Nothing Old About Old Westminster – Great New Wines From This Young Trio!
So I was at
the Grand Tasting/Twitter Off at DLW 2013, and the room was abuzz. There were
many wonderful wines. But there were some that rose above the rest. Old
Westminster had a great vibe going on for it, as writers and bloggers tasted
Maryland wines in a huge room overlooking right field at Camden Yards.
something odd about Old Westminster that I couldn’t quite put my finger on
until the time of this writing – and I just figured it out. “Old Westminster”
sounds….well…old. Now, in terms of brand building, that’s great, because it
makes you sound established. But there’s an odd juxtaposition – the three
people who are pushing headlong into the wine world at Old Westminster are all
under 30! And they are doing a terrific job! Baker siblings Drew, Lisa, and
Ashli manage the vineyard, make wine, and market respectively (above).
Westminster’s proprietors are the Baker family. The property is situated on a
rocky plot of ground just south of historic Westminster, MD. The Baker family
believes this winery represents the American Dream: strong family, faith,
sustainability and entrepreneurial spirit. They are making hand-crafted wines
produced in an environmentally conscious way, building relationships and
genuinely connecting with the land. The farm has deep, gravelly soils coined,
“Channery Loam,” overlaying a bedrock of greenstone schist. They believe this
lends character to their wines.
vineyard, everything is done by hand. From winter pruning to summer hedging,
weed control to harvest- it’s all powered by sweat, not oil. In addition to
managing their 7,600 estate vines, they work closely with regional winegrowers
to source grapes such as Cabernet Franc and Chardonnay.
wrote another word, I have to admit, I went in prejudiced. Several wine writers
and bloggers were already buzzing about Old Westminster. At a big tasting like
this, that’s great news if you’re a winery.
Godbout of The Wine Compass wrote, “And Lisa is getting plenty of practice in
the winery. Last year the Maryland Assembly passed a law legalizing the
equivalent of a custom crush. So this year, Old Westminster Winery became such
a facility and Lisa assisted consultant John Levenberg in making wine for two
other Maryland start-ups, Crow Vineyard and Winery and Vineyards At Dodon.”
course, Washington Post wine scribe Dave McIntyre wrote of the two wines we tasted
at the Grand Tasting, “These wines catapulted Old Westminster Winery and its
young winemaker, Lisa Baker, to the top of my “Ones to Watch” list.” I couldn’t
Chardonnay Pine Grove Vineyard 2012
So first I
tried the Chardonnay. This is a single vineyard wine. The Chardonnay grapes are
from a vineyard perched atop a sandy bank overlooking the Chester River. McIntyre continued, “Old Westminster makes a
bracing chardonnay that contrasts perfectly with so many flabby examples from
the east – this is chardonnay in the Linden, Boordy, and Michael Shaps
category.” Again, I couldn’t agree more with Dave. Dave wasn’t the only one! Lenn Thompson,
Editor-in-Chief of the New York Cork Report scribbled, “It’s not news that I’m
not the biggest fan of American chardonnay. I probably wouldn’t have even
tasted this if a fellow attendee who knows that most chardonnay bores me hadn’t
suggested that I try it anyway. I’m glad he did. Minerally and focused with
just a kiss of oak, it leans to Chablis but doesn’t quite get there — and
that’s okay.” This wine was light and bright. Great mouthfeel. Refreshing.
Beautiful green apple and ripe pear with traces of tropical fruit and melon,
with a beautiful crisp acidity. A lip smacking wine!
Westminster Links Bridge Vineyard Cabernet Franc 2011
wine was a single vineyard wine as well. This Cabernet Franc is from a vineyard
on a silty-clay bank of the Monocacy River in Maryland. McIntyre raved, “There
was also a delicious cabernet franc that was all the more impressive because it
came from the incredibly rainy 2011 vintage.” Again, I agree with Dave. The
wine had bright and dark cherries on the nose, along with vanilla, spice, and a
hint of chocolate. The fruit laid on the tongue like jam, and the flavor lasted
a nice long time despite a noticable soft acidity. The tannins were soft. This
Cab Franc was made the wine classic in a European-East Coast style. This is Cab
Franc! This was lovely!!! Wrote Godbout,
“The final wine was a Maryland Cabernet Franc, where they grapes were sourced
from a vineyard in Thurmont Maryland. In general, this wine is coming along
nicely. It had.. much fruit flavor… but with less tannins.”
wines showed tremendous promise for a new winery on the up-swing.
Congratulations and good luck!!! Given we were behind the right fields stands
of Camden Yards, I’d say these wines were a home run!
notes on Old Westminster and a few others I’ll be writing about: