Hello everyone, it’s time for the newest edition of Vine Arts Wine Club. Your bag of 6 wines will be available for pickup from each location Sunday, March 1st. A big thanks to everyone who sent in their suggestions for how we can continue to make Wine Club even better. We’ll be adding some new options to wine club very soon. We’ll keep you posted. Cheers!

riesling.jpg

2014 CAVE DU ROI DAGOBERT RACINES & TERROIRS RIESLING – ALSACE, FRANCE $28.00

Where

Sandwiched between the Vosges mountains and the west bank of the Rhine river, the French region of Alsace is one of the most beautiful places in Europe. Located on the country’s northeastern border, it has a tumultuous history. Running 185 kilometres from north to south, it was annexed by Germany at the end of Franco-Prussian War in 1871. Returned to France following World War One, it was again occupied by Germany during World War Two. Today Alsace has a distinctive Germanic feel, from the cuisine to the pretty villages. The climate of the region is influenced by the Vosges mountain range, which blocks cool westerly winds and rainfall. Alsace is one of the sunniest regions in France.

What

Alsace is best known for white wines made from aromatic grape varieties. The most popular varieties, known as the “Noble Grapes of Alsace”, are Riesling, Gewurztraminer, Pinot Gris and Muscat. Although there are some excellent Alsatian sweet wines, most are dry. If you think that Riesling is always sweet, a bone-dry Alsatian Riesling can come as a shock. To make things easier for consumers, Alsatian wines are labelled by variety, which is uncommon in France.

This Riesling is made from grapes harvested from vines planted to four soil types (which are depicted on the label): marl, limestone, clay, and sandstone. Fermented in stainless steel, it was bottled with 3.2 g/l of residual sugar.

Who

Cave du Roi Dagobert is a winemaking cooperative that was founded in 1952 in the town of Traenheim. At that time the winery had 70 hectares of vineyards. Today they have 250 member winemakers, and 1000 hectares of vineyards spread over 20 communes. The name of the winery comes from the cooperatives location near the former Merovingian palace in Kirchheim, which hosted King Dagobert II in the 7th century. During the Medieval period, the wines produced at the estate were served to the nobility of northern Europe. All wine-making decisions at Cave du Roi Dagobert are made collectively. A portion of the vineyards are farmed according to organic principles.

Taste

Light straw yellow in colour, the Racines & Terroirs Riesling has aromas of white peaches, pineapple and petrol. Light bodied with cracking acidity, the palate has flavours of lemons, green apples, and wet stones. On the finish it is mouth-puckering and dry. Riesling is a sharpened knife when it comes to pairing, able to cut through the fattiest flavours. A classic match for belly-busting choucroute garnie, it is also a great pairing for toro sushi.

muller th.jpg

2018 RESS TRAUBENSPIEL MÜLLER-THURGAU – RHEINHESSEN, GERMANY $17.50

Where

Rheinhessen is the largest wine region in Germany, with 26,500 hectares of vineyards. It’s bordered by Palatinate to the south, Rheingau to the north, and Nahe to the west. Located in western Germany on the banks of the Rhine river, the climate is influenced by the Taunus hills, Odenwald, and Hunsrück mountains. It is milder than other parts of Germany. The best vineyards are located on the steep west bank of the Rhine, known as the Rheinterrasse.

What

Grapes have been grown in Rheinhessen since the time of the Romans. The region can claim Germany’s oldest named vineyard (the Niersteiner Glöck walled vineyard, first documented in 742). Today Rheinhessen is nearly half planted to Riesling.

Müller-Thurgau was once the regions most planted grape variety. A crossing of Riesling and Madeleine Royale, it was first bred by Dr. Herman Müller in 1882 (Müller’s hometown was Thurgau in Switzerland). The variety played a key role in rebuilding Germany’s wine after World War Two. Known for producing fruity and youthful wines, it can be similar in style to Riesling. The Traubenspiel Müller-Thurgau was fermented in stainless steel tanks and bottled with 9 g/l of residual sugar.

Who

Employed for generations as butchers in the town of Hattenheim, the Ress family have been making wine since the early 1900’s. The family founded the successful “Gasthof Ress” inn on Hattenheim’s main street. The first wines that they made were exclusively for guests who stayed at the inn. By the mid 1900’s the family would purchase additional land and properties, becoming a full fledged wine estate. In 1947 they owned around 3 hectares of vineyards. Today the estate has grown to 46 hectares of vineyards, and is managed by Christian Ress. Winemaking is overseen by Stephan Sänger.

Taste

Pale yellow in the glass, this wine has aromas of candied peaches, limes, and orange blossoms. Light bodied with crisp acidity, the palate has flavours of honey lemons, ripe nectarines, and ginger. On the finish it is a touch sweet and fruity. Best served with a good chill, this wine pairs well with southeast Asian dishes like Malaysian assam prawns.

rosso piceno.jpg

2017 AURORA ROSSO PICENO – MARCHE, ITALY $27.00

Where

Dubbed “The New Tuscany”, the Marche is located on Italy’s central eastern coast. It is bordered by Emilia-Romagna, Tuscany, Umbria, Lazio, and Abruzzo. Named after a medieval borderland called the March of Ancona, the region has a mostly hilly terrain. Much of the coastline is wild and untouched. The climate is heavily influenced by the Apennine mountains, the Adriatic Sea, and the Metauro, Potenza, Tronto and Nera rivers. Rosso Piceno is Marche’s largest wine appellation, with close to 900 hectares of land under vine.

What

The Marche has a winemaking tradition that goes back thousands of years to the Etruscans. Created in 1968, the Rosso Piceno appellation is reserved for wines made from a combination of mainly Montepulciano and Sangiovese. To be labelled superiore, it must have a minimum alcohol of 12% and be aged for 12 months in oak barrels.

The Aurora Rosso Piceno is a blend of 50% Montepulciano, 40% Sangiovese, and 10% Cabernet Sauvignon. The grapes were hand harvested from 20 year old vines planted to calcareous and clay soils. Spontaneously fermented by variety over 10 days, it spent 5 months settling prior to bottling. The wines label represents the traditional “Velurd” festival, which takes place in the town of Offida.

Who

In the late 1970’s five partners came together to create something special. Leaving their industrial careers behind, they moved to the Marche to create a self-sustaining communal farm. Thirty years on, they still live and work together in association with nature. Since day one the vines have been farmed organically. The ecosystem of the vineyards teem with life. The farm is comprised of 32 hectares of land, of which 10 hectares are planted to vine. The remaining land is planted to olive trees, apricot trees, rotational crops and forest. Aurora were co-founders of The Association of Organic Marche Farmers and Terroir Marche, a community of winemakers who promote organic and biodynamic viticulture.

Taste

Ruby red in the glass, the Aurora Rosso Piceno has aromas of red plums, oregano, and a touch of smokiness. Medium bodied with sleek tannins, the palate has fruity flavours of sour cherries and prunes. It has balanced acidity and a long finish. This wine pairs well with Marche’s staple proteins, chicken and pork. It is an excellent match for porchetta. We suggest giving this wine a short 15 minute decant to draw out its enticing aromas.

sp68.jpg

2018 OCCHIPINTI SP68 RED – SICILY, ITALY $39.50

Where

Azienda Occipinti is located on the southeastern corner of Sicily near the town of Vittoria. The area is home to Sicily’s only DOCG classified appellation, Cerasuolo di Vittoria. The best vineyards are planted on red sandy/clay soils, which lie above limestone subsoils. The semi-arid terrain is flat and given to mixed agriculture. Oranges, tomatoes, wheat, olives and table grapes are the region’s staple crops. Although it is one of the poorest areas of Sicily, Vittoria is home to some of Italy’s most forward thinking winemakers.

What

Cerasuolo di Vittoria labelled wines are made from a combination of Frappato and Nero d’Avola. Known locally as Calabrese, Nero d’Avola must account for 50%-70% of the blend. This dark skinned grape (“Black of Avola”) is the most widely planted variety in Sicily. Compared to Nero d’Avola, Frappato is light bodied with fruity and floral qualities. This young and fresh wine is a blend of 70% Frappato and 30% Nero d’Avola grapes, hand harvested from 15 year old vines spread over 4 plots. Named after the road that leads to the winery, it cannot be labelled as a Cerasuolo di Vittoria as the blend includes only 30% Nero d’Avola and is not aged 18 months in barrel. Co-fermented with indegenous yeasts and macerated for 15 days, it was aged for 8 months in concrete vats.

Who

You cannot talk about Sicilian wine without talking about Occhipinti. Helmed by the extraordinary Arianna Occhipinti, this winery has drawn a spotlight to Vittoria. The niece of Giusto Occhipinti, who cofounded nearby COS winery, she released her first wine when she was only 22! Beginning with a mere one hectare of abandoned vines, today Arianna has 18 hectares of vineyards. Her adherence to organic and biodynamic viticulture, and deft touch with native grape varieties such as Frappato, result in wines of intense clarity and typicity. Unlike many conventional producers, Arianna avoids the seasoning of new oak barrels.

Taste

This is one of our all-time favourite Italian wines! Medium ruby in colour, the SP68 has aromas of purple raspberries, pomegranates, and clove incense. Medium bodied with light tannins, the palate has crunchy flavours of blackberries, black plums, and licorice. The finish is lively and fresh. Combining vibrant fruitiness and balanced structure, this wine is a great match for the Sicilian classic, Arancini. These crispy and delicious fried rice balls come in a variety of types, but we would suggest pairing this wine with meaty arancini al ragù.

garnacha.jpg

2018 MARQUÉS DE NOMBREVILLA GARNACHA – CALATAYUD, SPAIN $19.00

Where

Located in north eastern Spain, the wine region of Calatayud was given DO status in 1990. It is the second largest wine appellation in Aragon after Cariñena. The parched and rolling landscape is almost fully enveloped by the Iberian System. This mountain range separates the Ebro Valley from the vast Meseta Central. The climate is extremely dry and hot during summer months. Winters are equally extreme and frost is a perennial threat to vines.

What

Calatayud is known for robust and bold red wines made from Garnacha. Planted extensively across Spain and France, it is resistant to wind and drought, making it particularly suitable for Calatayud’s arid climate. The key aspect of growing Garnacha in Calatayud is elevation. The higher up the vineyard site, the more balanced the acidity and sugar levels in the grapes.

The Marqués de Nombrevilla Garnacha is made from grapes harvested from high elevation, dry farmed vineyards. The vines range from 35 to 45 years old. It was fermented slowly and allowed to macerate for a few days.

Who

Marqués de Nombrevilla is one of a handful of winemaking endeavours created by Bodegas San Alejandro. Founded as a cooperative in 1962 in the town of Miedes de Aragón, it was named after Saint Alexander, whose remains are buried in the village’s Franciscan convent. The key to the wineries’ success is the high elevation of their vineyards (up to 1100 meters above sea level). Today the cooperative has 150 member families, who farm 950 hectares of vineyards spread over 1250 plots. The winemaking team takes a noninterventionist approach, neither filtering or clarifying the wines.

Taste

Dark ruby in colour, this Garnacha has juicy aromas of sweet strawberries, roasted plums, and dried herbs. Medium bodied with round tannins, the palate has flavours of fresh raspberries, fruit rollup, and baking spice. The finish is lush and fruity. This wine is best served with meaty pork or chicken dishes. A good match would be pinchos morunos (“Moorish skewers”), spicy pork skewers similar to kebab. We suggest decanting this wine half an hour before enjoying.

aglianico.jpg

2016 CANTINE AMASTUOLA AGLIANICO – PUGLIA, ITALY $28.00

Written by Alex Good, owner of Spur Imports

Where

Puglia, or Apulia, the literal ‘heel’ of the Italian peninsula. This is a culturally rich area with correspondingly rich wines that are full of character and personality. Like the area, the wines are warm, nourishing, and sun-kissed. Much of the wine from Puglia comes from the Adriatic coast near Bari, but this particular wine comes from the opposite side, on the Gulf of Taranto, on the Ionian Sea. This area is cooler and at greater altitude relative to the rest of Puglia’s wine growing areas, with a distinctly different soil type with some unique characteristics. It’s many people’s idea of paradise – warm, close to the sea, dotted with olive and lemon trees, and lush vineyards.

What

Aglianico. Although there isn’t a lot of Aglianico grown in Puglia relative to the neighboring regions of Basilicata and Campania, it performs well on the Amastuola plain high above the Gulf of Taranto. The Amastuola plain is a shelf of powdery limestone soil interspersed with mineral springs. Aglianico is capable of giving firm, complex wines that age very gracefully. It is one of Italy’s best red grape varieties, and Amastuola’s interpretation of it is very classic – it is simultaneously regal and somewhat rustic, but with all of the archetypical Aglianico scents and flavours.

Who

Cantine Amastuola, a winery that has a history dating back to the 16th century. The modern iteration of Cantine Amsatuola dates back to 2003 when it was purchased by the Montanaro family who brought fresh ideas, and converted the farm entirely to organic viticulture. The winemaking is low-intervention with indigenous yeasts used for fermentation and no fining or filtration. They have one foot firmly rooted in tradition, growing the region’s autochthonous grapes like Primitivo (aka Zinfandel), Aglianico, and Fiano, but they also take steps forward, growing small amounts of international varietals like Merlot and Syrah.

Taste

In the glass you’ll find a wine with a deep red cherry colour, which shows a little bit of amber/brick at the edges. The nose isn’t short on complexity, displaying dried cherry, black plum, violet, cinnamon, cigar smoke, new leather, stone powder, and creosote. The palate is firm, broad, and detailed with dried fruit, baking spice, and bitter chocolate. Structurally, the wine is quite firm and dense, with powdery, suave tannins and energetic acidity. Aglianico often has the ability to age well, and this one has the stuffing to last for several years in the cellar.

Aglianico is best paired with robust foods, like meat ragu on pasta, braised dishes like oxtail or lamb shanks, grilled sausages, and hard cheeses. However, its traditional pairing partner throughout history is pizza. Aglianico is widely grown in Campania, where modern pizza evolved starting in the 18th century in Naples. Aglianico pairs well with the acidic, herb laden tomato sauce, and the cured meats and salty cheese that often go on top. So, if all else fails, order a pizza.