The Gifts of Horse Heavens Hills

This post reviews two red wines from the Mercer label, and they include the 2014 Cabernet Sauvignon and the 2014 Red Blend. The grapes that comprise these wines are grown in vineyards located in the Horse Heaven Hills appellation of course, this appellation is located in Washington state.

2014 Mercer Canyons Cabernet Sauvignon: No surprise that if the Mercer whites reviewed in a previous post were the product of a hot growing season, then the reds developed in the same hot environment Aromas of smoke, candied cherries, ripe blackberries, and spice greeted the nose; similar flavors were observed in the mouth the an oak note on the finish. We found this Cabernet Sauvignon to be quite accessible; however, we opened at least 30 minutes before serving with strip steak and roasted potatoes.

2014 Mercer Canyons Red Blend: We enjoyed this one quite a bit and dubbed it a crowd pleaser. Merlot leads the blend (59%) that includes Syrah (16%), Grenache (10%), Sangiovese (6%), Petit Verdot (6%), and Viognier (2%). Smoky notes led on the nose followed by ripe red fruit and spicy aromas. The palate recalled mixed berry jam which lingered quite a while; dusty tannins provided structure. I enjoyed this one with lamb chops seasoned with rosemary and thyme. Feel free to keep this Red Blend on hand for summer fare done on the grill and lightly coated with barbecue sauce.

We thank Brenda Mercer, marketing manager for Mercer’s wines, for giving us the opportunity to sample the wines (and thus the terroir of their slice of the Horse Heavens Hills appellation.) Please seek out these wines at your wine shop or their website and mention that Virginia Wine Time sent you.

Glen Manor Vineyards

It was gloomy and rainy on Saturday.  We decided to head to Glen Manor Vineyards to brighten our day. We didn’t want to miss the Sauvignon Blanc this year.

Luckily when we stepped up to the tasting bar, the Sauvignon Blanc was still on the menu. We tasted the 2015 Sauvignon Blanc first. We noted citrus and fresh herbs. However the 2016 was available for case club members. We decided to have a half bottle of the 2016 and a glass of the 2015 to do a little comparison. After our tasting we enjoyed both with our lunch items. While the 2015 was lovely, we decided we preferred the 2016 with food. We noted citrus, a weightier mouth feel and a whiff of stone fruit. It paired well with our Gruyere and Manchego cheeses.

Of course the Sauvignon Blancs were not the only wines we tasted. We were surprised by the 2014 Cabernet Franc. It’s 100% Cabernet Franc. We noted dark fruit through the palate with a medium tannin structure. It would compliment a lean cut of beef. Drink now or let it rest on the rack awhile.

If you are looking for a pizza, pasta, burger wine you can’t go wrong with the 2014 Vin Rouge. This is always one of our favorites. Grab this off the rack to go with pretty much any during the week meal.

And we are heading into warmer weather. You can’t forget the 2015 Morales Rose. Rose goes with everything! Ripe berry flavors dominate this rose. If you haven’t been to Glen Manor recently, it’s time to return. Even though it was a rainy day for us, there are sunny days ahead. Plan a visit to Glen Manor soon and when you do visit, tell them Virginia Wine Time sent you!

A Taste of the Horse Heaven Hills AVA

We experienced wines from the Horse Heavens Hills AVA recently. Loyal readers may be asking where in Virginia is the Horse Heavens Hills AVA? It is actually located in Washington state along the Columbia River, and the wines that we sampled were from Mercer Estates Winery, a family-owned winery . The Mercer family has owned the property since 1886 and started producing wine from the estate in 2005. We offer our reviews of the 2015 Sauvignon Blanc and 2015 Chardonnay in this post.

2015 Sauvignon Blanc: This was produced from a very hot growing season, and initial notes trended toward tropical with a whiff of cut grass. A few swirls of the glass presented grapefruit aromas. Grapefruit flavors and a zesty finish made for a refreshing display on the palate. We enjoyed this Sauvignon Blanc with honey goat cheese and baguette. This is a nice wine for warm weather; enjoy on its own or paired with gamey cheeses, fresh fruit, or shellfish.

2015 Chardonnay: Of course, this too was the product of a hot growing season. Chardonnay grapes in this bottling come from the best locations in the Horse Heavens Hills. I am not an ABCer (Anything But Chardonnay); in fact, I love Chardonnay. Needless to say, I looked forward to sampling this one. Pineapple and lime notes were complemented by juicy pear and apple flavors with oak nuances on the finish. I also savored the fuller mouth feel, and it was the perfect partner with roasted chicken served aside mashed potatoes.

We also sampled two red wines from Mercer, and our impressions of those wines will be posted in a later feature. We thank Brenda Mercer for introducing us to these lovely wines, and we encourage readers to seek out these wines at your local wine shop or order them from their website. Please mention that Virginia Wine Time recommended them.

Rappahannock Cellars

A few weeks ago we visited Rappahannock Cellars. We don’t visit too often but we always enjoy our time at Rappahannock when we do visit.

Of course we were there to taste the current line up of wines. From the few white wines that were on the tasting menu we both enjoyed the 2015 Viognier. We noted peach, tropical notes, and a full mouth feel. Warren also really enjoyed the 2014 Chardonnay. He noted pear, pineapple, and a honey feel.

There were more reds to taste than whites. From the reds we tasted we both enjoyed the 2012 Meritage. We noted pencil shavings on the nose and plum, currents, berry notes on the palate and tight tannins and leather notes. This one made us think of a thick filet mignon.

After our tasting we spoke with our tasting associate about the wine club. Of course I’m thinking I don’t need to join another wine club. But what hooked me was that most wine club shipments are wines not available to the general public. I belong to a handful of wine clubs and I enjoy wines that exclusive to the club. I decided to join the club.

We then entered the club room and did a little comparison of the club chardonnay vs. the regular chardonnay. We both enjoyed the club chardonnay. This little comparison was evidence enough for us to know we made the right decision to join the club. This is not to say the regular chardonnay isn’t good, we enjoyed it, but the club chardonnay was a step above.

We have many wine friends who are already club members at Rappahannock and now we are club members too! We enjoy joining them for events and tastings in the club room at Rappahannock. If you haven’t been to Rappahannock Cellars recently, return to see what’s new. And who knows, you might join the club! When you do return, tell them Virginia Wine Time sent you!

Wines Across America

Last week we attended the Wines Across America event held at the Longworth House Office Building in the shadow of the Capital. This is a yearly event for members of congress, staffers, and invited guests to come and taste wines from across the country. There were 97 wines being poured that evening from the four regions of the country. The event is put on by Wine America. We try to attend each year to taste wines from around the country and see how what’s new.

After making our way to the event we started with the north east region. Warren found is favorite wine here. He enjoyed the Dry Riesling from Anthony Road Wine Company from the Finger Lakes region of New York. He enjoyed the peach, tangerine and the long finish.

We had to travel to the south east region for me to find my favorite. And it happened to be local! My favorite was the Old Westminster 2014 Anthem. It’s a red blend with lots of fruit on the nose and a very smooth finish. I thought of red pasta sauce or even a hearty hamburger while sipping this one.

Virginia was well represented by Cardinal Point with their A6 and from Paradise Springs with their viognier.


We had a great time tasting wines and chatting it up with industry folks from around the country. There was some really nice wines represented at this event. If you get the chance in the future to attend the Wines Across America event, you will enjoy tasting wines from all corners of the country.