I’m Glad I Waited…

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The amount of times I had planned to write about my visit to Great Frogs back in January, is almost embarrassing to talk about.

I’ve written about them previously in different settings (you can read about that here) with the hope that one day I would get to visit their winery.    And it finally happened.

Good things come to those who wait, and before I discuss this exquisite visit, here is their FAQ, more about this wonderful winery, visitor information, info on purchasing their wines/shipping info, and where you can find their wines near you.

If you don’t live or aren’t planning to visiting the Annapolis area, your only chance is to have their wines shipped to you.   These wines are on the pricier side, and are outside of my price range.  But every once in a while, I feel it’s right to treat myself.  It’s right to treat yourself, as much as you want, for as much as you want.

It’s my life, it’s your life, and we only get one of those, as who we are in this lifetime.

A few years back when I first about this winery, I had these images of exclusivity, and this place being a secret club that only the highest of society are welcome or dare try to visit.  There’s this thing about assuming that you shouldn’t always do.

However, on a random day I had dropped someone off not realizing their house was literally on the other side of this immaculate looking green and shrubbery, which was Great Frogs.  I was in awe.  I put this place on even more of a pedestal.  Sometimes assuming or presuming adds to the excitement and adds to the mystique.

Needless to say, the winery wasn’t open that day and I thought maybe someday.

After attending wine festivals and having a glass at various restaurants around town, I was enamored.  Maybe it’s an Annapolis thing (my increasing list of my affinity for Annapolis can be found here) but I love their wine and I love everything about this place.

Tastings are by reservation only, and on a limited time frame Fridays and Saturdays only.  At $35 a person that may put some people off.  You can get three bottles in most places for that much.  But this is not that kind of place.  I love this place.

When I drove up, I noticed the amazing vines, the greens, the farmland, and then the barn which hosts the tastings,  I was looking for the adorable pups (Scout & Bruno) who protect the crops and vines from the outside world (wildlife), but not on this day.  That just means I’ll have to be back.  And that’s a given.

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I won’t talk about every wine that was tried.  I don’t want to bore you.  This is not what this blog is about.  It’s about enjoying the wines, enjoying the company your worth, and enjoying your surroundings.

This was well worth the investment.  And in hindsight $35 is not that much for an experience that’s more than just a tasting.  You get 6 wines, you get snacks (which they will replenish for you), and the most incredible ambiance I can ever recall at a winery.  Being away from Downtown Annapolis and being in your own universe a few miles away added another element of wonder and fascination to this visit.  Man I loved all of this.

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I neglected to mention this tasting also includes a glass of your choice upon completion.  Does it get any better?  This tasting room decor is incredible.   I want to thank Ben who helped with the tasting, and could not have been friendlier.

This is family affair as I also got to meet the owners, Nathathanael & Andrea, who could not have been friendlier.

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The wines that stood out to me were the 2015 Estate Meritage, the 2015 Cold Blooded (their newest release at the time), and the Chardonnay.    I went with the former as my glass mainly because the spices, the cedar taste, the berries, and the chocolate made this perfect for the winter time.   Full bodied wines are what’s going to work here, and this worked alright.    This is a $50 bottle, and if you’re feeling ambitious, go for it.   This is a tremendous wine, as most of their wines are.

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The Cold Blooded is a blend with every grape under the sun, and at $55, this was heavily pushed for a celebration they had the day after Thanksgiving, that was originally to be my first visit.  That didn’t happen for reasons I can’t remember, other than it wasn’t meant to be.

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This visit was meant to be.   This was more than a wine tasting, this was art.  It’s Great Frogs, it’s Annapolis, it’s happiness, this is living.

I can’t wait to do it again.

Thank you so much.

Ideen

 

To Be Continued…

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I wasn’t sure how I was going to write about Old Westminster Winery, so I’m going to shoot from the hip and right from the heart.  I feel like I’ve said this before.  And before that.

But first, here is tasting room info, where you can find their wines, which you can purchase online, their philosophy, and more about this awesome family operation.

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On a random weekend day some time ago, I felt like doing my own thing.  I had asked a few people if they wanted to take the long (actually short) drive from Baltimore to Westminster, and the interest was little to none.  And like many other things, I was meant to do this on my own.

And for my first visit, I’m glad it was just me…

There’s always that excitement and anticipation of going somewhere new, and taking that unfamiliar drive on a stretch of road that didn’t exist to you moments before.   These things just don’t happen everyday, and I wish they did.

In this world that’s so big, yet to small, the amount of wineries and places in general I haven’t visited, but want to so badly, is going to continuously and instantaneously grow.  But what matters is what I do visit and do experience.

And that’s what I did on this day.

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Upon arrival, and seeing the winery sign, I felt like a kid at his first day of school.  And then I felt like a kid at the first day of school.  See what I’m saying?

Especially going somewhere on your own, can be uneasy for some.  Sometimes I still feel uncomfortable, but more times than not I enjoy my own company.  If you can’t enjoy your own company, how can anyone else be expected to enjoy yours either?   So without thinking I go to restaurants, cinemas, and sometimes travel on my own.   Who knows who or what may be waiting on the other side.

A winery is no different.

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How about that scenery?

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On this particular weekend day, I had a sense the tasting room would be packed.  They’re only open for tastings on Friday through Sunday, and with the aura surrounding the place, I suspected it would be packed to near capacity.  This particular sunny, yet windy afternoon, it was pretty close to full.

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I had a few minutes wait before I could do a tasting, and there was no rush.  The room itself is immaculate, fantastic, and feels like a place to be.  Maybe even the place to be.  In this Carroll County gem, it’s a place I definitely want to be, and be back at again.

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Before I sound like I’m signing off, I won’t speak of every wine, because I’ll save that for another time.  But I will talk about one.  And it’s the one that stood out to me the most, the 2016 Home Vineyard Chardonnay.

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I’ll let the synopsis tell you one story, and I’ll tell you mine.   Wow that sounded way too profound, and that wasn’t the full intent.  However, I do like Chardonnay’s with a little more oak than this, but this one hit a different spot and nerve.

OldWestminsterWineryChardonnay

Since there was nowhere to sit inside, I took a seat in the outdoor patio, which wasn’t full set-up for seating.  It was windy, a little chilly, and not conducive to anything I was doing.

But again, like I said, it felt like the first day of school.  It was a bit awkward, out of sorts, and I wasn’t one to fake it till I make it.  Not yet at least.

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But I did take some cool pictures.  The one outside, and one actually from the bathroom.  I may get in trouble for saying that.  But the flowers looked pretty cool.

I did socialize a bit inside, and a crowd at a winery can be much different than one at a standard bar or pub.  We’re all there for the same reasons, and the reasons might be a bit more authentic and genuine versus just going to the same ole’ place.  And there’s always room to change it up and do something real.

This is not how I thought this post would go, but like I said, this is only the beginning.

I’ll be back again.

To be continued…

Ideen

 

 

 

Impromptu Tasting

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I just love becoming a part of things that I had no idea minutes or even seconds before, that I would be participating in.   With our busy and overloaded schedules, even our social events all seem too well coordinated and planned.  And not that there’s anything right or wrong with that.  But the charm of events coming together or coming to you instantaneously is what makes this life so magical.   I or you should intend it, without having to forcefully wish for it.  Because then, all the goodness finds you.

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It did for me this past Saturday.at Quarry Wine & Spirits right outside the city limits of Baltimore, in Pikesville, with a count ’em, 18 wine tasting.

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It brings me such joy just to write that.  Yes I said 18.  Aside from even the most comprehensive of tastings at a wine festival, I don’t think I’ve ever done double digits for a wine tasting.  That might show my naivete but it sounds like a grand number to me.  And what a treat this was.

No I will not go over every wine that was listed.   I took notes and did lots of scribbling which makes no sense to me as I look over it now.  But there will be pictures of that tasting sheet.  This is one I’m going to hold on to and store in a safe place.

How I ended up here is just one of those laws of the universe.  Quarry Lake is not a shopping district I find myself in often.  But I was here on this day for a reason.  As I’ve stated in certain instances before, I almost didn’t walk in.

I had been invited to a barbecue later in the day, and I would be bringing wine, but from most likely one of my usual wine shoppes downtown, without even thinking about this serendipitous experience that was about to take place.

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I will shortly go over the wines.  These are the three that I bought.  These are also the three that me and a new friend I made seemed to concur were the best.  Well at least on two of them we were in agreement on the same power and flavors these two in particular brought.

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What’s also fun about this is you do make friends at these things.  Sometimes it was just for that 20-30 minutes plus over the wine, or sometimes a deeper connection begins and you not only talk about the wine, but you start  talking about other things.  It’s as if you’ve known each other for years.  And maybe in certain situations that might be the case. Maybe it’s a past life sort of thing, or maybe it’s just the moment to take in and appreciate for now.  I think it’s a bit of everything and more.

This was also not one I planned on taking pictures of and blogging about. This was even more organic than I would realize.

Our party host was quite charismatic as well. And I wish I remembered his name.  This is not the professional journalism I’ve come to expect from myself.  But his voice and his selling almost made me by more.  But I’m not one to overpay and get carried away when it comes to buying one.  There’s a discipline.  These wines have to be bought with the intent of being either drank soon, or saved for a special occasion.   Buying wines and just letting them sit there till they go bad is something I’ve done far too often.  There’s probably wines in my cellar that needs to be disposed of for this reason alone.  Gross.

The 2015 Alto Vinho Verde Rose was only $6, from the retail price of $11.    And this is the one that set the tone for the rest of the tasting.  Yes this was the first one on this incredible list as we were going to were lightest to fullest, and sweetest to the boldest, as the list implies.  That’s Tasting 101.   I imagine for the price, and because it was the first impression, that many bought this one, if they didn’t purchase any other or had to buy just one.    This is going to wonders when the weather gets nicer.   It was nicer on this day but I’m gonna save this one and maybe expound on it another time.  But the strawberry flavors are going to get a lot of people excited when Spring finally comes.  It’s officially March so I say enjoy!

The 2013 Pinot Noir from Chamisal Vineyards is the first of two that got me to overreact and genuinely think this wine is one that could be a favorite.    The label mentions how the grapes weren’t aged in Oak but in Stainless Steel to show how great the Pinot can taste on its own.  Interesting stuff. It did seem to enhance the Pinot Noit by its self as well as the fruit flavors of cranberry, black cherry, and plum.  I definitely got a mix of all three, or is it because I read the label and was told that this is what I would taste? Hmm.. But the fruitiness was easy to get, and this made for a closer to medium-bodied wine (but still light) then what I usually get from my Pinot’s.  And this was a nice treat.   This was also #9 on this list and I had a few samples leading up to it that were less than great, that may have made this wine even that much better.  That’s for me to think about later when I open this up for guests or for myself.  But my hunch is I will love it the same.

However, at $30.00 retail, that may be a bit too much for me.  I like my bottles $20 and under and perferably $10-$15 whenever possible.  At the sale price of $17, I wish I had purchased two.  This was more than worth that amount.  I’ve seen it listed in the $21-$25 range on many sites, so there’s a frame of reference for you.

Again I can’t wait to break this out when the weather gets closer to awesome.  And it’s coming.   This is what I was going to bring to the barbecue.  Maybe it was going to be…

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The 2010 Finca Sobreno Toro Tempranillo was the big winner.  And as you can see, it’s the one I circled which makes me laugh in hindsight.  This is the expert analysis I’m here to bring.

It’s funny because at just about any other tasting that previous Pinot would have won in a landslide. I love how it’s 2010.  That means it’s already got more longevity than I know how to handle.  Actually yes I do.  I can drink it and share with fellow wine lovers.

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This medium-bodied wine is loaded with all sort of flavors, I don’t know where to begin.  It’s as if this wine was meant for me.  It’s a mix of all the seasons.  There’s scents of vanilla, chocolate, and clove.  I only got those based on power of perception, maybe.  And plenty more berries and chocolate after tasting.   This was wine  #14 on the list, so who know if there were so many ho hum wines (and lots of sips of water and small bites of crackers to reset the palate) in between the aforementioned Pinot and this. But the regular price of $32 is not for me.  However, at $20 this is just on the cusp of my threshold.  So why not.

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Tastings to tend to make many a wine larger than life than they really are.  It’s about the experience. It’s about the wines, potential pairings, and situations where these wines can truly shine.  And this discussion was done in the most genuine and without the slightest hint of pretension and arrogance.  Unless my rose (not Rose) colored glasses were a little tighter than usual, this was one of friendship, comradery, and just an awesome Saturday to celebrate the joy of wine drinking and get introduced to some new wines that will become staples of our lives.

Not to get too dopey but the weather turned to rain later on this day so the new memories will have to be put on hold.   If the universe allows I will revisit these wines when paired with food and see how my pairing pals enjoy it versus how much I did.

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I hope these wines create many new memories to cherish.  But for now, I do cherish this once in a while experience.  And can only hope the next time can be just as tremendous.

Cheers,

Ideen