Squeezing in some writing between studying…
A few months ago, when we became aware of The Wine Century Club my partner in wine and I were over our heads in our respective harvest ventures. Now that we actually eat dinner together most days of the week, we made a concerted effort to seek out some of the grapes we have not yet imbibed to this point. There is a super shop here in Walla Walla, Salumiere Cesario where we were able to find several bottles. Maybe they will help us procure more bottles containing lesser known grapes. This is a great extension of my current ‘Wines of the World’ class where we taste common grape varieties. All in the name of education and research!
La Follette Wines has provided us with a 2010 Pinot Meunier varietal, 14.5% ABV still wine. The Van der Kamp Vineyard in the Sonoma Mountains of Sonoma County have been around since the early 1960’s, so the vines are well established. We had researched the grapes and their primary use in Champagne and sparkling wines rather than as a varietal about two weeks before we came across this bottle.
Related to Pinot Noir, the Pinot Meunier grapes have many names, some refer to the dark red grape, some to the downy white underside of the leaf resembling flour. California seems to have planted all of the Champagne grapes liberally, so it didn’t surprise us to find this bottle. Cautioned that the older the vintage the less charming the wine, we didn’t think the red 2010 would be considered ‘old’. When I came home to look at the producers website they were offering the 2012 vintage… made me begin to think 2010 might be pushing its limits.
We opened the bottle before supper was finished cooking to pour a small amount into glasses as it was stored in the garage and too cool to drink. Knowing its relationship to Pinot Noir and the lightness of that grape, I was surprised by the depth of color, deep garnet, of this wine. The aromas were not exciting when we opened the bottle and several hours later they are only subdued, not better. Anticipating some berry or possibly a bit of vanilla the barn yard and funky smell was disappointing – I am not fond of that in my wines. There were strong tannins present when we first opened the bottle, but they have receded to a pleasant note of support. On the palate, pie cherries and pumpkin spice with vanilla extract at the finish were a nice discovery; truly a redemptive attribute.
Probably not a grape we will seek further, but glad for the experience. Have you tried it? I’d love to know your experience, please share it in the comments.