Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Boyden Valley Winery & Spirits - Raising the Bar on Craft Beverages in Vermont! (VT)

I first tried Big Barn Red back in the fall of 2009 on a trip up to Vermont to see my brother-in-law Robin Hoover in Stowe. Recently, (ah hmmm) I tried their wines at the Taste Camp Vermont. So this post is a tad late.....apologies.

The winery is owned by David and Linda Boyden. "Located in a restored 1875 carriage barn on our family farm, the Boyden Valley Winery is steeped in the culture and agricultural heritage of Vermont’s Green Mountains. From 8000 grapevines and 100 acres of maple trees, lovingly tended by our family for four generations, we craft wines that feature only the finest locally grown fruit from the loamy soils of the Lamoille River Valley. The care with which we’ve nurtured the Boyden Farm for 100 years lends itself to traditional winemaking techniques, producing wines clean to the palate and balanced."

Boyden Family Farm is also known for it's pure bred, and all natural, non-GMO fed beef, as well as their 100% natural maple syrup production. And their winery production now also offers cider and spirits. In the past, I have reviewed the Big Barn Red, Gold Leaf dessert wine, and Vermont Ice Maple Cream. (I am dying to try their Pomme spirits next...LOL)

Since my first encounter with them, Boyden Valley Winery has grown.They now have two locations! Their original location, and their new Tasting Annex in Waterbury situated at the famous Cold Hollow Cider Mill on Route 100. The original and charming tasting room in Cambridge at the winery of course remains open.David and Linda remain fixtures of course, but the staff has grown. Bridget Jones in the General Manager, Nick Roy is the winemaker, JT Bachman is the assistant manager, and Tom Lyga runs the new annex for the winery.

The first wine I tried was the Boyden Valley Winery Cowtipper White Wine. The wine is made from the grape LaCrescent. It was a lovely wine, bright and fruity, like a semi-sweet Riesling, with lots of green apple and hints of grapefruit, apricot and even hints of pear and honeysuckle. Delicious!

Let me say again, 8 years later, Big Barn Red is as impressive a wine now as it was then. And that's saying something, because the industry in Vermont has grown up around them significantly, and this wine has kept pace.

Boyden Family Big Barn Red is made using estate grown Frontenac blended with and regional Cabernet Savignon. This is meant to be a big, Bordeaux styled red, and it delivers. Gargantuan notes of dark back cassis and black raspberries converge with dark cherry, smoke, and cocoa. A lovely, love;y big red. Calls for something grilled, charred, or roasted! Or something big like a Penne Arrabiata. Wonderful!

Boyden Valley Vineyards is an amazing place that is certainly more than just keeping up with the burgeoning Vermont craft beverage scene - it's helping to lead it! Go and check it out!



Monday, November 20, 2017

Mazzaroth Vineyards Vidal Blanc 2016 Is An Impressive First Release! (MD)

In 2011 Garry and Micki Cohen got serious about wine. They planted a small vineyard on their property in Middletown, Maryland; in the south western part of Frederick County. The original 1/4-acre test vineyard was planted in April 2012. The vineyard has been expanded every year since and is currently 1.75 acres.

The Cohen's mission is to grow the finest wine grapes in the Catoctin American Viticultural Area or AVA. This AVA is geographically defined from the north by the Mason Dixon line, from the east by Braddock Mountain, from the south by the Potomac River and from the west by South Mountain.

They started off with Vidal Blanc, but they have also planted Albarino, Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Tannat. Their ultimate goal is to make high quality quality wine. And in this first varietal wine they have produced they have absolutely succeeded.

I met Garry Cohen at the Taste Camp Maryland in May 2017. It was clear from the beginning he wants to make high quality wine of integrity. The Mazzaroth Vineyards Vidal Blanc 2016 was an elegant white with hints of pineapple and citrus. This was a delicate, light, delicious wine, that you might have otherwise thought came from California or France. Absolutely lovely. An impressive wine. Really looking forward to what the Cohens will produce and release in the future.

Stowe Cider - Wow! (VT)

I first had Stowe cider when I bought it at the general store in Woodstock, VT while visiting the Woodstock Inn with family a while back. Then two years ago I went to taste camp and tasted some of their newest ciders, and I can't lie, my brother-in-law Robin Hoover also brought me several small caches of it during his visits coming down from the Green Mountains. As has my friend Todd Trzaskos also from Vermont. So I have been well stocked, and well supplied.

In an article from Stowe Today, in May 2017, "Stowe Cider is looking to move its production to a new facility, according to a report in Stowe Today. The move to the new 4,000-square-foot location will enable the cidery to quadruple its production. Construction is planned for this summer if state permits are approved. Local permits have already been secured. The owners anticipate that all permissions needed will be in hand by June.The new location will be used primarily for production. Stowe Cider’s tasting room in the Red Barn shops will remain open."

The article went on to say, "To iron out wrinkles in the water and sewer situation on Town Farm Lane, town officials have been working with Stowe Cider owners, as well as Chris Curtis of West Branch Gallery, who owns the building Stowe Cider will rent, and Howard Smith and Nate Freund of Sushi Yoshi."


Stowe Cider is among my favorite New England cider producers Though there are many I like I freely admit. But Stowe is good stuff! Tips Up is their semi-sweet cider, with a lovely crispness that's hard to beat. This is the easy quaffer! High & Dry is almost like drinking sparkling wine, The apple comes across green and delicious and tart, but the there's no sweetness at the end, Just a lingering of sour apple. A great food cider! Safety Meeting is my beer cider here. Dry hopped, ti has a beautiful floral nose, with a dry finish and a great hop flavor, almost like an apple tinged light lager. Refreshing and awesome!

The Stowe Rum Ginger Hard Cider Smuggler's Reserve was easily the favorite of he whole tasting!!!! This is a ginger infused cider, that was aged in a rum barrel. A big pop of green apple with lots of spice and pepper, mixed with the delicious aged rum touch. Damn, this is as high end as cider gets. Loved it! One of my all time favorite high end craft ciders. This is where cider goes from craft beverage to craftsmanship and artisanal. 

The Bourbon Hard Cider Barrel Aged Smuggler's Reserve is a cider aged in a bourbon barrel. A big, brown sugar and apple bomb with a little gingersnap to it. Very very nice. Impressive!

You may not have the friend and relatives I do, but you need to get your hands on this stuff asap anyway! Make the effort, it's worth it!