Thursday, June 28, 2012

Merry Edwards Winery – The Queen of Pinot in Sebastopol, California

 Merry Edwards, who is well known as the “Queen of Pinot,” is one of California’s first female winemakers. She began her career as a winemaker at Mount Eden Vineyards in the Santa Cruz Mountains in 1974. She went on to become the founding winemaker at Matanzas Creek in 1977 and remained there until 1984. For the next decade, Merry consulted for numerous wineries, large and small, in Oregon and many diverse appellations of California. Along the way she has done Pinot Noir clonal research and responsible for the Mt Eden clone.

 In 1997, she founded Merry Edwards Winery which specializes in Burgundian varietals with a focus on the unique terroir of the Russian River Valley and Sonoma Coast. Today Merry and her husband, Ken Coopersmith, now manage five estate vineyards: Coopersmith, Cresta d’Oro, Flax, Georganne and Meredith. They also maintain collaborative relationships with several other dedicated growers to supplement this estate production. In 2001, a barrel-fermented Sauvignon Blanc blend was added to the portfolio.

 In 2008 Merry and Ken completed their state-of-the-art boutique winery facility on the site of Coopersmith Vineyard where visitors can receive a personal introduction to their wines in the very tiny tasting room. I really enjoy this small party tasting which allows for a lot of interaction with the very knowledgeable host. 

While the wines themselves are a bit pricy the tasting is free. So, if you consider the average charge in the Napa Valley for tasting alone (which range from $10-$65 but most are around $25) and the average price of high scoring Napa Valley wines ($55+) and compare it with the averaged cost of the free tasting and price Merry Edwards’ wines, they are actually very fairly priced considering the high scores they receive from well known and popular wine critics.

While visiting I tasted the following wines:

My first wine was the 2009 Russian River Pinot Noir. This is a fairly dark ruby wine with big ripe aromas of black cherries, plums, and cinnamon. On the palate it has more tannin than what you might expect from a Pinot and fairly high acidity followed by a medium (+) length finish. A really nice wine for $42 a bottle.

The second pour was the 2009 Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir. A light ruby colored wine that exudes fresh cherries and cedar. On the palate it is softer and lighter than the previous wine and is definitely read to drink NOW. The wine probably should have been poured first and it is moderately priced at $36 a bottle.

The third wine was the 2009 Georganne Vineyard Pinot Noir. This wine is similar in appearance to the previous wine but on the nose and palate it exudes Bing cherries, hints of anise and a wafting smokiness. On the palate has fresh acidity, subtle refined tannins and a medium (+) length finish. This wine sells for $54 a bottle.

The fourth and final Pinot was my favorite in the line-up, the 2009 Klopp Ranch Pinot Noir. This wine is darker in appearance than the previous wines with red plums, pomegranate, strawberries and a hint of oak on the nose with supple tannins and good acidity on the palate and a medium (+) length finish. This wine sells for $54 a bottle and I brought one home to add to my collection.

The final wine of the visit was the 2010 Sauvignon Blanc. This is a refreshing wine with pronounced floral and tropical aromas followed by stone fruits, fresh lemon, white grapefruit and a hint of chalk. On the palate it is surprisingly soft lacking the sharp crisp acidity that I look for in a Sauvignon Blanc. This wine sells for $30, which is twice the price of comparable wines on the market. While Merry Edwards makes great Pinots, I’d have to say “pass” on this one.

To visit or for more information:

Merry Edwards Winery
2959 Gravenstein Highway North
Sebastopol, CA 95472
Phone: 707-823-7466, 1-888-388-9050


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