Meyer Family Vineyards, located in Okanagan Falls, is one of those wineries that choose to focus on a specific type of wine, in this case, white and red Burgundy-styled wines – Chardonnay and Pinot Noir with single vineyard expressions.
JAK Meyer and his wife, Janice Stevens started making wine in 2006. They own 23 acres of vineyards – Old Main Road Vineyard in Naramata and McLean Creek in Okanagan Falls. In addition, they work closely with other growers in East Kelowna, on the Naramata Bench, in Osoyoos, and Kaleden. McLean Creek Road Vineyard (Okanagan Falls) and the newly purchased Lakehill Road Vineyard in Kaleden.
Part of the secret at Meyer Family Vineyards is having great terroir. Each vineyard has its own special character and winemaker Chris Carson knows how to ensure that it shines through in the final wine. Each one will impress in its own way.
Recently, I tried four of their latest Chardonnay release.
2021 McLean Creek Road Chardonnay
Harvested September 12th and 18th
Notes (edited) are from the winery.
2021 was a challenging year in the Okanagan with forest fires starting in June later compounded by smoke drifting north from fires in Oregon and California. This was followed by the ‘Heat dome’ which saw temperatures reaching as high as 48 ° C in some areas. That lasted for more than a week. At temperatures, this high, vines ‘shut down’ and become dormant resulting in lower yields. Fortunately, temperatures finally returned to normal in August and stretched through until October. The lower yields mean that the 2021 vintage could be one of the most flavourful in several years.
This estate vineyard was planted in 1994. While not certified organic, Meyer practices organic and sustainable farming principles. The vineyard has a southerly aspect with a good slope and soils made up of alluvial and glacial deposits. This mix of sandy and gravelly soils is perfect for Chardonnay and Pinot Noir grapes. The Chardonnay is planted in two blocks – one oriented to the east and the other to the west. This creates differences in aroma and flavour development which adds to the complexity of the bottled wines.
Once harvested, the grapes were fermented with ambient and cultured yeasts in stainless steel tanks. Later, the wine was moved into 22% new French oak barrels to complete fermentation and age. It spent 11 months ‘sur lee’ without battonage (stirring) which helps create a creamy mouthfeel. The wine was later bottled unfined and only gently filtered. As always, Meyer strives to maintain to intervene as little as possible in the cellar to allow the wine to shine and express its terroir.
Production – 500 cases
Cellar 7 – 10 years
Lemon yellow with medium-minus intensity. The nose shows aromas of citrus, toast, vanilla, cashew, coconut, and a hint of smoke. Well balanced. A lovely interplay of fruit and oak on the palate followed by a medium-long finish. The McLean Creek Road is one of my perennial favourites from Meyer Family Vineyards and this vintage is no exception. 92+ points
2021 Old Main Road Chardonnay
Harvested September 29th
Despite being harvested later than the above, these grapes were a little higher in acidity and thus had a crisper, fresher style. As was the case further south, this region saw reduced yields so you can expect very flavourful wines.
The Old Main Road Vineyard is 27 years old and has been planted with Chardonnay from the beginning. The site has a northerly aspect with soils made up of alluvial deposits which create a silt loam on top of a clay loam. This means the grapes ripen slowly producing a wide spectrum of flavour and complexity with good structure and minerality. Cool fermented in stainless steel tanks before being moved into all French oak barrels of which 22% were new. It spent 11 months ‘sur lee’ without battonage (stirring) which helps create a creamy mouthfeel. The wine was later bottled unfined and only gently filtered. As always, Meyer strives to maintain to intervene as little as possible in the cellar to allow the wine to shine and express its terroir.
Production – 533 cases
Cellar 7 – 10 years
Lemon yellow with medium-minus intensity. Aromas of lemon, minerality, lime, cream, honeydew, and vanilla. Well balanced. The flavours echo the nose along with spice, citrus, and melon notes followed by a medium-long finish. Well integrated from beginning to end. Impressive! 92 points
2021 Stevens Block Chardonnay
Harvested September 24th
From the same vineyard as the above, but from a special block. “One of four acres, planted in clones 4 and 5, is the steepest part of the vineyard and is the coolest part of the site. The vines in this block have, over the years, developed their distinct character. The name pays homage to Janice Stevens-Meyer and her family.”
Only the best part of the first press wine was used for this wine. It then had a long cool ferment on indigenous yeasts in stainless steel. Later it was transferred into older French oak barrels to rest on its fine lees for an additional 10 months.
Production – 230 cases
Cellar – now thru 2027
Pale green straw with medium-light intensity. Citrus – lemon and lime – dominates the nose followed by aromas of toast, almond and nectarine. Well balanced. Integrated on the palate. Crisp, refreshing, and elegant. A medium-long finish. Delicious. Classic character. 93 points
2021 Anarchist Mountain Dekleva Clone Chardonnay
Harvested September 18th
This site is named after Anthony Dekleva who planted unknown clone(s). It has the highest elevation in Osoyoos at 518 m (1700 feet), has a westerly aspect, and sits on silt soil over clay loam.
This wine received much the same treatment as the others, but was transferred to French oak barrels (25% new) and was left ‘sur lees’ for 11 months with no ‘battonage’ (lees stirring) and underwent a natural malolactic fermentation.
Production – 175 cases
Cellar 7 – 10 years
Lemon yellow with medium-minus intensity. The nose opens with aromas of lemon, lime, mineral, fresh cream, apple and melon. Well balanced with a creamy texture. Lemon cream, pear, apple, melon, and a touch of toast on the palate followed by a medium-long finish with flavours lingering. Impressive. 92 points
My suggestion, to fully appreciate the nuances between these wines, is to invite some Chardonnay-loving friends over and taste them side-by-side. Now wouldn’t that be a wonderful evening!
(All photos – Sam Hauck)