2014 Riverbed Chardonnay
92 Points - Wine Enthusiast
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!).
Sourced from contiguous vineyards, Zabala and Griva, found in the Arroyo Seco AVA’s ancient, dried Riverbed terrain - a nite and limiting section of the appellation, in between two major benches and defined by a rocky, granite-cobblestone surface soil over hardpan subsoil. In concert with the rocky and meager nature of the soil, this locale is plagued by howling winds and fog throughout the growing season. Slow to ripen, the grapes develop complex flavors and retain elevated, natural levels of acidity. Sourcing from adjoining properties, the Mercy Riverbed bottling highlights a very small and compelling portion the Arroyo Seco appellation.
Winemaker, Alan Phillips
Alan has pretty much done it all in the wine world. Having graduated from UC Davis’ Enology Department in 1976, he moved to the Napa Valley where he had the distinction of meeting and working under André Tchelistcheff at S. Anderson Vineyards in Yountville. In 1981, Alan joined forces with Jay Corley to develop Monticello Cellars in the Napa Valley. After the harvest of 1990 and ten years at Monticello, Alan ventured out on his own to work with a variety of small Napa Valley wineries. He was involved in the initial stages of several new wineries including Vine Cliff Cellars, V & L Eisele Vineyards, and Kates Vineyards & Winery. Various consulting jobs led him to New Zealand, Germany, France, Spain, and Portugal, giving him the opportunity to view winemaking on a global level.,,In the mid-nineties Alan, who enjoys the glories of well-grown and well-made Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, took the position of Winemaker and General Manager at Byington Winery, located in the Santa Cruz Mountains. Then, a couple of years later in 1998, he was lured to Santa Barbara County to be Director of Winemaking and General Manager of Foley Estates and Lincourt Vineyards. Alan worked for Foley and Lincourt, as well as a growing portfolio of other properties, for 10 years before departing in 2008. He presently makes wine for Mercy as well as his own family winery Fontes & Phillips.
Alan was named one of IntoWine.com's top 100 Winemakers. He built the foundation of Bill Foley's Foley Family Wines empire. He has had wines on both Wine Spectator and Wine Enthusiast's TOP 100 list, and hundreds of 90+ scores for wines over his winemaking career.
In 2014, the winery received ‘Dijon’ clone 76 chardonnay from Griva Vineyard in late September. Over two weeks later clone 4 from the Zabala Vineyard came in. Handling each lot same, each was whole-cluster pressed and racked to stainless steel tanks. Following cold stabilization, the juice was inoculated with Prise de Mousse (yeast isolate), racked to French oak barrels where it was fermented and aged for 10 months.
Highlighting a specific, rocky and low-yielding portion of the Arroyo Seco AVA, this wine displays racy notes of Bearss lime, Nashi pear, lemon peel, honeysuckle, vanilla cream and mineral tones. The palate displays similar flavors with creamy textures, crisp and focused acidity and a long, lingering finish.
Vineyards: Zabala Vineyard (58%) Griva Vineyard (42%)
Composition: 100% Chardonnay
Clones: Clone 4 & 76
Harvest: Sept 23 & Oct 10, 2014
Aging: 100% Barrel Fermented, 100% Malolactic
Oak: French Oak, 12% New Francois Freres, Dargaud, Jaegle & Seguin Moreau
Bottled: July 30, 2015
Production: 382 cases
Tasting Notes PDF
About The Winery...
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.