Hello everyone, your May edition of Vine Arts Wine Club will be available for pickup from both locations on Saturday, May 1st. This months wine bag includes an intriguing mix of styles, including our first Piquette in wine club. We hope you enjoy! Cheers!
2019 Giuliana Vicini Pecorino
Abruzzo, Italy $19.38
This white wine is made from grapes harvested from the Colline Pescaresi wine appellation. Created in 1995, this IGT (Indicazione Geografica Tipica) lies within the Italian region of Abruzzo. Situated on the Adriatic side of the Italian peninsula, Abruzzo is neighboured by Marche to the north, Lazio to the west, and Molise to the south. Sitting in the shadow of the Apennine Mountains, much of Abruzzo is mountainous and covered with forests and national parks. It is home to one of Italy’s highest peaks, Gran Sasso, which rises to 2912 meters. The benefits of Abruzzo’s rolling landscape is a wealth of micro-climates and areas that see strong diurnal temperature variations. Colline Pescaresi itself covers all of the hilly province of Pescara.
Pecorino is a grape that has fought hard to get to where it is today. Light skinned and most planted in Italy’s eastern coastal areas, the variety was thought to be extinct as recently as the mid 1900’s. If it wasn’t for the work of a few key producers who propagated vine cuttings, it could have easily been lost. Luckily the amount of Pecorino vines has grown every sharply. The name Pecorino means “little sheep”, apparently from the variety’s popularity with grazing sheep.
The grapes for the Giuliana Vicini Pecorino were harvested from vineyards near Miglianico. The vines are located at 250 meters in elevation, just three kilometers from the Adriatic Sea. Vinification and maturing was done in stainless steel tanks.
The Vicini family moved to the area near Pescara around 1500 as wool merchants and have had agricultural holdings ever since. The cantina for wine operations was constructed in1853. In recent years the Vicini vineyard holdings were passed on to Chiara Ciavolich by her aunt Giuliana Vicini along with her dream that the prime vineyards be designated to a label specific to the terroir of the sites. The Giuliana Vicini label was realized in honour of Chiara’s nonna.
Naturally high in acidity, Pecorino produces refreshing wines with citrus fruit flavours and white flower aromas. Pale straw yellow in hue, on the nose it has aromas of stone fruits, jasmine, acacia, and lemon blossom. The palate is light bodied with pronounced acidity and flavours of lemon, salty pear, apricot, and wet stone. The finish is dry with lingering minerality.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, Pecorino wine is a great match for Pecorino cheese. This hard and salty cheese made from sheep’s milk is made across Italy. Although you will find it hard to purchase fresh Pecorino Abruzzese in Alberta, you can easily find good examples of Pecorino Toscano which pair equally well. Additionally, this wine is also a strong match for shellfish.
2020 Adega de Penalva Rosé
Dão, Portugal $19.53
Located southeast of Porto in northern Portugal is the appellation of Dão. The name of the region comes from the Dão river, a tributary of the Mondego. The region lies on a high plateau that is surrounded on three sides by the Serra da Estrela, Serra do Caramulo and Serra da Nave. These mountains shelter the vineyards from the Atlantic Ocean, creating a moderate and consistent climate. During the winter there is plenty of rainfall that passes through Dão’s well drained sandy soils, which lie atop solid granite. The growing season is reliably long and dry.
One of the oldest wine regions in Portugal, Dão was first recognized as a Região Demarcada in 1908. Starting in the 1940’s the region’s winemakers were heavily regulated by the Salazar government, whose approach had an adverse effect on wine quality. It wasn’t until recently that the appellation found its footing and drew international acclaim. Like in the neighbouring Douro Valley, the most popular grape varieties are Touriga Nacional and Tinta Roriz. There are also a few dozen indegenous grape varieties of note, such as Alfrocheiro Preto and Encruzado.
The Adega de Penalva Rosé is made from a blend of Touriga Nacional and Tinta Roriz harvested from sustainable vineyards.
Adega de Penalva is one of Dão’s leading co-operative wineries. Founded in 1960 by 43 growers, today the co-operative has 1000 members. On average, each of these growers owns a little more than one hectare of vines. These small holdings reflect how much of Portugal’s wine industry remains small and rural. Since its creation the winery has focused on producing wines exclusively from Portuguese grape varieties made using modern techniques. In terms of value, these wines completely punch above their price point.
Forget the Mateus, this is the kind of Portuguese rosé we want. It’s dry, crisp and very refreshing. Pale pink in colour, it has aromas of light red cherry, ripe strawberry, grapefruit, cumin, and clove. On the palate it is light bodied with zesty acidity and savoury red fruit flavours. It’s a lovely and unshowy rosé with a persistent finish that brings you back for another sip. Certainly a wine that can be enjoyed on it’s own, the Adega de Penalva Rosé is a strong match for oily Sardinhas Assadas (Grilled sardines). Roasted whole on an open-fire grill and seasoned with a sprinkling of coarse salt, this simple and healthy dish offers an interesting contrast to crisp rosé.
2020 Averill Creek Piquette Blanc
Vancouver Island, Canada $24.95
Averill Creek winery is located in the beautiful Cowichan Valley on Vancouver Island. Little known beyond the west coast, this area of rolling hills was awarded its own official sup-appellation in 2020, making it the first British Columbia sub-GI outside of the Okanagan Valley. One of the largest islands in the Pacific, Vancouver Island has a strongly maritime climate and mountainous landscape. The highest peaks rise as high as 2,000 meters above sea level. The western side of the island is rugged, windswept, and wet. Sheltered by the mountains, the eastern portion of the island sees much less rainfall. This is where the Cowichan Valley is located, along with the other main growing area, the Saanich Peninsula.
What is Piquette? For generations the wine of farmers, this style of wine has recently burst back onto the wine scene. Piquette is a petit vin or third wine made from rehydrated grape must. In the past winery workers weren’t able to enjoy the fruits of their labours, as those wines were reserved for paying customers. As a substitute they created a style of wine made from grape skins and seeds that were leftover from the winemaking process. By adding water to the used grape skins, they were able to initiate another fermentation and create a low alcohol beverage that blurred the line between cider, kombucha, beer, and wine. Tart, funky, and dry, it was the kind of drink that you could have on a lunch break or at the end of a long day between the vines. Mostly abandoned by the mid 21st century, Piquette has been rediscovered by Natural winemakers in search of fresher and easier to drink wine styles.
The Averill Creek Piquette Blanc is made from the grape skins used to make the winery’s Joue White Field Blend. That wine is made mostly from free-run juice, leaving plenty of goodness in the skins. The cuvée comprises 40% Pinot Gris, 40% Gewürztraminer and 20% Chardonnay. The Piquette Blanc is naturally fermented in used 225L oak barrels before being transferred to stainless steel tanks for settling.
Constructed into the hillside of Mt. Prevost, Averill Creek was founded in 2001 by Andy and Wendy Johnston. Designed with the help of Vasco Pavlov, the winery incorporates three buildings, allowing for gravity to carry the wine from one stage to the next without the use of pumps. Altogether there are 12 hectares of vineyards. In 2018, Brent Rowland joined as winemaker. Previously Rowland spent 18 harvests working in California, New Zealand, Australia, and Niagara. Most recently he was the winemaker at Pearl Morisette in Ontario. In Brent’s words – “I feel that Averill Creek has all the components required to make quality, focused wines with complexity, amazing perfume, poise and restraint.”
Prepare yourself. This wine is different. In the glass it is slightly hazy with a medium yellow gold hue. Bottled unfined and unfiltered, there is some sediment resting at the bottom of the bottle. You can either pour the wine out and leave the sediment, or flip the bottle over and let the sediment work into the wine for texture. On the nose there are tropical, and funky, aromas of sour mirabelle plums, lychee, salty pears, yeast, and ginger. Aromatically it is similar to Normandy cider or Belgian farm beer. The palate has fine acidity and tart flavours of yellow apple skins, dried apricots, and yellow cherry. The finish is bone dry. Serve alongside creamy bloomy rind cheeses like Camembert or St. Andre.
2018 Mas du Gourgonnier Les Baux de Provence
Provence, France $29.86
Mas du Gourgonnier is located near the beautiful hilltop village of Les Baux de Provence in the Alpilles hills of Provence in southeastern France. A popular destination for travellers, the village sits atop a limestone bluff that overlooks the Provencal landscape. The local word for ‘rocky spur’, baou, gives the village its name. Created in 1995, the AOC includes the communes of Fontvieille, Maussane-les-Alpilles, Mouries, Paradou, Saint-Étienne-du-Grès, and Saint-Rémy-de-Provence. As with the rest of the Alpilles, the climate is Mediterranean with mild winters and long, dry growing seasons. For 183 days of the year the vineyards of Les Baux de Provence are violently buffeted by the Mistral wind that funnels down to the Gulf of Lion.
Situated between the Rhône river and the city of Avignon, the Les Baux de Provence appellation is more Rhône-like in character than the rest of Provence. As is the case in Châteauneuf-du-Pape, which is only 30 kilometers away, the main grape varieties are Grenache, Syrah and Mourvedre. Carignan and Counoise, which do particularly well in Provence, are also common. Cabernet Sauvignon, which was first cultivated during the 1960’s, is allowed in small measures. An important factor of grape growing in Les Baux de Provence is the role of organic farming. Benefiting from a warm and dry climate, grape growers can avoid using synthetic additives in the vineyard. There are currently developments gaining traction to make organic farming a requirement for all of the region’s wines, a first for France.
This red wine is made from a blend of 56% Grenache, 22% Cabernet Sauvignon, 12% Syrah, and 10% Carignan. Once hand harvested, the grapes were determined and fermented with ambient yeasts in steel tanks. To preserve the wine’s freshness, it was aged in a combination of steel tanks and used French oak barrels. The shape of the bottle, similar to that used for Calvados, is unique to Mas du Gourgonnier.
Created in the 1970’s, Mas de Gourgonnier is one of the oldest certified organic wineries in Provence. The property is managed by the Cartier family, who have worked the land around Baux de Provence since the 18th century. Originally farming fruits, vegetables, and grains, they planted their first vines in the 1950’s. Today Luc, Lucienne and Eve Cartier tend to 47 hectares of vines and 20 hectares of olive trees. The domaines olive oil is considered some of the finest in France.
A richly flavoured wine, the Mas du Gourgonnier Les Baux de Provence rouge exudes southern French warmth and herbaceousness. Ruby red in the glass, on the nose there are aromas of grilled plums and strawberries, blueberries, tobacco, anise and black olives. The plush palate is medium bodied with juicy red fruit flavours which are complemented by a peppery finish. Packing some respectable tannin and bright acidity, this wine is the perfect pairing for Daube, a traditional Provençal beef stew.
2019 Bodegas Francisco Gómez VID-A Earth
Alicante, Spain $22.07
This Spanish wine region lies on the country’s sunny, southeastern coast. An area where the grape vine has been cultivated for over a thousand years, today Alicante is playing a growing role in Spain’s wine industry. Created in 1957, the appellation includes 13,000 hectares of vines spread across two main growing areas. The smaller area, La Marina, is nearer to the coast between the towns of Denia and Calpe. The climate here is very hot and heavily influenced by the Mediterranean. The larger area, Vinalopo, lies further inland between the towns of Villena and Pinoso. The climate here is also hot, but more continental in character. Summer temperatures can easily exceed 35°C, and rainfall is limited to only 300mm a year on average.
Alicante wines were once a hot commodity. During the 1500’s they were sought out by consumers in England, Scotland, Holland and Sweden. The only thing that King Louis XIV of France would imbibe in his final days, robust Alicante wines were referenced by Alexandre Dumas in the Count of Montecristo. Their deep colour made them particularly popular for bulking up weaker wines from other regions. During the 20th century Alicante developed a reputation for high yielding vines and bulk production. More recently there has been a move towards polish and finesse.
The VID-A Earth is made from a blend of Monastrell and Syrah harvested from vines planted at 650 meters in “Finca La Serrata”. The grapes were harvested at night to avoid oxidation and high daytime temperatures. Fermented with natural yeasts in stainless steel tanks, it was aged for 4 months in new American oak barrels.
The land where Bodegas Francisco Gómez stands today has been planted to vine since the time of the Iberians, Celts, Romans and Phoenicians. Located between the Sierras del Castellar and El Serruchón, in the La Serrata area, the estate was created in 2004 by Francisco Gómez. The winery’s 200 hectares of vineyards are farmed according to organic and biodynamic principles. Led in the cellar by Verónica Bravo, the wines are certified vegan.
If you enjoy fruit forward Zinfandel or plush Californian Merlot, this youthful Spanish red blend is your kind of wine. Its concentrated style well represents the type of wine that Alicante is known for. Deep vermillion red in colour, on the nose there are aromas of blackberry, black plum, mocha, vanilla, and toffee. The palate is medium bodied with smooth tannins and a rounded finish. Enjoy this wine on its own or with spicy Sobrasada.
Barnard Griffin Rob’s Red Blend
Washington State, United States $26.76
The Barnard Griffin Rob’s Red Blend is made from grapes harvested from the Caroway Estate, Desert Aire, Gunkel and Arete vineyards in Columbia Valley and Wahluke Slope. Located in southeastern Washington State, this viticultural area accounts for 99% of all the vine plantings in the state. The appellation sits behind the Cascade Mountain Range, which shields the Columbia Valley from the Pacific Northwest’s wet weather. The overall climate is sunny and dry. A major contributing factor to this region’s uniqueness is its soil. Between 15,000 and 13,000 years ago eastern Washington State was swept by cataclysmic events known as the Missoula floods. At the end of the last ice age, the glacial Lake Missoula ruptured, causing huge amounts of water and earth to pour out. This happened at least 25 times. The glaciofluvial deposits spread across the Columbia Valley, giving the region a richly diverse range of soil types.
This wine is made from a blend of Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, plus small amounts of Petite Sirah and Zinfandel. A full bodied and richly flavoured cuvée, this is the quintessential style of the Columbia Valley. Only created in 1987, the appellation has fast built a reputation for Bordeaux and Rhône style blends. This was made possible by an influx of winemakers and capital during the 1980’s. Although grapes were planted as early as the late 1800’s, a whopping 40% of the region’s vines were planted in the last decade. Evolving at a steady pace, the wines of the Columbia Valley are only getting better.
Rob and his wife, Deborah Barnard, established Barnard Griffin Winery in 1983 with a small truckload of borrowed fruit and a rented cellar. It has now grown to become one of Washington’s most enduring and award-winning wineries. Rob and Deborah built the winery’s permanent home in Richland, Washington in 1996. The Barnard Griffin campus houses their production facility, tasting room, full service restaurant and fused glass art studio.
Maintaining true craftsmanship, Rob continues to be fully engaged in the winemaking and leadership of Barnard Griffin. The early vision of handcrafting the highest quality Washington wine continues to drive the company as Rob and Deborah move to incorporate a second generation.
There’s nothing shy about this wine from Barnard Griffin. Dark purple red in the glass, it has powerful and sweet aromas of blackberries, hazelnut, vanilla cream, and coffee. The full bodied palate delivers muscular blueberry compote and black cherry flavours that are wrapped in a robe of rich and chocolatey tannins. The finish is round with a dusting of baking spice. Bold and savory, the Rob’s Red Blend is a barbecue wine extraordinaire. It is a great match for coffee dry rubbed steak.