Thursday, May 29, 2008

Two thumbs up for OnThEdge Charbono

Threw a couple more questions at Pat Savoie after posting her last response, one on what kind of bargains were coming out of New Zealand/Australia, and also asked her how insulated Pennsylvania would be to price hikes since the state had already established good relationships with the markets in California and the Old World. Here's her reply:

"Not that there aren't values in Aust and NZ -- they have gone out of their way to price for the US market -- but prices have crept up. I don't see the level of value that exists in other areas. Yellow Tail at $6 or $7 is not a value to me.

"Yes, in PA you have to power of the state buying machine to hold prices down. One of my favorite wines was accepted by the LCB -- OnThEdge Charbono. The Wine Media Guild of NY, of which I am co-chair, had an all-inclusive Charbono tasting earlier this month (all 14 producers!) and the 2005 OTE was one of the favorites."

The making of Bedlam

Ed Boyce and his wife Sarah O’Herron note on their Web site that the idea of growing vines and making wine became increasingly appealing as they considered a destination for the next chapter in their careers. The researching and traveling to other vineyards only strengthened that commitment, so they bought a parcel in Mt. Airy, Md., and planted their first grapes for what would be called Black Ankle Vineyards in 2003.

That, Boyce says in a phone interview Wednesday night, was a significant hurdle to cross.
“You know, when you go into the vineyard business, the biggest and scariest decisions come first,” he says. “It’s where to plant and what to plant and then you have 50 years where you can’t change either one.”

Five years later, both no doubt are more relaxed about their decision. Entering their first batch in the Maryland Winemakers’ Choice Awards, Black Ankle recently walked away with three gold medal, including top honors for a white blend they call Bedlam.

Boyce spent much of the interview taking listeners through its evolution, how their intent to mix together their four white grapes – chardonnay, viognior, gruner veltliner and albarino – took on a new dimension when they discovered a visitor among their plantings of syrah.

“Two hundred vines turned out to be what we call our white syrah, a nursery mistake,” he says of the muscat vines. “We just decided to keep them. So we have a few hundred vines of Muscat.” Not perfect for these climes, he notes, but it "adds a really nice little spice and fruit component to the wine.”

On top of this success comes the opening of the tasting room in what they hope will be mid-July. It’s an endeavor that you can follow via a sequence of pictures appearing on the Web site. The most recent photo, taken earlier this week, is posted with this story. “All down the line we’ve tried to sort of sit back and say, ‘What do we have on the farm that we can use to build this building?’ and it’s turned into a very interesting . . . I think we’re very proud of the way it’s turning out.”