By Tom Marquardt and Patrick Darr
The first thing you notice about Rachel Lipman is her intense penetrating eyes framed by her long dark slightly grey-streaked brown hair. Rachel is the sole full-time employee of Loew Vineyard, a smallish 2,600-case winery in Mt Airy and the youngest winemaker in Maryland at age 30. She recently assumed the helm of Loew Vineyard after the death of 96-year-old William Loew, her grandfather, founder and Polish holocaust survivor.
Loew founded Loew the facility in 1982 when the number of wineries in Maryland totaled 12. Today over 100 wineries call Maryland home farming a total of about 1,000 acres of wine grapes.
Rachel described how her Jewish ancestors in Poland were makers of honey-based mead products in the 19th and early 20th centuries before the advent of World War II and the destruction of the Polish Jewish population. Rachel’s grandfather survived incarceration by the Germans and emigrated from Europe after the war and worked primarily as an electrical engineer for the Federal government.
Winemaking became a hobby and link to his ancestors. Rachel is well qualified to assume leadership of the winery operation, earning a plant science degree and communications degree from the University of Maryland as well as completing a certificate in enology degree from the University of Washington. Rachel also interned with an organic winery in France’s Loire Valley.
We had never tasted any of Loew Vineyard’s offerings, so we were excited to meet with Rachel, hear her story and taste her wines. Overall, we were very impressed both with the quality of the wines and their relative reasonableness in cost. Following are our impressions of some of Rachel’s wines:
Loew Vineyard Celebration Rosé Maryland 2022 ($26). An artful blend of cabernet franc, pinot noir, malbec and merlot is produced using the saignee process of bleeding off the just-pressed pink juice from the grapes are destined to become a Loew red wine. This technique accomplishes two objectives: create an early drinking rosé for early consumption and further concentrate the remaining grape must to gain intensity for the red wine. This quaffable, refreshing wine displays crisp acidity as well as citrus and peach notes.
Loew Vineyard Beloved White Wine Maryland 2022 ($28). This is an appealing, all-stainless-steel blend of mostly chardonnay and a dollop of sauvignon blanc and vidal. The wine is reminiscent of a nice French Macon with peach and ripe apple elements.
Loew Vineyard Chardonnay Maryland 2021 ($26). This is the best Maryland chardonnay we have tasted. Stainless steel and used barrel fermentation as well as 9 months on the lees have combined to produce a wonderful chardonnay that exhibits delicious apple and pear notes and an enticing butterscotch finish. Try this beauty with upcoming spring and summer meals.
Loew Vineyards Cabernet Franc Maryland 2021 ($36). This is another of our favorites from our tasting. It spends 10 months in used barrels to produce an intriguing, 100 percent cabernet franc that displays berry, pepper and mocha elements all wrapped in a very smooth package. Try with barbequed meats.
Loew Vineyard Malbec Maryland 2021 ($32). A slightly different take on malbec, this blend is 90 percent malbec, with a balance cabernet franc and petite verdot. A floral element pairs with berry and a touch of tart cranberry to make up this interesting blend.
Loew Vineyard operates a tasting room on their property on Liberty Road in Mt Airy and is open on weekends.
Bouchaine Vineyards has two clone-designated pinot noirs that provide an opportunity – albeit an expensive one – for consumers to taste what different a clone brings to this grape variety.
We’ve written before about winemaker and general manager Chris Kajani who has focused her attention on making several single-clone pinot noirs in the Carneros AVA of Napa Valley. We loved the Swan and Pommard versions we tasted last year.
This year we enjoyed two more clonal pinot noirs: the Mt. Eden and Calera from the 2021 vintage. Each shows a different personality, much like the other single-clone pinot noirs in the portfolio.
The 2021 Calera Clone Estate Pinot Noir is another suitcase cutting brought into this country from France. There is vibrant dark berry fruit that grips the palate. The 2021 Mt. Eden Clone Estate Pinot Noir is more serious with dark berry and spice notes.
Antigal Uno Malbec 2019 ($18). From the Uco Valley region of Argentina, this malbec has the classic flavors of plum and black fruit with broad aromas of violets and vanilla. Soft on the palate and perfect with simple food and pasta.
Scharffenberger Cellars Brut Rose Excellence ($29). We were stunned by the quality you get from this reasonably priced sparkling wine. Soft and delicious, it as red berry flavors.
Hahn Arroyo Seco GSM Red 2021 ($25). There are a lot bigger blends of grenache, mourvedre and syrah in the Rhone Valley, but this version from a small California appellation is easy breezy. Red berry aromas with strawberry and blueberry flavors.
Chalk Hill Estate Red Russian River Valley 2018 ($75). This is a classically styled opulent California red blend that we would put in any premium tasting. The wine features juicy cherry, berry, and plum, fruit notes with a perfectly accenting dose of spice and a nice hint of vanilla. Crafted from cabernet sauvignon, malbec, petite verdot and a dash of carmenere this wine was aged for 21 months in French oak 61 percent new. Although pricey, if you can afford this beauty, buy it.