5 Wines You Must Try This Fall
Fall appeared to sneak up so quickly. Summer was just here, long sunny days and warm evenings. Before you know it, the leaves are changing and the nights are longer. Fall was here without warning. Fall is definitely here. Just like the seasons are transitioning, people are transitioning to earthier, spicier and fuller body wines. We found wines that will make your transition to fall easier. Here are five wines you must try before fall ends.
Rocky Shoals, Slack Farm (Leonardtown, MD)
There is never a bad time to have sparkling wine. Have a tough day at work; have a glass of sparkling. Win the lottery; have a glass of sparkling. It is 4:00 pm; have a sparkling glass of wine. See what I mean, never a bad time.
Slack Farm’s Rocky Shoals sparkling wine is always good to enjoy. Fall is a better time of year to enjoy this cranberry red color, demi-sec sparkling wine. You are immediately greeted with a lot of fuzz and mellows to a mild effervesces. There are fruity notes of strawberries and raspberries on the nose. You will enjoy tart cherries and rhubarb on the palate.
Zuccàto Pumpkin Spice, Mount Felix Vineyard & Winery (Havre de Grace, MD)
In this season of pumpkin spice this and that, it is not surprising there is a pumpkin wine. Someone had to do it. Pumpkin wine sounds odd and gimmicky. But, it is not. Trust me. Zuccàto wine puts you in the mood to go to the pumpkin patch or visit the apple orchard. Its color is striking, brilliant autumn gold. Clove, nutmeg are the spices you smell. The spices are more pronounced when you taste the wine. You also get hints of applesauce on the palate and baked bread. This is a seasonal wine. Mount Felix only produces this wine this time of year and it sells out every year. Do not wait to try it.
Peach Kissed, Harford Vineyard &Winery (Forest Hill, MD)
Why are we recommending a peach wine in the fall? Shouldn’t we wait until the spring to discuss peaches? Its name, Peach Kissed, leads you to believe it is a light airy wine. By its name, it is expected that it is a sweet wine. Its name is deceiving. It is not a fruit wine. It is a wine that has hints of peaches. It is not a sweet wine, but an earthy wine. The wine is pale straw color. What is most striking are the spice flavors, you would enjoy in a warm peach pie. The finish lingers in anticipation for your next sip.
2015 Concerto, Harmony Vineyards and Winery (Baltimore County)
Harmony Vineyards is one of Maryland’s lesser known vineyards because it does not have a public tasting room. However, if you frequent Baltimore restaurants or Mills wine store Harmony wines are very popular. I stumbled upon Harmony’s Concerto at Mills and I am happy I did. Concerto is a blend of Merlot 66%, Cabernet Sauvignon 22%, Petit Verdot 5%, Barbera 4% and Syrah 3%. Aged in 18 months in new and old French oak. It is the perfect wine to serve at Thanksgiving dinner or sip by itself. Its color is velvet. The black fruit aromas capture you when the bottle is uncorked. An enjoyable medium body, mild tannin wine has mineral notes and cook fruit like plums and currant on the palate. Concerto is an excellent excuse to go out to dinner.
2015 Pinot Noir, Black Ankle Vineyard (Mt. Airy, MD)
As far as I am concern Oregon and Washington winemakers have a foot up on us when growing Pinot Noir grapes. Not saying west coast winemakers are superbly smarter or better. They just have better conditions to grow Pinot Noir. Pinot Noir is an extremely difficult grape to grow well on the east coast. You have to have the right, maybe even perfect, growing conditions to cultivate this grape. These conditions influence what goes into the bottle. I have tried many right coast Pinot Noirs and very few have left a meaningful impression until this weekend.
It was by chance I had an opportunity to try this particular Pinot Noir. One of the Tour Ambassador’s became sick and I had to substitute for her. The tour was to Black Ankle Vineyard on the Westminster Regional Tour. One of Black Ankle’s Assistant Managers told me have to try this Pinot Noir. Skeptically, I thought not even Black Ankle can make a noteworthy Pinot. I was wrong. Aged 18 months in French oak, it is a beautiful jewel tone garnet. Fruit forward on the nose, but not overwhelming. You are greeted with Bing cherries, currants and smoke. There is generous minerality, soft tannin, and medium body. Black Ankle’s Pinot Noir is limited in production. If you are interested in being wowed, take a trip to Black Ankle.
Cheers to fall! You can purchase most of these wines from the vineyards’ websites.
Interested in more wine recommendations, join Vino 301’s mailing list
Fall’s Most Popular Wines in Maryland’s Tasting Rooms
There are new grapes names being mentioned in Maryland’s tasting rooms you should become familiar with. Albariño, Viognier and Cabernet Franc are the most popular wines you will be tasting this fall.
Albariño is a Spanish grape that made Maryland its home. I remember first trying Albariño four or five years ago at Serpent Ridge Vineyard. It was the first and only place I could find it in Maryland. Gradually, this white wine appeared in Maryland’s tasting rooms. It is extremely popular in Frederick and Carroll Counties. It has moved its way east to Baltimore and Cecil Counties. Boordy Vineyard’s Albariño won Best in Show in Maryland’s 2016 Governor’s Cup.
It is a white wine pale lemon color, high in acid, with lemon, orange rind, and subtle floral scents on the nose. It has medium to high alcohol and flavors of grapefruit and almonds on the palate. Bodegas Gonzalez-Ruggiero procedures a delightful Albariño Bodegas Gonzalez-Ruggiero is one of Maryland’s newest vineyards located in Rising Sun.
Viognier is Virginia’s state grape. I understand why. It grows incredibly well in this region. Viognier is a medium- full body white wine. It is low in acid, has floral and honeysuckle aromas, and tropical fruit the palate like kiwi and mango. It is easy to drink and brings a smile to your face with every sip.
It is not surprising that Viognier popularity has reached its way to Maryland. A select few of Maryland vintners produced Viognier previously, but it is more abundant in Maryland’s tasting rooms in the past two years. Big Cork has joined the of parade of Maryland vineyards. It is no coincidence Big Cork Vineyard makes Viognier. Dave Collins, Big Cork’s talent winemaker, was noteworthy winemaker in Virginia. He brought his masterful skills to Maryland. Big Cork’s Viognier is a beautiful slightly golden in color, full-bodied and low acidity wine. It has traditional traits known to Viognier. Green melon and orange blossoms flavors are most pronounced.
Cabernet Franc is the popular under study to Cabernet Sauvignon. It is a red grape almost black in appearance. It is used as a blending grape. Cabernet Franc and Merlot are used in Bordeaux style wines.
Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc share similar characteristics, the same level of richness and intensity. Although Cabernet Franc has big bold flavors, it has slightly milder tannin and more red fruit flavors making it a smoother wine to enjoy. More and more Maryland winemakers have discovered this fact and are now making Cabernet Franc the star of the show.
Boordy Vineyards 2012 Cabernet Franc Landmark Series is a wonderful representation of Maryland’s Cabernet Franc. It has a ruby red color with a jammy flavors like red berry preserves and smoky notes on the nose. It has a long finish of earthy flavors, vanilla and cherries.