Wines for Spring!

Mona Anastas_Daily Art_021718_Sun

The sun is out. The evenings are warm. The gardens around Seattle are at their height of bloom and beauty. If you aren’t sitting in some fresh air enjoying a glass of wine, you should be! Need some suggestions? Here’s a great spring varietal list from Wine Folly> for under $20 a bottle. Or stop by, and we’ll hook you up — Grüner Veltliner, Malbec, Soave, Gamay, unoaked Chardonnay, Zweigelt, rosé… the list goes on!

Label_ROSE collage_2018x16

First & foremost… ROSÉ:
We have quite a list in stock ranging from local producers to high-end Bandol rosé from Provence. Here are our new arrivals:

Chateau Rivière Minervois Rosé 2017 // Languedoc
Domaine de Frégate Bandol Rosé 2017 // Provence
Domaine du Petit Romain Vieilles Vignes Rosé 2017 // Southern Rhône
La Malière Rosé Côtes de Provence 2017 // Provence
Ozilhan Réserve Côtes du Rhône Rosé 2017 // Southern Rhône
Paul Blisson Costières de Nîmes Rosé 2017 // Southern Rhône

Prechtl_2014_vineyards
In addition, here are some great spring white varietals with our specific recommendations:
Grüner Veltliner – Aromatic white flowers. White peach, poached pear, lime blossoms, with a nice white pepper finish. Try: Weingut Prechtl 2016 Alte Reben aus Löss Grüner Veltliner // Austria (vineyards pictured)
Prié Blanc – From the highest vineyard site in the world (a few minutes from Mont Blanc), this indigenous grape is full of minerality & delight: Pavese Ermes 2016 Blanc De Morgex et de La Salle // Valle d’Aoste, Italy
Vinho Verde – light, fruity with a slight effervescence and low alcohol! Try: Vinha das Margaridas 2016 Vinho Verde // Portugal
Garganega – This white is better known as Soave, but that’s the DOC (region), not the grape… which is full of citrus blossoms, warm apples & apricots held together by refreshing acidity! Try award-winning: Franchetto 2015 Soave “La Capelina” // Veneto, Italy

Wish_vineyards
And spring reds varietals:
Bonarda lightens up the Malbec in this terrific, organic blend: La Puerta 2016 Alta Malbec/Bonarda // Argentina
Zinfandel – Its trademark velvety fruit makes this varietal a wonderful accompaniment to BBQ and other grilled summer fare. Try: Wish Wine Co. 2011 Zinfandel // North Coast, California (vineyards pictured)
Zweigelt – Lighter in body, but full of flavor: blackberries, tart dark cherries & spices! Try: Weingut Prechtl 2015 Satzen Zweigelt // Austria

La Farra_countryside with vineyards_2_20%
AND… don’t forget the bubbles! Go light & freshing with La Farra Prosecco — Brut, Extra Dry, Rosé & their Prosecco Superiore DOCG Valdobbiadene. Tree fruits & citrus with lively gentle bubbles! (vineyards pictured)

We’d be delighted to help you with any of your spring wine needs! Just stop in…

Julie & Jens, Owners
Portalis Wines

Art credit: Mona Anastas, owner of Two Owls in Madrona

Advertisements

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

A Little Bit about Syrah & Shiraz


Warner Vineyard Shiraz, Giaconda Winery, Beachworth, Victoria

First of all, this is the same grape – a dark grape with thick skin that needs a lot of heat to ripen.  It just has a different name, depending on where the grape is grown,  but because of the impact of the land, weather, altitude, soil & winemaking style of where the grape is grown, the use of Syrah or Shiraz has become indicative of the style of wine you will get.

It’s unclear where the grape originates, but it was first cultivated in France’s Rhône Valley.  Red wines from the Northern Rhône (Hermitage, Côtes Rôtie, St. Joseph & more) are mainly (up to 100%) Syrah (with up to 5% Viognier “to make things more interesting” Jens says).  They tend to be higher-end, require aging (due to the level of tannins) and are known for flavors of dark fruit, black olives and a notable gaminess. We don’t carry many Northern Rhône wines are they tend to be pricy and not easily accessible, but if you get the urge to try them out, they are wonderful, lesser-known examples French Syrah.

The vineyards of E. Guigal, Côte-Rôtie, Northern Rhône

Reds from the Southern Rhône also have Syrah, but as a blend of Syrah/Grenache/Mourvedre/Cinsault.  These wines are more accessible, a little juicier but still with a lovely, soft earthy spiciness, building from a nice, $12 straight-forward, bottle of Côtes du Rhône to a big, fuller-bodied, old world style Chateauneuf, which is full of liquorice, herbs, and meaty flavors.  Jens said that some of the old Chateauneuf houses are starting to produce a New World style which is super fruity, super oaky … and a big disappointment if you’re a traditionalist and like wines to taste like where they’re from.

Vines growing next to rosemary (Baumes-de-Venise, Southern Rhône)

Australian Shiraz is a big boy due to the hotter climate of the regions where it is grown, most famously the Barossa Valley (although it must be noted that many of the more nuanced (and often not available in Seattle) wines are from lesser-known, less hot areas.  Jens was in Australia last Februrary, a guest of the Australia Wine Commission for a tour of Victoria Pinot Noir country, but he still had the pleasure of visiting several areas growing top notch Shiraz, e.g. the Giaconda Winery located in Beachworth, north-east Victoria (note the photo – top).  For Shiraz (available in Seattle) that show off big, well-balanced wine with the nuance of minty herb that can be Australia’s lovely touch, try: D’Arenberg 2008 Laughing Magpie or for a splurge D’Arenberg 2006 The Dead Arm Shiraz, both from the McLaren Vale Valley & both with a touch of Viognier. An excellent example of 100% Shiraz from the Barossa Valley is John Duval 2007 Entity Shiraz.

South Africa is making some notable Shiraz as well.  Still big and dark, they use a yeast additive in fermenting that gives the wine a special smoky flavor.  Neil Ellis (known for his Pinotage) makes a tasty, as well Boekenhoutskloof (calling it Syrah) makes a beautiful 100% Syrah.

Last, I will end with the wonderful & varied Syrah coming out of our home state.  Washington State sits at the same latitude as the Rhône Valley, so it enjoys many of the same growing conditions, and its Syrah is known for its dark fruit flavors of black currant & blackberry with some nuance of black pepper, licorice, clove, thyme, sandalwood & cedar.  WA growers don’t seem to differentiate style by the use of Syrah vs Shiraz on the label, but both styles are readily available (usually called Syrah), from what could be called the “hedonistic pleasure bomb” (as quoted from our friend Catherine Reynolds) style. Wonderful examples of this style are Chris Sparkman Darkness Syrah, Mark Ryan Lost Soul Syrah, Owen Roe Ex Umbris, Darby The Dark Side Syrah.  In the other camp you have a leaner, more subdued, arguably more complex wine, with notable examples including Efeste Syrah Jolie Bouche & wines by Chuck Reininger.

Other notable around the world Syrah:  California offers up some excellent examples of Syrah.  Darioush is perhaps the best known. We currently serve one by the glass at the bar: Qupé.  As well Novy has, through the years, produced a nice quaffable, well-priced Syrah.  Argentina, while known for Malbec, has several producers offering up exceptional Syrah, try: Benegas 2006 Syrah from Mendoza.

It’s the time of year for these wines, so come pick out a few and go exploring!

Cheers!
Julie

When Zinfandel is called for


I am a big fan of Cook’s Illustrated.  It’s somehow soothing to read.  No ads, lots of hand drawn pictures, and plenty of good, well-written material on how hobby cooks like myself can avoid recipe pitfalls or use shortcuts to end up with the same results as Julia Child.  They put out several supplemental publications that you can get at fancy grocery stores and book shops and I indulged in one recently.  It had a bunch of quick dinner ideas on little perforated cards where the recipe is on one side and a photo of the dish is on the other.  My big idea with this was to keep the cards in my car and then when I needed an idea for dinner on the go, I could flip through the cards, pick a dish, grab ingredients on the way home and (tah-dah) … something new and yummy (and easy) for dinner.  

Well, pretty soon my kids got involved and they started picking cards, which is actually a great way to get them to branch out; however, we’ve learned that what they pick isn’t always wine friendly as American cuisine (e.g. the recipe cards) can have sweet elements and particularly sweet and salty combined.  Now, we may not be the normal American household, but we enjoy wine with every meal, so what to do if your kid (or you for that matter) chooses maple-glazed pork chops with sweet potato-bacon hash?  Well, you do the same thing you do if your stellar Chef Tracey cooks up American bistro fare with the salty sweet components that Seattleites love (PORK CHEEKS guinness stout braised with mashed potato, red cabbage & apple horseradish relish or LAMB BROCHETTE marinated in yogurt served with cucumber raita, tomato chutney & saffron basmati rice) … you reach for the Zinfandel.

I don’t know how you feel about Zinfandel, but it’s not really my thing.  Jens loves every wine produced in the world if it’s well-done & well-priced for what it is supposed to be.  But I’m just not that sophisticated(?), open-minded(?) … what is it??  My palate isn’t narrow by any means, but I definitely have my preferences … and I’d never order a glass of Zinfandel at the wine bar.  And, by the way, Zinfandel, with its jammy, peppery richness, but lack of oak and tannins, has its hard-core following of people who love to just sip it, but it’s not a large group percentage wise.

Here’s what’s important to recognize, though, if you don’t think you’re into Zinfandel:  it’s the perfect red wine with dishes that have a sweet and/or spicy twinge to them.  So back to the maple-glazed porkchops with sweet potato-bacon hash… Jens headed down to the cellar to see what he could find and he came up with an old Zinfandel:  Ridge 2002 Pagani Ranch Zinfandel.  Zinfandel, as I mentioned above, doesn’t have a lot of tannins and tannins are what allow wines to age, so one might think that an 8 year old bottle might be over the hill.  But it was perfect … dark, plummy, pruney flavors and smooth, smooth, smooth.  No longer the fruit bomb it might have once been, but beautiful, and delicious with the slightly sweet pork.

So, note to self:  the next time you’re preparing something salty/sweet for dinner, keep your Zinfandel close at hand and you’ll be wowed!

Here are Jens’ wine notes from the Ridge we drank (label pictured above) as well as several Zinfandels currently available in the shop:

Ridge 2002 Pagani Ranch Zinfandel (CA)  Ridge is a big Zinfandel house located way up in the hills over Cupertino, CA.  A blend of mainly Zinfandel, with Alicante Bouschet and Petite Sirah. Well-aged, complex & elegant. Texture and balance are out of this world. Amazing aromas of dried strawberries, plums and prunes. Superb flavor profile of raisins, stewed plums, raspberries, milk chocolate and cocoa. Fine spice on the long, lingering finish. It’s so accomplished that it needs no further comment than this:  To die for!

Klinker Brick 2007 Old Vine Zinfandel $21.99 | Case $17.59  Dark, jammy fruit upfront, followed by flavors of raspberries, blackberries & cassis. Juicy & well-balanced, with great depth. Sweet, spicy finish with some fine tannins.

Four Vines 2006 Old Vines Zinfandel $13.99 | Case $11.19 This Zin isn’t as complex as the above two, but it’s a great price and with its pruney, peppery flavors, it pairs will with sweet & spicy flavors of BBQ … and the season is soon to be upon us.

Enjoy & cheers!
Julie (& Jens)
Owners, Portalis Wines