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

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Wine for the Holiday Gathering


Holiday time is upon us and with it comes the inevitable decision associated with which wines to serve.

There are multiple opportunities to serve wine during the holiday season, whether for meals or social gatherings with friends and family. Each opportunity presents its own special challenges. 

Wines are deeply personal. Each person has their own favorites and even among my wine drinking friends, although we generally enjoy similar wines, we have different likes.

For the holiday gathering I recommend a solid middle of the road white--a Viognier, a Pinot Gris, and maybe a Muscat with a bit of fizz in it. My specific recommendations are:

2011 King Family Viognier - $24
2013 Willamette Valley Vineyards Pinot Gris - $14
2012 Semi Sparkling Muscat Frizzante Tualatin Estate - $15

On the red side, offer a dark red, shiraz or cabernet sauvignon and a lighter red like a cabernet franc or a pinot noir. 

2013 Willamette Valley Vineyards Whole Cluster Pinot Noir  - $22
2013 F Stephen Miller Shiraz Angel Reserve - $11
2013 King Family Vineyards Cabernet Franc - $24
2011 Liberty School Cabernet Sauvignon - $13

Keep the prices moderate and figure four glasses per person--you should have enough for the evening that way. Remember, each bottle contains five five ounce glasses of wine. Most people pour heavy resulting in six or seven ounce pours.

Most importantly, though, have fun and enjoy the wine!

-- Bob and Christina Doan, Elkridge, MD

Monday, October 27, 2014

Pure Wine Cafe

Pure Wine Cafe Interior
Set along Main Street, Ellicott City, Maryland, is one of the premier wine cafe's in the area. The Pure Wine Cafe is everything that we look for in a wine cafe. 

It is cozy, upscale, friendly, and full of great wine and food!

We spent a Friday evening Happy Hour with friends at the cafe two weeks ago and could not have enjoyed our experience more.

The interior is small, cozy and very inviting. The wait staff was extremely knowledgeable about the wines being offered and the Happy Hour specials are worth stopping by to enjoy especially with friends after a long, grueling week at work. The menu is easy to read and understand and the waitstaff is eager to help pair the best wine with whatever is chosen. We especially recommend the truffle fries. 

One of the staff recommendations that we definitely enjoyed was the Inman Family 2010 Pinot Noir from the Russian River Valley. It was the perfect wine for the evening.

RECOMMENDATION: The Pure Wine Cafe is great place for happy hour, dinner, snacks, and most of all enjoying an evening with friends. Check it out, it is worth the trip.

-- Bob and Christina Doan, Elkridge, MD