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Wine American Style

Celebrate summer and with red, white, and new IWines.

By Jan Walsh
Photography Beau Gustafson

In 1973, Charlie Yeates began International Wines by delivering wine in an orange Volkswagen Squareback to city wine shops and restaurants. Today his company is the largest wine distributor in the state and now even has its own wine. The name, IWine captures the company's identity-IWine International Wines Inc. (IWI). And the label adds a feminine twist. Derived from an old, family picture, the label depicts Vice President/Director of Sales, Seth Poole's grandmother-in-law and her sister pouring port and sparkling wine, while perched on the hood of a shiny, American car.

“We have actually done private labels for restaurants since the late 80s, so this wine is just a thank you to our customers,” Yeates explains. Yeates and Poole approached Orbis Winery's David Lawrence, a former native of Birmingham, about working with his winemaker Jeff Libarle to create a red blend. “We set our standards for a wine that makes you go, ‘Wow'!” All Iwines were tasted and blended to International Wines specifications. The original IWine Napa Valley Red sold out in less than six months.

Currently both a red and a white are available. IWine Syrah/Petite Syrah 2003 ($11) comes from Bray Vineyards in Shenandoah Valley. “From hand-harvested grapes, the winemaker aged the 2003 for six months in French oak. It is bright and fruit-driven with excellent spice and enough depth and substance to satisfy even the most discerning wine geeks,” Poole describes.

IWine Viognier 2004 came from hillside vineyards planted in 1992 in a relatively new appellation in the northern corner of Yolo County, California. “This AVA (American Viticultural Area—wine regions based on geography, climate and soil) experiences a dramatic change from day to night temperatures. Mid-summer can routinely see changes ranging from the upper-nineties to low fifties, thereby preserving the acidity and structure of the wines,” Poole describes. “The terroir is mostly gravelly/chalky soil compositions, which shows up as a distinct mineral component in the wine. It was completely vinified unoaked, preserving the fresh floral, peachy qualities.” It is a crisp, flowery style with great minerality and flare, more Rhone in style than the typical California honeysuckle-sweet Viognier.

And future wines include Mendocino Zinfandel 2004, available later this summer. “We wanted to produce a wine that over-delivered on quality at the price, and we feel that we accomplished this. We are having fun with IWines, and hope that our customers will too,” Poole says. IWines are distributed throughout Alabama and can be found locally at Fox Valley, Overton & Vine, Little Savannah, Piggly Wiggly, The Open Door, V. Richards, Vintage Wine Shoppe, and Western.

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