Saturday, May 20, 2017

Maquam Winery Turning Heads on Lake Champlain (VT)

So, I was at the Grad Tasting that precedes the opening of Eastern Winery Expo in Syracuse in 2017, when I spied some labels on the Vermont table that bespoke a very serious effort to make wine. When I picked the bottle up, I was filled with trepidation. They were fruit wines. Now, like mot folks, there's a certain stigma with fruit wines. They are usually cloying and sweet and made for a more popular palate. On the other hand, every once in a while you get a lovely surprise.

This was one of those lovely surprises.

Maquam Winery is a high-quality berry wine crafted in Vermont, on the shores of Lake Champlain. It's a small, family owned business.

The driving force behind the wines is the secret to their success. Dominic Rivard is an award winning commercial winemaker, wine distributor/exporter, author and passionate about wines, ciders and wine industry innovations. He's been making wine for more than 20 years. He's been interested in wine since he was 17. He is a qualified sommelier, has as WSET certification, and is studying for his Master of Wine accreditation. He is also a founding director of the Fruit Wines of Canada Association. Dominic has been involved with producing and distributing wines from Canada, USA, Italy, Spain, UK, Tanzania, Chile, Taiwan, India, Hong Kong, Korea, Japan as well as China. He has been a speaker on the subject of winemaking and wine marketing at various symposiums throughout the world and teaches cidermaking.


OK, so, to the wine.The first was the Maquam Pear Wine. The first nosing of the glass instantly told me I was in for something special. Big notes of pair and tropical fruits, somewhere along the ine of a fine chardonnay or sauvignon blanc. I was instantly impressed. The pear comes through across the palate as promised, but as in a fine chardonnay. There are other flavors of lychee and some green apple, with nice notes of vanilla, toast, and spice. An exceptional wine!!!!! Beautifully balanced and complex! Forget what fruit this was made from - this is flat out terrific wine! 

This is the kind of wine I could pass off to my most discerning wine friends as a fine chardonnay and none of the them would say anything other! Truly impressive!

The Maquam Blackcurrant Wine was made with  86% estate grown fruit in the Green Mountains of Vermont and 14% locally sourced Vermont Grade A maple syrup. To be sure, an odd blend, even to me! Then it was aged in French oak for ten months!

And yet, here it was, a dry dark, garnet colored wine, with all the big fruit you would expect up front, black and red cassis come through as promised, but the tartness isn't that of cassis, but more rounded, more subtle, with impressive layers of dark cocoa and vanilla, and caramel and spice. Dry, with nice tannins and good acidity, it was kind of like one of those great big baco noirs. Lovely layers of sour cherry slide in, Tremendous structure. A lovely wine!

Would love to see what Dominic could do with Blueberry. I imagine hhe might approach his final destination even further.

Regardless, Maquam Winery is instantly one of the better fruit wine makers, right up there approaching hallowed ground. Fantastic! Impressive! Heard turning!