Wine Club July 2018

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Welcome to our July edition of our Vine Arts Wine Club. We've got some great picks for you this month including a litre of rosé in an unusual bottle, our first ever wine from Bulgaria, and more! We hope you enjoy and Happy Canada Day.

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Fento Wines "Bico da Ran" Albariño - Rias Baixas, Spain $25.00

Where

Galicia is often referred to as “Green Spain”. Occupying the northwestern corner of the Iberian Peninsula, the region is deeply influenced by the Atlantic Ocean. It’s landscape is characterized by lush rolling hills and a coastline that’s been carved by lashing waves and billowing winds. This is one of the wettest regions in Spain. In total, Galicia will receive on average 50 inches of rain every year. Luckily for grape growers, it will also receive on average 2000 hours of sunshine a year as well. Of the 5 DO zones (recognized wine regions), the most famous is Rías Baixas.  Created in 1988 and pronounced ““rhee-yus by-shus”, it’s name derives from the coastal inlets (or rías) common to the area. Only a stones throw from the Atlantic, vineyards are strongly influenced by cooling ocean mists. There are 5 recognized subzones (Val do Salnés, Condado do Tea, O Rosal, Soutomaior and Ribera do Ulla), which will sometimes appear on wine labels.   

What

With a cool and damp climate, Rias Baixas is known for the production of crisp white wines. Sandy granitic soils lend minerality to the regions aromatic wines. The overwhelmingly dominant variety is Albariño, which must comprise at least 70% of any blend labelled as Rias Baixas. Indigenous to the Iberian Peninsula, it is grown in both Spain and Portugal, where it is known as Alvarinho. Albariño, which has high amounts of terpene and thiol compounds, is distinctive for its aromatic intensity. When planted especially close to the ocean, Albariño vines are trained high above the ground using a granite post and wire trellis system. Grape clusters, which are susceptible to disease from too much moisture, are kept dry from the wind. This is particularly useful in the Val do Salnés, the oldest and wettest sub-region in Rias Baixas. This is where the grapes are grown for the Fento "Bico da Ran" Albariño. The 15 to 25 year old vines, situated at 50 to 150 meters above the ocean, are all hand harvested. 

Who

Fento Wines, created in 2012, is the newest project from Eulogio Pomares. Fento is the Galician name for the common fern native to the region. As viticulturist and winemaker at his families winery Zarate, Pomares cut his teeth with the region's top producer. With Fento Wines, he has looked beyond borders to make wine from vineyards in Portugal’s Dão region. Collaborating with small growers, he focuses on Albariño and other local varieties like Treixadura and Loureiro blanco. Although not fully organic, he doesn’t use any synthetic fertilizers or insecticides. Instances of mildew or rot are treated with natural plant-based products.

Taste

If Sauvignon Blanc and Viognier got together, Albariño would be their kid. Intensely aromatic, this wine shows aromas of ripe honeydew, kiwi, peach, and salty lemon. Light in body with mouth-watering acidity, it finishes with a subtle bitter note. Very refreshing stuff! Toss a bottle on ice and serve with a plate of fish tacos.
 

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Forty Ounce Wines Rosé - Loire Valley, France $30.00

Where

Known as the “Garden of France”, the Loire River Valley is as picturesque as it gets. Noble renaissance châteaux, atmospheric medieval villages, and vineyards close to the banks of Europe's longest wild river; what else could you ask for. Vast in size, the valley is broken down into the three smaller areas of Lower Loire, Middle Loire, and Upper Loire. Stretching 280 kilometres, the region experiences a range of climatic influences. A maritime climate close to the Atlantic Ocean slowly gives way to a decidedly more continental climate further inland. Overall the weather is fairly temperate and cool, punctuated by hot summers. Rain and frost is a perpetual threat. 

What

Winemaking in the Loire Valley covers a multitude of styles. Sauvignon Blanc from Sancerre and Chenin Blanc from Vouvray may come first to mind. Rosé production is significant. The majority comes from the area of Anjou in the Middle Loire. These wines are made from Cabernet Franc or Grolleau grapes. They are most often dry and easy drinking. The Forty Ounce Wines Rosé is a different kind of beast. A more complex blend includes 35% Gamay, 33% Merlot, 10% Cabernet Franc, 12% Grolleau, 5% Pineau d’Aunis, and 2% Pinot Gris sourced from sustainably farmed vineyards in Muscadet and Touraine. Soil types range from gneiss in Muscadet to flinty clay in Touraine. The wine undergoes slow fermentation at low temperature, cold debourbage (settling of the wine), full malolactic fermentation, and short ageing on lees. 

Who

Forty Ounce Wines is a partnership between New York sommelier Patrick Cappiello and Loire Valley winemaker Julien Braud. The tale goes that Cappiello, the mastermind behind wine bars Rebelle and Pearl & Ash, serendipitously spotted a 1 litre jug of Muscadet whilst visiting Braud’s winery. Cappiello knew that Muscadet, a light white wine made from Melon de Bourgogne, is the ideal porch-pounder. It just needed less formal packaging. In a stroke of genius he thought of the noble 40 ounce bottle of malt liquor. As Cappiello says “I was raised in a lower-middle class neighborhood outside of Rochester, surrounded by skateboarding and hip-hop and punk rock. Forties were always a big part of that scene.” Bingo! It was an immediate success. Building on the success of the Muscadet, the lineup has grown to include a white blend, rosé, and red wine.

Taste

Light coral pink in color, this rosé has fleshy flavours of iced strawberries, grapefruit zest, and watermelon. Subtle vegetal notes sit just below the surface. The finish is decidedly dry and crisp. Toss this one in the cooler for your next camping trip.
 

 

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Edoardo Miroglio Soli Pinot Noir - Thracian Valley, Bulgaria $23.50

Where

Bordered by Romania, Serbia, Macedonia, Greece, and Turkey, Bulgaria is an ancient country with an ancient winemaking tradition. Situated on the west coast of the Black Sea, Bulgaria enjoys four clearly distinct seasons with an average yearly temperature of 14.7°C. In terms of viticulture, the country is divided into 2 distinct regions; the Danube Plain and the Thracian Lowland. 75% of Bulgarian vineyards are located in the latter. With up to 2,500 hours of sunlight a year (similar to Southern France) and around 60,000 hectares of vineyards, Bulgaria is positioned to be a major player in the wine world.

What

The wine culture in Bulgaria is older than the nation itself. So why haven’t we heard more about Bulgarian wines? Following a socialist revolution in 1944, bringing the country into the Russian sphere of influence, most Bulgarian wines were sold within the Soviet Union. Large cooperatives satiated the demands of customers in Moscow, but further afield the wines remained unknown. With the fall of the regime in 1989, things changed. After some bumpy first years of privatization, things have really taken off. Winemakers already had a leg up in a few regards. One, recognizable varieties like Chardonnay, Merlot, and Cabernet Sauvignon were planted on mass during the early 1900’s. Two, yields are lower than average, making higher quality more attainable. This puts them right up there with any winemaking region. For instance, the Edoardo Miroglio Soli Pinot Noir is the Bulgarian equivalent of village-level Burgundy. The grapes for this wine come from 16 year old vines planted in maroon-forest soils. Maturation occurs for 8-12 months in a combination of 30% French oak barriques and botti, plus 70% stainless steel.

Who

Edoardo Miroglio, an Italian who started in textile manufacturing, was fascinated by the thought of making wine in Bulgaria. He set out to find a place similar to France’s great winemaking region of Burgundy. He found it in the small region of Elonovo, in Bulgaria’s Eastern Thracian Valley. The area is unique in a that it is equally suited to both red and white varieties. The winery was officially founded in 2002. Enlisting a talented team of Italian and Bulgarian oenologists, he would go on to plant 220 hectares of vineyards of French and Bulgarian grape varieties. Of particular interest to Edoardo was the indigenous variety Mavrud, a grape similar to the noble Italian variety Nebbiolo. Today, Italian winemaker Marco Monchiero oversees a thoroughly modern operation.

Taste

With a slight brickish hue, this wine looks like old-school Burgundy. A quick sniff and you can pick up those distinctive Pinot aromas of plump cherries and sandalwood. Earthy notes of tobacco and mushrooms, juxtapose with flavours of fresh picked strawberries and clove. The finish is light with gentle tannins and acidity. An inspired pairing would be serving this wine with a hearty lamb pilaf, a dish, that like Bulgaria, has influences from both Europe and Asia. 
 

 

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Aroa ‘Le Naturel’ - Navarra, Spain $23.00

Where

Every July tens of thousands flock to the northern Spanish city of Pamplona. They’re drawn to the terrific spectacle of enormous bulls stampeding through narrow streets, hot on the heels of terrified runners. The capital city of Navarre, Pamplona holds the famous Running of the Bulls over 9 days during the festival of Sanfermines. If not for this event, Navarre would be fairly unknown outside of Spain. Lying just south of the Pyrenees Mountains with a close proximity to the Bay of Biscay, the region enjoys a warm mediterranean climate with some maritime and continental influences. In terms of winemaking, Navarre’s single DO (recognized wine area) includes almost the entire southern half of the region. A total of 12,000 hectares of vineyards are spread over the five subregions of Tierra Estella, Valdizarbe, Baja Montaña, Ribera Alta and Ribera Baja.    

What

Like most of Europe, Navarra had to replant its vineyards during the early 1900’s. The region selected a large cross section of Spanish and international varieties, such as Tempranillo, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Merlot. Resultingly, a single Navarra style is hard to define. The Aroa ‘Le Naturel’ would certainly be the modern face of the region. It is made from 95% Grenache and 5% Merlot, from vines that have never been treated with synthetic chemical products. The vineyard, planted on organically farmed calcareous clay soils, sits close to the Urbasa and Andía mountains. The fruit is manually harvested typically in the middle of October. At the winery the grapes are hand sorted, and then undergo a short maceration of only 5 days with minimal intervention. As stated on the label, no additional sulfites are added. 

Who

Located in the Yeri valley in the heart of the Tierra Estella, Aroa Bodegas is an organic/biodynamic winery that works with vineyards situated in the highest parts of the Navarra DO. The winery is part of the Vintae wine company, which is helmed by brothers Ricardo and José Miguel Arambarri. Beginning with their small family winery in Rioja, the brothers have expanded to 12 wine ranges made at 3 different wineries. They partner with over 40 different growers to obtain to best possible grapes. In Ricardo’s words - “We wanted to make exciting wines for a broader audience. Our philosophy is that Vintae is a new way of seeing the wine industry. Our aim is to do exciting projects, in some unknown regions, with unknown grape varieties, making authentic wines from all over Spain.” The brothers have a particular love of Grenache. Through their different projects they have done a lot to better understand and elevate this underestimated variety.

Taste

This wine is all about freshness. Glowing cerise in color, one could confuse it for Beaujolais. On the nose you pick up youthful aromas of licorice and fresh cut violets. The palate is light and refreshing with flavours of cherry and cardamom. With such short time spent on skins, the body has very delicate tannins and structure. The finish seems to point to a lower alcohol percentage than it’s 14% indicates. Grenache pairs well with so many dishes thanks to its purity of fruit and flavour. It’s particularly adept at pairing with spicy dishes, which can be trouble for so many other red varietals. Try chilling this wine down a touch and pairing it with a spicy Moroccan kefta tagine. This excellent play on flavours mirrors sweet and spicy in both food and wine.
 

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Michele Chiarlo Le Orme Barbera d’Asti - Piedmont, Italy $21.00

Where

Asti is found in the northwestern Italian region of Piedmont. A recognizable name, Asti refers to a town, a province, and a wine. The region is surrounded by giants. To the northern and western borders loom the peaks of the western Alps. To the south, the Apennine Mountains rise up from the coast. If not for these geographical features, Piedmont would not be the giant that it is. The mountains have the dual benefit of shielding the region from heavy rainfall and introducing a beneficial fog cover that rolls through the hills and valleys. Although Piedmontese summers are hot, winters can be very harsh and cold.

What

Asti is most recognizable for the production of the easy drinking sweet wine Moscato d'Asti. Inexpensive offerings have unfortunately given the style a lowly reputation. When made well, this wine can offer great complexity and depth. Barbera d'Asti, is a red wine produced from Barbera grapes from the hilly vineyards of Asti. The “d” indicates “from”. For example, there is Barbera from Alba, as well as Barbera from Asti. The style was first awarded DOC status (controlled designation of origin) in 1970, and was elevated to DOCG status in 2008. Under the rules, a wine labelled Barbera d’Asti must contain at least 90% Barbera grapes. The remaining balance can include Freisa, Grignolino or Dolcetto grapes. The Michele Chiarlo “Le Orme” is made from 100% Barbera. The grapes are sourced from the vineyards of La Court, La Serra, Montemareto, and Costa delle Monache. The wine is fermented in steel tanks for 10 days on skins, and aged 16 months prior to release.

Who
Michele Chiarlo founded his winery in 1956. From the beginning he has overseen every step of the winemaking process at his estate in Calamandrana Asti. Born into a family of grape growers going back 5 generations, he can remember when things weren't so great in the region. During the 50’s Piedmont was largely unrecognized and impoverished. After some tough decades, it would eventually become Italy’s most prestigious DOCG. Distinctly Michele chooses to farm Barbera vines in some of his best vineyards. Unlike Nebbiolo, the grape of Barolo, Barbera makes wines that are meant for everyday drinking. Today with the help of his son Stefano Chiarlo and winemaker Gianni Meleni, Michele produces wines in 4 different areas (Barolo, Barbaresco, Asti and Gavi) from 4 different varietals (Nebbiolo, Barbera, Cortese and Moscato).

Taste

Barbera is the middle child of Piedmont, stylistically sitting somewhere between Nebbiolo and Dolcetto. It is the people’s wine, always ready for a good time. Deep in color, this wine displays aromas of blackberry, dark cherry, and licorice. From its hue and aromas you would expect this wine to be full bodied. On the contrary, on the palate it is surprisingly smooth and fruity with refreshingly bright acidity. A touch of spice and cola add to the fruit driven profile. When it comes to pairing, this wine matches well with most meaty dishes.
 

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Domaine Ledogar La Mariole - Corbières, France $28.00

Where

The region of Corbières covers roughly 57 square kilometres south of Narbonne in the southwest of France. Part of the Languedoc-Roussillon, the terrain varies from mountain foothills to low-lying plains close to the Mediterranean. Nearly ¼ of all the vineyards in France are planted here. The landscape, known as garrigue, is dominated by large swathes of dry scrubland on limestone soils. The largest AOC in the region, Corbières swelters during summers where temperatures can often reach 43C. The best vineyards are located on hills, where winds from the Mediterranean Sea cool things down. Given its size, the region is further broken down into 11 specific terroirs. 

What

Corbières produces 50% of the wines made in the Languedoc-Roussillon. 95% of that is red wine. The majority will be made from Grenache Noir, Mourvèdre and Syrah. Any wine labelled as Corbières must be a blend of at least 50% of these varietals. Winemakers looking for less restrictive guidelines can choose to label their wine as IGP Aude. This geographic category, which covers most of Mediterranean France, lends winemakers greater creative license. This is the case with La Mariole, ("the fool" or "the smart-ass"). This wine is a blend of 50% Carignan and 50% Marselan, a crossing of Grenache & Cabernet Sauvignon typical to the area. The 100+ year old vines, planted on clay-limestone soils, are farmed sustainably with organic and biodynamic principles. Spontaneous fermentation with native yeasts is followed by ageing in clay eggs and neutral barrels. This wine gets almost zero additional sulphur and zero filtering or fining.

Who

Xavier Ledogar started working the vines at his family's estate close to the village of Ferrals-les-Corbières at the tender age of 12. In 1997 he became the fourth generation of his family to take up the reins of winemaker. Right away, he started producing wine rather than selling grapes. He also changed the name of the winery from Domaine Grand Lauze to Domaine Ledogar. In 2004 he was joined by his brother Mathieu. They quickly converted the vineyards over to organic and biodynamic viticulture. The winery was certified by Ecocert in 2006. Using horses to plough and donkeys to control weeds, the brothers are protective custodians of the estates 22 hectares of vines. Of these, the oldest were planted in 1901!

Taste

Well deserving of the vins de soif (“wine for thirst”) moniker, La Mariole is a thoroughly chuggable wine. Brightly coloured, the nose is alive with aromas of berries and herbs. A touch of vin nature wildness and minerality extends to the palate. The body is light and refreshing with fine rustic tannins. Certainly a wine best served slightly chilled.