Hey Wine Clubbers, December is here and we’ve picked 6 new delicious wines for you to enjoy over the holiday season. This month features a new exclusive winery to Vine Arts, Casa Mariol, and our first ever Moroccan wine. As always, if you would like any additional details about the wines, please let us know and we’ll get back to you ASAP. Cheers!

CASA MARIOL VERDEJO

TERRA ALTA, SPAIN $23.15

Where

Casa Mariol is located in the mountainous Spanish wine region of Terra Alta. Officially designated in 1985, it is one of 7 wine appellations in Catalonia. The name itself means “High Land” in Catalan. Although most of the vineyards are planted at lower elevations, the highest peaks of Terra Alta reach 950 m above sea level. The climate has both mediterranean and continental qualities, with long, hot summers and cold winters. During the growing season a persistent wind known as El Cierzo moderates temperatures and prevents disease in the vineyards.

What

Pronounced “Vurr-day-ho”, Verdejo is an aromatic grape variety typically associated with the region of Rueda. It is thought it was originally brought to the Iberian Peninsula from North Africa in the 11th century. Up until recent decades it was used to make oxidized wines similar to Sherry. Verdejo would have likely remained in relative obscurity if not for new winemaking techniques that captured the grapes vibrant character. When fermented in temperature controlled stainless steel tanks, Verejo is very similar to good Sauvignon Blanc, which it is often blended with. Casa Mariol was the first Catalonian winery to bottle Verdejo, releasing the first vintage in 2007. The vine cuttings were originally brought from the north western region of Galicia.

Who

The family run winery of Casa Mariol is located in the medieval Terra Alta village of Batea where viticulture has been a way of life for centuries. The business was founded in 1945 by José María Vaquer Bes, who started making wine at the family home and selling bottles from the back of his Opel Blitz car. Over the decades the business grew and a new winery was built in 2000. In addition to bottling the first Catalonian Verdejo, Casa Mariol was the first Spanish winery to bottle single varietal Syrah in the mid 80’s. Today the winery is managed by his grandson Josep María and his siblings.

Taste

Pale lemon-green in colour, this snappy white wine displays aromas of fresh squeezed lime, grapefruit peel, white peach, and fennel. There’s a certain ‘green’ quality that reminds you of an herb garden in the summer. Light in body, the palate has high-voltage acidity and citrus flavours. The finish is dry with a bitter almond quality. Bright and refreshing, it pairs particularly well with salads and seafood. Try it with Catalonian esqueixada – salad made from salt cod, sliced tomatoes and onions, drizzled with olive oil and vinegar.

DOMAINE NAUDIN-FERRAND BOURGOGNE ALIGOTE MALLON

BURGUNDY, FRANCE $28.28

Where

Domaine Naudin-Ferrand is located in the small village of Magny-lès-Villers in the Hautes-Côtes of Burgundy, France. The village straddles the two appellations of Bourgogne Hautes-Côtes de Beaune and Bourgogne Hautes-Côtes de Nuits. As is often the case, the domaine has holdings in multiple vineyard areas, adding up to 22 hectares. The terroir of the Hautes-Côtes is distinct from the lower vineyards planted further to the east. Higher in altitude, it is more difficult to fully ripen grapes. The vineyards are situated on south and west facing slopes in order to capture as much sunlight as possible.

What

The “Mallon” Bourgogne Aligoté Blanc is made from grapes harvested from sites in Magny lès Villers and Villers la Faye where the vines receive ample sunshine. Prior to the 1960’s this area of the Hautes-Côtes was widely planted to Aligoté. It’s long been an important grape for Domaine Naudin-Ferrand. The variety is most often planted at higher elevations as it is less finicky to grow. It’s actually this reliable character that’s harmed Aligoté’s reputation. Often treated like a workhorse grape, there are a handful of winemakers such as Claire Naudin who give Aligoté its due.

The grapes for this wine were pressed into stainless steel and enameled tanks to be vinified. It was aged on fine lees for 7 months without bâtonnage, and fined with bentonite clay. Before bottling it was given a small amount of sulphur (less than 50ppm total SO2).

Who

Claire Naudin comes from a very long line of winemakers. Her ancestors were tending vines in Burgundy as far back as the 1500’s. In her own words – “Many generations of winemakers have built our domain. One after the other, they knew how to work the vine and express the best of the fruit. Each new generation has been a source of renewal and dynamism, of questioning and new projects.” She took over management of the domaine from her father in 1999. As an advocate for sustainable farming, she completely rejects the use of chemicals and has been vocal about her objection to manipulative methods in the cellar. Although she farms organically, she has not sought out certification.

Taste

Lemon yellow In the glass, on the nose the Domaine Naudin-Ferrand “Mallon” Aligoté expresses primary aromas of orchard fruits such as yellow apples, salty pears, and white peaches. The ripe midpalate has bracing acidity and chalky minerality. Neither austere or creamy, it sits somewhere nicely in the middle. A subtle touch of butterscotch adds a savoury note to the finish. To get the most out of this white wine, we would suggest not serving it too cold. 15 minutes out of the fridge should do the trick. Fruity and palate cleansing, it’s an excellent match for extra creamy mac and cheese.

DOMAINE GIRAUD M&F ROUGE

RHONE VALLEY, FRANCE $23.60

Where

Domaine Giraud is located in the southern Rhône wine appellation of Châteauneuf-du-Pape. Named after the village of the same name, it is one of France’s most celebrated wine regions. It was one of the first French appellations to obtain the AOC classification in 1935. Its fame dates back to the 14th century when Avignon was chosen as the new home for the Pope’s court. Located a short distance away, the area where Châteauneuf-du-Pape is now was chosen as the spot for Pope John XXII’s castle. Hence the name, “New Castle of the Pope”.

The climate of the southern Rhône is characteristically hot and dry during the growing season. The soil is composed of pebbles, sand, and large stones known as galets or pudding-stones.

What

Grenache is the dominant grape variety in the Rhône, followed by Syrah and Mourvedre. More commonly associated with the northern Rhône, Syrah brings deep colour and generous tannins to a blend. Less common is Cinsault, which is rarely vinified on its own. Low in tannin, it offers perfume and freshness. The Domaine Giraud M&F Rouge is made from a blend of 50% Syrah, 40% Cinsault, and 10% other varieties. The grapes were manually harvested from organically farmed vines planted to mostly sandy soils, mostly destemmed, and vinified traditionally for 3 weeks.

Who

Domaine Giraud is a relative newcomer to the southern Rhône wine scene. Distillers for generations, the family purchased their first 4 hectares of vines in 1974. The estate grew to include 8 hectares of century-old vines located on the plateau of La Crau, Les Galimardes and on the sandy soils of the so-called Pignan area near the Le Rayas district. The winery is today managed by François and Marie Giraud, who took over from their parents in 1998. Altogether they farm 35 hectares of vineyards.

Taste

The M&F Rouge is an interesting twist on the classic southern Rhône blend. Ruby red in colour, on the nose it shows primary aromas of lambert cherries, black olives, myrtle, and sweet baking spices. A supple and plummy midpalate is well complemented by firm tannins and tart acidity. The finish is savoury and peppery. Well matched with olive tapenade on crunchy rustic bread, it also pairs well with meaty Provençal dishes such as Daube (stew made with inexpensive beef braised in wine, vegetables, garlic, and herbes de Provence).

DOMAINE OULED THALEB S DE SIROUA SYRAH

ZENATA, MOROCCO $17.95

Where

For centuries, Morocco has been a gateway to the African continent. At its nearest, this North African kingdom is separated from Europe by only 16 kilometers. It is bordered to the west by the Atlantic Ocean and to the north by the Mediteranean, which bring cool temperatures to coastal areas. To the east, the country is heavily impacted by the scorching Western Sahara desert. If not for the Atlas mountain range, which runs the length of the country and moderates influences from the east, viticulture would be almost impossible in Morocco. The coastal plains have a surprisingly temperate climate similar to that of southern California. The wine regions (15 in total) are mostly concentrated in the country’s northwest, close to the cities of Rabat, Casablanca, and Fes.

What

Long coveted by foreign powers, Morocco is diverse in culture and history. Although viticulture appeared in North Africa prior to the Romans, large scale winemaking didn’t fully take hold until the early 1900’s. The Moroccan wine industry was strongly influenced by the French, who imposed a protectorate in the country in 1912. There were some difficult decades following independence in 1956, when demand for Moroccan wine in Europe largely dried up. Thanks to the efforts of King Hassan II, the last 20 years brought growth and renewed interest from French winemakers. Today Morocco is considered North Africa’s top wine producing nation.

The Domaine Ouled Thaleb S de Siroua is made from 100% Syrah harvested from sustainably farmed vineyards planted in the appellation of Zenata. The wine was vinified in concrete tanks and aged in 50% new French oak barrels.

Who

Domaine Ouled Thaleb is Morocco’s most prominent and oldest winery. The 2000 hectare organically farmed estate is a 90 minute drive northeast from the city of Casablanca, situated in an area lush with palm trees. Founded in 1923, the domaine led the renewal of the Moroccan wine industry in the 1990’s. The name of the winery comes from the local tribe that owns and operates the business. In addition to fruit harvested from estate vines, Domaine Ouled Thaleb additionally purchases fruit from other like minded growers in the Zenata coastal appellation. Winemaker Stephane Marriot applies traditional techniques and bottles classically styled wines.

Taste

Given the strong French influence in Moroccan wine, it is unsurprising that the Domaine Ouled Thaleb S de Siroua Syrah is similar in style to classic Côtes du Rhône. Purplish red in the glass, on the nose it displays savoury aromas of blackberry jam, ripe blueberries, dark chocolate and bacon. The medium bodied palate has smooth tannins and concentrated black fruit flavours. On the finish there’s a lingering touch of vanilla spice. This wine is best served with meaty dishes such as Moroccan spice lamb shanks or grilled beef brochettes.

TENUTA COL D’ORCIA GINEPRONE CHIANTI

TUSCANY, ITALY $32.00

Where

Nestled south of Florence is the world famous region of Chianti. First defined by Grand Duke Cosimo Medici III in 1716, during the 1960’s Chianti’s borders were expanded to include a wide swathe of Tuscany’s vineyards. It’s heartland, Chianti Classico, covers almost all of the land between Florence and Siena. The Chianti Colli Senesi is one of the most important Chianti subzones, overlapping parts of Chianti Classico as well as the highly regarded appellations of Vino Nobile di Montepulciano and Brunello di Montalcino. The areas designated for Chianti Colli Senesi are typically where the climate is cooler and the soil denser.

What

Chianti is very well known and yet rarely understood. For many, Chianti is the inexpensive red wine that comes in a straw basket (fiasco) and is served in “red sauce” Italian restaurants. Thanks to convoluted regulations and confusing designations, wine drinkers struggle to know how to separate the quality Chianti’s from the plonk. It’s a region where it’s important to know who the best producers are. These wineries are focused on bottling wines that highlight the region’s key grape variety – Sangiovese. For any wine to be labelled as Chianti, it must contain at least 70% Sangiovese. The remaining 30% of the cuvee may include Canaiolo, Colorino, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot or Syrah.

The Gineprone Chianti is made from a cuvée of 85% Sangiovese and 15% Cabernet Sauvignon. The wine was fermented on the skins for 10 – 12 days, and aged for a handful of months in a combination of Slavonian oak barrels. The name “Gineprone” derives from the abundance of juniper plants that grow near the vineyard.

Who

Col d’Orcia is one of the original wineries to produce Brunello di Montalcino. Located just outside of Montalcino’s ramparts, the winery’s history dates back to the 1770’s. The property was purchased by the Cinzano family in 1973, who expanded the winery’s holdings. Translating to “the hill overlooking the Orcia River”, Col d’Orcia lies 1500 feet above sea level between the Orcia River and Sant’Angelo in Colle. The winery is today managed by Count Francesco Marone Cinzano.

Taste

In the glass, the Col d’Orcia Gineprone Chianti reveals a ruby colour that hints at the appealing red fruit aromas and flavours that lie within. The nose reveals vibrant scents of freshly picked black cherries, red plums, roasted red peppers, oregano, and balsamic. The palate is medium bodied with fine grained tannins and spirited acidity. Culminating in a fruit forward and balanced finish, this is a first-rate example of Montalcino style Chianti.
Chianti is one of the great food wines of Italy, capable of harmoniously pairing with many of Tuscany’s celebrated dishes. Well matched with roasted and cured meats, it is a great counterpart for pappardelle al cinghiale (pappardelle pasta served with wild boar ragu).

CANTINA MARILINA CURRIVU ROSSO

SICILY, ITALY $25.17

Where

The Cantina Marilina estate is located on the south eastern corner of the island of Sicily near the city of Noto. Situated within Siracusa province, the small appellation of Noto extends some 88 hectares and includes the communes of Rosolini, Pachino, Avola, and Noto itself. This area is well known to travellers for its ornately designed towns that were rebuilt in the 1600’s in the Baroque style following a devastating earthquake. Along with the neighbouring towns of Ragusa, Modica and Scicli, Noto is a designated UNESCO World Heritage Site. Like much of the island, south eastern Sicily has a typical Mediternanean climate with hot summer and mild winters. The area is heavily influenced by the African “Sirocco” (“Sciroccu” in Sicilian”), a Saharan dry wind that can reach hurricane speeds.

What

Nero d’Avola is the most planted grape in Sicily. Also known as Calabrese, the variety takes its name from the coastal town of Avola. The name itself literally means “Black of Avola”, a reference to the grape’s distinctive dark colouring. For much of its history, Nero d’Avola was used as a blending variety, and was shipped to other areas of Italy where the wines required an extra boost of concentration.

The Currivu Rosso is made from a blend of Nero d’Avola and Merlot harvested from organically farmed vineyards in the San Lorenzo district of Noto. Earlier ripening, the Merlot grapes were harvested 2 weeks before the Nero d’Avola. The wine was vinified and matured in concrete tanks for 8 months.

Who

Cantine Marilina was created by Angelo Paternò, a 25 year Sicilian wine making veteran. Prior to founding his own winery, Angelo was the winemaker and technical director for the Sicilian wineries Cantine Settesoli and then Duca di Salaparuta. He purchased 60 hectares of vineyards on a hill formerly known as Poggio dei Fossi in the southeastern Sicilian province of Siracusa. Still involved in the day to day running of the winery, he has handed the management of the business to his daughters Marilina and Federica. They take a minimal interventionist approach in the vineyard and farm according to organic principles. Almost half of the estate is dedicated to polyculture in order to create a well balanced environment. The 35 hectares of vines are planted with Nero d’Avola, Grecanico, Muscat Blanc, Moscato Giallo, Insolia, Merlot, Tannat, Viognier, and Chardonnay.

Taste

Juicy and lush, the Currivu Rosso balances ample concentration with herbal nuance. Ruby red in the glass, the nose reveals sun kissed aromas of black plums, blackberry jam, licorice, and mediterranean herbs. The palate is medium bodied with firm tannins and brisk acidity. It Culminates in a dry and enjoyably feral bitter finish. We really enjoy how this wine has a little wildness to it. Unlike some Sicilian wines that attempt to contain the island’s untamed character, the Currivu Rosso embraces it. Try this wine alongside a plate of simple Pasta alla Norma.