Mercer Estate Wines 

David Forsyth, winemaker for Mercer Estates, was in town a couple of weeks ago on his way to the Sun Valley Wine Auction. Forsyth was one of the driving forces behind the enormous success of Hogue Cellars, and now he's back with Mike Hogue, who has joined with the Mercer family to create this new estate. It's a great partnership: The Mercers have roots in the Horse Heaven area that go back four generations, and they have been growing grapes since the early 1970s. Here are some of the highlights of their lineup:

2008 Mercer Pinot Gris, $14.99

This wine opens with heady aromas of peach, pear and gooseberry. Offers bright fruit on the palate with ripe melon, mango, papaya, orange and pear, all nicely balanced by crisp lemon and lime.

2008 Mercer Sauvignon Blanc, $12.99

There's a touch of grass to the light fruit aromas, while a welcome acidity marks the palate. This wine has an undeniable elegance thanks in part to the time it spends in new American oak. That oak also contributes a hint of vanilla to go with the smooth and ripe citrus flavors.

2008 Mercer Chardonnay, $14.99

This one has beautiful apple and stone fruit on the nose with a kiss of oak. This is a very well balanced wine with creamy pear and apple fruit flavors up front, followed by just the right touch of oak. It has a refreshingly crisp finish that lingers nicely--a great value.

2007 Mercer Merlot, $21

This is an exceptionally well-integrated wine that pleases on many levels. There are dark berry and mocha aromas with light hints of anise and cedar on the nose. Soft, toasty oak colors the blackberry and cherry fruit flavors on the palate, while supple tannins come through on the finish. It should drink beautifully for another five years.

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