It doesn't matter where you are in Napa Valley at the moment - everyone is talking about the 2012 vintage. A bountiful fruit set in the spring was followed by even temperatures throughout the summer leading to perfectly proportioned fruit. Winemakers and vineyard managers are almost giddy with excitement.
I walked the vineyard this morning and noted just a couple of rows of fruit remaining from a vineyard client taking advantage of a couple more days of warm temperatures for a tiny burst of increased ripeness.
Here is some Clone 337 still hanging...
Can't wait to taste the wines post fermentation!
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 appellation, our unique combination of elevation, aspect and stony, rich volcanic soil produces some of Napa Valley’s most distinctive Cabernet Sauvignon. The seamless combination of richness coupled with balance, purity combined with structure makes 2009 truly distinctive.
100% Cabernet Sauvignon
40% clone 7, 39% clone 4, 21% clone 337
100% French Cooperage, 65% New (Blend of D &J, Fouquet and Taransaud)
From the Vineyard – 2009 was a low rainfall year with most precipitation coming in the spring. This pattern was perfect for the vineyard and provided ample moisture for the growing season. Bloom and set were a little late but dodged the spring rains. Overall 2009 was a mild growing season. Some concern for a late harvest prompted extra care in thinning and multiple passes were made. The end of the season was punctuated by 10 days of welcome heat in early October and the fruit came in mid October under excellent conditions. Mike Wolf, Vineyard Manager
From the Winemaker – Our 2009 Perseid is deep garnet in color with a saturated opaque blue rim. Complex and exuberant aromas of ripe blackberry, violet and cloves meld with sweet tobacco and currant leaves. The palate explodes with a combination of red and black fruit, dark chocolate and spice leading to a finely balanced finish. Powerful and silky. Dawnine Dyer, Winemaker
From the Sommelier – The magic of the 2009 vintage lies in its combination of concentration and balance. The long cool growing season allowed for slow ripening and intense flavor development while retaining acidity and mature silky tannins. This vintage will reward cellaring. Jason Alexander, Sommelier and General Manager
With a near perfect spring the 2012 growing season is promising to be a great one. We caught up with Vineyard Manager Mike Wolf this afternoon to discuss the vintage.
The 2012 Jackson Hole Wine Auction kicked off Wednesday evening with a private tasting at the 3 Creek Ranch just outside downtown Jackson (where our freinds and fellow Coombsville vintners the Ackerman Family spend part of their year - stunning!). Some serious wines were represented; Meteor Vineyard, Ziata from Karen Cakebread, Ackerman Family, Oakville Ranch, Kistler, Parry Cellars, Porter Family and Sciandri, to name a few.
Thursday ramped up the activity with the Taste of Jackson Hole mid way up the mountain at Jackson Hole Resorts Coulior Restaurant (I would have liked to see Jon Grant's Couloir poured at the namesake restaurant....) with over 50 wineries and some of the hottest local chefs represented.
Friday was comprised of a number of fun events including the "Fashion and Wine" show at the Shooting Star Resort followed by the Hole in One Challenge for $250k in prize money. Regret that no one sunk the shot. Private dinners at stunning estates around the valley rounded out the day.
Saturday is when the real fun begins. This year the auction was themed towards California so the day kicked off with a "Boutique California Wineries Tasting" at Osteria Restaurant in the Hotel Terra.
Guests then headed into the tent in the Teton Village commons to persue the silent auction lots (and snack on some delicious tastes and wines) before heading into the Walk Festival Hall for the live lots. If this was not enough the entire room headed to the Four Seasons Restaurant for a spectaular gala dinner to wrap up the event!
We look forward to returning soon!
Auction Napa Valley is one of our favorite events of the year. Vintners from accross the valley join with wine lovers from around the world to raise funds for education, medical services, shelters and myriad other organizations that fulfill the needs of Napa Valley residents.
Bidding is now LIVE for the E-Auction
When the official announcement designating Coombsville as Napa Valley's 16th American Viticultural Area was released fine and rare wine lovers across the world scratched their heads wondering—where is Coombsville? Spend a leisurely day learning about what winemakers and vineyard managers have known for years—Coombsville is one of the most unique regions for fine wine in Napa Valley.
Vineyard manager Mike Wolf will start your day with a tour of Meteor Vineyard and a discussion of the elements that make Coombsville distinctive. Winemaker/partner Dawnine Dyer will then lead the six of you through a complete vertical tasting of Meteor Vineyard's releases (as well as a look forward to wines not yet released). From there you will adjourn to the deck for a leisurely lunch featuring the Meteor Vineyard garden and some treasures from the cellar.
This lot for three couples also includes a three-bottle vertical per couple of 2006 Meteor Vineyard Estate, 2007 Perseid and 2008 Perseid.
To be scheduled for a mutually agreeable date, prior to June 2013. Summer months recommended. Lot is non-transferable.
3 - 750ml 2006
3 - 750ml 2007
3 - 750ml 2008
When Robert Parker announced that he was stepping aside as the critic for Napa Valley wines, passing the power of pen to Antonio Galloni, a collective gasp rose from the valley floor. Many winery marketing plans, and, many would argue, wine making plans, are reputed to be built around the words and 2 (and sometimes 3) digit number printed in the Wine Advocate.
I was personally interested in the how Galloni’s experience tasting wines from Italy would inform his overall view of the wines from Napa; particularly the wines from Coombsville where the triptych of acid, tannin and fruit often combine very differently from other areas of the valley.
Upon first review it appears that Galloni tempered some of the extremes, particularly among the top tier of scores. No tremendous shocks in the sense of icons being knocked from pedestal or unsung heroes instantly launched into the stratosphere, just a moderate and balanced approach to the wines. Of course perspective, particularly perspective derived from years of tasting the same wines, will broaden with time.
Given our focus on balance over power and elegance over extraction we have always been pleasantly surprised when the Wine Advocate scores are released, though I must admit that I thought the background in Italian wines would heighten his interest in the wines from Meteor Vineyard. In the meantime we find ourselves once again among the top tier of wines in the review and are happy to keep company with the likes of Bond, Kristine Ashe and Hourglass.
Wine Advocate reviews from Issue #198
2008 Meteor Vineyard Perseid Cabernet Sauvignon
“The 2008 Cabernet Sauvignon Perseid is a gorgeous, fleshy wine. Finessed, supple tannins frame layers of dark red fruit, spices, tobacco, flowers, leather and licorice that emerge in this impeccably polished, mid-weight Cabernet Sauvignon. The 2008 Perseid should continue to drink well over the next decade or so. Anticipated maturity: 2012-2018.” Antonio Galloni
2008 Meteor Vineyard Special Family Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon
“The 2008 Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve is a gorgeous wine layered with mocha, black cherries, and menthol. Warm spiced notes continue to develop in the glass as this extroverted, deeply expressive wine shows off its pedigree and class. This finish is simply striking. The 2008 Reserve will be fascinating to follow over the next decade, give or take. Anticipated maturity: 2013-2020.” Antonio Galloni
2009 Meteor Vineyard Perseid Cabernet Sauvignon
“The 2009 Cabernet Sauvignon Perseid comes across as rich, dark and sensual, with expressive layers of dark red fruit, flowers and licorice. It shows lovely depth and persistence from start to finish. Hints of mocha, spices and mint add layers of complexity and nuance. This is a fabulous showing. Anticipated maturity: 2014-2024.” Antonio Galloni
Patrick Comiskey’s December 2011 article in Wine and Spirits Magazine is one of the most thorough articles written about Coombsville. Capturing everything from the historical foundation of the name (Nathan Coombs’ farm, which he called “Willows”, forms the central part of what is now the town of Napa) to an exploration of the complex geologic nature of the regions soils.
A couple of favorite quotes;
“If Coombsville has an epicenter, it’s Meteor Vineyard…”
“When marine incursion layers snake in the Napa Valley from San Pablo Bay, they arrive here first and leave last, resulting in one of the valley’s longest growing seasons.”
“Almost all of the soils of the area are some combination of two components: accumulated landslide debris, something (Jonathan) Swinchatt calls colluvium: and layers of light, flaky volcanic ash, from Mt. George eruptions.”
“In addition to to the colluvium and tuff melange, Meteor’s soils have a high proportion of cobble in the mix. No one is quite sure where this cobble comes from, but the landslide activity may have pushed it there, the way glaciers push debris from one place to another. The drainage that cobble affords the soil, in addition to the air drainage down this west facing slope and the prominent exposure at the top of the knoll all combine to set this site apart. This may, in fact, be Coombsville’s cru.”
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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