92 Points, Gold Medal - Los Angeles International Wine Competition
Arroyo Seco, a sub-region within Monterrey County defined by the distinct soils left by an ancient river that once flowed through the area, is probably best known—to those who know it at all—for its chardonnay. But thanks to a small but dedicated group of producers, this cool, wind-swept region is gaining a reputation for Pinot Noir.
A blend of three beautiful vineyards, this wine is representative of the Arroyo Seco AVA. Each property is located on the dry river bottom and features an extremely rocky, shallow surface soil (topsoil at each site is classified as Arroyo Seco Gravelly Sandy Loam). Hard pan beneath limits the vines’ ability to tap deeply for water, limiting yields and allowing more intense flavors. Racked by wind, the Zabala vineyard is the eldest and lies just north of the seasonal tributary. With relatively newer plantings the Griva Vineyard rests on a bench south of the river, in the heart of the AVA, while Cedar Lane Vineyard sits to the west in an alcove somewhat protected from wind.
Hand-harvested on separate dates over a three week span, the fruit was gently de-stemmed, with the resulting must racked to open-top bins. Following a two-day cold soak, the must was inoculated with RC212 (Burgundy yeast isolate) and the ensuing fermentation lasted 16 days. During this period each bin was punch-down by hand three times per day. Once pressed the wine was transferred to French oak barrels (Allier & Vosges origins). In total the various lots spent about ten months in barrel before being blended and bottled in August 2010.
The 2009 Mercy Vineyards Arroyo Seco Pinot Noir is light garnet in color, which makes the nose such a surprise. Loaded with aromas of blackberry, boysenberry, cherry, black pepper, and violets the nose suggests a monster of a Pinot Noir, but this is another trick. The palate is equally intense, but much lighter, with cranberry, cherry, rose, and lavender. The flavors are incredibly layered, with good acidity and spice carrying through on the finish.
Vineyards: Zabala Vyd (48%) Cedar Lane Vyd (40%) Griva Vyd (12%)
Composition: 100% Pinot Noir
Clones: Pommard (4), Martini (13), 115, 667, 777 & La Tache
Harvest: Sept 11, 23 & 25 and Oct 1 & 6, 2009
Aging: French Oak, 20% New Dargaud Jaegle & F. Freres
Bottled: August 25, 2010
Production: 1064 cases
Mercy Vineyards is the fruition of friendships. Vintners Mark Dirickson and Mike Kohne have known one another for over a decade and have, collectively, been in the wine industry for over 45 years. Their experiences lead them to believe that the regional aspects of the Arroyo Seco AVA make it one of world's ideal growing regions for the wines they produce. Sourcing idyllic fruit, the wines are vinified by Mark and Mike's long-time friend and distinguished winemaker Alan Phillips. Produced in small lots, Alan employs classical winemaking techniques to help enhance the overall character of the Mercy wines.
More at www.mercywines.com.