Wine Club September 2018

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Summer has come and gone and the kids are headed back to school. To ease everyone back into some cooler weather, we've brought together an interesting batch of wines. From a German Liebfraumilch that turns back the clock, to a Nebbiolo inspired by Thomas Jefferson, these wines will certainly intrigue and delight. As always, do let us know if you have any questions or would like to know more. Enjoy! 

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CVNE Cune Monopole Blanco - Rioja, Spain $19.00

Where

Named after the Rio Oja river, the wine region of Rioja is arguably Spain’s best known wine region. Located in the north of the country, Rioja lies in the shadow of the Cantabrian Mountains. Protected from the extremes of the Atlantic, it was the first region to be awarded DO (Denominación de Origen) status in 1933. Divided into the 3 subregions of Rioja Alta, Rioja Baja, and Rioja Alavesa; the geography ranges from a green north to a hot and dry south. Although the subregion is not often indicated on the label, the wines of Rioja Alta or Rioja Alavesa are generally considered superior.
  

What

The CVNE Cune Monopole is an example of the lesser known white wines of Rioja. Given that 85% of the wine being bottled in Rioja is red, the white wines have been largely overlooked. Typically they are made from the Viura (Macabeo) grape, which grows primarily in northern Spain and just across the Pyrenees in southern France. A versatile variety, it is one of the three grapes used in the production of Cava. Particularly resistant to oxidation, it keeps it’s freshness when matured in oak barrels. For the production of this wine fermentation occurs entirely in stainless steel tanks, presenting Viura’s primary fruit and floral aromas. The grapes came from vineyards in Rioja Alta, where higher altitudes and oceanic influences lend finesse and freshness. 

Who

Compañía Vinícola del Norte de España, or CVNE for short, is one of Rioja’s elder statesmen. Founded in 1879 by the Real de Asúa brothers, the winery is today managed by their descendant, Victor Urrutia Ybarra. Since its founding, CVNE has expanded to include three separate bodegas: Cune, Viña Real, and Contino. Each produce wines distinctive to their respective areas. The original winery in the town of Haro, located in Barrio de la Estación, sits directly across from the railway station that first connected Rioja to the greater European market in the early 1900’s. A unique feature of the winery is the barrel room, the Nave Eiffel, which was designed by Alexandre-Gustave Eiffel. Modern for its time, supporting metal trusses eliminated the need for columns and freed up space.

Taste

In the glass the CVNE Cune Monopole is green/gold in color, with faint aromas of grapefruit, lime peel, and wild herb. Light with crunchy acidity, the palate refreshes with flavours of salty lemon curd and honeydew. A lean style, the finish is decidedly dry. Avoid serving this wine too cold as it’s already subtle qualities will be dampened. Great on its own or with seafood dishes like ceviche or croquetas.  

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Balthasar Ress “Forbidden Pleasure” Liebfraumilch - Rheinhessen, Germany $20.50

Where

The Rheinhessen, the largest wine region in Germany with 26,500 hectares of vineyards, sits in the west of the country on the banks of the Rhine river. Grape cultivation here goes back to the Romans. Sheltered by the Taunus hills, Odenwald, and Hunsrück Mountains, the region enjoys a milder climate than the rest of Germany. The best vineyards are located on the steep west bank of the Rhine, known as the Rheinterrasse. Unlike most other German wine regions, this is a fertile area with rich soil and a variety of crops.

What

Liebfraumilch has brought fame, and infamy, to the Rheinhessen. Translated as “Beloved Lady's Milk”, this semi-sweet style of wine is made in the regions of Rheinhessen, Palatinate, Rheingau and Nahe. The original Liebfraumilch wine was made at the Liebfrauenstift monastery in the city of Worms. It was worlds away from the mass produced Liebfraumilch of post-war Germany. Many will be familiar with bottles of Blue Nun or Black Tower, which parents kept in the shelf above the fridge. Bland and sugary (from added grape juice), it became the emblematic cheap German wine relegated to corner liquor stores around the world. Today there are a few producers who are attempting to redeem this maligned wine. In 2017 the Liebfraumilch Wine Society was founded to repair the style’s battered image. Made from 100% Müller-Thurgau, the “Forbidden Pleasure” Liebfraumilch was fermented in stainless steel tanks to 10.5% alcohol, and has 20 g/l of remaining residual sugar. 

Who

The Ress family's success is intrinsically tied to the town of Hattenheim. For generations a family of butchers, in the late 1800’s Balthasar Ress founded the “Gasthof Ress” inn on the towns main street. As a profitable hotelier-restaurateur, Balthasar produced house wines for his guests enjoyment. By the mid 1900’s the family would purchase additional land and properties, becoming a full fledged wine estate. By 1947 the estate owned 3 hectares of vineyards. Today the estate has grown to 46 hectares of vineyards, and is managed by Christian Ress, a fifth generation winemaker. Pushing the winery towards more sustainable viticulture, Christian has drawn a lot of attention for planting Germany’s most northern vineyards on the island of Sylt, near the border with Denmark.

Taste

This cheeky number invites you to delight in something candied and fruity. On the plate it has flavours of gummy lemons, honey, and turkish delight. The sweet finish is complemented by balanced acidity that livens the senses for another taste. A solid “junk n’ juice” wine, head to the closest 7-Eleven and grab a bag of Fuzzy Peaches and enjoy.       

 

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2016 Domaine de la Denante Mâcon-Davayé Rouge - Burgundy, France $25.50

Where

Domaine de la Denante is a small, 12 hectare estate located in Davayé, one of the famed ‘Villages’ of the Mâcon.  Davayé shares the same ‘terroir’ as Saint-Véran, which encompasses Mâcon-Davayé, and Pouilly-Fuissé, which surrounds Davayé to the south and west.  The soils are calcareous limestone overlaid with fine, silty, sandy loam – ideal for the cultivation of Burgundian varietals.  

What

Red wines in the Mâcon are in the minority.  The area is largely white wine specific, dominated by the hometown hero Chardonnay.  However, there are small amounts of red wine produced in pockets of the Mâconnais, some from Pinot Noir and typically labeled ‘Bourgogne Rouge’, or, in this case, Gamay, and being entitled to a different set of appellation names, including Beaujolais. The decision to classify this wine as Mâcon-Davayé Rouge versus the more familiar Beaujolais is based on the style of the wine that the vigneron Damien Martin seeks.  Instead of doing an intracellular fermentation, or Carbonic Maceration which the norm for Beaujolais, he does a more conventional (or ‘traditional’) red wine fermentation, in which the grapes are crushed, de-stemmed, and macerated on the skins, and then aged in old oak vats.  One of the factors behind this choice was the marvelous quality of the grapes that come from this vineyard – planted in 1930 on a gently rolling limestone outcropping.  These gnarled, surly old vines give small quantities of very flavourful grapes, and Damien says ‘it would be a shame to not let this vineyard sing.  With thermodynamics (carbonic maceration), you can’t hear the song of the site’.

Who

Domaine de la Denante was founded as a winery in 1975 by Robert Martin.  It is named for a small creek that flows across the top of their property and through the village of Davayé. Prior to 1975, the Martin family were farmers, supplying grapes to many noteworthy wineries in the area.  They produce a small range of wines from the area including whites like Mâcon-Villages, Saint-Véran, and Pouilly-Fuissé, and reds such as this Mâcon-Davayé Rouge, and Bourgogne Rouge from Pinot Noir.  The estate has always been farmed organically, and worked largely by hand, assisted by draft horses.  In 2012, Robert’s son Damien took over the estate, elevating the viticulture to include biodynamic practices.  The fermentations remain traditional, using wild yeasts, completed in a mixture of old oak, concrete, and stainless steel.  

Taste

You won’t find any of the bubblegum/banana candy character that occur in carbonic Gamay here – instead you’ll find fine, fruity aromas of black raspberry jam, lapin cherries, and damson plum, supported by spicy notes of black pepper, cinnamon, and a purple flower tone like iris or lilac. On the palate there is fine grip, with bright acidity, powdery tannins, and energetic fruit and spice flavours.  This is a serious, but not too serious Gamay with a little more structure and grip than this grape is typically known for having.  Salami, cured meat, sausages, and hard cheeses (like old cheddar) are wonderful, as is Pâté de Campagne – the traditional pork pâté surrounded by pastry and served with mustard.  For a truly grand experience, try coq au vin, the regional chicken dish – braised chicken in red wine with bacon lardons.

 

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G.D. Vajra Claré J.C. Langhe Nebbiolo - Piedmont, Italy $37.75

Where

The Langhe is an area of rolling hills patchworked with some of the most prestigious vineyards in all of Italy. This is the home of Barolo and Barbaresco, the ‘King’ and ‘Queen’ of Vino Italiano. Located in the region of Piedmont, it lies due south of the town of Alba and the river Tanaro. This all-encompassing zone is used for wines that do not match up with the traditional Piemontese varietal scheme.

What

“It is about as sweet as the silky Madeira, as astringent on the palate as Bordeaux and as brisk as Champagne. It is a pleasing wine.” - A description of Barolo from America’s first wine geek, Thomas Jefferson. Principal author of the Declaration of Independence and the third President of the United States, Jefferson visited Italy for 3 weeks in 1787. Habitually curious, he kept a detailed journal of observations from his travels. Fast forward to today and the style of wine that he described has been forgotten by most. The G.D. Vajra Claré J.C. Langhe Nebbiolo is a tribute to this lost wine. Wine merchant and historian Darrell Corti approached winemaker Giuseppe Vajra with the idea of bringing the style back. Armed with an original recipe written by Gian Battista Croce in 1606, they were able to hop in their time-machine and reanimate the lost style. The recipe called for 25% whole cluster Nebbiolo grapes from younger vines to be placed at the bottom of a fermentation vat, then topped with crushed juice. After 5 days the wine is moved into a closed tank to finish fermentation off the skins.

Who

The GD Vajra estate can be found in the highest village in the Barolo zone, Vergne. Created in 1972, the winery takes its name from Giuseppe Domenico Vajra. The family have been tending vines since the 1920’s. Today the 40 hectare estate is managed by Aldo and Milena. Although the line is blurred these days, the winery is considered “traditional”. The Barolo’s are macerated for 20 to 30 days, and matured in old Slavonian oak “botti” barrels. They have vineyard holdings in the communes of Fossati, Coste de Vergne and La Volta. Their prized plot in Bricco delle Viole was planted by Aldo’s father in 1947.

Taste

Best served slightly chilled, the Claré J.C. combines a touch of sweetness, a subtle spritz, and tart acidity. Scarlet red in color, it exhibits the classic Nebiolo aromas of sour cherry, rose, and anise spice. The palate is a delicious interplay of “sweet and sour”, with flavours of wild berries and licorice. Succulent yet complex. Indulge yourself and serve alongside the classic Duck a l'Orange. 

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Bench 1775 Groove Red Blend - Okanagan Valley, Canada $23.50

Where

Located just below the 50th parallel, the Okanagan is one of the most northerly wine regions in the world. One of the five growing regions in British Columbia, it accounts for 4 out of 5 bottles of wine produced in the province. Today there are 3500+ hectares under vine. Running 210 kilometres from north to south, the valley sits between the Columbia and the Cascade Mountains. Protected by a rain shadow, and moderated by Lake Okanagan, the region enjoys long daylight hours during the growing season that are punctuated by cool nights. The continental climate is known for long absences of rain. The most southern part of the valley is designated as semi-desert. 

What

Many varieties are grown in the Okanagan Valley. In fact no grape accounts singularly for more than 10% of plantings. For red wines, Pinot Noir and Bordeaux blends lead the way. The lighter skinned Pinot Noir tends to fair better in the regions center and cooler north, while thicker skinned Bordeaux varieties such as Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot appreciate the regions center and warmer south. In general, the best fruit comes from vineyards planted on the high benchlands on both sides of the valley. The Bench 1775 Groove Red Blend brings together a little bit of everything that the Okanagan has to offer. It is a blend of grapes from Oxbow Vineyard: 42% Merlot, 20% Cabernet Sauvignon, 12% Cabernet Franc, 11% Pinot Noir, 8% Syrah, and 7% Malbec. Ageing occurs in stainless steel tanks.

Who

This winery get it’s name from its address, 1775 Naramata Road. Situated on the famed Naramata Bench, the estate produces wines from 3 locations in the southern and central Okanagan Valley: Oxbow Vineyard, Paradise Ranch Vineyard, and Soaring Eagle Vineyard. Oenologist Val Tait has particular insight into the health of vines as she was originally educated in molecular genetics and plant biochemistry with a speciality in viruses. After studying winemaking at UC Davis, she worked with wineries like Poplar Grove, Painted Rock, and Mission Hill. Joining Bench 1775 in 2013, Tait focuses on “small lots of premium-quality wines” with the help of Bordeaux consultant winemaker Alain Sutre. She also makes ice-wines and late-harvest wines under the Paradise Range Wines label. 

Taste

This is the kind of wine that you take a chewy bite out of. Black cherry in color, it offers grilled flavours of plum, blackberry, and red meat. Savoury tannins grab onto the palate and linger around for a good while. The spicy finish is dusted à la Salt Bae with hits of montreal smoked spice and black pepper. Robust and mouthfilling, this bottle calls for grilled bison steaks, Brazilian bbq, or crumbly mature parmesan.  

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Trois Maisons Rouge - Bordeaux, France $23.50

Where

At the far eastern edge of Bordeaux is the Castillon district. The wines from this area, previously labelled as Côtes de Castillon, have been labelled as Côtes de Bordeaux Castillon since 2009. The appellation was created to bring together the different côtes of Bordeaux under a single label. Due east of St. Emilion, it is the most recognized satellite appellation of the “Right Bank”. The best vineyards are situated on a plateau where the soils are predominantly limestone and clay. Centered in the riverside town of Castillon-la-Bataille, the terroir is very similar to St. Emilion but cooler.    

What

With a reputation for bold, supple, and complex wines; the vineyards of Côtes de Bordeaux Castillon have attracted some of the regions top winemakers. The list includes some well known names from St. Emilion, such as Gérard Perse of Chateau Pavie, Stephan von Neipperg of Canon La Gaffeliere and Gérard Bécot of Château Beau-Séjour Bécot. The most planted varieties are Merlot and Cabernet Franc, with a small amount of Cabernet Sauvignon. Techniques such as green harvesting, leaf plucking, micro-oxygenation, and lees stirring are now commonly practiced. An example of classic “Right Bank” Bordeaux, the Trois Maisons is a blend of 85% Merlot, 11% Cabernet Sauvignon, and 4% Cabernet Franc. Certified organic by Ecocert, it was matured in stainless steel and has no added sulphites. The label depicts the 18th century French bailiff Cadet Rousselle and his 3 houses.

Who

Château Jean Faux was purchased by Pascal Callotte in 2002. Callotte had worked for Tonnellerie Saury, a producer of wine barrels and casks. His consultant winemaker is Stéphane Derenoncourt, who has worked for prestigious Bordeaux estates such as Domaine de Chevalier, Clos Fourtet, Clos de l'Oratoire, Smith Haut Lafitte, and in California for Francis Ford Coppola’s Rubicon Estate Winery. After buying Château Jean Faux, they immediately set out to fully renovate the winery and its vineyards, which are now fully organic. The Trois Maisons label is part of Callotte’s négociant business. The grapes are purchased from a grower whose organically farmed vineyards are 7 kilometres from the estate.

Taste

Bright vermillion in color, the Trois Maisons is medium-full in body with fruit forward aromas, ripe flavors, and soft tannins. A wine that can hold in the cellar for 4-5 years, the palate offers notes of myrobalan, cassis and violet. A great introduction to Bordeaux’s approachable side, and a reminder why we should drink more Merlot. Consider pairing it with fatty shish kebab or black pepper steaks.