Monday, September 8, 2008

A Tale of Two Wineries

Napa Valley's Metachange Winery raised many an eyebrow when it burst on the scene a couple of years ago seemingly out of left field with its debut wine, a 100% Monastrell from the 2004 vintage. Critically acclaimed, this wine has picked up a near-cult following and the once nearly-unknown varietal has now become a household name among wine enthusiasts across the U.S.

"Consumers had grown tired of the same old varieties," remarked Steve Jepson of Century Wine and Vine House, a leading New York retailer. "It was nice to have gotten away from the generic, and falsely labeled 'hearty burgundies' and 'pink chablis' to true varietal wines, but that was back in the 60's and 70's. It's about time we had a progressive winery that saw the need for change and did something about it."

When Metachange released its 2004 Monastrell, it was the only winery in the United States that featured this grape; it's more familiar to people who drink Spanish wines but few in this country had ever tried it, much less heard of it. Helped by wow reviews from leading wine publications, the problem of being unknown is no longer a problem.

You can imagine what a sitr was created when two months ago, Metachange announced it was releasing only its second varietal wine, the production of which had been kept a closely-guarded secret. Even industry insiders such as Robert Parker and the staff at the Wine Spectator were kept out of the loop and had to wait, just like everyone else for the identity of the grape that was in the bottle. Speculation ran rampant; names of obscure varietals were bandied about but the tight-lipped Metachange held fast to its promise to first notify those on its mailing list via text message. The hype became unbearable.

Last Monday, the announcement was made. "Faithful Metachange fans, the future has arrived," stated the bold text message. "Orders are now being taken for our second varietal, first come, first served: The 2006 Metachange Cabernet Sauvignon is now available."

"Aged in 100% new American oak, this is a big, bold, highly-extracted wine that just goes on and on," continued the text announcement. "There's nothing subtle about it; it's made in the style that's going to rack up the points. We're very proud of this, our second varietal release and we are sure you will love it."

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