Gabe's View

Wine: Reviews, Thoughts & Culture

Visiting Medlock Ames in Alexander Valley

Posted by Gabe on April 30, 2011

Much like Wineries come in all shapes and sizes so do Winery visits. When I landed in San Francisco yesterday I had quite a few wineries on my list to visit during my trip. I didn’t however have any specific plans for my first day. My itinerary that initial day involved getting settled in and attending Gateway to Passport in Healdsburg. Of course though once I was settled in and had several hours to spare I headed off to make a couple of stops. On my way to my first stop I passed a tasting room I hadn’t noticed before in Alexander Valley I made a note and on the way back I stopped in to check out Medlock Ames.

Their tasting room sits on the same property that for decades housed the Alexander Valley Bar and Store. They rebuilt the structure on the same footprint using as much reclaimed material as they could. Walking in the feel is rustic, modern, incredibly natural and quite welcoming all at the same time. I made my way up to the tasting counter and noted that they have a couple of different options. Their standard flight of four wines is available to taste for $10 and their Library tasting which features those 4 plus others is $20. In addition to the tasting counter they also have a long, picnic like table that accommodates quite a few folks for a sit down tasting. The room is tastefully adorned; wine sits naturally throughout the room as does the olive oil and pickled vegetables they make. Medlock Ames is both sustainable and Biodynamic; that’s clear in their approach and the purity comes singing through when you taste their wines.

I sampled about 6 wines during my visit. The regular flight included, Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon. In addition to those I got to sample a Cabernet/Merlot blend and an earlier (2001) vintage of Merlot. Each of their wines was impressive in its own right. Varietal correctness is the order of the day and there is no doubt when you taste their Chardonnay for instance, the clarity of the grape shines. My personal favorite however is their Merlot. The fruit for this comes from their home estate on Bell Mountain. It’s mostly Merlot with 5% Cabernet Sauvignon blended in. As it should this wine tastes like Merlot. It’s sad but there is a sea of uninspired, tired, flabby wine out there with Merlot written on the label. This is NOT that. This is a tremendous wine with great structure, pure fruit flavors, gripping tannins and a long, inspiring finish. This 2006 Merlot has excellent aging potential to boot. I also sampled the 2001 which was made from the same vineyard source. That 10 year old Merlot is in peak mode now and it’s drinking like velvet.

In the grand scheme of things Medlock Ames is a tiny producer. They make about 4,500 cases with plans to expand a little over the ensuing years. But the way they grow their wines, operate their business and shepherd their property makes them a very important player. They’re part of a movement that is increasing in size every day. This little boutique winery with a charming tasting room on a corner in Alexander Valley is well worth a visit. Check them out soon, you’ll be happy you did. I know I’m absolutely thrilled that I popped in yesterday. Sometimes these last minute, unplanned visits are the best kind, this one was a true delight.

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