Grateful Gourmet

Elk Run was featured by Todd Johnson on Grateful Gourmet.  See complete article below

Maryland Surprise-Elk Run Wine

by Todd Johnson

Recently, we had dinner with my parents and my dad ordered a bottle of Maryland wine from Elk Run Vineyards. The bottle he ordered was a 2008 Syrah, Cold Friday Vineyard. Being somewhat of a wine snob, I have to say (embarrassed to admit really) that I expected the wine to taste at best average and for sure that I would not remember the wine or where it is from except that I would be sure to avoid ordering any wine made in Maryland in the future! Seriously, ask yourself or the person sitting next to you what they think of Maryland wines and the look will be first one of bewilderment as they likely don’t even know wine is made in Maryland and if they do, it will not be the type of enthusiasm one can expect from areas such as California, Washington State or Oregon. Consider me a convert and a believer.

I lifted the glass and was greeted with a very aromatic nose consisting of earth, wet stones, smokiness and berries. Not sure what type of berries, as I am not a super taster and do not have that kind of sniffer I guess. The flavors were prunes, smoked meats and other wonderful flavors for which I have no words to describe except-Wow! I was I blown away! I would personally rate the wine in the low to mid 90’s based on a 100 point system. The wine was made in the old world style with an alcohol content of 12.5%. The point of me explaining the alcohol content is to juxtapose this wine with new world style wines that are being made everywhere, including the old world. Most wine today starts in the 14% range and pushes upward to 17%! This style of wine creates what many wine tasters refer to as being a fruit bomb-jammy, rich tasting and very dark red. Even Pinot Noirs are being made this way.

I admit, I like the new world style, but I think it takes less skill and precision for the wine maker. I always tell my friends that serving their red wine at approximately 55-60 degrees is proper form and even more important with the high alcohol wines being made today. If the wine is served at say 70-75 degrees (unfortunately this seems to be the regular temperature of wines by the glass in most restaurants) the wine will be hot on the palate because of the high alcohol content. This will cover up any of the nuisances of the wine being tasted and certainly is disagreeable when being paired with food. Elk Run stays true to old world wine making style, resulting in an elegant wine that is worthy of special occasions and priced to drink any occasion- not to mention a long list of awards to back up what I am sure locals have known about for years, this wine is the real deal.

Elk Run Vineyards started this venture 32 years ago!! The use of the word vineyard indicates they grow and use their own grapes to make their wines, unlike a winery that sources their grapes from vineyards. The years and years of painstaking journal entries, studying effects of plantings, weather effects etc., have paid off for Fred Wilson who is both the wine maker and vineyard manager. The labor of love ensures even colored and consistently high quality grapes from which excellent wines are being made for drinking pleasure. The names of Elk Run’s two vineyards are Liberty Tavern and Cold Friday Vineyard. Liberty Tavern is the original vineyard that borders Liberty road Near Libertytown, Md. so named for the Sons of Liberty who met there prior to the Revolution, and the old house on the property was in fact once upon a time a tavern. The second vineyard’s name comes from the deed name of the property Resurvey of Cold Friday. It was a land grant from the King of England to Lord Baltimore. There are now 24 acres being grown upon ensuring even more great wines to come for all to enjoy.

Having only tasted the Syrah and Pinot Noir, and being impressed by both, I can say at least for these two offerings that Fred Wilson along with his Assistant wine maker, Neill Bassford, that they have produced enough award winning wines for them and their wines to be taken very seriously. Other varietals grown are Chardonnay, Riesling, Gewürztraminer, Pinot Gris, Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon.