A Winemaker's Philosophy

photo: paving dragstrip

Road workers prepare Allan's street for
speedy deliveries.

The Goal - ''The Best Sparkling Wine Possible''

Paris:- Saturday, 23. November 2002:- This week Allan Pangborn provides his philosophy concerning making sparkling wine, which he does mostly by nose, by eye, and hands on. Behind this, he has - he writes 20 years, but I think it is more like 30 years - of experience.

Meanwhile, he has also written that the street outside 'The Shed' was upgraded from third to first-world status by means of six hours' worth of intensive paving. The asphalt was still warm when local racers began trying it out for quarter-mile sprints.

Although Allan complained a bit about the craters made in the road during its repair, and the dangers they posedphoto: no banane for the elderly Moonlight pickup truck, he also grumbled about it being a local short-cut with too much fast and careless traffic on it. No doubt that cruising the winery's other truck - 'The Slug' - on it at rush-hours could slow things down a bit.

Allan is placing Café Metropole Blanc de Blanc in wine shops and restaurants, and offering it to hotels that do a lot of catering. More tastings of it are expected too.

Seen in Paris - one wineshop's opinion of 'Beaujolais Nouveau.'

He has also written that the application for credit card processing has arrived, and he expects it will be approved within a few weeks. As soon as this facility is functioning, it will be announced here.

About Café Metropoleô Blanc de Blanc

The Philosophy at Moonlightô
by Allan Pangborn

Kennewick:- My goal for the Moonlight Sparkling Wine Cellar is to produce the best sparkling wine possible in Washington State.

The méthode champenoise gives the winemaker a huge number of variables to influence the end product.

These include the type of grape, maturity of the grape when harvested, temperature of the first fermentation, type of container - oak or stainless steel, that the wine ferments in, amount of aging of the cuvée before bottling for the second fermentation, the amount of sugar at tirage bottling determines amount of carbonation, amount and kind of reserve wine at tirage bottling, time on the yeast in tirage and the amount of sugar and other materials in the final dosage.

The random length of time the customer ages the wine before opening it is a factor too - all of the variables affect the final product.

I have some specific processes in mind to make a wine that is like no other produced in the United States. These are the result of 20 years of working with sparkling wine and observing how others make their wines. I have selected the steps which will give the most unique and enjoyable wine for the consumer.

The champagne process occurs in a bottle so expensive that barrels and caves are not needed. A 60 gallon French Oak barrel costs $550 to $650 today and the price is always increasing.

A temperature-controlled room has been built into my winery that will provide the bottles with the desired fermenting and aging conditions. My equipment is manual but it produces the same finished bottle as the mechanized high speed bottling and disgorging lines.

The advantage I have when I hand-disgorge each bottle is that I can inspect it for defects or other negative factorsphoto: red, white grapes that would lessen the quality of the wine. I have heard literally hundreds of thousands of bottles disgorge, so the sound of the 'pop' when the frozen plug blows out of the bottle tells me if the pressure is acceptable, if the bottle is healthy.

I hold the bottle up and check the clarity to be sure the riddling was successful. I inspect the depth of insertion of the cork to make sure the customer can open the bottle. I fold the twisted end of the wirehood against the cork and make sure it is secure and will hold the cork in the bottle. I rub the bubbles out from under the label so it will lie flat and smooth against the bottle.

The bottom line is not to delegate any task. I am not dependent on someone who is an employee to do the task, and I must try to train to do the job the same way I would. I cannot give them 30 years of experience to guide their every move.

I have the luxury of taking the time to do this because I want to. And I know I can compete with the best of them because of my knowledge of the subject. I have amassed the tools necessary. I do not have a corporate structure to thwart creativity or waste energy in unproductive exercises.

The Café Metropole Blanc de Blanc is made from Chardonnay grapes grown near Prosser, Washington, which were harvested when the sugar was 19 percent. A sugar contentphoto: wine table, chairs of 18 to 20 percent is the range for grapes to be made into sparkling wine.

The wine was aged for a year in stainless steel before tirage bottling. The second fermentation and aging in the bottle took another year. Disgorging began on Friday, November 1, 2002.

The dosage is one percent residual sugar and there is a bit of cognac in the dosage. The wine to me is clean, lightly flavorful, and refreshing. The acidity is balanced by the sweetness, and it goes well with food or by itself.

My ideal of the perfect wine is one you drink with friends and the bottle is empty before you know it. In other words, you don't focus on the wine but it is a pleasing accompaniment to the enjoyable things in life. Sipping Café Metropole Blanc de Blanc at the café La Corona in Paris would be pretty close to perfection.

Cristal Update

Last week I wrote that the Russian Czars liked their wine sweet. But Roederer Cristal is a brut or dry wine today. It used to be very sweet when it was first made for the czars but the sweetness as well as the czars are long gone. 'Cristal' is the top of the line for Roederer. It's in the $100 per bottle range. I've had a couple of bottles. It comes in a clear bottle with a cellophane wrapper.

Visits to Moonlight

If you wish to visit 'The Shed,' please contact me prior to your visit. The laws controlling alcohol, tobacco and firearms probably account for 3/4ths of all the laws ever written in the USA. The fact that I must be notified before your visit is one of them!

Ordering and Shipping

Cafe Metropoleô Sparkling Wine is available now to the residents of the following States -

California, Colorado, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Iowa, Minnesota, Missouri, New Mexico, Oregon, Washington, Wisconsin, and West Virginia.

There are two packages available:

Two 750 ml bottles for $52.00

Six 750 ml bottles for $136.00

The price includes packaging, handling and shipping costs. Shipment will be by UPS '3-day Select' and an adult signature is required for delivery.

Overnight or two-day shipment is an option. The shipping charge will be slightly more, so email your order to acp@owt.com and include your ZIP Code so I can tell you the actual cost.

Terms: Payment by check or money order, to 'Cafe Metropole' is acceptable. It should be mailed to :

Cafe Metropole, 4704 West 12th Avenue, Kennewick, WA 99338

As the winery is just beginning operations, we do not yet have the means to process credit cards. We will be adding this photo: cafe metropole blanc de blanc label service in the near future. Until then, we will appreciate your use of a check or money order.

Thank you.

Allan Pangborn, Winemaker
Café Metropole Blanc de Blancô
Moonlight Sparkling Wine Cellar, LLC
4704 West 12th Avenue
Kennewick, WA 99338 USA
Tel.: 509 - 735 72 37
Email: acp@owt.com
Tours by appointment only.

What This Is About

All the past 'news' and lore about Café Metropole Blanc de Blanc and the Moonlight Sparkling Wine Cellar can be found with the links below.

The Metropole Paris issue of five weeks ago introduced the new Café Metropole Blanc de Blanc sparkling wine here for almost the first time in world history. It make a brief appearance in a prototype form last December in New York, but in Metropole's issue 7.43 in late October it 'came out' officially.

This was followed up with some fascinating details about the winery itself, which is brand-new, constructed especially for this wine. The story continued with a report about a 'Cold Snap' that didn't affect Café Metropole Blanc de Blanc because of the new wood-burning stove in 'The Shed,' as the winery is called by Allan.

Two weeks ago, Allan's account of the wine's first public tasting was featured. Last week, a small champagne vocabulary was provided by Allan, with some news about possible changes to laws in New York about ordering wine from out of state.

Photos © Allan Pangborn
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