Monday, June 08, 2009

Black Ankle Vineyards

How can a beautiful Sunday be improved by a visit to a local winery? By visiting a local winery that makes really good European-style wines! And by local, I mean the mid-Atlantic region and specifically, Maryland. Not a region that one typically thinks of when you talk about great wines. When you hear of Gruner Veltliner, you normally think of Austria. Albarino to Spain. Chardonnay, California or France. All three of these wines are grown and produced at Black Ankle Vineyards in Mt. Airy and all three provide exciting, high-quality interpretations of these iconic grapes.

Black Ankle Vineyards
14463 Black Ankle Road
Mt. Airy, MD 21771

A simple sign on a simple, curvy country road. Blink and you'll miss it.

Thanks to Jason for the following photos.

The tasting room is brand new. Constructed and opened in 2008, the tasting room is open and airy. The structure was constructed using sustainable materials and includes sections of green, living roofs.

A close up shot of the green roof and part of the patio.

We took advantage of a guided tour into the vineyards & winery. Here's some Viognier.

Ahh, the humble grape blossoms, soon to be Syrah grapes.

And a lovely pastoral scene. After the tasting, which included 6 wines, purchase a glass of your favorite, sit down and let the world stop around you.

Of the 6 wines we tasted, here are the 4 that I was really drawn to:

(notes are from the winery's own descriptions)

Albarino 2008
The 2008 Albarino offers up classic aromas of citrus and lemon/lime. This Black Ankle Vineyards version of the classic white from Galicia, Spain shows considerable more richness and depth than most Spanish Albarinos, with a creamy texture and a lengthy finish, while still remaining a true Albarino to its core. Scott's Note: I've never had, or even heard of Albarino before. This wine was a nice, light wine. Something that could easily be introduced to new wine drinkers. No flavors were overly dominating. All mellow. Hello Sunday afternoons!

Chardonnay 2008
Blend: 88% Chardonnay, 6% Muscat, 6% Viognier
A ripe, classically built barrel-fermented Chardonnay with hints of orange peel, honeysuckle and lavender on the nose. A fully body reveals a smooth wine with excellent richness on the palate and a long, minerally finish. Scott's Note: I'm not a Chardonnay fan, but this was a very nice version of the classic white. There was no Oak/Butter Monster smashing you down. The blending of the Muscat and Viognier creates a very balanced wine that begs to be sipped in the sun.

Gruner Veltliner 2008
The 2008 Gruner Veltliner reveals the classic GV aroma of pink grapefruit, white pepper and fresh herbs. On the palate the wine displays crispness, balance and substantial body along with flavors of grapefruit and lemon. Scott's Note: We've had plenty of Austrian GV in the past. Mostly from Anton Bauer. This is nothing like that. But this is very fun. When they talk about pink grapefruit, they are not kidding. This is all grapefruit and I loved it! Reminiscent of a dry, tart Sauvignon Blanc.

Syrah 2006
Blend: 90% Syrah, 10% Pinot Noir
The dark ruby colored 2006 Syrah has aromas of white pepper, cinnamon and tapenade, with notes of vanilla. The smooth, sweet, silky tannins frame the abundant red fruits and give way to a long, spicy finish. Scott's Note: For a Syrah, this was a giant glass of Juicy Fruit. Crazy amounts of berry! I'll give the Pinot Noir a big fat kiss for that!

Take some time, check out Black Ankle Vineyards. Visit them in person, or look for their wines in a shop or restaurant near you.


Jason said...

This was such a treat. Let's put it this way - we had intended to do wine tasting at 3 or more vineyards that day, but we were having so much fun at this one we never left! The staff is wonderful, the space is enchanting, and the views are spectacular.

But the reason to stay really is the wine. Throw out your assumptions of what any particular wine will taste like, because you'll be surprised. These wines are much more reminiscent of old world (i.e. French) flavors, but with a lighter texture that indicates it's grown here in the humid climate of Maryland.

And I say to throw out your preconceived notions, because it really was shocking. I do NOT like Viognier, yet I enjoyed the one here very much. I'd say the same for their Cabernet blend. But my favorite was the Gruner Veltliner - who knew you could find it locally!

The cherry on top is the practices that they believe in at Black Ankle. It's all about sustainability, tending the vines by hand, and honoring the land. I can't wait to drink more of their wine, and to take a trip back soon.

A slight warning - the wine isn't terribly cheap, but I think for a delicious DRINKABLE wine that you can buy with a clean conscience, it's worth every penny.

Brave Astronaut said...

Black Ankle is run by friends of ours. Good for you for making the run out there.

Scott, I completely agree with you about the Chardonnay. Normally I don't like them, but Black Ankle's is phenomenal.

ScottE. said...

BA: That's so cool! Sarah was so generous with her time and obviously very informative during the tour. I love this winery and will be back before the summer is over.

Cathy said...

Kudos to you for promoting the most exciting sector of Maryland agriculture right now. Did you try the Crumbling Rock? This winery is an example of one doing everything right--and it's so close. Glad you had a fun afternoon! Brave Astronaut--do you think you can get them to come to Cheverly Community Market?

Brave Astronaut said...

Cathy - I'm asking. I'll let you know.

ScottE. said...

It would be great to have them the Cheverly Market.