Sometimes, the best parties are casual and easy. The other night, my neighbor friend Bettie and I checked out a new BBQ joint in the neighborhood that just happens to be BYOB. It was the perfect time to try some wines the southern part of Washington State. The Mercer family has owned their land for over 100 years, crafting easy to drink wines. In 2016, they were named Washington Winery of the Year. I was happy to be hosted to experience it!
To open the evening, we started with their Sauvignon Blanc. This is one of my favorite styles of white wine, because I like its fullness and ability to pair with many foods that are popular in Maryland.
Mercer notes that the 2016 had an unusually cool growing season, resulting in longer hangtime (that sounds social, right?) and further fruit flavor maturation. This is how they describe it: “Aromas of grapefruit zest, lychee and fresh cut hay are on the nose. The grapefruit carries through in the palate along with gooseberry and citrus notes.”
This is how we experienced it: It’s not too dry, with light flavors. The nose was red grapefruit — sweeter than the white pith of grapefruit in some whites — and definitely not sharp. It’s very smooth and drinkable. Flavor notes included a little citrus, a little lemon, a little minerality. It’s bottled with a screw top.
To start with our BBQ and spiced sides, we sipped the 2015 Sharp Sisters. This a cork bottled, red blend. It’s considered a “fun, New World style wine”. 2015 had a record heat wave during the growing season. They describe it like this: “This blend shows a beautiful nose of blackberry preserves and plums with notes of sage and sweet vanilla. The ripe fruit combined with selek tannins create a wine that is broad and powerful yet elegant.”
We noticed pepper and violet, reminiscent of a classic French table wine. We also noticed black cherry, juicy berries. We think this wine would be a great base for sangria!
Then, we sampled the 2015 Malbec. Malbec is a red grape variety that was first grown in France in the Middle Ages. It had growing problems and fell in popularity. The variety was brought to Argentina in the 19th century, where is really took off. In making their Malbec, Mercer did not crush the fruit, in order to “preserve as much whole-berry as possible”. They describe like this: “This inky dark wine is a balance of ripe concentrated fruit and nuanced complexity from barrel ageing. On the nose, concentrated ripe blackberry is enveloped in notes of coffee and sweet vanilla. A hint of wet stone lifts the fruit while adding alluring complexity.” I definitely noticed the coffee grounds notes, with dark berry and spice. But it’s not inaccessible; we definitely picked up notes of lush, wet fruit.