One of the more puzzling experiences of my recent tasting foray into Russian River Valley (and more specifically Green Valley) wine has been the stylistic diversity and, at times, highly variable quality of Sauvignon Blanc produced in the region. It runs the gamut from Kiwi-inspired styles to insipid dry whites to this Merry Edwards wine, stylistically by far the most resolved of any I have tried from the region.
I was quite looking forward to visiting to Merry Edwards Winery, it having received some solid recommendations, but nothing could have prepared me for the brutally efficient cellar door experience, which is as close to a drive by tasting as I have seen. The wines, though, were without exception intriguing, and by far the best of my day’s tasting in Green Valley. A Pinot specialist, the portfolio contains several single vineyard Pinots and this one Sauvignon Blanc. After extended tasting, some of the 2010 Pinots made less of an impression than they did at first, fading rather more quickly than I thought they might, but this wine impressed from beginning to end. It’s a multi-clonal blend, including 20% Sauvignon Musqué, that is barrel fermented and aged with lees stirring to build weight and texture. What pleases me about it, though, is that it retains outstanding freshness and character; that is, it always plays to the variety’s strengths.
The nose is quite pungent, with aromas of tropical fruit and sharper gooseberry. It’s fresh but rounded, lacking the sharp bite of a Marlborough style. In place of this incisiveness is a smoother sense of generosity and greater complexity in the form of some mineral edges and fresh herbs.
In the mouth, this is happily acid driven but with a fullness on the middle palate that softens some of its linearity. Tropical, herbal, mineral flavours echo the nose, with some good weight and texture through the after palate. This has good line and surprising length for the variety. It’s not particularly funky in flavour or texture, but it has oodles more interest than a more straightforwardly made wine, and I feel this is a particularly good style for Sauvignon Blanc if one is to turn one’s back on the highly aromatic, stainless steel approach.
Good fruit, obviously, and particularly well handled.
Merry Edwards Winery