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Subscribe to our Sunday Email or follow our online calendar for news of dinners and wine pairing events.
It's been quiet in here as of late, hasn't it? For good reason, I promise. The end of February and most of March have been very busy for us at Metro Wines.
One of our favorite winemakers, Michele D'Aprix, was here not very long ago. Michele is the only American woman wine maker in Bordeaux! And she was actually here IN our store! Not Skype, or Facebook Live, but in the very flesh, enchanting us with stories about life in Bordeaux, and how she comes up with names for her wines. We had a significant turnout that evening, and I'm sure many of you had the pleasure of meeting Michele.
We also had a fantastic tasting featuring the wines of Donkey & Goat. Based in California, they take a very holistic, "hands off" approach to wine making: natural, sustainable, and biodynamic practices at the vineyard; in the cellar, they don't add or take anything from the wine, and they ever only use minimal effective sulphur. They don't stabilize, fine, or filter their wines at bottling. The result is a world of flavors that you don't usually get from these varietals, with a fantastic texture to boot. And, from what I hear, no donkies, nor goats, are ever harmed in the making of the wine.
I had the pleasure of being invited to the Beth HaTephila Congregation to do a presentation on Kosher wines. This was a great learning opportunity for me. Admittedly, I fell under the umbrella of everyone who believed that all Kosher wines are boiled, and of poor quality, because I was told that long ago, and never questioned it. It was eye-opening, as well as pleasantly surprising to find out that, while some Kosher wines are pasteurized, most are not, and as far as quality goes, there's no difference between a Kosher wine and its conventional counterpart. Chateau Valandraud double magnum, you say? $3,000 at auction. Quality, pedigree, and the history are there to rival the most legendary wines on earth. By the way, that's a picture of the Golan Heights at the top of this post.
We have also been making our Auction winners very happy with their tastings. Among the themes for these tastings are "Fun, but not weird," "Wine for Bourbon drinkers," and "Greek wines you've never heard of, or heard of but haven't tried." Retsina, anyone?
These are but a few of the activities that have kept me away from the keyboard here at Metro. While things don't seem to be slowing down (which is a good thing), I will try to keep the updates more consistently frequent. Until next time.
Bubbles and amuse-bouche; Pinot Gris and Squash soup; Bourgogne Rouge and Duck, fennel, and beet salad; Cabernet and steak. The pairings were fantastically executed (I would know- I was there!), and ensured love remained in the air long into the evening. So did the entire staff at the Princess Anne Hotel, without whom this would not have been possible, nor as successful or enjoyable.
With every new course came a new wine. Tom Leiner of Grapevine Distributors and I introduced these delights as they were poured, offering small bits of information about the wines and the people who make them. To my relief, it was well received- safe to say we made acceptable entertainers.
For my part, I thoroughly enjoyed interacting with every guest, meeting new faces, and sharing a little of what we do here at Metro. It was my first of such events, and I should like to know it won't be the last. Certainly a memorable experience!
Again, infinte thanks to the Princess Anne Hotel for hosting the event, their kitchen and wait staff for the impeccable service, and Tom Leiner and Grapevine Distributors for the libations. I had a great time working the event, and look forward to doing it again soon!
This was originally posted on the Wine Blog at the Metro Wines Asheville website.
Another week, another class! This time we went back to the drawing board, to expand on the finer details and cover the lesser-known bits of the basics, beyond fermentation, balance and complexity, and typical flavor profiles. For instance, did you know that many of the wines that you've drunk have gone through Malolactic conversion? You may associate this term with white wines, such as Chardonnay and Viognier, and the distinct buttery flavor and creamy texture it imparts on the wine. What's less known about MLF (as this conversion is usually referred to), is that nearly all reds will undergo this process, so it isn't considered a distinctive or differentiating quality. To showcase the effects of MLF, we tasted Talbott Chardonnay from Monterey, California.
We also covered "lees". Lees are, in simple terms, the dead yeast cells post-fermentation, when they've essentially eaten themselves. This may sound odd, but for some wines, keeping these little critters can enhance the texture, and add complexity to the flavor. Muscadet, legendary friend of oysters, is a great example of a wine aged on the lees, and very often the words "sur lie" will be printed on the label. Albariño and Champagne often get cozy with their defunct friends as well, except it isn't explicit on the packaging. We did in fact taste a wonderful Muscadet Sèvre-et-Maine Sur Lie to identify those delicious bready, brioche flavors, as well as the incredible texture that results from this, and we learned that every time we heard the words "autolytic character" this is what was being talked about.
These are just two of the topics we covered in addition to oak (French vs. American, toast levels, size of the barrel), extraction, terroir, variety vs. varietal (yup, there is a difference!), decanting (when and how to do it), clones, crossings, hybrids, and mutations (Pinot Noir, Gris, and Blanc are the same grape with varying degrees of pigment). We even discussed how to interact with your sommelier at the restaurant to get your wine in perfect drinking condition! To wrap up the evening and, well, enjoy ourselves a bit, we chose a fantastic example of a crossing: Austrian Zweigelt. Delicate flavors of red currants, raspberries, violets, lavender, and earth were just the perfect kiss to send us off.
For more information on our classes, as well as our schedule, visit www.ashevilleschoolofwine.com
Wine can be, and often is, an expression of the place where it's made; a representation of the local taste and culture, a sense of 'what grows together goes together.' As part of our ongoing Italy class, and thanks to Mark Orsini of Orsini Wines, we tasted our way Tuscany. This means we got really friendly with Sangiovese, as well as other much more rare, but no less tasty varietals: Malvasia frizzante; a Vermentino blended with Fiano, Verdicchio, Incrocio Manzoni, and Petit Manseng; a Bordeaux left-bank style beauty with the kingly name of Atis. While these uncommon wines showcased Italian artistry and creativity, the more familiar names reminded us of the power of tradition: Chianti Classico, Brunello, Vino Nobile di Montepulciano.
And then, there was Jassarte. Oh, Jassarte! Where old meets new, tradition meets experimentation, and the diversity of the world grows in one small lot of land. This wine is a blend of thirty (yes, THIRTY) grapes, all contributing the same 3.3% to the bottle, with origins that go beyond Italy, both in location and in history. France, Spain, and Greece lend their flavors, as well as the Saperavi grape from Georgia! Saperavi was found in amphorae dating back over 8,000 years, and it is still planted in Georgia today. All of this amounts to a wine that is powerful, but not opulent or hedonistic; complex, yet approachable; great friend of food, and a pleasure to enjoy on its own.
This experience would not have reached such heights without Mark and his wines, and Mr. Michele Scienza of Guado al Melo, who was beyond kind to connect via Skype with us so late in the day and take us through the history, land, fruit, and flavor of his little piece of Tuscany. For that, the team at Metro Wines are infintely thankful!
*For more information on our classes, visit www.ashevilleschoolofwine.com
Wine is subjective, and that is part of the fun of drinking it. You might spit out a taste of my favorite wine, and I might not think your prized Napa Cab is worth $200. And that's ok. It wouldn't be as much fun if we all agreed on everything and liked all of the same things.
What I'm getting at is even professionals disagree from time to time, and that's exactly what is going on a Metro Wines right now. Normally this sort of thing is handled with the utmost professionalism and courtesy when regarding your collegue's opinion.
But not this time. It's getting ugly and turning into a real fracas.
You may have seen signs around the shop boasting "Andy's Pick" right next to a bottle showing "Gina's Pick." Andy likes Guido Porro's Barbera, and Gina likes Paitin's. Gina likes the O.P.P. Pinot Noir, and Andy prefers Montinore's. Which do you like better?
If you want to get in on the fracas, come by the shop and try each of our wines. See which one you like better, and report back. It's like taking the "Pepsi Challenge," but with wine and way more competitive!
Have you ever noticed that almost all of the wines from the Piedmont region of Italy have similar names? Barolo, Barbaresco, Barbera...it can be hard to keep them straight!
This is why we are excited to hold a class on just the wines of Piedmont! We will talk about all of the famous grape varietals and wine regions and even pour tastes of several wines. We will even pour Barolo, the most famous and expensive wine in Piedmont!
To get an insider's view on Barolo, we will even speak to Valentina Abbona from the famous vineyard, Marchesi di Barolo, live via Skype! A truly rare opportunity to speak to someone who has made wine in Barolo all of her life. We will also taste some of her wines!
Join us on Tuesday, September 19th, from 5:30 to 6:30 for a night of fun, information and of course, great wine! The cost is $20.
Call 828 575-9525 to make your reservation.
In case you missed it, there was a great article on blind tasting in the Laurel of Asheville magazine! The author, our own Gina Trippi, sites blind tasting as the best way to learn to taste wine like a pro.
I agree. To me, learning to describe the complex flavors in our favorite wines is the main reason to blind taste, learning to guess the grape and place is secondary.
Check out the whole article here!
Well, we finally did it! We've been threatening for a few years to hold a class on food and wine pairing through the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at UNC Asheville and we finally did it.
I've always said that the best way to teach food and wine pairing is to show it with actual food and wine combinations and let everyone decide what works and what doesn't. This experimental course sought to do just that.
We had a different lunch catered by a local restaurant for our class each week and we paired different wines with the food. We picked wines that would pair well with the food, and intentionally picked some that would be a terrible pairing so that we can see what works and what doesn't. I'll admit, after so many years pairing wine, it was a surprising amount of fun picking wines that will be an absolute disaster with the food we were serving!
Here are some of the things that we learned in our class:
The food was catered by Strada, the Golden Fleece, Gan Shan Station, Corner Kitchen Catering, Homegrown, and also Geraldines and 50 Fifty Desserts for our dessert class.
If you didn't make it into the class this semester, we will offer a repeat of the same course for the spring semester. More information about the OLLI program here https://olliasheville.com/
Well, we have actually been teaching classes through the continuing adult education department at our local university for a few years now, but this was the first class that was open to the public.
The class was called "Wine Essentials" and went over the basics of wine. We started off by learning to describe the different flavor components of wine, then talked about common grape varietals, followed by a crash course in terroir and then finished up with some practical tips to get the most enjoyment out of your wine. How to start a wine cellar, when to decant and why, serving temperatures for your favorite wines and the basics of food and wine pairing.
If you missed it, there are 5 more classes in our series with one premiering every month. The next classes will deal with the major grape varietals and regions of some of our favorite wine making countries.
We still have a few seats left for our next class in which we will cover the wines of France. Learn about the grapes and history of Bordeaux, why you can't call your favorite California bubbly "Champagne" and why "White Burgundy" isn't an oxymoron!
Learn about the other classes in our series and buy tickets here: http://www.ashevilleschoolofwine.com/schedule
If you are a regular reader of this blog, have probably already heard that not only are rose wines not just for summertime anymore, they are fantastic wines to serve with a traditional Thanksgiving dinner. If hearing this piqued your interest and you want to try it out yourself, we have put together four wines to go with each course of your holiday feast.
Try these out and experience a unique Thanksgiving Meal.
Appertif: Franck Besson “Rosé Granit” Gamay, Beaujolais, France, 2013
Enjoy this delicate sparkling Gamay rosé with your friends as they arrive. Crisp and delicate with flavors of pink flowers, under-ripe raspberry with a mineral finish.
Appetizer: “The Guild Rosé” Willamette Valley, Oregon, 2015
Nothing pairs with salads and lighter fare like Grochau’s rosé mostly made from crisp Melon de Bourgogne and just enough Pinot Noir to make it pink. Since this rosé is a blend, it is much lighter and more delicate than wines that are made entirely from red grapes. Enjoy the light, crisp flavors of wet stone, tart apple, rose petals and
Entrée: Cuilleron “Sybel” Syrah Rosé, Rhone Valley, France, 2015
For the main event, go with a wine that will stand up to turkey. This 100% Syrah rosé from the Rhone Valley shows powerful flavors of spice, roast fig and tart cherry with a slightly smoky finish. Whether you are oven roasting or deep frying your bird, this will power through and get your mouth ready for the next bite.
Dessert: Primes Rosé Port, Porto, Portugal, NV
Serve this rosé Port with Pumpkin Pie or on its own as a liquid dessert to finish your meal. Opulent and sweet with cooked strawberry and spice flavors. Serve chilled.
That's right! Think rosés are only for summertime sipping? Think again!
While I agree that some of the lighter and fruitier rosés can be a little insubstantial, there are many that are powerful, mineral driven wines that are incredibly versatile for pairing with food. We think they work especially well with Thanksgiving Turkey and dressing!
That's why we are showing off 6 of our favorite food pairing rosés on Saturday, November 5th. The tasting starts at 10:00am and runs until 7:00pm and is on the house.
If you can't make it, here's what will be on the taste:
Pierre-Marie Chermette “Les Griottes” Beaujolais, France, 2015
Beaujolais is synonymous with Thanksgiving and this Rosé is a perfect match for turkey. This fruity, fresh and easy drinking wine from the Southern end of Burgundy shows flavors of fresh red berry fruit, Morello cherry, raspberry, and strawberry.
Elk Cove Vineyards Pinot Noir Rosé, Willamette Valley, Oregon, 2015
A zippy rosé from one of Oregon’s best Pinot Noir producers. Crisp and powerful with flavors of cherry, early season strawberries, honeydew melon, rose petals and a finish of lime-peel.
Maz Caz Rosé, Southern Rhone, France, 2015
Maz Caz hails from the Southwestern Rhone Valley and is made by our friend Michelle D'Aprix, the only American Woman Winemaker in Bordeaux. You already love her red Bordeaux, Pentimento, now try her rosé blend of Grenache and Syrah!
Chateau Soucherie “Cuvée L’Astrée” Rosé, Loire Valley, France, 2015
A powerful and mineral driven wine from the Loire Valley. A blend of Gamay, Grolleau and Cabernet Franc, this wine shows flavors of cranberry, sour cherry, and flint, with lively acidity that will cut through whatever your Thanksgiving dinner can throw at it.
Cuilleron “Sybel” Syrah Rosé, Rhone Valley, France, 2015
100% Syrah from high altitude plantings in the Rhone Valley in France. This rosé is muscular, with flavors of spiced strawberry, cherry and fig.
Chateau La Rame Rosé, Bordeaux, France, 2015
Cabernet Sauvignon adds body and Merlot add some depth and spice to this Bordeaux rosé. Expect flavors of strawberry, tart cherry, pepper and spice.
This week I was thrilled to be invited to a pop up wine dinner to launch the up and coming West Asheville restaurant, Jargon. The restaurant, set to open in March or April, will feature an eclectically elegant menu, and will focus on small plates. Myself and about 40 other diners were able to get a sneak peek at some of these menu items, in the form of a 10 course dinner!
The many courses were inventive, elegantly prepared and delicious. There was definitely something for everyone, from the vegetarian to the meat eater. I admit that I was intimidated by the bone marrow served in a bisected femur, but I ended up really enjoying it once I got over my initial fear.
A few of my favorites were the deep green arugula and avocado soup with a yogurt panna cotta, the oysters on the half shell with the sherry mignonette, the mushroom stuffed quail and of course the incredible apple and ginger dessert. I had to take the last one home, but my wife and I enjoyed it the following night!
The Asheville School of Wine was there to pair wines with the courses. We had 4 wines to pair with the whole dinner, so we had to choose wines that would pair with multiple courses. We opted for food friendly wines that play nicely with many of different types of food.
In case you missed it, here are the wines we poured:
100% Sauvignon Blanc, this wine shows Sancerre-like characteristics, and includes grapes from vineyards inside and outside that appellation. Fournier Sauvignon is a clean, bright, easy-drinking wine with nice citrus and grass notes on the nose, and with a refreshing acidity on the palate.
The 2015 Free Run Steen Chenin Blanc has an attractive nose with fresh grapefruit and passion fruit scents that are well defined and articulate the variety with clarity. The palate is well balanced with crisp grapefruit and light honeyed tones. The wine is beautifully balanced with well-judged acidity and a composed, quite elegant finish.
The wine is medium bodied with a pleasant touch of roundness. A small percentage of the grapes are "raisined" to produce wonderful concentration and aromatics in the wine. With grapes hand-harvested in Morellino, the fruit is deliciously ripe and smoky, with dark chocolate, Morello cherry, and herbal notes.
Fresh wild strawberries, garrigue and warm spices on the nose. Very expressive. Medium weight, with mouth-watering acidity and soft warm fruit. The wine shows soft tannins and well-balanced structure between acidity, tannin, fruit and alcohol.
If you missed the dinner, check out Jargon when it opens this Spring!
Well folks, we finally made it to the big show! We were interviewed by wine columnist, Lettie Teague for an article which premiered in the Wall Street Journal over the weekend. We are still pinching ourselves!
In case you missed this weekend's Journal, here is a link to the online content.
As the temperatures start to drop into the 60's, I reach for wines with more body to ring in the season. I enjoy wines that have more of an earthy flavor, and if there is a slight smell of dried leaves in my glass, all the better!
If you are looking for some new wines to drink as the Fall weather comes around, stop by Metro Wines tomorrow, October 8th for our taste of Four Fall Reds. The tasting runs from 10:00am to 7:00pm and is on the house!
Altaroses Granatxa, Montsant, Spain, 2014 $15.99
A favorite of ours as well as NYT wine critic Eric Asimov, this wine represents an older style of Spanish Grenache that is more elegant, lean and spicy. A tremendously versatile food pairing wine, expect flavors of cranberry, red cherry and baking spices.
Bocelli Sangiovese, Tuscany, Italy, 2014 $17.99
The Bocelli’s have been famous for making wine for over 300 years before Andrea became famous for his singing. This Sangiovese comes from the family’s estate in Tuscany. Perfect for the fall, with flavors of red berries, dried tobacco, sun-baked earth and spice.
Domaine de Piaugier “Tenebi” Counoise, Cotes du Rhone, 2013 $19.99
A rare single varietal bottling of the obscure Rhone Valley grape Counoise, one of 13 allowed in the Chateuneuf-du-Pape blend. Purple flowers on the nose, blueberry, herbs, black raspberry and lavender in your glass.
Camp Cabernet Franc, Sonoma County, California, 2015 $20.99
From cult California producer Hobo Wine Company comes this 100% Cabernet Franc produced organically and Biodynamically. The resulting wine is light to medium weight with a bright fruit side and some classic green olive and black pepper Cab Franc character.
This Saturday, October the 1st the School will be pouring four Italian wines that are perfect for the early Fall weather we are having this weekend. Stop by Metro Wines and taste them! We will be pouring them all day for free.
If you want a sneak peek at the wines, here they are!
Garofoli “Macrina” Verdicchio di Castelli di Jesi, Marche $14.49
A perfect white for the early fall. Medium bodied and dry with flavors of apricot, pear, hazelnut and citrus with a slight mineral finish.
Ippolito “Mabilia” Gaglioppo Rosé, Ciro, Calabria $11.49
This is not your delicate Provencal rosé, this is a much richer rosé for the cooler months. With aromas of violet and rose petals on the nose and flavors of black cherry and blue raspberry in your glass, this is the perfect rosé for fall.
Franco Serra Barbera D’Alba, Piedmont $12.49
You can practically smell the fall foliage in this Barbera! Flavors of red raspberry, cranberry, tobacco and red cherry make this wine a versatile food pairing wine and a perfect red for cool weather.
Ippolito “Liber Pater” Gaglioppo, Ciro, Calabria $12.99
A richer red from the “toe” of Italy’s boot. A few years of age have given this wine rich flavors of dried cherries, spiced dates and a velvety finish.
Last week we held a chocolate and wine pairing for an event planning group based in Asheville. The agency brought in chocolate truffles from the French Broad Chocolate Lounge and we picked out wines to pair with each.
The event was a huge success and the group really enjoyed the combination of decadent chocolates and delicious wines!
In case you want to stage your own wine and chocolate tasting, here are the chocolates we served and the wines we paired with them.
Salted Honey Caramel:
A local wildflower honey with grass-fed and organic cream & butter, covered in dark chocolate and sea salt.
Tenshen Central Coast White Wine
92 Points WS #29 in Top 100 Wines of 2015
A Rhone-style blend of Viognier, Roussane, Grenache Blanc and Chardonnay from Cailfornia. This highly rated wine shows flavors of Tangerine, Peach, Melon and Apricot, with a Hazelnut finish.
Rose, Cardamom & Pistachio-
Milk Chocolate & pistachio ganache, infused with
aromatic rose petals and cardamom pods.
Shooting Star Mendocino County Zinfandel
From winemaker superstar Jed Steele come Shooting Star Zinfandel. This Zin comes from the cool hills and valleys of Mendocino County California and is more elegant than big and powerful. Expect flavors of mint, strawberry jelly, rose petals and spice.
Strawberry Balsamic (Vegan):
A puree of fresh strawberries from McConnell Farm in Hendersonville, in a coconut cream-based ganache. Rolled in dark chocolate and crunchy cacao nibs.
Kopke Rosé Port
A perfect dessert wine for the hotter summer months, this rare rosé Port is less sweet than you might expect and pairs wonderfully well with strawberry desserts. Rich, velvety flavors of Pomegranate, strawberry and cherry.
The Farm, our favorite wedding venue in Candler, just had their first wine dinner and I was lucky enough to be able to attend. The guest list was small since it was their first dinner, with room for only 32 guests, creating a rather intimate, party-like atmosphere.
I arrived a few minutes early and had a chance to tour the grounds before the dinner started. The cabins which surround the main "barn" look like something out of a southern-styled Tolkein novel and the rest of the grounds were home to rolling hills, ancient trees, a group of horses and their donkey companion. Like the name suggests, this is actually a functioning farm, with most of the vegetables we enjoyed in the dinner coming from the property itself.
The dinner was served in the kitchen, which had room enough for 5 large tables, and allowed us all to watch the food being prepared while we ate. With blasts of fire exploding from pans, Chef Mike Ferrari showed off his culinary skills. It was like dinner and a show at the same time!
The food was delicious, inventive and artfully presented and the wines were well chosen and perfectly paired with the various courses. The service was quick, helpful and non intrusive and the pacing of the entire meal was perfectly timed. Tom Leiner of Grapevine Distribution and I guided the crowd through the wines, explaining the history of the grape, the region and the winery itself.
Don't worry if you missed out on this one. There are already plans for another wine dinner in the Fall. This one might even be outside! Keep tuned to the blogs here and on The Farm's website for more details as they are announced.
If you've been considering visiting the local wineries in Western North Carolina, you will definitely want to read my latest article in Sophie Magazine. I drove all over WNC tasting wine and taking notes to find the best wineries to visit.
In case you missed it in print, here is a link to the digital copy.