Black Ankle Vineyards in Mount Airy, MD, produce the best wines in the world.
That is my opinion based on decades of tasting wine from when I was a student in Paris at 19 to today, some 30 years and many bottles of wine later.
I'm no sommelier. But I know a great, great wine when I taste it, and all of Black Ankle's wines are great. I especially like the Crumbling Rock and the Slate, but they are all out of this world. How out of this world? I'm very careful about what I store in my emergency supplies.
The owner, Sarah O'Herron (she's the one pouring), says the unique taste is due to it's "complexity." I've never been sure just what that means when used about the property of a wine.
I do know there is something unusual about the layers of rock underneath Mount Airy that gives this wine its special taste. It is the same rock that cleans the water I draw from my well. The water here is delicious because the blue shale and white schist rock purify it to the point that I rarely have to change my water pump filter. That same rock leaches into the roots of the plants at Black Ankle and, I believe, create extraordinary vintages.
From the time Black Ankle started producing wine in 2003, it was unusually good, and the question was weather they could maintain such high quality wines year after year. It's 2012, I've had their wines for almost 10 years now, and can testify that, yes, they are consistently good.
One couple who toured with us engaged in a spirited debate about rock versus soil affecting the taste of wine. To me, soil is soil, but rock varies widely. I believe the roots of these plants burrow deep into the rock and leech the minerals that give this wine its "complex" taste.
I'm not alone in this opinion. If you go to their wine page, you will notice they are sold out. And this happens year after year.
Below, I was part of a tour they offer for a small group where Sarah explains their wine making process and business. She takes sample wines from the barrel and tanks and shares them with the group. I was accompanied by my wife and the mayor of Mount Airy with whom I've worked to set up the emergency operations center and the emergency operations plan.
What is grand about Black Ankle, in addition to tasting the best wine in the world, is that they are always innovating. For example, in addition to some of the new varieties, this year we were met by chickens, roosters, and cows as we sampled the new wines. I can't think of another wine tour I've been on that included animals as part of the tour.
As you can see from the pictures of the wine tasting room, it's waiting for the right novelist to put it on the map. It's a warm as a Irish pub and even includes a snug. The thick, rich wood tables are all made from trees from the property.
Wine. It just brings people together. If the whole thing collapses, I intend to share the bad and the good with my family, friends and neighbors, and Black Ankle wine will accompany the fun.