Wine Club March 2021

Hello Wine Clubbers, your newest edition of Vine Arts Wine Club will be available for pickup from both locations, Monday March 1st. This month we’re exploring wine regions in France, Spain, and Italy. Included is our first ever wine made primarily from Sousón, and are first wine from Sant’Antimo. We’re certain you’ll enjoy them! Cheers!

2017 Chateau Unang Ventoux Blanc

Rhone Valley, France $25.18

Where

A historic estate, Château Unang lies within the southern French wine region of Ventoux. This appellation is located at the far south eastern corner of the Rhône Valley. The vineyards lie at the foot of the Vaucluse mountains, in the shadow of the “Giant of Provence”, Mont Ventoux. Nearly 2,000 meter high, this mountain is well known for its grueling inclusion in the Tour de France. The vineyards are located on Mont Ventoux’s western slope, where they receive ample sunshine. Cooler temperatures from the higher elevation insure that the grapes ripen slowly, maintaining acidity and structure. Prior to 2009, the wines of this region were labelled as Côtes de Ventoux.

What

Although similar to Côtes du Rhônes wines, the wines of Ventoux are comparatively lighter and fresher in style. Most of the production is given to red wines made from Grenache, Syrah, and Mourvèdre. Small volumes of Ventoux blanc are typically made from Clairette, Bourboulenc, Grenache Blanc, and Roussanne.

The Château Unang Ventoux Blanc is made from a cuvée of hand harvested Clairette, Grenache Blanc, and Roussanne. Planted at 220 meters to Sables d’Unang (a rare type of clay-limestone soil), the vines are located in a valley near the Nesque river. Sitting in the shadow of the Monts du Vaucluse, the vines are protected from the hot southern French sun. Once in the cellar in the grapes were pressed and cool fermented in fiberglass tanks.

Who

The history of this estate begins in 867, when Château Unang was gifted to the Bishop of Venasque by the King of Provence. At the time this area was an independent enclave within France. For over 800 years Unang was passed down from one bishop to another, until it was sold at the end of the 17th century. More recently, Château Unang was purchased by James and Joanna King in 2003. The Scottish couple totally renovated the château and revitalized 15 hectares of vineyards. The estate has been certified organic since 2013.

Taste

Pale straw yellow in colour, the Château Unang Ventoux Blanc expresses lean aromas of just ripe pears, lemon zest, sourdough, cumin and seasalt. Medium bodied with high acidity, the crisp palate displays flavours of salty white peaches, pie-crust and almonds. On the finish it is dry with a lingering bitterness. A great pairing for seafood dishes such as Les sardines au citron comme à Marseille (Marseille-style sardines in lemon).

2019 Domaine La Gayolle Les Platanes Rosé

Var, France $18.91

Where

The Var IGP (Indication Géographique Protégée) includes much of the vineyard area of France’s southern Mediterranean coast. The region covers the borders of the administrative department of the same name and encloses both the Bandol and Cotes de Provence AOC’s. The warm and sunny Mediterranean climate is tempered by the Mistral wind, which keeps the vines reliably dry and disease free. The picturesque garrigue covered landscape is dominated by low coastal mountain ranges like the Massif des Maures and the Massif de la Sainte-Baume.

What

This is without a doubt rosé country. Accounting for almost half of overall wine production in Var, the rosé wines are typically made from a blend of Grenache, Carignan and Cinsaut. Given the region’s size, there is a wide diversity of styles. In general though, most Var rosé wines are light and refreshing with the most subtle pink hue.

The cuvée for this rosé consists of 30% Merlot, 40% Grenache, and 30% Cabernet Sauvignon. The grapes were harvested from 25 year old vines that are farmed according to lutte raisonnée principles. Once in the cellar the grapes were directly pressed, cold settled, and fermented in traditional thermo-regulated tanks.

Who

Domaine La Gayolle has been owned and operated by the Paul family since 1855, although the history of the estate goes back even further. At its heart is an 11th century chapel that has been registered as a protected historical site. Today Nicolas Paul, a seventh generation winemaker, produces 3 lines of wines from 48 hectare of vineyards – Les Platanes, la Chapelle and Syagria. A registered Vigneron Indépendant winery (one of 7,000 members), Domaine La Gayolle cultivates vines in respect of the terroir and works to promote the traditional wines of the region.

Taste

In the glass the Domaine La Gayolle Les Platanes rosé is light in hue and pale pink in colour. On the nose there are delicate aromas of white strawberries, fresh peaches, grapefruit, and watermelon. The light bodied palate is punctuated by lively acidity and minerality. Dry on the finish, this is a classic example of southern French rosé. Enjoy this wine well chilled on its own or with Provençal dishes, such as Salade Niçoise or Bouillabaisse.

2019 Fento Tinto

Rías Baixas, Spain $25.91

Where

Fento Wines is located in the Galician region of Rías Baixas in northwestern Spain. The most western section of “Green Spain” (a lush area stretching along the northern coast, extending from the border of Portugal to the border of France), Galicia has a climate heavily influenced by the Atlantic Ocean. The coastline is dominated by steep cliffs and inlets known as rías. Further inland the landscape consists of rolling green hills that eventually climb to the peaks of the Cantabrian Mountains. Galicia is one of the wettest regions in Spain, receiving 1,300 millimeters of rainfall yearly in coastal areas. Rías Baixas is one of Galicia’s five recognized sub-wine-regions. Situated closely to the Atlantic, it is Galcia’s coolest wine appellation. Within its borders there are five sub-zones: Val do Salnés, Condado do Tea, O Rosal, Soutomaior and Ribera do Ulla.

What

The Fento Tinto is a rare example of a red wine from Rías Baixas. The appellation is far better known for its white wines made from Albariño, which is well suited to the cool and wet climate. The cuvée consists of indigenous grape varieties: Sousón (73%), Espadeiro (10%), Pedral (7.1%), Mencía (7%), Caiño tinto (1.5%) and Brancellao (1.4%). Known as Sezão in Portugal, Sousón is thought to have originated in the Minho wine region. It is also used in the production of both still and fortified Port wines. The variety is best known for producing wines that are rustic in character with raisiny flavours and deep colour. The grapes for this cuvée were manually harvested from 10 to 15 years old vines that lie 50 to 100 meters above sea level in the subzone of Condado do Tea. Fermentation and ageing was in stainless steel tanks.

Who

Fento Wines was created in 2012 by winemaker Eulogio Pomares. Fento is the Galician name for the common fern native to the region. As the winemaker at his family’s winery, Zarate, Pomares earned his stripes with the region’s top producer. With Fento Wines, he has expanded beyond Spain’s borders to make wine from vineyards in Portugal’s Dão region. Partnering with small growers, he focuses on Albariño and other local varieties like Treixadura and Loureiro blanco. Although not fully organic, he doesn’t use any synthetic fertilizers or insecticides.

Taste

The Fento Tinto is ruby red in colour with moderate depth. The nose expresses aromas of dried cherries, red plums, boysenberry, and nutmeg. On the palate it is medium bodied with prickly high acidity, blackfruit flavours, and fine tannins. On the finish it is dry with a bitter sour cherry note. This is a wonderful food wine. The combination of high acidity and sweet/sour fruit makes it the ideal wine for complex meaty dishes such as Moroccan Beef Tagine with Prunes.

2019 Alfredo Maestro Almate

Ribera Del Duero, Spain $25.25

Where

Ribera del Duero is one of Spain’s premier wine regions. Located within Castilla y Leon in northern Spain, it is home to some of Spain’s most prominent wineries. Translated to English as “on the banks of the Duero”, the region’s name comes from the river that divides it. The Duero River provides much needed water to this inland area that sits 800 meters above sea level. Sheltered by the Sierra de la Demanda and Sierra de Guadarrama mountain ranges, the vineyards experience a strongly continental climate. During the summer months temperatures can reach up to 40°C, whereas during the winter, temperatures can plummet to –18°C. During the growing season a strong contrast between daytime and nighttime temperatures ensures ideal accumulation of ripeness and structure in the grapes.

What

Ribera del Duero is almost entirely devoted to producing broad shouldered and deeply pigmented red wines. Tempranillo, known locally as Tinto Fino or Tinta del Pais, is the dominant grape variety.

The Alfredo Maestro Almate is made from Tinto Fino harvested from multiple plots in Valtiendas at 1,000 meters elevation, as well as Peñafiel, at 700 meters. The first cuvée made by Alfedo (named after himself: Al-Ma-Te), it is the gateway wine to the rest of his wines. The wine was vinified in stainless steel tanks and macerated with partial whole clusters for 15-20 days. Racked once and settled over the winter, the wine was bottled without fining or filtering.

Who

Alfredo Maestro grew up amongst grapevines. Born to a Basque family that relocated to the winemaking town of Peñafiel in Ribera del Duero, he knew from an early age that he would be a winemaker. Producing his first wine in 1998, he planted a vineyard on the Rio Duraton near where he lived. Self taught, his earliest vintages were textbook examples of Ribera del Duero Tinto; which is to say they were deeply concentrated and dark purple in colour. Things changed for him in the early 2000’s when he realized that by using conventional techniques he was masking the quality of his grapes. Tending his vines organically, he questioned why he should use any additives in the cellar. He eliminated the use of cultured yeasts, added acid, enzymes, and color-enhancers. He also sought out neglected parcels of old vines around the Ribera del Duero and close to Madrid. Today he has brought together 9 hectares of vines and operates 2 bodegas, producing no less than 11 cuvees from single vineyards.

Taste

In the glass the Almate is deeply hued and purplish red in colour. The nose is jam packed with aromas of ripe blackberries, blueberries, sour black cherries and violets. The palate is medium-full with ample tannins and robust blackfruit flavours that linger on the finish. Vibrant and earthy, this red wine is at its best after decanting (half an hour should do it). It is a perfect match for Cordero Asado (tender Spanish roast suckling lamb prepared with garlic and rosemary.)

2018 Agostina Pieri Sant’Antimo Rosso

Tuscany, Italy $28.32

Where

Covering the same area as the world famous wine region of Brunello di Montalcino, the Sant’Antimo DOC is situated in southern Tuscany. Officially created in 1996, this appellation is named after the Romanesque 12th-Century Abbey of Sant’Antimo. The area has one of the warmest and driest climates in all of Tuscany. Ripening grapes is rarely a problem. Site exposure plays an important role in the viticulturalists arsenal. Vines planted on southern facing slopes receive more sunshine than those vineyards that are north facing. In certain areas maritime breezes bring cooler temperatures, resulting in grapes with balanced acidity.

What

The Sant’Antimo designation was created for wineries that wanted to produce red using a blend of grape varieties. For Brunello di Montalcino designated wines, the rules dictate that a winemaker can only use 100% Sangiovese Grosso. The advent of the Sant’Antimo DOC meant that wineries could now produce wines using other grape varieties such as Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Pinot Nero. Examples of Sant’Antimo Bianco can be made using Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Grigio. The designation also allows winemakers to experiment with winemaking techniques that are forbidden for Brunello di Montalcino.

The Agostina Pieri Sant’Antimo Rosso is made from a cuvée of 50% Sangiovese, 30% Cabernet Sauvignon, and 20% Merlot that was harvested from south facing vineyards. Fermented in stainless steel tanks for 12 days, the wine was first aged 10 months in second-use French oak barrels, followed by 2 months in stainless steel tanks.

Who

The Agostina Pieri winery is located in Località Piancornello, in the hamlet of Castelnuovo dell’Abate. It was founded in 1991 by Agostina Pieri and her two sons, Francesco and Giacopo Monaci. Agostina was able to create her estate when her winemaking father, Alessandro Pieri, divided his estate among his three children. Consulting oenologist Fabrizio Moltard was hired in 2002 to further elevate the quality of the wines. Today the small family run winery produces wines designated as Rosso di Montalcino, Brunello di Montalcino, and Sant’Antimo. A unique trait of Agostina Pieri is the focus on producing high quality Rosso di Montalcino. Considered second rate by many wineries, Agostina takes great pride in her Rosso. It is in fact the only Rosso di Montalcino to be awarded Tre Bicchieri by Gambero Rosso.

Taste

Agostina Pieri doesn’t mind using a judicious amount of oak in making her wines. As such, this wine has elegant sweet spiciness to it. Medium garnet red in the glass, it exudes aromas of baked cherries, licorice, espresso beans, leather and allspice. The palate is medium bodied with smooth tannins, medium high acidity, and dried red fruit flavours. Dry on the finish, this wine is very approachable and food friendly. It is an excellent match for Pancetta and spicy Capocollo.

2016 Château Le Maine Martin Bordeaux Supérieur

Bordeaux, France $21.46

Where

Château Le Maine Martin is located in the Entre-Deux-Mers area of Bordeaux, some 25 kilometres west of Saint-Émilion. Meaning “between two seas”, Entre-Deux-Mers sits between the Garonne and Dordogne rivers. The area occupies a large chunk of Bordeaux, and is dominated by fertile rolling hills that rise to 100 meters above sea level. The predominantly alluvial soil of Entre-Deux-Mers originates from the two wide rivers that define its western and eastern borders.

What

Château Le Maine Martin labels this wine as a Bordeaux Supérieur. This appellation, which applies to wines from anywhere within Bordeaux, is the preferred designation for red wines from Entre-Deux-Mers. As the name would suggest, the tier was created for wines that were “superior” to the generic wines of Bordeaux. To qualify for the designation wineries must adhere to a few higher standards. The vines must be planted at greater density (4500 plants per hectare, versus 4000 plants per hectare for regular Bordeaux.) The maximum allowed grape yield is 10% lower. Additionally, the rules for grape sugar levels are stricter.

The 2016 Château Le Maine Martin Bordeaux Supérieur is made from a cuvée of 65% Merlot and 35% Cabernet Franc. Hand harvested, the grapes were fermented in cement tanks with natural yeasts and macerated for 8-10 days. Maturation was in stainless steel tanks for 8 months.

Who

This estate spans 40 hectares near the villages of Saint-Sulpice-et-Cameyrac, Izon and Vayres. Originally built by the Cailley family in 1812, today there are 7 hectares planted to vine. Passed down through the generations, the winery is managed by Alain Cailley and his sons Jérôme and Gil-Paul. With an average age of 40 years, the Merlot and Cabernet Franc vines are planted predominantly to clay and gravel soils. Farming without chemical weed-killers, the Cailley’s do their best to maintain the natural ecosystem of their vineyards.

Taste

In the glass this wine is medium garnet red in colour. On the nose, aromas of black currants and dark raspberries standout, and are followed by precise aromas of mint, thyme, and cedar. On the palate it is medium bodied with earthy tannins and firm structure. The finish is lingering with dried red fruit and cassis flavours. The ideal ‘luncheon’ wine, the Château Le Maine Martin Bordeaux Supérieur will pair well with old school favorites such as Beef Wellington or French Beef Dip.