Good day wine clubbers! Your September edition of Vine Arts wine club is now available for pickup from both Vine Arts locations. We’ve got that back to school feeling, so we really hit the books to uncover some real gems for this months wine 6-pack. We hope you enjoy!

2019 Domaine Labbé Vin de Savoie Abymes

Savoie, France

$23.63

Where

Also known as Savoy, the region of Savoie is located in eastern France near the country’s border with Switzerland. A mountainous area just south of Lake Geneva, the appellation is a collection of fragmented sub-regions spread across 4 French departments. Savoie, Haute-Savoie, Isère, and Ain. The two main designations are Vin de Savoie and Bugey. With only 2,000 hectares of vineyards, Savoie is one of the country’s smallest wine regions. Most of the vineyards are planted on mountain slopes, ranging from 250 to 550 meters in elevation. The continental climate has both alpine and mediterranean influences. Politically, Savoie only became part of France in the late 1800’s. Prior to this the Duchy of Savoy was an independent nation with origins dating back to the early 1400’s. First centered in Chambéry, and then Torino, the duchy once controlled a large portion of France and northern Italy.

What

The wine production of Savoie accounts for only 0.5% of all French wines. What little there is, is mostly consumed locally. They are made in an easy to drink style ideal for relaxing at the chalet between runs on the ski hill. 70% of Savoie wines are white and made primarily from Jacquère and Altesse. Mondeuse is the prominent red grape variety.

The Domaine Labbé Vin de Savoie Abymes is made from 100% Jacquère. The grapes were harvested from sustainably farmed 35 year old vines planted to rocky clay and limestone soil. Fermented using natural yeasts, the wine was vinified and aged in stainless steel tanks.

Who

Domaine Labbé was created 15km south of Chambéry in 1975 by brothers Roger and Mark Labbé. Subsistence farmers, the brothers would tend their crops and raise their cows. Making wine in their spare time, during the week one brother was employed as a butcher and the other as a construction entrepreneur. In 2004 cousins Alexandra and Jerome took over management of the 10 hectare estate from their fathers. Of this, 6 hectares are planted to 30+ year old vines. The remaining vines are less than 20 years old. The cousins work towards maintaining the typicity of their grapes by controlling temperatures in the cellar and fermenting the wines with indegenous yeasts in tanks and neutral foudres.

Taste

A descendant of the Gouais grape variety, Jacquère is mouthwatering and extraordinarily refreshing. Pale lemon-green in colour, it has aromas of green apple skins, fresh squeezed lemons, and flint. The light bodied palate is limpid with mouth puckering acidity and strong minerality. A touch bitter on the finish, this white wine is a fine pairing for raclette.

2020 Sumarroca Temps de Flors

Penedès, Spain

$23.61

Where

The multiple Sumarroca properties are spread across the region of Penedès: Molí Coloma in Subirats (36ha), Heretat Sabartés in Banyeres del Penedès (25ha), and the Sumarroca Country Estate in Monistrol d’Anoia/Sant Sadurní d’Anoia (403.8ha). The most important wine region in Catalonia, Penedès is a zone of coastal hills between Barcelona and Tarragona. The appellation is further broken down into three separate sub regions: Baix Penedès, Alt Penedès, and Medio Penedès. The overall Mediterranean climate is characterized by warm summers, moderate winters, and low rainfall that is concentrated in the Spring and Autumn.

What

Penedès is best known as the heart of the Spanish sparkling wine industry. Traditionally made from Macabeo, Parellada and Xarel-lo, Cava is Spain’s answer to Champagne. First produced in the late 1800’s, the wines were originally known as Champaña. In the 1970’s the Champenois protested the obvious similarity between Champaña and Champagne, and the name was changed to Cava. Today the finest examples are made in the area of Sant Sadurní d’Anoia.

The Sumarroca Temps de Flors is made from a distinct aromatic blend of 50% Muscat, 25% Gewürztraminer, 25% Xarel-lo. The grapes were harvested from the Sumarroca Country Estate and Heretat Sabartés. Prior to fermentation, the Muscat and Gewürztraminer were given a short maceration to draw out complexity and varietal character. Following a soft pressing, the juice was decanted by gravity and fermented at low temperatures. After this the wine was aged on the fine lees for 4 months prior to bottling.

Who

The Sumarroca’s first purchased grape vines in Penedès in the 1980’s. Tending vineyards in northwestern Catalonia for generations, the family have found great success with their other business ventures. In addition to owning Teyco, a construction company, they’re also shareholders in COMSA Corporation, a leader in the engineering and infrastructure sector. Add to this, they also manage a canning company in Navarra and a company that distributes their wines and foods. Needless to say, they don’t do anything in small measures. As such, when they were established in Penedès they set about purchasing the finest farmland. Today they have around 258 hectares of vineyards. The family has a strong commitment to sustainability and farm their vines according to organic principles to produce the best grapes possible. Sumarroca is in fact one of Spain’s largest producers of sparkling wines made only from estate fruit.

Taste

As suggested by its name, which means “The time of flowers”, this wine is like a stroll through a garden of flowers in full bloom. Lemon yellow in hue, on the nose it shows highly perfumed aromas of orange blossom, honeysuckle, citrus peel, tangerine, and ginger. The medium bodied palate has good acidity, soft texture, and a nice touch of honeyed sweetness. Zesty and refreshing, the finish has a slight note of crushed pepper. You cannot ask for a better pairing to go with a plate of Calamari à la Plancha.

2020 Abbia Nòva Senza Vandalismi Rosso Cesanese del Piglio

Lazio, Italy

$31.01

Where

This red wine comes from the Italian wine region of Cesanese del Piglio. Located in central Lazio, this DOCG covers the area around Piglio, Serrone, Acuto, Anagni and Paliano. The designation was officially created in 2008. Often referred to as simply Piglio, the area has been well-regarded since the medieval period. Lazio’s winemaking heritage goes back even further. Home to the capital city of Rome, Lazio sits at the center of the Italian peninsula. It borders Tuscany to the north, Campania to the south. Abruzzo to the east, and Umbria to the northeast. The mediterannean climate is moderated by cool winds that come down from Apennine mountains and blow in from the Tyrrhenian Sea.

What

The Abbia Nòva Senza Vandalismi Rosso is made from Cesanese, a grape with ancient origins. Although unproven, it’s thought that Cesanese was cultivated in Lazio prior to the rise of the Romans. The first written account appeared during the 1400’s, when Cesanese was grown by monasteries. Today little over 600 hectares of the variety are grown in Lazio, principally in Cesanese del Piglio. Two types exist – Cesanese Comune and Cesanese di Affile. The prior is considered superior. In the vineyard it’s a difficult grape to work with. Extremely late ripening, it can struggle to achieve full phenolic ripeness, leading to thin wines. When grown with care, Cesanese has ripe cherry flavours and fine tannins.

The grapes for this wine were harvested from vines ranging in age from 17 to 82 years, planted at 380-550 meters in elevation. Spontaneously fermented with 8 days of maceration, ageing was in a combination of stainless steel and concrete tanks.

Who

Abbia Nòva is located in the town of Piglio, 30 miles east of Rome. The name of the winery refers to the ancient road that connects Pilio to Abruzzo. The winery is run by cousins Daniele and Pierluca Proietti. Together they cultivate 7 hectares of vineyards planted mostly to local grape varieties. The vineyard holdings are separated into 4 parcels, or contrada – San Giovanni, Cercione, Collepasso, and Vignali. They additionally have 5 parcels planted to olive trees. In the vineyard they follow traditional and natural methods, starting with organic and eventually introducing biodynamic farming principles. They avoid the use of sulphur and copper, preferring to use natural resistance methods. The wines are vegan-friendly and certified organic from 2020.

Taste

The Vandalismi Rosso speaks to those in search of an honest Vino da Tavola. This is not to say that there’s anything basic about this wine, but it clearly belongs with food. Medium ruby in colour, on the nose it has aromas of ripe cherries, red plums, mulberry, forest floor and juniper berries. The palate is medium bodied with bitter tannins and bright acidity. Try it with Bucatini Amatriciana, a classic Lazio pasta dish often considered a part of the “holy trinity of Roman pasta”.

2015 Château La Rode Castillon-Côtes de Bordeaux

Bordeaux, France

$19.70

Where

Created in 2009, the Castillon-Côtes de Bordeaux appellation is reserved for wines from the Castillon area at the eastern fringe of Bordeaux. In addition to Castillon, the Côtes de Bordeaux designation can be affixed to the wines of Blaye, Francs, and Cadillac. The designation brings together these different areas under a single banner, in an effort to streamline the region for consumers. A sizable wine region, it covers a significant portion of land on Bordeaux’s Right Bank. Separated from the Left Bank by the Gironde Estuary, this area was historically removed from the goings on of Bordeaux’s movers and shakers.

What

The Château La Rode Castillon-Côtes de Bordeaux is made from a blend of 70% Merlot, 20% Cabernet Franc, and 10% Cabernet Sauvignon harvested from 30 year old vines. This is a common combination of grape varieties for the Right Bank. Merlot is typically the dominant grape variety, although Cabernet Franc can also play a leading role. The reason for Merlot’s importance here is the soil. With predominantly limestone/clay soils, it is less difficult to ripen grapes on the Right Bank. The gravel soils of the Left Bank, which encourage slow ripening, are better suited to growing Cabernet Sauvignon. In general, the Merlot dominant blends from Bordeaux are softer and more fruity in style.

Who

Château La Rode is located in Saint-Philippe d’Aiguilhe, on the slopes of Castillon la Bataille, close to Saint-Emilion. The property has been owned by the same family since 1963. Today it is managed by Christine Faux. Altogether there are 20.7 hectares of vines planted primarily to Merlot. Farmed according to lutte raisonnée principles until 2008, the estate has been certified organic since 2012. In addition to Château La Rode, the family also owns Château Camp de la Hire, which produces wines under the Castillon-Côtes de Bordeaux designation as well.

Taste

The 2015 Château La Rode Castillon-Côtes de Bordeaux is in a lovely place right now. The once youthful tannins have had a few years to soften and integrate. Deep garnet in hue, on the nose it unveils bountiful aromas of lush black plums, black cherry compote, purple popsicle, and bay leaf. The palate is medium bodied with balanced tannins and generous black fruit flavours. A luscious finish lingers on the palate. A good pairing for pulled-pork sandwiches, it is an especially decadent match for rich Gratin Dauphinois (sliced potatoes baked in cream).

2019 Domaine François Chapuis Mâcon-Mancey Rouge

Burgundy, France

$30.79

Where

This wine is made from grapes harvested from vineyards in the Burgundian subregion of Mâcon-Mancey. Officially introduced in 2005, the designation is carved from the larger appellation of Mâcon. In addition to the commune of Mancey itself, it includes the communes of Boyer, La Chapelle-sous-Brancion, Étrigny, Jugy, Laives, Montceaux-Ragny, Nanton, Royer, Sennecey-le-Grand, Vers and a piece of Tournus. Altogether this accounts for 20 hectares of vineyards scattered throughout the area. The landscape of Mâcon-Mancey is characterized by rolling hills and predominantly limestone soils mixed with sandstone pebbles and reddish marls.
The climate is continental with short summers and cold winters.

What

Around 9 out of 10 vines in Mâcon-Mancey are planted to Gamay grapeThe remaining vines are planted to Chardonnay.

The Domaine Chapuis Mâcon-Mancey Rouge is made from 100% hand-harvested Gamay. The grapes were harvested from vines spread across 5 parcels: “Biovois”, “Les Laines”, “Les Cras du Haut” and “Les Roches” (2 plots). The vines are farmed by hand without the use of pesticides or herbicides. Once in the cellar the grapes are destemmed and placed into a vat, where they are cooled prior to fermentation. Fermented over 5 to 7 days, this is the stage where the wine develops its lovely aromas and character. Once vinified, the wine is pressed and aged for a short period in vats.

Who

Domaine François Chapuis is a small family run winery located in southern Burgundy. The estate has been managed by winemaker François Chapuis since 1997, who is aided by his mother and father, Josette and Jean. François farms 13 hectares of vineyards just west of Tournous within the lieu dit of “Les Cras”. 50 years ago these holdings were used for mixed-agriculture, but today they are fully planted to vine. Farming according to organic principles, François hasn’t used any insecticides or pesticides for 10+ years. Four times a year the vineyards are ploughed to allow the soil to oxygenate, and to generate microbial life. In the cellar François makes his wine traditionally, utilizing partial (25%) barrel ageing.

Taste

Gamay can range from super lithe (we’re talking about you Beaujolais Nouveau) to structured and cellar worthy. This example from Domaine François Chapuis displays Gamay’s ripe and succulent side. Light ruby red in colour, it shows aromas of tender clack currant, red plum, raspberry, chives and peony. The palate is light bodied with well-integrated tannins and fleshy red fruit flavours. Best served around 14°C, it nicely complements white meat dishes like poulet au vinaigre (Lyon-style chicken prepared in vinegar sauce) or farmhouse Saint-Marcellin cheese.

2020 Dorrance Rouge

Swartland, South Africa

$23.64

Where

One of South Africa’s most dynamic wine regions, Swartland is located 65 kilometres north of Cape Town. Part of the larger Western Cape wine appellation, it lies on the northern side of Paardeberg mountain. Swartland’s beautiful landscape is made up of sweeping hills and steep mountain slopes. The name of the region comes from the Dutch word for “black land”, which refers to the local renosterbos (rhinoceros) bush, which turns black after the rainy season. Not only planted to the grape vine, Swartland is heavily given to mixed agriculture. To manage the region’s harsh and arid climate, most of the vines are farmed low to the ground and bush trained. Poor shale and granitic soil forces the vines to work hard to obtain moisture, leading to the production of small yields on intensely concentrated fruit.

What

The Dorrance Rouge is made from 100% Cinsault. Heavily planted in Swartland, Cinsault was brought to South Africa from its home in the Hérault region of southern France following the ravages of phylloxera, which killed many of the country’s grape vines. A high-yielding variety well suited to hot climates, it was chosen to help growers get back on their feet. Due to its French origins, for many years the grape was known locally as Hermitage. In the past utilized as a blending variety, South African winemakers are today taking interest in Cinsault’s unique qualities. Generally low in tannin and acidity, it produces aromatic, sometimes rustic, wines with dried fruit flavours.

For this wine the grapes were whole-cluster fermented without any crushing or destemming in open top stainless steel tanks and old French oak barrels (25%).

Who

Dorrance Wines is an urban winery located in Cape Town’s iconic Heritage Square building. Built in the 1780’s, this historic structure was recently revitalized, drawing in a new group of businesses. The story of the winery began when Christophe Durand moved to South Africa from his native home in Calvados, France in 1995. Establishing himself as a supplier of fine French barriques, it was in Cape Town that he met his future wife Sabrina. While selling barriques Christophe became more and more involved with winemaking. Captured by the unique character of South Africa’s wines, the couple eventually decided to start their own winery. The inaugural wine, the Cuvee Ameena Syrah, was released in 2000. Today Dorrance Wines produces a range of wines from a handful of areas within the Western Cape. The overriding philosophy is to handle the grapes as little as possible and to let the fruit express itself and its terroir.

Taste

The Dorrance Rouge is an alluring red wine with plenty of freshness. Medium garnet in colour, the nose offers sappy aromas of red currants, ripe strawberries, violets, and cardamom pods. Fine minerality and soft tannins are well suited to this wine’s medium weight build. Zesty acidity carries onto the earthy finish. Best enjoyed in its youth, this wine is a great match for crispy lentil samosas.