New Tasting Series: Grape Varietals A-Z

A-Z_logo_Jan 2014
Kicking off a new year, we thought it would be fun to do a comprehensive tasting series featuring as many single grape varietals as we carry in the shop. We counted them up. (There are 60+!) We put them in alphabetical order. And we’re ready to go! Here’s the schedule.  If you make a good chunk of these tastings, you will have tasted the vast majority of single grape varietals grown around the world today. We’ll offer a little educational overview on each grape including tasting notes & where it’s grown. The rest is up to you. Ready, set, go:

Outon_Albarino_2_banner
Tastings run every Tuesday, Wednesday & Thursday from bar open (4pm) to 8pm:
Tue, 14-Jan – Albariño ~ pictured above in the Outon vineyards in Rias Baixas, Spain
Wed, 15-Jan – Aligoté
Thu, 16-Jan – Arneis
Tue, 21-Jan – Barbera
Wed, 22-Jan – Blaufraenkisch
Thu, 23-Jan – Brachetto
Tue, 28-Jan – Cabernet Franc
Wed, 29-Jan – Cabernet Sauvignon
Thu, 30-Jan – Cannonau
Claude Nouveau_grapes_chardonnay_banner
Tue, 4-Feb – Carmenère
Wed, 5-Feb – Chardonnay (France) ~ pictured above in Claude Nouveau’s vineyards
Thu, 6-Feb – Chardonnay (California)
Tue, 11-Feb – Chenin Blanc
Wed, 12-Feb – Cortese
Thu, 13-Feb – Dolcetto
Tue, 18-Feb – Garganega
Wed, 19-Feb – Garnacha Grenache
Thu, 20-Feb – Grauvernatsch (Schiava Grigio)
Tue, 25-Feb – Grüner Veltliner
Wed, 26-Feb – Inzolia
Thu, 27-Feb – Kerner
Pelassa_Nebbiolo
Tue, 4-Mar – Lagrein
Wed, 5-Mar – Malbec
Thu, 6-Mar – Melon de Bourgogne
Tue, 11-Mar – Merlot
Wed, 12-Mar – Montepulciano
Thu, 13-Mar – Moscato
Tue, 18-Mar – Muscat
Wed, 19-Mar – Nebbiolo ~ pictured above in the Pelassa vineyards of Piedmont, Italy
Thu, 20-Mar – Nerelo Mascalese
Tue, 25-Mar – Nero d’Avola
Wed, 26-Mar – Pedro Ximenez
Thu, 27-Mar – Petit Verdot
Claude Nouveau_grapes_v2_banner
Tue, 1-Apr – Petite Syrah
Wed, 2-Apr – Pineau d’Aunis
Thu, 3-Apr – Pinot Bianco
Tue, 8-Apr – Pinot Blanc
Wed, 9-Apr – Pinot Grigio
Thu, 10-Apr – Pinot Grigio
Tue, 15-Apr – Pinot Noir (France)
Wed, 16-Apr – Pinot Noir (Oregon)
Thu, 17-Apr – Pinotage
Tue, 22-Apr – Primitivo
Wed, 23-Apr – Prosecco
Thu, 24-Apr – Riesling
Tue, 29-Apr – Sangiovese
Wed, 30-Apr – Sauvignon Blanc (France)
BLOG_Jens in Australia_Shiraz grapes from Beachworth_Victoria_v4
Thu, 1-May – Sauvignon Blanc (New Zealand)
Tue, 6-May – Semillon
Wed, 7-May – Shiraz ~ pictured above from Jens’ trip to Victoria, Australia
Thu, 8-May – Syrah (Old World)
Tue, 13-May – Syrah (New World)
Wed, 14-May – Tempranillo
Thu, 15-May – Torrontes
Tue, 20-May – Verdejo
Wed, 21-May – Vernaccia
Thu, 22-May – Viognier
Tue, 27-May – Welschriesling
Wed, 28-May – Zinfandel
Thu, 29-May – Zweigelt

This should be a lot of fun! Look forward to seeing you there!
Julie, Jens & the Portalis team

Advertisements

Weingut Prechtl & a Trip to Austria’s Weinviertel

BLOG_Prechtl_sign

Portalis owner Jens Strecker & his family visited some of their producers in Italy & Austria this past summer. Julie (his wife & business partner) reported in on Weingut Prechtl:

On our way out of Austria, we passed through the Kamptal & Wachau Valleys, beautiful stretches along the Donau with vineyards straight up the steep slopes of the river valley and medieval castles on top of craggy mountains around every bend in the road. And as we drove through, Jens would point out wineries we used to carry: delicious wines, too expensive.

BLOG_Prechtl_farmland_square

Our drive out to the Prechtl’s didn’t look like this. Heading northwest out of Vienna until you’re about 10k short of the Czech border, you find relatively flat farmland with small rural villages. On the map, the DOC known as the Weinviertel (translates as Wine Quarter) looks huge, but you don’t really begin to see vineyards until you’re on the Weinstrasse about 10k short of the Czech border. Even when we arrived in our destination village of Zellerndorf, we didn’t see the magic until we spent the day with the Prechtl’s.

BLOG_Prechtl_weingarten

Down at the end of the village road, just before you head into more rolling vineyards, is the entrance to their oasis, a beautiful Weingarten within the walls of the once functioning farmhouse that Franz Prechtl grew up in. From April thru September the Prechtl’s open their doors on Saturday from 10am to 7pm for guests to have a sit, taste their wines, eat some of their delicious homemade local foods (sausages cooked in Grüner Veltliner and black bread with different sorts of house schmalz). The garden was full of trees, blooming flowers and huge pots filled with Oleander. It had German-style biergarten tables and from the time we arrived for breakfast until we left mid-afternoon, it was packed. They told us that this is the fifth year that they’ve had their Weingarten and business is brisk with locals, tourists and a good number of visitors from Vienna (about an hour away) looking for a weekend getaway from the big city.

BLOG_Prechtl_vineyards_2

Franz Prechtl (pictured above) is a big man, easily 6’5″ or 6’6″ and he’s serious about the little empire he’s building. He left home at 16 to attend a winemaking school combined with Abitur (German high school for university bound students) and was living in Vienna some years later when we met Petra Prechtl (6 years his junior and also from Zellerndorf) and they decided to return to the farm and make their living making wine. From this modest beginning, the Prechtl’s have risen to notoriety, receiving the honor of Austria’s Champion Grüner Veltliner with their 2012 Längen Gruener Veltliner at the annual Austrian wine competition known as SALON.

BLOG_Prechtl_wines_square

Weingut Prechtl was founded in 1839 by Karl Prechtl, whose original wine press and huge aging barrels are still in a cellar next to their Altenberg vineyard & a few yards down the road from the village church which was started in the 900’s and completed in the 1100’s. Franz clearly feels a strong connection to his land and his grapes. He’s not as interested in buying other people’s grapes as he is in acquiring more vineyards to grow his own. His philosophy in the vineyards is to let the grapes grow as naturally as possible and then to make accessible, juicy, delicious wine. He’s a serious guy who doesn’t take himself too seriously. That may be due in some part to the influence of his wife of 20 years, Petra (pictured with Franz below). She is a woman with a lot of personal warmth and a quick smile. She runs the business side of their wine business as well as leading the team in the Weingarten every Saturday.

BLOG_Prechtl_Franz&Petra

The Prechtl’s have a diverse line of whites (Grüner Veltliner, Sauvignon Blanc, Welschriesling, Riesling), reds (Zweigelt, Blaufränkisch, St. Laurent, and blends of the 3), as well as a line of dessert wines and Pinot Noir bubbly. The Weinviertel is not picture-book experience that other Austrian wine regions provide, but it’s a wonderful look at real life wine production in northeastern Austria, and the Prechtl’s are a top-notch example of the stellar wines produced in the Weinveirtel & Austria as a whole! Importantly, too, as an insider-tip, these wines don’t carry the price tag of wines from better known areas and more famous producers. The Prechtl’s, with their hospitality, their beautiful Weingarten & their deep connection to their history and their land, make a worthy destination if you’re ever in the area.

BLOG_Prechtl_vineyards

In the meantime, here are the Prechtl wines that J. Strecker imports into Seattle. All are available at Portalis. It’s truly a stellar lineup:

Weingut Prechtl Classic Grüner Veltliner 2012
Weingut Prechtl Längen vom Löss Grüner Veltliner 2011
Weingut Prechtl Altenberg vom Urgestein Grüner Veltliner 2011
Weingut Prechtl alte Reben aus Löss Grüner Veltliner 2012 (arriving end of Sep 2013)
Weingut Prechtl Kirchfeld vom Löss Welschriesling 2011
Weingut Prechtl Sauvignon Blanc 2012 (arriving end of Sep 2013)

Weingut Prechtl Pinot Noir Sparkling Wine (arriving end of Sep 2013)
Weingut Prechtl Weinviertler Rotweincuvée (Reserve Red)
Weingut Prechtl 2010 Satzen (Zweigelt)

BLOG_Prechtl_Jens&Franz

Cheers to the great work that they are doing!
Julie

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