Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Mercer Estates Winery

Mercer Estates Winery

I've enjoyed most Washington state wines I've tried, so it was fun to get samples from a producer and area that I wasn't familiar with, Mercer Estates. Five generations of the Mercer family have farmed the Horse Heaven Hills, home to 25% of Washington state's wine grapes. They now have 2,000 acres of vineyards that go into 3 tiers of wine, along with a micro label that is dedicated solely to charity (proceeds go to support people who have suffered from events connected to 9/11). Their wines are produced from premium grapes grown throughout the Horse Heaven Hills (primarily Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Syrah, Mourvedre, Malbec, Sangiovese, Petit Verdot and Grenache), Yakima Valley (primarily Chardonnay, Riesling, Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Gris) and the greater Columbia Valley. The Mercers have a strong focus on sustainability, with an emphasis on 5 areas: water management; soil and fertility management; integrated pest management; waste management; and research, community support and leadership.

Tasting Notes:

Mercer Estates Reserve Ode to Brothers 2011:
40% Grenache, 40% Syrah, 20% Mourvèdre - Grenache and Mourvèdre from Mercer Estates Spice Cabinet Vineyard, Syrah from Champoux Vineyard; undergoes malolactic fermentation and 28 months of aging in French and American oak barrels; opaque purple color; a meaty and smoky wine that almost feels like you could chew it - great fruit balanced with tannins and acidity; SRP $42.
Mercer Canyons Horse Heaven Hills Cabernet Sauvignon 2012:
77% Cabernet Sauvignon, 21% Merlot, 1% Malbec,1% Petit Verdot; individual lots fermented in stainless steel tanks; aged in French and American oak barrels for 18 months; deep purple color; dark fruit, currant, and vanilla aromas; dark fruit, mocha, baking spices, and earth flavors; decent acidity and tannins mean this should drink well for at least a few more years; 13.9% ABV; twist-off closure; SRP $16.99.
Mercer Yakima Valley Pinot Gris 2013:
Grapes harvested in the early morning, pressed, then settled for 2 days prior to racking; cool fermented for 22 days; light straw in color; lemon, subtle tropical fruit, and white floral aromas; melon, starfruit, and Meyer lemon flavors; velvety mouthfeel with a bracing acidity making itself known throughout; 13.3% ABV; twist-off closure; SRP $13. A lovely wine that is as food friendly as they come - I drank this with a beef Alfredo pasta dish with sweet corn as well as spicy sausage pizza the next night.
These wines were provided for review purposes - all opinions are my own.

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Thursday, August 28, 2014

#WineStudi​o Session XVI – Liquid Voices of Hudson Valley

#WineStudi​o Session XVI – Liquid Voices of Hudson Valley

August's #WineStudio featured an area I wasn't that familiar with, new York's Hudson Valley. I've been tasting the Finger Lakes region wines for a few years, so I thought I knew what to expect: good to great whites, decent to good reds. I was happy to be mistaken.

What I now know about the Hudson Valley:
  • Melting glaciers carved a deep trench, creating the valley and depositing shale, slate, schist, and limestone, perfect for growing grapes to create beautiful wines.
  • The winegrowers struggle with the weather (brutal heat and humidity in summer, freezing temps in winter), disease (black rot, powdery mildew), and competition ( agricultural uses and housing). They've overcome these problems by identifying appropriate vitis vinfera varietals along with hybrids to vinify food-friendly wines showcasing high acidity and relatively low alcohol.
Tasting Notes:

Whitecliff Vineyard (@WhitecliffVino on Twitter) - Owners and founders, Michael Migliore and Yancey Stanforth-Migliore, purchased an empty field thirty years ago and built the winery from the ground up! Establishing the vineyard has been an ongoing process since 1979. It involves years of trial and error to determine which varieties will produce good yields and quality wine, while withstanding the cold winters. The rigorous approach of science and engineering, along with a generous helping of pigheaded determination, has provided the knowledge and the strong base necessary to create a successful vineyard and winery.
White Rose 2013: Estate grown 75% Traminette-25% Gewürztraminer; fermented in stainless steel; faint lemon yellow in color; muskmelon, floral, and citrus aromas; honey, stone fruit, spice, and melon flavors into a citrusy finish; nice balance with plenty of acidity; surprisingly round mouthfeel; 12% ABV; synthetic cork closure; 7000 cases produced; SRP $18.
Brotherhood Winery (@BrotherhoodWine on Twitter): In 1810, a French Huguenot emigre named Jean Jaques purchased land in New York’s bucolic Hudson Valley and began planting grapes. By 1837, Mr. Jaques needed more land, so he purchased a plot in the quiet village of Washingtonville, NY, and planted another vineyard. By 1839, his first underground cellars were dug and Mr. Jaques fermented his first wine vintage. Those cellars, the oldest and largest in America, are still in use today at Brotherhood Winery.
“B” Sparkling Chardonnay NV: charmat method production; light golden straw color, visible small bubbles; green apple, citrus, and subtle yeast aromas; lemon, subtle yeast and melon flavors; low-key effervescence; bright acidity; ABV 12%; cork and wire closure; 1250 cases produced; SRP $11.99.
Millbrook Vineyards and Winery (@MillbrookWinery on Twitter): Millbrook is considered one of the top wineries across the Hudson River Valley and the entire state of New York. Millbrook's wine is cultivated on thirty of the vineyards' 130 acres. Current varietals include Chardonnay (13 acres) Pinot Noir (5 acres), Cabernet Franc (7 acres), Tocai Friulano (5 acres) and Riesling (5 acres). Our winemaker, John Graziano, has been crafting these high quality wines for Millbrook since 1984. He has been the only winemaker at Millbrook since its establishment. Currently, John is producing approximately 10,000 – 14,000 cases of wine annually from our own fruit, as well as fruit from across New York and our California vineyards.
Proprietor's Special Reserve Tocai Friulano 2013: No malolactic fermentation, no oak; clear and bright light yellow in color; grapefruit, starfruit, lime and white floral aromas; tropical fruit, Meyer lemon, melon, and subtle petrol flavors; very smooth mouthfeel with a great thread of acid ending in a pleasingly tart finish; on the sweeter side but nicely balanced overall; 13% ABV; 1060 cases produced; cork closure; SRP $20. Stood up nicely to a cheese and deli meat sandwich on seeded sour bread.

Proprietor's Special Reserve Cabernet Franc 2012: 95% Cabernet Franc, 5% Merlot estate grapes; 100% malolactic fermentation; aged in barrel 14 months; deep garnet color with light ruby edges; red currant and dusty red berry aromas; stewed prunes, earth, smoke, dark cherry, and white pepper flavors into a tart red berry finish; smooth mouthfeel, decent acidity and some tannins rounding out a wine that opens up the longer it sits; 13% ABV; 336 cases produced; cork closure; SRP $30.
If you haven't experienced Hudson Valley wines, now is the time to start searching them out. Even better, go visit - the area looks amazing and, due partly to its proximity to the Big Apple, it has an established infrastructure catering to travelers of all ilks.

About #WineStudio and True Wine Culture: The True Wine Culture message is wine education, so that we may gain a better understanding of our world through wine and our part in that world – we’re continually searching and pioneering an American cultural perspective. #WineStudio prepares us to engage our brain and palate through this interactive online wine community. Thanks to Protocol Wine Studio for leading these monthly educational experiences!

Wines provided for tasting purposes -all opinions are my own.

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Wednesday, August 27, 2014

NapaQuake: The Aftershocks

#NapaQuake #NapaStrong

‪After the recent terrible news of a hugely destructive earthquake that hit the Napa region, there have been some silver linings. While there was a lot of property damage, it appears that there were no deaths and injuries were less than one might expect. Want to do something to help the ‪‎earthquake‬ area businesses? ‎Napa‬ is open for business! If you can visit, go and shop and support the local economy or physically volunteer. If not, raise a glass and drink wine from Napa. Every little bit helps.

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Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Faust Winery Cabernet Sauvignon 2011

When offered to review this Cabernet from Faust, I was doubly excited as I had not had any Faust wines before, though I'd heard good things about them. Agustin Huneeus is a legend in the winemaking world -  for all of the wines he has produced, the underlying premise has been that great wines must be a reflection of a great vineyard. With Faust Wine, he takes a different tact -- this wine is a tribute to Napa Valley’s noblest grape. He seeks out Cabernet Sauvignon grapes from his family-owned vineyards in Rutherford and Coombsville, plus small lots from spectacular mountain and valley terroirs in Yountville, Mount Veeder, Atlas Peak and St. Helena. Crafted by Charles Thomas of Quintessa, the Cabernet Sauvignon is blended with Merlot, Cabernet Franc and Malbec.

Faust Winery Cabernet Sauvignon 2011

Tasting Notes:
78% Cabernet Sauvignon, 17% Merlot, 3% Petit Verdot, 1% Malbec and 1% Cabernet Franc grapes hand-picked, double-sorted and crushed, then cold-soaked and fermented in both French oak and stainless steel tanks; after an extended maceration, aged for 19 months in 100% French oak, 30% new; deep purple in color, with ruby notes; red currant, spice, vanilla, and earthy aromas; fruit forward with similar flavors to aromas with an added undercurrent of cocoa; full body with a nice balance between acidity and tannins; 14.2% ABV; cork closure; SRP $60.
Sample provided by the winery via Fineman PR: Fineman PR unites large-agency talent, small-agency responsiveness and internationally recognized strategic direction. We are a full-service agency specializing in Brand PR and crisis communications, creating and executing award-winning public relations programs.

Sample provided for review purposes - all opinions are my own.

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