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!

Wit Cellars

When visiting WA wine country, I was pointed to a new winery by an established one. This new venture is Wit Cellars, which is just about a year old. They are not a huge winery, producing about 3,500 cases of wine a year and are located in the Prosser Wine Community of Yakima Valley. Their name comes from ‘We’re in It Together.’

The tasting room is in a sort of hidden place. Not in the middle of beautiful vineyards, but more of a ‘strip mall’ of tasting rooms.

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(photo source: wineyakimavalley.org)

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When we arrived (early in the day — strong wine drinkers!), there was only one other group in the tasting room. So one of the employees came over to help. With a tasting you get to sample eight wines, oh yes, half a dozen plus two (though one was out of stock). He was a bit concerned because he had been called in that morning to work, and was the husband of one of the owners and didn’t know all the info to a tee on the wine. Fast forward…he was quite good.

So as previously mentioned, the guy pouring us our wine ‘didn’t know a ton about them,’ so he was looking through some notes to tell us what they were supposed to taste like, etc. We ended up having a great conversation about each one and talking about them sometimes before and after he told us what the notes said. One of the best tastings you could have as the three of us were bouncing comments off each other as he had to enjoy some of the wine, too. What was great is that he gave us his history — former college football player, then in the Marine Corps, now in some IT/security/networking (he lost me after that) gig and part time in the wine industry because his wife is an owner.

So, what we enjoyed (info is directly from website, my notes in bold italic)

2015 Rose
The beautiful coral color will put you in a festive mood. On the nose you will be greeted with notes of strawberry, rhubarb and pink grapefruit. The lively acidity plays on the palate, while hints of spice and dried herbs round out this lively and refreshing summer sipper.
Price: $14.00

Light and crisp.

 

2015 Pinot Gris
Light bodied fresh and lively summer sipper possess hints of mandarin orange, honeydew melon, bosc pear, and green apple. Ancient Lakes is a cool site which lends itself to aromatic whites. You can literally taste the tortuous past of these prehistoric soils. A gravely minerality mixes with citrus notes and dazzling acidity, to create a unique gem true to its sense of place.
Price $18.00

Minerality!  LOVE IT LOVE IT LOVE IT. Left with a bottle.

2015 Chardonnay
The feast of reason and the flow of soul brought us to the Ancient Lakes Appellation to source aromatic whites of exceptional quality. The vines struggle in high elevation silt loam vineyards on fractured caliche and basalt. This extraordinary example of Chardonnay possesses hints of green apple and pear. The saline minerality and focused fruit void of white noise; set this wine apart from any other. This wine is not for the faint of heart, but for the quick of Wit.
Price $22.00

Unoaked, cheddar on the nose. Neutral oak barrels. I would give it ‘crisp oak’, Very unique.

2014 Riesling
Again the Ancient Lakes Appellation shines with Riesling. We were able to create a Riesling of exceptional quality. Bright acidity mixes with clove, peach, apricot, spice, honey-suckle and clover blossoms. Of course, the underlining feature of this wine is the gravely minerality brought by the tortured prehistoric soils of this majestic appellation. This racy gem is not for the faint of heart, but for the quick of wit.
Price $18.00

Not syrupy like a Riesling could be, but it was still a Riesling.

2013 Red Blend
The colors of this wine are the deepest shades of inky purple and red.

The enchanted flavors of raspberry liquor, vibrant pepper, baking spice, blackberry, graphite and gravel will tantalize your taste buds. This is an extraordinary elegant wine with silky smooth texture and lingering finish. I found that this wine leaves me fully satisfied, but longing for one more taste.
Price $45.00

Nice nose. Melt in your mouth. Just so much good stuff happening. Left with a bottle.

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2013 Cabernet Sauvignon
We were drawn to Elephant Mountain Cabernet because it showcases the vibrancy of the site. Only at the extreme margins of this black beast can you detect a deep garnet color. An abundance of black currant, wild cherry, raspberry and cedar greet your nose and caress your pallet. The lingering finish will provide hints of anise, vanilla, toasted hazelnuts and roasted coffee which are balanced by gravelly earthy notes. This is a particularly well balanced and beautiful wine. Your first sip will leave you wanting more.
Price $50.00

Jammy, but not overkill, and not too chewy.

2013 L’armonia Red Blend
This is a big wine with an abundance of dark beautiful fruits that blend harmoniously with it’s ample body and structure.
The integrated tannins dance across your palate while flavors of huckleberry cobbler, vanilla and brown sugar tempt your taste buds. By combining classical Bordeaux varietals we believe that each individual piece of this red blend has come together to sing.
Blend: 65% Cabernet Sauvignon, 18% Petit Verdot, 14% Malbec, 3% Merlot
Price $60.00

I got tastes of coffee, kahlua and fruit. Unique.

 

As you can see, I left with two bottles. One was enjoyed that night when we returned to a friend’s house in Seattle, and the other the following night at the same house. Of course these guys/this winery can’t be kind and sell in stores on the east coast, let alone in stores in their area. It’s all direct from them. They do have have three wine clubs, though. The requirements aren’t super demanding, on them either. So I might have to join down the road. Overall, spent well over an hour there. I can easily see these guys getting into some of the big wine magazines in the coming years as an up and coming winery. Cheers!

 

Eat, Drink, Arbory

When in Australia, one must do what hosts dictate.  So, when arriving in Melbourne a few weeks back, my friends picked me up at the airport and provided a city tour.  Then, because they knew of the long day of travel that had taken place, they just let the fun begin.  We visited a place right on the water, Arbory.  On the front of the menu it says it just right EAT DRINK.

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This is one of the fun places that serves their wine on tap. Around the table we tried Arbory Shiraz, Rose and Pinot Grigio.

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This came with some fries and hummus. Great way to start vacation!

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SA Winery Visit #4 — Muratie

We were very fortunate on our winery tour because there were only 3 people in the group (vs up to 16).  Our guide was also amazing.  Based on the great blend of people, the guide made sure that we fit 4 wineries into the day and finished the outing with an amazing vineyard.  The close the tour, we visited Muratie in the Stellenbosch.

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It’s one of the oldest estates in South Africa and that is evidenced by the amazing wine, stories and other things you see.

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IMG_0509They have not cleaned spider webs off some things to maintain ambiance…nice.

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At Muratie we were once again able to choose which wines we would like to sample, and shared amongst each other.

I started with the Melck’s Rose, which was made with Cab Franc.  Nice, crisp and refreshing.  And a steal at R45.

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Next I went to their Laurens Campher (Blended White).  It’s 46% Chenin Blanc, 25% Sauvignon Blanc, 19% Verdolho, 10% Viognier.  Buttery was my take on it. R95.

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Then I had a quick sip of their Lady Alice Methode Cap Classique.  Was this beer?  The reason I say that is that it tasty yeasty.  R120.

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Ok, red time!!!  Started with the Melck’s Red, a 50/50 Shiraz/Cab blend.  Just a nice, easy dinner wine.  R50.

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Moving down the line, next came the George Paul Canitz Pinot Noir.  It had a black pepper nose and for the taste — a bit of green pepper, chocolate and some berries.  Quite unique.  R165.

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Then came Shiraz time, Ronnie Melck Shiraz to be exact, from the family selection.  NICE!!!!!!  Normally it’s not available for tasting but we lucked out.  Smoke, tobacco, smooth…very similar to a pinotage.  Very worthy of the price of R350.

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To wrap up the tasting there was the fortified wine, Ben Prins Cape Vintage.  With 19.5% alcohol, it was a bit chewy with notes of chocolate and blackberry.  R170.

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This winery was great to just look around and see fun parts of.

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Amazing winery to wrap up an amazing day!  It’s tough to get these/their wine in the States but I am going to keep working on it to continue enjoying amazing vino.  Cheers!

SA Winery Visit #3 — Solms Delta

After the 2nd winery, we put the bikes away and took a long enough drive (as in too far to ride) to Solms Delta.

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Here we started with their Vastrap, a white which is a blend of Chenin Blanc and Semillon.  It was a dry white, nothing to write home about.  R50.

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Next we went to the Amalie, which is a blend of Viognier, Roussanne and Grenache.  Smells like chard, has some oak flavors, but I would characterize it as a ‘light’ chard.  R110.

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Third one presented was the Lekkerwijn, which means ‘nice’ or ‘yummy’ wine.  It’s a blend of Mourvedre, Grenache Noir and Viognier and is a Rose.  It was sweet and not great.  R55.

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Reds, finally reds!!!  Langarm, pronounced Long-arm, a blend of four varietals — Pinotage, Touriga Nacional, Shiraz and Mourvedre.  The nose had tobacco and was sweet.  The taste was light and peppery.  R55.

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Next red was one I look for a lot and can be hard to find — sparkling Shiraz.  This one is their Cape Jazz Shiraz.  Subtle, fruity, per them. Light, refreshing, 9.9% alcohol.  Yes, oh yes.  I left with a bottle.  R580.

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We then hit a fortified wine, the Gemoedsrus, made with a Shiraz grape.  The style ‘An entirely new concept in port-style wine; Shiraz desiccated on the vine, then fortified with Shiraz grappa.’  18.5% alcohol, NICE and SMOOTH.  R150.

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Finally we sampled an experimental wine, Perry, a lightly sparkling pear fermented beverage, 6% ABV.  Crisp and refreshing.  The problem here is that you could not taste any alcohol so you could easily just be sitting outside enjoying this on a beautiful summer day and that bottle would be gone quickly…and you would be too…without realizing it.  R50.

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Three down, and since we had such a small group, our guide made sure we hit one more winery before the day was done!

 

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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20 under $20

While reading/following Shape magazine, I came across a great article/post about The Best Wines Under $20.

I will say, I love the Ravenswood Zin, any bubbly, will have to try the Terrazas Malbec and the Hahn Pinot.  Have tried quite a few of the others on the list and they are good finds!

Cheers to the holiday season!

Wines