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Mercer Wine Estates Pinot Gris

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Gil Kulers

Mercer Pinot Gris

Mercer Pinot Gris

2008 Mercer Wine Estates Pinot Gris, Columbia Valley, Wash.


Two Thumbs Up

Lots of tropical fruit aromas with a fresh quality reminiscent of an ozone air purifier. It offers a mouthful of fruit flavors, such as mango, green apple and pineapple, but also had a ton of refreshingly searing acidity.

(Wines are rated on a scale ranging up from thumbs down, one thumb mostly up, one thumb up, two thumbs up, two thumbs way up and Golden Thumb Award. Prices are suggested retail prices as provided by the winery, one of its agents, a local distributor or retailer.)

A couple of weeks ago, I waxed poetically about the unheralded yumminess of Alsatian wines. This homage elicited several pieces of fan mail and blog entries. Here’s a sampling:

“You twit! Pinot grigio is one of the most popular wines in the world.”

“You NEVER write about wines we can afford. $18 for a bottle is not an everyday wine in my book.”

Can you feel the love? I can.

Now that I think of it, I did not mention that pinot grigio and pinot gris grapes are one and the same. And, golly, pinot grigio is redonkulously popular. As one reader pointed out: “It’s the new overly oaked chard of the 90s.”

Pinot gris is generally understood to be a wine made in the steely, full-bodied, mineral-laden fashion we find in Alsace, France. Wines labeled pinot grigio tend to be simpler with a pleasant lemony profile. (Yes, there are complex, lovely exceptions to this latter statement.) Availability of Alsatian-style pinot gris pales, however, when measured against simpler pinot grigios—and overly oaked chardonnays, for that matter (sort of the point of the column).

Two of the four wines mentioned were priced at $13.50. The others were $18 and $19. I taste wines blind and the chips fall where they fall. There were less expensive and much pricier wines ($30-$40) in my sampling. Not much more to say here.

Oh, wait, there is more. I don’t think 13 or 14 bucks is too much for a wine worthy of talking about. All the prices I list are suggested retail prices. You’ll generally find them for less. There is an ocean of wine that goes for $6 to $10 a bottle (and less), but for the most part they are the wine world’s version of Coke. Satisfactory in many cases? Yes. Worthy of Shakespearean sonnets? Let me just say, when I do find that rare needle, I’m on it and happy to focus my meager spotlight on a wine imbued with deliciousness and value.

With that thought in mind, I bring you another Alsatian-style pinot gris—which is identical to the pinot grigio grape, just produced differently (Did I mention that already?). Mercer Pinot Gris is made by winemaking rock star David Forsyth, formerly of Hogue Cellars, and won’t set you back more than $14.

Gil Kulers is a certified wine educator with the Society of Wine Educators and teaches in-home wine classes. You can reach him at

2 comments Add your comment

Edith Fusillo

February 18th, 2010
5:00 pm

SHAME on you for expecting alcohol in the (yes) Puritan South! Wouldn’t it be great if, as in Italy and some places in France, take in our empty water bottle and have it filled with lovely local wines for practically nothing. And it’s usually darn respectable wine, too! Here we are at the mercy of the “Christian” folk who expect to run all aspects of our lives for us. Too bad.

Gil Kulers

February 19th, 2010
10:50 am

I get that “shame on you” stuff a lot, Edith. For those of you who are a little lost, she is referring to a North Carolina ski mountain I recently visited that doesn’t serve alcohol…and does it with an attitude. I mentioned it in my weekly e-newsletter. Interested parties of the very free newsletter can sign up at