With up-and-coming grape varieties like Viognier and Petit Verdot often in the spotlight, it’s easy to overlook the fact that Virginia is capable of producing some very nice Merlot wines. Merlot is ranked in the top three of the most planted grape varieties in Virginia; only Chardonnay and Cabernet Franc rank higher. I see Merlot as a work-horse variety for Virginia: a grape that does well on its own and is equally important to the state’s Bordeaux-style blends — with much more emphasis on the latter.
Chester Gap Cellars 2009 Merlot
I recently drove out to Rappahannock County and paid a visit to Chester Gap Cellars. This small family owned and operated winery is situated at fairly high elevations and specializes in estate-grown wines. Chester Gap Cellars makes a few nice Viognier wines, but on a brisk fall-like afternoon we opted to enjoy a glass of the Chester Gap Cellar's 2009 Merlot while taking in the picturesque views from the deck. The 2009 vintage is 100% Merlot and opens with inviting wild berry fruit, dark cherry, lingering spice, and shy sweet herbal notes. On the palate, the wine is smooth and well-balanced with a medium-length pleasing finish. For those of you still (even some eight years later) under the spell of the “Sideways effect,” a six ounce pour of this Merlot may be your cure-all. This wine retails for $22 and with spring seemingly here already; grab a bottle, pack a picnic basket (light cheeses, aperitifs), and enjoy the beautiful views from the tasting room or deck. Cheers!
Find wine openers, cheese, aperitifs, and everything else you might need for the picnic basket with these coupons for Overstock.
Click here to visit Chester Gap Cellar's website.
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