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!

CO Wine

Wine is coming from many places now, and I recently tasted some from Colorado, Ten Bears Winery

The winery proper is located in Laporte, CO.  The sampling covered 7 wines; 2 whites, 3 red, 2 dessert wines and was $5.99.

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American Symphony (This lesser knows varietal is a hybrid of two old world grapes, Muscato of Alexandria and Grenache Gris.  It is a lovely, attractive white wine with amazing floral bouquet.  Lightly sweet with hints of Colorado wildflowers and dried peach on the nose followed by fresh apricots and citrus on the palate, finishing with lingering fruit and melon notes, a perfect pairing for a hot summer day.) $17.99/bottle

-Had light honey notes,  floral notes and sweetness

Cameron Pass White (Our Malvasia Bianca and Chardonnay blend is finished off-dry, producing a light to medium bodied, fruity white wine that is the perfect pair for sushi and seafood. Enjoy this wine chilled for a refreshing compliment to our Colorado summer days.) $15.99/bottle

-No nose, nearly clear, eww

American Pinot Noir (Our Pinot Noir is a Ten Bears Winery favorite that we can never seem to make enough of. It is a light bodied Pinot Noir aged on French Oak, for just the right amount of time, to impart delicate oak and tannins, which compliment the dried cherry fruit notes and cocoa, while keeping this noble red perfectly balanced.) $19.99

-Had the nose of Welch’s grape juice, cloudy, tiny chocolate taste at the end

Poudre River Red Table Wine (This light to medium bodied red blend of Alicante Bouschet, Colorado Merlot, Larimer County Marquette, and Zinfandel is a wine to pair with almost anything. Its complex and lively character displays black cherry, and raisin fruit notes, with delicate tannins, making it a smooth and easy drinking red wine. Enjoy at room temperature.) $14.99

-Cranberry nose, light, it’s definitely a simple table red

Grand Valley Cabernet (This full bodied classic Bordeaux style wine is balance to perfection with toasty notes of French Oak finishing with elegant and smooth tannins. Rich garnet and violet color!) $24.99

-Nice body, not chalky, good

Roaming Bear Seasonal (Raspberry/Huckleberry/Pomegranate) (We blended a medium, sweet Muscat of Alexandria, with Pinot Grigio and Barbera, then added natural flavoring to produce this playfully sweet and flavorful wine.) $15.99

-Very sweet, light,  this stuff reminded me of Boone’s

Nutty Laporte Dessert Wine (This is a vintage style port wine with hazelnut flavor added during its American oak aging. Its deep color and rich flavors of cordial cherries make for a deliciously warm finish to a nice evening. Grape varietals used in this port style dessert wine are Tinta Madiera, Touriga, Tinta Cao, and souza.) $18.99/375ml

-Nice!  Just like a port. Chocolate taste to it. Definitely my favorite one.

 

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Overall, a great time trying different wines — never knew CO made some. Not necessarily my favorites, but will never turn down a tasting. Cheers!

Winery Stop 5, Montalto

Final stop of the day, Montalto.  This place opened in 1997.  They were very rushed and didn’t seem that eager to let/want you to enjoy their wine.  And honestly, most of it wasn’t all that great anyway.

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2015 Pennon Hill Sauvignon Blanc – very dry

2015 Pennon Hill Pinot Grigio – green apple at start, no finish

2015 Montalto Estate Pinot Gris – oak taste, more flavor

2015 Pennon Hill Pinot Noir – some sort of bite to it

2014 Pennon Hill Shiraz – light for a Shiraz

2015 Montalto Apple Cider – dry

That was the last one we visited.  Nice spread all around and great way to check out the area.

Winery Stop 4, Red Hill Estate

Red Hill Estate was established in 1989 with 46 acres of land and 23 acres under vine.  They have great views of the Mornington Peninsula, too.  We went through their tasting (note, we were splitting tasting after the first one, we were not crazy people, and even then small sips were being taken).

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Vintage Brut (This magnificent sparkling wine is made from 52% Chardonnay, 41% Pinot Noir and 7% Pinot Meunier. Created using the traditional “Methode Champenoise”  system, this 2011 Vintage Brut exhibits a fine and persistent bead, a lively palate and a fresh acidity, which lingers harmoniously with the aged complexity.) – tiny apple flavor, young

Cool Climate Pinot Grigio (Displaying aromas of refreshing citrus and lime zest, some confectionery notes and a hint of musk on the nose, it is soft on the palate with freshly cut pears, some minerality and neat acidity back bone.) – pears, light flavor

Cool Climate Sauvignon Blanc (Flavours of green pea pods freshly picked from the garden flow into a herbacousness that keeps evolving into lime juice and Honeydew melon. Toward the end, and through the middle of all these flavours are tropical juices and passionfruit.) – huge nose, passion fruit

Cellar Door Release Chardonnay (On the nose there are pronounced aromas of citrus and caramelised pear, whilst on the palate it is beautiful fleshy with soft, crisp acids and delicately balanced flavours of baked fruits and pastry.) – butter and oak all the way home

Merricks Grove Chardonnay (With a fine, delicate bouquet of melon and toasty oak, this wine is an absolute delight; a clean minerality on the palate and complex layers of melon, peach and oak. A cool climate classic.) – not that exciting

Cellar Door Release Pinot Noir (Our 2014 Cellar Door Release Pinot Noir is a riot of mixed berries on the nose that work harmoniously with an underlying sprinkle of dusty oak. After an initial burst of juicy raspberry and fresh cherries on the palate, this superb wine finishes with a touch of spice that is both lingering, satisfying and strangely moreish.) – cool climate, earthy, some spices

Merricks Grove Pinot Noir (Made from 100% Mornington fruit, this immense Pinot Noir has lashings of raspberry and cherry compote on the nose whilst on the palate there is an abundance of soft, rich and comforting raspberry rhubarb that effortlessly mixes with a dusty oak finishing and gloriously fine tannins.) – fruitier than the prior pinot

Regional Release Heathcote Shiraz (The wine is deep purple in colour with aromas of dark cherry & raspberry and has subtle hints of spice & white pepper that lead to an intensely flavoured, well rounded (yet relatively soft) mouth feel of dark fruits, blackberries & oak influenced raspberries.) – Bring it home, awesome, pepper and berries

Regional Release Coonawara Cabernet Sauvignon (The wine displays rich and succulent blackcurrant and red berry characters that mix with a hint of cassis. On the palate the wine is enhanced by some subtle oak influence and finishes with smooth gentle tannins and a firm structure.) – thick, not great

Old Tawny (no winery description) – tastes like fruitcake

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Winery Stop 3, Paringa Estate

Next we get heavenly views and amazing wines.  We visited Paringa Estate which is family run and opened in 1985.  We sipped some amazing stuff here.

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2014 Estate Pinot Gris (The bouquet has lifted varietal fragrance of fresh cut pear and apple. The palate has fresh pear and citrus fruit flavours combined with lovely mid palate texture and balance, finishing crisp and dry) – smooth, fruity, crisp

2015 Estate Viognier (The bouquet of this wine has fragrant varietal aromas of apricot, citrus and spicy green pear. The palate has barrel ferment richness but still retains delicate apple, pear and cinnamon flavours with crisp acidity) – slight butter, apple and pear notes, would be perfect with lobster, side note

2015 Peninsula Chardonnay (The bouquet is floral and fruit driven with citrus and stone fruit aromas.  The palate has rich stone fruit flavours, good texture and a persistent long finish.  While this wine has been made for current drinking it will build further complexity over the next 3 to 6 years) – oak on end only

2015 Estate Chardonnay (The bouquet has a complex floral lift of citrus and stone fruit, with some secondary barrel ferment lees aromas. The palate has cool climate white fleshy stone fruits, citrus and savory nutty barrel ferment flavours. The wine has good palate weight and fine natural acid that leads to a long persistent finish.) – crisp, nutty (almond/walnut), almost no oak

2015 Peninsula Pinot Noir (The fruit for this wine was sourced from our three leased Red Hill Vineyards and a number of other high quality grower vineyards across the Mornington Peninsula. The warm finish to the growing season lead to a compact and busy harvest resulting in beautifully balanced, expressive wines.
Fruit was 100% de-stemmed and fermented in 2.5 tonne open fermenters. The fruit spent an average of 21 days in the fermenter on skins. Maturation took place over 11 months on lees in French oak barriques.) – AMAZING, dark cherry, tiny bit of chocolate/cocoa

2011 Estate Pinot Noir (Early disease pressure followed by cold and wet conditions during ripening meant fastidious vineyard management was pivotal in a successful 2011 vintage. With the Paringa vineyards in good health patience was then required as fruit maturity was reached up to four weeks later than average.
In the winery berries were de-stemmed (100%) and fermented in two-tonne open fermenters. Maturation took place over 11 months on lees in French Oak barrels (44% new))– earthy ‘brown’ tone because of the year

2012 Estate Pinot Noir (The Paringa team is confident the 2012 reds will be regarded amongst the Paringa greats. A hot weekend, then a week of solid rains in early March was followed by somewhat of an Indian summer. Pinot Noir yields in 2012 were down 20 – 30%, but resulted in great concentrated flavour & excellent overall quality.
In the winery berries were de-stemmed (100%) and fermented in two-tonne open fermenters. Maturation took place over 11 months on lees in French Oak barrels (50% new)) – fruity, more body

2014 Peninsula Shiraz (In the winery berries were de-stemmed and co-fermented with 5% Viognier in two-tonne open fermenters. Post fermentation, the wine maturation took place in seasoned French oak for 11 months before the wine was bottled) – AMAZING nose, white pepper, some black pepper, so good, so good, oh so good

2012 Estate Shiraz (The bouquet & palate has the Estate’s typical cool climate cracked black pepper / spice combined with blackberry and liquorice flavours and aromas. The firm fine grained tannins and acid provide excellent structure to the wine that will soften with bottle development. This is a wine that can be enjoyed young with food but will reward careful cellaring.) – Very nice

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Yes, lots of wine.  I’m really not kidding when I ask these people to just pour me a little bit.  Now, this winery only sells from their winery.  You can’t find them in stores.  I couldn’t easily buy anything because this was day 2 of my 2.5 week trip to several cities (with about 4 more plane trips).  It also apparently it not available in the US.  Any wine distributors out there who are reading this…can you change this, please?

 

 

 

Winery Stop 2, Moorooduc Estate

The second place we decided to check out on wine-tour in Mornington Peninsula was Moorooduc Estate.  This place was established in 1982, and is a small, family run wine business. So small of a vineyardt that when you pull into the parking lot you see the garage/work area where the great grape juice is being made.  We took a few quick sips of the wine here.  Very different than the first place.

 

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2013 Moorooduc Estate Chardonnay (Pale lemon in colour with lovely fruit expression lemon/grapefruit citrus and white stone fruits, on the nose and palate with a crisp linear acid line and terrific length) – true Chard – buttery!

2013 Moorooduc Estate Pinot Noir (This wine, from the McIntyre, Robinson and Garden Vineyards, is bright cherry garnet in colour with a vibrant nose of red cherry, wild strawberry a hint of Campari and savoury notes of cloves, star anise and nutmeg. Elegant on the palate with bright fruit and crisp acidity the wine is long with a silky finish) – tough to explain but not my kind of PN

2013 Robinson Pinot Noir (On the palate, the red fruit is juicy and the spice is warm and subtle with violet notes. The wine shows generosity of mid-palate, and finishes with good acid and firm, silky tannins. Very good length with subtle power; complete and round) – earthy

2013 Garden Vineyard Pinot Noir (The whole bunch fermentation results in a deep garnet colour and a gorgeous savoury nose.  Aromas of teak, dark wild cherry, morel mushrooms, earthy notes and dark red roses abound.  There is a hint of roasting beef coated in chopped rosemary and thyme.  On the palate the firm, fine-grained tannins are king, surrounding the savoury, meaty yet plush flavours and textures creating a dark mouthfeel that goes on and on.  A beautifully balanced wine this pinot walks on the dark side and is seriously sexy!) – another very earthy one

2013 McIntyre Shiraz (no vinter notes on it) – Pinot drinker’s Shiraz

Nothing there I was thrilled with and not an overly eager-to-impress staff.  But you must visit to find that out, too bad.

Winery Stop 1, Yabby Lake Vineyard

Sunny day, time to start the wine adventures in Mornington Peninsula.  The first stop was Yabby Lake Vineyard.  It opened in 1998 and they have 200 acres.  They use all their own grapes for their wines.  We had the opportunity to try many of their vinos that day, some from their Red Claw Collection, some from their Yabby Lake Collection.

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2015 Red Claw Pinot Gris (A bright, refreshing style of pinot gris – bone dry and the perfect partner for fresh local seafood)  – very light

2015 Red Claw Chardonnay (Beautifully focused and fine, this is a lovely modern expression of Mornington Peninsula chardonnay) – light on the oak, nice chard

2015 Yabby Lake Pinot Gris (A fine, refreshing style of pinot gris with delicate aromas and beautiful natural acidity) – could use a bit more body, not much taste

2014 Yabby Lake Chardonnay (A terrific year for chardonnay. The wine shows great purity, beautiful natural acidity, line and length) – WOW, not too oaky at all

2014 Yabby Lake Pinot Noir (Incredibly perfumed, finely structured and silky pinot noir)  – earthy nose, tannic

2014 Yabby Lake Syrah (A perfumed and spicy Syrah, medium-bodied in style) – WOW, on the nose especially

2013 Heathcote Estate Shiraz  (One of Heathcote’s best known Shiraz producers, concentrated yet beautifully balanced and fine) – OK

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So, of course we can’t get these in the US.  But if you’re visiting Australia or anywhere that has them, definitely give any of these wines a try.

 

Some nights…

Some nights call for a good wine to numb a long day.  I always try to keep my (wine) glass at least half full, but had to shake my head when I was having problems getting it open to even fill it to that point!  Really?  I am just glad this made me laugh.  While opting for a white on this beautiful evening, I (attempted) to open a bottle of Cakebread Chardonnay and the cork split.  AHH!  Give me my wine!  No, it didn’t take long to fix the error, but still.  At least good things come to those who wait.  Now I am enjoying some yeasty, citrus-y, toasty, oaked California Chard (with a few cork sprinkles).  I am not normally a big fan of oaked Chard, but there are some that hold a place in my heart.

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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!