Meteor Vineyard

Meteor Blog

Jason Alexander
 
August 18, 2011 | Jason Alexander

Perseid Meteor Shower Viewing Party 2011

The evening of August 13 started out as perfect as they come; piercing blue skies, light winds and warm, “perfect evening” temperatures.  Guests began arriving at sunset and were greeted with a pour of the 2007 Meteor Vineyard Perseid. A tarot card reader sat tucked into the corner, the band played and cocktails flowed.  The second week of August witnesses one of nature’s most exciting astral spectacles of the year, the Perseid’s Meteor Shower (link to Coolsville article).  While the full moon obscured many of the streaking “stars”, everyone in attendance was witness to one unforgettable memory; the 2008 Perseid from Meteor Vineyard.

Marcy Gordon captured the evening perfectly in her  recent blog.  If I were you, I would mark my calendar for mid August 2012 now…

Time Posted: Aug 18, 2011 at 12:44 PM
Jason Alexander
 
April 20, 2011 | Jason Alexander

Much Lauded Vintage Creates 95 Cases of Perfection

Our Special Family Reserve is the wine we make for ourselves. We only wish we had more fruit! With just 95 cases, rave reviews and a restaurant list that reads like a who’s who, what leaves our cellar is going to disappear in a flash!

When Meteor Vineyard was planted in 1999, Vineyard Manager  Mike Wolf felt strongly that the vineyards unique combination of elevation, aspect and stony, rich volcanic soil would provide a perfect home for cabernet sauvignon. His intuition was prescient. The wines produced from the 3 distinct clones Mike planted have tantalized winemakers and wine lovers since the inaugural harvest.

Each clone has its own unique character that has evolved as the vineyard has aged. Yet, year after year, we are beguiled and transfixed by the combination of density and elegance, of aromatic complexity and supple, ripe tannins that our “heritage” planting of Clone 7 displays. If the blend of all three clones gives the best overall snapshot, Clone 7 alone represent the heart of the vineyard.

2007 Special Family Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon

Our 2007 Special Family Reserve represents the absolute finest fruit from Meteor Vineyard. Hand selected by the row and cluster from a rock strewn section planted to Clone 7 on Saint George rootstock, barrel aged in 100% new French oak for 22 months and then bottle aged for an additional 6 months prior to release, our 2007 Special Family Reserve is truly a wine for the ages.

“The 2007 Meteor Vineyard Special Family Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon is deep ruby blue in color with aromas of black plum, cassis and black cherries mingled with dark chocolate, clove and vanilla.  The wine is simultaneously massive yet elegant, with beautiful oak integration and layered tannins ending in a long supple finish.“ Winemaker Dawnine Dyer

“While there is not much made, the 2007 Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve is an exceptional wine (100 cases produced from Clone 7). Aged 22 months in 100% new French oak, the wood component is completely concealed by the cascade of dense blackberry and cassis fruit intermixed with licorice, camphor and spice box.” 95+ Robert Parker, The Wine Advocate

How to Purchase

3-packs of Meteor Vineyard Special Family Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon are available at $900 each starting April 13.
To make these wines a part of your cellar   CLICK HERE. Or if you prefer a more personal touch, contact us by phone at 707.258.2900 or via email at info@meteorvineyard.com.  We anticipate shipping these wines late April 2011.

Time Posted: Apr 20, 2011 at 12:41 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
Meteor Vineyard Team
 
January 26, 2011 | Meteor Vineyard Team

Barrel Tasting at 8am??????

Yes, 8am is early to start tasting wine, but it is also the time of day when your palate is freshest.

When we sat down to re-taste the 2009 wines from Meteor Vineyard in December we unanimously agreed on a couple of things;

1. The wines are DELICIOUS with incredible purity of fruit, ripe fine grained tannins and the vibrant natural acidity that is textbook Coombsville.

2. Our inaugural harvest of Petite Verdot is growing more interesting by the day.  More soon on this, though you may see a sneak peak in a couple weeks at the NVV Premier Napa Valley event.

3. Clone 7 (our “heritage planting on St. George rootstock) continues to beguile us with it’s confluence of aromatics, intensity, depth and length.  Once again we felt strongly that our Special Family Reserve bottling should feature and explore this sole clonal selection.

Winemaker Dawnine Dyer and I met at the early appointed hour to taste through all of the individual barrels of clone 7.  Our goal was simple – explore the various effects of our individual barrel coopers on clone 7 (the effect on each clone varies in colorful and sometimes unpredictable ways) and pull aside the 6 barrels we found most expressive and refined.  A task easier said than done – especially with a vintage as good as 2009.

The following features some highlights from the conversation…

Time Posted: Jan 26, 2011 at 12:27 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
Meteor Vineyard Team
 
January 12, 2011 | Meteor Vineyard Team

Blue Chuck Taylors, 2 Chefs and a “Battle” for education…

This past Saturday saw 2 Napa Valley chefs go head to head at the Blue Oak Schools “Battle of the Chefs” – a fundraiser for the school (co-founded by Meteor Vineyard owners Barry and Tracy Schuler).

Barry, decked out in blue Converse and purple tie, served as the host and MC for the vent, gently and hilariously prodding the two chefs along as they cooked in front of a sold out crowd at the Napa Valley Culinary Institute of America.  The setup was classic “Top Chef” with secret ingredients, a panel of judges (including Jardiniere Wine Director Eugenio Jardim and the ever rowdy Lee Hudson) and a limited amount of time to produce the best possible dish.

Marcy Gordon of Come for the Wine covered it live via twitter and  posted this recap and Christy Bors from the Napa Patch covered it  here.
Look for a full video soon……

Time Posted: Jan 12, 2011 at 12:23 PM
Jason Alexander
 
January 4, 2011 | Jason Alexander

Perfect Pairings – Lamb Loin

The recent Battle of the Chefs event at the CIA saw competition between two of Napa Valley’s best chefs.  Though both “contestants” walked away with a winning dish in the final judgment, I walked away reminded how easily and intuitively wine country chefs work with wine.  And I mean this in both senses of the word, both by integrating wine into the dishes themselves and (perhaps most importantly)by preparing dishes that are transformed, highlighted and benefit from a glass (or 4) of wine.

The following recipe from Micheal Chiarello represents a nearly perfect pairing with the elegant style of cabernet sauvignon produced at Meteor Vineyard.

Michael Chiarello for Battle of the Chefs

Grilled Lamb Loin, cabernet potato gnocchi, mustard greens, cabernet smoke and lamb jus


1 boneless lamb loin (reserve bones and trimmed meat for sauce)
1 quart mustard greens (washed and trimmed)
1 teaspoon chopped garlic
2 pints cabernet potato gnocchi
1 pint cabernet wine
1 pint veal stock (reduced by half)
Cabernet vines for burning
Poly Science smoking gun
Small bundle thyme
1 bay leaf
EVOO
Grey salt and freshly ground black pepper

Start by making sure your grill is very hot.  While the grill is heating roast off your bones and any meat from trimming the lamb loin, then deglaze this pan with cabarnet wine.  Add your thyme and bay leaf and reduce the wine till almost all the liquid has been cooked off and the pan is almost dry.  Add your veal stock and cook until the sauce has a nice consistency and enough lamb flavor in it.  Strain through a very fine mesh colander.  Rub your lamb loin with EVOO and season with salt and pepper.  Place on a hot part of the grill, watch out for flair ups that may burn the lamb,  and let cook 1 minute before turning  90 degrees to create a crossed marking on the grill.  Cook 1 minute more and flip the lamb over and repeat these steps on the other side.  After the lamb has cooked for 4-5 minutes pull it off the grill and let it rest for 3 minutes.  While the lamb is resting drop your potato gnocchi into boiling salted water until hot all the way through.  Add some EVOO to a medium sized hot sauté pan, add garlic and cook until the garlic is lightly golden but not burned, add the mustard greens and season with salt and pepper.  The greens should start to sweat , if they are too hot and begin to caramelize add a teaspoon of your hot water to the pan to help them steam.  Once your greens and gnocchi are cooked you can slice your lamb, against the grain and in even sized slices.  On one side of the plate arrange your gnocchi in a circle and on the other side place your sliced lamb.  Place your mustard greens amongst the gnocchi and spread them artfully in the center of the plate as well.  Spoon some of your lamb jus around the lamb and the gnocchi.  Load the smoking gun with cabernet vines, light them and turn the smoker on, place a cabernet glass over the lamb and begin to pump smoke under the glass and place it down quickly to trap the smoke inside the glass.

Time Posted: Jan 4, 2011 at 12:21 PM
Jason Alexander
 
December 28, 2010 | Jason Alexander

Not Your Average Napa

The Kiwi Collection site Wow Travel recently published a really cool article about a day in the life of Meteor Vineyard.   Link to it here, and full content listed below.

Not Your Average -  Patsy Barich, December 2010

Wine & Dining

Browse organic produce at Oxford Public Market

Sommelier Jason Alexander’s inside look at Wine Country.

As the morning sun’s first rays touch the fruit-laden vineyards of world-renowned Napa Valley, wine sommelier and  Meteor Vineyard Manager Jason Alexander steers his car into the parking lot of the Oxbow Public Market to grab his daily cup of joe from Ritual Coffee Roasters. Napa’s Oxbow Market, patterned after San Francisco’s famed Ferry Building food hall, is home to half a dozen restaurants and dozens of specialty food and wine retailers including an outpost of the Hog Island Oyster Company, the just-opened C’a Momi Winery and Enoteca and the heralded Fatted Calf charcuterie.

Meteor Vineyard is located in Coombsville, a lesser-known grape growing region at the southeast end of Napa. It is on the cusp of discovery.

Arriving at the Meteor Vineyard office a short drive away, Jason checks for any early calls and then takes a morning walk through vineyard to taste where the grapes are in their ripening process on the different blocks. He then meets with Dawnine Dyer, Meteor Vineyard’s winemaker, to get an update on Harvest. Dyer is revered in the winemaking community based on her expert vineyard knowledge and veteran experience with many Napa Valley Wineries, including Robert Mondavi, Domaine Chandon and the eponymous Dyer Vineyard.

Meteor Vineyard is located in Coombsville, a lesser-known grape growing region at the southeast end of Napa Valley. It is on the cusp of discovery. Sitting on a plateau under the imposing Mount George, Coombsville has a microclimate that features a unique combination of cool air, consistent temperatures, varied elevations and well-drained, mineral-rich soils.

The glowing sunsets of Meteor Vineyard

Around 10:30 a.m. Jason joins a group of fellow sommeliers at Redd in Yountville to participate in a weekly blind tasting. The group usually focuses on a specific grape or style/year of wine for these events. Today they are exploring the subtle vineyard differences of Puligny-Montrachet.

His extensive wine background includes assembling and managing multi-million dollar rare and sought-after wine collections.

Initially pursuing poetry but soon drawn to the world of fine wines, Jason studied alongside some of the most noted sommeliers in the US and went on to earn a reputation as an internationally recognized, award-winning sommelier with a legacy of wine director positions at prestigious San FranciscoBay Area restaurants, including  Gary Danko in San Francisco and  Cyrus in Healdsburg, California.


Azzurro Pizzeria E Enoteca

Jason and a sommelier friend escape for an early lunch at  Azzurro Pizzeria E Enoteca, a thin crust Southern Italian pizza place beloved by locals and tourists, if they discover it. It’s casual, inexpensive and sophisticated all at once, with great pizzas, bruschette, antipasti and manciata (“handful” of just-baked dough with a salad on top, to fold and eat sandwich-style); owner Michael Gyetvan was well-trained by Northern California chefs Bradley Ogden of One Market/The Lark Creek Inn, and Michael Chiarello of Tra Vigne and the NapaStyle empire.

Take a bite out of this pizza pie. Photo credit: Laura Norcia Vitale

Jason heads back to Meteor Vineyard for an early afternoon meeting with vineyard owners Barry Schuler (technology and education pioneer and former CEO of America Online), Tracy Schuler and the Meteor Vineyard team to review the developing schedule for the release of a new vintage and a new Cabernet Sauvignon called Perseid. “With multiple years of work in the vineyard, we finally feel like we understand its nuances and unique nature. The 2007 Perseid is a perfect example of that, where all of the elements of the vineyard and vintage came together to produce a wine singularly Meteor Vineyard,” Jason says.

Relax at Milliken Creek Inn and Spa

When asked by visitors for a local lodging recommendation, Jason suggests the  Milliken Creek Inn & Spa, hidden away on the Napa River yet adjacent to downtown Napa, with its many recently opened destination restaurants such as Morimoto Napa (the latest from Iron Chef/Iron Chef America’s Masahara Morimoto) and Tyler Florence’s Rotisserie & Wine, along with intriguing shops, wine bars and activities. Jason likes the combination of five-star luxury accommodations combined with its lush grounds, intimate ambiance and a full-service spa.

Constantly-evolving menu
 

As evening approaches, Jason returns to downtown Napa to speak with Chef Ken Frank of La Toque, confirming arrangements for a wine buyers’ tasting and dinner Jason is organizing which will feature Meteor’s latest release, Perseid. The landmark Wine Country restaurant recently re-opened in a new location, adjacent to the Oxbow Public Market where Jason started his day. La Toque offers a constantly-evolving menu that highlights each season’s finest ingredients, which are supplied by a network of local farms and purveyors. “With its award-winning cellar and focus on creating dishes that harmonize with great wines, this is one of my favorite places to host a tasting with people in the wine business,” says Jason.

Oxbow Public Market in Napa

As the stars rise in the sky over Napa Valley, Jason bids his restaurant guests farewell and begins the drive home to San Francisco, past Marin and over the Golden Gate Bridge. He marvels at his day, which despite long hours satisfies his passion for bringing great wines into the world and helping others enjoy and share it.

Jason Alexander’s Favorite Napa Spots:

Oxbow Public Market


Meteor Vineyard


Azzurro Pizzeria E Enoteca


Milliken Creek Inn and Spa


La Toque

Time Posted: Dec 28, 2010 at 12:02 PM