In a recent discussion regarding the 2011 vintage here at Meteor a couple weeks ago, the topic of Bordeaux came up. Winemaker Andy Erickson, who buys fruit from Meteor for one his Favia wines humorously commented during the atypical harvest "what's everyone complaining about? Go work a harvest in Bordeaux, they're like this every year- pickers have to wear masks there's so much mold flying around!"
Well this struck a chord with us, especially considering the somewhat unfairness of comparing Napa to Bordeaux in blind tastings. "Of course Napa's always going to win, our wines are made to drink earlier on release, we can irrigate etc" said proprietor Barry Schuler. Well as "luck" would have it, 2011 was a challenging vintage across the pond as well, so we decided to taste our 2011 Perseid against a 2011 Bordeaux. Just days later, Wine Spectator released it's Top Ten Wines for 2014 and lo and behold, the first to be revealed was the Chateau Leoville Las Cases, from the maligned 2011 vintage! Similarly priced to ours, the choice was clear, and so we put it in our tasting team's comparative. What became clear in this exercise, which included another 2011 Napa Bordeaux blend, was that when the wines are compared in their own category, which in this case was the cool vintage category, the wines all shined brightly, but stood as different from the typical. i.e., they were not better or worse than other vintages, just different. Isn't that what makes wine so fascinating?
By definition vintage reflects a time, which in turn allows for a different aging timeline, and yields a unique and delicious wine in its own right. This was made clear at the 2014 Napa Premiere Tasting in February, where hundreds of trade professionals tasted through more than two hundred 2012 Napa Cabernets. Yes, the much touted vintage produced terrific wines, and lots of them, but by the end of the tasting all the delicious wines tended to run together and one was left with a sense of boredom (and maybe a bit lightheadedness!). So while its easy to disparage the difficult vintages and heap praise on the easy vintages, we prefer to embrace each vintage for what it is, and trust the winemakers who truly know their craft to give us a liquid time capsule that will keep our cellars interesting and exciting….and maybe even make the WS Annual Top Ten!
Think about baking crusty, French baguettes, bread perfection created with just four ingredients: flour, yeast, water, salt. There are many recipes for French bread that provide measurements of each ingredient. But turning out a crusty, chewy, tangy loaf is all about technique. Every batch of flour is different. Atmospheric conditions at various locales will impact many variables such as how the flour hydrates and how well the yeast rises. The baker’s hand is essential in formation of gluten, the very structure of the bread. Bread making requires an experienced set of senses, particularly touch. No recipe can produce epic French bread, it requires experience to make adjustments to the proportions based on feel
Producing epic Latkes is an exact analog. Technique is essential and the recipe is only a guideline to be adjusted by feel and experience. If you are willing and patient you will be rewarded with a divine experience that will be celebrated by those you prepare them for.
Every once in a while a project comes along that is too important to pass up. I am excited to join as GM and Wine Director at the San Francisco restaurant The Progress. Adjoining their restaurant State Bird Provisions, this stunning space will re-imagine dining and culinary culture in San Francisco.
Unfortunately that means leaving one of the great wineries of Napa. In 6 years with the Meteor team, I constantly marveled at their steadfast commitment to producing a wine the combines the intensity of Napa with the balance and elegance of the world's truly great terroirs. The quality of the wines is supported by people engaged in making them and Barry and Tracy Schuler and Bill and Dawnine Dyer are simply amazing people. I will be a lifelong ambassador.
Replacing me as Estate Director is Eric Smith, who I have known for years, starting when he led wine acquisitions and client management strategy at Porthos Wine, and subsequently through his tenure as General Manager of Checkerboard Vineyards here in Napa Valley. He'll continue the passion and commitment Meteor has for its wines, unique terroir and clientele. Please don't hesitate to reach out to him personally at email@example.com – he looks forward to meeting you!
Its been a pleasure getting to know you.
All my best,
Checking in with a quick catch up post harvest here at Meteor Vineyard!
Meteor harvested all 3 of our clones (337, 4 and 7) last week, just about a week ahead of the 2013 harvest. The wines are currently in fermentation at the winery.
The light rains we received right before harvest always causes slight panic, however the rains only seemed to effect the grapes in a positive light.
For some time the tannins seemed resolved, with no bitter or green characters. This observation is now supported by phenolic analysis in the tanks where tannins are strong but the bitter compounds are low.
Our winemaker, Dawnine Dyer, and the whole team are looking forward to a beautiful 2014 vintage.
Just a quick update into the 2014 Harvest here at Meteor Vineyard.
We will begin to harvest our 337 clone this Wednesday, quickly followed by our clone 7 on Friday. Winemaker, Dawnine Dyer, is still keeping a close look at clone 4, which has slowed down considerably but, continues to have the best looking vines on the property. This will bring our harvest just over a week ahead of last years when we picked on September 26th.
Last Analysis brings in the following brix numbers:
Dyer says at this point "the fruit is firm and really picture perfect." The Meteor Vineyard team is excited for a great 2014 vintage in the making.
"The contrast between the mahogany color of the mature canes and the blue/black is the berries is classic Meteor!"- Dyer
Check in next week for a full update on our Harvest! We look forward to sharing the journey and the wines with you.
The Perseid showers, our cabernet sauvignon namesake here at Meteor, are in full effect right now.
The showers will be on full display between August 10th and August 13th with Tuesday the 12th being the peak viewing day.
Every 133 years, comet Swift-Tuttle swings through the inner solar system, leaving behind a trail of dust. When the Earth passes through, the dust cloud particles hit the atmosphere at 140,000mph and burn up in streaking flashes of light, creating the spectacle known as the Perseids.
A very bright and dramatic supermoon is accompanying this year’s Perseid showers. Normally, with a dark and clear sky you can see more than 100 meteors an hour. However, this year, with the supermoon in effect beginning Sunday the 10th, there might be some issues viewing the showers.
A supermoon is when the moon has reached the point in its orbit that is closest to the Earth, known as perigee. This specific supermoon will be up to 14% bigger and 30% brighter than other full moons during the year and is 31,000 miles closer than when it is furthest away from Earth.
The presence of the supermoon wipes out the black, velvet backdrop that is necessary to see faint meteors, therefore causing us to see less meteors than usual.
However, the debris stream left by the comet Swift-Tuttle, which produces the Perseids, is wide, so shooting stars will make an appearance. Also, the Perseids are known to be rich in fireballs that can be as bright as Jupiter or Venus that will remain visible despite glare from the supermoon. The Perseids have actually been referred to as the “fireball champion” of meteor showers, as you can see more fireballs from Swift-Tuttle than any other comet.
Director of the Society for Popular Astronomy's meteor section, Tony Markham, urged skywatchers to stay optimistic.
"The Perseids are rich in bright meteors and so many Perseids will still be seen despite the moonlit sky background," he wrote on the SPA's website. "You can minimize the effect of the moonlight by observing with your back to the moon – possibly viewing the Cassiopeia/Cepheus/Ursa Minor area. If possible, keep the moon hidden behind trees or a nearby building."
He also noted that at this time of year the moon is relatively close to the horizon, leaving most of the sky dark and also suggests looking at an area of sky 20 to 30 degrees away from the Perseid radiant – the spot near the constellation of Perseus that the meteors appear to fly out from.
The best time to view the showers is right before dawn, so get your blanket and stay up late, or set your alarm for early morning, to view this beautiful shower.
Not only does climate change effect our water, soil and therefore our grapes, it also has had an effect on our wine materials, more specifically, corks.
Weather patterns have been continuously shifting with volatile seasons and a steady increase in temperatures throughout the world.
Wine bottle corks are created by the protective outer layer of bark surrounding the quercus suber oak trees, which grow only in southwest Europe and northwest Africa. As if late, corks have not been as high performing due to weather changes, that cause the cork bark to become thinner and thinner.
A group of researchers at the University of Lisbon analyzed the composition of high-performing trees and low-performing trees. They came to the conclusion that the difference between them was that the high-performing trees had heat shock proteins, which are compounds that help the higher performing trees deal with environmental stresses such as drought and high temperature spikes.
The low-performing trees had lower levels of these heat shock proteins causing them to produce thinner bark (which cannot be used for higher quality corks). Due to the low levels of the compound plus the addition of phenolic compounds that show up in response to weather and environmental stress, the cork itself therefore has more lenticular channels.
These channels are very undesirable in wine corks as they have a high tendency to let oxygen through, therefore causing a bottle to become corked. A great and intact cork will safeguard a wine’s taste while aiding in its aging process while these thinner corks can and often do taint a wine’s flavor.
This new development poses some issues to the cork industry that already face concerns due to companies creating alternative closures to wine bottles already, such as synthetic wine stoppers or metal caps. Problems have arisen with both of these alternatives; screw caps are not sustainable and are therefore not biodegradable while the plastic closures are made from petro-chemicals, also not biodegradable.
There has been talk of cloning the trees with the high levels of protein, or adding protein supplements to the low-yield trees. This type of solution wouldn’t come into fruition for another decade or so as a cork oak needs to be 25 years old before it can produce an annual cork harvest.
With a steady decline in cork production, we will see an increase in prices forcing the wine industry to move to cheaper alternatives. Therefore, wineries may start looking to move away from the cork altogether for the long term.
So, are you stuck on the highly desirable cork, or will you move to a newer alternative?
Every year on June 30th people across the country search for meteors in the skies as they celebrate National Meteor Day. There are MILLIONS of meteors that occur in the Earth's atmosphere daily.
A meteor, also known as a shooting star, is produced by debris falling to the Earth from space. People often seek out these meteors, or shooting stars, to make a wish. This tradition can be traced all the way back to 127 AD. Ptolemy, the Greek astronomer, hypothesized that the Gods occassionally liked to peer down at Earth from the other world. Sometimes a star would slip past them and fall through the heavens showing those on Earth that the Gods were paying attention, making it the perfect time to wish upon a star.
Meteors are actually quite small, they average only about the size of a pebble. Nearly 15,000 tons of meteoroids enter the Earth's atmosphere every day however, very few of them actually reach the surface. When they do reach the Earth's surface they are called meteorites.
According to some research, a meteor impacted Tunguska, Siberia on June 30th, 1908, showing this may be the origin of National Meteor Day. This was referred to as the "Siberian Explosion" which detonated with an estimated power of 1,000 times greater than the atomic bomb dropped over Hiroshima, it leveled trees over 40 kilometers away and shook the ground in a massive earthquake.
Meteors are typically observed at night and are visible when they are about 34 to 70 miles above the Earth. They usually disintegrate at about 31 to 51 miles above and their glow time is normally about a second.
The next visible and famous meteor shower to grace our presence will be our favorite of course, the Perseids in the middle of August.
Did you get to wish upon a star this Meteor Day? We hope all of your wishes came true!
Throughout the growing season Meteor Vineyard winemaker, Dawnine Dyer, and vineyard manager, Mike Wolf constantly check out the progess in the vineyard. With fruit set complete now, it's a good time to get a preliminary look at where we are early on in the season.
It was a very dry winter, but the timely late rains gave the vineyard very good early growth without having to do any supplemental irrigation. The property saw virtually no frost issues this year.
The late rains did create some logistical problems with weed control and incorportation of cover crops, but the vineyard is beginning to look great now.
Since the beginning of June they have been noticing a fairly average crop for the 2014 season. Our clone 4 cabernet sauvignon might be a little light this year, with our smallest clone, 337 shows a little shatter.
“Bloom set progressed normally with cooperative weather and it looks like another generous, but not huge crop-a little surprising after the 2012 and 2013 harvests and the dry winter,” Wolf said.
“There is some shatter and we’ll need to see the berry growth before we know the impact on cluster size but should have a well developed strategy on thinning,” Dyer said.
The soils are drying throughout the property but, no need to irrigate yet, which is good, as it will help keep the berry size small.
Dawnine says at this point the crops seem to be settled into a fairly normal pattern, although she does not believe the canopy is quite as lush as usual.
“We are in the middle of our canopy management work to ensure proper exposure of every cluster to promote uniform ripening. Next step will be crop thinning to make sure there is proper balance of fruit to canopy on every vine,” Wolf said.
Mike says so far it’s a very early season, at least a week to ten days ahead of last year with no real hot weather yet.
"If Coombsville has an epicenter, it's Meteor Vineyard." Patrick Comiskey, Wine and Spirits Magazine
"Whether you’ll be here with us or joining from afar, you are part of the spirit of Auction Napa Valley and your donation and support will make a difference to the healthcare and youth education programs that the Auction supports." Napa Valley Vintners on Auction Napa Valley 2014
Auction Napa Valley is a yearly event that allows lovers of Napa Valley's exquisite wines to help support our community while gaining access to rare experiences, wines and events. For Auction Napa Valley 2014, Meteor Vineyard is offering 10 cases of our 2012 Perseid Cabernet Sauvignon to be auctioned off during the Barrel Auction on Friday June 6. For those of you in attendance we invite you to join Winemaker/Partner Dawnine Dyer and General Manager Jason Alexander for a taste. For those not making the pilgrimage this year absentee bids are now available. Lot #254!