A Wine of Note: Domaine Denis Mercier

Pinot Noir 2015, Anne-Catherine & Denis Mercier, Valais

In a previous post—An Honest Attempt to Debunk the Myth That Swiss Wine Is Expensive—I argue that Switzerland may well offer the world’s best value for money proposition in pinot noir. Well, even before the ink is dry, I have a contender for the best pinot noir on the planet under $20. I know that’s a bold statement but when you consider the options I laid out earlier it’s not really that big a category. Unbeknownst to many there is a wealth of good pinot noir in Switzerland and 2015 is the perfect vintage to discover it. On a recent visit to the winery of Anne-Catherine and Denis Mercier in Sierre I think I found what the world is looking for.

After a tour of their newly configured facilities which include a new chai (see photo above), expanded bottle storage and a new refrigerated cuverie for optional temperature controlled, open-vat fermentations, I got down to talking about 2015 results with oenologist Madeleine Mercier-Mottet.

Like many of her colleagues in Switzerland she was mostly concerned with the timing of the harvest—all varieties ripening simultaneously and the stress of finding enough space to process everything at once—and the potential for runaway sugars, depleted acids and lifeless wines. As expected she found elevated sugars, like those of 2003 which was another hot vintage, coupled with unexpectedly solid acid levels—the maturing vineyards seem better able to cope with vintage anomalies and stress—resulting in real freshness in aroma and flavor. She couldn’t be happier with the results as the unique attributes of the vintage were particularly flattering to pinot noir.

 

The wine: Red rose in color and fairly transparent. Lovely nose of kirsch, crème de framboise and fecund sous-bois notes. Very pure; intensifies with air. Palate is sweet and fruit crème textured with lush cherry and raspberry flavors. One can visibly see the wine gain color and saturation with exposure to air. Fruit becomes wild in nature with a feral tension. Super elegant and utterly delicious. This finishes long and sweet. Meticulously rendered from estate fruit in tiny quantities. I don’t think I’ve ever had better pinot for the price.

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