Purchased: Salem, OR 10-09-2014
Vineyard: Zabala Vineyard, Arroyo Seco
Composition: 100% Chardonnay Clone 4
Harvest: October 20, 2010 24.2 ° Brix (avg)
Fermentation: 100% Barrel Fermented 100% Malolactic
Oak: French Oak, Neutral Francois Freres
Bottled: December 18, 2011
Being an absolute research geek, this wine was easier to search out than most. They (Mercy Wines) offer a great deal of information online (and of course I had to share some of it with you).
We like Chardonnay from this region; it’s often slightly less creamy/buttery than some other regions (it’s there but not as “thick” as some of the other Napa Chardonnay that I’ve experienced); exhibiting somewhat crisper characteristics, with more tropical fruit tastes. Also, it’s usually a bit more acidic (whether that’s from the maritime influence of the Monterey Central Coast location/soil or the fermentation/wine making style, I don’t know…but it’s often a favorite, regardless of vendor) than its California counterparts. With that in mind, and the fact that we normally pay $15-$25 a bottle for Chardonnay from this region, we were happy to pick up a bottle for $5.99.
2010 was a difficult vintage in California. Where 2011 was what they call a “cool vintage” across the board, 2010 went back and forth between cold pockets and heat pockets. It started out cold and damp and then in August, there was a heat wave that caused wine makers to scramble. The exposed grapes began shriveling before whole bunches were ripe enough to pick. If pickers were careful during the picking (since apparently there were good bunches and bad on the same vines) the resulting wine was quite good. Shriveled bunches (with the bunchstem necrosis) are lower in sugar and add an “off taste” to the wine, so if sorting was poor, the resultant wine was usually poor. This explains a lot (to me anyway) why the 2010’s have been hit and miss.
That all being said, this Mercy Chardonnay was quite different from the Arroyo Seco that I’m used to but, it’s not unpleasant. It is much more along the lines of traditional California Chardonnay. It’s very buttery (you could almost say creamy) and quite oak-y. Also, I detect more of the traditional fruit tastes (green apple and pear) vs. the tropical fruits. It’s got quite a lush mouthfeel. No bitter aftertaste. I would absolutely serve this at a wedding (or anniversary or holiday where I needed a nice white wine). Alcohol balance is good; not overpowering, not absent. I detect none of the quality issues that seem to pop up with the 2010’s. IMO it’s not a $30 Chardonnay but I could see it selling for $15-$20 without issue. It’s respectable and yet unremarkable.
If you like classic Chardonnay, this is a good deal. I cannot find one fault with it (other than it doesn’t taste like what I was expecting).