Right vs Left Bank | Bordeaux

Bordeaux (France) as a region is split into three sections:  Right Bank, Left Bank and Entre-Deux-Mers.  Entre-Deux-Mers is 100% white wine from Sauvignon Blanc and Semillon.   The Right Bank and the Left Bank produce comparable red wines, though very different due to the soil structure and warming abilities for the varietals grown (and allowed to be grown).

Right Bank Bordeaux

Battle of the_ right bank
Right Bank Bordeaux wines are soft, elegant and plush on the palate!

  • located on the right bank of the Dordogne River
  • soil consists of sand, clay and gravel with layers of limestone outside of Pomerol and iron rich clay (crasse de fer) in Pomerol.
  • The varietals nurtured by this unique soil structure are Merlot, Cabernet Franc and moderate amounts of Cabernet Sauvignon
  • Pomerol is 70-80% Merlot and 20-25% Cabernet Franc, aka Bouchet
  • St. Émilion (and surrounding Pomerol areas) 90% Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot and Malbec

Left Bank Bordeaux

Battle of the _ left

Left Bank Bordeaux wines are structured, tannic and expressive!

  • located on the left bank of the Gironde estuary and Garonne river
  • the Médoc soil consists of gravel topsoil with Margaux showing increased layers of limestone, sand and clay and the Graves showing a sandier mixture with gravel and light clay is known as boulbenes.
  • this gravely soil structure is vital for the maturation of Cabernet Sauvignon. Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot also play a role but are not primary.
  • Médoc – the northern region with three sub regions (Haut, Médoc, Bas)
  • Graves – the southern region which produces white, reds and dessert wines

Barbaresco | Barolo

Barbaresco | Barolo

Two villages in Langhe Piedmont Italy–  They always produce 100% Nebbiolo, however each area is a touch different.  Therefore the expression of the grape is also unique.

Blog_ premir VT_Barbaresco hillside_email

Barbaresco Langhe Piedmont  — Barbarescos are feminine- rose petals, soft earth, with vivacious cherry expression! But don’t be fooled- this wine is still a gorgeous powerhouse.

  • located south of the Tanzano river and north east of Barolo in the Langhe region. Though impacted by the cooling mists from the Alps, there is a mediating maritime factor for early ripening that allows for a riper and less tannic expression.
  • soil consists of calcareous marl
    3. 100% Nebbiolo
  • aged 24 months prior to release with 9 months in oak
  • region originates back to 1894 but popularity only arose in the 1950’s thanks to Gaja and Giacoso.

Pelassa_barolo vineyards

Barolo Langhe Piedmont — Barolos are powerful- leather, musky pine forest earth, tobacco leaves, truffle, dried roses, and cured cherries!

  • located on the Monferrato hillside- never in the valley or flats and 1.9 miles southwest of Barbaresco
    2. soil consists of a mixture of sand, calcareous marl and clay; with communes La Morra and Barolo showing more calcareous marl similar to Barbaresco
  • 100% Nebbiolo
    4. aged 38 months prior to release with 18 months in oak
  • originally created as a sweet wine for nobility- the late 1800’s turned toward dryer wines. The highly tannic Barolo area Nebbiolo found success with aging.

Rioja| Ribera del Duero

Where Tempranillo is King

Tempranillo is an inky rich dark red varietal that excudes excellent ripe fruit and tannins, especially in hot areas.  Rioja and Ribera del Duero Spain produce tempranillo as the main red varietal (with some exceptions).

Rioja Spain

Isidro Milagro_Rioja vineyards_banner

  • located in the North Central region of Spain underneath the Pyrenees mountains and the Cantabrian Mountains. It has a mitigating river- Ebro, which runs westward to the Mediterranean sea
  • there are three sub regions have diverse terrain and climates (Alta, Alavesa and Baja). The first two are calcareous clay whereas Baja is ferrous and alluvial soils (great for Garnacha!)
  • Tempranillo primarily in addition to Garnacha, Graciano and Mazuelo (Carignan)
  • Crianza is aged 24 months prior to release with 12 months in oak; Riserva is aged 36 months prior to release with 12 months in oak
  • Historically 100% American oak, however modern techniques and the French influence (and oak) has been the shift!

Ribera del Duero Spain

  • located on the Mesata plateau of the Castilla y León region. This area is surrounded by the Cantabrian Mountains with the Duero river passing west through to Portugal and the Atlantic ocean.
  • flat and rocky terrain consists of layers of silty-clayey sand, limestone, marl and chalky concretions.
  • minimum of 75% Tempranillo, with a maximum of Garnacha.
    4. same aging requirements as Rioja
  • Vega Sicilia placed this region on the map with a fresh new style in the late 1800’s, however it was the 1980s with investment in modern technology that released the popularity valve to the world.

BEER Styles – A Reference

Over the last year, we have been writing on the various styles of beer.  With the opening of our new shop, Jens was excited to expand the beer selection.  And boy, did he!  We have over 75 styles of imported and domestic beers.  There is also a few ciders in there too!  Compiled here are the educational and tasting notes.  Enjoy!!

Stout | Porter

By roasting malts and barley one produces a dark beer.  Stouts were a generic term for the strongest (stoutest) of porters- 7-8% ABV.  There are several different styles of Stouts, yet the Dry Irish is the standard.

beer_stout_roasted malts

Old World vs New World
Inspired from English & Irish Stouts, the American Stout has lots of innovation and originality.  Not tied down by tradition methods one could find barrel aging, coffee and chocolate additives, or even excessive hop.  Typically balanced, easy drinking with an average (abv) range: 4.0-7.0%

Dry Irish Stout is most classic with a lighter body, lower carbonation and typically a nitro system for creamy testure.  Bitter at times from roasted barely.

beer_stout_image malt

Imperial — Russian Imperial is the original term, coined for the export to Catherine II of Russia.  ABV is 9% or higher.
Baltic — another style or Imperial, however cool fermented (lager).  Found in the Baltic regions, especially Poland.
Oyster —  with the actual use of oysters, yes.  Traditionally, oysters were standard plates in public houses and taverns.
Chocolate — No, sorry, typically no chocolate additive here.  However, the malt is toasted until it presents a chocolately flavor and color.  There are a few brew houses that add chocolate flavoring, but it is not the common practice.
Oatmeal- with a maximum of 30% oats it lends to a bitter taste.
Irish or Dry — The standard for stout with a dryer taste.  Guinness is a prime example.
Milk — Residual sugar (lactose) that is not fermentable by beer yeast.  Sweet, rich and supposedly nutrious.

In Stock now:

Guinness Dublin Ireland  $2.19 bottle 16.9 fl oz
Stone Brewing Smoked Porter San Diego CA $5.49 bottle 18 oz
Reubens Robust Porter Ballard WA $5.69 bottle 16.6 fl oz
North Coast Brewing Old Rasputin Imperial Stout Fort Bragg CA $2.89 bottle 12 fl oz
No Li Wrecking Ball Imperial Stout Spokane WA $2.89 bottle 12 fl oz

For the Love of Belgian Beers

Aromatic, yeasty, spicy and fruity- Belgian beers are so diverse in their flavor profiles.  And rich!  What would be better for a time a year that we delve into feasting with our family and friends?!

Belgian history
Dating back to the Crusades as a nutritious and “more sterile than water” alternative beverage, the abbeys utilized the funds collected to take care of their lands and monasteries.

beer_belgium_ monk tasting

The brewery must be operated on and (partially) by a Trappist monastery.  These are Trappist breweries from around the world:  Achel, Chimay, Orval, Rochefort, Westmalle, Westvleteren

Abbey breweries have a bit more flexibility with the main clause that a portion of profits are under the abbey’s jurisdiction.  It can be produced by a non-Trappist monastery or under commercial arrangement with monastery as well as just branded with either a defunct or made up abbey and produced by a a commercial brewer.  Of course, these are all registered, and as of 2011 there are 18 Abbey beers produced.


There are several styles of Belgian beers from golden to brown to saison to lambic and each one has a style of glass to go with it!  The typical style is a tulip glass.  Lambics and fruit beers are served in flute style vessels.  Chalices and goblets are also common glasses- usually used with ales.

Currently in stock:

Rochefort Trappist $7.69 bottle | 11.2 fl oz– Amber-brown color, foamy head, fruits of banana, figs and  raisins; subtle black espresso, spice and bitterness
La Chouffe Ale $4.99 | 11.2 fl oz — Golden hazy with yeasty and bready aromas, spices of clove, cinammon and coriander, fruits of apricot, banana, summer pears and lemon citrus.
Huyghe Brewing– Delirium Trememns Strong Ale  $7.89 | 11.2 fl oz — Golden color with earthy notes such as grass, banana, orange rind and anjou pears, cloves and wheat.
Huyghe Brewing– Delirium Nocturnum   $7.89 | 11.2 fl oz — Dark brown with red hues, fruits of raison, fig plums and baked apples, intriguing notes of brown sugar, tobacco leaf, earth and cocoa.
Westmalle Trappist $6.89 | 11.2 fl oz — Dark brown with mahogny hints, layered fruit components of cherries, plums, raisons and sweet caramel fudge brownies; Notable hints of coffee, roasted malt and hazelnut as well.
Corsendonk pater Dubbel $4.89 | 11.2 fl oz — Dark brown with ruby red tones, very subtle fruit for a Belgian- prunes, cooked cherries, raisons; distinctive notes of toasted malts and toffee.
Chimay Premiere $12.99 | 25.4 fl oz — Dark brown with red hues, expressive fruits- raspberry, cherries, baked pears, plum with sweet notes such as fudge, caramel, toffee and brown sugar as well as rustic herbs and hops- tea leaves and yeast.


Image Credit  http://ithinkaboutbeer.com/2013/05/09/the-brewing-monks-a-brief-history-of-the-trappist-order-and-monastic-brewing/monk-testing-wine/


Lagern means “to store” in German.  Lagers are brewed with bottom fermenting yeast which works slowly at cold temperatures then is stored at cool temperature to mature. Lager yeast produces fewer by-product characteristics.  International (OLD WORLD) vs American (NEW WORLD) Lagers are distinct as the yeast and hops are a different style.

Old world hops and Saazer hops- spicy, herbal and earthy.  American hops and new world hops- more fruit= berries, melon, grapes.


Czechvar, Czech Republic– Golden, medium light body, moderate carbonation.  Grain, grass and dough
Dortmunder aka DAB, Germany —  Mild but bold.  Balanced of malts and earthy grains with a light touch of hops.  Clean and refreshing.  Originally, founded in 1868 by the businessmen Laurenz Fischer and Heinrich and Friedrich Mauritz together with master brewer Heinrich Herberz, the name was Herberz & Co Brewery (Bierbrauerei Herberz & Co.) until it went public in 1881.
NW Brewing Hawk One Pacific, WA — Grass and grainy sweetness.  Pale and unobtrusive.
OKOCIM or OK Beer, Poland — Sweet breadiness, corn and caramel. Pale golden goodness.
Primator, Czech Republic — Fresh hay, malt, bedding straw, honey and biscuits.
Staropramen, Czech Republic — Malt madness- skunky, herbaceous and bready.
Zywiec, Poland — Corn, grains, honey, light citrus and malty notes.  Simple.

image credit: http://urbanbeernerd.com/tag/lager/

Amber Ale | New World

Originally a spin off of an American Pale ale, the American Amber ales have a high hop rate with a bit more body. Typically reddish with more floral hops aromas than an Irish red ales.

beer_ amber malt and summer hops

Tasting notes:  A  balanced beer, with toasted malt characters and a light fruitiness, caramel/crystal malt flavor. Medium to high hop rate and aroma. Medium body. Light copper to brown in color. Moderate carbonation.

Pike Brewing Heirloom Amber Ale Seattle, WA  Balanced amber ale with biscuit malt and herbaceous hop character.  IBU: 32 ABV: 5.00%   $1.79 12 fl oz. 1989 and Charles and Rose Ann Finkel opened their own brewery in The Pike Place Market of Seattle. Having fallen in love with the many beers of Europe, they were inspired to bring back home a different style of beer. They also pioneered a beer & wine importing business.

Stone Brewing Company Leviation Amber Ale
  Escondido, CA   Grassy, fresh, hoppy nose. Bitter hop, with an smooth earthy finish, and a smooth slightly carbonated. ABV: 4.40%

Anderson Valley Boont Amber Ale
Boonville, CA  Deep copper hue and contribute a slight caramel sweetness while the herbal, spicy bitterness from carefully selected whole-cone hops impart a crisp, clean finish.  IBU: 16 ABV 5.8%

Hilliards Amber Ale
Ballard, WA  A bit cloudy with a big, bright hop presence.  IBU: 46  ABV: 5.5%

References: brewwiki.com
Image credit:  http://www.dreamstime.com/royalty-free-stock-photos-amber-malt-summer-hops-image-image31425298

Imperial Pale Ale

The golden hoppiness of the beer world under double rainbows of NW gladness…  all began from Englishmen attempting to transport beer to and from India in the 1800’s.  The beer of choice in those days was not  pale ale but porters.  But porters went flat or were consumed quickly by sailors.  Solution:  add some hops and increase the alcohol content!


Here is a tidbit of our IPA selection in the coolers at Portalis.

Reubens, Ballard WA IMPERIAL RYE IPA  ABV: 8.4% IBU: 80+ Intense citrus and floral aroma followed by a smooth medium full mouth feel. Citrus leads the flavor profile, with rye spice and bitterness coming through in the finish.

No Li, Spokane WA BORN & RAISED IPA  7% ABV IBU 85 Malt: 2-row, Crystal, Munich; Hops: Cascade, Columbus, Chinook, Northern Brewer, Cluster; Dry-Hopping: Columbus, Cascade  Big, bold copper supportive body with citrus and piney flavors, a hint of mint.

Fremont, Fremont WA INTERURBAN IPA, ABV: 6.2%  IBU: 80 2-Row Pale, Munich, and Honey malts with Chinook, Centennial, and Amarillo hops. Roasted pale malt swirled with flavor malts and filled with the rich spices.

Ninkasi, Eugene OR TRICERAHOPS ABV 8%  IBU 100  Malts: 2-Row Pale , Munich, Carahell; Hops: Chinook, Cascade, Summit, Centennial, Palisade Double everything you already love in an IPA.  Fiercely flavorful.  Earthy, floral hop aroma and flavor with body and higher alcohol however  the beer can be deceiving as it is very smooth.

ENJOY! History_ IPA http://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2015/jan/30/brief-history-of-ipa-india-pale-ale-empire-drinks History _ IPA http://www.cleveland.com/taste/index.ssf/2013/10/india_pale_ales_origin_is_root.html

Weißbier or Witbier?  

Wheat Beers are produced with up to 60% wheat instead of barley (German law requires at least 50%).  Typically, they are cloudy and unfiltered.


Weißbier (German – “white beer”) is a light coloured top-fermenting beer.  Hefe Weizen literally, “yeast-wheat”- banana, vanilla, smokey and clove.  Notable producers are Erdinger, Paulaner, Franziskaner, Weihenstephaner, Maisel.  These can also be classified Dunkel/Dark Weizen (dark) or Kristall Weizen (filtered, crystal clear)

Witbier (Belgian – “white beer”) has flavors such as coriander and orange peel and are often made with raw unmalted wheat, as opposed to the malted wheat used in other varieties. Hoegaarden Original White Ale Brouwerij van Hoegaarden is an outstanding producer.

When serving a bottled unfiltered wheat beer hold the glass on an angle and pour slowly. With about 10% or 15% left swirl smoothly to suspend the yeast, then add to improve the flavor, scent and appearance.
Bavarian-style 500 ml, vase-shaped glasses. Berliner Weiße is often served in a schooner.
Kristallweizen (especially in Austria and American) served with a slice of lemon or orange in the glass; this is generally frowned upon in Bavaria.[7]
Witbier is usually served in a 25cl glass

Currently in stock:
Weihenstephan  Munich, Germany $3.79 12.9 fl oz
Pair with fish and seafood, with spicy cheese and especially with the traditional Bavarian veal sausage

Bavarian Monastery from the early 700’s lived through wars, earthquakes, the plague and industrialization.

Maisel Weisse Bayreuth, Germany  $3.19  16.9fl oz
Classic clove spices, wheat nuances and nutmeg.  Roasted meats, musky cheeses and sausage.
Erdinger Oktoberfest Weissbrau Erdig Germany $1.59 11.2fl oz
Bananas, cloves, citrus, bread-yeast and velvety character.  Clean finish.  Enjoy  on its own or with stew.


In the midst of this heat, the soft, clean and refreshing pilsner beckons…
Pilsner originates from the city of Plzen, Bohemia, Czech Republic, where it was first produced in 1842. The original Pilsner Urquell beer is still produced there.  As a pale lager, it is fermented slow and cool, producing delicately flavored beers.

beer_pilsner_ malt

Here are three traditional styles:
German-style Pilsner: light straw to golden color with more bitter or earthy taste:
Jever (2.19 11.2 fl oz)
Veltins (1.89 11.2 fl oz)
Warsteiner (1.69 11.2 fl oz)
Wurzberg (1.89 11.2 fl oz)
Radeberger (2.39 11.2 fl oz)

Czech-style Pilsner: golden, full of colors, with high foaminess and lighter flavour  Pilsner Urquell, Radegast

European-style Pilsner has a slightly sweet taste, can be produced from other than barley malt  Dutch: Amstel, Grolsch, Heineken. Belgian: Stella Artois (2.89 11.2 fl oz)

Wild and zany, lambics are beers that ferment spontaneously in Belgium.  That is, without brewers yeast, but with wild yeast strains such as Brettanomyces bruxellensis, Brettanomyces lambicus, Saccharomyces cerevisiae, Lactobacillus.  Once the wort is produced, it is set out to cool in the open air so to meet up with the yeast in the environment.  Typically done during the winter and spring months, as it is has a lengthily aging process and summer months are more apt to grow other organisms.  Once fermentation begins, the lambic is then transferred to barrels (sherry or wine) and aged for one to several years.

beer_lambic barrels

Styles of Lambic
• Gueuze: mixture of one year-old and two year-old lambics,  fermentation in bottle for a year.
• Mars: no longer produced commercially, this lambic is a seconds off of an original brewing.
• Faro: Brown sugar, caramel or molasses sweetened, this is a mixture of lambic and a lighter brewed beer.  Sometimes fresh herbs are added.  It is pasteurized to stop fermentation in the bottle.
• Fruit:  These do have secondary bottle fermentation.  Styles include:  Kriek (sour Morello cherries), Framboise (raspberry) and other fruit lambics