Holiday Picks — 2017!

Here they are… Our favorite wines for this holiday season:

About_Jens_gina's party_square_v2
JENS, owner and wine buyer for Portalis Wines and J. Strecker Selections, its direct import company, has been at this in Seattle since 2003! A native German, he is oriented towards the Old World, but he can easily be distracted by well-crafted wines from the New World:

Franchetto 2011 Lessini Durello Spumante Riserva
VENETO, ITALY — Reg $52.99 | Mixed $42.39
We can understand why this would be Jaci’s pick to exit- bubbles, well executed. Toasted notes with ripe apples, chamomile, broom, dried apricots and hints of citrus. Stellar.

Domaine Chevallier 2015 Chablis
BURGUNDY, FRANCE — Reg $27.99 | Mixed Case $22.39
100% unoaked Chardonnay! This award-winner has white flowers and warm golden apples on the nose. Subtle flavors of tropical fruits- pineapple and guava with hints of almond. Nice acidity and minerality & a beautiful lingering finish!

Château des Roques 2013 Vacqueyras
SOUTHERN RHONE, FRANCE — Reg $22.99 | Mixed Case $18.39
Mourvedre, Grenache & Syrah — full of concentrated black fruits, plum, with delightful lingering spicy notes. Enjoy with duck or lamb. Beautiful wine, beautiful bottle! We’ve been importing this wine since our first container in 2011 & it never disappoints!

Franchetto 2013 Amarone della Valpolicella DOCG
VENETO, ITALY — Reg $59.99 | Mixed Case $47.99
Viva Giulia Franchetto! This up-and-coming woman winemaker is kicking it! This is her first vintage for her Valpolicella line. Take note! Strong bouquet of brandied cherries. Full-bodied flavors of spiced plums, licorice. Smooth tannins. Can drink now up to 10 years!

La Togata 2012 Brunello di Montalcino DOCG
TUSCANY, ITALY — Reg $64.99 | Mixed Case $51.99
The King of Tuscan wines! Made from old vine Sangiovese Grosso. Intense fruity bouquet of cassis, red berries, leather & licorice (which is a little unusual). Full-bodied, well-balanced, good acidity, smooth tannins, elegant. LONG finish. Age up to 15 years.

Zuazo Gaston 2010 Finca Costanillas
RIOJA, SPAIN — Reg $35.99 | Mixed Case $28.79
When old world meets new, or they just fall in love. This wine is a layered experience of brandied cherries, summer cherries, vanilla, spice, soft tannins and perhaps some secrets.

Patricia Green 2015 Pinot Noir Reserve 
WILLAMETTE, ORGEON — Reg $28.99 | Mixed Case $23.19
A powerful wine. Expressive cran-cherry-raspberries balanced with wood smoke, spice and terroir. Great price for an outstanding wine!

Elderton 2014 Estate Shiraz
BAROSSA VALLEY, AUSTRALIA — Reg $25.99 | Mixed Case $20.79
Hedonist black fruits with vanilla bean. What more do you want? Well, how about a bit more spice and chocolate. An easy crowd pleaser.

W.T. Vintners 2013 Les Collines Syrah
WALLA WALLA, WASHINGTON — Reg $49.99 | Mixed Case $39.99
Why wouldn’t you want a Washington wine crafted as an Old World Northern Rhone– olives, hedonistic cherries, spice, and stories. Jeff Lindsay-Thorsen is the winemaker, and I like his work a lot! Great WA gift wine for the season.

Weingut Prechtl 2016 Grüner Veltliner Eiswein
WEINVIERTEL, AUSTRIA — Reg $24.99 | Mixed Case $19.99
Refreshing sweetness balanced by fine acidity. Ripe apples, sweet pear, notes of honey. Takes me home!

JULIE, co-owner of Portalis & J. Strecker Selections with her husband, Jens, has just recently returned to working at the shop (after 3 years focusing on the import business and letting Jaci run the shop) and is enjoying being on the floor again. Here are her selections:

Bruno Zanasi NV Lambrusco Grasparossa di Castelvetro
EMILIA-ROMAGNA, ITALY — Reg $17.99 | Mixed Case $14.39
Looking for a new twist on sparkling wine? This would be it: a red, Italian, dry bubbly! Dark cherries and plum aromas with flavors of ripe plum, cherry, cassis compote and hints of eucalyptus. Simply put… Killer!

Weingut Prechtl 2012 Grüner Veltliner Reserve Leitstall von Molasse
WEINVIERTEL, AUSTRIA — Reg $31.99 | Mixed Case $25.59
This scrumptious white is a single vineyard GV, and it will knock your socks off! Rich, hedonistic, and savory all at the same time. If you are a lover of fancy Chardonnay & would like to try something new — get it!

Domaine de Nalys 2012 Chateauneuf-du-Pape Cuvée Classique Blanc
SOUTHERN RHÔNE, FRANCE — Reg $45.99 | Mixed Case $36.79
Rhône Blancs are killer food pairing wines! When in doubt, Rhône Blanc. And this one is special to boot — oily, rich and (pardon my terms) kind of a Cougar. It will take your attention away and keep you busy.

Domaine de Frégate 2013 Bandol Rosé
PROVENCE, FRANCE — Reg $29.99 | Mixed Case $23.99
Summer raspberries, white hillside flowers, minerality … a classic from Provence with distinction. So why rosé at the holidays? Because rosé is festive and it has NEVER met a food it doesn’t like! I drink it all year long, and this one when I am celebrating!

Giant Steps 2013 Pinot Noir Sexton Vineyard 
YARRA VALLEY, AUSTRALIA — Reg $52.99 | Mixed Case $42.39
Pinot Noir outside of Burgundy can lead you astray. But I won’t. This wine will shock your senses. Aromas of fennel, briar, spice to Maraschino Cherries…. then white pepper and acidity. Enjoy on its own or with your holiday feast.

Lobo Hills 2013 Spiyla Vineyard Syrah
YAKIMA, WASHINGTON — Reg $33.99 | Mixed Case $27.19
“Rich, opening with aromas of tobacco, sage, lavender, fig and blackberry.” -Tony Dollar, owner, winemaker & Wedgwood resident. I like how Tony keeps his WA Syrah well-balanced, food friendly, elegant!

Burgum Novum 2013 Cabernet Riserva 
ALTO ADIGE, ITALY — Reg $46.99 | Mixed Case $37.59
Nuanced is the best way to describe this wine. Understated aromas of cherries, cassis and wild berries. It is a flavorful, yet subtle wine, full of thoughtfulness and secrets. Made to accompany food of many sorts: pork, veal, beef, lamb, poultry, game & cheeses.

Bodegas Rauda 2008 Tinto Roa Reserva
RIBERA DEL DUERO, SPAIN — Reg $36.99 | Mixed Case $29.59
This Tempranillo is made from 40-60 year old vines! “Intense perfume of ripe fruit and jam, wrapped in a fine oak fragrance with menthol notes.” That description is from the winery, and this wine takes you to the high, desert plateau of north-central Spain.

Alvear 1927 Pedro Ximénez Solera (375ml)
MONTILLA-MORILES, SPAIN — Reg $32.99 | Mixed Case $26.39
PX is not your typical sherry. If anything, it is the matriarch of caramelized goodness, with the dryness of sherry. Excellent for pairing with desserts, on its own – or with roasted meat dishes, pulled pork, tarts.

Amy_Nov 2017_square_04
AMY, recently joined the Portalis family on Sundays. She is a sommelier and the contributing wine writer to the local travel blog, Rain or Shine Guides. Here are her picks:

Champagne Henriot Rosé
CHAMPAGNE, FRANCE — Reg $79.99 | Mixed Case $63.99
A beautiful holiday sparkler from a 200-year-old producer, this elegant and limited rosé from Champagne will delight your taste buds with aromas of red fruits, rose petals, finishing with a silky effervescent mousse. Start your holiday with a pearly glass! holiday wines.

Frank Family Vineyards 2013 Chardonnay
CARNEROS, CALIFORNIA — Reg $43.99 | Mixed Case $35.19
Where Sonoma and Napa collide, magic happens. This zesty chardonnay is both refreshing and enveloping, with bright acid and lovely stone fruit aromas.

Palazzo Malgara 2016 Primitivo di Manduria

PUGLIA, ITALY — Reg $15.99 | Mixed Case $12.79
While the wines here are all my children, this everyday red comes home with me the most. Zippy and fresh with just enough old world funk, this wine goes with a variety of dishes, but especially weekly fare like pizza, burgers, and Italian sausage.

Va Piano Vineyards 2013 Syrah
COLUMBIA VALLEY, WA — Reg $44.99 | Mixed Case $35.99
Inky, dark, and powerful, this delicious fruit-forward Syrah pairs with virtually any braised beef dish I make. Can there be bacon flavor in a wine? You bet! Meaty and unctuous!

Château Seuil de Mazeyres 2014 Pomerol
BORDEAUX, FRANCE — Reg $41.99 | Mixed Case $33.59
If Burgundy is your Finicky Aunt, Bordeaux is your Stalwart Uncle. The life of any party, this is a dependable red with rounded tannins and great acidity.

Chateau Montelena 2014 Cabernet Sauvignon
NAPA VALLEY, CALIFORNIA — Reg $68.99 | Mixed Case $55.19
Famed winning winery from The Judgement of Paris in 1975, Chateau Montelena delivers a robust, yet elegant cab sav. Every glass sings of plums, coffee beans, and blackberry jam. Decant if you are drinking now, or cellar for up to 10 years.

Artimino Vin Santo di Carmignano
TUSCANY, ITALY — Reg $28.99 | Mixed Case $23.19
Vin Santo immediately transports me back to Florence — full and content after a delicious meal, yet there’s always room for sweet Vin Santo with Cantucci biscotti. A perfect dessert!

Jaci_Jan 2016_03_email
JACI, Portalis’ long-time manager, just moved to Pullman, but she’s here in spirit, continuing her wine writing for the shop remotely. And sure enough, she has some special wines to recommend as well:

Reserve du Chevalier Crémant de Bourgogne Brut
BURGUNDY, FRANCE — Reg $23.99 | Mixed Case $19.19
I sometimes dream about what wine I will purchase when I return to Seattle. Yes. This is one of them, especially this time of year. Toasted nutty goodness, with baked apples, a bit of brioche helps too…

Château Moulin de Launay 2016 Entre Deux Mers
BORDEAUX, FRANCE — Reg $15.99 | Mixed Case $12.79
I CAN NOT get enough of this wine. Moulin de Launay is French in every way. Complex, evasive and intriguing. A balance of refreshing Sauvignon Blanc and soft extra virgin olive oil, lemon citrus, minerals, and lime peel.

La Colline aux Princes 2015 Sancerre
LOIRE VALLEY, FRANCE — Reg $27.99 | Mixed Case $22.39
Seems like a splurge for Sauvignon Blanc but taste and you will understand why we have guests who purchase cases of this wine. Delicate yet pronounced. Refreshing, though leaving you to ponder. Truly poetry in motion (once it hits your lips, the rest, I am off the hook).

Stark-Conde 2013 Syrah
STELLENBOSCH, SOUTH AFRICA — Reg $22.99 | Mixed Case $18.39
For my smoked turkey fans- You really have to get on the South African Syrah train. (This is not a negative leadership pun). These wines have a killer brine note that matches perfectly with smoked meats, especially poultry. Get some!

Vinchio-Vaglio Serra 2011 Barbaresco AND
Vinchio-Vaglio Serra 2010 Barolo
PIEDMONT, ITALY — Reg $33.99 | Mixed Case $27.19 // Reg $49.99 | Mixed Case $39.99
Barolo/Barbaresco- You really couldn’t go wrong either way- Vivacious Barbaresco or thoughtful, brooding Barolo? Both are crowd stoppers and on my list of go-to’s for holiday wines.

Smith Woodhouse 2000 Colheita Tawny
DOURO, PORTUGAL — Reg $57.99 | Mixed Case $46.39
With 13 years of barrel aging, the color is amber, the aroma smoked caramel and the palate is explosive- rich textures with hints of spice.

Turkey Dinner in 4 Wine Lessons

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It’s not the bird as much as what we eat with it (sweet potatoes & heaven-forbid marshmallows, cranberry sauce, fruit salad, etc.) that causes the wine challenges with a turkey dinner. Many of these sweet & salty combos can cause wines to taste tart. Here’s your down & dirty guide to a wine that tastes great with a traditional turkey dinner:

Cheers_Languedoc Limoux

#1 — Bubbles
Well-made sparkling wine always has good acidity, and acidity is an asset when a food is salty (imagine an anchovy on top of an hors d’oeuvre), sweet (tastes great with chocolate or dessert or sweet dishes such as sweet potato soufflée), and rich foods (cuts through the fat of a cream puff or foie gras or pork rillettes). It can be rosé or white, and any style of sparkling will work with a traditional Thanksgiving dinner: Champagne, Crémant, Prosecco, Cava and more! We recommend:

Jose Dhondt NV Blanc de Blancs
(Champagne, France) — Reg $62.99 | Mixed Case $50.39
Domaine Perraud Le Grand Sorbier Crémant de Bourgogne
(Burgundy, France) — Reg $23.99 | INSIDER $22.99 | Mixed Case $18.39
Philippe Deval NV Crémant de Loire Rosé
(Loire, Italy) — Reg $23.99 | Mixed Case $19.19
La Farra Prosecco Superiore Brut
(Veneto, Italy) — Reg $17.99 | INSIDER $16.99 | Mixed Case $13.59
Bodegas Maset (nu) Cava Reserva
(Penedès, Spain) — Reg $14.99 | Mixed Case $11.99
Bruno Zanasi Lambrusco
(Emilia Romagna, Italy) — Reg $16.99 | Mixed Case $13.59

#2 — Round Whites
This style of white is fuller-bodied with nice fruit (not too dry), some acidity for balance but not highly acidic like a Sauvignon Blanc, and key — little to no oak! Round whites can can also be off-dry, meaning that they have a slight sweetness in the middle, off-set by good acidity. This type of wine pairs well with spicy foods (especially ethnic foods such as Thai or Mexican), foods with some sweetness (it’s Thanksgiving, so I’ll return to sweet potatoes!) and rich food (a richer wine can balance a richer food). Examples of varietals that fit into this group are: Riesling, Chenin Blanc, Sémillon, Kerner, Viogner, Chardonnay (stainless steel aged or with less oak), and many more! We recommend:

Maximin Gruenhaeuser Riesling
(Mosel, Germany) — Reg $24.99 | Mixed Case $19.99
Lobo Hills PGR
(Columbia Valley, Washington) — Reg $18.99 | Mixed Case $15.19
Weingut Castelfeder Kerner
(Alto Adige, Italy) — $22.99 | Mixed Case $18.39
Domaine Claude Nouveau 2011 Santenay Le Chainey
(Burgundy, France) — $42.99 | INSIDER $29.99 | Mixed Case $23.99
Beauregard Vouvray
(Loire Valley, France) — Reg $20.99 | Mixed Case $16.79

#3 — Rosé
Rosé has never meet a food it doesn’t like. FULL STOP. We recommend:

La Colline aux Princes Sancerre Rosé
(Loire Valley, France) — $27.99 | Mixed Case $22.39
Domaine de Frégate Bandol Rosé
(Provence, France) — $29.99 | Mixed Case $23.99
Château du Grand Caumont Cuvée Tradition Rosé
(Languedoc, France) — Reg $14.99 | Mixed Case $11.99

And although this wine is not technically a rosé (which is made from red grapes), it sure acts like one! Made from Pinot Grigio which has been left to ferment for a longer-period with its grey skins:

Santa Clerissa 2016 Pinot Grigio Ramato
(Veneto, Italy) — $17.99 | Mixed Case $14.39

#4 — Juicy Reds 
Reds are where this meal can be especially tricky because tannic wines go sour with a sweet food and reds that are too big overpower the bird. Juicy reds can be described as lighter or medium in style with good fruit, good acidity, but NOT too tannic! Varietals that fit the bill are: Pinot Noir, Gamay, Sangiovese, Vernatsch, Zweitgelt & more. We recommend:

Elk Cove Pinot Noir
(Willamette Valley, Oregon) $31.99 | Mixed Case $25.59
Weingut Castelfeder Vernatsch
(Alto Adige, Italy) — Reg $17.99 | Mixed Case $14.39
Weingut Prechtl Zweigelt
(Weinviertel, Austria) — $17.99 | Mixed Case $14.39
La Togata Barengo Toscana Rosso
(Tuscany, Italy) $23.99 | Mixed Case $19.19

Don’t want to think about it this much? Stop in & we’ll get you set up!

Happy Thanksgiving,
Julie + Jens