Thursday, May 9, 2019

Meyer Micro Cuvée and friends

Photo: Winegrower JAK Meyer

Since this winery began in 2006, Meyer Family Vineyards has followed a disciplined focus: premium single vineyard wines with the addition in recent years of traditional method sparkling wine.

The ultra premium selections are released under the Micro Cuvée label. I included those wines in my 2017 book, Icon, as examples of Meyer wines recommended for collecting and cellaring.

In truth, most of the Meyer wines are collectible, even if the wines labelled as “Okanagan Valley” are meant for early drinking – while you wait for the other wines to mature in the cellar.

Here is an excerpt from Icon that deals with the Micro Cuvée story.

The winery was launched by JAK Meyer and his partner, Janice Stevens-Meyer. It was a hobby initially. Born in Alberta in 1958, JAK had succeeded as an investment dealer and real-estate developer while becoming passionate about wine. With help from James Cluer, MW, then a Vancouver wine educator, JAK bought a 1.5-hectare (3.5-acre) Chardonnay vineyard that had been planted in 1994 on Old Main Road near Naramata. He engaged an architect to design a winery while arranging to have both the 2006 and 2007 vintages made by Michael Bartier, whose mastery of barrel-fermented Chardonnay is legendary.

“During blending [the 2006 Chardonnay],” recounts the notes on the vintage, “five French oak barrels stood out as being superior quality. Blended together, the five barrels created a truly special wine that demanded to be bottled on its own as a small batch or Micro Cuvée.” Ever since, the flagship Chardonnay from Meyer has always emerged from the best barrels, while also being a single-vineyard wine. Virtually all the Chardonnay from the Old Main Road vineyard is treated the same way: fermented in French oak and aged on the lees for seven or eight months before being bottled. Those barrels that do not rise to the Micro Cuvée standard are usually blended and bottled for the winery’s Tribute Series Chardonnay—also a fine wine that some collectors even prefer.

“We only do it in years where we feel the vintage is exceptional,” JAK says. “You have to stay true to the philosophy of making Micro Cuvée only in vintages where something really stands out.”

Subsequent to the success of the Chardonnay, the winery added a Micro Cuvée Pinot Noir, an entirely logical partner.

That Naramata Road winery was never built. In 2008, JAK was able to buy a still-born winery and its vineyard just east of Okanagan Falls, on McLean Creek Road. That is now where Meyer has its tasting room and the majority of its 20 acres of estate vineyards.

Here are notes on four current releases from the winery this spring.

Meyer Méthode Traditionnelle Extra Brut NV ($34.88 for 550 cases). This is 70% Chardonnay, 30% Pinot Noir.  The base wine was aged for two years, with several rackings, before bottled for secondary fermentation. The wine then spent 20 months on the lees before being disgorged. There was no dosage; it was topped up with 2014 blanc de blancs base wine. This is an elegantly polished wine with delicate hints of brioche mingled with hints of citrus and apple. 92.

Meyer 2017 Micro Cuvée Chardonnay Old Main Road Vineyard ($56.62 for 110 cases). This wine is always a selection of what the winemaker judges the best of that vintage (and Micro Cuvée is not necessary released every vintage). The model for this wine seems to be age-worthy Burgundy. The wine, which was aged 11 months on the lees in French oak, begins with aromas of mandarin orange mingled with croissant. On the palate, the fresh croissant flavour is more event, along with flavours of citrus. There is no rush in opening this; it has the structure to become even more complex with several more years in the cellar. 90-92.

Meyer 2017 Old Block Pinot Noir ($43.58 for 311 cases). There is a limit two bottles per person for this wine. Old Block refers to a block of vines in the McLean Creek Road Vineyard that were planted in 1994. The grapes were fermented with indigenous yeast and aged 11 months on French oak (30% new). There is a lot going on here, starting with aromas of cherry mingled with forest floor. On the palate, the fruit is bright with flavours of cherry and strawberry mingled with oak. The texture is silky and the finish is long. 93.

Meyer 2017 Micro Cuvée Pinot Noir ($56.62 for 150 cases). The grapes for this wine also are from the McLean Creek Road Vineyard. Again, the object is to select from among the very best wines in the cellar. One new 500-litre French oak puncheon and two two-year-old French puncheons were chosen. The wine begins with aromas of cherry, plum and baking spices that are echoed on the palate. The fruit flavours mingle with vanilla. The wine is intense and still firm; it is built for cellaring. 94.


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