Merry Edwards Wines – Oaked Sauvignon Blanc

26 Oct

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I know, I know. Is there anything more douchey than some winedouche talking about wine? Yes, that winedouche talking about his visits to a winery.

Well, to kick off a regular feature focusing on how the wine you drink sucks and how you should be drinking the wine I’m drinking, let’s talk about Merry Edwards.

Merry Edwards Winery was started by Meredith Edwards, one of the pioneering women in California winemaking. Having done stints at Mount Eden and Matanzas Creek, ME set up shop in the Russian River Valley (sounds better than saying Sebastopol), near one of her mentors, the acclaimed Joseph Swan.

She makes a number of single vineyard pinot noirs, which I was excited to try. I appreciated the philosophy beyond ME’s winemaking, but I couldn’t really find one I liked. ME tries not to interfere with the natural qualities of the grapes, letting the terroir speak, so each pinot was quite different. Like Swan, the alcohol levels are really high, some approaching 15%. But they show interesting grassy, hay-like or loamy qualities. They’re also expensive, with the appellation blend Sonoma Coast clocking in at $39 (and 14.2% ABV) going up to $62 for the Olivet Lane.

As for the tasting room, it’s an OK experience. It’s been recently remodeled, so it has a stuffy, faux Tuscan feel that at least gives you the cleanest bathrooms in the area tasting rooms. Their tastings are free. Very efficient, they lead you into a small sunlit room (what feels like a wine country conference room) in small groups for a taste of four wines. It feels very professional. It’s quite a contrast from the casual tasting at Swan.

Anyways, the revelation here is the sauvignon blanc. Being used to the grassy, stoney type of SB made popular from New Zealand, I had not had a SB that was creamy and light and fruity. The ME SB defies most of the things I thought made a good SB – it is heavily oaked, high in alcohol (14.2% ABV), and maybe a bit perfumey. It’s also a high-volume blend of a number of vineyards, whose lineup changes year to year, and expensive ($30). To me, that kind of interference with the natural state of the grapes should result in a franken-wine. But it turns out this is one of my favorite white wines ever.

Incredibly rich and lush, this wine is so surprising that it seems wrong to call it a SB. It’s really sui generis. If anyone knows other SBs like this, please let me know.

The sticker price on this wine is $30 (the current release is $32). Wineries charge full price for wines that you can often get at home for less. Knowing this, and being leery of paying so much for a SB, I just bought one bottle. Rookie mistake. Despite making thousands of cases, this wine is never sold at a discount. In fact, your local wine shop paid wine club prices for it, so they’ll sell it to you for something over $40. Call it the Wine Spectator effect – the 2009 vintage got a crazy 96 points from WS, setting off a scramble among winedouches everywhere.

Anyways, count me among the winedouches who love this wine.

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