Meander Wines is run by long time Napa winemaker, Amy Aiken. Her first introduction to the Napa Valley was when she came to California from the Midwest where she studied at UC Davis for her Master’s Degree. She began passionate about Cabernet Sauvignon and made this wine in the 1990’s while working at several well-known Napa wineries including at Joseph Phelps Vineyard (where she helped craft their wines including their iconic Insignia). Based on her experience and contacts in the industry she is familiar with a number of premium area vineyards.
In 2000, she decided to create a label for herself. However the vineyards she had her eye on were in such demand for their high quality fruit that she had to wait a few more years before certain blocks in these vineyards became available. Once she got her foot in the door an additional part of these vineyards opened up and she was able to source even more fruit.
Amy sources from the Morisoli (Rutherford) and Lewelling (St. Helena) Vineyards. The Lewelling Vineyard was originally established in 1864 which makes this one of the oldest continuously family owned and operated vineyards in the Napa area. The Lewelling family roots dating back to 1864 when the family patriarch John Lewelling moved to St. Helena. The vineyard itself is located at the base of the Mayacamas mountains on the western side of the valley. The vines grow on rich benchland soils; several premium producers source from this vineyard.
Morisoli is also a widely acclaimed vineyard (helped made popular by some of Sequoia Grove’s wines).
Each vineyard brings a certain component to the wine; the fruit from the Morisoli adds the backbone and structure and the fruit from the Lewelling vineyard brings an elegance and more of the fruit flavors. Amy uses all French Oak with about 65% of it being new.
She specializes in a premium Cabernet Sauvignon each year with production typically around 500 cases. The name of the winery has multiple meanings including “to take a pleasant path”, it is a reference in Greek wine history, and it is a loose combination of the names of her sons, Mitchell and Andrew.
While Amy has made other varietals under the Meander name, including Pinot Noir and Sauvignon blanc, Cabernet Sauvignon is her focus.
We tried the 2004 vintage. About 50% of the fruit for this wine comes from each vineyard. It has strong firm tannins but not overly tannic. The mouth feel opens with a nice softness; the palate is well balanced. The wine is dark and well extracted with lots of fruit on the palate including some notes of licorice. The finish is very long and one wine taster even timed the finish and said it timed out at 28 seconds!
We also tried her 2005 vintage which as of our latest update is still a young wine. However it shows even more fruit characteristics when compared to the 2004 vintage and we can’t wait to see how this wine ages. You can also buy Magnums of this wine. The wine can be found locally at Backdoor & Cal Wine in Napa and ACME wine shop in St. Helena. In addition, you can join the mailing list online.
Amy is also a partner in a winery in the foothills near Calistoga in the northern part of the valley. Tastings are for serious wine enthusiasts and are by appointment. Visit: www.meanderwines.com
NOTE: this review has been identified as needing a major update.
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