Thursday, November 23, 2017

Wine Review: Mercer Malbec 2015

Mercer Malbec 2015

I'm reviewing three wines by Mercer this month. I love this winery, guys, because they make good wine in the most comfortable of price ranges for the average fine wine consumer. They're a relief to see on a wine list full of Mirassou's and Dark Horses (aka fermented Pixy Stix), because you know they're going to be solid. I also love Mercer because I love Horse Heaven Hills. And because I love Washington State.  I started off with their 2015 Sharp Sisters Red Blend, now I'm moving on to their 2016 Sauvignon Blanc, and then I'm concluding it all with their 2015 Malbec.

The Mercer family came to the United States in 1747, and they made it to Washington in 1886 when Willis Mercer decided to hang his hat in Prosser. Here they were mainly sheep herders, and for almost two hundred years they used Willis' land for sheep and other forms of farming before wine got involved. It wasn't until 1972 that they decided to try some viticulture. Bob and Linda Mercer started growing grapes on their "Block 1" lot, the very first vineyard in Horse Heaven Hills. The Horse Heaven Hills AVA is now a rather large region within the Columbia Valley of Washington, and it makes some of the best new-world Merlot I've ever had.

The 2015 Malbec is 78% Malbec and 22% Cabernet Sauvignon. Both from their estate Spice Cabinet Vineyard, which is on a southeast slope, where the vines can take in the morning sun and avoid the intensity of the afternoon sun. After the grapes were sorted both on the vineyard and at the winery, they skipped the crushing process and were put in a big oak tank to ferment while being punched down twice a daily. Then the wine is racked to new and old French oak barrels to go through fermentation, and then aged in barrel for eighteen months before blending and bottling. It has an ABV of 14.8%.

Sunday, November 19, 2017

Wine Review: Mercer Sauvignon Blanc 2016

Mercer Sauvignon Blanc 2016

I'm reviewing three wines by Mercer this month. I love this winery, guys, because they make good wine in the most comfortable of price ranges for the average fine wine consumer. They're a relief to see on a wine list full of Mirassou's and Dark Horses (aka fermented Pixy Stix), because you know they're going to be solid. I also love Mercer because I love Horse Heaven Hills. And because I love Washington State. I started off with their 2015 Sharp Sisters Red Blend, now I'm moving on to their 2016 Sauvignon Blanc, and then I'm concluding it all with their 2015 Malbec.

The Mercer family came to the United States in 1747, and they made it to Washington in 1886 when Willis Mercer decided to hang his hat in Prosser. Here they were mainly sheep herders, and for almost two hundred years they used Willis' land for sheep and other forms of farming before wine got involved. It wasn't until 1972 that they decided to try some viticulture. Bob and Linda Mercer started growing grapes on their "Block 1" lot, the very first vineyard in Horse Heaven Hills. The Horse Heaven Hills AVA is now a rather large region within the Columbia Valley of Washington, and it makes some of the best new-world Merlot I've ever had.

The 2016 Sauvignon Blanc is 100% Sauvignon Blanc from Mercer's estate Princeton vineyard. It was harvested early in the morning with machinery, gently pressed, and settled for 48 hours nice and cold before being racked of solids. The type of yeast used to initiate fermentation is called Zymaflore. These guys bring out the characters of grapefruit, passion fruit, and lychee even more than they would be with other yeast. The wine is all fermented in stainless steel, sees no malolactic fermentation, and has a 12.5% ABV.

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Wine Review: Mercer Sharp Sisters Red Blend 2015

Mercer Sharp Sisters Red Blend 2015

I'm reviewing three wines by Mercer this month. I love this winery, guys, because they make good wine in the most comfortable of price ranges for the average fine wine consumer. They're a relief to see on a wine list full of Mirassou's and Dark Horses (aka fermented Pixy Stix), because you know they're going to be solid. I also love Mercer because I love Horse Heaven Hills. And because I love Washington State. I'm starting off with their 2015 Sharp Sisters Red Blend, then going to their 2016 Sauvignon Blanc, and topping it off with their 2015 Malbec.

The Mercer family came to the United States in 1747, and they made it to Washington in 1886 when Willis Mercer decided to hang his hat in Prosser. Here they were mainly sheep herders, and for almost two hundred years they used Willis' land for sheep and other forms of farming before wine got involved. It wasn't until 1972 that they decided to try some viticulture. Bob and Linda Mercer started growing grapes on their "Block 1" lot, the very first vineyard in Horse Heaven Hills. The Horse Heaven Hills AVA is now a rather large region within the Columbia Valley of Washington, and it makes some of the best new-world Merlot I've ever had.

The 2015 Sharp Sisters Red Blend is 29% Cabernet Sauvignon, 27% Syrah, 18% Merlot, 14% Petit Verdot, 10% Grenache, and 2% Carignan, all from estate vineyards. The Merlot is from Dead Canyon Vineyard, the Cabernet Sauvignon is from Eagle & Plow Vineyard, and the Petit Verdot is from Milt's Vineyard. Then the Grenache, Syrah and Carignan are all from Spice Cabinet Vineyard. Each lot was aged for 18 months in French and American oak barrels separately, and blended before being bottled. It has a final ABV of 14.8%.

Sunday, November 12, 2017

Heroes of Wine: André Tchelistcheff (1901-1994)

Heroes of Wine: André Tchelistcheff

They called him "the Maestro". By definition this means "a distinguished musician, especially a conductor of classical music" or "a great or distinguished figure in any sphere". He was great. He was distinguished. He conducted beautiful music in the form of wine. Earlier in his career they called him "the doctor" because of his scientific approach to winemaking and his uncanny ability to cure wine with defects. And then there was that white lab coat he loved to wear.

He was also known as the "the dean of American winemaking" because he really was the head of the university. He was the educator. The absolute most important thing about this man and his legacy was not only his ability to be a highly effective and inspiring mentor, but also his willingness and love of doing so. Combine that with all of his knowledge and talents and you have the most influential winemaker of modern history: André Tchelistcheff (pronounced CHEL-uh-cheff)

André was born in Russia, trained in France, lifted California to greatness, and took off Washington State's training wheels. He was a chain smoker. He was a ladies man. He was... tiny. There are several different accounts on his height; anywhere from 4'11" to 5'3". Regardless, this giant of a man was even shorter than me (and I'm pretty short). But he commanded a room. And his stature was always at attention, or "ramrod straight" as Randal Caparoso put it in "Napa Valley - A legacy of greatness".

Robert Mondavi said that "He is a fascinating man, brilliant, stimulating, creative - a catalyst for the world of wine", while Mike Grgich said that "He had a Slavic heart, which is very soft". Robert and Mike are just two of the many legends that André mentored. And to think that almost didn't happen. André should have died in battle as a young man, and we're all very lucky that he didn't.

Thursday, November 9, 2017

Wine Review: Moraga Estate Red Wine 2013

Moraga Estate Red Wine 2013

To learn about this winery out of Bel Air in Los Angeles, California, check out my review from Sunday for their 2015 White Wine.

Their 2013 Red Wine is a Bordeaux-style blend made from primarily Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot as a secondary, with splashes of Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot. It saw eight to ten months in 100% new French oak and two years of bottle aging.

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