Meeker Vineyard has been producing wines from Sonoma County since 1984. Charlie and Molly Meeker are the founders and owners of Meeker Vineyard, purchasing their first Dry Creek Valley vineyards in 1977. Their son Lucas has been head winemaker since 2014 and daughter Kelly is the Brand Manager. Meeker Vineyard produces 5000 cases annually, with their flagship wine, the “Handprint” Merlot making up 2000 cases of that annual total.
In early March, Lucas and Kelly Meeker joined #winestudio for a live chat on Twitter, answering questions regarding their wines and winemaking style.
A few take aways from the Twitter chat –
Lucas Meeker’s goal is to create low pH structured wines in the Old World style for complexity and aging potential.
“Lower pH and increased tannin (grape tannin more than oak!) build integrated, seamless structures with elegance.” – Lucas Meeker
“Alcohol perception is also about balance against acidity and tannin. Meeker wines have lower pH than the average California wines.” – Lucas Meeker
99% of Meeker Vineyard red wines have a sub 3.6 pH, many sub 3.5 and the 2006 Hand Print Merlot had a 3.26 pH
“Blending is about building complexity, not changing the wine IMO. It’s not an eraser, it’s a highlighter” – Lucas Meeker
“We aim for wines with plenty of character, but stay varietally correct.” – Kelly Meeker
My Tasting Notes:
We tasted the following three Meeker Vineyard wines and the Meeker style shines through with complex and age worthy wines.
2013 Meeker Vineyard, Grenache, Hoskins Ranch Vineyard, Dry Creek Valley, Sonoma County (100% Grenache) 14.4% ABV $38 SRP
Light ruby in color, translucent with a slight brown hue at the edge. An earthy nose with nice acidity and notes of raspberry and cherry. A lingering finish.
Food Pairing: Roasted pork (see recipe below), Thanksgiving turkey, and tomato based dishes.
2013 Meeker Vineyard, Cabernet Franc, Dry Creek Valley, Sonoma County (100% Cabernet Franc) 14.7% ABV $45 SRP
Dark ruby in color with a purple hue. Herbal nose with a hint of violet. Noted tannins, flavors of black cherry, cloves and a hint of dark chocolate. Long finish.
Food Pairing: Foods that pair well with Cabernet Sauvignon or Merlot; roasted pork (see recipe below) and grilled meats.
2013 Meeker Vineyard, Handprint Merlot, Sonoma County (87% Merlot, 7% Cabernet Sauvignon and 7% Syrah) 14.7% ABV $45 SRP
Dark garnet in color. An herbal nose with hints of toffee. Medium body with mouth drying astringent tannins. Notes of cherry. This is a Merlot to age and try again in a few years +
Food Pairings: Lucas suggests foods that pair well with Cabernet Sauvignon; beef, lamb, duck, also Moroccan spices. Kelly suggestions big lasagnas.
I really wanted something lighter to pair with these wines, but with enough flavor to stand up to the boldness of the wines. I chose roasted pork tenderloin with a balsamic glaze. The layers of flavor in the glaze included dijon mustard and fennel pollen. I served the pork tenderloins with braised fennel, sautéed asparagus, and roasted potatoes, it proved to be a delicious spring meal that complimented all three Meeker wines; Grenache, Cabernet Franc and Handprint Merlot. Cheers!
- For the Pork
- 1 tablespoon fennel seeds, toasted
- 6 cups of cold water
- ¼ cup kosher salt
- ¼ cup dark brown sugar
- 2 1-lb pork tenderloins
- ¼ cup aged balsamic vinegar
- 2 tablespoons of a strong flavored honey, I used Trader Joe's Turkish Honey
- 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
- 2 teaspoons fennel pollen
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- For the Fennel
- 4 medium fennel bulbs, trimmed and reserve some fronds for garnish
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 1 cup low sodium chicken broth
- Brine Pork: In a large bowl combine toasted fennel seeds, water, ¼ cup kosher salt, and brown sugar. Whisk to dissolve the salt and sugar. Add the pork tenderloins and refrigerate for 4 hours.
- To prepare fennel: About 30 minutes before you cook the pork, preheat oven to 400 degrees F with the oven rack in the lower third of the oven.
- Cut each fennel bulb lengthwise into 6 wedges. In a large frying pan, add 2 tablespoons of olive oil over medium heat. Add the fennel wedges to the pan season with salt and pepper. Sauté for about 4 to 5 minutes per side or until golden brown. Transfer fennel wedges to a roasting pan and add 1 cup of chicken broth. Roast for 20 minutes.
- To prepare pork: Remove the pork tenderloins from the brine and pat dry. Discard brine liquid.
- In a 2-cup glass measuring container, whisk together vinegar, honey, mustard and fennel pollen.
- Transfer half of the glaze to a small sauce pan. Reserve for later.
- In a large frying pan over medium high heat, add 2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil. Add the pork tenderloins and brown on all sides for about 8-10 minutes total.
- Remove the fennel from the oven and place pork tenderloins on top of the fennel wedges. Brush with remaining half of the balsamic glaze over the pork. Roast for another 15-20 minutes or until pork registers 140 degrees.
- Remove the pork to a cutting board and cover, let rest for 10 minutes. Transfer fennel wedges to a serving platter and tent with foil.
- Pour the liquid from the roasting pan to the sauce pan with the reserved half of the balsamic glaze. Bring to a boil and cook until reduce to about ½ cup about 5 minutes.
- Slice pork and arrange on the platter with fennel wedges and garnish with reserved fennel fronds.
- Serve with seasonal vegetable and roasted potatoes and Meeker Grenache, Cabernet Franc or Handprint Merlot.
The wine samples were provided by Meeker Vineyard as part of #winestudio, an educational program organized by Tina Morey. Join the #winestudio conversation Tuesday at 9pm EST on Twitter.