Saturday, April 20, 2013

Elk Run Vineyards at DLW 2013 (MD)

I can remember back to the days when Dominique and I first went to Westminster, for the Maryland Wine Festivals, back in the late 1990s. One of our favorite wineries was Elk Run Vineyards. Back then they made an awesome Gewurztraminer, and a pair of dessert wines that would knock your socks off. Our love of Maryland and its rolling country sides, filled with farms and horses, and its beautiful seaboard, almost had us calling it home at one point. We loved the Lewdew Topiary Gardens, the Maryland Hunt Cup, and downtown Maryland.  But it was not to be.
Living in the Hudson Valley now, we don’t get much of an opportunity to visit Maryland these days. So when DLW 2013 chose Maryland I was ecstatic. A great opportunity to see how this state was doing up close, and understand its successes and challenges.
Taking home more than 600 International, National and Regional awards has made Elk run one of the top winery's on the east coast. In 2012 Elk Run won 10 Gold medals and 4 Gold best of Class in the Mid Atlantic Seaboard competition. It was the first winery to have ever done so in the history of that contest.
Elk Run Vineyards is nestled in the rolling hills of Frederick County surrounded by dairy and horse farms, fields of wheat and corn. 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, family and friends, have made Elk Run a brand name in Maryland wine.
Elk Run became a bonded winery in 1983 and is managed by Fred Wilson (viticulturist, enologist and general manager), Carol Wilson (marketing) and Neill Bassford (assistant winemaker and vineyard manager).
Fred spent several harvest seasons learning the business with Dr. Konstantin Frank in New York’s Finger Lakes.  In 1980 the Wilsons decided to pioneer the first all-vinifera vineyard in Maryland. Grapes planted for whites include: Chardonnay, Riesling, Gewürztraminer, and Pinot Gris. Reds include: Pinot Noir, Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah.
For the past 5 years Julian Wilson has taken on greater responsibility for field management, wine making as well as the most knowledgeable in new marking technology.  The age of those vines, and his taking on those responsibilities have seen this portfolio expand its quality wine reputation.
2012 Cold Friday Vineyard Gewurztraminer was bright, crisp, clean. The tropical notes were subdued, and not quite as pronounced as I might normally expect, but the wine was nice, refreshing, and had a lovely, grapefruit ending. A lovely white wine.
Gypsy Rose is a rosé of Cabernet Sauvignon and Pinot Noir, an unusual blend to be sure.  Bright cherry and rose petal come through on the nose as promised. Strawberry and bright cherry come through on the palate with a touch of acidity, and a smooth finish make this a good food wine for summer. 
2010 Cold Friday Vineyard Pinot Noir was next. Elk Run is proud to be the only grower of Pinot Noir in Maryland. This Burgundian-styled Pinot Noir comes from their Cold Friday Vineyard located on the south side of the estate. Ripe cherry and hints of cassis come through, with a nice balance of acidity and low but present tannins. Very well balanced. Very nice.

2010 Friday Vineyard Merlot was easily my favorite. They jokingly called it Maryland Merlot, and the label reflects the famous scene former TTHE SEVEN YEAR ITCH with Marilyn's white dress fluttering in the breezy. This had a big dose of ripe cherry right up front. A whiff of mocha and vanilla. Simple. Straight forward, with very classic, elegant balance. I really liked this wine a lot!

2010 Friday Vineyard Syrah was last. Elk Run first produced Syrah in 2004, making it the first Syrah grown in Maryland. This wine was a big bomb of blackberry, plum, and raspberry, all swirled in a smoky, barbecue sauce haze. Nice acidity and good tannin made this a chewy, delicious wine.

Elk Run Vineyards continues to be among my favorite producers in the region!

Great job to all those at Elk Run!