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DrinkMuse: Westminster wine featival

September 20, 2011

This past weekend, in celebration of a friend’s birthday, a group of us checked out the Maryland wine festival in Westminster. Event included a wide range of food and crafts as well as a significant portion of Maryland wineries. This seemed like the perfect chance to scout out wineries for the tour of every Maryland winery I’ve been planning.

Now, first off, Maryland wine doesn’t have that great a reputation – normally considered too sweet, with mediocre quality compared to nearby states. So coming in I was not expecting that much and was hoping to be surprised – and to take notes as to what wineries to give more time to on the tour. That is especially hard because the person, or in a couple places, people I might go with tend to have radically different taste than mine, often moving towards the sweeter end of the spectrum that Maryland is known for. Luckily, the festival was a great way to do this.

Overall impressions: Maryland wine is really not THAT bad. It gets the bad rap, but there are definitely examples of some good QPR (Quality Price Ratio). Are there bottles that I would want to pay 30+ for? Not really that I saw – although of course the few wineries that talk about higher end bottles we      re not tasting them. On the other hand, there was certainly lots of good table wine, regular every day wine that matches up with other local vineyards, and some of the entry tier stuff I’ve had from the West Coast. I bought three bottles, and could have bought around a case if I had the money.

Individual Wineries – I only have notes on some of the wineries… I may have lost the booklet where I was taking further notes, although I have to check on that. I may do an update post with more individual winery impressions if I find that again. Also, I’m highlighting what stuck out as positive to me – I won’t be doing any calling out of bad wine (although, there was one winery with a watermelon wine that did not taste of watermelon and had the worst aftertaste I’ve ever had…..).

Berrywine Productions/Linganore Winecellars – So, right off the bat, this winery is not really designed for me – most of their wines are quite sweet, they highlight their berry wines, and they are known for mixing together their wines. Not a brilliant start to impress stodgy me with my taste for dry riesling and earthy funky Pinot Noir. However, I’d like to mention three wines that seemed alright.  The Skipjack, which I didn’t like that much, but at $14 a bottle was an ok dessert style Riesling. For the price, not bad if you need something very sweet. Their two dry reds, the Black Raven and the Bacioni were both decent. The Raven was low tannins, relatively easy to drink, and again an ok but not amazing QPR. The Bacioni I want to taste again – it seemed quite nice, but I know my palate was off from the wine I had before it.

Cygnus Wine Cellars – I only have notes for a few of their wines – I did not taste the sparkling, and I only tasted one of the premiums, but Cygnus made a big impression. Their Cygnus Red, at $13, may have been the best QPR red that I tasted of the day, for me, and their “port”, the Port of Manchester, was wonderful. I bought two bottles of the port, and very much look forward to trying it again.

Frederick Cellars – I want to try this again… my notes are terrible for it. General good impression, but nothing that blew me away. Their sweet wine, made from Muscat, Mer De Glace, was very good.

Friday’s Creek Winery- Just like to mention two wines here, both of which came in at $15 dollars and I’d buy – their Merlot and their Old Vine Zinfandel. While the OVZ didn’t really taste like other more classic Old Vines I’ve had, it was tasty, with a nice balance and jammy notes to it. Looking forward to going to the winery.

Little Ashby Vineyards – Another where I have only brief notes, their ’08 Merlot was liked by both myself and my red-hating girlfriend, so that’s a plus, and their ’07 Super Talbot hit my palate especially well. However, this was one of the more expensive Vineyards we tasted at (of course, I say that, that that’s because their wines were 25-30 dollars mostly, so still cheap by wine standards).

Mark Cascia Vineyards – I only have one note here, which is that their ’08 Zinfadel was very tasty. Was what I expect in a Zinfandel, and I was pleased to see it after some weaker ones earlier on in the day.

Orchid Cellar Winery – I need to do more research, as their paper they were hanging out says winery, but all we tasted were meads. Let me tell you, this place made me happy. My palate was pretty much toast when we to this place, so just based on that I really want to try it again, but in addition, everything I tried was great. I specifically have positive notes for their Ambrosia and Knight, and was excited to know they have others at their winery/meadery, including a Rhodemel, a rose flavored mead I’ve wanted to try. In Frederick, this is a must visit for me.

Slack Winery – I don’t have notes for these guys, however, they made a big impression when I was at the tent. I believe they were only sampling four wines, but all four were very solid, and their reds were some of the more complex we tasted. This is another that I am targeting to get to very quickly.

Woodhall Wine Cellars – I will say right off the bat that I didn’t get too much here I liked for my palate (although I believe my group really liked it here). However, their merlot was the best for my palate out of all the ones I tried that day, and their “Party Garnet” was exactly that – a great easy drinking party wine.

I think I’ve leave it here. I did buy one other bottle – a cider, from Distillery Lane Ciderworks, but I do not have access to my notes from that. There were many more wineries there – and wineries that we did not taste from as well. After the event, I am looking forward to the Maryland wine tasting extravaganza than I was previously.


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One Comment leave one →
  1. September 25, 2011 1:04 pm

    ooh rose flavored mead. Yum. Thanks for the update on Maryland wine. Sounds like some places are worthy checking out.

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