At the end of the day, I want a wine that I enjoy. I think everyone does. Even those people out there stocked up on YellowTail in case there is ever a wine shortage in the world. This is the common thread that brings all wine drinkers together. No one goes out thinking they want to try a crummy wine or spend money on something awful. However, there are also some bottles that clearly have more thought and effort put into them than others. Those are the ones that the real enthusiasts gravitate towards and they result in the best value for people looking for something different.
In order to bring these kinds of wine lovers together, there are programs like #WineStudio, and then there are also places like Meeker Vineyard that cater precisely to the people I mentioned above. While #WineStudio results in geeking out about wine over Twitter, it’s the wineries, companies, and people who participate in the program that keep me coming back for more. Over the course of the month chatting with Meeker Vineyard, we learned about how they have been producing wines since the 1980’s, how brother/sister duo Lucas and Kelly have taken over the reins from their parents, and how they were the 8th post prohibition winery to snag a license in the Dry Creek Valley. That last fact makes me want to go back and rewatch the Ken Burns documentary on the prohibition right now. Still, while I love all the things that make this family business one which I want to support, the wine matters too.
Starting off with bright fruit, we first enjoyed the 2013 Hoskins Vineyard Grenache. This had a soft, silky texture, lots of cherry flavors, and was the ultimate summer wine. Now that it’s hot, humid, and generally disgusting outside, this full-flavored lightness is something that I still seek out. While we did originally taste these back in March (I am nothing if not a procrastinator) and it’s an all-year kind of bottle, this is the one to buy now and drink now once you’re over any wine that comes in shades of yellow and pink. The SRP of this one is $37, which is a splurge for some and pennies for others, but worth the investment for anyone who wants a little more Grenache in their life.
Pretty much on the opposite end of things was the 2013 Cabernet Franc from Dry Creek Valley. While we do try a wide range of wines with every new #WineStudio, what I immediately loved about the selection from Meeker was that they didn’t send the usual suspects. If there is one thing I know about drinking, it’s that you can find Pinot Noir, the other Cab, and Merlot by the glass on every menu in America. Oftentimes when I am at home, I crave something just a little different. This wine was intense in color and flavor. Looking ink-colored in the glass, every sip was silky with an edge, like a ballerina in a biker club. There was a lot of character, some green pepper, and like most things, the more time I spent with it, the more it softened and opened up. Although this was a monster wine, it was not unstructured. That being said, I gave my grandmother one sip and she looked as if she was going to pass out, so newbies tread lightly. The SRP at $45 is a bit higher than I know most of my twentysomething friends are willing to go, but buy one or two bottles and save it for the nights when you know someone will appreciate it. That’s how this one will reward you.
If I haven’t bored you with my rambling yet, I saved the best for last. The coolest bottle, one that I am going to repurpose as an olive oil dispenser, was covered in colorful handprints. Aptly named, the 2013 Handprint Merlot from Sonoma County was stunning on the outside. Admittedly, this doesn’t always mean anything about the inside, but this one did not disappoint. Over the course of the month, we learned that the handprints always belong to one of the winemakers in the father/son team and the wine itself is usually a blend of a Merlot vineyard in Dry Creek and one in Alexander Valley. Produced since 1992 and just as old as I am, this one was the best of both worlds. Lighter than the Cabernet Franc and darker than the Grenache, this wine had rich fruit flavors, a nice dash of acidity, and a touch of leathery feeling to it. The deep ruby wine was perfect for the snow day and the red beans and rice with which I paired it. The layers to be found here stood up to the Sideways stigma, and although they produce 2000 cases annually, buy all that you can at the SRP of $45.
These wines were fun, and while you can see the care that goes into each new bottle, they are ones to open with wine friends and not take too seriously. Sure, you can unpack all the elements and the heart of the wine, but all of that comes secondary to enjoying it. This was one of my favorite #WineStudio’s this year, and it was great to chat with a family unit that clearly takes its wine seriously, yet also ultimately just wants to make something for others to share and enjoy. I think that’s something all wine lovers should remember every time they open up a bottle. Sure, points matter when trying to market and sell a wine, but what matter more is the experience that comes with it, and Meeker delivers with that.