Thursday, January 31, 2008

Coming Home to Elk Run Vineyards

It was a cold January evening when my wife Dominique called to find out what time I would be leaving he office. I told her soon, but not to make anything, as I was hoping to have a bowl of cereal, and try to be good that evening (I gained some weight over the holidays - and not just a little). There was silence. Instead. Dominique admitted, she was making something special, and I agreed, heavy heart in hand (liar!) that I would sample these culinary wares.

When I got home I had found out that Dominique was in the middle of a very Green dish - whole wheat Barilla pasta and broccoli rabe with oive oil and garlic. She ha also pan fried small chunks of tofu, frying them with some olive oil and salt and pepper. To say it smelled devine was n understatement.

But what to drink with such a dish. And then I found it...a bottle of Elk Run Vineyards 2001 Cabernet Sauvingnon.

Elk Run Vineyards is nestled in the rolling hills of Frederick County surrounded by dairy and horse farms and fields of wheat and corn. It is one of the prettiest little farms on par with Dr. Dolittle's Puddleby and the small country setting of Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. The name “Elk Run” was chosen for a stream. The deed name to the property is the “Resurvey of Cold Friday.” It was a land grant from the King of England to Lord Baltimore. The winemaker’s home is circa 1756. Since 1983 Fred and Carol Wilson and Neill Bassford, along with associates family and friends have made Elk Run a shining star among American wine producers.

I have been a fan of Elk Run since the mid-1990s when we first started going to the Maryland Wine Festival in Westminster. I might have even met Fred and Carol Wilson, though I do not remember. I remember I once went there and I bought some wine on the honor system because they were such a small operation at the time (the door to the winery was open but no one was there to take my money). I took the wine and left my phone number and a credit card number. It all worked out fine. Today they are recognized as one of the best east coast wineries.

Liberty Tavern Estate Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon is a multi award-winning single vineyard wine produced from their oldest Cabernet Sauvignon vines planted in 1980. It is a concentrated and robust deep red wine with dark berries and a touch of vanilla, and a touch of cedar. It is a nicely balanced wine. I decanted it to give it extra room to breath, and we were rewarded later on. But the wine is a celebrated wine as you can see from the awards it's won below:

Cabernet Sauvignon
Year Rank Vintage Competition
2006 Gold 2004 International Tasters Guild
2006 Silver 2004 LA County Fair
2006 Silver 2004 Maryland Governor's Cup
2005 Silver 2003 Maryland Governor's Cup
2004 Silver 2004 International Tasters Guild
2003 Bronze 2001 San Francisco International

After our boys were excused to go watch television, a rare mid-week treat, Dom and I sat down to a nice warm bowl of fresh whole wheat pasta topped with steaming spoonfuls of fresh broccoli rabe and garlic and the small diced cubes of fried tofu (an eclectic touch I thought - I'm being nice here.) I have to admit now - it was heavenly.

And then we swirled the deep red wine around the glass, took in a big nose full, and then drank. It was wonderful. Exceptional. A big, robust wine strong enough to stand up to a spicy and delicious piping hot pasta dish in late January. It was nice to come home to my wife and kids....and it was so nice to come home to Elk Run again.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Three New Releases From Silver Decoy

Just in time for Valentine's Day here are three new wines from Silver Decoy. Stop by this weekend and try their 2007 Traminette, 2007 Pinot Grigio and their new Raspberry wine. Remember, Silver Decoy was the 2007 Winery of the Year in New Jersey.

Silver Decoy 2007 Pinot Grigio - $12.00
100% estate-grown Pinot Grigio. Creamy. Nice acidity, with bright fruits and passion fruit coming across as promised.

Silver Decoy 2007 Traminette - $13.00
Traminette is one of Silver Decoy's most popular white. Flor and spicy, with a touch of apricot on the nose will ake your mouth water. This fresh, off-dry light white is great for sipping, Asian food, cheeses, and other fun light fare.

Winner - 2007 NJ Wine Competition - Silver Medal
Winner - 2006 NJ Wine Competition - Silver Medal

Silver Decoy Red Raspberry Wine - $12.00 / 375 ml
Dark, lushcious, bright red and crystal clear, the aromas of freshly crushed raspberries leap from the glass. Sweet and intense, but well balanced. Crisp. Tart. Fabulous! Perfect match for chocolate!

Winner - 2007 NJ Wine Competition - Gold Medal
Winner - 2006 NJ Wine Competition - Silver Medal

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Hopewell Valley Vineyards Starts Wine Course

On March 1, Hopewell Valley Vineyards will begin a series of wine courses which will be held at the winery by their vintner, Sergio and assisted by Anthony Dell, an experienced educator. This is an increasingly popular offering at wineries on the eastcoast and I highly recommend your attending this one or finding another in your area.

The first course, "Seed to Bottle", will cover the fundamental concepts of viticulture, viniculture and wine appreciation. Other courses will follow: "Wine Tasting and Appreciation", and "Wines of the World".

Hopewell Valley has won numerous awards in the last two years:
2007 Awards

2004 Cabernet Savignon - Outstanding Achievement, NJ Wine Competion, Best Vinifera
2005 Barbera, Gold Medal - 2007 Finger Lakes International Wine Competition
2006 White Merlot, Bronze Medal - 2007 Finger Lakes International Wine Competition
2005 Vidal Blanc, Bronze Medal - 2007 Finger Lakes International Wine Competition
2004 Rosso della Valle, Bronze Medal - 2007 Finger Lakes International Wine Competition
2006 White Merlot, Bronze Medal - 2007 National Women's Wine Competition
2005 Barbera, Silver Medal - LA International Wines & Spirits Competition
2005 Sangiovese, Silver Medal - LA International Wines & Spirits Competition
2004 Cabernet Sauvignon - Gold Medal - NJ Wine Competition
2005 Chardonnay, Silver Medal - NJ Wine Competition
2005 Barbera, Silver Medal - NJ Wine Competition
2005 Merlot, Bronze Medal - NJ Wine Competition

2006 Awards
2004 Barbera, Gold Medal - 2006 NJ Wine Competition
2004 White Merlot, Silver Medal - 2006 NJ Wine Competition
2003 Chambourcin, Silver Medal - 2006 NJ Wine Competition
2005 Vidal Blanc, Silver Medal - 2006 NJ Wine Competition
2004 Rosso della Valle, Silver Medal - 2006 NJ Wine Competition
2004 Rosso della Valle, Silver Medal - The LA County Fair Wine & Olive Oils of the World Competition
2003 Cabernet Sauvignon, Silver Medal - Finger Lakes International Wine Competition

Contact them to register at 1-866-hvv-wine or e-mail Liz Radzki at

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

New York Times Op-Ed "Drink Local"

Op-Ed Contributor
Red, White or Green?

Published: December 30, 2007
Waccabuc, N.Y.
Tyler Colman blogs at and is the author of the forthcoming “Wine Politics: How Governments, Environmentalists, Mobsters and Critics Influence the Wines We Drink.” and he recently wrote in an Op-Ed in the New York Times, "now that wine is made in all 50 states, you can reduce your carbon footprint by trying wine from the vineyard down the road from you. Residents in the tri-state region can draw on more than 200 wineries in New York — and a few dozen more in Connecticut and New Jersey.

"In New York City, which has long been a showcase for the area’s wines, there are at least two wine bars that pour only wines from New York. Several city restaurants feature wines from Long Island and the Finger Lakes. And with some grapevines growing in the Queens County Farm Museum, a vineyard planned in Staten Island and the much anticipated debut of what’s being called an urban winery in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, local wine will soon be even closer.

You can read the whole piece at:

In his new book, Tyler Colman systematically explains how politics affects what we can buy, how much it costs, how it tastes, what appears on labels, and more. He offers an insightful comparative view of wine-making in Napa and Bordeaux, tracing the different paths American and French wines take as they travel from vineyard to dining room table. Colman also explores globalization in the wine business and illuminates the role of behind-the-scenes players such as governments, distributors, and prominent critics who wield enormous clout. Throughout, Wine Politics reveals just how deeply politics matters-- right down to the taste of the wine in your glass tonight.

Connecticut Wine Country in the American-Republican

Thursday, January 17, 2008 10:06 AM EST
Follow Connecticut's wine trail
Waterbury American-Republican

California may be known as wine country, but Connecticut can claim its own version of Napa Valley as well. No matter where one is in the Nutmeg State, at least one winery is within a 45-minute drive.

The region's heavy concentration of vineyards and wineries prompted the state to create a wine trail in 1988. Connecticut's wine trail is a state-approved winery and vineyard awareness program. A brochure listing the 15 sites is located in various locations around the state, and special signs can be seen on local roads.

Connecticut's relatively mild climate allows for a variety of grapes to grow, and the state's wineries produce reds and whites along with fruit and dessert wines. All wineries on the trail have tasting rooms for sampling the beverages and tours of the facilities.

The wine trail is a perfect weekend trip, as it takes two to three days to visit the 15 sites. Wine enthusiasts can also spread out the tasting adventure over many weekends.

The trail is divided geographically into two legs: the western portion covers the western part of the state, while the eastern part visits the central and eastern parts of the map. In addition to the 15 official wine trail sites, there are four associate member wineries.

For more information on the Connecticut Wine Trail, visit or call
(860) 267-1399.

Monday, January 21, 2008

South Coast Today newspaper Lauds Westport Rivers

Celebrating the details
Not all sparklers are created equal
By Tyra Pacheco
Standard-Times correspondent
December 26, 2007 6:00 AM
With New Year's Eve just around the corner, SouthCoast party hosts are no doubt stocking up on bottles of bubbly to toast 2008.

Before you reach for that bottle, there are some things to consider about the sparkling wine inside. They are not all created equal, and for the true wine connoisseur, the tiniest details make the difference.

Most Popular Stories
Fire destroys 19th century homeTwo injured in Route 140 crashTop 25 salaries, city of New BedfordFreetown man linked to bizarre accident in MaineDeath Notices18 and '0' so closeMusicians honor late jazz drummer at Whaling Museum "You want to look for the smaller bubbles that come from natural fermentation and natural carbonation," said Scott Ellms, director of sales and marketing at Running Brook Vineyard and Winery in North Dartmouth. "The ones that are artificially carbonated, the bubbles are bigger, just like soda pop. It does not bubble as long. If you look in a champagne glass, you'll see a stream of bubbles coming up from the bottom."

If that all sounds complicated, there is a good reason. It is.

According to winemaker Bill Russell of Westport Rivers Vineyard & Winery, there are four widely used methods of carbonating wine.

The least expensive and easiest method involves force-carbonating wine by injecting carbon dioxide, similar to the way soda is made. It is then bottled on a pressurized bottling line and the resulting sparkling wine will have soda-sized bubbles, unlike its more expensive competitors.

"The base wine is probably a little harsh, and it will have tons of sugar to mask the defects in the wine," said Mr. Russell.

Using the Charmat method, winemakers take a wine and naturally carbonate it in a stainless steel tank by adding more sugar and yeast to the tank. This creates a secondary fermentation.

"The yeast consumes the sugar and produces alcohol and carbon dioxide," said Mr. Russell. "It is naturally carbonated, but in bulk. Then it is filtered and bottled under pressure."

The Charmat process produces a sweeter wine.

"Whenever you cheat in sparkling wine you tend to have to cover it up using sugar," said Mr. Russell. "It's a slightly more refined wine than the fake one."

A similar method is used in large-bottle carbonation. Instead of re-fermenting the wine in a tank, it is done in large bottles and later filtered and rebottled.

The traditional Champagne method dates back to the 1700s and was developed in the Champagne region of France. Only wines produced in that region can be labeled as Champagne. Carbonated wines produced elsewhere are generally called sparkling wine, but the label will indicate the Champagne or traditional method was followed, as is the case with Westport Rivers sparkling wine.

"In the Champagne method, the wine is fermented and aged in the bottle it's going to end up in for sale," said Mr. Russell. "In this case, we do something really different. You have to have the right grapes. You have to have the right equipment. There's all kind of finesse points you earn by doing things the right way."

Doing things the right way not only requires patience and skill, it requires a lot of specialized equipment, which many small wineries do not have the resources to support.

When Running Brook Vineyard and Winery decided to bottle Celebration, a sparkling wine bottled in honor of the new millennium, they were very particular about wanting it done in the Champagne tradition.

"We had it done for us at Westport Rivers," Mr. Ellms said. "It's much more time-consuming, and if you're going to do it in the Champagne tradition, you can't have any sediment. You can't have any cloud. It's got to be sparkling."

read more @

Hazlitt Riesling Shines

HAZLITT RIESLING is the latest New York wine to be featured in one of the major in-flight magazines (Delta Sky) by wine and spirits editor Paul Pacault: “If a more elegant wine exists for year-end holiday functions of all kinds, it hasn’t passed through my office.” The 2006 Homestead Reserve Riesling Finger Lakes also was rated Best of Class at the Long Beach (CA) Grand Cru competition last July, and has won several other awards.

2007 New York Vintage Recieves "A" Rating from Wine Spectator

VINTAGE 2007 in New York got an “A” rating in the Wine Spectator online, as did our friends in Washington on the other side of the country. We all knew that this year was superb, so that’s no surprise, but the real significance is that New York is finally being recognized as a major player in the American wine industry. (The other regions covered were three in California and Oregon , all with “B” ratings for this year.) To a great extent, our challenge is size: we’re too small. The quality of New York wines, regardless of type, is widely recognized and consistently proven by Gold medals in major wine competitions (nearly 400 last year). With few exceptions like Bully Hill, Centerra and Royal Kedem, the New York wine industry consists of relatively small producers with limited distribution. This means that far fewer consumers have the opportunity to taste New York wines, so national publications like The Wine Spectator have little incentive to feature them. By contrast, California represents about 90% of total U.S. wine production, many wineries in Washington (the #2 state) have national distribution, as do several in Oregon, including some that are the same size as many New York wineries. The 2005 direct interstate shipment law has helped somewhat in terms of both sales and national media coverage, but the bottom line is that the New York wine industry needs to grow not just in the number of wineries but the volume of production if we want to consistently be in the pages of national publications.
- Jim Tresize, New York Wine and Grape Foundation

Jancis Robinson Salutes Finger Lakes Riesling

RIESLING got a huge plug last week by one of the world’s most influential wine writers, Jancis Robinson of London, a veteran Riesling aficionado who started her San Francisco Chronicle online piece with, “I never thought it would happen but at last it has. Riesling has really and truly become popular. In fact, nowadays most people even know how to spell and pronounce it. (“REES-ling.”)” The lengthy piece, written with characteristic elegance, escorts the reader on a whirlwind worldwide tour of Riesling starting in Germany and circling the globe from Australia to South Africa , California and New York . Last fall Ms. Robinson appeared at the New York Wine & Culinary Center for a tasting and dinner, which apparently made an impression based on this article’s observation: “Upstate in the Finger Lakes, source of arguably America’s finest dry Rieslings for the last 20 years at least, producers are pinching themselves that at last their very own variety is fashionable. Riesling grape prices here have recently overtaken those of once-lauded Chardonnay, mirroring what is happening over the border in Canada .”

Read more at:”h

The History of Maryland Wine - Wednesday, March 12, 2008

The History of Maryland Wine – A Guided Tour and Tasting
Wednesday, March 12, 2008
6 - 8 p.m.
Baltimore Museum of Industry

Come to the Baltimore Museum of Industry for a guided tour of Maryland wine and the industry's history that brought us to the current vintage. Kevin Atticks, Maryland Wineries Association director and host of 91.5-FM WBJC's "Word on WIne," will lead a tasting of Maryland's award-winning wines while discussing the industry's history, challenges and future. Tickets are $10 for museum members; $15 to the general public. Light refreshments will be served.

To reserve tickets, contact:
Lori Finkelstein, Director of Public Programs
410-727-4808 ext. 146 or email