Hello everyone, we’re back with a new edition of Vine Arts Wine Club. Your wine bags will be available for pickup from both locations Tuesday, September 1st. If you’ve chosen home delivery, you will receive your wines on Thursday, September 3rd. If you have any questions or would like to know more about the wines, please let us know. Cheers!
2018 CELLER COOPERATIU DE GANDESA GANDESOLA BLANCO
TERRA ALTA, SPAIN $17.36
Officially created in 1985, the Catalonian wine region of Terra Alta is one of Spain’s up and coming wine regions. Laying southwest of Barcelona and bordering the appellation of Tarragona, it is the highest area in Catalonia. Its tallest peaks rise up to 950 meters above sea level. The name Terra Alta itself comes from the Catalan words for “high land”. The climate is a mix of Mediterranean and Continental. Very hot and dry during the summer, the region experiences very cold winters by Spanish standards. For much of the year temperatures are moderated by El Cierzo, a drying wind that originates in the Ebro Valley.
The Gandesola Blanco is made from a blend of Garnatxa Blanca, Macabeo, and Moscatel. The most commonly planted variety in Terra Alta, Garnatxa Blanca, aka Grenache Blanc, is a mutation of red Grenache. Thought to have originated in Spain, it eventually crossed the Pyrenees and into southern France. Today it is well known as a key variety in the Châteauneuf-du-Pape blend. Resistant to drought, it does especially well in windy and arid wine regions. Macabeo is one of Spain’s most prolific white varieties, and is known in Rioja as Viura. Not as commonly planted, Moscatel, aka Muscat, is one of the oldest and most cultivated grape varieties in the world.
To retain freshness, the Gandesola Blanco was fermented in stainless steel tanks for 20 days at 16 degrees celsius.
Celler Cooperatiu de Gandesa was founded in 1919 in the Catalonian town of Gandesa by a group of local grape growers. The winery itself was commissioned by Modernista architect Cèsar Martinell, a disciple of Antoni Gaudí, and is today regarded as one of the Seven Wonders of Catalonia. Although it saw some damage during the brutal Spanish civil war, including the loss of ceramic details created by Joan Nogués, the winery has changed little in 100 years. In order to modernize, in 2000 the constituents built an adjoining structure with modern equipment. The cooperative has grown to include 453 members, who own a combined total of 1,000 hectares of vineyards.
A wine for hot summer days by the pool. Straw yellow in the glass, this refreshing white wine expresses a lovely bouquet of fresh squeezed lemons, citrus blossoms, pears, and green almonds. Light in body with bracing acidity, the palate is driven by citrus flavours and lean minerality. The finish is dry with a nice touch of spice. Best served well chilled, the Gandesola Blanco is an excellent match for fresh seafood dishes such as ceviche or baja fish tacos.
2016 CHÂTEAU LAULERIE JUSTE CIEL SEMILLON
BERGERAC, FRANCE $27.68
A fraction of the size of neighboring Bordeaux, the wine region of Bergerac is often overlooked by outsiders. Taking its name from a city in the Dordogne département, this inland region is connected to the rest of souwestern France by the meandering Dordoge river. While Bordeaux enjoys an aristocratic image, Bergerac is more humble and middle-class. This is not a region of grand châteaux and luxury cars. Altogether there are 12,000 hectares of vineyards planted to predominantly clay limestone soils. Situated further from the Atalantic than Bordeaux, Bergerac has hotter summers and colder winters.
Bergerac is considered a “Bordeaux look-alike”, meaning that the wines are made with the same grape varieties. A predominantly red wine region, the most planted varieties are Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, and Malbec. Grapes ripen later in Bergerac than in Bordeaux, so the wines tend to have a more rustic quality.
As with Bordeaux Blanc, white Bergerac is mostly made from Semillon or Sauvignon Blanc. Muscadelle, Ondenc, Chenin Blanc and Ugni Blanc are permitted in lesser amounts. Labelled as Bergerac Sec, the wines are most often light bodied with crisp acidity. The Château Laulerie Juste Ciel is made from 100% Sémillon harvested from vines planted to clay-limestone soil. Vinified cool in 50-HL oak barrels, the wine spent 10 months ageing sur lie to draw out at savoury texture.
Château Laulerie is located in the sub appellation of Montravel in the western section of Bergerac. Centering around the village of Lamothe-Montravel, this is one of the most prized areas in the region. The estate is owned by the Dubard family, who additionally own three more wineries on the right bank of the Dordogne river – Château Vieux Barrail, La Croix Romane and Château Nardou. Starting with Château Laulerie, which spans 85 hectares, Vignobles Dubard was created in 1977 by two brothers and a sister. Passed down to a new generation, the estate’s are today managed by Gregory and Marine Dubard.
Luminous yellow gold in colour, this Semillon has a lovely richness on the nose. Primary aromas of pears, chamomile, and beeswax are complemented by savoury notes of tarte tatin, baking spice, and pastry crust. The nose intensifies even more as the wine opens in the glass. Medium bodied with racy acidity, the palate is dry with spicy bitterness on the finish. It is a luscious and complex wine best served not too cold. Skip the wine chiller and give the bottle 15 minutes out of the fridge before pouring a glass. This is a wine that pairs well with richly intense flavours and cream sauces. A great match for chicken carbonara.
2019 DAMIEN COQUELET BEAUJOLAIS-VILLAGES
BEAUJOLAIS, FRANCE $34.39
Based in the small town of Vermont, Damein Coquelet works with 9 hectares of vines in the region of Beaujolais. The holdings are broken down into 1 hectare of Beaujolais, 2 hectares of Beaujolais-Villages, 2 hectares of Chiroubles, and 4 hectares of Morgon Côte-du-Py. Of these, Damien owns 2.5 hectares and leases the rest. His vines in the famed Côte-du-Py were gifted to him by the mayor of Morgon. The grapes for his Beaujolais Villages come from vineyards in the northern part of the region. Made up of 38 villages, this area has granitic soil and rolling topography. Considered superior to basic Beaujolais, it stretches from the southern tip of the Mâconnais to Villefranche-sur-Saône. The vines are planted on southeast facing slopes, and are warmed by dry “foehn” winds that come from the northern slopes of the Alps.
The Beaujolais region has become synonymous with the grape Gamay. Benefiting from a continental climate with a long growing season, Beaujolais has the ideal qualities for the cultivation of Gamay vines. First arriving in the region in the 14th century, it was originally considered a poor variety. It was in fact outlawed in neighbouring Burgundy by a ruling class that described it as “disloyal”. Exiled by Philip the Bold, Duke of Burgundy, it found its home on the granitic hills of Beuajolais. Interestingly enough there is actually a premier cru in Burgundy known as Sur Gamay, where Gamay cannot be planted. In exile Gamay eventually found its stride. Launched to the world by negociants such as Georges Duboeuf, today it is small growers like Damien Coquelet who are causing a stir.
The Damien Coquelet Beaujolais-Villages is made from 100% Gamay grapes harvested from vineyards around the Côte de Brouilly. In order to supplement his own grapes, Damien purchases some fruit from friend and natural winemaker Nicolas Chemarin, who has some excellent old vines in the hills in Marchampt. The wine was made traditionally with little intervention.
Damien Coquelet got his start in the winemaking business at the ripe old age of 10 years old. As the step-son of Georges Descombes, he was tutored by one of Beajolais’ most prominent winemaker’s. At the age of only 20 he created his own winemaking business. Like his step-father, Damien has followed a natural path in the vineyard and cellar (he still shares a cellar with Georges). He farms his vines according to organic principles, hand harvests his grapes, employs indegenous yeasts for fermentation, and uses very little sulphur when bottling.
This is a lovely old fashioned example of Beaujolais Villages. Violet red in the glass, it expresses exuberant aromas of tart raspberries, wild red currants, rose petals, and wet earth. On the palate it is light bodied with fine grained tannins and refreshing acidity. The finish is persistent with a touch of woodsy rusticity. Best served with a slight chill, this wine will pair with a wide range of dishes. Low in tannin with high acidity, it’s one of those few red wines that can go with both seafood and red meat.
2018 DOMAINE DU CROS CUVEE LO SANG DEL PAIS
MARCILLAC, FRANCE $25.06
You will not find Marcillac on the itinerary of many French wine region tours. This little known wine appellation is located within the Aveyron department at the foot of the rugged Causses plateaus of the Massif Central. It is one of the smallest wine regions in France. The vine was introduced to Marcillac by the monks of Conques in the 8th century. Situated near the start of the Camino de Santiago, it was once a favourite stopping point for pilgrims heading to the cathedral of Santiago de Compostela in Galicia in northwestern Spain. At its zenith, Marcillac had around 4,000 hectares of vines. Today only 215 hectares of vines and a dozen grape growers remain. The terraced vineyards are located on steep slopes that have iron-rich limestone clay soil, known locally as les rougiers. Influenced by the Atlantic, the Mediterranean, and the Massif Central, Marcillac has a transitional climate with mostly long and dry summers.
The amazing thing about southwestern France is that there are many unique grape varieties that you can discover. One such grape is Fer Servadou. Known in Marcillac as Mansois, the variety is thought to have originated in the Basque region of the Iberian Peninsula. Vineyards of Fer were hit hard by the blight of Phylloxera in the late 1800’s, so little Fer Servadou vines remain today. A rustic variety, it produces wines that are medium bodied with firm tannins.
The Cuvée Lo Sang del Païs is made from 100% Mansois grapes that were hand harvested from 25 year old vines. After being destemmed the grapes were fed into stainless steel tanks by gravity flow. Fermented for 21 days, the wine was aged for 6 months in large oak and chestnut barrels. The oldest barrels are up to 200 years old.
Located near the village of Clairvaux, Domaine du Cros is owned by Phillipe and Julien Teulier. The largest independent producer in Marcillac, the winery has been an important part of the region’s resurgence in the past decade. For most of its history the estate consisted of only a single hectare of vines. The grapes harvested would produce a meagre 4000 bottles each year. Passed down through 4 generations of grape growers, the vineyard area was expanded in 1982. By purchasing and renting old vines, the domaine was able to grow to 30 hectares of vineyards. In addition to plantings of Fer Servadou, Phillipe and Julien also grow small amounts of Muscat à Petits Grains and Muscadelle, which is known locally as Issal.
Tasted blind, this wine could easily be mistaken for high quality Northern Rhône Syrah. A tip off about the wine’s character is in the translation of the name. The name ‘Fer’ takes its origin from the Latin word ‘ferus’, meaning ‘wild’ or ‘savage’. Garnet red in colour, on the nose it expresses savoury aromas of wild black berries, liquorice, cassis, and black pepper. Medium bodied, the palate is charmingly rustic with lean and sinewy tannins. The finish is dry with lingering minerality. It is a wine best enjoyed with traditional brasserie fare like steak-frites served with wild herb béarnaise butter.
2018 BRUNA GRIMALDI SAN MARTINO DOLCETTO D’ALBA
PIEDMONT, ITALY $26.70
The small Azienda Bruna Grimaldi estate is located in the hills that link Grinzane Cavour to Serralunga d’Alba in Italy’s Langhe wine appellation. One of the most important areas in Piedmont, the vineyards of the Serralunga Valley are prized by the region’s greatest winemakers. Vineyards here are planted to soils composed of sand and limestone. The grapes harvested from these sites produce wines of greater intensity which require more substantial ageing after being bottled. The winery’s most special vineyard, Badarina, is found at the southern tip of Serralunga and has been farmed by Grimaldi’s for generations. The winery also has old vines in Grinzane Cavour (which is where the winery itself is located), Roddi, Diano d’Alba, and La Morra. Altogether there are 15 hectares of land planted to vine.
Dolcetto is one of the three key grape varieties in Piedmont. The other two are Nebbiolo and Barbera. The name of the grape means “little sweet one”, a reference to the grapes low acidity. In general Dolcetto produces fruitier wines that are more approachable than the stern wines made from Nebbiolo. Not to be underestimated though, Dolcetto can still pack some impressive tannins.
The San Martino Dolcetto d’Alba is produced from grapes harvested from vines planted in the Badirina vineyard. Although most of this site is planted to Nebbiolo, there are small pockets of Dolcetto and Barbera. Located between 200 and 300 meters above sea level, the exposure of the vineyard is to the south and south east. After being hand harvested, the grapes were destemmed and fermented at low temperatures. Following malolactic fermentation and fining in 70 year old concrete vats, the wine was bottled near the end of the Spring.
The story of this estate begins in 1957 with Giacomo Grimaldi, who did not bottle his own wines but rather sold his grapes. During the 1960’s, Giacomo’s brother Giovanni started producing wine and selling it in bulk. The best vintages were bottled at the estate. Giovanni’s care and attention in the vineyard built a strong foundation for Bruna Grimaldi and her husband Franco Fiorino, who took management of the winery in the 1990’s. Building on this, they built a new winery and purchased additional plots of vines. Since 2013 they have been joined by their son and daughter Simone and Martina. Farming sustainably without pesticides or insecticides, everything in the vineyard is done by hand. The winery itself is powered by renewable energy.
Combining bright fruit with fine tannic structure, the Bruna Grimaldi San Martino Dolcetto d’Alba is a very pleasing wine. Purple-ruby in the glass, it expresses energetic notes of raspberries, blackberries, and anise. Medium bodied, the palate is round with slight bitterness on the finish. In a region known for wines that can age decades, Dolcetto is the everyday option that requires no additional time in the cellar. Which is why a bottle of Dolcetto is a common part of the Piedmontese lunch. Complex but not fussy, it’s a great match for typical Langhe dishes such as Carne Cruda (thinly sliced steak tartare) or Brasato al Barolo (beef braised in red wine).
2018 CHÂTEAU LA DOURNIE SHEBAM!
SAINT CHINIAN, FRANCE $30.64
Château la Dournie is located in the Languedoc wine appellation of Saint-Chinian. Officially created in 1982, this region was first planted to vine as early as the 8th century. It is named after the village of Saint-Chinian, which is nestled 33 km from the Mediterranean coast in the foothills of the Cévennes. Sitting between the broad coastal plains of the Languedoc and the southern end of the Massif Central, elevations range from 100 to 200 meters above sea level. The highest quality vineyards are located at higher elevations, where the poorer soils are mostly loose schist. The Mediterranean climate brings long, hot summers and moderate winters. Altogether Saint-Chinian has 3,100 hectares of vines.
As in most of the Languedoc, the traditional GSM blend (Grenache, Syrah, and Mourvèdre) is common in Saint-Chinian. Wines made from grapes harvested from the higher elevation vineyards tend to be finer than the fuller bodied wines made from grapes harvested from lower vineyards with clay and limestone soils. The general style of the appellation favours generosity of fruit and intensity, backed up with spice and minerality.
The SHEBAM! is made from a blend of 90% Grenache and 10% Syrah harvested from 50 years year old vines planted on schist soil. Vinified in stainless steel tanks, the wine was aged for 12 months in a combination of steel and oak casks. The name of the wine is derived from the lyrics of the song “Comic Strip”, which was written and performed by Serge Gainsbourg and Brigitte Bardot.
Château la Dournie has been owned by the Étienne family for 6 generations. The winery itself has been in the family since 1870. Today managed by Véronique Étienne, the estate spans 45 hectares of vineyards planted to 14 different grape varieties. 20 hectares of the vines are located on schist slopes, while the remaining 25 hectares are located on the edge of the Le Vernazobre river where the soil is alluvial. Farming the vines according to organic principles, in the cellar Véronique takes a traditional and minimalist approach.
As you would guess by the name, the SHEBAM! packs a lot of punch and flavour intensity. Purplish red in the glass, the nose is ladened with lavish aromas of sweet bing cherries, ripe plums, lavender, and cracked black pepper. Medium bodied with smooth tannins, the palate is round with a fruity finish. It is a great match for rich and hearty cassoulet or simple charcuterie.