The plan was to head south from Westminster to nearby Mount Airy to visit two local producers today. The first stop would be Linganore Winecellars, by far the biggest on my list. It holds the title of Maryland’s largest winery. The winery and vineyard (aka Berrywine Plantations) are on a sprawling 230 acre estate.
As I contacted each winery the week prior to get a feel for them, I found out that the signature tasting at Linanore was sixteen wines for five dollars and for an additional five, food pairings were provided. This is the most substantial tasting I’ve participated in to date. I’m thinking I could probably skip lunch.
The food & wine pairings have a changing monthly theme, October is Mediterranean month. Our host for the tasting was Chaz, a young, well spoken gentleman who provided us with six delicacies to try interchangeably with the wines per his suggestions. The tasting was supposed to last about 45 minutes.
So top to bottom, here we go. Let’s get started.
1. Chardonnay/Roasted Peppers – This lighter bodied Chard is aged in oak for five months. It contains 0% Residual Sugar(RS) and has a nice vanilla character and citrusy finish. This wine would pair very nicely with poultry dishes. $16.51/bottle
2. White Raven/Artichoke Dip – This estate bottled wine made from Cayuga grapes is reminiscent of Pinot Grigio. Fruity & crisp w/ 0% RS. The artichoke dip drys it up a bit. $11.01/bottle
3. Terrapin White/Artichoke Dip – The light, semi-dry Terrapin White is similar to Sauvignon Blank or a drier Riesling. Some other fruits were extracted into this to give it it’s character. It stands at 2% RS, which is on the higher side for a dry wine. $11.01/bottle
5. Bacioni/Roasted Peppers – Bacioni means “big kiss” in Italian. This versatile blend of Chambourcin, Barbera, Cab Franc & Cab Sauv is a great table wine. $14.68/bottle
6. Chambourcin/Roasted Tomato & Salami – Fuller bodied w/ more oak than the Bacioni, this was my “Red Bias pick of the day”. Subtle hints of red fruit. Big wine but not overpowering. The tomato sweetened it up a bit. $16.51/bottle
7. Red Skins/Salami & Roasted Tomato – Linganore’s driest red. Red Skins won multiple awards & is only available at the winery. To dispel any outrage from local Ravens fans, this wine is so named because it has the longest fermentation exposure to the grape skins. 0% RS. $19.27/bottle
At this point, I concentrated primarily on the wine itself versus the food provided. The artichoke dip in particular was overpowering to me, though my sister loved it. Sixteen wines is a lot and I wanted to make sure each one got a fair representation. As far as lunch was concerned, I think I’ll need a burger after this.
Ok, back to business.
9. Steeple Chase/Black Olives & Artichoke Dip – The semi-sweet Steeple Chase has raspberry notes, as raspberries are actually added to the fermenting process. The olives make it drier on the palate. This would go great w/ chocolate. 12% ABV & 6% RS. $11.01/bottle
10. Peach/Feta Cheese & Artichoke Dip – Light-bodied & semi-sweet. Oozing with peach flavor. Made 100% from peaches w/ no additives. 6% RS. $12.84/bottle
11. Blackberry/Artichoke Dip – 100% produced from blackberries. Rich & medium bodied dessert wine. A real treat when mixed w/ sparkling wine. $14.68/bottle
For the remainder of the tasting, Chaz jumped around with the wine styles a bit.
12. Sweet Chessie/Roasted Peppers – This award winning, sweet white is a late harvest wine, similar to ice wine. Well balanced with tropical notes. 10% RS. $14.68/bottle
14. Abisso – This estate bottled Port style dessert wine is fortified with grain alcohol. Serve chilled or at room temperature. 18-22% ABV. $23.85/bottle
The last two wines are Linganore’s holiday wines.
15. Spiced Apple/Roasted Pepers – This is a cider based offering made with apples from western Maryland. Spiced w/ cinnamon & cloves. $11.01/bottle
16. Spicy Regatta/Any of the samples left from the first 15 pairings – This spicy & sweet red is also fortified with cinnamon & cloves. The cloves are very prominent in this. Can be served heated during the holidays or chilled in summer. $11.01/bottle
Linganore’s long time winemaker, Anthony Aellen was kind enough to show us around the production area. The winery & grounds have grown steadily over the years and in 2011, they were awarded Baltimore Business Journal’s ‘Green Business of the Year’.
The Aellen family planted their first six acres of vines in 1971 and opened the winery five years later. Anthony now produces over thirty wide ranging varieties of wine.
Be sure to stop by Linganore if you are in the area. They can accommodate any wine lover’s taste with their expansive selection of locally grown & produced wines. Did I mention the Honey Mead and the Dandelion wine? I want to thank Anthony for the friendly, welcoming environment that his family has brought to Northern Maryland. The staff here is knowledgeable and very helpful as well.
Now if you don’t mind I have one more stop before I devour a well deserved burger.