Michel Gahier Arbois Chardonnay La Fauquette 2008

imageA neighbor shared this white wine with us.

How to describe it? Well, if you enjoy gueze beer, then you probably will love this Chardonnay.

This unfiltered wine is the furthest thing from the vanilla-oak bomb Chardonnays of California, New Zealand, and Australia. It is not sweet—no, it actually is sour.

At first taste we were so caught off guard we thought, “Is this wine off?” after a few more sips. we decided, “Well, if it is off, it is off in a wonderful way.”(Rating: Good)

Arbois is imported by Rosenthal Wine Merchants of new York, New York. You may read more at http://www.madrose.com/index.php/france/jura/michel-gahier.


Blackstone Chardonnay 2008

by Jacob

On balmy days, sometimes you do not want to open an expensive bottle of wine.  Several weeks ago, I picked up a bottle of 2008 Blackstone Chardonnay at the local grocery store for about $10. I did not have major exceptions for the wine, as many $10 Chardonnay’s are overly oaked and buttery.

Much to my surprise, this Chardonnay tasted more expensive than it was.  A straw color in the glass and notes of apple or pear on the nose were followed by a pleasant green apple and citrus taste.  You can also taste oak, but it is not overwhelming.  Also present, but not in major quantities are the traditional vanilla and buttery notes that have become associated with barrel aged Chardonnay.  The lack of major oak taste, I find refreshing as my palate has tended toward non-oaked expressions lately.  I wonder, “Were oak chips were used instead of barrels?”

Overall, at 13.5% alcohol and 95% Chardonnay, 3% Gewürztraminer, and 2% Semillon, I think I will go out and find another couple of bottle for the upcoming summer months (Rating *** 1/2).


CalNaturale Chardonnay

When we heard about this, we half-scoffed and then felt a twinge of intrigue.  Organic wine in an eco-friendly, non-bottle container?

Looking at the package, the first thought that entered our silly heads was, “Hey, it’s a juice box for big people!”

Which is sorta true. The 500 ml container fits in a brown bag or brief case with ease yet carries two-thirds of a bottle of wine in it.  “But won’t it leak?” you ask.  Well, we had no leaks despite storing a CalNaurale on its side for two weeks. So we doubt it would drip if you tucked it into your lunch container or jacket pocket for a time.

What’s inside was a pleasant surprise. This is no oak bomb—no, it is a French-style Chardonnay that tastes like wine and shows an apple note. The 500 ml. size can be had for $7 or $8. (Rating ****)

For further details and to read about CalNaturale’s Cabernet Sauvignon, surf to http://www.CalnNaturale.com/. Details on where to get CalNaturale can be found at http://www.calnaturale.com/where.php.




Elk Run Vineyard

by Jacob

Last week, I had the opportunity to travel to Elk Run Vineyard in Mt. Airy, Maryland.  The drive out was beautiful. Having lived in the Washington suburbs for many years, it always strikes me how short the drive is from urban and suburban neighborhoods to farm land.  This was no exception.  Located about 45 minutes from Washington, DC Elk Run is a 30 year old winery that makes a number of different wines, sourced mostly from Maryland grapes.

The tasting room is located directly next to one of Elk Run’s two estate vineyards (Liberty Tavern Vineyard, the other Cold Friday Vineyard is across the street).  They grow most of their own grapes, purchasing only some Viogner and Malbec from California.  The staff is wonderful. The day I visited (and I suspect most days), family members of the owners were working.  They are incredibly knowledgeable not only about their wines, but about the area, and the challenges of growing grapes and producing wine in the Maryland climate.

The tasting program consisted of two options. For $5 you can taste 6 wines chosen by Elk Run and for $8, you can can taste 6 wines of your choice. I chose to do the $5 tasting and sampled the following wines (note that each wine does not have its own page. I have provided links by wine type, scroll down to find their description):

2009 Liberty Tavern Vineyard Chardonnay ($24) – A light and well balanced chardonnay that does not have the over oaked flavors so common in California, barrel-aged chardonnays.  (Rating ****)

2008 Cold Friday Vineyard Merlot ($22) – This a jammy wine that unlike many merlots is light on tannins.  Drinkable similar to many California Cabernet Sauvignons.  (Rating ***1/2)

2008 Gold Friday Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon ($26) – This is a young Cab with big tannins and concentrated berry flavors. Traditionally, East coast vineyards struggle with Cab grapes.  It will be interesting to see how this wine ages.  (Rating ***1/2)

2008 Riesling ($16) – My favorite wine of the tasting (and the only one that I bought).  A good example of an East Coast Riesling with light sweetness surrounding light fruit flavors and a floral bouquet on the nose.  (Rating ****1/2)

Annapolis Sunset ($9) – Sweet Rose wine made from Vigonier and Cabernet Sauvignon.  Have hints of grapefruit on the palate.

Sweet Katherine ($18) – A dessert wine made from Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot.  Full bodies with typical qualities of dessert or late harvest wines.  Very sweet with big berry and chocolate flavors.


Boordy Vineyards Icons of Maryland, Rockfish (Seyval-Vidal-Chardonnay)

Source: Boordy.com

by Jacob

With temperatures in the Washington, DC area hovering in the upper 90s the last few weeks, I have been on the lookout for white wines that would pair well with food and provide relief from the scorching weather.  While at my local grocery store (one of only a few in the county that is allowed to sell beer and wine), I saw a Boordy Vineyard white blend that look interesting—the Icons of Maryland, Rockfish blend of Seyval, Chardonnay, and Vidal Blanc.

Boordy Vineyards is Maryland’s oldest winery.  Located in Baltimore County, Boordy began growing grapes in the 1930s and opened the state’s first winery in 1945.  Today, they grow many of their own grapes in vineyards the central and western parts of Maryland and produce a number of grape based and fruit based wines.  Boordy wines are generally divided into three categories, landmark wines (single varietal and a meritage style red), Icons of Maryland (blends and single varietals named for iconic animals of Maryland) wines, and fruit wines.

Normally, I shy away from wines that do not have a vintage on the label and that source their grapes from “America.”   I want to know when a wine was produced and where the grapes were grown.  In this instance, however, Boordy has done an excellent job of blending Seyval, Chardonnay, and Vidal Blanc grapes into an acidic and smooth white wine that is easy drinking on a hot summer day.  It’s light yellow in the glass, and the nose has hints of ripe pear and peaches.  On the palate, you can taste melon (cantalope) with a hint of honeysuckle.  This provides a slight sweet balance to what might otherwise be an overly acidic wine.  At 11% alcohol, the “Rockfish” can be an easy and cost effective ($10) summer wine.  (Rating ***)