Tasting No. 199 – May 21, 2018 – Wines from Maryland

Club del Vino


Capri Ristorante, McLean VA


1. Presenters and Participants

Wines presenter: Marcello Averbug

Participants: Mario Aguilar, Marcello Averbug, Jorge Claro, Ruth Connolly, Clara Estrada, Alberto Gómez, Peter Lapera, Italo Mirkow, Alfonso Sánchez, Germán Zincke

Guests: Jose Brakarz,Maria Claudia y Agilson Perazza,

Type of Tasting: Open

2. Tasting Overview  

Maryland’s wine industry has grown quite rapidly over the past few years. There are over 70 vineyards and wineries in Maryland.  The latest generation of vineyards is interested in producing small quantities and high quality wines.  Many of the newest wineries in Maryland are boutique wineries focused on growing exceptional grapes and on making remarkable wine in small volumes with 5,000 or less bottles annually.  Many produce estate wines.  They do not outsource grapes.  The  main objective of this tasting is to assess a sample of of these wines. These are the wines:

  1. 2016 Mazzaroth Vineyard, Vidal Blanc 
  2. 2015 Big Cork Vineyards, Nebbiolo
  3. 2015 Cool Ridge Vineyard, Cool Red
  4. 2013 Sugar Loaf Vineyard, EVOE!

3. The Menu

  1. Crab cake
  2. Tomato and mozzarella salad
  3. Veal Ravioli with Aurora Sauce
  4. Beef médaillon au vin
  5. Dessert/Coffee

4. Information on the Wines

(The information below has been compiled from varios internet sources) .

2016 Mazzaroth Vineyard, Vidal Blanc 

The Wine: The wine produced from Vidal tends to be fruity with aroma notes resembling grapefruit and pineapple. There are many who feel that the local Vidal is superior to that grown anywhere else in the world.

Vidal blanc  is a white hybrid grape variety, produced from the Vitis vinifera variety Ugni blanc (also known as Trebbiano Toscano) and another hybrid variety, Rayon d’Or. It is a very winter-hardy variety that manages to produce high sugar levels in cold climates with moderate to high acidity.

The grape was developed in the 1930s by French wine grape breeder Jean Louis Vidal; his primary goal in developing the variety was for the production of Cognac in the Charente-Maritime region of western France. However, due to its winter hardiness this grape variety is cultivated most extensively in the Canadian wine regions of Ontario, British Columbia and Nova Scotia, where it is often used for ice wine production. It is also grown throughout the United States where it is used to produce both dry and sweet wines in New York, North Caroline, Michigan, Virginia, Missouri and other states.

The Winery: Mazzaroth a small vineyard located in Middletown, Maryland; a beautiful rural area which is located in the south western part of Frederick County. The original 1/4-acre test vineyard was planted in April 2012 with types that we believed to be the best suited for our site. The vineyard has been expanded every year since and is currently 1.75 acres.  Currently the vineyard is planted with Albariño, Vidal Blanc, Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Tannat and Seyval Blanc.

Read more and see beautiful pictures of the winery  at: https://www.mazzarothvineyard.com/

2015 Big Cork Vineyards – Nebbiolo 

The Wine: Nebbiolo is a grape native to the Piedmont region of Italy. Out of this darkness, this denseness, this stone-wall of a cloud, comes one of Italy’s most noble and notable grapes. A shy shade of red in its youth and often quite tannic, the wine ages into rich and vibrant colors and develops deep aromatics, complex flavors, and matures right out of those sticky tannins. Nebbiolo, at its peak, can be one of the most intense wines alive.

The Big Cork Vineyards 2015 Nebbiolo is made from 100% Nebbiolo grapes harvested from the Big Cork estate vineyards in Maryland. The wine was aged in combination new and neutral French and American oak barrels for 18 months.

On the pour and into the glass, this Nebbiolo is indeed a light, but rusty shade of red. Initial aromas are of that wet wood and oak barrels, but also the sweet perfume of ripe raspberries, strawberries, with the hint of “something” funky. On the palate, the Big Cork Vineyards 2015 Nebbiolo is a cool and light bodied at first — though its weight steadily, smoothly increases throughout the tasting, ending in a solid medium-body. The texture is defined by a soft, sand-dune like backbone of tannins

The Winery:  From the winery web page: “We are committed to taking care of our planet for future generations (not to mention, our entire business model is dependent on good soil, clean air and pure water!). We are mindful of our farming practices and use cover crops between our planting rows to keep weeds at bay. We also use a unique raptor program for natural, chemical-free pest control. This way, we ensure a better place to live, work and make really good “grape juice.”

“Our name might be BIG, but what makes us so special is something small. Big Cork’s idyllic microclimate and fertile soil yield smaller grapes with more concentrated flavors, resulting in (you guessed it) BIG, and intensely flavorful wines.”

We’ve got big corks, and we’re proud of ‘em! We use the very best (and biggest) Portuguese 49mm corks that money can buy, and we want to show them off! You won’t find our corks hiding under antiquated foil capsules, and here’s why:

  • Capsules go directly to a landfill and are a recycling burden because of what they are made of.
  • Capsules are hard to remove properly without jagged edges. And let’s be honest, they slow you down.
  • You can’t tell if the cork has leaked if there is a capsule on and intact.
  • Capsules were invented in the olden days to protect the cork from mold and mice…neither of which is a problem anymore with our cellaring capabilities and technologies.
  • Hey, our name isn’t Big Foil Vineyards!

Read more at: http://www.bigcorkvineyards.com/explore/story/

  2015 Cool Ridge Vineyard – Cool Red 

The Wine: This wine is a Bordeaux type blend  of 45% Cabernet Sauvignon, 20% Cabernet Franc,  20% Merlot and 15%  Petit Verdot.  There are no tasting notes available for this wine.  We will need to assess the wine ourselves.

The Winery: This is a 15 acre Estate Vineyard planted in 9 varietals of vinifera grapes. The vintner has selected the vinifera white varieties of Chardonnay, Viognier, Gruner Veltliner,  Riesling, and Pinot Gris and the big reds of  Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot, and Merlot. While all of these varieties provide many challenges, the careful hand pruning in winter to the hand harvesting in fall, and the many footprints in the vineyard in between, create a balanced vine yielding superior fruit.  The goal is to grow grapes and produce wines of the highest quality by maintaining hands-on, personal nurturing of each grape grown and each bottle of wine released. The Piedmont Region of Western Maryland has proven to be ideal for grape growing and fine wine production…

Read more at: http://www.coolridgevineyard.com/

  2013 Sugar Loaf Vineyard – EVOE! 

The Wine: Vineyard’s Premium Bordeaux. Blend of 38% Cabernet Franc, 31% Merlot, 25% Cabernet Sauvignon and 6% Petit Verdot. Light texture, with a very dry finish. Inky and deep ruby in color. It has intense aromas of blackcurrant and dried cherries with hints of white pepper and roasted almond. The palate is earthy and spicy with flavors of blackcurrant and cherry. Good drinking alone or even wiht sushi. Aged 18 months, in French Oak.

Ranked in the top 10 for number of awards won among wines from this region: The 2013 vintage of this wine won the The TEXSOM International Wine Awards Bronze award in 2017 and 2016.

The Winery: Sugarloaf Mountain Vineyard has been embraced by wine enthusiasts since it opened in 2006 for its award-winning vintages that reflect precision and passion in the science and art of winemaking. Grown amid the unique microclimate at the base of Sugarloaf Mountain, the winery’s 22 acres of vines are French vinifera clones grafted on American rootstock and were carefully selected by world-renowned viticulturist Lucie Morton.  We currently grow 5 white varieties and 5 red varieties.These vines produce grapes that we hand-pick, cold-soak, cold-ferment and age in stainless steel or French oak barrels to produce our Bordeaux-inspired reds and crisp whites that continue to be recognized for their uniquely creative flavors and memorable finishes.

Read more at: https://www.smvwinery.com/

4.  CV Members Rating

View full evaluation here: 199 summary of scores

Best Rated Wine: 2015 Cool Ridge Vineyard, Cool Red

Best Buy: 2015 Cool Ridge Vineyard, Cool Red

5. Technical Notes 

Compiled by Marcello Averbug


Winemaking has a long history in our Maryland, dating back as far as the early days of the colony. In February of 1638, Father Andrew White wrote to Cecil Calvert, Lord Baltimore, to urge him to consider viticulture as a viable source of income for the colony. Father White had apparently tasted wine made from the local muscadine grape the previous year and pronounced it “not inferior in its age to any wine of Spaigne” (Lee 1889).

In 1662 Cecil Calvert instructed his son, Governor Charles Calvert, to survey 200 to 300 acres of land in St. Mary’s County for a vineyard (Nix-Gomez 2013). Even before Calvert’s attempt at viticulture, a Frenchman named Tenis Palee was said to have produced eight different varieties of wine in 1648 (McCarthy 2012), but little is known about Palee and his Maryland endeavors. Winemaking did continue in the eighteenth century. The failure of grape cultivation to take off in the Maryland colony may be in large part due to the dominant role that tobacco production took there.

One of Maryland’s claims in wine history is that John Adlum (1759-1836), considered the “Father of American Viticulture”, lived in Havre de Grace and likely had a vineyard at his farm there (Pinney 1989).

The modern production of wine in Maryland can be dated back to 1945, when Philip Wagner opened Maryland’s first winery, Boordy Vineyards, in Baltimore County. Today there are some 60 vineyards in the State, located in the regions of: Eastern Shore, Southern Plain, Western Mountain and Piedmont Plateau.

The diversity of climate and the different types of land allow that there is a variety of grape, this way you get more than 400 different wines produced. Since a few decades ago, the wine industry in Maryland has a growing fast, and more wineries open every year.

Today, the Maryland Wine Festival, one of the oldest and large wine festivals on the East Coast, is held at the Carroll County Farm Museum, in Westminster. It attracts over 20,000 attendees who in 2013 sampled over 200 different wines from forty vineyards.


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