Farm-to-table shopping is a concept that I wholeheartedly endorse. Not only does it support our local economy and improve our environment, but it also emphasizes regional, seasonal cooking. I've also come to realize that it just doesn't make sense to put together a meal with local ingredients, only to serve it with wine shipped from 3,000 or more miles away.
So this holiday season, I am going to pour Maryland wines with all the lovely, local fare on my table. I've sampled a lot of wine recently and come up with six bottlings that I hope you'll consider.
I can't promise that all of these are going to be available at your favorite wine shop. And, as with your local crab truck or egg farm, there may be some driving involved. But heading to a local winery to pick up some truly delicious wine is a great way to spend a fall afternoon—and meet some interesting people.Sugarloaf Mountain Vineyards Pinot Grigio 2007 ($16) shines as an example of how charming this varietal can be. This lively, zesty white offers notes of apple, melon, and lemon, with a faint floral character that reminded me of pinot grigios from Friuli, Italy. There's no oak in this wine to weigh it down, making it just the companion for the raw oysters we usually slurp while getting the main courses ready.
Elk Run Gewurztraminer 2006 ($21) will be replacing the Alsatian Gewurztraminer that I usually bring to dinner. Thanksgiving flavors are chaotic: sweet potato, cranberry, sweet corn, chestnuts, stuffing, and, of course, turkey. It's difficult to serve one wine that works with all of it. For me, Gewurztraminer is it, and Elk Run has made a great one: sweet enough to handle yams, dry enough to accompany poultry and gravy, and subtle and classy enough to pass muster for this special food holiday.
Elk Run Gypsy Rose ($13.77) thrilled me, as I am a lover of dry rosé. Wine enthusiasts may argue back and forth about whether it works for Thanksgiving, but I think it's just fine. I drink rosé all year long, and this pinot noir-based example is outstanding. Lovely strawberry notes abound, but in a mellow manner that reminds me of rosé from France's Bandol region.
I couldn't pick between Woodhall Cabernet Franc 2007 and Woodhall Sangiovese 2007 ($15), so consider both. They are impeccably made: the Cabernet Franc is a bit darker and leaner, and the Sangiovese is brighter and broader. They possess the finesse to cope with Turkey Day without actually overwhelming the turkey.
Black Ankle Crumbling Rock 2006 ($40) is a milestone in Maryland winemaking. Striving toward organic and biodynamic viticulture, Ed Boyce and Sarah O'Herron at Black Ankle have completely shattered what I thought was possible in Maryland. This stunner—a blend of 38 percent cabernet Franc, 33 percent cabernet sauvignon, 24 percent merlot, and 5 percent petit verdot—is richly textured and bursting with black-fruit notes. There's also a restrained approach to oak barrels at Black Ankle, revealed by the wine's remarkable balance and finesse. This is a special wine for any holiday occasion and well worth the drive to Frederick County.