Frequent readers of the Wine Compass Blog, Compass Tours, and Wine 101 are familiar with our fascination with different grape varieties. They would also appreciate our yearning to visit a winery that makes wine from over twenty different grapes - in this case, Cove Point Winery. The winery started like most small family owned wineries – as a hobby – that gradually progressed to a commercial venture. This winery is still so small that the tasting occurs in the proprietor’s kitchen – just like hanging at a friend’s house. However, small does not describe the amount of wines or their quality.
Cove Point Winery produces over twenty wines from viniferia, native labrusca, and hybrid grapes. We were able to taste some of our favorite lesser known varieties are included, such as Blaufrankisch (Lemberger), Symphony, Isabella, Landot Noir, De Chaunac, and Chancellor, to name a few. At this tasting, I concentrated on their semi-dry white and dry red wines. Plus their port. I started with perhaps their best wine, the semi-dry Symphony, a cross between Muscat of Alexandria and Grenache Gris. The wine has the fragrance of a Muscat and the fruitiness of the Grenache. Throw in a refreshing acidity and you have a great drinking wine. Next was the Isabella, or sipping wine, as it is marketed. This wine doesn’t have the heavy foxiness normally associated with labrusca grapes – but possesses the grapiness of the fruit. This wine may not be for everyone – but for those who like labrusca made wine – this is an excellent version. I next tried their Riesling and Gewürztraminer, both contained the aromas and flavors you would expect from these grapes. Their Cayuga White was also very typical of that variety – although they do an excellent job extracting the flavors of the Riesling parent. I ended the semi-dry tasting as I started, with one of my favorite choices – the Peach Chardonnay. This is a blend of Peach wine and Chardonnay wine, where the chardonnay provides a fruit forward grape flavor and the peaches provide a lasting finish. Of all the fruit wines, I usually avoid the peach, but this wine is a perfect blend.
We moved on the reds, where I tried one of my favorite red viniferia grapes, Blaufrankisch. This wine is full-bodied with string black berry flavors. The finish is only slightly spicy – unlike the heavily-oaked Austrian styles. This is a great wine, both for dinner and sipping. I then tried their Pinot Noir, a medium bodied wine that had cherry flavors and a finish as smooth as the Blaufrankisch. I still preferred the Blaufrankisch. They were pouring two vintages of their Cabernet Sauvignon, a 2004 and 2005. The 2004 was a little spicier, whereas the 2005 was more fruit forward. I still preferred the Blaufrankisch. The final red was the Very-Berry Port - a Port blend of Chancellor and Landot Noir fermented with Blackberries and Raspberries and aged in French oak. These were obtained in nearby St. Mary’s County, which is fast becoming a valuable resource in the Maryland wine industry. The port has an amazing nose – where the aromas move generously into the cherry flavors and last into the tail. Besides having the opportunity to purchase a wine with Chancellor and Landot Noir, the wine is well worth the price.
Not only does Cove Point Winery make excellent wine from dozens of grapes, but they are minutes away from several of southern Maryland’s best tourist attractions. I’m referring to Calvert Cliffs, Cove Point Lighthouse -Maryland's oldest operational lighthouse – and Solomons Island. Each is worth a visit, singularly, and as a group along with Cove Point Winery.