Friday, March 7, 2014

Wine Country: Maryland - Elk Run Vineyards And Winery

The first recorded account of Maryland winemaking is said to date back to 1648, although it would be three centuries before an official winery appeared.  Boordy Winery was the state's first in 1945.  So, unlike many states in which wine production suffered terribly after Prohibition, Maryland began its bounceback in relatively short order.  Thing is, it really was more of a startup than a bounceback.

In the 2012 numbers, Maryland comes in 17th in wine production by state with over 337,000 gallons.
There are four wine regions in the Old Line State, a name bestowed by George Washington in honors the state's troops.  The Maryland Line fought often in the Revolutionary War.

The Piedmont Plateau stretches from the foothills to the Chesapeake Bay.  The Eastern Shore has a climate held temperate by the the bay and is divided into the Upper, Mid and Lower Shores.  The Southern Plain is hot most of the summer, day and night.  Here, Italian grape varieties are grown with great success.  In the Western Mountain region grapes suitable for cold climates thrive.

Elk Run Vineyards and Winery is in the Piedmont region, where the largest number of Maryland wineries are.  If you look closely, you'll see Elk Run wine featured in the Netflix series, "House of Cards."  Those politicians may be evil, but they don't need a train to run over them to recognize a good wine.  At least they drink local.

The winery at Elk Run is named after a creek, while the vineyard's name has deeper roots.  "The deed name to the property is the 'Resurvey of Cold Friday,'" says their website.  "It was a land grant from the King of England to Lord Baltimore.  The winemaker’s home is circa 1756."  The website continues, "Soils of schist and shale allow for deep roots and good drainage.  Seven to eight hundred foot elevations help keep the vineyard safe from frost danger."

The Elk Run Syrah, Cold Friday Vineyard 2011 is extremely dark, deep indigo - so dark it's almost black, with barely any light getting through.  A wonderful whiff of spices hits the nose first, with lovely red currant aromas following immediately.  There is a savory aspect, too, which is very light - it doesn't really smell like meat, but it makes me want some.  On the palate, things are just great.  Beautiful flavors of raspberry, cherry and cranberry converge in a wash of fruit riding on a peppery wave of fresh acididy.

This wine does not lay it on heavy; rather, it tries to slip past without attracting too much attention.  That is the only thing it fails to do, though.  Sipping this wine absent-mindedly would be as easy as mistaking winemaker Fred Wilson's colonial digs for the Washington Monument.  He did a great job on this single-vineyard Syrah.


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