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Urban Wineries and two essential California wine producers

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Urban Wineries – In the past, I often read that urban wineries did exist but never got a chance to taste a drop of wine from any city’s winery until early this summer. Such is the joy of wine writing, when everyday you learn something new about wine.

One new trend in the wine world is the development of urban wineries. Unlike a classical winery usually pictured in a romantic landscape of rolling hills, barrel room with a tasting room, an urban winery is a winemaking facility, based in a downtown sector or industrial area where wine is actually made. The grapes could be brought in from diverse wine regions of a country, pressed, fermented and bottle at this urban-located facility. In a nutshell, an urban winery is everything except the vineyards.

Julien Brustis from Winerie Parisienne

Early this summer, in a convivial lunch at Le Quartier Général with other wine writers, I had a chance to meet the winemaker of Winerie Parisienne: Julien Brustis. The wine venture of Adrien Pélissié and Julien Bengué, both in their thirties, who were later joined by Julien Brustis, 27 at the time, this urban winery acquires grapes from regions across France to make wine under their own label. Today, they do this in a old ex-printing house in Montreuil, on the suburbs of Paris.

 They source grapes from fruit growers in Bordeaux, Provence or the Rhône … where the grapes are good, which may be different vintage after vintage.For instance, The Grissant Blanc 2016 ( SAQ # 13594995, $24.95) which I tasted on Julien’s visit is a blend of 60 % Sauvignon blanc. 30% Sauvignon gris and 10 % Vermentino, sourced predominantly from the south of France. A pretty nose with citrus and floral undertones, it is quite easy to drink. Lots of depth and freshness in the palate with a great acidity. Perfect with the oysters in season.

On the other hand, the red Grissant 2015 ( 13595007, $24.95) is a hearty blend of 80% Merlot and 20% Syrah. This attractive red brings the best of both the Rhone and Bordeaux. It is a delicious blend with alluring aromas of dark fruit, spices and elegant tannins. It is a perfect wine to have with your favourite meat stew.

Winerie Parisienne is represented in Quebec by Elixirs Vins et Spiritueux and the invitation to meet Mr. Brutus was a courtesy of their importer.

Celebrate the fall with California wines

A crisp breeze, leaves turning colours and winter at bay… fall has arrived! . If you have any California wines in your cellar, now is the perfect opportunity to pop some and celebrate the arrival of cool temperatures with good wine and hearty fare. If you don’t have any, that’s ok as well. Recently, I have been tasting a diverse range of California wines that you should be looking into this fall. Here are two essential producers that you should explore if you have not been initiated to California wine.

Rutherford wine Co. Family owned and managed for three generations, Rutherford Wine Company makes some of the finest wine in Napa Valley in the Rutherford appellation. On top of family ownership, they are also conscious on sustainable farming. The winery is certified as California Sustainable Winegrowing (CCSW) and estate vineyards are certified as California Sustainable Farming (CCSF).

Rutherford Wine Company offers a portfolio of wines that showcases the rich diversity of California’s premier growing regions. The wines are sourced and crafted from diverse appellations that include Napa Valley, Russian River, Arroyo Seco, Lodi and the Central Coast

Not long ago, I tasted their Predator Zinfandel and Rutherford Ranch Cabernet Sauvignon both from the 2015 vintage. The Predator line of wines include Lodi Old Vine Zinfandel, Cabernet Sauvignon and Six Spot Red Blend. A distinctive feature of the wine line is the ladybug icon which is natural predator of destructive vineyard pests. The company employs this ecological strategy to limit the use of chemical pesticides.

The Predator Old Vine Zinfandel 2015 is a rich and creamy Zin with aromas of blackberries, coconut cream and coffee. Quite polished in the mouth with ultra smooth tannins and a moka finale. Perfect for those last BBQ days.

Rutherford Ranch Winery is situated on Napa Valley’s famous Silverado Trail which is one of the area’s most renowned sub-appellations.

Their Cabernet Sauvignon 2015 is a hearty wine that sees an extensive aging (over 12 months in American and French oak). Full-bodied with firm but silky tannic structure, this is a big Californian Cab with an interesting aging potential. Deep with intense flavors, it’s bursting with aromas and flavours of ripe blackcurrants, cherry and cedar. On the palate, it displays great depth and finesse with undertones of mocha and sage. Racy with a lingering finale, it should be perfect with an oxtail stew.

The wines of Rutherford wine company are available in Quebec via private import imported by Selection Caviste ( https://www.selectioncaviste.com/fr/).The predator Zinfandel retails for around $25 while the Cabernet Sauvignon for around $40.

Heitz Wine Cellar

When Heitz Cellars opened for business in 1961, the Napa Valley had fewer than twenty wineries. Today there are more than two hundred. The Heitz family were trailblazers in the Napa Valley, establishing new quality benchmarks and gaining an important recognition for their wines.

Heitz Cellar has been earning accolades for its wines for over five decades. As the second oldest winery in Napa, Heitz Cellar helped shape the history of Napa Valley winemaking and has for making Napa Valley’s first vineyard-designated Cabernet Sauvignon, Heitz Cellar Martha’s Vineyard.

Heitz Cellar is represented in Canada by Mark Anthony Brands. In the annual trade tasting of their importer in Quebec, I had a chance to taste their Zinfandel Ink Grade Vineyard Napa Valley 2013 ( Private Import, $52.75 per bottle /Case of 12).The 2013 Ink Grade Zinfandel captures the beauty of the variety without going overboard:—a medium to full body wine that is quite versatile a range of international cuisines. The rich core of blue fruit from Zinfandel fruit is beautifully showcased and laced with delicate nuances of graphite and black pepper This wine is loaded with bright raspberry flavors that go slow in your palate with supple tannins. A spicy finale of pepperoncini gives the wine a pleasing lift to the finish.

The Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2013 ( SAQ # 11898848, $84.75 -Available from December). is a knockout. Californian by birth but European by spirit, it charms the drinker with its cassis and floral nuances. On the palate, it is smooth and quite balanced with charming barnyard and graphite notes complemented by long flavours in the finale that recall plums and graphite. This is a highly recommended wine that will charm your upcoming holiday table.

Feature image: Winerie Parisienne: Paris Urban Winery

Marco Giovanetti – info@mtltimes.ca

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