“M” marks the spot. The spot for well-made dry wines in the wine country of Geneva, Ohio, that is.
M Cellars is one of the newest wineries in Ohio. Although it has been open a year and a half, it was seven years in the making, according to owner, vineyard manager and winemaker Matt Meineke. We were in town to attend the opening reception of Pairings: Ohio’s Wine & Culinary Experience and it gave us the perfect opportunity to visit this great new winery.
The 12.6 acre site was originally planted in Niagara grapes, a local variety that can have a simple, “foxy” taste. The old vines were removed, the soil prepared and plowed and the ground left fallow for a year. In 2008 Pinot Noir and Riesling were planted and the next year Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Petite Verdot, Gruner Veltliner, Pinot Gris and Chardonnay.
The winery is in a wonderful location at 6193 South River Road in Geneva. It is just a short distance from South River Vineyard, a favorite winery of ours and across the road from another newcomer, Red Eagle Distillery. The building is sparkling new with a spacious and airy tasting room and a dynamite patio and deck with a great view of the vineyard.
Matt’s love is aromatic white wines. The wines of Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario, are an inspiration to Matt who wants to see what can be accomplished in a cool growing climate.
The 2012 Dry Riesling is estate grown – and it is worth noting that almost all of his wines are indeed from his own vines. This has a whisper of sweetness at 0.5% residual sugar. It has a full spectrum of flavors and is one of the nicest Ohio Rieslings we’ve enjoyed. There are flavors of apple and citrus.
We were also pleased to have a taste of M Cellars Rkatsiteli. While widely planted in the former Soviet Union, it’s a rarity here. We’ve been a fan since trying it at Dr. Konstantin Frank’s Vinifera Wine Cellars in the Finger Lakes. This is going to be an exclusive for the M Cellars Society Wine Club, but Matt shared a sample of this aromatic wine which was dry with flavors of orange blossom.
The M Cellars reds are aged in Hungarian Oak and it adds a distinctive quality to the 2012 Pinot Noir. This is a Pinot from a small grape crop with concentrated flavors of baked spice. It’s dry and quite satisfying, a very nice Pinot with some smokiness.
Matt proudly explained that M Cellars is the only Meritage producer in Ohio. While other wineries might produce Bordeaux-style blends, none of the others go through the certification process and adhere to the quality standards for this special wine. The 2012 Meritage is a blend of 75% Cabernet Sauvignon, 10% Merlot, 10% Cabernet Franc and 5% Petit Verdot. It’s a dry, earthy glass of blackberry goodness. It was our favorite.
Although our palates mostly favor dry wines, there’s plenty to enjoy for sweet fans too. The Amelia sweet blush and Vidal Blanc ice wine are popular sellers. The wines range in price from about $18 for the Pinot Gris to about $27 for the Meritage.
The wine is made with finesse, the price is right and the tasting room and winery experience are top notch. It’s called M Cellars, but it easily could be called Mmmmm Cellars. Pay a visit and we think you’ll see why.