Metro Wines Blogs

Metro Wines Asheville, NC

White Bordeaux, Chateau Magneau 2012

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With all due respect to the varietal, a White Bordeaux can be a little, shall we say, light, flavorless, pedestrian, boring, thin, limp, deceptive...OK we went too far there but you get the point. To summarize, White Bordeaux can be why bother. Chateau Magneau is one of only three versions of White Bordeaux we carry for all the aforementioned reasons! Imported by highly regarded Wine Traditions, this bottle is in the classic style. Intense aromas of wet stone, citrus, juniper and rosemary go palate in a creamier way than most bottles of White Bordeaux. Why? Come on by the shop. We have to have some secrets!
 
From Chateau Magneau:

Graves wines, like the region, are seldom obvious, they tend to be undramatic, undemanding and gentle; with much that may be revealed to the discriminating.  -  Wines of the Graves, Pamela Vandyke Price

Today, Graves is one of Bordeaux’s most dynamic areas. The biggest revolution has occurred in the quality of Graves dry white wines. Graves white are now more aromatic, fresh and well made; some of them with a distinctly exotic edge, with tropical fruit and a New World tang. -  The Bordeaux Atlas, H. Duijker & M. Broadbent

The Graves region is often referred to as ‘the cradle of Bordeaux wine’ and has been described as a beauty asleep in her woods and forests. Since the Middle Ages, the city of Bordeaux and its outlying areas have had vineyards and these areas are today part of the Graves appellation. The appellation’s reputation owes much to Chateau Haut Brion which was well known by the early 17th century. Our own Thomas Jefferson, speaking of the Graves white wines, wrote in the late 18th century “those made in the canton of Graves are most esteemed at Bordeaux”. Since then the fame and fortune of the Graves has been eclipsed by the Medoc region with which it shares its geological origin, namely beds of gravel soil washed upstream from the Pyrenees. To the west, the forests of the Landes shelter the Graves region from the Atlantic Ocean. It is, though, to the eastern shore along the Garonne river that the world’s attention turns. It is here, on a fairly narrow strip of land between the river bank and the encroaching forest that one finds vineyards that for centuries have supplied wines to popes, kings, presidents and more importantly, now to us all.

Château Magneau is an ancient property that has been run by the Ardurat family since before the reign of Henri IV. It is located in the historic commune of La Brède, a mile from the historic moated castle where Montesquieu was born. Today, Chateau Magneau is run by Henri Ardurats and his two sons Jean-Louis and Bruno along with Jean-Louis’ wife, Brigitte, who is responsible for the sales. Jean-Louis is in charge of the vineyards as well as the winemaking. He continually works on the expression of his wines by farming parcels of land individually and then vinifying each separately according to its intrinsic character. A modern winery was built in 1980 and a new barrel cellar in 1996. From one generation to the next, the Ardurats have passed on the philosophy of “quality before profit" and they have been recognized by an exhaustive list of awards. In 2002, they received the Trophée des Crus de Graves, an award which is given by colleagues and which recognizes only a few chateaux from the entire appellation. The Ardurats farm 41 hectares of land with deep gravelly soil in the heart of the Graves appellation. Farming is done without the use of chemical insecticides and harvesting is done both by hand and by machine. Before entering the winery all grape bunches are hand sorted to insure the highest quality of fruit. The Ardurats are a member of Terra Vitis, an organization that certifies the practice of sustainable agriculture as well as high standards for the wine’s vinification.

Graves Blanc

Generally, Bordeaux wines, both white and red, illustrate the art of blending and the Chateau Magneau Graves Blanc is a fine example of this. The wine is made from 45% Sauvignon Blanc, 45% Semillon and 10% Muscadelle. The average age of the vines is 30 years. The Muscadelle used in a small proportion gives the wine an extroverted and inviting bouquet. The Semillon offers both ripe stone fruit flavors and a rich texture on the palate. The Sauvignon Blanc adds melon and citric flavors and provides a clean citric finish to the wine. Not one of these varieties on their own could create such a progression of flavors or balance of textures. Each variety is fermented separately in stainless steel tanks at low temperatures to preserve the grapes’ aromatic qualities. The wine is blended and bottled before the spring of the following year. The Chateau Magneau succeeds particularly because it obtains complexity without sacrificing subtlety or elegance.

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Tessellae Carignan Vieilles Vignes 2011

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From Eric Solomon Selections, Wine Spectator gave Tessellae  91 points. A  deep rose color with an ever so slight bluish cast, layers of dark blue fruit on the palate finishing with a wild taste reminicient of Dean and DeLucca prosciutto.  The label will call to mind the pointillism style of French artist Georges Seurat. Class act, inside and out. 

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91 points Robert Parker's Wine Advocate

  The 2011 Tessellae Vieilles Vignes Cotes Catalanes is 100% Carignan aged in concrete tanks (80%) and demi-muids (20%). From 70-year-old Carignan vines planted in schist soils, it displays copious notes of blueberries, raspberries, spring flowers and damp forest floor. The fragrant aromatics are followed by a lush, gorgeously textured, medium-bodied, elegant, complex wine that should provide plenty of pleasure over the next 3-4 years. Jean-Marc Lafage and importer Eric Solomon fashioned these special cuvees, which are only available through European Cellars in the United States. 

Wine Advocate 91
"Lafage’s 2011 Carignan Vieilles Vignes Tessellae – like the corresponding pure Grenache, grown in Les Aspres – offers ripe scents and palate-staining intensity and persistence of blackberry and mulberry on a polished palate, yet one with crunch of berry seeds and a nutty-vegetal ping akin to lentil sprouts administering welcome invigoration and counterpoint. Like so many of Lafage’s reds, this manages to combine fullness and sweet ripeness with vivacity, buoyancy and downright refreshment not to mention its offering sensational value. It should remain delightful through at least 2016."~DS

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Almost Free Friday's Lineup

For  Almost Free Friday, we are pouring two wines that overperform for their price! 

Santa Ema Sauvignon Blanc

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Native to the Bordeaux Region of France, this green skinned grape likely takes its name from the French word "sauvage" meaning wild and "blanc," white. Now grown and made wine all over the world, the version from Chile, such as Santa Ema, is most similar to the French style. Generally light to medium in body, the grapes take on the particular characteristics of its home terroir.

Chilean Sauvignon Blancs tend to be quite aromatic and tropical on the palate. Santa Ema is no exception. Remarkably clear and bright straw in color, the aroma is fresh citrus including ripe pears and green apples. Notes of fine herbs add complexity to the nose and palate. Fresh, voluminous  and lively on the plate, this 100% Sauvignon Blanc offers well balanced acidity and a deliciously fruity finish.

Santa Ema is a sustainable winery following environmentally friendly practices and socially responsible policies.

 

La Fiera Montepulciano D’Abruzzo 2012

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 La Fiera is a third-generation family wine business producing wines from Veneto, Piedmont and Tuscany. Did you know, according to our wine expert Andy Hale, that the grape Montepulciano is not grown in the actual place of Montepulciano? It is actually grown in surrounding areas in Italy. Sangiovese is actually the wine of Montepulciano. The grape variety is Montepulciano grown in the region of Abruzzo, Italy. La Fiera Montepulciano is a deep, ruby-red color with violet highlights and a pleasant and fruity bouquet. On the palate the finish is full-bodied with soft tannins and good acidity. This is a full-bodied red wine with soft tannins and good acidity.  Expect dark berry fruit and spice.

 The winemaker notes:

In parts of the Abruzzi, most notably in the low hills of the northern province of Teramo, Montepulciano offers full-bodied age ability alongside a supple smoothness that makes this wine irresistible even when young. La Fiera Montepulciano d’Abruzzo is a full-bodied red wine with violet highlights, a fruity bouquet and a palate of dark berry fruit and spice. An outstanding red wine value!

This wine is best paired with tomato-based pastas, pizza and roasted poultry.

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Try these wines for Almost Free Friday and enjoy them with other great performers during Comedy Night! 7pm-8pm $10! With headliner Jack Morgan; featuring Tom Emmons; Carolyn Adams host!

Jack Morgan is a very original, intelligent, and improvisational comedian who is based out of Charlotte. He is also a math teacher.

Tom Emmons is a Greenville, SC comedian, whose dry delivery of intelligent and thought provoking one-liners has earned him accolades and festival appearances across the Southeast.

Carolyn Adams is a Greenville, SC comedian whose first book, "Ruthless," will be published by Simon & Schuster in 2015.

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Lillet, James Bond and You

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Before we go to Bond, James Bond, lets just talk Lillet. A few years back, some publication decided that Sean Connery was not just the best looking man of 19?? or the decade, or the century for that matter, but the best looking man ever EVER in the world. Now that is heavy. So, it makes sense that this guy, even in character as Bond, James Bond would drink Lillet. The publication said most men want to BE Bond, James Bond, this Sean Connery James Bond, and most women want to be with him. Hmmmmm. The sheer elegance of this seemless blend of floral aromas and citrus flavors with noticeable lemon and orange peel, is so much more than a taste apart, it is an experience. Lillet cannot change the facts on the ground, as they say, but Lillet can and does  surround you in glamor.

Since 1887, Lillet has been made in the village of Podensac just 20 miles south of Bordeaux. The carefully selected wines are blended together with fruits and herbs to make this fortified wine. To bring up the bouquet, serve Lillet chilled in a traditional Bordeaux glass. Most often served as an aperitif, discover, as the label says, "the versatility of Lillet." Dry. Stunning. Elegant. Glamorous.

 From wiki:

The drink was invented and named by fictional secret agent James Bond in the 1953 novel Casino Royale.

"A dry martini," [Bond] said. "One. In a deep champagne goblet."
"Oui, monsieur."
"Just a moment. Three measures of Gordon's, one of vodka, half a measure of Kina Lillet. Shake it very well until it's ice-cold, then add a large thin slice of lemon peel. Got it?"
"Certainly, monsieur." The barman seemed pleased with the idea.
"Gosh, that's certainly a drink," said Leiter.
Bond laughed. "When I'm...er...concentrating," he explained, "I never have more than one drink before dinner. But I do like that one to be large and very strong and very cold and very well-made. I hate small portions of anything, particularly when they taste bad. This drink's my own invention. I'm going to patent it when I can think of a good name."
Ian FlemingCasino Royale, Chapter 7, "Rouge et Noir'

Fleming continues with Bond telling the barman, after taking a long sip, "Excellent ... but if you can get a vodka made with grain instead of potatoes, you will find it still better," and then adds in an aside, "Mais n'enculons pas des mouches"[1] (English: But let's not bugger flies—a vulgar French expression meaning "let's not split hairs").

Bond in the next chapter, "Pink Lights and Champagne", names it the Vesper. At the time of his first introduction to the beautiful Vesper Lynd, he obtains her name in a perfect «interrogation indirecte», "I was born in the evening,..on a very stormy evening..," and asks to borrow it.

Vesper differs from Bond's usual cocktail of choice, the martini, in that it uses both gin and vodka, Kina Lillet instead of the usual dry vermouth, and a lemon peel instead of an olive. Although there is a lot of discussion on the Vesper, it is only ordered once throughout Fleming's novels - although Bond drinks the Vesper ("six of them") in the film Quantum of Solace - and by later books Bond is ordering regular vodka martinis, though he also drinks regular gin martinis. It may be that Fleming decided not to have Bond order a Vesper again due to the way in which 'Casino Royale' ends.

In actuality the book version of the Vesper was created by Fleming's friend Ivar Bryce. In Bryce's copy of Casino Royale Fleming inscribed "For Ivar, who mixed the first Vesper and said the good word." In his book You Only Live Once, Bryce details that Fleming was first served a Vesper, a drink of a frozen rum concoction with fruit and herbs, at evening drinks by the butler of an elderly couple in Jamaica, the Duncans, the butler commenting, "'Vespers' are served." Vespers or evensong is the sixth of the seven canonical hours of the divine office and are observed at sunset, the 'violet hour', Bond's later chosen hour of fame for his martini Vesper.[2]

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Roaring Meg, New Zealand Pinot Noir

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Before we go to the winery notes, let's talk Roaring Meg on location @MetroWines. To be honest, and we strive to do that!!, Yours Truly was last to taste Roaring Meg. It was an early "Kendal's Pick" and John also raved about it. We tasted Roaring Meg at the shop during our BIG blow out Pinot Noir sale last month. Of all the Pinot Noirs on the shelf (and, as you know, we have quite the collection) Roaring Meg was a clear favorite.

On the nose, you find what I would call rolling cherry and plum aromas. The palate is intense, but not stinging, with red and black fruit and a touch of oak spice and something just a little different from the French, Oregon and California Pinot Noirs. That is to say, the taste is a true reflection of the New Zealand terroir. All this plus soft tannins, balanced acidity and a fruit driven finish earned Roaring Meg 88 Points from Wine Spectator.

OK. Rave reviews and a staff favorite. But it was not until about two weeks ago that I opened the bottle for the Mixed Leftovers Meal Test. Roaring Meg pulled the dishes which ranged from sesame pasta to brussels sprouts to an Indian fish wrap comfortably together. Majestic Wine in Great Britain says: "This is a crackling, complex wine to be enjoyed over the next 5 years. Enjoy with pork loin and peach chutney or rabbit cassarole." Without debating the culinary skills of the British, I rest my case, Roaring Meg goes with just about everything, inluding a soft chair by the fire and a good book!

ROARING MEG
PINOT NOIR 2012

This wine highlights the slightly cooler season with lovely perfumed dark red forest berries and cherry fruits along with a hint of dried herb, adding complexity. The wine has a sweet berry entry which displays these same characters in abundance. Lovely ripe textural tannins rise gracefully out of the mid-palate to finish the wine. These are balanced by the wine’s acidity and fruit, to produce a long fruit-driven finish.

CELLARING POTENTIAL

Roaring Meg Pinot Noir will improve for 3-5 years given optimal vintage and cellaring conditions.

VINTAGE 2012

After an ideal dry winter and a cool wet early spring, the only significant blemish on the 2012 vintage was the advection frost that hit our higher elevation Lowburn blocks in early November and dramatically impacted their crop levels. However, the season from that point on was nigh on a perfect cool season. Later in summer is traditionally our warmest period, but this year the extreme heat happened through Christmas and January, and then the weather cooled to merely ‘pleasantly warm’. It was dry for the most part; interspersed with short rain events happening at times where the moisture posed little threat. Early autumn was not looking auspicious with cooler temperatures and more rainfall than normal when a fantastic Indian summer finished the season off beautifully. Harvest came in two weeks later than usual due to the cooler overall temperatures, which brought a focused flavour profile with good natural acidity levels. It was a normal yielding year, and we have some very interesting wines in the cellar.

WINEMAKING CONSIDERATIONS

The grapes for this wine come from Cromwell basin vineyards managed by our viticultural team. Our harvest this year was later than usual with our first fruit harvested on the 12th April and finishing up on the 5th May. The fruit was all destemmed to enhance the natural fruit characters of the Cromwell Basin. The grapes stayed in the fermentor on average for a total of 26 days, with temperatures peaking at 29-300C. The wine was plunged once daily during pre-fermentation and twice daily during fermentation. When the wine tasted in harmony it was pressed off to French oak where it resided on lees for 10 months. It underwent malolactic fermentation during early spring, was racked out of barrel in mid-summer with filtration prior to bottling.

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Poggio Anima Uriel 2012

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Been to Coquete in New Orleans? Cafe Murano on St. James Street in London? Ciao in Houston, The Robin Hood Hotel in Australia, The Spread in Norwalk, Connecticut, winner of 2014 Best New Restaurant? How about Bocca di Lupo at Picadilly Circus, winner of the 2013 Tatler Restaurant Award for "Best Wine List" in London? Well if you had been to any of these fine establishments lately, you would have seen Poggio Anima URIEL on the wine list. There's a reason why URIEL is in demand across Europe, in this country and points beyond!! This is Sicilian. This is Grillo. This is a dry white grape. This is a white wine to write home about!

Grillo, the most important white grape in Sicily is made URIEL using the vertical trellis system in sandy and clay rich soil on the western slopes of Sicily. The grape can stand the heat and wind at the vineyard sitting 1600 feet above sea level. Grillo characteristically prodcues a wine that is light and crisp rich in peach and apricot aromas and flavors. URIEL is no exception to this wine rule but it distinquishes itself with extraordinary balanced acidity and a full, round palate. With a light perfume that surrounds you, URIEL drifts beyond the table offering an all encompassing experience. $15.99.

Winemaker's Notes:

Uriel, the archangel of repentance. Uriel played a very important role in ancient texts as the rescuer of Jesus' cousin John the Baptist from the Massacre of the Innocents ordered by King Herod. The translation of Uriel is ‘God of Light.’ Uriel was the angel who checked each of the doors during the Passover in order to ensure safety for God’s people. Grillo, also known as Riddu, is a very resilient grape and one that withstands a lot of heat and wind on Sicily. It is probably best known as the foundation for Marsala but in its ‘dry’ form has many interesting characteristics. It is the most important white grape on Sicilty and therefore the ‘principal light.’

The vineyards are located in Western Sicily, in the Salemi area at about 25 miles from Marsala. They are planted east facing following the vertical trellis system on sandy and clay rich soil, using guyot pruning. At an altitude of around 1,600 feet above sea level, they are about 15 years old.

After de-stemming and maceration for a few hours, the grapes are subject to soft-press before fermentation takes place in temperature-controlled stainless-steel tanks. The wine is then left on its lees for about a couple of weeks before being bottled.

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ASINEL 2012

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ASINEL 2012 Piemonte D.O.C. Bianco

The winery says: "the Piedmont Wine Project is a new approach to interpreting the classic appeal of the Italian region's indigenous varietals in a blend with great potential."

Tech Sheet

APPELLATION:
Piedmont D.O.C.

VARIETALS:
Cortese 50% – Arneis 35% – Moscato d’Asti secco 15%

VINIFICATION:
Lots of wine carefully selected from various producers in diverse areas of Piedmont, vinified entirely in stainless steel and aged on the lees for around 4 months.

ORGANOLEPTIC PROFILE:
Bright straw yellow with light greenish reflections. Intense aromas of peach, apricot, orange blossoms, chamomile and sage.

Delicate taste, not “hot”, slightly sweet with a good fresh acidity.

PAIRING AND DRINKING RECOMMENDATIONS:
Perfect to pair with hors d’oeuvres, cold appetizers and fish dishes.

Best to drink young (within the first 2-3 years) at 10°C /50°F.

OK. So, there you have the philosophy and winemaker details. Now, the bottom, most drinkable line. The truth is that Yours Truly wanted to buy this wine for the shop, initially, initially I say!!!! because of the label. The shock of seeing a chatreuse green donkey on the label of an Italian wine and, even more, seeing this almost 60's mod looking image next to the standard operating oh so traditional family crests and stately labels that front the rest of the Italian wine section is jarring. Yours Truly was outvoted. No sale. We did, we confess, me too, in the end, hesitate to bring ASINEL into the shop despite the high quality and engaging flavor profile. We were wrong. Wrong. Wrong. Wrong. Don't let the label get you to thinking that this is anything less than serious wine business. 

From his centuries old winery, highly regarded winemaker, Alberto Cordero di Montezemolo went his own way on this one defying the restrictive protocols and the weight of tradition that IS Italian winemaking to produce this most pleasant, drinkable and unusual, off the grid blend. And this is what the label is all about, recognition of this avant garde approach. Straw yellow in the glass, the MetroWines Tasting Panel found very discernible peach and apricot on the nose and palate. Andy Hale, our in house sommelier, says: "Because of the nose which brought to mind Sauterne, I thought the wine might be sweet, but it is decidedly dry. Aromatic, yes. But dry." This is a medium bodied wine with good fruit, a delightful and consistent floral presence, and dry to the finish. This wine exceeds the cost and, admit it, we did!!!, your expectations. And, of course, the name:

title-asinel

(pronounced phonetically “azee – nel”)
The origin of the wine’s name and the imagine on the label play on several aspects. The literal meaning of asinel is two-fold: in the Piedmont dialect “asinel” means both “donkey” and “grape”.
Obviously without grapes, we cannot produce wine, but we chose the face of a cute donkey to illustrate the historical and traditional importance the animal had to the farmers’ work in the vineyards.

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Cantamerli Monferrato Rosso 2011

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Cantamerli Monferrato Rosso 2011

Bordeaux meets the Piedmont! A blend of 60% Barbera and 40% Cabernet Sauvignon, this dry red wine is soft, creamy, intense and uncommonly elegant. The grapes are grown on hills that date back to the Pleistocene. Ruby red in color, on the nose and palate, you will find this wine presents red fruits, spices and vanilla all perfectly, as the winery says, "harmonized."  To describe Cantamerli Rosso in a word would be "seemless." After spending 10 months in small French Oak Barrels, the wine is sent to us in Burgundian style bottles.

From German Website: wijnboutique: Thick, full black / red. Huge fragrant. Juicy cherries. Smoky cassis. Fresh mint. Earthy truffle tone. Tempting! Soft Creamy Vanilla, nice dose toasted and spicy wood. Smoothly switching to cedar and tobacco in polished completely ended toffee and espresso. Unbelievable GOOD.

So, this is a wine that we can recommend with a HIGH degree of confidence. Cantamerli Monferrato Rosso, with the grey suede like label and gold lettering, is also the perfect gift. $17.99 but many $$s more in appearance, taste and quality.

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Soave and Merlot are Lonely!

As you all know, Thursday is Lonely Grape Day and here is our line-up!

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Soave was arguably the most famous white-wine DOC in Italy, from the Veneto region. Granted DOC status in 1968, the title covers wines made from Garganega grapes grown on the hillsides east of Verona. A dry, crisp, fruity white wine, Soave’s naturally refreshing appeal led it to phenomenal popularity in the second half of the 20th century. But since then, no one has given Soave a second look, leaving it lonely on our shelves and becoming today’s lonely grape white wine.

La Fiera Soave 2011 winemaker describes this vintage as having “a straw yellow color with green hues. This wine has bright, fresh fruit aromas of pears and apples with floral aromas and mineral complexities on a bright, clean palate. Serve with a wide variety of seafood dishes, cheeses, chicken, salads and lighter Asian fare. Excellent as an aperitif."

 

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And today, Merlot once again makes the line-up for our Lonely Grape Day. We love Merlot! Today we are pouring Cono Sur Merlot from Chile. This wine is 85% Merlot, 7% Cabernet, 5% Malbec, 1% Petite Verdot, and 1% Carignan! What a BLEND! Cono Sur Merlot is a high intensity Merlot with a dark plum red coloring. On the nose you are finding hints of blackberries, acid cherries, toasted oak, and mocha. It is generous and robust. It is wonderfully balanced as well as smooth, mature, and fulfilling. Ripe tannins and excellent structure makes this a signature Merlot. Pairs well with red meats and soft cheeses. So forget what you heard from the movie Sideways, and others, and give Cono Sur Merlot a chance! $9.99 a bottle! Come on people!

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CHECK OUT OUR NEW CASE CLUB OPTION!

BREAKING NEWS:

METRO WINES HAS A NEW CASE CLUB OPTION:

6 FOR $100!!

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If you are interested in joining this case club, call John Kerr at 828-575-9525!!

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Louis Dressner Tasting

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March 8 from 2 - 4pm: Taste 10 Louis Dressner Wines @MetroWines.

You have probably already tasted and taken home!!! Louis Dressner's Les Heritiques, Cotes Du Rhone and Clos De LA Roilette. So you know that Louis Dressner brings in clean, unadulterated wines. This is vine to glass. Come taste the difference - and there is one!

News Release: February 18, 2014 

Metro Wines will host a wine tasting of 10 wines from Louis Dressner Selections. We will pour and discuss the characteristics and vintage of each wine. Louis Dressner is known for importing wines that showcase the place of origin and varietal character free of over-processing and manipulation. Saturday, March 8th, 2 to 4pm. The tasting is free and the parking is plenty, easy and free. 

Contact: Gina Trippi
shop: 575-9525
cell: 273-5348

What Louis says:

Louis/Dressner Selections is a portfolio of over 100 vignerons hailing from France, Italy, Germany, Spain, Portugal, Croatia, Slovenia and Chile. We are a partnership of Denyse Louis, a native Burgundian, Joe Dressner and Kevin McKenna. Collectively, we spend nearly nine months a year in Europe working with our growers and selecting wines for importation to America.

We have no brands. We are not looking for them. We do have a group of often fanatical growers who are doing their best to make wines that are original because they are honestly crafted. These might seem old-fashioned, but in the present context it is almost revolutionary....

There are no gobs, no exaggerations, no over-this and over-that. We don’t have fruit bombs. What we do have is a group of growers who work their vines and make their wines with honesty, passion and humor.

In that sense THE BRAND is the convergence of these crazy growers and their American importers. Working together to produce and market natural products that follow several principles. 

The following techniques and guiding principles are what we believe is winemaking with integrity and respect for the traditions of the native region. This is fine winemaking at its purest, most fundamental level.

Wild Yeasts:

All wines are made with the natural yeasts on the grapes, in the vineyards and in the cellars. Cultured yeasts to rush fermentation or add “enhancing” aromas and flavors are unacceptable. We look for wines that express their terroir. No enzymes, no hormones.

Hand Harvesting:

Growers harvest by hand, not machine. We want the ripest fruit to be brought carefully and lovingly into the winery.

Low Yields:

The growers want low yields for greater concentration. We look for growers with holdings in old vines. 

Natural Viticulture:

We encourage growers to plow their vineyards to keep the soil an active eco-system, and to use natural methods in tending their vines.

No or Minimal Chaptalization:

We do not want an artificially high degree of alcohol produced by adding sugar to the must. Non- or slightly chaptalized wines are more enjoyable and healthier to drink.

Non-Filtration:

Wines are either not filtered or minimally filtered. We also encourage low levels of SO2.

Non-Interventionist Winemaking:

We prefer a harmony, not an imposed style —wines should showcase their place of origin and varietal character. We are not looking for oak flavor, particular fruits or overly done aromatics. Minimal use of S02 is encouraged.

Enjoyment!

Lastly, our most important “principle.” Because, the overblown world of overdone wines is fundamentally tiresome. We’re not looking for tasting specimens, but for wines that are great fun, and a great pleasure to drink.

We aren't big fans of wines that are...

Over-Manipulated:
The over-handling of wine is one of the fundamental caveats in winemaking. Repeatedly pumping wine from one vat to another and moving wine or grape must by truck affects the freshness and flavors of the wine. Of course, chemical adjustments can be made to cover up any faults....and Velveeta is delicious!

Over-Flavored:
In almost all parts of the world it's common practice to use cultured yeasts and extra grape sugars to enrich the flavors of the grape juice during fermentation. Not to mention the foolish winemaker that keeps a shelf of flavor extracts on a shelf directly above the vat...WHOOPS!

Over-Acidified:
Did you know it was common practice in most areas of the world to do "acid adjustments" by adding citric acid, tartaric acid and, less frequently, malic acid to adjust the acidity levels of a wine?

Over-Harvested:
Restricting the number of grape bunches on a vine is the simplest, most basic technique for achieving greater concentration and flavor. The majority of wine-grape growers harvest at levels high above the norm to increase the number of bottles that may be sold...the simplest, most basic formula for increasing profits.

Over-Filtered:
Sterile filtration is a method of forcing wine through microscopic screens that basically strip the wine of particles which may include materials that give wine a unique flavor. It is commonly used throughout the winemaking world.

Over-Oaked:
While oak can be a good and interesting thing, there are excesses. The overuse of new oak is a departure from traditional winemaking techniques that, apart from being prohibitively expensive and greatly accelerating the deforestation of France, has created a new consumer demand for oak-flavored wines. So much so, that some disreputable wineries in certain parts of the world go so far as to add oak chips and oak extract flavors to wine!

Over-Rated:
Let's not kid ourselves, folks! The great majority of the wine press throughout the world, with notable exceptions, is wholly influenced by advertising and perceived glamour.
We've even found ourselves incredulous at some of the stellar ratings our own wines have received!

Over-the-Top:
Any number of the above-mentioned factors and others (such as fancy bottles, postage stamp labels, etc) can put a wine over-the-top. There are also wines that burst out of the bottle due to added flavors and overextraction and are the "blockbusters wines" of the press and tastings, but inevitably can't hold up to aging or are completely incompatible with food.

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Paitin Wears Prada

Paitin Barbera SERRA 2011

CNN's Anderson Cooper wears PRADA. All the TV talking heads talk about how Anderson Cooper wears a black PRADA T-shirt while covering disasters. Any reasonable person might ask why Anderson Cooper's garb is news worth using our public airwaves to so announce. On occasion, I am, despite popular opinion otherwise! reasonable and I did check it out. But then I found myself wanting to know what this black PRADA T-shirt, (BTW, I think there was a black PRADA button down short-sleeved 100% cotton, apparently highly starched shirt involved as well)  was all about.  OK. So, Anderson Cooper looks great in PRADA black, collar or no collar, with or without starch. And granted, Anderson Cooper would probably look great with the TV section of the Asheville Citizen Times wrapped around him (stay with me - don't go there!!!) But the truth is that there was something about the shirt, both of them. So perfectly cut. And even without being close up and personal you could see the quality fabric, the fine stitching, the attention to detail, the intense black. Understated but an undeniable fabric force demanding your attention and admiration.

So, the long winded, very visual point here is that Paitin is the same way. Understated but intensely perfect. The land upon which Paitin sits has been home terroir to vineyards since the 1500s. And this Paitin family winery dates back to 1796. Made wine in Neive d'Alba Piedmont, this bottle of Paitin Barbera SERRA presents layers of dense flavors, red berries, spices and a touch of soft leather on the palate. Paitin is not "too" anything. Paitin is complete in character yet seemless. Paitin is a class act. Paitin wears PRADA!

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From the Paitin Website: Paitin Estate history started in 1796 when Benedetto Elia purchased from Luigi Pellissero the farmstead with outlying wine cellar and vineyards. His son Giuseppe extended later vineyards and acquired the underground cellar, dating back to XV century. Since 1898 it has been started wine foreign exportation, while since1893 Barbaresco del Sori Paitin has been produced. Estate started full activity in 1965 again with Secondo Pasquero-Elia, who built a new wine cellar, by replanting gradually vineyards and acquiring new vines. At present Secondo Pasquero is working in the cellar together with his sons Giovanni and Silvano, who also opened, in 1997, a farmhouse. Very good bottles are produced from 17 hectares land.   And then Paitin Barbera SERRA heads westbound:                

Sample shipment record for Azienda Agriolca Paitin

Bill of Lading

BILL OF LADING NO.

ITGB1404517P3943

ARRIVAL DATE

2010-02-21

VOYAGE NO.

97W

VESSEL NAME

HANJIN LOS ANGELES

Anchor
 

SHIPPER

AZIENDA AGRIOLCA PAITIN
VIA SERRA BOLLEA N 20 NEIVE ,CN,12057 ITALY

CONSIGNEE

HAW RIVER WINE MAN INC.
2921 WORMRANCH ROAD HAW RIVER ,NC,27258 USA

NOTIFY PARTY

 

 

PORT OF LOADING

La Spezia

PORT OF DISCHARGE

Norfolk, Virginia

 

DECLARATION OF GOODS

WINE

OTHER INFORMATION AVAILABLE

Gross Weight, Number of Units, Volume, Country of Origin, Carrier Code, Ship Registered In, Container Number, Marks & Numbers

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Women Writers Wines

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Tall and tan and young and lovely,
The girl from Ipanema goes walking
And when she passes, each one she passes goes, “Aaah…”
When she walks, she’s like a samba
That swings so cool and sways so gently
That when she passes, each one she passes goes, “Aaah…”
Oh, but he watches so sadly -
How can he tell her he loves her?
Yes, he would give his heart gladly,
But each day when she walks to the sea,
She looks straight ahead – not at he…
Tall and tan and young and lovely,
The girl from Ipanema goes walking
And when she passes, he smiles, but she doesn’t see…

Oh, but he sees her so sadly -
How can he tell her he loves her?
Yes, he would give his heart gladly,
But each day when she walks to the sea,
She looks straight ahead – not at he…
Tall and tan and young and lovely,
The girl from Ipanema goes walking
And when she passes, he smiles, but she doesn’t see…
She just doesn’t see…
No, she doesn’t see…
But she doesn’t see…
She doesn’t see…
No, she doesn’t see…

"The Girl From Ipanema" by Antonio Carlos Jobim and Vinicius de Moraes

We could say that Recuerdo Torrontes is light in color awash with chartruese green, with an extremely aromatic citrus perfume and a pronounced floral essence. We could say that you will find intense flavors of peaches, Asian fruits and touches of lemon on the palate. We could say that this wine is fermented in steel tanks which gives it a crispness that will impress your friends who favorite Sauvignon Blanc and Viognier.  We could say that this wine conjures up dreams. We could say all that about this wine but the truth is, the lyrics say it best: "tall and tan and young and lovely..."  

Recuerdos, translate, memories, are timeless. The winemaker tells us that with more than 300 days of sun each year over the Argentine landscape in the shadow of the Andes Mountains,  the "sentimal of our memories" sits here. This Torrontes comes from the dramatic desert vineyard located 2,625 feet above sea level in the northern part of Argentina. Created by The Vines of Mendoza with acclaimed consulting winemaker Santiago Achaval, this Torrontes is a crisp, dry and intensely arromatic white wine that captures the fundamental qualities of high altitude terroirs. At 11% alcholol, this bottle sets the stage for memories.

UPDATE: We are proud to announce that, as of February 18th, Recuerdo is following us on twitter!!

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From the Columbia Valley in Washington State, 14 Hands Cabernet Sauvignon celebrates the spirit of the wild horses that once roamed the Columbia River Valley. Just 14 hands in height, these horses were revered around the world for their strength. The terrain that once gave them endurance and spirit is now home to the vines that make 14 Hands Cabernet Sauvignon. The winemaker says: "Our 14 Hands wines share the soul and intensity of this unbridled freedom."

14 Hands is a sultry and sophisticated blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Syrah and Cabernet Franc. Inspired by French Bordeaux, 14 Hands is pure Pacific Northwest rugged individualism. Bold with flavors of red currants, black cherries, raspberries, spice, espresso and cocoa, this is a bottle that drinks well under a blanket.

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Lonely Grape Day: Pizy & Vina Pomal

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Coteau De Pizy Touraine Sauvignon Blanc 2012

Seriously, what grape is lonlier on a cold, snowy day than Sauvignon Blanc? On ocassion, our fair French sister is almost greeted with disdain! Yes, disdain. You can almost hear the plaintive wailing: "I am not just a summer wine!" And isn't there something to be said for being in sync with your environment? Cold outside, cold inside. Sauvignon Blanc says, "be one at peace with your surroundings."  So Pizy steps forth as the standard bearer for this dilemma. Lonely not just because of the weather, Pizy is double lonely as it is from Touraine, not as highly regarded as other Sauvignon Blanc producing regions.  Pizy is stomping: "Just not fair."  Pizy believes knowledge is power. Witness: A husband and wife team do ALL the work that makes the grapes from their small vineyard wine. This Sauvignon Blanc is made from indigenous Loire Valley grapes fermented and kept in stainless steel to insure pure fruit, clairty and sharpness. And, anyway, no matter what you think of this wine feng shui idea of cold outside cold inside, Bordeaux just does not go with crab, fresh or frozen.  So there, says Pizy!

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 Vina Pomal Crianza 2010, Rioja

Oddly enough, this Rioja is mumbling some of the same stuff as Pizy. Rioja believes, whether it is a fact or not, that it is being beaten as the winter red of choice by Shiraz and California Cabernet Sauvignon. Always a stately gentleman, Rioja needs no defense. But just FYI about this bottle: word has it that Winston Churchill was partial to Vina Pomal back in the day. Apparently there was a bottling plant near Charing Cross in London. Yeah! So who's the winter red now?  From the oldest producer in Rioja, Bodegas Bilbainas, read over 100 years, this Vina Pomal is 100% Tempranillo. Aged in oak "barriques" for 12 months, the wine is a sensuous deep red with violet hints. On the palate, expect dark fruit, characteristic cherry, licorice and roasted flavors. Still a London favorite, this is a a mighty big bad boy for $11.99 and whatever it is in Pounds Sterling!

And about Crianza, this means the wine has been aged at least 2 years. Who's your winter red, baby!

 

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Dibon Brut

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Wine Enthusiast says Dibon Brut is a Best Buy. "Dibon is new to us, and after tasting this complete, well-made Cava we are happy to makes it acquaintance. The nose offers regal yeast and richness, while the palate has complexity to prop up apple, citrus and grapefruit flavors. Solid from front to back, with health and freshness."      

Wine & Spirits Magazine: "Dried apricot and marzipan flavors meet the nutty bitterness of this cava. A sweet, soft wine to serve with herbed goat cheese in pastry shells."

Bon Appetit: "UN VERDADERO HALLAZGO, con dulce y sutil sabor de albricoque equilibrado con tarta de polmelo"...Translation "A TRUE BARGAIN, with subtly sweet apricot flavors, balanced by tart grapefruit"

From Vilafranca del Penedes, Barcelona Spain, Dibon CAVA Brut Reserve is an organic blend of 45% Macbeo, 25% Xarel-lo and 30% Parellada. Toasty! With lots of bubbles! So what, you say. Bubbles are nice but so what. This is what....bubbles carry the flavor! Clear, light gold in color, Dibon is BIG and complex on the nose with aromas of apples and pears. Add to this a touch of grapefruit and maybe something baked on the palate.  Three generations of winemaking and natural yeast fermentation make Dibon quite an authentic and finessed bottle for $11.99. 

 

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Argyle

Argyle. This is magic. 'Nough said.  Well maybe not quite enough. The Metro Wines Tasting Panel found Argyle Wines to be the steel magnolias of the wine world. By this, we mean there was a delicacy, almost lilting quality to the white and rose wines yet an undeniable strength. To be honest, in our experience, Arglye is unique in this regard. This is magic.

Argyle's History

Oregon's Premier Winery


Prospecting the New World's coolest latitudes, Brian Croser and Rollin Soles staked a claim in Oregon's Willamette Valley, a place ideal for late season ripened Pinot Noir and Chardonnay fruit. Since 1987, Argyle Winery has produced world-class methode champenoise Sparkling wine, barrel fermented Chardonnay and 'silky' textured Pinot Noir from low yielding vines on winery farmed hillside slopes. Argyle was named "OREGON'S PREMIER WINERY" by Wine Spectator in 2000.

Argyle farms four vineyards: Knudsen Vineyard, Stoller Vineyard, Lone Star Vineyard and Spirit Hill Vineyard. The 120 acre Knudsen Vineyard was first planted between 1972 & 1974. The high elevation blocks of this landmark Dundee Hills site are key components in Argyle's sparkling wines. Knudsen provides Argyle a mix of old vine blocks and new high density blocks planted with "Old World" Dijon clones.

Just south of Knudsen Vineyard in the Dundee Hills sits Stoller Vineyard. First planted in 1995, Stoller, like Knudsen, is planted using state of the art viticultural techniques. Stoller Vineyard has produced some of Oregon's finest Pinot Noir and Chardonnay.

In 1996 Argyle purchased a spectacular 160 acre vineyard site in the east slopes of Eola Hills, known as Lone Star Vineyard. Located 15 miles south of Argyle's winery in Dundee, this warm site is planted primarily to Dijon clones of Pinot Noir. This vineyard has the potential to be one of Oregon's best Pinot Noir vineyards.

All grapes are hand harvested into small baskets and transported to the winery. Grapes are chilled overnight to 35F before crushing the next day. Chilling preserves the ripe fruit characteristics and naturally limits oxidation. 

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At the tip-top of Knudsen Vineyards, at nearly 950 feet of elevation, is where you'll find our small planting of Pinot Meunier. Being inherently lower in acid as compared to its partners in bubbly-crime, Pinot Meunier benefits form the extra advantage of late-season ripening to retain bright, fresh acidity and mineral edge. This year's blend is 30% Pinot Meunier and 70% Pinot Noir, allowing for true rose petal shimmer, whilst underneath, faint star anise, cardamom, and bay leaf linger. Clean and long, delicate and nimble, the creaminess is accentuated with food...smoked pork rillettes, marmalade & toast.

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90 Points, Wine Spectator

The balance and integrity of the 2010 growing season is striking, especially when viewed through the prism of our 2010 Vintage Brut. Lemon peel, strawberry pith, fresh ciabatta dough. The center is downreaching and creamy. In the background, a faint, brine accent persists, remnant of freshly shucked Kumumoto oysters. Energetic acidity and length, there is a satisfying resolution about this cuvée, inspiring one to reach for another glass of the fizz!

Wine Spectator, February: Cowboy Philosopher

Pinot Pioneer Rollin Soles looks to the future at his own winery, Roco

Tim Fish

Issue: February 28, 2014

The first thing you notice about winemaker Rollin Soles is his mustache. The way it unfurls on either side of his upper lip makes it look like something from an old Western movie. But it suits him. Consider it a signal: A big personality is coming your way.

Soles is a Texan after all, although his accent has dulled after living nearly 30 years in Oregon's Willamette Valley, his adopted home. Since he helped found Argyle Winery in 1986, Soles has been a crucial player in the rise of the Willamette Valley, part of a second generation of winemakers who built on the foundation laid by Oregon pioneers such as Dick Erath and Dick Ponzi and ushered in a golden age of Pinot Noir in the region.

In 2013, Soles stepped away from his role as Argyle's general manager and lead winemaker to focus on his own winery, Roco. The name is a combination of Rollin and Corby, Soles' wife, and for him represents what he has long wanted: his own slice of Willamette Valley. While Soles harvested grapes from around the valley for Argyle, he relies on his 7-acre home ranch vineyard on the southern slopes of the Chehalem Mountains to make Roco wines. He bought the property in 1987, but due to time and financial constraints didn't plant vines until 2001. "We called it Wit's End, because that's how we feel when we're home," Soles says with a laugh. The vineyard features high-density planting-2,200 vines per acre-and Soles likes to say that he used what he considers "the three sexiest Dijon Pinot Noir clones available."

Soles, 57, continues to consult for Argyle, and leaves behind a long and outstanding track record of wines. Argyle is the only producer to make Wine Spectator's Top 100 in three separate categories: white, red and sparkling.

Argyle's Extended Tirage bottling is consistently among the top domestic sparkling
wines, and the Nuthouse Chardonnay and Pinot Noir are reliably outstanding. The Pinot Noirs and Chardonnays from Roco, meanwhile, are already challenging the best of Oregon. Roco Pinot Noir Chehalem Mountains Private Stash No. 8 Wits' End Vineyard 2010 scored a classic 95 points on Wine Spectator's 100-point scale; the Chardonnay Eola-Amity Hills 2012 earned 91 points.

From the Dundee Hills, about 30 miles southwest of Portland, Soles looks out over the lush Willamette Valley as it rolls east toward snowcapped Mount Hood. It's a fair and breezy day in early summer and Knudsen Vineyards is striped with crimson clover. "I came to Willamette the first time in 1979 and fell in love with it," Soles says. "I knew it was where I was meant to be."

Thirty-four years later, Soles is all but a native. Knudsen is the first stop on our tour around Dundee, and Soles seems to have a ready story for every winery, vineyard or winemaker that comes up. At one point he plows his all-terrain vehicle through a field of towering grass, wryly adding, "There's a path here somewhere."

His frankness and sense of humor have made Soles a popular figure in Oregon wine. Of one prominent figure in the wine business, Soles says, "Dude, that guy is a psycho!" Véronique Drouhin-Boss, chief winemaker for Domaine Drouhin Oregon and her family's winery in Burgundy, recalls the first time she met Soles. "He said, ‘I come from Texas, the place where you find the most beautiful women and faster horses.'!" Winemaker Dick Erath puts it this way: "He's a fun guy to be with socially, but he's serious when he has to be about wine."

Indeed, Soles is downright scholarly on the topics that interest him, from the struggles to ripen Pinot Noir in Oregon in the early years to the optimal vine-density for specific vineyards to how the Missoula Floods of the last ice age formed the soil of Willamette Valley.

"I've always had a natural curiosity, that's for sure," Soles says. "I'm not a scientist but I love looking into details and finding out what those details mean." Soles inherited his inquisitive streak from his parents. His mother, a teacher, spurred his desire to learn, and his father was an airline pilot, which allowed Soles to become a well-traveled explorer.

In his youth, Soles lived in Spain with his family while his father worked out of Jerez de la Frontera, in the heart of Sherry country. "My folks loved to visit the bodegas," Soles recalls. Later, when they returned to Texas, wine was a regular feature at family meals. "That all left an imprint on me," he says. "It had an impact."

After graduating from high school in 1974, Soles pursued a degree in microbiology at Texas A&M. It was there that he made friends with two future music stars: Robert Earl Keen and Lyle Lovett. The trio has remained friends ever since. Keen and Lovett have been darlings of the Americana and alt-country scene for 30 years. Lovett is a four-time Grammy winner known for his quirky movie roles, wry sense of humor and hair as tall as a 10-gallon hat. Keen and Soles were neighbors, and other musicians often came over for impromptu jams on the front porch or to listen to a newly purchased LP. "Rollin had the best stereo," Lovett says with a laugh during a phone interview from his Texas home.

Even in college, Soles knew he wanted to make wine, recalls Lovett, who described his friend as exceptionally focused, confident and tenacious. "He has a mind like a steel trap," Lovett says. "And he's one of the most positive and can-do people around."

Soles' first wine job wasn't in Texas or Oregon, but Europe. He planned to backpack around the continent the summer before his senior year at A&M, but a biochemistry professor arranged an internship for him at a vineyard in Switzerland instead. After graduation, he decided to get his master's degree in enology and viticulture at the University of California, Davis. Soles followed that with stints at Wente Vineyards and Chateau Montelena in California, and then settled in Australia for three years to work at Petaluma Vineyards with founder Brian Croser.

Visiting Australia in the early 1980s was an eye-opener for Soles. "I was totally California-centric," he says. "I just believed California was the center of the universe." The Australian wine industry was more advanced in vineyard practices than California at the time. "It opened up my mind. I learned so much about viticulture in Australia that I know I wouldn't have in California." Wineries Down Under were also better equipped to deal with white wine oxidization-then a concern in California- and growers were already planting vineyards more densely to improve quality and control ripening.

In 1985, Croser offered Soles the head winemaker's job at Petaluma, but Soles reluctantly turned him down. "If I'd had my way, I would have moved to Willamette Valley right after UC, Davis. That's where I wanted to be." Knowing that Croser was looking to expand abroad, Soles saw his chance and convinced his boss to make wine in Oregon.

Argyle launched the next year, with Soles, under Croser's employ, buying a run-down nut-drying facility in the heart of Dundee. "I kept it dilapidated but put a winery inside," jokes Soles, who has updated and expanded the facility over the years. Rather than produce Pinot Noir right away, Soles, concerned that consumer demand for domestic Pinot was limited and that Willamette had yet to produce quality bottlings vintage to vintage, decided to first make sparkling wine from purchased Pinot and Chardonnay. "We were struggling to get the damn grapes ripe," he recalls.

Since sparkling wine grapes are harvested early to preserve acidity, ripeness was less of an issue-but cash flow wasn't. Argyle had four years worth of inventory in the bottle before it released its first bubbly, which delayed the producer's ability to buy vineyards or land.

Fortuitously, Soles met Oregon Pinot pioneer Cal Knudsen, an original partner in Erath Winery before going off on his own in 1987. The Knudsen family's vineyard-now about 130 acres-has been a prime grape source for Argyle ever since. Knudsen would later invest in Argyle and serve as company chairman for 17 years. It was not until 1996 that Argyle bought its first vineyard, Lone Star, the source of the winery's highly regarded Nuthouse bottlings. Situated in the Eola Hills south of Dundee, Lone Star encompasses about 116 acres of Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Riesling.

While Argyle soon followed its sparkling wine with releases of Chardonnay and Riesling, Soles concedes the early results at the winery were less than ideal. He gives much of the credit for turning the operation around to the Drouhin Family, which established its Willamette Valley winery in 1988. "We learned so much about viticulture from those guys," Soles admits.

The Pinot Noir vineyards in the region were too vigorous, with sprawling canopies and vines that yielded far too many grapes for successful ripening. In response, Soles began opening up the canopy of leaves and dropping young clusters. More importantly-and at no small cost-vineyards were replanted over time with new clones and more vines per acre.

Eventually, Soles found his target: vines planted every 5 feet in rows 5 feet apart-radically denser than the pattern by which the vineyards had been set up in the mid-1980s. "You can't change a vineyard overnight," he says. By 1992, Soles was ready to make Pinot Noir. And while there were hit-or-miss vintages, by the late 1990s Argyle was producing some of the most impressive still wines in Oregon.

Along the way, Soles' personal life had its complications. His first marriage ended in 1995 and he became sole custodian of his daughter, Alexa, who is now 25 and lives in Portland, Ore. In 1999, Soles married Corby Stonebraker, previously a co- owner of Panther Creek Winery. Joining the extended family were Stonebraker-Soles' sons from her previous marriage to winemaker Ken Wright: Cody Wright, now 33, and Carson Wright, 29. The family spent summers camping, exploring and hiking.

In 2001, with the Oregon wine industry thriving, Petaluma was acquired by food-and-beverage conglomerate Lion Nathan; Argyle was part of the deal. As a minority partner, Soles didn't become wealthy from the sale. Soles won't admit it, but his wife believes he was disappointed that his years of hard work failed to pay off. "He created Argyle, built a very successful winery and ran it like it was actually his place," she explains. "But it wasn't. It was extremely hard for him to let go." Soles remained at the winery and continued to oversee grapegrowing and winemaking. But as the corporate culture became more ingrained, he began to see the writing on the wall and decided to create a more personal legacy at Roco.

"It was time for me to focus on Roco," Soles says of his decision to step away from full-time work at Argyle. Located on Red Hills Road-named after the region's red clay-loam soils-north of Dundee, Roco's winery is a long and handsome barn built with no-nonsense winemaking in mind.

The winery and the vineyards it sources are certified sustainable. Although 2003 was the first release, Soles made the wine at Argyle until the Roco facility was completed in 2009. About 5,000 cases of Roco were made in 2012, the bulk of it Pinot Noir, plus a few hundred cases of Chardonnay.

Roco is a husband-and-wife show. Stonebraker-Soles handles marketing, distribution and finances, allowing Soles to focus on winemaking and sales. Expanding production is not something that interests Soles as much as finding-and meeting-new winemaking challenges.

Over the decades, Soles has developed a distinctive approach in the cellar, something he brought from Argyle to Roco. Fermentation takes place in 1.6-ton plastic bins, originally designed for cherry picking, that are placed inside wooden crates and covered with plastic and cardboard for insulation. "It looks Rube Goldberg all to heck," says Soles, while explaining that it allows him to micromanage fermentations.

Soles continues to consult on growing decisions and final blends at Argyle, which is now part of Distinguished Vineyards & Wine Partners, the U.S. wine division of Lion (formerly Lion Nathan). Soles' former assistant Nate Klostermann is winemaker.

Stylistically, Argyle and Roco are similar, but Cody believes Soles is pushing the envelope with Roco. "The Argyle wines are gorgeous and well-built, but a little precise. That was his scientist side," he says. "At Roco, he's playing a little more, and I think it's an expression of his true style."

Cody was assistant winemaker at Roco until he decided two years ago to focus on his own well-regarded label, Purple Hands, which he makes at Roco. Carson, who works for a major bottle supplier, just started a label named Alumni, also produced at Roco. Troy Altobell is now Soles' assistant winemaker.

"You need to set things up for the second generation because you only get one chance a year to make wine," Soles says. "In a winemaking career, you might have 50 chances to make wine-that's it." While the adult children know Roco is part of their legacy, Cody and Carson are following their individual paths. "Our sons have chosen to say, ‘I'm going to make my own reputation,'!" says their mother.

For his part, Soles says he'll keep running Roco as long as he's having fun, particularly now that Willamette Valley has established itself as a world-class producer of Pinot Noir. Recent investments by influential companies such as Jackson Family Wines and Burgundy-based Maison Louis Jadot only reinforce the belief that Oregon has come of age.

"In the future, we're going to be known for Chardonnay as much as Pinot Noir," says Soles, who is now working on making a bubbly at Roco. "And it's my dream that we'll be known for méthode Champenoise as well," he adds. It may be wishful thinking on his part, but that's Soles for you: part scholar, part cowboy. As his friend Lyle Lovett says, "Rollin makes you feel like you can do anything."​ 

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Lumos Pinot Noir

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Never heard of Lumos? It's time:

The Magic Behind the Label…

The Lumos Wine Company was launched in 2000 by Dai Crisp, dashing grape grower and winemaker, and his groovy wife and business partner, PK McCoy. Dai was first introduced to viticulture in 1986 when he helped his parents plant a small, 10-acre vineyard on their farm in Wren, Oregon. PK was first introduced to Dai in 1991, when he served her a beer in a local tavern (no kidding). In 1990, Dai began professionally growing wine grapes at Croft Vineyards where he developed his own unique, that is to say, sustainable and earth and people-friendly style of grape growing. Since 1999, Dai has been managing Temperance Hill Vineyard, a 100-acre site in the Eola Hills, just west of Salem, Oregon. While always interested in the process of wine-making, it wasn’t until Dai had proven to himself and others that he could grow an outstanding wine that he finally made the leap with his own label.

With the help of his dauntless crew, Dai grows all of the fruit that goes into the Lumos wines. Some of the Pinot Noir comes from the same vineyard in Wren where Dai first planted grapes with his folks and where he now lives with his amazing wife, two kids, one goofy farm dog, one princess Corgy, two pygmy goats, one blue-crowned conure , two parakeets and one mother-in-law. We also purchase some of the Pinot Noir and Gewurztraminer from Temperance Hill Vineyard. The Pinot Gris is grown just north of Corvallis at Logsdon Ridge Vineyard, dubbed “Rudolfo” by the crew in honor of the Rudolphs who own the vineyard.

All the grapes used in the Lumos wines are grown using organic-based fertilizers, certified organic fungicides and mechanical cultivation rather than herbicides. The grapes are grown to produce the greatest potential flavors and complexity. The Pinot Noir is cropped to less than two tons per acre and the Gewurztraminer and Pinot Gris come in at two and a half tons per acre.

While most of the work directly related to growing, making and selling the wines is done by Dai and PK, there are many people whose contributions have helped immensely and made it all a most enjoyable endeavor. Please visit our People page to see all of these fantastic people. And take a look at our Charitable Contributions page to see how we give back to our community.

 

This wine:

Barreled 15 months in French Oak. A rich and luscious Pinot Noir with dark red fruit, sandalwood, wet earth and spice. Relatively bright acidity and fine tannins make this an excellent food wine. 855 cases. 12.5% alc. 93 - Beverage Tasting Institute Food Alliance and Salmon Safe Certified.

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Blind Tasting League

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News Release: This is Big!!

“Blind Tasting League” at Metro Wines

 

Andy Hale is spilling the beans! Teaching you the secrets of the sommeliers, Andy takes the fear and guesswork out of blind tasting. The Metro Wines Blind Tasting League will meet every first and third Wednesday of the month, starting March 5th, from 6:30-7:30pm @MetroWines, 169 Charlotte Street in Asheville.  Each class is $15. Open to all. No experience necessary!

 

At each gathering, using the techniques of the masters, you will learn how to identify the grape, country of origin and more and more as we progress through the wide world of wine.  You can pick and choose the classes but the more you come, the more you learn!  Come, learn, surprise yourself and leave with confidence.

 

Under construction now, starting March, you can follow us on our blog atBlindTastingLeague.comUntil then, watch for postings on our Calendar atMetroWinesAsheville.com and in our emails.

 

Are you ready? Are you?

Contact Andy Hale or Kendal Klein at 575-9525.

 

*** You can best learn to determine what's in the glass when not distracted by outside aggitators like Lavoris and Chanel! Both are good at the right time and place. That is to say, please avoid coffee, mouthwash and toothpaste before tasting so your palate is at its best. You will also want to avoid excessive perfume and cologne so that you can identify the aromas in the glass.  ***

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Almost FREE Friday Red, 1/7

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Pepper Pot

From the Western Cape in South Africa, this wine is 72% Syrah, 7% Mourvedre, 7% Tannat, 7% Grenache,7% Cinsault and is our Lonely Grape Red today. Seriously, this blend has at least 3 lonely grapes! 

"Five robust components - imaginatively blended to create one gutsy wine. The Pepper Pot. Inspired by the unique culinary traditions of our rainbow nation to bring you a heady yet harmonious blend of plucky pepper, piquant spice and radiant red berry flavors. Proving that in wine, as it is in life, the whole is far greater than the sum of parts. Sealed under a screw cap to insure quality." $14.99

And critical acclaim from our favorite reviewer: 89 Points - International Wine Cellar, May/June 2013  "Bright ruby. Slightly reduced aromas of black raspberry, smoke and game are lifted by a peppery quality. Fat, sweet and rich, but with sound acidity giving shape and verve to the concentrated black fruit and gunflint flavors. Finishes with a solid tannic spine. This makes the 2011 seem a bit dry by comparison. An excellent value." -Stephen Tanzer

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Almost FREE Friday 2/7

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Mondavi Chardonnay

Say what you want about Mondavi but it was Robert Mondavi who broke ground in Napa blending the best of modern and traditonal wine making methods from France revolutionizing California winemaking. Mondavi has maintained a consistent quality for decades. Just because Mondavi is BIG, and he is, does not mean the wines are bad.  Many years ago, yours truly met Michael Mondavi at a lunch in Baltimore. Besdies his striking good looks and charm, he was clearly passionate about winemaking and the family name. Read: we won't put "Mondavi" on just any bottle. On the lighter side, he also said that being a Mondavi is the best of all celebrity worlds. No one knows him on sight on the street but call for a restaurant reservation under the name Mondavi, well, you get the point. Gina

Kendal says this about this Chardonnay: Robert Mondavi Napa Valley Chardonnay is grown in the cool climate of the southern Napa Valley. It delights the palate with fresh pear and ferment in barrel as well as in stainless steel to maintain brightness. French oak-barrel-gaing, including sur lie aging, creates a memorable creamy texture. 

Bright, enticing fruity aromas-Juicy Honeycrisp apple, citrus-laced Asian pear, ripe melon and fresh quince- are intermingles with vanilla scented creme brulee, subtle minterality, and traces of warm hazelnut and clove. These elements segue seamlessly to the palate, offering a lush creamy mouth feel impeccably balanced by crisp, mouthwatering acidity.

Over $20 elsewhere in town, we offer this bottle of Napa Valley Chardonnay from Mondavi at $10 on Almost FREE Friday. THIS is Mondavi!!! Say what you want about Mondavi but say it with respect.

 

 

 

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