Recommended wines from Washington area vineyards
Here are Dave McIntyre's picks for wines made by local clients of Charlottesville ampelographer and viticulture expert Lucie Morton. They are primarily available at the wineries (though Boxwood sells its wines through its Tasting Room outlets in Middleburg, Reston and Chevy Chase). Each has limited distribution in area stores and restaurants. Your best bet is to visit the wineries and keep tabs on when new wines will be released.
Black Ankle Vineyards, Mount Airy, Md. Black Ankle's Bordeaux-style blend, dubbed Crumbling Rock, rewrote the book on Maryland wines with the 2006 and 2007 releases. The 2008 ($45) will be released soon. The winery also makes an outstanding syrah called Leaf-Stone and several fine, austere and focused whites, including a racy gruner veltliner and an unusual and delicious blend called Bedlam ($26).
Boxwood Winery, Middleburg. Boxwood specializes in red blends. Topiary is modeled on the merlot-based blends of St.-Emilion, France, while Boxwood, based on cabernet sauvignon, echoes the wines of Bordeaux's Medoc region. (There is also a nice rosÃ© of cabernet franc.) Both reds are outstanding, with a slight edge to the Topiary, which is a good thing because they make more of it. The 2008s of both blends are just now being released ($25), and they might be even better than the 2007s.
Chatham Vineyards, Machipongo, Va. Jon Wehner grew up on his parents' vineyard in, of all places, Great Falls. Now on Virginia's Eastern Shore, Wehner is producing a number of wines that are slowly making their way onto Washington area shelves and wine lists. Most notable is the 2009 Church Creek Steel Chardonnay, a crisp, delightful white that seems destined to wash down Chesapeake Bay crabs or oysters.
Rosemont of Virginia, LaCrosse, Va. This newcomer winery won best in show in the 2010 Atlantic Seaboard Wine Competition with its 2007 Meritage and a gold medal at the Virginia Governor's Cup for its 2007 Kilravock red blend. The Meritage is ripe, lush and complex in a way that might surprise you.
Sugarloaf Mountain Vineyard, Dickerson. Montgomery County's only vineyard - so far - is situated on an old cattle farm at the foot of Sugarloaf Mountain. The winery used some California fruit at first but has gone entirely estate with the 2009 vintage. Whites are best, including an excellent 2009 reserve chardonnay that will be released this month. At $23, it is a great value.