Wine Advocate Office Casual Tasting in the Office with a Friend

This was just a fun event to taste a couple of Maryland wines I had in the cellar, particularly two wines that are no longer produced. A tannic blockbuster with blackish purple color when released, the 1983 Byrd Cabernet Sauvignon had a strong local following. Well, it still tastes that way, but there is no charm, and the fruit seems desicated or hidden behind a wall of abrasive tannin. The wine, however, is not oxidized, maderized, or over-the-hill, so who knows what might happen, but I suspect it is too tannic/out of balance. Far more charming, better balanced, and delicious was the 1982 Montbray from the late Dr. Hamilton Mowbray. A feisty, crusty legend among local growers, Mowbray believed Maryland could make fine wine. This effort certainly had a Bordeaux-like delicacy and finesse. A dear friend of mine, and to me the East Coast's finest winemaker, is Bertero Basignani. His 1995 Chardonnay is still vibrant, rich, complex, and very buttery, with notes of smoke and a leesy, buttery, hazelnut richness. Probably the best wine he has yet made is the Cabernet Sauvignon/Merlot blend culled from his best lots and named after his son, Lorenzino. The 1997 is superb, dense, ruby/purple, rich, with sweet oak, graphite, and plenty of black currant fruit. It should drink well for at least another 10 years, if not longer.

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