2014.

2009 Chateau Paveil de Luze, Margaux
Imported by Calvert-Woodley. This wine is a blend of 65% Cabernet Sauvignon, 30% Merlot, and 5% Cabernet Franc. Alcohol 13.5%. The color was light to medium grapey ruby. The nose was Bordeaux like with black red fruit, wood box, and a little texture. In the mouth the flavors were savory, a little lighter than the nose indicated, and focused. There were tart black fruits, minerals, wood box, and acidity from the start. This was nice with integrated tannins and flavors that, with air, became drier. I would cellar it a few years. On the second night the nose was higher toned with tart black fruit in the mouth, a dry quality…basically shutdown, needs some age. *** 2015-2025.

2007 Vino Budimir, Sub Rosa, Zupa, Serbia
Imported by Winebow. This wine is a blend of 60% Prokupac and 40% Cabernet Sauvignon which were fermented with indigenous yeasts. The Prokupac was aged for three years in 3000 L oak casks and the Cabernet Sauvignon in French oak barrels. Alcohol 13.5%. The color was medium garnet. The light, tight nose bore interesting aromas which I could not describe. In the mouth there was ripe, focused fruit, a little spicy, and the impression of a young wine. The core of fruit was a bit wound up but still had a lifted quality before the flavors dried and faded a little bit. This was grapey with ripe tannins, and brighter, powdery red fruit in the finish and a racy, black aftertaste. On the second night the nose was very grapey. The mouth still had good ripe, concentrated fruit but the tannins structure stepped up. *** 2014-2022.

2006 Domaine Saint Damien, Cuvee La Louisane, Gigondas
Imported by Premier Cru. This wine is a blend of 80% Grenache (planted in 1942), 15% Mourvedre (planted in 1977), and 5% Cinsault (planted in 1951) and Syrah sourced from parcels on the mid-hills at La Louisiane. It was fermented for six weeks in concrete vats then aged for 12 months in oak barrels. Alcohol 15%. The color was light to medium ruby garnet. The nose was light with black-red fruit, a touch of sweet vanilla, and with air it reminded me of Bordeaux. In the mouth there was ripe, concentrated fruit, lifted minerally flavors, tannins, and enjoyable texture. Simply a really nice wine to drink with great potential. ***(*) Now-2027.

2007 Chateau Musar, Hochar, Bekaa Valley
Imported by Broadbent Selections. This wine is a blend of 30% Cinsault, 20% Grenache, 20% Cabernet Sauvignon, and 10% Carignan which was aged in oak barrels for nine months. Alcohol 13.5% The color was light garnet. The medium strength nose revealed minerally black, sweet fruit; generally nice nose with older notes. In the mouth there was red fruit and maple, soft in feel with acidity towards the end. There was some complexity but softness prevailed before an aftertaste with a little firmness. Upon revisiting the wine had fleshed out with air to become quite lively and fuller. On the second night the nose was still smelling good with vintage cherry candy. In the mouth there was dark red fruit with a similar vintage perfume note, black and red fruit, acidity which mixed with black fruit followed by interesting tannins. *** Now-2017 (perhaps longer).

2010 Domaine Cordier Pere et Fils, En Faux, Saint Veran
Imported by Robert Kacher. This wine is 100% Chardonnay which was fermented in oak. Alcohol 13.5%. The color was a very light golden straw. The medium strength nose reminded me of masa. The mouth followed the nose with moderate mouthfeel, good weight, and a sense of richness. Uniquely enjoyable. Not Rated.

2007 Domaine Lafrance, Cuvee Speciale, Ice Cider Quebec – (200mL)
From apples harvested in January which are then fermented in vat. It takes 60 apples to produce 375mL. Alcohol 10.5%. The color was a very light golden amber. The medium strength nose revealed potpourri, old perfume, and some aromas not encountered before. In the mouth this medium bodied cider bore similar flavors with tart fruit, apple acidity, and plenty of acidity in the aftertaste. Showed better integration on the third night with almost syrupy body that made way to tart fruit and integrated acidity. ***?? Now-??.

The Best of Virginia (and Maryland Too)

November 21, 2012 3 comments

Weygandt Wines

This past weekend Lou and I attended a Best of Virginia tasting organized by Robert Ford and hosted by Weygandt Wines.  I came in late to the organization so I thought it best to let Rob describe the origins of the tasting.

Inspiration for the Tasting

About three years ago my Fiancee Megan and I were eating breakfast on a lazy sunday morning, wondering what to do with our day. At this point we were surprisingly novice wine geeks, early in the stages of tasting anything and everything to develop context for our palates. We did however, through our tasting, seem know what we enjoyed and were respectable in judging quality. We had heard about Virginia wine country and had nothing better to do, so after a bit of internet research we hopped on I-66W and headed west. It seemed that in Northern Virginia (if not Virginia as a whole) Linden had been the forerunner in quality and vision when it came to virginia wine. I still remember arriving on our first visit. The GPS had taken us on wild ride, traversing several miles of unpaved roads to reach the Linden sign. From our first sip of the day, it was clear the wines were special. They had balance, authentic fruit, direction, freshness, and evolution on the palate. The care used to craft the wine was palpable. They embodied the qualities we had come to look for in a wine.

We are now full on wine geeks, but as any other wine geek knows, the more you learn and taste, the more there is to learn and taste. And while virginia has settled into a limited role in our wine drinking, it remains an important one. When we open a Linden wine we find ourselves comparing it to chardonnays and bordeaux blends from around the world, remarking how well they would likely compete in a global context. Therefore we always had the idea of a blind tasting, pitting the Linden and other best of Virginia, against equal competition from more established wine regions. And after a long period of idle contemplation, seemingly like usual, everything simply fell into place. It started with a thread on Wineberserkers regarding RdV Vineyards, and morphed into a “what if” tasting idea. As I was going to be in DC over the weekend, inspiration struck, and I began to organize the Best of VA vs World tasting. Interest was a bit slow over the first day, but quickly it appeared the tasting would be rather large and comprehensive. It was one of those events that was meant to happen, as everything simply fell into place. Many participants were available on the proposed date, we were easily able to use Weygandt Wines as a fantastic tasting space, and everyone seemingly had excess wine to contribute. By Friday morning we had more interest than we could accommodate, and had put together a surprisingly large and complete line up of wines. The stage was set … how would Virginia fare?

-Robert Ford

Bagged and Numbered

The Virginian wines were known ahead of time to the participants with the ringers only known to Rob and those who brought them.  The wines were brown-bagged and served in four flights: Whites, Mature Reds, Young Cabernet Franc or Merlot dominated reds, and Young Cabernet Sauvignon dominated reds.  All of the wines were opened just prior to tasting except for #17 RdV, Rondevous which was decanted one hour ahead and the #25 Yannick Amirault which was opened one hour ahead.  Tasting sheets were provided and we were asked to rate the wines so that group results could be tallied.  After tasting through all of the wines they were revealed.

Many thanks to Jim Law of Linden Vineyards who opened his cellar so that Rob could purchase the 1997 Reserve Red, to Jon Gonzales of RdV Vineyards who brought the 2009 Rendesvous and Lost Mountain, to Ed Boyce of Black Ankle Vineyards who provided the 2007 Crumbling Rock, and Michelle Gueydan of Early Mountain Vineyards who brought the 2011 Ankida Ridge, Chardonnay along with a few ringers.  Also to everyone’s generosity for bringing so many wines and to Warren, Sarah, and Weygandt Wines for allowing us to take over part of the store.

Rob In Action

RESULTS

Rob tallied up the results from eight participants.  In some cases a wine received only seven scores but in most cases it was eight.  Of the 33 wines tasted 16 were from Virginia, 8 from France, 2 from California, 2 from Maryland, 1 from Washington, 1 from Italy, 1 from Malta, 1 from New Zealand, and 1 from South Africa.  In this section I have listed the top three wines from each flight.  For the remaining average scores you will find them in my tasting notes.

One cannot draw serious conclusions from such a tasting but I can point out the generally strong breadth of the Linden wines, the seriousness of RdV, and the strengths of Black Ankle.  When I hear about local wine it seems to be in the context of Virginia but hopefully after this tasting a few more people will cross the Potomac River to Maryland.  I am also curious to try other selections from King Family Vineyards and Pearmund.

Flight 1 – Whites
1. 2008 Linden, Chardonnay, Avenius Vineyard (86.88)
2. 2009 Ataraxia, Chardonnay, South Africa (86.38)
3. 2011 Ankita Ridge, Chardonnay (85.13)

Flight 2 – Mature Reds
1. 1997 Linden, Reserve Red (89.13)
2. 1995 Chateau Troplong Mondot (87.13)
3. 1993 Robert Craig, Affinity (86.25)

Flight 3 – Young Reds (Cabernet Franc or Merlot Dominant Blends)
1. 2005 Chateau Joanin Becot (89.00)
2. Tied: 2009 RdV, Rendezvous and 2006 Black Ankle, Crumbling Rock (87.38)

Flight 4 – Young Reds (Cabernet Sauvignon Dominant Blends)
1. 2007 Gramercy Cellars, Cabernet Sauvignon (87.29)
2. 2009 Cliff Lede, Cabernet Sauvignon (86.86)
3. 2009 Barboursville, Octagon (85.43)

TASTING NOTES

It took steady effort to taste through all of the wines in the time alloted.  As the time advanced past the normal closing time there was a bit of a dash to finish off the tasting.  My notes capture the wines during a brief few minutes so bear that in mind.  Normally I would not rate wines during such a tasting but as part of the group exercise and general fun of it, I did.  At the end of each note you will find the average group score in parenthesis.

FLIGHT 1 – WHITE WINES

David and Rob

I thought the white wines from Virginia showed very well.  While several of the wines had obvious barrel notes, my two favorites the 2010 Pearmund showed good integration along with fruit, weight, and acidity and the 2008 Linden showed lively fruit with an attractive gravelly quality.  Wines like these make me think a Virginia white wine tasting should be in order.

1 – 2011 Ankida Ridge, Chardonnay
This wine is 100% Chardonnay sourced from a two acre vineyard at 1,800 feet. It was fermented in 100% neutral French oak barrels of which 50% underwent malolactic fermentation. It was then aged for nine months on the lees.  The light to medium nose was textured with barrel roast notes.  The barrel note continues in the mouth with rich, slightly perfumed fruit,a bit of weight in the finish.  There were some tart apple flavors and acidity. (85.13)  ** Now.

2 – 2009 Linden, Chardonnay Hardscrabble
This wine is 100% Chardonnay sourced from 15-25 year old vines in the Hardscrabble Vineyard. The free run juice was fermented with both cultured and indigenous yeasts, some barrels underwent maolactic fermentation, followed by 10 months of aging on the lees in new and used French oak barrels. Alcohol 13.8%.  The color was a very light straw yellow.  The light fruit nose had some barrel notes along with heavier, yellow fruit aromas.  In the mouth there was crisper fruit to start  then tropical fruit which mixed with barrel flavors, some apple, and Christmas spice.  The aftertaste was a little coarse and shorter compared to #1.  (84.57) ** Now-2013.

3 – 2010 Pearmund, Old Vine Chardonnay, Meriwether Vineyard
This wine is 100% Chardonnay sourced from 25+ year old vines. It under went 100% malolactic fermentation then was aged for eight months in French oak. Alcohol 13.5%.  The color was light yellow.  The light+ nose revealed heavier yellow fruit, better integration of the barrels notes, and fine texture.  In the mouth there was sweet tropical fruit which was delivered with an initial burst of acidity.  Then old perfume, good weight, and a core of ripe fruit.  There was ripe fruit and spices in the finish and a good aftertaste. (84.50)  **(*) Now-2017.

4 – 2008 Linden, Chardonnay Avenius
This wine is 100% Chardonnay sourced from the Avenius Vineyard planted in 1996 at 1,300 feet. It was barrel fermented in older French oak, did not undergo malolactic fermentation, and was aged on the less for 10 months. Alcohol 13.7%.  The color was a very light yellow.  The nose bore ripe, concentrated yellow fruit.  In the mouth the flavors were lively on the tongue with integrated acidity, followed by gravelly white, ripe fruit.  There was an ethereal quality to the aftertaste.  (86.88) **(*) Now-2015.

5 – 2009 Domaine Bernard Defaix, Vaillons, Chablis 1er Cru
Imported by Winebow. This wine is 100% Chardonnay sourced from both young and old vines.  The color was light yellow.  The light to medium nose offered up perfumed, white and yellow fruit with a hint of something.  In the mouth there were flavors of bread at first followed by a hollow, citric finish, and a barely detectable hint of foxy flavors in the aftertaste. (83.00)  * Now.

6 – 2009 Ataraxia, Chardonnay, Western Cape
Imported by Worthwhile Wine Company. This wine is 100% Chardonnay which was barrel fermented then aged for ten months in Burgundian oak barrels. 13.5% Alcohol.  The color was light yellow.  There was a light+ ripe, yellow nose. In them mouth there were lively white, heavy fruit which was acidity driven.  There was a good mouthfeel, fine stoney, texture, and a drying finish with tart citrus flavors. (86.38) ** Now-2015.

FLIGHT 2 – MATURE RED WINES

The Author and Lou

This was a somewhat disjointed flight in terms of the wines tasted but it did reveal a complete 1997 Linden, Reserve Red.  I am glad that Rob was able to work with Jim Law on this selection.  It is drinking very well right now.  I did not guess it was from Virginia for I thought the 1999 Chateau Barde-Haut was!

7 – 1994 Roccadoro, Chianti Classico
Imported by Winebow. This. Alcohol 12%.  The color was light-medium tawny, showing extreme age.  The nose was over the hill with thin, delicate berry fruit in the mouth. (Flawed)  Flawed.

8 – 1999 Chateau Barde-Haut, St. Emillion Grand Cru
Imported by MacArthur Liquors. This wine is a blend of mostly Merlot and Cabernet Franc sourced from 30+ year old vines. It was fermented with indigenous yeasts, underwent malolactic fermentation then was aged for 18 months in new oak barrels. Alcohol 13.5%.  The color was a light to medium garnet-cherry.  In the mouth there were cedar box flavors, a touch of menthol, then cherry and raspberry.  There was a core of racy red fruit then blue flavors but then it completely thinned out. (82.00)  * Now.

9 – 1997 Linden, Reserve Red
This wine is a blend of 44% Cabernet Franc, 23% Cabernet Sauvignon, 22% Petit Verdot, and 11% Merlot. Alcohol 13.9%.  The color was a light to medium ruby.  The light nose was followed by focused, black and red fruit in the mouth.  There was black fruit acidity,with mature flavors in the finish.  A complete little wine. (89.13)  ** Now.

10 – 1993 Robert Craig, Affinity, Napa Valley
This wine is a blend of 76% Cabernet Sauvignon, 21% Merlot, and 3% Cabernet Franc.  The nose was light with mature red fruit.  In the mouth there were brighter red fruit, texture, plenty of acidity, and a little powdery red candy. (86.25)  * Now.

11 – 1995 Chateau Troplong Mondot, St Emillion Grand Cru
Imported by Luke’s Distributing Co. This wine is a blend of mostly Merlot, Cabernet Franc, and Cabernet Sauvignon sourced from 50 year old vines. It was fermented in stainless steel tanks, underwent malolactic fermentation then was aged 12-24 months in new oak barrels.  The color was a medium ruby.  The nose offered up cedar and vanilla.  In the mouth there was finely textured black cherry fruit, a little menthol, spicy finish, and a lifted, incensed aftertaste. (87.13) ** Now-2015.

FLIGHT 3 – YOUNG REDS (Cabernet Franc or Merlot Dominated Blends)

The King Family Vineyard and Chateau Joanin Becot were the standouts for me in this flight.  I do not if it is a pure varietal or blend but it was attractive all around without a hint of underripe fruit.  The 2006 Black Ankle, Crumbling Rocks had pebbly texture and the 2008 RdV, Rendezvous while tight, had an interesting earthy flavor which was new to me in my Virginian wine experience.  Both of these wines deserve revisiting.

12 – 2009 RdV, Rendezvous
This wine is a blend of 35% Merlot, 32% Cabernet Sauvignon, 21% Cabernet Franc, and 12% Petit Verdot. Alcohol 14.5%.  The color was medium purple ruby.  The medium strength nose was of black fruit and low-lying vanilla aromas.  In the mouth this finely textured wine had black and red fruit, expansive flavors as the wine progressed, and a touch of greenhouse towards the finish.  The tart red fruit had plenty of tannins which coated the lips and teeth along with a certain perfumed flavor.  Upon revisiting it was a bit loose. (87.38)  ** Now-2017.

13 – 2006 Black Ankle, Crumbling Rock, Frederick County
This wine is a blend of 38% Cabernet Franc, 33% Cabernet Sauvignon, 24% Merlot, and 5% Petit Verdot which was aged for 16 months in 75% new French oak barrels. Alcohol 13.5%.  The color was a medium garnet-ruby.  The light to medium strength nose was initially mature with a bit of wood box. In the mouth there were tangy red fruit, acidity, then fine, pebbly texture.  The fruit became tart, citric red and drier towards the finish.  There was textured aftertaste to this complete wine.  A touch up from #12.  Upon revisiting this showed good weight. (87.38) ** Now-2015.

14 – Linden, Boisseau Red
This wine is a blend of 44% Cabernet Franc, 34% Merlot, and 22% Petit Verdot sourced from the Boisseau Vineyard planted in 2000 at 600 feet. It was fermented with indigenous yeasts then aged for 20 months in French, American, and Hungarian oak. Alcohol 14.4%.  The color was a medium ruby with hints of grape.  The medium strength nose was fruit driven.  The wine tasted young and confident with bright, tart red and blue fruit, citric tannins, and acidity on the tip and sides of the tongue.  It was a bit expansive in the aftertaste but was less integrated than #13. (85.29) ** Now-2015.

15 – 2006 Clos L’Eglise, Pomerol
Imported by R&R Marketing LLC. This wine is a blend of 70% Merlot and 30% Cabernet Franc sourced from 35 year old vines. It was aged for 18 months in 100% new French oak barrels. Alcohol 14%.  The color was medium ruby.  The light nose was a touch mature with almost gravelly red fruit.  In the mouth there was more concentrated, attractive black and red fruit with acidity.  Then plenty of fine wood tannins, which were a touch spicy, came out.  Actually there were lots of powerful tannins. (85.86) ** 2015-2019.

16 – 2005 Chateau Joanin Becot, Cotes de Castillon
Imported by MacArthur Liquors. This wine is a blend of 75% Merlot and 25% Cabernet Franc. Alcohol 14%.  The color was medium garnet-ruby.  The light nose was of high-toned red and some black fruit.  In the mouth there were tangy, citric red fruit, very fine, drying tannins, and better integration.  Quite young but nice. (89.00)  **(*) 2017-2022.

17 – 2008 RdV, Rendezvous
This wine is a blend of 62% Merlot, 29% Cabernet Sauvignon, 6% Cabernet Franc, and 3% Petit Verdot. Alcohol 14.5%.  The color was a medium+ grapey ruby.  The light nose revealed nice fruit, red and black berries.  In the mouth the fruit was slightly earthy, which was interesting, but was not giving up much.  This young wine had drying, ripe tannins.  Upon revisiting it showed better concentration, along with tannins, than the 2009. (84.14) ** 2014-2018.

18 – 2010 King Family Vineyards, Cabernet Franc, Monticello
The color was a light, grapey ruby.  The light nose was interesting and concentrated.  In the mouth there was lots of flavor and  delicacy to the riper red fruit.  It was perfumed and showed attractive integration. (85.14)  *** Now-2014.

19 – 2011 Clos Roche Blanche, Cuvee Pif, Touraine
Imported by Louis/Dressner. This wine is a blend of Cabernet Franc and Cot. Alcohol 12%.  It was a light to medium purple ruby color.  The light to medium nose smell like a European Cabernet Franc dominated wine.  The mouth followed the nose with powdery, red candy fruit, drier flavors, and a little orange citrus.  It firmed up a touch in the finish as tannins were left on the lips. (83.00) ** Now-2015.

20 – 2007 Pearmund, Ameritage
This wine is a blend of 33% Cabernet Sauvignon, 30% Merlot, 17% Malbec, 10% Cabernet Franc, and 10% Petit Verdot.  The color was light to medium garnet.  The light nose revealed raspberry candy and greenhouse aromas.  In the mouth there were ripe and sweeter red fruit which turned into black fruit.  There was a little weight, candy notes, along with minimal, spicy tannins which were integrated. (82.57)  * Now.

21 – 2009 Barboursville, Cabernet Franc, Reserve
This wine is 100% Cabernet Franc, from five different clones, which was fermented in stainless steel then aged up to 14 months in new and used French oak barriques. Alcohol 13%.  The color was a light to medium garnet.  The light to medium strength nose was scented with greenhouse aromas.  In the mouth there were ripe, sweet, black and red fruit.  It was rather sweet, the ripe tannins, some head in the finish, and less integration than #20. (82.14) * Now.

22 – 2009 Chateau de la Bonneliere, Les Cornelles, Chinon
Imported by Weygandt-Metzler. This Alcohol 12.5%.  The color was light to medium grapey ruby.  The light nose smelled thinner, like wet Cabernet Franc, and salt water.  In the mouth the light fruit sat in a structure with flavors of old vintage perfume, and tangy red citrus in the finish.  There were fine+ tannins, a touch spicy, as flavors thinned out. Better than #21 and #22. (83.00) * Now.

23 – 2007 Black Ankle, Crumbling Rock, Frederick County
This wine is a blend of 34% Cabernet Franc, 30% Cabernet Sauvingon, 22% Merlot, 11% Petit Verdot, and 3% Syrah which was aged for 18 months in 100% new French oak. Alcohol 14.9%.  The light to medium strength nose was of higher-toned, mixed berries.  In the mouth the mixed fruit was concentrated with some sweetness, good integrated then a touch of heat in the finish, and a lifted aftertaste.  Upon revisiting this showed enjoyable ripe fruit.  (84.43)  ** Now-2016.

24 – 2008 Puriri Hills, Pope, Clevedon
Imported by Nice Legs LLC. This wine is a blend of 52% Cabernet Franc, 32% Merlot, and 16% Carmenere. Alcohol 14.2%.  The color was a light to medium garnet.  The light+ nose revealed finely scented berries along with a greenhouse/pine aromas.  In the mouth the black and red fruit initially mixed with acidity then remained lively throughout.  There were almost juicy black fruit with a tannins structure for aging. (85.43)  * Now-2015.

25 – 2009 Yannick Amirault, Les Quartiers, Bourgueil
Imported by Weygandt-Metzler. This is 100% Cabernet Franc fermented with indigenous yeasts then aged for 12 months in tonneaux. Alcohol 13%.  The color was a medium ruby-garnet.  The light nose revealed overly ripe fruit and some stink.  In the mouth the black and red fruit felt clumsy and flavor with a line of very drying, fine wood tannins.  Below #24 by a touch.  (80.67) * Now.

FLIGHT 4 – YOUNG REDS ( Cabernet Sauvignon Dominated Blends)

Brett and Alyssa

The tasting speeded up during this last flight.  The Cliff Ledge was my favorite followed by the Gramercy Cellars, which in this case, suffered from lack of decanting.  Of the Virginian wines the Linden, Hardscrabble was the most interesting followed by the Glen Manor.

26 – 2007 Gramercy Cellars, Cabernet Sauvignon, Columbia Valley
This wine is a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Petit Verdot.  The color was a medium garnet.  The light nose was finely textured but played it close.  In the mouth there was focused, tangy black fruit which was integrated with acidity and ripe tannins.  The flavors became riper towards the finish where there was a little warmth.  Upon revisiting this showed fine, dense flavors. (87.29) ** Now-2015.

27 – 2009 RdV, Lost Mountain
This wine is a blend of 77% Cabernet Sauvignon, 14% Merlot, and 9% Petit Verdot. Alcohol 14.5%.  The light nose was of ripe, sweet dark fruit.  In the mouth there was riper black fruit and watering acidity before it thinned out a bit.  The finish firmed up with dry tannins. (83.29) ** Now-2015.

28 – 2008 Glen Manor, Hodder Hill
This wine is a blend of 63% Cabernet Sauvignon, 15% Merlot, 15% Petit Verdot, and 7% Cabernet Franc. Alcohol 13.8%.  The color was a medium ruby garnet.  The light nose had a bit of roasted red fruit.  In the mouth there was very tart, acidic red fruit, with a tannic structure.  There was watering acidity and a little rough finish.  Upon revisiting this showed citric, red fruit. (84.67) ** Now-2016.

29 – 2009 Barboursville, Octagon
This wine is a blend of mostly Merlot with some Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Petit Verdot which was fermented in stainless steel then aged 12-14 months in new French oak Gamba barriques. Alcohol 13.5%.  The color was a light to medium purple ruby.  The light nose revealed tamales and red fruit.  In the mouth the wine was tighter with balanced black and red fruit, firm structure, and very fine tannins.  It is hard and needs time to unfold. (85.43)  *(*) 2015-2018.

30 – 2007 Linden, Hardscrabble
This wine is a blend of 58% Cabernet Sauvignon, 21% Merlot, 9% Cabernet Franc, 8% Petit Verdot, and 4% Carmenere sourced from vines planted between 1985 and 2006 at the Hardscrabble Vineyard at 1,300-1,400 feet. It was fermented with indigenous yeasts then aged for 18 months in used French and Hungarian oak barrels and puncheons. Alcohol 14.2%.  The color was a medium grapey ruby.  The light nose was interesting.  In the mouth the tangy fruit initially mixed with acidity then drier black and red fruit flavors developed.  It was a little gravelly with powdery, redder fruit towards the finish. (85.29) ** Now-2017.

31 – 2005 Melqart, Cabernet Sauvignon & Merlot, Malta
Imported by First Vine. This wine is a blend of 60% Cabernet Sauvignon and 40% Merlot which was aged for five months in barrels. Alcohol 12.5%.  The nose was light with seaside aromas.  In the mouth, oh cr*p, no! (75.23)  Poor.

32 – 2009 Boxwood, Topiary
This wine is a blend of Cabernet Franc, Merlot, and Malbec which was fermented in stainless steel then aged up to 12 months in French oak barrels. Alcohol 13.5%.  The color was a medium garnet.  The light to medium strength nose was lifted with old perfume aromas.  In the mouth there was a little CO2 with interesting, stinky fruit.  It was a bit racy with lipstick, drier flavors in the finish, and a long greenhouse aftertaste. (82.00) * Now-2015.

33 – 2009 Cliff Lede, Cabernet Sauvignon, Stags Leap District
This wine is a blend of 90% Cabernet Sauvignon, 6% Petit Verdot, 2% Malbec, 1% Merlot, and 1% Cabernet Franc which was aged for 17 months in 60% new French oak. Alcohol 14.9%.  The color was a medium+ garnet..  The light now was of good, pure red fruit.  In the mouth there was good mouthfeel, controlled ripeness, a little spice, and some firmness.  There was citric acidity. I would see what happens with age. (86.86) **(*) Now-2018.

The Spring Bud Festival at the Sugarloaf Mountain Vineyard

This past weekend we returned to Sugarloaf Mountain Vineyard for their Spring Bud Festival.  It is a relaxing affair where Lorelei gets to jump in the moon bounce with her friends and we get to relax, eat, and drink wine.  At the 2011 Grape Stomp Festival we tasted through all of their wines and particularly enjoyed the 2008 EVOE!.  This year we were able to taste both the 2009 and 2010 vintages.  The 2010 EVOE! was just bottled the first week of March.  The 2009 vintage shows quite a change over the 2008 vintage with the absence of any Cabernet Sauvignon.  Though the flavors were different there was a similar compact focus to it.  The 2010 had a different personality with its surprising ripeness and structure to match.  This time Cabernet Franc is the main varietal with an absence of Malbec.  The 2010 Comus was quite ripe as well.  The summer of 2010 was extremely hot causing the fruit to ripen quickly but the seeds slow to mature.  Many thanks to Susan Reed of Sugarloaf Mountain Vineyard for providing additional details about these wines.

2009 Sugarloaf Moutain Vineyard, EVOE! – $42
This wine is a blend of 70% Merlot, 14% Malbec, 8% Petit Verdot, and 8% Cabernet Franc, it underwent malolactic fermentation then was aged for 19 months in 25% new French oak barrels.  The color was light to medium ruby with a purple tinge in the middle.  There was a restrained nose of faintly textured red cranberry with a touch of barrel note.  In the mouth the lighter red and black fruit was tart as it was delivered in a focused beam.  With plenty of acidity there was a lightly creamy mouthfeel and some spices in the aftertaste.  Decant ahead of time or give it a year to open up.  13% ABV.

2010 Sugarloaf Mountain Vineyard, EVOE! – $42
This wine is a blend of 51% Cabernet Franc, 22% Petit Verdot, 16% Merlot and 11% Cabernet Sauvignon, it underwent malolactic fermentation then was aged for 24 months in 25% new French oak.  The nose bore brambly ripe fruit and wood notes.  In the mouth there was plenty of ripe fruit along with a similar amount of wood notes.  At the core of the wine were ripe black fruit flavors following by spicy, drying ripe tannins, and perhaps a touch of heat.  I would give this a year or two to settle down then drink over the following five years. 14.5% ABV.