One of my favorite tastings is back – Virginia Wine Chat with Frank Morgan returned this past Thursday after a two month hiatus. This month Frank was visiting the fine folks at North Gate Vineyard, chatting with owner Mark Fedor, and sipping on three of their wines – a 2014 Viognier, a 2013 Merlot, and a 2013 Meritage.
2014 North Gate Vineyard Viognier – $22
The debate about whether Viognier should really be the state’s official grape may rage on (I understand why the did it, but still don’t think it was the best choice), and while the last few years haven’t been the best for Viognier, this one didn’t disappoint.
I picked up soft floral aromas – just enough to let me know that I was drinking a Viognier, but not overwhelming either. Flavors of Tropical Fruit, Melon, Vanilla were most prominent, but as the wine warmed up I started picking up white pepper on the finish.
This wine spends 6 months in neutral French Oak before bottling, and that time with the oak shows without being overwelming – I enjoy Viognier when it’s seen oak, but appreciated the restraint of the oak profile here.
At $22 this is a great value, and it was a great way to kick off our tasting.
2013 North Gate Vineyard Merlot – $19
Merlot is Frank’s pick for one of the most underrated grapes in Virginia, and I’m increasingly inclined to agree with him. Sure I give a nod to Petit Verdot, but the movie Sideways did a number on the image of Merlot, even if, at the time, there was a lot of really bad Merlot being made. This is no such wine.
Dark ruby in color with aromas of dark fruit, cedar, and tobacco, the Merlot showed dark fruit flavors with dark chocolate on the finish. The wine had a nice tart/brightness to it that I enjoyed and that made me want to pair it with some stew – something dark and hearty to take advantage of that slight brightness.
This was easily the steal of the night at $19.
2013 North Gate Meritage – $24
A blend of 60% Merlot, 22% Petit Verdot, and 18% Cabernet Franc. I picked up anise and dark fruit on the nose, while on the palate the wine was juicy, with flavors of dark cherry, vanilla, and spice with some cocoa sneaking up at the finish.
Like the others this is a great value, being a superb red for under $30, especially as we move into the time of year where bigger, darker reds are the way to go.
I want to thank Frank Morgan for another great Virginia Wine Chat, and Mark and Vicki Fedor from North Gate Vineyard for providing the wines. If you’ve never been up to North Gate Vineyard in Loudon County (or any of the vineyards in Loudon County for that matter) I highly recommend it – I’ve stopped in there several times and they have a beautiful tasting room, friendly staff, and are committed to being environmentally friendly.
Next month Frank travels to the Charlottesville area to see Michael Schaps in what is sure to be a fun Virginia Wine Chat.