Wine Club January 2019

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Happy New Year and welcome to the first edition of Wine Club for 2019! To kick the year off we’ve assembled an Italian centric collection of delectable wines. Break out your good wine glasses, because we’re taking you from the bottom to the top of the Italian “boot”. In addition we’ve selected a white Spanish wine made from an unheralded variety, and a German Pinot Noir that gives Burgundy a run for its money. Cin cin!

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2016 Cerrosol Rincón de Pedraza Verdejo - Rueda, Spain $19.00

Where

The region of Rueda lies due northwest of the capital city of Madrid. A flat landscape on the high plains, it is does not draw many foreign visitors. Its location and continental climate mean that it experiences both extremely hot and cold weather. Temperatures can range from -1 °C in winter to 30 °C in summer. Part of the Duero River Basin, the river traverses its far north before continuing on to Ribera del Duero. Subjected to 2,700 hours of sunlight per year, the well-drained soils of Rueda range from predominantly clay to phylloxera resistant sand. Areas with a high concentration of sandy soils are home to vines that can reach 100+ years in age.
  

What

Although viticulture in Rueda goes back to the 11th century, it wasn’t until the 1970s that quality winemaking came to the region. This is solely because of one grape: Verdejo. Pronounced “Vurr-day-ho”, this uncommon indigenous variety is by a long shot the most planted variety in Rueda. It is originally thought to have been brought to Spain by North African settlers, and was used to produce oxidized and fortified wines. Reinvented in the 1970s, the grape is now used to make bright and refreshing wines. Assuring its prominence, any wine labelled as Rueda must contain at least 50% Verdejo. Its usual blending partners are Sauvignon Blanc, Macabeo, and Viura. Any wine labelled as Rueda Verdejo, must contain at least 85% Verdejo.

The Cerrosol Rincón de Pedraza Verdejo is made from 100% Verdejo from 20 to 30 year old vineyards. Fermented in stainless steel tanks, the wine is aged for a short (2 week) spell on its lees before being bottled. 

Who

Bodegas Cerrosol is a family owned winery located close to the city of Segovia in the heart of Rueda. Situated in Santiuste de San Juan Bautista, this area is considered the best in the appellation. The Vegas-Cordobés family have a total of 100 hectares of vines. Their prized vines are over 100 years old and ungrafted. Sited between 830 and 910 meters above sea level, the climate is ideal for growing Verdejo.

Taste

The Cerrosol Rincón de Pedraza Verdejo is a textbook example of Verdejo. Light in body with a pale greenish yellow hue, it exhibit’s notes of lime, grapefruit, melon, fennel, and grass. The acidity is expectedly high and the finish dry. Reminiscent of Loire Valley Sauvignon Blanc, it pairs well with sheep’s milk cheeses and crisp herb salads. Remove from the fridge 5 to 10 minutes before serving for ideal service temperature.   

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2016 DeForville “Ca del Buc” Chardonnay - Piedmont, Italy $21.00

Where

Piedmont, or Piemonte, is the most respected wine region in Italy. There are more DOCGs (Denominazione di Origine Controllata e Garantita) in Piedmont than anywhere else in the country. Chief amongst them are the appellations of Barolo and Barbaresco. Surrounded by the Alps and the Apennines, the region is topographically shielded from outside influences. Historically a barrier for invaders, the mountains create a beneficial rain shadow and channel the regions fog cover. Around 90% of the regions viticulture is concentrated in the south of the region around the town of Alba. Given the regions continental climate, vineyards are typically planted on south facing slopes to best soak up available warmth and sunshine. The picture of rolling hills of expertly sited vineyards often leads to comparisons with Burgundy.

What

Piedmont may be best known for bold red wines, but it is also a great source for delicious white wines that often fly under the radar. Such examples include Gavi (made from the Cortese grape) and Arneis, which is grown in the hills of the Roero, northwest of Alba. The Nascetta variety, thought to be related to Vermentino and indigenous to the Langhe, is drawing attention for its aromatic qualities. Erbaluce, a thick skinned variety grown in the far northeast of the region close to Torino, is favored for high acidity and delicate flavours. With such an unique palette of grapes to work with, it could be surprising that some of the best white wines from Piedmont are made from a grape known to all: Chardonnay. Adaptable to almost any climate, Chardonnay from Piedmont is typically made in the Burgundian fashion.

The DeForville Chardonnay is made from hand-harvested 100% Chardonnay from 30 year old vineyards in Castagnole Lanze and Coazzolo. Fermentation took place in temperature controlled tanks, followed by ageing in stainless steel tanks before bottling. Producing less than 1000 cases for export, the finished wine is comparable to Chardonnay from the Mâcon.

Who

Originally from Belgium, the DeForville family emigrated to the village of Barbaresco in 1848. Making wine for 5 generations, during the early 1900s the family would sell their wines in bulk to local restaurants or retailers. It wasn’t until 1940 that they would bottle their own wines for sale. The estate today consists of 11 hectares of vineyards in the villages of  Barbaresco and Castagnole Lanze. To supplement their own grapes, the family also purchase fruit from a few trusted growers who have been working with the estate for decades. Their average yearly production is 100,000 bottles.

Taste

Matured entirely in stainless steel, this is not buttery Chardonnay. To the contrary, it is refreshingly floral with notes of fresh cut green apples, citrus peel, and almond. The medium bodied palate is driven by nervy acidity and minerality. It is both round and brisk, plus supremely versatile when it comes to food pairings. It can be served equally well with seafood, white meat, or vegetables. Its zesty acidity and aromas are particularly complimentary to grassy alpine cheeses like Fontina D'Aosta.   

 

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2016 Weingut Frey Pinot Noir - Rheinhessen, Germany $31.00

Where

With over 26,500 hectares planted to vine, Rheinhessen is Germany’s largest producer of quality wine. Centered in the city of Manz, the region is bordered by Rheingau to the north, Nahe to the west, and Pfalz to the south. Landlocked in the heart of central Europe, the region is favourably influenced by the Rhine and Nahe rivers to the west, and the Haardt mountains to the south. The best vineyards are planted close to the Rhine on steep slopes that capture heat. The river has the dual impact of moderating temperatures and reflecting sunlight towards the vines. Warm by German standards, Rheinhessen also receives less rainfall than the rest of the country (500mm annually).   

What

Rheinhessen is predominantly a white wine region, with 69% of vineyards planted to white varieties. Planted mostly to Müller-Thurgau and Riesling, the region gained notoriety (or infamy) with the advent of Liebfraumilch. This mostly mass-produced sweet wine did much to damage the region’s reputation for quality wine in the last half of the twentieth century. More recently, red wine production has surged. The most planted red variety, Dornfelder, now accounts for around 13% of all plantings. Pinot Noir (Spätburgunder) is a distant second with 5.5% of plantings. Interestingly enough Germany is the world's third largest producer of Pinot Noir.

The Weingut Frey Pinot Noir is made from organically grown, hand picked grapes from vines in south-western Rheinhessen. Gently transported and softly pressed, it was fermented with natural yeasts.

Who

Located in the Rheinhessen village of Ober-Flörsheim, Weingut Frey has been bottling wine for four generations. Managed by Stefan Frey, and his sons Philipp and Christopher, the estate consists of 23 hectares of vines planted to a handful of varieties. Spread over 20 km from north to south, the estate’s holdings represent numerous soil types and microclimates. Since 2013, all of their vineyards have been farmed organically. The estate produces 15,000 cases of wine annually.

Taste

Yes indeed, this wine proves that Germany does make great Pinot Noir. Tasted blind, you could be forgiven for thinking you were drinking a wine from Burgundy or Oregon. With the price for Burgundy going through the roof these days, this proves a solid alternative. Luminous cherry red in the glass, the nose shows notes of cranberry, bramble, cola, and roses. The lithe palate is velvety with fresh acidity and soft tannins. Less earthy than classic Spätburgunder, serve this wine around 12-14°C to fully appreciate its brightness. Pair with light meats, such as roasted chicken or duck.

 

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2017 Francesco Cirelli Vino Rosso - Abruzzo, Italy $21.00

Where

The region of Abruzzo is the rugged heart of central Italy. Bordered by Marche to the north, Lazio to the west, and Molise to the south, it is roughly half way up the Italian “boot”. Situated between the Adriatic Sea and the Apennine Mountains, the landscape is largely mountainous and lush with forests. The majority of the regions 36,000 hectares of vineyards are concentrated in the hilly province of Chieti. The climate is notable for plenty of sunshine, ample seasonal rainfall, and benign temperature changes. Key to the region’s viticulture are cooling winds that are channeled by mountain valleys, creating distinct microclimates.

What

Abruzzo is synonymous with the grape Montepulciano. Not to be confused with the Tuscan village of Montepulciano, it is the variety behind Abruzzo’s single DOCG: Montepulciano d'Abruzzo Colline Teramane. Second to Sangiovese (a close relative), it is Italy’s second most planted variety. Favoured for soft tannins, Montepulciano has proven popular with wine drinkers looking for something buoyant and easy drinking.

The Francesco Cirelli Vino Rosso is an excellent example of a youthful 100% Montepulciano. Produced from purchased organically grown grapes, it was fermented and aged in stainless steel tanks with minimal intervention and minimal added sulphites.

Who

Conceived by Francesco Cirelli and his partner Michela in 2003, Agricola Cirelli is a fully organic farm situated 8 kilometres from the Adriatic Sea near the village of Atri. Formerly a successful entrepreneur, Cirelli bottled his first wine in 2008. Sitting in the hills of Colline Teramane, the 22 hectare estate also produces figs, garlic, olive oil, and grains. They even raise a flock of geese. A rising star in Abruzzo, Cirelli has quickly distinguished himself by adhering to organic and biodynamic principles, and ageing a selection of his wines in amphora vessels. Designed by himself, and made in Tuscany, the amphora are capped with unique steel seals that prevent oxidation and preserve freshness. In the winery he uses only indigenous yeasts, and no fining or filtration. Additionally, his production is fully vegan friendly.

Taste

This wine delights in honest simplicity and peppy fruit flavours. A bottle to share with friends over pizza, it is medium bodied with ample notes of red plum, sour cherry, cranberry, and dried oregano. The acidity is refreshing and the tannins spry. It’s the kind of wine that should be on every trattoria wine list. We would recommend serving this wine slightly cooler, around 12-14°C. 

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2015 Tenuta Regaleali Nero d'Avola - Sicily, Italy $27.00

Where

Dubbed the Trinacria (the Triangle) for its triangular shape, Sicily is Italy’s southernmost wine region. Basking in the Mediterranean sun, this 281 kilometre wide island is separated from the Italian mainland by the Strait of Messina. The climate is typically Mediterranean with cool and wet winters, and very hot and dry summers. During the summer season the Sirocco, a wind from Saharan Africa, can bring unexpected rainfall. Winter snowfall is common at higher elevations. A key feature of Sicilian grape growing is the islands fertile volcanic soils, which make it an industrious agricultural region. With near perfect growing conditions for grapes, Sicily also exports large amounts of cereals, olives and citrus fruits.

What

An island steeped in history and tradition, Sicily has been in the winemaking game for a very long time. Part of Magna Graecia (“Great Greece”) in antiquity, early grape growers found the island very hospitable to the vine. Surprising given the islands history, Sicily’s modern winemaking industry is only a few decades old. Prior to the 1950s, much of the wine being produced in Sicily came from high yielding, government subsidized vines. The wines were basic and cheap. Turning the corner towards quality, a handful of growers introduced modern winemaking equipment and techniques. Of all the grapes grown in Sicily, Nero d’Avola is the most common. Also known as Calabrese, the “Black of Avola” is planted across the island. Previously utilised as a blending variety, it is today favoured for its singular qualities. Dark-skinned and high in tannins, it is most often used to produce inky and dense wines.

This Nero d'Avola from Tenuta Regaleali is produced from 100% Nero d’Avola from vineyards 50 km southeast of Palermo. The grapes were fermented in stainless steel tanks at 26-28° C, and transferred to mature in a combination of steel vats and large Slavonian oak 60 hl barrels for 6 months. This is the 61st vintage of this wine to be bottled by the estate.

Who

The Regaleali Estate is one of a handful of properties owned by the aristocratic Tasca d’Almerita family. Established in 1837, today the estate is managed by Count Giuseppe Tasca and winemaker Laura Orsi. The vast estate consists of 387 hectares of vineyards, 30 hectares of olive groves, 35 hectares of farmland and 30 hectares for grazing. Located considerably inland and influenced by the Madonie mountain range, the estate is sheltered from Sicily’s coastal maritime climate. One of the first Sicilian wineries to look outside of Italy, Tenuta Regaleali was one of the founding wineries to spread the reputation of quality Sicilian wines abroad. 

Taste

If you enjoy juicy and full flavoured red wines, this wine is for you. Bright ruby red in the glass, it displays aromas of black plum, sweet black cherry, blackberry jam, and clove spice. On the palate it is mouth-filling and ripe. The generous tannins are softened by a healthy dollop of primary supple red fruit notes. There is enough acidity to keep all of the fruit in place. Given its girth you could expect this to be an alcohol bomb, but it is in fact a well balanced 13.5%. Like a good Cabernet Sauvignon or Shiraz, this wine pairs well with succulent meat dishes and messy bbq. Just be sure to serve it in a large wine glass to best show off all of those decadent fruit aromas and flavours.

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2015 Weingut Klaus Lentsch Amperg Lagrein Riserva - Alto Adige, Italy $ 31.00

Where

The Italian province of Alto Adige/Südtirol is one of the countries most northern wine regions. Officially joined with the rest of Italy in 1919, it was previously part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. Following the defeat of Austro-Hungarian forces in the Great War, the Italian state was awarded the region with the signing of the Treaty of Saint-Germain. Although Italian citizens for nearly 100 years, over two-thirds of the people here speak German. Towered over by the Southern Limestone Alps, the alpine topography sits as high as 10,000 ft above sea level. The summers here are sunny and hot… very hot. In Italy only Sicily gets hotter. 7,398 square kilometres in size, much of the landscape is covered in forests. Vineyard plantings trace north-south, following the path of the Adige river. Although some vineyards are sited on the valley floor, others are sited on the steep mountain slopes. Once a poor region, today this is one of the wealthiest areas in Italy.    

What

Unique to Alto Adige, almost all of its wine production qualifies for DOC (Denominazione di Origine Controllata) status. This is a nod to the high quality of the regions wines. Wineries, mostly co-operatives, are called “Schloss” (the German word for castle). Over half of the wine produced in the region is white (mostly Pinot Grigio and Pinot Blanc). Red wine production focuses on two indigenous varieties: Schiava and Lagrein. While the best Schiava’s are light and strawberry cotton-candy flavoured, the best Lagrein’s are darker with spicy notes. Almost entirely exclusive to Alto Adige, Lagrein is an ancient variety. Relatively unknown outside of northern Italy, there are less than 450 hectares of land planted to Lagrein in Alto Adige.

This 100% Lagrein is made from hand-picked grapes that were fermented in oak barrels for four weeks and aged in tonneaux and large oak barrels for one year.

Who

Klaus Lentsch started off in the business making wine for his well known uncle Alois Lageder. In fact, it was Klaus who created Lageder’s best known red wine, the Lowengang Cabernet. In 2008 he decided it was time to set off on his own, and purchased some premium plots around his estate of Amperghof, and in the much sought after Hemberghof. His vineyards are sited between 400 to 600 meters above sea level on sunny steep terraces. With only 12.5 ha of vines planted on clay and gravelly soils, Klaus is devoted to sustainable farming and non-interventionist wine-making. His production is limited to 72,000 bottles per year.

Taste

Purple garnet in colour, this wine shows some similarities to the Syrah’s of the northern Rhône in France. The dense appearance leads you to expect something heavy and blunt. To the contrary the nose is inviting with aromas of blackberry, plum, cinnamon, and nutmeg. The fresh and lighter than expected palate flaunts flavours of ripe raspberry, cranberry, and a touch of coffee. The acidity is lean and the tannins sweet. A little herbal, the finish snaps with a brush of bitterness. All together, a well balanced wine. Serve this wine slightly chilled in a wide glass alongside a plate of thinly sliced Italian Speck. This dry-cured, lightly smoked ham from Alto Adige is a perfect pairing for rustic Lagrein.