Wine Club October 2018

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October is here. The leaves have fallen and the thermostat periodically dips below zero. Do not despair, for we have assembled an intriguing batch of wines perfect for cool Autumn days. We hope you enjoy them. If you would like additional details about any of the wines, drop us a line. Cheers!

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2016 Agustí Torelló Mata Xic Xarel·lo - Penedès, Spain $21.00

Where

Southwest of the Catalan city of Barcelona is the wine region of Penedès. Sitting in the shadow of Montserrat, this area was at the fringe of Christian Europe in the ninth century. Recognized as a DO in 1960 (Denominación de Origen), its capital is the city of Vilafranca del Penedès. As one would expect, the climate here is reliably Mediterranean, with warm and long growing seasons. Separated into three subregions (Baix Penedès, Penedès Central, and Alt Penedès), the topography ranges from low-coastal to mountainous-inland. The Penedès Central, or Medio Penedes, accounts for the lion's share of grape cultivation.
  

What

Penedès struck paydirt with Cava. First produced in the mid-1800’s, this sparkling wine can be produced in five other regions, but Penedès surely bottles the most. It was Josep Raventos who first recognized that a sparkling wine could be made using “méthode champenoise”, substituting indigenous Penedès varieties for French varietals. The name Cava was introduced as recently as 1970. The trinity of Macabeu, Parellada and Xarel·lo was established as the ideal blend. Macabeo (Viura in Rioja) is a versatile variety noted for its fresh and floral character. Parellada is grown almost exclusively for Cava, and is almost entirely exclusive to Penedès. Xarel·lo, noted as the backbone of Cava, is one of Spain’s finest varieties. Favoured by winemakers for high acidity and thick skins, it is versatile and adept to a variety of soil types. As good without bubbles as it is with, Xarel·lo is often the choice for producers wanting to make still wines. The Agustí Torelló Mata Xic is an example of a still Xarel·lo made from organically grown grapes, from vineyards planted to calcari lime clay soils, situated 200 to 400 m above sea level in a zone known as the Penedès Depression. Vinification is a simple fermentation in stainless steel tanks for 21 days at 16º Celsius, followed by 3 months of lees ageing.   

Who

Agustí Torelló got an early start to winemaking at the ripe old age of 14. Working in his uncle’s cellar, he learned how to craft traditional sparkling wines. A tailor’s son, he would go on to establish his own winery in 1959 in the Cava capital of Sant Sadurni d’Anoia. The estate consists of 35 hectares of vines spread out across the three zones of Penedès. Collaborating with like minded grape growers, the winery works exclusively with indigenous varieties and vines no younger than 30 years old. Counter to Cava’s high production reputation, winemaker Alex Torelló Mata is dedicated to bottling reserva and gran reserva wines.   

Taste

A silvery hue hints at this wines freshness. On the palate you’ll find a good amount of texture and herbaceous. All the better, because the acidity in this wine is jolting. There is a crispness equal to the leanest of Sauvignon Blancs. Flavours of lime, nectarine, and white peach are complimented by a subtle vegetal note. The finish is lip-smackingly dry and reviving. Well suited to vinaigrettes and seafood, a suggested pairing would be chef Yotam Ottolenghi's Blood Orange and Anchovy Salad. A nod to the Mediterranean shores of the Levant, the dish calls for a marriage of salty and citrusy flavours that perfectly mirrors this Xarel·lo.  

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2016 Malivoire Pinot Gris - Niagara Peninsula, Canada $29.00

Where

Located on the southern shores of Lake Ontario, the Niagara Peninsula is Canada’s largest wine region. Bordering New York State, it is the southeastern portion of the Golden Horseshoe (the most densely populated and industrialized area in Canada). Anyone that has endured a Toronto winter might be surprised that grapes can survive Ontario’s frigid winters. The key to the regions viticultural prowess is its unique location between a large body of water and the Niagara Escarpment. A 1050 km long ridge carved by ancient glaciers, the escarpment moderates the climate by blocking cold southwesterly winds. Vines planted on the benchlands below the ridge enjoy hot summers, and cold winters that make it possible to produce the regions most famous wine: icewine.

What

The Niagara Peninsula is the largest source of icewine in the world. The majority of which are made from Riesling or the hybrid varietal Vidal Blanc. No one-trick pony though, Niagara winemakers are making the case that the region's future lies with cool climate grapes, such as Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. Winemakers, like Malivoire Wine Company’s Shiraz Mottiar, have shown that Niagara is just as suited to producing dry wines as it is sweet wines. This estate uses the most up to date equipment and techniques to craft elegant and site specific wines. Investing in the best tools, Mottiar imported stainless steel vessels from Rieger in Germany and oak vats built by Grenier in France. The winery itself was designed as the first gravity fed winery in Ontario. The majority of the estates output is dry white and red wines. The Pinot Gris is made from vines on the Malivoire Estate Vineyard, which were harvested at the start of October. Once crushed and destemmed, the berries were allowed a slight colour imparting 24-hour cold soak. Cool fermentation and clarification occured in tank, and the wine was bottled with 4 grams per litre of residual sugar.

Who

The Malivoire Wine Company was founded by Martin Malivoire, a director of motion picture special effects. After 30 years in the movie business, Malivoire began his foray into the wine industry by purchasing prime vineyard acreage on the Beamsville Bench in 1995. This original plot of land is known as the Moira Vineyard. Today the estate has grown to include 40 hectares of vineyards within the Beamsville Bench, Lincoln Lakeshore, Vinemount Ridge and Twenty Mile Bench subregions. The vineyards are farmed according to eco-friendly practices, in accordance to the guidelines of the Oregon-based “LIVE”, or Low Impact Viticulture and Enology programme. This includes the collection and storage of rainwater and local groundwater, the use of lightweight and efficient machinery, and the promotion of biodiversity within the vineyard.

Taste

Pinot Gris, a pink skinned mutation of Pinot Noir, is known for its highly aromatic and fruit forward characteristics. In the glass, it has a distinctive slight gray-pink hue. Round flavours of meyer lemon, pear, and melon lead the way, followed closely by savoury aromas of clove and beeswax. The slight touch of residual sugar is well balanced by snappy acidity. A lighter style of Pinot Gris, the finish is subtle and grassy. Best served as an aperitif or with lightweight seafood dishes.   

 

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2013 Chayee Bourras Clasico Bonarda - Mendoza, Argentina $22.00

Where

The largest wine region in Argentina, Mendoza covers 150,00 hectares of vineyards planted typically at 900-1500 metres of elevation. Lying at the foot of the Andes Mountains, Mendoza accounts for 70% of all Argentine wine. The majority of this coming from vineyards planted in the regions north, from the subregions of Lujan de Cuyo, Maipu and Uco Valley. Further south, around 200 km away from Mendoza city, is the sub region of San Rafael. This region in contrast accounts for only 22,000 hectares of vines, which is only 15% of Mendoza’s plantings. Situated lower at 500-700 meters and further from the mountains, the climate is semi-arid. The sandy alluvial soils benefit from the presence of nearby rivers that bring reliable irrigation in the form of seasonal snow melt. The Chayee Bourras winery is located at western border of the region in the Cuadros Benegas district   

What

When you think Argentina, you think Malbec. The uncontested star of Mendoza, the region grows over 34,000 hectares of the stuff. This represents 86% of all the Malbec planted in Argentina. Do in part to Malbecs success, the regions other varieties often go unappreciated. For instance, Bonarda is second in terms of overall plantings yet is still much less known. Also called Charbono, Bonarda was originally brought to Argentina from the eastern French alpine vineyards of Savoie. There it is called Douce Noire, which translates to “sweet black”. A late ripening variety, it is notable for high acidity and medium bodied fruitiness. Often used as a blending partner, Bonarda is enjoying more time center stage. The team at Chayee Bourras like it so much that it is the only grape they grow. Their vines are planted to sandy-loamy soils, and lie in the foothills of Sierra Pintada. The Clasico Bonarda is made from grapes that are manually harvested at the start of April, and fermented (partial carbonic fermentation) in 50 hectoliter conical stainless steel tanks for 7 days.

Who

Chayee Bourras is a collaboration between Canadians Gord Ryan and Katrina O’Reilly-Ryan, and the Gomez Bourras family. Gord and Katrina, who live in British Columbia, were originally looking to purchase a vineyard property for themselves in Mendoza, but discovered that the two families had much in common. Together they opened a brand new winery in 2010. Dedicated to producing high quality Bonarda from 50+ year old vines, the winery bottles three different wines: a semi-sweet Rosado, a Clasico, and a Reserva. The wineries labels depict a grey owl dubbed Silver Owl, that has nested in an old palm tree in front of the winery.

Taste

Bright magenta in color, the Chayee Bourras Clasico Bonarda lures you in with concentrated aromatic notes of fresh blueberries, cassis and violets. The fruity, and lightly spiced nose, carries over to a palate that is medium-bodied and lively. Sleek tannins, and a touch of sweetness, lead into a balanced and enjoyable finish. Oak free, this wine displays purity of fruit and unadulterated drinkability. Food pairings are a plenty. Argentina is meat country, so unsurprisingly this wine goes great with grilled pork, beef, and chicken dishes. Thanks to its high acidity and soft tannins, it can also be served with meatier seafood dishes such as grilled salmon.

 

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2015 Château de Montfaucon Les Gardettes Rouge - Rhône, France $22.oo

Where

The Château de Montfaucon lies on the west side of the Rhône river, just opposite to Châteauneuf-du-Pape. Situated in the southern Rhône, the domaine’s 60 hectares are spread across the towns of Montfaucon, Roquemaure and St Genies de Comolas. A warm part of southern France, the average summer temperature is 30 °C. “Gobelet” or bush trained vines planted to pebbly and sandy soils often experience a thrashing wind known as the “Mistral”. A distinctive feature of vineyards in this area are white “pudding stones” or “galets”, which keep the vines cool during the day and radiate heat at night. Although a very dry region, water irrigation is strictly prohibited except for extreme circumstances.

What

The southern Rhône accounts for 95% of all the production of the Rhône Valley. Out of this, over half of the wines are made dominantly from the “Holy Trinity” of Grenache, Syrah, and Mourvedre. This makes the classic “GSM” blend the most widely known wine from southern France. In the case of the Les Gardettes Rouge, the blend omits Mourvedre in favour of Cinsault and Carignan. Named after the two guardian towers of the castle, it is the estates most approachable wine. The fruit comes from sustainable farmed vines that are up to 90 years old and grown on silty-sandy clay soils. In the vineyard natural fertilizers are applied and native grasses allowed to grow. In the cellar, the hand harvested grapes are destemmed and fermented over 8 days. The wine is bottled after 18 months ageing in concrete tanks.

Who

The history of Château de Montfaucon starts in the 11th century with the construction of the castles first tower. Strategically positioned on the Rhône river, the castle was expanded throughout the middle ages. The title of Baron to Montfaucon was given to the owners of the castle by the French king in the 1400s, the Laudun family. It was during the 1500’s that the first wine making facilities appeared. Damaged during the religious wars of the 1600’s, the castle was acquired by Joseph Gabriel de Pertuis in 1766. Passed down through the generations, it was eventually handed over to Rodolphe de Pins in 1995. Pins, a graduate of UC Davis in California, had previously worked for Henschke in Barossa and Vieux Telegraphe in Châteauneuf du Pape. Under his leadership, the estate has purchased more vineyards, including a plot of old Clairette vines aged of 140 years. .

Taste

This is a fruity, youthful, and easy drinking wine. Bright in the glass, the nose leads with notes of candy Nibs, strawberry, and blood orange. A slight meatiness adds aromas of anise and bay leaf. Medium bodied with approachable tannins, the palate pleases with flavours of cherry, mirabelle, and dried herbs. A lighter example of a Rhône red, this wine pairs well with salty dishes such as pork Lechón. A popular dish in Spain, Portugal, and the Caribbean, it is also the national dish of the Philippines. Roasted evenly for several hours over charcoals, its distinctive crunchy deliciousness works up quite the thirst.     

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2016 Pago Casa Gran “Falcata Casa Gran” - València, Spain $29.00

Where

Situated on the east coast of Spain, the region of València is bordered by Catalonia to the north, Aragon and Castilla–La Mancha to the west, and Murcia to the south. Sometimes referred to as the Levant, meaning the “getting up place”, its capital is the city of the same name. Heavily influenced by the Mediterranean Sea, the Denominacion de Origen of Valencia consists of 13,000 hectares of vines, separated into 4 different subregions: Valentino, Alto Turia, Moscatel, and Clariano. Located in the “Les Alcusses” valley, some 90 kilometres southwest of Valencia city, Pago Casa Gran sits 530 meters above sea level. Lying on the northern hillside of La Bastida Mountain, the estates 110 hectares are planted to mostly sandy and clay soils. An ancient land scattered with archaeological remains, this area of València is protected as a cultural landmark

What

The speciality of València is robust, full bodied wines made from thick skinned varieties such as  Garnacha Tintorera and Monastrell. Unique in having pigmented flesh, Garnacha Tintorera is more commonly known as Alicante Bouschet. A crossing of Petit Bouschet and Grenache, the grape was first grown by viticulturist Henri Bouschet. Monastrell, also known as Mourvèdre or Mataro, has been an essential Mediterranean grape for centuries. Indigenous to Spain, it thrives in the warm and dry climates of the Iberian Peninsula. The Falcata Casa Gran brings these two grapes together in a blend with Syrah, using 100% estate fruit from organically farmed vineyards. Viticultarly the estate practices mycorrhization, a technique that helps biodiversity by improving the communication between roots and beneficial fungi in the vineyard. Cover crops are maintained to promote polyculture and enrich the soil. Additionally, vine prunings and pulp remains are scattered among the vines. A flock of sheep feed on the vineyard cover crops and on grape pomace during fall and winter. In the cellar this wine is fermented in stainless steel tanks using indigenous yeasts, and matured for 12 months in new and used French oak barrels. As to the wines name, “Falcata” refers to the ancient Iberian sword that was used to fight the Romans during the 4th century BC. An ancient settlement once stood above where Casa Gran is today. .

Who

Though the history of estate can be traced back 300 years, the most recent cultivation of grapevines was started by Manuela Galbis during the 1960’s. After decades of producing wines at Casa Gran and Venta S. Cristóbal, the Laso Galbis family launched Pago Casa Gran in 2006. Building a new facility on the site of the old winery, owner Carlos Laso moved the estate to organic viticulture. The vineyards are separated into three separate plots: Casa Gran, Casa Benasa, and Altet de la Ampolla. In 2010 the winery received certification from the Delinat Institute of Switzerland, which rejects any form of industrial viticulture and seeks to promote biodiversity within the vineyard. The winery also invested in a flying 20hl tank, or “UFO”, which allows the movement of wine without the need of pumps. In the cellar, only indigenous yeasts are employed.  

Taste

In the glass opaque and deep purple in colour, the Falcata Casa Gran bursts with aromas. “Dialed up to eleven” notes of jammy blackberries and blueberries are flavored with big dollops of vanilla bean, dark chocolate, and baking spice. From the nose, it could be mistaken for a juicy Californian red. The type of wine that stains your teeth purple, on the palate it is packed with flavours of dark berries, cocoa, and sweet tobacco. Tannins that are firm and chewy scream “DECANT ME!” A wine with this kind of gravitas requires a dish equal to the task. Serve with a fatty Rib-eye or T-bone steak, marinated simply with Worcestershire sauce, extra virgin olive oil, salt and rosemary. 

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2015 Luigi Maffini “Kleos” Aglianico - Paestum, Italy $37.50

Where

Located in the southern Campanian subregion of Cilento, Paestum was a major ancient city of Greek settlers in ancient Italy. Drawn to the region for its abundant sunshine and moderate climate, they brought with them their Greco culture and love of wine. Today the site, which dates back to 550 to 450 BC, is famous for having some of the finest preserved Doric temple anywhere in the Mediterranean. A short 12 kilometres away, the team at Cantine Luigi Maffini grow the same grape varieties brought by those early pioneers. At this place the vines enjoy fresh sea breezes from the nearby Tyrrhenian Sea. With organically farmed vines planted at Castellabate and Giungano, the estate represents two distinct terroirs. Castellbate, the more southerly vineyard, lies very close to the shores of the Gulf of Salerno. Giungano, which sits at the entrance of Cilento and close to Paestum, is further inland and higher in elevation (300 and 350 meters above sea level).    

What

Aglianico (pronounced “alli-yawn-nico”) is the great grape of southern Italy. Planted mostly in Campania and Basilicata, it was brought to Italy by those very same Greek settlers that established cities like Paestum. It rose to fame in ancient Rome as the main varietal in the world's first “Grand Cru” wine, Falernian. While no longer grown in Greece, it has come to be considered one of the top three red grapes in Italy. It is particularly known for its firm tannins and long ageability. The Luigi Maffini “Kleos” is made from 100% Aglianico from both the Castellbate and Giungano vineayards. Harvested between late September and early october, the grapes are destemmed and crushed followed by 6 days of maceration in stainless steel tanks. Fermented at 25°C, the wine is matured in 2nd and 3rd use barrels. The name “Kleos” comes from the Greek word for “renown” or “glory”.

Who

Luigi Maffini and his wife Raffaella Gallo are both graduates of the University of Naples. Luigi specialized in Viticulture and Oenology Sciences, while Raffaella specialized in Agricultural Sciences. Although their first vines were planted in the 1970’s, the winery itself began in 1996. Previously only sharing their wines with friends, they set out to bottle wines made solely from indigenous Campanian varietals. Their 12 hectares of vineyards are planted exclusively to Aglianico and Fiano. Their yearly production is a small 40,000 bottles.

Taste

While some Aglianico demands at least 10 years of ageing before drinking, this wine can be enjoyed today with a good decanting or after 5 to 8 years in the cellar. Ruby red in colour with a slight purple hue, the nose expresses aromas of dried cranberry, blackcurrant, cured meat, and tobacco. Full bodied with sturdy tannins, the palate is dominated by flavours of sour dark cherry, brambleberry, and licorice. Well balanced, the finish is lingering and bitter. A wine perfect for sopping up rich flavours, serve it with a rustic beef stew, crunchy bread, and hard cheeses like Grana Padano or good Parmigiano-Reggiano.