Wednesday, March 13, 2019

Explore #WeAreMarylandWine During Maryland Wine Month

The Maryland Wineries Association has designated March as Maryland Wine Month and to follow the action they are promoting the #WeAreMarylandWine (in addition to #MDWine #MDWineTrails & #MDWineMonth) tag on all social media platforms. There are also numerous events and activities scheduled at various wineries and retailers across the state -- all listed on the MD Wine website. So we decided to dedicate more time this month to visit the Free State and visited two that are open seven days a week - navigating with theCompass Craft Beverage Finder.

We started at Catoctin Breeze Vineyard, located north of Frederick on the Route 15 Wine Road. Being a club member, our tastings were complimentary so we went through both their Signature ($10) and Sweet ($8) tastings. After previous visits, I have discussed their wonderful dry Estate Syrah, Estate Cabernet Franc, and Chardonnay among others. So let me venture into the Sweet Wine tasting and the first impression is that out of the five, only the two meads comes across as sweet. For instance, the 2016 Rhapsody ($24) contains only .5% RS which is easily balanced by the Chardonnay's acidity. The sugar just rounds out the wine. The same is also true with the 2016 Bolero Blend ($22), a 50-50 blend of Syrah and Merlot. And finally, the 2017 Prelude Vidal Blanc ($20) has a Riesling character in that once again is balanced by the grape's acids. The two meads are definitely sweeter but the 2010 Honeymoon Mead ($25) is cut with orange juice providing more relief and the spices in the 2010 Amber Mead ($23) blend nicely into the honey flavor.

From Catoctin Breeze, we navigated the back roads, through a couple covered bridges to Linganore Winecellars. Interestingly, this winery is traditionally known for its sweeter festival friendly wines but has mad a concerted effort to enhance its dry wine portfolio. These wines were our focus through the Reserve Tasting ($10), which consisted of nine wines. These ranged from the dessert 2015 Midnight Bramble ($46) through a couple off-dry to several dry.  The 2017 White Raven ($14; Cayuga & Chardonnay) and 2018 Terrapin ($14; Melody & Vidal) were both light and refreshing with the later providing a distinct apple profile. The crux of the whites was the 2017 Reserve Chardonnay ($27) fermented in oak then aged an additional six months in barrel. This is a full bodied wine, depth and creamy with lifting acids. Nicely done. The reds were Chambourcin centric with three wines showing the flexibility of that prolific grape. The 2016 Exposure ($46) is a classic Bordeaux blend but I preferred the 2017 Cabernet Franc ($35) that we received a sneak peek and has more creamy texture than green character.  The fact that Linganore produces 50,000 cases of wine using practically all estate grapes is worth a visit and tour - whether festival season, Maryland Wine Month, or year round. Cheers.

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