Le Metro: Wine. Underground. Volume VI
As I mentioned here a few weeks ago, I’ve just started doing monthly illustrations for a wine subscription service that provides 6 bottles a month, along with a record-sleeve sized art poster complete with account of the collection and food pairing suggestions.
As the new collections are released, I’ll post a brief update here letting you know it’s available. Usually the post will be as simple as that. This time I thought I’d talk with the Le Metro club curator, Aaron Epstein, to find out more about where he’s coming from in designing each set. I have no involvement in the wine selection, I simply illustrate the project once the wines are selected, so I thought it would be interesting to find out more.
Le Metro Vol VI: Shade of Pinot Noir
After moving from New York to San Diego with his young family, Aaron Epstein wanted to work towards opening a wine store in California. The project proved daunting as legal constraints in the Southern portions of the state are thorough. In the meantime, Epstein focused his attentions on connecting to the wine community through the area, as well as tasting North through the growing regions of the state.
Enter Protocol Wine Studio.
Business partners Tina Morey, and Eric Guy began a project several years ago focused on supporting wine exploration, and culture in the border city, tracking developing trends, and resources that could assist education and access in the world of wine. The venture includes a Studio space that offers a meeting place for those passionate about wine, with tasting and study events as well as a physical location from which to launch regular online #winechat ‘s and Skype tastings. The duo and Epstein hit it off and began brainstorming.
Over time Epstein realized his dream of a wine shop was more expensive and time consuming than suited the everyday reality of his family life (he and his wife have recently celebrated the birth of a boy — Congratulations again!). Instead, Epstein approached Protocol with the idea of a monthly wine club and the question of how to do it differently.
I asked Epstein to explain his goals with the club to me.
Each month of Le Metro revolves around a particular theme. “I want to strike a balance between artistic elements, themes that are seasonally appropriate without being cheesy and obvious.” As an example, Vol VI focuses entirely on Pinot Noir–a wine that’s pleasant without heavy to drink as the temperatures cool, and also happens to pair beautifully with Thanksgiving foods. The fruit forward, low tannin combo of the wine carries well against heavier flavors of butter-rich foods (and my favorite mashed potatoes).
As another example, in December, Vol VII will offer 6 bottles of different bubbles. “December is bubbles, because that is appropriate. People want bubbles to celebrate the holidays, but the materials included on the poster and food pairings are there to encourage people to enjoy bubbles other times of the year as well, and with food.” (You might want to get on this one — I got to suggest food pairings for the set, and taste the wines in advance as a result. Dude. Whoa. Yum.)
Another goal of Epstein’s and Protocol is to build community. The team bring in different wine professionals each month to design the food pairings specific to the wines included in each set. They also host online twitter conversations with wine writers and consumers around each theme, Skype tastings with people in other locations when desired, and physical tastings in San Diego. In this way, Epstein explains, Le Metro is ultimately also about friends–incorporating involvement in the project with friends already established, and connecting to new ones.
Finally, I ask Epstein to explain to me how he selects the specific wines for each month. “I spend a great deal of time thinking about the balance of each box,” he says. “I want at least one wine each month that surprises, whoever you are, but not more than one that you’d potentially hate. The collections are for people that love wine, and are willing to learn. The overall balance is on what’s fun, on what we can learn, and what’s delicious.”
To check out Le Metro: http://lemetrowine.com/
To check out Protocol: http://protocolwinestudio.com
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