Winemaker Audio Interview with Zack Lawrence of De Tierra Wines

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This is a wonderful and refreshing interview with the winemaker of De Tierra Vineyards, as Zack is so humble and yet he is an extraordinary winemaker. We met at the tasting room in Carmel, CA. Zack points to a map of the Russell Vineyard and refers to the grapes as we talk and taste our way through at least seven wines (background noise is people enjoying the wines!).

Click here to listen to the recorded interview. De Tierra Vineyards

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Winemaker Audio Interview with Ames Morison of Medlock-Ames Winery

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At the beginning of March, I went to Bell Mountain Ranch and met with  Ames  Morison. He is thoughtful, focused and intense and was so very generous, giving a wonderful interview about his winemaking philosophy, his passion for sustainable and organic farming practices and making exceptional wines. Medlock-Ames won the best of class for their Kate’s and B’s 2011 Cabernet Sauvignon at the San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition of 2015, a competition that features over 6,400 wines. The interview starts in the middle (sorry) and was slightly truncated due to some wind in the microphone, but we did get in on Ames discussing Malbec which he believes adds a great deal to all of his blends.

Click here to listen to the interview.

Ames Morison photo courtesy of MedlockAmes.com

Medlock-Ames Winery

Anne Vercelli of Healdsburg, CA on her heritage, career and wine

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Anne Vercelli is a tiny-but-mighty dynamo and if you are ever graced to meet her, you will fall in love with her. I did when I first met her while she was working her weekend (!!) job, as hostess for the fantastic Costeaux Bakery in Healdsburg.  She’s humble, petite, and generous in every way. Truly hospitable and very Anne Vercellicharming. She is involved to her elbows in teaching classes at Santa Rosa Junior College, organizing The San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition, participating in judging wine competitions, supervising, promoting and the West Coast Representative for the Atlantic Seaboard Wine Association, and engaged in everything involving wine and cuisine pairing.

She is the proud daughter of Joseph Vercelli, who was one of the “Old Timers”, the originators, innovators and pioneers of today’s wine industry in Sonoma Wine Country. She carries on his legacy with aplomb, endless energy, infectious joy and love for life. She agreed to be interviewed and I went in really knowing nothing about her. I just knew she taught and was involved in the San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition. Well, she is a force and absolutely an inspiration. My husband and I were blown away with her knowledge, intelligence, expertise and warmth and amazing culinary skill.  Thank you Anne!.

Her interview is here and her input is so important to today’s wine industry and to the education of the wine palate. You can also read the transcript of Joseph Vercelli’s fascinating interview in 1990, here: http://heritage.sonomalibrary.org/cdm/ref/collection/p15763coll14/id/29

Click HERE to listen to Anne’s interview

Her bio from the San Francisco Wine Competition reads: “Anne Vercelli is a teacher, organizer and leader in the world of wine and food. Vercelli has been with the Cloverdale Citrus Fair/San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition since 1989. As SFCWC Assistant Director, Anne is responsible for assisting in all aspects of the competition. Her responsibilities include the receiving and coding of over 5,500 wines received each year. She supervises a staff of 125 volunteers throughout the competition season. Anne also directs the volunteer work force with the public tasting event at Fort Mason Center every year in February. Bob Fraser states. “Anne Vercelli is my right arm when it comes to planning, organizing and implementing the wine competition and public tasting. We work seamlessly along with our management team and she is my sounding board in raising the bar for excellence from year to year. Anne has a strong work ethic and dedicated toward the San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition”. For over 20 years, Vercelli honed her skills in the food and wine industry In 1981 she began teaching Italian cuisine in the culinary department and wine classes in the agriculture department at Santa Rosa Junior College. In 1982, she started working as the coordinator of the Professional Food Competitions for the Sonoma County Harvest Fair, which included hiring and directing six people in support of the competitions. In addition to her teaching and coordination duties, in 1998 she started working as a sales staff associate at Costeaux Bakery in Healdsburg. She is part of the team that has propelled the bakery into a nationally acclaimed establishment that offers delicious breads and desserts in a delightful open-air cafe. The winner of numerous awards, in 1979 she received the coveted position of “Fellowship” of the Escoffier Room Restaurant at the Culinary Institute of American (C.I.A.) in Hyde Park, New York. She obtained her A.O.S. degree from C.I.A. in 1979. Later in the year, Anne represented the C.I.A. as the principle cook for Mr. Edgar Bronfman, Chairman of the Board of Seagrams in New York City.”

Anne received her B.A. in Food and Nutrition from California State University, Sacramento in 1977.

Q & A with Ames Morison, winemaker for Medlock-Ames

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The fantastic Medlock-Ames winery is producing some of the best wines, from grapes that are sustainably grown on the lovingly cared for Bell Ranch in Alexander Valley, California. Their vineyards are farmed organically with no insecticides, chemical fertilizers or herbicides and solar power provides the energy they need to run. Only 55 out of 338 acres are farmed, the majority of land has been left in a natural state – reserving the majority of the acreage for oaks and wildflowers, not vines. Innovative and traditional methods are used to farm this boutique vineyard where vegetables, olives and wildlife also flourish. The portfolio includes Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Reserve Chardonnay, Merlot, Pinot Noir, Cabernet Sauvignon, a Red Bordeaux Blend, estate bottled olive oil, verjus and preserves. Last week we had the good fortune to get a tour, with our guide being the fabulous Stacy Sheridan, and taste some of the wines. We met Ames and are grateful that he graciously agreed to answer a few questions. Keep on the look out for an in person audio interview with Ames, where we get in deeper and taste some new releases.

Here are the questions and answers:

How did you come about becoming a winemaker, and what and who influenced you? 19 years ago I was living in New York City, and I remember very vividly drinking a glass of wine (Talbott Diamond T Chardonnay, which is from your neck of the woods), when I had an epiphany.  I was suddenly fascinated, obsessed with the magic that allowed dirt, sunlight and water to create something so ethereal in the glass, and from that moment, I knew I had to become a winemaker.  Within two months I had quit my job and moved to California to follow my dream.  I’ve had so many influences.  My father is a farmer and tends a farm that has been in our family for 8 generations.  That really taught me what it means to care for land so that it cares for your family indefinitely.  I was a Peace Corps volunteer in Guatemala working with people who have been farming the same land for 10,000 years.  That is the definition of sustainability.  I have had some incredible professors at UC Davis, Andy Walker in particular.  I really admire winemakers who have been so passionate about their beliefs that they have risked everything with single-minded purpose.  Josh Jensen of Calera comes to mind.

What styles are you particularly interested in exploring? We farm organically and I feel that is the best way to care for the land.  I have a minimalist intervention approach to winemaking as well, but I am fascinated with natural wines.  The term is not really defined, and many have their own interpretation, but in general that means not adding anything.  I have tried some of these wines and find them so completely different from everyday wine.  Many make fun of these “orange wines” and they sometimes feel like the latest trend in winemaking.  Sommeliers and “cool” winemakers love them as they are not ordinary.  Their commercial success is dubious, but I still want to my hand at making them!

How challenging is it to stay organic and sustainable? For me, it’s a bedrock principle, so it’s not hard.  There are plenty of decisions that I fret over because I don’t know what the right direction is, but farming without chemicals, farming in a way that works with nature rather than against it is so ingrained in me that I don’t really think about it that much.  2010 & 2011 were very challenging vintages as they were so cold and wet.  Disease pressure was dramatically higher than normal.  If there was ever a time to make a grower question organics it would have been those years, but as an organic grower, we are always worried about disease pressure, so we are constantly monitoring for it.  We fared better than most conventional growers that year.

What new wines are you looking forward to making? A few years ago we planted a tiny amount (less than half an acre) of Malbec.  From its first harvest it quickly became the darling of the winery.  We use it to blend with several of our other wines and it just makes everything better.  We were so pleased with what this variety does on our vineyard that last year we budded over another acre to Malbec, and in a few years we may bottle a varietal Malbec.  I would love to show what this variety is capable of in the Alexander Valley.

Thank you, Ames!

Tasting Notes on a few Medlock-Ames wines:

Medlock Ames Sauvignon Blanc 20132013 Sauvignon Blanc This is a delicious and mouthwatering wine. The bright, citrus aromas of ripe grapefruit and Meyer lemon are complemented by tropical notes of pineapple, guava, and a hint of wood. The juicy acidity provides a crisp, fresh finish.

2012 Chardonnay Lower Slopes   2012 Lower Slope Chardonnay Luscious. Bright, tropical fruit on the nose with hints of apricot, lemon custard and sweet cream. An elegant lush Chardonnay with rich, toasty oak balanced by firm acidity and hints of slate and minerality.

Medlock Ames Kates and Bs Cabernet Sauvignon2010 Kate and Bs Cabernet Sauvignon Has a great nose with blueberry, spicy toasted caramel, ripe plums, and gunsmoke aromas leading to toasted brown sugar, dark chocolate fudge, dried spices, and bacon flavors. The touch of Malbec adds blackberry and plushness. There is good acidity and a firm backbone.

2011 Fifty Tons Cabernet Sauvignon Medlock Ames fifty Tons Cabernet Sauvignon 2011Aromatic nose, a floral note of lavender, camphor, and rosemary. A  profound and dark wine, the Fifty Tons Cabernet Sauvignon is black fruit focused with additional flavors of roasted coffee, black currents and toasted hazelnuts. The long finish is supported by a significant expression of oak including a hint of smoky chocolate and burnt sugar. The tannins are grippy and there is much depth with this wine, will age well.

Boëté 2006 Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon

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Boëté Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon 2006. Released October 2013 124 cases produced.

Boëté makes exceptional wines. They are big, bold, delicious and rich. The grapes are grown locally in Carmel Valley. This 2006 Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon is no exception and expresses  incredible dark red fruit flavors, spices, earthy herbal aromas within a round and full mouth-feel, all within a perfectly balanced acids and tannic structure. Pretty much a masterpiece in my book. But this is a slow drinking wine, with almost 15% alcohol. Really best served along BBQ, slow braised beef, lamb or pork. It stands up to strong flavors and just mellows. Just an incredible wine.

Q&A with Sabrine Rodems, winemaker for Wrath Wines

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I love Wrath. I can’t help it. Their wines are so good that tasting them and drinking them started me on this whole wild, crazy, fun and information dense journey to learn more about wine (which I love) and the whole process of its’ history, growing grapes, varietals and what make some wines so much better than others. For about two or three years I’ve been wanting to interview the very talented winemaker, Sabrine Rodems. Now at least I have her answers via the magic of email. Then I review two Wrath wines, with more to come!

1.How did you come about becoming a winemaker, and what and who influenced you?

I have always been interested in food and wine as early as my late teens. I come from a large family; I am the youngest of six. My mother and father were always interested in having us experience other cultures through food. Also, we lived in Novato (Marin County) in the late 60’s early 70’s and with a family that large we often went to wine country since you could take a picnic, go on a wine tour and have a day out for practically free. My parents entertained us with wine tours, cheese factory tours, chicken factory tours….we saw it all. Educational and entertaining! Probably where it all started.

2.What styles are you particularly interested in exploring?

The beauty of being at a small winery at Wrath, and having the creative support of the owners Michael and Barbara Thomas, is that we do a lot of experimentation. Almost every vintage it recent years has had the following lots that started as an experiment:

o Early Pick Syrah

o Late Pick Syrah

o Early Pick Pinot Noir

o 100% Whole cluster on Syrah and Pinot Noir

o 50 % Whole cluster on Syrah and Pinot Noir

o Skin contact on whites

o Early pick Chardonnay

I guess what I am saying is that anything we are particularly interested in exploring we do. This year we have Falanghina, an Italian white varietal that we grafted on our property for the first time. Since it is the first time we have ever made this varietal we have four different lots. We are all about experimentation, which makes it exciting and fun for me!

3.In your opinion, what is the most important part of the wine making process?

Everybody says it, but it is true. Bring me good quality grapes grown in the appropriate environment for the varietal and I am way ahead of the game. This is the most important part of the process. Specifically in the wine making process once the grapes are in the door, the most important part is to not overwork, over process the fruit. Keep the acids in balance and let the fruit show off its amazing qualities.

What new wines are you looking forward to making?

I mentioned before the Falanghina. It was grafted two years ago on our property and 2014 was the first harvest we got fruit off these vines. Currently we have 130 gallons of wine that we fermented in a terra cotta dolia. It is super interesting. I  also did some Falanghina on skins for the entire fermentation. That wine is really interesting. Rich and exploding with dried apricot.

Thank you Sabrine! I can’t wait to taste the Falanghina.

Meanwhile, the Wrath 2013 Sauvignon Blanc and the 2011 KW Ranch Syrah are featured today.

Wrath Ex Anima 2013 Sauvignon Blanc The Ex Anima Sauvignon Blanc has evolved into one of Wrath’s signature wines. The 2013 vintage follows that tradition while celebrating the true varietal characteristics of Sauvignon Blanc. A powerful bouquet shows off a classically grassy nose, with undertones of grapefruit and celery leaf. Vibrant and complex, the palate offers enticing acidity- balanced by expressive notes of gooseberry, lime, and passion fruit- that finishes with a clean minerality.

Wrath 2011 KW Ranch Syrah
This 2011 Syrah produces a profound nose, characterized by layers of smokehouse aromas intertwined with black currant, blackberry, tar, licorice and floral undertones. Savory elements continue to blend with dark fruit on the rich but balanced palate that finishes with juicy tannins and a bright acidity.

Mark Chesebro shares + tasting notes

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Chesebro Wines is a 2,000 case labor of love here in Carmel Valley, California.  He Chesebro Winesis the sheep and goat’s milk dairy owner turned winemaker. For the last 30 plus years Mark has been learning about and making wine successfully.

When I stopped by the tasting room and met the manager, Ashley, I was impressed by the varietals Mark was working with and his subtle, elegant wines.  I begged for him to answer a few questions and he was gracious enough and generous to do so.  Here are his answers:

1. How did you come about becoming a winemaker, and what and who influenced you? My development into a winemaker is pretty well detailed on my website. Basically I came from a family where meals were very central to our lives. My mother was Belgian so that is not a suprise. It’s also not a surprise that wine was always part of the meal. When my oldest brother came home for a visit and explained that he brewed beer at home my father recruited me to learn. I was 12 years old. From then on I’ve been fermenting things. Beer, Cider and Cheese have all had a turn. I went back to UC Davis in my mid twenties and went through the enology program. After finishing at Davis 30 years ago I was not financially able to work full time in the industry since it paid so poorly so I worked during harvest. After moving to Carmel Valley in 1988 and running a goat and sheep cheese-making business I got back into wine making in 1994 at Bernardus. My biggest influence inside the wine world was Don Blackburn my boss, mentor and friend at Bernardus. Mark was the winemaker at Bernardus from 1999 through 2005.

2. What styles are you particularly interested in exploring? 
Stylistically I tend to avoid the extremes and work with what the vineyards do best with the variety in question. Little or no new oak, moderate alcohols and appropriate acid levels are trademarks of my wines.  I work only with grapes I grow at 3 different properties in Monterey County. I am interested in oddball varieties that are a good fit for the vineyards I have. Although I appreciate the “mainstream ” varieties they aren’t always what excites me most. I’m planting some Gamay Noir at our Cedar Lane Vineyard and am really looking forward to working with that.

3. What is your opinion of the winemaking world today? 
As usual what one hears about the most is what is currently fashionable. Previously this was super ripe flavors and lots of oak. Presently the buzz is about low alcohols, higher acids and “natural winemaking”. I have no problem with lower alcohols and higher acids as long as they taste good. As for “natural winemaking” I have heard so many different things about what it is and isn’t that I’m not sure that anyone is certain what that means. I have nothing against minimal intervention, it’s what I try to practice. I do take exception to the idea that you will always produce the best wine by doing nothing. If that were the case everyone that could get a hold of  grapes would be making the best wines possible at home. The pendulum swings and I try to stay out of it’s way while plotting my own course.

4.What new wines are you looking forward to making? </div

I’m really looking forward to working with Gamay Noir from Cedar Lane. I’ve really developed an appreciation for the more serious wines out of Beaujolais. I’d also like to experiment with some of the more esoteric Iberian and Italian varieties if I can talk my partners into it. I’ve also had lots of fun making Basque style cider with my oldest son Will. He loves northern Spain and has lots of fond memories of going to the siderias there. So far we’ve only done it in kegs for restaurants. It’s very unlike what most Americans think of as cider. It is very dry, high acid and very low carbonation, just a a bit of sparkle. These are all fun projects but in the end if you make more than you can drink someone has to buy it. I try to always keep that in mind.

Thanks Mark!

Here are my tasting notes and those of Chesebro wines:
2013 Vermentino – Cedar Lane Vineyard
I loved the crisp and fresh quality of this wine. It was just delicious! Not a Sauvignon Blanc or a Pinot Grigio, it’s really very much an individual and now my new favorite white!  Vermentino, which is widely planted in Sardinia and Liguria, Italy, provides a clean and tidy alternative to more buxom whites. Perhaps Chesebro’s signature white wine, this solid summer sipper offers up lovely kefir lime and crisp Asian pear along with hints of rosemary and tarragon. Citrusy crisp, it’s a superb wine for pairing with summer seafood dishes, like Ceviche.

Crème brûlée and pâte sucrée. Love. It. Gorgeous aromas of vanilla buttercream icing, white flowers – think gardenias and freesia – along with fresh apricots fill your nostrils with anticipation. The suspense is short-lived, as the wine gushes forth with just ripe flavors of juicy yellow and white nectarines, fresh apricots and a touch of key lime. There’s a hint of vanilla wafers, along with plentiful minerality and well balanced acidity, making this Albariño a solid example of this beautiful Iberian varietal that keeps it light and bright, yet amply textured, finishing soft and round.

Once again this is a blend of our 2 Arroyo Seco Vineyards, Soledad Mission Ranch and Cedar Lane Vineyard. The grapes are whole cluster pressed and briefly settled before going to older oak barrels for fermentation. After fermentation the wine is aged on it’s lees and stirred once or twice a month to develop the texture. This wine typically has a small percentage of new French oak. 2010 displays the hallmarks of a cooler vintage with a leaner body featuring noticeable acidity and lots of minerality. 405 cases were produced in 2010.

2011 Las Arenas-Cedar Lane Vineyard-Arroyo Seco
This is an unexpectedly lusious and substantial wine. Breathe in the deeply intoxicating aromas of blueberry jam, flint, coffee, cola, brown sugar and Worcestershire that frame this deliciously meaty and savory wine. Center stage goes to Grenache, with its darkly fruited flavors of grilled plums, ripe huckleberry pie and braised fennel with orange peel, and fig balsamic. The Syrah adds the backbone and nuances of caraway seeds and a splash of blackstrap molasses.

2011 Piedras Blancas-Roussanne – CM Ranch Vineyard-Carmel Valley
Notes of air-dried linen, ripe pineapple guava, honeysuckle perfume, clover honey, beeswax, pistachios and roasted walnuts, preface this lean and focused wine that is momentarily all about minerality and restraint. And possibilities. This wine changes considerably from sip to sip, and will age beautifully, at least 10 to 12 years. It has the potential to blossom with flavors of baked apples, studded with golden raisins and walnuts basted with apricot brandy and light brown sugar, or perhaps a pear strudel with cream cheese. At present, its lean, minerally texture makes this a perfect match for light seafood and fowl, but age it a year and you can easily pair it with richer seafood dishes. 80% Roussanne, 15% Vermentino and 5% Sauvignon Blanc Musque. 55 cases produced in 2011.

A well structured and beautiful Pinot, filled with lush flavors of cranberry, chestnuts, carmelized apples, spice cake and tangy pomegranate. The texture is ample, plump and pleasing,  and the finish is velvety. All in all, this is a savory smooth and satisfying rendition of Arroyo Seco Pinot from a very challenging vintage.

Our inaugural bottling from our Mission Ranch Vineyard is a deep, rich and brooding take on Pinot. Aromas of blackberry, plum and cola are backed up by forest loam earthiness and a suggestion of mint. The body is medium weight with a broad midpalate and features soft full tannins and a long finish. 123 cases produced in 2012.

Wild sage, rosemary, cedar incense, gunpowder, sundried tomato and minty aromas preface this very meaty complex wine. Densely layered, this blend of Syrah and Grenache reveals flavors of plum jam, smoked meat with orange peel and tarragon, along with blueberry jam and sage molasses basted ribs, slow-cooked over tarragon and rosemary. A very complex and deeply aromatic wine that satisfies on every level. 82% Syrah, 15% Grenache and 3% Mourvedre. 185 cases produced in 2009.

From the cool rocky soil of Cedar Lane Vineyard comes this clean, crisp and tangy wine, that lands more in the zesty, grassy Aussie camp than in the sweeter, tropical California camp. Blessed with aromas of lemongrass, honeysuckle, lime zest, grapefruit and a hint of jalapeno, it delivers all those flavors, along with kiwi, green apple, gooseberry, grapefruit and lime chiffon pie. It makes your mouth tingle and it never loses focus on its job of being a purely refreshing Sauvignon Blanc. 178 cases produced in 2013.

Odonata 2011 Black Darter

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Odonata 2011 Black DarterDenis Hoey of Odonata Winery is an eclectic, slightly eccentric wine maker and his wines are really delicious and creative. He utilises old world methods with new world technique to make nouveau-style wines. He strives to produce wines that are rich, textured, and balanced, and that respect terroir and varietal character. The success of his efforts is based on careful attention to detail and the purposeful use of each step in winemaking: grape sources, fermentation technique, pressing regiment, barrel selection, and aging program. The result is clean, focused wines.

 

The Odonata 2011 Black Darter is a seriously delicious blend of rich with raspberries Grenache, blueberry depths in the Mourvedre and the intensity and fruit forward presence of the bit it Syrah that balances and brings this blend together. The result is a sophisticated and complex flavor palate with many layers and responsive tannins that excite, with a long chocolatey finish.

Iron Horse 2010 Ocean Reserve Blanc de Blancs

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Iron Horse Vineyards and Winery is legend for making superb sparkling wines.

Iron Horse produces exclusively estate bottled wines imbuing a distinct “sense of place”. They are specific to the Green Valley AVA, our vineyard and the vintage. We never resort to “recipe” winemaking.

The wines are elegant, bright, focused, highly nuanced, soft and silky. They exude quality and class. Above all, winemaker David Munksgard strives for exquisite balance. The Sparkling Wines exceed French standards for vintage quality, belonging to the category of “Grower Champagne”.  They are known for their supreme balance and nuanced texture.

The wines show a commitment to quality that extends across three generations Iron Horse 2010 Ocean Reserrve Blanc de Blancswith vision, passion and dedication.

To bring in 2015 we had this 2010 Blanc de Blancs and it was as expected, truly exceptional. The nose and mouth taste reflect orange zest,  lime and minerality. To me it really honors the sense memory of ocean brine and that fresh, crisp and refreshing feel of the Pacific Ocean. As part of the winery’s sustainability practices and respect for the environment Iron Horse gives $4 a bottle to National Geographic’s Ocean Initiative, establishing marine protected areas and supporting sustainable fishing practices around the globe. This cuvee is a blend of two Chardonnay clones – Clone 4 Hyde Old Wente from four different blocks on the estate.

Have Mercy

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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. Mercy Sauvignon Blanc 2011On 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 2009 Zabala Chardonnaywas 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 2009 Zabala Pinot Noir ~ MercyZabala, 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.2010 Cedarlane Pinot Noir ~ Mercy

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 2012 Riverbed Pinot Noirclassic 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 2009 Mercy Syrahof 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.