A Friendly California Trio from Vinum Cellars

Brand: Vinum Cellars was founded in 1997 by first generation, California family winemakers, Richard Bruno and Chris Condos in Napa Valley. The duo met while students at UC Davis, and bonded over their love of Chenin Blanc. “Committed to experimenting and learning new winemaking methods while preserving an old world approach”, they combine unique methods such as experimenting with yeast strains, and using old French barrels for ageing.

The V Series is a line of “unique wines from classic regions for the every day”. All three wines are certified sustainable, small lots and hand crafted.

Philosophy: Winemaking begins in the vineyard, so they value their strong relationships with great grape growers, in order to develop the best fruit in the vineyard.

Vinum Cellars ‘V Series’ Chardonnay Monterey 2015

Winemaking: Grapes are from the famed Santa Lucía Highlands district. Fermented [full malo-lactic fermentation in barrel] and aged in 2 year old French oak barrels.

Tasting Notes: Deep gold in colour with aromas of fresh lemon tart, buttery toast and wildflowers. Vivid lemon and mango flavours are framed by bright acidity. Vanilla and traces of caramel linger on the long, creamy finish.

100% Chardonnay
13.5% Alcohol
$14 [average price]

Pairing Suggestions from the Winemakers: A fine aperitif wine, but really shines with grilled wild caught Salmon/Halibut/New England lobster, with a mango cilantro salsa and dusted with a pinch of cayenne. Serve it with steamed broccoli rabe with a squeeze of Meyer lemon, dust with sea salt along with roasted fingerling potatoes with rosemary.

Vinum Cellars ‘V Series’ Rosé Paso Robles 2016

Winemaking: grapes were grown by Tony Domingos at Seashell Vineyard in Paso Robles’ Geneseo district. Cold fermented for about 30 days to “capture the natural floral, strawberry and berry aromas of these varietals”.

Tasting Notes: Coral pink in colour, very aromatic, with prominent floral notes complimented by strawberries, dusty earth and light peppery spice. Delicate strawberry and watermelon flavors are given a squeeze of fresh lemon acidity. Soft spice and earth notes compliment the dry, fruity finish. Wonderfully gluggable, versatile at the table.

Blend of Grenache, Syrah, Mourvèdre
13.5% Alcohol
$14 [average price]

Pairing Suggestions from the Winemakers: An excellent sipper on its own, however the acidity will stand up to most any dish. Try with roasted beet salad dusted with roasted almonds and goat cheese, seafood and fresh fish dishes.

Vinum Cellars ‘V Series’ Pinot Noir Monterey 2015

Winemaking: Grapes are from Monterey near King City, on the West side foothills of the lower Santa Lucia Highlands. Malo-Lactic fermentation and 9 months aging in used French barrels. Not racked, “because we like our Pinot Noir to ride the wave between oxidation and reduction”.

Tasting Notes: Transparent red-violet in colour with aromas of cherry, black cherry, earth and toasted oak. Cherry, strawberry, black cherry and a shake of white pepper glide atop silky tannins, wrapped in food friendly acidity. Vanilla, oak and baking spices linger on the dry, fruity finish.

100% Pinot Noir
13.5% Alcohol
$14 [average price]

Pairing Suggestions from the Winemakers: Drinks excellent on its own, or with cheese plates including Morbier, aged white cheddar, Stilton and Chèvre. Pairs well with wild mushroom risotto and shaved Reggiano with or without truffle oil. It’s a natural with duck breast, cassoulet or brick oven chicken. Earthy greens work well such as mustard, collard and beet greens as well as kale.

 

 

Samples submitted for review purpose.

Italo Pietrantonj ‘Cerano’ Cerasuolo d’Abruzzo Superiore DOC 2016

Estate: The Pietrantonj estate has a winemaking history of more than 200 years, documents dated to 1791 chronicle the family’s commitment to viticulture and agriculture. The 100 hectare [60 of which are vineyards] estate is located in Vittorito and Corfinio, in the heart of the Valle Peligna, the birthplace of the Montepulciano d’Abruzzo grape. Today the 8th generation passionately preserve the “commitment, traditions, and innovation” of the family’s winegrowing history.

Winemaking: Grapes came from the Cerano Estate vineyard [340 meters in elevation], in Valle Peligna, Vittorito. The soil is medium textured and predominately clay. Matured in steel, then aged in the bottle for 2-3 months.

Tasting Notes: Gem-like, transparent ruby red in colour with aromas of summer ripe strawberry, rose and brambly earth. A fruity explosion of wild strawberry, raspberry and a hint of texture adding, sour cherry seamlessly meld into the silky, clean fruit finish. Fantastic on its own, just brilliant with any dish.

Enjoy between 12 -14°C [54-57°F]

Pairing Suggestions from the Winery: Its impressive structure and full character perfectly suit it for accompanying first courses, lighter meats, mixed boiled meats, and medium-aged cheeses. It is delicious with fish, particularly grilled and fish broth. The adventuresome will enjoy it with pizza.

100% Montepulciano
Cerasuolo d’Abruzzo Superiore DOC
Italy
Bottled in the production zone by Italo Pietrantonj sas
14% Alcohol
€14 [Average price, currently not available in the US, I was lucky to enjoy this in Dublin, Ireland]
Enjoy now

Gérard Bertrand ‘Gris Blanc’ Rosé Pays d’Oc 2016

bertrandgrisblanc16

Estate: Gérard Bertrand grew up assisting his father on the family’s estate in the sub-appellation of Corbiѐres in the Languedoc Roussillon. He took over the domaine upon his father’s death in 1987, and today presides over nearly 1000 acres of vineyards across the varying Languedoc Roussillon terroirs. He also heads a négociant business that partners with local growers and co-ops. A well-known proponent of sustainable farming, he is one of the largest producers of organic wine in Southern France. His flagship estate Château l’Hospitalet is carbon neutral, and many of his vineyards follow biodynamic practices and are certified by DEMETER. In addition to being recognized for his fantastic wines at excellent prices, Wine Enthusiast bestowed him with the European Winery of the Year award in 2011, stating “He fully understands the movement toward expressive, well-balanced and elegant wines that remain accessible and affordable.”

Winemaking: Grapes were sourced from vineyards located in the Tautavel area, between the Mediterranean Sea and Pyrenees mountains, 30 km north to Perpignan in the South of France area. Aged on the lees for several weeks before bottling.

Tasting Notes: Palest coral in colour with aromas of red berries, peach, a twist of lemon and clean minerality. Subtle red berry fruit fuses with fresh citrus acidity. Fruit and mineral notes linger on the dry finish. Refreshing and delicate, great on its own or with light, yet spiced dishes.

Pairing Suggestions from the Winery: Ideal as an aperitif, or with Mediterranean salads, Asian dishes [especially spicy ones] and seafood.

Enjoy at 10-12°C [50-54°F]

Grenache Gris and Grenache Noir [I could not locate varietal percentages.]
Pays d’Oc
France
Shipped and Bottled by Gérard Bertrand
12.5% Alcohol
$10
Enjoy now

Vigneti Massa ‘Terra Sic Est’ Rosé 2016

massarose16

Estate: Walter Massa is one of the most in demand, pioneering winemakers of the moment. Working with indigenous grapes in the village of Monleale in the southeast corner of Piedmont, Walter is known as the “Maestro of Timorasso” after rescuing the native grape from near extinction. Focusing on native grapes [Croatina, Barbera, Freisa, Nebbiolo] he farms his 22 hectares of 8 distinctive vineyards using organic and sustainable methods.

The name ‘Terra Sic Est’ has its roots in the Latin phrase ‘Sic Est’, which can be translated as ‘that’s how it goes,’ or ‘what you see is what you get’. Walter is a fan of motorcycles; therefore ‘Sic’ can also be used to pay respect to the late, renowned professional motorcycle racer Marco Simoncelli [nicknamed Sic], who was in a fatal motorcycle accident in 2011.

Winemaking: Grapes were hand harvested from vineyards with calcerous and clay soils. The two grape varietals were vinified together, fermented and aged in stainless steel. Only native yeasts are used.

Tasting Notes: Transparent ruby red in colour with aromas of fresh raspberry and clean minerals. Vivid raspberry, cherry, strawberry and a slice of red apple are wrapped in silky tannins. A hint of herbs and clean minerality compliment the fruity finish. Drinking more like a light red than Rosé, this is versatile at the table and so incredibly easy drinking, consistently one of my favourite Rosés.

Blend of Barbera and Freisa [I was not able to locate varietal percentages.]
Italy
Estate Bottled by the Producer Massa
12.5% Alcohol
$18
Enjoy now

 

Gérard Bertrand ‘Cote des Roses’ Rosé Languedoc 2016

Estate: Gérard Bertrand grew up assisting his father on the family’s estate in the sub-appellation of Corbiѐres in the Languedoc Roussillon. He took over the domaine upon his father’s death in 1987, and today presides over nearly 1000 acres of vineyards across the varying Languedoc Roussillon terroirs. He also heads a négociant business that partners with local growers and co-ops. A well-known proponent of sustainable farming, he is one of the largest producers of organic wine in Southern France. His flagship estate Château l’Hospitalet is carbon neutral, and many of his vineyards follow biodynamic practices and are certified by DEMETER. In addition to being recognized for his fantastic wines at excellent prices, Wine Enthusiast bestowed him with the European Winery of the Year award in 2011, stating “He fully understands the movement toward expressive, well-balanced and elegant wines that remain accessible and affordable.”

The cross on the label is a Visigoth cross dating back to the 7th century, which evolved into the Languedoc Cross. For a detailed explanation of its iconography, click here. Cote des Roses is the name of the coastal area near the village of Gruissan.

Winemaking: Grapes were sourced from varied soils, but predominately hard limestone and schist, “but also gravel transported by the rivers of the Languedoc region”.

Tasting Notes: Coral pink in colour with aromas of strawberry, cherry and rain washed slate. Mineral driven, with red fruits and a hint of spice, finishing zippy and dry. Simple and summery, accented by a fun rose cut into the bottom of the bottle. {The bottle is an original design created by a young designer from the Ecole Boulle.]

Enjoy at 50°F [10°C]

Pairing Suggestions from the Winery: Ideal as an aperitif or with subtly spiced dishes and shellfish.

Blend of Grenache, Cinsault, Syrah [I could not verify varietal percentages.]
Languedoc
France
Shipped and Bottled by Gérard Bertrand
12.5% Alcohol
$15
Enjoy now