Turkey Dinner in 4 Wine Lessons

Ryan Kirby's Time Lapse of the Wild Turkey Painting_Double Date
Art Credit: Ryan Kirby, “Double Date”

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 make wines taste tart. Here’s your down & dirty guide to a wine that tastes great with a traditional turkey dinner:

Langa_cava bottles_Darrin Ballman Photography
Photo credit: Darrin Ballman Photography // Bodegas Langa Cava

#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:

Pascal Ponson NV Champagne 1er Cru Brut
Champagne, France // Reg $45.99 | Mixed Case $36.79

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 Langa Cava Reyes de Aragon Brut Nature

Calatayud, Spain // Reg $17.99 | Mixed Case $14.39

Bruno Zanasi Lambrusco Grasparossa di Castelvetro

Emilia Romagna, Italy // Reg $17.99 | INSIDER $15.99 | Mixed Case $12.79

FB_Wines of Alsace_Alsatian Riesling
Photo Credit: Wines of Alsace // Alsatian Riesling

#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 fuller-body, fuller-flavored 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:

Lobo Hills Dry Riesling
Yakima Valley, Washington // Reg $28.99 | Mixed Case $23.19

Illahe Estate Grüner Veltliner
Willamette Valley, Oregon — Reg $19.99 | Mixed Case $15.99

Domaine Moltès Pinot Gris Tradition

Alsace, France // Reg $21.99 | Wine of the Month = 25% OFF = $16.49

Weingut Castelfeder Kerner

Vigneti della Dolomiti, Italy // Reg $22.99 | Mixed Case $18.39

Domaine Haut de Mourier Viognier

Languedoc, France) // Reg $15.99 | Mixed Case $12.79

FB_Loire Valley Wines_Rose_v2
Photo Credit: Loire Valley Wines

#3 — Rosé

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

Domaine de Frégate Bandol Rosé
Provence, France // Reg $29.99 | Mixed Case $23.99

Ozilhan Côtes du Rhône Rosé

Southern Rhône, France // Reg $13.99 | Mixed Case $11.19

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 Pinot Grigio Ramato
Veneto, Italy // Reg $17.99 | INSIDER $14.99 | Mixed Case $11.99


#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, Grenache, Schiava, Zweitgelt, Zinfandel & more. We recommend:

J. Christopher Volcanique Pinot Noir
Willamette Valley, Oregon//  $32.99 | Mixed Case $26.39

Orr Grenache
Columbia Valley, Washington // Reg $28.99 | Mixed Case $23.19

Bodegas Maset Monastrell
(aka Mourvedre)
Catalunya, Spain // Reg $14.99 | Mixed Case $14.39

Weingut Prechtl Reserve Red
(Zweigelt/Blaufränkisch/St. Laurent)
Weinviertel, Austria // Reg $19.99 | Mixed Case $15.99

Le Plan des Moines 2016 Les Charretons Châteauneuf du Pape 

Southern Rhône, France // Reg $54.99| Mixed Case $43.99

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

Happy Thanksgiving,
Julie + Jens
Owners, Portalis Wines


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:

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
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 Day with the Giovanett’s & Castelfeder Winery


We arrived in the Cortina village square at dusk after driving over the Brenner Pass in Austria and then down through the Alps, over Bozen (Bolzano). There was an old castle ruin on top of a mountain peak every turn of the way. We were in the northern Italian region of Alto Adige, but the look and feel of the landscape and the architecture was Germanic.


The next morning we met Ines Giovanett, daughter of Günther & Sandra Giovanett, the proprietors of the estate and sister of Ivan Giovanett, winemaker. She took us on a tour of their vineyards on the eastern side of the valley:



Castelfeder_Aug 2013_Ines in wineyards with dog

The tour included such Castelfeder label landmarks as the stone on the “Rieder” Lagrein label and the bridge on the “Glener” Pinot Nero label (on our next shipment):

Castelfeder_Aug 2013_label_stone on fence

Castelfeder_Aug 2013_Annelie on the bridge_square

After our morning tour, we met Ines’ (very fit 90+ year old) grandparents who live in a house on the property, and then we settled down to lunch on the terrace.


After melon & parma ham, garden tomatoes with mozzarrela & basil, vitello tonnato (thinly sliced veal with a tuna & anchovy sauce, spaghetti with tomato sauce, pasta with homemade garden pesto, and ice cream for dessert (and tasting through the wines in their lineup!!), we headed out through the apple orchards on the valley floor to their winery, just off the main village square in Cortina.



Ines gave us a great tour, finishing in the Castelfeder cellar:

Castelfeder_Aug 2013_Ines in cellar

After saying good-bye & many thanks to Ines, we returned to our hotel for dinner…


…and took some silly photos to remember the day:



And then we ended our wonderful tour, full-circle, admiring the beautiful village square at dusk:


We direct import (close to) the full Castelfeder line as well as their premium Burgum Novum line. All of the following wines are available at Portalis. As well, lovely Ines Giovanett will be in Seattle next week, so join us for a tasting next Thursday, October 24 (RSVP>) to hear the details of this extraordinary land & the wonderful wines it produces!

Castelfeder Pinot Biance “Vom Stein”
Castelfeder Pinot Grigio “15”
Castelfeder Kerner “Lahn”
Castelfeder Grauvernatsch/Schiava “Kegl”
Castelfeder Lagrein “Rieder”

Burgum Novum Pinot Nero Riserva
Burgum Novum Cabernet Riserva
Burgum Novum Lagrein Riserva

Julie, Co-Owner
Portalis Wines & J. Strecker Selections

Jens’ Holiday Dream Case

 Jens Strecker (Owner, Portalis Wines) picks his 12 favorite holiday wines

These are some of my current favorite picks from around the world.  If Santa got my wish list, these wines would be at the top! 

Domaine De La Meuliere 2008 Chablis 
Burgundy, France  ~ $25.99 | Sale $22.99 | Mixed Case $18.39
Fine, flowery nose. Vibrant fruit with lots of weight & a long, stony, delicious finish.

Abeja 2009 Chardonnay
Washington State ~ $39.99 | Sale $35.99 | Mixed Case $28.79
Elegant, rich & full. Smoky, toasty aromas give way to fantastic apple & pear fruit with some peach notes. Butterscotch & hazelnut on the finish that lingers.

Evening Land 2009 Pinot Noir
Willamette Valley, Oregon ~ $29.99 | Sale $26.99 | Mixed Case $21.59
Spicy baked cherry pie, plum & wild berry aromas turn elegant & refined. Full-bodied, but not too heavy to allow the rich flavors to dance on the palate. Long finish.

Gary Ferrell 2007 Pinot Noir
Russian River Valley, California ~ $44.99 | Sale $40.99 | Mixed Case $32.79
Elegant & powerful, with lots of raspberry & cherry fruit, with notes of clove & anise. The aromas & the long finish leave you wanting more.

Château Pichecan 2003 Margaux
Left Bank, Bordeaux, France ~ $43.99 | Sale $39.99 | Mixed Case $31.99
Concentrated blackcurrants & blackberries on the nose. Super-elegant, with soft, velvety mouth feel, but firm structure. Wonderful concentrated cassis fruit with cocoa & herbal notes all the way through the finish.

Domaine Faury 2007 Saint Joseph
Northern Rhône, France ~ $41.99 | Sale $37.99 | Mixed Case $30.39
Dark but racy, with fantastic aromas of raspberries, olives & lavender. Flavors of cassis, ripe, dark plums, olive tapenade, with a dash of roasted sage on the finish. This wine is so interesting; it will keep you busy for a while.

Dessilani 2005 Caramino
Piedmont, Italy ~ $39.99 | Sale $35.99 | Mixed Case $28.79
This wine is a symphony! Super-complex & elegant with a violet bouquet. The vibrantly pure fruit quality of this fine red, with its flavors of black cherry & smooth, dark chocolate is irresistibly seductive & beautifully balanced. Out of this world.

Arzuaga 2005 Ribera Del Duero
Ribera Del Duero, Spain ~ $33.99 | Sale $30.99 | Mixed Case $24.79
Elegant, focused & well-balanced, with wonderful dark fruit, herbal & leather notes. Lovely depth & a smooth, long finish.

Mollydooker 2009 The Boxer Shiraz
McLaren Vale Valley, Australia ~ $28.99 | Sale $25.99 | Mixed Case $20.79
Ripe, fleshy & full-bodied, with gorgeous flavors of black cherries, blackberries & blueberries, with notes of bay leave & black olives, swirling all the way through the long finish.

Achaval Ferrer 2007 Quimera
Mendoza, Argentina ~ $40.99 | Sale $37.99 | Mixed Case $30.39
Powerful & complex, dark & brooding, with intense aromas of blackberries, black cherries & licorice. Full-bodied, with a velvety texture & polished tannins. Beautiful down the road.

Mark Ryan 2008 Dead Horse
Red Mountain, Washington ~ $49.99 | Sale $44.99 | Mixed Case $35.99
Full, dark & dense, but smooth, velvety texture with lots of blackberry, black cherry & raspberry flavors, combined with dark chocolate & coffee notes. Mark keeps his foot on the gas pedal all the way through the finish. Very impressive!

Sparkman 2008 Ruckus Syrah
Columbia Valley, Washington ~ $45.99 | Sale $41.99 | Mixed Case $33.59
Big, plush & dark, with layers of dark fruit, black cherries, blackberries & black olives. Supple, harmonious & expressive as the finish goes on & on. Amazing!

Happy holidays & cheers!

Australian Pinot Noir, introduced by Mark Davidson

To be honest, my perception of Australian Pinot Noir wasn’t the best. I didn’t know much about Australian Pinot and hadn’t heard many good things about it either. That all changed when I met Mark Davidson (pictured above).

Mid-morning on a Friday a couple months ago, a guy with a thick, Australian accent called up Portalis, introduced himself as Mark Davidson (Market Development Manager, Wine Australia USA), in Seattle from his current home base in Vancouver, and asked me if I would like to taste some “good” Australian Pinot Noir. I normally don’t taste on Fridays but I was quite curious. In he came with 14 different bottles of Australian Pinot (at varying price points), and almost all of them were pretty darn good. Mark had to catch a flight and left me with a mountain of wine. No complaints here. To make sure I was not hallucinating, I tasted some of these wines with some lucky customers who happened to be shopping for wine later in the afternoon. The response was great. We have featured several of these wines in our Portalis Wine Club, the Father’s Day Tasting next Sunday will be an opportunity to taste 4 of these wines, and the Cooralook is currently available by the glass at the wine bar.

Here is a little information about Australian Pinot Noir: Only 2.5% of the wine production in Australia is Pinot Noir. The main Pinot growing areas are Tasmania and the relatively cool Victorian regions (around Melbourne) of the Yarra Valley, Mornington Peninsula and Geelong. The Macedon Ranges wine region is still one of the best Pinot producing areas in the country and is home to the two famous producers Bindi & Curly Flat (both very limited!).  And here’s a little more info on each individual wine:

Cooralook 2009 Pinot Noir
$16.99 | Case $13.60
From the Strathbogie Ranges in Victoria. One of the best Pinot’s for the money. Tasting notes: Very attractive nose with herbal cherry and red berry notes. Good concentration & balance, with elegant flavors of spicy raspberry & cherry fruit with herbal components. Beautiful, tasty finish. Drink now.

Stonier 2005 Pinot Noir
REG $28.99 | Sale $22.99 | Case $18.39
From the Mornington Peninsula, a stunning producer (and still family-owned). Established in 1978 this is one of the oldest wineries on the Peninsula. The first Pinot Noir vines were planted in 1982.
Tasting notes: Wonderful aromas of strawberries & raspberries with some herbal components. Elegant, complex, with great acidity. Spicy, herbal, with some earthy richness and flavors of raspberries & cherries. Long finish with fine tannins. Well aged! Drink now.

Yabby Lake Vineyard 2006 Pinot Noir
REG $57.99 | Sale $52.99 | Case $42.39
This winery was founded in 1992 & is located in the Mornington Peninsula. Tasting notes: Intense aromas of black cherries & dark fruit. Lots going on here. Intense silky texture with great depth. Wonderful layers of dark fruit with some herbal & gamey elements. Long, persistent finish. This wine will age well. Drink now up to 10 years. All these wines match well with grilled salmon & tuna or roasted chicken would be great too.

Enjoy & cheers!
Jens (Owner, Portalis Wines)

The Incredible, Drinkable Loire Wine

LoireI consider the Loire Valley to be one of the most alluring and prolific wine regions in France. Situated 2 hours south of Paris and stretching to the Atlantic, the Loire Valley is an impressive 300 square miles.  The Loire, often called the “The Garden of France,” is charming with its rolling hills, vineyards and more than a thousand chateaux. It would be difficult to highlight all the regions at one go, so please do not be offended if I leave out your favorite sub-region.

Starting from the east is the famous region of Sancerre where Sauvignon Blanc is not just supreme but adored as one of the best examples of that varietal. Sancerre is made up of 14 communes and includes 4000 acres. The many soil types produce lean and lively Sauvignon Blancs that are unique and highly sought after. Sancerre also produces some great quality rosé and red wines made from Pinot Noir. East of Sancerre are the lesser known appellations of  Menetou-Salon and Quincy, which produce softer-style Sauvignon Blanc (not as steely as Sancerre) and at lower prices.  

Central Loire can be split into three provinces, Anjou, Saumur and Touraine. This area offers the broadest selection of grapes including Chenin Blanc, Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Gamay, Pinot Noir, Cot (Malbec) and Grolleau. They also use a labeling system to indicate the dryness/sweetness level of the wine: sec, dry; demi-sec, semisweet; moelleux, sweet and the rare pourriture noble (botrytis).

Anjou is most associated with outstanding quality sweet wine, though it also produces whites, rosé, reds and sparkling wines.

The appellation of Saumur, with its chalky/limestone soil produces wonderful light and fruity red wines with a rich earthiness, especially wines from Saumur Champigny which yields outstanding reds.

Touraine is best known for dry whites made from Sauvignon Blanc, but also Chenin Blanc is used for sparkling wine. Wines from this area are also a great value if you are looking for something different for a summer white. Another exceptional red wine producing region of the Loire is Chinon located east of Saumur on the left bank of the Loire River. Made from mostly Cabernet Franc grapes, reds from Chinon are elegant, supple and with a distinct violet aromas.

Near the Atlantic, the western part of the Loire Valley with its cooler climate is home to Muscadet wines.  The most well-known being Muscadet Sèvre et Maine. The grape in this delicious fresh white is Melon de Bourgogne, which was brought over from Burgundy in the late 17th century. Muscadets are delicately dry with aromas of white flowers and light citrus.  Fantastic with oysters!
I hope you agree that the Loire Valley has a lot to offer for the adventurous wine drinker. Bring one to your next dinner party or seafood extravaganza.

Recommended Loire Valley wines currently in stock: 
Chateau De La Chesnaie 2007 Muscadet Sèvre Et Maine Sur Lie ($15)
Domaine Lecomte 2007 Quincy ($20)
Domaine du Grand Bouqueteau 2006 Chinon (Cabernet Franc) ($19.50)
Philippe Raimbault 2007 Sancerre ($34)

Contributor: Gina Gregory, Sommelier & Manager, Portalis Wines

Marcus Goodfellow: Indie Oregon Winemaker @ Matello


Unlike so many stories you hear about how wine guys got into the business, Marcus laughingly says that he didn’t get the bug until much later in life because the wine that his parents drank in his house growing up was more punishment than pleasure.  It wasn’t until he moved from rural Oregon to LA to go to college that he met a friend who worked in a wine shop and at an orphans Thanksgiving one year, the friend showed up with two bottles of wine:  a bottle of Columbia Crest Merlot and a bottle of 1990 Cuvee Theo Weinbach Gewurztraminer.  He remembers thinking that the Merlot was fine, but for him the Gewurztraminer was revolutionary.  His springboard from getting the wine bug to getting the Pinot bug happened when visiting London a few years later.  He was lamenting his birthyear (1968) with a friend as the vintage was not notable.  The friend (who also worked in a wineshop) pulled out a bottle from his birth year (1947) and together they drank a Louis Jadot Bon Mares.  His infatuation with Pinot began and has done nothing since then but expand. 

We had the pleasure of having Marcus at Portalis last month for a tasting.  He’s the head winemaker at Bishop Creek Cellars and we currently serve their Pinot Noir by the glass at the wine bar.  But the tasting was dedicated to his side job and probably his love … the Matello label that he started in 2003 with just 183 cases.  He told me that the hardest thing about being an indie winemaker on a shoestring budget is getting your name out there.  So we’re trying to help as the wines were really good!

Matello 2007 Pinot Blanc $21/case price $16.80
Flavors of pear, melon & white flower blossoms. Rich mouthfeel.  Made for scallops and Dungeness crab. This wine makes you think of summertime.

Matello 2007 Pinot Noir Rosé $21/case price $16.80
Marcus was going for the color of strawberry juice, so it’s a much richer pink than other lighter rosé. Nice creaminess, but still crisp & fruity.
Matello 2006 Willamette Valley Pinot Noir $29.50/case price $23.60
Marcus fondly says that this is the least good wine that he makes.  By that he means that he just works with the grapes he has and that this is a nice introductory wine.  Pretty, drinkable & good with food. Can manage the oiliness of salmon. Won’t overpower chicken. Calls for game (pheasant, quail, rabbit) with mushrooms.

Matello 2006 Whistling Ridge North Pinot Noir $37.50/case price $30
This wine is made from grapes grown on 1 3/4 acres in Ribbon Ridge (a sub-appelation).  Marcus made this wine with 50% of the fruit left on the stems and 50% de-stemmed(de-stemmed is more typical in modern winemaking.) This really adds to the structure and gives it a sense of depth and potential. Beautiful nose of cherries & earth.  Great fruit. Rustically made. This wine was a favorite at the tasting.  It’s a wine to drink now or to hold onto for up to another 10 years, but will really be best in around 2012-2015.

Matello 2006 Reserve Souris Pinot Noir $43/case price $34.40
This wine is a blend of Marcus’ favorite barrels in the cellar.  It has beautiful pie spice (cinnamon, all-spice, and perhaps a little cardamon as well) in the nose, lush strawberry and cherry in the mouth with a perfect texture blending weightlessness, richness, persistence, and finishing with juicy ripe acidity. The winemaker’s personal favorite. This is a great wine to hold onto for a few years.

Contributor:  Julie Howe