Thirsty Thursday: Refreshing Riesling from High Desert: Mercer 2012

Damn. Summer and record droughts will not go away.  I tire of sweating in bed (as does my wife).  Therefore, chilled whites are still required to fool me into imagining myself cool.

Oddly, let’s go to a hot, sandy, desert: Yakima Valley, Washington:

Washington Yakima Valley MapPrehistoric floods left silt for vine-friendly drainage.  But this is high desert with six inches of annual rain.  Nonethless, Riesling can work here thanks to hills floating 3,000 feat above sea level (aka cold nights) and enough water irrigated from Cascade Mountain snow melt.

The Mercer’s have been farming these deserts for over a century.  They turned to wine-making a bit ago. To cool the day down we open their Riesling from Yakima.  Yes, the vintage is 2012. Yet Riesling has a propensity for aging gracefully, thanks in part to its high acidity. Let’s see:

First up, a matcha green tea wafer from Bourbon in Japan is our pairing.

APPEARANCE: looks a clear, pale, dried hay color, with lime juice highlights…promising.

AROMAS: smell powerfully lime peel, salt, peach, honey, and…well…linseed oil, paraffin, wax, hell, let’s call it petrol: the holy grail of German Riesling (or anathema to those who blame poor grape pressing). These free terpenoid alcohols (geraniol, linalool, and nerol) are clearly here.

PALATE: feels off dry, but the medium plus acidity tells you not to care and actually be happy some sugar resides to tame it. The 13.3% alcohol registers as viscous and medium bodied.

FLAVORS: lead with moderately intense honeyed peach lifted by lime juice and a wee bit of salinity. Yet that viscous, fabricated, tuetonic petrol carries a medium plus length.

CONCLUSIONS: Yes, Mercer’s 2012 Riesling could benefit from higher acidity and less residual sugar.  But complaining so, shows how far this Washington wine has come.  I cannot help but compare it to German and Alsatian Riesling.  That is compliment enough.  The Yakima Valley is too hot to garner the taut, high acids of the Mosel.  Yet this Mercer remains refreshing yet complex and magically reminiscent of its Germanic heritage: very good (4 of 5).  Also, it deftly pairs with a green tea wafer from Japan.


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