Friday, September 27, 2019

Apple & Honey & Grape at Loew Vineyards

I last visited Maryland's Loew Vineyards back in June 2005 - an unusually long absence in revisiting wineries. I seemed to have gravitated more to Black Ankle, then to Old Westminster, and more recently to Catoctin Breeze -- but this summer my focused snapped back to this small family winery after tasting their Honey & Grape. This wine received a Gold and Best in Class at the 2019 Comptrollers Cup and just last week the prestigious Jack Aellen Cup. I had also sampled their Chancellor and noted that the inherent acidity had been tamed by fifth-generation winemaker Rachel Lipman to create a very likable dry red wine. A visit was required.

On the outside, and actually the inside, the tasting room at Loew Vineyards looked exactly as I remembered 14 years ago.  Think country store motif.  Whereas my main goal was to learn more about the Honey & Grape, it became very clear that the winery provided a rather strong portfolio that others in the industry would consider limited by the wine grapes and styles.

This started with the Two Consenting Grapes - a dry and un-oaked blend of Vidal Blanc and Reliance that was complex with both citrus and tropical notes.  The Reliance, a grape bred at the University of Arkansas as a table grape, provides the tropical aspects which are highly noticeable in the semi-dry Serendipity. The grape is also the main ingredient in the Honey & Grape.  The Loew family has been making some type of honey wine for over a hundred years starting with founder Bill Loew's family in Galicia. The honey augments the tropical flavors providing depth and balance to the grape's acidity.  Rachel also mentioned that honey wines age gracefully and they have been enjoying 20-year-old wines all summer.

One to drink immediately is their Apple & Honey Cyser which comes across very dry with the apple's tartness and acidity blending with the honey notes. A bottle came home for this week. Another fun wine is the sweeter Strawberry Jubilee where the strawberries dominate.

On a serious note, I wanted to emphasize their Chancellor - it is made in a lighter style more like a Pinot Noir with sour cherry and berry notes with approachable tannins and acids. Their Classic Red, a blend of Maréchal Foch and Chancellor is similar but with more weight and pepper.  And in a few years look for Zweigelt which Rachel planted this year. I can't wait.  Come visit - theCompass Craft Beverage Finder will guide you there.

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