Hello wine clubbers, it’s time for the newest edition of Vine Arts 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 Cantine Lunae Labianca

Liguria di Levante, Italy

$26.55

Where

Huddled close to the French border between the Apennine Mountains, Maritime Alps and Ligurian Sea is the Italian region of Liguria. Known as the Italian Riviera, this is one of the smallest wine regions in the country. Crescent-shaped, it spans some 250 kilometers from the French border in the west to La Spezia in the east. Very little of the land is cultivable. Most of the vineyards are planted on hillsides with poor stony soils. In many places the steep slopes drop straight down to the sea. In contrast to the challenging topography, the climate is benevolently Mediterranean in character.

What

With only 6,000 hectares of vineyards, Liguria produces a miniscule amount of wine. In fact, Liguria’s wine production is the second lowest in Italy. What is produced is largely consumed locally and paired with the region’s exceptional seafood cuisine. The dominant grape variety is Vermentino (known locally as Pigato). A popular white grape in Mediterranean countries, Vermentino is loved for its natural aromatics and refreshing acidity.

The Cantine Lunae Labianca is made from 80% Vermentino and 20% Malvasia harvested from vineyards in eastern Liguria. The wine was fermented in temperature controlled stainless steel tanks and aged for 4 months on the fine lees.

Who

Cantine Lunae is a leading winery located in the appellation of Colli Di Luni in eastern Liguria. The winery was created by Paolo Bosoni in 1966. Bosoni inherited the land from his family, who have for generations farmed the land around Luni. Founded as an ancient Etruscan and Greek port, Luni was consecrated to the goddess Selene (known to the Romans as Luna). An ancient amphitheater that lies not far from the winery gives testimony to the area’s history. Prior to Paolo’s stewardship, the land was given to mixed agriculture. Today the winery is managed by Paolo, his brother Lucio, and his son Diego, who are assisted in the cellar by three oenologists.

Taste

Vermentino can be deceptively complex. Light in body with high acidity, it has high concentrations of phenols, which contribute an intriguing bitter nuttiness to the Vermentino’s finish. In the case of the Cantine Lunae Labianca, the introduction of Malvasia further lifts the wine’s alluring aromatics. On the nose there are peppy aromas of fresh squeezed lime, passion fruit, mango and white peach. The palate is crisp and invigorating. We suggest serving this wine with seafood dominant dishes such as buridda, the traditional fish stew of Liguria.

2020 Famille Fabre Domaine de Luc Viognier

Pays d’Oc, France

$24.79

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

Today considered one the great French grape varieties, Viognier very nearly disappeared not all that long ago. Today it is planted around the globe, but up until the 1990’s it was almost exclusively grown in the Rhône Valley within the appellation of Condrieu. Luckily a small number of stubborn and dedicated farmers committed themselves to Viognier, leading to a broader appreciation of this intoxicatingly aromatic variety. This renewed interest spurred a growth of plantings not only in the Rhône Valley, but also in other parts of southern France and the world.

Viognier is typically low in acidity, so harvesting the grapes at the right time of the day is crucial. For the Domaine de Luc Viognier, the grapes were harvested from terraced vineyards during the cool hours of the night and brought to the winery where they were slowly pressed off the skins. Vinified and aged in temperature controlled tanks, the wine was kept on the lees and stirred daily.

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

This wine from Domaine de Lucis is a textbook example of southern French Viognier. Pale gold in the glass, on the nose it displays perfumed aromas of marshmallow, nougat, apricot, honeysuckle, vanilla, and nutmeg. The palate is medium bodied with crisp peachey flavors. On the dry finish you find a touch of almond bitterness. For food pairings we suggest serving this wine with white meats which aren’t too spicy. A mild chicken mango curry would go nicely.

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.