Domestic Selection: Chardonnay, 1986, Merry Vintners

The Merry Vintners is a small, 7,000 cases per annum, family winery in the rural outskirts of Santa Rosa in Sonoma County. The winery was founded in 1984 by four partners; Charles Edwards and his wife D.J., their daughter Meredith and her husband Bill (Miller). Sounds quite ordinary so far… the catch is, Meredith (Mer­ry) “Edwards” had already esta­blished a major league record as one of the very first full-charge woman winemakers in America. Having graduated from U.C. Da­vis with a Master’s Degree in Enology (wine science), Merry was determined to start at the top: Not to spend years first as a lab technician and then working her way up. A slight case of discrimi­nation slowed progress and eight interviews later during 1972 and 1973 nothing had presented itself. Finally, on the high recommendation of Dr. Maynard Amerine (she had been one of his best pupils), then professor in the Department of Viticulture, Merry secured the winemaker’s position at Mount Edan Vineyards. Not long after that, Merry became famous in wine making circles. Wines she produced at Mount Edan in the mid-70’s are legendary. Her next assignment took her to Matanza Creek Winery. There, in 1981, her 1979 Chardonnay won the Harvest Fair Sweepstakes Award…and then, in 1983, her 1981 Chardonnay took the sweepstakes award and the San Francisco Wine Judging. People were impressed.

The world’s premier grape for dry white wine, Chardonnay can be fermented with “no oak”, “a little oak” (e.g. six weeks), or “Reserve” style with six to eight months oak. Generally, the more oak, the more depth and complexi­ty. Merry Vintners Reserve Char­donnay spends approximately sev­en months fermenting and ageing in expensive French oak barrels.

This wine offers a rich golden color. Its sumptuous, complex bouquet is laced with toasty wood herbs and citrus peel. Smooth and rich in the mouth (reminiscent of honey), it is completely dry. With perfectly balanced acidity, a mel­low finish, and a nice lingering fruit impression this is a mature Chardonnay at its best.

Serve chilled with veal piccata, steamed mussels, broiled Maine Lobster (also jumbo prawns!), or mixed seafood kebobs.

Cellaring Notes: At its prime now, can keep one or two more years.

Reviewed by Larry Tepper

 


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