Meiomi Pinot Noir Highlights the Art of Winemaking

Someone had to judge these wines!

Saturday morning at the Iowa State Fairgrounds, I had the privilege of being part of the group of judges to evaluate wines entered in the amateur wine-making competition for the upcoming Iowa State Fair.

Over 150 wines were entered, including rhubarb wines, apple wines (both sweet and dry), wines made from homegrown grapes, even wines made from kits.

We took the job of judging seriously, as we knew each winemaker tried their best to make a wine worthy of evaluation.  Some of the wines were simply wonderful; others needed some work.

The very best wines from every category ended up at the final table where a few of us had the task of choosing the best of show.

All ribbon-winning wines are displayed during the Iowa State Fair (August 7-17).

After spending an entire day tasting amateur winemakers’ best efforts, I wanted a wine with some serious winemaker credentials. The Meiomi (May-OH-me) Pinot Noir was my choice.

Winemaker Joseph J. Wagner comes from a family of Napa Valley winemakers, having learned the basics in the vineyards and cellars of Caymus.  His grandmother, Lorna Belle Glos Wagner, co-founded Caymus Vineyards with her husband Charlie, and son Chuck (Joseph Wagner’s father) in 1972.  Joseph is the owner of Belle Glos and Meiomi, and continues to work at Caymus along with his father.

Joe Wagner has selected vineyards from Sonoma, Monterey and Santa Barbara with the goal of creating a food-friendly, approachable wine that is consistent in style and flavor from vintage to vintage.  By sourcing grapes from several areas, Joe can bring specific characteristics to the final wine produced.

I found the Meiomi Pinot Noir to have layered aromas of dark berries, toasted oak, vanilla, some pepper spice and a hint of cinnamon.  On the palate are flavors of, primarily black cherry, but other mixed berries as well.  The spice gives a good kick mid-palate, then the wine finishes with fruit and oaky vanilla.

This Pinot Noir has a lush texture and showcases darker fruits and a weightier palate than a more typical light-bodied, cherry-filled Pinot Noir.  It would pair well with barbeque or grilled sausages.

The art of winemaking is a challenging endeavor.  Joe Wagner would agree, I am sure!  I salute all those amateur winemakers who did the hard work and brought their wines to the 2014 Iowa State Fair competition.

About the author: Sue Navratil

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