Just the Bottle

One woman's adventure in beer, food, wine and spirits

Filtering by Category: Maryland Wine

Freedom to Express Great Wine at Big Cork Vineyards

There's something special about Big Cork Vineyards and it's evident when you enter. From the whimsical decor with big and small corks dotted around the room to the attentive and knowledgeable staff greeting you and finally to the breath taking views. Dave Collins serves as BIG winemaker (master winemaker and head of operations). His passion and dedication is evident in the wine and felt in the vibe of the place.

"We grow whatever we want." Dave explained as we began a wine journey through his storied career and what he's done at Big Cork. It's true. This man is the epitome of "I do what I want" shunning others' ideas to what should or could be done. He's one of the first to grow Nebbiolo when he was at Breaux Vineyards. That time allowed him to gain confidence and win many  awards. Dave doesn't do this by having an interventionist style, but by taking chances and risks that have taken others years to be willing to try.

I don't think Dave always wants to be known for his Nebbiolo (even though it is a rock star), but did have an almost holy experience visiting Piedmont. This brought I believe a newfound love into something he had already been executing beautifully. 

Dave seems most excited about "Russian Kiss." Russian Kiss is made up of three proprietary Russian varietals. These varietals are simply numbered with no names. They were brought into the United States in the 1970s by Purdue University as research varietals. These varietals have no American linage and are very Germanic in style. This was wine that I think will only grow with popularity and time as Dave continues to play with the varietals. 

There is something intriguing or enjoyable in every wine produced at Big Cork under Dave's guidance. We enjoyed another Italian varietal that is sometimes a forgotten gem - Barbera. Big Cork makes it a flag ship and there's a reason why. It shines here with great tannins and acidity. 

"That's kind of fun," Dave shares as he lights up talking about all that he's working on and what we can expect in the future. I expect more fun concerts, great wine, and laughter with friends with wine in a beautiful space.

Easy Wine and Dinner with Old Westminster wines

My fella and I are always trying new recipes (usually him more than me). He's taken a few cooking classes in the DC area from L'Academie one of which was for paella (that's a whole other delicious story). One of my first experiences with L'Academie was at Metro Cooking DC (which will be back in early December). Metro Cooking DC is one of my preferred food events in DC.

Recently, the fella and I wanted a simple recipe for inspiration for an easy and tasty weeknight dinner. We went to Epicurious as it's one of our go to websites. We found  simple pasta dish with spinach and shrimp. Once he got it started, I knew I had to find the right wine to enjoy his creation with. I reached into our cellar (cellar/closet - apartment living means you make it work) and grabbed a recent acquisition from Old Westminster

Old Westminster is truly a family affair. Drew (vigneron) and his sisters Ashli (estate director) and Lisa (winemaker) are executing their and their parents', Jay and Virginia's vision of making natural wine in Maryland. Every day their wine is changing people's pre-conceived notions on what Maryland wine as well as passionate young people can do. 

In addition to their knowledge and passion, I am always impressed by their transparency. They are incredibly clear with their winemaking and farming methods. They also produce different labels with different colors depending on where they are sourcing the grapes. There's no need to scour a label as it's presented to you. 

The wine we enjoyed was the  2016 Pét-Nat Barbera Rosé (currently sold out at the winery).  This particular style emerged from France's Loire Valley many years ago and fell out of practice for quite some time. Wine geeks and lovers of natural wine made it popular again and there's good reason why. The wine is still going through fermentation when it is placed under  cap. This allows fermentation to finish in the bottle. As yeast converts sugar to alcohol, there is naturally occurring carbon dioxide which adds the fizzy element to the wine. When fermentation is complete, the bottle cap is removed along with sediment and the bottle is recapped. As opposed to Champagne method, which undergoes a second fermentation, this is a one  and done situation. It's also the most natural with no additives, sugar, or anything added. The wine was slightly funky with some earthy notes, along with some ripe fruit that came through and the perfect amount of effervescence. It's definitely a must buy if I see it again.