Wine Club March 2019

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Hello all, we’re back with the March edition of Vine Arts Wine Club. In this month’s bag of treats we’ve elected to include 5 red wines, rather than the usual 4 red wines. The styles range from a bright and fruit forward Pinot Noir, to an inky and juicy Georgian Saperavi that was aged in giant clay-pots. We’re also pleased to introduce a new Chardonnay from Ontario that will give Chablis a run for its money. If you would like any additional details about any of the wines, please give us a shout. Cheers!

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2017 13th Street Winery June’s Vineyard Chardonnay - VQA Creek Shores, Canada $28.00

Where

Located at the center of the Niagara Peninsula on the shores of the Lake Ontario, is the sub-appellation of Creek Shores. This area, as the name suggests, is defined by a concentration of creeks and waterways that empty into the lake. It is bordered to the east by Twenty Mile Creek and to the west by Jordan Harbor. The vineyards are planted on fertile and gentle rolling slopes, and are greatly influenced by a lake effect, which serves to moderate temperatures throughout the area. Warm lake breezes during the harvest season insure that grapes are able to fully ripen while still retaining acidity. The average summer temperature is a cool 22.1 degrees celsius.
  

What

A cool climate region, Creek Shores is planted mostly to white grape varieties. The three dominant varieties are Riesling, Sauvignon Blanc, and Chardonnay. The June’s Vineyard Chardonnay is made from grapes planted at the base of the Niagara Escarpment, at the junction of 5th Avenue west and Seventh Street Louth in the town of St. Catharines. The parcel was first planted in 1999. 1.2 hectares of Chardonnay were trained using vertical shoot positioning, and the yields kept low. The grapes were hand harvested and sorted in the vineyard, and again at the winery, for better quality control. The wine was fermented and aged fully in 100% stainless steel tanks. Following full malolactic fermentation (converting sharp malic-acids to softer lactic-acids), the wine was kept in contact with lees for 6 months. Bottling was done with light filtration and fining for clarity.

Who

13th Street Winery was originally started in 1998 by four amatueur winemaking friends. Situated in the town of St. Catharines, the estate was sold to John & June Mann and Doug & Karen Whitty in 2008. Doug Whitty, a third generation Niagara farmer, has deep roots in the region that go back to the early 1900’s. John Mann, a thirty year farmer, is also a successful automotive-dealer. Their winemaker Jean Pierre Colas, is a seasoned oenologist with years of experience in France and around the world. He notably spent time at Domaine Laroche in Chablis.

Taste

Light silver yellow in color, this is a crisp style of Chardonnay with lifted aromas of lemon and apple skins. Medium bodied, the palate shows vibrant acidity and creamy texture. It nicely combines minerality and mouth-filling savouriness (New World Chablis?). This style of unoaked Chardonnay is delicious with fish and chips, and all types of shellfish. The ideal service temperature for this wine is 10-11°C.

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2017 Trentham Estate Pinot Noir - Murray Darling, Australia $23.50

Where

Murray Darling is the second largest winemaking region in Australia, with a whopping 25,000 hectares of vineyards. First planted to the vine in 1888 and today part of the Big River viticultural area, it accounts for ¼ of all the wine made in Australia. The region straddles the Murray River in north-west Victoria and western New South Wales. Prior to irrigation, this area was a relative desert. Spanning a distance of 350 kilometres, it experiences a strong continental climate with long and hot summers. With only 130-150 mm of rain during the growing season, irrigation is essential.

What

The most planted varieties in Murray Darling are Chardonnay and Shiraz. On average, 100 000 tons of Chardonnay are harvested yearly around the city of Mildura alone. Pinot Noir is something of a rarity. The hot and dry climate presents a particular challenge in growing this persnickety variety.

The Trentham Estate Pinot Noir is made from estate grown fruit from a parcel of vines 15 minutes away from Mildura. The grapes were harvested in mid to late January, earlier than in other Australian wine regions. To shape this wine, winemakers Shane Kerr and Kerry Morrison decided on a cold soak for 36 hours prior to fermentation to draw out flavours and concentration. Fermented without stems, the wine was partially aged in French oak barrels.

Who

Trentham Estate is a family-owned winery located on the banks of the Murray River at Trentham Cliffs. The Murphy family were some of the first settlers to emigrate to the area back in 1909, first planting vineyards at Merbein. In 1960 the family relocated to Trentham Cliffs and planted their farm to citrus fruits, vegetables and grapes. In 1984 the family celebrated their first vintage. Today the estate consists of 45 hectares under vine (some over 50 years old) planted to 20 different varieties, and is managed by viticulturist Patrick Murphy.

Taste

Compared with Pinot’s from cooler sites, this wine shows a touch more density and concentration. Cherry red in colour with blueberry and spice aromas, it is light/medium bodied with silken red fruit flavours. A touch gamy on the finish, it is a great option for the wine drinker who doesn't like their Pinot Noir too light or earthy. It is well paired with roasted chicken or game birds. The ideal service temperature for this wine is 15°C.

 

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2015 Araldica Castelvero “Alasia” Langhe Nebbiolo - Piedmont, Italy $25.50

Where

The Langhe is famous for two things: great wine and great truffles. A foggy area southwest of the city of Alba, the landscape is dominated by idyllic vine-clad hills that are capped by pretty towns. The name Langhe itself comes from the Italian plural word for “hills” (langa). Located within the province of Cuneo in northern Italy, the subregions of Barolo and Barbaresco sit within its borders. Influenced by the ice cold Alps mountains and the warm Mediterranean Sea, the ideal Langhe vineyard is situated above the fog line, catching lots of midday sunshine.  

What

Introduced in 1994, the Langhe DOC (Denominazione di origine controllata) was created for wines that did not fit into the structure of existing DOC’s. It is less strict in regards to production area, grape varieties and winemaking techniques. For instance, Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc wines from the region are classified as Langhe DOC.

The Araldica Castelvero “Alasia” is a lighter interpretation of the classic Langhe Nebbiolo. Made from 100% hand-harvested Nebbiolo, the grapes were sourced from numerous parcels of old vines. Once in the cellar, the grapes were fermented in stainless steel tanks at 25-30°C, pressed, and then transferred to tanks for malolactic fermentation. Racked into a combination of French oak and traditional large oak vats, it was matured for 12 months before bottling.

Who

Situated in Castel Boglione, Araldica Castelvero is a forward thinking co-operative that brings together 230 member growers. Today overseeing a combined total of 690 hectares of vineyards, the co-operative first took shape in the post WWII years. It was founded in 1954 by Livio Manera, father of the current Managing Director and winemaker Claudio Manera. Claudio is joined by his wife Lella (oversees quality control) and his son Carlo, a trained winemaker. The winery produces wines from Piemonte’s main DOC / DOCG regions: mostly Barbera, Gavi and Moscato; with lesser amounts of Barolo, Barbaresco and Roero Arneis.

Taste

Pale barn-red in color, the “Alasia”, displays the telltale aromas of classic Nebbiolo: cherry, rose, black tea, and spice. The lighter than average palate offers up ripe notes of sour cherry and prune, wrapped in fine grained tannins. The acidity is high. This is very easy going for a Nebbiolo. It is a great stand-in for when a Barolo or a Barbaresco would be too much… or too expensive. It is a great partner to fresh Burrata cheese. We suggest serving it around 15°C.

 

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2013 Anthonji Rupert Wines Cape of Good Hope Western Slopes - Swartland, South Africa $35.50

Where

The large wine producing region of Swartland is located 65 kilometers north of Cape Town in the Western Cape of South Africa. Situated on the northern side of Paardeberg mountain, the landscape varies from steep mountain slopes, to gentle rolling hills. The name Swartland itself comes from the Dutch word for “black land”. The native renosterbos (rhinoceros bush) is widely found across the region, and turns black after the rains. Heavily planted to agriculture, the Swartland is South Africa’s breadbasket. Planted mostly to grains, fruits, and vegetables, viticulture came recently to the region. Due to the harsh and dry climate, most vines are bush trained. Pushed hard to obtain moisture in the regions shale and granite soil, the vines produce small yields of concentrated fruit. This has led to the rise of intensely fruit forward wines.

What

The Cape of Good Hope Western Slopes is a blend of 70% Shiraz, 13% Mourvedre, 10% Grenache, 6% Carignan, and 1% Viognier. The grapes were sourced from Riebeeksrivier farm, located on the deep shale slopes of Kasteelberg Mountain. The farm dates all the way back to the early 1700’s, with the first vines being planted in 1972. The vineyard is dedicated primarily to the cultivation of Rhône grape varieties. Both the soil and climate of Riebeeksrivier is similar to what is found in Côte Rôtie (France) and Priorat (Spain). Made from hand harvested and sorted grapes, the wine was fermented in stainless steel tanks and then matured for 12-14 months in a combination of 2nd and 3rd use 225 liter oak barrels. The wine spent an additional 3 years maturing in bottle prior to release.

Who

The history of Anthonji Rupert Wines begins in the 17th century, with the founding of L’Ormarins farm in Franschhoek. Located in the south-east corner of Paarl, Franschoek is home to South Africa’s most prestigious wine estates. It was this lineage that instigated Anthonji Rupert to purchase L’Ormarins farm. Sadly passing away in 2001, Anthonji was succeeded by his brother Johann Rupert in 2003. Johann would go on to build a new winemaking facility, and expand the wineries holdings. In addition to L’Ormarins farm, there is Rooderust farm in Darling, Riebeeksrivier farm in the Swartland and Altima farm in Elandskloof.

Taste

Deep garnet red in colour, this cuvée is generously loaded with aromas of fresh picked black currants, sweet fruit cake, black plum, and cinnamon spice. A touch of oak lends a savoury note. Diving into the inky depths, you discover chewy flavours of cassis, blueberry, and olive, huddled up in fine tannins. It is plush without being a lout. Serve with spicy bbq and meaty stews. We suggest decanting it for ½ an hour and serving it around 15°C

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2015 Álvarez de Toledo Colección de Familia Mencia - Bierzo, Spain $25.00

Where

Small, remote, and often overlooked, Bierzo is one of Spain’s most exciting wine regions. Tucked into the far northwest of Castilla y Leon, with 375 villages surrounded by mountains, it has only recently attracted the attention wine drinkers. It is bordered by Galicia to the west and similarly influenced by the Atlantic. Much cooler than the rest of Castilla y Leon, the average temperature is 12°C. Annual rainfall hovers around 700mm. Thanks to the Cordillera Cantábrica mountain range in the north, vineyards are sheltered from the most extreme weather. First awarded DO status (Denominación de Origen) in 1989, the region is further split into two areas: Bierzo Alto (high Bierzo) and Bierzo Bajo (low Bierzo).

What

Mencia is the undisputed star of Bierzo. Violet-blue in colour with thick skins, it was once relegated to simple table wines. With the discovery of well-sited old vines by Spanish winemakers in the 1990’s, Mencia’s reputation improved. Today it is often compared to floral Pinot Noir or herbaceous Cabernet Franc. As a variety, Mencia is high in terpenoids, a compound that brings floral aromas of strawberry, raspberry, and pomegranate

The Álvarez de Toledo Colección de Familia Mencia is made from grapes hand harvested from vines planted between 420 and 500 meters above sea level to a mixture of quartz and slate soils. The average vine age ranges from 60 to 80 years old. Although many Mencia based wines are aged in stainless steel, this wine was aged 10 months in oak barrels.

Who

The aristocratic Alvarez de Toledo family can trace their family history all the way back to 1472, to one Count Don Garcia Alvarez de Toledo. Granted the title of Duke of Alba by Henry IV of Castile, his grandson Pedro Alvarez de Toledo y Zuñiga would marry the daughter of the Marquis of Villafranca del Bierzo, thus forging the families connection with Bierzo. Fast forward a few centuries and today Angelines Varela Mazon y Alvarez de Toledo is continuing the family tradition. Located close to the towns of Villafranca del Bierzo and Valtuille de Arriba, the estates vineyards are concentrated in the "Gold Mile" of El Bierzo's wine country.

Taste

This Mencia demonstrates a depth of intensity and concentration. Magenta red in color with a dark core, it shows aromas of blackberry, pomegranate, and licorice. A noticeable level of oak lends a dusting of spice. The medium/full bodied palate has supple tannins and succulent flavours of ripe berries and chocolate. It has a good chew to it. It is a versatile pairing wine that will happily match to a range of grilled meats and vegetables. Best decanted for 1 hour and served around 16-17°C.

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2017 Vazisubani Estate Saperavi Qveri - Kakheti, Georgia $23.50

Where

The hills and valleys of the Transcaucasia (an area around the southern Caucasus Mountains) is where people first purposefully fermented grapes into wine. The Republic of Georgia has been making wine for 8,000 years from some 525 different grape varieties. This ancient country situated on the eastern shores of the Black Sea, was part of the Union of the Soviet Socialist Republics until 1991. It is bordered by Russia to the north, Azerbaijan to the southeast, Armenia to the south, and Turkey to the southwest. Its climate is generally moderate and ideal for viticulture. Kakheti is the countries foremost wine region with 11 000 square kilometers of rolling hills planted to vine.  

What

During the Soviet era Georgia produced vast amounts of wine. In the 1950s the country had around 370 000 hectares of vineyards. By 1985 it had jumped to over 800 000 hectares. With the dissolution of the USSR and state run wineries, wine production dropped. The 2006 Russian embargo of Georgian wine (lifted in 2013) and tensions in the region hit the industry hard. Only recently have Georgian winemakers been able to fully exploit the regions rich history and exceptional terroir. The ace up their sleeve is a winemaking tradition unlike any other.

Traditional Georgian wines are made in giant clay pots known as Qvevri, which are buried underground and coated in beeswax. The pots are buried underground for stability and to keep them from collapsing under their own weight. There is the added benefit of natural refrigeration, which allows for extended periods of maceration and fermentation. Prior to fermentation, the grapes are partially pressed before going into the pots. In warmer areas, the stems will be included. The wine will ferment for two to four weeks. The grape skins are “punched down” twice every day to extract colour, flavors, aromas, and tannins. Once the “cap” (grape skins and stems) sinks to the bottom of the pot, it is removed. The pot is then covered with a stone lid, where the wine will undergo malolactic fermentation and mature for 6 months. At the end of the 6 months, the wine will go either into another Qvevri for storage or straight into bottle.

The most popular variety for red wine production in Georgia is Saperavi. Translated literally as “something to color with”, Saperavi is one of a few teinturier varieties (grapes with red skin and red flesh). Some Georgian wineries will label their Saperavi as black wine rather than red wine. The 2017 Vazisubani Estate Saperavi Qveri is made from 100% Saperavi that was fermented and aged in Qveri for 6 months, and is bottled unfiltered.

Who

Vazisubani Estate was established at the end of the 19th century by a young aristocrat, Tavadi Sulkhan Chavchavadze. During his time, the estate grew to 20 hectares of vineyards. Following a period when the estate was controlled by the Russian state, the winery was purchased in 2011 by Mamuka Khazaradze and Badri Japaridze. Fully restored, the estate today has 35 hectares of vineyards.

Taste

This wine is very inky in colour with generous aromas of black fruits, tobacco, and pepper. It is unexpectedly vibrant, given the time it spent underground. The moutfilling palate has full tannins and a core of dark berry fruits. A touch earthy, it is reminiscent of a full bodied Shiraz. Decant for a full hour to draw out all of this wines complexity.

Georgian’s are serious gastronomes. The traditional supra (banquet feast) involves seemingly endless courses. The elected tamada (toastmaster), has the difficult task of remaining well spoken and articulate while consuming heaps of wine. After the tamada speaks, everyone must drink. Keep in mind that there are elected merekipe, people who must keep all the glasses on the table full at all times. With every toast, each glass is refilled. The tamada will make somewhere from 3 to 20 toasts at one supra. While we wouldn’t suggest drinking 20 glasses in one sitting, we would recommend serving this wine with traditional mtsvadi (a type of Georgian kebab).