Diego Curtaz ‘Dï Meun’ 2014

Estate: Diego Curtaz took the reins of the family estate from his grandfather in 1981. Located in the central, northern area of Valle d’Aosta in northwestern Italy, the tiny estate consists of only 1.6 hectares of vines. He uses natural and organic methods in both the vineyard and cellar.

Winemaking: Grapes are from northern facing, hillside vineyards with stone and loam soil at 650 to 750 meters above sea level. Fermented with indigenous yeasts, unfiltered and vegan friendly. Crafted from Diego’s highest altitude vines, Dï Meun sees no oak in order to allow the fruit to be the star.

Tasting Notes: Dark garnet with pink edges in colour, aromas of black cherry, blackberry, black pepper and mocha. Tart blackberry, black cherry and dried herbs glide over a backbone of fresh acidity and hearty tannins. Baked plum, soft spice and a trace of licorice span the lengthy finish. Charming and plush, fantastic on its own and super versatile at the table.

Roughly 50% Petite Rouge with the balance being a blend of local high altitude varieties such as Cornalin, Fumin, Mayolet, Vien de Nus and Gamay
Italy
Estate Bottled by Diego Curtaz
12.5% Alcohol
$25 [average price]
Enjoy now thru 2019

L’opera des Vins ‘les années folles’ Vin de France 2015

Winery: A native of the Loire Valley, Jean-Pierre Robinot began crafting wine in 2002, prior to that he owned a natural wine bar in Paris and was the co-founder of the renowned independent wine publication: “Le Rouge et Le Blanc”. He has 10 hectares of vineyards in Jasnieres and Coteaux du Loire, and also purchases grapes from friends and neighbors that share the same winemaking philosophy and principles. His wines are known for their clarity of fruit, complexity and true expression of terroir.

Winemaking: All vineyards are farmed organically. Zero chemicals or additives of any kind are used. Only indigenous yeasts are used, sulphur is not added at all, no filtering or refining. Wines are not released until Robinot believes they are ready to drink.

Tasting Notes: Golden amber in colour with heady aromas of sea spray, seashells, honey, apricot and a trace of graham cracker. Delicate apricot, pear, peach and a shake of cinnamon are glossed by citrus acidity. Consistent, fine bubbles carry thru to the very end, chalky minerality and a squeeze of tangerine linger between each sip. Engaging, refreshing with an elegant edge, this is spectacular on its own, or with interesting foods. [I enjoyed it on its own, then with raw provolone and homemade bread and salty butter.]

Blend of Chenin Blanc and Pineau d’Aunis
Vin de France
France
Bottled by L’opera des Vins, Jean-Pierre Robinot
12% Alcohol
$32
Enjoy now thru 2019

Giacomo Fenocchio Barolo DOCG 2011

Estate: The Fenocchio family has been producing wine from their land in the heart of the Bussia in Monforte d’Alba since 1894. In 1964, Giacomo Fenocchio took over for the estate with the goal of crafting the finest wines in Barolo, so he purchased prime parcels in some of the best crus in the Langhe. Today, Giacomo’s son Claudio heads the estate and continues his father’s tradition of crafting character driven wines. Considered as one of the next stars in Barolo, Claudio’s is known for his minimalist, non-internationalist approach. He makes 11 different wines from 14 hectares of vineyards. His wines are renowned for their “level of terroir clarity that is only found in the top echelon of producers”.

Winemaking: Following agricultural practices passed on for 5 generations, the estate is both organic and sustainable. Grapes are from a 1 hectare, hilly vineyard at 350 meters in elevation with sand, clay and calcareous marl soil. Vines are 20 years old. Traditional method of long maceration with natural fermentation, 40 days in stainless steel tanks. Aged 6 months in stainless steel tanks, 30 months in large capacity Slavonian oak casks (25-35 hl) and successive refinement in the bottle.

Tasting Notes: Garnet with brick edges in colour with ever-revolving aromas of black cherry, candied violet, tar, roses, chocolate cherry tartufo and cherry pie. Layers of all the cherries [black red and a streak of sour] tarry earth, violet and orange peel framed by grippy tannins and fresh acidity. Licorice, crushed black peppercorn and earth line the lengthy finish. A bit of rustic charm to this Barolo, the complexity will only continue to increase with time. A lovely sip.

Pairing Suggestions from the Winemaker: meat, game and mature cheeses age which are so typical of the local kitchen, also goes very well with all the rich dishes of international cuisine.

Enjoy at 17-18°C [62-64°F]

100% Nebbiolo
Barolo DOCG
Italy
Estate Bottled by Azienda Agricola Giacomo Fenocchio s.s.
14.5% Alcohol
$30[average price]
Enjoy now thru 2026

Château des Charmes Gamay Noir Niagara-On-The-Lake VQA 2015

Estate: Paul Bosc brought his young family to the Niagara on the Lake region of Canada in the 1960’s “with the idea that growing our own grapes was the best way to make fine wine”. Paul is a 5th generation French winegrower who holds degrees in Viticulture and Oenology from the University of Burgundy in Dijon, France. Founded in 1978, Château des Charmes consists of 280 acres of vineyards in four locations all within the Niagara-on-the-Lake region.

Paul established himself as a pioneer in the region, from planting traditional French varietals to employing cutting edge techniques such as installing wind machines to protect the vines from the cold. Their extensive cellars are geothermal and do not require any heating or cooling, especially impressive considering how cold Canadian winters can be. In addition to being recognized for their progressive, groundbreaking work with traditional French grapes and methods, their wines have garnered accolades for their balance, finesse and quality. Paul Sr still has an active role in the vineyards, his son Paul Jr is President of the estate, and Paul Jr’s wife Michèle is the Director of Marketing.

Philosophy: “We are custodians of the land.” Crafting wines that are “food friendly and age worthy. We hope you will call them delicious”.

Winemaking: Committed from the very beginning to sustainable practices, the family is a charter member of Sustainable Winegrowing Ontario. Chemical treatments are never used, and sustainable methods such as hedge vine canopies, and under drainage are utilized. Naturally occurring yeasts are used for the majority of the wines. All by-products from the winemaking process [stems, skins, seeds] are returned to the vineyards as natural fertilizer. Fermented and aged in stainless steel.

Tasting Notes: Bright garnet in colour with aromas of cherry, earth and a floral trace. Cherry, red currant, pomegranate, hint of sour cherry and crushed rock minerality are framed by silky tannins and fresh acidity, finishing dry and fruity. Peppy and refreshing, super versatile at the table.

100% Gamay
Niagara-On-The-Lake VQA
Canada
Estate Bottled by Château des Charmes
13% Alcohol
$16 [Canadian Dollars]
Enjoy now

 

Fontodi Syrah Colli Toscana Centrale IGT 2013

Estate: The Fontodi estate has been in the hands of the Manetti family since 1968. The family has been strongly connected to the Chianti region for centuries, producing Tuscany’s famous “terrecotte” tiles. Located in the stunningly beautiful hills of Panzano, the 130 hectare estate [70 of which are vineyards] is certified organic. Inspired by nature and sustainability, the estate is committed to maximizing “the internal resources of the estate, thereby reducing the need for any external input”.

Philosophy: “Respecting the environment means wines that are better, purer, and a truer expression of the grape and the territory.”

Winemaking: Grapes are hand harvested from the Case Via and Pecille estate vineyards, both with a south exposure. Fermented in temperature controlled stainless steel tanks with indigenous yeasts for 3 weeks, aged in Troncais and Allier barrels, 50% new for 12 months.

Tasting Notes: Inky violet in colour with intense dark fruit, gamey and meaty aromas. Layers of rich blueberry, blackberry and black pepper are framed by solid tannins and fresh acidity. Smoky earth and peppery spice linger between each plush sip. Powerful, muscular and with a bold alcohol content, yet maintains such an approachable, easy drinking character that the bottle empties rather swiftly.

100% Syrah
Colli Toscana Centrale IGT
Italy
Estate Bottled by Azienda Agricola Fontodi
15% Alcohol
€36 [Average price, I paid €48 in a restaurant in Florence.]
Enjoy now thru 2022