Portalis Wine Club ~ Archives

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MARCH 2020 // Bartholomew Winery

In honor of Washington Wine Month, we are featuring a local producer — Bart Fawbush of Bartholomew Winery, located in Kennewick (with a tasting room in Seattle at the Old Rainier Brewery). Originally from Ogden, Utah, Bart attended college at Gonzaga University in Spokane where he studied Biology and Chemistry. After college, Bart found he was well-suited to the business world and had a desire to be an entrepreneur. After working in several financial institutions, he opened a mortgage brokerage in the early 2000’s. His interest in winemaking called, though, and he combined his business & science backgrounds to form Bartholomew Winery in 2007.

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Over the years, Bart has become increasingly interested in obscure varietals — Primitivo, Albariño (both in your club), Carménère, Tannat, Petit Verdot, Cabernet Franc & more — and how they show when grown in Washington State.

We had Bart at the shop for a holiday tasting in December. Low-key, easy-going, loves his obscure varietal rabbit hole, super fun to talk to. If you like these wines, go visit him in Kennewick (maroon star above) for the full experience!


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Bartholomew 2018 Albariño
Horse Heaven Hills // Reg $21.99 | Mixed Case $17.59

Tasting Notes: 100% Albariño. Stainless-steel fermented. Less minerality but more fruit than what you traditionally find from Spanish Albariño and no salinity on the finish. Full of lovely citrusy goodness, nectarines & refreshing acidity. Enjoy with fish, spring vegetables with pasta, roasted or grilled chicken. Or find a pretty spring day and enjoy sipping it on the patio. Drink now to 3 years.

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Bartholomew 2015 Cuvée Rouge
Columbia Valley // Reg $37.99 | Mixed Case $30.39

2015 was a hot vintage, and Bart brought in all 6 of these Bordeaux varietals with a Cab heavy wine in mind, but it morphed into this Petit Verdot & Merlot dominant blend.

Tasting Notes: 57% Petit Verdot, 28% Merlot, 9% Malbec, 3% Cab, 2% Cab Franc (pictured), 1% Carmenere. “Leading with Petit Verdot, … aromas of sweet cocoa powder, forest floor and a whisper of mint, followed by flavors of ripe plum, blueberry and Baker’s chocolate, all backed by richly smooth tannins.” — Pacific NW Magazine. Enjoy with meats off the grill. Drink now to 3 years.


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Bartholomew 2017 Primitivo
Horse Heave Hills // Reg $32.99 | Wine Club $29.99 | Mixed Case $23.99

Bart stumbled into this grape several years ago, not even really aware that it was available in WA State, and then his customers dug it, so he has continued producing it.

Tasting Notes: 100% Primitivo. An early ripening grape, Bart says it kicks off his harvest every year. He ferments at a low temperature to maintain as much color and fruitiness as possible, and he uses neutral (used) oak, not for oak flavoring or to mellow out the wine but for “seasoning”, sort of like adding salt and pepper to a meal. Bart says: “This wine shows bright fruit flavors, a medium body, good depth on the mid-palate, and a fantastic finish that makes you want more. An extremely good value for this quality of American made wine. Pair with tomato based pasta dishes, burgers, and pizza!” Drink now to 3 years.

Hope you enjoy this club. Bart’s a great guy, doing great work. Please join us on Thursday, March 12 to taste and learn about your wines.

Jens Strecker, Owner
Portalis Wine Shop & J. Strecker Selections
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FEBRUARY 2020 // Côtes du Rhône Villages Gadagne

This month we are going to check out a somewhat obscure little area — Côtes du Rhône Villages Gadagne (circled on the map) — within one of the most beloved and well-known regions: France’s Southern Rhône Valley. If you look up the village of Gadagne using an online mapping service, it will default to its original name — Châteauneuf-de-Gadagne — but since 2012 (when it joined the group of elite villages that can declare their name at the end of the Côtes du Rhône Villages title), it got truncated to Gadagne. Apparently the Cru Village Châteauneuf-du-Pape wasn’t keen on sharing the name!

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Photo credit: AOP Gadagne Côtes du Rhône Villages

But, let’s back up a second and have a quick review of how France’s Rhône Valley is organized. Its vineyards are ranked in a pyramid: AOC Côtes du Rhône wines (about 50% of production) make up the base (of juicy, delicious, easy-drinking everyday wines). Next up the triangle is AOC Côtes du Rhône Villages, then AOC Côtes du Rhône Villages [+village name], and up on top are the Cru Villages where only the name of village is on the label, e.g. Châteauneuf-du-Pape, Gigondas, Vacqueyras (with 17 total in the Northern & Southern Rhône). As you move up the pyramid, the wines get more complex, more age worthy and more expensive.

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Map credit: Wine Folly


In addition to the red & white blends from CDRV Gadagne, 3-bottle club members will get a red co-op blend from Gigondas. This month, have fun reveling in the glory of TONS of wine for the money!


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Domaine des Pentelines 2018 Côtes du Rhône Villages Gadagne “Clara” Blanc
Southern Rhône, France // Reg $24.99 | Mixed Case $19.99

Domaine des Pentelines (vineyards pictured) has 26 hectares of vineyards in one single stretch of land. The Hardy family owned this property for 80 years before it was recently acquired by the Kandler family. The vineyard is orientated to the west and drains well thanks to its « Pentelines » which means soft slopes in the local dialect. The soils are covered with large pebbles, and the vines are swept by the Mistral winds. They grow a range of varietals including Grenache, Syrah, Carignan, Mourvèdre, Marselan, Cinsault, Clairette, Marsanne, Roussanne & Grenache Blanc.

Tasting Notes: Clairette 20%, Marsanne 20%, Roussanne 20%, Grenache Blanc 20%, Ugni Blanc 20%. 100% organic; certified AB (Agriculture Biologique). Savory notes of beer hops, fresh tarragon & white peaches. Creamy mouthfeel with flavors of apricots, grilled apples with a long finish. Enjoy with baked fish dishes, pan-fried scallops, grilled sea bass on a bed of sautéed vegetables, baked chicken & vegetable dishes. Drink now to 3 years.

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Domaine des Pentelines 2016 Côtes du Rhône Villages Gadagne “Les Galets” Rouge
Southern Rhône, France // Reg $25.99 | Mixed Case $20.79

Tasting Notes: Grenache 65%, Syrah 25%, Mourvèdre 10%. Intense & fruity. A perfect balance of cherry, dark plum & red berry fruits. Fresh and smooth with a fuller-body and a rich, fruity, velvety long finish. Enjoy with Gambas “a la Plancha” with herbs, lamb chops with vegetables, paté on fresh country bread or vegetable lasagne. Drink now to 5 years.


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Photo credit: Appellation Gigondas>

Les Couventines 2016 Gigondas

Southern Rhône, France // Reg $33.99 | Mixed Case $27.19

Denis Vaudier and his brother own Chateau de Peyguerol which provides grapes to the VPA co-operative in Générac where this wine in made. Co-op wines are generally great value for the money, and this one is no exception.


Tasting Notes: 75% Grenache, 15% Syrah, 5% Mourvèdre and 5% Cinsault. Ripe baked cherries with licorice and vanilla undertones on the nose. Hedonistic jammy black cherries, black berries and raspberries flavors with peppercorn, fresh hillside herbs and anise. Serve with duck, lamb and other traditional dishes from southern France.

Hope you enjoy this club. These would be wonderful Valentine’s wines by the way for a delicious, celebratory dinner at home. Please join us on Thursday, February 13 to taste and learn about your wines.

Jens Strecker, Owner
Portalis Wine Shop & J. Strecker Selections


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JANUARY 2020 // Northern Portugal

We regularly hear about your travels as you pass through the shop, and Portugal has been on the rise over the last couple years as a destination for food, wine, hiking and low-key cultural delights. We thoughts we’d encourage the effort with some delicious wines from the Douro as well as the lesser-known region of Bairrada on the Atlantic coast below Vinho Verde. I think the wines are out of this world. Hope you agree!


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Alves de Sousa 2016 Branco da Gaivosa Gran Reserva

Douro Valley, Portugal // Reg $37.99 | Wine Club $35.99 | Mixed Case $28.79

For many years the Alves de Sousa family (father/son team Tiago & Domingo Alves de Sousa pictured below) used its grapes for making top quality ports (both white & red). In the early 90’s, Domingos decided to embrace the coming revolution of dry wines from the Douro. It’s not a decision he regretted. Multiple times awarded the Producer of the Year in Portugal, the estate has continued to grow and flourish with Tiago becoming the head winemaker in 2002.

Tasting Notes: A blend of Malvasia Fina, Gouveio, Avesso and Arinto. 20+ year old vines. Clear straw yellow color. Floral, with a hint of lychees and wonderful minerality. The fine oak presence is subtle and enhancing. Complex, fresh and elegant. Lovers of white Burgundy… this one’s for you! Drink now to 5 years.

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Alves de Sousa 2016 Caldas Reserva
Douro Valley, Portugal // Reg $23.99 | Mixed Case $19.19

Caldas, on the right bank of the Douro, is the largest (33 ha.) of Alves de Sousa’s quintas. Its location in Baixo-Corgo is cooler, resulting in a very elegant and fresh varietal expression.

Tasting Notes: 100% Touriga Nacional. 12 months in 2nd & 3rd year French oak casks. Deep ruby color. Intense flavors of dark plums, cherries, black pepper & violets. Very well-balanced with a refined toastiness from the oak. Fuller-bodied. A charming wine with lovely minerality & complexity. Very long finish. Drink now to 5 years.


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Vadio 2015 Baga

Bairrada, Portugal // Reg $23.99 | Mixed Case $19.19

Vadio is situated in the village of Poutena in the Bairrada region of northwestern Portugal (on the Atlantic coast). It is a small, family project founded in 2005 by winemaker Luís Patrão whose vision is to recover the traditional grape varieties of the area and produce authentic DOC Bairrada wines. Vadio has three small totally distinct vineyards and an old warehouse that they have adapted into a simple production facility. All of their wines are organically farmed and made using indigenous yeasts.

Tasting Notes: 100% Baga. Barrel aged for a minimum of 18 months. Low alcohol of 12.5%. Complex aromas of local red berries, red currants and the characteristic freshness of Bairrada with a little note of well-integrated oak. Ripe, rich fruity flavors of red plum and rich berries. Good acidity allows for pairings with rich dishes such as duck & pork belly. Would also be delicious with roasted pork loin and richer pasta dishes including those with mushrooms. Can handle spicier dishes well, too. Enjoy now to 5 years.

Hope you enjoy this club. I have been a long-time fan of Tiago’s wines. Then last spring I picked up the
Vadio wines while wine-buying in Europe, and I think they (there’s a white, too!) are interesting and delicious especially in contrast to wines from the Douro. Please join us on Thursday, January 16 to taste and learn about your wines before enjoying them at home. Happy New Year! Wishing you all the best in 2020!

Jens Strecker, Owner
Portalis Wine Shop & J. Strecker Selections


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DECEMBER 2019 // Bodegas Altanza (Rioja)

Ah… Rioja, a historic and beloved region in north-central Spain known for lying directly on the path of the Camino de Santiago. From France, you head through Basque country, then Rioja, then on through Burgos, Léon and finally arrive in Santiago de Compostella. Rioja is also know for its elegant red wines, made primarily from Tempranillo and aged according to tradition in oak barrels as specified by the Denominación de Origen Calificada Rioja rules and regulations.

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Located in Fuenmayor (Rioja Alta) about 10 minutes due west of Logroño, Bodegas Altanza is a 300 ha. estate, 220 ha. of which are vineyards. They grow 100% Tempranillo aged primarily in French oak barrels which are renewed every 5 years. The winery describes Tempranillo as evolving more slowly than other varieties, making it deal for aging. You’ll get to experience that with the Crianza, Reserva & Gran Reserva included in this club. Details on Rioja’s aging rules are listed below with the wine descriptions.

Through a series of Spanish connections, I found this winery on my last buying trip to Europe and was wowed. I’ve been looking forward to their wines arriving since last spring. And here they are! Hope you enjoy.


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Bodegas Altanza 2010 Lealtanza Gran Reserva
Rioja, Spain // Reg $36.99 | Mixed Case $29.59

Rioja Gran Reserva is aged at least 2 years in barrel and 3 years in bottle before release.

Tasting Notes: 100% Tempranillo. Aged 24 months in 50% French & 50% American oak barrels and three months in 22,000 liter French oak vats. The wonderful bouquet is complex due to the aging with aromas of spice box, old leather, smokey notes with a faint hint of cocoa, toast & coffee. On the palate you still get some cherry and plum fruit, but the oak has played its role, and it is smooth, soft, complex. Pair with roasted meats & poultry and aged cheeses or sit in front of the fire and sip. You can enjoy this wine now (my suggestion is to open the bottle an hour before your meal; decanting is not necessary) or up to 10+ years. The wine will continue to get smoother over time.

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Bodegas Altanza 2016 Lealtanza Crianza
Rioja, Spain // Reg $19.99 | Mixed Case $15.99

Rioja Crianza is aged at least 1 year in oak and 1 year in bottle before release.

Tasting Notes: 100% Tempranillo. Aged 12 months in French casks, 15% new barrels and the rest in their second or third use. Intense, deep ruby red. Aromas of sweet red fruit (strawberry, cherry) and licorice with smoke, grilled bread & balsamic notes. Slight hint of earthy & minerals. Pleasant with a good acidity and a long aftertaste. Nicely balanced. Enjoy with tapas, stews, red meats and mature cheeses (Manchego). Drink now to 5 years.


Bodegas Altanza 2014 Lealtanza Reserva
Rioja, Spain // Reg $27.99 | Mixed Case $22.39

Rioja Reserva is aged a minimum of 1 year in oak and 2 years in bottle before release.

Tasting Notes: 100% Tempranillo. Aged 18 months in French barrels followed by 3 months in 22,000 liter French oak vats. Complex bouquet of red raspberry and licorice with smoky & spicy notes from the oak. Rich, fuller-bodied on the palate with good fruit and a lovely meatiness. Nice tannins on the finish with just enough acidity to make this wine very food friendly. Enjoy with meaty soups, stews, roasts and cured cheeses. Drink now to 8 years.

Hope you enjoy this club. I lived in northeast Spain for several years after high school and my love of these wines will never wane!! It’s a busy time of year, but hopefully you’ll be able to join us for your pickup tasting on Thursday, December 12 to taste and learn about your wines before enjoying them at home. Happy Holidays! Happy New Year! Your next club will be in 2020!

Jens Strecker, Owner
Portalis Wine Shop & J. Strecker Selections

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NOVEMBER 2019 // Nebbiolo

It’s an amazing grape, Nebbiolo, and not for the faint of heart!! Known for the high-end wines that come from the communes of Barolo and Barbaresco, Piedmont makes plenty of everyday Nebbiolo which is fresher, has less oak and is decidedly less complex than the big guns, but Nebbiolo always has its signature aromas — roses, cherries with a note of tobacco, leather & licorice and maybe most importantly, it’s DRY!! If you aren’t quite sure what we mean when we describe a wine as dry (or tannic), pay attention to what happens to your tongue at the end of a sip of Nebbiolo. I love drinking dry wine without food, but if it’s a little much for you, just have a slice of salami nearby, and you’ll get the magic of this pairing — the tannins in the wine cut the fat of the meat, making the meat less rich and the wine much smoother. It’s a match made in heaven.

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This club includes a beautiful Barbaresco, a younger, fresher style Langhe Nebbiolo (for 3-bottle club members), and a Nebbiolo blend so that you can see how other grapes can smooth it out. These wines would be great with Thanksgiving (as long as your meal is savory!) or with a wonderful fall dinner of roasted or stewed meat, mushrooms and/or root vegetables. Hope you enjoy!


Giuseppe Nada 2014 “Casot” Barbaresco DOCG
Piedmont, Italy // Reg $33.99 | Mixed Case $27.19

Head winemaker at the estate since 2008, Enrico Nada (pictured above with his dad, Giuseppe, his mom, Nella) has visited us as Portalis in recent years to taste through a lineup of his wines. He’s a dear friend of Gina (of yesteryear Portalis Wine Bar fame) and her husband, Kenny, who now own and are renovating a property in the village of Santa Margherita in the province of Asti (also in Piedmont). We have grown fond of his wines, and this Barbaresco is an outstanding example of his work and of wines from the region.

Tasting Notes: 100% Nebbiolo. Aged 2 years in 500, 1000 & 3000 liter oak casks with the final wine a blend of the 3 different sized barrels. Garnet in color with orange reflections. Ethereal bouquet of roses, violet, wild berry, leather, forest floor, soft oak & spice. Wonderful juicy fruit on the palate with flavors of cherry, black raspberry, licorice, tobacco & truffle. You can drink this wine now, but the winery advises you to decant it first. It will be at its height between 2022 and 2030. Another benefit of highly tannic wines… they age well and long!

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Virna Borgogno 2017 Langhe Rosso
Piedmont, Italy // Reg $23.99 | Mixed Case $19.19

The next two wines are from Virna Borgogno (pictured right with her sister, Ivana). The winery is in the commune of Barolo in the heart of Langhe. [Note: We carry Virna’s wonderful Barolo (100% Nebbiolo), but that’s a conversation for another day!] In 1950, her father, Ludovico Borgogno, second generation winemaker, purchased several vineyards and constructed a new winery. Virna (the first woman to graduate with a degree in enology from Turin University) is now the proprietor and head winemaker at the estate. Ivana handles the administrative side of the business, and Virna’s husband, Giovanni Abrigo, oversees the vineyards and viticulture. The winery covers an area of about 12 hectares and produces prestigious wines from its estate vineyards, with historical Crus in the Barolo area.

Tasting Notes: This wine is a Barbera/Nebbiolo/Dolcetto blend, all traditional grapes of Piedmont and an excellent example of how a blend can balance out a single varietal wine. Intense ruby red color. Notes of juicy red berries and mellow cherries with a hint of tobacco & vanilla on the nose. In the mouth it is fruity and pleasant, with a long finish of ripe berries. Very soft tannins. Enjoy with mushroom pastas, poultry, roasted pork. Drink now to 5 years.


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Virna Borgogno 2016 Langhe Nebbiolo
Piedmont, Italy // Reg $23.99 | Mixed Case $19.19

Tasting Notes: 100% Nebbiolo. Aged for one year in oak barrels and left in the bottle for at least 6 months lying down. Delicate fruity scents of raspberry and violet. On the palate it’s dry but with nice pleasant fruit. Harmonious with good body. Becomes less dry with age. Pair with cheese pastas, dishes with truffles, lamb, roasted pork, roasted fowl. Enjoy now to 7 years. If you drink now, you can let it air for a good couple hours before drinking. You could even argue that it’s better on Day 2… if there’s any left!

I hope you get to know and love Nebbiolo… if you aren’t already smitten! This email tells you that your wines are ready for pickup at your convenience. If you would like to taste this month’s wines prior to enjoying them at home, stop by on Thursday, November 14 for your pickup tasting. Hope to see you then.

Jens Strecker, Owner
Portalis Wine Shop & J. Strecker Selections

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OCTOBER 2019 // Zorzon

Azienda Agricola Zorzon is a small, family winery in the DOC Collio (see map below) in Italy’s northeastern most region of Friuli Venezia Giulia. It was founded in the 19th century by Louis Zorzon. It is currently managed by third generation winemaker, Giorgio Deganis (who is the winemaker – pictured below) and his Austrian wife, Petra (who runs the business side).

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Collio is a small hilly area bordering Slovenia. The soil there is known as Ponca (marl and sandstone) resulting in very aromatic wines that also have a unique minerality to them. This winery is known for producing beautiful native white wines such as Friulano, Malvasia and Ribolla Gialla, along with other international whites such as Sauvingon Blanc and Pinot Grigio. They also produce 2 red wines, Merlot and Cabernet Franc.

This is J. Strecker Selections’ first direct import from Friuli, and we are excited to have it here in the Seattle market. These wines are interesting, complex and delicious, telling their story from their little corner of the world. Our original plan was to put them in your November club with Thanksgiving in mind (they would be perfect) but we decided that they are great for fall in general, so you have the option to enjoy them now or save them (or enjoy them now and get more)!

WineFolly_IT_Friuli Venezia Giulia


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Zorzon 2018 Collio Friulano
Friuli Venezia Giulia, Italy // Reg $19.99 | Mixed Case $15.99
100% Friulano. Faint wild flowers, golden fruits on the nose. Flavors of yellow plum & quince. Dry, fresh, soft and velvety. Complex minerality. Enjoy as an aperitif or alongside fish dishes, grilled white meats, and cured & smoked hams. Drink now to 2 years. Drink now to 2 years.

Zorzon 2017 Collio Cabernet Franc
Friuli Venezia Giulia, Italy // Reg $23.99 | Mixed Case $19.19
100% Cabernet Franc. Aged in oak barrels for about 2 years. Cherries, red berries on the nose. Lighter in body with a depth of red fruit flavors. Soft dirt. Faint note of crushed gravel. Tiny hint of green pepper. Enjoy with pork roasts, game, roasted chicken, mushroom dishes. Drink now to 3 years.


Zorzon 2018 Collio Pinot Grigio
Friuli Venezia Giulia, Italy // Reg $22.99 | Mixed Case $18.39
100% Pinot Grigio. A savory white with aromas of honeysuckle & a touch of tropical fruit. Smooth, juicy fruit flavors of honeydew melon, cantaloupe, a touch of baking spice and tangy citrus on the finish. This wine has Thanksgiving dinner written all over it! Until then, enjoy with grilled seafood, rich soups, rice dishes, roasted pork & chicken. Drink now to 2 years.

I have been excited about having these wines in Seattle since I tasted them in March on my wine buying trip. I hope you like them as much as I do. This email tells you that your wines are ready for pickup at your convenience. If you would like to taste this month’s wines prior to enjoying them at home, stop by on Thursday, October 17 for your pickup tasting. Hope to see you then.

Jens Strecker, Owner
Portalis Wine Shop & J. Strecker Selections

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SEPTEMBER 2019 // Autumn Reds

It’s a great time of year for medium-bodied reds — complex, elegant, made for the bounty of fruits, vegetables and mushrooms available this time of year! We picked three wines from different countries — Barbera from Piedmont, a Bordeaux blend from Saint-Emilion & a Pinot Noir from the Willamette Valley. They are terrific wines. Delicious to sip. Wonderful paired with whatever you find at the farmer’s market this time of year. You choose.


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L’Adage 2014 Saint-Emilion Rouge
Bordeaux, France // Reg $23.99 | Mixed Case $19.19

L’Adage is a 15 hectare estate exclusively made for Mason Querre, a négociant house established in 1897. Vineyards are located south of Saint-Émilion in the foothills where the soil is sandy making for pleasant drinking, fruitier wines (as opposed to limestone marl in other areas of the Right Bank which is much harder to cultivate, producing less fruity, more complex wines).

Tasting Notes: 90% Merlot, 10% Cabernet Franc. 30-year old vines, with sandy soil. 12 months in French oak barrique of which 30% is new. The nose is full of truffles, toasted bread and blackberries. Rich baked fruit, cassis and chocolate on the palate. The finish has firm tannins with a velvety finish. Well-matched with aged sheep’s cheese, game, fowl or grilled steak. Drink now to 3 years.

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Pelassa 2016 San Pancrazio Barbera d’Alba Superiore
Piedmont, Italy // Reg $24.99 | Mixed Case $19.99

The Pelassa family owns 12-hectares in the Roero area of Piedmont. Last spring, Mario Pelassa died, leaving his wife, Maria-Theresa (pictured above thinning vines last month), and his two sons, Daniele & Davide, at the helm. They continue to lovingly care for this property in his honor.

This Barbera d’ Alba Superiore is their most highly decorated wine, appearing on the cover of the Decanter magazine several years ago as their Wine of the Year. $25 Barbera can be tricky to sell in the US, where fruitier wines often wine the prize, but don’t over look this delicious sample. It’s complex but not austere — pleasant, thought-provoking and flat-out delicious. Hope you enjoy!

Tasting Notes: Dark blackberries, soft summer cherries & vanilla, subtle baking spices and tannins. Perfect for roasted meats, game & dishes with mushrooms. Drink now to 5 years. Highly, highly recommended!


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Bethel Heights 2017 Pinot Noir Estate
Willamette Valley, Oregon // Reg $36.99 | Mixed Case $29.59

In 1977, brothers Ted & Terry Casteel together with their wives Pat Dudley & Marilyn Webb and Pat’s sister Barbara Dudley, bought 75 acres of farmland northwest of Salem. 14 acres were newly planted. 36 more acres were planted in 1979. In 1981 they had their first harvest and round of basement wine. Their first commercial vintage was in 1984. They raised their families on this property with Ted managing the vineyard, Terry making the wine and Pat & Marilyn running the business. In 2005 Ben Casteel (son of Terry and Marilyn) took over as winemaker.

Winemaker’s Tasting Notes: “Aromas of damp earth, warm spice, red cane berries and faint oak spice carry over to the palate, with balancing acidity and fine grain tannins showing potential for aging over the next 8-12 years.” I wouldn’t wait that long or you’ll lose some fruit, but up to 5 would be fine. I like this Oregon Pinot because it’s beautifully made — good fruit, well-balanced, very pleasant drinking, and it’s a reasonable price for well-crafted Pinot Noir from the Willamette Valley.

Hope you enjoy these fall reds! This email tells you that your wines are ready for pickup at your convenience. If you would like to taste this month’s wines prior to enjoying them at home, stop by on Thursday, September 12 for your pickup tasting. Hope to see you then.

Jens Strecker, Owner
Portalis Wine Shop & J. Strecker Selections


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AUGUST 2019 // Faugères

This little known sub-region of Languedoc-Roussillon lies about 45 minutes inland from the Mediterranean Sea. It’s rocky (schist), hilly and rugged with relatively gentle winters and long, hot, dry summers. Historically olives were grown in this part of Languedoc,with wine not becoming prominent until the late 1700’s. Today the most common grapes are Carignan, Cinsault, Grenache, Mourvèdre and Syrah. Some whites & rosé wines are produced as well. The area of Faugères is small (1800 acres) and until recently, many of the old vineyards had been abandoned. But over the last several decades, winemakers have moved to this area, bought small properties, and have worked to bring these old vines back to life. So is the story of the two women winemakers featured in this month’s club: Arielle Demets of Domaine Les Fusionels and Catherine Roque of Mas d’Alezon.

Wonderful, off-the beaten path wines. Enjoy!

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Domaine Les Fusionels 2016 Cuvée “In Tempus” Faugères
Languedoc-Roussillon, France // Reg $27.99 | Mixed Case $22.39

Arielle Demets grew up in the heart of the Côte des Bar (in Champagne). Her adolescence was spent in the vineyards and was deeply influenced by her parents’ and grandparents’ strong attachment to the land and their respect for their terroirand winemaking traditions. In 2003, having completed a degree in viticulture and oenology, she worked at her family’s estate before striking out on her own in 2007 with a purchase of 6 ha of vines (in Faugères) from a local wine growing couple who were readyto retire. The vines are located in the far north of the appellation at a height of 350 meters near the village of Cabrerolles. The domain has gradually grown in size to cover a few hectares in Faugères and Caussiniojouls. Starting with the 2017 vintage,the wines will be certified organic. Estate vineyards pictured above & below.

Tasting Notes: 40% Syrah, 30% Carignan, 15% Mourvèdre, 15% Grenache. 12 months ageing in Burgundy barrels (previously used for 1 to 3 wines). Production is 6000 bottles. Mediterranean notes of juniper, cistus and stewed black fruits (blackberry, blueberry and cherry) on the nose. A rich, round, powerful wine with excellent intensity. Smooth tannins on the finish. Enjoy with grilled meats and vegetables or in cooler weather with casseroles and stews. Drink now to 5 years.

Domaine Les Fusionels 2016 Cuvée “Le Rêve” Faugères
Languedoc-Roussillon, France // Reg $19.99 | Mixed Case $15.99

Tasting Notes: 60% Syrah, 30% Grenache, 10% Carignan. 40% of the blend is aged in Burgundy barrels. Production is 30,000 bottles. Floral notes (violet, thyme blossom), ripe fruits (sour cherry, raspberry) and roasted aromas on the nose. A smooth, seductive wine. Well-balanced and elegant. Simply a pleasure to drink. Pair with lamb burgers this summer or rack of lamb as we head into fall. Drink now to 3 years.


Mas d'Alezon Faugeres
Mas D’Alezon 2017 Le Presbytère Faugères
Languedoc-Roussillon, France // Reg $27.99 | Mixed Case $ $22.39

Catherine Roque acquired Mas D’Alezon and its 7 hectares in the northern corner of Faugères in 1997. The vineyards are in the village of Soumatre (about 20 minutes northeast of Arielle Demets’ property). At 350-450 meters in altitude, they are the highest in the appellation. Catherine’s vineyard is certified organic, producing Grenache, Mourvèdre & Syrah as well as Clairette and Roussanne for her white blend. The average age of her vines is 25 years, including plots of 70-year old Grenache and 80-year old Mourvèdre. Due to the combination of infertile soils and cool micro-climate, her grapes are very slow to ripen and yields are typically 20 to 25 hl/ha. She relies on indigenous yeasts for fermentation, believing in long and slow fermentation at cool temperatures. The wine is aged in cement tanks and barrels (that are not new) for up to two years. No sulfur is used during this process and only at bottling is the smallest amount added.

Tasting Notes: The Presbytère is 80% Grenache with Syrah & Mourvèdre making up the final 20%. Dark, ripe berry fruits with notes of spice, licorice, herbs and little note of stony earth. Fine tannins on the long finish. Wonderful wine. Enjoy with dishes that have legumes, mushrooms, aubergine. Charcuterie and cheeses would also be a delicious pairing. Drink now to 5 years.

It’s so fun doing a wine club like this one where we’ve gotten our hands on wines from two tiny producers, working in an area that is still up-and-coming. Hope you like them as much as I do! This email tells you that your wines are ready for pickup at your convenience. If you would like to taste this month’s wines prior to enjoying them at home, stop by on Thursday, August 15 for your pickup tasting. Hope to see you then.

Jens Strecker, Owner
Portalis Wine Shop & J. Strecker Selections

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JULY 2019 // Antoine de La Farge

For those of you who’ve been in this wine club for more than a year, you may recognize Antoine de La Farge (pictured left with his dad) as he was featured in a Loire Valley club (with other producers) about a year ago. The club this month is all him, featuring all new wines — white, red & rosé — from Menetou-Salon & Sancerre.

Antoine de La Farge_in vineyard_600

With this club you are truly getting to taste an up and comer in Loire Valley wines. It’s just Antoine, making and selling his wines. As of yet, there is no website. There is no Facebook or Twitter account. We can’t even get our hands on technical sheets for these wines! Getting him to respond to an email has been like pulling teeth. And when he finally does, he pardons the delay with a heartfelt — “My apologies. I’ve been very busy signing on a new vineyard.”

So, aside from meeting him twice at ProWein and having the impression that he’s a solid guy with killer wines, here’s what we know about him:

He grew up in a Menetou-Salon wine family. His grandfather, Bernard Clément (founder of the famous Domain de Châtenoy and the founding father of the Menetou-Salon appellation in 1959), is a deep part of his oldest memories. Antoine studied enology, then formed a company with another guy and for 5 years traded French wines around the world. At some point during that experience (which he holds dear for its training), he decided that he wanted to return to his roots, be a farmer, and make the wine, not just sell it. Currently he helps his parents run Domaine de L’Ermitage (a part of the original Domain de Châtenoy given to his mother from her father), and in the last years he has started purchasing his own vineyards in Menetou-Salon, Pouilly-Fumé & Sancerre, producing wine under his name.

These are elegant, delicious food wines all year round, but they are especially wonderful in summer! I hope you enjoy.


Domaine de L'Ermitage_harvest
Domaine de l’Ermitage 2018 Menetou-Salon Rosé
Loire Valley, France // Reg $26.99 | Mixed Case $21.59
Above are the vineyards of the Domaine de L’Ermitage winery that Antoine runs with his parents, Laurence & Geraud de la Farge. They planted the 10-hectare estate in 1981 with their first vintage in 2003. This wine is produced using natural yeasts, and it won a Gold Medal at the Concours Mondial du Rosé 2019.

Tasting Notes: 100% Pinot Noir. Pure, fresh fruit notes on the nose (strawberry, a touch of citrus, red currant, peach vine) and white flowers. Elegant personality with slight notes of pepper. On the palate it’s fresh and fruity with a long-lasting finish. Drink now through the summer of 2020. The winery says to enjoy this wine as a sunny day aperitif with charcuterie or tapas (more or less spicy), with a range of dinner options: sea bass or scallops, sushi & sashimi, veal, lamb or salmon, and dessert — perfect with a nice sorbet.

FR_Antoine de La Farge_FB_vineyards 2013_v2_FULL RENDER
Antoine de La Farge 2017 Menetou-Salon Rouge “Les Pierres Chaudes”
Loire Valley, France // Reg $25.99 | Mixed Case $20.79
This wine is from Antoine’s newly acquired Menetou-Salon vineyard.

Tasting Notes: 100% Pinot Noir. Lighter in body. Intense roasted black cherry and prune notes. Slightly spicy with hints of pepper. On the palate, the wine is silky smooth with an intense concentration of cherry fruit flavors and a hint of licorice. Harmonious. Round. Elegant. Fresh. Soft finish with coated tannins. Enjoy now to 5 years. Ideal with grilled meats, game, fish, cheeses as well as chocolate desserts. 


FR_Antoine de La Farge_FB_harvest 2014_harvest_v4
Antoine de La Farge 2018 Sancerre “La Carrière”
Loire Valley, France // Reg $29.99 | Mixed Case $ $23.99
Sancerre had a bad vintage in 2017. Much of the crop was destroyed due to storms, making supply low, and subsequently Sancerre wines were very hard to find in our market over the last year. Antoine’s Sancerre had sold out by the time I met him that first spring at ProWein, so I purchased his Menetou-Salon & Pouilly Fumé in the spring of 2018 so that we would have Sauvignon Blanc from this eastern most part of the Loire Valley. This vintage (2018), Sancerre is back and prices for all whites from this region of the Loire have dropped as supply has increased.

Tasting Notes: 100% Sauvignon Blanc. Lovely lemony nose with grapefruit, lime, white flowers and a little note of exotic fruits followed by the special flinty, minerality that the chalky Sancerre soils impart. This vintage was warm, so the body is a little fuller, but it maintains a crystal clear minerality, and the off-setting acidity keeps the wine fresh, intense, harmonious, round & deep. Wonderful with all sorts of seafood and fish (both fresh and salt water) and dishes with pork, veal or chicken. A versatile food wine and a delicious, refreshing summer sipper. Enjoy now to 3 years.

Keep your eye on this guy. He’s young, and his work will be around for years to come!! Hope you like his wines as much as I do. That said, your wines are ready for pickup at your convenience. If you would like to taste this month’s wines prior to enjoying them at home, stop by on Thursday, July 11 for your pickup tasting. Hope you can make it!

Jens Strecker, Owner
Portalis Wine Shop & J. Strecker Selections

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JUNE 2019 // Châteauneuf-du-Pape

Vigneron independant_FranceVignerons indépendants de France (VIF) is a viticultural trade association based in Paris that promotes and assists small and independent winemakers within France. Both wineries featured in this month’s club are producers showing off their little corner of Châteauneuf-du-Pape, the most well-known and highly-decorated of the Rhône Valley’s Cru Villages.

Both of these properties are tiny (5.5 and 8 hectares respectively) and have small teams running them on a day-to-day basis. They are beautifully crafted local wines with all of the wineries’ efforts put into winemaking. You’d be hard pressed to find much info on either winery online, and don’t be looking to visit any tasting rooms! It’s fun to get to have these wines in Seattle. You could almost feel like you were there…

That said, here are the wines and a little about them:


Le Plan des Moines_First tasting of the vintage 2018 from the tank (still fermenting)

Le Plan des Moines 2016 Les Charretons Châteauneuf du Pape Rouge
Southern Rhône, France // Reg $54.99 | Mixed Case $43.99

The winery’s self-stated MO: “Three friends, Daniel, Thierry and Claude with almost sixty years of combined experience in the wine trade, get together with one aim: … producing terrific, genuine and natural Rhône wines.” Claude Serra, the winemaker, an experienced viticulturist and Professor in Oenology at Montpellier University, controls the viticulture, winemaking and estate bottling of the wine. Pictured: first tasting of the 2018 vintage still fermenting in the tank!

Winemaker’s Notes: A blend of Grenache 70% – Syrah 20% – Mourvèdre 10%. The northeastern-facing vineyards have large pebbles and sand soil, enhancing (especially) the Grenache. The wine is vinified at the estate and matures 18 months, 30% in oak barrels and the other 70% in a tank. “The soil’s power is expressed by brandy cherry, laurel leaves, paprika and nutmeg notes. Fine tannins in the mouth with notes of fresh red fruits. Black licorice and cocoa complete the aromas of raspberry and crystallized blackberry.” Drink now to 10 years. Enjoy with a wide variety of red meat dishes and wild game.

Le Plan des Moines_Grenache_2018 harvest_square
Le Plan des Moines 2016 La Borde Côtes du Rhône Rouge
Southern Rhône, France // Reg $18.99 | Mixed Case $15.19

This second wine is the winery’s Côtes du Rhône La Borde blend with 60% Grenache (estate grapes pictured) – 40% Carignan. Hand-harvested grapes, fermented in stainless steel tanks then matured 12-18 months in VAT before bottling. This wine is a couple price points higher than most Côtes du Rhône blends, but it’s so worth it! A top seller, this wine is more complex and fuller-bodied than most.

Winemaker’s Notes: “Delicate nose with notes of crisp red fruits, blackcurrant jelly, raspberries and a hint of cedar. …Fine and fleshy tannins and an almost mentholated finale.” Enjoy now to 2 years. Perfect for pizzas and other Mediterranean dishes.


Peres de l'Eglise_proprietor winemaker Serge Gradassi_square
Domaine des Pères de L’Eglise 2017 Les Calice de Saint Pierre Châteauneuf du Pape Blanc
Southern Rhône, France // Reg $63.99 | Wine Club $29.99

Following four generations of winegrowers, Serge (pictured) and Laetitia Gradassi continue the tradition, strictly adhering the 1933 agreements governing the production of Châteauneuf-du-Pape wines. Their property is on the northern edge of the village of Châteauneuf-du-Pape. (Photo at top shows the view of the historic village from their vineyards!)

For this club we picked a white blend, a) because it’s so much lesser-known than the reds from this area, and b) because it’s almost summer. If you enjoy this wine and want more, be fast! We only have a couple bottles left of this vintage at this price.

Winemaker’s Notes: 70% Grenache Blanc, 20% Clairette & 10% Bourboulenc. “Golden in color, with soft floral aromas and soft flavors of peach & pear with some smokey notes and honey. Beautiful amplitude in the mouth with light minerality.” Enjoy now to 5 years with fish (grilled or in a cream sauce), crustaceans, sushi and cheeses.

Who doesn’t like wines from Châteauneuf-du-Pape?! And these small-production examples are outstanding! Your wines are ready for pickup at your convenience. If you would like to taste this month’s wines prior to enjoying them at home, stop by on Thursday, June 13 for your pickup tasting. Hope you can make it!

Jens Strecker, Owner
Portalis Wine Shop & J. Strecker Selections

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MAY 2019 // Sicily

Sicily, the island off the tip of Italy’s boot, is famous for many things — Mount Etna, its flora and fauna as the largest island in the Mediterranean, Greco-Roman ruins and fresh, simple Sicilian cuisine paired with wonderful local wines! Most notable to me when I look at the map (below) is how few Sicilian wines are available in Seattle. Most of the DOCs listed below are little-known at best. That’s a wine club in the making if I’ve ever seen one!

Wine Map_Sicily_ubriaco
There are so many grapes grown in Sicily that I will avoid that rabbit hole> and head straight to the three red wines featured in this month’s club. I tasted these wines recently and thought they were stunning! I hope you enjoy them. More details on the wines and sub-regions below:


Planeta_Vittoria estate
Planeta 2017 Cerasuolo di Vittoria DOCG
Sicily, Italy // Reg $33.99 | Mixed Case $27.19

Planeta is steeped in history — “For five centuries and seventeen generations, the Planeta family has been involved in Sicilian agriculture. Their work on the island has contributed to the revitalization of Sicilian winemaking, now one of the most dynamic and sought-after viticultural regions in the world.” Planeta has 6 wine estates around the island, with this wine coming from Vittoria on the southwest coast. Cerasuolo de Vittoria is the only DOCG on the island with rules governing the blend & alcohol level. Planeta uses “solar panels and biomass production, principally pruning residues to produce energy, reusing and recycling of all materials used in the production cycle, and the exclusive use of recycled paper for packing and printed materials.” Planeta vineyards & herb garden pictured top and the Dorilli estate in Vittoria pictured above.

Tasting Notes: 60% Nero d’Avola / 40% Frappato. From the winery: “An intriguing wine with an extraordinary vital energy based on wild fruits, wild strawberries, mulberry and pomegranate. …Perfect with a slice of seared tuna, with chopped mushrooms or with feathered game, its harmony with pizza is a surprise throughout the year. On the palate the wine has beautiful volume with elegant spice and coated tannins.” Smooth, medium-bodied. Drink now to 5 years.

Firrato_Etna vineyards_v2
Firriato 2016 Sabbie dell’Etna Etna Rosso
Sicily, Italy // Reg $19.99 | Mixed Case $15.99

The Firriato estate is located on the northeast side of Mount Etna where the vines “have adapted naturally to soil and climate conditions that are singular and unique at these latitudes. The vineyard is traditionally planted: Nerello Mascalese, Nerello Cappuccio and Carricante varieties, the reigning princes of the volcano. These specimens are of significant importance because, thanks to the sandy composition of the soil, they managed to survive the Phylloxera epidemic that in the early 20th century attacked and destroyed most of the vines in Italy.”
Tasting Notes: 100% Nerello Mascalese. The winery says: “Le Sabbie dell’Etna Rosso comes to the glass with a delicious and complex bouquet with notes of cinnamon, black pepper, blackcurrant and cherries in alcohol. Only the extraordinary terroir of Castiglione di Sicilia, on the slopes of Europe’s largest active volcano, could yield a wine with such great personality.” This is a fuller-boded wine than the Planeta with lovely volcanic minerality, but not super tannic. If you haven’t been to Mount Etna, you’ll feel like you have after you drink this wine! Winery says to pair with Duck Breast in Orange Sauce. Drink now to 5 years.


Zisola_vineyards by vespa
Zisola 2015 Nero D’Avola
Sicily, Italy // Reg $33.99 | Mixed Case $27.19

This 17-hectare estate (pictured) is in Nota, a tiny (and breathtakingly beautiful) DOC on the southeast coast of Sicily. The Mazzei family (an institution in Tuscany) purchased it in 2002. Nero d’Avola is their primary grape with small amounts of Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon and Petit Verdot cultivated as well. The vines enjoy a west/southwest exposure and benefit from a steady sea breeze, which cools the vineyards during the hot summer days and warms the land in the winter. In addition to the vineyards, the property is full of olive, citrus and almond trees, typical of this landscape. And vespa is surely the best way to see the vineyards!

Tasting Notes: 100% Nero d’Avola. Winery’s notes: “Well built, forest fruits and sunny orange peel flavors. Long and layered taste. Perfect match for spicy fish soups, savory pasta and rice dishes, grilled red meats and vegetables.” A pretty full-boded wine. Drink now to 2 years.

I had a lot of fun picking out these wines for this month’s club. I think they’re stellar examples of the interesting reds coming out of Sicily today. Hope you enjoy them!

Your wines are ready for pickup at your convenience. If you would like to taste this month’s wines prior to enjoying them at home, stop by on Thursday, May 16 for your pickup tasting. Hope you can make it!

Jens Strecker, Owner
Portalis Wine Shop & J. Strecker Selections

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APRIL 2019 // Wines for Spring

Spring is here… trees are leafing out, buds everywhere, cherry blossoms are in full amazement, and the farmers markets will start to showcase the early spring vegetables soon. As well, spring lamb is available and morels are in season. This month we picked three wines with spring in mind — two reds (Châteauneuf-du-Pape & Tinta de Toro) and for 3-bottle club members a 2018 rosé from WA State. Hope you enjoy!

Peres de l'Eglise_Laetitia Gradassi_daughter of Serge_Decuvage des vieux grenache
Domaine des Pères de L’Eglise 2016 “Les Calice de Saint Pierre” Châteauneuf-du-Pape Rouge
Southern Rhône, France // Reg $51.99 | INSIDER $38.99 | Mixed Case $31.19

This family-owned estate includes 19 hectares of which 15 are in Châteauneuf with plots located at the four cardinal points of the appellation. Serge Gradassi and his daughter Laetitia (pictured) vinify the “Chalice of St. Peter” according to tradition. The grape harvest is exclusively manual.

Tasting Notes: The blend is primarily Grenache with 10% Syrah & 5% Mourvèdre. The terroir is made up of red sandstone, sol brun, limestone & galets roulés (large round pebbles). The nose is full of jammy red fruits (blackcurrant, blackberries), notes of leather and tobacco with a slightly smoked minerally side, an expression of “garrigues”. On the palate the wine has beautiful volume with elegant spice and coated tannins. Enjoy with beef bourguignon, lamb, duck confit, garlic sausage and pungent cheeses (Affidelice, Epoisse and Pont l’Eveque). Drink now to 7 years.

Toro Vineyards_openingabottlecom
Bodegas Casto Pequeño 2015 Gravedad Tinta de Toro
Toro, Spain // Reg $19.99 | Mixed Case $15.99
Acquired in 1977 by the Casto family, this winery focuses on making quality wines that represent their region, DO Toro (located 2.5 hours northwest of Madrid). It is dry and hot as a pot and known for producing rich, full-bodied, DRY reds. (Toro vineyards pictured.) Sometimes Tinta do Toro can be overpowering and big to the point of not good with food, but this one is beautifully restrained while still being a fun example of wine from this area.

Tasting Notes: 100% Tinta de Toro (Tempranillo). Ripe raspberries and spice on the nose. Inky dark plums and cooked black cherries macerated with fresh anise and cinnamon. Good acidity balances the velvety finish. Enjoy with grilled lamb, cured ham or roasted vegetables. Drink now to 5 years.


Event_Tranche Cellars WA Dec 16
Tranche 2018 Pink Pape Rosé
Yakima Valley, Washington // Reg $22.99 | Mixed Case $18.39

Tranche (vineyards pictured), second label for Corliss Estates, specializes in estate grown Rhône varietals. The estate (vineyards pictured) lies in the foothills of the Blue Mountains, east of Walla Walla.

Tasting Notes: A blend of Grenache, Cinsault & Cunoise, three traditional Châteauneuf-du-Pape varietals. “Pale salmon in color with a light pink hue. Delicate aromas of mountain berry, white peach, citrus blossom and honeydew, with lifted notes of pink grapefruit and lemon peel. The wine is bright and focused on the palate, with fresh citrus and stone fruit qualities underscored by a wet stone-like minerality. Driving acidity provides excellent focus and direction, drawing out the palate to a lingering,mouthwatering finish.” — winermaker’s notes // Rosé is always a wonderful food wine, pairing well with richer meats and veggies off the grill to freshwater fish dishes and steamed spring vegetables. Drink now to 2 years.

These wines are so different, yet all three are perfect to enjoy this time of year. Hope you do!! Your wines are ready for pickup at your convenience. If you would like to taste this month’s wines prior to enjoying them at home, stop by on Thursday, April 11 for your pickup tasting. Hope you can make it!

Jens Strecker, Owner
Portalis Wine Shop & J. Strecker Selections

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MARCH 2019 // Italy’s Piedmont

Piedmont… land of rolling hills, fog, truffles, hazelnuts, ancient hilltop villages and wonderful world-class wines. Most famous from this part of northwest Italy is the Nebbiolo grape grown in the communes of Barolo and Barbaresco. Both producers featured this month make a wonderful Barolo. If you like their style of wine and want a delicious splurge, we can help! In the meantime, this month’s club features a high-end Barbera d’Alba, a Nebbiolo/Barbera blend and a wonderful example of Arneis (a white grape) from the sub-region of Roero (see map). These wines are all-time favorites of mine! I hope you enjoy.


Luciano Sandrone_in Cannubi Boschis vineyards_square
Sandrone 2015 Barbera d’Alba
Piedmont, Italy // Reg $38.99 | Mixed Case $31.19
Pictured is Luciano Sandrone in his beloved Cannubi Boschis Barolo vineyard in 2013, the year of his 50th harvest. Considered one of the leading producers in Barolo, he is a self-made winemaker. He started working harvests as a teenager, using every penny he had (and continuing to work a day job) to purchase his first hectares of Cannubi Boschis vineyards in 1978. He and his brother Luca devoted tremendous effort to cultivating the finest fruit and experimenting (first in their parents’ garage) with how to make a wine of distinction and high quality that respected the traditions of Barolo while incorporating many of the technological innovations of the day. He continues to make a relatively limited number of bottles (from his now 27 hectare estate). Stylistically, he’s known to produce a top quality wine that is pleasant and accessible in style while maintaining a foot strongly planted in the Old World. The winery follows organic farming practices but has chosen not to seek certification.

Tasting Notes: Medium-bodied with delicious and plump berry and black fruits. Long and luscious fruity finish. It is a perfect match with richer dishes as the bright acidity keeps it from being too heavy. Drink now to 10 years.

Pelassa 2016 Langhe Corte Enrichetta
Piedmont, Italy // Reg $19.99 | Mixed Case $15.99
Mario Pelassa comes from modest beginnings as well. To help his family financially, he started delivering wine to neighbors on his bicycle before the age of 10. Mario founded his winery in 1960 where he and his wife, Maria Teresa, have been making wine for more than fifty years. Today their sons run the estate. Davide (far left) cares for the vineyards and is the winemaker. Daniele enthusiastically promotes the family’s wines around the world in addition to helping with the winemaking. They are a small operation (12 hectares) but they have received some prestigious acclaim in the last years including having their San Pancrazio Barbera d’Alba Superiore on the cover of the Decanter Magazine.

Tasting Notes: 50/50 Nebbiolo/Barbera blend. 12 months in stainless steel. A fruity bouquet. Rich dark cherries, berries, soft rose petals, fertile earth. Harmonious. Silk in your mouth! The Pelassa family suggests enjoying this wine while listening to: FRANZ SCHUBERT, Symphony No.8, “Unfinished”. Drink now to 3 years.


Harvest_2013_Davide Pelassa_Arneis
Pelassa 2017 San Vito Roero Arneis
Pedmont, Italy // Reg $22.99 | Mixed Case $18.39
The vineyards pictured (at top) are the San Vito Arneis vineyards for this wine, full of the famous Roero winter fog. So beautiful! Just above is Davide during the Arneis harvest a couple years ago. As Daniele tells it, Arneis is Peidmontese dialect meaning “little rascal” because the grape is such a tricky one to grow. It’s finicky, susceptible to mildew and other pesky problems, so be glad that they sustain the effort, because it’s so darn good! And with spring around the corner, this wine will come in handy.

Tasting Notes: White flowers, chamomile & honey. Warm lemon citrus and peel, golden apple, minerals and succulent acid. Pair with crab, grilled fish, hors d’oeuvres, pasta dishes or just sip. Enjoy now to 3 years.

Since visiting Piedmont with my dad as a teenager, I’ve been a big fan of these wines. Hope you enjoy this month’s club. Your wines are ready for pickup at your convenience. If you would like to taste this month’s wines prior to enjoying them at home, stop by on Thursday, March 14 for your pickup tasting. Hope you can make it!

Jens Strecker, Owner
Portalis Wine Shop & J. Strecker Selections

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FEBRUARY 2019 // Tuscany… Land of Love

With Valentine’s a week away, what could be a better feature than wines from Tuscany? And this year, we have a special treat with a bottle of Brunello di Montalcino featured in the 2-bottle club. But don’t let that overshadow the other two selections, both delicious in their own right — a Montecucco Rosso and a Vino Nobile di Montepulciano.


IT_La Togata_village
Scopone 2012 Brunello di Montalcino DOCG
Tuscany, Italy // Reg $52.99 | WINE CLUB $45.99 | Mixed Case $36.79
Theresia Baijens Genazzani is the matriarch of this estate which she runs with her beloved husband Andrea Genazzani and their four adult children. We import this wine directly from their winery located outside of the medieval village of Montalcino (pictured) and we deal directly with Tessie — matter-of-fact, knowledgeable, gracious. It’s a delightful exchange.

Tasting notes: 100% Sangiovese Grosso. Vanilla, rose petals, ripe black berries on the nose. Rich and silky with notes of luscious dark cherry fruit. Enjoy with wild boar ragu, salumi or mushroom risotto. Drink now to 10+ years. This wine is pretty approachable now. If you do enjoy it in the near future, open the bottle and let it breathe for an hour.

Montecucco_view over Monte Amiata_Asa Johansson
Vasco Sassetti 2016 Rosso di Montecucco
Tuscany, Italy // Reg $16.99 | WINE CLUB $15.99 | Mixed Case $12.79
Just southwest of Montalcino is the little known region of Montecucco (photo credit: Asa Johansson). It’s a DOC with a 60% Sangiovese requirement. Other than that, it’s relatively unstructured, with the wines remaining traditional and unassuming in the loveliest sort of way. This winery was founded 30 years go. Vasco Sassetti passed away 7-8 years ago with his nephew, Massimo, taking over as winemaker. They are humble people (no websites, no marketing), just traditional winemaking. This red is primarily Sangiovese with some Merlot and Syrah blended in. Full of red berries, cherries, earth and a touch of leather, it is intended to be enjoyed fresh and young. Drink now to 3 years. Pair with traditional Tuscan dishes, especially those with tomato bases.


Nottola_Montepulciano_JStrecker website_2016 update
Nottola 2015 Vino Nobile di Montepulciano
Tuscany, Italy // Reg $27.99 | Mixed Case $22.39
About 45 minutes northeast of Montalcino is the village of Montepulciano (pictured above from Nottola’s vinieyards), famous for Vino Nobile, a DOCG blend of primarily Sangiovese (known locally as Prugnolo Gentile), 10-20% Canaiolo and small amounts of Mammolo. The wine must be aged for 2 years, with a minimum of 1 year in oak barrels before it’s released.

Cantina Nottola was founded in 1992, and we have been direct importing this wine since 2012. Their blend is 80% Prugnolo Gentile, 15% Cannaiolo, 5% Mammolo. The vines grow in clay/limestone soil and are vinified separately in stainless steel tanks, then aged for 2 years in Slovenian oak barrels, then for one year in bottle before release. Beautiful aromas of plummy dark fruits, blackberry & raspberry with a hint of spice. On the palate it’s full, smooth & velvety. Very well-balanced with dark rich fruit notes, spice & firm tannins, Enjoy with red meats, game & aged cheeses. Drink now to 5 years.

Cheers to a lovely Valentine’s Day with your sweetheart! And… if you would like to taste this month’s wines prior to enjoying them at home, stop by on Thursday, February 14 for your pickup tasting and a Valentine’s Day toast! Hope you can make it.

Jens Strecker, Owner
Portalis Wine Shop & J. Strecker Selections

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JANUARY 2019 // Two Vintners Winery

two vintners_jan 19
Morgan Lee is the winemaker and co-owner at Two Vintners. He founded it in 2007 with investors David & Cindy Lawson from Covington Cellars. As Morgan tells it: “At the time, Syrah and Merlot were the outcast varietals of the wine industry. However, the quiet secret among those in the Washington wine scene was that they are two of the best varietals the state had to offer. Thumbing our nose to those unfortunate trends created the foundation of the Two Vintners label. This willingness to do the unpopular but delicious has guided the brand as we have progressed, this has helped us create wines that you won’t see anywhere else.”

Washington wines can be pricey, and with Two Vintners, I think you get great value. Morgan makes very good wine at a very reasonable price, especially his Syrah. I don’t think you can beat it for a Washington Syrah at that price point.


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Two Vintners 2015 Merlot

Columbia Valley, Washington // Reg $35.99 | WINE CLUB $34.99 | Mixed Case $27.99

140 cases produced. Vineyards: Pepper Bridge (Walla Walla AVA), Sheridan (Yakima Valley AVA), Stone Tree (Wahluke Slope AVA). Blend: Merlot 90% / Cabernet Franc 5% / Petit Verdot 5%. Think you’re not big on Merlot? (Damn that Sideways movie… ) Let the plummy goodness win you back. This wine has wonderful aromas of black cherries, plums, chocolate, tobacco and a little note of minerality. It’s a full-bodied wine yet well-balanced with lovely spices and a nice tannic pull at the finish, making it a delicious food wine as well. Enjoy with a steak dinner; the cut is your choice. Drink now to five years.

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Two Vintners 2016 Syrah
Columbia Valley, Washington // Reg $24.99 | Mixed Case $19.99

925 cases produced. Vineyards: Olsen, Dineen & Boushey (Yakima), Discovery (Horse Heaven Hills), Stone Tree (Wahluke Slope), Pepper Bridge & Stoney Vine (Walla Walla). Winemaker’s notes: “Showcasing the best in Washington Syrah, this wine pulls from some of the finest vineyards in Washington State and knits them info a combination of dark fruits and savory flavors held together by a smooth tannic backbone.” Super pleasant to drink. Enjoy now to 3 years.


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Two Vintners 2016 “Make Haste” Cinsault

Yakima Valley, Washington // Reg $29.99 | Mixed Case $23.99

130 cases produced. Winemaker’s notes (from his November 2018 release): “A lighthearted and light bodied wine. This 100% Cinsault comes entirely from Olsen vineyard in the Yakima Valley. Gorgeous red fruits, spice and fleeting floral notes make this a perfect holiday wine.” The crowd loved this wine at our holiday tasting — lighter in body but full of jammy red fruit flavors, plums & spicy herbal notes. Enjoy with roasted chicken & vegetables or your favorite winter stew. Drink now to 3 years.

Happy New Year to our new club members and our returning “old-timers” as well! We wish you all the best for 2019 and a lot of fun with this wine club! If you would like to taste this month’s wines prior to enjoying them at home, stop by on Thursday, January 17 for your pickup tasting! Hope you can make it.

Jens Strecker, Owner
Portalis Wine Shop & J. Strecker Selections

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DECEMBER 2018 // Argentine Malbec

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We were looking for big, bold reds this month, so we had no difficulty landing in Argentina for some Malbec. Originally used as a blending grape in Bordeaux, Malbec was first cultivated in Argentina in the mid-1800’s, and it has since thrived (especially in the last several decades) becoming a single-varietal powerhouse. The regions of Mendoza & La Rioja are both high altitude, arid plains at the base of the Andes. Hot during the day, cold at night with relatively few pests because of the altitude, the grapes can mature on the vines in bliss. Hope you enjoy these wines. I think they’re terrific!



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Valle de La Puerta 2012 Gran Reserva
La Rioja, Argentina // Reg $45.99 | Mixed Case $36.79

The Valle de La Puerta estate was established in 1994, completing its winery in 2002. Currently it has 150 hectares under vine plus 770 hectares with olive trees located in the Famatina Valley of La Rioja. “This unique valley offers a magnificent visual backdrop and provides well-drained topsoil. A special microclimate, with hot and dry summer days and cool nights, combines with the clean air and desert-like topography of the valley to ensure outstanding ripening conditions for grapes and olives.”

Tasting Notes: 60% Malbec, 23% Bonarda and 17% Syrah. Explosive! Black cherry, plums, blackberries, hints of smoke with a little leather & chocolate from the Bonarda. Grippy tannins. Fantastic with grilled beef & veggies or roasted meats. Also a pleasure to sip. Drink now to 7 years.

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Valle de La Puerta 2017 Alta Malbec

La Rioja, Argentina // Reg $17.99 | Mixed Case $14.39

Tasting Notes: The Gran Reserva is the bomb, but this little guy won’t disappoint. 100% Malbec, it’s full of dark fruit flavors — plum, blackberry, mulberry — with hints of mocha and vanilla from the oak. The palate is silky smooth with juicy berry fruit balanced with soft tannins for an elegant finish. Great with meats off the grill, burgers, lamb, roasted chicken and more. Drink now to 5 years.


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Familia Barberis 2015 Malbec

Mendoza, Argentina // Reg $19.99 | INSIDER $18.99 | Mixed Case $15.19

The Barberis family first became involved in winemaking during the 1960’s when Don Humberto purchased vineyards in the Santa Rosa region of Mendoza. Today Adrian Barberis, the oldest of Don Humberto’s children, continues the tradition of producing the highest quality wines possible with the help of his brothers and sisters. In 2007, their operation was moved to a smaller winery in El Sauce, Guaymallénone, equipped with the latest technology. Estate grapes pictured.

Tasting Notes: 100% Malbec. Hand-harvested. 30% French barrique for 9 months, 70% concrete wine tanks. Aromas of ripe red fruits, spice, vanilla & chocolate. Balanced, medium-bodied with dark cherry, red plumbs and a long finish.

We wish you a fun holiday season with family and friends, hopefully not too hectic and with plenty of good food and wine! If you’d like to taste the wines prior to enjoying them at home, your pickup tasting is Thursday, December 20. Hope to see you then.

Jens Strecker, Owner
Portalis Wine Shop & J. Strecker Selections

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NOVEMBER 2018 // Thanksgiving Picks

As is our tradition in November, we pick wines that would be delicious paired with a traditional turkey dinner. Without further ado… here’s what we suggest:


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Andreucci 2016 “Regale” Toscana Rosso
Tuscany, Italy // Reg $27.99 | INSIDER $25.99 | Mixed Case $20.79

Located in Pienza in the heart of the Tuscan wine region, this small family winery has had a vineyard in the region for over 200 years. The unique wine label honors the family’s legacy by including a copy of a bill of sale from Napoleon, who the Andreucci family supplied wine to. Today, Flavio Andreucci (pictured) labors to produce the best quality wine combining modern technology, superb vines and a remarkable terroir.

Tasting notes: A blend of Sangiovese, Cabernet Sauvignon & Merlot. Nose of ripe black berries with faint rose petals & vanilla. Dry, fruity and very persistent. Slightly tannic, with rich texture. The fruit gives way to hints of sweet spices and dried fruit, hillside herbs and black pepper. The winery recommends this wine with wild boar ragu, salumi & mushroom risotto. We think this can be generalized into a nice roasted turkey with fall root vegetables, rice or cornbread stuffing, cranberries and gravy. This wine is fuller-bodied with some sweetness from the fruit (making it taste great with sweet potatoes for example), but it’s not sweet enough to taste great with marshmallows plus it has some tannins which go bitter with intense sweetness… so that’s where we draw the line! Drink now to 5 years.

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Château des Roques 2015 Vacqueyras Cuvée Blanche
Southern Rhône, France // Reg $27.99 | Mixed Case $22.39

A few miles from Avignon, Château des Roques is a 32 hectare estate set in the heart of Vacqueyras, a Cru-Villages. Owner Pierre Seroul & winemaker André Fregière are both passionate about employing traditional winemaking methods while modernizing with modern equipment to reach the wine’s full potential. We’ve been buying their Vacqueyras Rouge (and loving it!) since we started direct importing in 2011. Pierre’s daughter, Corine (our contact), has been trying to get us to try their white in the Seattle market for years. This is the first shipment. It arrived in August. We are very happy with it. We’ll await your feedback.

Tasting notes: A traditional blend of 25% Grenache Blanc, 25% Marsanne, 25% Bourboulenc & 25% Viognier. The nose is expressive with aromas of white hawthorn flowers & citrus notes. On the palate it is ample with a nice freshness. Flavors of grapefruit & pomelo citrus with a note of spice on the finish. This style of fuller-bodied, flavorful white is a classic Thanksgiving pairing, especially with herbal turkey dressing, creamy cauliflower dishes & fruit salads with nuts. Drink now to 3 years.


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Château Franc Grace-Dieu 2012 Saint-Émilion Grand Cru
Bordeaux, France // Reg $32.99 | Mixed Case $26.39

Château Franc Grâce-Dieu is a 12 hectare Saint-Emilion Grand Cru estate. It was purchased and renovated in 2008 by Daniel Truant. His daughter-in-law, Sylvie, manages the vineyards. The estate is situated near Château Figeac and is only 2 kilometers from Cheval Blanc. It benefits from a complex soil structure of brown sand, iron deposits in the subsoil and clay. It follows along the traditional Saint-Emilion properties with a grape variety proportion of 70% Merlot and 30% Cabernet Franc.

Tasting notes: Ruby red in color. Ripe fruit aromas of black currant, blackberries on the nose. On the palate the wine has a lightly toasted flavor with a touch of pencil lead & cedar. Complex, well-balanced. The harvest of the Cabernet Franc grapes was at full maturity, bringing a well-developed sweetness while conserving the freshness of the fruit from the Merlot. The combination provides a sensation of velvety cashmere on the palate. The longer in the mouth, the more pronounced the flavor! This wine would be a welcome addition to most turkey dinners, especially those with sides such as wild rice with mushrooms, Brussels sprouts gratin, roasted butternut squash and creamed red & white onions with bacon lardons. Drink now to 5+ years.

We are doing a special pickup tasting next week since Thursday is already Thanksgiving. We’ll have both of our wine club wines open (5 wines total) on Tuesday and Wednesday, November 20 & 21. If you’d like to taste your wines prior to enjoying them at home, stop by either day. Hope you can make it.

Jens Strecker, Owner
Portalis Wine Shop & J. Strecker Selections

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OCTOBER 2018 // Corbières (France)

AOC Corbières lies in the southern half of Languedoc-Rousillon between Carcasonne and Narbonne, about an hour and a half north of the border to Spain. Karen MacNeil’s Wine Bible gives a great overview: “Corbières is spread over the undulating northern foothills of the Pyrenees…. This fairly large region (about 34,000 acres) specializes in dense, juicy, slightly spicy, rustic red blends that often possess that warm sunbaked earth and dried resinous herb quality known as garigue. For most of the wines, carignan is the dominant red variety, followed by syrah and mourvèdre….” For me, the wines from Corbières are noteworthy (and distinctive) because of the Carignan (especially old vine Carignan), a meaty, herbal grape with flavors of dried cranberry, red fruits and tobacco notes.

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This month’s 2-bottle club features two wines from Chateau du Grand Caumont in Lézignan-Corbières. Since we started direct importing in 2011, they have remained one of my favorite producers in our book. I love Carignan, and I love their work! The 3-bottle club members will get a special bottle from Château d’Aussières, owned and operated by Baron de Rothschild [Lafite]. Should be a treat! Enjoy.


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Château du Grand Caumont 2016 Réserve de Laurence
Corbières, France // Reg $21.99 | Mixed Case $17.59

This wonderful estate has existed since Roman times when it was known as “Villa Manzanetto”. Full history> In 1906, Louis Rigal, founder of the famous Roquefort Rigal cheese company, bought the property, made it his family home, and worked the vines for more than thirty years. Three generations later, his granddaughter. Laurence Rigal (pictured), is the current proprietor. With 100 hectares of planted vines within the 140 hectare estate in the Lézignon-Corbières commune, Château du Grand Caumont is one of the largest wine estates in Corbières. The rugged stony clay-limestone soils of the terraced vineyard create excellent filtration for the vines.

Tasting Notes: This wine is Laurence’s reserve blend of 55% Syrah, 25% old vine Carignan (50+ years old), 10% younger Carignan, 10% Grenache. Enjoy blackberry and hints of spice on the nose. Velvety fruit, soft tannins with delicate licorice spice on the palate. Delicious with game such as pheasant, roasted beef or lamb, cheeses and red fruit pies. Drink now to 5 years.

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Château du Grand Caumont 2016 Cuvée Impatience
Corbières, France // Reg $27.99 | Mixed Case $22.39

Tasting Notes: 45% old vine Carignan (70+ years old), 45% Syrah, 10% Grenache. 40% of the wine is aged for 8 to 12 months in French oak vats that are under 2 years old. The remaining wine is matured in stainless steel tanks, then blended at the end of the winter before bottling. Rich & complex. Bright red cherry fruit with deeper darker notes of mellow fruit: prune, fig followed with spicy pepper & vanilla. Elegant & approachable with a lightly oaked note. Flavors are concentrated with great depth & length. Notes of rich black fruit & spices. Well-balanced tannins & a long finish. Perfect accompaniment for game dishes. Drink now to 5+ years.


FB_Languedoc_parc naturel régional de la narbonnaise_01.jpgChâteau d’Aussières 2013 Corbières
Languedoc-Rousillon, France // Reg $38.99 | Mixed Case $31.19

Château Lafite Rothschild, a great Bordeaux house dating back to the 1600’s, has gone about purchasing holdings around France (and the world), and Château d’Aussières, with a history> dating back to the Roman era, is one of these properties. It was purchased in 1999 and has been extensively renovated since then with a new winery and replanting of about a third of their 550 hectare estate. This estate is just outside of Narbonne on the edge of the Parc naturel régional de la Narbonnaise en Méditerranée (pictured).

Winemaker’s notes: A blend of Syrah, Grenache, Mourvèdre & Carignan. “Intense, glittering red color with a slightly blush tinge. The spicy nose offers peppery notes of cloves and fresh nutmeg. On the palate, the attack is well-rounded, continuing with vanilla and silky tannins that accompany a long, elegant finish with notes of toast and caramel.” Drink now to 5+ years.

I hope you enjoy this month’s club. These wines are special to me, especially Madame Rigal’s wines. By the way, we’ve had the Cuvée Impatience since 2011, but this fall was the first time we purchased the Réserve de Laurence. It has flown off the shelves, in fact we barely had enough for wine club. So enjoy, and look for more to arrive this spring. If you’d like to taste your wines prior to enjoying them at home, stop by Thursday, October 18 for your pickup tasting.

Jens Strecker, Owner
Portalis Wine Shop & J. Strecker Selections

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SEPTEMBER 2018 // Hidden Treasures from Spain

No Rioja? No Ribera del Duero? Nope. But we have some really delicious wines from lesser-known areas that are going to knock your socks off! Our 2-bottle club members will get a beautiful red blend from Priorat and a virtually unknown grape (Concejón) from Aragón. Our 3-bottle members will get a bottle of old vine Tempranillo-Syrah-Grenache from Méntrida. The wines are terrific. Enjoy!

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Mas Viló 2016 Priorat
Priorat | Catalunya, Spain // Reg $29.99 | Mixed Case $23.99
This extraordinary wine is produced by Bodegas Maset, a large, 200-year old, family-held estate in Penedès. Known for their cava, they have vineyards throughout Catalunya (including Priorat) and Rioja, as well. Priorat is a DOQ in the province of Tarragona. It’s mountainous, rugged and dry as a bone (estate vineyards pictured). The winery provides the best description: “Over llicorella slate of a thousand colors, on the hillsides and terraces of pronounced slopes, our Mazuelo (Carignan) and Garnacha vines grow. An area bathed in the slate’s dark, brilliant and gleaming tones, with ferruginous, reddish, and rusty shades. An arid land where admirably tenacious people labor with mules and harvest by hand. A praiseworthy effort to obtain a grape of the utmost quality which, after its time in the cask, allows us to achieve this work of art, a lively reflection of Priorat.”

Tasting Notes: Fresh from the tree Rainier cherries with ripe blueberry, vanilla and baking spices. Lovely, silky fruit. Integrated tannins and whispers from a soft, sweet, spicy finish. Wonderful with grilled lamb, beef or strong blue cheese like Cabrales. Drink now to 5 years.

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Bodegas Langa 2016 “Pi” Concejón
Aragón, Spain // Reg $23.99 | Mixed Case $19.19
The Langa family has been making wine in Calatayud since 1867. Today César Langa González is the fifth generation to run this family enterprise, and the wines are impressive — Aragón Cava, organic Garnacha, Chardonnay & red blends, and then his Pi line – 3.1415 reflecting “the perfection of the imperfect.” This wine is 100% Concejón (also known as Moristel, a little known Spanish grape found almost exclusively in Aragón) from 90-100 year old vines.

Tasting Notes: Fragrant aromas of mature red & black fruit with hints of cocoa and tobacco. Complex and elegant. Unctuous mouthfeel with herbal & spicy notes. I like this wine from the moment you open it, but Julie votes that you give it an hour to air, and I certainly don’t think that hurts. Ideal with red meats, Serrano ham and cured cheeses. Enjoy now to 10 years.


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Bodegas Tavera 2015 Vendimia Seleccionada Crianza
Méntrida, Spain // Reg $23.99 | Mixed Case $19.19
The 3-bottle club members get this beautiful old vine blend of Tempranillo (45%), Syrah (45%) & Garnacha (10%) from the DO Méntrida, located in central Spain (Castilla-La Mancha) about 35 miles southwest of Madrid. These vineyards are inland, where it’s smoking hot in summer and freezing in winter. The quality of the sandy-clay soil is poor, but it retains the available moisture well. The vineyards are located at 600 meters (~2000 ft) above sea level.

Tasting notes: This Crianza (12 months in oak) is complex with some smoky notes from the oak (although not overly oaky at all). Nice plummy fruit combines with some spice. Medium-bodied, but with a lovely richness, it is complex, elegant and creamy. A pleasure to sip or enjoy with tapas, roasted pork or chicken, pasta dishes or paella. Drink now to 5 years.

I’d be happy drinking these wines everyday! Hope you are, too. If you’d like to taste your wines prior to enjoying them at home, stop by Thursday, September 20 for your pickup tasting.

Jens Strecker, Owner
Portalis Wine Shop & J. Strecker Selections

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AUGUST 2018 // Loire Valley

FR_Antoine de La Farge_FB_harvest 2015_harvestIt’s the perfect time of year to feature wines from France’s Loire Valley, land of world-class Sauvignon Blanc and lesser-known, food-friendly reds including Gamay & Cabernet Franc. Sancerre (far eastern side of the valley) is the most well-known region for higher-end Sauvignon Blanc, but there are others and we are going to show off two neighboring regions in this wine club: Pouilly-Fumé & Menetou Salon. As well, we’re including a lovely Cab Franc from Anjou. Details on these wines below. Hope you enjoy!


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Antoine de La Farge 2017 Pouilly-Fumé
Loire Valley, France // Reg $34.99 | Mixed Case $27.99

Antoine de La Farge is the grandson of Bernard Clément (pictured together below), one of the founders of the appellation Menetou-Salon AOC. Antoine learned the trade working with his father, Laurence de La Farge, and grandfather at Domaine de L’Ermitage, an estate with vineyards in Menetou-Salon. He has now struck out on his own, with wines from Sancerre, Pouilly-Fumé & Menetou-Salon.

Antoine de La Farge & his grandfather

AOC Pouilly-Fumé is known for intense aromas of grapefruit and white flowers. Light-to-medium-bodied with crisp acidity, bright citrus flavors and smoky minerality that comes from the flint in the soil. This Pouilly-Fumé is fuller-bodied with beautiful citrus and smoky notes. Pairings include (from the winery) grilled or roasted fish, St. Jacques scallops, roasted chicken, white meat with cream or lemon sauces, goat cheeses or simply for pleasure or as an aperitif. Drink now to 3 years.


Vignoble Musset-Roullier 2016 “Les Neuf Vingt” Anjou Cabernet Franc
Loire Valley, France // Reg $23.99 | Mixed Case $19.19
Anjou, in Middle Loire, is known for rosé and reds (Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Gamay) that are lighter in body with notes of red berries and purple flowers with nice, soft tannins (making them good food wines) and a little earthiness.

This Cabernet Franc is produced by Serge Roullier and Gilles Musset (pictured above) who combined their family estates in Anjou (between Angers and Nantes on the banks of the Loire River) in 1994. This family-run estate in the petite village of La Pommeraye enjoys a particularly warm microclimate, which helps to push grapes to perfect ripeness, even in cooler years. The vines are 10-30 years old and come from 5 parcels around the estate with differing soil composition; mostly a combination of silt and sand over either limestone “mother rock” or slate. Aromas suggest red fruits, violets, light herbs, cherries. Tangy, refined, ripe. Moderate tannins. Enjoy with roasted chicken with fresh herbs, regional goat cheese or French pâté with green peppercorns. Drink now to 3 years.


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Antoine de La Farge 2017 Mentou-Salon Première Lune
Loire Valley, France // Reg $28.99 | Mixed Case $23.19

The 3-bottle club members get a second Sauvignon Blanc from Antoine de La Farge, this time a single-vineyard from Menetou-Salon. This AOC is known for Sauvignon Blanc that is vibrant and aromatic (citrus, spice, musk and herbaceous notes), medium-bodied, with menthol and peppery accents coupled with fresh fruit and crisp acidity. This wine is no exception. Enjoy with potato & goat cheese tart, udon noodles with chicken, shellfish or vegetables dishes. Drink now to 3 years.

Sancerre has been scarce in the Seattle market for the last year, so we are delighted to introduce you to higher-end Sauvignon Blanc that may scratch the Sancerre itch, while still broadening your horizons. If you’d like to taste your wines prior to enjoying them at home, stop by Thursday, August 23 for your pickup tasting.

Jens Strecker, Owner
Portalis Wine Shop & J. Strecker Selections

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JULY 2018 // BBQ Wines

Wine Folly_BBQIt’s summer. It’s hot (for Seattle). It’s time for some BBQ wines, and it’s important that we have a quick talk about this, too, because BBQ is tricky for wine. BBQ is rich (fatty), salty, spicy & often sweet — a combo that can kill a wine faster than you can say “dead”. We’ve selected 3 wines for this month’s club that will go great with BBQ as well as any meats off the grill. Hope you enjoy!


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Elderton 2014 Estate Shiraz
Barossa Valley, Australia // Reg $25.99 | Mixed Case $20.79

I picked these wines out a couple weeks ago, and then raced off to Australia with my girls as a chaperone for their Kaleidoscope Dance Company, taking part in a dance conference in Adelaide. The Barossa Valley is about an hour outside of Adelaide, so I had the good fortune to tour this winery on Monday. Above are a couple of my photos. Here’s a little about Elderton:

Neil and Lorraine Ashmead moved to the Barossa in 1979. The homestead, in the heart of the township of Nuriootpa, was surrounded by extremely old Shiraz and Cabernet Sauvignon vines. At a time where demand for Australian table wine was negligible, the vineyard had become derelict. After years of no interest, the real estate agent eventually offered the Ashmeads the 72 acre vineyard as a bonus, as part of the sale of the homestead. Three years later (in 1982), after restoring the vineyard, Elderton Wines was born. The second generation, Cameron (pictured at the top) and Allister, took the reins of the business in 2003 and today work together to run Elderton Wines, with Lorraine still involved through her role on the Board. Winemaker Richard Langford is pictured in green. The middle photo shows vineyard workers pruning the vineyards. It’s winter there.

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Tasting Notes: Aromas of black forest fruits, mocha & chocolate with a distinctive note of dried herbs. Flavors of plum and berries, chocolate with a spicy finish. Full, plush — a classic Barossa Shiraz. Drink now to 10 years.

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Domaine de Frégate 2017 Bandol Rosé
Provence, France // Reg $29.99 | Mixed Case $23.99
Located between the towns of St Cyr/Mer and Bandol placed on the hills overlooking sea and framed by the reek of Port d”Alon, Domaine de Frégate is exposed to the south and west, ensuring an ideal climate for regular and complete maturity of wine grapes. The vineyard has a surface of 30 hectares and is planted on clay and calcareous soils that are dry and rocky. The varieties of grapes used are Mourvedre, Grenache and Cinsault giving both the red and rosé wines the characteristics very typical of the Bandol appellation.

Tasting notes: White floral, earthy minerals, peach, apricot and a dry finish. Rosé is a brilliant food wine in general, and this one is perfect to serve with grilled meat and fish. Cools spicy flavors and won’t go tart on you with sweeter sauces. Drink now to 3 years.



Ridge 2016 Three Valleys
Sonoma County, California // Reg $33.99 | Mixed Case $27.19

Believe it or not, Ridge’s first vineyards were planted in 1885. It is a winery with a long and rich history including first place wins at the “Judgment of Paris 30th Anniversary Wine Tasting” in London and California. Here’s a link to the full story>

Tasting notes: This wine is a blend of 68% Zinfandel, 15% Carignane, 12% Petite Sirah & 5% Grenache. The winemaker’s notes say: “Appealing now, the wine shows beautiful fruit, layered with exotic spice, and complex minerals. It will be most enjoyable over the next five years. JO/EB (12/17)” I picked it for this wine club because it isn’t overly oaky or jammy, but full of fruit and spice that would taste great with BBQ and other grilled meats.

This was a fun wine club to do. Hope you enjoy the selections. If you’d like to taste your wines prior to enjoying them at home, stop by Thursday, July 19 for your pickup tasting.

Jens Strecker, Owner
Portalis Wine Shop & J. Strecker Selections

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JUNE 2018 | Southern Rhône’s Triple Crown

Brotte_Chateauneuf_squareFrance’s Southern Rhône has a complex and confusing system of vineyard classification, but beyond dispute are the top 3 Cru Villages: Châteauneuf-du-Pape (at the pinacle), Gigondas & Vacqueyras. All three are villages with ranked vineyards located around them. For more info, here’s a simplifying post about the region from Wine Folly> This month’s club features a combination of wines from these three Cru Villages. Wines from this area of France are always crowd-pleasers! Enjoy.

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Brotte 2015 Les Hauts de Barville Châteauneuf-du-Pape
Southern Rhône, France // Reg $36.99 | Mixed Case $29.59

Founded in 1931 by M. Charles Brotte, Maison Brotte continues today as a family-held business, run by grandson Laurent Brotte and his wife and sons. In 1991 they purchased some vineyards in Côtes-du-Rhône Villages Laudun, expanding their holdings to include mid-tier vineyards as well as Châteauneuf-du-Pape. This well-priced Châteauneuf doesn’t cheat you out of what you’d expect: a wonderful, wild bouquet of ripe red fruit with a note of smoky spice. Flavors of cherries, raspberries and earthy spice. Juicy, round, full-bodied and accessible. Drink now to 5 years with or without food! This wine is certified Terra Vitis.

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Château des Roques 2013 Vacqueyras
Southern Rhône, France // Reg $23.99 | INSIDER $22.99 | Mixed Case $18.39

A few miles from Avignon, Château des Roques is a 32 hectare estate set in the heart of the AOC Vacqueyras. The estate, owned by Pierre Seroul, belongs to the union of Vignerons Independents. This blend of 70% Mourvedre, 15% Grenache, 15% Syrah is full of concentrated black berries, black cherries, currants & plums, with lingering cocoa nibs, black pepper and anise. Pair with duck, boar & lamb. Simply put, it’s a killer wine especially for the price. Like it? Their Vacqueyras Blanc will be available this fall for the first time in the Seattle market. Stay tuned…


Domaine de Durban 2013 Gigondas
Southern Rhône, France // Reg $32.99 | INSIDER $29.99 | Mixed Case $23.99

Third generation brothers Henri & Philippe Leydier run this winery, both the vineyards and the administration. Their website says the independent winemaker: “respects the land, works his vineyard, harvests the grapes, grows and matures his wine, bottled in his cellar, perfected in respect of traditions, welcomes, advises, shares with delight the fruit of his work.” The estate is comprised of vineyards in Beaumes de Venise (30 ha.), Muscat de Beaumes de Venise (20 ha) & Gigondas (6 ha.).

This little jewel is full of red berry fruit, peppery spices and a faint note of lavender on the nose. Black raspberry and cherry flavors, vibrant and spicy through the finish which is smooth. Drink now to 3 years. Delicious with lamb, game & fowl.

Hope you enjoy this month’s selections. If you’d like to taste your wines prior to enjoying them at home, stop by Thursday, June 21 for your pickup tasting. Hope to see you then.

Jens Strecker, Owner
Portalis Wine Shop & J. Strecker Selections

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MAY 2018 | High-Elevation Wines from Italy

Pavese Hermes_Vallee D'Aosta vineyards
So this month we are off on little wine road less traveled… wines from Italy’s northern most wine regions, including a white from the highest elevation vineyards in the world — Vallée d’Aosta. Enjoy!

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Pavese Ermes 2016 Blanc de Morgex et de La Salle
Vallée D’Aosta, Italy // Reg $36.99 | Mixed Case $29.59

Ermes Pavese is a youthful grower in the commune of La Ruine just outside of the town of Morgex in the high Alps minutes from the summit of Mont Blanc (vineyards pictured). Pavese works the native grape known as Prié Blanc. Starting with barely two hectares of vineyards, situated at about 1200 meters above sea level, Pavese has gradually expanded his holdings in this high altitude zone. He now produces three versions of Blanc de Morgex et de La Salle. Because these vineyards are so isolated, Pavese has been able to work with the original, pre-phylloxera root stock since that malady never infiltrated this area when it came sweeping through Europe many years ago.

Tasting Notes: A stunning wine from the highest vineyard site in Europe, with annual production of about 12,000 bottles of this austere, racy, mineral white wine with vivacity and length.

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Mont Més 2016 Pinot Nero
Vigneti delle Dolomiti, Italy // Reg $22.99 | Mixed Case $18.39

IGT Vigneti delle Dolomiti was introduced in 1996, with the majority of the area falling around and to the east of Bolzano, including a section that spills into the northern Belluno subregion of neighboring Veneto. Cold weather Pinot Nero (Pinot Noir) thrives in this area, but the vineyards around the Dolomite Mountains are lesser-known, making the price more competitive than Pinot Nero from the estates in Alto Adige.

Tasting Notes: 12 months maturing in steel. Ruby red color. A lively wine with scents of berries and cherries, a trace of spicy and smoky notes and a touch of minerality. This wine is complex and expressive on the palate with a pleasant tannic background. A noble wine. Excellent with red meat and game dishes. Also a beautiful sipper. Drink now to 3 years.


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Pojer e Sandri 2016 Pinot Nero
Vigneti delle Dolomiti, Italy // Reg $29.99 | Mixed Case $23.99

The 3-bottle club members get a second, delicious bottle of Pinot Nero from the Dolomites! The color is a delightful garnet moving towards a light ruby. Its bouquet is very persistent with hints of wild berries, raspberry and strawberry. The taste is similar to the bouquet; the fruit is generous and exciting: a light berry quality along with zesty acidity and mild tannins. Pairs well with mildly-seasoned red meats, poultry such as Guinea hen, duck, goose or piccione (squab).

A little bit about the winery, owner & winemaker:
Pojer & Sandri was founded in 1975, when young Fiorentino Sandri inherited a parcel of vineyards at the alpine village of Faedo and with his winemaker friend Mario Pojer who had just received his diploma from the San Michele Agricultural Institute formed a partnership which has been very, pardon the pun, “fruitful” and is now in its fourth decade. Their goal in this untested viticultural area between the Adige river and Cembra Valley was simple, but ambitious: to prove that with care and skill, they could, contrary to popularly-held beliefs, demonstrate the Faedo area (and environs) was capable of producing world-class wines.

Hope you enjoy this month’s selections. If you’d like to taste your wines prior to enjoying them at home, stop by Thursday, May 24 for your pickup tasting. Hope to see you then.

Jens Strecker, Owner
Portalis Wine Shop & J. Strecker Selections

Note: That completes our rolling 12-months of wine clubs. Please contact us if you need more information.