If you’re looking for a “wine for a winter’s night” (and these days, who isn’t?), when you’re grilling filet mignon or other steak to go with it, I have to recommend Afton Mountain’s “Tradition” 2017, a Meritage-style blend that deftly combines finesse with strength, in a very Virginia kind of style.

Winemaker Damien Blanchon picked a blend ratio I rarely see in Virginia (or anywhere else); mostly Merlot (41%), then almost as much Petit Verdot (37%), and finally a hefty share of Cabernet Sauvignon (22%). Afton Mountain has Cabernet planted on its estate, and 2017 was a ripe year with a long, warm fall for full ripening.

The nose is typical of the vintage, with ripe, roasted black fruits, clean forest floor, and baking spices. On the palate, red and black fruits are balanced with fresh acidity and firm tannins from the Cabernet Sauvignon, and a plushness on the finish from both the Merlot and Petit Verdot that make for a multi-dimensional experience that will pair well with rich roasted meats and garlic mashed potatoes.

While just reaching balanced drinking now, this wine will continue to develop in the bottle for 3-5 more years. Price: $55