Despite a steady drumbeat of press insisting that Riesling is a dry, dry, dry wine, I'm told that the most common remark among visitors to this tasting room is surprise that it is not always sweet. This after decades of well-intentioned incantations against the enduring infamy of cheap Liebfraumilch. But instead of despairing, perhaps it's time to stop chanting that tune and accept that when the gods made Riesling, they gave it the noble stuffing to make both excellent sweet and dry wines. Meadowcroft has got your palate covered either way, and bless 'em for that.
All three in the current Riesling lineup are sourced from Borden Ranch in Lodi. Neither brisk with acidity nor deeply aromatic, they've got their own charms—with the 2011 Reserve Riesling ($26), it's spicy orange tea aromatics and dry pear and peach juice flavors; chamomile tea, Sweet Tarts for the 2012 Thomas Henry Riesling ($18), named for winemaker Tom Meadowcroft's father. The unfashionably sweet treat is the 2011 Foyt Riesling ($32), made for the family of four-time Indy 500 winner A. J. Foyt, but even this is really half-dry.
The tasting room inhabits a freestanding shack at the entrance to Cornerstone Sonoma, the diverting complex of sculpture gardens and antiquey-boutiquey shops whose signature feature was once a big, blue tree. Today, look for plastic snowmen. The atmosphere is casual, there's stuff to buy and a big, sleeping dog to step around, and a comfortably furnished deck upon which to lounge.
At first sombre with mulchy notes shrouding pie-crust aromas, the 2011 Bonneau Vineyard Sonoma County Chardonnay ($26) brightens up for a rich, butterscotchy finish. Reds begin with a stewed Pinot and a rustic Sangiovese, picking up a bit at the 2011 Knight's Valley Zinfandel ($28), a juicy and round enough claret. Meadowcroft's main event is the 2010 Mt. Veeder Estate Cabernet Sauvignon ($75). Like a lot of producers' top Cabs, however, it displays obvious, promising quality with its dusty and well-knit finish and somewhat reduced, young and weedy aromas, but is not currently as much fun as the runner-up 2010 Oak Knoll Cabernet Sauvignon ($50), with its plush, cranberry-black cherry liqueur flavors. As for tawny hue and treacly, the chocolate liqueur smack of the port-style "All She Wrote" Cabernet ($36 for 500 milliliters) is just as delicious and sweet as it's supposed to be.