Hello wine clubbers, it’s time for the newest edition of Vine Arts All Red Wine Club! Right in time for warmer Spring weather! We hope you enjoy this months selections. Cheers!

For subscribers who pick up their wines, your bags will be ready for pickup on Friday, April 1st. For subscribers who have signed up for delivery, your bags will be sent out on Thursday, April 7th.

2020 Famille Fabre Grande Courtade Pinot Noir

Pays d’Oc, France

$26.37

Where

The Pays d’Oc is an IGP (Indication Géographique Protégée) that covers a large swath of southern France. Sitting apart from the stricter AOC (Appellation d’Origine Contrôlée) system, IGP wines are often referred to as ‘country wines’ or ‘wines of the land’. A vast region that stretches along the Mediterranean coast to the Pyrenees, the Pays d’Oc has a generally Mediterranean climate with hot and dry summers and mild winters. Altogether there are around 120,000 hectares planted to vine, making this one of the largest wine regions in the world.

What

More often than not, wines labeled as Pays d’Oc are made from the ubiquitous southern French blend of Grenache, Syrah, and Mourvèdre. The Grande Courtade Pinot Noir is a departure from this norm. Famously persnickety and difficult to grow, Pinot Noir is usually grown in cooler areas of France like Burgundy. When grown in southern France where the climate is noticeably warmer, specific microclimates are important. For this wine, Pinot Noir grapes were harvested from vines planted on a hillside that is cooled by sea mists and winds. Once in the winery the grapes underwent cold maceration before fermentation in temperature controlled tanks for 10 days. This was followed by 6 months élevage in neutral oak barrels.

Who

Deeply connected to the land of southwestern France, the Fabre family have grown grapes and made wines in Languedoc since 1605. The family business today includes five estates and is managed by Louis Fabre, who is joined by his daughters and niece: Clémence, Paule and Jeanne. The five estates – Grande Courtade, Tour de Rieux, Château Coulon, Château de Luc, and Château Fabre Gasparets – allow Louis to work with a broad range of terroirs and grape varieties. A history building with cellars that date back to the 1300’s, Château de Luc is the family’s base of operations and where they live full time. Across all estates the vines are farmed according to organic principles.

Taste

Pale garnet red in color, on the nose this wine displays classic earthy Pinot Noir aromas of fresh strawberries, morello cherries, clove, and forest floor. The palate is light bodied with woodsy red fruit flavors and light tannins. On the finish there’s a touch of baking spice and vanilla from barrel aging. Serve it with earthy and pungent cheeses such as Comté or Taleggio

2019 Pagos de Araiz Roble

Navarra, Spain

$23.85

Where

Lying just south of the Pyrenees Mountains with a close proximity to the Bay of Biscay, the Spanish wine region of Navarra enjoys a warm mediterranean climate with some maritime and continental influences. A total of 12,000 hectares of vineyards are spread over the five subregions of Tierra Estella, Valdizarbe, Baja Montaña, Ribera Alta and Ribera Baja. In terms of winemaking, Navarre’s single DO (recognized wine area) includes almost the entire southern half of the region.

What

In the past Navarra was best known for the production of refreshing fruit driven rosé wines, but today the region’s red wines are growing in popularity. As seen in other Spanish wine regions, modern techniques and equipment have been cheerfully adopted by many of Navarra’s winemakers. The two most popular varieties are Tempranillo and Garnacha, but international varieties are becoming more common.

The Pagos de Araiz Roble is made from a blend of 50% Tempranillo, 30% Merlot, and 20% Garnacha harvested from estate vineyards planted to clay-loam soils. The vines are on average 20 years old. Once the grapes are at the winery they are sorted by varietal and fermented at controlled temperatures for 15 days. For ideal color and flavor extraction, there is daily plunging and pumping over the skins. This is followed by malolactic fermentation and elevage in American oak barrels for 6 months.

Who

Located in the town of Olite, Finca de Pagos de Araiz has been owned by the Masaveu family since 2000. Owners of Bodegas Murua, the Masaveus have been making wine in the heart of the Rioja Alavesa since the mid-1970’s. They additionally own properties in Rias Baixas, Castilla y León, and Asturias. At Finca de Pagos de Araiz they have planted extensive vineyards that spread 240 hectares. In the cellar the winemaking team is led by oenologist Juan Glaría.

Taste

Youthful and bright, the Pagos de Araiz Roble is a modern expression of Navarran red wine. Vibrant ruby red in color, on the nose it has concentrated aromas of bing cherries, plum, milk chocolate, and vanilla. The palate is plush with deep red fruit flavors and smooth tannins. On the finish there is a complementary dusting of barrel spice. Enjoy this wine with barbecued chorizo sausages or crunchy bocadillos.

2019 Domaine Reine Juliette Carignan

Pays d’Oc, France

$18.12

Where

The Domaine Reine Juliette Carignan is the second wine in this month’s wine club from the Pays d’Oc. Instead of going over the ins and outs of the Pays d’Oc appellation a second time, let’s discuss the greater region in which the Pays d’Oc sits – Languedoc Roussillon.

The Languedoc-Roussillon is an extensive region, stretching from the border with Spain to the Rhône River. There is a sparseness to beauty here. The dry scrubland, known as garrigue, perfumes the air with aromas of wild herbs and flowers. The sunny mediterranean climate is ideal for nurturing vines. Although joined together, Languedoc and Roussillon have distinct differences. The Languedoc, where Domaine Reine Juliette is located and where vineyards are typically on coastal plains, is more classically French. The Roussillon, where vineyards sit in the shadow of the Pyrenees Mountains, has tinges of Catalonia and Spain.

What

This wine is made from 100% Carignan harvested from vines planted near Etang de Thau, which is a string of lagoons located on the Mediterranean coast. The close proximity of the sea creates a mico-climate ideal for viticulture. Pronounced “care-in-yen”, Carignan was previously the most planted variety in France. Mostly found in Languedoc Roussillon, during the 1980’s many vineyards were torn up, essentially halving the number of Carignan vines in France. Sadly many old bush vines were discarded. Luckily though some growers didn’t submit to the fashion of the day, and many great vineyards of Carignan remain.

Once in the winery, the grapes for this wine were de-stemmed and crushed before going into temperature controlled tanks for fermentation. Macerated for 15 to 20 days, the wine was aged a short period in the concrete tank and then blended before bottling.

Who

Domaine Reine Juliette is situated in the small town of Pomerols, within 10 kilometers of the azure blue waters of the Mediterranean. The estate’s location lies along the modern A9 highway, which follows the ancient course of the Via Domitia which connected Italy to Spain. The road was also known as the Via Reine Juliette, named after a queen of the same name who visited the area. Since 1985 the winery has been owned by Guillaume Alliès and his sister Marion, who are the 6th generation of Alliès to manage the estate. Today joined by Guillaume’s son, who is also called Guillaume, the siblings tend 100 hectares of vineyards. The vines are farmed according to organic principles, but are not certified.

Taste

Charming and herbaceous, the Domaine Reine Juliette is a tasty example of Carignan from the Languedoc. Garnet red in color, on the nose there are punchy aromas of dark raspberries, prunes, fennel, and cured meats. The palate is medium bodied with soft tannins, balanced acidity, and juicy red fruit berry flavors that carry into the dry finish. Serve it with poulet rôti (roasted chicken) prepared with southern French wild herbs.

2019 Heimann SXRD

Szekszárd, Hungary

$25.55

Where

The little known wine region of Szekszárd is located in southern Hungary, on the edge of the Alföld, the broad plain that covers much of the country. Part of the larger Pannonian Plain, this area once lay at the bottom of the ancient Pannonian Sea. When the waters retreated 600,000 to 1 million years ago, it left a fertile landscape with deep alluvial soils. When combined with the region’s strongly continental climate, you get ideal conditions for agriculture. Most often hot summers are often followed by bitterly cold winters.

What

Szekszárd is best known for producing red wines made from grapes such as Kékfrankos and Kadarka, the latter of which was previously a dominant grape variety in the early 21st century. Known as Blaufrankisch in Austria and Lemberger in Germany, Kékfrankos is known for producing intensely coloured wines with spicy black cherry flavors. In Szekszárd Kékfrankos and Kadarka are often blended with Bordeaux varieties like Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Cabernet Franc.

The Heimann SXRD is made from a blend of Merlot, Kékfrankos and Portugieser.

Who

Originally from Swabia, the Heimann family has called Szekszárd home since 1758. Grape growers for generations, Zoltán Heimann and his wife Ágnes reestablished their wine estate after the fall of communism in Hungary. They are today joined at the winery by their son Zoltán Jr, who studied winemaking in Germany, France and Italy. The family’s 25 hectares of vineyards are spread across the Baranya, Porkoláb and Iván Valleys in addition to some hillside plantings on Batti. Primarily planted to Kékfrankos, the vines were converted to organic farming in 2019. All of the wines are fermented using natural yeasts and minimal additions of sulphur.

Taste

While most wine drinkers won’t be familiar with either Kékfrankos or Portugieser, this red wine has a friendly approachability to it similar to Californian red blends. Bright ruby red in color, on the nose there are fresh aromas of black cherries, blackberries, dark chocolate and allspice. The palate is medium bodied with plush blackfruit flavors and smooth tannins. On the finish it is fruit forward and dry. We think this wine is a wonderful match for cheese burgers.

2014 Valley of the Moon “Cuvée de la Luna”

Sonoma County, United States

Previously $31.68

Where

California accounts for around 90% of all American wine production. This is one American state that’s almost three quarters the size of all of France. It’s almost unfair that a single wine region is blessed with such a huge range of geology and microclimates. There are around 246,000 hectares of vines planted for wine production in 107 American Viticultural Areas. The state is broken down into four main regions: North Coast, Central Coast, South Coast, and Central Valley. The North Coast region, home to Napa Valley and Sonoma County, has enjoyed the lion’s share of the accolades but other Californian regions refuse to play second fiddle and are making waves of their own.

What

This wine is made from a distinct blend of 44% Zinfandel, 21% Syrah, 10% Cabernet Sauvignon, and 10% Sangiovese. The most prominent variety in the blend, Zinfandel, is considered one of California’s premier grapes. For a long time Californian grape growers actually claimed Zinfandel as their own. Studies though have shown that Zinfandel originated in Croatia, where it has numerous names like Tribidrag and Crljenak Kastelanski. The first Zinfandel vines were likely introduced by migrant farmers who brought vines from southern Italy, where Zinfandel is known as Primitivo.

The odd one out in this cuvee is Sangiovese, Italy’s most planted grape. Of all the red grape vines planted in California, only 0.5% is given to Sangiovese. Although there are some producers who make 100% Sangiovese based wines, most Californian Sangiovese goes into blends.

The Cuvée de la Luna was aged 18 months in neutral French, American and Hungarian oak barrels.

Who

The origin of Valley of the Moon can be traced all the way back to 1863, when the first vines at Madrone Vineyards Estate were planted near Glen Ellen. A testament to this history is the winery’s stone cellar, which was built in 1887. Jack London, writer of The Call of the Wild, was a frequent visitor. Today the oldest operating winery in the area, the estate’s eldest vines are over 100 years old. The name Valley of the Moon comes from the First Nation’s phrase for the area – Sonoma. In more recent times, the 24 hectare estate was purchased by the Bundschu family, who have been making wine in Sonoma Valley since 1858.

Taste

In the glass, the 2014 Cuvée de la Luna has a dark garnet/tawny hue in line with its 8 years of age. The nose shows pronounced aromas of sun-dried strawberries, tobacco, soy sauce and hickory. On the palate, it is medium bodied with sinewy tannins. Bold notes of plums and blackberry lead into a savory and spicy finish. A great pairing for Texas style smoked brisket.

2020 Noah Rossonoah Coste della Sesia

Piedmont, Italy

$28.42

Where

Alto Piemonte (“Upper Piedmont”) is a wine making region on the ascent. Located north of Torino, it’s Piedmont’s cool climate outpost for upscale winemaking. Historically the red wines of appellations such as Gattinara were even more highly coveted than those of Barolo. In more recent history, Alto Piemonte fell upon hard times when many young people left the area following WWII. Luckily a new generation of winemakers is rediscovering Alto Piemonte’s charms. Cooler than southern Piedmont, the region’s climate is influenced by the Sesia river, Lake Maggiore, and the Alps, which loom nearby. Typically, the diurnal difference between day and night temperature is more marked as well.

What

As in Barolo and Barbaresco, the key grape variety in Alto Piemonte is Nebbiolo (known locally as Spanna). The common blending partners for Nebbiolo are Croatina, a variety thought to have originated in Croatia, and Vespolina, which is thought to be an offspring of Nebbiolo.

The Rossonoah is Noah’s most accessible wine and the perfect introduction to Alto Piemonte. It’s made from a cuvee of 50% young vine Nebbiolo, plus 40% Croatina and 10% Vespolina. Fermented separately by variety with varying amounts of skin contact, the wine was blended and then aged 6 months in stainless steel tanks.

Who

Noah is a small 4.7 hectare wine estate nestled in the rolling hills of northern Piemonte. It was established in 2010 by Andrea Mosca and Giovanna Pepe Diaz, who named the winery after their son Noah. An architect by trade, Andrea gave up his practice when the couple purchased vineyards around the village of Brusnengo. Interested in working closer to the land, they were drawn to Alto Piemonte. Their vineyards are separated into three appellations – Costa della Sesia, Lessona and Bramaterra, where the couple farm 3.5 hectares of vines. The name Bramaterra is believed to originate from the Italian words “bramare” which means “to long for” and “terra” meaning “the land”. Compared to the sandy soils of Lessona, the soils of Bramaterra are volcanic in origin. NOAH’s vines in Bramaterra are separated into two parcels – Mesola and Forte. Grapes harvested from vines in Mesola are used to make the winery’s Bramaterra DOC wine, while grapes harvested from vines in Forte go into their Costa della Sesia DOC wine. Some of the vines are planted to an ancient trellising system known as “maggiorino”, wherein multiple vines are planted together and then the vines are trained high with multiple arms that produce a large canopy effect. Although they haven’t sought out official certification, Andrea and Giovanna tend their vines in a holistic manner and apply organic principles.

Taste

The Rossonoah displays a savoury, saline minerality that’s often attributed to “volcanic” wines. Notes of sweet red cherry, orange peel, and star anise, are complemented by bright acidity and fine grained tannins. Given the wine’s light hue, it’s surprisingly round and textured on the palate. The charming finish has a likable touch of spice to it. It makes a wonderful pairing for dishes like black pepper chicken or pepper glazed duck.