Rolling in the Deep

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I thought long and hard about what to write this week. I’m serious.   The Maryland Wine Festival gave me enough options to fill out the rest of the year.  But like I said last week, this will likely not be done with a consecutive weeks stream of posts and then I move onto the next thing.   It will be spaced out.  That could happen starting next week for a few weeks from now.  Only time will tell.

The fun of festivals is sampling so many wines from local vineyards, without having to make the drive to the winery itself.  Does this sound like cheating?  No, I wouldn’t say so. This might be like the Cliffs Notes version of things.  But it’s the perfect introduction to wines we otherwise may have never heard of. They come to us, like so many good things do.  We pay a small cover charge ($25-$30) to enter and the world is our oyster (or our vineyard).

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One such vineyard is Deep Creek Cellars.  You know in all my time on this Earth, I’ve never been to Deep Creek itself.  Maybe I drove past it once or twice, but never have actually hung out or spent a weekend there.  Dating back to high school up to the present, different groups of friends go all the time.  I’ve never had the opportunity.  More on that later.

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It wasn’t until reading about the winery itself, that they are not your traditional wine provider.  They’re a purveyor of ‘natural wine’, and are environmentally conscious without it impeding on the tradition of enjoying wine with a delicious meal.

So it makes it harder to find the negatives on the wine, but our tastes are all different.

Like many other wineries at the festival, they brought a condensed version of the winery on the road.   Which likely meant sweet and approachable wines that most attendees would be likely to buy.

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Of the four, I only had two, the 2014 Great Crossings and the 2013 Watershed. The 2014 Watershed and 2014 Pinot Noir were an extra $1 and with me usually not carrying cash, I chose to pass.  In hindsight, I wish I brought singles or stopped at an ATM.   That just means a visit is on the horizon, to try the rest.  A visit is meant to happen anyways.

The ’14 Great Crossings was the one I preferred over the two. The blend of Vidal Blanc and Pinot Gris was light and easy to drink.  I didn’t taste any almond.  I wasn’t trying too hard to find it but it never came to me.  Well maybe I did.  I don’t know.  And citrus flavors are usually a standard in these blends.  This wasn’t a wine I would actively seek, but it’s a perfect everyday wine.  I sense they left the best stuff at the vineyard.

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The ’13 Watershed with its Black Cherry and Cab Blend doesn’t work for me.  However, I noticed this was a big seller.  As most folks attending this event love their sweet wine, this fits many of those boxes you’re looking to check.  This was just a bit too sweet for my palate.

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As was the case throughout the day, the gentleman volunteering was easy to talk to and had plenty of knowledge of what he was pouring.  It’s not required but always a bonus.

Big picture wise, I must visit Deep Creek Cellars and Deep Creek itself.  There’s a lot of wines on their list I want to try, including many more of the grapes I prefer.

Contacting them is easy.  I’m liking these guys more and more.  They keep their social media presence limited, which is part of the mentality.  I appreciate that.

I see a road trip this fall or winter.  Who’s in?

Hey look, they got honey too!

Yay!

Ideen

 

 

 

Only In Olney

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Yes I’m now officially part of this exclusive club.  I got my first ‘Get Stained’sticker from the fine folks at Olney Winery.  And it only took my fourth visit to the Maryland Wine Festival to get there.  Funny how I built something up so significantly for years, and it was all about a sticker.  If you understand the sarcasm, you realize that anyone who wanted a sticker, got one.  But it’s fun to pretend that this is an exclusive group of wine drinkers and lovers of life, that it’s the ultimate badge of honor, and no less than that.  And maybe it is.

So here we go again.  Last year I did three recaps of some of my favorite booth visits at this most exciting of fiestas.  These posts can be found here, here, and finally this gem.

I had no set plan.  I never do.  I could have written two months worth of material from the event but certain scenarios, wine and dinner parties, and holidays steered course.  I love that.  Once again I have material to last me a couple of months but I don’t see it happening on consecutive weeks.  We shall see.  It’s what makes this blog fun.   So before I go on another tangent, I will go with the very first tent I stopped by, the aforementioned, Olney.

olneycabwinefestAt the event itself they only had two wines I had interest in trying, their For Your Eyes Only Cabernet Sauvignon and their X Brothers Pinot Noir.  The former I’ve had before and on a very first taste at their tasting room (more on that shortly) I was floored.  I bought a bottle immediately.  I may have had other wines but this was the standard bearer at the time.

Since then I’ve purchased this same wine at various retailers with mixed results.  Maybe it was a bad batch, bad cork, waiting too long, or the universe telling me not to try it again, but it’s not the wine I remember.   But on this day the recipe seemed different (as every vintage should be) but my palate was rejoicing once again.  This is the Cab I remembered. I see more tannins were added, that oak I remember, and my favorite inclusion of all, pepper was back and with a vengeance.  Oh how I love thee.

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But just when I thought it could’t get any better, the X Brothers Pinot Noir really wowed me.  I almost thing it’s truly difficult to butcher Pinot.  And most are simple, easy to drink, and get the job done.  But this is on another level.   It’s still warm enough outside to have something light yet slightly cooler to appreciate this same bottle all the same. This is a wine for right now, in this moment.  The teases of fruit and spice are a nice segue into fall.  If you like fall.  I have mixed feelings but will make the most of the season where I can.

I would say that we’re done and this was a great first stop at the festival.  I got my sticker and went about my merry way.  Yet I had an inspired thought.  If the opportunity presented itself I would stop by the tasting room, which is near where I grew up and only about an hour away from me now.  I wanted to enhance this post and say thanks in person.

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My one and only (Olney?!) visit was a couple of years ago by pure happenstance, or maybe it wasn’t.  Maybe all roads led to this.

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Funny because Olney has changed so much since I was a kid.  You can still see the original footprints of a town that has now evolved.  Mom and pops are now chains, more chains are moving in, and the quaintness is there but not like before.  But the tasting room puts gives this town something bold, unique, and inspiring.  Not many places can say they have a winery within a shopping district.  Pretty cool I know.

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So what  do you know?  One scenario into another brought me here, and just in the nick of time to put this post up.

A major thank you goes to Bryan who helped conduct the tasting and gave me a few extra pours for free.

olneypinotAnd instead of recapping every wine I had I will expound on another one that blew me away as well.  Yes I was all set to get the Pinot Noir but then the Tuscan Sunset Sangiovese had to rear its beautiful head.  Oh my goodness.  The no-so-subtle hints of strawberry and white pepper were more than enough to make which bottle to purchase a much more agonizing decision than it really needed to be.  But they’re both equal in quality and superiority.

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So what did any irrational and indecisive person do? I went with both.  This is one of those times I decided to treat myself.  We need to treat ourselves more, within reason of course.

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The Pinot at $19.95 and the Sangiovese at $17.95 will likely be the most expensive bottles I’ll buy this year and for a while.   I’ve always said around $20.00 is where my cut off will be, unless I’m feeling really ambitious.  And the wine has to be immaculate.  Both of these fall under that category at a reasonable price.  As an unexpected bonus, my $7.00 tasting fee was waived.  I hope I don’t get anyone in trouble for mentioning that.

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Honorable mention goes to the Olney Mill White Chenin Blanc, which tasted like the tropics with some apple thrown in.

With a couple of exceptions, every wine I sipped went from good to magnificent.  And again, it’s all based on your palate and what you like.  It looks like mine is resuming back to my preference for the dry reds, even if the two I purchased were on the lighter end.  As we progress through the year, the full bodies is the likely scenario.

Bryan also gave me a tour of the winery and showed me the fermentation process up close. There’s a strong possibility that this will be revisited in a post late this year/early next year.  I won’t hint at much more than that.  But I may be taking part in something special.

This is a not your typical winery. There’s no vines or even an outside.  Everything is done in-house and it’s a concept that I could see becoming much more popular as time goes on. Yet many of of us, including myself, like tradition.  We like seeing grapes grown and an inspirational patio/backyard set up when we go to a tasting.    I like both, there’s room for both, and there’s room for everyone.  Here’s more information on their concept, their mission, and a brief synopsis of their history.

Here’s their contact info and the team of winemakers themselves.  And most important of all, where to find their wine.

Pictures of the various wines and the tasting room itself are all over this post.  Enjoy!

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Until next time and there will be a next time here…

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Ideen

Bordeleau’s Brightest

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Nearly one year to the day when I first wrote about Bordelau Winery, it’s with great honor that I get to write about them again.  And as an added bonus I helped volunteer to pour wine at their booth at the most recent Great Grapes Festival.   This was a joy.

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I’ve had the pleasure of meeting Tom at various festivals, including this very one, a year ago. He’s always been so laid back and easy to dialogue with on all matters vino.   Through mutual people and a little assertiveness, I got in touch with his wife Lisa, and after a few light-hearted  e-mail (and other electronic means) exchanges I find myself on the other side of the tables on that Sunday.

It’s a different animal but one I’ve fully embraced.  On many occasions I’ve been a patron and taken advantage of all the tastings and samples I could get my hands on.  It’s a slippery slope. And after a while the appreciation of what I’m drinking goes out the window.  All the crackers and water to cleanse your palate either fall by the wayside, or we forget to even partake in that necessary ritual.  Both of these scenarios are not necessarily mutually exclusive.

What I failed to see is the supposedly not so glamorous side of these festivals.   Nothing could be further from the truth.

This felt genuine, sincere, and I could be more myself.   I like to talk to folks and see what makes them feel good.  The wine is the catalyst but it also become the backdrop.  While I got the occasional pretentious question, most folks just  want to sample and have a pleasant conversation.  Nearly 100% was the latter.  That’s a good number.

Another full circle and serendipitous moment came to light.  I wrote about their reds last year, and even made mentioned of how I never got around to the whites.  So what table did I end up stationed at?  Well I’ll be…

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I’ll get the ones I didn’t love out of the way.   The Sauvignon Blanc, 2013 Pinot Grigio, and the Wicomico Blush are still not my speed.  They’re not as dry as I’d like.  The latter is nowhere  near on my radar of wines I’d prefer.   I’ve included links to all three for your edification. Many of the attendees loves these three and that’s what makes these events great.  If we liked all the same wines that would significantly take the fun out of this event.

The journey is about seeing what we like and appreciating how our palates evolve over time.  I can see it first hand with me.   And speaking of which…

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I never loved Chardonnay but that’s the progression.  The 4 Chardonnay Barrel Fermented was the winner for me.  I may have shown just a little more enthusiasm while pouring this one versus the others.  Yes the vanilla and apple on the back end is a bonus but that oak.  Oh my goodness I could drink bottles of this.  Well not while volunteering and obviously not too much or the savoring goes out the window.  But I think you get the gist.  At $15.00 this is a steal.

One thing I learned is that this Chardonnay is not meant to be too cold or it will lose the flavors and the nose that we deserve to observer.   That’s an art I would like to perfect with time.  So there were times I took this bottle off of the ice.  Temperature is everything.

The rain came down and and we had to move things around rather swiftly, to protect everything from the storm.  I noticed as we were packing this bottle was placed on ice for a while.  And I just had to try it again.  Something was lost.  Maybe it was the elements of the outside world, maybe it was the colder than appropriate temperature, or maybe the universe threw everything off kilter.  It could be everything or nothing.   But yes, temperature is so key when it comes to wine.

Man this was fun.  I will be doing this again.

For more on Bordelau, here is some info on their winery, where you can find their wines in Maryland, contact, and online shopping info.   I think I’ve dissected their website enough.

The next time I talk up this fantastic winery will hopefully be on location.  I referenced this a year ago and I have to own this one.   I can’t plan this too much.  I just have to get there.

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More from Great Grapes very soon.

Best,

Ideen

 

 

Doing It Big

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My final post (for now) pertaining to events at Wine in the Woods brings us to a new one for me.   And I’m going to safely presume for many others.  This is my sampling and festival debut of the charming and endearing, Big Cork Vineyards.

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Honestly, what initially drew me to them is they were a hidden gem.  And I mean literally hidden, within the multitude of popular wineries that have been attending for years. Those that have built followings and stalwarts at these events hopefully got a chance to visit theirs.

People are creatures of habit.  I’m all about breaking such habits and jumping out of those comfort zones that can hold ourselves back from trying something new, exhilarating, and invigorating.  Ok now I’m being dramatic.  It’s just wine sampling but on a micro level, the situation still applies.

I had no line when I stopped by which was already a plus for me.  And little did patrons know what they did miss.  The volunteers and staff I interacted with were class personified.

My personable volunteer, Linda, was kind of enough to give a brief synopsis of the winery and explain it’s only been in existence for five years.  That’s long enough that I should have at least experienced a wine somewhere by now.   Once again, maybe I have and it didn’t sink it due to inexperience or a lack of appreciation at the time.  Or maybe this is fate and destiny bringing me to try it for the first time.  Either way I feel blessed and like a winner.

Honestly, two of the whites they were pouring did not resonate with me.  And this once again, is not a stab at the wines themselves.   The 2014  Viognier and Vidal Blanc  respectively are wines people around me were digging.  But at this time they’re still not my glass of wine. The latter is something I should as its more full bodied but this is what makes these events fun.  We all don’t like the same wines.  Nor should be.  That would take the fun out of this. And it’s good to discuss and learn about our likes and dislikes.   And that leads me into what I adored.

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Their 2013 Traminette is not something I would have enjoyed before, but the grape itself is something I’ve becoming partial to the past couple of years. There’s personal and familial sentiment in my own life which may add to a bias, which I’m sure many of us have when it comes to particular grapes.  It’s semi-dry and being related to a Gewürztraminer may be part of the charm for me.  It’s a wine perfect for any time of year, but for me, especially around the holidays.

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But the winner for me goes reflects my personal preferences, and that’s the 2013 Syrah. This may have tasted lighter than most Syrah’s I’ve had but considering a festival vibe and the outdoor atmosphere, it only seemed right.  This was jammy and easy to sip from the get go.  I’m almost gulped it off the bat which I didn’t want to go.  The back-end gave me some a whole melange of spices that I couldn’t even begin to describe.  But it was awesome and it’s something I’d consider buying at $24.00.  Yes that may be pricey for some and that’s understandable.

Those labels are beautiful and they mirror the layout of the website masterfully don’t they?

What’s great about these festivals is many wineries don’t overload you with too many to choose from.  If they’re great, like these guys are, they’ll leave you wanting more.  And I want more.  And it makes folks like me explore their collection.   Most importantly for me, it makes me want to take a drive to see them for myself.  And that’s a win for them and a fulfilling one for me.

I could go on all day and I wouldn’t be able to put into adequate words how much fine I had with a brief sample size.  It’s left me wanting more.   If I get the opportunity this Summer to visit, another write-up is coming.

In the meanwhile, I’ll be in awe of their simple yet effective website and the positive energy I’m getting from it.  These links about their story, the vineyard itself, a FAQ, and finally the winemakers themselves should hopefully do the same for you.

Here is my recap from last week and from the week before at Wine In The Woods.

We’ll see ya this Summer.

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