Wines for Spring!

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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!

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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:

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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
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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
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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
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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

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