On Sunday I entered Mercy Wines tasting room with an open mind and left knowing I had tasted some incredible wines made from grapes sourced from local Arroyo Seco vineyards. They’re really doing some delicious and interesting palates and focusing on a traditional representation of the varietals. I think you’ll love these wines. I had the good fortune to meet one of the owners, Mark Dirickson and Sean, the manager.
Mark Dirickson and his partner Mike Kohne are both vintners with long careers in the wine industry (45 years between them) and they have settled into making small production, finely crafted wines, with esteemed winemaker Alan Phillips. Right up my alley. On the day I was there they offered seven wines for tasting. We began with the 2011 Sauvignon Blanc, one of my favorite varietals and one that has been too often made to be pretty generic. Not this S.B.; the grapes are from the dry Riverbed and uses the underutilized Musque clone. Fermented in Stainless steel it is crisp, tropical, and has fragrances of ripe melons, bergamot , citrus blossoms and of course a distinct minerality delivered from the Riverbed.
Next we tried the 2009 Chardonnay form the Zabala vineyard. It was my favorite due to the smooth mouth feel, well balanced acidity, round oak and the pear, butterscotch, crème brûlée flavor aromas. Absolutely deliciously mouthwatering. A Chardonnay not to be missed.
The 2012 Riverbed Chardonnay, which Mark explained is actually a riverbed vineyard of the most forboding rock and brutal ground you would ever find. The meager, nutrient-deficient topsoil which feature cobblestone beds of granite and shale, the locale of the riverbed channel also is noted for its extreme climate, as forceful winds and dense fog persist throughout the growing season. I cannot even imagine growing anything in such a barren place, let alone such amazing wine. Obviously it is very low yield and small cluster so they really get a rare product from this challenging vineyard. It is a combination of the Zabala and Griva vineyards and has a wonderful acidity, bright tart apples, citrus, some spice and the minerality characteristic of the landscape. Refreshing and delightful.
There are also three Pinot Noirs on the menu now, the 2009 Zabala, the 2010 Cedarlane and the 2012 Riverbed. Each one is distinct in personality, flavor profile and style. I tasted the 2009 Zabala first, it features the 115 and 667 clones, classic in Dijon. It is fermented and aged in French oak and has rich boysenberry, black cherry and earthy notes, with some spice and musk.
After that came the 2010 Cedarlane a very classic Pinot Noir that is 50/50 Pommard and 667 clones. Again fermented in small bins and then aged in French oak, it is succulent and elegant with cranberry, raspberry, and winter spice notes.
The final Pinot Noir is, interestingly, a sophisticated blend of several clones, namely – three “Dijon” clones (115, 667 & 777) and three classic clones (Pommard (4), Martini (13) and La Tache – all join together in harmony to celebrate Pinot Noir. This has loads of cherry, rhubarb, violets and spices notes that all marry well in a delicious mouth with a luscious finish.
Finally, the 2009 Syrah from the rocky Zabala vineyard is a blend of three clones, the 7, 470 and 877. It is aged 21 months in neutral French oak. It has a beautiful creamy quality and notes of raspberry, plums, lavender and chocolate, with a rich and velvety finish.
I recommend you check out Mercy Wines.