Saturday, February 14, 2015

Wine Violation -- Cow in the Winery

Wine Violation
Cow in the Tasting Room
Recently, we noticed a wine violation in a tasting room at a winery we were visiting.

It was not a problem with the winery--it was, in fact, a problem with one of the people visiting and tasting the wines being offered.

The violation? A cow!

I guess the bearer of the cow was dreaming of turning milk into wine.

There is a cow purse in the image as well--that technically is not a violation since it is functional.  Bringing a stuffed animal to experience the joys of wine tasting is NOT recommended. It takes up space on the counter which other wine tasters could use and it could lead to a greater wine violation: alcohol abuse, if wine were to be spilled as a result of contact with the cow!

Keep the bovines outside!

-- Bob and Christina Doan, Elkridge, MD

Monday, February 9, 2015

Blending Great Wines is Hard Work

In Keswick's Barrel Room
Preparing for the Blending

It happened again this year. We enjoyed a day at one of our favorite Virginia wineries blending wine and having a great time while learning more about how good wines come together. 

This year's edition of the Keswick Vineyards Consensus Blending is now complete. We competed on the next to last day with our friends and attempted to blend a winning wine from raw materials.

The Wines and the Tools
This year the wines being blended were all 2014 vintages of Syrah, Touriga, Chambourcin, and Norton. We were impressed with the depth and color of the Touring, Syrah and Chambourcin. The Norton was definitely a light bodied wine that packed a lot of fruit and acidity. It was a lot like cranberry juice. All in all, my evaluation of the 2014 vintage is pretty good. The wines are generally intense with nice color and a richness rarely seen in Virginia.

One of the greatest benefits of being a member of the Keswick Vineyards Wine Club is having the ability to participate in this annual event and go behind the scenes to learn the hard truth about wine making and wine blending. It is not romantic, but it is hard work and after you taste 18 different blends it is difficult keep them all straight and to keep the tongue cleansed enough to sense the differences between the offerings. Did we mention that the barrel room is cold? Kept in the mid-50's we got cold soaked by the end of the day--but it was all worth it.

After roughly two and a half hours of blending, we had our best blend. It was a wine composed of 39 percent Syrah, 43 percent Touriga, and 18 percent Chambourcin. I kept trying to get a percent or two of Norton in the blend, but it just didn't work. 
Wine Stained Hands after a Day of Blending

The fun part of blending is realizing how even a percent of a particular wine can make a big difference in the flavor, the nose, and the mouth feel of a wine.

Our group of six thought we had a really good wine--and our assessment was confirmed although it came up short against another blend and we came in second for the day. During the blind tasting part of the day, I have to admit that I rated the winning wine as the best of the day and our creation, was tied for second. 

My recommendation? Find a winery with an active wine club and get involved. It will increase you knowledge about wine in ways that you could never imagine.

-- Bob and Christina Doan, Elkridge, MD

Sunday, January 11, 2015

DeJon Vineyards

It was a cold and rainy Saturday afternoon when we arrived at DeJon Vineyards in Hydes, Maryland. We were definitely not disappointed, however, as the gray and overcast day quickly transformed into a pleasant and enjoyable experience.

This winery is small and friendly. On Saturday afternoons they have a food truck for lunch fare and live music playing in the tasting room both of which combine to create a festive and welcoming atmosphere in which  to sample wine. 

And the wines are definitely worth tasting.  Friendly and knowledgeable people staffed the tasting area and were able to answer all of my questions. As an added benefit, they were bottling in the building next door and allowed us great access to the completely manual operation. This is wine making at its basic level and that makes it all the better.

The tasting fee was a reasonable $5. All of the juice used to create the wines is presently purchased from other wine growing regions, including the Finger Lakes of New York, Maryland, and Chile. 

The price point of the wines is great. The whites are solid wines. The 2011 Chardonnay is unoaked with flavors of apples, pears, and vanilla. The 2012 Vidal Blanc was exceptionally crisp with citrus and bright flavors.

The highlight of the tasting was the Dragonfly 2013. The tasting notes indicate that this full-bodied, Bordeaux styled, Maryland wine offers a luscious blend of cabernet sauvignon, cabernet franc, and chambourcin grapes. At $25, this is a good price point for this wine.

To warm us up on the cold rainy Saturday a mulled version of Festivus 2011 was being served. It was a delicious way to warm the spirits and complimented the ribs I enjoyed for lunch from the on site food truck.
Bottling the 2014 Chambourcin

We are extremely excited about the chambourcin that was being bottled on the day we visited. It was a 2014 sourced from the Finger Lakes region of New York. We sampled the wine shortly after it was bottled and found it enjoyable, but are waiting for about 6 weeks before doing a full review on the wine. 

DeJon Vineyards is very excited about 2015 because they will be bottling a chambourcin from vines grown on the estate. We are excited as well because chambourcin is one of our favorite grapes--it blends well, makes a very fine varietal, and port-style and dessert wines. It is an underrated versatile grape that grows well in this region.

Recommendation: Visit this vineyard and enjoy the wines and the atmosphere. This is a gem of a winery right in Baltimore county!

-- Bob and Christina Doan, Elkridge, MD

Monday, December 22, 2014

Perfectly Aged Wine: Keswick 2010 Merlot

They say that about ninety percent of the wine sold in America is consumed within 48 hours of purchase. We couldn't actually find a reference to quote, but we have heard this statistic quoted so many times that it is at least an Urban Legend. 

When we opened a bottle of Keswick Vineyards Merlot 2010 the other evening, we were greeted by a wine which is at its peak. It is fabulous with its smooth depth and nose. The winemaker's notes suggest this wine will be good for up to 8 years and I believe that this will definitely be true.

The experience reminded me that saving the right wine for the right amount of time significantly improves the enjoyment. It is a bit sad the wines are sold before they are ready to be consumed--especially when certain ones age so well. 

We had enjoyed other bottle of this vintage a few weeks ago and were ready to fully enjoy this one when it was opened.

Not every wine is designed to be aged--but those that benefit from "laying down" can be very special when they are finally opened. 

-- Bob and Christina Doan, Elkridge, MD

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Wine of the Night - Six Mile Creek

Looking for something special to enjoy on an evening after the Thanksgiving holiday has ended and while looking forward to the chaos of Christmas, we chose a wine that we bought earlier this year while in Ithaca, NY. 

The wine is Six Mile Creek's 2012 Quintessence at $22. 

Who says that New York Finger Lakes vineyards can't make a nice, deep, Bordeaux-style red wine? Six Mile Creek has figured it out!

The wine has a nice deep ruby color. Hints of plums and dark berries on the nose and consistent with the complex flavors and mild tannins. There is a hint of acidity in the taste which has a medium finish. Decant it for an hour and let it open up and it becomes a dynamic wine. Right out of the open bottle the flavors are a bit sharp--but they mellow out quickly.

RECOMMENDATION: At a $22 price point--this is a good wine!

Bob and Christina Doan, Elkridge, MD

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Three Wines--the Key to a successful dinner

Amid all of the preparations for the Thanksgiving feast comes the inevitable decisions about which wine or wines to serve.

We believe the key to a successful Thanksgiving dinner comes in a trio of wines. Consider this--the Thanksgiving feast is probably the largest eating experience most of us have during the course of the year. One wine will just not do it.
Pre-Dinner Whites

Thanksgiving dinner has three great opportunities to pair wine with food.

First, the pre-meal appetizers. The choice here is a light white or and possibly one with some fizz. A Riesling will suit the mood very well. We have also come across a sparkling Muscat which is a nice starter. We are choosing Oregon wines for this part of the meal.

Willamette Valley Vineyards 2013 Riesling - $12
Tulatin Estate 2012 Frizzante - $15

Then for dinner, especially a turkey dinner, we like a medium to light bodied red. Our preference is for a Cabernet Franc or a Pinot Noir. This is where we spend our wine budget for the dinner. This is, after all the main event.

Fess Parker wines
This year we're going to Fess Parker in Virginia for the Pinot Noir.

Fess Parker 2012 Pinot Noir Clone 2A Bien Nacido Vineyard - $55
Fess Parker 2012 Pinot Noir Pommard Clone - $38

We think these will even go with the cranberry sauce!

Finally, comes the dessert. Our choice is a port or port-style wine, but others like dessert wines.

This year the choices are from Virginia.

King Family Vineyards 2010 Seven - $26

Pearmund Cellars Vin de Sol NV - $23

We know, we wrote that three wines will do it--so it is easy, select one from each category. We'll probably take all six just because, as one friend says, "Nothing succeeds like excess."

Can you really ever have too much wine?

We think not. 

-- Bob and Christina Doan, Elkridge, MD

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Wine of the Evening - 2009 Keswick Vineyards Consensus

2009 Keswick Vineyards Consensus
Every so often one of those truly unique wines comes along and just screams: why couldn't there be thousands more cases of this wine.

The 2009 Keswick Vineyards Consensus is one of those wines. I opened a bottle this evening to check its progress and was truly amazed. The winemakers notes say it may be laid down for five years and, well, it has been five years!

The nose remains as vital and exciting as when this wine was blended. How do I know? Because I had a hand in blending this Gold Medal winning wine. I love the smokiness of this wine and many dark Virginia wines. This one is dark, too; no light escapes.

The taste is medium, but complex with some tannins and a good whole mouth taste with some acidity and a hint of minerality and dark fruit flavors.

This wine has been aging in my cellar and I still have a few bottles. It is sad, though, that there aren't more for sale. The wine is at its peak.

-- Bob and Christina Doan, Elkridge, MD