Thursday, May 02, 2013

Port of Leonardtown Winery - The Black Label Collection (MD)

Port of Leonardtown Vineyards is not really a winery, as much as it is a collective of vineyards. There are 14 vineyards in the region who have banded together, and formed a kind of collective, whose rapes go into the wines of Port of Leonardtown Winery. Their slogan is, “Local Wines from Local Vines! We bring you the best wine from the best Southern Maryland Wine Growers.”
The fourteen contributing vineyards include:
Chaptico Vineyards
Forest Hall Farm and Orchard  
Gemeny Farms
Gossett Farm
Gray Wolf Vineyard
Lawton Hall Vineyard
Longed Looked For, Come At Last
Piney Grove Vineyard  
Point O’ Grape Vineyard  
St. Gabriel’s Blackberry Manor Vineyard
St. Michael’s Manor Vineyard  
StoneMur Vineyards
Summerseat Farm Vineyard  
Wishful Thinking Farm
I first became aware of Port of Leonardtown when I went to the Eastern Wineries Exposition 2012. At the Grand Tasting I tasted their Chardonnay and a Chambourcin and was wowed. So I was thrilled when I saw that they would be a very real presence in the tastings during the Drink Local Winery Conference 2013.

Their actual winery is located in Leonardtown, Maryland and is part of the Port of Leonardtown. The winery is near the start of McIntosh Run’s 3 mile canoe and kayak trail that leads to the Leonardtown Wharf. McIntosh Run winds through a 58 acre Forest Interior Dwelling Species Habitat—home to bald eagles, Baltimore Orioles, wild turkeys and many other birds. At the end of the trail is the beautiful new Leonardtown Wharf Public Park. The park is the perfect place for a picnic. Leonardtown Square is a short walk from the wharf park and hosts many fine restaurants.

All the wines I tasted were from the premium black label collection.

The first wine that I tasted from Port of Leonardtown and the one that has made the most lasting impression on me is the Chambourcin 2010 Reserve. The wine is made from 80% Chambourcin, 10% Cabernet Franc, 9% Merlot, and 1% Norton. It was aged in American oak for 18 months. This is a big, complex, dry red wine. The folks from Leonardtown say that “This wine is a refined expression of Chambourcin.” And I quite agree. The wine is a deep garnet color with tinges of purple. Plum, prune, fig, all come across on the nose and the palate, as well as promised floral notes, with herbs and spice notes also coming though. Nice big ripe fruit comes through, with acidity and tannins well balanced, for a nice, long finish.  We had this wine paired with lamb chops, and it was in fact the perfect accompaniment. Fantastic.


I also had the Cabernet Franc Reserve 2009. This is 100% Cabernet Franc, aged in French oak. The grapes are actually from Virginia. Big notes of raspberry, mixed berries, grass, and pencil, making it a classic version of this varietal. Nice fruit upfront, a whiff of vanilla, with low acidity and soft tannins. A very pretty medium to dark dry red wine.


Last but certainly not least is the 1634 Chardonnay 2010 Barrel Fermented Chardonnay. Their 2010 Barrel-Fermented Maryland Chardonnay is proudly named “1634” to commemorate the St. Mary’s County winery’s first steps in this historic region. The Kent County-grown Chardonnay grapes were carefully harvested, barrel-fermented and aged in French oak barrels. In 1634, two ships—the Ark and the Dove—landed at St. Clement’s Island. The passengers established St. Mary’s City in the Maryland province within the New World. Centuries later, the Port of Leonardtown

Our 1634 is a full-bodied, richly layered wine dry white wine. I am always leery of whites done in oak. They can be over done in less experienced hands. This is a lovely wine with green apple, honeysuckle, tropical fruits, and vanilla all wafting out of the glass. On the palate the green apple comes through nicely, with a hint if minerality, and a nice, smooth, creamy finish. Very, very lovely.

The black label collection is an excellent representation of the new quality wines coming out of the Maryland region, and an impressive debit line for Port of Leonardtown. Fantastic!