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!

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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

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

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


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
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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
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

Rosé & Thanksgiving, a Perfect Pair!

BLOG_Rose & Thanksgiving_Nov 2013
Rosé has built up a lovely following of fair-weathered friends, and who’s to argue? What could be more refreshing than a crisp yet still fruity, cool refreshing glass of coral colored wine (with the sun shining through!)?  What has gotten overlooked in this weather-based attachment is that rosé ranks as perhaps the quintessential food wine.  It, literally, can pair with everything, even a big fat juicy steak. Now we’re not suggesting that it’s superior to a big tannic red, but it’s decent with the steak & it’s delightful with the side salad (unlike that massive Cab).

What is rosé? Rosé is made from red grapes, although there are other methods of rosé wine production that combine red &white wines (this is an illegal process in France and generally looked down upon as a way of producing this kind of wine). The most common way of producing rosé is due to skin contact with the juice. The skins are allowed to ferment with the rest of the juice for a certain period of time (usually one to three days). The longer the skins are left in contact with the juice, the darker and more vibrant the color in the final rosé wine. To extract the skins for the juice, the mash is pressed. (In red wine making, the skins are left in during the entire fermentation process, leading to tannic wines).

Why is it such a good food wine? Rosé wine is slightly more robust than most white wines, and its acidity is a little softer than most whites, making it rounder and more flexible with respect to food. That said, Thanksgiving can be a tricky meal for wine & a beautifully made, well-balanced rosé would make a wonderful pair to the demands of a gamey-salty-sweet traditional Thanksgiving meal.

Here are some of our favorites, including several rosé sparkling wines:

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Chateau Barbanau 2011 L’Instant Rosé
Reg $22.99 | INSIDER $21.99 | Mixed Case $17.59
From the classic rosé region, Provence, Château Barbanau has been family owned for over a hundred years with Sophie & Didier Simonini-Cerciello currently at the helm.  Made from 90% Grenache & 10% Syrah, this rosé has a bright clear blush color with a nose of red fruits with white floral notes & peach flesh. Fresh, with great finesse, full & fleshy. Has never met a food it doesn’t pair perfectly with. We’re down to our last bottles, so make your move quickly if interested.

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Domaine de La Croix Bouquie 2010 Rosé
Reg $15.99 | INSIDER $14.99 | Mixed Case $11.99
This young domaine is owned by Alpha Loire, a trio of friends who combine their passion for wine with sustainable farming. Pineau d’Aunis, also known as Chenin Noir, is often used to make sparkling wines or in this case a very unique rosé. Pale pink with flavors of strawberry & rhubarb, this has a round soft finish. Pair with spicy ethnic foods, seafood, BBQ …or roasted turkey! One of our best selling rosé.

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Tenuta Montecchiesi 2011 Selverello Sangiovese Rosato

Reg $15.99 | INSIDER $13.99 | Mixed Case $11.19
The Dal Cero family based in the Veneto also own and operate this small estate in Tuscany. Tenuta Montecchiesi vineyards are located near Cortona. Made from 100% Sangiovese this rosé has brief skin contact resulting in its vivid pink hue. Fruity and rich with notes of ripe mixed berries, it is great with all meals. A few highlights are cold meats and delicate fish dishes & fowl dishes, either stewed or grilled.

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Tenuta di Corte Giacobbe 2011 Pinot Grigio Ramato (Blush)
Reg $17.99 | INSIDER $15.99 | Mixed Case $12.79
Okay, so this wine is not technically a rosé as it’s 100% Pinot Grigio, but it sure looks & acts like one! Produced by the Dal Cero family, it’s created according to the ancient tradition of the Republic of Venice, leaving the wine in contact with skins for 12 hours, creating this beautiful copper colored wine. Aromas of exotic fruits with sweet white flowers. Lush & velvety on the palate. People love this wine & it would be a great addition to any Thanksgiving table!

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La Farra Rosé Cuvée
Reg $17.99 | INSIDER $14.99 | Mixed Case $11.99
The Nardi family, specializing in high quality Prosecco, has their winery in the village of Farra di Soligo. This exceptional sparkling rosé is made from mostly glera grapes with a touch of Raboso (red grapes) for color. Dry and superbly soft, it’s full of structure and is a perfect aperitif or Thanksgiving dinner wine. Saluté!

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Weingut Prechtl Pinot Noir Sparkling

Reg $19.99 | INSIDER $18.99 | Mixed Case $15.19
Petra & Franz Prechtl own & run this 15 hectare estate (established 1839). This dry sparkling Pinot Noir is a lip-smacking opportunity to impress at your next occasion. Pale copper/pink hues, vibrant with notes of strawberries & cherries followed by a soft creamy finish! A perfect match with rich fish, roasted game or poultry or to quench a spicy dish. Prost!

The Portalis team would love to hook you up with these wines or any other wines that would be of interest to you for your upcoming Thanksgiving feast, so please stop by!

Julie & Jens

Comfort Wine ~ What’s it to you?

On first impression, Provence evokes thoughts of food, savory herbs and perhaps a nice bowl of bouillabaisse.

To me, however, it just reminds me of being a kid.

One of the earliest memories I have is sitting at a table on my great-great-grandmother’s porch in Pégomas. I was fresh off my first disastrous experience with fois and I remember being given a very small glass of white wine for what my aunt declared as my “French lesson”.

As an American kid growing up on Coca Cola, this was equally as disastrous.

It occurs to me now that all the memories I compiled during these early forays into French culture, like that of the fois, were perhaps too vast for me to truly appreciate at the time.

I’m now 24, and what I wouldn’t give for the opportunity to revisit these places of my youth; to discover the vast culinary prowess of the region, a glass of rosé and a bowl of ratatouille.

There’s just something about wines from the old-world regions, something almost book-like. They have the ability to transport you miles on a taste like an author on a word.

With my eyes closed and a sip of Chateau Barbanau L’Instant (rosé from the village of Roquefort, east of Marseille) in my mouth; I can almost imagine the words roaming back toward me over the lavender covered hills: “Matt! Get down from that rock before you break your neck!”

It’s comforting.

Most people would probably consider a “comfort wine” to be something big, a brooding Cab or a Malbec. To me, however, a “comfort wine” is just a wine that puts you in a good place and makes you happy.  To me, this is a Provençal wine and Barbanau fits this criteria.

What’s it to you? What’s your favorite “comfort wine”?

Some notes on the liquid inspiration here: Chateau Barbanau 2011 L’Instant Rosé
It’s definitely something light and crisp with a nice balanced acidity and fruity (perhaps even melony) flavors. It would compliment a fish dinner or something with a bolder flavor like a citrusy roasted chicken.


Does Vintage Matter when Choosing a Rosé?

Spring has finally arrived in the Pacific Northwest, and of course this brings to mind picnics, drinks on the patio, and of course dining with rosé! What better accompaniment with lighter dishes than an acidic, lighter & fruit forward wine with a palate complimenting dryness. Rosé has surged in popularity in recent years in the States thanks to its ability to be paired with a vast range of foods & appealing color.

Choosing a Rosé
First off, there are quite a few misconceptions about this delightful drink. Firstly, color does NOT matter. Many people think that a lighter colored rosé means better finesse and overall improved quality; this is not true. One of the best known rosé producing regions (Tavel) is known for making deep-colored, bone-dry, robust rosé wines. Another example is a Languedoc rosé: expect a very deep blush colored wine that is not only light, but refreshing! It really comes down to the producer and the quality of the wine in the bottle: color does not apply.

True rosé is bled, not blended. Look for the word ‘saignee’ when choosing a French rose, meaning the production is in fact ‘bleeding’. When producers combine two separate grapes (one red and one white) the overall quality is compromised and the final product does not stand the test of time.(Note: one area where blending is practiced is Tavel, so in this particular region choosing the latest vintage is necessary.)

People have come to believe that rosé is only good in its current vintage. This again is only true with poorly made rosé wines. Rosé of good quality can age in the bottle for a few years and be even better than in its current vintage. The taste is what matters, not the year.

Here are a few of our favorites (updated June 2014):

Domaine de La Croix Bouquie 2011 Pinot d’Aunis Rosé (FR)
(pictured above & one of the prettiest in the shop!)

Reg. Price: $15.99 | Insider Price: $14.99 | Mixed Case: $12.79

Tenuta Montecchiesi 2011 Selverello Sangiovese Rosé
Reg. Price: $15.99 | Insider Price: $13.99 | Mixed Case: $11.19

Chateau Rivière 2012 Minervois Rosé (FR)
Reg. Price: $14.99 | Insider Price: $13.99 | Mixed Case: $11.99

Isenhower 2012 Paintbrush Rosé (WA)
Reg. Price: $16.99 | Mixed Case: $13.59

Chateau Barbanau 2013 l’Instant Rosé (FR)
Reg. Price: $22.99 | Insider Price: $21.99 | Mixed Case: $18.39


April Showers Bring May…Rosé!

Though the weather hasn’t felt like it lately, nothing says spring like a refreshing bottle of rosé. Whether you like your rosés slightly sweet, off-dry or bone dry there is a rosé for any occasion and almost any food.

If you’ve been afraid of trying a rosé due to it’s color or its misunderstood reputation, here’s a little 101:  Rosé is the product of the fermentation of red grapes, where the skins are left on for a short time, resulting in a light color, lower tannins and a lower alcohol level compared to red wines.  The longer the skin contact, the bigger the body and the darker the color.  Rosé is usually made using the same grape varietals as the red wines from any given region. So perhaps if you have been known to enjoy a bottle of Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Zinfandel, Sangiovese, Grenache or Tempranillo (just to name a few) there’s probably a rosé to please even the hard-core red wine drinker.

The home of rosé is Southern France, with the French drinking more rosé than white wine. About 75% of the wine production in the Provence appellation is rosé. The production of the Tavel appellation in the Southern Rhone is 100% rosé. Other big rosé-producing appellations in France are Bandol, Lirac, Côtes Du Ventoux and Côtes Du Luberon, with the most common grapes being Grenache, Cinsault, Mourvedre and Tibourin.

Today, most wine producing areas produce rosé, including Spain, Italy, Portugal, Argentina, California, Oregon, Washington and more. Most rosé falls in the price range of $12 to $18 and most of them won’t disappoint you. Below is a list of rosés we currently carry in stock, but we will be getting more as the rosé season has just begun.

Keep in mind that you drink these wines young and for the most part they hit the market  starting in May and are gone by fall, so enjoy them while they last:

Domaine Saint Roch Les Vignes 2010 Rosé (Provence, FR) $14.99 | Mixed Case $11.99  50% Grenache & 50% Cinsault ~  Don’t let the price fool you, it packs a lot of flavor for the price. Delicate & dry this rosé is a staff favorite. Pale salmon in color with aromas of peaches, juicy red berry flavors and lively acidity.

Domaine Sorin 2010 Rosé (Provence, FR) $13.99 | Nixed Case $11.19                            40%  Grenache, 15% Cinsault, 10% Syrah, 15% Mourvedre, 10% Carignan, 5% Rolle, 5% Orgi. A crisp and delightful rosé, soft pink & light orange in color, notes of pears & strawberries. Has nice subtle herbal spiciness on the finish, perfect with fish or summer pizza on the grill.

Triennes 2010 Rosé (Provence, FR) $17.99 | Mixed Case $14.39  This Cinsault dominated blend is produced from the free-run juice and with only 2-3 hours skin maceration. It’s pale blush color sets it apart from the cluster of other rosés on the shelf. Aromatic nose with round red fruits and bone-dry finish. So refreshing and near perfect, we pour it by the glass!

Andrieux & Fils 2010 Côtes De Provence Rosé (FR) $18.99 | Mixed Case $15.19             60% Grenache, 40% Syrah ~ Despite it’s sexy fun bottle, this is a serious rosé. Light rosey-pink color and aromas of wild strawberries & raspberries. Flavors of stone fruits and hints of almond makes for an exotic quaffer with a long finish.

PattonValleyVineyard 2010 Pinot Noir Rosé (Willamette Valley,OR) Reg $21.99 | INSIDER $19.99 | Mixed Case $15.99   100% Pinot Noir ~ Elegant rosé with bright acidity. The entirety of the rosé was aged “sur lie,” on its fermentation lees which makes this wine very complex and rich for a rosé.  Wonderful flavors of tropical fruits, peaches, strawberries & and lemon zest.

And more to come …including 3 direct imports from J. Strecker Selections!

Stay tuned & cheers!
Gina & Jens

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