Grapelive: Wine of the Day June 29, 2020

2018 Poe Wines, Pinot Meunier, Van der Kamp Vineyard, Sonoma Mountain.
I was very excited to try this vintage of Poe’s Meunier with the long cool growing conditions and the unique terroir of Sonoma Mountain offed all the material for tasty goodness and that hope was fulfilled with this delicious medium bodied red, made from this Champagne grape. I am a fan of Poe Wines and the latest set of releases are really good, especially the incredible sparkling wines, like her Brut Rosé and the Blanc de Noirs, both of which are stunning examples of California bubbly. Winemaker, Samantha Sheehan, who founded her own label Poe Wines in 2009 and known for her beautiful Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, also produces the mentioned traditional Champagne method sparkling wines, a still Rosé, a Nouveau Pinot Noir, as well as this very cool Pinot Meunier, which comes from the historic Van der Kamp Vineyard. The 2018 Van der Kamp Pinot Meunier drinks with an elegance usually reserved for a Pinot Noir and it flows seamlessly across the palate with satiny grace with tangy red fruits, red spices and soft wood accents, lingering on with a touch of dark florals, zesty acidity and tart cherry fruit. This is a wine that goes beautifully with summer meals and like a Foillard Morgon it benefits from a slight chill, but still a serious wine with surprising depth and complexity with plum, cranberry, strawberry and forest bramble berry and the noted cherry fruits, a bit of herbal snap and light cedar notes, plus a pleasing creamy mouth feel. Poe’s version of Meunier was fermented in two vessels – one was 100% whole cluster, while the other was entirely de-stemmed, which gives this wine its personality and complexity. The grapes all hand picked in the cool of night, as Sheehan explains, were not sulfured, and thus (the) fermentation occurred naturally with native yeast. She and her team gently foot tread the tanks, during maceration and primary, two to three times per day for two weeks. Then the Meunier was then pressed into barrel and aged on the lees for 12 months, with this year seeing about 10% new French oak and 90% neutral well seasoned French oak.

Meunier accounts for a third of the vines planted in the Champagne region, though incredibly rare here in California still, and serves the purpose of providing early ripening fruitiness and mouthfeel to the wines of that famed sparkling wine region that sometimes suffers from poor weather, though in recent years Meunier has become geeky cool and some of the best grower producers are using it to craft awesome fizz. Sheehan is a fan of this grape and might its best champion in California, sourcing it from the Van der Kamp Vineyard that lies at the very top of the eastern side of Sonoma Mountain. Rising up to a 1,400 foot elevation and looking down on the town of Glen Ellen to the east and Bennett Valley to the northwest this is a special micro climate that can produce some fabulous Chardonnay and Pinot Noir with Sheehan using this site to great effect. Sonoma Mountain, Sheehan notes, was once part of the Pacific Ocean floor that gives a patchwork of diverse soils, from Speckles loam, Volcanic Tuff and a decomposed stream bed provides for rocky soils littered with many sized stones. Van der Kamp was first planted in 1953, making it one of the oldest Pinot Noir vines (still producing) in California, again according to Sheehan, who is great friends with the Van der Kamp family that farm this awesome property not far from the fabled Hanzell winery. The 2.7 acre block of Pinot Meunier was planted in the early 1990s, with Samantha getting most of it, if not every single cluster, which she divides between her still Rosé, sparkling Pinot Meunier Brut Rosé (which is made in a Champagne method) and this still red wine, that is made only in a miniscule amount. This lush Meunier by Poe Wines is one of my favorites and this 2018 is fun and lively, perfect for what you’d want in a medium bodied alternative red wine, even on day two this wine thrills the senses and adds more whole cluster crunch and some cinnamon and sage notes become more noticeable, though the fruit stays expressive, it should drink nicely for 3 to 5 years.
($38 Est.) 92 Points, grapelive