Wine Club April 2019

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Hello friends, it’s time for a new edition of Vine Arts Wine Club! We’ve been hard at work putting together this months selection of wines. In this months bag we have everything from a crisp and refreshing Picpoul de Pinet, to a juicy and robust Zinfandel from a legendary Californian winery.

We hope you enjoy the wines! If you would like any additional information about any of the wines or grapes, or if you have any general wine questions you would like to know about, then please drop us a line. Cheers!

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2017 Domaine Belle Mare Picpoul de Pinet - Languedoc, France $21.00

Where

It doesn’t get much more Mediterranean than Picpoul de Pinet. An area situated on the southern French coast, it is only separated from the Mediterranean Sea by a 5 kilometre wide lagoon. As one would expect, vineyards close to the sea are very strongly maritime influenced with free-draining sandy soils. Further inland the landscape is characterized by dry scrubland and jagged rocked soils. Temperatures are reliably temperate year round, with especially hot summers. A destination for cold weather fleeing Europeans, this area is also home to flocks of pink flamingos who can be seen even during the winter. This is the largest white wine region in the Languedoc.
  

What

The appellation of Picpoul de Pinet primarily centers around one grape variety: Picpoul. This ancient variety gets its name (translates to "stings the lip") from its very high acidity, which makes it uniquely capable to deal with the hot Mediterranean climate of southern France. Known by a few other names, it is known as Folle Blanche in the Loire Valley. Of the 1500 hectares of Picpoul planted in France, 1450 hectares are planted in the Picpoul de Pinet appellation.

The Domaine Belle Mare Picpoul de Pinet is made from grapes harvested in late-September from vines planted in the south of the region. After the grapes are pressed in a pneumatic wine press, they are fermented in new thermoregulated stainless steel vats.

Who

Domaine Belle Mare has over 55 hectares of prime vineyards planted very close to the clear waters of Lake Thau. Cool maritime breezes have the dual impact of cooling the vineyards during the day and warming them at night. Grape grower Fabienne Capello, a competitive rower, is in his element at this special place. In addition to Picpoul, the estate is also planted to Cinsault, Grenache, Syrah, Chardonnay, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Roussanne, Muscat and Viognier.

Taste

Move over Sauvignon Blanc, there’s a new crisp white wine in town! Pale yellow in color with a slight green hue, this Picpoul shows classic varietal aromas of squeezed lemons and citrus blossoms. Light on the palate, it has a notable touch of salinity, a flavour of fresh cut green apple, and mouth puckering high acidity that will happily cut through rich foods. For pairings, you won’t need to look far. Lake Thau is ground zero for excellent oysters and mussels. Served around 8°C, this wine is your go to for shellfish.

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2017 Copain Tous Ensemble Rosé - Mendocino County, California $25.00

Where

Mendocino County is the most northerly quality wine zone in California. First planted to vine by former gold prospectors turned farmers in the mid-1800’s, it is today regarded as "California's organic wine Mecca". A solid 25% of Mendocino’s vineyards are farmed organically. The vineyards are mostly planted further inland where the climate is warmer than it is closer to the coastline. The Mendocino Range, part of the Pacific Coast Ranges, effectively creates two distinct climatic areas. Vineyards planted on the western side of the range are strongly influenced by the Pacfic, which brings cool and damp weather. To the east, the climate is drier and Mediterranean.

What

It has been a bumpy road for Californian rosé to get to where it is today. Up until recently, “pink wine” or “blush” dominated the market. One of the first examples of Californian rosé was made in 1972 by Sutter Home. In a feat of marketing genius, winemaker Bob Trinchero bottled a stuck ferment Zinfandel which was pale and sweet, labelling it “White Zinfandel”. It was a smash hit. At one point, 22% of all the wine consumed in America was slightly sweet and pink. More recently the market share for sweet “blush” has waned, and demand for dry rosé has gone up. Serious wine drinkers have rediscovered that great rosé has always existed and deserves their attention.

The Tous Ensemble rosé emulates the French style of winemaking. Made from 100% Pinot Noir, the grapes were harvested earlier to achieve lower alcohol levels and higher acidity. The grapes enter the winery cool and are fermented in stainless steel tanks. Made using the saignée method, the wine draws a small amount of colour from contact with the grape skins..

Who

Copain, meaning “buddy” or “friend” in French, was created by Wells Guthrie and Kevin McQuown in 1999 on a hilltop overlooking the Russian River Valley. Focusing on cool climate sites in Mendocino County, the Anderson Valley, and the Sonoma Coast, Wells was inspired by the wines of the Rhône Valley in southern France. Prior to founding Copain, he worked with French winemaker Marc Chapoutier, learning about traditional winemaking and biodynamics. Interestingly he also worked with Helen Turley, who was well known for making fully extracted, high alcohol wines in California. The first vintages of Copain showed the influence of Turley, but in an about face, Wells would go back to the lighter approach he learned with Chapoutier. Selling the winery to Jackson Family Wines in 2016, Wells passed the reins to winemaker Ryan Zepaltas (formerly of Siduri).

Taste

Pale salmon pink in color, the Tous Ensemble rosé displays refined aromas of flowers and red berry fruits. The palate is light with refreshingly high acidity. Flavours of grapefruit, honeydew melon, and strawberry are balanced by stoney minerality. Fans of classic Provencal rosé’s will appreciate this wines lightness. It is excellently paired with Mediterranean style dishes and citrusy salads. The perfect wine for a warm Spring day.

 

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2017 Tandem Inmune Garnacha - Navarra, Spain $21.50

Where

The Denominación de Origen of Navarra is often overshadowed by its famous neighbour, Rioja. Most will know of it for its capital city, Pamplona. Placed in northern Spain between the Pyrenees and the Ebro River Valley, it is further subdivided into 5 subregions: ‘Baja Montaña’, ‘Tierra Estella’, ‘Valdizarbe’, ‘Ribera Alta’, and ‘Ribera Baja’. With a mosaic of different microclimates spread over 100 kilometres, there is plenty of diversity. Altogether the region has around 12,000 hectares planted to vine. Not far from the Bay of Biscay, the climate is generally warm Mediterranean with some maritime and continental influences. The regions generally healthy calcareous and limestone soils are hospitable to a breadth of grape varieties.

What

The majority of the regions vineyards are planted to indigenous grape varieties, such as Viura, Garnacha and Tempranillo. Although international varieties such as Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon were introduced on mass in the 1980’s, they account for only 30% of all plantings. The region is overwhelmingly devoted to red wine production, with 90% of the vines planted to red varieties. In the past these grapes went towards the production of rosé wines. Most wineries have identified Garnacha as the most apt to display a sense of place. In the cooler northern part of the region, Garnacha tends to be driven by higher acidity and lighter fruit. In the hotter south, it takes on a decidedly plusher profile with firmer tannins.

The Inmune Garnacha is made from a selection of old vine grapes that were hand-picked. Once in the winery, the grapes were partially fermented for 10 days at 25 ºC using wild yeasts. The “cap” (a layer of grape skins sitting on top of the fermenting juice) was punched down without the use of pumps. Gravity fed into concrete vats, the wine finished alcoholic fermentation before malolactic conversion. Here the wine underwent a short period of settling and maturation before bottling.

Who

Founded in 2003 by Alicia Eyaralar, José María Fraile, plus a handful of other relatives and friends, Compañía Vitivinícola Tandem is an ultramodern winery located in the Yerri Valley, at the north-western boundary of the Navarra Denomination of Origen. Cooler than southern Navarra, they harvest their grapes here a full 3 to 4 weeks later. In the vineyard they practice sustainable viticulture with no use of herbicides or pesticides. The winery, surrounded by oak trees and cereal crops, was built partly underground for natural temperature control. It was carefully designed so that there is little need for intervention in the winemaking process.

Taste

This wine is the antithesis of “baked fruit” Garnacha. It has a lean streak of acidity and an herbaceous freshness. Dark hued in the glass, on the nose there are aromas of black fruits and wild mediterranean herbs. Medium bodied on the palate, it's fine tannins pair well with youthful dark cherry and cranberry flavours. The spicy finish is mouthwatering with notes of oregano and tobacco. Perfect with dry-rubbed baked chicken wings. Serve around 15 °C.

 

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2016 Manoir du Carra Beaujolais Villages - Beaujolais, France $25.00

Where

Beaujolais is Burgundy’s affable shadow. Sitting north of the city of Lyon and south of the expensive real estate of the Côte-d'Or, Beaujolais is a landscape of gentle rolling hills and pretty country villages. With over 18,000 hectares of vineyards planted over a 55 kilometer stretch of land, it is a large wine region. The climate is semi-continental, and somewhat influenced by the Mediterranean. The northern half of Beaujolais has mostly schist and granite based soils with some limestone. The southern half is flatter with richer, sandstone and clay based soils. The most favoured sites are located on hillsides.

What

There are distinct levels of Beaujolais that exist. Primarily made from the Gamay grape, they can range from basic to very complex. Most Beujolais that you see in the corner liquor store is made to be as unassuming as possible. Very popular during the 1980’s, Beaujolais Nouveau is an extremely young wine released very soon after the harvest. They tend to taste like raspberry juice. Basic Beaujolais can be made from grapes coming from anywhere in the region. A Beaujolais Villages wine is made from grapes grown only in 38 villages in the north of Beaujolais. The granitic soil here is considered superior to the soil in the south. Permitted yields and winemaking restrictions are also stricter than in basic Beaujolais, leading to more structured wines. Finally there are ten Beaujolais Crus: Brouilly, Régnié, Chiroubles, Côte de Brouilly, Fleurie, Saint-Amour, Chénas, Juliénas, Morgon, and Moulin-à-Vent. Made using Burgundian techniques, these are the highwater mark of Beaujolais.

The Manoir du Carra Beaujolais Villages is made from Gamay grapes harvested from 70 to 100 year old vines situated at 350 meters above sea level on south facing slopes. Hand picked, the grapes are separated on a vibrating sorting table and fermented with semi-carbonic maceration for 10 to 12 days. Aged in old oak barrels on fine lees for 3 to 4 months, the wine is bottled without filtration.

Who

Located in the small town of Denice, Manoir du Carra can date its history back to 1850. Passed down from father to son for five generations, the estate is today owned by Jean-Noël Sambardier and his wife. Winemaking is overseen by Damien Sambardier. Altogether the winery has around 34 hectares planted to vine that are separated over 50 plots. This includes holdings in the Crus of Brouilly, Julienas, Moulin à Vent and Fleurie. Distinct for the area, the average age of their vines ranges from 50 to 100 years old.

Taste

Few red wines are as easy drinking as good Beaujolais. Bright purple red in colour, this wine wafts from the glass with aromas of juicy black currant, raspberry, peach and violet. Although light in body, it is jam packed with flavours of juicy red fruits. It is tart and refreshing. The tannins are light with a slight bitter finish. Best served with a slight chill, this wine is as easily enjoyed from a red Solo Cup as it is from a large Burgundy glass.

Beujolais is the staple wine of the Lyonnais bistro wine list. Considering that Lyon is the anointed gastronomic heart of France, this says a lot.

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2017 Celler Masroig Solà Fred - Montsant, Spain $19.50

Where

Formerly a subzone of Tarragona in northeastern Spain, the DO of Montsant was created in 2001. Forming a “C”, it surrounds the smaller region of Priorat. Like it’s more famous neighbour, the best vineyards in Montsant are located on steep terraces. Subjected to punishing sunshine and heat, these vines rely on cooler evening temperatures to maintain acidity in the grapes. This is helped by the average altitude for vineyards, which sits well above sea level at 200 to 700 meters. Also shared with Priorat, the best soil type in Montsant is known as “llicorella”. This dark and well-drained rocky soil is composed of granite and slate, and is ideal for viticulture.

What

Montsant has developed a strong reputation for dark, and deeply flavoured red wines. Although some white wines are made, over 94% of Montsant wines are red. The hot and dry climate is particularly well suited to Garnacha and Carinena (Carignan). The region additionally has sizable plantings of international varieties such as Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Syrah.

The Solà Fred is made from 100% Carinena from vineyards planted to clay and black slate soils. This dark skinned variety, originally from Aragon, is also commonly found in southern France. Preferring the heat, it is bush trained to allow ample green cover to shield the grapes from scorching sunshine. It is not often bottled on it’s own, but rather used as a blending partner. Traditionally farmed, the grapes in the Solà Fred were fermented and aged in stainless steel tanks.

Who

Founded in 1917, Celler Masroig (meaning “Red Farm”) is one of the oldest wineries in Montsant. A cooperative with 300 members, the winery has a total of 500 hectares planted to vine on mostly red clay soils. The main varieties planted are Carinena, Tempranillo, Garnacha Negra and Syrah. With plenty on his hands, winemaker Carles Escolar oversees 10 different wine brands. The estate also produces high quality extra virgin olive oil from olive trees that are planted on dry stone terraces.

Taste

Cherry red in color, the Solà Fred is a youthful example of 100% Carignan. On the nose it displays fruit forward aromas of dried cherries, prunes, and savoury cured meats. It is a touch rustic and herby. The palate is medium bodied with firm tannins and high acidity. It is a versatile wine for spicy grilled and fatty meats. Best served straight from the bottle without decanting, enjoy this around 16°C.

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2017 Robert Biale Vineyards Party Line Zinfandel - North Coast, California $37.00

Where

You may be unfamiliar with the Californian North Coast AVA (American Viticultural Area), but you have likely heard of its famous subregions: Napa Valley and Sonoma Valley. Sitting north of the city of San Francisco, this vast region covers a total of 1.2 million hectares of land. From north to south it extends 195 kilometers. It’s most eastern border reaches 80 kilometers from the Pacific. Not as hot as more inland areas of California, the climate is characterised by coastal breezes and beneficial fog in the vineyards. The topography can range from semi-mountainous to flat valley floor. 1 out 2 Californian wineries are located in the North Coast AVA.

What

Zinfandel is the emblematic grape variety of California. Its roots (pardon the pun) go all the way back to some of the earliest migrants to the state. The first Californian Zinfandel wine is thought to have been made as early as the mid-1800’s. By the end of the century it was planted state wide. Some of these vines have survived to this day, and our highly prized by winemakers. Unfortunately many old vines have been pulled in favour of Cabernet Sauvignon. Sadly, Zinfandel accounts for only 3% of wine production in the Napa Valley.

The Party Line Zinfandel is an ode to the first Zinfandels that were made by farming families for everyday consumption. The grapes were hand harvested and sorted at the end of September from a selection of vineyards across Napa Valley. After the grapes are crushed and gravity fed into open-top tanks, they are cold soaked for 2 to 4 days. Fermented for 14 to 16 days, the cap is punched down 3 times a day for color and tannins extraction. After being transferred to 25% Burgundian oak barrels, it goes through malolactic conversion and 11 months of ageing.

Who

Winemaking came early to Aldo Biale. At the ripe old age of 14 he was already selling illicit homemade wine to help support the family farm following the death of his father. His customers would make orders over the communal “party-line” (a local loop telephone circuit that is shared by multiple households). Aldo was keenly aware of the illegality of this extra income. To cover his tracks Aldo gave his wine a codename: Black Chicken (a cheeky reference to the symbol of Chianti, il Gallo Nero). In 1991 Aldo partnered with his son Robert and marketeer Dave Pramuk to found Robert Biale Vineyards. Their inaugural vintage of 400 cases of wine was made from 3 hectares of old vines called “Aldo’s Vineyard”. When Aldo passed in 2009 the wine world mourned a founding father of Californian wine. Today Robert and Dave work together with winemaker Trester “Tres” Goetting to make agewrothy examples of old-vine Zinfandel from sites around Napa Valley.

Taste

Upbeat and youthful, the Party Line Zinfandel is a great everyday wine. A counter to heavily extracted Zinfandel, it shows bright notes of fresh red fruits (strawberry and raspberry) and baking spices. It’s 14.7% alcohol is well equalized by a lush mid-palette and fine-grained tannins. The finish is dry and bracing. Zinfandel is happiest when paired with meats, such as grilled smokies or brisket. Serve around 16 °C.