2014 Babcock Pinot Noir

The lobby of the Fairmont Santa Monica served this tasty beverage, which I enjoyed after a challenging presentation to our best clients. I hadn’t slept at all or eaten beforehand, so I was living on fumes and this 2014 Babcock Pinot Noir to celebrate the end of a long day.

The wine was fun, but its taste I scarcely remember. The winery is located in Santa Monica County, California, so practically local. The 2014 Babcock is a little cherry, a little raspberry, and a tad deeper in color than the Pinots from my favorite winery.

Oh yeah…nearly forgot. Not pictured here, but captured nevertheless on my phone was Mr. Arnold Schwarzenegger. Biggest celebrity citing of this lifetime. Apparently the Governator often frequents the Fairmont with his crew, stopping by mornings after bike rides and workouts, but on this evening he had dropped by with a bodyguard too. Sort of looked like he needed a shower and some gel but seated 20 feet from me in the flesh.

I had two glasses of the Babcock and would have enjoyed more…but in the privacy of my own home. The grapes were good and the need to celebrate (in triumph and relief) was pronounced. And thanks to our special guest star, I’ll never forget this wine or the event.


2014 Meiomi Chardonnay

Meiomi wine has been exceptionally good to us lately. This evening is another instance that echoes recent bottles we have had, both whites and reds, and I would encourage you to browse any of those reviews for context. It’s our first sampling of the 2014 vintage, and we picked a great meal with which to pair this aromatic white wine.

2014 Meiomi Chardonnay, California, USA.

2014 Meiomi Chardonnay, California, USA.

The food? Killer. A moonshot home run. You’re looking at a 2014 Meiomi Chardonnay next to Cod Kedgeree served over basmati rice, eggs, and frizzled onion. The lime garnish was a great touch too, softening the curry spices (a blend of kedgeree spices) and bringing some light refreshment to the dish. The result, courtesy of Blue Apron and a fun evening in the kitchen doing the prep work, was a mix of warm and cool, of spice and sweet. I’m not sure I’ve had a Chardonnay under better circumstances, all told.

The cod kedgeree in the prep stage.

The cod kedgeree in the prep stage.

As shared in previous Notes regarding Meiomi, the winemaker sources these grapes from multiple AVAs throughout California and brings them together in a proprietary blend. There is some orange in the aromas, some other citrus fruits, and a luscious mouthfeel. It sounds weird to observe that it tastes liquid, or solid, but both kind of make sense as I reflect back on the 2014 now. Some thoughtful planning had two bottles of the 2014 on hand as we started in on this adventure, and when we finished the first we had #2 primed and ready.

Though we do prefer the 2013 to the 2014 Meiomi, the latter made for quite a fantastic dining (cooking too!) experience.

2014 Meiomi Pinot Noir

I’m of two minds on the Meiomi Pinot Noir. On one hand, this wine is ubiquitous in wine stores across the U.S., and Notes has covered it on several prior occasions. So has the mainstream wine media, and writing about this wine feels almost passe.

On the other hand, it’s friggin’ great. This is the 2014 vintage of a Pinot Noir that just might be my second favorite. I’m tempted to look back on all the Pinots we’ve covered here for the sake of comparison, and I know it’s solidly placed on the list behind only my favorite Buena Vista offerings.

2014 Meiomi Pinot Noir, California, USA.

2014 Meiomi Pinot Noir, California, USA.

Its black and red berry scents, much richer than a typical Pinot, help set it apart right away. It’s more than just the light strawberry you often get, the whiff of vanilla, in a less polished Pinot. Joe Wagner culls fruit from three different California counties to weave together blackberries, cherries, and a little something leathery in the 2014 Meiomi. Oh yeah, and it does still have some soft notes of strawberry and vanilla if you’re into such things. We had the Meiomi with steaks and asparagus, and worked our way right through the wine.

Santa Barbara, Sonoma, and Monterey all share a role in this very successful outcome. I’m sure that certain high-brow wine folks look down on the Meiomi for its mass production, but it’s a great thing that the Wagners have found a way to combine exquisite tastes with affordability in this bottle. Who likes an elitist, anyways?

For the vineyard’s own tasting notes, simply click here–and enjoy. As for us? We’re on next to Valentine’s Day and another Meiomi.

2013 Chardonnay, Meiomi Wines

The Meiomi Pinot Noir gets a lot of attention from wine enthusiasts (this one included), and for good reason. It’s a fantastic wine, and it is well represented in Notes if you wanted to search for such reviews. What I didn’t know was that Wagner also had a comparable white blend in their Chardonnay.

2013 Meiomi Chardonnay, Meoimi Wines

2013 Meiomi Chardonnay, Meoimi Wines, St. Helena, California, USA.

The Meiomi Chardonnay (this one is obviously a 2013) is, like their red, a blend of grapes sourced from Santa Barbara (49%), Sonoma (30%), and Monterrey (21%) coastal counties. That mixture infuses a wide variety of interesting tastes in this white, which is not overly oaky  or buttery but rather characterized by some crisp apple-like fruits and some mineral undertones. Not quite what you’d expect from a wine that does some time aging in French oak. My wife and I both enjoyed, which is pretty high praise if you know us.

Thus did the 2013 Meiomi Chardonnay launch our house into Friday evening, the end of the year’s first work week. The stemware was ready and served up our drinks during the cocktail hour as well as during dinner–which consisted of two types of ravioli. Delicious dinner and wine for us both*.

My wife picked out this bottle, and we are likely to put it more frequently in the rotation over the coming year with pasta, fish, and the helluv it. Hope you enjoy yours as much as we did.

*Note that mine also consisted of more Wagner family wine

2010 Santa Barbara Winery Pinot Noir, Santa Rita Hills

Visiting Drago’s Restaurant in New Orleans, my selection of this good red was less orthodox than a white might have been.  I was actually in the mood for a Spanish red of some kind, smelling charbroil in the air, but their wine menu was brief and showed no real international options.

2010 Santa Barbara Winery Pinot Noir, Santa Rita Hills, California, USA.

2010 Santa Barbara Winery Pinot Noir, Santa Rita Hills, California, USA.

Most interesting about this meal is not the wine—which was enjoyable—but the hors d’oeuvres.  For more than 40 years, Drago’s has been whipping together this KILLER dish.  It’s fantastic, and I think it goes something like this: fist-sized oysters, charbroiled on the grill with butter, garlic, breadcrumbs(?), and some Parmesan cheese all melted together.  I had four of these before I knew what happened, not even minding the small pearl that I had to remove.

With their smell in the air (more so than even the seafood), the red was actually on point.  The oysters smelled like grill, like fire, like meat—and thus the 2010 Pinot Noir from Santa Barbara Winery was the real deal.  Rich in taste, ruby in color, and both smooth and fruity on the palate.  Alternating between bites of lobster and sips of this Pinot made for a pretty decent food adventure after a long day of trade show work.

This Pinot Noir was good, but completely overshadowed by the oysters.  Make those your priority instead.

Meiomi 2012 Pinot Noir

So pleased to have another go at this blend of grapes from California’s Sonoma (26%), Santa Barbara (23%), and Monterrey County (51%) regions. My brother was visiting for the weekend and, hearing of how well the 2011 vintage went over in our house, he brought along this treat to help us all celebrate the good time.

I actually opened the 2012 late Saturday night after the Rockland Boulders vs. New Jersey Jackals baseball game (won by the visitors), when all driving was done for the day and it was time to relax and tell stories from the ballpark. Great bouquet of fruit and damp earth immediately greets you, spills out into your glass, and engenders your smile at the promise of berries to follow.

And then do I do the Meiomi justice? Depends on how you view a good Pinot Noir when it’s “paired” with delicious homemade frozen yogurt (coffee flavored, with all the extra care and touches!) and pretzels. Pretty damn fine in that situation, if you ask me, but gives you an idea what kind of refined palate I have. If that’s not quite what you have in mind, know that we had this bottle and a second too the following Sunday afternoon with shrimp cocktail and then dinner–blue cheese salad [with bacon and fresh-roasted potatoes] and grilled filet mignon. I think our merry band of revelers would have said some of the steaks were slightly too well done; other pieces slightly underdone. The good news here is the Meiomi 2012 bore up under all those varying demands.

It’s sort of kicked up Pinot Noir…almost striving for the weight of a Merlot or Cabernet Sauvignon. This bottle didn’t seem to have quite the same spice feel that the 2011 vintage had, but that only dawns on me now in hindsight so it’s fruity profile makes up a complex fun wine. Glad I had a chance for more.

Meiomi 2011 Pinot Noir

Okay, you saw the name and immediately made your guess on its pronunciation.  It’s the word “coast” (phonetically ‘May-OH-mee‘) in the language of California’s Wappo tribe and an apt title for this blend of grapes from three of California’s leading regions–Sonoma County (26%), Santa Barbara County (23%), and Monterrey County (51%).  Many of their best qualities are swirled together in this winner, which we’ve luckily sampled over the course of the last three evenings.

Meiomi 2011 Pinot Noir, Rutherford, California, USA.

Meiomi 2011 Pinot Noir, Rutherford, California, USA.

Friday it accompanied hors d’oeuvres–cheeses and olives and whatnot–and struck such a chord with us that the Meiomi actually stuck around for our fabulous salmon dinner.  Peppered perfectly, the salmon had baked just to taste.  It wasn’t so dry that it flaked at fork touch, nor so rare that it resembled sashimi (which I do love).  A vegetable medley of red peppers, green onions, broccoli, and baby potatoes rounded out the meal and was a great backdrop for the Pinot Noir.  This may seem like an unlikely pairing to some but it worked very effectively.

Meiomi must be shaped in part by Joseph J. Wagner, a fifth-generation winemaker whose family has deep roots in Napa Valley.  He did a great job if he had a hand in this one.  Dark, pungent, and earthy, this spicy Pinot Noir has genuine oomph to it.  It’s not some weak-bellied Pinot that goes easy on the flavor.  To the contrary, it’s muscular.  It’s substantive.  It announces its presence as soon as the bottle is uncorked, and you can tell just from the initial waft of dark cherry or blackberry (or the like) and its spicy undertones that you are in for a treat.  If you are more biased toward vanilla hints and strawberry-tasting Pinots this is not really your bag but if you like your reds to give a good shot in the arm this is it.

The Meiomi worked just as effectively the next night accompanying a local pizza pie, and again the next with a marinated pork loin that was grilled in the hot July evening.  I’d put it in my top 10 for sure and have to think about a larger move if I had the good fortune to sample another bottle.  Get yours today.