91 Points - Wine Enthusiast, 2016
Chardonnay is known as one of the “Noble” grape varieties, because of its ability to make stunning, age-worthy wines in Burgundy and Chablis. However, the dirty little secret of chardonnay is that the grapes themselves really don’t have that much flavor, making chardonnay incredibly dependent upon the soils in which it is grown. This is why there is so much mediocre chardonnay out in the market—when it is grown in boring soils, it produces boring wine. But when the soils are right, chardonnay can be one of the greatest wines in the world. One soil type that seems to work incredibly well with California chardonnay is found in dried out riverbed, where the abundance of small rocks in the soil provides drainage and seemingly adds complexity and depth to the wines. This is exactly the kind of soil found at the Zabala Vineyard in the Central Coast’s Arroyo Seco AVA (an appropriate name!).
Dating back to the Spanish Land Grant, the Zabala family has been stewards of the same ranch for seven generations. The property encompasses much of the Arroyo Seco dry riverbed and is known for its windy exposure and rocky, meager soil. Vines were first planted in 1972 and the vineyard is home to many different varietals, including clone 4 of Chardonnay.
A stellar growing season, the fruit from 2014 had an ideal, even ripening period: permitting complex flavor development without compromising acidity. The Zabala chardonnay was picked by hand on October 10th. The grapes were pressed whole-cluster and, after 2 days of cold stabilization, the juice was inoculated (prise de mousse). Racked to French oak barrels, the wine was fermented and aged for 11 months, with their lees stirred every other week.
Comprised of seven select barrels, this bottling is highlighted by its balance and verve; as creamy, rich textures are met by a focused line of acidity. Borne from the meager soil of a dried riverbed the bouquet and palate flavors tell a similar story, as classic stone-fruit, apple and pear, aromas meld with honeysuckle, orange peel, spiced creme-brulee, toasted hazelnut and mineral notes in the recesses.
OAK: French Oak, 14% New
COOPERAGE: Francois Freres (new) & Seguin Moreau
BOTTLED: July 30, 2015
PRODUCTION: 161 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.