Metro Wines Blogs
* THIS JUST IN: NEW REVIEWS FROM ROBERT PARKER on SIGNORELLO WINES *
2013 Signorello Estate Padrone
The 2013 Proprietary Red Padrone, the winery’s flagship wine, is a blend of 92% Cabernet Sauvignon, 5% Merlot and 3% Cabernet Franc
aged 21 months in 100% new French oak prior to being bottle unfiltered.
This wine exhibits an inky purple color, notes of graphite, blueberry, blackberry, a hint of cocoa and a dense, full-bodied superrich mouthfeel with good acidity and strong, but well-integrated tannin.
Give this wine 6-7 years and drink over the following 35-40.
- Robert M. Parker, Jr. (October, 2016)
2015 Signorello Estate Chardonnay Hope's Cuvee Napa Valley
The best Chardonnay I have ever tasted from Ray Signorello has to be the 2015 Chardonnay Hope’s Cuvée.
With its tiny yields, old vines and unfiltered style of keeping the wine nine months in barrel (of which half is new French oak and the rest used),this wine is absolutely spectacular.
The wine has a Montrachet-like richness with profound concentration from the tiny yields, loads of caramelized citrus, honeysuckle, white peach, melons and a touch of brioche.
It is full-bodied, but great acid, purity and length make for an incredible wine from this old vineyard’s clay and loamy soils.
Drink over the next 10-12 years as this has every indication of being long-lived.
- Robert M. Parker, Jr. (October, 2016)
2015 Signorello Estate Seta (Semillon /Sauvignon Blanc)
He makes one of the more intriguing and fascinating proprietary white blends, the 2015 Proprietary White Seta, which is 66% Sauvignon Blanc and 34% Semillon aged nine months in two-thirds
French oak and bottled unfiltered (somewhat of a trick, since there is no malolactic).
This is a serious Haut-Brion Blanc-like wine with notes of lanolin, sealing wax, caramelized citrus, honeysuckle, a touch of tangerine and exotic fruits.
The wine is medium-bodied and concentrated, with great acidity and freshness. The sad thing is, less than 100 cases were produced.
- Robert M. Parker, Jr. (October, 2016)
NOW BACK TO REGULARLY SCHEDULED PROGRAMMING:
The Signorello Estate Chef will guide you through a five course pairing experience explaining the pairing philosophy and describing each creation. This is a wine and food experience unlike any other in the Napa Valley. Want to go? In my head, I am already gone. "The Enoteca Signorello" is a 2 hour adventure on Thursday through Monday, March through November starting at noon for $175 per person.
Back to reality! Ray Signorello stopped by the shop last night and hosted a tasting of his wines. I had a chance to ask a few more questions while Ray graciously juggled a crowd of abot 30 wine fans. He appears in personas you see him in his stock photo, that is, sophisticated, sport jacket, Italian leather shoes, nice haircut.
So it came as quite a surprise when I asked Ray his favorite movie and he said "Gladiator" so fast my head was spinning. I don't know why I was not expecting that answer. But I just wasn't. Not that anyone can't respect even love "Gladiator" but I just wasn't expecting it. Ray loves the view into Roman life and remains partial to all things Roman. But would Ray ever grow Italian grapes in California? Maybe a Sangiovese? I say other California winemakers do. "No," Rays says as quickly as he let loose on "Gladiator!" Ray thoroughly and professorially explained, with a lot of complicated wine terms but, basically, California is for Cab!
What Ray poured:
FUSE: Ray chose to the name to emphasize the fusion of varietals. This blend of 86% Cabernet, 8% Cabernet Franc and 8% Petite Verdot received 90-92 Points from Robert Parker in Wine Advocate. Parker said: "This wine was still in barrel and shows loads of espresso roast, blackcurrants, and hints of white chocolate and spicebox in an elegant, yet authoritative, medium to full-bodied style."
And addressing the harvest, Parker said: "2013 may turn out to be the finest vintage I have experienced in tasting North Coast varietals over the last 37 years. it's a game changer in terms of the consistency of quality, the depth of quality, and the across-the-board excellence for so many wines."
2013 Cabernet Sauvignon
“The 2013 Cabernet Sauvignon Estate is a beauty. Inky purple-colored, with notes of charcoal, graphite, blackcurrants and blueberries, the wine is dense, opulent, full-bodied, fresh and full. It should drink well for up to 20 more years.” 94+ Points Robert Parker, The Wine Advocate, October 2015
WINEMAKING NOTES: Traditional French winemaking practices: native yeast fermentations, extended maceration (each lot averaged 25 days on the grape skins) and pump-overs twice a day. The 2013 vintage aged for 22 months in 64% new oak from Troncais, Nevers and Alliers, coopered into thin-staved, medium-plus toast Chateau Ferre barrels by coopers Tarransaud, Saury, Darnajou and Nadalie. To preserve fruit intensity and body, the wine was not filtered prior to bottling
And 2012 PADRONE
“This is a fabulous wine, meant to evolve over three decades. It offers up notes of charcoal, scorched earth, blackcurrant, blackberry, chocolate and a touch of espresso. A wine of great intensity, full-bodied opulence and a multilayered mouthfeel, this is a formidably endowed, serious Cabernet Sauvignon-dominated wine from vineyards with some of the best fruit on the estate. Drink it over the next 30 years.” 97+ Points Robert Parker, The Wine Advocate, Oct. 2015
WINEMAKING NOTES: Traditional French winemaking practices: native yeast fermentations, extended maceration (each lot averaged 25 days on the grape skins) and pump-overs twice a day. The 2012 vintage aged for 22 months in 100% new oak from Troncais, Nevers and Alliers, coopered into thin-staved, medium-plus toast Chateau Ferre barrels by coopers Tarransaud, Saury, Darnajou and Nadalie. To preserve fruit intensity and body, the wine was not filtered prior to bottling on September 5, 2014.
And finally, you're thinking that I forgot to ask about the winery dog. Au contraire! Ray does not have a a dog of his own because he travels so often. BUT, there is a winery dog. And a mighty happy one with a vineyard full of friends!
While his veterinary days are in the past, animals are still front and center. Take a look at the Rock Wall Rock Hound label. That guy playing the guitar sporting the Ray Charles Sunglasses is Sunny, Shauna's blind pitbull.
About UsThe etymology of our name: Rock Wall Wine Company is located on the former Alameda Naval Air Base which was decommissioned in 1997 and turned over to the community and is slowly being converted to civilian use. The name Rock Wall refers to the defensive perimeter wall built during WWII in the San Francisco Bay to protect the base from Japanese air to sea torpedoes. All military installations on the west coast created similar protective barriers. This wall is visible from our facility as well as elsewhere on the base. The wall has also been a popular fishing location for local anglers looking for striped bass.
The Rock Wall Wine Company represents a new chapter in the East Bay winemaking scene. The winery offers wine lovers one of the most unique experiences in the wine world. Shauna Rosenblum is the winemaker for Rock Wall Wine Company. She learned everything she knows about winemaking from her father Kent Rosenblum who is CEO.
The Rock Wall Wine Company is founded on the philosophy of the right grape in the right place and are the result of many long-term relationships with acclaimed vineyards. Grapes are sourced from all over California which creates a diverse winemaking environment, complete with different grape varieties, styles and regional flavor profiles.
Ideally situated in Alameda, California, the winery boasts spectacular views of the San Francisco skyline, and more importantly its locale allows the winemaking team to be regionally centralized - ensuring that whether Cabernet Sauvignon from Napa Valley, Zinfandel from Sonoma County, Petite Sirah from Contra Costa County or Chardonnay from the Santa Lucia Highlands, the winemaking team is able to handle the fruit soon after it is picked.
Housed in a converted 40,000 square-foot airplane hangar the winery is located on what was once a Naval Air Base. Also known as Building 24, the hangar is due north of a defensive rock wall which made up the perimeter of the base. Taking their name from this protective wall, the Rock Wall winery building has been retrofitted with state-of-the-art winemaking equipment.
A unique concept, Rock Wall Wine Company is, in essence, an urban winery that services the East Bay. Through the wine center, the Rock Wall owners look forward to continuing the legacy of urban winemaking as well as providing an environment whereby making, tasting and learning about wine is fun!
"Sardegna was settled by Catalans 600 years ago. Some of the street signs in Alghero are written in Catalan and the Catalan dialect is still spoken in some parts" Paolo says.
History tells us that in 1469, the heir to Sardinia, Ferdinand II of Aragon, married Isabel of Castile, and the Kingdom of Sardinia, now separated from Corsica, was set to be inherited by their Habsburg grandson, Charles I of Spain. In order to defend their Mediterranean territories from raids of those confounded Barbary Pirates, the successors of Charles I fortified the Sardinian shores with a system of coastal lookout towers leading to development, such as it was in 1469, along the coast.
The Kingdom of Sardinia remained Spanish for approximately 400 years, from 1323 to 1708. Spanish traditions, customs and culture were absorbed, and to this day, as Parpinello told us, Catalan is spoken in the western city of Alghero.
"We do not hire "rock star" winemakers or wine consultants that pop in and out at Groth," says Suzanne Groth. "We look for dedicated winemakers invested in our wines who will watch the wine through the entire process." Groth winemakers have been working with the winery for three decades. "We make certain that there is a multi year overlap to insure passing down techniques and insuring consistent quality."
Suzanne was in Asheville to host a dinner at The Grove Park Inn. The wines paired perfectly with the perfectly prepared dishes. Groth wines are bold on the nose and palate but within bounds setting them apart from many California wines that are just about being BIG. While you could certainly enjoy Groth Wines solo, particularly the Sauvignon Blanc or Chardonnay, these are unquestionably food wines.
So how did we get to this point....................
Graduating from Lewis and Clark College in 1992 with a BA in art history, Suzanne entered the art world, working in a gallery. But soon, she decided on a career in wine. After spending four years with the Henry Wine Group, a California wine distributor, selling fine wine to restaurants and retailers in the San Francisco Bay Area, Suzanne says, “It was only after selling other people’s ‘wine vision’ that I was able to appreciate how very special Groth Vineyards was.” She returned to the family business in 1998, working several years in wine sales and Public Relations before becoming VP of Sales and Marketing in 2009.
Suzanne's parents, Dennis and Judy Groth, are Bay Area natives and lived there until they decamped to Napa Valley in 1985. Dennis, a CPA was a partner at Ernst and young before joining Atari in 1978.
In 1981, the Groths purchased a 121-acre parcel in Oakville adding a second 44 acre vineyard in 1982. Totaling These vineyards are the primary source of grapes for the Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc wines produced by Groth.
Established in 1982, Groth crushed the first grapes for their own wines that same year. Production increased quickly to 30,000 cases by 1984. By 1985, the winery needed full-time attention from Dennis and Judy, so they moved their family to the Oakville property. And the rest is, as they say, history. "When we arrived in Oakville, vineyards were planted with Charbono but my father believed that this could be great cabernet country," Suzanne says. "And now, the area is considered one of best areas in world for elegant cab."
Suzanne tells the story that sounded similar to the experience of Chateau Montelena in "Bottle Shock." Making wine is a labor of love and an expensive one. The Groths were facing an uphill financial battle and feared they might lose the farm, literally. "My father had to sell some of the land he loved." But out of the blue, Suzanne says, the Groths got a call from a friend who said that Robert Parker had just awarded 100 points!! to Groth Cabernet Sauvignon.
Groth has come a long way. The winery has produced well balanced wines for decades and their work has not gone without notice and BIG notice. Groth Sauvignon Blanc was served at The White House dinner welcoming Tony Blair, former Prime Minister of Great Britain!
And despite her many responsibilites at the winery, Suzanne still works her art. She gave us all a print at the dinner. Her work is much like the wine, dynamic but within bounds.
And I did not forget to ask if there was a winery dog. "Two Pugs," Suzanne says, "they come to work with me everyday."
Ok, back to the winery...
If Hotel Monteleone is history in a building, Pol Roger is history in a bottle. "The winery," says Hugues, "unlike many in France, has remained family owned since its founding in 1849." Hugues told us about an organization, Primum Familiae Vini, started in 1991 by family owned wineries. Information here: http://www.pfv.org/en/.
2 winery dogsStella, 14.5 year old Border Collie/ Chow mix. Aka: Fuzzball, fuzzykins, fuzzy pants. Sweet and stubborn, good dog days are over, does what she wants which isn't much. Looks like she is part pandaOlive, 4 years old border collie/poodle. Loves chasing tennis balls and chasing (2 kills that I know of) squirrels. Goofy and playful torturer of stuffed animals.
John GrochauGrochau Cellars
Not to be short but nothing more could be said about RAATS Wines than has been said with accolades by respected wine publications worldwide including Wine Spectator, Stephen Tanzer of International Wine Cellar, Riscura Red Hot Wine Awards and Wine Advocate.
How does a bottle of wine go from a small French farm to a small retail shop in Asheville? Robert Fiore Kral of Robert Walter Selections tells all.
“Pairing wine with the right food and creating a total experience. This is my passion.” That’s what Robert Fiore Kral of Robert Walter Selections, an Asheville wine import company that focuses on wines from small family farms, said when asked why he does what he does.
Robert was always around good wine. “My mother is German and my father is Austrian. I was raised in Germany where wine is part of the fabric of the country,” Robert says of how his interest in wine started. “We traveled around Europe and wine was just part of life.”
Robert began his wine career in Asheville working at GreenLife. “I found myself gravitating toward the wine section,” he said. “Soon, my professional evolution was completed and I was all in for a career in wine!”
To further his knowledge, Robert worked seven years with a local wine distributor. He then took his expertise to Bouchon where he selected wines for the menu. “Six years later, I began to seriously consider starting an import business.”
Robert saw a hole in the market. “There were very few German red wines,” Robert observed. “All you saw on shelves from Germany was Riesling. I thought German Reds could be my niche!”
But Robert soon found that bringing a wine to market is not for the faint of heart! In North Carolina, retailers and restaurants must buy wines from a North Carolina Distributor. When a wine is imported, it is either turned over to a Distributor to sell or the importer wears two hats and also handles distribution.
“Both require financing,” Robert said. “That’s when reality set in.” “Passion can sometimes get in the way of the best business choice.”
So despite his enthusiasm for German Red wines, Robert knew a small market like Asheville could not support a little known new entry. “A small importer could not buy enough wine to meet the distributor’s demands and, worse,” Robert realized, “the small family farmer could not produce enough wine!”
While he still imports German Reds, Robert decided to also import wines from other countries. “I find wines by attending trade shows, visiting wineries, recommendations from industry people, and from wineries seeking an importer.”
After a wine is selected to import, Robert must submit the label for federal government approval. Once approved, Robert says smaller loads are shipped from LeHarve, France, to New York then trucked to Asheville. “An entire palette of wines would ship from Marseilles directly, usually to Charleston.”
But what makes all this work worth it? Robert talks of a recent trip to France. “I don’t speak French,” he says, “I am usually accompanied by an associate to translate.” But on a recent trip to the Loire Valley, Robert was on his own.
Robert was invited to lunch at Chateau de L’Aiguillette, a small family winery that produces “muscadet,” which is to oysters what Chianti is to red sauce. “There was a table with eight family members, none of whom spoke English.” Robert said. “We both spoke as much of the other language as we could and filled in with drawings on post it notes to communicate!”
“These are wines that you will only be able to taste because a small family produced it with care, a small importer committed to bring the wines to this country,” Robert summarizes, “and a small independent retailer invested in making the wines available to the community.
If a film was to be made of my chaotic life, I see Kristin Wiig playing me. Who plays Sean Boyd in "The Washington Wine Story?" "No one would be interested in that story." OK, but let's just say someone did make the movie, who plays you? "Someone dead hot sexy." Sean laughs but I think he means it.
Mike Merriman was @MetroWines on February 19th. He poured his Chenin Blanc and Pinot Noir. The very first barrel of wine bottled by Merriman received 90 points from Wine Spectator. And his wines have just continued to garner higher ratings and smashing reviews.
Mike was a good sport and agreed to an interview. In what we hope will become a regular feature here @MetroWines, check out the first interview for "UNFILTERED":
Interview with Mike Merriman, owner of Merriman Wines. He joined us here @MetroWines in Asheville, North Carolina, for a tasting of Merriman Chenin Blanc, Cummins Road Pinot Noir 2012 and Merriman Estate Pinot Noir 2012. His beard was gone and he had new glasses. Here’s the rest of the story:
Thank you for pouring at MetroWines in Asheville, North Carolina. We are a neighborhood wine shop but also the home of The Asheville School of Wine and The Blind Tasting League.
Do you blind taste?
Mike: I love to blind taste.
What’s in this bottle?
Mike: Could be Eucalyptus but I’m going to say Frankincense.
Unbelievable. You must be one amazing blind taster!
Mike: Not really. Blind tasting is tough. A group of Oregon Winemakers get together periodically in Portland, sit around a table, and blind taste each other’s wines. Not one of us can self identify. One night, one of the winemakers described a wine as the most amateurish swill he had ever tasted. It was his wine.
Let’s talk about how a highly regarded winemaker like you got started. Did you go to U.C. Davis?
Mike: SMU in Dallas.
No way! Me too. I have a degree in Communications. What does a wine guy study at SMU? Botany? Punnett Squares? The Medici?
I see. But then you went to U.C. Davis?
Mike: No. Eastman School of Music in Rochester, New York.
Wow. Is that what you would be doing if you were not making wine? Some kind of music?
Mike: Definitely. I am a composer. I would probably be a music theory teacher.
Without getting too technical, music theory, as I understand it, is the study of the elements of a composition all the way through to what constitutes music.
Mike: Pretty much.
And word is that you make your own music. They say that you play a mean piano. Besides your own compositions, whose work makes you turn up the volume?
Mike: John Adams. I like post minimalist work. More developed than minimalist pieces by composers like Philip Glass. Don’t get me wrong, I like Philip Glass. I just like Adams better.
But did you know that you can get a Philip Glass ringtone?
Mike: No. Adams wrote three operas. You have probably heard of “Nixon in China” about Nixon’s 1972 groundbreaking trip to the country or “Death of Klinghoffer,” the opera based on the hi-jacking of the passenger liner Achille Lauro.
Me? I’m struggling to tell the difference in Mozart and Beethoven. But I trust you. Back to wine. So then you went to U.C. Davis?
Mike: No. I did income tax.
So, your economics degree came in handy after all.
Mike: Came in handy a couple of times. I had joined the “Beer Revolution” in Texas and began brewing. This took me to a Fermentation Science course at the University of Oregon in 1997. But, along about this time, beer industry revenues were trending down. I got lucky. On a class field trip, I met David Reilly there who owns Owen Roe. He took me to a harvest. I loved it. The rest is history.
Are you the winemaker?
Mike: One of two. I work with Eric Brasher, a trained oenologist and viticulturalist, who was the head winemaker at Owen Roe.
What do you want consumers to know about your wine?
Mike: The way the wines are made. The grapes are hand picked and hand sorted and the wine is made in small quantities. Even the wax on the bottle is hand dipped. We use only sustainable viticultural practices. And we are certified Salmon Safe which means our farming practices help to protect streams and rivers and control soil erosion.
Speaking of soil, some say your soil is what gives your Pinot Noir its distinct taste
Mike: We have willakenzie soil which is sandy and rocky. You could say that the marine influences in willakenzie certainly contribute to deeper blue fruit but there are many factors in addition to soil that account for aromas and flavors.
Now that you are solidly a part of the wine making business, if you could, what would you like to change about the industry? For more information, check our website.
Mike: The three tiered system. I would like to sell directly. Give consumers more options.
Who would you like to know drinks Merriman Wines?
Mike: Sponge Bob. I like him.
Do you ever think about brewing again
Mike: No, but I still love a good saison.
A good saison goes with what movie?
Mike: “Godfather Part One,” “Pee Wee Herman’s Big Adventure” or “Tommy Boy” with Chris Farley.
Your first wine received 90 points from Wine Spectator and the ratings and reviews have just gone up since then. Congratulations. Anything else we should know?
Mike: I never went to U.C. Davis.