“In short, our wines sell because of what’s in the bottle” – from the back of the bottle on any Old Vine Red from Marietta.
The wine world can be a very overwhelming place. Between keeping up with point scores from a variety of magazines and which years yielded the best grapes from each region, one can easily become lost in a whole load of crap that has no bearing on the most important aspect of enjoying wine; whether or not one likes to drink it.
I was introduced to this family owned operation at a dinner a few years back, trying their Old Vine Red, Lot Number 47. I was surprised to find that there were no specific percentages of which grape varietals were used (the bottles states that the blend is “predominantly comprised of Zinfandel,” a very traditional California grape that produces bold and exciting wine) and no vintage. I then recieved the spiel on this rather inexpensive ($11-$14) and unassuming bottle, learning that Marietta Cellars will just blend their harvest of grapes together, under the care of the father who started the winery and his 4 sons,and out comes a fantastic wine for the price.
I have been drinking Old Vine Red since Lot Number 47 (they just released Lot 54 in February 2011) and you can always find a bottle in my collection. Each release is a bit different in terms of specific flavors, for example, I found 51 and 52 a lot spicier and less full bodied than the 53 sitting next to me. That being said, every release that I have tried has been very smooth and has gone well with almost any meal that one can imagine, specifically pasta dishes with tomato based sauces and flavorful meats. Old Vine Red has never disappointed me and my guests are always suprised that it is so great and inexpensive but they haven’t heard of it.
Cheers to you, Chris Bilbro. Not only do you have bro in your name, but you consistently produce a fantastic and affordable wine. You can read more about the beliefs and principles that govern the operation of Marietta Cellars here.
This weekend, I visited Linganore Winecellars for their 2010 Reggae Festival beautiful Mt. Airy, MD. It was only $15 admission for an over-21 wine drinker like myself (Whereas I would never recommend the use of a fake ID or trying to slip one past any establishment that sells alcoholic drank, this festival would definitely not be the place to test due to the presence of a deputy sheriff. Apparently there is room for more than just one sheriff in this town.)
First off, driving from D.C. to the vineyard was remarkably easy; it was only 45 minutes from the Capitol Beltway (from the 270 spur) and highway driving almost the whole way. The leaves are just past their peak and the weather was perfect for an outdoor excursion. It’s hard to believe that one could find a real vineyard or winery so close to the D.C. Metropolitan area, but here I was in the rolling hills of western Maryland watching the sunset over a tree line of orange and gold sipping on an $11 bottle of Linganore’s Fox Hunt Blush while sitting on a deck listening to live music. I have found paradise.
The wine tasting experience at Linganore was very welcoming and open, there was no pretense of knowledge or snobbism. In fact, the winemaker said something during the free tour that struck a particular chord with me that I hope everyone who is scared of “getting into wine” takes to heart. “A good wine is one that you like to drink, a bad wine is one that you don’t.” It really is that simple. While ratings like those of Wine Spectator that assign a point system can be useful in finding new things to try, you still shouldn’t drink wines you don’t enjoy because they are “supposed to be good.”
And now to the wine. While Linganore has many wines that are serviceable in their own right that could stand up for themselves as a local competitor to those large production California wines, they also had several unique wines with flavor profiles that were new to me. My winners for the day were the Fox Hunt Blush and Spiced Apple. The Fox Hunt was very drinkable, and at $11 a bottle, a perfect table wine for drinking outside while it’s still warm enough. This is a blush, which means that it is a blend of red and white wines, as opposed to a rose, which is one wine that naturally finds that blended pink color. That, ladies and gentlemen, is a wine fact.
The Spiced Apple is a dessert wine, one of the first that I have tried and enjoyed. It tastes just like it sounds, sort of an apple cider wine flavored with cinnamon and cloves that I tried at several temperatures and found it to be the best warm. This may be the perfect November/December tailgate wine. This is a 100% pure fruit wine, meaning that the wine is made purely from the fruit in question, in this case, apples from western Maryland.
All in all, it was a great day and I highly recommend the experience to anyone. Any of my friends who read this, feel free to hit me up to go on another trip to Linganore for a tour and complimentary tasting. All of their wines are listed on the website with flavor profiles and their events page lists themed tastings offered each month.