We despise all of the “top ten” lists that are the year end ritual so we always wait for the new year and it is never 10. This year we are at an even dozen. If the Mayan’s got it right this will be our last list of anything.
Meteor Vineyard Top Twelve of 2011
2012 promises to be even better, with Cabernet for Connoisseurs, Sun Valley, Napa Valley and Jackson Hole Wine Auction’s as well as Pebble Beach Food and Wine already in the works.
We wish you all the best in 2012.
P.S. 2008 Special Family Reserve will be released late March 2012. Mark your calendars!
Thank you for all of your comments on our recent Thanksgiving note. We hope you enjoyed Stuart Brioza’s recipe - (perfect for a cool fall evening and a bottle of Meteor). This year’s menu coupled Meteor classics with a new twist.
While preparing the dish I simply called “So a Turkey Met a Pig at a Bar” (which early evening looked something like this)…
What? This isn’t unusual, it happens all the time. A turkey and a pig walk into a bar, and the pig tells the turkey… Though, this being a kitchen in the midst of preparing Thanksgiving, by the end of the evening they looked like this.
My mind immediately started running through the list of perfect wines we could pull from the cellar…
While aged Bordeaux, Brunello, Burgundy and Napa classics made sense (and were ultimately consumed), the PERFECT bottle jumped to mind – a wine that has aged gracefully in the cellar since 2004…
You thought 05 was our first vintage? It was our first OFFICIAL vintage, but we made 2 barrels of wine in 04 that has never left our personal cellar. Re-tasting the wine was a revelation in the aging ability of the vineyard; pure cabernet characters of blackcurrant, chocolate and darjeeling tea with supple tannins, incredible length and the distinct minerality that could only come from here…
With two barrels, we don’t have a lot of wine in the cellar, but the time has come to share this beauty.
$195 per 2 pack. Click here to order online. You can also reach us by phone at 707.258.2900. If your state is not available for shipping on our website, please contact us directly.
Barry Schuler and the Meteors
The rumors have been rumbling for days about the imminent news. Today it is official – Napa Valley’s Coombsville area has been granted it’s own AVA.
Meteor Vineyard’s own Barry Schuler noted, “Today’s news shines a spotlight on what industry winemakers have known for years. This quiet corner of Napa is capable of producing some of the region’s most exquisite wines.”
The Coombsville Vintners & Growers have announced the approval and designation of Napa Valley’s newest sub-appellation, the Coombsville Appellation. The official Coombsville Appellation designation was made official by the United States Department of the Treasury TTB on December 14, 2011, and makes Coombsville the Napa Valley’s 16th AVA, or American Viticultural Area.
The Coombsville Appellation consists of approximately 11,000 acres and is bound by the Napa River to the west, to the rim of Vaca Range on the east, with altitudes ranging from near sea level at the western edge of the City of Napa, to approximately 1900 ft at Mt. George in the north. The horseshoe-shaped west-facing ridge of the Vaca Range partially encircles the Coombsville area, helping define the north, east and southern boundaries of this newest viticultural area. Coombsville AVA is a sub-appellation of the larger Napa Valley AVA and the multi-county North Coast AVA.
Coombsville Vintner Tom Farella of Farella Vineyard, who co-authored the AVA petition with fellow vintner Brad Kitson, said, “It’s a great day for all of us that have been growing grapes in Coombsville for decades. Coombsville now has its proper place in the Napa Valley lexicon and on the appellation maps. Since the Coombsville name has been in use for so many years, having it placed among the great wine regions of the world feels a little like coming home.”
The Coombsville Appellation is an incredibly distinct area that differs from nearby AVAs in soils, geography and climate. The soils are primarily dominated by the volcanic rhyolitic tuff that comprises the Vaca Range on the eastern side of the Napa Valley.
“I think when people see it on the map they will wonder why it wasn’t there all along because of how it fits into the puzzle pieces of the Napa Valley as a whole. It may have taken awhile to happen, but now it’s locked in and we are very proud of that,” Farella added.
Most of Coombsville’s vineyards are located in the wide alluvial deposits created by the wearing down of the hillsides. These soils are abundant with rock and gravel and, in some areas, are also layered with volcanic ash deposits from Mount George. Separately and in various combinations, these two components provide a variety of planting options specific to each site.
In addition, the close proximity to the San Francisco Bay contributes to the temperate climate of Coombsville. The cooling effects of marine fog occur earlier and last longer than in the more northern regions and temperatures are less extreme during the winter frost season. Bud break is often sooner and harvest is usually later, leading to a longer growing season. These differences impart unique characteristics in the wines that are produced in this region.
Coombsville wines can be recognized by their soft, but significant tannins, which provide excellent structure and mouthfeel, along with underlying layers of earth and mineral flavors. They are quite often approachable yet sophisticated, complex and layered. Primary varietals include Cabernet Sauvignon and other Bordeaux varietals, Syrah, Chardonnay and Pinot Noir.
“The members of Coombsville Vintners and Growers welcome the newfound attention to our little corner of Napa Valley. We are excited to showcase the amazing vineyards in Coombsville and the distinct and beautiful wines that are being made in the 16th AVA of Napa Valley,” stated Rebecca Sciandri Griffin, Sciandri Family Vineyards, President of Coombsville Vintners and Growers.
The “Newly Recognized, but Long Established” Coombsville Vintners & Growers welcome visitors to one of the Napa Valley’s historic and most relaxed regions. Coombsville Appellation wineries are primarily family-owned and operated, producing limited quantities of super-premium quality wines. The Coombsville Appellation is a mere one-hour drive from San Francisco, and only minutes from Michelin-starred restaurants and luxury hotels, spas, and B&B’s in the city of Napa.
For more information on the Coombsville Appellation, and the Coombsville Vintners & Growers, please visit http://coombsvillenapa.org/.
For information about Meteor Vineyard please contact General Manager Jason Alexander at 707.258.2900 or Jason@MeteorVineyard.com
2008 Perseid Release
With the 2011 vintage harvested and fermenting slowly in the winery, I wanted to drop you a quick personal note about some news that is sure to excite our entire Meteor Vineyard family.
More than a decade ago we planted Cabernet Sauvignon in a very old, quiet corner of Napa Valley known as Coombsville. No one outside of Napa knew much about this area, but we thought it held a lot of potential.
The micro-climate and rocky, volcanic soil promised to produce some very special fruit and in retrospect, we just might have laid spade to the very last great unplanted property in Napa. A lot has happened since then, and the attention to the unique wines coming from the area has exploded. So much so, that the region of Coombsville is about to take center stage as Napa Valley’s newest AVA or appellation.
Much has already been written recently about the unique characteristics of Coombsville and there is more to come. We will keep you posted on our website and Facebook page (and of course our relentless yacking on Twitter). The bottom line is your Meteor Vineyard collection is going to really appreciate in value.
I do have a sense of urgency to convey since we just released our 2008 Meteor Vineyard Perseid Cabernet. We think it is our most superb vintage and are flattered that it is being lauded as the best the region has to offer. We want to take care of all of those who have supported us historically, but I fear with all of the positive attention it will be difficult to fill all of the demand for our very limited release.
If you can take a moment to let us know if you will be taking possession of your allocation, we will make sure we can fulfill your order. Click here for details on the 2008 Perseid.
Thanks so much, for your interest and make sure you contact us if you are visiting Napa anytime soon.
PS – for further reading on Coombsville check out our Media page.
The Taste of Coombsville
Coombsville may be Napa Valley’s best-kept secret. For decades, this small region has quietly provided fruit to some of Napa’s most sought after wines. No longer our little secret, recent accolades from The World of Fine Wine, San Francisco Magazine, 7×7 and JustLuxe have made it official. Coombsville is Coolsville. Meteor Vineyard is proud to be at the epicenter of the region defining THE Taste of Coombsville. We think you’ll agree our 2008 Meteor Vineyard Perseid exudes the highest level of taste yet.
2008 Meteor Vineyard Perseid Cabernet Sauvignon
Meteor Vineyard Perseid Cabernet Sauvignon marries the elements of our clonally diverse planting in one singularly expressive wine. Meteor Vineyard is a collaborative project of vineyard proprietors Barry and Tracy Schuler and longtime Napa Valley winemakers Bill and Dawnine Dyer. Located on a knoll in Napa Valley’s Coombsville region, our unique combination of elevation, aspect, and stony, rich volcanic soil produces some of Napa Valley’s most distinctive Cabernet Sauvignon. While the vintage is small with just over 500 cases, the quality and purity of the 2008 vintage is truly spectacular.
From the Vineyard – “The 2008 vintage looked tenuous at the outset, beginning with an extremely dry winter and culminating in frosts that ‘naturally thinned’ nearly 30% of the crop. Erratic weather at bloom led to uneven fruit development, requiring multiple trips through the vineyard and careful thinning throughout the remaining months to ensure even ripeness. When the fruit reached perfect ripeness the first week of October we harvested under near perfect conditions. The results are exceptional.” Mike Wolf, Vineyard Manager
From the Winemaker – “Aromas of ripe blackberry, wild cherry and currant meld with hints of smoky sweet tobacco and clove. The palate displays rich mouth watering fruit with ripe tannins and a soft silky texture. The finish is heady and long, with an impression of warmth that carries the aromatics and suffuses the senses. Though youthful, this wine is showing beautifully!” Dawnine Dyer, Winemaker and Partner
From the General Manager – “While the press remained enamored with the 2007 vintage, an unsung classic aged gracefully in the cellar. 2008 is proving to be one among a number of legendary vintages in Napa Valley displaying incredible purity of fruit coupled with supple texture and bold but refined tannins.” Jason Alexander, General Manager
Secure your Allocation – Release Date October 20, 2011
Of limited production, the quality and purity of the 2008 vintage is truly spectacular.
We invite you to secure your 2008 Meteor Vineyard Perseid allocation beginning Thursday October 20, 2011 (coinciding with the Orionids meteor shower) by visiting our website at www.meteorvineyard.com and selecting “ Shop”. We are also available to assist you with your order by phone at 707.258.2900.
We hope you enjoy the wines!
The Meteor Vineyard Team
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.
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
Tasting byappointment. Call 707-258-2900 or email firstname.lastname@example.org 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/.
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.
Yes BACON. Wondering why American’s are phat on pork belly? Find out here.
Meteor Vineyard Top 10 of 2010
Working with an estate vineyard requires an intimate understanding of the land. With each harvest our knowledge of the Meteor Vineyard has grown. We are more in tune to the vineyard’s potential and closer to the ultimate “blending in the vineyard”than in our earliest years when only half of the wine we made ended up in the bottle. In this, our third vintage, we believe we have achieved a balance that expresses the full depth and breadth of Meteor Vineyard – and at a more accessible price! Read more here.
2. Chef Stuart Brioza slew our dinner guests for Auction Napa Valley with, you guessed it, pork. We ferreted snacks upstairs to an ill BS.
3. Winemakers/partners Bill and Dawnine Dyer descended on the Sun Valley Wine Auction (and an exclusive dinner with Theresa Heintz Kerry) and fished more hours than they poured.
There are many incredible wine auctions that take place across the US; Naples, Jackson Hole, Napa Valley et. al – but Sun Valley is one of our favorites. This year we were invited to pour at one of the most sought after dinners of the weekend. We thought is would be fun to pull some 2005 Meteor Vineyard Special Family Reserve from the cellar. It was a knockout.
4. The ever EPIC Pebble Beach Food and Wine became even more awesome after we snuck into the Sunday am Krug vertical tasting (also loved that we were THE talked about winery of the Grand Tasting).
I have worked this event for over a decade (including, obviously, its former incarnation as the Masters of Food and Wine) and STILL marvel at the incredible collection of wineries from around the world and “celebrity” chefs that make an appearance. From a vertical of BOND, to a horizontal exploration of the 1961 vintage in Bordeaux, from Krug Clos de Mesnil to Thomas Keller leading a cooking demo – it is ALL happening at this event.
5. Kapalua Food and Wine – It’s a food and wine event on Maui for heavens sake. Drink, sunbathe, heat stroke, hydrate then head back into the tasting tent for more wine.
The best part of this event, aside from the obvious, was being included as a featured wine at the seafood extravaganza. The natural balance of Meteor Vineyard makes our wines a perfect pairing for a range of dishes. Great to get that nod and recognition for the team of Master Sommeliers who plan the wines for the event!
6. Jackson Hole Wine Auction – Can’t they hold this event in the winter when there is snow on the ground?
Not complaining of course. Like Sun Valley, this is an event that pairs a pristine natural setting with support of the arts and some of the best food and wine personalities from around the world. For this event we coupled with our friends from Ackerman Vineyard to put together and exquisite weekend exploring the “new Napa” and the wine of Coombsville.
7. Well, Wikileaks we are not, but ‘ Insider‘ information was revealed.
Call it what you will; blog, news, rantings – this addition to our website features photos, video (and soon interviews) that follow the world of wine and the happenings at Meteor Vineyard. You can also follow us on Twitter.
8. Beating the Weather – A madcap decision to have patience led to near perfect fruit. Of course, looking at perfect clusters litter the ground is never easy.
Three things come to the forefront in a vintage like 2010 – experience, patience and perseverence. Mike Wolf displayed and comforted with all 3.
Anyone who has spent any time in nature understands that the logic of the natural world, while identifiable on a molecular level, is unstable and downright confusing on the macro level. How many times have you scratched your head in wonder while weather.com or your local weather person proclaims a likely rainless day as the showers pour down? While Mike can’t predict the rain (though he can exhaustively gather and analyze data on pressure systems, moisture levels, etc.) his experience and patience were tantamount to us harvesting near perfect fruit from an already notoriously “challenging” vintage.
9. Coombsville is Coolsville – No longer our little secret. From the NYT Magazine to JustLuxe, from Cork Diaries to Kiwi Collection – everyone is talking about it.
When word spread that Morimoto was looking at the Napa Riverfront development as a potential home for a new restaurant, many wondered at the validity of the story and the wisdom of the move. He was only the first of several. Tyler Florence signed on for a space, the Lark Creek did the same and many other top flight venues began springing up around town (Oenotri, La Toque and the ever evolving Oxbow market are also gems).
The revolution taking place in the town of Napa was years behind the explosion of winemaker interest in the vineyard lying due east of town. Wineries like Caldwell and Palmaz led the way, followed by newer producers like Sodaro, Porter Family and, of course, Meteor Vineyard taking the area to a whole new level.
10. Refinement – A long abused term got appropriated and re-purposed. The OED can now reprint the definition digitally. Thanks Saveur!
Our own holiday gift came from Robert Parker at The Wine Advocate whose recent review noted that “The 2007 Cabernet Sauvignon Perseid (100% Cabernet Sauvignon) exhibits abundant aromas of crushed rock, charcoal, creme de cassis and subtle smoke in a ripe, full-bodied, exuberant style with terrific intensity, texture and concentration. There is not a hard edge to be found in this pure, dramatic Cabernet. It should drink well for 15 or more years.” Thanks!
If you are interested in acquiring our stellar Meteor Meteor Vineyard Perseid 2007 release click here.
Happy Holidays and a Merry New Year from The Meteor Vineyard Crew
It’s entirely possible to go through life eating nothing but the most familiar foods, reading books by the customary best-selling authors or listening to a stock set of composers – so begins last weeks The Pour column in The New York Times. Wine critic Eric Asimov goes on to profile a dozen obscure grapes that are the foundation of some great wines and illustrate the diversity the world of wine has to offer. It’s a great article and I encourage you to check it out.
In a similar vein, while Burgundy, Champagne and Tuscany have the fame; there are many “undiscovered” wine regions that produce some of the world’s most exceptional wines. Here are five phenomenal wine regions you may not know but should – including Meteor’s own Coombsville.
Ribeira Sacra – Some of the steeply pitched vineyards in the region of eastern Galicia have been planted for nearly 2,00 years, and yet it is only in the last five years that their renown has grown beyond the boundaries of Spain. The wines are based on the Mencia grape and offer a delicate spiciness and minerality that pairs with a broad range of food. Like the Mosel in Germany of its nearby neighbor Duoro Valley, the sheer grandeur of the area makes a trip a must.
Tokaji – Yes, many wine lovers are familiar with the unctuous botrityzed wines of Tokaji, yet one of the most exciting developments since the fall of communism has been the production of DRY wines from the native grapes of the area. Specifically keep your eyes open for dry furmint – medium bodied, with tart, slightly under ripe pit fruit character; these are awesome wines for seafood dishes and warm summer afternoons.
Santorini – While many revel in images of Santorini as a sun splashed vacation destination, few are aware that some of the most interesting white wines in Europe are produced on the volcanic rich soils of the island. The grape Assyrtiko is the primary planting here producing crisp white wines with powerful minerality and purity.
Lipari Islands – Malvasia delle Lipari has been produced on the Lipari Islands off the coast of Sicily at least since 100 B.C. (though there is potentially evidence of the wines on coins dating back to 4th and 5th centuries B.C.). Though dry wines are produced, the magic here comes from the sweet wines of the Island. Simultaneously unctuous and fresh, these wines are dripping with aromatics of fresh cut flowers, honey and ripe pit fruit. Stunning.
Coombsville – While it my seem obvious I’d include Coombsville in this line up, it deserves to be here because the wines and wineries of the area are distinctive and distinctly different from the experience you get in more recognized appellations like Oakville or Rutherford. What makes the wines special? In a word, balance – the wines couple dark fruit and textural richness with vibrant acidities and fine-grained tannins. The red wines tend to be very dark in color with flavors of blackberries, black plums, mulberries, and dried herbs and black olives.