Hello everyone! The November edition of Vine Arts Wine Club is here! Your 6-pack will be ready for pickup Sunday, November 1st. Those of you who’ve signed up for delivery, your wine bags will be sent out Thursday, November 5th.
Included in this months Wine Club is the Le Colombier red from Massaya winery in Lebanon. On August 4th, 2020, the port of Beirut was devastated by a massive explosion which left a huge amount of destruction. The wine community is showing its support for the Lebanese people by promoting the countries wines and contributing to charities that are helping those impacted. Another way to show your support is by streaming the documentary Wine and War, which documents how Lebanon’s wine industry has persevered through difficult times. The proceeds raised by the documentary are going to CAP-HO, a charity that supports children in Lebanon without insurance. Find more information at https://wineandwar.com/
2019 PARDON & FILS CHARDONNAY
PAYS D’OC, FRANCE $19.70
description courtesy of Alex Good, Spur Imports
In the south of France in the area known as the Languedoc-Roussillon. The vineyard for this Chardonnay is located near Carcassonne, which is undoubtedly one of the most beautiful cities in France. It is a medieval fortress, complete with ramparts, moats, fortifications, and a large castle. The more specific location is in the Aude, where gently undulating hills composed of clay and limestone (Chardonnay’s preferred soil type) and cooling night time temperatures give opportunity for distinctive, characterful wine. Usually, Chardonnay prefers a slightly cooler climate than what is normally offered at this latitude, but the Aude has special characteristics, namely soil, altitude, and big swings between day and night temperatures (diurnal shift) that allow Chardonnay to excel in the region.
Chardonnay. The well-travelled white grape of Burgundy, now found in virtually every winemaking area on the globe, made a short journey to southern France several decades ago, when wineries and winemakers were looking to cash in on varietal-labelled wines popularized in California and Australia. The name “Chardonnay” is easier to understand than the place-named wines from Burgundy made from Chardonnay, like Chablis, Meursault, and Pouilly-Fuissé, so clever vignerons in the south of France started producing their own versions to compete with their new world counterparts. In the early days, results were mixed, but today the region is a fertile hunting ground for wines of great balance, flavour, and poise.
Jean-Marc and Eric Pardon. The brothers Pardon are the heads of a historic winery located in the village of Beaujeu, in the Beaujolais district. They produce wine in all ten of the ‘cru’ of Beaujolais, and make some very impressive white wines in the Mâcon district. Eric, who is in charge of winemaking and managing the cellar, sourced this vineyard several years ago, initially looking for a cool-climate Chardonnay vineyard to produce Champagne-style sparkling wine. The vines were already quite old, having been planted in the early 1970s, and gave Chardonnay of great character. Based on the fruit quality, the decision was made to produce a still wine instead, in a confident, un-oaked, vibrantly aromatic style.
In the glass you’ll find a wine with a pale straw yellow colour. The nose unveils a lovely cross-section of orchard fruit, like yellow plum, nectarine, and pear, accompanied by a floral tone like acacia, and a dough-like hint of unbaked brioche. On the palate, there is a textural weightiness that is pleasantly balanced by snappy, crisp acidity, and a range of flavours including granny smith apple, lemon curd, and pie crust.
Although this wine is often best served as an aperitif on its own, it can be paired with a variety of dishes. It is very good with hearty fare like fried chicken, ham and split pea soup, and fish & chips.
2019 DOMAINE DU SALVARD CHEVERNY ROSE
LOIRE VALLEY, FRANCE $23.92
This small Loire Valley domaine is located in the appellation of Cheverny. Officially rewarded with an AOC (Appellation d’Origine Contrôlée) in 1993, the region covers approximately 574 hectares. Most visitors to Cheverny come for the Château de Cheverny, a stunning mansion which was the model for the fictional “Château de Moulinsart” in the Adventures of Tintin. The Château is a reminder that the Loire Valley was once the playground of France’s elite families. The valley stretches from the Pays Nantais on the Atlantic coast all the way to inland vineyards of the Auvergne. Located in the Middle Loire (known as the “Garden of France”, Cheverny has both a maritime and continental climate.
The white wines of Cheverny are somewhat similar to the wines of Sancerre, although they are typically less acidic. Mostly made from Sauvignon Blanc, they can also be made from Sauvignon Gris, Chardonnay, Chenin Blanc, and Arbois. The dominant red varieties are Gamay, Pinot Noir, Cabernet Franc, and Côt (Malbec). Most of the 2.7 million liters of wine produced in Cheverny every year is meant to be consumed when young.
The Domaine du Salvard Cheverny rosé is made from a blend of 65% Pinot Noir and 35% Gamay harvested from 20 year old vines. 70% of the wine was vinified in temperature controlled tanks in contact with the grapes skins to draw a small amount of color.
Domaine du Salvard has been owned by the Delaille family for 5 generations. The estate was founded in 1898 south of Blois in the town of Fougères sur Bièvre. Today the winery’s 42 hectares of vineyards are tended by Emmanuel and Thierry Delaille. They farm their vines according to Lutte Raisonnée methods and employ traditional methods in the cellar. About 90% of their plantings are dedicated to Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay.
Elegant and subtle, in the glass this rosé is light pink in colour with a tint of copper on the rim. On the nose it shows fragrant aromas of garden fresh strawberries, blood-oranges, rhubarb, and roses. The palate is light bodied with crisp acidity and lingering minerality. Culminating in a lively dry finish, this wine is best enjoyed well chilled. It pairs well with much of the traditional cuisine of the Loire Valley, where freshwater fish is an important part of the local diet. Pan cooked freshwater breem with beurre blanc would go nicely.
2015 WEST CAPE HOWE CAPE TO CAPE SHIRAZ
GREAT SOUTHERN, AUSTRALIA $27.52
Mount Barker is a small sub-region located in Western Australia. It lies within the appellation of Great Southern, which hugs the southern coastline and stretches some 150 kilometers. The Mediterranean style climate is strongly influenced by the ocean, which offers moderating influences to the region. The majority of the region’s vines are located on the slopes surrounding Mount Barker. Ranging from 150 to 300 meters in elevation, the vineyards are able to avoid the brunt of the summer heat and frosts of the Spring. The region’s soil consists mostly of free draining gravelly loams, which is known locally as “Marri”.
Mount Baker is known as the birthplace of the Western Australian wine industry. It has the area’s oldest vines and was the first recognized subregion in all of Australia. The wineries tend to be small, family run affairs, although larger operations are starting to recognize the area’s potential. Although a wide variety of grapes are grown, Mount Baker’s climate is ideal for cool climate varieties such as Riesling, Chardonnay, and Pinot Noir. Like much of Australia, Shiraz plays a key role. Unlike warmer areas of the country, the style of Mount Baker Shiraz tends to be lighter and more akin to Northern Rhône Syrah.
The West Cape Howe Cape to Cape Shiraz is made from grapes from vineyards in Mount Baker and other vineyards around the South West. Each parcel was fermented separately with frequent pumping over to draw out colour and complexity. After pressing, the separate wines are aged in barrels for 12 months prior to blending.
Western Cape Howe was founded by four winemaking families in 1997. The winery is located on the Langton property, in the heart of the Mount Baker wine appellation. This 100 hectare vineyard was originally planted in 1978, and has some of the oldest vines in the area. The winery also sources grapes from sustainably farmed vines planted in Frankland River, Porongurup and the Perth Hills. The day to day running of the winery is managed by winemaker/ managing partner Gavin Berry and viticulturist/partner Rob Quenby.
This fresh and spicy Shiraz is an interesting juxtaposition to the jammy and rich red wines that Australia has become famous for. In the glass it shows a pale rub colour with purple hues. The nose expresses piquant aromas of cracked black peppers, red plums, and wild red berries. Medium bodied with fine grained tannins, the palate has good acidity and a raspy finish. The Cape to Cape Shiraz is a youthful wine that is approachable and ready to pair with a wide range of grilled red meats and roasted vegetables.
2014 VENANCIO DA COSTA LIMA
PALMELA, PORTUGAL $18.77
The Portuguese wine appellation of Palmela can be found to the southeast of Lisbon on the Setúbal Peninsula. Separated from Lisbon’s urban sprawl by the Tejo estuary, the vineyards are situated between the town of Palmela and the Serra da Arrabida hills. The peninsula is home to two different wine designations. The vineyards located on the craggy Arrabida hillsides are designated for the Setubal DOC (Denominação de Origem Controlada), while the vineyards planted on the sandy coastal plains are designated for Palmela DOC wines. Surrounded by the Atlantic Ocean and Tagus and Sado rivers, the climate of the area is strongly maritime influenced. Dry and hot summers are punctuated by temperate and wet winters.
Portuguese grape varieties are not very well known outside of the country. Most people have heard of Port, but few people could name the grapes that go into it. Even fewer people would be able to name the grape of Palmela – Castelão. Mostly planted in the coastal areas of southern Portugal, this variety is also known as Periquita (derived from the Portuguese word for parakeet) and João de Santarém. The grape is known for producing wines with plenty of fruity intensity and ageability. A wine labelled Palmela DO must contain a minimum of 67% Castelão.
The Venâncio da Costa Lima Palmela DO is made from 100% Castelão grapes harvested from vines planted to clay-limestone soils. Traditionally vinified, the wine was aged for 6 months in French oak barrels.
Casa Agrícola Venâncio da Costa Lima was created by Venâncio da Costa in the town of Quinta do Anjo in 1914. At first his business was focused on the sale of olive oil, grain, and wine. It was only later when Venâncio turned his attention to exclusively producing wine. By the 1930’s, his winery was the second most productive in the region. When he died childless, the business went to his six nieces and nephews. Passed down through the generations, the winery is today managed by the Vida family. The current winemaker is Fausto Lourenço.
Given the accessible price, this Castelão offers incredibly good value. Bright garnet in colour, it has a complex nose of ripe blackberries, black cherry compote, plums, and baking spice. Medium bodied with lean tannins, the finish is fruity, well-balanced and dry. Approachable today, this wine will continue to drink well for another 5 years. It is a great match for the ubiquitous sandwich of the everyday Lisboetas – Bifana. This super simple dish brings together sauteed, marinated pork and a crunchy bread roll. Add a dish of yellow mustard, and voila!
2017 MASSAYA LE COLOMBIER
BEQAA VALLEY, LEBANON $28.17
Located on the eastern side of the Lebanon mountain range is this fertile Beqaa Valley. It was here that the modern Lebanese wine industry was born in 1857. The Beqaa is part of the Great Rift system, which runs all the way from southern Turkey to Mozambique. Bordered on two sides by mountains, the valley is 177 kilometres in length and 16 kilometres at its widest. The agricultural heart of the country, the valley is protected from maritime influences from the west and desert conditions from the east. With an average altitude of 1000 meters above sea level, the valley’s climate is ideal for viticulture.
Lebanon has a viticultural tradition that stretches back 5,000 years. First introduced by the Phoenicians, winemaking in the Levant has managed to persist even during times of great turmoil. Most recently the country was subjected to a brutal civil war from 1975 to 1990. Today the industry is experiencing a renaissance. In the late 1990’s the country had only 10 wineries. That number has since tripled. Over 90% of the country’s wine production is located in the Beqaa Valley. First introduced by French Christian missionaries via Algeria, the most popular grape varieties are Cinsault and Cabernet Sauvignon.
The Massaya Le Colombier is made from a blend of 35% Cinsault, 35% Grenache, and 30% Tempranillo hand harvested from 40 year old vines. Following hand sorting and destemming, the grapes were vinfied in steel tanks for 20 to 30 days. Following fermentation and pressing, the wine was aged in steel vat for 12 months.
The story of Massaya is a story of resilience. The winery grew gradually during the 1990’s when the Ghosn brothers, Sami and Ramzi, returned to their family property after fleeing the country in 1975 at the outbreak of civil war. On their return the brothers found that the family home was occupied by squatters. After a tedious negotiation process, which included some sleepless nights on the roof with AK-47’s, the brothers were able to secure their land. They started by producing high quality Arak, an anise flavoured liqueur. In 1998 the brothers partnered with Bordeaux winemaker Dominique Hebrard and the Brunier brothers of Châteauneuf-du-Pape winery, Vieux Télégraphe. This partnership brought valuable winemaking knowhow and cuttings of vines. Today Massaya operates two wineries. One is in the Beqaa valley, located 40 kilometers from an ancient Roman temple that was dedicated to the god of wine, Bacchus. The second is located on Mount Lebanon.
The Massaya Le Colombier is an easy-drinking and fruit-forward red wine. Garnet red in the glass, on the nose it expresses lush aromas of red cherries, raspberries, red plums, and green peppercorns. The palate is medium bodied with well-integrated tannins and balanced acidity. The finish is dry and youthful. Best served after half an hour of decanting, this wine will hold nicely for a few years. It is a great pairing for everyday Lebanese dishes like spicy lamb Kofta or Shawarma.
2018 LE POTAZZINE PARUS
MONTALCINO/TUSCANY, ITALY $33.44
La Tenuta “Le Potazzine” is located southwest of the Tuscan town of Montalcino, which is home to one of Italy’s most famous wines – Brunello di Montalcino. The medieval town rests atop a hill that looks over the picturesque rolling plains of Val d’Orcia in southern Tuscany. The climate of the area is warmer with less precipitation than in other Tuscan winegrowing regions. Vines here receive 200 mm less rainfall than those in Chianti. The vineyards are situated on slopes that receive good sun exposure. The best sites, facing south and west, tend to receive the most sunlight and are cooled by maritime breezes (the sea is only 50km away). Vineyards cannot be planted above 600 meters above sea level in order to ensure that grapes reliably ripen. The borders of the region have expanded greatly since the 1960’s, when there were only 60 hectares of vineyards. Today there are over 2,000 hectares of vineyards!
Only one grape is allowed in the production of Brunello di Montalcino – Sangiovese Grosso (known locally as Brunello). Sangiovese is arguably the most important grape in Italy. A late ripening variety, it has many different clones and is known by many different names. The clone that is grown on the slopes around Montalcino, was first isolated by grape grower Clemente Santi in the mid 19th century.
The Parus is made from 100% Sangiovese Grosso from the crus of La Prata and La Torre. Fermented with natural yeasts without temperature control, it was aged over 12 months in stainless steel tanks.
Gigliola Giannetti is as “Montalcino” as it gets. Born and raised in this southern Tuscany town, her first job was working with the legendary Franco Biondi Santi. After opening a wine shop on the main road in Montalcino she befriended consultant Giulio Gambelli, who would eventually encourage her to start her own winery. Purchasing her first parcel of vines in 1993, she released her first vintage of Brunello di Montalcino in 1997. The winery’s name, Le Potazzine (local dialect for a songbird), comes from the nickname Gigliola’s mother had given her two granddaughters. Immediately recognized by the world’s wine intelligentsia, these wines are heralded for their precise qualities and elegance.
The Parus is a focused expression of Sangiovese Grosso without the trappings of barrel influence. Medium garnet in colour, it shows fine aromas of sour cherry, red currant, red plum, balsamic, and oregano. Silky tannins and vibrant acidity lead into a dry and harmonious finish. The combination of sweet and sour red fruits is classic Tuscany. A wine for the dinner table, it is a great match for thinly sliced Finocchiona and crusty country bread.