Wednesday, December 13, 2017

2017 Maryland Wine Governors Cup Award Ceremony

"Agriculture is such an important part of our history, our heritage, and our economy," said Governor Hogan. "That is why it is in the best interest of our state to keep our farms growing and thriving, and that includes our vineyards and our rapidly growing wine industry. Our wine producers are doing so much for Maryland, and the Governor’s Cup competition brings together the best of the best among Maryland-produced wines." -- Maryland Governor Lawrence J. Hogan, Jr.


The judging for the 29th Annual Maryland Governor’s Cup Competition took place August 13 where over 30 regional wine experts tasted over 150 different wines across the multiple styles of sparkling, whites, rosés, reds, fruit, and cider. This past Monday, December 11th the winners were presented their awards by Maryland's First Lady Yumi Hogan at Old Maryland Grill in College Park. This new restaurant focuses on Maryland sourced food and complements meals with a full range of Maryland craft beverages. In fact, Proprietor Mike Franklin also owns the long running Franklin’s Brewery not far away in Hyattsville and visited over 50 Maryland wineries to round out the cellar. These include many of the competition winners which noted Maryland wine expert and Lead Judge Al Spoler commented that this year's entry's were the best across the board. Based on the reception following the awards ceremony, I concur completely.



Newcomer Cool Ridge Vineyard was the clear and unsuspecting champion of the competition where it was awarded two Best of Class medals for their Cool White 2016 ($21) and Cool Red 2015 ($32), with the later earning the Governor’s Cup Best in Show. Not bad for first time entrants. The red blend consists of 45% Cabernet Sauvignon, 20% Cabernet Franc, 20% Merlot and 15% Petit Verdot and is delicious. Simply delicious. Owner Gerhard Glocker was quite gracious and was just as proud of his Gold medal single varietal 2015 Cabernet Franc ($27). The winery and vineyard is located in Washington County near Hagerstown and there's no wonder that Old Westminster Winery sources their fruit for their Cool Ridge Vineyard, Limestone ($32) - a blend of 70% Grüner Veltliner and 30% Viognier.

 "The Jack Aellen Cup is a recent addition to the competition and specifically highlights fruit wine, cider and mead. The cup is named after Linganore Winecellars founder, Jack Aellen, who pioneered wines from fruit and honey in Maryland" . This year the winner was Great Shoals Winery Hard Plum 2016 ($16). Made from Japanese Shiro plums grown in Carroll County, the wine is made in a cider style - light bodied but plenty of flavor. Legally, its a wine since cider can only be made from apples or pears, but for all intents this is one fabulous cider. Move over Spencerville Red.

The remaining Best of Class wines were equally impressive with the Big Cork Vineyards Cabernet Franc 2015 ($46). Tasty young, the wine will age nicely as the tannins mingle with the dark fruit. The Willow Oaks Craft Cider and Wine Gloaming NV (500ml $25) starts funky and tannic then transitions to sweet tartness from organic black currants; another newcomer that impresses. Black Ankle Vineyards Terra Sol 2016 ($30) is a late harvest Grüner Veltliner and a successful experiment as it is very clean with plenty of acids to balance the sugar. Finally, I was fascinated with the Boordy Vineyards Pinot Gris 2016 ($16). The wine is flavorful and weighty - both, according to Dr. Joe Fiola, the result of vineyard selection and not wine-making techniques (no lees or malo and fermented in stainless steel). Cheers to Maryland wine.

Best in Show
Governor’s Cup Winner: Cool Ridge Vineyard • Cool Red 2015 ($32) (Washington Co.)
Jack Aellen Cup Winner: Great Shoals Winery • Hard Plum 2016 ($16) (Montgomery Co.)

Best in Class
Best Sparkling: Turkey Point Vineyard • Elk Neck Bubbly 2016 (Cecil Co.)
Best White: Boordy Vineyards • Pinot Gris 2016 ($16) (Baltimore Co.)
Best White Blend: Cool Ridge Vineyard • Cool White 2016 ($21) (Washington Co.)
Best Rosé: Crow Vineyard • Barbera Rosé 2016 ($16) (Kent Co.)
Best Red: Big Cork Vineyards • Cabernet Franc 2015 ($42) (Washington Co.)
Best Red Blend: Cool Ridge Vineyard • Cool Red 2015 ($32) (Washington Co.)
Best Sweet: Dove Valley Winery • Mr. Bentley’s Choice 2014 (Cecil Co.)
Best Dessert: Black Ankle Vineyards • Terra Sol 2016 ($30) (Frederick Co.)
Best Cider: Willow Oaks Craft Cider and Wine • Gloaming NV (500ml $25) (Frederick Co.)
Best Fruit: Great Shoals Winery • Hard Plum 2016 ($16) (Montgomery Co.)
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