Mercer Wine Estates

Another winery visited in the general Yakima Valley area was Mercer Winery. Their physical location is in Prosser. Their first vintage was in 2005 and six years later the owners received a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Washington Association of Wine Grape Growers.

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We opted for the basic tasting for $5 (vs. $10 for reserves).

2016 Estates Rose
This bone-dry Rosé is perfect pool-side, brunch-side, or wedding-side. We also, just love it glass-side. A great wine for a wide variety of people and dishes, it’s pretty, pink, and delicious. Notes of fresh strawberries, white tea and cranberries combine with a beautiful balance of acidity and alcohol. Price: $15.
Horse Heaven Hills AVA|Blend: 100% Grenache|Alcohol: 12.5% |T.A.: 0.61g/100mL | pH: 3.22|Dry
*Very crisp, definitely a summertime wine.

2013 Chardonnay
Notes of vanilla, creamsicle, juicy pear and pineapple greet you on the nose. The voluminous fruit continues in the mouth with flavors of sweet pineapple juice and fresh pear with a drizzle of sweet butter. The lush fruit is balanced by clean, bright acidity that leads into a long, lingering finish. Price: $13.
Columbia Valley|Blend: 96% Chardonnay, 4% Viognier|Alcohol: 13.9%|TA: 0.6 g/L|pH: 3.53
*1/2 oaked, 1/2 un-oaked. Nice and crisp. Really liked this one.

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2014 Mercer Canyons Riesling
This off-dry Riesling (about 1.5 residual sugar) explodes with beautiful aromas of lychee, orange blossom and tangerine from the glass. The palate is full with apricot and peach notes drizzled in honey. The finish is refreshing with enough bright acidity. Price: $13.
Yakima Valley | Blend: 100% Riesling | Alcohol: 13.3% |T.A.: 0.68 g/100mL |pH: 3.02
*I got lots of honeysuckle on this. Yes, it’s a Riesling.

2013 Estates Merlot
Cherries and blackberries mingle with warm baking spices on the nose. Touches of oak, coffee and cocoa with lush fruit and velvety tannin on the palate. One of our favorite wines–enjoy with any red meat dish, tomato based pasta dishes, or just as a perfect sipping wine next to a warm fire. Price: $25.
Horse Heaven Hills |Blend: 80% Merlot, 17% Syrah, 3% Cabernet Sauvignon |
Alcohol: 14.5%|TA: 0.59g/100mL|pH: 3.68
*This had some definite chocolate notes to it. Very nice wine. There are good Merlots out there.

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2013 Petit Verdot
Whoa-Nelly–this is a big, bold wine! Big jammy flavors of blackberry jam, vanilla, and a hint of pie crust. This wine will age well, or if you need to impress someone with a high impact wine, or have a smoked brisket that needs a ‘pardner’–we suggest putting a few of these in your shopping cart.
Horse Heaven Hills| Spice Cabinet Vineyard| 100% Petit Verdot| Alcohol: 14.4% |
TA: 0.63g/100mL | pH:3.97
*White pepper is what I found to be the most prominent note.

Fun place to visit. I’m sure it’s another one that will keep growing. Love visiting more less-known, Washington wineries. Cheers!

Wit Cellars

When visiting WA wine country, I was pointed to a new winery by an established one. This new venture is Wit Cellars, which is just about a year old. They are not a huge winery, producing about 3,500 cases of wine a year and are located in the Prosser Wine Community of Yakima Valley. Their name comes from ‘We’re in It Together.’

The tasting room is in a sort of hidden place. Not in the middle of beautiful vineyards, but more of a ‘strip mall’ of tasting rooms.

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(photo source: wineyakimavalley.org)

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When we arrived (early in the day — strong wine drinkers!), there was only one other group in the tasting room. So one of the employees came over to help. With a tasting you get to sample eight wines, oh yes, half a dozen plus two (though one was out of stock). He was a bit concerned because he had been called in that morning to work, and was the husband of one of the owners and didn’t know all the info to a tee on the wine. Fast forward…he was quite good.

So as previously mentioned, the guy pouring us our wine ‘didn’t know a ton about them,’ so he was looking through some notes to tell us what they were supposed to taste like, etc. We ended up having a great conversation about each one and talking about them sometimes before and after he told us what the notes said. One of the best tastings you could have as the three of us were bouncing comments off each other as he had to enjoy some of the wine, too. What was great is that he gave us his history — former college football player, then in the Marine Corps, now in some IT/security/networking (he lost me after that) gig and part time in the wine industry because his wife is an owner.

So, what we enjoyed (info is directly from website, my notes in bold italic)

2015 Rose
The beautiful coral color will put you in a festive mood. On the nose you will be greeted with notes of strawberry, rhubarb and pink grapefruit. The lively acidity plays on the palate, while hints of spice and dried herbs round out this lively and refreshing summer sipper.
Price: $14.00

Light and crisp.

 

2015 Pinot Gris
Light bodied fresh and lively summer sipper possess hints of mandarin orange, honeydew melon, bosc pear, and green apple. Ancient Lakes is a cool site which lends itself to aromatic whites. You can literally taste the tortuous past of these prehistoric soils. A gravely minerality mixes with citrus notes and dazzling acidity, to create a unique gem true to its sense of place.
Price $18.00

Minerality!  LOVE IT LOVE IT LOVE IT. Left with a bottle.

2015 Chardonnay
The feast of reason and the flow of soul brought us to the Ancient Lakes Appellation to source aromatic whites of exceptional quality. The vines struggle in high elevation silt loam vineyards on fractured caliche and basalt. This extraordinary example of Chardonnay possesses hints of green apple and pear. The saline minerality and focused fruit void of white noise; set this wine apart from any other. This wine is not for the faint of heart, but for the quick of Wit.
Price $22.00

Unoaked, cheddar on the nose. Neutral oak barrels. I would give it ‘crisp oak’, Very unique.

2014 Riesling
Again the Ancient Lakes Appellation shines with Riesling. We were able to create a Riesling of exceptional quality. Bright acidity mixes with clove, peach, apricot, spice, honey-suckle and clover blossoms. Of course, the underlining feature of this wine is the gravely minerality brought by the tortured prehistoric soils of this majestic appellation. This racy gem is not for the faint of heart, but for the quick of wit.
Price $18.00

Not syrupy like a Riesling could be, but it was still a Riesling.

2013 Red Blend
The colors of this wine are the deepest shades of inky purple and red.

The enchanted flavors of raspberry liquor, vibrant pepper, baking spice, blackberry, graphite and gravel will tantalize your taste buds. This is an extraordinary elegant wine with silky smooth texture and lingering finish. I found that this wine leaves me fully satisfied, but longing for one more taste.
Price $45.00

Nice nose. Melt in your mouth. Just so much good stuff happening. Left with a bottle.

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2013 Cabernet Sauvignon
We were drawn to Elephant Mountain Cabernet because it showcases the vibrancy of the site. Only at the extreme margins of this black beast can you detect a deep garnet color. An abundance of black currant, wild cherry, raspberry and cedar greet your nose and caress your pallet. The lingering finish will provide hints of anise, vanilla, toasted hazelnuts and roasted coffee which are balanced by gravelly earthy notes. This is a particularly well balanced and beautiful wine. Your first sip will leave you wanting more.
Price $50.00

Jammy, but not overkill, and not too chewy.

2013 L’armonia Red Blend
This is a big wine with an abundance of dark beautiful fruits that blend harmoniously with it’s ample body and structure.
The integrated tannins dance across your palate while flavors of huckleberry cobbler, vanilla and brown sugar tempt your taste buds. By combining classical Bordeaux varietals we believe that each individual piece of this red blend has come together to sing.
Blend: 65% Cabernet Sauvignon, 18% Petit Verdot, 14% Malbec, 3% Merlot
Price $60.00

I got tastes of coffee, kahlua and fruit. Unique.

 

As you can see, I left with two bottles. One was enjoyed that night when we returned to a friend’s house in Seattle, and the other the following night at the same house. Of course these guys/this winery can’t be kind and sell in stores on the east coast, let alone in stores in their area. It’s all direct from them. They do have have three wine clubs, though. The requirements aren’t super demanding, on them either. So I might have to join down the road. Overall, spent well over an hour there. I can easily see these guys getting into some of the big wine magazines in the coming years as an up and coming winery. Cheers!

 

Don’t Mess With Texas…

…wines.  Was at event and in our goody bag we received a bottle of Texas wine.  Hmmm…I did not know that Texas was in the wine industry.  I just know I love me some Shiner and margaritas!

So, I’ve had this bottle of Texas Riesling (another problem unless it’s dang dry) for awhile and decided to finally give it a try.  It’s from Becker Vineyards to be specific.  I felt like I was about to take the biggest risk of my life.  I paced around the kitchen.  Looked at the bottle, then stared.  Held my breath a few times.  Then finally, put the corkscrew in it.  Ahh, the oxygen hit the adult-level grape juice.

Poured a glass.  The color…gold.  The picture does not do it justice.  Think the goldest of gold Chards you’ve seen.  The nose, sweet, that’s all I can say.  The taste.  Um, yeah, um.  Boone’s is tasting pretty good.  I waited a couple minutes, maybe a white can breathe?  No, this and Boone’s are definitely in the same place.  At least you get flavor options with Boone’s.

Now, checking out their website, this isn’t even around anymore.  They only have ‘dry riesling’, which is sold out?

I know it’s each one to their own, so you can always cast your vote if you happen to have tried this.  But I say Don’t mess with Texas wines, as in stay away.

 

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Multiple Continents of Tastings

I figure since you can’t easily travel the world (time, money, etc), why not just grab a bottle of wine to check it out.  So, the past few weeks I’ve explored most of the world.  Between the Georgian wine I posted about recently (have some new bottles to be opened soon…) I have also checked out the following great vinos…

1) Chateau St. Jean, Pinot Noir, CA — (though this is Sonoma, think of Napa and support the locals by buying a bottle of Napa wine.  They’ve had aftershocks after the big quake on Sunday.) Amazing, amazing CA Pinot — cherry and some leather.  Was enjoyed with salmon.

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2)  Phebus, Malbec (Reserve), Mendoza, Argentina.  Very nice.  Berries, some chocolate.  Can find it for about $10.

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3) Klein Steenberg Sauvignon Blanc, South Africa.  Light, pineapple, peach and grass notes.  Great for enjoying on a sunny afternoon or with fish or salad.  And, screwtop for easy access.  About $12.

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4) Pfeffingen Weilberg Riesling, Germany. (Note: that site doesn’t stay in English the whole time)  Nice and dry!  Some stone fruit, various other amazing mineral flavors.  Paired it with a pea and garlic gazpacho with grilled chicken.  Perfect!  It’s been in my wine rack for awhile so not sure the cost, but online I’m finding about $30.

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Oregon Winery Tour

It’s been awhile since I’ve posted because I was in a wine lover’s paradise — Willamette Valley (OR) — for a couple days.  I visited some wineries, met some great people and enjoyed some phenomenal varietals.

To start off my trip, I booked a tour at penner-Ash.  Notice the typing on that.  The owners wanted something basic for the appearance of the name/logo, as in lower case, but Ash wanted his name capitalized.  But, when you read the logo it’s not the easiest to catch.

Penner

While on my trip, it was high harvest season.  Grapes were being picked, processed, etc.  So, I got to see lots of good stuff!  Grapes fresh off the vines:

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One of the next processing steps — they start at the top, get pressed and move their way down:

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Grapes in the process of eventually making their way to us:

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Tasted five great wines while there.  All were amazing and it was tough to narrow down which ones to buy.

PennerMenu

The tasting room at penner-Ash is so nice — it overlooks fields and hills.  It was a beautiful day when I visited so I could see  so much landscape.  I recommend checking this place out next time you’re in the area.

Wine Class/School

Last week I has my first, of five, classes with the Capital Wine School for the Wine & Spirit Education Trust (WSET) Level 2 Award.  Going to school for wine?  What more could one ask?  There are a variety of people in the class, from wine distributors looking to learn about products, caterers, retirees pursuing their passions of wine and getting background for potential work in wine stores and others of us just learning more about wine for kicks.

During the first session, we learned about various elements of wine, from environment to storage.  But the primary focus was the Systematic Approach to Tasting Wine.  Before you taste the wine, you have to analyze several aspects of it, with specific, pre-identified terms for each level.

Appearance — clarity, intensity, color.  For this, you always want to have the wine against a white background.

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Nose — condition, intensity, aroma characteristics (you use the characteristics below).  Swirling is optional, personal preference, but what do you have to lose?

Next, the fun part — tasting the wine!  They like to call it palate. There are several areas to determine/analyze here — sweetness, acidity, tannin, body, flavor characteristics, finish.

For the Aroma and flavor characteristics, there are many of them to base it/them on:

Floral/fruit — floral, green fruit, citrus fruit, stone fruit, tropical fruit, red fruit, black fruit, dried fruit

Spice/Vegetable — underripeness, herbaceous, herbal, vegetable, sweet spice, pungent spice

Oak/other — simplicity/neutrality, autolytic, dairy, oak, kernel, animal, maturity, mineral

Conclusions — quality

What was interesting to learn while doing this is that you have a blank palate — you do not lean a certain way.  It is what is present in the wine.  You might not like the wine, but it’s the flavor, aromas, characteristics, x,y,z that are there.  You analyze that wine to present it to the innocent bystander who is looking for a ‘wine that will pair with ‘this” or a wine with ‘x flavors.’

We tasted 6 wines last week.  They provide you with spit/dump buckets and water so you could keep going strong.

#1  2012 Mara White Grass Sauvignon Blanc

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#2 2010 Robert Mondavi Chardonnay

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#3  2011 Karl Erbes Urziger Wurzgarten Riesling Kabinett

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#4 2011 Henry Fessy Morgon Cru Beaujolais

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#5  2010 Cousino-Macul Antiguas Reservas Cabernet Sauvignon

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#6 2011 Bodegas Volver Tarima Mourvedre (Monastrell)

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As mentioned earlier, it was tough to say, ‘this was a good wine,’ because there are a few that I put personal notes about what NOT buy at the store.  But it is so neat to start learning about what goes into what sommeliers learn when they provide you all the info on the grapes we enjoy.

Class #2 is later this week.  So, more to come.

Aussie Wine Tasting

Last night there was a call from Down Under to taste their wine.  One must answer!  How can you go wrong?  It was taking place at Bin 201 in Annapolis, MD.  For $10 you taste(d) 8 wines and then you could apply those 10 bucks towards the purchase of a bottle.  And, if more than one person goes, you can combine your ‘credits.’  The two of us who went walked out with a ‘free’ bottle of wine.  Score!  They also serve cheese and crackers at the tasting.

So the night began:

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#1:  Pewsey Vale Riesling.  That was originally to be the 2nd in the tasting but turned out to be best as first as some previous tasters decided the notes made it best to go first.  Nice and dry.  You’re not drinking sugar.  The nose was flowery, the taste was lime.

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#2:  Nautilus Sauvignon Blanc.  Hand me the green peppers.  Or, if your recipe calls for some and you’re out, you could easily sip some of this instead.  Wow, very poignant, yet nice, nose and taste of them.  Also had some grapefruit notes.

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#3:  Mt. Beautiful Pinot Noir.  Yes, it’s from New Zealand but they are pretty close together, yet so far away from here.  There was a light note of cranberries in the nose.   For taste, I found some ash and bit of cranberry.

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#4:  Misfit Brujeria.  I felt it was ‘thick and chewy’ and couldn’t pick up a flavor.  If I had to put something to it, the most I could say is chocolate, but that’s me.

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#5:  Tournon Mathilda.  Light wine with some eucalyptus on the nose.  Also carried the eucalyptus in the taste with a hint of jam.

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#6:  Tir Na N’og ‘Old Vines’ Grenache.   What a nose — chocolate and molasses.  Then it was like drinking molasses cookies with a hint of black licorice.

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#7:  Yalumba “The Scribbler” Shiraz/Cabernet.  I love their Shiraz/Viognier blend so was excited about this.  I could not pick up a taste from it though, unfortunately.

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#8:  Jim Barry “The Cover Drive” Cabernet Sauvignon.  The most I can give is mint!

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And the entire menu/notes from Bin 201 were interesting.  I always try to sniff and taste before reading these to avoid the ‘brainwash.’  The Aussie tasting was great and can’t wait to see/taste what’s next.

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