Hello everyone, your first edition of wine club for the new year has arrived. Hope you all had a wonderful holiday season. Our selections this month are a motley crew. There are some unconventional grape varieties, including our first ever Mandó featured in wine club (insert Mandalorian reference here). Your bags will be available for pickup Friday, January 1st. For those of you who have your wines delivered, you will receive your wines Thursday, January 7th. Cheers!
2019 Château Pégau Côtes du Rhône Cuvée Lône
Rhône Valley, France $ 28.28
Château Pégau is located in France’s renowned Rhône Valley. Following the course of the Rhône river, this expansive region has been a center for wine production since the time of the Romans. There are 71,000 hectares planted to vine and 30 official wine appellations. It is second only to Bordeaux in scale. Based on geography, climate, and preferred grape varieties, the Rhône is divided into two key areas. The Northern Rhône has fewer vineyards planted on steep slopes. The Southern Rhône is far larger with a wide range of microclimates and soil types. The overall climate is generally more mediterranean in nature, where the Northern Rhône has more continental influences.
The Rhône Valley is best known for the quality of its red wines. Adopted by winemakers around the world, the trifecta of Grenache, Syrah, and Mourvedre is synonyms with Rhône wines. One can forget that the region is home to excellent white wines as well. The Château Pégau Cuvée Lône is made from an interesting blend of 40% Clairette, 30% Bourboulenc 20% Grenache blanc, and 10% Ugni Blanc. The dominant varietal in the blend, Clairette is a pale-skinned grape that was once more commonly planted during the 18th and 19th centuries. When blended it lends acidity and fresh tree fruit and citrus flavours. To maintain this crisp quality, the Cuvée Lône was vinified and matured in stainless steel tanks.
The wines of Domaine du Pegau require little introduction. Heralded by wine writers such as Robert Robert, this Southern Rhône winery has been lauded as one of the finest producers in Châteauneuf-du-Pape. The property is owned by the Feraud family, who are strong proponents of traditional wine making. Their 21 hectares of holdings in Châteauneuf-du-Pape are spread across 11 plots in the sectors of Courthézon, La Solitude and Bédarrides. They additionally own 25 hectares of vines designated as Côtes du Rhône Villages, 5 hectares of Côtes du Rhône, and 12 hectares of Vins Sans Indication Geographique (the newly created designation for basic French table wines).
Pale silvery yellow in the glass, the Cuvée Lône is a delicate white wine that captures the wild floral and herbal scents of le Midi. On the nose it expresses aromas of nectarines, apricots, pears, honeysuckle, mint, and anise. It is light in body with vibrant acidity and a bitter saline finish. A refreshing aperitif, it is an excellent match for shellfish. Try it well chilled with richly flavoured Steamed Mussels Provençal.
2019 Terza Fila Pecorino
Marche, Italy $20.46
The central Italian region of Marche is one of Italy’s best kept secrets. Situated on the Adriatic coast, it is in many ways similar to neighbouring Tuscany and Umbria. With 160 kilometers of pristine coastline and numerous beautiful hilltop villages, it is a surprise that Marche is underappreciated by visitors. It is even home to what is considered to be the ultimate expression of Renaissance urban planning, the walled city of Urbino (the birthplace of the artist Rapheal no less). The climate is pleasant and temperate, although western Marche does receive winter snowfall. Most of the region’s 25,000 hectares of vineyards are situated closer to the coast.
Although the Marche can claim many excellent styles of red wine, it is the region’s white wines that are most popular. The most common grape variety is Verdiccio, which accounts for one third of all plantings. Comparatively, Pecorino is harder to find. This light-skinned grape has been grown in Marche and Umbria for hundreds of years, but plantings are a fraction of what they used to be. The desire to increase yields led grape growers to pull out Pecorino in favour of more productive varieties like Trebbiano. Pecorino was in danger of extinction by the mid 1900’s. It could have been curtains, but luckily a grape grower in the 80’s was able to isolate and propagate Pecorino vines from an old vineyard. In 2000 there were only 87 hectares of Pecorino. By 2020 the number has risen to 1,110 hectares. It is our good fortune that this happened, because Pecorino has plenty to offer. Typically light in body, Pecorino wines are refreshingly acidic, with lean minerality and floral aromas. The grape is naturally high in sugar, so Pecorino wines rarely suffer from “thinness”.
The Terza Fila Pecorino was made from grapes harvested from an organically farmed vineyard in the subregion of Offida, located roughly 8 kilometers from the Adriatic coast near the city of Ancona. Vinified in stainless steel, it was matured for 4 months in neutral barrels.
438 cases of the Terza Fila were produced in partnership between Marram Wines and Domodimonti. This winery is located in the picturesque countryside of Montefiore dell’Aso in southern Marche. A relatively new wine estate, it was created in 2003 by Francesco & Marisa Bellini. Born in Italy, Francesco worked in the Canadian pharmaceutical industry prior to moving to Marche. The couple purchased an abandoned cantina that came with 30 hectares of vineyards and 6 hectares of olive groves. From the start, their approach was to produce sustainably made wines. To this end, a new state of the art winery was completed in 2010. All of the energy for the winery comes from its own photovoltaic systems and from certified renewable sources.
Pale straw green in the colour, the Terza Fila Pecorino has a fine bouquet of tropical fruit and floral aromas. On the nose there are perfumed notes of canned pineapple, lemon peel, orange blossom, and fennel. On the palate, citrusy flavours are carried by sharp acidity and stoney minerality. Light in body, it has a slightly bitter and salty finish.
The name Pecorino means “little sheep”, and can also refer to a type of salty Italian cheese made from sheep’s milk. Surprise, surprise; Pecorino wine goes great with Pecorino cheese. How handy is that.
2019 Les Vignerons d’Estézargues Côtes du Rhône Cuvée des Galets
Rhône Valley, France $19.17
The Côtes du Rhône appellation covers a large swath of southern France’s Rhône Valley. The region wide designation includes more than 170 villages and allows for the production of red, white and rosé wines. Officially created in 1937, it separates higher quality wines from simple Vin de Table. Most wines labelled as Côtes du Rhône originate from the Southern Rhône, where the majority of the Rhône’s vineyards are located. In general, the landscape of the Côtes du Rhône is defined by parched rocky soils baked by the hot Mediterranean sun. The growing season is long and warm with little rainfall. The fierce Mistral wind helps keep the grapes dry, warding off disease.
Côtes du Rhône is known for fruity and accessible wines that are ready to drink on release. Most often made from a blend of varieties, they have an uncanny ability to pair with a wide variety of foods. It is not for nothing that they are a perennial favourite of restaurateurs everywhere.
Due to the Rhône’s ideal climate, it has become a hotbed for natural winemaking. The vine requires little to no direction when the conditions are this favourable. The Cuvée des Galets is a delightful natural wine made from Grenache, Cinsault and Syrah grapes hand-harvested from organic and biodynamic farmed vineyards. Vinified with natural yeasts, it was matured for a short period in stainless steel tanks. Bottled without fining or filtering, it contains only 20 mg/l of sulphites.
Les Vignerons d’Estézargues is a rare bird – a co-operative wine cellar that favours individuality over uniformity. Prominent across France, most wine co-ops take grapes from numerous sites and blend everything together to create a single consistent style of wine. In juxtaposition, Les Vignerons d’Estezargues allows each grower to vinify their wines individually. The cellar was created in 1995 by ten growers outside of Avignon in the town of Estézargues. They are joined by their desire to farm their vines according to natural principles and to apply a light touch in the cellar. Only using natural yeasts for fermentation, they do not use any additional enzymes, and they neither filter nor fine their wines.
The Cuvée des Galets illustrates how natural wines can be both affordable and super delicious. It exudes all of the easy to please character one would look for from a quality Côtes du Rhône. Pale ruby red in colour, on the nose it has ripe aromas of cassis, sour cherries, orange peels, olives and herbes de provence. The palate is juicy with ripe berry flavours, subtle spice, fine tannins, and crisp acidity. A delicious wine for any day of the week, it is a versatile food pairing wine. Light enough for vegetable heavy dishes such as garlicky Soupe au Pistou, it is your go to option for Tapenade Provençal spread on crunchy rustic bread.
2015 Alvarez Nölting Bobal
Valencia, Spain $15.80
Although better known for oranges, Valencia has been home to viticulture for thousands of years. Located in southeastern Spain, the appellation was awarded official status in 1957. Today there are around 13,000 hectares of vineyards spread across two distinct geographical areas, which are separated into 4 subzones. The subzone of Clariano is located south of the city of Valencia. The largest subzone, Valentino, lies above the coastal plains northwest of the city. The higher elevation vineyards of Alto Turia lie west of Valentino. Just outside of the city itself are the low-elevation vineyards of Moscatel. Ranging from Mediterranean to semi-continental, the climate can be extremely hot. Some areas are classified as arid or semi-arid.
Bobal (pronounced ‘bow-bal’) gets its name from the Latin ‘bovale’, which means – ‘in the shape of a bull’s head’. It is thought that the name derives from the shape of the Bobal grape cluster, which looks like a bull’s head. Dark skinned and indigenous to Utiel-Requena, it is one of the most planted grape varieties in Spain. It is notable for its high acidity and thick skins packed with anthocyanins. Bobal wines are typically intensely coloured and packed with firm tannins.
The Alvarez Nölting Bobal was made in large 5,000 tanks, where the grapes were macerated for 24 hours under cool temperatures to softly extract aromas and flavours. Vinified for 10-12 days, the wine underwent malolactic fermentation before being transferred to barrels.
The story of Alvarez Nölting begins in 2001 with a young oenologist named Juanma Álvarez Nölting. Ambitious and full of confidence, Juanma told friends how he planned to open his own winery. They weren’t confident that this would happen and unfortunately he passed away before realizing his dream. Rather than letting things end there, his friends decided to carry on the project in his name. They released their first vintage of 2,200 bottles in 2004. 16 years later the property, which lies 100 kilometers from the Mediterranean sea, has grown to 72 hectares in size. In the cellar the wines are made traditionally in small batches.
Lovers of plush and full flavoured red wines will certainly enjoy the Alvarez Nölting Bobal. Purplish red in the glass, the nose exhibits dark aromas of blackberries, plums, blueberries and violets. On the palate it is full bodied with firm tannins and ripe blackfruit flavours. Mouth-filling with a lingering finish, it is a strong pairing for grilled meats and firm cheeses. Given this wine’s fruit forward nature, it is also a good match for the Valencian classic, Paella Mixta. Although you will find Paella across Spain, it is almost unanimously agreed that the dish originated in Valencia.
2018 Celler del Roure Safrà
Valencia, Spain $31.43
The Celler del Roure Safrà is made from grapes harvested from vineyards in the Valencian subregion of Clariano. Removed from the other three Valencian sub-zones (Alto Turia, Valentino, and Moscatel), this is considered the finest grape growing area in the region. It lies about 65 kilometers south of the city of Valencia itself. Within its borders, Clariano is divided into two separate parts. East of the town of Ontinyent, the landscape is lower and predominantly planted to white grape varieties. To the west, the landscape is higher and planted mostly to red grape varieties. Known as Terres dels Alforins, the concentration of vines is located between the towns of Fuente la Higuera, Mogente and Fontanares. Also referred to as La Toscana Valenciana, it is home to numerous indegneous grape varieties.
This wine is made from a distinct cuvée of Mandó Tinto and a small percentage of Garnacha Tintorera. Also grown in Catalonia, where it is known as Garró (meaning a pig’s ankle), Mandó is a nearly extinct variety. Following the blight of phylloxera at the start of the 20th century, many vineyards planted to this grape were lost and replanted to more popular varieties. Garnacha Tintorera is better known by its French name, Alicante Bouschet. A cross of Petit Bouschet and Grenache, it is one of the few teinturier grapes (a grape with pigmented flesh). Its deep colour has always made it a popular blending partner for light skinned grape varieties.
Made from hand harvested and partially destemmed grapes, the Safrà was macerated for 12 days on the skins and vinified with natural yeasts in a combination of lagars (a traditional stone vessel for fermenting wine) and stainless steel tanks. Maturation took place over 6 months in 2600 litre clay jars.
Created in 1996 in the town of Moixent, Celler del Roure is one of the most exciting wineries in southern Spain. Nestled under Sierra La Solana at 600 meters above sea level, the naturally farmed property is managed by winemaker Pablo Calatayud. He is the latest in a long line of grape growers to covet this land. The first vines were planted here over 2,400 years ago! The wine cellar itself was built 300 years ago, and still houses 97 buried clay jars ranging from 600-2800 litres. Upon founding the winery, Calatayud set about restoring these time worn wine vessels. So far 20 have been unearthed, restored, and put back into service. By using the clay jars to make his wines, he not only respects the traditional methods of Terres dels Alforins, but also allows the pure nature of the indigenous grape varieties to stand alone.
Spanish for saffron, the Safrà channels Mandó’s wild and herbaceous character. Medium garnet in colour, it expresses untamed aromas of wild mulberries, red currants, garrigue, and black pepper. Medium bodied with poised freshness, the palate is dominated by feral red fruits and fine tannins. Culminating in an earthy dried fruit finish, it is a distinct cuvée that continually develops in the glass. Pair this wine with rustic meat dishes prepared with plenty of herbs and spices. Smokey and hearty Conejo en Salmorejo (braised rabbit with salmorejo sauce) would be perfect.
2016 Monteversa Biodiversa
Veneto, Italy $29.85
The Monteversa estate is located southwest of the city of Padua in the Euganean Hills. Its name comes from the nearby Monte Versa, which lies at the centre of the Colli Euganei appellation. Officially created in the late 1960’s, this DOC (Denominazione di Origine Controllata) rises above the central Venetian plain and has predominantly volcanic soils. The climate is moderated by the nearby Venetian Lagoon. Mostly dry and warm during the growing season, the region can be strongly influenced by the hot North African Sirocco wind.
The dominant grapes in the Colli Euganei are the red Bordeaux varieties. It is thought that they were first introduced by the Count of Sambuy in 1820. Today there are around 500 hectares of Merlot, 275 hectares of Cabernet Sauvignon, and 230 hectares of Cabernet Franc and Carménère. In the past, these two grape varieties were mistaken for one another and fermented together.
The Monteversa Biodiversa is made from a cuvée of 80% Carménère and 20% Merlot hand harvested from 15 year old vines planted at 120 meters above sea level. Fermented with indegenous yeasts, it was vinified and aged in INOX tanks.
Owned by the Voltazza family, Monteversa is overseen by estate manager Giovanni Bressanin. Raised nearby on his uncle’s property, Bressanin farms the 24 hectares of vines on the slopes of Monte Versa according to organic principles. The property has been certified organic since 2010. Avoiding the use of pesticides and herbicides, and tending the vines by hand, much care is taken to promote biodiversity in the vineyard. In the cellar the wines are fermented naturally and matured in a combination of concrete and INOX tanks, as well as small barriques.
Supple, somewhat spicy, with a healthy touch of Italian sprezzatura, the Monteversa Biodiversa is the kind of wine that you can open any day of the week and serve with a wide variety of meals. Bright garnet in colour, on the nose you detect scents of sour cherries, black raspberries, red plums, capsicum, and tomato leaf. The palate is medium bodied with fresh acidity and lingering refined tannins. Well balanced with a good finish, it is light enough to be easy drinking and yet it doesn’t lack in concentration. We suggest trying it with arugula and prosciutto pizza.