Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Sugarloaf Mountain Vineyard Chardonnay (2010)

After experiencing the great wines of Black Ankle Vineyards and Serpent Ridge Vineyard, it has become a "mission" of sorts for me to learn more about Maryland's wine movement.  A couple months back, Clare and I took my parents on a little "wine-tasting" tour of Maryland.  We began our tour at Sugarloaf Mountain Vineyard in Comus, Maryland.  After tasting Sugarloaf's wines, Clare and I purchased a bottle of the vineyard's Chardonnay. 

Sugarloaf Mountain Vineyard produces the Chardonnay in a Chablis style.  Chablis is the northernmost wine district in Burgundy, France.  The wines produced in this region have their own truly unique characteristics.  The cool climate of the Chablis region lessens the fruity flavors of the grapes and heightens the mineral flavors of the wine.  Some describe the mineral flavors as having flinty notes, a sort of "goût de pierre à fusil" or the taste of gunpowder.  Most Chablis wine is not aged in oak barrels; instead, winemakers age the wine in stainless steel tanks.  The white wines of Chablis have less of an oak influence than other whites produced in Burgundy or with the Chardonnay grape. 

Although I have not had a lot of Chablis wine, I can see why Sugarloaf Mountain Vineyard says it produces its Chardonnay in the Chablis style.  Although this Chardonnay is aged in oak barrels (which would be challenged by Chablis purists), the presence of the oak in the wine is much less than other Chardonnays that come from California or elsewhere.  

Apart from the taste imparted by the oak barrels, the Chardonnay pours a color of light gold or, as the winemaker suggests, yellow straw.  The winemaker also describes the wine has having "aromas of vanilla, ripe pear and apple, citrus and spices."  For me, the aromatic elements of the wine suggest some mineral (not quite a goût de pierre à fusil), but also an abundance of fruit, such as apples, as well as a little pear or melon.  The wine is smooth, with a little tartness around the edges that frame a pear-filled taste.  As the winemaker suggests, the finish of the wine is open with apple and pear fruit. 

The winemaker suggests that this wine will be great with salads and grilled fish or seafood.  Clare and I paired this wine with a Grilled Calamari Salad.  The wine paired well with the grilled squid and the other flavors in the salad. 

We purchased this wine at Sugarloaf Mountain Vineyard's tasting room and it may still be available for purchase online or at some stores in the area around the Vineyard. 


For more about Chablis wine, check out Wikipedia.

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