Hello everyone, it’s time for the July edition of Vine Arts Wine Club. We hope you’ve all been enjoying the scorching hot summer weather we’ve been having. This months selections include a crisp natural white wine from Catalonia, a vibrant Pinot Noir from Corsica, a super easy going Malbec from Mendoza, a barbecue ready Tempranillo from Rioja, and two crushable Gamay’s. Your wine bags will be ready for pickup from both locations July 1st. Cheers!

2019 Cellers de Can Suriol Azimut Blanco

Penedès, Spain

Lazio, Italy $25.28

Where

Cellers de Can Suriol is located in a pretty 15th century farmhouse in the Catalonian wine region of Penedès. Positioned near Spain’s northeastern border with France, Penedès is the most important viticultural area in Catalonia. First planted to vine by the Romans, it was given official status as a DO (denominación de origin) in 1960. Centered around the capital of Vilafranca del Penedès, the appellation is broken down into three official sub-regions. Alt Penedès is the furthest inland and most mountainous. Penedès Central is situated to the southwest and accounts for most of the region’s total output. Baix Penedès covers low lying coastal areas. The overall Mediterranean climate is defined by warm summers and mild winters, although specific site exposure and altitude creates a wide range of micro-climates.

What

Penedès is best known for the production of sparkling Cava wines made from a blend of Macabeo, Parellada, and Xarel-lo. Made using the ‘traditional method’, Cava is considered the ‘Champagne of Spain’.

The Azimut Blanco is made from a blend of 40% Macabeo, 30% Xarel-lo 30% Garnatxa, and 10% Malvasia. The grapes were harvested from a 5-hectare vineyard sitting 250 meters above sea level. Facing south on a slight slope, the vineyard is cooled by Mediterranean breezes during the morning and afternoon. The average vine age is 25 years. In the cellar the grapes are naturally fermented in 15,000-liter stainless steel tanks for 30 days. This is followed by 3 months in concrete tanks, where the wine undergoes malolactic fermentation and bâtonnage. Before being bottled, the wine is lightly filtered and sulphured.

Who

The Suriol family have been farming the land of Castell de Grabuac since the early 1600’s. Prior to this the family had been living in the area for 500 years. Initially given to mixed agriculture, the estate was heavily impacted by the phylloxera outbreak of the late 1800’s. Replanting the vines to American rootstock, the family were able to bottle their first wines in the 1940’s and sell them to local tavernas. In the 1980’s Francesc Suriol Cantí, a chemistry graduate and oenologist, introduced the production of sparkling wines. The 1990’s saw a move to organic viticulture and eventually the Suriol’s introduced aspects of biodynamics. Managed today by Assís Suriol, the estate consists of 30 hectares of vineyards. For the Azimut wines Assís sources grapes from like minded growers who farm organically.

Taste

Take away the bubbles, and the grapes that usually form the backbone of Cava are absolutely delicious as still wine. They offer oodles of crunchy acidity, fine minerality, and citrusy fruit flavours. Xarel-lo in particular has wonderful complexity. Notes of lemon and white peach contrast with notes of ginger and bitter almond. In the Azimut Blanco, the leading role of Macabeo lends medium body and notes of lime, honeydew, and angelica. 3 months of bâtonnage added a nice touch of richness and texture that carries onto the dry finish. Crisp and peppy, is a great match for Catalonian bacallà (salt cod) and escalivada (grilled red peppers and eggplant).

2019 François Labet Île de Beauté Pinot Noir

Corsica, France $23.96

Where

‘The Isle of Beauty’, that’s what Île de Beauté translates to. It is an evocative title that is traditionally used to describe the island of Corsica. The fourth-largest island in the Mediterranean, Corsica lies off the southeastern coast of the French mainland. Beautifully rugged, its geography is made up of a single chain of mountains and more than 200 beaches. Famously the birthplace of Napoleon Bonaparte, it only became part of France in 1789. Corsica has a hot and sunny Mediterranean climate that is warmest near the coast. Further inland where elevations rise, the climate is more moderate and less hot.

What

Long controlled by the Genoese, Corsica is distinctly Italian in character. This is something that is reflected in the island’s wines. Altogether there are 30 French, Italian, and Spanish grape varieties approved for wine production. The three leading grape varieties are Nielluccio, Sciacarello and Vermentino.

Red Burgundy from Corsica. That’s how you could describe the François Labet Île de Beauté Pinot Noir. François Labet and his family have been coming to Corsica for years to stay at their holiday home. François always appreciated the island’s unique terroir. Recognizing that Corsica’s wild interior was cool enough to grow Pinot Noir, he knew that the potential was there to produce a wine. Eventually the opportunity arose to work with some Pinot Noir vines located at 400 meters altitude, above the town of Ghisonaccia. Applying his Burgundian knowhow, he created a Pinot Noir that is classic but with a Mediterranean twist. Fermented without the stems, the wine was aged in tanks and ⅓ French oak barrels.

Who

François Labet is as Burgundian as it gets. Raised in Beaune, his family has lived in the region for 300 years. His home at the center of the city, a bastion built in 1637, has been owned by the Labet’s since 1800. In addition to a negociant business, François manages two separate domaine’s – Domaine Pierre & Francois Labet and Chateau de La Tour. The former consists of vineyards in the area of Beaune. Built in 1890, Chateau de La Tour is the largest and most important domaine in Clos Vougeot. The holdings are located on the northern side of the Clos Vougeot itself. For both of his domaines François takes the same approach, farming according to organic principles and vinifying the wines traditionally.

Taste

This Pinot Noir from François Labet combines Burgundian elegance with ripe Mediterranean fruit. Pale ruby red in colour, it shows aromas of red cherries, hibiscus, clove and allspice. The palate is light bodied with fine tannins and tangy red fruit flavours. The finish is dry with a touch of spice. Exceptionally well priced and chuggable, we would suggest serving this wine around 14°C. Lovely all on its own, it is a great match for many duck based dishes like salade landaise (duck salad).

2019 Red Stone Gamay Noir

Niagara Peninsula, Canada

$25.15

Where

Redstone Winery is located in Ontario’s Niagara region in Beamsville. The winery’s 8 hectare estate vineyard sits within the Lincoln Lakeshore appellation. The westernmost subregion of the Niagara Peninsula, Lincoln Lakeshore sits on the southern shores of Lake Ontario. Extending some 18 kilometers, it stretches between Jordan Harbor in the east to the boundary of the Niagara region. Located close to a large body of water, the climate is heavily moderated. During the growing season cooler temperatures from the lake lowers temperatures in the vineyards. In the autumn, the lake brings warmer temperatures, extending the growing season.

The winery also owns 21 hectares of vines in the Twenty Mile Bench region. Situated further inland from Lake Ontario, this vineyard area sits on an escarpment of land that runs across the peninsula. Like in Lincoln Lakeshore, the climate is strongly influenced by the lake. Many consider Twenty Mile Bench to be one of Niagara’s top growing areas.

What

Gamay, or Gamay Noir, is fast becoming one of the most popular grape varieties planted in Niagara. Most famously grown in the Beaujolais region of France, this grape variety is originally thought to be from Germany. Long derided as a ‘disloyal variety’ and over-vigorous, it has found favour for its bright fruit flavours and soft tannins. A cool climate variety, it is particularly well suited to Canada’s difficult climate.

The Red Stone Gamay Noir is made from grapes sourced from the regional Niagara Peninsula appellation. Speaking to the area’s long growing season, the grapes were harvested near the end of October. Once vinified, the wine was aged 6 months in French oak barrels.

Who

Redstone Winery is the newest project from Moray Tawse and the winemaking team of Paul Pender and Jessica Otting. A financier and co-founder of Canada’s largest non-bank mortgage lender, Tawse purchased his first vineyards in Niagara in 2001. Subsequently Tawse Winery was opened in 2005. His next, and arguably most daring venture, was to purchase vines in France’s famed wine region of Burgundy with winemaker Pascal Marchand. In 2009 he purchased the former Thomas and Vaughan estate, renaming it Redstone Winery after the property’s red soil. Originally intended to support the production of Tawse Winery, it was decided that the wines were distinct enough to stand on their own. Paul Pender, one of Canada’s top winemakers, brings 15 years of winemaking experience at Tawse Winery and an obsessive desire to create wines that speak to the uniqueness of the Niagara region.

Taste

Gamay is the apex of everyday wine. Tremendously floral with abundant fruit flavours, it’s so easy to like. Light ruby red in the glass, it is exceedingly aromatic. One sniff unveils aromas of cherries, raspberries, boysenberry, violets, hibiscus, and garden soil. On the palate the light body is held up by vivid acidity and fine tannins. A supple finish encourages you to go back for another sip. On top of this, this Gamay is wonderfully agile when it comes to food pairings. Light enough for vegetarian dishes and seafood, we think it’s perfect with soft bloomy cheeses like Chaource.

2020 Domaine Séléné Beaujolais Cuvée de Printemps

Beaujolais, France

$31.55

Where

Domaine Séléné is a small estate located in the hamlet of Blacé, at the southern end of the Beaujolais Villages appellation. This designation is reserved for wines coming from 38 approved villages where the quality is higher than general Beaujolais. Areas selected as Beaujolais Villages tend to have rolling topography and granitic soil. The official borders stretch from the southern part of the Mâconnais to Villefranche-sur-Saône. In comparison, the regional Beaujolais appellation covers vineyards planted in flatter areas. The climate is continental in character and moderated by the Massif Central to the west and the Alps to the east. Growing seasons are relatively warm and sunny.

What

Made from 100% organically farmed Gamay, the Domaine Séléné Beaujolais Cuvée de Printemps was whole cluster fermented using carbonic maceration. This winemaking technique is common to Beaujolais. It is when whole berries are sealed in a closed vat which is filled with CO2. In the absence of oxygen and yeast, enzymes are released that cause intracellular fermentation, which occurs within the grape berries themselves. Eventually the process bursts the berries and the juice will stop fermenting in this unique way. At this point the wine will be fermented using traditional techniques, involving yeast, sugar, and oxygen. The resulting wine has lifted aromas and fruity character.

Who

Sylvère Trichard is part of Beaujolais’ new wave of natural winemakers. Starting his winemaking career as an intern at Domaine Belluard, Sylvère gained his formative experience working at Domaine Lapalu with Jean-Claude Lapalu. In 2012 he was fortunate enough to take over 4 hectares of vineyards in Blacé which were owned by his uncle. Previously known as Domaine de Fully, the vines had been farmed according to organic principles since 1998. In 2018 Sylvère went a step further and introduced biodynamic farming techniques. The vineyard area is separated into two parts. One plot is planted on silt and loam soil on a gentle slope that goes down to a stream. The second plot is located within the Beaujolais Villages appellation, and sits atop sandy and granitic soil. The vines range in age from 20 to 80 years old. In the cellar Sylvère uses semi-carbonic or full carbonic maceration for all of his wines. Ageing is done in either concrete tanks and large wooden casks. The wines are bottled without fining or filtration, and very little sulphur is added.

Taste

Gamay made with carbonic maceration tends to be very floral and light on its feet. The Domaine Séléné Beaujolais Cuvée de Printemps is very much this. Violet ruby in colour, on the nose there are perfumed aromas of fresh picked black currants, peach, and violets. Light bodied with silky tannins, the palate has tart acidity and a touch of bitterness on the finish. We highly suggest serving this wine a touch cooler to further heighten its crushability. Enjoyable with or without food, it is a great match for comfort food like Mac and Cheese.

2020 Sierra los Andes Malbec

Luján de Cuyo/Mendoza, Argentina

$20.44

Where

The Sierra los Andes is made from grapes harvested from the El Alto vineyard in Ugarteche, in the southern part of Luján de Cuyo. Located in a valley just south of the city of Mendoza itself, Luján de Cuyo is one of Mendoza’s most important subregions. It gets its name from the small town of Luján de Cuyo, which lies on the banks of the Mendoza river, whose waters make viticulture possible in this area. Fed by snowmelt from the Andes mountains, the river provides much needed irrigation to the vineyards. The mountains additionally create a rainshadow, giving Mendoza an arid climate. The regions dominantly poor alluvial soils, which were formed by mountain runoff, are ideal for viticulture.

What

As is the case in all of Mendoza, the most important grape in Luján de Cuyo is Malbec. Originally from southwestern France, the variety has become iconic in Argentina. In France, Malbec typically produces wines that are more rustic, while in Argentina the wines are more plush and fruit forward. The broad acceptance of modern techniques by Argentine winemakers has resulted in a style of Malbec that is consistent and easy to like.

The grapes for this wine were harvested from drip-irrigated vines planted at 1,050 meters above sea level, where warm days give way to cool nights during the growing season. Picked in mid to late March, the grapes were destemmed and softly crushed before cold pre-fermentation maceration to preserve primary aromas. Fermented slowly in temperature controlled tanks, the wine underwent malolactic conversion to soften the texture.

Who

Sierra los Andes was created by Hallgarten and Novum Wines, one of the UK’s leading wine suppliers. Founded over 80 years ago, the business sources wines from around the world. The buying team is led by Steve Daniel, who is credited with introducing Greek and Chilean wine to the UK. Working with some of the finest family grape growers in the world, Daniel is able to create own brands for Hallgarten and Novum Wines. He collaborates with winemakers and existing wineries to produce wines that over-deliver in value. For the Sierra los Andes Malbec, Daniel collaborated with winemaker Marcus Fernandez to make a fresh style of Malbec from grapes harvested from prime vineyard sites.

Taste

Argentinian Malbec is known for its deep colour and round, opulent flavours. In the glass, the Sierra los Andes Malbec is inky violet red in colour with sweet and spicy aromas of juicy red plums, blackberries, blueberries, sweet cocoa, and milk chocolate. Medium bodied with glossy tannins, the palate is velvety with ripe blackfruit flavours. The finish is soft with a dusting of baking spice. Given Argentina’s rapport for red meat, it’s unsurprising that Malbec is the ideal barbecue wine. Serve the Sierra los Andes Malbec with sticky barbecued ribs or smoked brisket.

Viña Herminia ‘Herminia’ Tempranillo

Rioja, Spain $31.39

Where

The Viña Herminia wine estate is located at the far southeastern corner of Rioja in the area Rioja Oriental. Formerly known as Rioja Baja, Rioja Oriental is one of three official subregions, the other two being Rioja Alta and Rioja Alavesa. The largest of the three, Rioja Oriental accounts for 40% of all of Rioja’s wine output. The climate is hot, and very, very dry. This is due to the area’s low altitude and proximity to the Mediterranean. The relatively flat landscape is constantly bombarded by scorching sun and temperatures that can regularly hit 35°C. Key to Viña Herminia’s success is that its vines are located at higher altitudes on the slopes of Mount Yerga. Ranging from 400 to 700 meters in elevation, the vines receive plenty of warmth and sunshine during the day and are able to rest during the cooler hours of the night.

What

In decades past the vineyards of Rioja Oriental were planted primarily to Garnacha. This hardy grape variety was able to cope with the region’s hot weather and arid conditions. The bush trained vines were planted low to the ground in order to shield the grapes from the sun’s intense rays. Easily achieving ripeness, the Garnacha grapes were used to lend body and fruit to the traditional Rioja blend. Eventually though most growers moved towards Tempranillo, Rioja’s most noble grape variety. Better understanding of viticulture meant that growers could maintain balance and avoid overripeness.

Made from 100% Tempranillo, the ‘Herminia’ was aged 4 months in oak barrels.

Who

The Viña Herminia ‘Herminia’ gets its name from the namesake of the winery, Herminia Casas. Born in 1889 to a prominent family from Rioja, Herminia is remembered for her tireless efforts in educating the children and women of her village. Herminia’s husband, Joaquin, came from a family with a long history of winemaking. Following his wife’s death in 1944, Joaquin decided to open a winery in her memory. It was officially opened in 1949. Situated between the River Ebro and the Sierra de Yerga, today the winery grows Tempranillo, Garnacha, Graciano, and Viura. The wines are made by José Luis, a 4th generation winemaker.

Taste

Luscious and concentrated, the ‘Herminia’ is a well polished take on Tempranillo. Dark ruby red in the glass, on the nose it has aromas of fresh blackberry, cassis, black plum, vanilla bean, and cinnamon. The palate is medium bodied with rich blackfruit flavours, round structure and plush tannins. Less earthy than more traditional styles of Rioja, the ‘Herminia’ is a great pairing for indulgent cochinillo asado (roast suckling pig) or a simple spread of chorizo and manchego cheese.