From Washington: Mercer Estates delivers quality, value

Some of the best values coming out of Washington are from Mercer Estates in Prosser.

Mercer Estates reds have structure and soft tannins; the Pinot Gris is balanced, and packed with flavor nuances. And they are affordable.

Karen Bloomer, who heads up the wine stewards at Metro Detroit Kroger stores, says she “absolutely loves” Mercer wines. “The reds are all well-balanced with lush fruit and softer tannins. The Pinot Gris was one of my ‘go to’ wines for summer entertaining,” she said in a recent email.

This fifth-generation farming family can count 125 years in the area of southeast Washington known has Horse Heaven Hills, an AVA (American Viticultural Area) that was granted in 2005.

They are big-time grape growers and have vineyards in three AVAs: Yakima Valley, Columbia Valley and Horse Heaven Hills. They tend an area of more than 2,000 acres for their estate wines and client wineries such as Chateau Ste. Michelle.

There are three tiers of wines: Mercer Estates, Mercer Canyons with the artist label and the Reserves.

Critics hold this winery in high regard. Plus the family has a track record of sustainable practices and charitable giving that is hard to match.

Kroger carries Mercer Canyon wines in 70 stores and Mercer Estates in 40 stores around Metro Detroit. Stores with wine stewards stock the reserve Rhone-style blend “Ode to Brothers.” As I post this blog from Dayton, I can say the local Centerville Kroger carries Mercer too.

The Detroit distributor is Great Lakes Wine & Spirits. Ask your favorite wine retailer about Mercer — she probably carries them if she sells Washington wines.

Here’s a taste:

2012-MC-Cabernet-Sauvignon-jpeg[1]Mercer Canyons Cabernet Sauvignon Horse Heaven Hills (Washington) 2012, $14-$19

What a delicious Cabernet from a premier Washington appellation at such a reasonable price. The Mercer family braces this beauty with a fair amount of Merlot, plus dollops of Malbec and Petit Verdot. Swirl and inhale the blast of blueberry, cassis, brown cooking spices, ripe plum and smoke. In the mouth, catch the berries, bittersweet chocolate, plum and spice wrapped up in supple tannins and firm acidity. The wines were aged 18 months in barrel before the final blend.  You can’t ask for more at this price.

Mercer Pinot Gris Yakima Valley (Washington) 2013, $13

Honeysuckle, white peach and melon caress the nose; in the mouth, it’s all about dry, tangy fruit with crisp acidity and an infusion of herbal/mineral notes. It’s a terrific food wine — seafood, salads, Asian dishes.

Mercer Reserve Ode to Brothers Horse Heaven Hills 2011, $42

This wine is an ode to the Rhone. It’s an amazing blend of Grenache, Syrah and Mourvedre dedicated to the three brothers who risked everything by planting vineyards in the rugged hills of Eastern Washington in 1972 in the Horse Heaven Hills — one of the state’s prime AVAs. It’s a wine with muscle girded with soft tannins and acidity. It’s all about red berries, dark plum, spice and an infusion of oak. It’s young and tightly stitched and would benefit from decanting. Or at the least, let the wine sit in your glass for a while. It’s a Rhone experience — from Washington state.

You can reach Sandra Silfven at ssilfven@hotmail.com.