Lazio’s Cooperativa Agricola Cincinnato

cincinnato_vineyards with view
The region around Rome is known as Lazio, and it’s full of grapes and subregions> you’ve most likely never heard of. I can remember traveling in Italy with my sister in the summer of 1987 and landing in Frascati with the son of the proprietor who ran the little hotel we were staying at in Rome and his friend, Dario. They took us in a tiny, navy blue Fiat up to this lookout point in the hills surrounding Rome. It was sort of a cross between a German biergarten (with the hanging lights and picnic tables) and lots of delicious Italian food trucks. We loaded up on several share plates, got a pitcher of Frascati and had dinner overlooking Rome… one of the best memories of that trip! It’s only now that I’m in the wine business, that I know that Frascati is in Lazio and that it’s smack in between Rome and Cori, a village about an hour and a half southeast of Rome.

Most wines from Lazio don’t make it out of Lazio (including Frascati!), but J. Strecker Selections (our direct import company) has a new line from a co-op in the village of Cori and the surrounding vineyards. All three wines are lesser-known indigenous varietals (Bellone, Nero Buono & a Nero Buono blend) showing off the wonderful work coming from this area.

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First a little on Cori and this co-op:
Located about 90 minutes southeast of Rome (1 hour on the highway), the ancient town of Cori (with urban structures dating from the 5–6th centuries BC) is set among the olive groves and vineyards in the foothills of the Lepini Mountains. The village of Cori is pictured above; the winery, also located in Cori, is pictured below. As you can imagine, this town is permeated with ancient and medieval history. The winery gives the two wines in this month’s club the symbolic names of Castore & Pollùce in honor of the Temple of Castor and Pollux.

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Using the stamp: CINCINNATO MCMXLVII, Cooperativa Agricola Cincinnato was formed by a group of local farmers on the 13th of June 1947, with the purpose of processing and selling their own production. They named themselves in honor of Lucius Quinctius Cincinnatus, who led the Romans in battle against the Aequi in 458 BC. Following his victory, he refused honors and public offices in Rome, preferring to return to his land, which is said to have been in this area of Lazio.

Cincinnato currently has 550 hectares of land (100 of which are certified organic), and 130 member families committed to growing native grapes. The winery is also renowned for its environmental efforts including organic methods in the vineyards, a solar power system for independent power generation, and local distribution using natural gas-fueled vehicles.

Here’s a little about the 3 new wines:
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Cincinnato 2017 “Castore” Bellone
Lazio, Italy // Reg $14.99 | Mixed Case $11.99

100% Bellone. This white grape is grown in volcanic-clayey soil in the hills around Cori. It’s a brilliant straw yellow color with a delicate fruity nose, full of yellow peach & hawthorn. Fresh with mineral notes on the palate, it’s a delicious refreshing sipper (while you cook) or enjoy it with pasta and seafood dishes. Drink now to 2 years.

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Cincinnato 2016 “Pollùce” Nero Buono
Lazio, Italy // Reg $14.99 | Mixed Case $11.99

100% Nero Buono (vineyards pictured). Similar to the Bellone, the vineyards are located on the lavic hills around Cori. Aged for 12 months in stainless steel tanks then refined in bottle for 6 months before being released. Ruby red in color. Intense, fragrant nose full of red fruits — strawberries, red plums, bing cherries. Faint notes of leather and earth bookend the pleasant fruitiness of this wine. It’s not too acidic nor too tannic. Wonderful to sip and equally delicious with food. Enjoy with Bucatini all’Amatriciana, dishes with Roman gnochi, artichokes, oxtail stew and more. Drink now to 3 years.

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Cincinnato 2016 “Raverosse” Cori Blend

Lazio, Italy // Reg $18.99 | Mixed Case $15.19

This wine is a blend of 50% Nero Buono di Cori (vineyards pictured) – 30% Montepulciano – 20% Cesanese. Note: Cesanese is a red grape variety originating in the Lazio region, featuring medium-sized, compact clusters with small berries. It yields a fragrant, velvety smooth wine. The blend has intense aromas of blueberries, raspberries & plum. Ripe aromas of blackberries, plums & Italian herbs. Medium-bodied and silky smooth. Ripe blue and black fruit flavors with peppery notes. Finishes long with hints of balsamic and herbs. Fine tannins. Jens says you can’t start the year with a more interesting wine! Pairings? Wouldn’t overpower a delicious homemade spaghetti alla carbonara but it could hold its own with something meatier such as oxtail stew. Drink now to 5 years.

These wines are great way to go wine exploring in the new year!

Cheers to 2019!
Julie Howe, Owner
Portalis Wine Shop & J. Strecker Selections

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Off the Beaten Path Varietals: Kerner

Castelfeder_Vernatch harvest_2014
Developed in 1929 in Lauffen, Germany by German grape breeder August Herold, Kerner has quickly become a popular varietal throughout Germany, Austria, and parts of Northern Italy. Herold crossed the varietals of Trollinger (also known as Schiava Grigia or Grauvernatsch depending on what part of the world you’re in; photo: Castelfeder Vernatsch harvest, 2014) with the classic Riesling grape.

Herold named his invented varietal after the poet Justinias Kerner, known for composing classic German drinking songs. Released for general cultivation in 1969, Kerner is one of the youngest commercially available varietals. It was firstly introduced to Germany, followed by Austria, Switzerland, and Italy (where it was introduced in the early 1970s). It’s now planted throughout the world in such places as: South Africa, British Columbia, England and Michigan.

Kerner is a very aromatic varietal and is easily paired with foods much like Riesling wines tend to be. This grape tends to be much more robust than Riesling however, making it a much more appealing grape to plant. Kerner has been known to survive temperatures below freezing in the winters and usually has larger yields. Kerner wines tend to have similar taste characteristics as Riesling wines (refreshing, with aromas of exotic fruits, strong spicy notes on the palate, and fruit forward), but it can have much lower acidity and a more rounded body than is typical of Riesling wine.

While easily paired with most dishes, Kerner is best served alongside light appetizers, salads, seafood, poultry, asparagus, or mild cheeses. Not surprisingly, Kerner is not easy to find in Seattle. We carry a lovely example from the Giovanett family of Weingut Castelfeder in Northern Italy. Ines Giovanett will be in Seattle at the end of February, and we will most assuredly taste this wine, so stay tuned for dates.

In the meantime, here are tasting notes for:
Label_IT_Castelfeder Kerner_no frame
Castelfeder Kerner Vigneti dell Dolomiti DOC “Lahn”

ALTO ADIGE (ITALY)
Reg $22.99 | INSIDER $21.99 | Mixed Case $17.59

Originally founded in 1970 by A. Giovanette, then taken over by his son, Günther Giovanett in 1985. Continuing in the same tradition as his father, Günther still has close contact with winegrowers, careful selection of the best production areas and well-aimed cultivation of choice varietals

Involved in every aspect of the winery: this passion for winemaking begins in the vineyard with the planting of the vines, advising and working with the winegrowers and continues through the harvest and gentle pressing of the grapes in the cellar up to the vinification of the wines and finally to their marketing. The result of this difficult but rewarding job is wine to be proud of.

Grapes: 100% Kerner
Viticulture: After a short skin contact period (4-8 hours) the grapes are pressed, decanted, and finally fermented separately in stainless steel tanks at low temperatures to retain classic regional qualities.
Alcohol: 13.5% vol.
Appearance: Straw yellow with green reflexes
Palate: Fresh & aromatic. This wine has a high acidity & a spicy aftertaste.

A Day with the Giovanett’s & Castelfeder Winery

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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.

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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:

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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.

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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.

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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…

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…and took some silly photos to remember the day:

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

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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

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

Weingut Prechtl & a Trip to Austria’s Weinviertel

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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

Alto Adige/Südtirol, Italy’s northernmost Region


Photo: Schloss Tirol bei Meran in Südtirol Herbert Ortner, 5 Aug 2005

Northern Italy is one region of Europe that has been home to a host of different cultural changes throughout history. Known by different names depending on which language you are speaking, this northernmost region of Italy is also a renowned wine region. Even though the region is technically located within the country of Italy, Alto Adige inhabitants most commonly speak German.

First named during the Napolonic area as the “Department of Alto Adige” the name Alto Adige continued throughout the First World War. Following WWI, South Tyrol was adapted as the name of the region in order to promote ‘Italianization’ of the country. The region was required by the then fascist regime to resume speaking Italian, and all signs throughout the region were changed to reflect this as well. Following the war, South Tyrol was declared part of Italy by the Allied forces, but required the German speaking population to occupy high government posts in the region.  Following 1945, this area went though multiple disagreements, until it was declared an autonomous state in 1992. Currently, Germans refer to the region as “Autonome Provinz Bozen — Südtirol”.

The entire region is surrounded by mountains; creating an excellent environment for grapes to grow. It’s one of the smallest wine making regions in Italy, but there are many wineries here that have been making wine for multiple generations. Origins of Alto Adige winemakers have been traced back to before the Roman era. Today, about 70% of wine making production is within cooperatives.

Popular white varietals within the South Tyrol/Alto Adige region are: Chardonnay, Pinot Bianco, Pinot Grigio, and Sauvignon Blanc. Also found within this region are Gewurztraminer (which takes its name from Tramier, a town within Alto Adige), Sylvaner, Muller-Thurgau, Kerner, Veltliner, and Riesling. As for reds, the most common varietals found are Schiava Grigia (25% of all grapes planted), Lagrein, Cabernet Sauvignan, Merlot, and Pinot Noir.

Alto Adige is gaining international recognition for its aromatic white wines, and velvety red wines. J. Strecker Selections (sister import company to Portalis) has recently brought in a few wines from Alto Adige, from the winery Castelfeder. Here are a few of our favorites available now at Portalis:


Castelfeder 2011 Pinot Bianco “Vom Stein”
$18.99 | INSIDER $17.99 | Mixed Case $15.19
A lively wine with balanced acidity, delicate fruit and floral notes, with hints of mature apple flavors on the nose. Delicious with asparagus, seafood, and lighter cuts of meat!


Castelfeder 2011 Kerner Vigneti dell Dolomiti “Lahn”
$22.99| INSIDER $21.99 | Mixed Case $18.39
Fresh and aromatic, this wine has high acidity with a spicy aftertaste (perfect for many different kinds of cuisine!)


Castelfeder 2010 Lagrein Alto Adige DOC “Rieder”
$20.99 | INSIDER $19.99| Mixed Case $16.79
Full of harmonious and soft tannins on the palate, this is an intense and complex red wine perfect for red meats and roasts.

We also carry 3 other wines from this producer:
Castelfeder 2011 Pinot Bianco A lot “15er”
$18.99 | INSIDER $17.99 | Mixed Case $15.19
Castelfeder 2011 Grauvernatsch/Schiava Grigio “Kegl”  
$17.99 | INSIDER $16.99 | Mixed Case $13.59

If you’re interested in tasting/purchasing any of these wines, please contact us at:
Portalis Wines
5205 Ballard Ave NW
Seattle WA 98107
206.783.2007
www.portaliswines.com
info@portaliswines.com

Cheers!
Kyle

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

Portalis Explores! ~ Wine Club Archives

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MARCH 2019 // Monastrell (Mourvèdre)

Your March club features the grape varietal: Monastrell. This grape is indigenous to Spain, but gained its notoriety through the ages as a component of Grenache-Syrah-Mourvèdre blends in the Southern Rhône. This month, though, we’re going back to its roots — Spain — where it is regularly showcased as a single varietal wine. Thick-skinned, this grape needs powerful heat to ripen, and it gets that in both Catalunya and even more so in Jumilla where the resulting wine is fuller-bodied and bolder in flavor. Both of these wines are wonderful examples and quite different from one another. Hope you enjoy!
Juan Gil_Monastrell_harvesting grapes_square
Juan Gil 2016 Monastrell
Jumilla, Spain // Reg $16.99 | WINE CLUB $15.99 | Mixed Case $12.79
Jumilla is an inland subregion in the greater area of Valencia. Intensely hot summers, long, cold winters, almost no rain and dry, stony ground are the conditions that (while strenuous) are perfect for this grape.

Juan Gil Jiménez built the original winery in 1916. His son and grandson, Juan Gil Guerrero and Juan Gil González, improved and consolidated the winery. Today, the fourth generation manages the daily operations focusing on the technological advances available in winemaking today. Estate Monastrell vineyards pictured above. Estate Monastrell pictured top.

Tasting Notes: Explosive aromas of ripe currant, red berries and smoked notes. Rich, powerful and voluminous — a huge mouthful of crème-de-cassis. Silky, juicy fruit in the middle with a a long spicy well-balanced finish. The winery encourages you to enjoy this wine with paella, stewed meat, stewed vegetables, mushrooms, poultry, smoked seafood, blue cheese and roasted & grilled red meats. Versatile! Drink now to 3 years.

Maset_Monastrell_La Plana vineyard
Bodegas Maset 2016 Monastrell
Catalunya, Spain // Reg $14.99 | INSIDER $13.99 | Mixed Case $11.19
The Monastrell for this wine comes from winelands in the greater region of Catalunya (estate Monastrell vineyards pictured above), southwest of Barcelona. It’s not nearly as hot and dry as Jumilla (much milder in winter) and subsequently, this wine is not as full-bodied nor as fruity and doesn’t have as much oak to manage the tannins. Alcohol at 14% versus 15.5% is notably lower.

Tasting Notes: Rich dark cherries on the nose. Complex flavors of black raspberries, black berries, balsamic and toasted oak. Enjoy with venison, roasted meats, squash, polenta and spicy dishes. Drink now to 3 years.

Bodegas Maset is a large, family-held estate in Penedès. Their primary production is Cava, but they have a whole host of red and white whites from vineyards throughout Catalunya and Rioja. Estate Monastrell pictured above.

This was a fun club to do, and we hope you enjoy trying this varietal if you haven’t already. Your wines are ready for pickup at your convenience. If you would like to taste your wines prior to enjoying them at home, stop by on Wednesday, March 13 for your pickup tasting. Hope to see you then!

Cheers,
Jens Strecker, Owner
Portalis Wine Shop & J. Strecker Selections

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FEBRUARY 2019 // Valentine’s Day in Northern Italy

We’re going to the Land of Love for two Valentine’s Day selections: — a Pinot Grigio from Alto Adige (Italy’s northernmost region, where there’s a castle ruin on every hill top – see photo above from our trip there in 2013) and a beautiful Barbera d’Asti from Piedmont (not as mountainous as Alto Adige, but just as romantic — hills, fog, hazelnuts, truffles). Enjoy these wines with the one you love… or as a yummy everyday selection in the next couple weeks.
Wine Folly_Italy_Alto Adige & Asti circled

Weingut Castelfeder 2016 Pinot Grigio 15er
Alto Adige, Italy // Reg $18.99 | WINE CLUB $14.99 | Mixed Case $11.99
Without a doubt, the loveliest Pinot Grigio that we sell at the shop — complex, with deep minerality and beautiful flavors of pear & apple. The grapes from this wine come from the “15er” vineyard with vines from 10-50 years old. Aged 5 months on lees in tanks prior to bottling. Wonderful with fresh water fish, scallops, vegetarian dishes, roasted chicken, salmon, you name it… a terrific example of Pinot Grigio! Drink now to 3 years.

Castelfeder_oompa band

A little about from whence it came… Alto Adige was a part of Austria (Südtirol) until the end of World War I when it became a part of Italy. When we asked Ines Giovanett (daughter of proprietor Günther Giovanett) how much connection she has to Austrian culture (outside of speaking German as her first language), she said with a smile: “I wear a dirndl; I eat knödel!” So there you have it! Pictured above is the church in the village square of Cortina, where the winery is located. Ines’ grandparents (founders of the estate) still live in a little house on the property. Günther spends most of his time working on local commissions to promote wines from Alto Adige, and Ines and her brother, Ivan (now the winemaker), run the everyday operations of the business.

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Luca Ferraris 2017 del Martin Barbera d’Asti DOCG
Piedmont, Italy // Reg $15.99 | WINE CLUB $14.99 | Mixed Case $11.99
100% Barbera. 9 months in French oak; 3 months in the bottle, unfiltered. A beautiful nose of violets, herbs and spices with a palate of silky fruit — ripe black raspberries, macerated cherries — enhanced by notes of spice and balanced acidity. Enjoy with game, roasted pork, pasta dishes and more. A very flexible food wine. Drink now to 5 years.

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Luca Ferraris (pictured) is the winemaker and proprietor of the business his grandparents started in the 1920’s. Today, Agricola Ferraris makes its name with the lesser-known Ruchè grape from the small DOCG Ruchè di Castagnole Monferrato. (We carry two of his Ruchè wines, so ask about them if you’re curious.) They have grown into the largest family-owned agricultural company in the seven municipalities of the Ruchè-growing region. Currently the estate produces about 130,000 bottles of wine (about 50,000 of Ruchè) from 18 vineyards covering 25 hectares.

Happy Valentine’s Day! We hope you enjoy these February selections. If you would like to taste your wines prior to enjoying them at home, stop by on Wednesday, February 13 for your pickup tasting. Hope to see you then!

Cheers,
Jens Strecker, Owner
Portalis Wine Shop & J. Strecker Selections

 

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JANUARY 2019 // Cooperativa Agricola Cincinnato

The region around Rome is known as Lazio, and these two new J. Strecker (direct import) arrivals are wonderful examples of wines from this area — lesser-known indigenous varietals (Bellone & Nero Buono) showing off the wonderful work coming from this area. I’m just flat out psyched about these wines!

cincinnato_view of cori from vineyards
First a little on Lazio, Cori and this co-op:
Located an hour southeast of Rome, the ancient town of Cori (with urban structures dating from the 5–6th centuries BC) is set among the olive groves and vineyards in the foothills of the Lepini Mountains. The village of Cori is pictured above; the winery, also located in Cori, is pictured below. As you can imagine, this town is permeated with ancient and medieval history. The winery gives the two wines in this month’s club the symbolic names of Castore & Pollùce in honor of the Temple of Castor and Pollux.

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Using the stamp: CINCINNATO MCMXLVII, Cooperativa Agricola Cincinnato was formed by a group of local farmers on the 13th of June 1947, with the purpose of processing and selling their own production. They named themselves in honor of Lucius Quinctius Cincinnatus, who led the Romans in battle against the Aequi in 458 BC. Following his victory, he refused honors and public offices in Rome, preferring to return to his land, which is said to have been in this area of Lazio.

Cincinnato currently has 550 hectares of land (100 of which are certified organic), and 130 member families committed to growing native grapes. The winery is also renowned for its environmental efforts including organic methods in the vineyards, a solar power system for independent power generation, and local distribution using natural gas-fueled vehicles.

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Cincinnato 2017 “Castore” Bellone

Lazio, Italy // Reg $14.99 | Mixed Case $11.99
100% Bellone. This white grape is grown in volcanic-clayey soil in the hills around Cori. It’s a brilliant straw yellow color with a delicate fruity nose, full of yellow peach & hawthorn. Fresh with mineral notes on the palate, it’s a delicious refreshing sipper (while you cook) or enjoy it with pasta and seafood dishes. Drink now to 2 years.

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Cincinnato 2016 “Pollùce” Nero Buono

Lazio, Italy // Reg $14.99 | Mixed Case $11.99
100% Nero Buono (vineyards pictured). Similar to the Bellone, the vineyards are located on the lavic hills around Cori. Aged for 12 months in stainless steel tanks then refined in bottle for 6 months before being released. Ruby red in color. Intense, fragrant nose full of red fruits — strawberries, red plums, bing cherries. Faint notes of leather and earth bookend the pleasant fruitiness of this wine. It’s not too acidic nor too tannic. Wonderful to sip and equally delicious with food. Enjoy with Bucatini all’Amatriciana, dishes with Roman gnochi, artichokes, oxtail stew and more. Drink now to 3 years.

Happy New Year to old and new members alike! We wish you all the best for 2019 and a lot of fun with this wine club! If you would like to taste your wines prior to enjoying them at home, stop by on Wednesday, January 16 for your pickup tasting! Hope you can make it.

Cheers,
Jens Strecker, Owner
Portalis Wine Shop & J. Strecker Selections

 

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DECEMBER 2018 // Winter Reds

These reds have fireplace written all over them. They are rich, fuller-bodied red blends to give you strength and solace as we head towards the darkest day of the year!

Old World_Lebkuchen tins_FULL RENDER

It wasn’t on purpose, but it happens that both bottles are from the Old World, in fact both wines are from the Iberian Peninsula — one from Aragón (in between Barcelona and Ribera del Duero in north central Spain) and one from the Douro Valley in northern Portugal. They are both terrific values at $15 (which is the special wine club price). Enjoy with food or as sippers by the fire.

Langa_vineyard worker in winter
Bodegas Langa 2016 Frenesi Red Blend
Calatayud, Spain // Reg $15.99 | WINE CLUB $14.99 | Mixed Case $11.99
Founded in 1867, Juan and César Langa Gonzalez are the 5th generation of the Langa family to run this winery. Their vineyards include 100-year old vines, and their name is emblematic for winemaking in the area. In 1967, their family was a founding member of the DO Calatayud, and they are historic members of the Cava Board of Aragón. Estate vineyard pictured.

Tasting Notes: Aside from being certified organic and a beautiful bottle, the wine is killer! A blend of Merlot, Garnacha, Cabernet Sauvignon & Shiraz, the nose has a minerally character with spicy overtones such as cinnamon, pepper and clove. Dense body with good tannic strength and silky fruit. Enjoy with all kinds of meats, stews and game. Drink now to 3 years.

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Alves de Sousa 2014 Vale da Raposa Reserva Red
Douro Valley, Portugal // Reg $18.99 | WINE CLUB $14.99 | Mixed Case $11.99
Domingos Alves de Sousa and his son, Tiago, run this family estate, and I think their work is out of this world! Tiago has visited Seattle before. Hopefully he’ll come again. He’s a lovely guy. Estate vineyards pictured.

Tasting Notes: A blend of Touriga Nacional, Tinta Roriz, Tinto Cão, Touriga Franca, enjoy violets and pine tree on the nose. Bold, rich flavors of cherries & plums with layers of dark chocolate and espresso. Delicious with roasted poultry, beef, lamb, charcuterie and hard, strong cheeses. Drink now to 5 years.

We wish you all the best this holiday season! If you would like to taste your wines prior to enjoying them at home, stop by on Wednesday, December 19 for your pickup tasting! Hope you can make it.

Cheers,
Jens Strecker, Owner
Portalis Wine Shop & J. Strecker Selections

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NOVEMBER 2018 // Thanksgiving Wines

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This month’s club features two wines that would be great with a traditional Thanksgiving dinner. Here goes:

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La Farra Prosecco Brut
Veneto, Italy // Reg $14.99 | Mixed Case $11.99

Prosecco is bubbly made in the Veneto region of NE Italy, and this beautiful Prosecco is made by the Nardi family (vineyards pictured). Brothers Innocente & Guido are passionate viticulturists who both studied at the oldest oenology school in Italy: Scuola Enologica di Conegliano. Their sister, Adamaria, runs the business.

La Farra is comprised of 20 hectares of vineyards located along “Prosecco Road” in Farra di Soligo deep in the area that produces DOCG Prosecco Superiore: Conegliano Valdobbiadene. This prime location allows the winery to produce superior quality grapes which best combine the floral scents associated with the land of Valdobbiadene and the flavors typical to those of Conegliano.

Tasting notes: Crisp Gala apple with a little note of citrus and fine persistent bubbles. Soft and delicate. Perfect for your Thanksgiving toast and maybe even better with your dinner. The acidity in bubbly pairs beautifully with sweet, salty and rich foods… sounds like roasted dark turkey meat with gravy, cranberries, stuffing and sweet potatoes. This prosecco could even manage some marshmallows if they were involved. Drink now to 1 year.

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Domaine Les Espérières 2015 Côtes du Rhône Villages Rouge

Southern Rhône, France // Reg $15.99 | INSIDER $14.99 | Mixed Case $11.99

So what exactly is a Côtes du Rhône Villages wine? Côtes-du-Rhône wines are the most basic wines (white, red & rosé) in the Rhône region. Côtes-du-Rhône-Villages is an additional AOC region INSIDE of the Côtes du Rhône region and a step up on the pyramid (so to speak). These vineyards are higher ranked, and the wines tend to be a little more complex. Next up on the pyramid is Côtes du Rhône Villages + [the name of the village]. At the pinnacle of the Rhône pyramid are the Cru-Villages wines where just the village is named. There are 17 crus, with Hermitage & Cornas (in the Northern Rhône) and Châteauneuf-du-Pape, Gigondas & Vacqueyras (in the Southern Rhône) being a few you might recognize.

Tasting notes: 70% Grenache / 30% Syrah. This red is lighter in body. Fragrances of wild strawberries and raspberries framed with light spice. Fresh, full and silky flavors of wild fruit and garrigue (low growing shrubby herbs common on rocky Mediterranean terrain). This wine would be wonderful with roasted turkey and the fixin’s MINUS the marshmallow. That level of sweetness would make this wine go tart. Consider yourself forewarned! Drink now to 3 years.

Thanksgiving is next week, so we will have both wine club wines open (5 total) for your pickup tastings on Tuesday & Wednesday, November 20 & 21. If you would like to taste your wines prior to enjoying them at Thanksgiving (or any time thereafter), stop by on one of those two days. Hope you enjoy this month’s club!

Cheers,
Jens Strecker, Owner
Portalis Wine Shop & J. Strecker Selections
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OCTOBER 2018 // Chile

This month’s club features two reds from the Colchagua Valley (pictured above) in central Chile, an east-west oriented valley with the capital city of Santiago to the north, the Pacific Ocean to the west and the Andes Mountains to the east.

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Francisca Bravo is our local Chilean importer and, as a landscape designer, she has an emphasis on natural and minimal intervention wines from award-winning winemakers in her home country. Both of this month’s wines come from Puente Austral and winemaker José Ignacio Maturana (pictured below). Here’s a great video> of him, showing off his family’s vineyards and giving you his perspective on winemaking. I hope you enjoy these wines! I think they are fabulous, especially for the price.

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Puente Austral 2014 Reserva Privada Carménière

Colchagua Valley, Chile // Reg $12.99 | Mixed Case $10.39

Almost exclusively grown in Chile, Carménière was originally used as a blending grape in Bordeaux. It is medium in body, full of plums and red and black fruit with a notable herbaceous, green peppercorn flavor. This wine is a little lighter in body with a nose of black cherries and plums. Fruity, round and full of flavor with good acidity and soft tannins. A very flexible food wine, you can enjoy it with spicy dishes including spiced meats off the grill and vegetable dishes including herbal, slightly bitter veggies such as kale. Drink now to 3 years.

Puente Austral 2014 Gran Reserva
Colchagua Valley, Chile // Reg $16.99 | Mixed Case $13.59

70% Cabernet Sauvignon / 30% Syrah. Elegant aromas of ripe red fruits with mild undertones of black pepper & tobacco. A fuller-bodied wine with firm tannins. Nice long finish. Perfect for meat dishes: roast beef, burgers, steak or an Argentinian chorizo steak. (That’s what the winery recommends!) Drink now to 3 years.

If you would like to taste your wines prior to enjoying them at home, stop by on Wednesday, October 17 for your pickup tasting! Hope you can make it.

Cheers,
Jens Strecker, Owner
Portalis Wine Shop & J. Strecker Selections

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SEPTEMBER 2018 // Spain

This month’s club features two reds from Spain — a Cab Franc from Calalunya in northeast Spain (near Barcelona) and a Tempranillo-Syrah blend from Méntrida in central Spain (near Madrid). Both of these wines are unbelievable deals for $15. Hope you enjoy!

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Bodegas Maset 2016 Cabernet Franc
Catalunya, Spain // Reg $15.99 | INSIDER $14.99 | Mixed Case $11.99
Bodegas Maset has produced quality wines & cavas for over two centuries in the DO Penedès region. It is situated between Barcelona & Tarragona, bordered in the north by the Montserrat Mountains and in the south by the Sitges and Tarragona coast. The composition of the land is varied, ranging from clay-limestone areas to sandy soils. The climate is mild in the winter and hot in the summer, without being extreme. Both photos above are from the Maset estate. In the top photo, you can see them using sheep for weed control and fertilizer!

Specific to this wine, the winery says: “At the foot of the Pre-Coastal Range, under the majestic cliffs and mined gorges on limestone rock, one of our most delicate, aromatic varieties is cultivated. An environment scented with Mediterranean pines, rosemary and precious red orchids. An isolated site where Cabernet Franc vines benefit from a cooler climate (Mediterranean with continental tendencies) ideal for their development. These characteristics provide us with a wine with a unique identity.” Tasting Notes: Red and blue fruit mélange. Deep, complex, elegant. The balance of fruit, acidity & tannins is phenomenal. Absolutely killer for the money. Drink now to 3 years.

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Bodegas Tavera 2016 Tempranillo-Syrah
Méntrida, Spain // Reg $15.99 | INSIDER $14.99 | Mixed Case $11.99
DO Méntrida is a wine region in the province of Toledo, about 45 minutes southwest of Madrid. Bodegas Tavera was established in 2005 by the González López family who has a history rooted in generations of wine growing tradition. Their oldest vines were planted in 1921.

This blend of 55% Tempranillo & 45% Syrah comes from sandy-clay soils with an average loose consistency. The soils are poor in nutrients, but they retain the available moisture well. The climate is continental (long hot summers & cold winters) with extreme temperature variations over the course of the year. Tasting Notes: Complex aromas of blue and black berries with a faint smoky note. A pure delight on its own, it shines even more with food. The winery says to pair it with light appetizers and delicious mini tapas and light cheese. Drink now to 3 years.

If you would like to taste your wines prior to enjoying them at home, stop by on Wednesday, September 19 for your pickup tasting! Hope you can make it.

Cheers,
Jens Strecker, Owner
Portalis Wine Shop & J. Strecker Selections

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AUGUST 2018 // Château du Grand Caumont

Located in the Corbières region of Languedoc-Rousillon, Château du Grand Caumont is one of our most beloved J. Strecker direct imports. The Cuvée Tradition and Cuvée Impatience (both red blends) were on our very first shipment in 2011 and have remained favorites at the shop ever since.

Grand Caumont_entrance gate

The estate is currently run by Laurence Rigal, who inherited it from her mother. With 100 hectares of planted vines within the 140 hectare estate, Château du Grand Caumont is one of the largest wine estates in Corbières. The rugged stony clay-limestone soils of the terraced vineyards create excellent filtration for the vines. Their red blends often contain Carignan, which gives the wines from this region their je ne sais quoi …minerality? herbs? It’s like nothing you’ve ever tasted within the deep, dark, fuller-bodied fruit.

Grand Caumont_vineyard workers

The two wines in this wine club are second labels for the estate with grapes sourced from vineyards within Languedoc, but outside of AOC Corbières. Details below. Hope you enjoy!

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Domaine du Grand Caumont 2017 Syrah
Vin de Pays d’Oc, France // Reg $14.99 | INSIDER $13.99 | Mixed Case $11.19
Per the map above, vineyards marked Vin de Pays d’Oc IGP can be located throughout Languedoc in areas that are not further specified as AOC vineyards. These grapes are grown in a Mediterranean climate where it’s very windy and dry in the summer. The vineyards have alluvial soils. This 100% Syrah is light and smooth with a little spice on the finish. Delicious with red meats, grilled meats, boneless rolled loin of lamb, duck with cherries, blackberry or raspberry tarts. Drink now to 3 years.

Domaine de Mougin 2017 Rouge
Vin de Pays de L’Aude, France // Reg $14.99 | Mixed Case $11.99
IGP Vin de Pays de L’Aude is more specified, located in the area northwest of Minervois. It’s also very windy with very dry summer periods. The soils are composed of gravel and clay-limestone on terraces. This red is a crazy, rich blend of Syrah, Grenache Noir, Carignan, Cab, Merlot & Marselan. The grape varieties are vinified separately, then blended at the end of winter. The wine should be served at 15-17°C, so slightly chilled in summer. It’s full of red (strawberry) and dark berry fruits with the special herbal note from the Carignan. This wine is fuller-bodied than the Syrah, but it has similar pairings: red meat, grilled meats and red fruit-based desserts. Drink now to 3 years.

I am dee-lighted with these wines, and I hope you are, too! If you would like to taste your wines prior to enjoying them at home, stop by on Wednesday, August 22 for your pickup tasting! Hope you can make it.

Cheers,
Jens Strecker, Owner
Portalis Wine Shop & J. Strecker Selections

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JULY 2018 // Italy… North & South

This month features two summer picks from Italy. The first is a quaffable white from Soave, located about half an hour due east of Verona, and the second is a red from Puglia, Italy’s heel of the boot.
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Franchetto 2015 Soave “La Capelina”
Veneto, Italy // Reg $14.99 | Mixed Case $11.99
The grape is Garganega, but its known by the name of the DOC: Soave. On the east side of Soave is the village of Terrossa, where the Franchetto family has lived for over a century. Antonio Franchetto continues his family’s long history of cultivating the traditional grapes of these lands (harvest pictured). His daughter, Francesca, is the winemaker, whose training includes “Magis certification” in support of sustainable farming techniques.

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Tasting notes: Citrus blossoms and warm apple aromas with flint, ripe lemons, apricot and elderflower on the palate. The Franchetto family says you should enjoy this wine with fish-based first courses, risotto with peas, pumpkin or fish, soppressa veneta and white meat main courses. Drink now to 1 year.

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Palazzo Malgara 2016 Primitivo di Manduria
Puglia, Italy // Reg $15.99 | INSIDER $14.99 | Mixed Case $11.99
This wine comes from a co-op that makes a line of great value, single varietal wines from Sicily and Puglia. Robust, ripe blackberry, plum skins and cassis with subtle black pepper and rich body. Related to Zinfandel, but Italian style- a bit more acid. Perfect for pairing with burgers, grilled chicken, pork chops off the grill or just sit in some open summer air and enjoy! It’s a great, versatile example from Southern Italy! Drink now to 2 years.

If you would like to taste your wines prior to enjoying them at home, stop by on Wednesday, July 18 for your pickup tasting! Hope you can make it.

Cheers,
Jens Strecker, Owner
Portalis Wine Shop & J. Strecker Selections

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JUNE 2018 | Bordeaux & Burgundy …sort of

Bordeaux_French vineyards in the Bordeaux wine region of Blaye_Michael Clarke

We don’t often find wines from these two appellations that fit our budget for this club. This month we’re featuring a white blend from Bordeaux’s Entre-Deux-Mers and a red from Beaujolais. Beaujolais is often considered a sub-region of Burgundy, but technically it’s not. We said Burgundy for the purposes of this wine club, because if we said Beaujolais you’d groan as you conjured up memories of the Kool-Aid like drink released under that name. Beaujolais-Villages is the intermediate classification of wines from this area — lighter in body, full of flavor (currants, blackberries), low in tannins, higher in acidity. 100% Gamay. Wonderful food wine. Beloved in France. Enjoy!

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Château La Galante 2016 Entre-Deux-Mers
Bordeaux, France // Reg $14.99 | Mixed Case $11.99
Entre-Deux-Mers is the sub-region between Bordeaux’s Left Bank (Garonne River) and Right Bank (Dordogne River). Almost exclusively whites are produced in this area, and usually a blend of Sauvignon Blanc/Semillon. This wine has a small amount of Muscadelle added in for a little bit of spiciness & fullness. Citrus aromas, lemon peel on the nose. Flavors of fresh citrus- lemon and grapefruit. Delightfully refreshing yet soft. Enjoy with shellfish, seafood, grilled pork, salads, paella, light pasta dishes. Château La Galante is the property of Monsieur Christophe Pinard. Drink now.

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Chevalier Clerget 2014 Beaujolais-Villages
Beaujolais, France // Reg $23.99 | INSIDER $14.99 | Mixed Case $11.99
I love this wine, but no matter what I say, Beaujolais is associated with the punch-like drink released on the first Thursday of November each year. Please note: this wine is a totally different animal. Full of currants and strawberries on the nose. Flavors of bright black raspberries, juicy strawberries, black currants. Soft tannins and delightful acidity. Enjoy with roasted chicken, pastas, baked brie. Drink now to 2 years.

If you would like to taste your wines prior to enjoying them at home, stop by on Wednesday, June 20 for your pickup tasting! Hope to see you then.

Cheers,
Jens Strecker, Owner
Portalis Wine Shop & J. Strecker Selections

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MAY 2018 | Wines for Spring

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

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! And this month’s wines are excellent selections to do just that. Hope you enjoy!

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Château Rivière 2017 Minervois Rosé
Languedoc, France // Reg $13.99 | Mixed Case $11.19
Located in the heart of Minervois, Château Rivière has south facing slopes with clay-limestone soil. For five generations the Agnel family has consistently produced this elegant and expressive rosé. A blend of Grenache & Syrah, it’s full of intense raspberry, strawberry & red currants with faint fresh herbs and a little white pepper on the finish. Fleshy. Delicious. Never met a food it doesn’t like. Drink now.

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Nottola 2016 Chianti Colli Senesi DOCG
Tuscany, Italy // Reg $16.99 | INSIDER $14.99 | Mixed Case $11.99
Located in the picturesque countryside of Montepulciano, Nottola was founded in 1992 by Cavaliere Anterivo Giornarelli with the dream of making the highest quality local wines. Enjoy flavors of blueberries, black currants, black raspberry & mixed berries, elegant tannins and expressive hillside herbs. The blue notes in this wine make it a perfect pair with cured meats and pork dishes. Think sausage pizza with the fixings! Medium in body & smooth, it’s a pleasure to just sip as well. Drink now to 2 years.

If you would like to taste your wines prior to enjoying them at home, stop by on Wednesday, May 23 for your pickup tasting! Hope to see you then.

Cheers,
Jens Strecker, Owner
Portalis Wine Shop & J. Strecker Selections

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APRIL 2018 | Southern France

If you have a look at the French Mediterranean, vineyards are not far away — Provence is directly on the sea, with Southern Rhône just to the northwest, and Languedoc-Rousillon runs from Montpellier down to the Spanish border. This month’s wines are selections from two of these areas. Both wines are well-crafted, but they are made by co-ops as opposed to independent vignerons. This is one way that the little guys can scale… and it’s to your advantage! Increasingly we’re seeing bio-dynamic certification from co-op vineyards. And without a doubt, these wines are great value for the price. I hope you enjoy both selections. I think they’re great!

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Louise Dubois 2014 “Ma Belle Réserve” Côtes du Rhône Rouge
Southern Rhône, France // Reg $16.99 | INSIDER $14.99 | Mixed Case $11.99
100% certified organic Syrah/Grenache from vineyards near Roaix. (Above is the one and only photo we got from the producer for this wine!) This little jewel is full of ripe fruits aromas with figs and spicy notes. A fuller-bodied wine than some Rhône table wines with a long finish. Enjoy this wine with stews, roasted meats including chicken, and meats off the grill including burgers! Drink now to 2 years.


Château d’Hautpoul 2013 Grand Réserve Minervois Rouge

Languedoc, France // Reg $17.99 | INSIDER $14.99 | Mixed Case $11.99
This wonderful wine was named after the Fortress of Hautpoul, the ruins of which now sit above the village of Mazamet in the heart of Minervois, a sub-region of Languedoc known for the meaty flavors of Carignan (an often used grape). This wine, however, is a Syrah/Grenache blend (just like the first wine), so it’s a smoother festival of dark fruit — blackberry & black currant, a hint of licorice & silky tannins with a full, textured body. Perfect paired with red meats, game & specialties from the south of France: confits, cassoulets and more. Drink now to 3 years.

If you would like to taste your wines prior to enjoying them at home, stop by on Wednesday, March 21 for your pickup tasting! Hope to see you then.

Cheers,
Jens Strecker, Owner
Portalis Wine Shop & J. Strecker Selections

 

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MARCH 2018 | North Central Spain

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Winefolly_Spain Wine Map_Rioja & Calatayud circled
Spring is here! The transition from winter to summer is delightful- and the food and wine we enjoy even more so. Enjoying warm cooked stews may still be on your menu, as well as fresh vegetables, starts and imported fruits. Hearty reds and rich whites still play a big role in early spring pairings. This month, we focus on North Central Spain- the wines are rich, but not baked like Southern Spain. The fruit is fresh and managed meticulously.

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Bodegas Langa
Cataluyd is south of the Rioja region, west of Penedes. The Los Yermos vineyard can be found between the mountain range La Sierra de Armantes and the River Ribota, near the town of Torralba de Ribota . The stony material and clay originating from La Sierra de Armantes, means that the soil on which these vines are grown is ideal and has been used for vine growing for many centuries.

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Bodegas Langa 2016 Mítco Chardonnay
Calatayud, Spain // Reg $14.99 | Mixed Case $11.99
100% certified organic and biodynamic. Bright fresh fruit- apples, melon, guava with hints of herbs, honey and toasted oak. Pair with poultry, stews, rustic, hedonistic cheeses and pasta dishes. Drink now to 2 years.

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Bodegas Alvia
The winery, located on the Camino de Santiago, uses a traditional handmade process to make Rioja wines, using grapes from their own vineyards, with some vines over 100 years old.

Bodegas Alvia 2015 Mileto Joven
Rioja, Spain // Reg $14.99 | Mixed Case $11.99
Fresh black raspberry, black currants, and soft summer cherries layered with simple earth notes. Delightful. Drink now.

If you would like to taste your wines prior to enjoying them at home, stop by on Wednesday, March 21 for your pickup tasting! Hope to see you then.

Cheers,
Jens Strecker, Owner
Portalis Wine Shop & J. Strecker Selections

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FEBRUARY 2018 | Tuscany… Land of Love

February holds Valentine’s Day, so we always try to find wine club wines to suit the mood… and what could be better than Tuscany! Located in the central region of Italy on the Tyrrhenian Sea, Tuscany is a coastal region with endless rolling hills dotted by country roads and villages. The climate is warm with coastal notes, yet inland areas vary and create unique winemaking areas.

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Tuscany is not only a wine region but a cultural cuisine hub for Italy. Tuscan cuisine is based on simplicity and utilizing local ingredients to add character. It’s a fertile area, producing most of its means to a delicious, bountiful end!

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Santa Lucia
The Scotto family has owned vineyards in Maremma (the southern most tip of Tuscany) and has been producing wine since 1898, but Luciano Scotto (the current owner) didn’t began bottling under the brand Santa Lucia until 1980. Since then, the winery has grown, thanks to the passion and love for Maremma given by Luciano to Lorenzo and Luca, his sons. They grow Morellino di Scansano, Sangiovese (red grapes) as well as Vermentino (white). Pictured above is their 2013 harvest.

Santa Lucia “Brigante” Vermentino
Reg $17.99 | INSIDER $10.99 | Mixed Case $8.79
100% Vermentino produced in stainless steel tanks. Golden hues with aromas of candied lime peel and brine. Bright lemon acidity with olive oil and minerality in the balance. The richness of earth hides the saline components. Vermentino was made for seafood. Here are some pairing ideas> Drink now.

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Tenimenti Andreucci
Located in Pienza, southeast of Siena in the heart of the Tuscan wine region, this small family winery has had a vineyard in the region for over 200 hundred years. The unique wine label honors the family’s legacy by including a copy of a bill of sale from Napoleon, who the Andreucci family supplied wine to. Today, Flavio Andreucci (pictured above) labors to produce the best quality wine combining modern technology, superb vines and a remarkable terroir.

Andreucci “Giobatti” Chianti Colli Senesi
Reg $17.99 | Mixed Case $14.39
Chianti Colli Senesi means Chianti from around Siena. The blend is primarily Sangiovese with a touch of Canaiolo Nero. Aromas of black cherry, orange peel and dried violets. Macerated cherry and plum including the skins with a balanced tannin approach. New World for Chianti, but not missing the character. Try this wine with your favorite salumi, ragu or a grilled steak. Drink now to 3 years.

Hope you enjoy these wines with some good food and a good kiss!

If you would like to taste your wines prior to enjoying them at home, stop by on Wednesday, February 21 for your pickup tasting! Hope to see you then.

Cheers,
Jens Strecker, Owner
Portalis Wine Shop & J. Strecker Selections

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JANUARY 2018 | Treasures Around Bordeaux

Over the last two decades we have seen an expansion of Bordeaux wines that are affordable. We have also been cursed with some “Bordeaux” labeled wines, but they were nothing of the sort. Thankfully over the last decade, France has been proactive! Investment in lesser-known areas around Bordeaux has allowed us to see new regions with amazing wines (in their own right, not just knock off Bordeaux) come on the international scene.

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As you know, we are big fans for Bergerac (top section of the orange). The area is riper and bolder than Bordeaux, and this month’s featured producer even more so! On a 38 hectare estate just southwest of the town of Bergerac in France’s Dordogne Valley, winemaker Pascal Cuisset (pictured below – a character!!) uses the assets of the land & climate along with new winemaking technology to produce beautifully full wines in the Bordeaux style with traditional Bordeaux grapes.

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Château des Eyssards 2014 Cuvée Prestige Rouge
Bergerac, France // Reg $19.99 | INSIDER $16.99 | Mixed Case $13.59
This red is a blend of Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon & Cabernet Franc. Bright red ruby in color with aromas of red berry fruits, plum, black cherry and a hint of cedar & dried herbs. Well-balanced, with firm tannins on its velvety body. Flavors of bright raspberry & red cherry. A touch of black pepper spice lasts through the long smooth finish. Enjoy with a richer meal such as steak, lamb or cassoulet. The tannins in this wine will do a great job of cutting the fat for a perfect pairing! Enjoy now to 3-4 years.

For your second treasure, we’re featuring a wine from Côtes de Duras (most southern section in orange on the map) in the region Sud-Oest or South West France. Berticot is a co-opertiave in the area doing excellent work, and we are pleased to help them expand their US market! Berticot represents 118 winegrowers spread across 1000 hectares of land (55% of the AOP Côtes de Duras). The co-op has a cellar equipped with modern equipment, capable of making 50,000 hectoliters of wine. It has become a renowned brand in France, Europe and awarded in all top competitions.

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Secret de Berticot 2016 Sauvignon
Côtes de Duras, France // Reg $13.99 | INSIDER $12.99 | Mixed Case $10.39
This white is an excellent winter wine as it’s a littler bit fuller than traditional Sauvignon Blanc. Enjoy lovely citrus flowers on the nose. Flavors of fresh citrus- lemon, lime, grapefruit and litchi notes. It’s a delicious food wine. Enjoy with pastas, poultry, shellfish & fish dishes. Drink now.

If you would like to taste your wines prior to enjoying them at home, stop by on Wednesday, January 17 for your pickup tasting! Hope to see you then.

Let this be a year of expansion and exploration! Happy New Year!

Cheers,
Jens Strecker, Owner
Portalis Wine Shop & J. Strecker Selections