Preakness Special

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All of a sudden we arrive at Preakness Week.   It’s been two years since a Triple Crown winner was crowned and I still think about those amazing races.  I’ll watch clips of them, not just during this time of year, but at opportune times where I feel I need some inspiration and something to lift me up and make my day a little better.

I’ve sporadically written about wines related to horse racing season but not specifically for a wine created for this upcoming weekend’s race at Pimlico.

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The Racetrack Red from Fiore Winery & Distillery is just the right wine to celebrate the occasion, and before and after isn’t so bad either.

For my taste, it’s not the kind of wine I tend to go after regularly, but the semi sweetness works for the usually warm weather, the celebration, and I think many a wine drinker and even non-wine drinker will be able to appreciate what it has to offer.

The touch of Muscato doesn’t necessarily wow me but I think folks are going to love it. I’m also not a fan of Muscato to begin with, so that’s a personal thing.

And it’s easy to drink.  Chambourcin is a grape synonymous with Maryland.  It can be used to make medium to fuller reds to the sweeter variety that we have today. Regardless, the cherry flavor is hard to ignore as well as the high level of tannins, acidity, and thick skin.  It’s a wine that’s not to be sipped quickly.  Certain ones actually may take thicker skin to finish.  That’s not a joke or a pun.

At only $12.99 this is a wine that is also inviting on the price.   But how about that label and the notes?  If this isn’t a Maryland, and more specifically, Baltimore type of wine, then I give up.  This is one where you buy, not only for the label as a keepsake and souvenir, but to celebrate what a beautiful week this is for the the city and the state.

If you’re having a Preakness Party or pre-party what better way to celebrate than with this approachable and accommodating varietal.  And it goes with simple foods like you may be eating at a party such as pizza.  And pizza is fun.

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No black-eyed Susans but I hope these flowers will do.

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Moving along I want to mention that Fiore has some of my favorite local wines period. I’ve been to their winery and I’m grateful that’s in a short drive from me.  Also by realizing I just said that, I don’t go there enough.  I’ve been to tastings and events at the venue and find it cozy like any good winery should.  The vibe and the energy feels like home.  Well it’s near home, but you know what I’m saying.

This is the first time I’ve written about Fiore and it won’t even be close to the last.  As I alluded to earlier, their Chambourcin and Cabernet Sauvignon are two favorites of mine that I like to use for special times of celebration with friends, family, and other awesome people in my life.  And at around $20, the price is well worth splurging here and there when it feels right.

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To purchase the Racetrack Red or any of their wines click here.  The link to find a store carrying it near you is there as well.

Yet I have something even more exciting to talk about.  If that wasn’t enough, I have posted this link that I found per a conversation I had yesterday.   This is the wine and this is the grape that also is synonymous with the northeast, the southeast, Maryland, and home.   It may not be next week but I look forward to talking about this special wine soon.  I’ve yet to try it myself but if the verdict is unanimous than there’s got to be something special about it right?   I believe we’re all in for a treat.

Enjoy Preakness, Enoy this wine, and enjoy each other.

This is really an awesome week to be in Maryland and in Baltimore, so enjoy…

Ideen

Lucky Number…

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This isn’t about gambling per se.   Well maybe when it comes to time.  It’s the excitement of arriving at a place minutes before it closes.  It’s about getting down to the wire and and making it all work out at the eleventh hour.

With this I conclude my mini Susquehanna Heartland Wine Trail with part 3, Seven Mountain Wine Cellars.

After my previous two (1, 2) stops, I realized that if I picked up the pace, I’d make closing time by about 30 minutes.   I don’t regret my decision but like the preceding winery, I wish I had more time to appreciate this experience.

I didn’t want to be that guy.  And I hope I wasn’t but when I finally arrived I noticed the staff was starting to clean up and go home for the day.  I’ve never wanted to show up at a restaurant right before the kitchen closes or a bar right after last call, but I felt it.

Whether or not my fears were unwarranted is another story but I made it clear I was going to buy a bottle after this rapid-fire tasting.  That’s exactly what I did.  You see there’s a principle with this.  To show gratitude for sampling wines for free, it only makes sense to purchase at least one bottle for the road.

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Sadly, the conversations about what each wine poured and what the grapes offered respectively was accelerated.   With that I was unable to fully appreciate what I was tasting.  So it’s not fair to judge these wines on this visit alone.   It’s not as if I was chugging then going on to the next.  But I can sometimes be my worst enemy when it comes to time management.  There is no rush in life but my rationale is that I’m rarely here and I’m trying to makes as many discoveries as I can in the self-imposed timeline I’ve given myself.   There it is.

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I won’t go over every wine but I did pick an old favorite to take home.   As you can see my one-track mind led me to taste only reds.  And the Rattlehead Red is their Chambourcin that tasted solid at that moment, but I think it will age phenomenally with time.  If not, it will work just wine with a simple dish like pizza and pasta, as they suggest.

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Funny how numerology works here.  The number seven and all. It could be reading too much into signs or maybe there’s more.

The real luck came from the staff who was kind enough to allow me to take pictures for my review.  I’m grateful all three wineries allowed me the freedom to do so.

Before I departed I met co-owner Mary Ann (her husband is the winemaker) who could not be more friendly.  She without saying so basically said my fears I referenced to earlier were unwarranted.  She is proud of her winery and they’re grateful for their customers locally and farther away like myself.

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The vibe was such that going with friends would have heightened this experience.  But maybe my indoctrination process meant going at it alone.  I promised Mary Ann I’d be back and hopefully would have some friends with me.  They have some fun events coming up which I would love to partake in.

If you’re interested in purchasing their wines, go here.

And here’s a friendly wine primer.

I’ll leave you with a collage of some photos I took.  Enjoy and enjoy!  That’s sometime  I will be reminding myself to do as well.

Enjoy,

Ideen

 

Feeling Happy at Hunters Valley

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I’m so grateful to live in Maryland.   I have access to drive to so many wineries and attractions in many neighboring states.  This leads to adventures, excitement, and something fresh.  That’s what life is all about.  This is a never-ending journey, and why would I want it any other way.

A road trip to Central Pennsylvania can me a lot of things.  I’m all about the unexpected, unplanned, and unseen.  But what I discovered is more joy than I could ever imagined.

I had only heard of the Susquehanna Heartland Wine Trail in passing.   And didn’t realize until I made a visit to The Winery at Hunters Valley, that I’m about to embark on something special.

I made the 15 minute detour off the interstate to visit this charming vineyard.    Thank goodness I did.  I almost just kept on going to get closer to my destination.  What that destination is doesn’t matter, because I’m not even sure what that is.

You’re going to see a lot of pictures and I’ll let that do most of the talking.  I want to thank Megan, who was conducting the tasting, for allowing me to take all the pictures I wanted. She was very accommodating and went above-and-beyond in making my visit as efficient, yet peaceful as possible.  The only caveat is that I give the winery and their wines a positive review.  That’s not going to be a problem.

It helps when you’re the only one there at the time.  So chances are the conversation is going to be a lot more laid back and informal as opposed to a larger group.  It also lends itself to being more of yourself versus having to play chameleon.  That can be enjoyable too, but I hope you know what I mean.

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What’s refreshing is the wine tasting was free.   I feel like I’m already in the money at this point.  I had up to five to choose from but Megan let me try six.  I hope I don’t get her in trouble.    The five err.. six I tasted are checked off by yours truly.     Notice how reasonably priced they are.

An analysis of every wine tried is not necessary.  I’ll try to keep it brief.  But I’ll tell you, I liked some more over others.  That may not be the expertise you’re looking for but it’s a simple way of saying a couple really won my heart.

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The Merlot was the bonus I tried and it was probably my second favorite.  This grape has really grown on me as my palate has changed.   I’ve made mention of this over the life of this blog.

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The Niagara is just like it says.   I really felt like I was eating a grape and savoring the juices.  Oh this one really got to me.  I almost bought this.  I’m still contemplating my decision as to why I didn’t.

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I went with the Heart of the Valley.   I gave away my purchase at the beginning of this post is you look above.   One of the main reasons is I think I’ve never written about a Chianti and that’s quite a shame.   Chambourcin is one of those grapes that’s on my short list of my favorite grapes but this didn’t taste like the grape I’ve grown accustomed too.  That’s just fine by me. They’re all not meant to taste the same.

The main reason I bought it (other than I feel a courtesy to buy a wine at a tasting) is I think this bottle is going to get amazing with time.  It’s one of the easiest wines I’ve sipped and I  feel that the wine will age well.  That’s not just a cliche you hear about.   It’s so easy to sip now that it can only grow to be more awesome.

But speaking of awesome, the views outside are so inspiring.   My cell phone photography is not going to do enough justice.  But this is as majestic as it gets.    I wish I could have stayed longer and appreciated the serenity around me.  I hope I get the opportunity to come back.

This is going to be split up into three parts.  I was fortunate enough to stop at three wineries on this trail.  I had no idea they’d all be connected.  But I guess it was meant to be.

I can’t say this enough.  I love wineries.  The whole concept of a vineyard is one of those gifts from the universe, or whatever you may believe in.   Whenever I get an opportunity, I’ll literally go the extra miles to make a visit.  This one was special.   I just hope the next visit is on par with this one.  Only time and the stories will tell.

For more on Hunters Valley, here is their contact information. And to order many of their awesome wines, go here.

Thanks so much!  I had a great time writing about this one!   More to come next week!

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

Maryland Has Some Great Ones

This is part two of my recap of the events at the Great Grapes Wine & Food Festival. For all the fun of part one you can click on this link.

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Whenever I come to a Maryland Wine event, Bordelau, is one of the first wineries I immediately look for.   They have always been the most approachable, prolific, and endearing wineries at these events.

I was first introduced to them three years ago, at this exact event.  When I was inquiring about something very smokey, very be full, and very dry.  And I was introduced to their Chambourcin.  This was the Lot 5 from 2006, which is exactly what I was looking for.  Even on a hot day, it went down easy.  Because of the climate, it felt fuller than it probably was.  But that doesn’t diminish how amazing this bottle was.

From that point forward, I’ve been hooked. I’m disappointed that I had not heard of them or this grape before.  But this is the lifelong journey of a wine lover.

I’ve had different variations.  And that’s what so great about it.  It can be used to make all kinds of great tasting gems. Many have been dry, but also the sweet and rose variations of it.   It’s a relatively new grape at barely over 50 years.  What I love the most about it, is that it’s prolific in the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast parts of the United States.   And I’ve had some great ones from Maryland, Pennsylvania, and Virginia.

My favorite and in my opinion, the standard-bearer still this one.     So how did this years tasting turn out?

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The Cabernet Sauvignon Lot 6 tasted like any good Cab should.  It was medium to full and it was the bottle I almost bought. But since I had the 2007 still at home, I was looking to purchase something else this time.

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The Malbec was perfect for this event.  It tasted lighter than what I was expecting. But for this weather, it was perfect.  The finish was so clean and if not too tannic. For an outdoor event, it wasn’t necessary. I got a whole bottle to share with friends but now wish I took one home for a future celebratory occasion.

The Petit Verdot was not as memorable.  It was good but it didn’t linger with me.  Now its a wine that seems that could get better with time.  But that could be said for all of their selections.

Getting better with time is exactly right for the final two that we sampled.

The much-anticipated Chambourcin Lot 6 and Meritage, tasted very clean and went down as easy as anything I’ve had.  But that means they both need time to marinate, flourish, and become the amazing tasting wines they’ve been known for.

I’m a massive fan of the Meritage blends as well.  A future post on that grape is forthcoming.  The Merlot was sold out at the time.  And I really wanted to try that too.  My love for them has grown exponentially.

We never got a chance to taste the whites. This just means that a visit is long overdue. And I’ve been saying this to myself for a couple of years now.  A visit needs to happen.  I love their wines and the folks behind it have been nothing but friendly.

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For more on all their wines, and for purchasing click here and here.

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We enjoyed our Malbec rather quickly with some salty snacks.  We enjoyed ourselves. The pictures above are a tribute to an alma mater.

Lastly, I’ve included some more photos from the sites of the festival.   The third and final post from this event comes next week!

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Have a great one.

Best,

Ideen