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Domestic Wine: NV The Meeker Vineyard ‘Roller Coaster’ Red, CALIFORNIA 

Charles and Molly Meeker bought their first vineyard in Sonoma County’s Dry Creek Valley in 1977, and thereafter, in 1984, established their winery — The Meeker Vineyard — with Charlie as the winemaker. In its early years, the winery specialized in Zinfandel, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Chardonnay.

The winery’s first red wine release, a 1984 Zinfandel, was an instant success, winning eight wine competition medals and becoming the third most awarded Zin in the country that year. Thereafter, among other awards, the 1985 Meeker Zin was a Wine Spectator “Best Buy”, the 1986 Zin was a “Spectator Selection”, and the 1990 Zin was included among the Wine Spectator’s “100 Best Wines of the World”. During this period Charlie was also honored to present a Meeker Zinfandel at one of the famous Windows on the World wine dinners in New York; and Zinfandel wasn’t the winery’s only success – for example, the Wine Spectator gave a 91 Points score to one of Charlie’s early Chardonnays.

History of Syrah and its Relation to Meeker: Syrah continues to be the main grape of the northern Rhône and is associated with classic wines such as Hermitage, Cornas and Côte-Rôtie. In the southern Rhône, it is used as a blending grape in such wines as Châteauneuf-du-Pape, Gigondas and Côtes du Rhône, where Grenache usually makes up the bulk of the blend. Although its best incarnations will age for decades, less-extracted styles may be enjoyed young for their lively red and blueberry characters and smooth tannin structure. Syrah has been widely used as a blending grape in the red wines of many countries due to its fleshy fruit mid-palate, balancing the weaknesses of other varieties and resulting in a “complete” wine.

From the 1970s and even more from the 1990s, Syrah has enjoyed increased popularity, and plantings of the variety have expanded significantly in both old and new locations, like Sonoma. In the early 2000s, it broke into the top 10 of varieties planted worldwide for the first time.

Varietals: Syrah, Petite Sirah, Cabernet Sauvignon, Zinfandel, Cabernet Franc, Barbera, Petit Verdot, Carignane, Merlot, Malbec, and Grenache

Alcohol: 14.6% by volume

Tasting Notes: This wine opens up with a nose of berries, coffee, cola and earth. On the palate, there is black cherry, blackberry cobbler and spice surrounded by toasty French oak and vanilla with a long lingering finish that lasts way after the ride is over.

Food Pairings: Drink this fun wine with barbeque, grilled meats, and even spaghetti!

Jim Lutfy’s thoughts: “Jammy with rich flavors and layers of ripeness. It is a ‘drink me up kind of style!’ Enjoy with food or by itself! Cheers!”-JL

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