Mersá 2002 Old Growth Red

76% Carignane, 24% Zinfandel; 15.5% ABV
Alexander Valley, CA, $6 at the Oakland, CA, store on 16 March.  I believe I was told this was only at the Oakland store.  Unfortunately, likely gone by now.

Mersa_2002_CarZinI read about this wine in comments here long before I saw it at the Oakland store.  Seedboy commented, “The label says it is unfined and unfiltered, and the bottle does have something of a robe to show for it. Real cork whose very end is very dark but the rest is pristine. When I first tasted this I was overwhelmed with wood. It eventually rounds into a very thick red wine that shows its 15.5% alcohol. Might be a good summer barbeque wine.”  I pretty much agree with this, although I think I liked it better than he did.

At first, I found this wine overly simple cherry / raspberry with a bitter, woody finish.  I thought it needed about 2.5 – 3 hours in a decanter to show more depth.  Then, it presented slightly rough darker blackberry, raisin, black and red cherries and raspberries, licorice, and earthy aged complexity, still with that same bitter tarry / woody component, especially on the drying, tannic finish.  The texture is rich and full-bodied.

The next day, the saved half bottle (stoppered at first opening in a 375ml bottle with very little air) was smoother and better integrated, but otherwise much the same.  While I agree this robust California wine would go well with BBQ, I think it’s more than just a BBQ wine.


8 thoughts on “Mersá 2002 Old Growth Red

  1. EHL

    Tried a bottle of this unusual 13-year old Red blend from Alexander Valley and enjoyed it.

    Thankfully it is old vine Carignane, the vineyard was planted pre-Prohibition era, which probably helps to explain why the tannins and astringency of this varietal are somewhat tamed.

    As to the nose and flavor, I didn’t pick up an overwhelming presence of oak or vanilla in my bottle, just dark fruit of blackberry, black plum and black currants, in a purple-black wine that is dense, complex and chewy.

    The only drawback is that the finish is somewhat hot from the 15% alcohol. But, all in all, a pretty nice and substantial wine for the price…and less than $5 during the upcoming sale.

    1. EHL

      LOL…I just assumed my bottle was the same as BW and SB’s, but upon closer examination, I realize now the vintage is 2003, not 2002. No wonder the alcohol level is lower on my bottle than the 15.5% BW reported.

      However, my bottle was bought at Oakland, too. I guess they might have mixed vintages in their limited number of cases.

      1. BargainWhine Post author

        Thank you very much for your report! The extra bottle I bought for myself is indeed a 2003. I hadn’t noticed, but it sounds like I’m not in for anything too bad.

      2. BargainWhine Post author

        Hi EHL. I finally opened my bottle of the 2003 recently. Although I had it open for about 3.5 hours in a decanter, it never really seemed to open. It just kept seeming “promising.” Finally, I poured the rest into a single-glass screw-cap bottle. Tonight, the rest was more accessible, but never seemed to completely open up, and it was certainly never as ripe, rich, and over-the-top as the 2002. Maybe the 2003 needs to be put in a covered decanter for a day before drinking? I seem to recall that was what Robaire recommended.

        1. EHL

          Hey BW…I’m not sure what to say, since I never tasted the 2002 Mersa, for which SB and you seemed to have qualified reservations.

          All I know is that I enjoyed the ’03, as it didn’t reek of oak, tasted pretty good for a substantial, dense wine and unusual varietal, and a number of my friends certainly enjoyed it, too. I opened up another bottle recently and enjoyed it similarly. Still glad I picked up the half-case during the sale.

          Maybe bottle variation is at play here with what you are experiencing, or perhaps you just liked the ’02’s style and substance better…

  2. Seedboy

    I think Oakland still has this wine. I did not give it a chance to air, I’ll buy a couple of bottles if it is still there sale time.

    1. BargainWhine Post author

      This wine was still at the Oakland store this morning. I got another bottle, not wanting to bet that I’ll be able to get back there in time during the sale.


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