Dream Picks for the Holidays

I asked our staff if they could select any wine in the shop to drink for the holidays which would it be?  The only criteria was to dream big!  Here’s what’s on our Christmas lists…

Sky: Right now I’m all about the pure enjoyment. It’s cold out there, so I’m into big, rich fruit-bombs with no apologies. Something to sip that I don’t have to plan a meal around, like a bottle of Two Hands 2005 Bad Impersonator Shiraz from Barossa Valley, Australia ($68).


Ross: My entire family gathers every Christmas at my grandparents house for a huge Italian feast. Everybody contributes traditional favorites, mine being fried risotto balls (arancinis). My dream pick would be Bricco Francesco 2000 Barolo Rocche Dell’Annunziata ($62), it would be a wine worthy of all the good food on the table.

Erin:  I’m spending New Year’s in Vegas, yeah, Vegas baby! My pick would have to be Villmart NV Grand Cellier Brut Premier Cru  (SALE $76.99), I haven’t had the pleasure of tasting this yet, but this small grower-estate Champagne would be a memorable way to ring in 2010.

Julie: I’ll go with the O’Shaughnessy 2005 Cabernet Sauvignon from Napa ($85)! We talked it up for the Windermere fundraiser (where it raised over $500 on a wine raffle) and it got great reviews (93 points) in the Tasting Circle December 2008 Tasting … but I’ve never gotten to try it. Must be a jewel, especially with beef tenderloin on Christmas day (our tradition)!

Jens: If I could have any bottle in the shop as a holiday gift, I’d pick the Domaine de Marcoux 2007 Chateauneuf-du-Pape. I tried an older vintage several years ago in San Francisco at a big regional tasting. It was fantastic and 2007 should be even better!  Second pick … Sparkman 2006 Kingpin
Cabernet Sauvignon
. Third … Achaval 2007 Quimera. Happy Holidays!

Tracey:
  My fiancé Sam and I celebrate with his parents on their farm near Bellingham and we start our Christmas morning off with Champagne. It’s a tradition that I love and look forward to every year. This year it would be awesome if that special Champagne were Gaston Chiquet “Tradition” 1er Cru (SALE $51.99).

Gina: Just one?? We have beef wellington every year for Christmas dinner, and I can’t imagine drinking it with anything other than a beautiful French red, perhaps a bottle of say…Chateau Gloria 2006 Saint-Julien Bordeaux ($60) It’s dark, plummy with cassis flavors and a beautiful silky finish. Santa are you reading this?

Cheers from all of us at Portalis! We wish everyone a wonderful and happy holiday! ~ Gina

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Holiday Suggestion: Spanish Sherry


We haven’t come across many Seattleites who are really into sherry.  We agree that it tends towards the esoteric, but you don’t have to turn into a sherry nut to have a general idea of what sherry’s all about and you certainly don’t have to know a darn thing about it to enjoy sipping a little glass of it, whether that be before your meal as a little dry aperitif or after your meal with dessert.

On November 20, we hosted a tasting with the San Francisco Wine Exchange’s local sherry expert, Brian Patterson (he’s also their Northwest Division Manager) and he gave me a very helpful little overview of sherry which was done in such a charming way that it a) stuck with me and b) I was itching to try the stuff with the pairings he suggested. Thus, I decided that you might feel the same way:

All sherry starts out dry and then it’s fortified, with all resulting types of sherry falling into one of two categories:  fino (lighter, drier sherries) & olorosos (which are a varying range of dry to extremely sweet sherries).  There is a third category of very sweet Sherries that are produced from the Pedro Ximenez grape that has been allowed to dry into raisins.  Our tasting featured 1 oloroso and 2 Pedro Ximenez’s:
 
Gonzalez Byass NV Dry Oloroso Alfonso ($21 | Case $16.80) was dry and nutty, a more versatile oloroso in that it could easily be paired with savory, autumnal flavors.  Brian said that traditional pairings would be sliced ham, manchego with quince, lots of little fried tapas such as a ham & cheese croquette or boquerones … “the Spanish are master fryers”.  Brian suggested that another nice NW pairing would be a mushroom dish such as braised barley with chanterelles, smoked salmon as well as various cured meats, and game dishes such as venison, pheasant, wild boar and foie gras. Serve this sherry room temperature. 
 
Gonzalez Byass NV Pedro Ximenez Nectar ($21 | Case $16.80) was 100% PX and was young (aged 7 years in barrels).  It has simple, sweet flavors of maple, dates & earth and would be a delicious dessert accompaniment to an uncomplicated, simple dish such as vanilla ice cream, short bread or flan.
 
Gonzalez Byass NV VORS Noe  ($51 | Case $40.80) Brian explained that sherry is non-vintage because it’s aged in a solera, which is a process whereby the sherry is moved through the newest to the oldest barrels in a collection, potentially gaining contact (the longer it’s aged) with remnants of sherry as old as the estate.  The VORS designation indicates that a sherry has been aged a minimum of 30 years.  This beautiful drink is a lovely, slow sipper, where layers of chocolate, nuts, coffee, molasses, prunes and more unfold as you enjoy.

Other sherries that we carry at Portalis:
Bodegas Pedro Romero Dry Oloroso Sherry $14 | Case $11.20
Alvear 1927 PX Solera (375ml) $30 | Case $24

We’re considering having Brian back next year to do a sherry class in our back room, so please let us know if you’d be interested in joining.

Cheers,
Julie, Owner
Portalis Wines