Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Report from … Merry Edwards Tasting and Lunch – June 2, 2010

Merry Edwards came to town, do-dah do-dah.  We drank wine and it was fine, oh-do-day-day.  Could have drank all night, the wine tasted good today.  Merry Edwards came to town, oh-do-dah-day.

Don’t usually sing a winemaker in or out of town but Merry Edwards seems a different sort and might even enjoy the serenade.

Merry has been a winemaker for over 37 years (and yes that is how to spell her name and the name of her eponymous winery – I checked the business card, twice, and the website).  She started her own winery in 1998 after years of toiling for others – though to this day she still does consulting work for other wineries.  Merry is one of those “focused” winemakers who specializes in a single grape … in this case it’s Pinot Noir.  And the care she puts into the wine starts in the vineyard, “terroir includes the vintner,” the tutorial video told all assembled, and Merry repeated it personally a few times, “so that when the grapes get to the winery 75% of my work is done.”

In 2001, something funny happened on the way to making Pinot Noir; Merry and her husband Ken decided they needed a starter wine for winemaker’s dinner, so they did a one off of 120 cases of Sauvignon Blanc.  People went crazy for it and so did restaurateurs who tried it.  This was not something Merry or Ken expected, nor did they really want to get into the Sauvignon Blanc business, so they told people, when they were asked the price, the most outrageous price they could think of for a Sauvignon Blanc.  As fate would have it people started to snap this wine up by the case, so their initial 120 cases didn’t last too long.  Today they produce some 8,000 cases of Sauvignon Blanc, and it truly is delicious, and pricey.  The rest of their wines are Pinot Noirs, except for one dessert wine which failed to make the journey to T.O. – hopefully next time.

The Wines …
We tried 8 wines, six current releases and two back vintages – here are my top three wines of the afternoon:

2007 Pinot Noir, Sonoma Coast ($67.99)
Smells: lovely red berry fruit with blackberries and cranberries.
Flavours: earthy, mineral with lovely sour and red cherry – the acidity is very cleansing, allowing the wine to be pretty and delicate on the palate. (****½)

2007 Russian River Valley – Coopersmith Vineyard Pinot Noir ($94.99)
This vineyard is now planted exclusively to a specific clone of Pinot Noir known as UCD37, which produces smaller berries with almost no seeds, therefore there is almost no chance for bitter tannins because of the seeds.  This vineyard was purchased in 1999 and is named after Merry’s husband Ken Coopersmith; as is the case there is a friendly rivalry between the wines designated as the Merry Edwards Vineyard and the Coopersmith Vineyard.  When I told Merry I liked the Coopersmith better she said with a smile, “I guess I’ll have to be a little less careful next time.”  Ken laughed too.
Smells: you can pick out some pencil shavings but this one is still a little closed – let it breathe and you’ll find cocoa notes, dried blueberries and dried cherries.
Flavours: robust tannins currently carry the wine through the mouth, good acidity with lots of dark fruit, a touch of spice and good mouth feel.  The complexity of flavours will have you tasting it again and again and again. (****½)

2009 Sauvignon Blanc ($55.99)
42% of the wine is made from vines aged 30 years or older, another part of the wine is made with the Sauvignon Musque grape – think Chardonnay Musque with more Sauvignon Blanc qualities.  It is barrel fermented, 18% of which is new French oak; then it is aged 6 months in barrel with twice a week lees stirring.
Smells: pretty and mainly tropical in nature.
Flavours: floral, kiwi, mango, sweet fruit with nice balancing acidity, a nice hint of minerality and some vanilla notes; the finish is long, lovely and lingering. (****½)

No comments: