It’s really no surprise that one of my favorite Virginia wines out there is Rappahannock Cellars Meritage. Year after year, this bold blend created in old-world Bordeaux style continues to impress people with its plethora of layers and firm tannin structure — even the lackluster 2011 vintage that most of Virginia struggled with. After discussing with Allan Delmare about having a small gathering for a vertical tasting, we nailed down a date and invited a few people over to the Pour House to rate our favorite vintages starting with the 2007 and ending with the 2012 barrel sample. Myself, Allan, Allan’s girlfriend Lauren, my fiancé Jaymie, and wine consultant extraordinaire Bryan Toy of Dionysos Consulting Group each tasted the vintages and discussed our critiques. The results were consistent among the five of us, and, now without further delay, here are the results in order of favorite to least favorite, as well as my tasting notes of the vertical tasting. Cheers!
Rappahannock Cellars Meritage Vertical Results:
- 2009 Meritage **WINNER** — Big-bodied with a smooth, round, and juicy mouthfeel. Lush fruit balanced by light spice greet the nose, but comes off slightly hot. The palate starts out with earthy notes mingling with dark fruit that dissipates with tapered acidity and is carried to the finish with velvety smooth notes of mocha and vanilla. Nicely integrated and is aging gracefully! Always been a rockstar wine to me.
- 2012 Meritage (Barrel Sample) — Still on the younger side, but not over-powered by fruit. This sample presents toasty oak and vanilla that jumps out front and provides a smooth creamy texture that pleases the palate towards the finish. Complex and already showing to be a nice follow-up to the 2009 vintage.
- 2010 Meritage — It’s hot from start to finish. The nose presents nuances of dried mushroom and earthy notes, while the palate is coated by masked dark fruit that begins fruit forward, but tapers mid palate showing more earth and tobacco qualities while finishing with a hint of mint.
- 2008 Meritage — Faint aromas of cinnamon and dried plum incorporate a touch of white pepper, while the palate is coated with smooth subtle flavors of dried plum, prune, and cherry. Chewy tannins and a touch of white pepper creep out of the shadows on the medium length finish of this medium bodied wine.
- 2011 Meritage — Toasted oak and nutty aromas highlighted by flavors of espresso, dark berry, and notes of cherry that carry straight through the finish with medium tannins. A drink now wine that can be enjoyed with or without food.
- 2007 Meritage — Concentrated aromas of blackberry, clove, and oak set the stage for smooth flavors of dark berry, light spice, and sour cherry that finishes with just an additional touch of slate or wet rock. The tannins have subsided and are mild, while the color is showing more garnet as it is showing some decline. Still a good wine, just no match for the 2009.