Meteor Vineyard

[WINE REVIEW] 2008 Meteor Vineyard Special Family Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon

[review]Meteor Vineyard is the combination of an extraordinary Cabernet vineyard in the southeast corner of Napa Valley and the entrepreneurial vision of internet pioneer Barry Schuler and wife Tracy along with the the viticulture history and expertise of Mike Wolf and the consummate winemaking talents of Bill and Dawnine Dyer make for a truly unforgettable Napa cab.

Meteor Vineyard was planted in 1999 by Barry and Tracy Schuler. 35 years ago Barry Schuler was a college student with an emerging passion for wine and after roaming the valley on his first visit, he was struck by the burning desire to someday live in Napa, grow grapes and make wine that could take its place among the World’s greats.

They had purchased 30 acres in what is now the Coombsville AVA.  The property had never been planted but was in proximity of some prominent vineyard.  After meeting Mike Wolf and studying the soils and climate, they decided to plant Cabernet… and Cabernet- 3 different clones.  The original plan had been to sell fruit, and the majority of the vineyard is still sold to other winemakers but in 2005 Barry and Tracy decided to hold back some of the best fruit and save it for the Meteor Vineyard label—so you know it’s the best of the best. The philosophy here is simple—it’s about growing grapes specifically to make excellent wine. Once they know they have quality fruit (and that’s really the genesis of Meteor wines) they let the fruit lead the way.

The famed Meteor Vineyard in the southeast corner of Napa Valley
The famed Meteor Vineyard in the southeast corner of Napa Valley

At that time Napa itself was emerging as a truly World Class wine making region and winemakers Bill and Dawnine Dyer were launching their careers as the history of Napa wine was being written. Little did they know that more than three decades later they would all come together in a project centered on the fruit grown in one of Napa’s most unique pieces of land – Meteor Vineyard. We tasted with famed winemaker Dawnine Dyer and picked her brain about the vineyard, how to make great wine and how to enjoy great wine.

We asked Dawnine her favorite way to enjoy a glass of wine and what her favorite bottle is right now. “Not a fair question!  That’s the fun of it, there are so many ways to enjoy a glass of wine.  If you mean Cabernet specifically, than generally with a meal.  I prefer protein rich dishes- meats obviously, but also dishes that include mushrooms and white beans.  Or an element of tannin, like walnuts or wild rice.  I’ve also been known to just ‘have a glass of wine’ and enjoy that very much indeed.

Right now I’m loving the 2006 vintage Meteor vineyard.  It was a vintage that was overlooked by the press between the showy 2005 and 2007 vintages.  Today the 2006 is just so perfectly balanced and classic and succulent.  As much as I think I can anticipate the future of a wine, this is an example of how we confuse a more difficult vintage with a lesser vintage.  2006 is not just a fruit forward vintage but one with lots of layers and complexity.”

One of our favorites turned out to be the exclusive vintage 2008 Meteor Vineyard Special Family Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon. Dawnine described it perfectly—“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.” We have to agree…you can tell it wants to be aged but we just couldn’t help but crack open more than one bottle of this luscious (and pricey) cab on a gorgeous summer’s evening.

A great bottle of wine comes from a great vineyard, a good vintage, and attention to detail. “I draw my inspiration from the vineyard itself and 40 years of life experiences that are knit together with memories of flavors and  wines and what led to successes and failures. Wine for me is very important but needs to be a comfortable part of life. It has to have some subtlety or it gets boring.” – Dawnine Dyer