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!

Hogue Cellars (reserve)

When checking out Yakima Valley awhile back, in the Prosser Region, we visited a relatively well known (I assume, because I see it fairly often) winery/wine maker — Hogue Cellars.

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Now jumping ahead a bit, I like splitting tastings because when you hit several wineries a day you’re going to taste a lot and drink a lot. You’re going to lose your taste and obviously have some alcohol… And somebody has to drive. But then, you start talking to these people. It’s a quiet day and they talk and talk, understand your love of wine and say ‘Oh, but you have to try this. And oh, but then…’ You don’t end up splitting a tasting.

We arrived, fairly quiet and opted to split the Reserve Tasting, for $5. You chose 5 of 9 wines you want to sip. These aren’t the wines you see on the store shelves with the label in the logo as noted above. They hold these labels:

We opted for:

2015 Terroir Viognier, Wahluke Slope — Our Viognier opens with fresh flora and exotic fruits aromas. Peach cobbler, citrus and a touch of pineapple intertwined with tropical mango and starfruit. It features a mouthfeel that is clean and crisp with soft acidity. $20 — Very nice nose, a bit sweet, definite starfruit taste (because you know, we know this off the bat because we eat it everyday).

2014 Terroir GSM Lonesome Springs Vineyard — 21% Grenache/40% Syrah/39% Mouverdre.  In the glass, the wine is young purple in color with a tint of red on the rim. Lively aromas of black raspberry, black pepper and spice with touches of vanilla cream. $28 — A bit oakey, chocolatey.

2013 Reserve Merlot Columbia Valley — This wine opens with aromas of wild strawberry, cherry, blueberry and dark meaty plum. Rich and weighty on the pallet with great structure and integrated oak. Flavors of black cherry, raspberry, vanilla and a touch of cinnamon and nutmeg linger with a lasting finish. $30 —  NICE!!!! Bought a bottle for later. Fruit on the nose. Very fresh and fruity on the tongue. I have always avoided this varietal because of the movie Bottleshock and I wish I didn’t have that in my mind. This grape can be good.

2013 Cabernet Sauvignon Red Mountain — Our Cabernet Sauvignon has amazing color and depth, along with some unique and exciting fruit flavors. Dried cherry, cocoa, fig and nutmeg balance the huge earthy, minerality Red Mountain wine. $32 — Nice and light for a cab.

2013 Terroir Petit Verdot Horse Heaven Hills — The inky Petit Verdot has a pleasantly massive richness and vibrant acidity. This wine starts out with black fruit, plum and cassis. Gamey undertones, bacon, black pepper and spice round out the mid-pallet along with flavors of dark chocolate and creamy coffee. Silky tannins with a chewy finish. $32 100% Petit Verdot. This is an ooohhhh so smooth wine. Very creamy. I didn’t find that it had a very chewy finish. You tasted this wine from start to finish. Very nice.

These were the first 5 and then I didn’t scribble down notes on the balance of them. We were poured at least 3 or 4 more. In the end, my friend ended up joining the Wine Club, option for the 3 bottle option. With that you get 3 bottles of wine from the exclusive Terroir and Reserve tiers on a quarterly basis. Cheers to that. We also got our $5 tasting fee refunded. Cheers!

Barrel Oak Winery

After a weekend of hiking at Dolly Sods, ziplining at Nelson Rocks and hiking at Seneca Rocks, one must reward oneself!

 

So on the way home from WV, there are several wineries off of 66. We decided to stop at Barrel Oak (BOW) to kick back and relax. The tasting room is quite large, with several outdoor areas with fireplaces, some lofts, couches, tables and the counters.

There were 3 of us so we figured we’d get a bottle. We weren’t sure what we wanted to enjoy, though. The great person at the counter said — well, you can buy a tasting flight, or, you can get 3 tastes for free since you’re going to buy a bottle. And, since there were 3 of us, we figured that would work just fine to cover any considerations we had from the menu. Oh, when you taste they also have both oyster crackers AND dark chocolate!!!

So, after going through the menu, we decided on the, amazingly, Merlot. I say amazingly on my end. Not something I usually get. It had a nice body with some good fruit and light spice.

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We sat outside to enjoy that bottle on an amazing evening. The weather was perfect and could not have asked for more. We just did not want to go home. We had to get something else. We went inside and then there was just a perfect fire in the fireplace. We had to sit there. We then grabbed a bottle of their Cab Franc. Just as nice, with difference fruit and spice tastes. What was great is that two of us were able to enjoy more of this because the driver (1) was being very responsible and (2) isn’t as big of a wine lover as the other two of us.

This is a fun place to visit if you’re a dog lover, too, because it is a dog-crazy place! Totally take your furry friend there if you want to go. Or if you’re going through dog withdrawal, you’ll do so well there with wine & pups.

Definitely one of the good VA winery and worth a nice weekend day trip for wine, relaxing (and dogs). And, if you need more wine glasses, you get to bring the one you use home with you.

I’m a Vintner!

I got to check out this great Blend Your Own Bordeaux competition last week.  Wasn’t sure what all this would entail other than wine and some form of mixing.  This took place at American Eats Tavern, just outside of DC, and was in the company of Master Sommelier Andy Myers and Barboursville Vineyards Chief Sommelier Jason Tesauro.

The evening started off with some bubbly and intros and then the rundown on what had to be done.

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IMG_3339(that’s the Master Somm)

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We had four varietals to play with (Merlot, Cab Franc, Cab Sauv and Nebbiolo) and we would taste them and play with each to determine how much of each we wanted to combine to make our own perfect blend.  It was a chemistry class with all the toys we had, too.

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In our instructions, we received definitions of each piece, percentages for mixing and what all we could do.

IMG_3374[1]Playtime!!!!

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IMG_3348You could not just plug the pipette with your thumb to fill it.  You had to actually suck on it to get a good amount in there.

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IMG_3375[1]After determining your best (personal) blend based on taste and trial & error, it was bottling time.  You also had to label it to the best of your ability.

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IMG_3352The after-shock was quite a mess.

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We were told when we started blending that there would be awards for the best wines.  Jason from Barboursville was the main taster/judge of the wines, while Andy and the Somm from American Eats also took part.  They had 15 or so wines to judge…the rough life of wine folks.

After their long-lasting time of judging they had some announcements to make.  Much to my surprise, I had a podium finish!!!  I brought home the bronze medal.  That meant great bragging rights, my wine and a bottle of Barboursville vino.  I am now a vintner.  What more could I ask for?

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Bring me my wine!

Over the past couple weeks, I have tasted some amazing new wines that I’m finally writing about.  They were great and I just want somebody to bring me more!  Or, I suppose I could just go to the store and buy some.

#1 Duetorri Pinot Noir. Italy.  Nice and fruity — cherries!  Mild tannins, light.  Affordable, too — about $10-$12/bottle.

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#2 Sarah’s Vineyard Pinot Noir.  Central Coast, CA.  Just amazing, amazing tastes.  That’s all that needs to be said.  About $30/bottle.

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#3 Antiche Tradizione Lambrusco Rosso IGP Sparkling Red.  Italy.  Love finding sparkling reds.  Just a good bubbly to have, could also pair it with a salad with grilled meat.  Can’t find the actual site with the info on it or more price info, but it was $10/glass.

 

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#4  Franciscan Estate Merlot.  Napa Valley, CA.  This DID NOT take like a Merlot in the least.  I don’t particularly enjoy Merlot and I would never have said that’s what this is.  I would have claimed it as a Pinot.  Dang!  This one is about $25/bottle.

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Have a great weekend of wine and please share any new ones you find and love!

SA Winery Visit #2 — Franschhoek Cellar

To get to our 2nd winery, we only had to ride about 5K from the first.  Not too shabby.  Still very scenic!

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This next winery we visited was Franschhoek Cellar.

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For the tasting, we got to pick six to sample from the entire menu (versus being given specific wines).  That was great because between the entire three of us on the tour, we were able to taste almost everything!  And off we went.

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Statue de Femme Sauvignon Blanc — In the top 10 last year.  Light and crisp.  Another typical SA bargain at R50.

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La Cotte Mill Chenin Blanc — Tropical, pineapple taste.  R40!  Really, $4 for a bottle.  Love this place.  Note on the dates on the back labels, they write day/month, versus how we do month/day.

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Club Hose Rose – a blend of Pinotage, Shiraz and Cab.  The best way I can describe it would be powdery rose petals.  GREAT!!!!  R40.

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The Old Museum Merlot — Very berry-y.  NICE, for a Merlot.  There seemed to be quite a difference in SA Merlots.  I don’t normally like them but down there they are quite unique!  R50.

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Stone Bridge Pinotage — Nice, light and smoky, oh yes.  R50.

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The Churchyard Cabernet Sauvignon – Thick, chocolate, tobacco are the best notes to describe this one. R50.

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Last but not least was a limited release.  The Franschhoek Vineyards Shiraz, cellar door exclusive, no info about it anywhere except on the tasting sheet.  “The Shiraz grapes for this wine are from one of the highest most rugged vineyard sites in Franschhoek with singular personality and expression that compelled our winemaker Richard Duckitt to go to great lengths to preserve the tremendous concentration and purity of fruit in this exemplary Franschhoek wine.” — ‘sweet’, thick and smooth. R100.

Mid-way through this tasting after everything was poured, lunch was served and we were able to take our glasses outside to enjoy some great food and drink in the amazing weather.

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Non-Domestic Flights/Airline = Free (Amazing) Wine

I have been MIA from blogging for a bit because I spent the last two weeks in South Africa (with a couple days at the end in Zimbabwe at Victoria Falls).  Amazing!  From scenery to culture…to food and wine (and some beer).  I was already expecting an amazing trip but it got even better on the first flight (of 8 over the course of the vacation) with the wine.  As many of us are used to paying for anything other than maybe water on flights (apparently some airlines charge for soda now), it was nice to have the hope of freedom when preparing for a long flight.  So as the flight attendant came around and asked what I’d like, there were various selections, all from South Africa (darn!) and I opted for one of the reds, a Merlot.  I don’t normally lean towards that grape, but why not, it’s free!  So, out came the bottle.  Oh, and before she moved on, she threw another one out there.  Most people were handed several bottles of wine on round 1.  Go South African Airways.  The Merlot was from Stormhoek.  WOW, that did not taste like a Merlot.  Unreal.  I wish I had scribbled some notes down but it just had some unique characteristics.  Their website doesn’t have a ton of info on where we could attempt to find this stuff here.  Darn!

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All alcoholic beverages had messages on the container, which of course are for safety reasons (took pics of most of them).  But this one is the best, and for good reason.  It was on this bottle of Merlot.

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Yes!  Because it tastes SO GOOD!

Another wine sampled just labeled what the trip and the country brought/bring — JOY.  It was a Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve.  Amazing, amazing.  14.5% alcohol — few SA wines go low on alcohol content.  The winery works with a social upliftment project in a local town to improve the lives of residents (see label below).  Can’t find any information on the web about the vintner.  If you happen to come across something, please let me know!

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As the flights progressed, you find out you also get free wine on domestic flights…ahh.  So nice.  So, while going from safari to Cape Town, it was mid-day and I opted for a white and received a Chenin Blanc, Flutterby.  Nice and crisp, fruity.

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Other mid-day flights brought the perfect time to sample some Chardonnay, Liberty Chardonnay to be precise.  It was a traditional Chard, oaked, buttery.  Tough to track down the exact site for this one, too.

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These guys also make a fun sparkling wine.  It has a screw top, which makes it easy to open on the plane!

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On my last flight, back to the US, I had an amazing blend from Spier 1692.  It was Classic Red with Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot and Malbec.  Amazing all around.

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Great way to taste a wide variety of local wine while not on the ground.  Love what South Africa has to offer!

Living (the) Social (Life)

Last weekend in DC, LivingSocial had a deal that looked good, almost too good.  Per the email, for $39 you could get a luxurious 1.5 hour Wine & Chocolate Tasting AND 4 bottles of wine to take home?  The tasting part included 6 tastings and nicely paired chocolates.  Then 4 FULL SIZE bottles to take home.  I figured even if they were roughly $10 bottles you break beyond even.  Only Two (or Three) Buck Chuck would make it a bad deal if you’re that picky.

So, a few friends and I took the plunge and checked it out.  It was nice!  Gorgeous set up, you check in, get a nice tasting glass (plastic, ergonomic with finger ‘area’ and stemless — SMART!) and wine tickets.  You travel from stations 1-6 and get a rundown on the wine and the taste, of course, and unique chocolate paired with it.  The whole place was not too loud and very laid back.

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The wines we tasted were 3 whites (Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Moscato) and 3 reds (blend, Malbec, Merlot):

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Before we left, we each turned in our last tickets and were handed a box of 4 random bottles of wine.  They weren’t necessarily ones we tasted that night.  Between my friends and I, each of us had at least one of the bottles we sampled.  After some research, I found that the average cost of the bottles was about $9.  Not bad considering the price of the event.  Would love to see more of these come to town!