Wine Club November 2018

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We’re back with the November edition of Vine Arts Wine Club. We have some delicious bottles picked out for you, including some tiny production wines exclusive to Vine Arts. If you would like any additional details, drop us a line and we’ll get back to you ASAP. Cheers!

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2014 Astrolabe Wines Province Pinot Gris - Marlborough, New Zealand $22.00

Where

Few regions have seen such an atmospheric rise into the collective consciousness of wine drinkers as Marlborough. Located on the northern tip of the South Island, Marlborough has a generally cool climate with reliably warm days and cool nights moderated by sea breezes. Combined low autumn rains, free draining alluvial soils, and many sunny days, have led to massive growth in plantings since the 1970’s. Within the valley there are three recognized subregions: the Wairau Valley, Southern Valleys and the Awatere Valley. The Wairau Valley, home to the regions main center of Blenheim, accounts for 45% of Marlborough's vineyards.
  

What

It wouldn’t be an overstatement to describe Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc as a phenomenon. Exploding onto the scene in the 1980’s, Sauvignon Blanc would go on to account for 79% of Marlborough vineyard plantings and 87% of overall production. Although demand has cooled, Sauvignon Blanc is by far still the matriarch of Marlborough. With only 6% of overall plantings, Pinot Gris isn’t about to make a move for the crown. Rounder and everybit as refreshing as Sauvignon Blanc, this feisty Alsatian-inspired variety continues to fly under the radar. For the Astrolabe Province Pinot Gris, grapes are sourced from all three Marlborough subregions. Harvested at night to preserve freshness and whole-cluster pressed, the wine is fermented to dryness and matured entirely in stainless steel tanks.   

Who

Named after a ship that charted the Marlborough Coast in 1827, Astrolabe Wines is the personal project of winemaker Simon Waghorn and his wife, Jane. The couple launched the winery in 1996 together with some friends that were interested in starting their own label. All aspects of their production is certified under the Sustainable Winegrowing New Zealand programme. Grapes are sourced from sites in Marlborough and organized into three different appellation based categories: Province, Valley and Vineyard. Their own vineyard is situated in the lower Wairau Valley in Grovetown.  

Taste

Light straw in colour, the Province Pinot Gris displays aromas of ripe pear, fresh squeezed lime, almond, and lemongrass. Light bodied with crisp acidity, the palate is dominated by notes of green apple and stone-fruit. A saline finish shows a touch of bitter ginger. When serving this wine, give it a moment out of the fridge to warm a bit to better bring out aromas and flavors. Well paired with seafood and salads, it would also go well with Thai Lemongrass and Coconut Curry.

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2018 BK Petillant Naturel Chardonnay - Adelaide Hills, Australia $30.00

Where

BK Wines is located in the Australian region of Adelaide Hills. Part of the Mount Lofty Ranges region of South Australia, it is one of the largest and oldest wine making areas in the state. The capital of the region is the coastal city of Adelaide. With elevations ranging from 400-650m, the climate is generally cool with many isolated microclimates. Cooler than the Barossa Valley, the region is known for picturesque rolling hills dotted with country farms and sheep covered meadows. Of the close to 18,000 hectares of land planted to vine, the dominating varieties are cool climate favouring grapes such as Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, and Pinot Gris.

What

Pétillant-Naturel is the oldest of the old-school sparkling wines. Pét-Nat for short, this method employs a single fermentation to obtain bubbles, rather than the two fermentations required for Méthode Champenoise. Likely this first happened by chance and was little understood by those that discovered it many centuries ago. The essential idea is that a wine, mid-ferment and still producing carbon dioxide, is put in a sealed container that does not allow the effervescence to escape. The resulting carbonated wine has fewer atmospheres of pressure than Prosecco or Champagne. Informal and unpretentious, this method has proven popular with non-interventionist winemakers such as Brendon Keys. For The BK Petillant Naturel he uses 100% whole bunches of Basket Range Chardonnay, which he ferments to near dryness in concrete “egg”, and then transfers the still fermenting wine to bottle where the fermentation finishes underneath crown cap.

Who

Brendon Keys is considered one of Australia's leading natural winemakers. Once a chef in his native New Zealand, he relocated to South Australia after a stint winemaking in Argentina and years travelling the globe. Starting small, he produced his first two barrels of Pinot Noir in 2007. Collaborating with like minded grape growers who farm sustainably, Brendons’ approach in the winery is to be as hands off as possible. At the vanguard of what is considered “modern” Australia, his wines show a keen interest in experimentation and stand in stark contrast to the Aussie fruit bombs of the 1990’s.

Taste

The 2018 release of the BK Petillant Naturel Chardonnay shows greater finesse and minerality than previous vintages. Pale yellow gold in color with frothy bubbles, there is a touch of sediment that is typical of the style. The nose shows aromas of lime zest and Italian lemon biscuit. A touch rustic on the palate with a creamy mouthfeel, the plate finishes dry and chalky. Crisp and bright, it shows flavours of tart green apple and lemon curd. This is the perfect aperitif to kick off a meal and stir up an appetite.   

 

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2017 Château Tour des Gendres La Vigne d’Albert - Bergerac, France $25.50

Where

Although Bergerac lies just east of Bordeaux, it has long been considered the boondocks of southwest France. Landlocked and lacking a port of its own, Bergerac has historically been sidelined by the wine merchants in Bordeaux. Hilly and picturesque, the region lies within the southern half of the Dordogne department. Popular with British tourists, the region played a pivotal role during the Hundred Years War when it was under English control. The generally maritime climate sees hotter summers and colder winters than its coastal neighbours. Soil types vary from limestone soils to sandy, gravelly clay soils known as boulbènes. Altogether the region has 12,000 hectares of vines, with 13 Appellations d'origine contrôlées.   

What

This wine is a distinctive blend of Périgord, Abouriou, Merlot, Cabernets (Franc and Sauvignon), Côt (Malbec), and Fer Servadou. Some of these varieties are traditional to the southwest of France. Périgord, also known as Mérille, is a thick skinned variety not commonly used in Bergerac. Abouriou is an early ripening variety low in acidity and high in tannin, and is curiously known in California as Early Burgundy. Fer Servadou is most notably grown in the Marcillac AOC, a region known for rustic red wines. Using grapes from organically and biodynamically farmed vines planted in the 1960’s, the La Vigne d’Albert is an homage to winemaker Guillaume de Conti’s grandfather. Once harvested, the grapes are destemmed and put directly into vats with indigenous yeasts. Collectively macerating for 20 days, the grapes take 10 days to fully ferment any residual sugar. Aged on lees without the addition of sulphur in stainless-steel vats and amphoras, the wine is bottled without filtration.

Who

Château Tour des Gendres is a centuries old stronghold that sits on the banks of the Dordogne River. Managed by the de Conti family since the 1920’s, the first vineyards were planted in 1986 by Luc de Conti and his brother, Jean. 49 hectares of vines are separated into three separate parcels with distinctive soil types: Les Gendres, Le Grand Caillou, and Saint Julien. A highly respected producer in Bergerac, they were early adopters of organic methods. Luc states that “I wanted to restore a natural balance. I felt that I would be able to produce wines with more character…I wanted to be able to look beyond the immediate future and ensure my family and myself had a better way of life. With organic farming, we’ve discovered a lot about Mother Nature’s inbuilt mechanisms, become aware of the fact that we are simply part of a whole, unique and indivisible. Not a day goes by that we don’t observe the benefits of organic farming on our vines, our wines and our environment.”

Taste

The La Vigne d’Albert is the combination of both fruity and feral character. Deep mulberry in color, the nose offers primary aromatic notes of brambleberry, raspberry, lavender, and green pepper. Medium bodied with ripe red fruit flavours, it has brisk acidity and easy going tannins. A touch rustic, you are reminded that this is indeed a “natural” wine. When it comes to food pairings, the cuisine of the Dordogne offers excellent options. The region is famous for its duck, so a plate of Magrets de Canard (duck breast) or Gigot d'agneau (leg of lamb) would certainly please.

 

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2016 M El Maset - Côtes Catalanes, France $22.00

Where

The IGP (Indication Géographique Protégée) of Côtes Catalanes is a southwesterly zone within the Pyrénees Orientales department of France. It was created in 2003 by merging the two former VdP areas Coteaux des Fenouillèdes and Vals d'Agly. Situated on the border with northeastern Spain, this area is known for garrigue-covered hills and a hot, dry Mediterranean climate. Less wild than the rest of the Languedoc, it gets on average 320 days of sunshine yearly. Vineyards are typically planted on east facing slopes that are cooled by refreshing sea breezes from the Mediterranean. The nearby Pyrenees bring welcome respite from scorching temperatures with nighttime cooling winds that come down from the snow capped mountains.

What

The prototypical Côtes Catalanes red is robust, full bodied, and full of flavour. A classic example of this style, the M El Maset is a cuvée of Syrah, Grenache, Mourvèdre, Carignan, and Cabernet Sauvignon. The grapes were harvested from vineyards in the Têt Valley to the west of Perpignan and maritime vineyards close to the sea. Dominated by the Pic du Canigou (a section of the Pyrenees), the Têt Valley is a picturesque area with lush valley meadows, gorges, and mountain slopes. Vine age ranges from 30 years for the Syrah, to 70 years for the Carignan and Grenache. Separated by variety, the grapes are macerated for one week prior to fermentation. The Cabernet Sauvignon and Mourvèdre are fermented at 27 degrees in open-top fermenters to draw out rounder qualities. The other grapes are fermented at 19 degrees, with partial carbonic maceration for the Syrah to add lift to the blend. Ageing occurs partially in French oak barrels for 3 months.

Who

Born in Perpignan, Jean-Marc Lafage has established himself as a renowned consulting winemaker. In addition to farming 160 hectares of vines close to Perpignan with his wife Elaine, he also consults for wineries in Chile, Australia, South Africa, New Zealand, France, Italy and Spain. Their vineyards in the Côtes Catalanes represent different aspects of the region and allow the couple to produce a broad range of wine styles. They have the benefit in having a high percentage of vines that are over 50 years old. Brought up during the 1970’s, Jean-Marc worked the vines with his father without mechanization. Still harvesting fruit by hand, in the cellar his approach is uncomplicated, preferred to utilize stainless steel tanks, concrete vats, and French oak demi-muids..

Taste

Deep violet red in color, this wine has an intensely fruity nose with aromas of black currant jam, and wild flowers. Rich and full bodied, the mouth-filling palate is awash in flavours of black cherry pie filling and blackberry compote. Ripe tannins are complemented by good acidity and a luscious finish. Expressive and ample, the fruitiness of this wine avoids being gooey or cooked. Consider pairing this with flavourful Braised Mole Beef Tacos. A tasty combination of sweet, savoury, spicy, chocolatey, and meaty flavours.    

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2016 Clos du Soleil Béton - Similkameen Valley, Canada $35.00

Where

Named by enRoute Magazine as “one of the world’s 5 best wine regions you’ve never heard of”, The Similkameen Valley is Canada’s up and coming wine region. Lying to the east of the Okanagan Valley, the valley runs for 90 km north of the town of Tulameen. Sitting close to the the USA, the vineyards are concentrated south of the town of Keremeos and the border. Similar to the southern Okanagan, the Similkameen has a semi-desert climate. Sitting in the shadow of the Cascade Mountains, the region enjoys a dry growing season. Unlike the Okanagan which has a moderating lake influence, the Similkameen is colder during the winter. Vineyards are buffeted by strong winds that shoot up the narrow valley, keeping grapes reliably dry and disease free. These conditions make it possible for 40% of all crops to be grown organically in the Similkameen.

What

Clos du Soleil was founded in 2007 by four partners with the idea of crafting classic “Old World” style wines. With plantings of Bordeaux varietals, the winery produces only 4500 cases of wine each year. Thanks to the temperate climate of the Similkameen, the estate practices both organic and biodynamic methods in the vineyard. Given their attention to classic Bordeaux methods, barrel ageing is usually employed. When it came to to the 2016 Béton cuvee, they took a different approach to élevage (the process of developing and maturing a wine). A blend of Merlot and Cabernet Franc, ageing occurs entirely in concrete tanks. Concrete “breathes” more than stainless steel, but doesn’t “flavour” the wine as oak barrels do. Adding texture, fruit qualities remain fresh and bright. Fermentation occurs with indigenous yeasts and minimal amounts of sulphur. A limited release, this wine is sold almost entirely through the wineries mailing list.

Who

Michael Clark is the managing director and winemaker at Clos du Soleil Winery. Joining the winery in 2012, Michael became a winemaker after a career as an investment banker. After studying oenology at UC Davis in California and working at wineries in Bordeaux and Switzerland, he relocated to the Similkameen Valley. At the beginning he was aided by consulting winemaker Ann Sperling. Starting with 4 hectares, the estate recently grew to 6.5 hectares with the purchase of an adjacent vineyard to the property. In the cellar, Clarks techniques are hands off and non interventionist.  

Taste

Purple red in the glass, the Béton displays the purity and minerality of Similkameen terroir. Aromas of preserved blackberry, blackcurrant, and plum are complimented by a touch of clove. The palate is plush and slightly medicinal with flavours of Cherry Halls and berry jam. The tannins are fine grained and affable. The finish is fruity and mouth watering. Pairings are pretty easy with this cuvee. In particular the sweet and salty deliciousness of Korean BBQ would be a good way to go. Be careful of anything too spicy though.

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2016 Rivera Rupicolo Castel del Monte - Puglia, Italy $18.00

Where

The DOC (Denominazione di Origine Controllata) of Castel del Monte sits in the upper half of the Italian region of Puglia. The ‘heel’ and ‘calf of the ‘boot’, Puglia, or Apulia, is the most southeastern Italian region. Bordered by the Adriatic Sea, the Ionian Sea, and the Strait of Otranto and Gulf of Taranto; it has the longest coastline of any Italian region. First colonized by Mycenaean Greeks, the area still has strong connections with it’s Greco-Roman past. With 300 sunny days each year and mid-summer afternoon temperatures regularly surpassing 40C in some areas, the climate is intensely Mediterranean. The name Puglia itself derives from the latin phrase ‘a pluvia’, meaning 'without rain'. Castel del Monte, or ‘castle on the hill’, takes its name from a 13th century fortress that sits on a hill at the center of the region.    

What

The typical Castel del Monte cuvee centers around the dark skinned variety Nero di Troia. Named after the town of Troia, reputably founded by Diomedes after the destruction of ancient Troy, this Puglian variety is known for well balanced sugars/acids and low yields. Producing large clusters of thick-skinned berries, it accounts for over ⅓ of all wine production in the region. For the Rivera Rupicolo, 40% Nero di Troia is blended with 10% Cabernet Sauvignon and 50% other indigenous varieties. The grapes are sourced from vineyards situated 200 metres above sea level, planted to deep tufaceous and calcareous soils. Harvested between the first week in September for the Cabernet Sauvignon, to the first week in October for the Nero di Troia, the grapes are macerated and fermented in stainless steel tanks. Malolactic fermentation and ageing occurs in epoxy-lined concrete vats for 9 months.

Who

Founded by Sebastiano de Corato in the late 1940’s, Azienda Vinicola Rivera has set the bar for wines from Castel del Monte. Now into the third generation of the family to make wine, represented by Carlo de Corato and his sons Sebastiano and Marco, Rivera farms 75 hectares of vines according to sustainable principles. Their vineyards are planted at high densities per hectare, representing two different terroirs. The Rivera, Torre di Bocca and Coppa parcels are planted at 200-230 metres with deep tufa-limestone soils. The Lama di Corvo vineyard, planted to rocky soils at 350 metres, overlooks the Adriatic Sea and the Gargano massif. Taming the regions fierce sunshine, the winery uses solar panels to meet 70% of its energy needs.

Taste

The Rupicolo is an approachable and less austere style of Castel del Monte. Garnet red in the glass, it displays earthy aromas of violet, wild red berry, and marjoram spice. Medium bodied, the palate expresses the harsh terroir of Puglia with flavours of dried cranberry, date, and sour cherry. With firm tannins, it has some good grip on the finish. We would suggest pairing this wine with rustic soups, gamey meats, and charcuterie. The traditional Puglian dish Orecchiette con pomodoro e ricotta dura (orecchiette pasta with ricotta and tomato), is deceptively simple and well matched with this wine.