Our next The United Grapes of America feature moves from this country's newest state to the oldest, Delaware, and Nassau Valley Vineyards, a winery that was listed in the original StarChefs.com post. Nassau Valley will be celebrating their twentieth anniversary next year and proprietor Peg Raley actually drafted the farm winery legislation that allowed wineries to operate in the First State. The estate is located near the popular seashore resorts of Lewes, Rehobeth, and Dewey Beach and receive plenty of tourist traffic. And being near the coast, the vinifera vines - yes vinifera (Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Chardonnay, Cabernet Franc, and Petit Verdot) are planted in very sandy soil. This provides plenty of drainage and the sea breezes cool the grapes at night allowing for a decent diurnal variation. The "perfect" location for a vineyard. The winery produces single varietal wines from these grapes - the Chardonnay is my favorite of these - but their pride is the "Indian River Red" Vintner's Blend. Priced at $30.00, this is a blend of the estate's best fruit and for 2010 the blend consists of 73% Merlot, 17% Cabernet Franc and 10% Cabernet Sauvignon. The wine was then aged
in French Oak for eight months. This is a big wine, earthy and leather, but also exuding dark cherry flavors. The tail contains some pepper and plenty of mouth drying tannins. This is the type of wine that really surprises you - made in a very unlikely area. Yet, if you can swallow the price - a nice example of a local wine.