Saturday, May 4, 2019

Black Ankle Vineyards Pinot Noir (2015)

When one thinks of Pinot Noir, one thinks of France. If asked to direct one's attention to the "New World," one would think of California or Oregon. (I always think of Oregon, because it has the best Pinot Noir wines in the world, in my humble opinion.)  One would never think of Maryland. 

Yet, there is a Pinot Noir wine produced in Maryland.

The wine comes from Black Ankle Vineyards, which is located in Frederick County in northern Maryland.  The fact that Black Ankle can grow Pinot Noir grapes, and produce a wine worthy of having other people drink it, is quite the accomplishment.  This accolade is due to the fact that Pinot Noir grapes are very temperamental and extremely difficult to cultivate.  So many things need to go right.  The grapes are sensitive to fungus and rot.  They tend to do better in cooler climates, but produce fewer grapes.  The margin for error can be very narrow.  But, Black Ankle knows what it is doing; and, quite surprisingly, they produce a very good Pinot Noir wine.

To be sure, the Pinot Noir does not compare to those produced by vineyards such as Bergstrom, Lemelson or Prive.  But, then again, Black Ankle is in Maryland, not Oregon.  And, for a Maryland Pinot Noir, the wine proves to be quite the accomplishment. 

The Black Ankle Vineyard Pinot Noir pours a nice ruby red. Lighter hues shine through depending upon the light. The color would suggest a Pinot Noir along the lines of the California or French style.  Something more fruit forward, rather than the earthier Oregon wines.  

This fruit forward character is also present in the aroma.  Various types of cherries greet the nose, without any hint of something else. Those cherries also carry themselves through to the taste of the wine.  Perhaps this is where the Maryland wine may take a different path from an Oregonian Pinot Noir.  The fruit in the Oregon wines tend to be slightly darker, not just cherries, but perhaps dark cherries or blackberries.  There is also some minerality or earthiness in the background.  None of that is present in this Pinot Noir, suggesting that the Black Ankle Pinot Noir may not be as complex as an Oregonian wine.  But, that does not mean that the Black Ankle Pinot Noir is not good in its own right.  After all, that one can produce a Pinot Noir wine in Maryland is quite the feat. 

This wine is extremely hard to get, which is why my beautiful Angel and I bought two bottles when we had the chance.  It was only available to Wine Club members of Black Ankle.  While this wine is very good, it is not a reason to join the Wine Club.  If you want a reason to do so, try the Crumbling Rock or the Slate.  


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