We started Maryland Wine Time a little over a year ago, but we rarely get to visit Maryland wineries. We decided to spend a summer’s afternoon on the Maryland wine trail, and at the top of our list was Black Ankle Vineyards. We were very impressed with the lineup of wines that we sampled.
On tap for tasting were two white wines, a rose, and three red wines. All were well-crafted wines. The floral 2011 Viognier included a 4% blend of Syrah to create a vibrant wine with lovely peach and melon flavors and a nice minerality. The bit of Syrah was added to boost the wine’s acidity. The 2011 Bedlam Rose was a mix of several varietals that included Viognier (49%), Gruner Veltliner (13%), Merlot (11%), Albarino (9%), Chardonnay (9%), and Muscat (9%). The result was a lean, crisp wine that presented notes of strawberry, and citrus zest and finished with a refreshing minerality. The 2011 VGV, a blend of 50% Viognier and 50% Gruner Veltliner was very aromatic with aromas of peach, pear and spice. As with the other white wines, it also presented a noticeable minerality on the palate.
Our red wine tasting began with the light-bodied 2011 Passeggiata with its raspberry and strawberry aromas and bright berry flavors. A blend of Syrah and Cabernet Sauvignon, it was fermented in French oak barrels and finished with a bit of cedar. A bottle of the 2011 Passeggiata might be handy if pizza or burgers are on the dinner menu. It could also be enjoyed with lighter cheeses and baguette. I favored the earthy 2008 Leaf Stone Syrah which was a blend of Syrah (81%), Cabernet Sauvignon (7%), Cabernet Franc (5%), Viognier (3%), Petit Verdot (2%), Malbec (1%), and Merlot (1%). I noted tobacco and dark plum on the nose with favors of plums, dark cherry, sweet tobacco and black pepper. This was certainly a wine to enjoy with steak, lamb, or game meats. Paul favored the 2009 Crumbling Rock which was a blend of Merlot and Cabernet Franc and appreciated its elements of cherry, raspberry, and spice.
As we sipped and favored, we learned that the owners, Sarah O’Herron and Edward Boyce, developed a passion for wines and interned at various vineyards before opting to purchase the 145-acre Black Ankle property in 2002. They selected the site due to its rocky soil and favorable elevation which offered good aeration. They’ve also implemented biodynamic principles in the vineyard and use no chemicals or pesticides on the vines. Twenty-two acres are now currently planted in vines with another 20 acres intended for planting to boost yields, and all wines are produced from estate-grown fruit. Black Ankle Vineyards now produces between 3000 and 4000 cases of wine.
The tasting room can be described as spacious yet charming, and its architecture seems to blend in with the rural surroundings. It was constructed in 2007 with materials found on the property; it is also eco-friendly and makes use of solar energy, a masonry fireplace, and a water-runoff system to capture rain water that serves as a natural cooling system.
With our tasting done, we opted to enjoy lunch in the tasting room and ordered goat cheese and a baguette. Of course, a glass of wine was also ordered, and I sipped the 2008 Leaf Stone Syrah while Paul savored the 2009 Crumbling Rock. Though it was a hot day outside, the high-vaulted ceiling helped to provide a very cool and comfortable dining experience.
We made certain to purchase our Black Ankle favorites and know that we will return soon. In the meantime, be sure to visit Black Ankle Vineyards, and mention that Maryland Wine Time sent you.