Welcome, welcome, welcome, to the October edition of Vine Arts Wine Club! As always we’ve searched high and low to select six superb wines that showcase unique regions and delicious grape varieties.

We start things off with a crisp Vinho Verde from a legend of the Portuguese wine industry. Next up, a rosé Prosecco perfect for kicking off Thanksgiving dinner. Your third wine, a bright red made from Sicily’s hottest grape variety. Fourth up, a full liter of Tuscan Sangiovese awesomeness. For your fifth wine we hop over to Spain and try a wine made by a Spanish rockstar sommelier. Last but not least, we have selected a juicy and plush Petit Verdot from southern France.

Let us know if you have any questions. Cheers!

2020 Anselmo Mendes Muros Antigos Loureiro

Vinho Verde, Portugal

$20.95

Where

Northwestern Portugal is home to the country’s most famous white wine region: Vinho Verde. Officially created in 1908, the appellation’s borders roughly follow that of the province of Minho. This lush and leafy area extends from the border with Spain to south of the city of Porto. Compared with southern Portugal, Vinho Verde can feel like an entirely different country. In antiquity northwestern Portugal was occupied by Celtic peoples who left a distinct culture that persists even today. The close proximity of the Atlantic Ocean has a strong impact on Vinho Verde’s climate, bringing cool winds and rainfall. Most of Vinho Verde’s vineyards are farmed by small growers who tend small holdings of tightly spaced vines which are trained high above the ground on pergolas. This approach allows for natural airflow between the vines, decreasing issues with rot and disease.

What

When many people think of Vinho Verde they think of a simple white wine similar to 7-Up with citrus flavours and a touch of spritz. Surely there are industrial size wineries churning out oceans of indistinct Vinho Verde, but there is a growing regiment of artisanal producers elevating the style. In the past the wine gained its characteristic effervescence from malolactic fermentation occurring in the bottle. Today most producers who want a spritz in their wine will add a little CO2. Increasingly quality focused winemakers are forgoing this step and bottling their wines fully still.

The 6 grape varieties approved for white Vinho Verde production are Alvarinho, Arinto, Azal, Avesso, Loureiro, and Trajadura. Loureiro in particular is known to grow in the Lima area of Vinho Verde. It’s also cultivated in lesser volumes in the Spanish region of Galicia. The name Loureiro means “laurel”, a reference to the variety’s distinctive laurel or bay-leaf quality. Popular with winemakers, it brings well balanced acidity to a blend. The ‘Muros Antigos’ is an example of a 100% Loureiro Vinho Verde. The grapes were hand-harvested from choice south-facing vineyards planted to granite soils in the Lima Valley. Fermented with natural yeasts, it was aged on the lees in a neutral tank for 4 months before bottling.

Who

Anselmo Mendes is a legend in the Portuguese wine industry. Born to a winemaking family in Monção, he is reverentially known as ‘Mr. Alvarinho’ for his work with the Alvarinho grape variety. Trained in Portugal and France, he started producing wines under his own name in 1998. Working with rented parcels in Monção and Melgaço, he made his name for serious, mineral driven wines with zero effervescence. Today he owns many of the finest parcels in the area. Interested in other sections of the Vinho Verde region, he introduced the Muros Antigos (‘ancient walls’) line for wines made from grapes from the Lima Valley and Baião. To emphasize terroir and varietal character, he employs natural yeasts, slow fermenations, and neutral ageing. Across the board Anselmo’s wines bring crystalline clarity and offer peerless value for the price.

Taste

In the glass the Mendes Muros Antigos Loureiro is light straw in colour with inflections of silver-green. Allowed to warm a touch out of the fridge, it exhibits aromas of kaffir lime, grapefruit peel, pear, salty sea air, and bayleaf. Texturally it is light bodied with pronounced acidity and citrusy flavours. The saline finish is bone dry and very refreshing. The Portuguese drink gallons of Vinho Verde like this with fresh seafood and vegetables. Don’t enjoy seafood? The Mendes Muros Antigos Loureiro is also a great pairing for salt n’ vinegar chips.

2020 Casa Paladin Prosecco DOC Millesimato Brut Rosé

Veneto, Italy

$23.82

Where

Casa Paladin is located 45 minutes northeast of Venice in the small town of Motta di Livenza, near the point where Veneto borders Friuli Venezia Giulia. Veneto is a substantial and important Italian grape growing region situated where Italy’s Alpine north meets the country’s Mediterranean influenced south. Around 57% of the landscape is part of the Po Valley, which covers much of northern Italy. Inland areas experience an overall continental climate, where areas closer to the Adriatic Sea have a more moderate climate.

What

The northeastern section of Veneto is home to the area’s considerable sparkling wine industry. Prosecco is after all Veneto’s most famous export. This category of wine style can only be made in the Veneto and in neighbouring Friuli Venezia Giulia, although there is ongoing litigation concerning sparkling wines made elsewhere which have laid claim to the title (Australian Prosecco anyone?) The grape predominantly used to make Prosecco was previously of the same name, but the official name is now Glera. To make sparkling Prosecco, winemakers employ the Charmat method (known to Italians as the Marinotti method). The technique starts with creating a base wine, which is followed by a secondary fermentation in a sealed tank. With nowhere to go, the carbon dioxide produced is reintegrated back into the wine and voila, sparkling wine!

In 2020 Prosecco Rosé was officially allowed. In order to get a light pink hue, growers blend in a small amount of red wine. For the Casa Paladin Prosecco DOC Millesimato Brut Rosé the winemaker added 10% Pinot Nero (aka Pinot Noir).

Who

Casa Paladin was founded by Valentino Paladin back in 1962, long before Prosecco was known internationally. Owned by the same family today, the business has grown to include additional projects within Veneto, and also in Lombardy and Tuscany: Bosco del Merlo, Castello Bonomi, and Fattoria di Castelvecchi. Helmed by Carlo and Roberto Paladin, the estate is farmed according to lutte raisonnée (‘reasoned viticulture’) principles, and the wines are made with 50% less sulfites than is typical. Also, all of the wines are vegan certified.

Taste

Although often compared to Champagne, Prosecco is a very distinct style of sparkling wine. Where Champagne tends to favour bready character from extending lee’s ageing, Prosecco offers heightened aromas and flavours of crisp orchard and tropical fruits. The addition of Pinot Nero in the Casa Paladin Prosecco DOC Millesimato Brut Rosé adds notes of strawberries and raspberries. Light pink in hue, the wine has persistent perlage. With a dosage of 12 g/l of residual sugar, the wine is well balanced with just enough sweetness to balance the focused acidity. Enjoy this wine before a meal as an aperitif, or serve it alongside seafood based dishes like Polpette di Baccalà (cod fritters).

2020 Sibiliana Roceno Nerello Mascalese

Terre Siciliane, Italy

$23.60

Where

Meaning “Sicilian lands”, Terre Siciliane is the island wide IGT appellation for Sicily. Positioned off the toe of the Italian boot and separated by the Strait of Messina, Sicily is the largest island in the Mediterranean. Known as the Trinacria for it’s triangular shape, it is largely hilly, mountainous, and hugely abundant. Officially part of Italy since 1861, Sicily still feels like a country unto itself. It’s history is punctuated by repeated conquests and occupations. It is closer to North Africa than it is to Italy’s commercial center in the north. Endowed with ample sunshine and little precipitation, it offers ideal conditions for viticulture.

What

The Sibiliana Roceno is made from 100% Nerello Mascalese harvested from vineyards in Petrosino in western Sicily. Pronounced ““nair-rello mask-ah-lay-zay”, this grape variety is one of Sicily’s noble grape varieties. Its most famous iteration is found on the volcanic slopes of Mount Etna on the northeast of the island. The name of the grape derives from the Mascali plain, between Mount Etna and the coast, where the variety is thought to have originated. “Nerello” refers to the grapes’ dark colour. Petrosino is located in the province of Trapani, where the climate is influenced by moderating sea breezes. The vines are planted to sandy-loam soils and espalier trained. In the winery the grapes were destemmed and macerated on the skins for two weeks and then fermented. Finally the wine was aged in oak barrels prior to bottling.

Who

Sibiliana is the new project from the Cantine Europa Group. A collaboration between Sicilian grape growers, it brings together 4500 hectares of vineyards in the areas of Trapani, Agrigento and Palermo. The cooperative includes 2,100 growers and was founded in Petrosino in 1962. Within the project there are three distinct brands: Eughenes, Sensal, and Roceno. The Eughenes line is made up of the winery’s top wines. The Sensal line encompasses wines that are made from organically farmed grapes. The Roceno line is reserved for wines made solely from indegenous Sicilian grape varieties. Among its successes, the cooperative can count itself as the first winery to produce a varietal Grillo still wine.

Taste

The character of Nerello Mascalese can be compared to that of Pinot Noir and Nebbiolo. Light to medium bodied, it often has a streak of fine tannins. Compared to a Nerello Mascalese from Mt Etna, the Sibiliana Roceno Nerello Mascalese displays a more Mediterranean side of the variety. Garnet red in hue, on the nose it has aromas of dusty red cherries, malwina strawberry, cinnamon, smoke, and leather. The palate is medium bodied with firm tannins and vigorous acidity. Try it with chicken cacciatore (‘hunter style’ chicken), prepared with plenty of olives.

2020 Castello di Potentino Sacromontino

Tuscany, Italy

$28.32

Where

Castello di Potentino is an ancient structure located in the Grosseto area of southwestern Tuscany. Situated 30 kilometres from Montalcino, the estate lies within the newly created Montecucco DOC. This was the land of the Etruscans, an ancient people who dominated much of central Italy prior to the Romans. Castello di Potentino lies in a privileged position within a protected basin where the soil is predominantly volcanic in origin. The vineyards lie in the shadow of Monte Amiata, which was home to the Etruscan gods. Cooling mountain breezes funnel down into the vines, cooling them at night. During the day, hot air from the Tyrrhenian Sea and coastal plains keeps the vines dry and disease free.

What

The Castello di Potentino Sacromontino is made from Italy’s most planted grape variety – Sangiovese. Planted extensively throughout Tuscany, this grape variety is behind the region’s most prestigious wines. This is quite the accomplishment given Sangiovese’s persnickety nature. It’s notoriously slow to ripen and prone to disease. When Sangiovese vines are allowed to be over productive, the grapes will have higher levels of acidity and diluted colour. In the last 40 years much has been learned about how to correctly grow Sangiovese and the resulting wines have improved immensely. At their best, wines made from Sangiovese have balanced acidity, dense tannins, and savoury flavours.

The name “Sacromontino” is a word play on the name of Castello di Potentino’s more aged wine, “Sacromonte” (meaning “sacred mountain”). The ‘ino’ ending in Italian indicates something which is smaller. This wine was aged for just 6 months in a 50hl stainless steel vat. The fermentation took place in 50hl French oak barrels using indegenous yeasts.

Who

The first documented proof of Castello di Potentino goes back to 1042 and a certain Count Pietrone. What followed was ownership by a series of noble Tuscan families – the Tolomei, the Bonsignori, and the Salimbeni. By the 1500’s the castle became a center for the hospital order of Santa Maria della Scala. Subsequently the castle was bequeathed by Duke Ferdinando to Marchese Giovan Battista Bourbon del Monte, commander-in-chief of the infantry of the Venetian Republic. Passed down through the generations, it was sold to Antonio Hemmeler, in 1906. More recently, Castello di Potentino was bought and restored by the Greene family, who have a proud history in the literary community.

The wines of Castello di Potentino are made by Charlotte Horton, a 20 year veteran of the Tuscan wine industry. Prior to this, she worked in London for Vogue Magazine, Secker and Warburg Publishing House and then as a freelance journalist. When Charlotte planted the first vines on the estate, she recognized that the particular climate would be ideal for not just Sangiovese, but also Pinot Noir and Alicante (the local name for Grenache). Today there are 4 hectares of vineyards, which are tended by hand with minimal intervention. The wines are fermented using only natural yeasts and Charlotte does not employ any industrial aids. The total production of the estate is only 20,000 bottles.

Taste

One liter of unadulterated Tuscan deliciousness! The Castello di Potentino Sacromontino is the perfect wine for sharing with friends over dinner. Medium garnet in colour, on the nose it shows tender aromas of sun kissed red cherries, tomato leaf, freshly pulled espresso and oregano. The palate is medium bodied with fine-grained tannins and marked acidity. The finish is dry and earthy. A natural pairing for pizza and pasta, this Sangiovese goes very well with spezzatino (traditional Italian beef stew).

2019 Gallina de Piel Mimetic

Calatayud, Spain

$25.15

Where

Second only to Cariñena in size, Calatayud is a major wine appellation in the region of Aragon. Created in 1989, it includes vineyards in western side of the province of Zaragoza. The city of Calatayud itself is the hub of winemaking activities. Fully surrounded by the Sistema Ibérico, one of Spain’s major mountain range systems, the climate in Calatayud is extremely dry. This is one of the most arid regions in Spain. Growers are very dependent on the Jalón, Jiloca, Piedra, Mesa, Ribota and Manubles rivers for water. Major diurnal temperature variation plays a key role in flavour development in the grapes. It is of vital importance for growers to select sites that are high in elevation, where temperatures are cooler, to plant vineyards.

What

Calatayud’s scorching climate requires that any grapes grown are resistant to drought. Correspondingly the most popular variety with growers is Garnacha, which accounts for 55% of all plantings. Many of the vines are over 50 years old and planted to loose, rocky soils, with good drainage.

The Gallina de Piel Mimetic is made from 98% Garnacha Tinta, complemented by small percentages of Monastrell, Provechón, and other local varieties. The grapes were hand harvested from bush trained, organically farmed vines up to 80 years in age, planted between 750 and 1000 meters in elevation. Once the grapes were brought into the winery they were given 3 days of cold pre-fermentation maceration to draw out flavour and texture. 3 weeks of fermentation were initiated solely using natural yeasts. The wine was subsequently aged for 6 months on fine lees in concrete tanks with occasional bâtonnage (lees stirring).

Who

In the world of top flight sommelier’s, they don’t get any bigger than David Seijas. Born in the Seva area of Barcelona, Seijas held the coveted Head Sommelier position at three-Michelin-starred restaurant El Bulli between 2007 and 2011. Helmed by chef Ferran Adrià, this fabled restaurant was rated number one in the world a record five times. Closed to diners in 2011, El Bulli was reopened as a creative center. Moving away from floor service, Seijas collaborated with elBulliLab, published books on wine, and consulted. In 2017 he decided to make his own wines and officially created Gallina de Piel. Working with local growers and selecting the best vineyards and indigenous grape varieties, the project includes wines from the northern Spanish regions of Catalonia, Aragon and Galicia.

Taste

The Mimetic is a fruit-forward red wine with untamed viridity. Aromas of lush moyer plum, marion berry, blueberry are juxtaposed with scents of starflower and menthol. The palate, medium bodied, is carried by coarse tannins and tart acidity. It concludes with a pleasant and dry finish. An accomplished food pairing wine, it is a fine partner for Ternasco de Aragon. This classic Aragonese dish is the local rendition of tender roasted lamb.

2018 Domaine Coudoulet Petit Verdot

Pays d’Oc, France

$22.03

Where

With 120,000 hectares of land planted to vine, Pays d’Oc is one of the most productive wine appellations in France. Its borders were first drawn in 1987 and include land within four departments: Aude, Gard, Hérault and Pyrénées-Orientales. It reaches from the Mediterranean Sea to the snow covered slopes of the Pyrenees Mountains. Due to the Pays D’Oc’s immense scale, there are a myriad of different microclimates and soil types. In most parts of the region, viticulturalists enjoy some of the friendliest growing conditions in all of France.
fruit.

What

The mantra of Pays d’Oc could be “anything goes”. Although this isn’t fully true as there are some guidelines, they are far looser than the restrictions imposed by the appellation d’origine contrôlée system. Enjoying some measure of autonomy, grape growers can choose to grow whichever grape varieties he or she prefers. This is why there is no single definitive style of Pays d’oc wine.

This red wine from Domaine Coudoulet is made from 100% Petit Verdot, a grape most commonly associated with Bordeaux. A late ripening variety, it typically plays a supporting role in the classic Bordeaux blend. Winemakers like it for it’s deep colour, rich tannins, and strong flavour. At Domaine Coudoulet they choose to farm their Petit Verdot vines according to lutte raisonnée principles and vinify the grapes using traditional methods.

Who

Domaine Coudoulet has been owned by the Ournac family since 1840. Handed down through the generations, today management of the winery is in the capable hands of Pierre-André Ournac. He is joined by his son Camille, and his nephew Guillaume. Prior to joining his father at Domaine Coudoulet, Camille travelled the world working at some notable wineries, including Clos des Fous (Chile), Gramercy (USA), Oak Valley (South Africa), Avignonesi (Italy), and Yealands (New Zealand). The winery itself is located in the Minervois village of Cesseras, near the Spanish border. There are a total of 94 hectares of vineyards, planted to 20 grape varieties

Taste

This wine is absurdly well priced given its first rate quality. In the glass it displays a deep purple colour with tinges of mulberry at the rim. On the nose aromas of blueberry, blackcurrant, and black cherry are complemented by notes of violet and lilac. The palate is full bodied with primary blackfruit flavours and robust tannins. The dry finish is both succulent and lingering. A wonderful match for a variety of grilled meats, this Petit Verdot pairs especially well with lamb. Try it with sumptuous Le Gigot d’Agneau, a traditional southern French take on roasted leg of lamb.