Meteor Vineyard

Meteor Blog

Jason Alexander
 
July 3, 2013 | Jason Alexander

Alister & Paine reviews 2008 Reserve

Alister & Paine speaks with Meteor Vineyard winemaker/partner Dawnine Dyer about making wine from Meteor Vineyard fruit and the 2008 vintage.

Review Overview
COLOR - 92%
AROMA - 94%
TASTE - 94%
FINISH - 93%
OVERALL IMPRESSION - 93%
93%
Gorgeous!

Summary : Aromas of pure cassis and sun warmed black berries meld seamlessly with notes of mocha, fennel, sweet tobacco and filberts. The rich, plush mouth feel explodes with flavor and intensity, bolstered by supple tannins and lovely oak integration. Though this wine will clearly benefit from time in the cellar, it is absolutely gorgeous.

Read the full article here!
 

Time Posted: Jul 3, 2013 at 11:05 AM
Jason Alexander
 
May 30, 2013 | Jason Alexander

What is Coombsville? A new video from the Coombville Vintners and Growers.

Time Posted: May 30, 2013 at 1:04 PM
Jason Alexander
 
November 22, 2011 | Jason Alexander

L2 Think Tank Innovation Forum

Meteor Vineyard recently poured our 2008 Perseid Cabernet Sauvignon to rave reviews at a lunch held for attendees of the third-annual Innovation Forum hosted by L2 and NYC Stern School of Business in New York City. L2 Forums are the largest gatherings of prestige marketing professionals in North America. The Innovation Forum addressed innovation in digital marketing and implications for luxury brands.

Time Posted: Nov 22, 2011 at 1:17 PM
Jason Alexander
 
November 18, 2011 | Jason Alexander

Vinography Reviews 2007 Perseid

We have commented several times lately that the 2007 Perseid is finally beginning to blossom.  The youthful cacophony of fruit, acid and tannin have started to meld and mature, producing a wine of incredible balance and purity.  A wine to hold for years to come, but if you have to pull the cork, you will find an incredible expression of Meteor Vineyard.

Vinography’s Alder Yarrow takes a look at the wine in his  recent article.
11.14.2011

Barry Schuler may know a thing or two about running multi-billion dollar technology companies, but what he really wants to talk about, given the chance, is food and wine. The former CEO of AOL, Schuler often gets credited along with Steve Case (who preceded Schuler as CEO) for the company’s success in the late Nineties. But while his colleagues and most of America’s top technology executives were returning home at the end of their long days to comfortable suburbs near major metropolitan areas, at the end of the week Schuler was making his way back to Napa, California. Schuler may have been one of the country’s top technology executives, but now he spends as much time thinking about wine as he does anything else.

Schuler says that he can remember wanting to live in Napa as early as the age of 18. In addition to dabbling in photography and filmmaking as a teenager, he says, “I was really into cooking. And drinking.” His obsession with food and wine, led him to the altar of Alice Waters’ restaurant Chez Panisse, which he visited for the first time in 1974 on the pretense of considering a graduate degree at UC Berkeley. Instead of attending his interviews and exploring the campus, however, Schuler dined at Chez Panisse, and drove to Napa, where he spent days wandering around in a daze. “It was like mecca,” he says, “like I was hit by a lighting bolt. It truly was amazing. I decided then and there that I had to figure out how to live [in Napa] someday.”

By his own account, Schuler spent the next 15 years “chasing French wine” and working out the math that would get him back to the Napa valley. While he wasn’t in his own kitchen dreaming of his future Napa estate, Schuler was busy making a name for himself in the emerging world of digital interactive media. He founded an early advertising agency to serve the emerging home and business computing market, then ran one of the first successful Macintosh software companies, and finally ended up founding an interactive design agency called Medior, with several colleagues, including Tracy Strong, who is now his wife.

Schuler finally moved to Napa in 1989, settling closer to the town of Napa than to the centers of culinary and wine activity farther up the valley, because he was attracted to the change he saw underway in and around the city of Napa. “It was a train wreck in those days,” says Schuler, but he saw something of a diamond in the rough in the scrabbly area to the east and north of town known as Coombsville. When he finally decided he wanted a bit of land on which he might one day plant some grapes, “mostly just to sell, I was thinking,” he says, “I started looking in Coombsville.” Good lots were not immediately forthcoming, so Schuler would spend several years poking around the area until in 1998, when someone told him that a 35 acre parcel was due to be sold in the area, and that he might want to take a look at it.

After rounding the shoulder of the hill and seeing the view of a green cow pasture roll out from underneath the mossy shade of oaks all the way to the San Francisco Bay in the distance, Schuler purchased the property on the spot, thinking he’d figure out whether it could grow grapes later.

What Schuler ended up with is an interesting geologic and climatologic anomaly in the region. The hilltop of ash and clay soil is layered thinly on a deep base of round river stones, and sits up higher than most surrounding points in the traditionally cooler region of Napa. This makes the property a little island of heat that misses much of the fog influence that creeps up from neighboring Carneros and the wind patterns that sweep through the rest of the region.

With the help of vineyard consultant Michael Wolf, Bill and Dawnine Dyer, (of  Dyer Vineyards) and occasional advice and moral support fromTony Soter (of  Etude Wines) the Schulers set about carefully establishing their 22 acre vineyard, still with the idea that they’d sell the grapes, and perhaps make just a tiny bit of wine for themselves. After some struggles, the vineyard began yielding grapes in 2003, and by the time the 2004 grapes were going into bottle, it was clear that the fruit was on track to being exceptional. The folks who had purchased the initial lots of grapes were clamoring for more, and new requests were constantly being made.

“At that point,” says Schuler, “we couldn’t resist.” Barry and Tracy enlisted the Dyers to make them 40 cases of wine from the 2003 harvest, and asked them to become equal partners in the winery. For the name of their project they selected a rephrasing of Medior, the company that had brought them together, and arguably made possible the fulfillment of Barry’s teenage dreams. For their label they chose the silhouette of the solitary, ancient oak tree that anchors the center of their vineyards.

A good portion of  Meteor Vineyard’s grapes are still sold to select wineries around the valley, but the family holds back enough fruit to make a little more than a thousand cases of wine. Originally, the Meteor project only included a flagship Cabernet and a minute bit of a wine known as the Family Reserve, both priced north of $225 per bottle if you could find them. But in 2008 as the economy headed south, and yields increased slightly, Schuler and the Dyers decided to make a wine they called Perseid, which would be more widely available, and more affordable.

At $125, more affordable is all relative, of course, but Perseid isn’t meant to compete on the grounds of price. It’s just meant to be what it is: a luxury wine that makes a reasonable case at being worth the price, for those in a position to pay it.

The wine is 100% Cabernet Sauvignon, made from a mix of clones, and what I believe is a combination of both estate and purchased fruit. After a long maceration and fermentation using commercial yeasts, the wine is aged in French oak (65% new) for 22 months before bottling.

I’ve been tasting Meteor Vineyards wines since their first release, and they continue to improve, as winemakers and vineyard learn to live with one another. The 2007 vintage was an excellent one, and I highly recommend it.

Full disclosure: I received this wine as a press sample.

Tasting Notes:
Medium garnet in color, this wine smells of rich graphite, cedar, and tobacco aromas. In the mouth it has a wonderfully silky texture and flavors of pencil lead, tobacco, cherry fruit, and cedar, along with excellent acidity. The oak is restrained, and the wine quite elegant, even in its obvious power. Muscular tannins ripple under the wine like a bodybuilder in a silk shirt. Compelling. 14.7% alcohol.

Food Pairing:
With a wine like this, it’s hard not to think of steak, but I had some fantastic lamb sausages earlier this evening that would have been amazing with this wine.

How Much?: $125

This wine is  available for purchase on the Internet.

As I write this the 2008 vintage of this wine is being released to mailing list customers and will shortly appear on the market. I have not yet had the chance to taste it.

Posted by:  Alder on November 14, 2011 9:48 PM

Time Posted: Nov 18, 2011 at 1:09 PM
Jason Alexander
 
October 20, 2011 | Jason Alexander

Stephen Tanzer Reviews 2008 Vintage

With the imminent release of our 2008 Perseid at the end of the week (coinciding with another of the great yearly Meteor showers – the Orionids – this Friday) we were rereading Stephen Tanzer’s recent review.  It certainly validated our own view that 2008 is a vintage whose potential rivals, if not outstrips, the much lauded 2007’s.  Where 2007 is the powerhouse, the 2008 vintage is defined by perfume and an incredible depth of fruit.

May/June ‘11
Meteor Vineyard
By Stephen Tanzer

This well-placed property in cool Coombsville, with 22 acres of cabernet sauvignon planted on mostly rocky volcanic ash, began bottling wines under their own label in 2005.  The owners still sell off 80% of their fruit, to the likes of Etude, Robin Lail, Arietta and Favia.  Dawnine and Bill Dyer, who are partners in this project and make the Meteor wines, were out of town at the time of my early March visit.  So I tasted new vintages with general manager Jason Alexander, who told me that the team finished harvesting in 2009 the day before the heavy rains began.  He’s a big fan of 2008, the “fire and ice” vintage that brought a small crop with what he described as great purity of fruit.  He believes 2007 is a more structured wine but I had the feeling that evolving winemaking technique and increasing vine age have produced steadily better wines here in the last few years.

2008 Meteor Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon Perseid Napa Valley
($125) Good red-ruby.  More refined on the nose than the 2007, offering redcurrant, violet and tobacco.  Then energetic and light on its feet, with subtle rock and tobacco flavors perfuming the mouth.  Rounder and more pliant than the 2007, seemingly with every bit as much extract.  Very sexy, vibrant wine.

2008 Meteor Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon Special Family Reserve Napa Valley
($300) Bright red-ruby.  Reticent but very pure nose hints at flowers, licorice and dark chocolate.  Dense and sweet on the palate, but with an almost painful impression of energy leavening the lush middle palate.  Dark berries are currently dominated by powerful rocky minerality.  This saturates the entire mouth and spreads out impressively on the very long, ripely tannic finish.  A superb example of this vineyard–and of the vibrancy of Coombsville cabernet.

Time Posted: Oct 20, 2011 at 12:53 PM
Meteor Vineyard Team
 
April 6, 2011 | Meteor Vineyard Team

Coombsville’s Coming of Age

Winemakers are unified in their recognition of the unique nature of Coombsville.

Coombsville’s Coming of Age from HD Living Spring 2011

The HD Living  website is a little tough to navigate so I thought I would post the entire article here.

At the southeast end of California’s world-renowned Napa Valley lies a lesser-known grape-growing region on the cusp of discovery. Called Coombsville, it is gaining notoriety because of the truly great wines it is producing. Sitting on a plateau under the imposing Mount George, Coombsville has a microclimate that features aunique combination of cool air, consistent temperatures, varied elevations and well-drained, mineral-rich soils. The wineries situated in this cool corner of Napa Valley are rapidly gaining recognition for producing some of the world’s best Cabernet Sauvignon.

What makes Coombsville wines so hot? In a word, balance; the fruit here turns out red wines that are very dark and intense in color with flavors of blackberries, black plums, mulberries, dried herbs and black olives. They at once couple textural smoothness and richness with vibrant acidities and fine-grained tannins, producing an exquisite and elegant wine.

Winemakers are unified in their recognition of the unique geographic characteristics of Coombsville and its ability to produce outstanding wine. Because of its proximity to San Pablo Bay, Coombsville’s climate is quite moderate, allowing the grapes here to ripen over a long period of time and thus producing very ripe fruit characteristics without the sugar and corresponding alcohol levels typical of other valley wines. The sloping, hilly terrain of the Coombsville region is made of well-drained, mineral-rich soils; a mélange of volcanic ash, cobbled rocks and lava flow from the ancient eruption of Mount George. This well-draining soil found throughout the area becomes “hot” during the summer, making it particularly suited to Cabernet Sauvignon, which needs warm soils to fully ripen.

Coombsville fell on the radar of wine passionates seemingly over-night, but its break through momentum is actually many years in the making. Like Yountville, Oakville and other popular wine regions before it, winemakers recognized the importance of this area long before consumers. In the 1980’s and 1990’s, before any-one outside the valley had heard of Coombsville, famed winemaker Randy Dunn sourced grapes from here, as did Joseph Phelps for its award-winning Insignia Wine. In recent years some other high-profile producers and wine-makers have been using Coombsville fruit for blends, including Andy Erickson for both his own Favia label as well as Arietta, Vineyard 29 and Lail Vineyards.

In the last 20 years, a handful of lesser-known wineries has emerged making single vineyard wines which are bringing greater visibility tot he region. Meteor Vineyard is perhaps the most unique among the wineries of Coombsville. Years ago when digging for wells it was discovered that the soil on the property contains small round volcanic rocks that go more than 500 feet deep. This particular vineyard characteristic provides enhanced drainage, forces the plant roots deep and has a pro-found impact on the wine. According to Meteor Vineyard Winemaker Dawnine Dyer, Meteor is the perfect expression of the uniqueness of Coombsville wines in how it blends modern and traditional wine characteristics. The result is intense, luscious fruit found in modern Napa wines, along with a unique minerality due to the volcanic stones, which provides a structural complexity found in traditional Bordeaux styles.

In addition to Meteor Vineyard, Coombsville is now home to some 20 wineries including Caldwell Vineyard, a wine lover’s jewel, with winemaking operations located within an excavated cave; and Palmaz Vineyards, where winemaking takes place within the living rock of Mount George in a maze of tunnels and lofty domes. Coombsville is pursuing AVA (American Viticulture Area) designation and is doubtless headed into future fame. Most wineries in the area offer private tastings, often with the wineries’ winemakers themselves. Visitors to the area should contact wineries directly for tours and tastings.

Suggested Coombsville-Area Attractions

Oxbow Public Market:
Thisvibrant market features dozens of spe-cialty merchants and vendors with awide range of artisanal food and wine.Visit www.oxbowpublicmarket.com
for events and details.

Morimoto Napa:
Masahara Morimoto – known to millions asthe star of Iron Chef and Iron ChefAmerica,recently opened his first West Coast Restaurant in Napa’s new downtown riverfront development. Reservations essential; For more information visit www.morimotonapa.com

Meteor Vineyard:
Tasting byappointment. Call 707-258-2900 or email info@meteorvineyard.com to schedule an appointment and tour.

Back Room Wines:
For eclectic, small production wines from NapaValley. First & Main Streets, DowntownNapa; go to  http://www.backroomwines.com/.

Time Posted: Apr 6, 2011 at 12:38 PM
Jason Alexander
 
March 16, 2011 | Jason Alexander

Kung F(oo) continues, Part 2 of 3

Meteor Vineyard’s Barry Schuler continues the conversation with Paul Mabray at Vintank.

Where else would you find a “think tank” about wine than Napa Valley (ok, perhaps Silicon Valley)?  Paul Mabray is one of the few people whose whole existence is dedicated to exploring, envisioning and articulating the convergence of wine and technology.  Who better to talk about that convergence with than Meteor Vineyard’s own internet historian and pioneer Barry Schuler? Stealing the kung foo term from Paul because I love it (yes the misspell is intentional).

Unfiltered: the video series Barry Schuler Part 2 from VinTank on Vimeo.

 

Time Posted: Mar 16, 2011 at 12:35 PM
Jason Alexander
 
February 9, 2011 | Jason Alexander

100 versus 95+, “The End of an Era”

The recent announcement by Robert Parker Jr. that he was relinquishing his long term tenure as the California critic for the Wine Advocate met with a barrage of commentary. Alder Yarrow of Vinography called it “ The End of an Era“,The New York Times critic  Eric Asimov, in his always carefully considered way, opined on the matter, as did  W. Blake Gray,  Jon Bonne and myriad others.  Chat rooms have hundreds of comments ranging from the outlandish and accusatory to an iron clad defense of Parker influence on the overall quality of wine produced around the world.

Indisputable is the fact that Antonio Galloni will bring a different perspective, let alone palate, to the job. Will his work in Italy and now the Cote d’Or inform his reviews?  This is the widespread question.  From the acid, tannin and perfumed aromatics of Burgundy to the structured wines of Barolo and Barbaresco to the mineral driven wines of Champagne and Friuli – you have to imagine so.

Considering the style of our wines at Meteor Vineyard, we have been greatly pleased by the scores and written commentary posted by RP on our wines.  In fact, in a certain twisted logic, the 92-95+ range represents a tremendous compliment.  As a longtime sommelier we often joke(d) among ourselves that wines that receive 100 points from the Wine Advocate share a monumental intensity and richness that borders on caricature.  Shed several point and some of the baby fat and you start to find a mother lode of wines with more balance and elegance, typicity and terroir.

Perhaps the new “perfect scores” from California will be less about caricature and more about site and balance.  Only time will tell.  In the meantime, while winery owners and winemakers scratch their heads about the direction to take their wines, some of which are already in barrel or bottle – we know that we are doing just what we have always done; producing balanced, structured wines of place, that capture the temperate climate of Coombsville, the unique soil structure of Meteor Vineyard and a combined winemaking legacy of a combined 70 years…

In the meantime, I think Alder’s phrase is apt.  Whether or not you agree with his palate, Robert Parker has been one of the most important figures in the history of the wine business.  Criticism, be it about Picasso or Bach, the Met’s performance of Wagner’s Ring Cycle or Malcom Gladwell’s most recent musings are always the perspective of the critic.  You need not agree with Michiko Kakutani’s review of “Freedom” or Tony Judt’s view of European history post WWII.  Part of the intrigue about criticism is the debate itself.  Nowhere is this more true than in the world of wine.

Time Posted: Feb 9, 2011 at 12:30 PM
Jason Alexander
 
January 20, 2011 | Jason Alexander

Going Kung F(oo) with Paul Mabray at Vintank

Where else would you find a “think tank” about wine than Napa Valley (ok, perhaps Silicon Valley)?  Paul Mabray is one of the few people whose whole existence is dedicated to exploring, envisioning and articulating the convergence of wine and technology.  Who better to talk about that convergence with than Meteor Vineyard’s own internet historian and pioneer Barry Schuler? Stealing the kung foo term from Paul because I love it (yes the misspell is intentional).

Unfiltered – The Video Series #4 (1 of 3) from Paul Mabray on Vimeo.
Check out what Paul and his team are doing at Vintank!


 

Time Posted: Jan 20, 2011 at 12:33 PM
Jason Alexander
 
December 10, 2010 | Jason Alexander

Holiday Wines; Overthought and Overwrought

Patrick Comiskey’s Los Angeles Times article “What Sommelier Will Bring to Holiday Parties” has me thinking about the sheer volume of holiday wine banter that is pitched around during this time of year.  This is no criticism of Patrick, in fact, looking at it through the eyes of sommeliers offers some great suggestions.  Sommeliers want to drink great wine EVERYDAY and the holidays are no different.

My underlying mantra is “great wine and great food always go together”.  Simple.  Are Muscadet and oysters going to be a more seamless match than Chateauneuf du Pape and oysters? Yes.  But geeking out about it and pontificating to family members who already secretly whisper about your inability to speak of anything other than the ridiculous notion of the term “Super-Tuscan” is only validating your sense of personal superiority while eroding the confidence of your friends and family.  Matt Kramer, the long outspoken critic at the Oregonian and Wine Spectator recently posted an article titled “Divorcing Wine and Food” that looks at the historical notions of “pairing” versus the real (or imagined) boundaries that separate Burgundy from Bordeaux, Barolo from Barbaresco, Napa from Sonoma.

That said, there are a couple of wines I seek during the holidays;

1. German Riesling – For a nation devoted to soft drinks and corn syrup in every manufactured product, the natural sugar found in Qmp riesling from the Mosel and Rheingau holds immediate interest.  This is not your aunts Liebrfraumlich or uncle Bill’s Blue Nun – these are wines of nearly impossible balance between searing acidity and a touch of residual sugar.  “Fruity”, as the marketing peeps have spun it.

2. Champagne – Let’s get this out of the way first thing – Champagne comes from the REGION CHAMPAGNE.  The notion of Korbel still putting the term Champagne of their labels keeps me up at night.  The sheer volume of interesting grower producers whose wines find their way to the States makes shopping for these wines a joy.  Stick to bottles labeled Terry Theise Selections or Becky Wasserman Selections and you are in for a treat.

3. Pinot Noir – Sonoma Coast, New Zealand, Burgundy, Alsace; the grape is planted and producing exquisite wines the world over.  Is there severe overplanting as myriad growers have jumped on the bandwagon of consumer interest to convert their alfalfa field in Wisconsin to Pinot Noir – yes; however, there are so many incredible wines to be found that you will quickly be overwhelmed by the cases arriving in your cellar.  Check out Cobb, Hirsh, Peay and Lioco from California; de Montille, Frederic Mugnier and Domaine Dujac from Burgundy; August Kessler from the Rheignau.

4. Spain – Ok, it’s broad and encompasses an entire country, but the Spaniards spent all of their leveraged credit somewhere and one of those places was in viticulture.  From the classic regions of Ribera de Duero, Rioja and Priorat (can we call Priorat classic now?) to the EXPLOSION of interest in Toro and Somantono – there are incredible, accessible and fruit driven wines to be found throughout the country that are perfect for the melange of holiday spices and flavors.

5. Napa Valley – The caricature of Napa Valley wines as monolithic and predictable is being challenged.  Long time winemakers like Bill and Dawnine Dyer, Cathy Corison and Heidi Peterson Barrett (note that 3/4 of them are women and this does not include Mia Klein, Celia Welsch, Rosemary Cakebread et al.) are continuing to focus on elegance over power, site over style.  In a word; refinement ( check my recent article on refinement here).

Time Posted: Dec 10, 2010 at 11:58 AM
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