Russian River Valley Sauvignon Blanc
Merry Edwards was a rare female graduate of UC Davis in 1973, and was hired as a winemaker by Mount Eden Vineyards in the Santa Cruz Mountains. She later upped sticks to Sonoma in 1977 where she promptly became winemaker at the Matanzas Creek Winery in Santa Rosa. It was not until the late 1990s that she managed to establish her own label, building her own winery in 2006.
Now in her seventies, it was time for Edwards to hang up the secateurs and leave the punch downs to someone else, so Edwards sold her winery to Champagne Louis Roederer. From 2015 onwards, current winemaker Heidi von der Mehden worked alongside Edwards and 2018 was her first vintage in full charge of everything.
When you taste this you realise that it’s not your typical porch Sauvignon Blanc, it’s a serious wine that Merry developed. She didn’t like Sauvignon Blanc and tried to make a wine she liked. That meant harvesting riper to get these tropical flavours and fermenting fully in oak.
But it’s not only harvest point that makes the difference: “We’ve built upon our style by changing how we farm, so we have very open trellises and canopies. Others want dappled light on their grapes, I go out there and we take almost all the leaves off on the morning side of the vineyards and help the sun to penetrate. This gets the pyrazine [the green, leafy notes so typical for Sauvignon Blanc] flavours out of the wine.” The wines ferment in wood and about a fifth of the oak is new, with the lees stirred to enhance the creaminess.
The nose initially has a little smoke and the merest whiff of grass, but the palate is rounded, warm, smooth, creamy. The oak is a textural element here, and the less stirring makes this super creamy. It is bold, ripe, concentrated but ultra-mellow; a wine one could luxuriate in right now, however, there would be rich reward for those who can leave this well alone and uncork it in five years’ time...