Posted by: runningwinegirl | September 20, 2010

Sunday Hiking/Wine Adventure: Old Rag & Rappahannock Cellars

This past weekend was another sunny gorgeous one in Virginia and I’m loving the crisp fall air. For almost two years a friend and I have been doing a Sunday hiking/wine adventure. Taking advantage of the weather, we decided to hike Old Rag, a 7.5-mile hike complete with a serious rock scramble. This was my third time hiking the trail and I love it more every time. There are so many vineyards near it and it was time to visit a new one. I’ve been tweeting with @rcellars for a few weeks and I decided to visit Rappahannock Cellars to see what this winery was all about.

It was easy to get there from Old Rag’s parking lot and I loved how pretty and charming the scenery was driving into the winery. Upon entering the tasting room we were immediately greeted and directed to the tasting bar. The tasting was $7.50 for seven wines and the choice of one of two dessert wines.  We started with the 09 Seyval Blanc, fermented in Stainless steel. On the nose I got tropical notes and it was crisp and clean on the palate. Those who like a dryer wine will love this white. It had me thinking of seafood. The second wine was the 09 Viognier, aged in neutral French Oak barrels. The wine had a floral nose and was medium bodied with apricot and a nice clean finish. I have delish written once next to it and would love to have had this earlier this summer on one of the hot, humid days that had all of us melting. The 08 Chardonnay was yummy and my kind of Chardonnay. I loved the caramel and butter I tasted on my palate. It was medium bodied with a nice creamy finish. The 08 Noblesse Viognier was the final white and with 1.6% residual sugar, this wine wasn’t too sweet but very well-balanced. I’m not one for the sweeter wines but thoroughly enjoyed this wine. It’s perfect for a hot summer day or the hot tub after a day on the ski slopes.

I was excited to move onto the reds. This is the first winery I’ve been too that offered different glasses for the reds and whites. It was nice to see glassware being taken into consideration while tasting wine. The 08 Cabernet Franc was the first, aged 14 months in Eastern European oak barrels and it was a nose full of pepper. On the palate it had a nice balance between spices and dark fruit. Those who love peppery or spicy wines will want to give this a try. The 07 Meritage, aged 16 months in French and American oak, consists of 63% Cabernet Sauvignon, 33% Petit Verdot, 2% Merlot and 2% Malbec. Oh yes, this was my favorite. I do love my Cab based wines and this was truly delicious. I tasted black cherry and raspberry and loved the structure and smooth finish. I ended up having a glass after the tasting and brought a bottle home with me. The 08 Norton was the final red and consists of 75% Norton and 25% Cabernet Sauvignon aged for six months in French Oak. I got raisins on the nose and on the palate this was an inky, intense, wine with plenty of dark fruit. It was super smooth and had a nice finish.

We were fortunate to taste all of the dessert wines including one not on the tasting sheet.  The first dessert wine was the 08 Vidal Blanc and I have delicious written twice next to this wine in my notes. It was perfect in sweetness and I got apricot on the nose followed by peaches on the palate. The 07 Port style Red Dessert wine blew me away. I do not like port anything but this was wonderful and something I could easily sip after dinner. The Solera was the surprise dessert wine. It is Vidal Blanc but, according to the girl doing out tasting, they take the grapes and let them bake in the sun. I was a little scared when it reminded me of port on the nose but on the palate I tasted a wonderful burnt caramel and toasted pecans. This was very rich and delectable.

It was great to finally meet Allan Delmare, who is the son of the owners, the marketing director and doing the tweeting for the winery. He opened up two Cabernets for us to taste as an extra treat. Both are wines for club members only and I’ll be looking into joining. The first Cabernet is made from estate grapes in Virginia. The second Cabernet is made from grapes that come from Allan’s Uncle’s vineyard in Napa Valley. It was fun to do a side by side tasting and I have to say, I enjoyed both Cabernets but they were different.  My friend preferred the Virginia Cabernet. I liked them both equally and wouldn’t know which to choose over the other.

We also tasted the 08 New World Red, a blend of 75% Napa Cabernet Sauvignon and 25% Estate grown Cabernet Franc. I have delicious written three times next to this wine. It was full, smooth with dark fruit and a wonderful long finish. The 08 Chapelle Charlemagne Cabernet Franc was the final bonus wine and it was smoother with less spice than the 08 Cabernet Franc. For me, this was my favorite out of the two Cab Francs.

I was intrigued to learn a little of the history including the story of this family coming to Virginia from California. They owned and ran a winery in the Santa Cruz Mountains.  I love the passion I saw for Virginia and enjoyed meeting winemaker, Jason Burrus.  It was a great time and a great way to relax after an awesome hike. I can’t wait to come back and enjoy the views and wine outside on the deck. I was thrilled to see a pet area and for sure, Baxter will be with me next time. This is a great winery to pack up a picnic with friends or family and spend the afternoon. If you haven’t visited, I recommend going and for those who love to hike, this is a great recovery place after a day playing at Shenandoah. Cheers!


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