Wine Club June 2019

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Hello everyone and welcome to the June edition of Vine Arts Wine Club. From Corsican Vermentinu to Valencian Bobal, this month’s 6-pack has you covered for all of your early summer get-together’s. This month we’ve enlisted the help of our good friend Alex Good, owner of Spur Imports. Alex has been kind enough to introduce a brand new wine for wine club from Jean-Louis Chapuy in Chiroubles. As always, if you have any questions about any of the wines, please drop us a line. Cheers!

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2017 Domaine de Terra Vecchia Vermentinu and Chardonnay - Ile de Beauté, France $21.00

Where

France’s Mediterranean outpost, the island of Corsica is fixed 170 kilometres off the Côte d'Azur. Only acquired by France during the mid 1700’s, Corsica still today clings to its Italian origins. Prior to French rule the island was part of the Republic of Genoa, and was for a brief period an independent Italian speaking nation. An interesting fact is that Corsica’s most famous son, Napoleon Bonaparte, was born the year that France conquered the island. Napoleon’s winemaking parents even fought the French to preserve the islands independence. Geographically Corsica is a largely mountainous island. The highest peak on the island soars to 2,706 meters above sea level. The fourth largest island in the Mediterranean, a "mountain in the sea, Corsica’s 1,000 kilometres of coastline and hot temperatures make it a popular destination for visitors.
  

What

Although Corsica has been French for over 200 years, the islands wine industry is firmly connected to its Italian roots. Located only 90 kilometres from the coast of Tuscany, Corsica was the recipient of many imported Italian grape varietals. Varieties such as Nielluccio (a close relative of Sangiovese), Sciaccarello (known as Mammolo in Tuscany) and Vermentinu (Vermentino) are widely planted. Around two thirds of Corsican wines are labelled under the island wide Ile de Beauté IGP (Indication Géographique Protégée).

The Domaine de Terra Vecchia Vermentinu and Chardonnay (originally brought to the island by the French) is made from grapes harvested from sustainably farmed vines planted on sandy loam and clay-limestone soils. Harvested at night, the grapes were fermented using selected yeasts in temperature controlled fermenters. Once fermented, the wine was aged in concrete tank on the fine lees with bâtonnage.

Who

The history of Domaine de Terra Vecchia begins in the 19th century when Joseph Michon and Dr. Henri Rendu planted vineyards close to the Etang de Diana (“Diana Lagoon”) on the east coast of Corsica. Owned by the Michon family until the 1960’s, the domaine was sold to winemaker Jean-François Renucci in 2011. Already the owner of neighbouring vineyards, Renucci replanted and converted the domaine to organic viticulture in 2015. An area with over 2000 years of winemaking history, going back to the Phoenicians, the estate’s name translates to “Ancient Land’s” in the Corsican language.

Taste

Light blonde in the glass, this white blend displays aromas of white flower and peeled citrus fruits. The body is a touch oily in texture with high acidity and a slightly bitter almond finish. The palate it is dominated by salty flavours of green apple and lime. Lively and refreshing, the Domaine de Terra Vecchia Vermentinu/Chardonnay pairs perfectly with a wide range of seafood dishes. Corsica’s Italian and French heritage offers plenty good options, such as the ubiquitous Mediterranean seafood Bouillabaisse.e to organic viticulture in 2015. An area with over 2000 years of winemaking history, going back to the Phoenicians, the estate’s name translates to “Ancient Land’s” in the Corsican language.

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2018 Gorgo Chiaretto di Bardolino - Veneto, Italy $21.50

Where

Lodged between the Italian region of Valpolicella and the eastern shore of Lake Garda is the small DOC of Bardolino. Lesser known than it’s acclaimed neighbour, the region takes its name from the resort town of Bardolino. Once a sleepy fishing village, this town of 7,000 people has become a summer destination for travellers who arrive via cheap flights into nearby Bergamo airport. The climate in the area is moderated by a combination of lake and alpine breezes that come down from the nearby Dolomite mountain range. Within the borders of the region is the smaller subregion of Bardolino Classico, which includes vineyards planted around the villages of Cavaio, Garda, Lazise, Affi, Costermano and Bardolino itself.

What

Like in Valpolicella, the main grape varieties of Bardolino are Corvina and Rondinella. Molinara is also permitted but plays a smaller role (it can only account for 20%). Corvina, a thick skinned variety well suited to air-drying (“apassimento”), is the key player in the blend. Red Bardolino is lighter and fresher in style than the average Valpolicella. A Chiaretto di Bardolino is a dry rosé made from the classic three grape cuvée. Pronounced “Key-are-et-toh”, the name derives from “chiaro”, which means light or pale.

The light pink colour of the Gorgo Chiaretto di Bardolino comes from 15 to 20 hours of skin contact at controlled temperatures. The French refer to this technique has “saignée” (“to bleed). It was aged for 3 short months in stainless steel tanks.

Who

Located close to the village of Custoza, Cantina Gorgo was started by Roberto Bricolo in 1973. Starting off with 22 hectares of vineyards, the estate has grown to include 60 hectares of vines in the Bianco di Custoza and Bardolino production areas. Joined at the winery by his daughter Roberta, Roberto has converted his vineyards over to organic viticulture. The farming is done using traditional techniques and hand harvesting, which can take up to 45 days to complete. In addition to traditional varieties, the estate has also been planted to Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, and Muscat.

Taste

In the glass this Chiaretto di Bardolino is light, transparent, and punch-pink in hue. Pleasantly fragrant, the nose has a bouquet of strawberries, rose petals, and rhubarb. Fermented fully to dryness, the palate shows flavours reminiscent of wild red fruits and honeydew. The body is light with a high level of acidity, giving it a nice pucker on the finish. Fans of classic Côtes de Provence rosé will find this wine assuredly refreshing and a bit rounder in style. Served around 10 ̊C, this wine pairs well with fresh-water seafood and garden fresh vegetables.

 

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2016 Domaine Jean-Louis Chapuy Chiroubles - Beaujolais, France $29.50

Description written by Alex Good, Spur Imports

Where

Beaujolais, specifically the village of Chiroubles, one of the ten ‘Cru’ appellations in the Beaujolais district. The ten cru appellations of Beaujolais are special, creating wines of superior character and poise. Each of the ten crus have an appellation thumbprint, a profile of aroma and flavour that defines them. Morgon and Moulin-à-Vent, for example, are known for their sturdy power, whereas Juliéanas is spicy and earthy. Fleurie is pretty, personifying its name, best described as ‘floral’. Chiroubles is among the most unique of the ten crus, given a variety of factors, mixing a fine, red berry and violet character with a hint of spice and disarming drinkability – some call it the most ‘Beaujolais-like’ of the crus. Grown on the famous pink granite soils that dot the finest vineyards of the Beaujolais district, Chroubles often has a deep mineral note that reminds of rock dust.

What

Chiroubles is one of the great appellations of Beaujolais, and Beaujolais means the Gamay grape. One of the characteristics of the Chiroubles appellation is its altitude and its effect on the Gamay grape: It is the highest elevation in the district, and, Jean-Louis Chapuy’s property sits at the very peak of Chiroubles, meaning that effectively his vineyards are the highest in all of Beaujolais. At this height, wind and cooler temperatures become a factor. The slightly cooler climate contributes finesse, freshness, and purity of fruit, while the wind helps keep the moisture down and disease pressure low. His vineyard is a very privileged terroir, and he has exceptionally old vines – the youngest date back to 1953, with the majority established just after WW1.

Who

Jean-Louis Chapuy is the fourth generation winemaker at this estate. He has extensive knowhow that has been passed down through successive generations, and superb raw materials to work with in the form of his beautifully-situated, old vine, high altitude vineyards that face southeast. Jean-Louis has increased the size of his Domaine to 2.5 hectares, and works everything manually. His viticulture is entirely organic, and he is presently pursuing biodynamic certification. There are no oak barrels at Domaine Chapuy – all wines are raised in very old concrete tanks that were installed in the late 1950s. The fermentation Jean-Louis favours is spontaneous, from indigenous yeasts, and a traditional mash fermentation versus the more common carbonic maceration in Beaujolais. The finished wines are neither fined nor filtered, something Jean-Louis feels strips too much character from the delicate Chiroubles. Jean-Louis only produces 2,500 bottles of his Chiroubles each year, making him one of the smallest vignerons in the area. Like his wines, Jean-Louis is very traditional, prizing old school sensibilities when it comes to his winemaking and viticulture.

Taste

In the glass you’ll find a wine with a deep red cherry colour, which is luminous and vibrant. The nose gallops out of the glass with a big fragrance of super ripe red cherry, sweet strawberries, violets, cinnamon, caraway, and crushed stones. The palate is round, generous and supple, with concentrated notes of red skinned plum, kirsch, pepper, and raspberry confiture. Silky tannins and clean, fresh acidity provide an impressive framework for this lovely interpretation of old vine Gamay.

Traditionally, Beaujolais is paired with the foods of the region – the cuisine of Lyon. Pâté de Campagne, a pork pâté surrounded by pastry and served with mustard is very classic, as is the eponymous coq au vin, the signature chicken dish of the area using famous Bresse chicken and bacon that is braised in Beaujolais. The energetic nature and medium body of Chiroubles opens up a lot of other possibilities, such as pan-fried trout with almonds and brown butter, or veal cutlets with mushrooms. Perhaps the most satisfying way to enjoy it is with a plate of cured meats, cheese, and bread, or even on its own.

 

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2015 Gran Clos Solluna - Priorat, Spain $27.50

Where

Priorat, or Priorato in Castilian, has risen from obscurity to become one of the most revered wine regions in Spain. Named after a priory built in the hills above Tarragona in northeastern Spain, it is a mountainous, remote and rugged place. Vines planted to parched slate soil, known locally as “llicorella”, must endure the regions scorching heat and intense sunshine, while receiving only 500 mm of yearly rainfall. Although located closely to the Mediterranean Sea, Priorat’s 12 sub regions receive little reprieve from the harshly continental climate.

What

In a testament to the regions high standard of winemaking, Priorat is one of only two Spanish wine regions awarded top level DOCa (Denominación de Origen Calificada) classification. Amazingly Priorat’s exceptionalism only really took hold as recently as 1989. This was largely thanks to a group of passionate winemakers who recognized Priorat’s great potential. Inspired by the French concept of a Clos (a “walled” in vineyard), they zeroed in on the regions best vineyards. Planted to steep terraced vineyards, these vines produce very small yields, less than one-fifth of the Spanish average. Comprised mostly of old-vine Garnacha and Cariñena (plus international varieties such as Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Syrah) the typical Priorat red wine is known for bombastic intensity and brawny structure.

A blend of 60% Garnacha, 20% Merlot, 10% Cariñena, and 10% Cabernet Sauvignon, the “Solluna” is made from grapes hand harvested from sustainably farmed 20-30 year old vines. Macerated and fermented for 5-6 weeks, this crianza was aged for 10-11 months in French oak barrels.

Who

Created in 1995 by Josep M. Fuentes, Gran Clos (formerly known as Cellers Fuentes) holds 32 hectares of prime Priorat vineyards, with some vines over 100 years in age. Located close to the village of Bellmunt del Priorat, the estate was purchased in 2002 by the owner of Oriel Wines, John Hunt. Overseen by winemaker Josep Angel Mestre, the winery produces a small number of wines that are widely sought after by some of the world's top restaurants. Mestre introduced the more approachable “Solluna” red blend to compliment the estates lineup of monumentally built wines that require years of maturing in the cellar.

Taste

The Solluna offers the intensity of Priorat in a more silky but still robust package. Deep magenta in colour, the nose exhibits aromas of sunned black fruits and earthy spices. Bold flavours of black plum, blackberry, and cassis are corralled by rounded tannins and rocky acidity. The alcohol level is a touch higher at 14.5% (moderate for the region). We suggest serving this wine around 16°C alongside grilled meats, but do be wary of intensely spicy dishes which will be amplified by this wines higher alcohol level.

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RJ Viñedos Joffré e Hijas “Cuatro” Malbec - Mendoza, Argentina $20.00

Where

With close to 160,000 hectares planted to vine, Mendoza is by far Argentina’s most prolific wine region. Located 965 kilometers away from the capital of Buenos Aires, Mendoza sits in the shadow of the mighty Andes Mountains. Technically a semi-arid desert, the locale is fully dependent on mountain snow runoff that is channelled by an extensive irrigation system. Any issues that could arise from too much moisture in the vineyards are mitigated by an intense mountain gale known as the “Zondawind,” which keep the vines reliably dry. Near constant sunshine, little rainfall, and high vineyard elevation (in places over 1,000 meters above sea level), make Mendoza the ideal place to grow grapes. colonized every summer by sun-seekers that are drawn to Puglia’s long coastline and slow pace.

What

Although native to southwestern France, Malbec is most commonly associated with Mendoza. If not for its Argentinian resurgence, this grape would have likely remained in obscurity. Plantings in Europe were hugely reduced by the ravages of phylloxera (an insect that feeds on the roots of the vine) and a brutal frost that hit France in 1956. Today over 75% of the worlds plantings of Malbec are Argentinian. As a grape, Malbec is known for its thick skins and high levels of anthocyanin (color pigment). Taking off in the 90’s, Argentina’s wine boom was near wholly driven by full-bodied and deeply coloured Malbecs.

Made from 100% Malbec, the “Cuatro” is made from grapes harvested from Mendoza’s Uco Valley. With vineyard plantings reaching up to 1100 meters above sea level, the Uco Valley produces wines that are fresher and less robust in style. Aged 6-9 months in French oak barrels, this wine is named after the owners 4 daughters, all of whom work at the winery.

Who

RJ Viñedos is a family owned winery that was founded by Raul Joffré in 1998. The great-grandson of grape growers who emigrated to Argentina from southwestern France, Joffré started his estate by purchasing a traditional winery in the Perdriel region of Lujan de Cuyo and a small vineyard in the Los Sauces region of the Uco Valley. In addition to 60 hectares of sustainably farmed vineyards in the Uco Valley, he also has smaller holdings in Alto Agrelo and in the Cafayate Valley in Salta. In the cellar winemaker Sebastían San Martín takes a minimalist approach with little intervention.

Taste

Bright purple in color from edge to center, this Malbec has fragrant aromas of black berries, sweet plums, and french-vanilla coffee spice. Medium bodied on the palate, it is sturdy with good tannins and acidity. Fruit forward with black-fruit flavours, it finishes with a dusting of oak barrel spiciness. Heavier than some, although certainly lighter than others, this is your Wednesday evening Malbec. Serve around 16°C in a roomy Bordeaux glass. Good for sipping on its own, but also a good burger option.

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2016 Bodegas Mustiguillo Mestis - El Terrerazo, Spain $26.50

Where

Famous for its oranges, the Spanish region of Valencia has around 13,000 hectares of land planted to vine. Located south of Catalonia, the DO (Denominacion de Origen) centers around the Mediterranean port city of Valencia. Situated to the north and to the south of the city, the vineyards are categorized into 4 separate subregions: Valentino (the largest subregion), Alto Turia, Moscatel, and Clariano. Vineyards planted closest to the sea enjoy a moderate climate, while vineyards planted further inland are subjected to the brute force of Spain’s fiery continental climate. Temperatures can regularly reach 40°C in more arid parts of the region. Drought is an always possible threat.

The DOP (Denominación de Origen Protegido) of El Terrerazo covers the Vino de Pago wines of Valencia. This classification is less restrictive, allowing more freedom to the winemaker. The El Terrerazo designation is exclusive to Bodegas Mustiguillo.

What

Indegenous to Utiel-Requena, west of Valencia city, Bobal is one of the key grapes in Valencia. Known for dark and thick grape skins, it is one of Spain’s most widely planted varieties. Thanks to its high levels of anthocyanins, Bobal is often employed as blending partner to bring colour and acidity. It is commonly matched up with Valencia’s most widely planted variety, Monastrell.

The “Mestis” is a blend of three grape varieties: 72% Bobal, 17% Grenache, and 11% Shiraz. The grapes were manually harvested from vines planted at 800 meters above sea level. Elevation is very important in an area as hot as this. In the winery each variety was naturally vinified separately in 80 to 100 hectolitre French oak and stainless steel vats. Transferred from the vats by gravity, the wine was then aged in French oak barrels for 10 months. “Mestis” is the Valencian word for “mixed”.

Who

Toni Sarrion is on a quest to get Bobal into more wine glasses. Since creating Bodegas Mustiguillo in the late 1990’s, Sarrion has championed this often underrated grape variety. His first 25 casks of wine, never released to the public, convinced him that Bobal could go beyond its rustic reputation. The first commercial vintage bottled in 2000, sold as simple “Vino de Mesa”, was scooped up quickly by importers and restaurants such as El Bulli. In addition to Bobal, Sarrion has laboured to preserve the Merseguera grape variety, which has largely disappeared from Spain. Altogether he has 89 hectares of vineyards, which are farmed according to organic principles.

Taste

The “Mestis” is the youngest wine made by Bodegas Mustiguillo. Bright ruby in colour, the nose shows a bouquet of red briar fruits and espresso spice. Medium bodied with soft tannins, the palate is driven by round flavours of savoury blackberries and dark cherries. The finish is a touch rustic and well-balanced. A wine best opened now rather than later, it should be enjoyed in a large glass around 16°C. Suitable for a range of meat dishes, it pairs well with eastern Mediterannean and Persian dishes like Fesenjān (Pomegranate-Walnut Braised Chicken).