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Laurel of Asheville, July, Beaujolais


Photo Credit to Paul Howey, The Laurel of Asheville Magazine

Beaujolais? Really? Some of you are thinking: Why? I admit I probably thought the same thing a while back. But then there was that one night at the French Embassy in Washington, DC. One of the most respected French wine critics was there to make the case for Beaujolais. He most eloquently did so.

The critic said his entire family was passionate about wine. He then told the story of the last few hours he spent with his father at the end of his life. The two had shared many great wines over the years, and this was to be the very last one. “What can I bring you?” he asked his father. “A Bordeaux? A Chardonnay? I will bring anything you want. Anything.” To which his father replied, “Bring me a Beaujolais. It only speaks of the joy of life. A new day. A new beginning.” What more could be said of a wine?

People often shy away from Beaujolais, fearing it will be sweet and syrupy. In truth, there may have been a time when some bottles labeled as Beaujolais were regrettable. But Beaujolais has upped its game.

While Beaujolais is what we most often see on the label, the grape in the bottle is Gamay Noir made into wine in the Beaujolais, a small area just south of the high rent district of Burgundy. The word in the wine world is that the Gamay vines date back to the 13th century and the soil is of the Mesozoic era!

Gamay is a grape with a past. Folks at the University of California at Davis say Gamay Noir is a cross between Pinot Noir and an ancient white varietal called Gouais that was probably brought to France by the Romans. The new varietal appeared along about 1360 AD in, you guessed it, the Village of Gamay.

The Gamay Noir grape ripened earlier than the Pinot Noir grape and was much less difficult to cultivate and, hence, was taking over. Because the upstart Gamay took up valuable vineyard space that could be used to cultivate the sophisticated and highly regarded Pinot Noir grape, The Duke of Burgundy (aka Philippe the Bold) outlawed Gamay in 1395 calling it “a very bad and disloyal plant.” Not to be stopped, Gamay went south, literally, to Beaujolais, where it has continued to thrive to this day.

The soil—granite and schist to the north and clay-based soils to the south—determines the flavor profile of Gamay Beaujolais. Typically, Gamay Beaujolais presents aromas and a palate of raspberry, tart cherry, and cranberry, with the possible, depending on the aforementioned soil, hint of mushroom, smoke, or violet.

So how did Beaujolais, once quite popular, fall on hard times? The Beaujolais blowback started about the 1980s when Beaujolais Nouveau (a version much easier to produce, and slightly sweeter and lighter in body than traditional Gamay from Beaujolais), fueled by a vigorous marketing campaign, went global.

The demand for the classic style, however, has pushed vintners back to terroir-driven, more complex wines often aged in oak barrels. Domaine Pral Cuvee Terroir, a medium bodied, 100% Gamay from vines rooted in granite soil, makes the case for the classic style.

From a husband and wife vintner team, Domaine Pral will prove to you why the critic’s father called for his very last bottle to be Beaujolais.

Here’s to a new day, to a new beginning.

Gina Trippi is the co-owner of Metro Wines, 169 Charlotte Street in Asheville. Committed to the community, Metro Wines offers big shop selection with small shop service. Gina can be reached at or 828.575.9525.

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"Nothing, of course, begins at the time you think it did." Lillian Hellman, 1969. Born in New Orleans in 1905, Lillian Hellman was an acclaimed screenwriter blacklisted by the House Committee on Un-American Activities at the height of the anti-communist reign of terror from 1947 to 1952.


This is the quote on the back label. This is Lillian Hellman. So, right away, you know you are treading into new philosphical winemaking territory.

About the winemaker Michele D'Aprix, the ONLY AMERICAN WOMAN WINEMAKER IN BORDEAUX, from Michele’s love affair with wine began in 1997 when she walked into the cellar at Dry Creek Vineyard for her first job interview at a winery as one of their 3 candidates that year. She recalls, “The enologist ultimately hired me because, at the time, I was a bartender in Boston. They figured a bartender's ability to multitask outweighed my lack of experience - I was only a 3rd year, O-Chem undergraduate with no lab skills whatsoever.” Michele earned her degree from UC Davis, going through their Vinticulture & Enology program. Today, she runs her own wine importing business and calls NYC her home. Come harvest season, Michele hops over the pond to get her hands dirty in the French soil, winemaking with Pierre Bernault. Her mission is to redefine Bordeaux for a new generation of wine lovers. To swipe it of its stuffy notoriety and intimidation, getting us all to drink a glass on any day of the week.



From the Bordeaux Appellation Montagne St. Emilion, Pentimento is a pleasing, smart, and very purpose driven blend of 75% Merlot and 25% Cabernet Franc grown in soil rich in limestone (caCO3 and montmorillonite clay (Al3Mg). You don't see the chemical formula for limestone on the FRONT and back of a wine bottle everyday. See what I mean? This bottle is a wine breed apart or as the label says: "Redefining Bordeaux and the other places where soil still matters." Winemaker Michel D'Aprix says "The Pentimento Project and this label are gestures of gratitude for the decades of uninterrupted work done in the vineyard and winery that realized this wine, and to each person who helped me to build this opportunity over 37 years." Layers.

"Pentimento" is a reference to the practice of Renaissance artists that would paint over works that did not sell. While not seen, the layers of paint provided texture and definition to the next painting. Layers. And so it is, according to Michele D'Aprix, with wine.

And this is how it all comes together with Lillian Hellman. "Pentimento" is the name of her highly praised memoir which finds Lillian Hellman looking back at some of the people who, wittingly or unwittingly, exerted profound influence on her development as a woman and a writer. The portraits include Hellman's recollection of a lifelong friendship that began in childhood, reminiscences that formed the basis of the Academy Award-winning film "Julia." Layers leading up to this wine. 


Full bodied and leaning to the dry side, this wine is ready to experience but can age in bottle. Black cherry and currant, this organic wine is a statement. I cannot recommend it highly enough. This winemaker gets it. 

Note: An internet search shows this wine at high end wine shops in Napa, New York and around the country but it is not available through Garys, Wall Street Journal Wine Club of New York Times Wine Club.


Shop Metro Wines. And we ship!


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Women are breaking the grape ceiling- Sarah Cabot

From our Sophie Blog

b2ap3_thumbnail_b2ap3_thumbnail_omero-sarah-cabot.pngWhen I was as thinking about my next lady winemaker, my co-worker Andy Hale, told me to talk about Sarah Cabot from Omero Cellars. She is a winemaker for Omero Cellars  in the Willamette Valley in Oregon and specializes in making their Pinot Noir. And since I am a HUGE fan of Pinot Noir…she was a must to learn and write about.

The Omero Winery Website says this about Sarah;

“Sarah first became interested in winemaking after working for many years in fine dining restaurants. After undergraduate school, she returned to her hometown of Seattle and after becoming certified as a Sommelier to further her fine dining career she went in search of a more comprehensive industry education. Meanwhile, as she studied at the Northwest Wine Academy, she began considering the opportunity to move to the idyllic Willamette Valley where she could really surround herself with Pinot Noir. On a getaway to the Valley just after Sarah finished school, she serendipitously found a position as assistant winemaker at Belle Pente Winery in Carlton, OR. The passion for Pinot Noir came easily for Sarah and after working at Belle Pente for three years and a harvest at Akarua in Central Otago, NZ she took the job of assistant winemaker at Willakenzie Estate for two years before coming on as our winemaker. She is constantly excited for the lessons and achievements that each vintage brings.”

The one thing I love about Sarah is her grasp on how the earth works and her respect for nature. She states this in one of her blogs and this perfectly sums up her view on winemaking:

“Vineyards and wine are both living, breathing beings, almost like their own little worlds comprised of many more living, breathing micro-organisms. They are constantly evolving and each vintage brings about changes and new developments. Therefore, it is my duty (and my honor) to respect this and constantly evolve and hone my technique to allow for these changes and developments to occur in the healthiest possible environment. Perhaps my underlying style as a winemaker (focusing on aromatic, acid-driven wines that have weight and structure but also delicacy and length) serves as the sun that each of these worlds orbit around, all spinning on their own axes.
I’m not normally prone to such ebullient metaphors, but they often seem to be the best way to describe what it is I’m trying to do with my winemaking. Perhaps I have a bit of a mad scientist complex or perhaps I just have an overripe propensity for waxing poetic. Either way, I’m having a damned good time.”

We also carry this wine in our wineshop and it is an excellent wine. Omero offers red currant, strawberry-rhubarb and elderflower on the nose and a palate of rasberry and honeycomb with a bright acidity and silky tannins. This is no standard operating Pinot noir. Different in color, aromas and taste, Omero has almost a dreamlike quality that washes over the evening. Andy Hale adds that: “I love this wine. It is totally biodynamic and organic. The grapes are 100% foot stomped, a la I Love Lucy style. This Pinot Noir is also whole cluster fermented, that is, some of the grapes are fermented inside their skins. Sarah Cabot, the winwemaker, leaves sticks and stems in the mix resulting in more and different flavors going into the bottle. This winery is also located in Ribbon Ridge, highly regard for producing high quality, distictive Pinot Noirs.” At 12.5% alcohol, this is a MetroWine Tasting Panel Bottle for Dinner. –Let’s just say Sarah knows how to make one great Pinot and Metro Wines and I thank her.


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Women are breaking the grape ceiling-Jenny Lefcourt

From our recent Sophie Blog


With spring in FULL BLOOM, I wanted to write about a women winemaker who makes Rose because Rose is the perfect spring wine! I was looking through our racks and found a label that jumped out at me, and it was Petit Cochon Bronze, made by Jenny Lefcourt!! Bingo!

Jenny Lefcourt, of Jenny and Francois Selections is a native New Yorker, originally landed in Paris to study French film during her PhD at Harvard. After many visits to Paris wine bars and vineyards throughout France, all paths led to wine instead of academia.

Jenny runs the company out of the Soho office in NYC. She lives on the Upper West Side with the talented photographer James Robinson and their daughter, Zoe. Where she juggles owner, wife, and mother all at once.

Jenny was interviewed by Alice Feiring from “The Feiring Line” about the female role in the wine industry, she said:

“When we started, most of the buyers were men. Now, its more than half women I would say. That has been a huge shift. There are certainly more women winemakers in France than there used to be. Certainly more women importers, the first major shift was in retail and restaurants. Its a huge revolution.”

She was asked what type of problems she noticed, being a female winemaker and winery owner. She mentioned that some problems were more because of being short than her sex, but:

“There’s this macho thing about tasting all day until you drop and then following it up with more drinking, and personally, I can’t keep up,” she said. “Also, some people have a physical capacity to stand in cold cellars, and drink. I don’t have that capacity. Whether it’s a gender or a size issue, there’s this macho thing in wine tasting. There’s not a place for a woman to say, “I need to go inside. I need food. I’m cold. I need to pee. (A guy can just go to the nearest tree.) I’ve had enough to taste. Maybe I just need to speak up more but I never felt comfortable saying I’m done! If I were a man and I was done, would it be seen in the same light? I don’t know.”

But, what if women dominated the winemaking scene, would the culture be different? That is what Metro Wines is trying to find out!

The wine Jenny makes is one of a kind and in all forms natural. She takes pride in the company and their standards and it shows in the wine.

We carry many Jenny and Francois wines here at Metro Wines, but since it is Spring, we decided to do a little research on her Rose. This one most certainly stands out on the shelf with a big pink pig on the label. Petit Cochon Bronze, meaning the “tan little pig,” is 80% Cinsault, 20% Syrah. This rosé is vibrant pink in the glass. Deep scents of ultra-ripe crushed red cherries, a note of guava paste, overripe fig flesh and a pretty, yet smoky note of sweet herbs. Infused red berry flavors dominate the palate and are set-off by the minerality.

Pairing: Serve this summer wine with spicy flame grilled chicken dishes, spicy lamb or beef kebabs, or sweet barbecued pork dishes.

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We are now in Sophie Magazine!

Women Winemakers are hitting the grape ceiling! And so is Metro Wines! We now have a blog with the Sophie Magazine! We will be featuring female winemakers and their successes! Here is our first blog, you can also check it out at:



Metro Wines offers a grand selection of quality and affordable wines, but the one thing Metro Wines offers that many other wine shops do not is their Women Winemakers section. Metro Wines takes pride in how far female vintners have come in the predominately male wine industry.

In the past, women vintners have inherited wineries from their husbands or fathers, but around 1960, many women decided to branch out and start their own wineries and run them the way they believed worked best. Even though men still dominate winemaking, women have made huge strides to catch up to their male counterparts in terms of creating complex, approachable, and quality wines that everyday wine lovers enjoy. The ladies are breaking the grape ceiling!!

As I continue this blog in the future, it is my goal to talk about a different female wine maker and how she has became successful in this male-dominated industry. Not only do women make great wine, women drink great wine. 60% of wine bought in the U.S. is bought by females. Us ladies may just know a thing or two about wine.

My first female winemaker is a personal favorite. Her name is Gaetana Jacono. She runs the wine estate Valle dell’Acate in Sicily. Gaetana represents the 6th generation of wine makers at Valle dell'Acate. With the same love, attention to detail and tradition that tied her ancestors to the Sicilian hillside vines, Gaetana has devoted herself to the production of World class Sicilian wines. She has earned the respect and recognition of the international wine community.

Valle dell'Acate is located in the Bidini manor among the sinuous hills of the Dirillo valley. The wine estate is one of the most enterprising in southeastern Sicily. The estate was founded by the Jacono family, which has been devoted to growing grapes and producing wine since the days when Vittoria was the most active center for wine export to France in the late 19th century.

One wine that I absolutely love of Jacono’s is Il Frappato. It is a ruby red wine where you will get the bouquet of fresh hints of red berries, blueberries, raspberries, and blackberries. On the palate, you will find a very lively, fresh, and subtle wine with hints of red berries and spices such as sage.  It demonstrates formidable depth on the palate, and several of wine’s most feminine qualities! You can pair this wine with appetizers made with fresh cheeses, meats, Sicilian blue fin tuna, sushi and sashimi. 


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Domaine Pral Cuvee Terroir

Like so many small French wineries, the operation is a husband wife team with the husband generally doing the heavy lifting in the field and the wife making wine. Marion Pral is greatly responsible for what goes into a bottle of Domaine Pral. We have loved this bottle since it arrived in the store. On the day it was presented to us, one of our customers had a small taste and bought a case. The wine is immediately engaging. Few people buy Domaine Pral and don't come back for more. In fact, I cannot think of one! Pleasant fruit aromas followed by a medium body and velvety palate. When we "taste" Domaine Pral at the shop, customers tend to be surprised that a gamay can be so bold. You go Marion, your 100% Gamay made in Beaujolais is loved world wide! Witness: 



From the Importer's Website: Upon hearing the word Beaujolais, many think of the large celebration for wine that comes out the 3rd week of November, that year's vintage of Beaujolais Nouveau. But the region of Beaujolais, situated at the bottom of the Burgundy AOC, is more than just the nouveau. Some Beaujolais wines can be kept (gasp!) for up to 10 years! A 50 acre Family organic estate for several generations, located in the heart of the Pierres Dorees country, 10 miles from Villefranche, capital of the Beaujolais The Domaine Pral vineyard is planted on granite soils with a South East exposition in the Beaujolais region. Harvest  grape picking Once fully matured the grapes are hand-picked; selected and sorted with great care. Aging The wines are stored with great care. They are aged over 8 to 12 months before bottling at the Estate (Domaine). Sustainable Farming Estate Winemakers: Marion and Pascal Chatelus 

Gamay - Cuvee Terroir
In the heart of the Pays des Pierres Dorees, Domaine Marion Pral practices ecological farming on their 45 acres of vines. This cuvee Terroir is made of 100% Gamay from Southwest hillside vineyards located on granite soils. Hand harvested, temperature controlled fermentation, semi-carbonic. Aged in concrete tanks for 8 months before bottling -not your mama's Beaujolais! Loaded with sweetly-ripe blackberry and peach fruit, its tang and brightness of tart fruit skin and saline mineral notes give this insistency on the palate, and it finishes with cleansing refreshment and no superficial sweetness. Wine Advocate 87 Pts (2009): Marion Prals 2009 Beaujolais Cuvee Terroir  from chalky southern Beaujolais perpetuates the virtues of her 2008, albeit in a predictably riper context. Ripe cherry and strawberry dominate in the nose and on an exuberantly ripe palate with hints of fruit pit bitterness offering counterpoint. There is a bit less cut and minerality here than in the 2008 but still attractive suggestions of salt and stone, while the texture is a bit more caressing.

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Women's History Month

March is Women's History Month. What's it all about?

March is Women’s History Month

The Library of Congress, National Archives and Records Administration, National Endowment for the Humanities, National Gallery of Art, National Park Service, Smithsonian Institution and United States Holocaust Memorial Museum join in paying tribute to the generations of women whose commitment to nature and the planet have proved invaluable to society.

About Women’s History Month

Women’s History Month had its origins as a national celebration in 1981 when Congress passed Pub. L. 97-28 which authorized and requested the President to proclaim the week beginning March 7, 1982 as “Women’s History Week."  Throughout the next five years, Congress continued to pass joint resolutions designating a week in March as "Women’s History Week."  In 1987 after being petitioned by the National Women’s History Project, Congress passed Pub. L. 100-9 which designated the month of March 1987 as “Women’s History Month."  Between 1988 and 1994, Congress passed additional resolutions requesting and authorizing the President to proclaim March of each year as Women’s History Month.  Since 1995, Presidents Clinton, Bush and Obama have issued a series of annual proclamations designating the month of March as “Women’s History Month.”  

From the Law Library of Congress' guide to the legislative history of Women's History Month.

Executive and Legislative Documents

The Law Library of Congress has compiled guides to commemorative observations, including a comprehensive inventory of the Public Laws, Presidential Proclamations and congressional resolutions related to Women’s History Month.

In celebration, we suggest Frappato from Valle Dell'Acate,                             Gaetana Jacono Gola, Winemaker.


     "Sicily is one of the most exciting wine regions in the world," Eric Asimov, August 14, 2013  "Valle dell'Acate Il Frappato is a beautiful new red wine gem from Sicily made from 100% Frappato.  Best Value at $19 !!" says Eric Asimov of The New York Times. $16.99 @MetroWines.

     Eric describes the wine this way: "Bright, floral and harmonious, with an attractive tension between bitter and sweet flavors." Tasting Notes: Valle dell'Acate Il Frappato is light-medium in body. It is light ruby in color with a fragrant, exuberant bouquet of intense blueberry, blackberry and raspberry notes. Its flavors are bright and fresh, with strawberries lingering on the palate. The wine was fermented in stainless steel to retain this varietal's lively red-fruited, highly-aromatic and floral profile, then aged for 6 months in steel tanks followed by 3 months in bottle. It is rich and smooth with a long, polished finish.

     Gaetana Jacono runs the wine estate representing the 6th generation of wine makers at Valle dell'Arcate. With the same love, attention to detail and tradition that tied her ancestors to the Sicilian hillside vines, Gaetana has devoted herself to the production of World class Sicilian wines. She has earned the respect and recognition of the international wine community.



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Veuve Clicquot: The Widow


Famous around the world, the "yellow label," classically styled Veuve Clicquot is heralded, and rightly so, for consistent quality. Crisp and full, the Chardonnay presents grapefruit, apple and minerality while the Pinot Meunier brings brambly berry, all to support the well structured foundation provided by the Pinot Noir. Veuve Clicquot is dry and works as an aperitif or with almost any food you could imagine. Do yourself proud. Serve Veuve Clicquot. Do yourself happy, gift yourself Veuve Clicquot! 

91 PTS WINE SPECTATOR. "There's plenty of finesse in the smooth-textured non-vintage Veuve Clicquot Champagne, whose flavors evoke apricot, peach, vanilla pastry and mineral; racy, with snappy acidity." 

"The Widow Clicquot"

Since its founding in 1772, Clicquot has not only been heralded for its wine but also for the courage and creativity of Madame Clicquot who is regarded as being the first businesswoman of the modern era. 



From Amazon:  "The Widow Clicquot" is the New York Times bestselling business biography of the visionary young widow who built a champagne empire, became a legend in her tumultuous times, and showed the world how to live with style. Tilar J. Mazzeo brings to life the woman behind the label, Barbe-Nicole Clicquot Ponsardin, in this utterly intoxicating book that is as much a fascinating journey through the process of making this temperamental wine as a biography of a uniquely tempered and fascinating woman.

On the back cover: Veuve Clicquot champagne epitomizes glamour, style, and luxury. In "The Widow Clicquot," Tilar J. Mazzeo brings to life-for the first time-the fascinating woman behind the iconic yellow label: Barb-Nicle Clicquot Ponsardin, who, after her husband's death defied convention by assuming the reins of the fledgling wine business they had nurtured together. Steering the company through dizzying political and financial reversals, she became one of the world's first great businesswomen and one of the richest of her time.  As much a fascinating journey through the process of making temperamental wine as a biography of a uniquely tempered woman, "The Widow Clicquot" is the captivating true story of a legend and a visionary.

The author, Tylar J. Mazzeo is a cultural historian and biographer and a passionate student of wine and food culture. an assistant professor at Colby College in Maine, she divides her time between the California wine country and New York.

Reviews: "The story of a woman who was a smashing success long before anyone conceptualized the glass ceiling." New York Times Book Review. "Light and graceful...An intoxicating business biography." Wall Street Journal.

We're being followed by Tilar!!

Widow Clicquot broke the glass ceiling before we knew there was a glass ceiling! "Yellow Label" is the perfect...
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PS: About Pinot Meunier from wiki: 


Pinot Meunier is one of the most widely planted grapes in France but it is rather obscure to most wine drinkers and will rarely be seen on a wine label. The grape has been favored by vine growers in northern France due to its ability to bud and ripen more reliably than Pinot noir. The vine's tendency to bud later in the growing seasonand ripen earlier makes it less susceptible to developing coulure which can greatly reduce a prospective crop. For the last couple of centuries, Pinot Meunier has been the most widely planted Champagne grape, accounting for more than 40% of the region's entire plantings. It is most prevalent in the cooler, north facing vineyards of the Vallee de la Marne and in the Aisne department. It is also widely grown in the Aube region in vineyards where Pinot noir and Chardonnay would not fully ripen.

Compared to Pinot noir, Pinot Meunier produces lighter colored wines with slightly higher acid levels but can maintain similar sugar and alcohol levels. As part of a standard champagne blend, Pinot Meunier contributes aromatics and fruity flavors to the wine. Champagnes with a substantial proportion of Pinot Meunier tend not to have as much significant aging potential as champagnes that are composed primarily of Chardonnay or Pinot noir. It is therefore most commonly used for champagnes that are intended to be consumed young, when the soft, plushy fruit of the Pinot Meunier is at its peak. A notable exception is the Champagne house ofKrug which makes liberal use of Pinot Meunier in its long-lived prestige cuvees.

During the 19th century, Pinot Meunier was widely planted throughout northern France, especially in the Paris basin. It was found across the northern half of country from the Loire Valley to Lorraine.[4] Today, Pinot Meunier is found outside of Champagne in dwindling quantities in the Loire Valley regions of Touraine and Orleans as well as the Cotes de Toul and Moselle regions. In these regions Pinot Meunier is used to make light bodied reds and rosés. These wines most often fall into the vin gris style are characterized by their pale pink color and distinctive smokey notes.


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Italian Wines and Wolfdogs

Valle dell'Acate is operated by 6th generation winemaker Gaetana Jacono Gola. With the same love that tied her ancestors to the vines, along with marked entrepreneurial insight, Gaetana has devoted herself to the production of Sicilian DOC and IGT wines, a production that has earned great recognition, even on the international scene. Thanks to the nature of the place, the use of technologically advanced systems and the support of a century of experience, Valle dell'Acate is able to produce a range of prized, modern and radiant wines that are, as Eric Asimov of the NYT frequently notes, of extraordinary quality for the price. We POUR 4 of these wines to benefit Full Moon Wolfdog Farm and Sanctuary on October 9th at 6pm.

Il Frappato 2012


100% Frappato, this wine is aged 6 months in steel and 3 in the bottle. Light ruby in color, you can just see some waves of violet. Fragrant, fresh and literally bursting, the bouquet is an intense blend of bilberry, blackberry, and raspberry. The black and red fruit washes softly over the palate with an ever so slight swash of violet. The Metro Wines Tasting Panel does not mind telling you that we were skeptical of this one, even after the first taste. Different flavors were demanding attention! On the second sip, you will find yourself being softly drawn IN. And by the third taste, you are absolutely and gratefully IN. With good tension between, herbal, sweet and bitter flavors, this wine is quite versatile from cheese to meats to the occasional fish.

Nero D’Avola-2011


Tasting Notes:  A black skinned grape, Nero d'Avola has been grown in Sicily for hundred of years. Some say it produces wines similar to a light Shiraz. Maybe, but while so many other wine growing regions went with the fad of Chardonnay and Cabernet, Sicily stayed the course, continued to do what they do and this grape, this version of this grape, is one heck of an example of that fortitude, confidence and tradition. This grape is all its own. The wine is aged in steel and one year in the bottle to insure a roundness. In the glass, this medium bodied wine is a soothing ruby red color offering red flower perfume on the nose, red fruit flavors and a bit of black pepper on the palate. With pleasant tannins, the wine leaves you with a nice warmth. 

According to Robert Parker's Wine Advocate: "This is a superb set of wines from Valle dell'Acate. Not only are the wines delicious, the best bottles deliver incredible value as well. The estate uses only their best hillside plots for the Valle dell'Acate label, while the vineyards in the plains are used for the entry-level Case Ibidini range." (06/11) And suggesting that this grape, Nero d'Avola, might just be the "next Malbec." The Wall Street Journal Wine Critic, Lettie Teague, called the bottle offered by Valle dell" Acate one of the "three best" on the shelf. About Lettie:

About Lettie Teague

Lettie Teague

Before joining The Wall Street Journal in 2010, Lettie Teague was the executive wine editor at Food & Wine magazine, where she wrote the monthly column Wine Matters. She received the James Beard Foundation's M.F.K. Fisher Distinguished Writing Award in 2003, won a 2005 James Beard Award for magazine columns and a 2012 James Beard Award for this On Wine column. She is the author of "Educating Peter: How Anybody Can Become an (Almost) Instant Wine Expert" published by Scribner in 2007, and the illustrator and co-author of "Fear of Wine: An Introductory Guide to the Grape," published by Bantam in 1995.


About: The second label of Valle dell’Acate, the Case Ibidini range (pronounced ‘bidini) consists of varietal-labeled wines from the estate intended for more casual consumption. The local name of the area where the estate is situated (Bidini) is named for the ancient settlers who populated the area nearly 20 centuries ago. The wines of Case Ibidini provide a purity and authenticity reflective of the philosophy of the estate all at an affordable price. Frequent visitors to our Wine Blog know the two white wines discussed below. We totally stand behind both as wine that can go from everyday tables to special events and weddings, all year round.




 Case Ibidini (pronounced 'bidini), the second label for Valle dell'Acate, offers varietal specific wines from the estate intended for versatility and value. "Bidini," the name of the area where Valle dell' Acate sits pretty is drawn from the ancient root "Bidis," referring to the name of a group of early Hellenic settlers who populated the area nearly 20 centuries ago. Recognized for purity and refreshing mineral qualities, Valle dell' Acate cloaks the Inzolia grape in the quality production, tradition and dignity it so well deserves. From mineral rich soil vineyards in eastern Sicily, this 100% Inzolia is a crisp, unoaked, fruity dry white that highlights the citrus that comes naturally. Aged in steel for 4 months then in the bottle.



Aging: 4 months in steel tanks and at least 2-3 months in bottle

. Tasting Notes: Light yellow color. White flower bouquet of citrus fruit and wild rose. Fresh and dry with acidity and balance. Pair with starters, fish and vegetable dishes. Reminiscent of a very expressive Pinot Gris.

Production area :.C.da Bidini-Acate (RG) – Eastern Sicliy* Vine : 60% Grillo and 40% Insolia*Aging:  Steel tanks 4 months, and at least 2-3 months in bottle*Colour : Deep yellow*Bouquet: White flowers of citrus fruit, wild rose*Taste: fresh and dry, acidity in balance*Combination: starters and fish dishes, seafood, and vegetable dishes

Rating: 91 The 2010 Zagra is an unoaked blend of 70% Grillo and 30% Inzolia that totally conquers the palate with its finessed personality. Juicy apricots, peaches and jasmine are just some of the nuances that linger on the multi-dimensional finish. When Sicilian whites are on they can be stunning, as is the case here. Anticipated maturity: 2011-2014. This is a superb set of wines from Valle dell'Acate. Not only are the wines delicious, the best bottles deliver incredible value as well. The estate uses only their best hillside plots for the Valle dell'Acate label, while the vineyards in the plains are used for the entry-level Case Ibidini range- The Wine Advocate (6/30/2011)


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Valle dell'Acate
Valle dell'Acate Sicilian Winery, Cerasuolo di Vittoria, Il Frappato, Il Moro, Zagra, Bidis, #wine #winelover #vino #Sicily #frappato #Winery
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This just in: Valle dell' Acate retweets Metro

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    Best Seller last night at Benefit for Hope Chest: Case Ibidini Inzolia from Gaetana Jacono, Velle dell'Acate,
    09:50 AM - 15 Aug 13
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Valle dell'Acate Sicilian Winery, Cerasuolo di Vittoria, Il Frappato, Il Moro, Zagra, Bidis, #wine #winelover #vino #Sicily #frappato #Winery


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About Silvia:
According to Elio Altare the problem now a days is that the different winemakers use consultants in their effort to produce the best possible wine.
These consultants pop by from time to time, spend a few hours at the estate and tell the owner how to make the wines. These consultants don't know the land and they don't have the background and knowledge about the particulary terroir. This tend to lead to wines tasting all the same, even if they are from different producers in the area because they are all made the same way!
Elio Altare strongly feels that the only way of producing the best possible wines is by knowing the land, the terroir, the climate, the different types of weather, the condition of the soil etc. The only way of knowing that is by being present all the time - 365 days a year. As a consumer this can be put into 2 tiny words - Azienda Agricola!
This means that the winemaker is present at his own estate and knows all about his land, his grapes, the weather, the soil etc.
Elio is present - both in the vineyards and at this tasting and you can see him transform into a passionate mood, when we speak about winemaking.
Strong feelings, strong emotions - every bit of passion is in these bottles, every bit of temper is in these bottles.
That is why Elio Altares wines are so extraordinary well made - second to none!
All the time during our little conversation still with a very friendly attitude and Silvia laughing and joking with her father.
It is crystal clear that there is love and unity in this family.

Elio Altare

By Sunny Brown  Barolo. One of the greatest places on earth for a wine lover. This is one of the family homes of Italian wine, and certainly a birthplace for the modern successes. You can smell it in the air, feel it in the soil, and even taste it in the local cuisine. When viewing the green hills that roil and roll with vineyards and tiny hamlets a sense of belonging wells up within my throat. Not that I belong here, but that these hills, and these people and these wines belong to this place. We live in a time when the Crus of Barolo are as well known as those of Burgundy. When the wines can command high prices, praise and ratings from all the usual suspects. When serving a bottle of Barolo means something.

But it was not always so. In the 1970s lowly Dolcetto fetched a higher price than Barolo. The magic of the wines were lost in a system that paid by weight, not quality. Vineyards were plowed by oxen. Fertilizers and chemicals were used with reckless abandon. Everything felt old- The barrels, the techniques, the wines.

Since then we have witnessed a revolution. So how does one reach such amazing heights within such a short time? Innovation and hard work. No one producer in Piedmont symbolizes this more than Elio Altare. His wines are some of the best in Barolo, though his efforts to modernize a distinctly old world region have brought both inspiration and heartache. No one has ever claimed that revolution was easy.

Cut into the hills just below the town of La Morra lays the courtyard of Elio Altare, one that the family shares with Mauro Veglio. It is not the easiest place in the world to find, but the effort is supremely rewarded with spectacular views of Barolo. It is amazing how some of the most famous vineyards in the world can be spotted, as casually as if you were discussing the next block over in your neighborhood. “Over there is Bricco Boschis, then Brunate, and over there past Serralunga d’Alba is…”

We were met by Elena, younger of the two daughters Altare. She began our tour but was quickly ushered back to her studies by her older sister Silvia. Vibrant and energetic, Silvia practically buzzed about the winery and her love for the whole of Piedmont. She described the region as a landscape of farmers and small winemakers (700 families farming just 1750 acres) and that unlike many other regions in Italy, all the money made here goes back into vines and wineries in an effort to improve the already fantastic products. “The standard for Barolo is very high,” she said. ”If you don’t make good wines you don’t sell.” 

The winery is lovely. Centered in the heart of the vines below the hilltop town of La Morra but above the town of Annunziata, the terra cotta and brick walls lead into a smartly adorned tasting room. We were given a tour of the facilities, and the reoccurring theme was modernity. Shining stainless steel tanks gave way to bright and clean barriques. I could almost smell the charring of the barrels, they seemed that new. This is a testament to the style and philosophy of Elio Altare. 

Elio took a trip in the 1970’s to France, where he discovered an entirely new way of thinking in regards to wine. “My father was very young and active,” as Silvia described it. “He traveled to Burgundy where he saw shorter fermentation times. He saw the importance that was placed on the soil and in the vineyard. He saw green harvests. He drew much inspiration from this.” These ideas were a far cry from the traditional methods that Elio had been taught by his father Giovanni. Change did not come easy. Many of the old ways of farming had been handed down from one generation to the next. 

The tension between father and son reached a crescendo when Elio used a chainsaw to remove all of the old barrels from the cellars of Cascina Nuova, the name of the winery at that time. Elio was stripped of his inheritance, and it was not until Giovanni’s death in 1985 that Elio was allowed back to the winery. 

He had spent the time in between studying and working amongst the vines, learning their secrets and formulating a plan for when he would be allowed to make his own wines. This plan involved rigorous pruning of the vines, green harvests that lasted from July through August, and an overall approach that places emphasis on organic methods. A serious case of pesticide poisoning in 1982 only hardened his resolve.

There are many legends that speak of Elio’s dedication to the vine. While sleeping in the cellar to “listen” to his wines or eating the tartrate crystals to get potassium may be more quaint, my favorite is of his diary in which he recorded daily observations on the weather, his technical approach to the wines and what worked and what did not. This diary became the blueprint for the successes that followed.

In the winery the approach is just as cutting edge. Rotary fermenters, short fermentations in stainless steel followed by micro-oxygenation and aging the wines sur lie in small oak barriques are just a few of the daring innovations that Altare has brought to Barolo. Other techniques such as using only indigenous yeasts and allowing malolactic fermentation to occur naturally may not be quite so uncommon, but they certainly speak volumes about their commitment to quality. All of the wines of Altare are bottled without fining or filtration.

While the wines of Altare remain faithful to the elegant and plush style of wine produced in the sand, marl and tufa soils found in the commune of La Morra, they contain a freshness and concentration that is a notch above the rest. They were as a whole more juicy and approachable than many of their brethren at that stage. The Barolos are amazing and lovely, with an excellent balance of tannins and acid, their fragrance a haunting reminder of what it means to be Barolo- Soil, perfume and elegance. The charming Dolcetto was big enough to pass for California Pinot Noir, at once a fresh, fruity and friendly version of the grape. 

Also in the line-up is the L’Insieme, a wine that is one of eight different versions produced under the same label by some of the finest names in Barolo- Corino, Grasso, Molino and Revello just to name a few. Each producer crafts their own wine, but they all sell as L'Insieme. Started as a joint project amongst friends intended to raise funds to restore local historical treasures, five euro from each bottle is set aside and now L’Insieme raises over $120,000 each year for charitable causes that are located in all parts of the world, from South Africa to South America. The name means “together” in Italian, and refers both to the friendship that created this wine, and also to the marriage of traditional local grapes such as Barbera and Nebbiolo to international varietals such as Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot. The L’Insieme is an international superstar. 

The success of Elio Altare rolls on, as each year the wines are celebrated by the prestigious Gambero Rosso as some of the best in all of Italy. While not everyone agrees with Altare’s approach to winemaking, no one can argue with the results. In the years since he first drew inspiration from a trip to Burgundy in which he slept in his car to save money, Altare has shifted from the role of young rogue to learned master, and spends his time now sharing his secrets with some of the best and brightest in Barolo. 

In the end Altare remains a family affair. Elena studied in Enology, while Silvia focused on Economics. The future of this winery, long considered the future of Italian wine, looks incredibly bright. The Altare daughters represent the next generation of great Italian wine, though this time the concept of L’Insieme, together, will remain at the forefront of the Altare family.  

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Hope Chest Wine Tasting Wine Notes

We will be pouring wines made by women wine makers! 

Here are a few notes about the wine maker and the wine they made:


To the question why are Sicilian wines hitting their stride in a big way, Eric Asimov says: "Partly, it's a result of a new, energetic generation of wine producers who embraced the island's indigenous grapes at a time when many regions were looking past their heritages to capitalize on the world's taste for international grapes like chardonnay,merlot, and cabernet sauvignon. As a result, Sicily's new wave wines immediately stood out as distinctive cultural emblems."


Gaetana Jacono: Grillo Zagra 

Valle dell'Acate has a long and storied history among the top estates in Sicily, as the Jacono family can trace back their winemaking roots here to the nineteenth century. It is located in the southeastern corner of Sicily. Under the direction of the current head of the family winery, the elegant Gaetana Jacono, many of the vineyards have been replanted to the great traditional grapes of Sicily, farmed organically. 

Tasting Notes: Zagra is 70% Grillo and 30% Inzolia, both grapes indigenous to Sicily. Aged four months in steel tanks rather than oak gives this wine an unparalleled crispness. light in color, Zagra presents a white flower bouquet of citrus fruit and wild rose on the nose.  On the palate, the wine offers juicy apricots, peaches and jasmine. Fresh and dry, the wine is well structured with notable acidity and balance and a sting multi dimensional finish. Wine Advocate, calling this wine "stunning" awarded 91 points


Zolo Viognier

"Best Buy" says "Wine and Spirits." This accolaide follows a long line of praise for ZOLO Torrontes. "Wine Enthusiast" called the 2008, 2009 an 2011 a "Best Buy." And over the years, ZOLO Torrontes has received praise from critics across the wine world including "The Wall Street Journal" and Robert Parker.  Medium straw in color, the nose is an array of citrus including lime, white flowers and tropical fruit. The taste is ripe, dry and restrained, with notes of pear and dried orange peel. The finish is crisp! 



"Sicily is one of the most exciting wine regions in the world," Eric Asimov, August 14, 2013

Gaetana Jacono: 2012 Vittoria Frappato, Valle dell'Acate

Another Gaetana Jacono Wine! Valle dell'Acate Il Frappato is a beautiful new red wine gem from Sicily made from 100% Frappato. 

Best Value at $19 !! says Eric Asimov of The New York Times. $16.49 @MetroWines. Eric describes the wine this way: "Bright, floral and harmonious, with an attractive tension between bitter and sweet flavors."

Tasting Notes: Valle dell'Acate Il Frappato is light-medium in body. It is light ruby in color with a fragrant, exuberant bouquet of intense blueberry, blackberry and raspberry notes. Its flavors are bright and fresh, with strawberries lingering on the palate. The wine was fermented in stainless steel to retain this varietal's lively red-fruited, highly-aromatic and floral profile, then aged for 6 months in steel tanks followed by 3 months in bottle. It is rich and smooth with a long, polished finish. Suggested retail is $19 and we sell it for $16.49!


Daniella Rocca: Rosso di Rocca

The Italian estate used to be run the grandfather and then the dad, who passed away a few years back. Since that time the three Rocca daughters have taken over all the duties.  

Tasting Notes: A blend of the traditional Northwestern Italian grapes Nebbiolo (80%), Barbera (10%) and the less traditional Cabernet, this table wine doesn't qualify for a vintage label, but the back label discreetly discloses "2004 harvest." Clear dark garnet in color, it shows dried-fruit and floral notes, a combination oddly but pleasantly reminiscent of hard candies. Simple and fresh on the palate, red fruit is shaped by tart acidity; 


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Valle dell'Acate 2010 "Zagra" Grillo


Gaetana Jacono runs the wine estate representing the 6th generation of wine makers at Valle dell'Acate. With the same love, attention to detail and tradition that tied her ancestors to the Sicilian hillside vines, Gaetana has devoted herself to the production of World class Sicilian wines. She has earned the respect and recognition of the international wine community. 

From Sicily, this white wine is 100% Grillo, a lovely varietal that is indigenous to Sicily. Aged four months in steel tanks rather than oak gives this wine an unparalleled crispness. light in color, Zagra presents a white flower bouquet of citrus fruit and wild rose on the nose.  On the palate, the wine offers juicy apricots, peaches and jasmine. Fresh and dry, the wine is well structured with notable acidity and balance and a sting multi dimensional finish. The wine is palate rolling and can even take on a bit of the hot!

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Shop Dogs Support Women Vintners!

Amador Foothill Katie's Cote. Rhone Blend 2007


Katie Quinn's job as winemaker is to transform what nature provides: "I want to make wines with an Amador sense of place, unique wines that reflect their origin the red granitic soils of our Shenandoah Valley Appellation." Katie's winemaking vision is that wines should be varietally true, tasting of their grape origins with a discrete use of oak for texture and complexity. Katie's red wines have concentrated fruit flavors backed with refined tannins. Inspired by Katie's love of cooking, this wine is food friendly. A blend of 51% Syrah and 49% Grenache, Katie's Cote comes to us from The Shenandoah Valley in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada Mountains, Plymouth California. full bodied but flexible, you will be intrigued by the lush blackberry fruit and exotic spices hit the nose and palate at once. 

Lumos Pinot Gris


Julia Cattrall, the 20 something rising star cellarmaster, adds the magic touch to this wine. A student of Anthropology at Reed University, Julia learned the art of winemaking at the Lumos family vineyard, dating back to 1972, in Eola Hills, Oregon. This Pinot Gris was named Best Buy in Wine and Spirits Magazine and was the Gold Medal Winner at The Oregon Awards scoring a 92.

Light straw in color, ripe grapefruit on the nose and soft nectarines and peach with citrus and a tart zestiness on the palate, this wine is a warm weather classic but can stand up to a Thanksgiving Dinner.

Cheverny, Domaine de Montcy Red 2010


Domaine de Montcy was born from the agricultural background of Laura Semeria who grew up in Italy amidst the olive groves. After moving with her husband to his home country of France, Laura was drawn to the grapes. In the far corner of the Upper Loire, she found a vineyard. Some of the vines still bearing fruit were over 100 years old. Laura is striving for total biodynamic production. Grown in the sandy-limestone, the grapes express this mineral foundation. This rustic red table wine is a blend of Gamay, Pinot Noir and Cabernet Franc. Only native yeasts are used and temperatures are kept low to insure freshness remains inherent in the wine. With aromas of cherry and cranberry on the nose leading to raspberry and strawberry on the palate, this wine is simple, straightforward and, while it can stand alone, is abundantly food friendly.


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ZOLO Bonarda SOLD OUT! But we have a Bonarda blend which is extraordinary. That said...........

ZOLO Signature Red 2012

Estate grown, sustainably farmed in Mendoza, Argentina at the foothills of The Andes.  ZOLO calls upon different grapes to create more complex and interesting wines.  "Signature Red" blends Cabernet Sauvignon, Bonarda, Merlot and Malbec. Red fruit on the nose; long, lush mouthfeel on the palate.


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"LONELY GRAPE DAY" is all about ZOLO. Today: Torrontes and Bonarda

These are both grapes that make wonderful wines that wine consumers might have passed by. When "lonely grapes" are raised right, as we say back home, with the right winemaker and the right conditions, wine magic happens.

First about the winery: Stephen Tanzer of the International Wine Cellar says of ZOLO: "Genuinely Excellent Wines."

Patricia Ortiz, president and owner of ZOLO, produces wines in one of the most technologically advanced wineries in Argentina. Estate-grown and sustainably farmed, ZOLO has been a leader among Argentine winemakers since 2004. ZOLO selects grapes from targeted regions in Mendoza.  Situated at various altitudes, each of these terroirs presents a different fruit and varietal concentration. The purpose of the ZOLO classic line, including the Torrontes and Bonarda that we feature here, is to create a family of fruit-forward wines at great values which can be served and enjoyed with a wide range of foods or stand alone. 

ZOLO Torrontes

"Best Buy" says "Wine and Spirits." This accolaide follows a long line of praise for ZOLO Torrontes. "Wine Enthusiast" called the 2008, 2009 an 2011 a "Best Buy." And over the years, ZOLO Torrontes has received praise from critics across the wine world including "The Wall Street Journal" and Robert Parker.  Medium straw in color, the nose is an array of citrus including lime, white flowers and tropical fruit. The taste is ripe, dry and restrained, with notes of pear and dried orange peel. The finish is crisp!

ZOLO Bonarda

There remains some doubt as to the true origin of this grape, but most agree that Bonarda is the French Charbono grape. Following prohibition, Charbono was the workhorse grape in California for bulk wine production and, hence, fell into having a less than inviting reputation. Today, there is little left in California. The sad situation for this "lonely grape" is that it was never handled properly with appropriate attention and conditions, but when it is, as with ZOLO, it can be spectacular.

ZOLO Bonarda is produced under the direct supervision of Patricia Ortiz who works in Buenos Aries but travels to Mendoza weekly leaving her husband, "zolo," read "solo," alone.  Deep purple in color, the wine is full bodied with brambly fruit tastes of raspberries and blackberries. And, aging in French and American Oak for 6 months, lends a sweet toasty vanilla taste to the wine. ZOLO Bonarda presents firm tannins that are mouth filling but not out of balance with the fruit.

This lonely (and often disparaged grape) grape is one worth trying. ZOLO Bonarda is an excellent choice for grilled meats and hearty flavored stews. 


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Viognier FAQ


Viognier Information Sheet



-Viognier - the fast rising star.
Viognier is fast growing in popularity. The last ten years has seen a massive increase in Viognier production throughout the world.

-It is a French Dry, Floral, Full-bodied white wine from the Rhone Valley. Also found in California, Oregon, Washington State, Virginia, etc.

-Initially the grape was grown to blend with other whites - and reds, bringing extra character to well know varieties, and softening the syrah wines of the Côte Rôtie.

-Viognier has the most amazing clear, golden colour and the aroma of flowers and fruits at their freshest. Many talk of being surprised by the taste; the colour and nose hinting at something sweeter but the actually taste being dry with a variety of distinctions both on the tongue and afterwards. 

-Typical markers, or notes, of viognier include white floral such as honey-suckle or jasmine, as well as orange blossom. Along with a honey or honey-suckle notes, you’ll also find stone fruit flavors, peach, apricot, nectarine, as well as a nice spice component that can be described as baking spices.  On the palate, you will find it to be typically fuller bodied, often with an oily or “lanolin” feel in your mouth.

-Food Pairing:

-Asian and Chinese food, Roasted Chicken, Crab, White Fish, Lobster, Indian Food, Cirtus fruit, rosemary, 

Seafood (scallops, shrimp, shellfish), Curry and Thai food, veal

-Do not pair with:

-Any earthy dishes and salty dishes.


Viogniers on our shelf here:b2ap3_thumbnail_70137_20130713-123129_1.jpg         b2ap3_thumbnail_227060.jpg


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Balnea Rueda


Balnea is a family owned winery that has been cultivating grapes since the last century. This wine is 100% Verdejo, estate grown in limestone rich soil with a gravel sublayer on a 2400 foot plateau and is hand harvested.

The winemaker is Maria Jesus de la Hoz Montalve

The low fertility soil and scarcity of rain at this high altitude combine to offer low yields but highly concentrated Verdejo grapes.The grapes have the benefit of harsh, dry and sunny winters allowing the grapes to ripen perfectly. The extreme temperature differences between night and day create real and discernible balance in the grapes. Only native yeasts are used for Balnea Rueda.

The culmination of four generations of winemaking, this wine is clean, straw yellow with lemony hues. On the nose, the wine presents citrus fruit and herbal teas.  On the palate, the wine has a creamy, delicate body and finishes with the characteristic bitterness of the Verdejo grape.

Goes down easy.  At $11.49 a bottle, buy a case.

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