Sunrise Sunset

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When I got the opportunity to meet Fred Wilson of Elk Run Winery, I knew I was in for a laid back and relaxed tasting experience.  I suspect when I explained to the volunteer that I wrote about wine that she thought I was more serious then I actually let on.  She introduced me to Fred and we had a nice rapport right away.  I didn’t have anything too over-the-top or high brow to ask. We’re at a wine festival.  And the weather is beautiful. Life isn’t that serious.  And that leads me to my final post from Great Grapes.

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At this point in the afternoon it was rapid-fire.  I wanted to sample as much as I could while still being objective and appreciating what I was sipping.  Without further adieu I got to try two of of Elk Run’s wines, despite all the bottled in that photo above, as the area was packed elbow-to-elbow.  And I’m not exaggerating here.  Room was at a premium.

In many ways, the two I got to try could not be more opposite and makes this all come full circle.

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First, was the Cabernet Franc.  I don’t see it listed under their reds on their site, so I’m glad I was able to get a snapshot at the tasting table itself.  This is lighter than similar wine with the same grape that I’m used to.  It doesn’t mean I didn’t like it and with the weather being what it was, and us being outdoors I h ad no problem getting a more medium bodied helping for this day.  It wasn’t one of my favorites.  And at almost $30, that may be a bit steep for me budget.

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However, the Annapolis Sunset is what this festival and what this season is all about.  First impressions can be misleading, but how can you not fall in love with that label?   I was certain that this wine was automatically based on this artwork and the feeling associated with the wine. I’ve repeatedly stated in my writing and with friends how much I love Annapolis.  This one really hits home.

Funny how I’ve sung the praises of this wine without even getting a taste.   This is as simple and approachable a wine as I’ve tasted.  It’s what I would be raving about when I started to segue from the sweeter wines and an evolving into the more dryer wines.  This is a mix of Cabernet Sauvignon and Pinot Grigio, according to the tasting sheet.  At $16 this seems like a reasonable buy.

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Yet if you look on the site it lists the aforementioned Cab and Viognier.  The funny thing is I hope it’s the latter, or do I?  I’ve had a hard time adjusting to Pinot Gris.  I prefer Viognier for the fuller bodied wines that come from the grape.  That’s not to knock the Pinot Grigio. It’s just never clicked with me.  So if it’s the former, then my palates have expanded some more.   And that makes this journey takes some twists and tuns I hadn’t planned for.  And that’s the point of this thing.

I wanted to thank Fred for taking a few minutes to chat with me.  I promised him I’d be as nice as possible, and I hope I’ve succeeded.

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As I’ve intimated in the past, Elk Run is another winery I’d love to visit in person, to get a more up-close-and-personal feel that you may not always get a festival.

If you’re interested in purchasing bottles you can go here, for where to buy locally you can click here.

Their list of events look exciting too!  I’m digging everything about this place and I’ve yet to even set foot at the winery itself.

For all of my recent and posts from the Great Grapes Festival, click here.

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More to come this Summer!  Enjoy all the sunrises and sunsets you can. We’re in the midst of some of the longest days of the year. I intend to make the most of ’em.

All The Best,

Ideen

Fresh Air

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If I’m correct, this is the first time I’ll be writing about a Carmenere since starting this blog.  What took me so long?  Well there’s so many amazing wines to talk about.  I will never get to them all.  And why would I want to?  That’s what makes this journey brilliant. There will never be enough time to try them all.  Fortunately there is time to try an assortment.

Carmenere was one of the original six grapes in France, along with Cabernet Sauvignon, Petit Verdot, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, and Malbec.    It faded into obscurity until the early 90’s and now found its proper home (as the national grape) in Chile.    If this story sound familiar, the same thing happened with Malbec.  And now that’s the most popular grape of Argentina.

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So this brings me to the 2011 Car Men Air distributed by Bronco Wine Company.    I purchased this for under $10 at my favorite Trade Joe’s in Alexandria, VA.

The play on words funny yet nothing about this wine is.  It’s a straight-forward and no-thrills bottle.  It’s got just the right amount of oak and spiciness that it doesn’t taste like a rock-bottom priced vino.  But not much more than that.   If I’m to assume correctly, black cherry, smoke, spices, and the aforementioned oak are all easily detectable.  Anything else is not as discernible.  But hey, that’s just my opinion.  It did have a darker tint than many wines we’re accustomed to.

I brought this bottle over to a friends house to relax, sip, and crack some jokes.  Not about the wine but in general.  The weather is warming up and spirits are doing the same.  It’s about time.   As long as this wine was somewhat acceptable, then it’s going to taste that much better with good company and a good energy.  If this or any wine were appalling then we’d be hard pressed to enjoy ourselves. Then again we might move on and find a suitable replacement.

I’m sounding like I’m down on this wine.  Not at all.  I think I’m just excited and all over the place with this sudden heat wave that’s hitting the east coast.   I’m salivating at the thought of all the outdoor activities and all the great wines that I’ll be having during some of those fun events.   I hope you’re getting amped up too.

After perusing their list, I’ve noticed many I’ve had in the past.  This will be revisited at a later date.

If you’re interested in finding this or other wines, click here.

Lastly, here is my most recent post on a great wine from Trader Joe’s.  And here’s one that wasn’t as golden.

Winter time is winding down but some of these impeccable wines I’ll try will not. We’re just getting started.

Best,

Ideen

 

The Place To Be

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I’m taking it back to the Maryland Wine Festival one more time.   It’s another local special with lots of flavor.

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For my peers who have been to Linganore , we’re well aware they know how to throw good festivals, parties, and other various events.

The last of the major festivals takes place this weekend, which will be the Autumn Reggae Wine, Music, and Arts Festival.    I will be unable to attend, however if you’re in the area I do recommend joining the fun.

I was at the Crush Wine Festival at this same venue a few years back and enjoyed my time. It was my one and only visit and loved the view, the company, and the festivities. However, the wine was not up there with my favorites.  The vast majority of what was being poured was sweet and I didn’t find it enjoyable.  I felt like I was drinking way too much sugar-water and got headaches quickly.

Otherwise the employees and volunteers at the event were friendly and approachable. The gentleman giving the tour of the winery was inspiring.  He said enjoy the journey, in reference to the abundance of grapes and choices.

So the wines you see below I was happy to skip.

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We move ahead to last months wine fest and Linganore was among the many I got to try once again.  You may be asking why would I try the sweet ones if I didn’t like them before?  Well I avoided them but saw a few others that caught my eye and was looking forward to trying.

This past June I attended the Baltimore Wine Festival where they also sent staff and volunteers, and this is where I first noticed the winery made dry reds.  Where have I been?

Was I sucked into the tunnel vision of assuming all Maryland Wine is sweet?  Not good but now I know better.  The Baltimore version was too crowded that I didn’t actually get a chance to try their wines.  It was my first realization that this winery is stepping up their game, or maybe they always have and I was ignorant of that fact.

The two dry reds I got to try were so wonderful. They were so similar yet had subtle differences.

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The 2012 Bacioni is a mix of all my favorites. We have Cabernet  Franc which is automatic in terms of being awesome, Cabernet Sauvignon, Barbera, and Chambourcin.  The latter especially is always a welcome staple to my palate.  When you throw in pepper and oak you have a massive winner.  And at only $15.00 a bottle, this is worth its weight and then some. This was an absolute joy to sip.

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And we have the Retriever Red with its wondrous label and just as wondrous flavors. It’s just Chambourcin and Cab Sauv which doesn’t mean it’s any less of a wine.  It’s a little sweeter but not fruit forward if that makes sense.  It’s not as pronounced as the Bacioni but definitely a welcome addition to any collection.

I’d say the former could be better suited for special occasions and the Retriever can be opened at any time.  And take my word for it, I’m giving high praise to both.

At the wine festival I had repeated samples of both without any shame.

I don’t recall the price of the Retriever Red and don’t see it listed in online sales.  However most of their other wines are available and hopefully your state is on there!

Here’s a list of their remaining appearances outside of the winery

And if you’re headed to the Reggae Festival, enjoy yourselves!

For the last two recaps from the wine festival, you can go here and here, respectively.

I have at least half-dozen local wineries I could write about and I hope to get to them all.  I’d also like a corresponding visit or return to go hand-in-hand in addition to a recap of their appearance at the Maryland Festival.  So I may consider doing a few bonus posts outside of my weekly Wednesday post.

We shall see what next week or the next post brings.

Salud.

Ideen

Dogs Are The Best

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There’s no other way to put it.  Dogs are one of the greatest entities this universe has ever created. The fact that they’re on this planet and they want to love us for the sake of just wanting to love us is a remarkable gift.

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And when you can combine the love of dogs, create beautiful labels, and place them on wine bottles, well that’s just icing on the top.  Little Ashby of Easton, MD has merged both into one of the most memorable tasting experiences I’ve ever had.

The setting is back at The Maryland Wine Festival and this was one of the wineries I was looking forward to visit the most. I’ve never had the privilege of sampling their bottles until now.  I’ve been to a multitude of festivals and events, and either never got a chance or they were not in attendance. This was well worth the wait.

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Because the visuals of happy dogs are all ubiquitous, I was hoping these wines would taste better than usual. At worst, I was hoping they would at least taste good. They succeeded and then some.

For me, at least, when I’m in a happy place, beverages tend to go down smoother and food tastes that much better.  This was arguably the happiest I was at the festival. So how were the wines?

In short but sweet fashion, I got to taste 4. And with all the commotion of the festival, it’s plausible that was the perfect amount for any of the visiting wineries.

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I’ll go in order of the descriptions.

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The 2013 Chardonnay was so easy to drink. It was very light and deceptively going down to quickly.  I had to be careful as this event was a marathon, not a sprint. It was a beautiful day so drinking this was even that much smoother. And at $15, that’s a more than reasonable price for this bottle.  I wouldn’t actively seek it out, but then again look at that label!

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The 2011 Ashby Red was something special.  I have sung the praises of Cab Franc.  And I’ll continue to do so until the end of the time.  You merge that with Merlot and you have something very special.  The synopsis describes this was earthy.   That actually does apply here.  For me, earthy has usually tasted like pine trees or green grass.  I did get some of that here.

Maybe I let my imagination run wild.  It’s a flavor many don’t care for but I love it.  A fantastic finish to a fantastic wine.

I would pay $22 for this. Licorice?  Didn’t catch that. Oh and how about that adorable looking pup on the front? Yay!

Merlot is becoming more and more apart of my regular wine tastings and at home.  A year or so ago I would avoid this grape like the plague.  Now I appreciate it and it’s grown on me.  This one definitely had the scents and flavors of berries and chocolate.

This will be perfect for the fall and as we approach those holidays that are too soon to talk about.  $20 seems justified for this selection.

This 2011 bottle and the Ashby Red are definitely special occasion wines.  And the label had a labrador retriever on it.  How can you go wrong with that? They’re my favorite breed of dog!

I went crazy and spent an extra $1 for the Super Talbot.   This is a homegrown Maryland special.  This one had some power to it, for a medium-bodied wine.

I tend to overreact when I find a wine I love. I make this cheesy look  and I tend to sway. I may fall forward too. But I also get this grin on my face, feeling my day has been made. I could say that about this wine, along with the Merlot and Ashby Red.

Maybe it’s the sentimentality of seeing mans best bud on the front.  How can you go wrong?

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They’re the first licensed winery on the Eastern Shore of Maryland and production began in the year 2000. So they’re relatively new but doing everything right.

The staff was so nice and so attentive.  The only thing left is to make a visit, which is by appointment only.

I was in Easton around December of last year and completely snoozed on visiting them.  This is just extra motivation.

They don’t have a website or any way to be contacted via social media, which is actually adding to the intrigue and mystique.  I like it.

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More from the MD Wine Festival is coming, but this visit along with last weeks post are going to be hard to top.

For more awesome dogs click here.  And for more on Eastern Shore wines, you can check this link out.

More to come!

Best,

Ideen

Frog Splash

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The Maryland Wine Festival took place this past weekend and there was no way I was missing this.   I have months worth of material to write about and I will attempt to space it out accordingly.   It’s also possible I’ll just give you a half-dozen posts in a row of the best and worst that Maryland Wineries have to offer!  This post will be about the former.

The site was the visually stunning Carroll County Farm Museum.  And for many this is the one time a year they visit Westminster.

In addition, this is the one time a year I get to meet up with certain friends, either because our schedules are conflicting, friends are busy raising a new family, or the near distance of an hour is too much for some.  I love the drive and find myself in the area at least several times a year.

I got to the festival at opening time so I can could beat some of the crowd and get all the tasting and note-taking in that I could.Fortunately, it was never a struggle to do a tasting any time of the day and the weather was dazzling and awe-inspiring.

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I got in, grabbed my tasting glass, and if I’m going to attempt to go by chronological order, got to my first winery, Great Frogs of Annapolis, MD.

I’ll give a brief back story on this place.  A little over a year ago, I dropped someone off in a remote and beautiful part of our state capital.   I didn’t know these homes and this area existed but, the houses looked like they were in the millions and right next door to where I sat, was Great Frogs Winery with perfectly cut grass and bushes.  I had never heard or seen of them until this day.  It looked so intimidating.  I almost felt like I didn’t belong in the area and that someone would ask me to leave momentarily.

The signs read that the visits were by appointment only.  I was intimidated but that was all my creation.   If i had only known now what I had known the, there would be pictures and I could show you what a thing of beauty this was, from the outside looking in.

I had been hoping that one day I would get to try their wines, as the enigma I created intrigued me.

And the universe looked out for me.

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The staff and volunteers pouring the wine were all so friendly and were happy to ask any questions I may have had. They also loved that I was taking so many photos.  I think I explained to a few wineries that I write about this beautiful subject.

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The wines itself and the labels are very charming.   They range in price from $15 to $40 so some of these can get a bit pricey and not within many people’s budget. That’s the fun of these festivals and tastings. We can at least get to try some new wines and even if we’re not in a position to buy today.  We now have a lasting memory and can always purchase at a later time.

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My favorites were the 2012 Watermen and the 2012 Meritage.  Yes, off the top I went with the dry reds and they were the perfect start to a warm and beautiful Summer event.  The descriptions are listed in the links above but to me they both represent the greatness of Maryland wines.

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The former contains Cabernet Franc, along with Merlot, Syrah, and Cabernet Sauvignon, but the Cab Franc is really what makes this awesome.  Call it local sentimentality or just what I like.  But this was fantastic, albeit a little pricey for me now.  I would love to grab this and hold onto it for a very special event or party down the line.   Lots of oak and different fruits were detected to make this my kind of wine.  There was a summer into fall feel to this one.

The Meritage is Half-Merlot and Half-Cab Sauv and just as awesome.  I could taste a mix of chocolate, vanilla, and some more oak. Once again, not at my price point, just yet, but still wonderful nevertheless.

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The Lollipop Red was a huge favorite to many, but that wasn’t for me on this day.  I thought it was ok, but I wasn’t in the mood for anything too sweet.

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I also got to try 2013 Chardonnay and White Squall. These were both a joy and so easy to drink.  I could enjoy either with a meal or with nothing.    One marvelous detail to both of these is that they were both 100% grown on the estate.  So you’re getting the full local experience at the palm of your hands.

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I didn’t get the opportunity to try the $1.00 premium samples.  All the more reason to make a visit!

I’m pretty sure I tried others but there were so many throughout the day to get into all. I’ll try to be as concise and approachable as I could with these experiences, and will continue to do so in the weeks ahead.

And speaking of approachable, this is exactly what this winery was on this day.   I am so compelled to make a visit.  And any reason to get back to Annapolis is a great one!

They have a dog here too! Yes!  For more on the winemakers you can click here.  And here’s their FAQ.  Their online store can be found here.  And for our pals local to the area, here are stores that carry it and restaurants that serve it.

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Finally, a little more on the vineyard itself.

I cannot wait to make a visit!

Thanks so much.

Best,

Ideen

Beautiful Doves

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I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, I love the positive vibe of a winery.   There’s something usually so welcoming and approachable about the whole experience.  From the usual remote location, to its endearing road signs to steer you in the right direction, makes the journey as wonderful as the destination.

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This brings me to one of the most pleasurable tasting experiences I’ve had in quite some time.   If you haven’t been to Dove Valley in Rising Sun, MD, I strongly recommend to make the journey.  Even if you’re a few hours away, it’s highly work making the trip for.

And that leads to me.  I only live about 30 minutes south and it’s taken me nearly seven years to finally make a visit.  I’ve been living in the area for about that long.   Why it’s taken me so long has no explanation.  I’ve taken drives up to the Philadelphia, New Jersey, and New York areas going up 95 North and always saw the signs for Dove.  I always said to myself I need to go. Well it finally happened and maybe it was meant to happen on this day.

Additionally,  I’ve rarely seen their wines at various nearby festivals, if at all, the more I think about it.  Maybe the universe was telling me something.  That I need to come to them.   I’m grateful I did.

As I parked my car, the area seemed eerily quiet.  In many instances I would take this as a sign to drive off and delay this visit once again.  But the little voice inside me said no, get out of the car, and see what’s going on.

A nice lady came out and greeted me.  She directed me to the tasting room where someone would be joining me momentarily.

Fortunately, there were a couple of dogs running around, so I felt at peace and was in no rush to get this tasting going.

Janel, who is such a wonderful person, came in a few minutes later and made me feel at home.    One thing I’ve noticed about wines, when the person pouring it for you is approachable, caring, and sincere, the wine is almost always going to taste better.  It’s just one of those amazing parts of life.   My head and my heart is in a happy place and everything around me is the same.  It’s so powerful.

Now there were wines I liked more than others, but some I was pleasantly surprised by.   I did not find a single wine to be bad, that could also be the environment I was in, that I alluded to before.  But this was so fun.  And wine drinking is supposed to be one of those most fun and inspiring experiences.

I won’t write about them all but the Cabernet Franc, which is usually a favorite wherever I go, was very good, but my favorite was the Pinot Noir.  It didn’t taste as light as usual Pinot’s but this one hit me and made me feel so warm and fuzzy inside.  I have no other explanation for it.  It really struck a chord with me.

The Merlot and Red Zin were also very good, that can complement just about any meal at any time of year.   The Rose and Dove Valley Red, which is their own special blend which full-bodied and full of fruitiness, also were stand-outs.  The latter is not something I would usually drink, but as the weather is still magnificent, I would drink this now or through most of the year.   I found it tasty and actually dangerously easy to drink.  🙂

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But the two I purchased were the aforementioned Pinot and my other favorite of the day, the Vignoles.   To me, these two wines are the red and white equivalent of the other.  That was the glorious feeling I got when I was sipping them and decided to purchase both.  The latter also had a full body and fruity taste, similar to the Dove Valley Red, but this one just hit me more.  Don’t get me wrong, I would’ve walked out with about a half-dozen bottles if I wasn’t careful.

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Janel also provided a masterful cheese and crackers plate for me to sample along with the wines and to cleanse the palate when necessary.  The tasting glass is so pleasing to the eye, that it will be a welcome addition to my collection.

The most important thing I want to mention is she was so accommodating and helpful in regards to any questions I might have had.  This was not a rushed experience.  She took her time and made sure my visit was a great one.  It was more than that.  It was a memorable one.  So memorable, that this is one of the longest write-ups I’ve ever done!

I also wanted to mention that she didn’t charge me for the tasting or the Vignoles.  She had no reason to do so.  I was so flattered and insisted that she didn’t have to.  It was above-and-beyond any winery visit I’ve had before.  This is their family business, I felt bad not paying, but she insisted.     This is class personified.  I wish I could use every superlative in the word for this one, but that would go on endlessly.

I splurged on the Pinot Noir.  The bottle was $25 and that is extremely rare for me to do.  I usually like my wines under $20, usually under $10-$15 if at all possible.  This is the whole point of Wine Is Fun.  We’re here to celebrate that great wine is fun to drink, to talk about, and be very affordable.  In this instance, I still feel that $25 for this bottle was a bargain.  And to have the tasting and Vignoles as part of the package, I felt like I was stealing.

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This only means I will be back soon and many times over.  Speaking of which, they have many fun events coming up, including live bands, and events such as Paint & Wet Your Palette, which is akin to many of the wine and paint nights that have become commonplace.  I have yet to do one myself.  I hope I get the opportunity.

They also have a Murder Mystery next month, which I always thought was the coolest thing when reading about them or seeing it depicted on television.   To have it be so close is an event I don’t think I can miss.

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And their big event coming up in October is Winestock, in which they will team up with several other wineries in the area for a day of wining, eating, and live music.  If the wording is correct this is a hippie fest that is right up my alley, that I hope not to miss. All the events can be found here.   And since you want to come here, here are the directions!

Here is a list of there you can find their wines in Maryland.

I could go on till eternity, but I’ll save some for a future post.  Enjoy the photos.  I think you will see the encapsulate how the brilliance of this place.

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I was only here for under an hour but the visit will resonate me for a lifetime.  This is how wine is done.  There’s not enough gratitude to express how extravagant and spectacular this experience was.

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Dove Valley thank you so much!

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Best,

Ideen

Back To Boordy

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This past Friday, Boordy once again held their quarterly Landmark Club party.  I am proud to say that I’m a member.

The wines you see above are a beautiful sight aren’t they?  I am a three-bottle member.  Per the synopsis you can have up to 6 to 12 (2 of each or 3 of each respectively), if you really want to add to your collection.

I did a recap of several of these wines earlier this year, and you can read about that here.

Events like this are more about a thank you and a time to enjoy the season.  With this being Summer, the event moved outdoors, which was what I was expecting and grateful about.

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Many of the pictures will reflect that.  And the weather couldn’t be any more perfect.

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When it’s been chillier, the party has been indoors in their second floor lounge area.

So how were the three bottles this time around?   Well for one, I have written about their Landmark Reserve previously and loved it.  I’m still holding onto that for something special.

I found the 2014 Pinot Grigio to be very easy to drink. They’re traditionally light to medium-bodied and this one fits the mold. I have really been into whites while the weather has been cooperative.  I may open this within the next month.  I found it refreshing and it’s fitting for a great for an evening involving a healthy meal of proteins and veggies.

Then we get to the 2012 Cabernet Sauvignon.   I am thankful this was in the package.  This wasn’t even available to be tasted by the time I arrived.  I was informed they have so few cases left, that they are going to be holding off on it for now. Luckily, a friend of mine had a bottle for me to try some.  This was also in the package back in February.  So I have two bottles sitting and aging gracefully.  It may be a while before I open either one.   And you can see on their list of Landmark Wines, it’s nowhere to be found.

And speaking of nowhere to be found, their 2012 Cabernet Franc, (which I have raved about many versions of in the past) will soon be joining that list.  As of Friday night, there were only 28 bottles left per a conversation with the staff.  I knocked that down to 27.    This was also part of the package in the Winter.   I will be holding onto the two I have for a while.

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I know wine is meant to be enjoyed, for the moment as well, but sometimes the sentimentality and realizing certain wines are scarce or now near non-existent, and you have a bottle of it or two in your possession, is an exciting feeling.  There’s something to be said for that.

And speaking of that, the Chardonnay Reserve for 2013 is now sold out.  I will be holding onto that from January as well.  But the 2014 version in the first picture, had such an amazing finish, that the aftertaste really resonated with me.  It’s a wine I will look to purchase in the future, as long as it doesn’t go fast.  I suspect it will.   It had so much more power than the Chardonnay to its left.

The 2014 Dry Rose was part of the package in the Spring, and I noticed it wasn’t for sale at this past event.  Rose’s have also grown on me while the weather has been warm, even though they were never my favorite.   The same goes for the 2012 Merlot Reserve.

As far as wine goes, I’ve never loved Merlot, but the blogging and experimenting has led me to appreciate them more.   They were a part of the Winter and Spring package.  When the time is right I will open those up two.  In a sea of wonderful wines, by default they’re still near the bottom on my favorites list.

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And looking to the future… Here is a teaser of some young wines, straight from the barrel.  These will include the 2014 Landmark Reserve and 2014 Cab Francs, which I am so excited for.

I am happy to support local and support Mayland Wine.

For more on joining their Landmark Reserve Club, click here.

I will depart with some fun photos from the event.

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For more on this pizza, click here!

Have a good one!

Best,

Ideen

Happy Maryland Wine Week

My love for the wines of Maryland continues to grow exponentially.   It wasn’t always like that.  I used to think that all this great state was known for was super sweet and fruity wines.  How wrong I was and now many local bottles have become some of my favorites.

And with that I wanted to have a celebratory wine to celebrate Maryland Wine Week.

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My friends suggested we do crab cakes for dinner for a variety of seasons.  We were celebrating birthdays, anniversaries, and other milestones. And what a better way to honor this great week with a savory meal that does it justice.

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I was all set to grab a bottle at my local wine shoppe, but fortunately, circumstances led me to a wine that was right under my nose.   Happenstance, fate and serendipity were on my side again.   Or was it something else?

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The wine chilling in the fridge is from one of my favorite Maryland wineries.  I was pleased to uncover the 2013 Vintage Vidal Blanc from Harford Winery.

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And I had researched wines that go well with crab cakes, and the fact that a Vidal Blanc is a strong suggestion and match, makes this all come together perfectly.

The cakes came from right up the street from me, via Box Hill Crabcakes or Box Hill Pizzeria depending on how you look at it.  I am thrilled to keep the Harford County theme going.  And these are to die for. I’ve had crab cakes from many restaurants and this might be my favorite.

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I can’t put into words why or how.  They just taste so great and look so full, like a real crab cake should. You get what you pay for and this is worth all of the $15 and then some.  The photography does not do that justice.  But isn’t this one of the prettiest things you’ll see all year-long?

So how was the wine?

I loved it.  I didn’t think I would.  And it’s not on the level of my current and at the time wine from them. You can read more about their Cabernet Franc here.  It was my second ever post on this blog.

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When I first sipped it, I detected something sour.  I thought maybe some golden apples or lemons.  But when I researched, it mentions hints of grapefruit which makes total sense.

Actually I didn’t need to research after I turned the bottle around and saw what the wine contained.  Whoops!   When they mention orange zest I could sense the taste but only after I read about it. Otherwise I would think there were apples or hints of flowers, which is mentioned.

Again, it’s all about your palate and what you’re feeling at the time.  The core flavors can be detected with constant sampling but everything else is open to interpretation.    There will more about this incredible winery from me in near future.

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This wine is the perfect dichotomy to eating something hearty as a crab cake.

And this is one of the best experiences I had having one and the wine had so much to do with that.  There really seemed to be an explosion of flavors I might not have gotten before.  I would usually just enjoy my meal with a glass of water or a soft drink.  This is the way to enjoy it.

I think the wine can be drank on its own since its fairly light.  But I am so happy to have paired these two.  It’s a match made in heaven.    And I like to think I added my tribute to this wonderful week.

More information about Maryland Wine Week and how we can be involved can be found here.  And information on many of the events revolving around this special occasion can be found here.

And on where to find their wines, you can follow this link.

Enjoy this wonderful week!

Best,

Ideen

Bet On Black

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When you ask someone about their favorite winery in Maryland, a popular response will be Black Ankle Vineyards.   And I’d definitely place it near the top for me as well.  But there are many great places to visit and find a gem.

My friends and I were looking for a nice wine to pair with our St. Patrick’s Day feast, and I instinctively thought of the 2008 Leaf Stone Syrah.

I was able to purchase a few bottles a couple of years ago, at a sale price of around $30.00 each, at Friendship Wine & Liquor in Abingdon, MD.  And this was worth every penny then.  So how does it taste a year or so later?

Well my response at dinner was that I am glad we’re having this now, and not a moment later.  It’s still great, but it probably just went past it’s peak.  Something just felt a little different.  It had lost a little potency.  The updated tasting notes match my findings.  I am proud of myself to pick up on this detail.

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Nevertheless, if you can find this year I suggest doing so.  And then to drink it almost immediately.   It’s got the oak and full body that I always love.  And the Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon is usually always a delight to complement the other grapes.   As you can see above, on the back of the label, they have some fun facts that are easy to understand and are accessible.

So what else is great about this winery? Well I did visit once, and on the surface it looked unapproachable but when I walked in, the place was majestic.  The outdoor setting, outside seating, and tasting room area are out of a fairy tale.  It’s so beautiful that I can’t put it into words.  It was cozy enough to make you feel you’re on vacation.  In many ways, you are.

When I did the tasting room a couple of years ago, it was so packed that mine was done outside.  No complaints here. The wines I sampled were dynamite and fit the season we were in.  It’s been a while so I didn’t retain much from memory.  But I do intend to return this Spring or Summer, when the room will have since been reopened.

The wines do range on the higher end of prices.  Many are over $30, and as you can see on the site, that many are sold out and for good reason.  So I was grateful to get mine at the price that I did.

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In the meantime, we enjoyed our wine with a beautiful corn beef brisket, potatoes, rolls, and a side salad.  What a perfect way to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day.

Enjoy the week.

Best,

Ideen

Smokin’

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I got to try a new Cotes Du Rhone, per a recommendation from a friend.  And I am so happy I did.   It’s a full bodied red at it’s finest.  I thought it was a bottle that I had before.  But I doubt it.  This flavor would have resonated with me.  Is it the peppery taste that makes me love Cabernet Franc so much or are there some exciting things going on here?

Now I have always like a good Rhone, Grenache has always been a favorite for me.

The La Grande Ribe Cuvee Centenairee Cotes Du Rhone 2009 is one for the books.   As soon as I took a whiff upon opening, I knew I was in for something different and something special.   Boy was that an understatement.

There was a smokiness, along with something else very distinct about the aroma.  So I took a pour and this blew my taste buds away.  I thought I was tasting a piney, earthy, or maybe out of this world selection.   Well I looked up what I could and discovered that barbecue smoke and roasted herbs are added to make this a dynamite bottle.  Literally.

Mystery is abound, however, as I cannot find anything about the winery itself.  But to my pleasure and lack of surprise, you can look this wine up and get a dozen or so different synopsis and evaluation of what is included.   It’s all about interpretation and the power of persuasion.  But I definitely can taste the smoke and the herbs.   Or is it something else too good for words?

Now this recap tells me there’s the black pepper I alluded to, coffee, cinamon, figs, and licorice flavors.  Now which one is it?   There’s also red fruit and black fruit?   So much to keep up with.   This could take years or maybe sooner, but one day, I will figure this puzzle out.   Maybe they’re all right?  Or maybe it’s not meant to be solved?   Just maybe, the flavor can be whatever you interpret it as.    Ah this adds to the mystery…

Bottom line, this is an awesome get.  And this is how I enjoyed it.

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Pretty inspiring I know.

All the best,

Ideen