Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Metrick Wines: Staying Out Of The Grapes' Way

From Spanish Sherry to California wine, Alex Russan is making his mark in the wine industry. He began with Alexander Jules, acting in some respects as a negociant, visiting Sherry producers and cellar owners and carefully selecting some of their barrels to create a special Sherry. Check my latest Sherry post, Thanksgiving & Amontillado, to find links to my reviews of Alex's Sherries as well as more information on his company. In short, I think he is bottling some of the most delicious and interesting Sherries available in the U.S. Alex has also expanded his operations, importing a select portfolio of Spanish wines.

Alex has also been an amateur wine maker for a number of years and finally decided to take it to the next level. He thus established Metrick Wines, naming the company after the maiden name of his maternal grandmother, who is currently 102 years old! His website states: "Metrick is my attempt to make the best possible wines I can, to get to know the grape as deeply as I have the capacity for, and to explore the different wine regions of California."

Alex, and his insatiable curiosity, is fascinated with all the questions that arise in wine making. Metrick is partially an attempt to answer these inquiries though Alex also realizes that even if he receives some answers, they will only lead to even further questions. However, like most passionate people, it is the journey that brings the pleasure, despite knowing you will never reach the destination, despite knowing you will never get all your questions answered.

It is his objective to produce "Wines made with the goal of staying out of the grapes' way, while encouraging elegance and aromatic complexity." The wines are also produced to be on the lighter style, which are "... as clean and transparent (flavor-wise) as possible, .." The grapes are harvested early as Alex feels that "...what is unique about great grapes from a particular site becomes blurred beyond a certain point of ripeness;..." He is trying to avoid wines which are dominated by ripe fruit and as such he also avoids oak.

Currently, Alex produces two wines, a Chardonnay and a Mourvedre, and they just entered the market in December. Alex sent me samples of these two wines, and I recently tasted them, to determine whether they replicate the quality I've found in his Sherries. In short, I was impressed with both wines and eagerly look forward to the future of Metrick Wines.

The 2015 Metrick Chardonnay ($36) is made with grapes from the Sierra Madre Vineyard in the Santa Maria AVA. This vineyard, planted in 1971, is considered one of the best cool climate vineyards in California and is also SIP certified, as it is sustainably farmed. The wine was fermented in stainless steel and aged on the lees, in stainless, for about 11 months. It underwent malolactic fermentation, allowing it to be bottled unfiltered, and has a 12% ABV.

I found this wine to be crisp and clean, with bright citrus notes and some minerality. There was some richness in the mouthfeel and it came across as elegant and delicious. I paired this wine with some stuffed clams and it was an excellent pairing. It was obvious that this Chardonnay would be perfect with seafood, from sushi to oysters. It would certainly go well with other dishes as well, from fried chicken to pasta carbonara.

The 2015 Metrick Mourvèdre ($31) is made with grapes from the Futernick Vineyard in the El Dorado AVA. This vineyard is well known for its Mourvedre grapes, grown in Aiken red volcanic soil at high altitudes. This wine is a blend of 85% Mourvedre, 5% Marsanne, 5% Counoise, and 5% Syrah. The Mouvedre grapes were harvested just after full veraison, "aiming for earthier, more herbal aromatics, rather than a fruit dominated profile." The wine was fermented in 50% stainless steel and 50% concrete. 95% of the juice was free run, and it was then aged for about 11 months in concrete. It was bottled unfixed and unfiltered, and has a 12% ABV.

This wine was thoroughly impressive, a light bodied and savory elixir. A complex blend of herbs, olives and earthiness dominated the taste, with subtle hints of berry. It was so ethereal on the palate, with a compelling taste, including a lingering finish, which made me crave a second and third glass. Before we knew it, the bottle was empty and everyone wished there was a second bottle. And with its low alcohol content, having a second bottle wouldn't be a major issue. I would pair this with an herbed, roast chicken or a mushroom risotto, or maybe a venison steak. Highly recommended!


Alice Whitney said...

I love the Chardonnay


Penelope Sanchez said...

They have a good selection and everything is easy to find. If you need help with the perfect selection, you got that too.