Hello everyone, we’re back with 6 new exciting wines for this month’s edition of Vine Arts Wine Club! Every month when we put together the below descriptions, we try to compile all of the most pertinent info about each wine. That being said, if you have any additional questions about any of the wines or would like further details, please let us know.

For people picking up their wine bags, they will be ready to go Sunday, May 1st. For those that have signed up for delivery, your wine bags will be delivered via courier on Thursday, May 5th.

2019 Niepoort Primata NatCool

Douro, Portugal

$34.83

Where

The grapes for this wine come from the central Douro Valley subregion of Cima Corgo. The largest section of Portugal’s most celebrated wine region, Cima Corgo is home to timeworn steep terraced vineyards that have been farmed for centuries. Primarily planted to schist and granitic soils, these vineyards are heavily influenced by the Douro river. The longest waterway in the Iberian Peninsula, its course begins in central Spain and ends at the port city of Oporto. Sheltered by the Marão and Montemuro mountains, the region’s climate can be exceedingly hot during the growing season and cold during the winter.

What

Compared to most red wines of the Douro Valley, which are characterized by intense concentration and bold structure, the Primata NatCool is atypical. Made from a blend of Tinta Amarela, Touriga Franca, Tinta Roriz, Tinto Cão and Touriga Nacional; it is significantly lighter in body and alcohol. In a region where wines regularly push 14% alcohol, the Primata has a shocking low alcohol percentage of 10.4%. Ideal for producing a fresher style of red wine, the grapes were hand harvested from high elevation old vines in Tabuaço. The whole-bunches were gently foot trodden in stone legars, naturally fermented, and then pressed into stainless steel tanks. Following malolactic fermentation the wine was aged 6 months and naturally stabilized during the winter.

Who

The Primata NatCool was made in collaboration between cellar master Luís Pedro and winemaker Dirk Niepoort. Dirk is a pioneering winemaker who’s impact on the Portuguese wine industry has been momentous. Born in 1964 to a traditional Port winemaking family, when Dirk entered the business the family owned no vineyards. When the reins of the business were passed down to him, Dirk began purchasing top old-vine parcels and started a project of making dry wines. In a region known for fortified wines, this was a pivotal decision. Although Dirk still produces a full range of fortified wines, dry wines now make up 75% of his overall production. Today the Niepoort family own 80 hectares of vineyards which are farmed organically and biodynamically. In addition to these holdings, Dirk also farms vines in Bairrada, Dao, Vino Verde, and the Mosel Valley in Germany.

Taste

Meet the fresher side of the Douro Valley! The Primata NatCool is eminently drinkable and refreshing juice. Light ruby red in color, it shows punchy aromas of sappy black currants, black raspberries, hibiscus and crushed stone. The palate is light bodied with crunchy acidity and tightly wound tannins. Precise minerality lends to the wines overarching tension and brightness. Not only is this wine super easy to enjoy, it even comes in an upsized 1 liter bottle. Best served with a slight chill, enjoy it with a variety of foods. We’re thinking boxed tacos.

2021 Kiona Vineyards Lemberger

Washington State, United States

$31.54

Where

Located in America’s Pacific Northwest, Washington State is home to a dynamic wine scene. If your experience with this part of the country is restricted to rainy Seattle, it may come as a surprise that Washington State produces high quality wines. “How?” you say. Most of the state’s vineyards are located in eastern section of the state, where the climate is significantly drier. The Cascade mountain range separates eastern Washington State from coastal areas, shielding the region from rainfall. Areas east of the Cascade mountain range enjoy double the amount of sunshine days. The greatest threat to the vines are deep winter freezes that can plunge down to −18 °C. Grape growers try to mitigate this risk by installing large turbines that circulate air flow through the vines. Irrigation is a near necessity in most vineyards.

What

Originally the Columbia Valley was best known for aromatic wines made from grapes like Riesling and Gewürztraminer. During the 1980’s this started to change when producers started to work with Bordelais grapes. Today over 60% of the vineyard area is dedicated to red grape varieties.

In many circles, Kiona is synonymous with Lemberger. Also known as Blaufränkisch and Kékfrankos, this grape variety has been associated with the winery for four decades. They were in fact the first to produce Lemberger commercially in the United States. Starting off with 0.7 hectares of plantings, today Kiona has 5.3 hectares of Lemberger planted to vine. For this wine they blend in 23% Cabernet Sauvignon and 1% Merlot, two varieties that are strongly associated with the Red Mountain AVA. All of the grapes harvested came from Kiona’s estate vineyards. Following fermentation, 10% of the wine was aged in a combination of new French and American oak barrels.

Who

Kiona Vineyards is one of the pioneering wineries of Washington State’s Red Mountain appellation. The first to plant vines in the area in 1975, the estate is still owned and operated by the Williams family. The head of the family, John Williams, first obtained land on Red Mountain from his father-in-law. The 32 hectares of land were completely bare and covered with sagebrush. There was no water, electricity, or road access. With the help of John’s son Scott and his high school buddies, the first vines on Red Mountain were planted in 1975: Riesling, Chardonnay, and Cabernet Sauvignon. It was quickly discovered that grapes from Red Mountain have special properties. The berries are small, concentrated, high in acid and rich in color. The flavors are ripe and intense, and the structure translates into very age-worthy, sinewy wines of great complexity. In 1980, Kiona produced their first commercial vintage, releasing a Chenin Blanc and a Lemberger. Today the winery is managed by third generation winemaker Tyler Williams.

Taste

Like most examples of Lemberger, this wine from Kiona Vineyards is deep in color with a vibrant purple-red hue. Aromatically it presents sweet scents of blackberries, blueberries, milk chocolate and basil. On the palate, juicy flavors of black cherry pie filling are complemented by a dusting of baking spice. The inclusion of Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot in the blend brings added tannic structure. With a rich and agreeable finish, this wine is a friendly take on an unconventional grape variety. Try it with burgers or sweet and spicy barbecue.

2018 Domaine de Fontenille Rouge

Lubéron, France

$18.94

Where

The AOC of Lubéron is located at the southern edge of the Rhône Valley, within the picturesque Lubéron National Park. Positioned on the foothills of Mont Ventoux where the Rhône Valley meets Provence, its vineyards lie within 60 kilometers of the Mediterranean coastline. This is one of the warmest areas in France. During the growing season the Mediterranean climate is characterized by warm days and cool nights. During the winter cool winds descend from the Alps, but overall temperatures don’t get too cold.

What

The Domaine de Fontenille Rouge is made from a blend of 70% Grenache and 30% Syrah – two of the three key red grape varieties in southern France (the third being Mourvèdre). The grapes were harvested from sustainably farmed estate vineyards. These vines are kept reliably dry by the fierce Mistral wind which impacts the region. Transported to the winery and selected on vibrating sorting tables, the grapes were destemmed, crushed, and then given a short cold-soak prior to fermentation. Vinified by variety in oak barrels and concrete tanks, the wine was aged in a combination of concrete tanks and oak barrels (55hl & 75hl) for more than 12 months.

Who

Domaine de Fontenille was developed by Frédéric Biousse and Guillaume Foucher, two businessmen with experience in the luxury fashion industry. The partners purchased the estate after cashing out of their previous businesses. Their goal, to revitalize the historic estate and convert it over to organic and biodynamic farming. Today there are 43 hectares of vineyards, in addition to uncultivated fields and forest. An organic garden supplies vegetables to the property’s two restaurants and a Rélais & Châteaux hotel. Work in the winery is overseen by Laurence Berlemont, an oenologist and agronomist.

Taste

Stylistically, the red wines of Lubéron tend to sit between those of the Rhône Valley and Provence. Notable diurnal temperature swings in the area bring valuable acidity and freshness to sunny Mediterranean flavors. Medium ruby in color, the Domaine de Fontenille Rouge presents vibrant aromas of sun kissed red plums, cassis, garden fresh raspberries, rosemary and lavender. The seductive palate is medium bodied with lush red fruit flavors, elegant tannins and fresh herbaceousness. For food pairings, tap into this wine’s unpretentious Mediterranean personality. We like it with olive tapenade spread on crunchy pain de campagne.

2020 Viña Bisquertt Crazy Rows País

Colchagua Valley, Chile

$22.63

Where

Chile is something of a winemaking utopia. Its wine regions enjoy a unique isolation from the rest of South America. Lying to the East, the Andes Mountain Range. To the North, The Atacama Desert. To the South, Antarctica. To the West, the Pacific Ocean. These natural boundaries have protected Chile from the scourge of phylloxera, a notorious insect lethal to vine roots. The Humboldt Current moderates the climate, ensuring warm days and cool nights, ideal for grape growing. The Central Valley, home to the capital of Santiago, is where the majority of Chilean wine is made. The valleys of Maipo, Colchagua and Maule Valley have well earned international reputations.

What

País is one of the world’s most important grapes, and yet very few wine drinkers are familiar with it. Also known as Criolla Chica and Mission, País was the first vitis vinifera grape variety to be brought to the New World by Spanish missionaries in the 1600’s. They required País in order to make wines for the sacrament. First planted in Mexico, it quickly spread throughout the America’s. Today País is grown all over Chile, and is most commonly found in the Maule, Itata, and Bio-Bio Valleys. Hardy and resistant to drought, some of these vines are hundreds of years old. It’s no wonder that a new crop of Chilean winemakers are rediscovering this distinct grape variety.

The Crazy Rows País is made from hand picked grapes harvested from centenarian vines in the Colchagua Valley. The grapes were destemmed and naturally vinified in old concrete tanks.

Who

Crazy Rows is a project of Viña Bisquertt that aims to draw attention to Chile’s heritage grape varieties. The name of the project comes from the haphazard organization of old vine plantings, which do not come in orderly rows. These old vines are tended without wires, and resemble small shrubs. A collaborative effort, each wine is created by a small grower who vinifies his own fruit. The Crazy Rows País is made by winemaker José González, known as Kiko, who has farmed vines at Fundo Rucahue in the Colchagua Valley for 25 years.

Taste

País is both fruity and earthy at the same time. Traditional examples lean towards overtly rustic notes of smoke and leather which can be an acquired taste. The Crazy Rows País lands in the middle stylistically, neither fully traditional nor modern. Ruby red in color, on the nose you find aromas of sun dried cherries, wild red berries, sage, bacon, and wet earth. The medium bodied palate is refreshing with tart acidity and woodsy tannins. The finish is thirst-quenching and slightly piquant. An honest everyday wine with humble roots, it’s a great pairing for spicy beef empanadas.

2017 Viña La Playa ‘Tinga Rio Reserve’ Merlot

Colchagua Valley, Chile

$22.97

Where

The Colchagua Valley is a prestigious wine region set in the heart of the South American nation of Chile. The appellation is positioned south of the capital city of Santiago, sandwiched between the Andes Mountains and the Coastal Mountain Range. Part of the larger Rapel Valley, to the north it’s bordered by the Maipo Valley, to the east by the Cachapoal Valley, and to the south by the Curicó Valley. The region’s arid Mediterranean climate,cooled by ocean breezes, is perfect for the cultivation of grape vines. The Tinguiririca River, which flows down from the Andes mountains, brings not only much needed meltwater, but also the silt and clay soils that form many of the region’s vineyards.

What

Chile has a very funny history with Merlot. The variety was originally transported to the country by Chilean grape growers who were heavily influenced by the wines of France. Merlot is one of the key grape varieties in Bordeaux, and as such was favored by Chilean winemakers looking to emulate Bordeaux’s style. For years many Chilean winemakers couldn’t understand why their Merlot’s weren’t quite right. It wasn’t until the late 20th century that they figured out that much of what they thought was Merlot, was in fact Carménère. With this information they were able to determine which vines were actually Merlot, and make the necessary adjustments. Problem solved.

‘Tinga’ is what the indegenous people of the Colchagua Valley call the Tinguiririca River, which brings life to their land. This wine is made from Merlot grapes which were hand harvested from sustainably farmed estate vineyards. Following fermentation, the wine was aged 6 to 8 months in a combination of French and American oak barrels.

Who

Viña La Playa was founded by Denmark born Søren Axelsen. In 1952 Axelsen left his hometown of Copenhagen to spend several years traveling around the world. On his journey he made a stopoff in Chile, which left an indelible mark. He eventually settled in California’s Monterey County, where he planted his first vineyards and incorporated his company – Cabernet Corp. His experience in Chile was never far from his mind, and in 1987 he returned to South America and established Viña La Playa, in collaboration with two prominent Chilean wine making families – the Sutil’s and Errázuriz’s. Today the estate is led by head viticulturist Rodrigo Serrano and winemaker Oscar Salas. Altogether they farm 240 hectares of vineyards in the Colchagua Valley, plus 80 hectares of vineyards in Limarí Valley and some holdings in Curicó Valley, Bío-Bío and Maule Valley.

Taste

The Colchagua Valley is well known for producing full-bodied red wines, something which is evident in the ‘Tinga Rio Reserve’ Merlot. Deep ruby in the glass, on the nose there are savory aromas of dark cherry, baked red plum, nutmeg, and dark chocolate. The palate is densely-packed with lush red fruit flavors and mouth filling tannins. Hints of leather and spice round out the dry finish. It’s the kind of wine you want to enjoy on a cool Spring evening, paired with hearty fare. A good regional food pairing is Chilean carbonada. This meaty stew common to central Chile, brings together a delicious mixture of beef, corn, potatoes, pumpkin and carrots.

2019 È Jamu Zimbatò Chianti

Tuscany, Italy

$25.73

Where

The small È Jamu wine estate is located halfway between Florence and Arezzo, within the Chianti subzone of Valdarno Superiore. Smack dab in the heart of Tuscany, the valley is nestled between two tributaries of the Arno river, and the Pratomagno and Chianti mountains. A bucolic region, the landscape is littered with picturesque medieval villages and fertile rolling hills. For centuries this was an important viticultural zone for Florence, whose armies fought for its control with the armies of Sienna and Arezzo. It’s thought that tales of Valdarno Superiore heavily influenced Dante in his writing of the Divine Comedy.

What

The grape of Chianti, Brunello di Montalcino, and Vino Nobile di Montepulciano, Sangiovese is the country’s most widely planted red grape. Prized for its firm tannins and lean acidity, its history is a long one. The name Sangiovese, meaning “Blood of Jove”, is thought to derive from the name of the Roman god Jupiter. Provenly adaptable, it does particularly well when planted to the limestone rich soils of Montalcino and the shale-clay soils of Chianti. Sangiovese is a slow ripening grape variety, so long growing seasons are crucial.

The È Jamu Zimbatò Chianti is made from a cuvée of 95% Sangiovese, plus 5% Colorino. In Chianti, a minimum of 80% Sangiovese must be included in the wine. The remainder can include up to 10% Canaiolo, and up to 20% other approved grape varieties. White grape varieties are forbidden. Harvested from organic farmed vines planted between 300 to 325 meters elevation, the grapes for the Zimbatò were 80% destemmed and fermented with 15 days of skin maceration. This was followed by 7 months aging in stainless steel tanks and bottling.

Who

The story of È Jamu (which means “Let’s Go!” in Calabrian slang) is a story of perseverance. It’s the tale of two young winemakers, Meca and Rocco, who triumphed over adversity. It starts not in Chianti but in the southern Italian region of Calabria. Born into a family of olive growers, their father had run afoul of the region’s organized crime families by turning his estate into a social cooperative that employed at-risk youth. Death threats were accompanied by hundreds of his olive trees being set ablaze. In order to protect his family, he made the difficult decision to flee Calabria and relocate to Tuscany. Sadly, Meca and Rocco’s father would unexpectedly die of pancreatic cancer in 2021, only two years after purchasing an estate planted to olive trees and grape vines. In spite of this tragedy the brother and sister decided to push on. Joined by their mother and enologist Giampaolo Chiettini, they tend their 30 hectare estate according to organic principles, producing small volumes of wine and olive oil. Their fortitude and determination is particularly impressive when you take into account their youth. Meca is 24 and Rocco is 22.

Taste

Chianti is the definitive Tuscan wine, the prototypical foil for the region’s renowned cuisine. Dark garnet red in the glass, the È Jamu Zimbatò presents alluring aromas of thick skinned bing cherries, red plums, dried oregano, violets and dark espresso. On the palate you discover abundant red fruit notes that are pleasingly familiar for fans of classic vino Italiano. Silky tannins carry into the fresh and herbaceous finish. A beautiful pairing for Italian sausage polpette.