Wine Club September 2019

03158BDC-D0DF-400E-BA7C-88F304F345AD-2496-000001ECDB7477C8.jpg

Hello everyone and welcome to the September edition of Vine Arts Wine Club. Although we must bid Summer adieu, we’re looking forward to a busy Autumn. There are lots of great wines on the way! We hope you enjoy this month’s selections. If you have any questions or would like additional details about the wines, please let us know. Cheers!

altopiano.jpg

2017 Cantine Spadafora Altopiano Bianco - Calabria, Italy $22.50

Where

The most southern chunk of mainland Italy, Calabria is the “toe” of the Italian boot. Jutting out into the Ionian and Tyrrhenian Seas, it is bordered to the north by the province of Basilicata. Known as "the land between two seas", Calabria boasts 500 miles of largely pristine coastline. Much of the interior is mountainous and undeveloped. Although the region has a total of 12 designated wine zones, vineyard plantings are sparse. Most of the arable agricultural land is planted to cereals, citrus, and olive trees. Most of the wine areas are located near the coast, where temperatures are searingly hot for much of the year.
  

What

The Altopiano Bianco is a rare example of a Calabrian white wine. Over 90% of the regions wines are red. Most of which are made from the Gaglioppo grape. This wine is made from 100% Greco Bianco from Terre di Consenza. Created in 2011, this zone covers much of the middle of Calabria. Greco Bianco is typically associated with dessert wines. Distinct from Campania’s own Greco variety (ie.Greco di Tufo), it is thought to be identical to Malvasia di Lipari, which is grown on the Aeolian island of Lipari.

Hand harvested from hillside vineyards around Donnici, the grapes were fermented and rested in stainless steel tanks for 6 months prior to bottling.

Who

Founded in 1915 by Ippolito Spadafora, Cantine Spadafora is a fourth generation winery in Terre di Cosenza. The family produce wines made exclusively from grapes harvested from vineyards located in the upper valley of the Cari River. Up until 1968 these grapes were sold in bulk. At this time Domenico Spadafora started to focus on estate bottled wines. Today his son Ippolito continues to use traditional techniques, manually farming to maintain ecological biodiversity in the vineyard.

Taste

Pale yellow green in the glass, this wine shows tropical aromas of citrus fruit, pineapple, green-melon and white blossoms. The zesty palate has crisp acidity and slight persisting astringency. Best served well chilled around 8-10 °C, it is a great aperitif or seafood wine. A solid match with simple fried calamari that has been hit with some fresh squeezed lemon juice.

f majeure.jpg

2018 Mother Rock Wines Force Majeure Semillon - Swartland, South Africa $25.75

Written By Erik Mercier, owner of Juice Imports

Where

North of Cape Town lies the Swartland, a nearly barren region surrounded by mountains to the north and east, and the ocean to the west. The climate here is hot and dry, so the best vineyards are planted in gullies on the sparse decrepit mountains that dot the otherwise flat region. Because of the viticultural challenges here, a collective of extremely young ambitious winemakers has emerged. Land in more popular regions like Stellenbosch or Hemmel-en-Arde is much more expensive making this the only viable option for upstarts. Soils are mostly decomposed granite thanks to the extremely weathered mountains bordering the area.

What

This wine is made from a single vineyard planted in 1997 on Paardeberg Mountain at the Southern end of Swartland. It is dry-farmed, and Johan has worked to convert it to organic viticulture. Most of the grapes were direct pressed into stainless steel after a quick pre-fermentation oxidation of the juice. The rest was fermented on skins as whole-clusters for two weeks. I small portion of the wine was aged in 300L barrel to add complexity. It is bottled unfined and unfiltered.

Who

Johan Meyer (aka Stompy) is the winemaker and proprietor of Mother Rock. After hearing incredible things about his project from friends in Montreal and Auckland I was eager to taste. With his wife he has now planted a couple acres of vineyard on a crazy mountain in the middle of the Swartland. The rest of the fruit comes from thoughtful farmers around the region. He is quickly gaining both local and international accolades despite his youth and wineries limited production. He'll be one to watch for many years to come.

Taste

This wine is a slightly cloudy lemon-green in the glass. The nose is immediately refreshing with aromas of fresh cut grass, asian pears, eucalyptus, gooseberry, matcha, and guava. The palate is expansive considering its light alcohol; it is equal parts tangy and supple. You’ll find further flavours of aloe, chayote, green apple, fresh linen, and kiwi. It feels like an elixir. This wine is the perfect foil for green foods. Grilled zucchini, endive salad, fresh green figs with goat cheese. If you felt like adding some protein to the list I’d opt for crustaceans; shrimp in particular, spattered with a mild but herbaceous salsa verde sounds just about right.

 

nogara.jpg

2018 Casaretti “La Nogara” Bardolino Classico - Veneto, Italy $21.00

Where

This wine comes from the Classico zone of Bardolino in northeastern Italy. Located on the eastern shores of Lake Garda in the province of Veneto, the Bardolino DOC was created in 1968. Like in Chianti, Bardolino expanded its overall footprint during the 1960’s and 70’s. This growth led to a subsequent drop in overall wine quality. In order to “right the ship” a Classico zone was delineated to recognize better sites, including the towns of Bardolino, Affi, Cavaion, Costermano, Garda, and Lazise.

What

The “La Nogara” Bardolino Classico is made from grapes manually harvested from an organically farmed 1 hectare vineyard of 60 year old, traditional pergola trained vines. “Nogara” is the local term for a type of nut tree that is common to the area. The blend is composed of 70% Corvina, 25% Rondinella, and 5% Sangiovese. Utilizing a pied du cuve (a technique to start a fermentation using only the yeasts that are naturally occurring on the skin of the grapes), the grapes were fermented by variety for ten days in stainless steel tanks. To better draw out color and complexity, the wine was regularly pumped out of the tank and back over the “cap” of grape skins (this is known as délestage). The wine was then left to rest in tank for 6 months prior to bottling.

Who

Created in 1911 near the town of Lazise, Casaretti is one of the oldest wineries in Bardolino Classico. Managed by Giammaria and Stefano (great-grandsons of the original owner) since 2010, the estate includes 13 hectares of vineyards planted to morainic glacial soils. The area enjoys a particularly cool microclimate that benefits from large swings in temperature from day to night. The nearby Dolomite mountain range brings cool breezes during the summer, and shields the vineyards from frigid temperatures during the winter. The “Nogara” vineyard, the estates oldest site, was first planted back in 1847.

Taste

This charming light red wine is refreshing and uncomplicated. Bright ruby red in color, the nose conjures thoughts of just picked raspberries, intact with stalks and fragrant greenery. That slightly “green” character adds an herbaceousness to the nose. The light bodied palate has soft tannins, crunchy acidity, and a raspy finish. Served slightly chilled, it is an adaptable pairing wine that goes well with antipasti and white meats.

 

mittnacht p noir.jpg

2017 Domaine Mittnacht Frères Pinot Noir - ALSACE, France $29.50

Written by Alex Good, owner of Spur Imports

Where

Alsace. In the northeast corner of France, sandwiched between the Vosges Mountains and the Rhine River (and Germany’s border), is one of the world’s great areas for food and wine. Alsace cuisine, like Alsace wine, is unique and special, a sort of culinary mishmash between France and Germany. The same goes for the wines – a mixture of grapes of French, German, and Swiss origins are made in a decidedly gastronomical way. It represents a weird dichotomy of culture – the Alsatians are not really German, nor French for that matter; they are, for a lack of better description, Alsatian. Alsace has been part of both France and Germany various times thanks to wars throughout history. The villages have a distinctly Germanic range of names, such as Hunawihr, Pfaffenheim, and Steinbach. The architecture is Germanic, with timbered-framed houses with tile roofs and shutters on every window – very pied piper. It is unquestionably one of the world’s most beautiful wine regions – and most beautiful places.

What

Pinot Noir. The well-travelled red grape of Burgundy made a short journey to north eastern France several centuries ago on its way into Germany and beyond. Although Alsace has traditionally been a heavily white wine region, documents from the middle ages state that Alsace Pinot Noir was the most prized wine of the area. Alsace Pinot Noir is made in a variety of styles, from sparkling, to rosé, to pale and light reds, up to more structured, serious reds that have some aging capacity. Despite that Pinot Noir is the only red varietal grown in Alsace, it only accounts for 10% of the vineyard area, but is trending upward, as demand for the genre has increased considerably. In contrast to Burgundy, Alsace Pinot Noir is inevitably lighter most of the time, but offers authentic Pinot Noir character, and can be exceptional value for money, especially from a great grower.

Who

Christophe Mittnacht. Speaking of great growers, this branch of the Mittnacht family (there are many in the wine industry in Alsace who share this surname) has for several decades been pioneers of biodynamics in Alsace. Christophe is not only one of the greatest grape growers in the region, he is also celebrated as a winemaker – he represents a bygone era of Alsace with his style. He harvests balanced fruit, avoiding excess alcohol and residual sugar, creating crisp, dry, floral, elegant wines that are decidedly ‘old school’. Despite the classical styling of his wines, he is thought to be one of the most forward-thinking wine growers in Alsace. His wife Yuka is a celebrated chef who cooks to her Japanese heritage. His brother is also a chef who owns a restaurant in their village that serves exceptional, very authentic Alsace cuisine.

Taste

In the glass you’ll find a wine with a pale raspberry colour. The nose unveils a seriously elegant set of aromatics that are a fine combination of earthy, fruity, and spicy. Tangy red raspberries, red currant, strawberry, and pink plum are backed by an earthy nod of wet stone and dried cedar, with notes of cinnamon and clove joining for complexity. The palate is soft and supple, with round, svelte tannins and energetic acidity holding together the red berry and spice nuances that replay on the palate.

Alsatian cuisine is one of the most celebrated in the world. If you are wanting to try a traditional dish with this wine, the famous Flammekueche, or tarte flambée, made from thinly rolled bread dough, caramelized onions, bacon lardons, and crème fraiche – a sort of Teutonic pizza. Fleischschnackas is another option – an egg pasta stuffed with meat, eggs, and parsley, rolled, cut, and served with a little bit of broth and a small salad. If you are feeling like a less traditional pairing, this wine is excellent with Moroccan cuisine, such as lamb tagine, or feathered game such as pheasant. Served slightly chilled with cold cuts and mustard would also be quite ideal.

substance.jpg

2017 Cellier des Chartreux Substance - Gard IGP, France $20.50

Where

The Gard IGP is a relatively new regional title for wines coming from the Gard department in southern France. Created in 2009, the region takes its name from the Gardon river (which is famously spanned by the Pont du Gard, a picturesque Roman aqueduct that was built in the 1st century AD.) Centred around the town of Nîmes, it extends as far east as Avignon, and as far north as the Cévennes mountains. To the west it is bordered by the Grands Causses and the immediate area surrounding the city of Montpellier. To the south, the Mediterranean Sea brings cooling winds. The region enjoys a hot climate with dry summers and autumn rainfall.

What

As in the neighbouring southern Rhône, Grenache, Syrah, Carignan or Mourvedre are widely planted in the region. Those looking for an alternative to Bordeaux will be happy to know that Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot are also commonly found. The benefit of the IGP title, the European wide equivalent of Vin de Pays (“wine of the land”), is that it gives winemakers a longer leash for artistic expression. With such a favorable climate, the Gard IGP is a great source for well priced wine made from classic southern French grape varieties.

The Cellier des Chartreux Substance is a blend of Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon from vineyards planted to clay, limestone, and stony soils. To best mitigate the effects of the hot climate, the grapes underwent flash détente. With this technique the winemaker heats the grapes to about 180° F and then puts them into a vacuum chamber to be cooled. During this cooling time, the skin cells become weaker, making it easier to extract anthocyanins and flavor compounds. Used in southern France since the early 90’s, the method is a strong tool for winemakers in hot wine regions.

Who

Located close to the Papal city of Avignon in Pujaut, Cellier des Chartreux is a wine cooperative that was formed in 1929. Formerly a swampy area known as the Étang de Pujaut, it was drained by Carthusian monks in 1612. The exposed white limestone soil was ideal for agriculture. With 750 hectares of vineyards, the cooperative has access to grapes from multiple appellations, including Tavel, Lirac, Saint-Gervais Villages, Côtes du Rhône, and Gard. The winery has been managed by Christophe Novara for 14 years.

Taste

Purplish maroon in the glass, the Substance offers aromas of ripe red fruits and faint chocolate spice. Generous on the palate, it has flavours of red currants, ripe plum, and bay leaf. The round tannic structure is moutfilling and savoury. It is more “New World” than your traditional Bordeaux blend. This wine is ready to go and requires no additional time in bottle to develop. It is affable enough to be served without food, but will happily go with most barbecued meats.

caliza.jpg

2017 Casa Los Frailes Caliza - Valencia, Spain $29.00

Where

Casa Los Frailes is located in a charming valley in the southeastern region of Valencia. Known as the “land of Alforins”, it is hemmed in by two mountain ranges, and is within 50 km of the Mediterranean Sea. To the west of the valley lies the immense plains of the Spanish plateau. Located from 650 to 700 meters above sea level, the region experiences hot and dry summers, which are punctuated by mild winters. With little rainfall, 2600 hours of yearly sunshine, and cool temperatures at night, it is a prototypical region for grape growing.

What

The Caliza (meaning “limestone”) is made from Monastrell grapes from 40 year old vines. Also known as Mourvedre or Mataro, this grape variety has small berries with thick dark skins which give deep colour and firm tannins. Alongside this wine, Casa Los Frailes produce three distinct single-vineyard wines that highlight different soil types. The Caliza is made from hand harvested grapes from the “La parada de tordos” (“Thrush stop”) vineyard. The wine was fermented and aged for 10 months in 18th century concrete tanks and clay amphoras, using natural yeasts, light battonages, minimum amounts of sulphites, and light filtration.

Who

Gleaning its name from the Jesuit Friar Order that owned the estate from the 16th to the 18th century, Casa Los Frailes has been owned by the Velázquez family for 13 generations. Altogether they have 162 hectares of land, of which 130 hectares are planted to the vine. The remainder is planted to olive trees, almond trees, and forest. The vineyards have been organically certified since 2002. The poor limestone soils are dry farmed according to the lunar calendar without the use of any pesticides, chemicals or herbicides. Thanks to the introduction of sheep, chickens, and bees, the vineyards are rich in biodiversity. In the cellar the family still use the clay pots and concrete tanks that were built by the Jesuit Friars.

Taste

This is one vivacious red wine. Luminous scarlet in colour, on the nose it shows abundant aromas of juicy red and black fruits. The palate is full bodied and a touch piquant with flavours of cherry jam, fleshy plums, and blueberries. Finishing dry with firm tannins, it admirably balances its 14.5 degrees of alcohol. We suggest pairing this wine with smoked grilled meats and aged firm cheeses.