Roman Pfaffl – The Face of Austria’s Future


“In a winery, the cheapest wines have to be very good.  If they’re not good, I don’t want to taste the expensive ones.”  ~ Roman Jr.

Roman Pfaffl is the face of where Austria’s wine industry is heading … and this is a good thing.  He was in Seattle this last week and we had the good fortune of being charmed by him in the most unpretentious yet solid kind of way.  In fact, he was so modest during my interview that the importer had to prod him a bit to get him to cough up more of his story as he didn’t think that the American audience would think it was interesting.  Decide for yourself:

Roman’s parents, Roman and Edelheid, founded Weingut R&A Pfaffl in 1978 when they inherited the family farm.  Over the last decades, Roman Sr. has played a big role in the Austrian winemaking community.  Aside from being called Mr. Veltliner by the Austrian press, he is credited with founding the Weinviertel appellation, Austria’s first DAC, and he was named Austrian Winemaker of the Year in 1996.  I figured young Roman was probably in the early stages of learning the ropes and a promotional tour to the US was part of that plan, but that was actually incorrect.  He explained that in the Austrian school system, you go to elementary school for 4 years, then Gymnasium (which is university bound secondary school like in Germany); however, in Austria at the end of grade 8 you can choose to continue with Gymnasium or attend an academic trade school.  This is the route that Roman took, attending the Höhere Punkt Lehr Gestalt für Wein und Obst Bau, which provided him with training in both oenology and viticulture. After school he did his 8 month compulsory military service (which he, like Jens, remembers fondly, telling me (with a little smile) that 2 of those months were posted on the border, directly protecting the motherland). At 19, he arrived back at the farm, and his dad basically wished him luck and handed over the keys, letting him know that he was there if Roman Jr. had any questions, but that he was heading off to be the Chairman of the Regional Wine Board of the Weinviertel region.  That was five vintages ago.

So, I asked him, were you a nervous?  Yes, he said with this charming grin, but he assured me that he had grown up around winemaking and it was sort of like coming home.  And, he told me not to forget that 2004 (his first vintage) was a perfect year in Austria, lots of sun, just enough rain, an easy harvest.  The perfect year to get your feet wet, so to speak.  Since then, he has started to move the focus from Grüner Veltliner (the fruity, crisp, peppery white famous to that part of Austria) to red wines, which he feels are the winery’s future. 

He has his work cut out for him though.  Austrian wines are still little known in the US, but way more people are familiar with Grüner Veltliner than Zweigelt or St. Laurent. We’re going to work to help Roman change that though as these wines are beautifully crafted, elegant wines.  I was particularly impressed with the two entry level wines.  Their names “Pepper” for the GV and “Cherry” for the Zweigelt were a little cutsie; however, I can forgive them as a German label is close to a death sentence in the American market and efforts to overcome that are commended.  Especially when they are as good as these for $17.99 | Sale $15.99 | Case $12.79.  When I told Roman that I had been pleasantly surprised by these wines, he said, “In a winery, the cheapest wines have to be very good.  If they’re not good, I don’t want to taste the expensive ones.”  We agree …

Pfaffl 2008 Grüner Veltliner “Pepper”  REG $17.99 | Sale $15.99 | Case $12.79
100% Grüner Veltliner. This is their entry level GV and it’s a delicious wine for the money.  Hints of citrus, herbs on the nose. Flavors of white pepper, lemons.  Great acidity.  Very refreshing as a sipper.  Pairs well with fish, chicken, pork dishes.
 
Pfaffl 2008 Grüner Vetliner Hundsleiten  REG $41.99 | Sale $34.99 | Case $27.99 
100% Grüner Veltliner. Single vineyard with very stony soils. This vintage had a very late harvest (November).  Not so much pepper. Bigger, rounder wine with flavors of grapefruit, citrus & herbs.  Beautiful, elegant wine.

Pfaffl 2008 Zweigelt “Cherry”  REG $17.99 | Sale $15.99 | Case $12.79
100% Zweigelt. Lots of dark cherry fruit, a little bit oaky, but lovely (aged 6 months in 30% old barriques).  Smooth tannins.  Roman said this is a typical Austrian red.
 
Pfaffl 2006 St. Laurent Altenberg  REG $55.49 | Sale $45.99 | Case $36.79 
100% St. Laurent.  Very elegant, smooth, old world style wine.  Plums, blackberries & “exotic woods” on the nose. Flavors of cherries & blackberries with a touch of smoke. 


We had a lot of fun with Roman at this tasting, and encourage you to give the Pepper & the Cherry at try …

Cheers,
Julie

Portalis Explores! ~ Wine Club Archives

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MARCH 2017 | Washington Wine Month

March is all about Washington wine! The Washington Wine Commission promotes several events throughout the month including the grand Taste of WA. Don’t worry- if a trip to Eastern Washington is not on your docket, you have options: Seattle Wineries & Woodinville Wineries!

Columbia Valley AVA, the largest appellation in the state, encompasses one quarter of Washington State. Primarily in Eastern Washington, past Vantage and the Columbia Basin, it does include property on the Oregon border. The majority of Washington’s AVAs are embedded in the Columbia Valley. Yakima Valley was approved as Washington’s first AVA in 1983 with one-third of the state’s vineyards as well as three nested AVAs: Snipes Mountain, Rattlesnake Hills and Red Mountain. If you want to dive a bit deeper into WA wine and education, check out Jaci’s blog on WA.

It’s tricky to find WA wines that work with the price constraints of this budget wine club, but we came close with these 2 tasty reds …and they are from one of Washington State’s oldest estates!


Bonair Winery
Gail and Shirley Puryear (pictured) planted their first vineyard in 1980 and harvested the first grapes in 1984. They started the winery in 1985 with Chardonnay, Riesling and Cabernet Sauvignon. Winemaker Bill Mechem is from Springfield, MA. After an internship with Bonair, Bill moved on for his oenology degree and a few stints at other wineries. In 2005, he decided to come back to where he started and become winemaker at Bonair.

Bonair Winery 2013 Cabernet Franc | RATTLESNAKE HILLS — Reg $17.99 | 20% Mixed Case Discount $14.39
Tasting Notes: Robust and gregarious, a summer cherry bomb with baking spices and soft tannins. Pair with pulled pork, barbecue, roasted vegetables and risotto. Enjoy now to 3 years.

Bonair Winery 2013 Cabernet Sauvignon |YAKIMA VALLEY — Reg $13.99 |  20% Mixed Case Discount $11.19
Tasting Notes: Macerated cherries soaked in plum juice, leather, baking spice and gentle tannins. Pair with steak, mushrooms, and pastas. Enjoy now to 3 years.

To taste these wines prior to enjoying them at home, stop by on Wednesday, March 22 for your pick-up tasting. Look forward to seeing you then!

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

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FEBRUARY 2017 | Argentina

Argentina, renowned for terrific Malbec, is South America’s top wine producing area. The vineyards stretch along the Andes Mountains (along the east side of Chile) with steep vineyards in a continental climate. Strong hot winds (called the Zonda) burst through the valleys, keeping the vineyards dry and fungus free. Short of temperamental spring rains and hail, the area is ideal for winemaking.

Our first selection is a beautiful Torrontés from La Rioja.  It was originally believed that Spanish immigrants brought the first Torrontés vines in the late 1800’s. However, DNA has proven that it is a cross of Mission (originally reported as Criolla Chica) and Muscat of Alexandria grapes. The varietal has aromas reminiscent of Muscat and Gewürztraminer wines with a clean dry finish and medium acidity.

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Bodega Calle La Yunta Torrontés Reg $10.99 | 20% Mixed Case Discount $8.79

“La Yunta Torrontés is a 100% Torrontés Riojana from the third largest Argentine grape growing region of La Rioja. Located 7 hours drive north of Mendoza, La Rioja is a semi-arid, high plateau area known for its ability to produce quality Torrontés with a fine balance between bright citrus notes, stone fruit, and floral aromatics.”  — Bodega Calle

Tasting Notes: Notably aromatic of green melon and white peach. It has balanced citrus flavor with a touch of French oak to provide a crisp yet lingering finish. Wonderful as an aperitif or as an accompaniment to seafood or poultry.  “A restrained kind of Torrontés, closer to a Riesling than a Muscat, with citric aromas and flavors. It has an herbaceous side, and is quite focused and fresh, with a subtle floral side and an off-dry finish. An impressive Torrontés at a great price.” — Wine Advocate. Pair with empanadas, Asian and Thai foods. Drink now.

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Our second selection from the La Rioja province comes from vineyards (pictured above) located in the Famatina Valley, near the town of Chilecito, 3,280 feet above sea level. The climate is semi-arid with large temperature swings between day and night. The soil is deep sandy-clay of alluvial origin. Drip irrigation from underground wells is used during bud break (Sep-Oct) & after the harvest.

Malbec needs the longest growing season. It is greatly impacted by its environment as well. Thin-skinned and susceptible to disease, it does very well in higher elevations where the diurnal change (from hot to cold) is dramatic. Cooler areas produce tart berry notes and higher tannins, whereas warmer regions produce full, rich dark and robust fruit.

courtesy of www.appelationamerica.com

La Puerta Alta Malbec Reg $17.99 | INSIDER $16.99 | 20% Mixed Case Discount $13.59

Tasting Notes: Blackberry, currants with herb notes. Ripe black cherries with hints of spice and velvety tannins. French and American oak for 3 months. Pairings: Classically steak, however hearty stews, strong cheeses and bold flavors match well with this wine, as does dark chocolate. Drink now to 2 years.

To taste these wines prior to enjoying them at home, stop by on Wednesday, February 22 for your pick-up tasting. Look forward to seeing you then!

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

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JANUARY 2017 | South Africa

As many of you know, my first career was as an emergency doctor, and I did an internship in South Africa in 1994, the spring that Nelson Mandela was elected president. During this time, I lived in Johannesburg, worked in Soweto, and I had the great pleasure of travelling to Cape Town and South Africa’s amazing wine country while I was there. It was my first time to taste Pinotage. Wonderful! And yes, the scenery is just as breathtaking as it looks!
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STELLENBOSCH
Asara Chenin Blanc | Reg $16.99 | 20% Mixed Case Discount $13.59

The varietal “Steen” or Chenin Blanc is grown more in South Africa than anywhere in the world (even Vouvray, France!). Chenin Blanc is also grown in British Columbia (Canada), California and Washington (USA), Australia and New Zealand. It is diverse and excellent for pairing with food. Ripe and rich tree fruits with minerality, soft texture and simple acidity.

Tasting Notes: Bright ripe yellow apples, summer peach, minerality, lime acidity and a hint of black pepper spice. Pair with: roasted poultry, soft and hard cheeses, vegetables- roasted and raw. Drink now to 2 years.
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WESTERN CAPE
Beau Joubert Oak Lane Merlot / Cabernet Sauvignon | Reg $12.99 | 20% Mixed Case Discount $10.39

South African wine production began in the mid 1600’s, thanks to Dutch traders. (Read more on South Africa’s wine story on our Wine Blog>) “This winery’s founder was a French Huguenot descendant, Dirk Daniel Joubert. He in turn divided the farm between his two sons; one retained the Veelverjaagt name while the other named his portion La Provence, to honor the birthplace of his forefathers.”

Tasting Notes: Dark blue currant, black berry and sweet cassis with spice, cocoa and subtle cigar box. Ripe tannins, integrated acid, balanced structure. Pair with: pizza and barbecue. Drink now to 2 years.
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To taste these wines prior to enjoying them at home, stop by on Wednesday, January 18 for your pick-up tasting. Thanks for “Exploring” with us!  If you have any questions, please ask!

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

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DECEMBER 2016 | Holiday Selections!

‘Tis the season to celebrate, and that is my theme this month! I have chosen two great wines for your holiday festivities- or just enjoy them on a nice, quiet evening at home and relax!  The first is a dark, rich, red blend from Southern France. The second is a wonderful, single-vineyard Grüner Veltliner. Normally, it’s too expensive for this club …but it’s on sale, and you are the lucky beneficiary! Enjoy!

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MINERVOIS | FRANCE
Château Rivière Cuvée Prestige Rouge | Reg $13.99 | 20% Mixed Case Discount $11.19

Located in the heart of Minervois in France’s Languedoc region, Château Rivière has south-facing slopes with clay-limestone soil. With five generations of winemaking in Minervois, Château Rivière is one of the oldest vineyards in the region. Only the olive and the vine have endured over the centuries, under Minervois’ warm and dry Mediterranean climate. Sunshine over 300 days a year, an exceptional terroir, and a knowledge passed from generation to generation, make these wines an excellent product.

Tasting Notes: Primarily Syrah and Grenache, these grapes are hand-harvested. An inky, rich wine with aromas of dark Rainier cherries and flavors of macerated cherries, black currants & raspberries lingering with white pepper spice, garden herbs and soft tannins. Pair with roasts, game, red meats, hard cheeses and stews. Drink now to 2 years.

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WEINVIERTEL | AUSTRIA
Weingut Prechtl Altenberg Grüner Veltliner | Reg $18.99 | INSIDER $15.99 | 20% Mixed Case Discount $12.79

Weingut Prechtl was established in the village of Zellendorf in 1839, and five generations later, it is owned and run by Franz & Petra Prechtl. Franz, who is also the winemaker, puts great emphasis on sustainable farming techniques, allowing the grapes to grow as naturally as possible. The 15 hectare estate produces top quality wines based on their knowledge of the soils, conditions and the age of the vines. These 25 year old Grüner Veltliner vines (Altenberg vom Urgestein is a single vineyard!) are based in bedrock or gneiss soils. If I haven’t introduced you to Grüner Veltliner, please excuse me- as it is one of the most delightful and flexible wines to pair with foods, or enjoy on its own!

Tasting Notes: Spicy on the nose. Gentle stone fruit & melon notes, full-bodied on the palate, very elegant. Wonderful acidity with notes of exotic fruits on the finish. Pair with poultry, pastas, salumi and roasted vegetables. Drink now to 2 years.

Happy Holidays! If these wines are lucky enough to accompany any of your holiday meals, you won’t be disappointed! To taste these wines prior to enjoying them at home, stop by on Wednesday, December 21 for your pick-up tasting. Remember: if you have parties this season and you need special gifts or pairing advice- that’s what Jaci and I do! Stop by and hit us up!

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

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NOVEMBER 2016 | Spain for Fall

I lived and worked in Spain in 1986 (while I waited for a spot to study medicine to open up in Germany). I remember this time fondly and remain attached to Spanish wines to this day. I think they are delicious and are particularly good food wines for fall. Spain… here we go!!

An overlooked wine region (for reasons unknown to me!) is Ribera del Duero. Following the same standards as Rioja (give or take a few months of aging in oak), this region produces some of the most elegant Tempranillo I’ve ever tasted. Ribera del Duero is a small sub-region in the larger area of Castilla y Léon:

Burgos hosts Ribera del Duero's annual “Fiesta de la Vendimia” or Harvest Festival
Burgos hosts Ribera del Duero’s annual “Fiesta de la Vendimia” or Harvest Festival

Castilla y Léon | Ribera del Duero
A huge region in northcentral Spain, Castilla y Léon has a Mediterranean climate with long, cold winters and short, hot summers. The land consists of mostly flat plains surrounded by chains of mountains and hills. The most important sub-regions of the area are located along the Duero River: DO Rueda (where Verdejo grapes are used for white wine production) and  DO Ribera del Duero. This region is most famous for its red wine production and mostly grows Tempranillo grapes with some Garnacha & Mencia.
This region is similar in taste to Rioja, but because of the harsh climate, the grapes have bolder and more rustic flavors. Spain’s most expensive wines come from DO Ribera del Duero. The reds from this area are packed with intense cherry & dark fruit flavors, spice and vanilla, but still are refined and elegant.

Bodegas Rauda 2012 Tinto Roa Roble
Reg $15.99 | INSIDER $14.99 | 20% Mixed Case Discount $12.79
This co-op, established in 1956, is located in the town of Roa. Production combines the latest technology with tradition. Innovative & modern stainless steel tanks stand side by side with traditional cement deposits which continue to preserve the best qualities necessary for fermentation. The aging cellar holds over 475 French, American and central European oak barrels of various toasting levels.

Tasting notes: 100% Tempranillo with bright red and violet hues. Fresh raspberries and black cherries perfectly assembled with wood.  Pairings:  grilled meats, stews and aged cheeses. Drink now to 3 years.

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Next, we move due east to Catalonia (the area around Barcelona, where I lived) — the land of Spanish Cava! Cava production follows the same standards as Champagne production in France, so not only do you get a high quality, vivacious sparkling, it is rich and hedonistic as well!

Catalonia & Cava
The Mediterranean climate is mild in the winter and hot in the summer, without being extreme. Catalonia is the north-easternmost region of Spain, and is home to the city of Barcelona (the region’s capitol). It borders both France (Roussillon used to be a part of Spain), as well as the Mediterranean Sea. This region is also important region in cork production. It is best known for its Cavas (sparkling wines), which were first produced in the early 1870’s using the Champagne method. The grapes most widely planted for Cava are: Chardonnay, Macabeo, Parellada, and Xarello.

Bodegas Maset (nu) Cava Reserva
Reg $15.99 | INSIDER $14.99 | 20% Mixed Case Discount $11.99
Bodegas Maset has produced quality wines & cavas for over two centuries in the DO Penedès region situated between Barcelona & Tarragona. The climate is mild in the winter and hot in the summer without being extreme. Maset makes its wine in the traditional way: with great care, following a rigorous quality assurance process and leaving each wine to mature in the tranquility of the cellar.

Tasting notes: Clear straw color with golden reflexes and persistent bubbles. A balanced, fruity nose. On the palate, it’s soft, dry & tasty. Warm apple and apple skin with subtle earthy tones. Delicate bubbles last through the finish. Pairings:  appetizers, poultry, salmon, ripe pears and golden apples, diverse cheeses such as Petit Basque. Drink now to 1 year.

Have a great November! If these wines grace your Thanksgiving table, you won’t be disappointed! Your pick-up tasting will be Wednesday, November 16!  Remember: if you have parties this season and you need special gifts or pairing advice- that’s what Jaci and I do! Hit us up!

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

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OCTOBER 2016 | Off the Beaten Path in the Southern Rhône

The below photo is my daughter, Annelie, looking out of the ruin of the Châteauneuf-du-Pape Castle over the surrounding vineyards. Many people are familiar with France’s Southern Rhône Valley for its popular high-end Châteauneuf-du-Pape AOC, as well as its delicious, well-priced Côtes du Rhône table wines. But there’s so much more, so let’s go exploring!

First, here’s a little 101 on how the vineyards in France are designated. Just like in Washington State, where we have several different winemaking regions known as AVA’s, e.g. Walla Walla, Yakima, Horse Heaven Hills… currently 14 total, France has IGP’s (Indication Géographique Protégée) and AOC’s (Appellation d’origine contrôlée), soon to be officially transformed to AOP, but that’s for another day! These AOC areas are typically named after the nearby village and are designated viticultural areas- that is, they grow specific grape varietals and nothing else. It makes it easier to keep track of (control) as well as set a standard (no knock offs!).  [Washington does not do this, by the way.]

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In the Southern Rhône, there are 18 different AOC villages. One of these is Laudun (vineyards pictured) which is the first of your wine club selections. The commune of Laudun became an appellation in 1947 and was appointed to the Côtes du Rhône Villages status in 1967. It is iconically known for a Roman site, the “Camp de César”, which is a plateau known for archaeological digs.  For an AOC rouge, the winemaker is allowed a minimum of 50% Grenache, with a minimum of 20% combined Mourvèdre and Syrah. They may also utilize  Brun Argenté (Camarèse/Vaccarèse), Carignan, Counoise, Cinsault, Muscardin, Piquepoul Noir, and Terret Noir.

Domaine Allégret 2013 Laudun
Reg $15.99 | 20% Mixed Case Discount $12.79

Didier Allégret has been the owner of Domaine Allegret for more than 30 years. It’s a 40 hectare vineyard of pebbly, red earth located in the Southern Rhône Valley near the town of Laudun. Sons and brothers are working together in the domaine. The wine of Didier Allégret is elegant, frequently awarded and well-known for its freshness and finesse.

Tasting Notes: A blend of Syrah and Grenache. Dark ruby red in color with bright cherry & violet aromas. Flavors of summer cherries with lingering hillside herbs, rose petals, white pepper undertones. Soft tannins. Pairings:  grilled meats, roasted poultry, root vegetables, hardy cheeses, salumi.  Drink now to 3 years.

Now, not to complicate matters, but I need to explain what an IGP (Indication Géographique Protégée) is. Similar in concept to AOC, however, rather than a village, an IGP can include grape varietals from a few villages as long as it follows the standards set by the IGP. IGP wines are still regulated on which varietals are used as well as methods of production, making them a fantastic quality in comparison to a basic French table wine.

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As of 2014, there are 74 IGP regions in all of France! Our second choice for this wine club is from the Coteaux du Pont du Gard IGP which is a combination of Languedoc & Southern Rhône Valley. It was officially named an IGP on December 31, 2011. The bridge or Pont du Gard (pictured above) was built by the Romans and is a World Heritage Site. The region is full of such cultural riches: Roman Nîmes, the Duchy of Uzès, Sommières, a market town since the Middle Ages and more.

Domaine Moulin d’Eole 2014 “Les Arches” Rouge
Reg $13.99 | 20% Mixed Case Discount $11.19

Set on the right bank of the Rhône near Pont du Gard, Vignerons Propriétés Associés stretches out in a triangle between the commune of St Hilaire d’Ozilhan, borders the Gard region and the Côtes du Rhône, Sommières, and the Camargue Region. Vignerons Propriétés Associés is a cooperative of winemakers that has done quite a bit of consolidation (smaller local groups joining together) in the last few years. We really like how the growers are left to tend their land, with the focus of sustaining quality wines. They farm organically and are certified as «Terras Vitis».

Tasting Notes: A blend of 60% Carignan, 20% Syrah & 20% Grenache. Inky plum color with aromas of cassis and black raspberries. Flavors of rich summer plum, black cherries, hillside herbs and soft tannins. Enjoy with roast beef, cassoulet, roasted cauliflower and Raclette. Drink now to 2 years.

Southern Rhône, a bit more flushed out! We hope you enjoy this month’s selections. Stop in on Wednesday, October 19 from 5-7pm for our pick-up tasting!

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

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SEPTEMBER 2016 | Northern Italian Classics

Northern Italy is divided into eight regions: Aosta Valley, Piedmont, Liguria, Lombardy, Emilia-Romagna, Veneto, Friuli-Venezia Giulia and Trentino-Alto Adige. These areas are all south of the Alps and in the basin of the River Po. The two wines in this month’s club are from Piedmont in the northwest and Veneto in the northeast, regions internationally recognized for both wine and food!

Piedmont is classically known for Nebbiolo, specifically from the sub-regions of Barolo and Barbaresco. Not as famous, but still very important to the region is Barbera, the third most planted grape– in all of Italy! The majority of the world’s Barbera is grown in Piedmont; however, California and Washington dabble with this grape as well. Barbera is the every day drinking wine in Piedmont and in 2008 two appellations became DOCG rated: d’Asti and del Monferrato Superiore.
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Bel-Sit Barbera d’Asti La Turna
Reg $17.99 | INSIDER $16.99 | Special Wine Club Price $14.99

The Bel-Sit estate, originally established by Pietro Rivella in 1870, produces Barbera d’Asti DOCG and a beautiful Moscato d’Asti DOCG. In 2000 the Bel-Sit estate was re-equipped and renovated by Ezio Rivella, one of the most important Masters of Italian Oenology of the last fifty years. Ezio is widely regarded as the man that introduced Brunello di Montalcino to the world through his development of the Banfi brand. He has since returned to his Piemontese roots to develop his ancestors’ project, a project made easier by the perfectly situated vineyards of his family estate.

Tasting Notes: Violets and soft ripe cherries on the nose. Flavors of cherries and raspberries with black fruits and floral notes. Pairings:  Piemontese pasta, duck and aged cheeses.  Enjoy now to 3 years.

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La Farra Pinot Grigio
Reg $15.99 | Special Wine Club Price $14.99

La Farra, owned & operated by the Nardi family (pictured), is known for its highest quality Prosecco, including a line of Valdobbiadene DOCG Prosecco Superiore. The winery also produces a limited amount of Pinot Grigio from grapes grown on old vines belonging to their grandparents and uncles. All vineyard processes are still done by hand, and the winery is entirely run by the Nardi brothers, Innocente & Guido. Both are passionate viticulturists who studied at the oldest oenology school in Italy: Scuola Enologica di Conegliano. Their sister, Adamaria, runs the business side.

Tasting Notes: Straw yellow in color with green hints. The nose is clear with wisteria notes. The palate is intense with notes of apricot, green apple with the right level of acidity. Enjoy with herbaceous soups, egg-based courses, white meat lightly cooked, such as rabbit stew with olives and celery.  Drink now to 1 year.
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A side note:  Pinot Grigio is the Italian version of Pinot Gris. With a variant of skin color ranging from grayish-blue to brownish pink or even black, Pinot Grigio is a tenturiuer. That is, if the run off juice is introduced to the skins of this grape, it will alter the color of the wine. This process is how you get orange wine or ramato, in Italian.

Classic Italian wines- just for you!  Stop in on Wednesday, September 21 from 5-7pm to taste!

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

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AUGUST 2016 | Muscadet | Loire Valley
I rarely ever choose two whites or all whites for our clubs, but the only way you are going to understand how amazing this varietal is- is to try them!  So, this month you’ll get two producers, same varietal.  Most people know it as Muscadet, however the varietal is Melon de Bourgogne. It is a zesty and crisp white wine on the Atlantic end of the Loire Valley. Originally cultivated in Burgundy, but as of the end of the 18th century, the vines are found only in the Loire Valley. The grape is a cross between Pinot Blanc & Gouais Blanc.
Varietal_Melon du Bourgogne_ Muscadet

Muscadet is classically tart with lemon and lime citrus, green apple and pear, and an occasionally under ripe white peach and nectarine. The aromas are of faint white flowers, with subtle notes of herbs such as dandelion greens, nettles, savory herbs, peppery greens, or turnip/root vegetable. (Yes, really!) Think: high minerality, saline or brine, sea salt, wet stones. When vinified Sur Lie (like the Herbauges in your club!), we find notes of yeast, sourdough, sour beer, slight cream. It is also a classic seafood wine- specifically oysters, shellfish & white fish (sea or river). Or, enjoy with fresh greens and fruits, goat cheeses… or as an aperitif.

Gobin family _past
A family owned and operated winery, Château Bigotière began in 1904 with M. Ernest Henry Gobin. He cultivated vine-growing at Château Bigotière in 1938, planting Melon de Borgogne (Muscadet) and Colombard grapes. The vineyards were originally worked with a single horse and plough to tend the soil, trimming of the vines was done with hand shears, the pressing was with a traditional screw press and the wine was transported via river in barrels to Paris. The business continues to thrive (having built a second winery in 2010), producing wonderful wines steeped in the history of the family.

Château de la Bigotière Muscadet Sèvre et Maine
Reg $14.99 | INSIDER $13.99 | 20% Mixed Case Discount $11.99
Tasting Notes: This drier style Muscadet has fresh light fruit notes with some stony qualities. Hints of lemon citrus. Pair with oysters, manilla clams and chevre cheese. Drink now!

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Since 1864, the Choblet family has cultivated exclusively the grape vines of the highest quality. Each terroir of Domaine des Herbauges expresses its own subtle nuances, and reveals specific particularities and characteristics of the AOC Muscadet Côtes de Grandlieu Sur Lie appellation. Domaine des Herbauges is a signatory of the F.A.R.R.E. Charter, Certified Integrated Farming (Agriculture Raisonnée), a new standard of High Environmental Value and became officially “Terra Vitis” in 2013.

Domaine des Herbauges Muscadet Côte du Granlieu Sur Lie
Reg $14.99 | INSIDER $13.99 | 20% Mixed Case Discount $11.99
Tasting Notes: Rich body with lemon oil as well as lemon and lime citrus, minerals and good acidity. Pair with scallops, swordfish, shellfish, as well as the classic- oysters (not briny) or as an aperitif. Drink now.

I hope you’ll take advantage of the opportunity to taste these wines side by side at your pickup tasting: Wednesday, August 17 from 5-7pm. They are truly delicious summer whites that will transform your palate.

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

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JULY 2016 | Summertime Wines

Visiting friends and family can be challenge if you are the designated wine buyer, but not this month!  Even if you don’t know what they are serving, we have selected two of the easiest wines to pair with BBQ and other grilled foods, and they are crowd pleasers too!

Mas de la Source is a small family affair (husband/wife team Aurélie and Jérome Vic pictured above) producing a wide variety of wines in the heart of the Languedoc in Southern France. The vineyards enjoy a high proportion of granitic topsoil, overlaying a subsoil of sand and clay with a very deep water-table, forcing vines to grow deep and impossibly complex root networks in order to obtain the water that is so vital in the harsh, dry summers. Garrigue herbs of the region grow nearby and contribute to the herbaceous minerality of the terroir.

Mas de la Source Rosé
Reg $11.99 | 20% Mixed Case Discount $9.59
Tasting Notes: A blend of Cinsault and Grenache.  Pale rosé with aromas of red fruits and roses.  Lush minerality, soft, ripe and fresh. Fruits of strawberry and raspberry. Pair this with barbecues, canapés & salads.  Drink now!

Mas de la Source_vineyards_Aurélie and Jérome Vic_cropped

Seattle native & Certified Sommelier Dave Bender founded Wish Wine Co. in 2010 with the initial goal of producing a limited release of small production Pinot Noir for the U.S. holiday season. Following the success of that first launch, Dave now offers a Cabernet Sauvignon, Zinfandel, Red Blend, Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay — year round.

The primary vineyard source for the Wish Wine Co. is a 600-acre estate vineyard in Mendocino County, within the North Coast American Viticulture Area (AVA) of California. Both soil composition and the temperate climate have helped to contribute to the success of this wine region. Due to the cooler climate of Mendocino, the grapes are able to achieve ripeness, while maintaining fresh acidity. Due to the blending process, the fruit is well integrated and balanced with its structural components, a strong indication that this wine is ready to drink.

Wish_vineyards
Wish Wine Co. Red Blend
Reg $16.99 | INSIDER $15.99 | 20% Mixed Case Discount $12.79
Tasting Notes: A blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Zinfandel and Syrah. Ripe boysenberry, Asian plum and red currant with fresh acidity, well-integrated fruit, balanced with structural components. Drink now.

Cheers to summer!  We’ll have the wines open to taste on Wednesday, July 20th. Hope you can join!

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

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JUNE 2016 | Northern Spain

The lush maritime area of northwest Spain is where the sea rules cuisine and industry. Rias Baixas (on the Atlantic coast just north of Portugal) is known for top notch seafood, its rich pine and eucalyptus landscapes, and its refreshing Albariño!

Pontecabaleiros – As Laxas Winery began in 1975 when the Simon Ferro family made its first harvest. The winery is located in the Rio Miño Valley in the village of Arbo on 15 hectares of land. In addition, they rent 5 hectares in the Condado area and purchase the production of an additional 5 hectares in the area. As Laxas was one of the first wineries in the area (prior even to Rias Baixas becoming a DO) and was a founding member on the Regulation Council in 1986. Outon is their second label.
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Outon Albariño
Reg $17.99 | INSIDER $16.99 | 20% Mixed Case Discount $13.59
100% Albariño- A refreshing wine, with a glyceric finish, it lingers on the palate with exacting acidity. Intense nose of green apple & tropical fruits (pineapple). A delicious pairing with this would be a hearty ceviché halibut salad tossed with fresh pimentos, oranges and crisp jicama. Drink now.

Crossing east over the Mesata (plateau) to the Ebro River, the Rioja region is directly under the Cantabrian Mountains. The transition from the dry plateau climate with Atlantic coastal influence to the continental plateau climate with mountain winds highlights the varietals distinctness and shows how they thrive in different environments. It is here that a stronger prominence of other varietals are grown, such as Garnacha, as well as a stronger use of French varietals (including Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon) in conjunction with the traditional Tempranillo.

Rioja has grown dramatically in popularity over the last decades. Driven primarily by Tempranillo and Garnacha, the French influence is still strong with notes of French oak rather than American oak.

BLOG_Jaci's Wine Tour of Spain_081014_stars
Zuazo Gaston G7 Madurado Tempranillo
Reg $12.99 | 20% Mixed Case Discount $10.39
The vineyards of Zuazo Gaston are located on 52 hectares in the Oyón region within the DOC Rioja. The winery’s top wines are made exclusively from old vines. The G7 project is a second label with the name reflecting the seven generations that the family has cultivated the vineyards.

100% Tempranillo with red-purple hues. Summer plums with black cherry aromas compounded by a palate of warm plum and raspberries, soft tannins with integrated acid. Fresh and fruity. Pairing: grilled lamb (photo is from our contacts at Zuazo Gaston showing a local lamb specialty: Chuletillas), pork skewers, fresh fruit. Drink now.

If you would like to enjoy a tour of Spain and its cuisine, enjoy Jaci’s post> from 2014. We’ll have the wines open to taste on Wednesday, June 22nd. Hope you can join!

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

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MAY 2016 | Wines from the Vesuvius

Casa Setaro is a winery located on the slopes of Mount Vesuvius, in Trecase. The vineyards (pictured above) are just inside the Vesuvius National Park. Massimo Setaro takes care of all the production, from the vineyard to the cellar. He is sided by his wife, Mariarosaria. For generations, the Setaro family has been dedicated to grape cultivation and wine production on the slopes of the Vesuvius.
Mt Vesuvius_emaze
The region of Campania includes a western coastline on the Tyrrhenian Sea with famous gulfs (Naples, Salerno and Policastro) as well as three islands (Capri, Ischia and Procida).  Four other regions border Campania; Lazio to the northwest, Molise to the north, Apulia (Puglia) to the northeast and Basilicata to the east. The climate is typically Mediterranean along the coast, whereas in the inner zones it is more continental, with low temperatures in winter.

The ancient red varieties Aglianico and Piedirosso and the whites Falanghina, Greco, and Fiano comprise a majority of the Campanian DOC wines. The tannic, high-acid Aglianico shares a structural similarity with Sangiovese and Nebbiolo, although it displays a darker fruit profile and has the capacity to produce the longest-lived and noblest red wines of Southern Italy.

Mt Vesuvius National Park_vineyards inside

Casa Setaro Campanelle Falanghina
Reg $18.99 | INSIDER $14.99 | 20% Mixed Case Discount $11.99
This wine does a delicate dance between flavors of lemon lime citrus, guava, papaya and quince with an elegant, volcanic minerality. Long finish! Pairs perfectly with seafood cuisine, shellfish, vegetable and pulses soup, legumes and fresh cheeses. Full-bodied. Enjoy now. It’s delicious!

Casa Setaro Terramatta Aglianico
Reg $17.99 | INSIDER $14.99 | 20% Mixed Case Discount $11.99
Inky and seductive. Black raspberry, currants, cooked cherries with an elegant minerality and hints of balsamic and licorice. Roasted meats, chicken, pomegranate, rich seafoods, squash, roasted vegetables- so many great items to pair with. Enjoy now through 2018.

Stop in any time to pick up this month’s club. We’ll have the wines open to taste on Wednesday, May 18th. Hope you can join!

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

 

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APRIL 2016 | Southern Rhône
The Southern Rhône wine region of France has a Mediterranean climate characterized by hot summers and mild winters. Le Mistral is also present in this region, helping cool the vines (allowing grapes to retain acidity) and preventing rot. The Rhône Valley takes its name from the Rhône River which runs south through the region (beginning in the Swiss Alps). The Southern Rhône varies greatly in climate and flavor profile from the Northern Rhône. The leading red grape varietal in Southern  Rhône is Grenache, but most Southern Rhône wines are blends of several grapes including Syrah, Cinsaut, Mourvèdre, and Carignan.

For our selection this month, we feature two wines from the co-operative Vignerons Propriétés Associés, which is set on the right bank of the Rhône, near Pont du Gard (pictured above). Their growers farm organically and are certified Terras Vitis, and I think their wines are absolutely killer for the price!
Southern Rhone_2006_06
Ozilhan Réservé Côtes du Rhône Blanc Reg $13.99 | INSIDER $12.99 | 20% Mixed Case Discount $10.39
White Grenache, Viognier, Roussanne & Clairette.  Pale golden yellow in color, it is floral and refreshing with lovely flavors of warm summer apples. Round and fleshy in the mouth with nice acidity. Well-balanced. Suggested pairings: raclette, baked chicken, pasta & summer salads. Enjoy now to 2 years.

Réserve de Générac Costières de Nîmes Reg $13.99 | 20% Mixed Case Discount $11.19
75% Syrah / 25% Grenache. Rich black raspberries exploding with tart currant, lingering spices and subtle herbaceous notes. Suggested Pairings: braised pork, poultry dishes, barbecues & vegetable gratins.  Enjoy now to 3 years.

Stop in any time to pick up this month’s club. We’ll have the wines open to taste on Wednesday, April 20th. Hope you can join!

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

 

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MARCH 2016 | Portugal

Our February Wine Blog featured the history of Portugal’s wine industry, so it seemed timely to showcase two reds from this wonderful but still lesser-known wine land.
Portugal_ Douro
Hundreds of years ago, Portugal was placed on the map of wine fame with its fortified wines: Port and Madeira.  However, in the mid 1980’s, Portuguese wine recognition began to slowly transform. Entrance into the European Union (then European Community) “insisted” that the government dissolve several monopolies of cooperatives that had been in control of the wine program for decades. Tearing down these walls allowed for investment (especially from other countries) as well as development of wine styles. Many small estates (quintas) severed their ties with co-operatives and started making their own wines. Portugal devised a new appellation system in line with EU standards, designating Regiões Demarcadas as Denominação de Origem Controlada (DOC). With over 200 unique varietals and a distinctive landscape, Portuguese wines continue to maintain their own character.
Portugal_ map
Map credit>

The selection of Portuguese wines in the Seattle market has diminished over the last years, but I remain a die hard fan. These wines are well-made, interesting representations of reds from this southeastern region of Portugal. They are great food wines, and the price is right! Hope you enjoy them:

Herdade das Mouras Tinto Reg $12.99 | INSIDER $11.99 | 20% Mixed Case Discount $9.59
Alentejano — Summer cherries, blackberries, raspberries and black peppercorn spice.  Persistent finish. A blend of Aragones, Trincadeira, Alicante Bouschet, Syrah. Enjoy now to three years.

Herdade do Esporão Monte Velho Tinto Reg $11.99 | 20% Mixed Case Discount $9.59
Alentejo DOC — Rustic red raspberries, black cherries, subtle spice and earth with underlying structure. A blend of Aragonez & Trincadeira. Enjoy now to three years.

Stop in any time to pick up this month’s club. We’ll have the wines open to taste on Wednesday, March 16. Hope you can join!

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

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FEBRUARY 2016 Corbières, France  | Château du Grand Caumont
Located in the Languedoc-Roussillon region of Southern France, AOC Corbières is nestled along the Mediterranean Sea between Montpellier & the Spanish border. Typically a blend of Syrah, Grenache and Carignan, the wines are rich, herbaceous food wines. Carignan is a red varietal originating from Spain (Cariñena) and found planted around the world.  It is only permitted in the Langedoc-Roussillon region of France.
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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. The estate is owned and managed by Laurence Rigal (pictured above), who inherited it from her mother.

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Château du Grand Caumont Cuvée Spéciale Reg $15.99 | INSIDER $14.99 | 20% Mixed Case Discount $11.99
Blend: 50% Syrah, 45% Carignan, 5% Grenache — Ruby with purple hues, rich berries and baking spices, jammy berries, red currants and coffee. Pairings: Roasted red meats, game dishes, quail, lamb, soft cheeses. Drink now to 2 years.
Awards & Accolades: Prix des Vinalies at the Vinalies Nationales ; 2014 Bronze Medal Decanter World Wine Awards 2014
AOC Corbieres_FB page_04
Château du Grand Caumont Cuvée Tradition Reg $15.99 | INSIDER $14.99 | 20% Mixed Case Discount $11.99
Blend: 40% Carignan (old vines – full berry vinification), 20% Carignan, 35% Syrah, 5% Grenache. Dark ruby red color, with garnet red highlights.  Intense and powerful with black berry fruits, violet and pepper aromas. Dominated by dark berry fruit flavors, this wine is well-balanced & structured with good length and a lingering finish. Pair with beef, grilled meat, meats in sauces, stew and cheese. Drink now to 2 years.

Awards & Accolades: 2002 Cuvée Tradition: Prix des Vinalies 2004. 2003 Cuvée Tradition: Gold Medal at the 2005 Concours des Vignerons Indépendants; Silver Medal at the Concours des Grands Vins du Languedoc Roussillon 2005; 3* Decanter Magazine 2005. 2004 Cuvée Tradition: Sceau de Qualité Internationale 2007 Montreal Canada; Silver Medal Concours des Grands Vins de France  de Mâcon 2007. 2005 Cuvée Tradition: Gold Medal at the Concours  Interprofessionnel des Vins de Corbières 2006; 1* Guide Hachette 2008. 2006 Cuvée Tradition: Bronze Medal Concours Agricole de Paris 2008.

Stop in any time to pick up this month’s club. We’ll have the wines open to taste on Wednesday, February 17th. Hope you can join!

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

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JANUARY 2016 :  Catalunya, Spain | Garnaxta and Monastrell

Spain is etched with history- not just war but wine and trade.  The Phoenician ships introduced Spain to grapes. With the Moors, wine cultivation did not prosper but continued as casual trade.  For all the sub-regions of Spain, Catalunya is the most diverse with varietals.  The northeastern region underneath the Pyrenees and ending at the Mediterranean Sea has had its border shifted, fought over, then shifted again.  In the 17th century, the King of Spain finally gave up Roussillon to France.

The impact in the wine region has diversified this northeast corner of Spain.  Many French varietals, such as Grenache (Garnataxa), Mourvèdre (Monastrell), Cabernet Sauvigon and Syrah are all integral to Catalunyan culture.  Another amazing benefit to this region is investment in modern wine making.  When France took the hit of phylloxera in the late 1800’s, investment shifted and winemakers moved to this region and Rioja.

Drink Ribera Drink Spain_Harvest Celebration_Sep 2013_from FB

This month we feature the French varietals Garnatxa (Grenache) and Monastrell (Mourvèdre) from Bodegas Maset. The Maset family has produced quality wines & cavas for over two centuries in the DO Penedès region (situated between Barcelona & Tarragona). These wines are supreme examples of wines from this part of Spain. Hope you enjoy!

Bodegas Maset 2014 Garnatxa Reg $14.99 | INSIDER $13.99 | Mixed Case $11.19
Ripe cherries and summer blueberries. Jammy cherries, black berries, and blueberries with lingering hillside herbs and white peppercorn. Enjoy now to 3 years.

Bodegas Maset 2013 Monastrell  Reg $14.99 | INSIDER $12.99 | Mixed Case Discount $10.39
Rich dark cherries with black raspberries and black berries, balsamic and toasted oak. Enjoy now to 3 years.

Stop in any time to pick up this month’s club. We’ll have the wines open to taste on Wednesday, January 20th. Hope you can join!

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

 

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DECEMBER 2015 : Festive Wines from Italy | Veneto & Tuscany

We hope that you have a fun and safe holiday season and that you enjoy amazing foods and wines with your family and friends. The selection this month can be enjoyed with others. Both wines are delicious as sippers or great with dinner!  Here’s a little about the two special styles of wines included in this month’s club. Both of these wines are on big sales, allowing us to use them in this month’s club. Enjoy!
La Farra_Valdobbiadene Valley_Veneto Italy_Gina's trip_Oct 2012

Photo © Red Box Pictures

COPPER WINES | VENETO
A wine with pigmented skin such as Pinot Grigio (a gray-skinned varietal) will turn a slightly orange, or copper color, when there is skin contact with the juice while processing the grapes.  In Italy, they call this type of wine Ramato. Copper wines have more texture (tannins and more defined fruit components for the style of varietal used) and depth on the palate (in comparison to rosé).  Rarely does either style see time on oak, and they are not meant to be aged.  Copper wines pair amazingly with salami, poultry, aged cheeses, mushrooms & root vegetables.

Tenuta di Corte Giacobbe 2013 Ramato  Reg $17.99 | INSIDER $13.99 | Mixed Case $11.19  100% Pinot Grigio. Copper in color, this wine is aromatic with exotic fruits (pineapple) & sweet white flowers. On the palate it is elegant, velvety, full-bodied, structured & well-balanced. This wine has a  beautiful freshness and a long lasting persistent finish.  Pair with light vegetables, fish, poultry, even stronger flavored meats. It’s a great (and flexible) food wine!  Enjoy now to 1 year.

Photo © Red Box Pictures
Photo © Red Box Pictures

SUPER TUSCAN | TUSCANY
Super Tuscans (also known as Toscana Rosso) are a combination of:
1.  Utilizing French (or non-Italian) varietals that were planted after phylloxera, with a touch of:
2.  Spiting the government regulations on blends and…
3.  A lot about producing market competitive wines after Italy’s glut of Chianti basket wines destroyed consumer confidence.

Super Tuscans tend to be more robust, with more fruit, New World in style, and less acidic than straight Sangiovese. They are not classic Italian, but they are delicious and well-suited to the American palate!

Nottola 2012 Tre Pezzi Super Tuscan Reg $19.99 | INSIDER $16.99 | Mixed Case Discount $13.59   Varietals: Merlot & Petit Verdot.  Bright vibrant ruby red with summer berries: cherries, raspberries, blackberries and supple notes of vanilla.  Soft tannins that linger through the long velvety finish. Pairing suggestions: Sip, sip, sip …or enjoy with leaner cuts of beef, richer cuts of pork.  Enjoy now till 3 years.

Stop in any time to pick up this month’s club. We’ll have the wines open to taste on Wednesday, December 16th. Hope you can join!

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

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NOVEMBER 2015:  St. Josef’s Winery | Willamette Valley,  Oregon

This month we are featuring a small, boutique, Oregon winery — barely commercially seen yet they are quiet pioneers of Willamette Valley wine making.  In 1978, Josef and Lilli planted their first vineyards (on the side) while creating a chain of artisan bakeries and a family of their own.  Originally from Hungary and Germany, the couple met in Chicago after fleeing communism in their Eastern Block homelands. Hard work and a love of life is a motto with this family. Starting with a small farm outside of Canby, they have grown to 64 acres with 5 vineyards and their own winery.  Their first commercial wine was in 1983.
WC_ Nov_ St Josef family
In addition to old vines, they have practiced sustainability from the beginning.  Josef’s grandfather taught him well, and the vineyards are maintained without the use of irrigation, harsh chemicals or fertilizers. They take the grape skins & lees from the harvest crush and add them back into the soils for fertilizer. Their landscaping crew consists of 7 goats and 2 llamas, and several owl boxes and hawk stands are used in the vineyards as natural pest controls. These wines are Certified Low Input Viticulture and Enology as well as Salmon Safe.

WC Nov 2015_ St Josef's llama

St. Josef’s L’Esprit Gewurztraminer 2013 Reg $14.99 | Mixed Case Discount $11.99
“Spirited” — a wine with honeysuckle and honeycomb, golden ripe fruit such as apricots and peaches, subtle hints of spice- cloves, star anise and cinamom.  Rich with a subtle spritz.  A perfect wine to enjoy with the salty/sweet flavors on a traditional Thanksgiving table. Enjoy now to 1 year.

St. Josef’s Estate Cuvee Pinot Noir 2011 Reg $16.99 | INSIDER $14.99 | Mixed Case Discount $11.99 
Garnet color with blackberry, pepper and spice.  Subtle hints of tobacco & oak (French & Slovenian).  Pommard clones. Also a classic red pairing to a turkey dinner!  Enjoy now to 2 years.

The wines are ready to pickup at your convenience. We’ll have the wines open to taste on Wednesday, November 18th. Hope you can join!

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

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OCTOBER 2015: AOC Touraine | Loire Valley | France

Many have idolized the Loire Valley either for Sancerre or Muscadet, but a true secret is Touraine.  A bit more robust in comparison to Sancerre, with ripe wines and edgy acidity, Touraine’s expressive wines are cultivated in tuffeau (limestone) and clay with flint notes.  It’s a touch warmer than Sancerre and has success growing Gamay, Cabernet Franc, and Chenin Blanc- all varietals that need extra sunlight hours and mildew free protection.
Jacky Marteau_2015 harvest_lab in vineyard
Touraine is a fairly large area east of Anjou and contains many 17th & 18th century châteaux, although few are wine-producing estates today. The white wines produced in this region are fairly simple and made from Chenin Blanc, Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc grapes. The best Touraine Sauvignon Blancs are similar in taste to Sancerre wines. Gamay is typically softened through carbonic maceration, a process that also allows the vibrant youthful fruit expressions reminiscent of bright crushed strawberries and raspberries, as well as deep floral notes of lilac and violets.
Jacky Marteau_spring in the vineyards_email_v4
This month we feature our direct import:  Domaine Jacky Marteau.  From the AOC Touraine, the domaine is, above all, a family estate. Fourth generation and inherited from their father, Jacky Marteau, Ludivine and Rodolphe are a sister/brother duo who took over the domaine in 2010. Rodolphe manages the vineyard and the winemaking, while Ludivine manages the marketing, operations and administrative preparation. And “retired” Jacky Marteau (pictured) assists in the vineyards.

Domaine Jacky Marteau 2014 Sauvignon Blanc
Reg $15.99 | INSIDER $14.99 | Mixed Case Discount $11.99

Light and bright yellow hues with intense citrus aromas enhanced by the suspicion of blackcurrant bud aromas.  Elegant. Fresh.  Citrus- lemon, lime, pith and spice minerality. Pairing suggestions include chevre, asparagus & seafood. Drink now.

Domaine Jacky Marteau 2014 Gamay
Reg $15.99 | INSIDER $14.99 | Mixed Case Discount $11.99

Violet shades with impressive bright red raspberry, currants & huckleberry with silky texture & velvety tannins. Enjoy this wine with cold sausages, poultry, summer pasta salads, roasted potatoes. Drink now.

The wines are ready to pickup at your convenience. We’ll have the wines open to taste on Wednesday, October 20th. Hope you can join!

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

 

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SEPTEMBER 2015:  Costières de Nîmes AOC |Southern Rhône | France
FR_ Costiere de Nimes
Rocky low hills, round galets (pebbles), coastal breezes from the Mediterranean Sea and the sandy alluvial deposits and red shale infested plain of Carmargue in the Rhône Delta, are the markers for Costières de Nîmes AOC. (map credit>)  It is nestled between Languedoc and Rhône.  The appellation was previously called Costières du Gard before changing its name to Costières de Nîmes in 1989.

Costières de Nîmes predominantly produces red and rosé wine with a minimum 60% combined Grenache, Mourvèdre & Syrah (minimum 20% combined Syrah & Mourvèdre) with accessory varieties of Carignan, Cinsault, and a maximum of 10% Marselan.  These wines are closer in style to Rhône wines than Languedoc wines and generally they are elegant, well-balanced, lightly structured, with aromas of red fruit, blackberry, prune and black cherry.

FR_ Costieres de Nimes vineyard

Domaine du Petit Romain is a family-based winery within the Costières de Nîmes region at the base of the Rhône Valley in Southern France.  The owner, Bernard Angelras, named this 67 hectare estate after his son, Romain.  35 hectares are planted with AOC vines. It is on the edge of the ancient town of Nîmes and is Terra Vitis certified.

Domaine du Petit Romain Rosé
Reg $15.99 | INSIDER $14.99 | Mixed Case Discount $11.99

The rosé is 70% Grenache, 30% Cinsault with white flower, rose petals, warm cherries, minerality, and a  nice acidic finish.  Pairing: grilled meats, Thai dishes, and spicy relishes. Drink now.

Domaine du Petit Romain Rouge
Reg $15.99 | INSIDER $14.99 | Mixed Case Discount $11.99

The rouge is 50% Syrah and 50% Grenache. Bright raspberry and black currant, cinnamon and spice with jammy strawberry, blackberry, blue berries, vanilla, pepper, cloves and youthful tannins. Pairing:  steak, meat casseroles and ripe cheeses. Drink now to 1 year.

The wines are ready to pickup at your convenience. We’ll have the wines open to taste on Wednesday, September 16th as well as Sunday September 13th (at our regular Sunday tasting). Hope you can join!

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

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AUGUST 2015: Whites from the Western Iberian Peninsula
Vinho Verde (Portugal) & Castilla y León (Spain)

This month we celebrate whites that are typically consumed in the arid heat of summer on the northwestern Iberian Pennisula.  It is not uncommon in Portugal for Vinho Verde to be a substitute for water and for Verdejo to be the cooling agent to spicy chorizo dishes!

VINHO VERDE | MINHO (PORTUGAL)
Vinha das Margaridas 2014 Vinho Verde
Reg $11.99 | INSIDER $10.99 | Mixed Case Discount $8.79
On the northwest coast of Portugal, Vinho Verde is the DOC of the Minho region.  This northern most region is cooler with rainy climates and strong Atlantic influences. The blend for Vinho Verde tends to be a combination of Loureiro Trajadura (Treixadura), Avesso, Pedernã (Arinto), and/or the Alvarinho. Very light in color and alcohol, it is always citrus driven with refreshing effervescence.  Great food wine. Pairs especially well with seafood, shellfish and salads. Refreshing! Slightly sparkling with lemon, lime, grapefruit citrus on the palate. Drink now.

CASTILLA Y LEÓN (SPAIN)
Casto Pequeño 2014 Cotoval Verdejo
Reg $11.99 | Mixed Case Discount $9.59
Castilla y León is located in the northwest corner of Spain, just east of Portugal’s Minho region.  It has a continental climate and is surrounded by the Cantabrian Mountains and the Pyrenees and is interlaced with major rivers.  Much of its territory consists of a large, central plateau – the Meseta.
Verdejo wines are aromatic, often soft, and full-bodied.  The Verdejo grape is generally harvested at night for less oxidation and discoloration. Typically the wine is herbaceous, with almond skin and oil, nice acidity and weightiness …and this one is no exception. Floral aromas with flavors of honey, apple, and citrus. Medium body with mild acidity. Enjoy with richer fish dishes or with spicy dishes (such as Spanish chorizo). Drink now.

 

The wines are ready to pickup at your convenience. We’ll have the wines open to taste on Wednesday, August 19. Hope you can join!

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

 

 

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JULY 2015: Sizzling Southern Italy  | Sicily & Salento (Puglia)
Our adventures take us to our cooperative friends at Palazzo Malgara. Mediterranean influences–hot days that can either cook or enrich wines–are what you find in Southern Italy. Until the last decade, Southern Italian wines were the bottom barrel of the wine industry: high alcohol, huge tannins and startling acidity. Thankfully, modernization and investment has allowed small cooperatives to cultivate business- and delicious alternatives to our current daily glass pour.

Sicily is the largest island in the Mediterranean and the largest region in Italy.  Winemaking was established here by the ancient Greeks and is deeply connected to the culture of Sicilians.  Mediterranean climate with mild, wet winters & hot, dry summers is also home to hilly terrain, poor soil, and many hours of sunlight: all excellent climactic qualities for grape growing.

SICILY
Palazzo Malgara 2014 Grillo
Reg $13.99 | INSIDER $12.99 | Mixed Case $10.39
Grillo is a Sicilian white grape variety most famous for its role in the island’s fortified Marsala wines. It is still widely planted on Sicily despite Marsala’s fall from fashion and is now used most commonly in a variety of still white wines, both varietal and blended.  Fresh, lemon, quince, cashews, almond, subtle apple peel.  Slightly glycerol with an exotic undertone.  Pair with swordfish, trout, salmon, shellfish, poultry, pastas, and fresh root vegetables or fruits. Drink now to 1 year.

SALENTO
Palazzo Malgara 2013 Negroamaro
Reg $14.99 | Mixed Case $11.99
Puglia is located on the heel of the boot of Italy.  It is a coastal region on the Adriatic and Ionian Seas and is the least mountainous region in Italy.  Salento is the southern most sub-region of Puglia.  Beyond Primitivo, Negroamaro is this region’s most prominent red varietal, characterized by black currant, cherry, blackberry, clove, cinnamon, plum, cedar, cocoa with rustic earthiness.  Pair this wine with orecchiette pasta tossed with tomato sauce and ricotta, fava bean soup, roasted lamb encrusted herbs, burrata di Anduria, or a local favorite- stewed octopus. Drink now to 2 years.

The wines are ready to pickup at your convenience. We’ll have the wines open to taste on Wednesday, July 22. We carry several other Southern Italian wines from this same producer, so let us know if you are in search of more affordable and delicious wines from Southern Italy!

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

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JUNE 2015:  Ozilhan Réservé – Rhône Valley (France)

These wines are WOW! And so well received! We are already ordering another container to keep up with demand. Vignerons Propriétés Associés is located on the right bank of the Rhône River. Near Pont du Gard, Vignerons Propriétés Associés stretches out in a triangle between the commune of St Hilaire d’Ozilhan, bordering the Gard region and the Côtes du Rhône, Sommières, and the Camargue regions. Vignerons Propriétés Associés is a cooperative of winemakers with a love of their land and the willingness to create and sustain quality wines. They farm organically and are certified as «Terras Vitis». This is co-op work at its best! Enjoy!
Rhone map
Map credit: Wine Folly, an excellent resource for wine info, and they are our Ballard neighbors, too!

Ozilhan Réservé 2014 Côtes du Rhône Rosé
Reg $13.99 | INSIDER $12.99 | Mixed Case $10.39
This wine is a blend of 40% Grenache / 20% Cinsault / 40% Syrah. Bright pale pink with intense floral fragrances. On the palate, it’s full of tart raspberries/currants with excellent minerality & acidity. Pairings: hors d’oeuvres, charcuterie & barbecue. Drink now.

Ozilhan Réservé 2013 Côtes du Rhône Rouge
Reg $13.99 | INSIDER $12.99 | Mixed Case $10.39

This red is a classic Southern Rhône blend of 60% Syrah / 40% Grenache. Deep ruby in color with flavors of ripe raspberries & black cherries with integrated spices. Medium-bodied but still has a nice, lush mouthfeel. Pairings: cured meats, cheeses. burgers off the grill, roasted chicken. You name it! This is a flexible red for dinner. Drink now.

If you receive your shipment via UPS, you should have it by Friday.  If you pick your club up at Portalis, you can swing by our new location and pick it up. Our new address is 6754 15th Ave NW 98117.

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

 

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MAY 2015: Rioja (Spain) …a Comparison!

Old World vs New World
In the turn of ages, when the creation of ripe, full-bodied wines that filled the palate overtook the glamorous light-bodied, structured, leather-layered and tobacco-laced Riojas, the wine community truly began to see the terminology of Old World vs New World. Quite a statement, isn’t it? There are specific character traits to each region- Alsatian wines are rich, plump yet high acidity; Mosel- racy acidity; Rhone- full extracted with herbaceous undertones.  Rioja- layers of leather, aged oak and light bodies. But no longer. Producers are competing in markets that demand new world styles- full fruit, extraction, oak undertones (or overtones at times) and low acidity.  Here’s your chance to try both styles!

OLD WORLD STYLE
Zuazo Gaston 2008 Rioja Crianza
Reg $19.99 | INSIDER $17.99 | Mixed Case $14.99

Bodegas Zuazo Gaston is located in the little village of Oyón (Alava), and it’s owned and managed by the Zuazo Gaston family with a continued emphasis on traditional, artisan quality combined with their state of the art facility. Zuazo Gaston has employed Carmen Murillo, a woman winemaker, for many years now, and her work is outstanding. The wines are nuanced, beautifully balancing the wonderful fruit flavors of the grapes with the mild oakiness famous to this region of Spain. Wine Notes: 90% Tempranillo, 5% Mazuelo, 5% Graciano  Jammy cherries and baking black berries with vanilla & cedar. Complex & elegant with rich notes of dark fruits.  Full, yet soft body with a long intense finish. Enjoy with pork or lamb. Drink now.

NEW WORLD STYLE
Señorío del Fenojal 2009 Rioja Crianza
Reg $15.99 | INSIDER $11.99 | Mixed Case $9.99

Señorío del Fenojal, aka  Isidro Milagro, is a newer family-owned winery which was started in 2001. Located in the southeast part of Rioja, the vines from their 75 hectare estate average 20-50 years old.  A father and daughter team, Isidro Milagro and Blanca, also manage several properties in La Mancha and Rioja. Wine Notes: 100% Tempranillo, with  an explosive ruby red with purplish tint. Aromas of blackberry, smoky oak and baking spices with bold juicy blackberry, cherries and light vanilla on the palate. Drink now.

If you receive your shipment via UPS, you should have it by Friday.  If you pick your club up at Portalis, you can swing by our new location and pick it up. Our new address is 6754 15th Ave NW 98117 in the Whittier Heights neighborhood in Ballard.

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

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APRIL 2015: 1851 Cellars (WA)

1851 Cellars is named in honor of the year that several groups of settlers arrived in what is now called Seattle. This date is generally agreed to as the year the city was founded.  Originally called New York, the town held several names before landing on Seattle, in honor of Chief Sealth, a prominent member of the Duwamish tribe who had befriended the settlers. Each wine label also has an icon on the front (with an explanation on the back) relating to Seattle and/or WA State history. 1851 Cellars is the newest label added to our J. Strecker Selections portfolio. We think they are outstanding for this price point for Washington State.

COLUMBIA VALLEY
1851 Cellars 2013 Chardonnay
Reg $12.99 | INSIDER $11.99 | Mixed Case $9.59

The icon on this wine is a Dahlia which became Seattle’s official City Flower in 1913. A good portion of the grapes for this wine came from Wahluke Slope, but not enough to use the AVA name. 100% Chardonnay, this wine is rich and pleasant, not overbearing or overly oaked. On the palate, it has pleasant full-body weight with apple flavors, gentle spices, and simple acidity with a round finish. Enjoy with roasted chicken, marinated pork, pasta, curry dishes and roasted vegetables or expressive cheeses such as Tomme de Fedou or Petit Basque. Drink now.

COLUMBIA VALLEY
1851 Cellars 2013 Cabernet Sauvignon
Reg $14.99 | INSIDER $13.99 | Mixed Case $11.19

The icon on the Cab is a Columbian Mammoth, which is the WA State Fossil. This blend is technically 83% Cabernet Sauvignon, 10% Cab Franc, 5% Petit Verdot and 2% Malbec. Here in Washington State if a wine is 75% or more of one varietal you are able to call in by that grape. This wine spent 16 months in a mix of new & used oak.  On the nose, you get dark fruit (Rainier cherries, blueberry, blackberry) and coffee. On the pallet, more dark fruit with chocolate notes. Subtle tannins. A ton of wine for the money. Would be great paired with roasts, stews, BBQ and roasted vegetables such as sweet potatoes. Drink now.

If you receive your shipment via UPS, you should have it by Friday.  If you pick your club up at Portalis, you can swing by our new location and pick it up. Our new address is 6754 15th Ave NW 98117 in the Whittier Heights neighborhood in Ballard.

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

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MARCH 2015: Wish Wine Co.

Dave Bender, Master Sommelier and Seattle local, founded The Wish Wine Co. in 2010 saying it is a symbol of American celebration and tradition. Dave wanted to offer a product that combined his wine experience and passion for entertaining with an outstanding, well-priced product from California. The primary vineyard source for the Wish Wine Co. is a 600-acre estate vineyard in Mendocino County, within the North Coast American Viticulture Area (AVA). His Zin & Cab are solid examples of wines from this part of California. Enjoy!

Wine Wine Co. 2011 Zinfandel
Reg $16.99 | INSIDER $14.99 | Mixed Case $11.99

The Zinfandel grape has been a cornerstone of the California viticulture scene since the mid-19th century. Historically, Zinfandel can be traced back to vines found in both Italy and Croatia. This cool climate Zin maintains an elegance that is hard to find in California. The red plum, blackberry and blueberry flavors make up a dense core, with a dry ‘rasinated’ grape skin component that contributes to its fine structural tannins. The finish of this Zinfandel reveals a soft juicy texture, intricate details and moderate length. Zinfandel is one of the few red wines that can be enjoyed with sweet & spicy foods! Enjoy this wine with BBQ. Drink now to 1 year.

Wish Wine Co. 2012 Cabernet Sauvignon
Reg $16.99 | INSIDER $14.99 | Mixed Case $11.99

Cabernet Sauvignon could be termed as the backbone of American wine culture. Here is a classic example that illustrates how well this grape varietal performs. In this bottle you’ll discover black currant, red currant and black cherry fruit flavors as well as savory characteristics including tobacco, cedar, mint and espresso. There is certainly plenty of structure to back up the fruit. I would recommend pairing this with a juicy Filet Mignon or be a rebel and enjoy with a rich chocolate cake! Drink now to 1 year.

Please not that we made an error when ringing up this month’s wine club, and we overcharged $1 on each wine. You have since been refunded this difference + tax. Sorry for any inconvenience. If you receive your shipment via UPS, you should have it by Friday.  If you pick your club up at Portalis, you can swing by our new location and pick it up. Our new address is 6754 15th Ave NW 98117 in the Whittier Heights neighborhood in Ballard.

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

 

 

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FEBRUARY 2015: VALENTINE’S DAY IN VENETO

This month, in honor of the ‘Day of Love’, we have chosen two romantic wines from Italy’s Veneto region. We hope you enjoy these wines with the special loved ones in your life!

La Farra Sparkling Rosé
Reg $17.99 | INSIDER $15.99 | Mixed Case $12.79

Located in the commune of Farra di Soligo in the heart of the Treviso province in the Veneto region, La Farra (vineyards pictured above) is owned & operated by the Nardi family. They strive for exceptional quality through gentle care of the land & vines, along with meticulous wine making processes from start to finish. The vines are grown at the base of the hills of Farra di Soligo in clay soil. La Farra Sparkling Rosé is 80% Glera, 15% Chardonnay, 5% Raboso. It’s pale pink in color with a very fine & continuous perlage. The nose has aromas of peaches & red currants. Dry and refreshing on the palate, well-structured and superbly soft, it offers a balance of sensations with a nice fruity finish. Excellent as an aperitif or with courses of fish or cured pork meats. Drink now.

Masi 2011 Valpolicella
Reg $15.99 | INSIDER $14.99 | Mixed Case $11.99
The name Masi derives from the Vaio dei Masi, the small valley purchased at the end of the XVIII century by the Boscaini family, who still owns it today. Since 1973, Masi has collaborated with the Conti Serego Alighieri family, descendants of the poet Dante, on their estates in Valpolicella. Masi wines are modern and well-balanced. This blend of 70% Corvina, 25% Rondinella & 5% Molinara shows characteristic cherry & raspberry aromas, with notes of sweet spice, clove & cinnamon. This versatile wine pairs with soups, pasta and risottos, with simple and more substantial red-meat dishes and with fresh cheeses. Drink now to 2 years.

Cheers!!
Jens Strecker
Owner Portalis Wines & J. Strecker Selections

 

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JANUARY 2015: SANTA LUCIA
A Family Winery in Maremma

The wonderful family-owned winery of Santa Lucia is situated in the natural park of Maremma, an unspoiled oasis in southern Tuscany. For many generations Santa Lucia has produced high quality wines from quality vineyards, including Sangiovese, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Petit Verdot, Alicante, Colorino & white varietals such as Vermentino & Ansonica. The family has been producing wine since 1898 & owns its own vineyards. Since 1980, step by step, the winery has grown & has continued to grow thanks to the family’s passion and love for wine.

These wines are normally a price point too high for this club, but with our Moving Sale — 20% off for INSIDERS, you’re getting a little treat! Enjoy!

Santa Lucia 2013 Losco Maremma Toscana
Reg $17.99 | INSIDER $16.99 | Moving Sale $13.59
Maremma is the southwestern sub-region of Toscana. It is south of Sienna and on the Ligurian and Tyrrhenian Seas. This region is known for crisp Vermentino and Morellino di Scansano (85% Sangiovese – see wine below). This red wine is a blend of Sangiovese & Petit Verdot. The grapes are softly destemmed and then pressed under controlled temperature, always undergoing the pumping over, racking and return (délestage). The wine is then kept in stainless steel tanks until spring which is the right period to bottle it. The nose has bright red & black fruit aromas. Its fruity aroma makes it an excellent aperitif and also encourages pairings with appetizers made with cheese and red meat. On tasting, it is fresh & crisp with medium tannins. Plums, black fruit on the mid-palate with spicy notes on the long finish. Drink now to two years.

Santa Lucia 2013 a’Luciano Morellino di Scansano
Reg $19.99 | INSIDER $18.99 | Moving Sale $15.19
Also from the sub-region Maremma, Santa Lucia a’Luciano is a DOCG Morellino di Scansano, which signifies a blend of 85% Sangiovese (this blend is 90% Sangiovese & 10% Alicante) made according to an ancient tradition. The vineyards are in the common of Magliano, in Toscana. This grape is harvested in the fourth week of September. The maceration takes place for two weeks in a stainless steel tank. In this time the contents are stirred twice a day to mix cap and liquid. The wine then stays in barriques for 4 months and 6 months in stainless steel tanks. It is bottled at the end of the summer and then aged 6 months in cellar before release. On the nose it is spicy & earthy. Deep flavors of dark fruit, plums, with stony minerality. Fine tannins on the finish. Drink now to 2 years.

Cheers!!
Jens Strecker
Owner Portalis Wines & J. Strecker Selections

 

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DECEMBER 2014: PINOT NOIR

Pinot Noir is a cooler weather grape known for its red fruit flavors (cherry, strawberry, raspberry) with lovely hints of violet, rose petal, black olive, rosemary and spices. Pinot Noir tends to be lower in tannins with well-balanced acidity. It’s grown in France (Burgundy), Oregon, California, New Zealand and Germany (where it’s called Spätburgunder) as well as in other regions in smaller amounts. In years of doing this wine club, we have seldom featured Pinot Noir. It’s the grape behind some of the finest wines in the world, which usually puts it out of the price point for this wine club. These wines are two excellent examples of well-made yet still affordable Pinot Noir. Enjoy!

FRANCE
Clos du Bosquet 2013 Pinot Noir
Reg $15.99 | INSIDER $14.99 | Mixed Case $11.99
The Vic Family in Languedoc (around Nimes in eastern Languedoc) produces Pinot Noir as well as Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Merlot & Syrah on a property of 130 hectares. (Their cellar is pictured above.) They have a typical Mediterranean climate with hot dry summers and mild winters. The vineyard work has been rethought over recent years with less quantity but more quality. And the result is there. Bright red fruits on the nose. Flavors of spicy, ripe, juicy, tangy cherry fruit with earthy undertones. Enjoy with salmon, pork, pasta with mushrooms and mild soft cheeses. Drink now.

CHILE
Bodega Volcanes 2013 Pinot Noir
Reg $13.99 | Mixed Case $11.19
This Pinot Noir comes from Chile’s Maipo Valley and is quite a different style than the French version above. The winery has a young, intrepid, daring and passionate female winemaker, María del Pilar Díaz, who is in charge of creating a distinctive line of wines that show off grapes grown in their volcanic soils. This wine is medium-bodied with a nose full of red & black fruits. On the palate it has “rich acidity, red fruits, earthy, fresh and reactive tannins”. Enjoy with roasted chicken. Drink now.

If you receive your shipment via UPS, you should have it by Friday. If you pick your club up at Portalis, it is ready for you to swing by.

Happy Holidays!   Jens

Jens Strecker
Owner Portalis Wines & J. Strecker Selections

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NOVEMBER 2014: THANKSGIVING IN PIEDMONT 

Since you probably won’t be celebrating Thanksgiving in Northern Italy (darn!), we’re going to take you there with the wines because there are a couple of classic selections from this part of the world (Barbera & Moscato) that would taste great with your turkey dinner! The month’s wines come from a co-operative in Asti, and we think they do an excellent job for the money.

Vinchio-Vaglio Serra 2012 Arengo Barbera
Reg $15.99 | INSIDER $14.99 | Mixed Case $11.99
Barbera (pictured above in the co-op’s vineyards) is the table wine for the locals in this part of Italy. It’s juicy, delicious, and a very-easy to drink. Fermented in stainless steel tanks, this Barbera has red berry fruits with deeper notes of plum & black cherry. A great match for roasted chicken, turkey & pork! Drink now.

Vinchio-Vaglio Serra 2010 Vigne Rare Moscato
Reg $16.99 | INSIDER $14.99 | Mixed Case $11.99
Moscato will be the adventure wine for most of you. It’s usually enjoyed in Piedmont as an aperitif. It is lower in alcohol, fruity, light & delicately sweet. It also has just a touch of effervescence to it. This wine is 100% stainless-steel fermented Moscato with an alcohol content of 5.5%(!). It’s straw yellow in color with a nose of soft sweet fragrances of nectarine & peach and fleshy white fruits on the palate. Enjoy before Thanksgiving dinner (with a celebratory toast) or with dinner. It won’t disappoint as slight sweetness would pair beautifully with the salty/sweet side dishes commonly served with Thanksgiving dinner. Drink now.

If you receive your shipment via UPS, you should have it by today (Friday). If you pick your club up at Portalis, it is ready for you to swing by.

Happy Thanksgiving!   Jens

Jens Strecker
Owner Portalis Wines & J. Strecker Selections

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October 2014: Austrian Reds

Austria is increasingly known for its wonderful white wine: Grüner Veltliner with flavors of apple & pear and a nice peppery finish. Don’t overlook Austria’s reds though! The most common red varietal in Austria is Zweigelt which produces a medium-bodied wine with lots of bright red fruit flavors (red cherries, red plums). It’s not tannic, and it’s low in alcohol with a lovely, soft, peppery finish, creating a very drinkable, food-friendly wine. Another common grape in Austria is Blaufränkisch, which has a slightly darker fruit profile (raspberries, black cherries) and is considered a medium-tannic wine. Very often you’ll see these grapes used in a red blend (which is the case below). These wines remind me of excellent German tables wines, but at a much better price. And I’m not the only one. If you frequent the wine bar, you probably know our server, Daniel, who’s from Hungary, and these are his go-to wines!

A little about the winery:

Weingut Prechtl was established in village of Zellendorf (tucked into the northeastern corner of Austria with the Czech Republic just a couple miles to the north and Slovakia not much further to the east) in 1839, and five generations later it is still owned and run by the Prechtl family. (Current owners Franz & Petra Prechtl are pictured.) Franz, who is also the winemaker, puts great emphasis on sustainable farming techniques, allowing the grapes to grow as naturally as possible. The 15 hectare estate produces top quality wines based on their knowledge of the soils, conditions and the age of the vines.

Weingut Prechtl 2010 Satzen Zweigelt
Reg $17.99 | INSIDER $16.99 | Mixed Case $13.59
This Zweigelt is dark ruby red with notes of blackberries on the nose. On the palate it’s full of cherries & spices. It’s velvety and plump and easy to drink. Light tannins. Animated and versatile accompaniment to food. Enjoy with grilled sausages, roasted chicken, and pork dishes. Light & juicy. Drink now.

Weingut Prechtl 2007 Reserve Red (Rot) Cuvée
Reg $17.99 | INSIDER $12.99 | Mixed Case $10.39
This wine is a blend of Zweigelt, St. Laurent & Blaufränkisch varietals. Franz uses the best grapes every year to make this cuvée. Each wine is vinified separately then blended together in order to enrich each individual aroma. New and used wood is used (50/50). The wine is dark ruby red with violet hues. It has a nose of black cherry with sweet, toasty aromas. It’s a complex & deeply concentrated fruit focused wine with mature tannins and caramel flavors on the finish. Enjoy with braised meats or grilled sausages. Drink now.

This wine has a funny linguistic faux-pas story that goes with it. On your bottle, you’ll see the words Reserve Rot. “Rot” is German for red and is pronounced “rote” [rhymes with “coat”].  I had no idea that in English “rot” means decomposition or decay. How unappetizing!  And as you can imagine, it makes a wine hard to sell in a non-German speaking market. Therefore, we have new bottles that just say Reserve. The bottles with Reserve Rot are on a close out sale (which makes them affordable for this wine club). We hope you’ll laugh when you see Rot on the label, and from now on you’ll know that’s German for red.

If you receive your shipment via UPS, you should have received it by Friday.  If you pick your club up at Portalis, it is ready for you to swing by.

Cheers!
Jens

Jens Strecker, Owner
Portalis Wines & J. Strecker Selections

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September 2014: End of Summer Wines from Italy

We’re having a beautiful September in the Northwest, perfect for end of summer sipping! This wine club we are featuring a very special white wine from the Tuscan DOCG: Vernaccia di San Gimignano & a rosé from the DOC: Chiaretto Bardolino in Veneto. Both of these regions are lesser-known in the US, mainly because they are small with relatively small production. We’ll tell you a little about each under the wine. In the meantime, enjoy!

Tenuta San Leone 2013 Bardolino Chiaretto Rosé
Reg $14.99 | INSIDER $13.99 | Mixed Case $11.19
The Rizzi family boasts three generations of experience in vine growing. Taking advantage of the work done by their grandfather, Giovanbattista, and their father, Remo, the Rizzi brothers now run the San Leone Estate (since 1988), which lies in Salionze di Valeggio sul Mincio between the south & eastern shores of Lake Garda. This rosé is a blend of Corvina, Corvinone and Rondinella. It’s a bright pink color with hints of violet. The nose is fresh & fruity with notes of peach & red currant. On the palate it’s medium-bodied with smooth fresh fruit flavors and a nice long lasting finish. Enjoy with smoked fish, paté & terrines, pasta dishes, white meats and poultry. Drink now.

Sono Montenidoli 2011 Tradizionale Vernaccia di San Gimignano
Reg $22.99 | INSIDER $14.99 | Mixed Case $11.99|
Tuscany produces the famous white wine: Vernaccia di San Gimignano, made from a minimum of 90% Vernaccia grape. Grown around the medieval hillside village of San Gimignano it has the historic status of being the first red or white wine in 1966 to be designated DOC. Then, in 1993, it became the first white wine of Tuscany to be promoted to DOCG, a distinction primarily reserved for reds. This particular Vernaccia is top of its class! Estate owner Elisabetta Fagiuoli and her team use the old tradition of maceration with skins, pressing as soon as fermentation begins, thus extracting the native flavors of the land. It’s the color of straw with hints of gold. On the nose you get herbs & almonds. On the palate it’s rich with a dry, crisp finish. Food pairings: Mediterranean dishes using olive oil, fish & vegetables especially artichokes, asparagus & spinach. Drink now to 1 year.

If you receive your shipment via UPS, you should have received it by Friday.  If you pick your club up at Portalis, it is ready for you to swing by.

Cheers!
Jens

Jens Strecker, Owner
Portalis Wines & J. Strecker Selections

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August 2014: Summer Wines from France’s Loire Valley

The Loire Valley (see map above) is known for many grapes, perhaps most famously the Sauvignon Blanc of Touraine & Sancerre, Chenin Blanc from Vouvray as well as Muscadet and many more. This wine club contains two lesser-known wines: Auvergnat (otherwise known as Chardonnay, but not normally associated with this region of France) and a rosé from the Anjou region (in the north-central part of the valley north of Angers). Both come from the Loire Valley co-op: Cave de la Loire (also known as Loire Properties) which was founded in 1951, and has become a key player in Loire Valley wines. 160 wineries with more than 1,400 hectares entrust their harvest to them. Enjoy these two summer selections! They are great values for the quality of the wines!

Les Anges 2013 Chardonnay
Reg $13.99 | Mixed Case $11.19 Introduced in the Loire Valley by monks during the Middle Ages, this continental vine, long known in the Loire under the name of Auvergnat, originally comes from Burgundy.  It is today a wine which is appreciated worldwide.  Well adapted to the climate of the Loire Valley, this is the finest of the white wines. This wine is lightly perfumed with aromas of roasted almonds, fresh butter, hazelnut, exotic fruits, peach and citrus fruits. On the palate it has subtle, fruity, round flavors that linger for a long time in your mouth.  It is perfect with sea food, grilled fish, smoked salmon, poultry and cheese. Drink now to 1 year.

Les Caprices d’Ines 2013 Rosé d’Anjou
Reg $14.99 | Mixed Case $11.99 This Rosé d’Anjou awakens the taste buds! It is whimsical and deliciously aromatic with incomparable freshness. It’s a blend of 80% Grolleau & 20% Gamay. A beautiful light raspberry in color, it has a very expressive nose underlining aromas of fresh spring fruits. On the palate it has a wonderful balance between sweetness & freshness with good length. Would be excellent as an appetizer with melon wrapped in smoked ham. This type of soft rosé is also superb with exotic and spicy cuisines. Drink now.

If you receive your shipment via UPS, you should have received it by Friday.  If you pick your club up at Portalis, it is ready for you to swing by.

Cheers!
Jens

Jens Strecker, Owner
Portalis Wines & J. Strecker Selections

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July 2014: CALIFORNIA CAB
Ever since the Paris Wine Tasting of 1976, California winemakers have been establishing themselves as world-class producers of Cabernet Sauvignon. This notoriety comes at a price, with high-end CA Cab regularly costing $40-$70 a bottle and often more than $100. There’s a lot of schlock at the affordable end, but there is some good work being done as well. Both of these wines fit our criteria of having enjoyable dark fruit flavors with good acidity and balance. Enjoy:

Stephen Vincent 2012 Cabernet Sauvignon
Reg $13.99 | Mixed Case $11.19
This winery uses fruit from CA’s Central Coast, a region with lots of sun, a good cooling breeze and a long growing season. They use French & American oak, shooting for a complex, well-balanced wine for the price. Nice flavors of blackberry & cassis with soft tannins. Enjoy with a steak off the grill. Drink now.

Grayson Cellars 2012 Cabernet Sauvignon
Reg $12.99 | Mixed Case $10.39
This winery is still family owned which is very unusual for a CA Cab at this price point. Enjoy notes of blackberry, raspberries & a little black pepper on the nose, with a full, round mouthfeel and toasty notes on the finish. Would taste great with steak or burgers. Drink now.

If you receive your shipment via UPS, you should have received it by Friday.  If you pick your club up at Portalis, it is ready for you to swing by.

Cheers!
Jens

Jens Strecker, Owner
Portalis Wines & J. Strecker Selections

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June 2014: TORRE GAJO (ITALY)
There’s not much to know about Torre Gajo. The Giovanett family (owners of the Castelfeder winery in Alto Adige in northern Italy) sources these wines from co-ops around Italy and then uses this label to sell them primarily to their German market. The label is simple, the bottle is larger (1 liter as opposed to 750ml), and the price is excellent for the quality of wine you get. We first imported the Montepuliciano d’Abruzzo last fall, and it did well. This spring Jens went to Europe in search of a well-priced white that tasted great to sell to restaurants in the Seattle market. He added the Pinot Grigio and it has flown! Inexpensive whites are harder to find than reds, and this one is simply delicious for the price!

Torre Gajo 2012 Pinot Grigio delle Venezie
Reg $14.99 | INSIDER $13.99 | Mixed Case $11.19
In pumping Ines Giovanett for more info on these wines, I found out that her family produces the Pinot Grigio for the Torre Gajo label. This is HUGE! If you have ever tasted their Castelfeder Pinot Grigio, it’s a wonderful, high quality Pinot Grigio that costs more than twice as much as this wine…so enjoy their second label! This white has an intensely fresh & fruity flavor. It’s an easy-to-like, well-balanced, not-to-decadent summer sipper.  Also great with food: white meat, fish, seafood, and hors d’oeuvres! Drink now.

Torre Gajo 2012 Montepulciano d’Abruzzo
Reg $14.99 | INSIDER $13.99 | Mixed Case $11.19
Situated between Rome and the Adriatic Sea, the region of Abruzzo is famous for this crowd-pleasing wine. Produced by a local cooperative in the region and made from 100% Montepulciano, this red is full of rich berries & herbaceous tannins. Remarkably smooth, it will make your ordinary appetizer sing. Pair with cheeses, salumi or pasta/rice dishes with a red sauce. Drink now.

If you receive your shipment via UPS, you should have received it by Friday.  If you pick your club up at Portalis, it is ready for you to swing by.

Cheers!
Jens

Jens Strecker, Owner
Portalis Wines & J. Strecker Selections

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May 2014: BODEGAS MASET (SPAIN)
Bodegas Maset is located in Catalonia, which is the north-easternmost region of Spain (on the border to France) and is home to the city of Barcelona, the region’s capital. I had the pleasure of living in this great city for a year in the mid-80’s. I worked as a sailmaker (my trade learned in Germany) while I waited for a spot to study medicine to become available. This year is a fond memory for me. The food and wines of the region are outstanding, and the time I spent there remains dear to me almost 30 years later.

Bodegas Maset is a direct import of J. Strecker Selections. It’s quite a large company, but it is still a family business, and I think they do a great job of producing well-made wines & cava, true to the historic nature of wines from this area, at (importantly) good prices!

Maset del Lleó (vineyards pictured above) has been producing high quality wines for over two centuries (since 1777) and is now in its eighth generation of winemakers! It is situated in the heart of Alt Penedés. The D.O. Penedès lies between the cities of Barcelona and Tarragona, in an area approximately 80km wide, bordered in the north by the Montserrat Mountains and in the south by the Sitges and Tarragona coast. The composition of the land is varied, ranging from clay-limestone areas to the sandy soil found at different depths where the vines put down their roots. The climate is mild in the winter and hot in the summer, without being extreme. The influence of the sea and the sun provides our land with a warm, gentle climate.

Enjoy these 2 reds! I think they are excellent examples of table wines from this part of Spain:

Bodegas Maset Viña Martina Tinto Tempranillo
Reg $12.99 | INSIDER $11.99 | Mixed Case $10.39
Though this region is most famous for Cava (sparkling wine) there are many great reds produced as well. This special blend of Cariñena and Tempranillo is meant to be drunk young with traditional Mediterranean food. Hints of fresh cherries with a smooth round finish, it’s killer with cured meats, cheeses and spicy seafood dishes. It’s a great summer red. Drink now.

Maset del Lleó 2011 Seleccion Tinto Tempranillo
Reg $12.99 | INSIDER $11.99 | Mixed Case $10.39
This 100% Tempranillo is an elegant red wine with soft tannins and notes of blackberry and licorice! Outstanding with cured meats (ham), roasted vegetables or tomato based sauces. Drink now.

If you receive your shipment via UPS, you should have received it by Friday.  If you pick your club up at Portalis, it is ready for you to swing by.

Cheers!
Jens

Jens Strecker, Owner
Portalis Wines & J. Strecker Selections

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April 2014: BORDEAUX

The region of Bordeaux covers a vast area of land in southwestern France, producing almost 700 million bottles of wine every year. Bordeaux has a maritime climate and is sheltered by pine forests on both the south and the west. The summers tend to be warm and the winters are relatively mild.The wines that are produced in Bordeaux (both red and white) are almost always blends of two or more varieties of grapes.
Bordeaux is known for producing some of the world’s finest wines, but you can get excellent value wines from the region as well. We are including a red & a white in this month’s shipment. Both are delicious table wines from their respective areas. See details below and enjoy!

La Fleur Chazal 2010 Bordeaux Rouge
Reg $15.99 | INSIDER $14.99 | Mixed Case $12.79
For three generations the Cardarelli Family (whose ancestors emigrated to Bordeaux from Southern Italy) has produced quality wines in the Bordeaux region. Located near Pomerol, the vineyards for this wine lie on a 400 ft high plateau which provides for full sun exposure. The high plains terroir is the principal reason for the richness and finesse of this wine. A blend of 90% Merlot & 10% Cab, it has a nose of ripe red fruits (raspberry, cherry) and well-rounded tannins on the finish. Delicious with roasted meats or even burgers. Drink now.

Château Martinot 2011 Entre-Deux-Mers
Reg $15.99 | INSIDER $14.99 | Mixed Case $12.79
The appellation of “Entre-Deux-Mers” means between two seas. It’s the largest region within Bordeaux and is known for its excellent Sauvignon Blanc/Sémillon blends. This wine is an 80/20 blend with notes of citrus & green apples lending to its bright refreshing quality. Well-structured & delicate, clean & crisp. It’s a refreshing warm weather wine! A littler rounder than 100% Sauvignon Blanc, this wine would be delicious with salads, fish dishes, roasted chicken & more. Drink now.

If you receive your shipment via UPS, you should have received it by Friday.  If you pick your club up at Portalis, it is ready for you to swing by.

Cheers!
Jens

Jens Strecker, Owner
Portalis Wines & J. Strecker Selections

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March 2014: SOUTHERN ITALY & PALAZZO MALGARA
Southern Italy generally comprises everything south of Naples: Campania, Basilicata, Calabria, Puglia & Sicily. All of these regions produce wines, but in Seattle you most often see wines from Puglia & Sicily. Palazzo Malgara is a direct import of J. Strecker Selections & the details of the winery remain somewhat ambiguous even to us. What we can squeeze our of our supplier is that they are the second label of the biggest co-op in Southern Italy started in 1990 by two renowned (yet unnamed) Italian winemakers who wanted to focus on producing beautiful, southern Italian wines using native grape varietals. Their goal was to create highly regarded wines that reflected the characteristics of the area. Thanks to modern technology, they have been able to continue producing wines and now have gained a global following for their products. Both wines in this shipment are from Sicily; one is the better-known Nero d’Avola grape & the other is the little-known (yet absolutely delicious) Nerello Mascalese. Enjoy!

Note: pictured above is Sicily’s Selinunte archaeological site. Enjoy more photos from a walking tour of Sicily> in our current wine travel blog post.

Palazzo Malgara 2010 Nero d’Avola
Reg $14.99 | INSIDER $13.99 | Mixed Case $11.19
Nero d’Avola (also called ‘Calabrese’) is a native grape varietal that produces very deep, darkly-colored red wines with depth, sweet tannins & juiciness along with plum & pepper notes. This wine spent 6 months in oak barrels. It’s ruby red in color with a wonderful bouquet of blackberry, blueberry & cassis. It’s a full-bodied & harmonious wine that is well-balanced and has a long, round finish. Pairing? A pepperoni mushroom pizza with black olives & red onions! Drink now.

Palazzo Malgara 2011 Nerello Mascalese
Reg $15.99 | INSIDER $13.99 | Mixed Case $11.19
An indigenous grape to Sicily, Nerello Mascalese is grown on the slopes of the Mount Etna (an active volcano) which is located in the northeastern part of the island.  Extremely aromatic, this unique red has moderate acidity & low tannins with wild strawberry & raspberry notes. We recommend that you enjoy this wine with some aged cheeses. Stewed or roasted red meat would also be delicious. Drink now.

If you receive your shipment via UPS, you should have it by Friday.  If you pick your club up at Portalis, it is ready for pickup.

Cheers!
Jens

Jens Strecker, Owner
Portalis Wines & J. Strecker Selections

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February 2014: VALLE DE LA PUERTA
Your February Portalis Explores! Wine Club features two delicious Malbec from the lesser-known province of La Rioja in Argentina. At Portalis we are big fans of Argentine wines simply for their exceptional quality & value. We discovered La Puerta wines a few years back and loved them so much we added them to our J. Strecker Selections portfolio. We hope you enjoy these gems as much as we do! A little on the area & the winery:

La Rioja is located in western part of Argentina. The region’s name may confuse some since there is a famous Rioja wine region in Spain. The connection is not by accident. In 1591 a Spanish explorer founded and named the Argentine area of La Rioja in honor of his homeland. “La Rioja” is known for the red grape Malbec, although there are other varietals such as Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Syrah, Torrontes and Chardonnay planted. The region has an arid climate, with long hot days and cool nights, perfect conditions for ripening grapes. The La Rioja valley is framed by the Andes Mountains, offering a stunning backdrop with its desert-like topography. (La Puerta vineyards pictured above with mountains in back.)

About Malbec: Argentina’s flagship grape Malbec was originally from France but acreage was declining in the mid-19th century due to disease. Michel Pouget, a French agricultural engineer, introduced the grape to Argentina in 1868. Malbec is a thin-skinned grape susceptible to mold and mildew, so it needs a lot of heat and sunshine, something Argentina has plenty of, and it has flourished.

The winery of Valle de La Puerta is located in the Famatina Valley (750 miles northwest of Buenos Aires) and is situated between the Famatina and Velasco Mountain ranges which are a part of the Andes. The vineyards of La Puerta were established in 1994 ~ 150 hectares (370 acres) of vineyards with the average elevation being 3,250ft above sea level. Their new facility was built in 2002 becoming one of the most modern and technologically advanced wineries in Argentina. The area only gets between 4-8 inches of rain annually so the winery has to source its water for irrigation from 650ft wells. In 2005 the winery increased their olive crop and built a special facility for the production of premium olive oil.

La Puerta 2013 Malbec
Reg $14.99 | INSIDER $12.99 | Mixed Case $10.39
This hand-harvested 100% Malbec is barrel aged with 50% in new American and French oak. It’s a bold red full of ripe fruit flavors of plum and blackberry with hints of mint, pepper & chocolate. The finish offers smooth and sweet tannins making it perfect for any food occasion whether your cooking up grilled burgers, roasting meat or just serving casual appetizers. Drink now.

La Puerta 2012 Alta Malbec
Reg $16.99 | INSIDER $15.99 | Mixed Case $12.79
La Puerta’s “Alta” definitely takes it up a notch with this seductive combination of rich fruit & velvety tannins. The grapes are hand-harvested, and the wine is aged both in American and French oak for a minimum of 6 months. This wine is nothing short of spectacular when compared to other Malbec in this price range. Layers of ripe black cherries with hints of spice and herbs; it’s balanced from start to finish. Bold and delightful, we recommend you pair it with flank steak, lamb chops or grilled sausages. Drink now to 2 years.

If you receive your shipment via UPS, you should have it by Friday.  If you pick your club up at Portalis, it is ready for pickup.

Hope you enjoy these wines! I’m a big Malbec fan, and I think they are excellent for the money. If you need a higher-end gift wine or a special wine to celebrate, La Puerta makes an outstanding Grand Reserva which we also have in stock.

Cheers!
Jens

Jens Strecker, Owner
Portalis Wines & J. Strecker Selections

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January 2014: LOIRE VALLEY REDS
This wine club qualifies as some solid wine exploration as most Americans have never tried a red wine from France’s Loire Valley (an area well-known for its whites), and these wines run against the American grain of “bigger is better”. They are medium-bodied & made for food. So break out that mushroom pizza, pop open one of these bottles …and enjoy!  They are wine lovers wines through and through, and they are delicious examples of wines from this part of the world.

Both bottles comes from the same producer, Alpha Loire, a 3 person team (pictured above) of Philippe & Fabienne Angier and their friend Alain Guichet who founded Alpha Loire (parent company of Roche de Feu & Domaine de la Croix Bouquie) in 2009. Their philosophy is to respect the land, producing several lines of biodynamic & certified organic wines from the Loire Valley.

CHINON AOC
Roche de Feu 2010 Chinon
Reg $17.99 | INSIDER $16.99 | Mixed Case $13.59
Cabernet Franc is the source of the most highly regarded Loire Valley red wines (Chinon, Bourgueil, and St. Nicholas-de-Bourgueil). This rouge is 100% Cabernet Franc, aged on the lees then in stainless steel.  Aromas of fresh crushed red fruit, spices & floral notes. This wine gives you a mouthful of mushroomy forest floor, followed by a nice tannic finish that lingers. Perfect match would be any dish with mushrooms. Grilled lamb would also be wonderful as would dishes with goat cheese. Drink now to 3 years.

TOURAINE AOC
Domaine de la Croix Bouquie 2011 Rouge
Reg $14.99 | INSIDER $13.99 | Mixed Case $11.19
This rouge is a blend of 80% Gamay & 20% Cab Franc. It is cherry red in color with lovely red fruit aromas. On the palate it is light with nice raspberry flavors. It’s a structured wine, straightforward yet with some complexity. It has velvety tannins with a fresh, balanced finish. Perfect paired with roasted chicken, bacon, game birds, parmesan cheese. Drink now.

If you receive your shipment via UPS, you should have it by Friday.  If you pick your club up at Portalis, it is ready for pickup.

Hope you enjoy these wines!
Jens

Jens Strecker, Owner
Portalis Wines & J. Strecker Selections

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December 2013:  CELEBRATORY WINES FROM SPAIN

Celebrate the holiday with some fantastic wines from Spain! This amazing wine country has countless hidden gems that are both high in quality yet easy on the pocket. We’ve selected a couple of our favorites for you to enjoy this month. Your Portalis Explores! wine club includes a delicious, dry sparkling from the Penedès and a big, bold red from the Toro region. Both are from wineries with a long history of winemaking and are known for wines of great character. This duo is sure to please at any festive occasion. Cheers & have wonderful holiday season!

Penedès, Spain
Bodegas Maset Reserva Cava Brut (NU)
Reg $14.99 | INSIDER $13.99 | Mixed Case $11.19
Penedès is located in the Catalonia region of northeastern Spain with Barcelona as its capital. This region is best known for its sparkling wine called “Cava” which was invented in the 1870’s using the Champagne Method. They can range from off-dry (sweeter) to bone-dry (toasty) and typically use indigenous varietals such as xarel-lo, macabeo and parellada.

The Bodegas Maset family (vineyards pictured above) has been producing wines in the region for over 200 hundred years. They make wines in the traditional way, with great care, following rigorous quality assurance process and leaving each wine to mature in the tranquility of the cellar.

This blend of traditional varietals is aged for 30 months in oak casks to reach its Reserva status. Delicate with subtle nutty flavors and light citrus before it finishes dry. Persistent bubbles with flecks of yellow straw, makes this a wonderful festive bubbly! Pair with smoked salmon, cheeses and olives. Drink now.

Toro, Spain
Bodegas Casto Pequeño 2011 Gravedad
Reg $17.99 | INSIDER $16.99 | Mixed Case $13.59
The region of Toro is located in the larger province of Castilla y Léon. Wine from Toro dates back to the 1st century when the ancient Greeks taught to the Celtic tribes. Toro received its DO status in 1987 with Tinta de Toro (the local clone of Tempranillo) being its flagship grape.

Bodegas Casto Pequeño began in 1977 and is located in the town of Valderas. The winery combines the latest technologies in the eonological field as well as modern machinery which results in quality-terroir driven wines.

This 100% Tinta de Toro is manually harvested (selected clusters), fermented in stainless steel tanks then aged 3 months in both French and American oak. With aromas of ripe raspberries and spice, this full-bodied mouth permeating red, has balanced acidity with velvety finish. Enjoy with grilled meats, cured ham and roasted vegetables. Drink now to 2 years.

Please note on the Gravedad that the INSIDER price is $16.99, but we charged you $15.99 for this wine club to keep you in budget.

If you receive your shipment via UPS, you should have it by Friday.  If you pick your club up at Portalis, it is ready for pickup. I like both of these wines a lot! I hope you do, too!

Cheers,
Jens

Jens Strecker
Owner Portalis Wines & J. Strecker Selections

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November 2013: TENUTA MONTECCHIESI (Tuscany)

The Dal Cero family has sister estates in Veneto (Corte Giacobbe, which has won honors for its Soave) and in Tuscany (Tenuta Montecchiesi). The family has been producing wine for over three generations, with brothers Giuseppe (in Tuscany) and Dario (in Veneto) managing the two estates with the help of their grown children. With Thanksgiving in mind, the two featured wines (an IGT Sangiovese & a Sangiovese Rosé) give you a wonderful set of well-priced options for your turkey dinner. The Sangiovese is a red that will pair well with turkey, and the rosé is a very flexible food wine that can single-handedly pull together & enhance all of the salty sweet flavors of the day. Enjoy!

Tenuta Montecchiesi 2011 Selverello Sangiovese Rosé
Reg $15.99 | INSIDER $13.99 | Mixed Case $11.19
A dry yet fruity rosé, this is a perfect Thanksgiving wine! It’s 100% Sangiovese, with 24-36 hours maceration with the skins, and 3 months in stainless steel vats on lees, then 45 days minimum in the bottle. It’s a bright, vivid pink, with sweet intense strawberry & raspberry on the nose. Fruity and rich with notes of ripe mixed berries. Refreshing finish of gooseberry & red currant. Pair with lighter meats (such as roasted turkey!) and grilled fish. Drink now.

Tenuta Montecchiesi 2010 Selverello
Reg $15.99 | INSIDER $14.99 | Mixed Case $11.99
For those of you who know this wine, the 2010 vintage is new. It’s 100% Sangiovese, and it’s leaner, less fruity than before. It has aromas of dark berry fruits, cherries & blueberries. Smooth with dark fruit flavors, slightly tannic, more complex. I am very pleased with this wine.  Enjoy with dark meats — wild boar would be the Italian pairing, but turkey thigh would be delicious! Drink now.

Remember: 20% Case & 10% Half Case Discount …includes mixed!
If you get your wine shipment via UPS, you should have it by the end of the week.  If you requested an in-store pick up, your wine club is ready. Please note: The wine shop has new hours on Tuesdays, Wednesdays & Thursdays, opening at 3pm.

Enjoy & cheers!
Jens

Jens Strecker
Owner & Wine Manager
Portalis Wine Shop + Wine Bar

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October 2013: PELASSA (Piedmont, Italy)

The Pelassa family’s wines (including their Barbera d’Alba, Barolo & more) were some of the first wines that we imported with J. Strecker. The Pelassa’s are wonderful people, and we have had much success in the Seattle marketplace with their wines. Until now, though, we couldn’t have included Pelassa wines in the Portalis Explores! Wine Club as the price point was too high. This year, however, they started producing two entry level table wines: Mario’s Bianco & Mario’s Rosso, named after father Mario (pictured right). These two wines just arrived in Seattle on our most recent shipment. Enjoy!

A little about this lovely family:
Located in Montà d’ Alba, in the Roero area of Piemonte, the Pelassa family owns 12 hectares of land used for vine cultivation and wine production, and they craft quality wines that reflect the terroir of the land focusing on the grapes best suited for the land: Arneis, Nebbiolo & Barbera.  Mario Pelassa first came into the wine industry in his youth, travelling around on his bicycle selling various wines to the locals. He shortly upgraded to a motorcycle.  At 18, he entered the army where he continued selling wine to his comrades.  After the army, Mario bought his first 5 acres of vineyards & the rest is history.  His two sons, Davide & Daniele, now head up the family winery bringing with them an air of modernization to their family tradition.

Pelassa 2012 Mario’s Vino Bianco

Reg $14.99 | INSIDER $13.99 | Mixed Case $11.19
The Bianco is a blend of Arneis, Favorita & Chardonnay. It’s straw yellow in color, with a nice aromatic bouquet including a hint of citrus and exotic fruit. On the palate it’s a fresh and graceful wine, showing off what a lovely table wine from this part of Northern Italy should be. Excellent with fish and crustaceans. Drink now.

Pelassa 2012 Mario’s Vino Rosso

Reg $14.99 | INSIDER $13.99 | Mixed Case $11.19
The Rosso is a blend of Barbera, Merlot & Cabernet Sauvignon. It’s ruby red with violet shades. It’s got a fruity nose with notes of cherry, red currant and apricot. On the palate it has a soft, lingering taste. It’s full-bodied, well-balanced & round. It’s a classy little wine! Pairings: Excellent with pizza & grilled meats. Drink now.

Remember: 20% Case & 10% Half Case Discount …includes mixed!
If you get your wine shipment via UPS, you should have it by the end of the week.  If you requested an in-store pick up, your wine club is ready. Please note: The wine shop has new hours on Tuesdays, Wednesdays & Thursdays, opening at 3pm.

Enjoy & cheers!
Jens

Jens Strecker
Owner & Wine Manager
Portalis Wine Shop + Wine Bar

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September 2013: TORMENTOSO (South Africa)

We are delighted to feature a South African winery in this month’s wine club. Ken O’Hara (with A&B Imports) brought these wines to our 10-Year Anniversary Tasting, and I (as well as our guests) thought they were excellent. The winery tells their story best:

Cabo Tormentoso (translated as “Stormy Cape” or “Cape of Storms”) is the original name for the Cape of Good Hope given to it by the Portuguese explorer Bartholomieu Dias who first rounded the Cape in 1488. The story goes that upon his return home, the Queen of Portugal took an immediate dislike to the name and changed it to “Cabo da Boa Esperança” – the “Cape of Good Hope” as we know it today.

There are multiple readings of the word Tormentoso: drama, torment, struggle. All of these seem apt when you consider where our grapes are grown. The vines grow in a dry area with little or no irrigation, but the rocky shale soils of the Agter-Paarl region allow the roots to penetrate deeply, to get to the moisture reserves. The vines have to endure a certain amount of struggle to ripen their grapes, and it’s this torment that produces our distinctive wines with concentrated flavours and aromas.

Tormentoso 2010 Old Vine Chenin Blanc

Reg $15.99 | INSIDER $14.99 | Mixed Case $11.99
100% Chenin Blanc, the grapes come from a dry-farmed, un-trellised bush vine vineyard which was planted in 1977 in Agter-Paarl. 40% of the wine was aged in oak, enhancing the aromas of apricots & canned white peaches and a “touch of coconut cream”. On the palate, tropical flavors abound with good acidity & a nice minerally finish. Great warm weather sipper, or enjoy with salads, seafood and even richer creamy pasta dishes. Drink now.

Tormentoso 2012 Mourvèdr

Reg $14.99 | Mixed Case $11.99
This wine is technically a blend of Mourvèdre (85%) & Syrah (15%) with both grapes coming from dry-farmed vineyards in the Agter-Paarl region. The nose is full of berry fruit & heathery spice with flavors of layered leather, spice & red fruit. The nice dry finish makes this a great wine to enjoy with meats off the grill. Drink now.

Remember: 20% Case & 10% Half Case Discount …includes mixed!
If you get your wine shipment via UPS, you should have it by the end of the week.  If you requested an in-store pick up, your wine club is ready. Please note: The wine shop has new hours on Tuesdays, Wednesdays & Thursdays, opening at 3pm.

Enjoy & cheers!
Jens

Jens Strecker
Owner & Wine Manager
Portalis Wine Shop + Wine Bar

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AUGUST 2013: RIOJA (SPAIN)

Rioja The La Rioja (Rioja) wine region is located in north-central Spain and produces the country’s most famous wine. This region has an ancient history with viticulture dating as far back as 873 documented by the San Andrés de Trepeana Monastery. The mild Mediterranean climate is ideal for balanced and complex wines. Rioja is mostly known for its elegant reds which are primarily made from Tempranillo.  However, additional grapes such as Garnacha, Graciano and Mazuelo are allowed. The prestige of these wines comes from their strict aging laws: to be classified “Crianza” it must be aged two years (one year in oak), for “Reserva” it must be aged three years (one year in oak), and for “Gran Reserva” it must be aged at least five years (two in oak, and three in bottles).

This month’s wine club includes two Rioja Joven-style reds produced by the Bodegas Isadora Milagro family winery. This award-winning winery began in 2001 with the mission to produce high quality wines that best express the wine tradition of their region. Joven wines (meaning “young”) are more fruit forward and best enjoyed in their youth. Both of these wines are remarkable for the money and terrific warm weather reds!

Señorio del Fenojal 2011 Rioja Vendimia Seleccionada

Reg $12.99 | INSIDER $11.99 | Mixed Case $5.59
An amazing value from the Milagro family winery. Made from 100% Tempranillo this classic Rioja is sure to please with its notes of juicy currants, red raspberries and pepper. It has a smooth, soft finish and would pair well with aged goat cheese, spicy pork dishes and cured meats. Drink now.

5 Oros 2011 Vendimia Seleccionada

Reg $14.99 | INSIDER $13.99 | Mixed Case $11.19
Located in the southeast part of Rioja, the vines from this 75 hectare estate average 20-50 years old. This is a unique Rioja made from 100% Garnacha grapes and was a 2012 medal winner in Madrid. Bold, with flavors of dark cherry, spicy tannins and hints of chocolate. Try with robust dishes such as BBQ ribs, grilled steak or valdeon blue cheese. Drink now.

Remember: 20% Case & 10% Half Case Discount …includes mixed!
If you get your wine shipment via UPS, you should have it by the end of the week.  If you requested an in-store pick up, your wine club is ready. Please note: The wine shop has new hours on Tuesdays, Wednesdays & Thursdays, opening at 3pm.

Enjoy & cheers!
Jens

Jens Strecker
Owner & Wine Manager
Portalis Wine Shop + Wine Bar

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JULY 2013: WEINGUT PRECHTL (AUSTRIA)

Weingut Prechtl was established in Zellendorf in 1839 and five generations later, it is currently owned and run by Franz & Petra Prechtl (pictured in their Weingarten above). Franz, who is also the winemaker, puts great emphasis on sustainable farming techniques, allowing the grapes to grow as naturally as possible. The 15 hectare estate produces top quality wines based on their knowledge of the soils, conditions and the age of the vines. The vines in their prime vineyards are at least 25 years old, with these deep-rooted vines giving their wines their special, complex style.
The Precht’s were recently honored when their single-vineyard Längen vom Löss Grüner Veltliner was named Austria’s Grand Champion Grüner Veltliner for the 2012 vintage. We currently have the 2011 vintage with the 2012 award winner arriving in September. In this shipment, you will receive the “Classic” Grüner Veltliner ” (their entry level Grüner Veltliner) as well as a Welschriesling. Both are great summer wines!  Also, Julie and the girls and I are going to visit the Prechtl’s in August when we go visit my family in Germany, so stay tuned for a more in-depth report from Austria’s wine country.

Weingut Prechtl 2011 Grüner Veltliner Classic

Reg $15.99 | INSIDER $14.99 | Mixed Case $11.99
This wine is 100% Grüner Veltliner, an exciting Austrian white grape varietal with a reputation for being extremely food-friendly. Tasting Notes: This Grüner has classic notes of peppery Veltliner, an inviting bouquet of apple & pear on the palate, elegant, animated, and juicy. Refreshing as a sipper and great paired with a variety of foods: appetizers, fish, Asian cuisine, and more. Drink now.

Weingut Prechtl 2011 Kirchfeld vom Löss Welschrielsing

Reg $15.99 | INSIDER $14.99 | Mixed Case $11.99
This wine is 100% Welschriesling, an ancient white grape that has been grown throughout central Europe for centuries. Its name translates to ‘romantic Riesling’ in German but the grape’s origin is disputed. Despite the name, this grape is not considered to be a Riesling itself. Tasting notes: Animated fruit, roasted apple, round, juicy, easy to drink wine, slightly salty, with nice ripe acidity, and harmonious finish. I’m German, so I’d have this wine paired with a Weißwurst if at all possible! Drink now.

Remember: 20% Case & 10% Half Case Discount …includes mixed!
If you get your wine shipment via UPS, you should have it by the end of the week.  If you requested an in-store pick up, your wine club is ready. Please note: The wine shop has new hours on Tuesdays, Wednesdays & Thursdays, opening at 3pm.

Enjoy & cheers!
Jens

Jens Strecker
Owner & Wine Manager
Portalis Wine Shop + Wine Bar

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June 2013: Sicily (Italy)

My in-laws recently returned from a walking tour of Sicily. They reported that it was simple, rustic and beautiful. It was at about this same time that we got in two J. Strecker direct imports from Sicily, an extension of the Malgara line, so it seemed the stars had aligned for a little feature. Sicily has a typical Mediterranean climate — mild with wet winters & hot, dry summers. It is also home to hilly terrain, poor, soil, and a lot of sun, all excellent climactic qualities for grape growing. Sicily is the largest island in the Mediterranean and the largest region in Italy (about 10,000 square miles). Winemaking was established there by the ancient Greeks and is deeply connected to the culture of Sicilians. Enjoy these two wines Sicily (Italy)which give a flavor of the land they come from.

Palazzo Malgara 2011 Inzolia

Reg $15.99 | INSIDER $14.99 | Mixed Case $11.99
This wine, produced by 2 renowned local winemakers, is from the Inzolia grape which is planted primarily in the western part of Sicily and is also used to make Marsala.  This is a well-structured white with traces of lemon peel and almonds. A rich mouth-feel with subtle herbs, it’s a great match for grilled fish, prawns or vegetable crudité. Drink now.

Palazzo Malgara 2010 Shiraz

Reg $15.99 | INSIDER $14.99 | Mixed Case $11.99
Bright ruby red with purple hues, this wine has flavors of blackberry, blueberry, cocoa and vanilla. It’s full-bodied with notes of wild berries and spice. Brilliantly pairs with stewed meats, pork or lamb dishes. Drink now.

Remember: 20% Case & 10% Half Case Discount …includes mixed!
If you get your wine shipment via UPS, you should have it by the end of the week.  If you requested an in-store pick up, your wine club is ready. Please note: The wine shop has new hours on Tuesdays, Wednesdays & Thursdays, opening at 3pm.

Enjoy & cheers!
Jens

Jens Strecker
Owner & Wine Manager
Portalis Wine Shop + Wine Bar

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May 2013: WA State’s Kyle Johnson

If you don’t know winemaker Kyle Johnson yet by name, you will. He was the winemaker at Olsen Estates & enologist at Chateau Ste Michelle. Currently he is the WA winemaker at For A Song, the winemaker at Native Sun, and he and his wife Amy founded Purple Star in 2008. What’s special about his wines? He’s doing great work at a fabulous price point! As many of you know, our local wines are often delicious but equally as often they can cost a pretty penny. These two wines are delicious and affordable! If you know anyone who’s getting married this summer and wants to show off local wines but not break the bank, these would be excellent choices. Enjoy!

Purple Star 2011 Sauvignon Blanc

Reg $10.99 | Mixed Case $8.79
Purple Star began in 2008 with the vision to embody the soul of wine from vineyard to bottle to table, making wine accessible, approachable, and affordable. Their lovely twist is that they have chosen to donate 15% of Purple Star Wines’ proceeds to Seattle Children’s Hospital to benefit uncompensated care. The grapes for this wine were sourced in the Columbia Valley. The wine has bright citrus fruit flavors leading to flavors of lemon custard and wet stone with a hint of stone fruits. Try this paired with roasted lemon chicken or as a refreshing sipper on a warm spring day. Drink now.

For A Song 2010 Cabernet Sauvignon

Reg $13.99 | Mixed Case $11.19
For a Song is a Pacific Northwest Winemaker Project showcasing fruit from Washington’s best AVA’s and Kyle Johnson is their WA winemaker. This 100% Cabernet Sauvignon is a selection of grapes from four leading AVA’s: Wahluke Slope, Horse Heaven Hills, Columbia Valley and Red Mountain. It is bursting with ripe cherries, black currants and dark chocolate with fine tannins on the finish. Plump & velvety in your mouth. This Cab would be great with any meat off the grill  Drink now.

Remember: 20% Case & 10% Half Case Discount …includes mixed!
If you get your wine shipment via UPS, you should have it by the end of the week.  If you requested an in-store pick up, your wine club is ready.

Enjoy & cheers!
Jens

Jens Strecker
Owner & Wine Manager
Portalis Wine Shop + Wine Bar

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April 2013: Côtes du Rhône Villages (France)

The Rhône Valley is one of the oldest wine regions in France. It is located in between Provence (to the south) and Burgundy (to the north) just west of the Alps. Wines classified as Côtes-du-Rhône wines are the most basic wines of the Southern Rhône region. So, what technically is a Côtes-du-Rhône Villages?  Côtes-du-Rhône-Villages is an additional AOC region INSIDE of the Côtes-du-Rhône region which designates the vineyards within this area has having a higher rank than a simple Côtes-du-Rhône (which in and of itself is a beautiful thing!). Côtes-du-Rhônes Villages wines usually carry a higher price tag, but the two wines in this month’s club are both on sale, making them special treats for our budget wine club!

Domaine Clavel 2007 “Syrius” St. Gervais

Reg $19.99 | INSIDER $12.99 | Mixed Case $10.39
St. Gervais is a prestigious wine region inside of the Côtes-du-Rhône-Villages AOC. It is located on the western bank of the Rhône River, and the climate is slightly cooler than other regions in Southern Rhône. Domaine Clavel has 80 hectares of south facing hillside planted with vines over 40 years old (pictured above during their harvest). The winery is run by couple Denis & Francoise Clavel along with their daughter, Claire. The “Syrius” is a blend of 50% Grenache & 50% Syrah. Deep ruby red with purple glints, it has wonderful aromas of stewed red fruits with hints of cocoa, caramel & spice. Its body is full with a long finish & firm tannins. Flavors of licorice & spice prevail. Drink now. Would be delicious with duck or lamb dishes.

Le Gravillas 2009 Sablet

Reg $18.99 | INSIDER $15.99 | Mixed Case $12.79
Le Gravillas was founded in 1935 in Sablet village. The founders christened the co-op “Le Gravillas” in honor of the sand & gravel in the soil. Today the Gravillas co-op groups 150 vintners & covers 550 hectares. The vintners of the Gravillas co-op are regularly honored in wine fairs at Orange, Mâcon, Paris & Vinalies. I think that co-ops are a fantastic way to seize value. They have access to finest grapes in the area, most co-ops have accomplished winemakers in charge, but they almost always offer their product at a very competitive price. This wine is no exception. A blend of Grenache & Syrah, it has wonderful notes of ripe black fruits on the nose. On the palate it has a full, round body, well-balanced with elegant tannins & dark fruits. Spices linger on the long finish. This wine won a Bronze medal at the Decanter 2010 World Wine Awards. Drink now.

Remember: 20% Case & 10% Half Case Discount …includes mixed!
If you get your wine shipment via UPS, you should have it by the end of the week.  If you requested an in-store pick up, your wine club is ready.

Enjoy & cheers!
Jens

Jens Strecker
Owner & Wine Manager
Portalis Wine Shop + Wine Bar

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March 2013: Castilla y Léon (Spain)

The DO Ribera del Duero was just names Wine Enthusiasts Wine Region of the Year, an honor that we thought befitting of a wine club focus! However, as wines from Ribera del Duero can be pricey, we are featuring the entire region of Castilla y Léon as this is a value tip for our Portalis Explores! Wine Club members! Castilla y Léon (marked by the green line above) is a large region in north-central Spain. The area has a high altitude and is arid, so that vines must grow deep to get their nutrients.  This stress, though, is what gives the wine its concentration. The red grape in this area is almost exclusively Tempranillo. Ribera del Duero is a DO (shaded red) within the greater area of Castilla y Léon. The fun thing about this month’s wines is that one of the wines, Manjuela Cesma, is from a co-op in Ribera del Duero, while the other is made from grapes sourced in Ribera del Duero, but the winery gives up its DO status when they truck the grapes to their winery which is located in Toro (shaded yellow). This allows them blending flexibility (though they don’t with the featured Cotoval) as well as a much more competitive price as they do not have to pay for the Ribera del Duero stamp. So, what do you think?

Bodegas Casto Pequeño 2006 Cotoval

Reg $14.99 | INSIDER $12.99 | Mixed Case $10.39
This winery was founded by two well-known Spanish winemakers: Casto Pequeño (at 93, he’s also known as the oldest winemaker in Spain and quite a character from what we hear) and Jose Alberto Gutierrez Hinojal known as “Super Mario” (who must be the funniest winemaker in Spain). These two made a business decision when they started Casto Pequeño: they had the contacts from their years in the business to source top quality grapes from Ribera del Duero, but they wanted a more competitively priced wine for export. Thus, you have the Cotoval. Designated a Vino de la Tierra Castilla y Léon, Cotoval Crianza is produced from 100% Tempranillo. It is aged 12 months in oak & has 14% alcohol. Intense cherry color with flecks of blue, it has complex & powerful aromas of strawberries and raspberries with hints of soft vanilla. On the palate, it has full, round fruit notes with warm spices in the finish. Firm but not overpowering tannins. Soft and delicate. Drink now. Good with meats off the grill.

Bodegas Rauda 2009 Majuelo Cesma Ribera del Duero Roble

Reg $13.99 | INSIDER $11.99 | Mixed Case $9.59
From the DO Ribera del Duero, this co-op for the village of Roa was established in 1956. Production combines the latest technology with traditional methods. Innovative & modern stainless steel tanks stand side by side with traditional cement deposits which continue to preserve the best qualities necessary for fermentation. The aging cellar holds over 475 French, American and central European oak barrels of various toasting levels. This wine is also 100% Tempranillo with 13.5% alcohol. Delicate aromas of dark fruit, leather, and herbs. Flavors of dark fruit with toasty notes. Drink now paired with roasted red meats, game birds, chicken & turkey.

Remember: 20% Case & 10% Half Case Discount …includes mixed!
If you get your wine shipment via UPS, you should have it by the end of the week.  If you requested an in-store pick up, your wine club is ready.

Enjoy & cheers!
Jens

Jens Strecker
Owner & Wine Manager
Portalis Wine Shop + Wine Bar

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February 2013: Valentine’s in Piedmont

What could be better than celebrating Valentine’s with two wines from Italy’s land of love: Piedmont. Both wines in this wine club are from the co-op for the villages of Vinchio & Vaglio Serra, located outside of Alba. Gina travelled to this winery last fall and sent this wonderful photo with road signs pointing you left to Vinchio and right to Vaglio Serra.  We picked these wines for this month’s club as the Nebbiolo is a wonderful food red at a great price and the Brachetto is actually a deep red bubbly, both perfect for the upcoming day of love!

Vinchio-Vaglio Serra 2010 Nivasco Brachetto

Reg $17.99 | INSIDER $14.99 | Mixed Case $11.99
Founded in 1959 by a small group of vineyard farmers in Vinchio & Vaglio Serra, communes of Asti, the co-op now has 180 members, which in total comprise in over 320 hectares of vineyard. This wine is classified Piedmont DOC Brachetto. 100% Brachetto. At 6% it’s very low in alcohol. Ruby red in color, it has a musky bouquet. On the palate, it’s a sweet, aromatic, red bubbly. Very unusual wine for Americans, but it seldom fails to find a friend. Drink now. Serve chilled.

Vinchio-Vaglio Serra 2010 Langhe Nebbiolo

Reg $19.99 | INSIDER $14.99 | Mixed Case $11.99
The Nebbiolo grape is known for its structure and tannins. It is a very site-specific and late ripening grape. It is the grape used in the famous king of wines: Barolo. Langhe is another region that produces the sensitive Nebbiolo grape. It can produce a similar wine to Barolo but because the region is not as well-known, the price is usually lower. This wine is young Nebbiolo that’s not oaked. It has a nose full of bright red berries, cherry & violets. On the palate, it’s medium-bodied with bright fruity notes and a dry finish.  Drink now. Pairs beautifully with roasted & grilled meats.

Remember: 20% Case & 10% Half Case Discount …includes mixed!
If you get your wine shipment via UPS, you should have it by the end of the week.  If you requested an in-store pick up, your wine club is ready.

Enjoy & cheers!
Jens

Jens Strecker
Owner & Wine Manager
Portalis Wine Shop + Wine Bar

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January 2013: Deals from France’s Languedoc

Arielle & Jem Happy New Year! We have some great deals from France’s Languedoc (map) region that we are passing on this month.  You already get a lot of wine for your money from this lesser known region in Southern France, but these are exceptional wines at these sale prices. Languedoc-Roussillon is a large region that runs along the Mediterranean Coast from Montpellier to the Spanish border.  The northern, inland subregion of Faugères is known for having the highest quality wines with excellent options produced in the larger subregions of Minervois & Corbières.

Domaine Les Fusionels 2008 Faugères Le Rêve

Reg $22.99 | INSIDER $15.99 | Mixed Case $12.79
This tiny winery is owned by a Franco-Australian couple, Jem & Arielle Harris (pictured). They call themselves Vignerons Artisans & their philosophy is to produce wines as organically as possible. Tasting notes: A blend of 60% Grenache & 40% Syrah. Beautiful nose of ripe blue- & blackberries upfront with some herbal & smoky components. Smooth, medium-bodied, elegant, complex, with a round, velvety texture. Lots of red & dark fruit, cherries & strawberries, coffee, cocoa, milk chocolate, violet & floral notes. Smooth, soft tannins all the way through a long, lingering finish. Drink now, up to 2 years. We suggest you air the wine for an hour before drinking. Best matched with grilled meats, steaks.

Chateau d’Hautpoul 2008 Minervois Grande Reserve

Reg $17.99 | INSIDER $13.99 | Mixed Case $12.79
This wine is produced by the Jean d’Alibert cooperative and comes from vineyards located in the Minervois highlands of Causse. It is a blend of Syrah & Grenache with 12 months in oak. It has a dark ruby hue with dry herbal notes on the nose. On the palate it has dark jammy red fruits in the full textured body. Firm tannins last through to the finish with herbal & white pepper notes. It won the Silver Medal in Macon in 2010. This wine would pair beautifully with any kind of grilled meat or meat product (like a delicious Döner Kebab if you are lucky enough to know what that is!), gamey meats & tapenades. Drink now.

Remember: 20% Case & 10% Half Case Discount …includes mixed!
If you get your wine shipment via UPS, you should have it by the end of the week.  If you requested an in-store pick up, your wine club is ready.

Enjoy & cheers!
Jens

Jens Strecker
Owner & Wine Manager
Portalis Wine Shop + Wine Bar

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December 2012: Holiday Wines from Spain

What could be better for the holidays than a bubbly & a great food red? These selections from Spain fit the bill! We wish you all the best for the end of 2012 & cheers to a great 2013! More on the wines:

Bodegas Maset NV Cave del Lleo Brut
Reg $14.99 | INSIDER $13.99 | Mixed Case $11.19
Bodegas Maset is located in the DO Penedès region situated between Barcelona & Tarragona. Maset has made its wine in the traditional way for over 2 centuries: with great care, following a rigorous quality assurance process and leaving each wine to mature in the tranquility of the cellar. The grapes in Cava are: Macabeo, Parellada, Xarello. This wine has a pale straw color with small & abundant bubbles. Light fruity aromas on the nose. In the mouth it is soft & fruity. Wonderful celebratory crowd pleaser! Pairs beautifully with any type of seafood (especially shellfish), mild cheese, and spicy dishes! Or simply use it as your New Year’s toasting bubbly!

Bodegas Rauda 2010 Ribera del Duero Tinto Joven
Reg $14.99 | INSIDER $12.99 | Mixed Case $10.39
Bodegas Rauda, established in 1956, is a co-operative located in the town of Roa, in the DO Ribera del Duero, in the greater region of Castilla y Leon in north-central Spain. Production combines the latest technology with tradition. Innovative & modern stainless steel tanks stand side by side with traditional cement deposits which continue to preserve the best qualities necessary for fermentation. The aging cellar holds over 475 French, American and central European oak barrels of various toasting levels. This wine is clean & bright cherry red in color. It has notes of ripe raspberries, red currant & blackberries. A medium-bodied red, fresh & silky on the palate, with a strong tannic backbone. Tasty & great with food, especially proteins! Suggested pairings: small game dishes, grilled meat & stews. Drink now.

Remember: 20% Case & 10% Half Case Discount …includes mixed!  If you get your wine shipment via UPS, you should have it by the end of the week.  If you requested an in-store pick up, your wine club is ready.

Enjoy & cheers!
Jens

Jens Strecker
Owner & Wine Manager
Portalis Wine Shop + Wine Bar

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November 2012: Palazzo Malgara (Southern Italy)

This month the Portalis Explores! Wine Club is bringing you wines from Southern Italy! Palazzo Malgara is one of our J. Strecker direct imports and is a wonderful example of wines from this part of Italy at an excellent price point. Palazzo Malgara was launched in the early 1990s by two renowned southern Italian winemakers. Their goal was to produce beautiful wines that utilized native regional varietals that reflected the characteristics of the area. With the help of modern technologies, Palazzo Malgara has been able to realize their goal and are now producing wines that are quickly gaining a global following.

Palazzo Malgara 2010 Sicilia Nero d’Avola
Reg $14.99 | INSIDER $13.99 | Mixed Case $11.19
From the largest Mediterranean island (Sicily), this wine is a beautiful expression of a deep, juicy, full-bodied red. Aged 6 months in oak, it is easy to see why Sicilian wines have quickly become one of the most well-known reds worldwide. Expect a nose of blueberry, cassis, and blackberry that leads into well-balanced and plummy palate. Sweetly tannic with notes of pepper, this wine is perfect to pair with grilled lamb or lighter cuts of beef. It’s also excellent with eggplant or tomato based pasta dishes. Drink now.

Palazzo Malgara 2010 Primitivo di Manduria
Reg $15.99 | INSIDER $14.99 | Mixed Case $11.99
This intensely colored red wine is an excellent expression of Pugliese wines. Inky, tannic, and robust, this wine is one of the oldest grape varietals still grown today. Expect a drier style red with flowery notes bursting with rich & robust ripe fruit flavors. This is an excellent match for heartier meat dishes, roasts, or robust cheeses. Drink now.

Remember: 20% Case & 10% Half Case Discount …includes mixed!  If you get your wine shipment via UPS, you should have it by the end of the week.  If you requested an in-store pick up, your wine club is ready.

Enjoy & cheers!
Jens
Jens Strecker
Owner & Wine Manager
Portalis Wine Shop + Wine Bar

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October 2012: Revelry Vintners (WA)

This October, Portalis Explores! brings you to the Walla Walla based winery Revelry Vintners. Revelry was created with the idea in mind that wines should not only be unpretentious, but easily accessible and crafted in a tradition of excellence. Founded by Jared Burns, Revelry sources its grapes from throughout Washington State AVA regions including Wahluke Slope, Horse Heaven Hills, and Red Mountain. My opinion?  I think these are ridiculously well-priced WA wines for the quality. Enjoy the 2 wines we are featuring this month:

Revelry 2009 Cabernet Sauvignon
Reg $12.99 | Mixed Case $10.39
Produced using 98% Cabernet Sauvignon and 2% Cabernet Franc sourced from Pepper Bridge, Seven Hills, and Doval Vineyards, this wine is bursting with deep red fruit flavors. Well-structured and balanced, this particular wine retains typical Washington State cab qualities with its strong tannic presence and graceful structure. Expect exceptional depth well through the finish. Perfect with smoked meats, grilled sausages, or barbeque. Drink this wine now!

Revelry 2009 Merlot
Reg $12.99 | Mixed Case $10.39
Aged 24 months in both American and new French oak, this very balanced wine is smooth from start to finish on the palate. Expect rich notes of cocoa and toffee, ripe blueberry notes, and a hint of acidic cherry fruit. Made using 100% Merlot grapes sourced from Doval, Sagemoor, and Sagewater Creek Vineyards, this wine is excellent paired with lamb, grilled meats.

Remember: 20% Case & 10% Half Case Discount …includes mixed!  If you get your wine shipment via UPS, you should have it by the end of the week.  If you requested an in-store pick up, your wine club will be ready by Tuesday afternoon.

Enjoy & cheers!
Jens
Jens Strecker
Owner & Wine Manager
Portalis Wine Shop + Wine Bar

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September 2012: The Dal Cero Family (Italy)

The Dal Cero family has been producing wine for over three generations, combining love of tradition with the most modern wine-making techniques needed for the production of great wines. With vineyards in the Veneto (pictured right) and Tuscany regions, the brothers Giuseppe & Dario, with the help of their sons, personally manage the company, from the cultivation of the grape vines to the vinification of the grapes up to the bottling process. The results are unique wines created using expert wine-making techniques with a sense of modernity. I met Francesca Dal Cero (very pregnant with her first baby) on my trip to Europe this last spring.  The wines she showed me were excellent for their regions and very well-priced. We are pleased to have these wines in our J. Strecker book!

Tenuta di Corte Giacobbe 2011 Soave VENETO (ITALY)
Reg $15.99 | INSIDER $14.99 | Mixed Case $11.99
Simply known by the sub-region’s name Soave, this wine is made from 100% Garganega. The nose has delicate scents of flowers & fruits; the palate has fresh & well-balanced flavors of apple & pear with almond notes on the finish. This wine was recently honored in the Decanter Magazine with 5 Stars (Outstanding), 1 of 4 wines to receive this ranking out of hundreds submitted to the panel. Great sipper or paired with fish, baked chicken, salads. Drink now.

Tenuta Montecchiesi 2010 Selverello IGT Sangiovese TUSCANY (ITALY)
Reg $15.99 | INSIDER $14.99 | Mixed Case $11.99
I was out showing this wine to restaurants in the city this last week, and two different tasters (both bought the wine) described it as having flavors of “blueberry yogurt”.  That description captures the blueberry flavors combined with a lovely creaminess not often found with wines at this price point.  It’s 100% Sangiovese, so it has nice acidity, but it’s a wonderful sipper.  Try it paired with burgers while the weather lasts! Drink now.

Remember: 20% Case & 10% Half Case Discount …includes mixed!

If you get your wine shipment via UPS, you should have received it yesterday.  If you requested an in-store pick up, your wine club is ready.

Enjoy & cheers!
Jens
Jens Strecker
Owner & Wine Manager
Portalis Wine Shop + Wine Bar

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August 2012: Argentina

This month, Portalis Explores! Will be featuring two wines from the lovely country of Argentina! Thanks to the many different European explorers, grape cuttings were first brought to this region in the early 1500s. Vineyards were able to flourish here (especially on the western side of the country) due to the Andes mountains. Not only were the slopes for the grapes to grow on ideal, but the climate was condcive for excellent growing conditions as well. Both of the wines featured this month are from the region of Mendoza, responsible for over 60% of total Argentine wine production. Enjoy!

Xumek 2008 Sol Huarpe Malbec
$19.99 | Mixed Case $15.99
Xumek or ‘sun’ in the language of the native Huarpe people, is a perfect name for  this rich, fruit-driven wine. Deep, bright ruby red in color, this wine has a phenomenal nose as well. Expect notes of vanilla, plum, leather, and red berries. Light tannins on the end palate; very well-balanced throughout.  An excellent pair for richer cuts of beef. Drink this wine now!

La Puerta 2006 Malbec Reserva
$22.99 | Mixed Case $18.39
Bright ruby-red in color, this wine was created as a celebration for the 10th year of production for La Puerta. Aromas of black pepper, blackberry, & spice on the nose with slight flowery notes. Slightly tannic with harmonious acidity; expect a creamier wine with full flavors of ripe berry. Drink this wine now! Best paired with steak!

Remember: 20% Case & 10% Half Case Discount …includes mixed!

If you get your wine shipment via UPS, you should have received it by Friday.  If you requested an in-store pick up, your wine club is ready.

Enjoy & cheers!
Jens

Jens Strecker
Owner & Wine Manager
Portalis Wine Shop + Wine Bar

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July 2012: Four Vines (California)

This July, Portalis Explores! is bringing you wines from Four Vines winery in Northern California. Founded in 1994 in Sonoma County, this winery started out producing three appellation specific, unique Zinfandel wines and one unoaked Chardonnay). Relocating once to Paso Robles before moving back to its original location, Four Vines sources the best grapes from throughout the state of California in order to create the best wines possible. The goal of the winery has been and still is to create bold, fruit-forward, food-friendly wines. I think this wine is fantastic for the money!

Four Vines 2009 Old Vine Cuvee Zinfandel
Made using a blend of multi appellation Zinfandel grapes (sourced from Mendocino, Lodi, Amador, Sonoma, and Paso Robles) this wine shows off the old vine grapes blended in as well. Good structure, concentration,  and character, this wine has layers of berry fruit & anise aromas with hints of spice on the nose. On the palate, blackberry & spiced plum fruit and a rich mouth feel are present, big and opulent feel mid-palate! Great value wine! Pair this with any type of roasted, grilled, stewed, or baked meats, eggplant, pizza, even chocolate! Drink this now!

Four Vines 2010 Petite Sirah
This wine starts with a beautiful nose filled with notes of boysenberries, blueberries, and a hint of cigar band. A lighter style wine with strong fruit presence mid-palate. Filled with smooth & velvety tannins, the grapes sourced for this wine are from the rolling hills of Paso Robles. The palate is rich, with strong elegant flavors of rich boysenberries and ripe bing cherries. Pair this wine with barbeque! Also great with grilled meats, game, and or a savory meat pie. Drink this wine now!

Enjoy & cheers!
Jens

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June 2012: French Whites

This month, Portalis Explores! brings you two wonderful whites from France. The first, Domaine de Marcé is from the Loire Valley (known for its crisp, elegant, dry white wines) within the AOC region of Touraine. The second, Chateau Martinot, is located in Entre-Deux-Mers, within the region of Bordeaux. Both whites are extraordinary examples of delicious white wines to drink alongside seafood or as refreshing sippers.

Domaine de Marcé 2010 Touraine
Reg $15.99 | INSIDER $14.99 | Mixed Case $12.79
With vineyards located around Oisly (the best within the region of Touraine) this particular wine is a beautiful example of the terroir of Touraine. Powerful and expressive, this is a well-balanced wine with clean mineral freshness paired with bright citrus notes. Made using 100% Sauvignon Blanc grapes, it is gently acidic on the palate with notes of cut grass & gooseberry on the nose. Pair this wine with bleu cheese, smoked salmon, chicken, sushi, pesto, scallops (and other shellfish). Drink this wine now!

Chateau Martinot 2009 Entre-Deux-Mers
Reg $15.99 | INSIDER $14.99 | Mixed Case $12.79
From an area that literally translates to “between-two-seas”, Entre-Deux-Mers is the largest region within the area of Bordeaux. Located on the right bank between the Dordogne & Garonne Rivers, this region is well-regarded as producing some of the best white wines within the region. Using 80% Sauvignon Blanc grapes and 20% Semillon this wine is a perfect example of a crisp, refreshing, delicate white. Well-structured and balanced, expect bright notes of citrus on the palate with tones of green apples. Pair this wine with seafood, shellfish, grilled pork, salads, and lighter pasta dishes. Drink this wine now!

Enjoy & cheers!

Jens

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May 2012: Spring Wines!

In Germany, there is no fine weather event that doesn’t begin with Sekt (the name for Germany & Austrian bubbly).  It’s festive, it’s food friendly and it’s low in alcohol.  I don’t see the tradition in the US as much, but it’s one worth fighting for! With that in mind, I’ve included a lovely, well-priced Prosecco from Veneto in northeast Italy (the tradition goes for Italy too!) as well as a juicy, easy to pair red from Languedoc in southern France.  Enjoy! They are both great spring/summer wines!

La Farra NV Prosecco Extra Dry Prosecco
$14.99 | SALE $13.99 | Mixed Case $11.19
The La Farra winery in Veneto is owned & operated by the Nardi family. In business since 1997, La Farra was able to quickly gain a national & international following for its products. La Farra is very respectful of the land, using grapes from their own vineyards, and using modern technology to create wines with elegance and quality. This wine is produced using the traditional Charmat production method (using secondary fermentation). Expect fresh citrus notes, fine & lively bubbles leading to a balanced finish. Drink this wine now! Prosecco can be paired with a variety of dishes. To name a few: gorgonzola cheese, prosciutto, fresh mozzarella, oysters, cantaloupe, hazelnuts, or any kind of citrus dessert!

Jean D’Alibert 2008 Languedoc Rouge
$13.99 | SALE $12.99 | Mixed Case 10.39
This wine comes from the Jean D’Alibert co-operative located between the ancient cities of Narbonne and Carcassonne. The vineyards are located up in the plateau highlands of the AOC region of Minervois; a region known for producing soft & juicy red wines. This is an un-oaked blend of Grenache & Syrah grapes. Expect strawberry and herbal fragrances on the nose, and a bright ruby red colored wine. This wine is silky-smooth with flavors of ripe berry fruits, a lingering finish, and notes of spice on the palate. Drink this wine now! Perfect paired with red meat or game. Also delicious with peppery sauces, mushrooms, or other earthy flavored dishes.

Enjoy & cheers!

Jens

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April 2012: Valdepeñas (Spain)

This month, Portalis Explores! wine club brings you to the region of Valdepeñas in southern Spain. The region itself is located within the larger region of Castilla La Mancha. Although it is the least populous state in Spain, it is the third largest when measured by area. This region is not only known for its harsh climate, but also as the setting of the classic Spanish novel “Don Quixote”. More than half of the grapes produced in Spain are grown here, so there are many varietals to choose from. Thanks to improved production methods, this region is gaining a name for itself among the more well-known wine producing regions of Spain. The two wines this month are both from the family owned (since 1914) winery of Bodegas Juan Ramirez. Cheers!

Bodegas J. Ramirez 2005 Tanis Reserva
$12.99 | Mixed Case $10.39
Made using 100% Tempranillo grapes and aged for 12 months in American oak, I think this wine is killer for the money. Sourced from the low yielding “Vistra Alegre” vineyards, this wine begins with a complex nose of spices, dried fruits, wood, and red fruits. A rich deep ruby color, this wine is magnificent in mouth thanks to its velvety body and long, expressive finish. Expect intense flavors of cassis, blackberries, and raspberries. Best paired with lamb, beef or other red meats. Drink now!

Bodegas J. Ramirez 2001 Alba de Los Infantes Reserva
$17.99|Mixed Case $14.39
Produced using meticulous care and attention, this wine was made using carefully selected Tempranillo grapes from 50 year old vines. Aged 15 months in new French oak, this award winning wine is complex & well-structured. The palate has notes of jammed fruits, licorice, cinnamon, coffee, and mint. Expect a rounded, broad, meaty body with a long almond finish. Drink this wine now!

Enjoy & cheers!
Jens

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March 2012: Southern Rhône

The two wines this month are beautiful wines from the Côtes du Rhône region of Southern France. What better way to beat the winter blues (let’s face it, warm weather is unfortunately a long way off) than to drink a wine that exudes the scents and smells of a sun baked lavender & olive strewn rustic countryside? Both of the wines for this month are excellent examples of the Southern Rhone terroir: slightly rustic, juicy, brightly acidic wines with notes of herbs, ripe fruits, and spice. These wines are both easy to enjoy and easy to pair with food: chicken, lamb, pork, duck, meatloaf, burgers, pizza…. The possibilities are really endless. Cheers!

Le Gravillas 2009 “Plan de Dieu”
$17.99| SALE $15.99 | Mixed Case $14.99
Founded in 1935, “Le Gravillas” winery is located in the heart of the Valcluse region in southeastern France. Nestled in the foothills of the Montmiral Mountains (once considered to be a ‘hotbed’ of French resistance during World War II), this area has a history of producing wine that dates back to the time of the Greeks. The “Plan de Dieu” villages or “God’s Plan” wine is considered to be the wineries ‘hommage’ to red wine. Made using 70% Grenache, 20% Syrah and 10% Mourvèdre, this wine has rich depth, finely structured tannins, along with notes of herbs, blackberry, and figs.  Enjoy this wine now!

Domaine de la Vieille Ferme de l’Eoune 2007 Côtes du Rhône
$14.99| SALE $13.99 | Mixed Case $11.99
Since 1951, Monsieur Durand has been producing wines that reflect the terroir and his passion for wine making. Currently in its second-generation of winemakers, La Ferme de L’Eoune has expanded from 30 hectares to 100 hectares and is overseen by M. Durand’s son, Laurent. Using modern techniques, the winery has been able to continually evolve, ensuring quality and expression in each bottle produced. The 2007 vintage of the Côtes du Rhône is a blend of 60% Grenache, 25% Syrah, 5% Carignan, and 10% Cinsault. Expect a well-balanced wine with soft tannins, permeated by notes of raspberries, cherries, and hints of spice. Drink this wine now!

Enjoy & cheers!
Jens

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February 2012: Tuscany

Both wines this month are from the wonderful region of Tuscany, Italy. Sangiovese is the grape that reins king in this part of Italy, namely because it is what creates three very important Italian wines: Chianti, Brunello, and Vino Nobile di Montepulciano. The region of Tuscany is a rolling landscape of hills, perfect for wine growing. Expect wines from this region to all pair well with the regional specialty: bistecca alla fiorentina (grilled Florentine steak).

Nottola 2010 Chianti Colli Senesi
$16.99 |Mixed Case $13.59
Nottola Estate is located in the hills above Siena, in Montepulciano. Founded in 1992, it is still family run and has been internationally recognized for many of its wines. It combines state-of-the-art technology along with the vineyards exceptional terroir to produce exquisite wines. Chianti wine is the backbone of Tuscan wine production: it is easy to drink, easy to produce, and is relatively inexpensive. This beautiful Chianti is made of primarily Sangiovese grapes (80%) with 20% of additional varietals. This wine is dry, acidic, and elegant, perfect for pairing with acid rich foods (think tomatoes) but is excellent alone as well. Drink this wine now!

Caparzo 2008 Rosso Toscana
$12.99 |Mixed Case $10.39
“Caparzo” Estate derives its name from the area of ‘Ca’ Pazzo’ which is located on some ancient maps. The vineyards of this estate have been around since the late 1960s and now cover about 125 acres of land around the town of Montalcino and 15 acres in the territory of Buonconvento. The Rosso Toscana is made up of a blend including: Sangiovese, Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, Merlot, and Colorino grapes. Best if drunk now, this wine is dry, fruity, and has medium acidity. A perfect wine to pair with pasta!

Enjoy & cheers!

Jens

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January 2012: Portuguese Reds

Portugal has been a wine growing area since the time of the Romans but a trade treaty with England in early 1700 boosted the wine growing, especially in the Douro Valley which became the world’s first appellation in 1758. Portugal has a large array of native wines which give Portuguese producers the possibility to produce a variety of interesting and different wines. In this club we introduce two reds from two different appellations:  Alentejo & Douro Valley.

Kolheita de Ideias 2006 Esboco Tinto
$13.99 | Mixed Case $11.19
Kolheita de Ideias is a high-quality, small-scale négociant operation, located in the Douro region & established in 2001 with the vision to produce great wines for a great value. The owners, Luis Soares Duarte, Francisco Ferreira & Rui Moreira (the winemaker), purchase grapes from three different Douro sub-regions to produce three different wines. The grapes from this red come from the Cima & Baixo Corgo subregions in the Douro. Tasting notes:  This red is a blend of 45% Tinta Roriz, 35% Touriga Franca & 20 % Tinta Barroca. Beautiful nose of black cherry, blackberries with some black pepper notes. Smooth, medium-bodied, dark & delicious. Elegant texture & acidity. Solid fruit with blackberries, black plums, violets & some spicy notes. Smooth, velvety tannins on the finish.  Drink now! Good sipper or well paired with all kinds of dark roasted meats.

Herdade dos Grous  2008 Vinho Tinto
$15.99 | Mixed Case $12.79
Herdade dos Grous is one of the Alentejo’s up & coming wineries.  Alentejo is a wine region in southeastern Portugal  at the Spanish border. The estate is also known for their olive groves & olive oil production. Tasting notes: This red is a blend of 35% Aragonez (Tempranillo), 30% Alicante Bouschet, 20% Touriga Nacional & 15% Syrah. Complex red-fruit aromas lead to deep & concentrated red plum, black cherries & black berry flavors.  Beautiful spice & herbal notes integrate to a smooth finish with fine tannins. Drink now, up to 2 years. Best with dark meat, grilled steaks.

Enjoy & cheers!

Jens

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December 2011: Cruz de Piedra (Argentina, Part II) 

You probably remember in August when we introduced you to some fantastic Argentine Malbecs. I couldn’t resist showing you some more Malbecs from a producer that I think is doing top notch work.

Cruz de Piedra is owned by the Alfonso family, located in Maipu, Mendoza. The trick is that they operate under four different labels. Their first vines were planted in 1973 & are used in premier blends, such as the Cruz de Piedra Red Blend which runs $45.99 and is available at the wine shop if you are interested. Cruz de Piedra is also known for their excellent, very reasonable priced Malbecs, such as the two lines included in this month’s wine club:

Tiasta 2009 Malbec Reserva
$15.99 | Mixed Case $12.79
This wine gives you a lot for your money! A medium-bodied Malbec with delicious aromas of raspberries, blackberries & licorice with some notes of dark chocolate & smoke. Elegant, smooth structure with fine tannins on the long finish. Drink now. Best with grilled meat.

Cuesta del Madero 2010 Malbec
$13.99 | Mixed Case $11.19
One of the entry-level Malbecs from Cruz De Piedra estate blended from different vineyards. Red fruit with vanilla notes upfront. Smooth, elegant, fresh & fruity. Great acidity with wonderful red & dark fruit flavors, notes of dark chocolate & coffee. Too easy to drink! Drink now. Best with smoked turkey, grilled meats.

Enjoy & cheers!
Jens

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November 2011: Vinchio-Vaglio Serra (a Peidmont co-op)

This producer is our newest addition to the J. Strecker Selections portfolio. As you’ve seen thru the years (all you long-timers!), I’m a firm believer that there is a lot of value in well-run co-ops, and this is another excellent example. Vinchio-Vaglia Serra is a co-op originally formed by 19 growers in 1959.  It has grown to 180 growers and includes land from Vinchio, Vaglio Serra & Nizza Monferrato, villages to the south of Asti in Piedmont in northwestern Italy.

Head winemaker, Dr. Giuliano Noè (Italy’s Winemaker of the Year 2005 & former head winemaker of Michele Chiarlo, pictured left) focuses on top quality, low costs & an organic approach. Wines from this part of Italy tend to be quite pricy.  What you get for the price in this wine club is amazing!  We also carry some of Vinchio-Vaglio Serra’s higher-end Barbara & Nebbiolo (still very well-priced) as well as several dessert wines (Moscato & Brachetto), so keep that in mind for the holidays!

This wine club includes a white (Cortese) and an unoaked Barbera:

Vinchio-Vaglio Serra 2010 Dorato Cortese Dell’Alto Monferrato
$15.99 | Mixed Case $12.79
100% Cortese from the Monferrato region. Excellent aromas of ripe lemons & white peach. Fresh, crisp, with wonderful acidity which supports the vibrant fruit. Wonderful balance & texture all the way through the fresh finish. Drink now! Best paired with white fish dishes, fresh or mild cheeses.

Vinchio-Vaglio Serra 2010 Arengo Barbera
$13.99 | Mixed Case $11.19
100% Barbera from the Piedmont DOC. Young, modern style. Fresh, fruit-driven, with flavors of ripe red berries, earthy & herbal notes. Great acidity. All the way to the fresh, lively finish. Fantastic food wine for the price! Drink now! Best paired with mild cheese, white & dark meat as well as grilled burgers.

Enjoy & cheers!
Jens

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October 2011:  A Farewell to Olsen Estates (WA)

It’s time to say good-bye to an innovative Yakima Valley producer. Olsen Estates was founded at the beginning of 2006 by Larry Olsen & his brothers and he was one of the original founders of the Prosser Vintner’s Village, a consolidated group of wineries & tasting rooms intended to promote the wines produced in the Yakima Valley. The Olsen family has grown grapes for more than 40 years & will continue to do so after closing down the winery.

It’s time to honor these guys in our Portalis Explores! Wine Club:

Olsen Estates 2008 Blanc des Coteaux
$12.99 | Mixed Case $10.39
This white is a wonderful blend of 70% Roussanne, 23% Viognier % 7% Marsanne.
Tasting notes: Aromas of wildflowers, pineapple & starfruit moving over into flavors of tangerines, honeydew melon, pineapple & lemon zest. Excellent texture & acidity all the way through the refreshing finish. Excellent for the price! Drink now! Best paired with grilled halibut, salmon, white chicken & turkey.

Olsen Estates 2008 Rouge des Coteaux
$13.99 | Mixed Case $11.19
A six grape Rhone blend, mainly Grenache, Syrah & Cinsault with some Mourvedre.
Tasting notes: Wonderful nose of ripe dark fruit, lots of ripe dark plums & cherries. Smooth, medium-bodied. Excellent texture & structure. Flavors of blackberries, blueberries, prunes with notes of dried herbs & leafs, cinnamon & mocha. Wonderful balance all the way through the herbal & spicy finish. Drink now. Best with grilled dark meats, roasts, steaks!

Enjoy & cheers!

Jens

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September 2011:  Navarra (Spain)

Germans are big fans of Spain, and many Germans, being the big travelers that they are (a relatively wealthy country and 6-8 weeks of vacation a year make for a travel-friendly combination!) have traveled the famous medieval pilgrimage trek across northern Spain, through Basque country to Santiago de Compostela in Galicia on the coast of northwest Spain.  Along this route, are the wine regions of Rioja & Navarra.  In the US, Rioja is more well-known, but it shouldn’t be. The regions back right up to one another, and Navarra produces similarly delicious wines, but they tend to be blends (including Cab/Merlot) as opposed to straight Tempranillo. As Navarra is not as well known in the US as Rioja, you get far more wine for your money (and you could say that Rioja was already a reasonable deal!).

Bodegas Marqués de Montecierzo is a small, father-son team with their family estate located right on the border to Rioja. The estate covers 22 hectares of vineyards located on stony soil with limestone.

Bodegas Marqués de Montecierzo 2007 Emergente Tinto
$11.99 | Mixed Case $9.59
Grapes: 40% Tempranillo, 40% Granacha, 20% Merlot.  Tasting notes: Medium-bodied, smooth, well-balanced with flavors of plums, ripe blueberries, and a hint of herbs. Pleasant, elegant & easy to drink. Drink now.

Bodegas Marqués de Montecierzo 2006 Emergente Crianza
$13.99 | Mixed Case $11.19
Grapes: 40% Tempranillo, 30% Merlot, 30% Cabernet Sauvignon. Aged 12 months in new American oak.  Tasting Notes: Ruby in color. A layered nose of ripe dark fruits with tones of cedar wood, spice & coffee. Utterly enticing. Round & velvety on the palate.  I love this wine! Drink now.

Enjoy & cheers!
Jens

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August 2011:  Minervois AOC

In this wine club we are showing two wines from Minervois, an AOC in the Languedoc-Roussillon wine region in Southern France. AOC regulations for this area require that the wines must be blended. The main red varietals are Syrah, Grenache, Mourvedre, Carignan & Cinsault. Minervois is not known for its white wines but they are produced as are rosé wines, a wonderful (award-winning) example of which is included in this shipment.

We direct import these 2 wines via J. Strecker Selections and I am featuring them in this month’s club as I think they are great examples of the delicious & well-priced wines coming out of this part of France.  They are also excellent summer wines – the rosé as a refreshing sipper and the red with summer fare out on the deck.

Château Rivière 2010 Minervois Rosé
$12.99 | Mixed Case $10.39
This small, family-owned estate is located in the Montagne Noire hills in the Minervois AOC. The south-facing vineyards give the grapes, grown on clay & limestone soil lots of sun exposure. Tasting notes: This wine is a blend of 50% Grenache & 50% Syrah.Attractive & intense aromas of raspberries & strawberries. Dry, round & fleshy, with herbal & spicy notes. The palate is fresh & lively, with soothing licorice on the finish. Silver Medal in the 2011 Paris wine show! Drink now! Best paired with salads, fish & chicken dishes.

Domaine de L’Estagnol 2008 Minervois
$13.99 | Mixed Case $11.19
This domaine is part of the Jean D’Alibert cooperative, located in the AOC Minervois. 50% Grenache & 50% Syrah from 5 different vineyards in Minervois. Tasting notes: Aromas of bright, ripe red fruit. Smooth, medium-bodied. Elegant texture, harmonious with wonderful flavors of ripe red plums, blue- & blackberries. Fine tannins on the smooth finish.  Drink now! Best paired with salads, charcuterie, fresh market cheeses & grilled sausages.

Enjoy & cheers!
Jens

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July 2011:  J. Strecker Selections, our Argentine line

I was in Europe this spring looking for French, Italian & Spanish producers for our direct import business. On the second day between meetings I had an hour to kill & I stumbled upon Guillermo Moore, a handsome Argentine export manager from Buenos Aires representing Cruz de Piedra. We hit it off, the wines tasted great, but there was one problem — his wines were already imported to the US.

Long story short, he introduced me to a gentleman by the name of Andrew Miller who is the co-owner of an import company called Ecovalley & and we now distribute four of his Argentine wines (including Cruz de Piedra) in the Seattle area.  Here are some delicious, well-priced samples in this wine club:

Tiasta 2009 Malbec Reserva
$15.99 | Mixed Case $12.79
A Malbec from the above mentioned Cruz de Piedra estate in Mendoza. A medium-bodied Malbec with delicious aromas of raspberries, blackberries & licorice with some notes of dark chocolate & smoke. Elegant, smooth structure with fine tannins on the long finish. Drink now! Best with grilled meat

La Puerta 2010 Malbec
$12.99 | Mixed Case $10.39
A steal from the Famatina Valley in the La Rioja region in Mendoza. Lots of red & dark fruit upfront. Medium-bodied, smooth, velvety texture with elegant flavors of blue-, blackberries & raspberries. Hints of licorice & smoke but no oak flavors! Some herbal, earthy components on the finish. Drink now! Best paired with burgers, grilled steak, dark roasts.
Enjoy & cheers!
Jens

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June 2011:  Languedoc-Roussillon (France)

We’ve started a direct import business, J. Strecker Selections, to import delicious, well-priced wines from around the world.  Our first container has arrived and you’re getting to taste a selection from Languedoc-Roussillon in southern France, a wonderful appellation located along the Mediterranean from Provence down to the border of Spain.

In this wine club we are featuring two wines: one from the Corbières sub-region & one from the Vin de Pays de L’Aude sub-appellation.

Château du Grand Caumont 2008 Cuvée Tradition Corbières

$13.99 | Mixed Case $11.19
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 family-owned wine estates in Corbières. The rugged stony clay-limestone soils of the terraced vineyard create excellent filtration for the vines.  Tasting notes: This red is a blend of 60% Carignan (Old Vine), 35% Syrah & 5% Grenache. Wonderful nose of black berry fruits, violets & black pepper. Well-balanced & structured. Smooth, elegant with delicious flavors of dark fruit. Dark plums, herbal & spicy components. Good length with a long, lingering finish! Drink now! Best paired with grilled meat, meats in sauces, stew & cheese.

Domaine de Mougin 2007 Vin de Pays de l’Aude

$12.99 | Mixed Case $10.39
This wine is made by the same producer (Château du Grand Caumont) & the grapes are sourced from the Vin de Pays de l’Aude appellation near the Spanish border.  Tasting notes: This red is a blend of 45% Syrah, 30% Grenache, 15% Carignan & 10% Cabernet Sauvignon. Lots of dark fruit up front with some herbal & floral components. Medium- to full-bodied, good structure with great acidity. Lots of dark berry flavors with fine, round tannins on the finish. Drink now, up to 2 years. Best paired with grilled meats, dark roasts, stews.

Enjoy & cheers!
Jens

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May 2011: Discover Yecla

Yecla is probably most known for the cave paintings at Monte Aribi. But there is more to explore, especially when you are into wine. Yecla is one of Spain’s smallest & newest appellations. Established in 1975, this appellation is located in the southeastern province of Murcia in southern Spain.

The first & only time I visited Yecla was in 1986 there were 10 wineries to name. But already back then, I was impressed with the quality & value of these wines as well as with the history of this region. Vinification dates back to the Roman Empire & flourished through the Moorish occupation. The main grape for this appellation is Monastrell, followed by Garnacha, Tintoera & Cabernet Sauvignon. New Syrah plantings have just happened. You will also find some lesser known white varietals.

Bodegas Castaño is the most well-known winery in Yecla with Ramon & Hermano Castaño bringing Yecla into the spotlight. Having met Hermano Castano in San Francisco at a wine fair, I kind of got what Yecla is all about, and it’s about time for a tribute! In this club we picked out two wines from Bodegas Castaño: a 100% Monastrell & a Monastrell blend.

Bodegas Castaño 2009 Monastrell
$11.99 | Mixed Case $9.59
Where can you buy a Mourvedre for this price? You can’t! This is by far the best value for Mourvedre (or Monastrell as it is known in Spain) available. 100% estate-grown Monastrell from 3 different vineyards. 40-to 60 year old vines. Tasting notes: Fantastic nose of underbrush, ripe blueberries & plums. Super-juicy, ripe, layered dark fruit, with dark chocolate notes & sweet tannins. Long, ripe finish.  Insane value & lots of fun! Drink now. Best paired with grilled beef & lamb.

Bodegas Castaño 2007 Solanera Viñas Viejas
$14.99 | Mixed Case $11.99
This red wine is a blend of 65% Monastrell, 20% Cabernet Sauvignon & 15% Tintoera (aka Alicante Bouschet); all estate-grown fruit which is aged 10 months in French oak. Tasting notes: Inviting smoky black & blue fruit upfront. Dense, rich, dark, intense but still elegant with a smooth texture. Lots of red & dark fruit. Mainly blueberries & blackberries with licorice & some smoky & spicy notes. Wonderful, long finish. Drink now, up to 3 years. Best paired with dark roasts, grilled beef & grilled lamb.

If you enjoy these wines, don’t forget:
Remember: 20% Mixed Case Discount & 10% Mixed Half Case Discount!

Enjoy & cheers!
Jens

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April 2011: New Zealand

New Zealand can still be grouped as one of the more “exotic” wine countries.  They’ve been growing grapes there since 1851; however, it has only been in the last 30 years that the wines have developed an international presence, and it’s my feeling that most people here still don’t have a big connection to these wines.  The main wine growing regions are Marlborough, on the northern end of the Southern Island, & Martinborough, on the southern end of the Northern Island (map). The predominant white varietals are Sauvignon Blanc (grown more in the south) & Chardonnay (grown more in the north). The main red varietal is Pinot Noir.

New Zealand’s Sauvignon Blanc is known for its crisp, refreshing, tropical fruit flavors.  Its Pinots are more varied depending on what part of the islands they are grown on, ranging from deep, full-bodied, complex (around Otago) to softer, sweeter, more accessible (around Marlborough).  The 2 bottles in this month’s wine club are excellent, well-priced examples of what New Zealand’s up to these days:

Mud House 2010 Sauvignon Blanc
$14.99 | Mixed Case $11.99
A rather new winery founded by Kim Crawford in 1996 in Marlborough, they produce both Sauvignon Blanc & Pinot Noir. The name reflects the link from the wine to the earth. Tasting notes: Very inviting aromas of guava, citrus, fresh cut grass & nettles. Soft, elegant, with vibrant acidity. Lots of tropical fruit, citrus, lime & grassy flavors all the way to the refreshing, well-balanced finished. Good sipper. Best paired with light, grilled fish. Drink now.

Fire Road 2009 Pinot Noir
$14.99 | Mixed Case $11.99
The Fire Road label is made by Saint Clair, a well-known producer in Marlborough.  Its name pays homage to Marlborough’s worst fire ever on Boxing Day 2000, which destroyed 6000 hectares of wine. Tasting notes: Very attractive aromas of smoky cherries & red plums. Medium-bodied, smoky, spicy, with wonderful flavors of red and black cherries, plums & currants. Beautifully balanced spice on the long finish. Best with grilled burgers, Thai Salad, red sauce based pasta. Drink now, up to 2 years.

If you receive your wine via UPS, you should have it by Friday.  If you opted for in-store pick-up, your wine is ready for pick up.

If you enjoy these wines, don’t forget:
Remember: 20% Mixed Case Discount & 10% Mixed Half Case Discount!

Enjoy & cheers!

Jens

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March 2011: South Africa

South Africa is the oldest New World wine growing country in the world. The first grapes were grown by a German fellow named Saxenburg in 1642. It took off from there. In my opinion, the wines of South Africa deserve more attention in general, as they presently offer both value & quality.

In this wine club we are showcasing two well-known producers who have been very popular throughout the past decade: Warwick Estate & Neil Ellis.

Warwick Estate was known as the farm of “Good Success” from 1791 until 1902, when Colonel Alexander Gordon purchased the land.  As a tribute to his regiment, the Warwickshire Regiment, which fought for him in the Boer war, he renamed the farm, “Warwick.”  In 1964 Stan & Norma Retcliffe purchased the farm.  At the time, not a single vine was planted on the estate. The Retcliffes changed this, the first vintage was released in 1984, and things have gone on from there.

Since 1986, Neil Ellis has focused on his winemaking philosophies: exceptional terroir & vineyard cultivation to produce superior wines.  He believes in environmental practices that indentify distinct terroir in which individual grape varieties will excel, along with caring viticultural techniques: low yielding & hand-picked vineyards where the soil is conserved & respected.  Neil Ellis’ dedication to the winemaking process is expressed in the high quality of wine produced.  Neil Ellis visited us at Portalis in the summer of 2009.  For more, visit our BLOG>

Warwick 2008 First Lady
$13.99 | Mixed Case $11.19
Beautiful aromas of dark fruit, bay leaf & some toast. Medium-bodied, well-balanced, elegant, complex & focused. Lot’s here for the money.  Wonderful flavors of blackberries, blueberries, blackcurrant with some smoky & herbal notes. Fine tannins on the smooth finish.
Neil Ellis 2008 Sincerely Shiraz
$13.99 | Mixed Case $11.19
Very inviting, spicy nose with lots of dark fruit. Beautiful texture & acidity with lovely raspberry, black-cherry fruit, with hints of black pepper & herbal notes. Great value!

If you enjoy these wines, don’t forget:
20% CASE & 10% HALF CASE DISCOUNTS ~ includes mixed cases!

Enjoy & cheers!
Jens

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February 2011:  Cooralook (Australia)

I just returned from Victoria, Australia, (be patient, the map is worth the load) having been invited by Wine Australia to learn more about Victoria and its wines.  The diversity of Victoria’s wine is striking. Across the 21 sub-appellations that span the state from east to west & north to south, Victoria produces wines in every style.  I have chosen the winery Coorlook for its quality & value. Cooralook is owned by the famous Australian Pinot Noir producer Yabby Lake & sources its grapes from different cool-climate subregions of Victoria, Australia.

Meeting chief winemaker Tom Carson in their Heathcote tasting room, we got the low-down on some of these regions & how that affects the wines:

Heathcote is a sub-appellation about 125 miles north of Melbourne & is famous for its red Cambrian soil with its reputation for producing deep wines with plush black fruit & complexity. Shiraz is by far the most widely-planted grape varietal, but other red varietals do very well, too. The Cooralook Shiraz is from this region.

The Strathbogie Ranges were first recognized as a wine region in 2001. The first vineyards were planted in 1960 by Alan Plunkett. Most of the vineyards are up in the hills, where it is cooler & windier. The elevation & coolness, combined with the often hard, quartz-strewn granite soils of these high country vineyards, brings an aromatic lightness to the wines produced there- whether it’s the perfumed lift of white varietals such as Riesling & Sauvignon Blanc, the bright spiciness of Shiraz, or the black-curranty elegance of Cabernet Sauvignon.

Cooralook 2009 Pinot Noir
$14.99 | Mixed Case $11.99
100% Pinot Noir from the Strathbogie Ranches. Tasting notes: Classic, elegant aromas of red berry & spicy plum fruit. Smooth, light- to medium-bodied, soft, silky, velvety texture. Good acidity with wonderful red & dark fruit as well as lovely spicy & herbal components. Drink now, up to 2 years. Good sipper. Pairs well with roasted chicken, grilled salmon or tuna.

Cooralook 2008 Shiraz
$14.99 | Mixed Case $11.99
From the Heathcote region. Tasting notes: 100% Shiraz, with inviting aromas of red berries, raspberries & blackberries. Medium-bodied, smooth, elegant, with wonderful dark fruit flavors, with hints of spice & tobacco. Drink now, up to 3 years. Best paired with grilled steak, roasted meats, lamb & meat pies.

If you are interested in seeing more of my trip to Australia, check out our BLOG> Australian Pinot Country ~ A Photo Journal.

Enjoy & cheers!
Jens

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January 2011:  Reds from Provence

Provence has been known for fine wines since ancient Roman times. Caesar himself was noted to have liked the wines as well as the weather of the Provence.  The main appellation is Côtes de Provence. Other smaller ones are Bandol, Bellet, Cassis, Côteaux d’Aix, Baux-de-Provence & Côteaux Varois. The Provence region covers a relatively large territory of the Côte d’Azur in the South of France, from Aix-en-Provence & the Rhône Valley to the French Riviera near Nice. The most common grape varietals from the Provence are Carignan, Grenache, Cinsault, Mourvedre, Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon & the unique Tibouren used for rosé.  Wine drinkers in the US know the Provence for its wonderful rosé wines, but this wine club is going to feature two lesser-known yet absolutely delightful red blends from this region:

Château La Mascaronne 2004 Côtes de Provence Rouge
Reg $23.99 | Sale $14.99 | Mixed Case $11.99
This winery is owned by the American Tom Bove & is located just outside the medieval village of Le Luc in the heart of the Provence. The winery has 50 hectares of gently sloping vineyards around the winery. The vines grow on chalk & clay soils, completely covered with small stones. Tasting notes: This red is a blend of Grenache, Syrah & Cabernet Sauvignon. Complex & strong aromas of red fruit, violets & spices. Medium-bodied, well-balanced, elegant, good structure & texture. Wonderful flavors of raspberries, red cherries, with some lovely floral & spicy notes.

Domaine de La Brillane 2008 Cuvée de Printemps
$14.99 | Mixed Case $11.99
This winery was built & is owned by Rupert Birch & Mary Mertens, two people with a strong passion for wine. The winery & the vineyard are located a couple of miles north of Aix-en-Provence, within the appellation of Côteaux d’Aix-en-Provence. The vineyard is run on an organic basis. Tasting notes: This red is a blend of Grenache, Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon, Carignan, Mourvèdre, Cinsault & Counoise. Prominent aromas of red & black berries with floral notes. Smooth, medium-bodied, soft texture, but fruit-driven. Fantastic dark fruit flavors, with raspberries, violets, ginger & other spices. Wonderful, smooth finish with fine tannins.
Enjoy & cheers!
Jens

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December 2010: Small Vineyards Imports

Small Vineyards is an importer of Italian wines (although they have branched out into other Mediterranean lands in recent years), specializing in small producers with very good quality. At Small Vineyards, they believe some of the very best wines come from small places. And with this conviction, they are committed to discovering artisan winemakers and then introducing them, their families, their land, their wines & their stories to the markets they serve in the western US.

This wine club includes wines from two very small Italian producers: Antonio Lamona from La Quercia in Abruzzo & Nini Palama from Puglia.

La Quercia 2009 Montepulciano D’Abruzzo
$11.99 | Mixed Case $9.59
A La Quercia is a type of oak tree which grows on this small estate in Abruzzo, Central Italy. Winemaker Antonio Lamona believes in making inspired wines that respect the earth. All his wines are 100% organic. Tasting notes: Smooth, medium-bodied & well-balanced. Aromas & flavors of dark fruit, blackberries & blueberries with some herbal notes. Very fine tannins on the smooth finish. Drink now. Best paired with pasta, white meat & cheese plates.

Palama 2009 Arcangelo Primitivo
$14.99 | Mixed Case $11.99
Palama Estate is family-owned, was founded in 1936 & is located in Puglia. Winemaker Nini Palama is a specialist in ancient grape varietals grown on Salento’s soils. He handcrafts this wine in honor of his father & mentor, Arcangelo Palama. Tasting notes: Very inviting aromas of raspberries, spiced plums & prunes. Medium-bodied, lush, with great acidity & flavors of dark fruit, plums, blackberry confit & notes of cedar & anise. Beautiful, spicy finish. Drink now. Best paired with barbecue, ribs, smoked turkey.
Happy Holidays & cheers!
Jens

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November 2010: Tuscany

Tuscany, located in central Italy stretching from Florence to just north of Rome, is one of the most famous wine regions in the world. Tuscan wines account for over thirty of Italy’s DOC & half a dozen of Italy’s DOCG wines. The most grown variety is the noble Sangiovese, which is often combined with small amounts of locally grown Cabernet Sauvignon, Canaiolo, Ciliegiolo & other grapes into wonderful blends such as Carmignano, Morellino Di Scansano, Supertuscans & of course the signature Tuscan wines — Chianti & Chianti Classico — which are the best known Italian wines in the world.

In this wine club we will feature a Chianti Riserva & a 100% Tuscan Sangiovese (IGT), meaning that it is made from grapes grown in Tuscany but outside of the designated Chianti area.

Viotollo 2004 Chianti Riserva
$14.99 | Mixed Case $11.99
This family-owned estate is located in the heart of the beautiful Tuscan countryside near Tavarnelle. Tasting notes: Aromas of cherries & wild berries. Medium-bodied, complex, elegant, with beautiful ripe red fruit, cherries, spicy & leathery notes. Smooth, soft tannins on the beautiful long finish. Best with stews, red meats & pasta dishes. Drink now.

Caparzo 2008 Sangiovese Toscana
$13.99 | Mixed Case $11.19
The winery is owned by Elizabetta Gnudi Angelini & is known as one of the region’s best Brunello producers. This red is their entry-level Sangiovese IGT.  Tasting notes: Beautiful bouquet of violets, raspberries & cherries. Smooth, elegant, well-balanced with delicious flavors of ripe dark cherries, raspberries & some herbal notes. Best with pasta, dark meat. Drink now.

Remember: 20% Mixed Case Discount & 10% Mixed 1/2 Case Discount!
Enjoy!
Jens

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October 2010: Vinhos Borges (Portugal)

The Borges brothers, Antonio & Francisco, started the Borges Company in 1884. It was & continues to be a commercial banking company, which also sells national & foreign lottery tickets & tobacco. They also started making wine in the same year & began exporting their Portuguese wines to foreign countries.

Borges has vineyards & wineries in the main Portuguese wine regions: Vinho Verdes, the Douro Valley & in the Dão. In this wine club we are showing two wines (a red & a white) from their Dão estate Quinta de São Simão da Aguieira which they bought in 1970. The Dão region is located in the heart of Portugal in the Beira Alta province & is one of the oldest wine regions in the country. Borges currently owns about 70 hectares of vineyards there.

Vinhos Borges 2008 Meia Encosta Vinho Branco
$10.99 | Mixed Case $8.79
A red blend of Touriga Nacional, Jaen, Alfrocheiro & Tinta Roriz. Aromas of ripe red fruit & some spice. Smooth, round, well-balanced, elegant & velvety. Main flavors of red fruit, raspberries & cherries, with some herbal & spicy notes. Smooth, fine finish. Drink now. Good sipper. Pairs well with roasted meat.

Vinhos Borges 2007 Meia Encosta  Vinho Tinto
$11.99 | Mixed Case $9.59
The Meia Encosta is a white blend of Encruzado, Malvasia-Fina & Bical. One of the best value wines in the market. Elegant, complex, wonderful balance with great acidity that gives this Dão a wonderful freshness. Aromas of citrus & wet stone up-front. Elegant flavors of citrus, lime, melon & pears. Crisp, fresh finish. Drink now. Wonderful sipper. Pairs well with light fish, salads or grilled chicken.

Remember: 20% Mixed Case Discount & 10% Mixed 1/2 Case Discount!

Enjoy!
Jens

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September 2010:  Montinore Estate (OR)

Montinore Estate is one of the most exciting Oregon wine producers right now. Not only are they producing certified biodynamic wines from estate-grown grapes, but (maybe more importantly) at this price point, this is as good as Pinot Noir gets anywhere in the world!
The winery, located in Forest Grove, was founded by Russ Marchesi, a grandson of Italian immigrants, who grew vines for more than 35 years.  Today Rudi & his youngest daughter, Kristin, are the core managing team of Montinore Estate.  Together they are committed to farming certified organic & biodynamic vineyards and making carefully crafted wines.
In this wine club we will introduce 2 of them: the estate Pinot Gris & estate Pinot Noir.

Montinore Estate 2008 Pinot Gris
$11.99 | Case $9.59
This is a splendid estate made Pinot Gris, completely dry & crisp in acidity, with wonderful flavors of lemons, limes, green melon & a touch of lemongrass. Clean, bright finish.  Drink now.  Best with salads, white meat (grilled chicken).

Montinore Estate 2009 Pinot Noir
$14.99 | Case $11.99
This Pinot Noir was made from 12 different estate vineyard blocks. This is an impressive Pinot Noir for the money.  It’s pleasingly tart in acidity, with a polished, silky texture, with complex flavors of cherries, raspberries, mocha & peppery spice flavors.  Wonderful.  Spicy finish. Drink now, up to 2 years. Best paired with grilled salmon, rich creamy cheeses.

Remember: 20% Mixed Case Discount & 10% Mixed 1/2 Case Discount!

Enjoy!
Jens

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August 2010: 2 Jewels from Spain

In this wine club we are showing off two special producers from Spain:

Bodega Naia 2008 Naia Verdejo
$16.99 | Sale $14.99 | Case $11.99
Bodega Naia is located in the Rueda appellation on the left bank of the Douro river in northwestern Spain. The winery is family-owned & specializes in growing the white grape, Verdejo, which is the main grape in Rueda. This thicker skinned white grape is well at home with the high temperatures and arid conditions that can be present at the height of the summer in this part of Spain.  This white wine is a blend of 80% Verdejo, 10% Viura (two traditional varietals from Spain) & Sauvignon Blanc (which brings an international touch).

Tasting notes: very inviting aromas of citrus & exotic fruit. Excellent structure & texture.  Well-balanced with superb acidity. Main flavors of citrus & lime, kiwi, with tropical & exotic notes. Long, lingering finish. More than refreshing. Drink now. Fantastic sipper.

Hacienda Don Ramon 2006 Rioja
$16.99 | Sale $14.99 | Case $11.99
The Hacienda Don Ramon Rioja is the entry-level Tempranillo from the Ramon Bilbao house, which is now owned by the Diego Zamorra family, located in the famous Rioja region in northeastern Spain.

Tasting notes: 100% Tempranillo, with aromas of fresh cut red fruit, strawberries & raspberries. Smooth, medium-bodied, silky texture with fine tannins. Wonderful flavors of raspberries, strawberries & cherries, with some herbal notes. Smooth, long finish.  Drink now. Best with red meat, grilled steaks, roasts.

Enjoy!

Jens

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July 2010: Domaine Brusset (Southern Rhône)

On this family estate, founded in 1947 & located in Cairanne in the Southern Rhône, the Brusset family has managed to combine the “savoir faire” of traditional winemaking with the newest techniques introduced by each generation. Andre Brusset (1910 – 1999), his son Daniel Brusset & his grandson Laurent Brusset — three wine-growers & winemakers with a variety of experiences — have all contributed to the success of the winery. The family owns several vineyards (the most important ones in Cairanne & Gigondas) situated in the heart of the Rhône Valley. The diversity of soils & grapes in the different vineyards contribute to some amazing wines.

In this wine club, we are including a rosé and one of their entry-level reds.

Domaine Brusset 2009 Laurent B. Côtes du Rhône Rosé 
$14.99 | Case $11.99
This rosé is a blend of 30% Grenache, 30% Carignan, 30% Cinsault & 10% Syrah sourced from several vineyards in the Côtes du Rhône appellation. Tasting notes: Fresh aromas of ripe strawberries & raspberries. Smooth, elegant, with excellent acidity. Beautiful flavors of raspberries, strawberries & ripe melon. An excellent summer sipper. Drink now.

Domaine Brusset 2008 Les Boudalles Ventoux
$13.99 | Case $11.19
This red is a blend of 60% Grenache, 15% Carignan, 15% Mourvèdre & 10% Clairette from the Côtes du Ventoux appellation. Tasting notes: Very aromatic. Lots of ripe raspberry fruit upfront. Smooth, medium-bodied, well-balanced, with great acidity. Wonderful flavors of raspberries & blackberries, with some spicy & herbal elements. Smooth finish. A great summer red. Best with grilled meat, salads & light cheeses. Drink now.

Enjoy!
Jens

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June 2010:  2 Thrilling Wines from Italy

Italy is one of the most exciting & famous wine producing countries in the world. The ancient Greeks already called Italy “Oenotria”, the land of wine. Vines are grown everywhere in Italy and wine is produced in every region. For this month’s wine club, we picked out two wines from two of the most famous regions in Italy: Piedmont and
Tuscany.

Piedmont is located in Northern Italy, and two of the most powerful red wines in Italy – Barolo and Barbaresco – are produced in this region. Barbera is the most common grape in this region.

Tuscany is unquestionably Italy’s most famous wine region. There are two main geographical zones: The Tyrrhenian Coast zone on the “west coast”, and the Central Hills in the provinces of Florence and Siena which include the famous regions of Chianti Classico, Brunello di Montalcino, and Nobile di Montepulciano.

Casa Alle Vacche 2006 Chianti Colli Senesi
$17.99 | Case $14.39
Located in San Gimignano in the heart of Tuscany, Casa Alle Vacche is owned by the Silvano family, and is known for its medium-bodied, kind of rustic Chiantis. Tasting notes: The grapes come from the hills of Siena (Colli Senesi). Lots of herbal cherry fruit on the nose. Medium-bodied, well-balanced, with beautiful acidity. Flavors of dark fruit, black cherries, with notes of leather and tobacco. Drink now. Well-matched with red sauced pasta.

Fontanafredda 2008 Briccotondo Barbera
$14.99 | Case $11.99
This is one of the best priced Barberas from a classic Barolo house. Tasting notes: Inviting aromas of blackberries and blueberries. Elegant, smooth, soft texture. New World style with excellent dark fruit & blackberry flavors. Slightly herbal notes. Beautiful, smooth, long finish.  Drink now. Best paired with mushroom risotto.

Enjoy!
Jens

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May 2010: Concha Y Toro (Chile)

In 1883 (the early stages of Chile’s wine industry), local politician and businessman, Don Melchor Concha Y Toro, started his winery.  He brought French vines from Bordeaux to plant in the Maipo Valley (south of Santiago) and contracted French enologist, Labouchere, as the head winemaker. Over decades the winery grew, purchased more land to grow more vines and started producing (in addition to their everyday wines) more extraordinary, premium wines (like Don Melchor, the most famous).  In 1994, Concha Y Toro became the first winery in the world to have its shares traded on the New York Stock Exchange.  In 1997, Concha Y Toro formed a joint venture with the Baron Philippe de Rothschild estate forming Viña Almaviva, currently one of their top labels. 120 years after its foundation, Concha Y Toro is one of the leading wineries in South America.

This month’s wine club includes two wines from their Xplorador line:

Concha Y Toro 2008 Xplorador Cabernet Sauvignon
$14.99 | Case $11.99
100% Cabernet Sauvignon from several vineyards in the Central Valley.  Plum and cherry notes on the nose with a touch of vanilla. Well-balanced, good concentration, with a smooth texture and flavors of black currant, plums, black cherries with some coffee notes. Some smoky and toasty notes on the smooth finish. Drink now. Best paired with dark roasts, hearty stews or cheese.

Concha Y Toro 2007 Xplorador Carmenère
$14.99 | Case $11.99
100% Carmenère from the Central Valley. Aromas of sweet red berries, black cherries and cracked black pepper, bell pepper and herbal components. Medium-bodied  & smooth with red and dark fruit flavors. Well-balanced, focused, with great acidity. Wonderful herbal elements on the finish.  Drink now. Best paired with dark roast, grilled steak.

Enjoy!
Jens

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April 2010: Olsen Hills … second label for Olsen Estates (WA)

Martin Olsen started a farm with 10 acres in 1908. But it was his grandsons, Dick (who became a founding member of the Washington Wine Commission and served as a commissioner for 12 years) and Larry, who established the Olsen Brothers Farm in 1972, growing and farming mainly apples and cherries.  They started planting grape vines in 1980, and built a business over the next decade supplying grapes to prestigious wineries in their area.

Now Dick and Larrys’ sons are managing the winery and vineyards. The winery under the name Olsen Estates, located in Prosser, was founded in 2006, and has been producing premium Washington wines since then.  In this wine club we are introducing two wines from their second label: Olsen Hills – the 2007 Syrah and 2007 Merlot.

Olsen Hills 2007 Syrah
$19.99 | Sale $14.99 | Case $11.99
100% estate grown Syrah. Tasting notes: Fine, elegant, smooth, medium-bodied, with wonderful aromas of freshly crushed blackberries. This Syrah shows rich flavors of dark fruit, lots of ripe blackberries, blueberries and plums, with notes of dark chocolate and black pepper. Good mouthfeel and great texture, with fine tannins on a long, spicy finish. Fermented 15 month in French oak.

Olsen Hills 2007 Merlot
$19.99 | Sale $14.99 | Case $11.99
100% estate Merlot. Tasting Notes: Smooth, medium-bodied, with inviting aromas of raspberries, plums and violets. Lovely texture and balance, with delicious flavors of red berries, plums, cocoa and chocolate with hints of anise. Polished tannins with some oaky notes from barrel ageing on the finish.

Both wines are best paired with grilled steaks or dark roasts. Enjoy!

Enjoy!
Jens

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March 2010: Roman Pfaffl ~ The Face of Austria’s Future

At 25 years old & approaching his 6th vintage, Roman Pfaffl is one of the most talented young winemakers in Austria. Taking over the winemaking from his father when he was 19, he shifted the focus from white wines (Grüner Veltliner) to red wines (Zweigelt & St. Laurent), which he feels are the winery’s future. The winery, Weingut R&A Pfaffl, is located in Austria’s Weinviertel region (northeast of Vienna). Roman Sr., who founded the winery in 1978 when he and his wife, Adelheid, inherited the family’s mixed agriculture farm, has played a big role in the Austrian winemaking community. Aside from being called Mr. Veltliner by the Austrian press, he is credited with founding the Weinviertel appellation. He was also named Austrian Winemaker of the Year in 1996.

In this wine club we’ll introduce Roman’s two entry level wines: a classic white (Grüner Veltliner) and a red (Zweigelt). A quote from Roman: “In a winery, the cheapest wines have to be very good. If they are not good, I don’t want to taste the expensive ones.” We agree!

Pfaffl 2008 Grüner Veltliner “Pepper”
REG $17.99 | Sale $14.99 | Case $11.99
This white wine is a 100% Grüner Veltliner and Roman’s entry level white, named after the spicy, peppery notes you typically find in that varietal. Inviting aromas of citrus and herbs followed by flavors of lemon, citrus, grapefruit with white pepper notes. Great acidity and elegant texture. Drink now. An elegant sipper or a good match with white fish, chicken and pork dishes.

Pfaffl 2008 2008 Zweigelt “Cherry”
REG $17.99 | Sale $14.99 | Case $11.99
This red is a 100% Zweigelt with lovely dark cherries and plums on the nose. Lot’s of dark cherry fruit, with plums and blackberries. Smooth, elegant with fine tannins and some smoky notes on the finish. Wonderful, vibrant acidity. Drink now. Best paired with grilled salmon, grilled tuna, or burgers.

Interested in more on Roman & Weingut Pfaffl?  Check out our BLOG> from the tasting we did with him when he was in Seattle in February.

Remember:  20% Full & 10% Half-Case Discounts (includes mixed cases)

Enjoy!
Jens

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February 2010: Grange Philippe (Coteaux de Languedoc) 

Don’t worry … you aren’t only going to get wines from France, but these came in the door and they were too good a fit to pass up!

The vineyards, situated in the Grés de Montpellier terroir that lies halfway up the slope between the Mediterranean Sea and the mountains of Languedoc, have been the property of the Servière family since 1830. They also own the winery Grés Saint Paul where the Grange Philippe lineup is made. The ancient terroir is pebbly and gravely which reminds me of Châteuneuf-du-Pape with the additional advantage of a maritime climate. Rhône varietals like Grenache, Syrah and Mourvèdre, but also Cabernet Franc grow very well in this area. Jean-Philippe Servière, owner and winemaker, and Philippe Salase are in charge of the estate. Their formula is simple: great terroir, low yields and healthy fruit. The results are well-balanced, concentrated fruit driven wines. We are introducing two of them:

Grange Philippe 2007 Piccolino Mourvèdre
$14.99 | Case $11.99
Made from 70-year old Mourvèdre vines, it shows amazing aromas of bacon fat, olive tapenade, and blackberries. Dense and medium-bodied, with lots of dark fruit, black olives & tar. Beautiful depth and length, with great acidity and concentration. Drink now, up to 2 years.

Grange Philippe 2007 Cabernet Franc $14.99 | Case $11.99
100% Cabernet Franc from old vines. This wine is something else for the money. Inviting aromas of dark fruit. Dense & dark, full-bodied, with lots of depth. Flavors of dark fruit, blackberries, with notes of green vegetables and some herbal notes. Long finish. This wine really tasty on the second day open. Up to 4 years.

Both wines pair well with cream cheeses, charcuterie, grilled dark meat, dark roasts.

Remember:  20% Full & 10% Half-Case Discounts (includes mixed cases)

Enjoy!
Jens

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January 2010: Southern Rhône (France) 

The Rhône Valley is one of oldest wine growing regions in the world and is divided in the Southern and Northern Rhône Valleys in southern France. The Southern Rhône Valley is influenced by the warm Mediterranean climate which allows a great number of grape varieties to flourish. The main grape varietals are Grenache, Syrah, and Mourvedre. Most famous appellations in the Southern Rhône are Châteauneuf-du-Pape, Gigondas, and Vacqueyras, but in the larger Côtes du Rhône appellation you will find the best value for money. Another popular region for good table wines is the Costières De Nimes appellation which is around the old Roman town of Nimes. In this wine club we chose 2 producers which are good representatives of nice, well-priced table wines from the Southern Rhône Valley.

Ogier 2007 Heritages Côtes du Rhône $14.99 | Case $11.99
Ogier has remained a family winery since 1859, and is located in the famous village of Châteauneuf-du-Pape, the village which was once chosen as the pope’s summer residence in the 14th century.
Tasting notes: This red Côtes du Rhône is a blend of Grenache, Syrah, and Mourvedre from different vineyards. Complex bouquet of ripe fruit with some earthy notes. Smooth, medium-bodied, with wonderful flavors of strawberries and raspberries, with coffee and chocolate notes, framed by smooth, silky tannins. Aged 12 months in French oak. Delicious!

Château Virgile 2007 Costières De Nimes $12.99 | Case $10.39
This family domaine is managed by two brothers, Serge and Thierry Baret. The winery is located 15km from the Mediterranean Sea and was founded in 1748. The name Chateau Vigile refers to the roman poet Virgil, which was also the name of the original owner of the winery. Tasting notes: This red is a blend of 60% Syrah, 30% Grenache, and 10% Mourvèdre, some of the vines over 90 years old.  Sage and citrus oil, with ripe cherries and cassis on the nose. This is pure Mediterranean! Juicy raspberry flavors, cocoa powder, sea salt and herb tinged cherries lead to a long, wonderful finish. Addictive!These are two excellent sippers, but they also pair well with cheeses (Fourme d’Ambert, Chevrotin, and Reblochon), charcuterie, salads, and bourride (hearty fish stew).

Remember:  20% Full & 10% Half-Case Discounts (includes mixed cases)

Enjoy!
Jens

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December 2009: Mendoza, Argentina

Argentine wines are growing in popularity, with most of the vineyards and wine industry being located in Mendoza Province which is scattered across the foothills of the Andes, and is 600 miles west of the capital, Buenos Aires. Argentina is the fifth largest wine producer in the world, specializing in Malbec and Malbec blends. In this wine club we chose 2 producers which are good representatives for Argentina.

Henry Lagarde 2007 Malbec Reserve $14 | Case $11.20
The Henry Lagarde winery is family-owned (Pescarmona family) and was founded in 1897. It’s one of the oldest and most traditional wineries in Mendoza. Tasting notes: This red is a 100% Malbec, estate grown and bottled. Wonderful aromas and flavors of ripe red and dark fruit, coffee, milk chocolate, with hints of figs and some spice. Complex, elegant, medium-bodied, with a smooth texture. Fine tannins on the long finish. Impressive for the money.

Viña Qaramy 2005 Finca $15 | Case $12
Another small boutique winery which specializes mainly in blends. The grapes are grown over 3600 feet. Tasting notes: This red is a blend of 61% Malbec, 23% Cabernet Sauvignon, and 16% Syrah. Violets, floral notes, fruit cake, and red fruit compote on the nose. Very attractive & inviting. Flavors of dark fruit, plums, with mocha and chocolate notes. Lush, full-bodied. Complex, and elegant. Smooth, round tannins on the smooth, long finish. Lots of juice for the money. Best paired with all forms of beef. In no other country is beef as celebrated as in Argentina. Argentinians eat beef in all kind of forms – grilled, fried, rolled, stuffed, chopped, with raisins, olives and eggs in empanadas – or fresh from the grill.  FYI: Argentinians have the highest beef consumption in the world: 103 pounds per person compared to the United States 69 pounds per person.

Remember:  20% Full & 10% Half-Case Discounts (includes mixed cases)

Cheers!
Jens

Food+Wine Archives

Posted 6/8/2012
BBQ Chicken & Wine

roastchicken

It’s finally June! That long awaited month that finally signals the start of summer, warmer weather, sun drenched days, and outdoor parties. Possibly poolside if you happen to be so lucky. Food wise, this means one thing: Barbeque. I’m not going to get into the barbeque competitions that seem to be so frequent in the more southern states, but instead focus on one of the most prevalent fowl on a menu in American: chicken. There really is nothing more delicious than a heaping plate of charcoaled bird after a long day in the sun. Thankfully, I’ve come up with a few options for pairing wines depending on what marinade or sauce you end up leaning towards. And for you vegetarians out there just use the marinades for mushrooms, haloumi cheese, or tofu. Cheers!

Huli Huli Chicken
My father spent quite a few years living in Honolulu, and ended up leaving the islands with a deep nostalgic connection to this recipe. So naturally, this is done at my house every summer. The recipe for the correct Huli Huli sauce is dangerously disputed, but if you ask a true Hawaiian something like this might be the ending recipe ingredients (I’ll leave it up to your own discernment as to how much of each is added): soy sauce, ketchup, brown sugar, rice wine vinegar, sesame oil, pineapple juice, fresh ginger, fresh garlic, Worstershire sauce, hot sauce. Marinate for an hour or more, then grill and serve. Now, what to pair this delightful dish with… In order to compliment the sweet, spicy flavors of the chicken, try a Gruener Veltliner. These wines have lots of complex spices & peppery notes that are perfect with sweet/savory sauces (like Huli Huli). Try: Glatzer 2010 Gruener Veltliner from Austria; a perfect example of this kind of wine. ($16.99).

Basic Barbequed Chicken
Now on to the classic: basic barbequed chicken. As with Huli Huli, everyone has their own secret recipe for perfect grilled chicken. I think the best recipes include saltiness, some sweetness, garlic, and fresh herbs. This is of course not including the barbeque sauce (I’ll get to that momentarily). With this kind of chicken, a lighter, smoky flavored red wine such as a Zinfandel is absolute perfection. Try: Klinker Brick Winery 2009 Zinfandel ($21.99 at Portalis)

Traditional Barbeque Sauce
Finally we move on to grilled chicken with barbecue sauce: a favorite American dish, bursting with all sorts of flavors, and given multiple recipe variations. Of course, there is no ‘correct’ barbeque sauce for chicken. But we can help you pair any delectable finger-lickin’ sauce with the right wine. Since this dish is such a classic, an Old-World classic Southern Rhône blend of Grenache & Syrah would be the perfect pairing. Look for wines with intense notes of blackberry and other jammy fruit flavors. One great option we sell here at Portalis is: Le Gravillas 2009 Plan De Dieu ($17.99 or $16.99 for Insiders).

Cheers & happy grilling!

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Posted 5/7/2012
Asparagus

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Asparagus is a wonderful vegetable that is prolific throughout the Pacific Northwest region. This means that for us lucky eaters, we can munch our way through tons and tons of the slender green stalks until mid-summer. However, it is quite a difficult vegetable to pair with wine. There is no “go to” asparagus friendly blend roaming the vineyards waiting to be poured next to a plate of this freshly picked verdure. There are solutions to this problem however, and they can be found throughout the world.

Firstly, asparagus is such a delicately flavored crop that it needs to have complementary flavors in the wine paired with it. Something too fruity or too oaky would quickly overpower it. A very dry, crisp, mineral-y white is a perfect accompaniment, especially if the wine has a lot of acidic grapefruit and/or grassy flavors going on. This means looking to the old world for whites.

First off- Entre-Deux-Mers; one of the regions just slightly outside of Bordeaux and literally ‘between-two-seas’ (the Dordogne and Garonne rivers to be more precise…). The grapes that are generally planted here are Sauvignon, Sémillon, and the more difficultly cultivated Muscadelle. Expect to get a refreshing & dry white with a blend from this area. Perfect for asparagus spears.

Next up: Sancerre. Produced using Sauvignon Blanc grapes, this AOC region in the Loire Valley of France is known for its delicate, aromatic, dry whites. Sitting opposite another well-known wine region (Pouilly-Fumé) these delicious wines have been known for being food-friendly since the early 1970s. Un-oaked whites are perfect for asparagus as they don’t bring added heavier flavors to the lightness of the vegetable.

Another option would be to pair asparagus with Pouilly-Loché, from the Burgundy region of France. Known for producing elegant and dry whites, Chardonnay grapes are the only allowable varietal in this region. Wines from this region are described using such words as ‘gingerbread’ ‘grapefruit’ and ‘roasted hazelnuts’, much richer in flavor than other asparagus paring choices, but still light enough not to overpower the flavors. This particular wine would be best paired with asparagus in a hollandaise or cream sauce. A richer dish, but one that still preserves the flavors of those earthy green spears!

Cheers!
Kyle

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Posted 4/13/2012
Bacon and Tempranillo

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I hold a very special place in my heart for cured meats. In particular, porcine cured meats. I mean, who honestly doesn’t like bacon? I’ve heard vegetarians say that the hardest part of giving up meat is that wonderful crispy, fatty, meaty, salty combination that only bacon is capable of creating on your palate. Now, the question is: what wine to pair with this culinary delight? Bacon doesn’t necessarily emit the air of refined taste, yet everyone enjoys it. There must be some common denominator beverage that eliminates boundaries of epicurean snobbery and brings experimental foodies together with the most basic 5-minute rice chefs. The answer lies in Spain.

It wasn’t until I began researching this article that it suddenly became maddeningly clear: bacon is just like Parma ham. Well to those who are die-hard Americana bacon patriots, no it is not the same. But if you compare the aging, the animal it comes from, and the final result: very respectable comparison. Spain even went the extra mile and created a chain ‘Museo del Jamon’ or “Museum of Ham” to better promote their well-loved pork product. They love their ham as much as we love our bacon.

And what grape do the Spaniards absolutely love? Tempranillo. Not only does it pair well with Parma ham, it also goes well with just about anything. Personally, it is one of my go to wines when I can’t think of anything to pair with my dinner because the flavors mesh well with day-to-day meals.

So here are my top suggestions for wine pairings with bacon (Note: probably not the best weekday breakfast idea…)

Bodegas Casto Pequeno 2006 Cotoval

Celler De Capcanes 2008 Mas Donis Montsant

Bodegas Ontanon 2008 Rioja Crianza

Lan Rioja 2003 Rioja Gran Reserva

Bodegas Rauda 2010 Ribera del Duero Tinto Joven

Cheers!
Kyle

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Posted 3/19/2012
Bistecca Fiorentina

Ever since I was a little girl, my favorite food has been steak. Rare steak. I hate to ostracize all you vegetarian blog readers out there, but a beautifully seared steak brings tears of joy to my eyes. This also makes me consider myself as a kind of steak connoisseur. Which is why I have decided to post about one of my most memorable steak meals: BISTECCA FIORENTINA.

bistecc

Bistecca Fiorentina is a giant cut of wonderful Tuscan beef. My introduction to this magnificent meal was outside of Tuscany, in Viareggio. A giant platter was brought to the table, weighing in at about five pounds. At first, I was appalled that cheese had been added atop my steak without my permission (I am a steak purist you see). However, not one to give up steak, I dug in. The bistecca was sprinkled with delicious Tuscan olive oil, on a bed of spicy Arugula, topped with generous chunks of parmigiano reggiano cheese. The intermingling tastes of all these traditional Tuscan ingredients were overwhelming. Each complemented each other, the sweet olive oil with the salty cheese, and the nutty/spicy leaves accentuated the fatty tender beef.

The only accompaniment necessary to complete this meal was of course, Chianti. Any wine made from Sangiovese would of course been acceptable since that grape produces superb wines that pair wonderfully with beef (ex. Brunello di Montalcino, Vino Nobile di Montepulciano, Super Tuscans…) Not only does Tuscany specialize in this variety of grape, but Sangiovese tends to be slightly salty & brightly acidic. This complements the rich, fatty, buttery meat of beefsteak.

Although there are probably no Tuscan cows roaming the Pacific Northwest region, there are still plenty of amazing cuts of meat available here at home. PLUS, we here at Portalis have an amazing array of Tuscan wines for you to take home and try yourself. Here are a few we carry:

Nottola 2009 Tre Pezzi

Fattoria di Felsina 2007 Chianti Classico

Nottola 2007 Vino Nobile di Montepulciano

Tenuta Vitanza 2006 Brunello di Montalcino

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Posted 3/5/2012
Celebrating Razor Clams

It’s March! And that means the opening of Razor Clam season here in Washington State. A meaty, sweet, buttery crustacean this wonderful native of our area is very versatile in cooking. It can be prepared a variety of different ways, and because of this can also be paired with many different types of wines!

I am most familiar with being served this delightful sea creature lightly pan-fried. It’s a wonderful classic way to show off the flavors of this shellfish. For this particular preparation, I would drink a nice dry white wine to cut through the grease of the dish. A Sancerre would be a perfect accompaniment (try Roche de Lune 2009 Sancerre).

Another way to prepare razor clams is with a basic tomato, white wine, & garlic sauce, served with pasta and topped with shavings of Parmesan cheese. Basic, delicious, and brings a hint of Italian home cooking to a traditional Northwest delicacy. Try using a drier white wine in this recipe (or use this to pair with the dish after cooking) like Saviah 2010 Star Meadows Semillion/Sauvignon Blanc blend.

Now a recipe for razor clams on the lighter side: grilled razor clams with citrus vinaigrette. Lemon & garlic especially compliment the flavor of razor clams.  Try this dish paired alongside a Spanish white like the Bodegas Casto Pequeno 2010 Chamelin Rueda.

One last way to cook razor clams is to try preparing a dish using asian-cuisine inspired ingredients. One complimentary flavor is Thai chilies and coconut milk. Try making a kind of stir-fry using these ingredients and a bit of Thai basil or lemongrass. Try pairing this with something like a von Hoevel 2007 Oberemmeler Huette Riesling Spaetlese.

Cheers!
Kyle

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Posted 2/10/2012

Sticky Toffee Pudding is Back!


It’s not often that Chef Tracey gives her recipes away, but this one appeared in our Holiday Book of Recipes in 2010 and so I didn’t think I’d be giving away the farm if I posted it one more time:

CHEF TRACEY’S STICKY TOFFEE PUDDING
Pudding: 2 cups diced dates, 2¼ cups water, 1½ tsp baking soda, 2 cups all-purpose flour, ½ tsp baking powder, ½ tsp ground ginger, ½ tsp salt, 6 Tbs unsalted butter (softened), 1 cup granulated sugar, 3 large eggs
Sauce:  ¾ cup plus 2 Tbs unsalted butter, 1½ cups dark brown sugar, 1 cup heavy cream, ½ tsp vanilla

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Butter and flour an 8 inch square baking pan (2 inches deep), knocking out excess flour. In a 2 quart saucepan, simmer dates in water (uncovered) for 5 minutes. Remove pan from the heat and stir in baking soda. (Mixture will foam.) Let mixture stand at room temp for 20 minutes. In a bowl sift together flour, baking powder, ginger & salt. In a stand mixer beat together butter & sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in eggs 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Add flour mixture in 3 batches, beating after each addition until just combined. Add date mixture with a spatula and stir batter until combined. Pour batter into baking pan. Set pan into a larger baking pan and add enough hot water to reach halfway up the sides of the smaller pan. (This water bath insulates the cake so that it doesn’t heat up too quickly, causing the center to rise & crack.) Bake in middle of the oven until tester comes out clean, about 35 to 40 minutes. Remove pan from water bath & set on a rack to cool. To make the sauce, melt the butter in a 2 quart saucepan over moderate heat. Add the brown sugar and bring the mixture to a boil, stirring occasionally. Stir in cream & vanilla. Simmer sauce until thickened slightly, about 5 minutes.  Then serve warm pudding with warm sauce over it. I like to garnish with brandy whipped cream or the ice cream of your choice.

If you decide that’s just too darn much work, head on in to Portalis, warm up, & enjoy the Sticky Toffe Pudding paired with Smith Woodhouse 1994 Colheita Tawny Port.

Cheers!
Julie

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Posted January 9, 2012

Chef Tracey is a Celebrated Chef!

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Celebrated Chefs is an exclusive cookbook and dining program that unites the area’s best restaurants in support of non-profit organizations. The cookbook features our Chef Tracy Stoner Crannell with her very own Quail with Sweet Potato Bacon Hash & Shaved Brussels Sprouts recipe (pictures above as well as in the Celebrated Chefs cookbook).

Celebrated Chefs is an exciting program designed to raise money for non-profit organizations all year long. Through this innovative program you can lend valuable support to important causes by dining at participating restaurants. HOW IT WORKS: Once enrolled, Celebrated Chefs restaurants donate 5% of your dining bill to your designated cause. No special cards or identification is required. You simply pay your bill with the AMEX, VISA or MasterCard you enroll as part of your membership and the 5% donation from the restaurant is automatic! There is no cost to participate.

Chef Tracey is in very good company. Check out the other local chefs who have been honored by this organization as well as the details on how to participate and donate money to your favorite cause while dining out!

Cheers!
Julie

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Posted October 16, 2011
The Magic of Chorizo

chorizo

I am a huge fan of chorizo, using it regularly in my cooking.  There are 2 kinds of chorizo: Spanish chorizo which is an air-cured pork sausage similar to salami. Spanish chorizo always has elements of paprika making it either sweet or spicy.  The other type of chorizo is Mexican chorizo which tends to be much spicier/hotter and it’s a raw pork sausage with the consistency of ground beef that must be cooked prior to eating.  I love using Mexican chorizo at home when I’m making homemade tamales and corn empanadas.  At the wine bar, though, I use Spanish chorizo exclusively and usually sweet as opposed to piquant.  It’s flavorful and adds a nice richness, especially to foods that can be one-dimentional with wine (such as seafood), transforming them into more complex, multi-dimensional dishes where different types of wine can be appropriate and equally delightful.  The process I use when adding chorizo to a dish is to render out the fat from the sausage by cooking it on low heat in a sauté pan with olive oil or butter, which creates a nice, flavorful, pretty orange-red sauce, which I then add to potatoes, eggs, white beans, mussels, shrimp, clams, white fish and as a topping on tarts.

Currently I am serving TROUT with chorizo potato hash.  We have this paired with the Château Barbanau 2010 Côtes du Provence Rosé, but it would be equally lovely with the Zuaso Gaston 2008 Rioja Crianza or the Pelassa 2009 Langhe Nebbiolo, both mediuem-bodied Old World reds.  Trout is normally a white wine fish; thus, the chorizo opens it up to rosé and red … but if you’re in the mood for white, by all means!  White would be delicious, too.  Try: Cave des Grands Cru Blancs 2009 Pouilly-Loché, a white Burgundy that is a classic food wine.

Happy cooking!
Chef Tracey
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Posted September 18, 2011
Wine Pairings for Scallops

scallop

This scallop preparation was actually inspired by the seasonality of the fava beans and Chef Tracey’s idea that fava bean purée would look so pretty, green & delicious topped with sweet, rich, scallops.  To that combination, she added microgreens (a peppery, bitter edge) and preserved lemon vinaigrette which is a nice tart accent to the richness of the scallops.

We have this dish paired with the Cave des Grands Cru Blancs 2009 Pouilly-Loché, a beautiful, soft, Burgundian Chardonnay which beautifully handles the varied elements of the dish. Pan-seared scallops are easy and delicious to make at home, but I’m guessing it will be a simpler preparation that what Chef Tracey has on offer her, maybe just the scallops with a nice side salad or on a bed of rice or pasta with a little butter, garlic, wine wine & parsley.  Here are several delicious pairing suggestions for this type of evening fare:

Try Muscadet from France’s Loire Valley: Château du Hallay 2009 Muscadet Sèvre et Maine or Chateau de Bigotière 2009 Muscadet Sèvre et Maine are both excellent for scallops, oysters and light fish.  Another delicious option is Sauvignon Blanc from the Loire Valley.  It traditionally has nice fruit, balanced by a characteristic minerality.  Try: Domaine de La Croix Bouquie 2009 Touraine or take it up a notch and try: Roche de Lune 2009 Sancerre.  Another delicious option, especially if your preparation is in any way spicy, would be Riesling.  Try: Domaine Moltès 2009 Riesling Réserve from Alsace or Moenchhof 2007 Uerziger Wuerzgarten Riesling Kabinett from Germany.

This dish has about 1 more week on the menu, so don’t miss it!

Cheers,
Julie

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Posted September 4, 2011
Duck & Faugères

duck

Last year around this time Chef Tracey put duck on the menu for the very same reason as this year:  the cherries.  The sweet, richness of the fruit
with its little tart edge balances the richness of the game.  This year she chose to add arugula into the duck/cherry mix as the bitter of
the arugula, the sweet of cherry, the tart of the pickled onion and the crunch of the cornbread crouton provide enhancing flavors and textures to the duck.  Every component of the salad has an important role in balancing the dish. Chef Tracey is beaming about this dish and we’re beaming about the wine pairing.  Domaine Les Fusionels 2008 Faugères is a J. Strecker direct import and it’s perfect for this dish.  Faugères is an AOC in Languedoc-Roussillon on the southwestern side of the French Mediterranean.  This wine is a blend of 60% Grenache & 40% Syrah, with a nose of cherries & strawberries followed by aromas of coffee, cocoa & a violet floral note.  The wine has beautiful body and length and pairs perfectly with this cherry duck preparation.  Hope you can stop by and partake …it’s delicious!

Cheers,
Julie

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Posted August 10, 2011
Pairings for the Great Northwest Delicacy

salmon

Salmon from this part of the world is one of our great local treats, and as you know, the different preparations greatly change the flavors, texture and overall experience of eating salmon.  With that change, goes a change in wine as well:

Grilled salmon is probably the classic home preparation, as you can experience the rich, oily, fishy flavor with a nice crunchy crust.  The classic pairing for grilled salmon is Pinot Noir, a lighter red with fewer tannins which doesn’t overpower the fish and its cherry, earthy flavors pair beautifully.  New World Pinot Noir with its fuller flavors of baked cherry pie and campfire smoke are especially nice.  Try: Siltstone 2007 Pinot Noir Guadalupe Vineyard (OR) $30.99 | INSIDER $28.99 or Jules Taylor 2009 Pinot Noir (NZ) $22.99.

Poached salmon is less common, but it shouldn’t be.  It’s easy and the result is a tender, milder, refreshing dish requiring a white wine pairing.  We recommend French Chardonnay for this as it’s a rounder wine, intended for food pairing, but it’s crisp and refreshing, not at all heavily oaked.  Try: Domaine Laroche 2007 Chablis $25.99 | INSIDER $23.99.

Smoked salmon is another common way to enjoy salmon.  For ease, many people purchase the salmon smoked but there’s not reason you couldn’t make it at home.  Smoked salmon is the richest, oiliest preparation of all.  It’s usually served in small quantities on appetizers or as a little treat. Pair with sparkling wine as the acidity cuts the fat and balances the palette.  If you are celebration, try: Aubry NV Champagne Premier Cru $45.99, or take a down a notch and go with a Cremant from Burgundy: Cave de Bissy NV Cremant de Bourgogne $21.99 | INSIDER $19.99. Or you can go the
opposite direction and pair with a buttery Chardonnay, in this case pairing like flavors.  Try: Frank Family Vineyards 2008 Chardonnay $35.99 or Shannon Ridge 2009 Chardonnay $25.99 | INSIDER $15.99.

Sashimi! There aren’t that many parts of the world where you could go to the market and get yourself sushi-grade salmon for dinner at home.  It’s easy, it’s light, and it’s a great summer preparation.  Pairing is a little tricky because of the soy & wasabi. Bubbly is probably the best pairing, try: Casteller NV Cava $13.99.  You can also do with a Riesling Kabinett (not too dry) or a Gruenerveltliner (light and dry, but not too dry).  Try: Moenchhof 2007 Uerziger Wuerzgarten Riesling Kabinett $27.99 | INSIDER $22.99 or Forstreiter 2009 Gruener Veltliner Kremser Kogl $15.99.

Here’s to the good life in the Northwest!

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Posted June 17, 2011
Delicious Desserts!

dessert

When I was a little girl one of my favorite things in the summer time was to walk up to the local Rexall where they made fountain drinks to order with the coca-cola & vanilla or cherry syrup along with the best vanilla malts ever.  Can you tell what my favorite was??  Last year I did a homemade ice cream sandwich, and I had that in the back of my mind when I spotted the beautiful strawberries in the market and before long I had my inspiration.  Strawberries and malted vanilla ice cream – a match made in heaven. And I like chocolate with my strawberries, thus the chocolate cookie. This dessert is equally as delicious as the Peach Upside-Down Cake, but it’s not as flexible with the wine pairings.  For this one, you need to go with the Two Hands 2009 Brilliant Disguise Moscato  ~ $8.50. It’s light & fruity and goes beautifully with our little Americana dessert.

Already developing a following (one regular came in for it 3 times this last week!) we don’t have much to say our Peach Upside-Down Cake with homemade Amaretto Ice Cream except YUM! There’s a fleck of cardamom in the cake that winks at the amaretto in the ice cream and then the ooey-gooey cake.  Really, it’s delicious.  Perfect dish for an array of dessert wines, too.  For something a little lighter, try: Domaine des Bernardins 2009 Muscat de Baumes de Venise / Southern Rhône, France ~ $9 or the Two Hands 2009 Brilliant Disguise Moscato / Barossa Valley, Australia ~ $8.50.  Go exploring with a glass of the Badia di Morrona 2005 Vin Santo / Tuscany, Italy ~ $10.  Several liquors would go beautifully as well, try: Leriche Armagnac / Lannepax, France ~ $7 or the Boulard Grand Solage / Calvados, France ~ $8.

I decided to put a lemon tart on the menu when meyer lemons hit the scene a month or so ago. I love meyer lemons because they are a little bit sweeter than regular lemons (almost to the point of being a little tangerine-y) and they are much juicier than regular lemons, producing almost twice as much juice. When I saw them in the store, it dawned on me that I had never made a classic lemon tart at Portalis and so there it was … my next dessert: Meyer Lemon Tart with Moscato.  For this tart I chose to use a shortbread crust as opposed to a pie dough crust because I wanted to offset the nice creamy texture of the lemon curd, and shortbread is much crunchier than pie crust.  I chose to top it with whip cream (instead of meringue) as a personal preference because I love the richness of the cream with the tartness of the lemon curd and then the crunch off the cookie gives you multiple layers of textures and flavors that balance beautifully!  For the wine?  Jens wasn’t too happy with me on this one as the acid in lemons makes wine pairing tricky, but the answer is Moscato.  Try it with the Il Conte D’Alba NV Moscato D’Asti (Piedmont) ~ $8 or the Two Hands Moscato (Barossa Valley).

Cheers,
Tracey

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Posted Sunday, June 12, 2011
Halibut Cheeks, a delicacy

halibut

I made the decision to put halibut cheeks on the menu as halibut is in season and this little delicacy is such a sweet & tender treat that I couldn’t pass it up. Halibut cheeks are more expensive than our normal entrée, but it’s worth the splurge.  Halibut cheeks literally are the cheeks of the fish, so the quantity is limited and that’s why they are a premium.  But they are such a delight – more like scallops in texture and flavor than halibut filet. The sweetness of the cheek goes really well with the sweetness of the sweet pea (which is also in season).  The dish is topped with meyer lemon vinaigrette, which balances the dish, giving it a tangy, citrus note.

Wine pairing?  We have it paired with the Cave des Grand Cru Blanc, our new direct import from Burgundy.  It’s a beautiful, round food wine (100% Chardonnay) with notes of pineapple, apricot & spice.  Delicious!

Cheers!
Chef Tracey

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Posted May 22, 2011
Pairings for our House Pâté

pate

What makes Chef Tracey’s pâté so delicious?!  Without giving her culinary technique away, there are three elements which make this pâté addictive: black truffle paste, marsala wine, and – yes – butter, adding earthy, sweet & rich components respectively.  Food pairings for this pâté range from Tracey’s homemade cherry mostarda (a candied fruit concoction but with a tart edge from the vinegar & mustard seed) which is a classic Italian accompaniment to cheese, but works well with the pâté as the sweet & tart components of the mostarda pair well with the earthiness of the truffle in the pâté.  Cornichons or other pickled vegetables also pair well as the acid in the vinegar cuts the richness of the pâté.  Wine pairings can also be as varied.  Smoother medium-bodied wines such as the blends from Southern Rhône are classic pairings as the red fruits and earthiness of the wines marry well with the pâté (try: Domaine Brusset 2009 Les Boudalles Côtes du Ventoux).  For something a little more juxtaposed, try an off dry white (such as: Schoenheitz 2007 Pinot Blanc Val St. Gregoire) or even a dessert wine (such as: Domaine Des Bernardins 2009 Muscat De Beaumes De Venise), the classic salty/sweet combo that American (and this case Europeans!) love.  As well, you could pair a nice, dry Cabernet Sauvignon as the tannins in the Cab cut through the fat in the pâté (try: Owen Roe 2008 Sharecropper’s Cabernet Sauvignon).

You can enjoy our house pâté each week during Happy Hour (and Thursday all night) as a regular item on our $5 menu.  As well, it is a standard component on the charcuterie plate which is always available on the bar menu.

Enjoy & cheers!
Julie

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Posted April 25, 2011
An early sign of spring: Fava Beans

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Spring has been late coming this year, so I’ve been walking through the market looking for ANY sign of spring produce-wise, and today I finally saw something that gave me hope: fave beans and couldn’t resists the purchase in anticipation of spring.  Fava beans are a little bit of work because you have to pull them out of the pod, then blanche and peel them – a 3-step process – but well worth it because of their buttery texture offset by a slight bitterness and a lovely, nutty finish.  Fava beans are originally from North Africa, but you find them in across Mediterranean cuisines.  There are many preparations: a very simple salad of fava beans with lemon, olive oil & pecorino cheese. They can also be cooked and pureed into a nice creamy texture which is a great accompaniment to fish.  They can also be added to risotto to accompany meats such as lamb.  I am going to serve them with fregola (Sardinian pasta rolled into little balls) instead of risotto with an onion soubise as a side dish to lamb rib chops topped with a lemon mint gremolata, again a Mediterranean flair.  This makes a nice introduction to an early spring menu.  Try this paired with:  Château La Mascaronne 2004 Côtes De Provence ~$8 per glass.

Cheers!
Chef Tracey

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Posted April 5, 2011
What’s different about Roman Gnocchi?

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You could be a pretty well-traveled, sophisticated foodie and still be surprised when your Roman gnocchi showed up at the table and was not reminiscent of a potato dumpling, so here’s  little refresher on gnocchi.  The most common gnocchi is made from mashed potatoes, egg yolk, flour & salt, and is rolled out & cut into bite-sized pieces, boiled and served with melted butter & parmesan. (You know that one.)  But my trusty Menu Mystique (Krohn, 1983) also tells me that gnocchi can also be made from semolina or from white cornmeal. Clearly Chef Tracey knew that, as she is dishing up Gnocchi alla Romana which is “said to originate in Rome. The gnocchi are made from coarsely ground durum wheat, which the Italians call semolina.  White cornmeal or farina can be substituted. To prepare the gnocchi, milk is brought to the boil and, after adding a dollop of butter and a pinch of salt, the semolina is slowly poured into the milk, which is stirred constantly until all has been absorbed. The batter is poured out onto a flat baking sheet, left to cool, and then cut into small rounds and placed in a buttered ovenproof dish. Then, covered with melted butter and grated Parmesan cheese, the rounds are baked until crisp and brown.”  And then, in Chef Tracey’s case, they are topped with a delicious veal ragu and paired with Marchesi Mazzei 2007 Badiola Toscana Rosso.  It’s rustic, fulfilling, delicious!  Stop by and try it out!

Cheers,
Julie

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Posted March 20, 2011
A World of Desserts 

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When you make something as yummy as last year’s Sticky Toffee Pudding, the pressure’s on to come up with another dish that can stand up in people’s memory to this dessert that they came in (over & over) especially for.  When I asked Tracey how she came up with the idea of a Tres Leches Cake, she said she had been thinking for a month or so about what she could serve that would be warm & ooey, gooey, yummy like the Sticky Toffee Pudding when the idea of the Tres Leches Cake came to her.  The goat’s milk caramel is not traditionally served with this cake, but it is a standard in Mexican markets for sweet tamales and other Mexican dishes.  The Tuaca whip cream is a wink at the brandied whip cream that Chef Tracey served on the Sticky Toffee Pudding, but more importantly the alcohol in the cream balances the sweetness of the dessert and cuts the richness a bit as well.  It’s a masterpiece!  Try it with the Alvear Solera 1927 Pedro Ximénez & a cup of coffee. 

In Chef Tracey’s former life, she ran huge hotel kitchens.  With huge hotel kitchens come pastry chefs and subsequently, she never had a lot of experience making desserts.  At first she was a little shy about this and didn’t stick her head out much, but over the last (almost) three years, she’s gotten over that.  This time it’s Baklava with pistachios, hazelnuts, walnuts & citrus honey. Today we think of this dessert as a Middle Eastern specialty (and it is… I can remember when Jens and I were in Syria in 1997 they had bakery after bakery with nothing but beautiful pyramids of baklava) but with its nutty sweetness, it pairs perfectly with the flavors of Pedro Ximénez, the sherry grape from southern Spain.  Try it with Alvear Solera 1927 Pedro Ximénez.  Delicious!

There’s really not much to say about the Mango Ginger Upside-Down Cake with Homemade Coconut Ice Cream except maybe to have an esoteric argument about which one is better … the cake or the ice cream.  The cake is ooey-gooey, fruity with that little sting of candied ginger.  The ice cream is made from fresh coconut that Chef Tracey seeped for several days to get the flavor. And then there’s the wine pairing.  For heaven’s sake, don’t forget the wine!  The Two Hands 2009 Brilliant Disguise Moscato (Barossa Valley) is for me the hands-down favorite.  Light effervescence with mild flavors of apricot, pear & pineapple.  Really, it’s enough to make you moan (which I did, audibly, and then I ordered it for some long-time customers seated down the bar, so that they, too, could moan, which they did, audibly).  You also wouldn’t go wrong pairing it with the Domaine des Bernardins 2007 Muscat de Baumes de Venise, a lovely little aperitif or dessert wine from France’s Southern Rhône Valley.  It’s not at light as the moscato, but the apple/pear flavors would be delicious with the dessert.  And, I’m sure Gina (who’s Gina?) would give a nice argument for the Villa Artimino 2005 Vin Santo Di Carmignano.  She would tell you (and happily show you) that in Tuscany, Vin Santo is served as a digestif after espresso, but its nutty, caramel flavors would be a perfect match with the cake as well.

Cheers!
Julie

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Posted February 27, 2007
A Magical Wine Pairing

rav

Chef Tracey has an amazing way with food.  Working out of her dollhouse kitchen she creates extraordinary dishes that are elegant & seemingly simple yet complex.  Tastes role across your tongue hitting different parts of your palette; flavors and textures come together in the finish to create one whole and incredible bite.  And Chef Tracey is never afraid to experiment.  All of which is exemplified in her latest dish: Ravioli homemade with duck, currents, pine nuts & vanilla-infused sweet potato sauce.  First you taste the homemade pasta which wraps the rich duck confit meat.  The richness of the duck is broken and enhanced with pops of sweet dried current and dense earthy pine nuts.  As you enjoy the savory duck the sweetness of the sweet potato sauce starts to come through and finishes with warm vanilla notes.  It is a unique and superb dish.  But what to wine to pair with it?

Deciding on wine pairings is always a fun part of tasting one of Chef Tracey’s new menu items.  Sometimes finding the right wine for the dish is a snap: classic flavors call for a traditional wine pairing.  And sometimes it can prove to be a bit of a fun challenge.  Flavors in the dish can make the wine taste more acidic or alcoholic or dry; unbalanced.  On the flip, the wine can make the dish lose all its taste, completely washing out its entire flavor.  But when you hit the right combination, food and wine can come together seamlessly each contributing their own flavor profiles & enhancing each other so you don’t know where one ends & the next begins and it is all greatness on your tongue.  This is exactly what happened with the duck ravioli.  The layers of flavor in this dish made finding a wine that complimented all of them, a challenge.

First we thought pinot bianco; our glass pour, Cantina Terlan 2009 Pinot Bianco, was given a try, but the rich meaty flavors along with the sweetness and the vanilla brought out never before seen dirty earthiness in the pinot bianco.  Along with a biting finish of acidity.  It’s a great, light, slightly sweet Italian white, but with the ravioli it was a no go.

So then, what about a red?  A barbera?  Northern Italian barbera have lively acidy, bright red fruits and a medium body.  They are great to drink alone or with food however the barbera and the ravioli did nothing to help each other.  The sweet potato puree brought out the acidity of the wine and over-powered the fruit notes causing the wine to lose all its ripe juicy flavor and deliciousness.

Next a kabinett reisling was suggested, the sweetness of the kabinett would hold up to the sweetness of the sweet potato and vanilla.  This suggestion was taken to the next level with a suggestion of kabinett gewürztraminer.  BINGO.  A match made in heaven!  There is nothing more to say than the round texture, the sweetness, the light hint of acidity of the wine perfectly harmonized with the richness and sweetness of the duck ravioli.  Both flavor profiles coming together, enhancing each other where you didn’t know where you food ended and your drink began.  It’s truly magical to try the duck ravioli with sweet potato sauce and vanilla with the Anselmann 2008 Gewürztraminer Kabinett.

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Posted Sunday, January 16, 2011
Mushroom Season & Homemade Pasta Zen

fett

The Northwest features a nice lineup of native mushrooms in the fall & right now they look beautiful!  Morels – the most sought after & the most expensive (as they are extremely weather sensitive & can therefore be scarce) – are available both spring & fall and are rich, meaty, earthy in flavor. Chanterelles are lighter yellow in color & look like little golden chalices. They are more delicate in flavor with a light fruity fragrance. Pompom mushrooms, a native of Canada, are white, fluffy & spongy and look just like little pompoms.  When cooked, the flavors are reminiscent of sautéed veal.  Cultivated mushrooms (such as Crimini & Bunashimeji) are also available, are usually more reasonably priced & can add nice flavors & textures to your dish.

Chef Tracey had made homemade pasta at other restaurants, but never at Portalis until last fall when she put her homemade fettuccine & seasonal mushrooms on the menu. She had been talking about putting pasta on the menu for some time, dreamily talking about how there’s something about the softness of the dough and the kneading & handling of the dough that is very relaxing and takes her to a sort of pasta zen-land.  She said that when you’re rolling pasta, the rest of the world just goes away and you just work on getting the dough to be the exact texture you want it to be.  When I asked her about the pasta per se, she said that her dough is egg yolk rich (imagine that) with a little semolina to add texture to the dough. She smiled when she told me that the richness of the egg yolk in her dough balances beautifully with the earthiness of the mushrooms, making for a luscious combination.  [Note: This dish was in such demand that we moved it to HOUSE FAVORITES thru Nov/Dec and it will be back, so keep your eye out.]

In the new year, Tracey has moved on to her next homemade pasta: Linguini, which she is serving with Manila clams & a white wine, herb, butter sauce.  This is different than most clams over linguini as it’s a brothy dish as opposed to the cream-based dish you usually see. Not surprisingly, it’s delicious!  We’ll just have to see if it gets such a following that it becomes a house favorite, too.

Stay tuned …Chef Tracey is already working on her ravioli!

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Posted Thursday, January 06, 2011
SEASONAL FOOD NOTE: Lower the Cut Round 2

The holidays are busy for us and so we always wait until January to celebrate with the Portalis team and it is subsequently also when I take on my biggest cooking challenge of the year … making dinner for 20+ people, all of whom are into food & wine (yikes!).  I hold it dear to my heart that I’m a good hobby cook.  I love cooking & can whip up a mean multi-course dinner for 4.  But 20+ is a whole different ball game & I’ve had a couple of downright mediocre results through the years.  In 2009 & 2010 I took a break from cooking and made easy-way-out-but-fun meals (such as fondue), but this year I’m going to cook again and I’m determined to wow them.

As I was thinking about what I could cook that would be yummy but doable, I remembered a recipe from the very first Food+Wine post (titled Seasonal Food Note: Lower the Cut) made in early January 2009.  It was a recipe for Pork Stew with Hazelnuts.  It’s affordable, it’s uncomplicated and there are no last minute flourishes required to pull off a delicious, fulfilling, wine friendly meal.  So here goes.  Party is next Monday.  I’ll let you know how I do.

In the meantime, if you decide to try this meal at home (which I highly recommend; I’ve made it several times at home), here’s the recipe as well as some wine pairing suggestions:  Pork Stew with Hazelnuts ~ Sautee chopped leek (or onion), carrot, celery.  Put aside.  Brown a pork shoulder roast (approx. 2 lbs) in olive oil.  Add 2 cups stock and 1 cup red wine, such as an inexpensive blend from Spain or southern France.  Lower the heat and simmer for approx. 3 hours or until the meat is nearly tender.  Add back in sautéed vegetables and a cup a freshly shelled, slightly broken up hazelnuts and cook another 20-30 minutes.  Serve as is, over mashed potatoes or over a cooked grain such as quinoa.

What to pair? The beautiful thing about slow cooked meats is that they are satisfying & pair beautifully with a range of well-priced wines.  The key: don’t overpower the food, so go with more medium-bodied wines such as:
Siegrist 2007 Dornfelder (Pfalz, Germany)
Reg $19.99 | INSIDER $17.99 | Mixed Case $14.39
Lan 2005 Rioja Reserva (Rioja, Spain)
$19.99 | Mixed Case $15.99
Evening Land 2009 Pinot Noir (Willamette Valley, OR)
29.99 | Mixed Case $23.9

Happy New Year to everyone.  May 2011 hold good things for you including lots of good food & delicious wine!

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Posted November 08, 2010
Thanksgiving Soup

sooop

Every year I make a pumpkin soup.  Two years ago it was a traditional pumpkin soup with cream & nutmeg.  Last year I did a Thai curry pumpkin soup with a lime crème fraîche & cilantro.  Being that I like bold flavors & with the cooler weather setting in, I started thinking about one of my personal favorite soul foods – mole.  I find the spicy, sweet richness of the sauce soothing & I started thinking that the layers of flavor in pumpkin soup (sweet, spicy & salty) would work beautifully with the base flavors of mole (gaillo peppers, honey, cinnamon, clove, chocolate & peanuts).  Once I had the soup/mole, I thought a spicy homemade marshmallow would be a nice twist on the sweet element traditionally enjoyed at Thanksgiving, such as candied sweet potatoes. For the salty crunch of the garnish, I topped the dish with roasted, salted pumpkin seeds.  I am super happy with this dish!  It’s fun, it’s delicious, and yes, it is soothing!

The only trick is that it’s not the easiest dish I’ve ever given Jens to find a pairing for, but as usual, he came thru.  Try it with Helfrich 2005 Gewurztraminer Steinklotz Grand Cru ~ $9 (with spicy flavors of lychee, rose petal & apricot yet still dry) or go with a sweeter beer: Regenboog ‘t Smisje Dubbel ~ $4 (brewed with honey & dates)

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Posted Tuesday, September 07, 2010
The Magic Behind Steak & Cab

steak

Why does a T-bone or a big, marbled, grilled to perfection rib eye go so well with Cab?  Well, it’s not Cab per se, it’s the fact that the tannins – that mouth-pulling, slightly bitter, dryness in the finish of the wine – cut through the fat in the meat, creating balance on the palate.  As it happens, Cabernet Sauvignon is a grape with a lot of tannins.  In case you’re a little vague when people use the word tannins (which in the wine world is interchangeable with the term dry), tannins are a naturally occurring chemical compound found in certain plants and are easily detectible in foods such as tea, grape seeds & grape skins, walnuts, etc & are a natural preservative, allowing wine to age without going bad. That’s why Cab is a wine (for example from Bordeaux & California) that often has a drink date many years out.  But does it have to be Cab to be the perfect match for steak?  Nope.  Other tannic wines work beautifully to offset the fattiness of the beef as well, for example Argentine Malbec with its leathery, tarry, smoky flavors tends to have a nice tannic finish as does the smoky, bacony flavors of Pinotage (South Africa) and a great number of Spanish wines, such as Tempranillo from Ribera del Duero.

Chef Tracey has a nice pepper steak on the menu right now (pictured above), so come try it out with any of the following more tannic glass pours available in the wine bar:
Owen Roe 2008 Sharecropper’s Cabernet Sauvignon (WA) $8
Sangre De Los Andes 2008 Malbec (AR)  $8
Neil Ellis 2008 Pinotage (SA) $9.50

Or better yet, open a bottle of any of the following on Wednesday (all night) or Sunday (6-8pm with dinner) & get the bottle at the retail price (no $15 dollar corkage):
Luigi Bosca 2004 Cabernet Sauvignon Reserva (AR) $22.99 (~$4.80/glass)
Beckmen Vineyards 2006 Cabernet Sauvignon (CA) $26.99 (~$5.60/glass)
or be a rebel and try the Wine Spectator 95 pointer:
Neyers 2005 Cabernet Sauvignon (CA) $56.99 (~$11.99/glass)

Cheers!
Julie

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Posted Sunday,  August 22, 2010
A Little Lesson about Alaskan Black Cod

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Alaskan Black Cod is, funnily enough, not in the cod family.  In the Pacific Northwest it is generally just called Black Cod. In other parts of the US it’s known as Sablefish.  To make things even more confusing, in other parts of the country there’s a fish called Black Cod which is a member of the cod family, fished from the sub-Antarctic Seas. This fish is still fatty as it comes from cold waters, but it has not the quality nor the richness of our local Alaskan Black Cod.

Alaskan Black Cod is my favorite Pacific Northwest fish because of its beautiful, buttery, rich texture (I do like my butter!) and I chose to do this fish with Chinese long beans with a honey soy glaze.  We had been serving the beans on the Thursday’s $5 menu to rave reviews and I thought they would be the perfect accompaniment to the rich yet mild flavors of the fish.  The fish itself is a very flexible fish to pair with wine; it would even pair well with a classic, buttery California Chardonnay, a wine not easy to pair with food.  However, the Asian flair of the sweet/salty beans requires a wine with a little off-dry quality to it.  On the menu, we’ve paired this wine with the Weingut Hiedler 2008 Loess Grüner Veltliner.  If you’d like a bottle, go for the P. Ginglinger 2009 Pinot Gris (Alsace) or a German Riesling, try Karthaeuserhof 2007 Eitelsbacher Karthaeuserhofberg Kabinett on sale for $38 from $57. (Shop price: Reg $41.99 | Sale $22.99 | Case $18.39)

Cheers!
Tracey

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Posted Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Delicious Summer Fare: Duck with Raspberries

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I was looking through The Art of French Cooking and thinking about how raspberry duck is a French classic that Julia Child brought into the American household with the printing of her now famous cookbook.  As I was reading, it occurred to me that local Washington raspberries are in peak season & look beautiful right now and I was immediately inspired to bring back the dish, but with a new twist.  We’re serving duck breast with raspberry sauce, farro, mushroom, pistachio & wilted arugula. The light fluffy grain & the earthiness of the mushrooms offset the richness of the duck and the tartness of the raspberries. It’s delicious!

Of course It’s even better with the right wine.  We’ve paired it with Apolloni Vineyards 2007 Laurine Pinot Noir (OR), but it would also be great with the Qupé 2007 Syrah (CA).  A classic Rhône pairing would be wonderful, too. Try a nice table wine such as Ogier 2005 Côtes du Rhône Caves Des Papes or for a richer, more complex wine, try the Chateau De Saint Cosme 2007 Gigondas.  (Bar specials on Wednesday & Sunday include no corkage options!)  Hope you can stop by and try this seasonal dish.  I’m very happy with it!

Cheers,
Chef Tracey

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Posted Thursday July 8, 2010
PORTALIS STAFF SUMMER BEER PICKS

Finally summer is here and in the warm summer evenings wine is great but beer is better!  I went around and asked our staff their favorite beer or beer style they like to drink in the heat of the season and here’s what I found…

Gina: Unibroue La fin du Monde
“A great balanced beer; creamy, citrus & not too fruity. plus its 9% alcohol…get your beer on!”

Karli: Stone Pale Ale
“One of my favorite styles is Pale Ale, its smooth, not too bitter, but still has enough of a bite to refresh you.”

Tracey: Regenboog Vuuve Whitbier
“A rich beer with great spice – ginger & citrus”

Sky: Radeberger Pilsner
“Light, crisp and refreshing. Nothing better on a hot day served ice cold.”

Jens: Ayinger Jahrhundert
“Refreshing and light Bavarian summer lager.”

Ross: Delirium Tremems
“Belgium gold ale, rich with a subtle spice and sweetness.  Great beer for summer, on its own or with food.”

Beer pairs great with most items on the menu and in particular we suggest:
BBQ BEEF BRISKET with jicama coleslaw & a cheddar chive biscuit, or our
SALT ROASTED SHRIMP with rice, corn, scallion, crema, cotija cheese & avocado lime sauce
MANILA CLAMS with chorizo, sherry & butter
And always, of course, our CHARCUTERIE PLATE featuring our house pâté.

Cheers!
Gina

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Posted Friday, June 18
Wines for July 4th Celebrations!

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Our dear Chef Tracey is marrying her Sammy (former Chef at Quinn’s, current chef at Oddfellows Café) on this coming Fourth of July and we’ll be whooping it up with them at Sam’s parents’ farm outside of Bellingham, celebrating the occasion with traditional grilled Fourth of July fare, lots of beer, lots of wine (vino verde, rosé & the C.G. Di Arie Zin, if you must know), fireworks and then much to our daughters’ delight, everyone will camp out at the farm so that celebrating can continue – safely – late into the night and with much gusto as we wish Tracey and her Sam all the best in their (official) life together.

If you are also planning on a festive Fourth of July celebration and you need delicious yet affordable wines to go with your summer fare, here are Jens Top 10 BBQ Wines, all on sale thru Sunday, June 27:

Zin is the perfect red wine choice to balance the spicy sweetness of BBQ sauce:
C.G Di Arie 2007 Zinfandel (CA)
Reg $15.99 | Sale $13.99 | Case $11.19
Ridge 2008 Three Valley Zinfandel (CA)
Reg $26.99 | Sale $23.99 | Case $19.19

This is the quintessential food wine.  It goes great with everything!  Try it:
Celler Tomas Cusine 2006 Vilosell (SP)
Reg $18.99 | Sale $16.99 | Case $13.59

Rosé is refreshing and it’s a cooler when eating spicy foods.  Goes great!
Triennes 2009 Rosé Provence (FR)
Reg $17.99 | Sale $15.99 | Case $12.79
Domaine Saint Roch Les Vignes 2009 Rosé (FR)
Reg $14.99 | Sale $12.99 | Case $10.39

Here are some fuller-bodied whites that will be able to handle the richness of grilled meats:
William Church 2009 Viognier (WA)
Reg $22.99 | Sale $19.99 | Case $15.99
Mulderbosch 2009 Chenin Blanc (SA)
Reg $15.99 | Sale $13.99 | Case $11.19
Shannon Ridge 2007 Chardonnay (CA)
Reg $25.99 | Sale $15.99 | Case $12.79

Here are some local reds that are big & fruity, but not tannic; therefore, they won’t increase the heat:
Owen Roe 2008 Abbot’s Table Wine (WA/OR)
Reg $23.99 | Sale $21.99 | Case $17.59
Syncline 2008 Subduction Red (WA)
Reg $19.99 | Sale $17.99 | Case $14.39

Happy Fourth of July!  Have a fun & safe one!
Julie & Jens

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Posted Sunday, May 23
LAMB & FATTOUSH TO CELEBRATE SPRING!

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With warm weather here (at least some of the time), I thought fattoush would be a lovely way to celebrate spring! Fattoush is a traditional Lebanese salad consisting of fried or toasted pita bread, generally mixed with seasonal vegetables (usually tomato, cucumber, onion & mint), which is then tossed with a vinaigrette made of lemon, olive oil and sumac (a Middle Eastern spice which gives the salad its sour taste; sumac can generally be found in Indian or Middle Eastern markets.)  Traditionally, this salad is a way to used up day-old or stale pita bread which soaks up the vinaigrette and makes a very nice, refreshing salad … delicious on its own or with grilled meats.  I chose to serve it with a yogurt marinated lamb kabob and Jens paired the dish with the Pencarrow 2008 Pinot Noir from New Zealand.  Sounds like an usual combination, but the cherry fruit flavors and campfire smokiness pair beautifully with the meat and don’t overwhelm the salad.

Lamb loin chops have always been my favorite lamb dish because every time we went to my grandmother’s (just north of Baltimore) she would serve lamb chops.  Her art was to cut off the fat and then pan fry the chops in their own rendered fat, the rendering of which would make the whole house smell sweet & floral. Nostalgia aside, I like this cut because it’s less gamey than the leg or the shank. And this is a quick preparation as the meat is tender.

Lamb shank is less expensive and requires long, slow cooking with acids (such as wine) to help break down the meat and make it fork tender.  I like braised lamb osso bucco (a classic Italian dish which is red wine braised shank served with a saffron risotto) better than veal because of the richness of the meat and the flavor that the meat imparts into the stock.

Leg of lamb (which is a traditional Easter dish in my home) is the gamiest cut of lamb and my favorite way of preparing it is whole grain mustard, white wine and rosemary marinade (marinate overnight) and then oven-roasted the next day (approx 3 hours on 350 degrees), served with roasted potatoes & asparagus and covered with the pan juices.

Enjoy & cheers!
Chef Tracey

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Chocolate & Wine Pairings

If you missed my Chocolate & Wine Pairings class where we used the beautiful masterpieces from Cadeaux Chocolates‘ (pictured left) chocolatier, Janet Shimada, here’s a quick overview …

As with food, when pairing wines with chocolate, match lighter-flavored chocolates with lighter-bodied wines, and more “intense” flavored chocolates with more full-bodied wines. When pairing wine with chocolate, you can look for wines with have the same flavor profile as the chocolate (nutty, cherry, other fruit, mint, etc.), or look for contrasts. Most experts would recommend “sticking” with fortified wines (ports), because the sweetness of the wines match well with chocolates. But there is more behind it. Let’s take a journey beyond fortified wines.

Milk Chocolate
Milk chocolate has a higher percentage of sugar, and a smaller percentage of chocolate liquor (unsweetened chocolate). In addition with its higher milk content, milk chocolate is a milder, sweeter product with fewer aromas and flavors.  Wine pairing suggestions: a Tawny Port (try: Quinta De La Rosa 10y Tawny Port) is the ultimate match. Its nutty, caramel flavors highlight the milk chocolates’ own flavors and intensify the overall chocolate flavors.

Semisweet Chocolate
Dark chocolate with 50% to 69% cacao has strong, complex flavors, with notes that are nutty, spicy, floral, earthy, fruity, and/or caramel. The aftertaste is balanced, not too sweet. Wine pairing suggestions: fortified fruity wines like Banyuls and Ruby Ports (try: Niepoort NV Ruby, Quinta De La Rosa Finest Reserve) have cacoa and chocolate aromas and flavors as well as cherry, raspberry or other berry fruit, and are classic companions with chocolate. Vintage Ports should be matched with caution: The high sugar and alcohol content can overwhelm the chocolate. Banyuls and nonvintage Ports have softer, rounder tannins than vintage Ports and pair better with chocolate.  Another classic choice is Cabernet Sauvignon (try: Heitz Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon or Sparkman Kingpin Cabernet Sauvignon) or Bordeaux (try: Château Pibran Pauillac or Château Pichecan Margaux). It brings out the fruity-peppery-grapey notes in the chocolate. Zinfandel brings out chocolate’s spicy notes. Tawny Ports, which have nutty, tobacco and leather notes, also make good pairings.

Bittersweet Chocolate
The most intense, richly-flavored dark chocolate is 70% to 100% cacao. Bittersweet chocolate can have bitter, roasted, fruity, earthy, woodsy, ashy and/or nutty notes. The same wines will match bittersweet and semisweet chocolate.

Chocolates with Caramel or Toffee
Wine pairing suggestions:  Hungarian Tokaji, with notes of apricots, butter and caramel, pairs well with buttery salt caramels. Young Madeira (try: Broadbent Madeira 5y old) has classic caramel and toffee flavors and good acidity to pair with that kind of chocolate. Buttery caramels and toffees pair well with buttery wines. Mersault from a ripe year, with rich, lush fruit and low acid or a rich buttery Chardonnay from California (try: Shannon Ridge Chardonnay) complements the brown sugar and caramel flavors as well as the cocoa flavors of the chocolate. The nutty bouquet of a dry Oloroso Sherry complements the nuts in toffee. It’s also great with salt caramels. Sauternes, a rich sweet dessert wine from Bordeaux, has honey, apricot and peach notes, also pairs well with caramel and toffee chocolates. The chewiness of the candy stands up to the viscosity of the wine. Tawny Port enhances the nutty notes of toffee, and to a lesser extent, caramel.

Chocolates with Cinnamon and Ginger
A spicy, dry Zinfandel (try: Four Vines Maverick Old Vines Zinfandel) or a sweet Late Harvest Zinfandel (they can almost be port-like) are good options to complement the spicy notes of chocolates with cinnamon and ginger.

Chocolates with Coconut
Brachetto D’Aqui (try: Giacomo Bologna), a light sparkling dessert wine from Piedmont, with typical aromas and flavors of strawberries and roses, is a great match with nuts and coconut. Sauternes or a Late Harvest Semillon or Moscato from Australia (try: Two Hands) are other options.

Chocolates with Coffee Flavors
Chocolates with espresso, mocha, coffee bean and other coffee flavors. Oloroso sherry or cream sherry (coffee, nutty flavors) or Australian Shiraz (try: Langmeil Valley Floor Shiraz), with dark fruit, mocha, coffee, espresso flavors.

And last … Chocolates with Nuts
Including hazelnuts, almonds, and other nuts and pralines. Wine pairing suggestions: nutty Tawny Ports are the perfect match for chocolates with nuts. Sherry that is not too sweet is a good companion to almond-based chocolates, ideally a Pedro Ximinez with its almond aromas and flavors, or a well-rounded Fino. Cream Sherries match well with hazelnuts. Lighter nuts like pistachio can be served with Sauternes. Other options would be Brachetto D’Aqui and Cabernet Sauvignons.

Cheers & Happy Valentine’s Day!
Jens

A memorable evening with Sophia Bergqvist, co-owner of Quinta De La Rosa


Tuesday, January 26th we had the honor of hosting Sophia Bergqvist, co-owner of the Quinta De La Rosa Estate in the Douro Valley and a delightful and dynamic guest for our customers to get acquainted with.

Her story is a fascinating one: The Bergqvist family has been making port since 1815 and Quinta De La Rosa was bought as a christening present for Claire Feuerheerd, Sophia Bergqvist’s grandmother. Sophia’s great-grandfather Albert Feuerheerd once owned one of Porto’s biggest shipping companies but due to the economic downturn in early 1930s, he was forced to sell his company to Barros. The La Rosa estate was kept and run by Claire and her husband Eric Bergqvist, during which time (1933 to 1987) the grapes of the La Rosa estate were sold to the well-known port manufacturers Croft and Sandeman.

In 1988 Sophia and her father, Tim Bergqvist decided to restart the family business and launched Quinta De La Rosa as a top quality port producer. In the early 1990s the Bergqvist family started making Douro red wines, which got a big boost in 2002 when Jorge Moreira became their leading winemaker. From then on Quinta De La Rosa has been producing outstanding ports and Douro Tintos, both of which we had the pleasure of tasting:

Quinta De La Rosa 2007 Vale Da Clara Red Wine
Reg $13.99 | Case $11.19
This table red is a blend of Touriga Nacional, Touriga Francesca, Tinta Barroca and Tinta Roriz from nearby vineyards with a higher altitude, above the Douro Valley, than Quinta De La Rosa. The wine is medium-bodied with good structure, acidity, and an attractive freshness. Mainly aromas and flavors of blackberries and blackcurrants with some earthy tones.

Quinta De La Rosa 2006 Douro Tinto
Reg $22.99 | Case $18.39
Same blend than above but the grapes come mainly from the Lamelas Vineyard at La Rosa which was planted by Tim Bergqvist over 20 years ago. This red is medium-bodied, very elegant with a round, balanced structure. Very aromatic with lovely red fruit flavors, especially strawberries, raspberries and white cherries, with a touch of lime. This wine is lighter and fresher in style.

Quinta De La Rosa 2005 Tinto Douro Reserve
$44.99 | Case $35.99
A blend of Touriga Nacional, Tinta Roriz, Tinta Cão, Touriga Franca and many others. The grapes are coming from Sophia Bergqvist’s finest vineyards. Big, full-bodied, with expressive fruit, like blackberries, blueberries, blackcurrants, with herbal and earthy notes. Beautiful structure, complexity, elegance and acidity. Fine tannins on the finish. Up to 5 years.

Quinta De La Rosa NV Tawny Port
Reg $15.99 | Case $12.79
This tawny is a blend of Touriga Nacional, Touriga Francesca, Tinta Barroca, and Tinta Roriz. The vines are all estate grown and the wine is aged in old oak 550 liter barrels. A fantastic Tawny for the money. Toffee, caramel and nutty flavors with great acidity. Beautiful, long finish.

Quinta De La Rosa 2003 Late Bottle Vintage Port
Reg $31.99 | Case $25.59
Same blend as above. This Port comes from an excellent, generally declared vintage year which was perfect for LBVs as well. It is an enormous, but elegant LBV with aromas and flavors of cocoa, chocolate as well as cherry, raspberry and other berry fruit, and soft tannins on a long finish. This LBV were matured in large wooden casks (also called “tunnels”) for 4 to 6 years and bottled in 2007.

Quinta De La Rosa 2004 Vintage Port ~ WE93/Top 100 Cellar Selections
Reg $69.99 | Case $55.99
Same grapes as above. This Vintage Port was definitely the star of the tasting (and sales). A Port of highest quality, wonderful length and impressive depth. Full-bodied, with great concentration and excellent texture.  Beautiful aromas and flavors of dark chocolate, cocoa, dark berries, raspberries, and black cherries. We will taste that again in 30 years.

It was a great tasting and a pleasure to have Sophia with us.   Enjoy these wines!

Jens Strecker
Owner, Portalis Wines
jens@portaliswines.com