Portalis Wine Club ~ Archives

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MAY 2017  |  Austria

Nestled in between Germany, Italy and several Eastern European countries, Austria is world renown for Grüner Veltliner and unique varietals. In the mid-1980’s, Austria enforced a wine qualification system following a scandal. This strict system revitalized the quality of wines in Austria, yet it took many years to bounce back on an international level.

This month we feature 3 outstanding Austrian producers. Lucky you! I was able to source these beauties beyond the killer Prechtl family wines that we direct import.

2-BOTTLE CLUB

Weingut Prechtl “Äussere Bergen” Reserve Grüner Veltliner
Reg $31.99 | INSIDER $29.99 | 20% Mixed Case Discount $23.99

Weingut Prechtl was established in Zellendorf in 1839 and five generations later, it is currently owned and run by Franz & Petra Prechtl (pictured). Franz, who is also the winemaker, puts great emphasis on sustainable farming techniques, allowing the grapes to grow as naturally as possible. The 15 hectare estate produces top quality wines based on their knowledge of the soils, conditions and the age of the vines. The vines in their prime vineyards are at least 25 years old, with these deep-rooted vines giving their wines their special, complex style.

This wine comes from 40-year old vines on a granite plateau (Bohemian Massif). Due to the rugged terrain, the roots are stressed. Long ripening of the grapes on the vine allows the taste of the soil to enrich the wine.

Tasting notes:  Bright green-yellow color with aromas of fine flowers with traces of honey, pineapple, tropical fruit & a hint of tobacco. An elegant, juicy and complex, fine acid, structure, delicate flavors of stone fruits, mineral & spice on the finish. Juicy & alive. Pair with roasted poultry, oily and fresh fish- salt water or fresh water, any challenging vegetable!  Enjoy now to 3 years.

Weingut Prieler 2012 Blaufränkisch “Johanneshöhe”
Reg $29.99 | 20% Mixed Case Discount $23.99

The Prieler estate in Schützen (on the western side of the Lake Neusiedl) is a historic old farm, once dedicated to many types of agriculture but now specializing in grape growing. Two generations of the Prieler family now run the estate: Engelbert and Irmgard, who in 1972 focused the estate on quality production of several grape varieties, mainly Blaufränkisch and Burgundian varieties. Their children, Georg & Sylvia (pictured), now head the estate and continue working to best express the unique terroir of the Leithagebirge.

Tasting notes:  “I wonder if I’ve ever tasted a better year of this. Utterly sweet BF aromas, it’s as seductive as this cuvée ever gets, with a sweetness and “Pannonian creaminess” (in Georg’s words) swirling around the Indonesian black pepper and generous minerality; juicy and long, with an admirably stern finish.” – Terry Theise. Pair with roasted meats (lamb, beef, pork), pastas, strong flavors and poignant cheeses. Enjoy now  to 7 years.

3-BOTTLE CLUB
Our third selection is another gorgeous Grüner Veltliner!

Weingut Bründlmayer 2012 Grüner Veltliner Kamptaler Terrassen
Reg 27.99 | 20% Mixed Case Discount $22.39

Since 1980, Willi Bründlmayer (pictured right) has been managing the estate together with his family. The vineyards of Weingut Bründlmayer are located in Langenlois, 70 km northwest of Vienna, at the intersection of two valleys, the Kamptal and the Danube Valley. The wooded hills of the Waldviertel protect the vineyards from icy northwest winds. During the day the sun heats the stony terraces. At night the fresh, spicy forest air seeps through the Kamptal into the Langenloiser Arena. The combination of hot days and cool nights, the union of the Danube and Kamptal, the geological and climatic diversity of the vineyards characterize the wines.

Tasting notes: “A lovely nose of pea tendrils, fresh green bean and ripe pear renders Brundlmayer’s 2012 Gruner Veltliner Kamptaler Terrassen an archetype of its grape variety, and these scents presage the salad-like, soft-feeling yet somehow simultaneously crunchy as well as positively, subtly piquant palate that follows. This deliciously refreshing bottling – its best-installment I can recall, and sure to satisfy at least through 2015 – also offers an excellent example of the extent to which Gruner Veltliner from its vintage can utterly belie their analytically low acidity. Hints of iodine and stone lend considerable intrigue in its clear, interactive finish.” Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate (DS) 4/2014. Drink now and for the next 3 years.

Austrian wines rock!!  Wine Tasting Pickup Day will be: Thursday, May 18. Stop by if you can!

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

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APRIL 2017 | Balance of the Blend

Bordeaux has a maritime climate. The Atlantic Ocean cools the area dramatically, so the varietals that grow there need as much support as they can get! The Left Bank is closest to the ocean and one would think that it would grow the varietals that handle the cooler temperatures; however, Cabernet Sauvignon reigns king on the Left Bank as the soils are extremely gravely and heat the vines to assist with ripening. Merlot, on the other hand, loves sandy soil with clay, which is prominent on the Right Bank. Merlot is grown on the Left Bank as well, it’s just more intense, masculine with leather chair and fig notes.

So our theme — Balance of the Blend — focuses on Bordeaux reds: Cabernet Sauvignon & Merlot. Why blend in Bordeaux (or any area for that matter)? The creativity of blending allows the winemaker to manage the impact of the climate on the vineyards for each year and control the balance and expression of the wine. For example, in cooler years Cabernet Sauvignon may not ripen enough. The result in scientific terms is a balance of phenols. “Phenols are complex molecules, including tannins, in the skins of the grape that can contribute bitter flavours. As the grape approaches ripeness, they change from green and bitter to pleasantly astringent, to soft and ripe-tasting.” More > Cool climate Cabernet Sauvignon (especially in Washington State) denotes a green pepper undertone. The solution?  Blend with a varietal that ripens faster in cool climates: Merlot & Cabernet Franc! The same is true for hotter years, except the blend will contain more Cabernet Sauvignon and less Merlot as Merlot becomes flabby and flat if it is ripened too long.

2-BOTTLE CLUB
Our first two wines are Merlot-based blends. One is an everyday drinker from the Right Bank, and the other is a cellar worthy Left Bank production. Similar blends, yet our Left Bank red is aged for a year in new French oak! Stunning.

La Fleur Chazal Bordeaux Rouge  | Reg $15.99 | INSIDER $14.99 | 20% Mixed Case Discount $11.99
For three generations the Cardarelli family (whose ancestors emigrated from Southern Italy) has produced quality wines in the Bordeaux region. Located near Pomerol, the vineyards (pictured) for this wine lie on a 400 ft high plateau which provides for a full sun exposure. The high plains terroir is the principal reason for the richness and finesse of La Fleur Chazal wines.

Tasting notes:  70% Merlot, 30% Cabernet Sauvignon. 45 year old vines, clay and limestone soil. Aged in concrete vats for 12-18 months. Ruby red in color with aromas of summer cherries and black raspberry. Well-rounded tannins. Enjoy now to 3 years.


Frank Phélan Saint-Estèphe | Reg $51.99 | 20% Mixed Case Discount $41.59
Since 1985, the Gardinier brothers (Thierry, Stéphane and Laurent) have continued the values and the chivalrous spirit of this estate. The vineyard of Château Phélan Ségur (pictured above) covers 70 hectares of magnificent clay-gravel on the hills and plateaux of Saint-Estèphe. Created in 1986, Frank Phélan, the second wine of the château, bears the name of the son of Bernard Phélan, founder of the estate. Frank Phélan comes from 15 hectares of old vines and a selection of vines of less than ten years.

Tasting notes:  75% Merlot, 25% Cabernet Sauvignon. Soil is superficial gravel with clay subsoil. 12 months in French oak barrique. Dark plum in color with rich, ripe black fruits aromas and cedar box. Black currants and blackberries, delicate vanilla and spices aromas embellish the fruit. Pair with lamb, beef or mushroom dishes. Enjoy now (decanted) to 15 years.

3-BOTTLE CLUB
Our third selection is a Left Bank Cabernet-driven blend from the Médoc.

Château La Valière Médoc | Reg $23.99 | 20% Mixed Case Discount $19.19
This wine is the second label for Chateau La Tour de By (pictured above). Tasting notes:  60% Cabernet Sauvignon, 40% Merlot. Garonne gravel. 30-year old vines. 12 months in French oak barrique. Dark ruby in color with aromas of ripe red cherries. Coffee, vanilla beans and cocoa nibs meld with strawberries, raspberries, black cherries and integrated tannins. Pair with lamb, beef or mushroom dishes. Awards: The Château La Valière has won a Gold Medal on «concours des vins des Vignerons Indépendants 2013» and a Gold Medal at «concours des vins Féminalise 2013».  Drink now and for the next seven years.

We hope that you enjoy your Bordeaux wines!  Wine Tasting Pickup Day will be: Thursday, April 20. Stop by if you can!

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

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MARCH 2017 | New Zealand

In the southern realm of the world, the islands of New Zealand are nestled 1200 miles away from Tasmania (the island off of the southern tip of Australia). The two islands vary dramatically in climate and winemaking. The larger southern island is cooler with a consistent rain impact from the Tasman Sea. Central Otago is likened to the 45th parallel. Abundant sunshine hours on the South Island aid ripening while the consistently cool nights allow grapes to retain acidity and the zesty character so prized in the country’s whites. One finds white varietals such as Sauvignon Blanc, cool climate Chardonnay and Grüner Veltliner as well as cool climate reds, such as Pinot Noir. The northern island is warmer, less mountainous, and generally much rainier. It’s a mix of the heat similar to southern Spain with Bordeaux maritime! Wines in the north island are warmer, yet not dense and deep due to the moisture. Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc are king for the white varietals with some nice examples of Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah.

This month we’re featuring a well established winery from the region: Coopers Creek.  Founded in 1980 by Andrew & Cynthia Hendry (when the New Zealand wine industry was still small and relatively unknown), Coopers Creek Vineyard has grown and matured over three decades into a top class winery with a strong international presence. Coopers Creek is still a family-owned winery that remains in close touch with its origins and original aims. Prior to his ascent to fame, Kim Crawford was the winemaker there. Since 1998, Simon Nunns has been rocking the awards for Coopers Creek. Not only highly experienced and talented as a winemaker, Simon is a sought-after wine judge, educator and speaker.

For our 2-bottle selections, we are featuring a Chardonnay from Hawke’s Bay (North Island – pictured above) and Central Otago (South Island).  Hawke’s Bay is the oldest wine region in New Zealand and the second largest. The climate is maritime and very similar to Bordeaux. Although Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay are the region’s most planted varieties, Hawke’s Bay is New Zealand’s largest producer of red wines, and Merlot is the leading red grape.

2-BOTTLE CLUB
Coopers Creek 2013 “The Limeworks” Chardonnay | HAWKE’S BAY — Reg $26.99 | 20% Mixed Case Discount $21.59
Tasting notes:  Pink lady apples with citrus notes of grapefruit and lemon. Hints of vanilla, cream, hazelnut and subtle oak. Pair with roasted poultry, pastas, root vegetables and cream dishes.  Enjoy now to 3 years.

Central Otago (pictured above) has a continental climate unlike any other region in both islands. It is surrounded by mountains protecting it from the maritime moisture yet allowing for greater seasonal temperature extremes. Pinot Noir thrives here yet was only introduced in the 1990’s. A hidden gem for wine lovers.

Coopers Creek 2012 “Razorback” Pinot Noir | CENTRAL OTAGO — Reg $29.99 | 20% Mixed Case Discount $23.99
Tasting notes:  Hedonistic summer plums- ripe off the tree with bright cherries and hints of pepper, baking spices and rose petals.  Pair with grilled salmon, roasted poultry, bean dishes and mushrooms. Enjoy now to 5 years.

3-BOTTLE CLUB
For our 3-bottle club members, you get  a classic New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc from the world renowned Marlborough region! (pictured below)  Marlborough produces over half of the entire country’s wine, with nearly 10,000 ha of Sauvignon Blanc alone.  Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Pinot Gris and Riesling are the next most-planted grapes, although even the combined acreage significantly trails that of Sauvignon Blanc.

Coopers Creek 2015 Sauvignon Blanc | MARLBOROUGH — Reg $17.99 | 20% Mixed Case Discount $14.39
Tasting notes:  Citrus explosion with hints of passion fruit, nectarine, thyme and sea salt. Pair with fresh seafood, light pastas, oysters and frisée salads.  Enjoy now and for the next two years.

We hope that you enjoy your adventure ‘down south’ to New Zealand!  Wine Tasting Pickup Day will be: Thursday, March 23. Stop by if you can!

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

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FEBRUARY 2017 | Indulge the Senses
It’s the month of love, and I’ve chosen wines to indulge the senses! Three different grapes from three different regions. Enjoy!
2-BOTTLE CLUB
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BURGUNDY (FRANCE)
Réserve du Chevalier Crémant de Bourgogne  Reg $23.99 | 20% Mixed Case Discount $19.19
The Clerget family dates back to 1268. Jean Clerget, Member of the Royal Parliament in Dijon, was appointed “Chevalier” in 1698 and granted a family coat of arms. In 1972, Patrick Clerget (pictured) started working for the family company “Maison Raoul Clerget” and in 1994, he and his wife set up their own company, “Sélection Patrick Clerget”, in Beaune, the capital of Burgundy wines. In 2007, he was appointed a member of “Chevalier du Tastevin”, the exclusive society that promotes Burgundy wines around the world.

Tasting notes:  White floral and citrus with fine elegant beads. Lively citrus, fresh apples, toasted brioche and richness. Pairings:  Wonderful aperitif. Delicious with oysters & cooked shellfish, smoked fish (halibut) and fish tartar (salmon). Drink now.

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PIEDMONT (ITALY)
Luca Ferraris del Martin Barbera d’Asti DOCG  Reg $15.99 | 20% Mixed Case Discount $12.59

Our second bottle for this month is a killer Barbera. Piedmont is known for Barolo and Barbersco which is Nebbiolo based. Often overlooked, Barbera is easily paired with most dishes and is the wine you will find on the dinner table in most Piedmontese homes. The third most planted grape in Italy, Barbera is primarily found in the northwest region of Piedmont.

Luca Ferraris Agricola is the largest family owned agricultural company in the seven municipalities of the Ruchè-growing region also known as Castagnole Monferrato area of Piedmont. The Ruché grape is their focus, but they produce wonderful Barbera at a very good price. Pictured is the San Rocco Vineyard that this month’s Barbera “del Martin” comes from.

Tasting notes:  Aged 9-months in French oak. Garnet red with violet reflections. Nose of violets, herbs and spices, intense, with ripe black raspberries, macerated cherries, spices notes and a balanced acidity. Pairings: White and red meats, pasta, young and medium aged cheeses, game.

3-BOTTLE CLUB
For our 3-bottle club members, a treat from me!  An amazing direct-import Pinot Nero reserve from one of our favorite producers in Alto Adige, Italy’s northern most region. Hope you enjoy!

Castelfeder_Vernatch harvest_2014
ALTO ADIGE (ITALY)
Burgum Novum Pinot Nero Riserva   Reg $51.99 | Wine Club Special Price $49.99 | 20% Mixed Case Discount $41.59
The Castelfeder Winery was founded in 1970 by A. Giovanett, who had attended the renowned wine school in San Michele all’Adige and at the founding already had extensive experience as a vintner. In 1989 the founder’s son, Günther Giovanett (born in 1958), took over the management of the winery. 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. Recently his son, Ivan, took over as winemaker.

Tasting notes:  Aged 18-months in French oak. Aromas of red berry, vanilla. Flavors of red fruits, soft tannins with a round mouth-feel.  Pairings: Enjoy with roasted chicken, game, seafood and cheeses. Drink now to 10 years.

So there you have it — wines to indulge in this month or down the line. I hope they delight you as much as they do me. Wine Tasting Pickup Day will be: Thursday, February 23rd. Stop by if you can!

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

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JANUARY 2017 | Woodinville Wineries

There is so much going on in Woodinville right now that we will not be able to do it justice, but over the holidays, we hosted tastings with both of the featured wineries below (Raconteur is the second label for W.T. Vintners), and I think all three of these wines are great examples of the wines coming out of Woodinville at this time.

Woodinville wineries typically produce their Columbia Valley wines in Woodinville Wine Country. That is, they source their grapes from Eastern Washington and make the wines in Woodinville. Some of the Woodinville wineries are second locations for their Eastern Washington winery. Check out the Woodinville Wineries Guide here>

This month’s 2-bottle club will be a fun and funky white blend from W.T. Vintners as well as an inky and bold red blend from Gorman Winery.  Enjoy!

2-BOTTLE CLUB
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COLUMBIA VALLEY
Raconteurs 2015 White Blend | Reg $22.99 | 20% Mixed Case Discount $18.39
The second label (more affordable line) for W.T. Vintners is Raconteurs. The red blend of the same name is reflective of winemaker Jeff Thorsen’s excellent and exacting work with his red wines; the white is an excellent food wine- a blend of Chenin Blanc and Grüner Veltliner.

Tasting notes:  “Bursting with aromas of quince, Meyer lemon, white peach, melon, honey, flint, and subtle fresh herbs. The palate brings bright citrus fruits, just ripe peach, lemon balm and lively acidity.”  Pair with asparagus risotto, lentil soup, roasted poultry and medium to hard cheeses. Drink now to 2+ years.

WA_Yakima Valley_Red Willow Vineyard
RED MOUNTAIN
Gorman Winery 2013 Zachary’s Ladder | Reg $33.99 | 20% Mixed Case Discount $27.19
The wine bug hit winemaker Chris Gorman pretty early on in his life, and in 2002 he struck out on his own. Can’t complain about that!  Not only does he produce diverse, rich reds, but also classy Chardonnays, especially for those who love a touch of oak and toast.

Tasting notes:  Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon, Petit Verdot all from Red Mountain, with 92 pts from the Wine Advocate to boot! Inky black berries, macerated brandied cherries with hints of vanilla, spice and every thing Washington nice. Pair with meat- steak, roasts, hedonistic items especially funky cheese. Drink in the next 5 years.

3-BOTTLE CLUB
For our 3-bottle club members, another terrific bottle from winemaker Jeff Thorsen:
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HORSE HEAVEN HILLS
W.T. Vintners 2013 ‘Gorgeous’ Syrah Destiny Ridge Vineyard | Reg $33.99 | 20% Mixed Case Discount $27.19
I really can’t say it better than this; so from their website:  “”For over five thousand years the catastrophic events known as the Great Missoula Floods swept over Eastern Washington and Northern Oregon. As the waters receded it left behind diverse and mineral rich soils. Our intent is to highlight the aromas, flavors, and nuance of these specific vineyard sites made special by these ancient geological cataclysms. We embrace a holistic approach both in the vineyard and winery. Sustainable, organic and bio-dynamic farming are a constant pursuit with our contracted growers in the greater Columbia Valley and Columbia Gorge. We practice simple methods and techniques rooted in wine making tradition. Our goal is to have as little impact on the wine as possible, thereby allowing the vineyard, not the winemaker, to express itself.”

Tasting notes:  “Layers of black cherry, fresh blueberry, maple cured bacon, black pepper and crushed purple flowers emerge from the glass. Focused, pure and silky with raspberry, blueberry and cracked pepper resonating on the palate with a long supple finish.”  Pair with roasts, games, red meats & hard cheeses. Drink now to 7 years.

Please note the change to your Wine Tasting Pickup Day:  Friday, January 20. We will have a guest from Chile on Thursday, Jan 19. Please feel free to join for that tasting as well!

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

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DECEMBER 2016 | Holiday Selections!
Like a kid in a candy shop, I am thrilled to present three of my favorites for this holiday season — a sampling from different Old World countries for you to either cellar or enjoy with your family and friends.

This month’s 2-bottle club will be a gorgeous Bordeaux that I just imported (and trust me I have enjoyed sampling it). The second is our DOCG Prosecco Superiore from award-winning La Farra.  Enjoy!

2-BOTTLE CLUB
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BORDEAUX | FRANCE
Château Mazeyres 2014 Pomerol “Le Seuil de Mazeyres” | Reg $41.99 | 20% Mixed Case Discount $31.59
Château Mazeyres, located in the heart of Libourne, is very closely linked to the history of Pomerol, a village that existed during Roman times. In 1992, Alain Moueix, a viticultural engineer and oenologist, was entrusted with the management of Château Mazeyres. Fourth generation of a Libourne family of winegrowers and wine merchants, he brought his skill and expertise derived from this region. From an exceptional terroir within the prestigious appellation of Pomerol, the wines of Château Mazeyres are appreciated on the five continents of the world for their elegance and delicacy.

Tasting notes:  Primarily Merlot with 20% Cabernet Franc, these 30-year old vines soak up the gravel clay soil with a subsoil of iron-rich clay.  They harvest all grapes by hand!  Dark, deep ruby in color with aromas of mint, pepper, black currants. Cunningly diverse in character. Black berries, black currants, pepper, silky tannins and roasted oak. Pair with red meats or fine cheeses. Drink now to 5+ years.
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VENETO | ITALY
La Farra Valdobbiadene DOCG Prosecco Superiore Brut | Reg $17.99 | 20% Mixed Case Discount $14.39
Located in the commune of Farra di Soligo in the heart of the Treviso province in the Veneto region, La Farra is owned & operated by the Nardi family (pictured). They strive for exceptional quality through gentle care of the land & vines, along with a meticulous winemaking processes from start to finish. The vines are grown high in the hills of Farra di Soligo and S. Pietro di Feletto.

Prosecco is made of the varietal Glera and as with all Prosecco, it is produced using Charmat (tank) fermentation (not bottle fermented like Champagne or Cava), allowing for delicate bubbles that express the elegant nature of Glera.

Tasting notes:  Enjoy a fresh aroma with notes of stone fruits & apple. Soft bubbles last through a finish that lingers pleasantly with dry sweet & sour notes. Pair with appetizers, salads, delicate cheeses. Drink now.

3-BOTTLE CLUB
For our 3-bottle club members, enjoy this robust, yet seductive Rioja Reserva from our friends at Zuazo Gaston!
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LA RIOJA | SPAIN
Zuazo Gaston 2007 Rioja Reserva | Reg $31.99 | INSIDER $26.99 | 20% Mixed Case Discount $21.59
La Rioja is the most famous wine region in Spain, renowned for its red wines made from the Tempranillo grape. Rioja, located in north-central Spain, is closely tied to France both geographically and in winemaking tradition. Rioja wines age longer than any other wine in the world, and is the only region in Spain to carry the DOC title. Rioja wines are aged in oak barrels, and the region itself is referred to as “Spain’s Bordeaux”. Tempranillo is used in all Rioja red wines; other grapes used are Garnacha, Graciano and Mazuelo.  Rioja wines have a law that dictates their aging requirements: Crianza must be aged two years (one year in oak), Reserva must be aged three years (one year in oak), and Gran Reserva must be aged at least five years (two in oak, and three in bottles). The vineyards of Zuazo Gaston are located on 52 hectares in the Oyón region within the DOC Rioja.

Tasting notes:  This gorgeous wine is primarily Tempranillo with 5% Mazuelo, 5% Graciano.  It is aged 20 months in new French and American oak. Vibrant ruby in color, its aromas are rich and spicy. Silky mouth-feel with notes of dark fruits & spice that lasts through the lingering finish. Pair with roasts, games, red meats & hard cheeses. Drink now to 2 years.

Happy Holidays!  We hope that you enjoy these wines with your family and friends. Want a preview before enjoying them at home? Stop by for your Wine Tasting Pickup Day:  Thursday, December 22.  We would love to see you then!

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

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NOVEMBER 2016 | Tour de France
As we march forward this fall towards darker days and holiday celebrations, we need wine to share with others! This month I have selected wines that I would happily enjoy with family and friends who like feasting as much as I do!

This month’s 2-bottle club will be two wonderful reds from France’s Southern Rhône & Bordeaux regions:
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SOUTHERN RHÔNE
The Southern Rhône has a Mediterranean climate characterized by hot summers and mild winters. Le Mistral is also present in this region, helping cool the vines (allowing grapes to retain acidity) and preventing rot. The Rhône Valley takes its name from the Rhône River which runs south through the region (beginning in the Swiss Alps). There are 18 specific Cru Villages within the Rhône Valley, with Vacqueyras being one that holds this honor. Other Cru Villages in the Southern Rhône include: Beaumes des Venise, Gigondas, Châteauneuf-du-Pape & more, so your featured wine is in good company!

Les Collégiales 2013 Vacqueyras
Reg $23.99 | 20% Mixed Case Discount $19.19

Tasting notes:  A blend of Grenache, Syrah, Mourvèdre. The color is a deep garnet hue with aromas of black fruits and notes of spice. Flavors of ripe black currant coulis, strawberry jam, spice, licorice and violets. Rich tannins, elegant. Enjoy with grilled steak with sea salt, Camembert. Drink now to 5 years.

BORDEAUX
Bordeaux features a temperate climate, short winters and a high degree of humidity due to its closeness to the Atlantic. It’s named after the region’s main city, Bordeaux, and is divided by the Gironde estuary with the majority of the vineyards located either on its “Right” or “Left” Bank. Pessac-Léognan is in the northern part of the Graves region (Left Bank) of Bordeaux. Unlike most Bordeaux appellations, Pessac-Léognan is equally famous for both red and (dry) white wines, although red wine is still predominant. It includes the only red wine producer outside the Haut-Médoc classified in the Bordeaux Wine Official Classification of 1855, the premier cru Château Haut-Brion.
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Château Lafargue 2012 Pessac-Léognan Rouge
Reg $38.99 | 20% Mixed Case Discount $31.19

This family estate (18.5 hectares) is situated in the heart of the Pessac-Léognan appellation. The Lafargue Castle is on the family property. At its head is Jean-Pierre Leymarie (pictured), who was born on the property and is the 3rd generation to run the estate. He succeeded his father in 1983.

Tasting notes:  A blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot. Fresh aromas of plum, cassis, blackberry jam with a hint of white pepper, tobacco and brioche. On the palate, blackberry, currant, cassis with a note of roasted coffee. Pairings: Roast beef, roasted meats, scalloped potatoes, demi-glace blue cheese.  Drink now to 10 years!

3-BOTTLE CLUB
For our 3-bottle club members, this is my favorite Pinot Noir Rosé from the Loire Valley, fresh off last week’s container!

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LOIRE VALLEY
The Loire tends to be fairly cold, with mildly warm summers. In colder years, the wines can be lacking in flavor if they don’t ripen enough. There are three broad areas within the Loire: western Loire, which produces Muscadet; eastern Loire which produces Sancerre and Pouilly-Fumé; and the middle Loire, which produces a range of different wines. The Loire Valley produces all kinds of wine: sweet, dry, sparkling, still, red, white & rosé, with one common characteristic — acidity!

La Colline aux Princes 2013 Sancerre Rosé
Reg $27.99 | 20% Mixed Case Discount $22.39

Tasting Notes:  100% Pinot Noir. Salmon-colored with an intense aroma of raspberry, blackberry & black cherry. It has lively acidity, coupled with ample mouth feel, providing balanced freshness and a long elegant finish. Pairings: seafood dishes, chicken or salads. Drink now to 2 years.

These wines would enhance your Thanksgiving table, but if you don’t pick up before the end of the month, they will hold just fine. Wine Tasting Pickup Day will be Thursday, November 17.  We would love to see you then!

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

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OCTOBER 2016 | West Coast, Baby! | California Pinots and a Killer Zin!

California is classically known for Cabernet Sauvignon & Chardonnay, with many wine drinkers overlooking California’s outstanding Pinot Noir & Zinfandel varietals. California’s wine regions have four large AVAs: North Coast, Central Coast, South Coast, and the Sierra Foothills. These larger areas encompass several smaller AVA’s (e.g. Napa Valley, Sonoma Valley, etc). Most of the wine regions are coastal with the use of fog and cool sea breezes to mitigate temperatures. This also allows for cool evenings to chill the varietals from the hot days.

This month’s 2-bottle club shows off two different styles of California Pinot Noir: one from Mendocino (North Coast) and the other from Santa Barbara (Central Coast).
2-BOTTLE CLUB
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Wish Wine Co. 2014 Pinot Noir
Reg $25.99 | INSIDER $22.99 | 20% Mixed Case Discount $18.39

The North Coast AVA is world renowned for the Napa Valley and Sonoma Valley; however, it also includes 48 other AVA’s! To assist, California has broken the regions down into six counties (Napa, Sonoma, Mendocino, Lake, Solano and Marin). One of the most prominent is Mendocino. North of Sonoma County, Mendocino is defined by the Mayacamas Mountains on the east, the Pacific Ocean to the west and the Russian and Navarro Rivers.

The primary vineyard source for the Wish Wine Co. is a 600-acre estate vineyard in Mendocino County, within the North Coast American Viticulture Area (AVA) of California. Since the mid-19th century the North Coast has been the epicenter for high quality wine production ranging from small boutique wineries to cult classics. Both soil composition and the temperate climate have helped to contribute to the success of this wine region.

Tasting Notes: Rose petals, lilac, cranberry and wild strawberry.  Rainier cherries, soft earth, subtle peppercorn. Pair with poultry, roasted vegetables, zucchini, corn bread. Drink now to 5 years.
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Au Bon Climat 2015 Pinot Noir
Reg $32.99 | 20% Mixed Case Discount $26.39

The Central Coast AVA begins at San Francisco Bay and runs along the coast to Santa Barbara which is located to the south of Monterrey. It contains five counties (Contra Costa County, Monterrey County, San Luis Obispo County, Santa Barbara County, Santa Clara County) with 27 AVA sub regions. One of the biggest impacts of the Central Coast area is the Templeton Gap, a set of hills that form an outlet to the coast. The cool marine air rushes through this area to cool the region. The area also has limestone and calcareous soils which is ideal for vines.

Beginning in 1982, Au Bon Climat is the realization of Burgundian wines thriving in California for winemaker and owner, Jim Clendenen.  After graduating from the University of California Santa Barbara with a pre-law degree, a trip to Burgundy and Champagne steered him towards the pursuit of wine instead of law. Over thirty award-winning years later, Jim continues to craft beautiful Santa Barbara estate wines. The 2015 Santa Barbara County Pinot Noir is a blend of Pinot Noir from five vineyards: Bien Nacido, Rancho Vinedo, and Le Bon Climat, all which are in the Santa Maria Valley, and two vineyards in the Los Alamos Valley: Los Alamos Vineyard and Kick-On Vineyard.

Tasting Notes: Wild strawberries, blackberries, soft tannins and light in body. The fruit is embraced with spices of anise and clove. Pair with salmon, lamb, dried meats, spicy Indian dishes to all-American sandwiches.  Enjoy now, or in the next five years.

3-BOTTLE CLUB
For our 3-bottle club members, we are featuring a Zinfandel from Paso Robles!
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Four Vines 2012 The Biker Zinfandel
Reg $22.99 | 20% Mixed Case Discount $18.39

Zinfandel’s legacy of being an original California varietal was squashed when DNA links and Carole Meredith’s research revealed that it is the Croatian varietal Crljenak Kastelanski. However, California Zinfandel is a style all its own. There is no other region in the world that creates this concentration of Zinfandel flavors with old vine plantings.

Located in what is now San Luis Obispo County, the Paso Robles AVA began with missionaries in 1797. Over a thousand vines of Zinfandel were planted! Just past the Salinas River, the climate becomes warmer, the soils sandier and the wines bold and extracted. It is also the area for the annual “Hospice du Rhône” conference on Rhône style wine.

Tasting Notes: Aromas of blackberry with explosive cherry, boysenberry and plums hints of white pepper, smoky char and oregano. Big, bold and expressive tannins. Zinfandel is one of the best food wines for classic American fare as it doesn’t go tart when enjoyed with spicy and/or sweet dishes. Pair with BBQ meats, braised ribs, pizza and pasta. Drink now to 5 years.

You can pick up your wines anytime. Wine Tasting Pickup Day will be Thursday, October 20.  Hope you can make it.

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

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SEPTEMBER 2016 | Piedmont (Italy)
Located in beautiful, hilly, northwest Italy, Piedmont is known for hazelnuts, truffles and the world-famous Nebbiolo grape. There is currently a debate in Piedmont — how to label its Nebbiolo?  Worldwide, Nebbiolo is better known for the region it is grown in:  Langhe, Barbaresco, Barolo, etc.  Currently the idea is being floated to label Nebbiolo similarly to other varietals in Italy where the label says the varietal name & the region it is from, e.g. Nebbiolo d’Langhe. We will see!  This month’s club features a beautiful Nebbiolo Riserva from Roero. As well, this club will show off a lesser-known traditional grape called: Ruchè. This varietal is much harder to find than Nebbiolo, so we hope you enjoy a little wine exploration with us!

2-BOTTLE CLUB

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Pelassa 2009 “Antaniolo” Roero Riserva DOCG
Reg $41.99 | 20% Mixed Case Discount $33.59

Located in Montà d’ Alba, in the Roero area of Piedmont, the Pelassa family owns 12 hectares of land used for vine cultivation and wine production, focusing on Arneis, Nebbiolo & Barbera. Mario Pelassa (pictured above right) first came into the wine industry in his youth travelling around on his bicycle selling various wines to the locals. He shortly upgraded to a motorcycle. At 18 he entered the army where he continued to sell wine to his comrades. After the army, Mario bought his first 5 acres of vineyards, and the rest is history. His two sons, Davide & Daniele (pictured left) now head up the family winery bringing with them an air of modernization to their family tradition.

Tasting Notes: This DOCG 100% Roero Nebbiolo has aromas of violets, tar, wild herbs, cherries, raspberries, truffles, tobacco and prunes. Flavor components include dried fruit, damsons, leather, licorice, mulberries, spice as well dried and fresh herbs. This is a special bottle! Pair it with herb-crusted roast lamb rack, smoked duck with wild mushrooms or fresh spinach linguine with white truffle shavings. Give it time to open and you can enjoy this wine now or lay it down for years to come, up to 10 if you can wait that long!

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Luca Ferraris 2015 Ruchè Bric d’Bianc DOCG
Reg $19.99 | 20% Mixed Case Discount $15.99
Our other treat in this month’s club is a varietal that came close to extinction- and wow, are we happy it didn’t! Ruchè is a rustic, native, red variety from the Piedmont region. It is the varietal base of Ruchè di Castagnole Monferrato where maximum of 10% Barbera or Brachetto may be blended. Very small production, it covers only about 100 acres (40 hectares) of vines around the villages of Castagnole Monferrato, Refrancore, Grana, Montemagno, Viarigi, Scurzolengo and Portacomaro.  It is also found in the neighboring province of Alessandria. Ruchè di Castagnole Monferrato is one of the lowest production varietal wines in Italy.

Tasting Notes: 100% Ruchè vinified in stainless steel. Ruby red with purple rim appearance. Aromas of roses, geranium, and cherries. Flavors of candied orange and plum, ripe raspberries, summer cherries, and a clean dry finish. Pair with white and red meats, pasta, young and medium aged cheeses, game.  Enjoy now, or even better in the next five years!

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3-BOTTLE CLUB

Luca Ferraris 2015 Ruchè Clàsic DOCG
Reg $23.99 | 20% Mixed Case Discount $19.19
Luca Ferraris Agricola is the largest family-owned agricultural company in the seven municipalities of the Ruchè-growing region. Originating in the early 1900’s, the family vineyards faltered during the industrial era. Luca (pictured) re-established not only the winery, but also the rare Ruchè grape, bringing it back to notoriety for the region. It was not until 2010 that the Italian DOCG recognized Ruchè!

Tasting Notes: 100% Ruchè vinified for 6-9 months in oak barrels. Ruby red colors with aromas of forest woods and geranium.  On the palate: spice, geranium leaf, rose petals, ripe raspberries, summer cherries. Pair with truffles, game, medium-aged cheeses, red and white meats, pasta, especially mushroom risotto. I am delighted with this wine! Enjoy now up to 7 years!

You can pick up your wines anytime. Wine Tasting Pickup Day will be Thursday, September 22.  Hope you can make it.

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

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AUGUST 2016 | Chile
Exports of Chilean wines are far below that of many other countries. The tragedy of Chile occurred in the 1970’s and 1980’s, during political upheaval and dictatorship. This era not only inhibited wine export, but it was followed in the 1990’s by a massive vine pull. Between 1982 and 1992 40,000 hectares of vineyards were removed in an agricultural overall of the country. Source>

Then a transition to democracy in the late 1990’s brought a wave of international investors. The Rothchilds (France), Kendal Jackson (US), Mondavi (US) and Torres (Spain) are just a few of the wineries that began this new trend of Chilean wine production. Of course, this transition did not happen overnight, and it is still a challenge for Chile to shake its old image. “As of CY 2015, Chile has an estimated 8,000 wine grape producers and a planted area of 130,000 hectares (ha). While the planted area has nearly doubled over the last ten years, exports quadrupled due to high yields and improvements in the industry.”

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We haven’t done a Chilean wine club in ages, and it seemed like a good time to show off some excellent selections available in the our market. All three wines are well-crafted, delicious, and very, very different. I hope you enjoy them.

2-BOTTLE CLUB

Chilean winery, Garage Wine Co. is a small winery based off of the French concept of garagiste wineries. Garagiste wineries popped up dramatically in the 1990’s (actually the first was Le Pin in 1970) with the ideal that smaller production and quantity led to higher quality. Garage Wine Co. has this hands down. Small farmers in the Maule use traditional methods of dry-farming 70+ year old vines- all hand and horse harvested! Primarily Carignan (Cariñena), they blend in Mataró (aka Mourvèdre) as well.

Garage Wine Co. 2013 Carignan Mataró Lot # 47 Truquilemu Vineyard
Reg $34.99 | 20% Mixed Case Discount $27.99
(Maule Valley, Chile) 95% Carignan | 5% Mataró. Aromas of violets dance with red currants, raspberry, smoked meats and fertile earth. Bold and robust with delicate acidity. Drink now to 5+ years. (Pictured: Carignan from Garage Wine Co.)

Varietal_Carignan_ Garage Wines

The Echeverría family, originally from the Basque region of Spain, settled into the Santiago region of Chile in the 1750’s pursuing a combination of agriculture on their farm. Vineyards moved to the forefront in 1930 when Roger Piffre de Vauban, a French engineer from Montpellier, and Roberto Echeverría, grandfather to the current winemaker, traveled to Chile. Roberto Echeverría Jr. has been the chief winemaker of Viña Echeverría since 2001. He is supported by a young team of winemakers from both Chile and Europe.

Echeverria 2012 Elementos
Reg $16.99 | 20% Mixed Case Discount $13.59
(Maipo Valley, Chile) Blend: Cabernet Sauvignon, Petit Verdot, Carignan, Carmenère. Cured black cherries, summer strawberries with notes of spices, coffee and tobacco. Elegant yet structured. Drink now to 3 years.

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3-BOTTLE CLUB

The final bottle for our 3-bottle club members is a little bit of an anomaly. It’s produced by a Chilean winery that sources its grapes in Argentina!  Viu Manent, owned by the Viu family, was founded in 1935 when they immigrated from Catalonia (Spain). Expanding its long-term success in Chile, the winery is collaborating with the Bottlini family in Argentina, purchasing Malbec from their ViBo project.

Viu Manent 2008 Vibo Malbec
Reg $34.99 | 20% Mixed Case Discount $27.99
(Mendoza, Argentina)  Aromas of ripe cherry, raspberry, and a touch of cinnamon. Blueberry jam, roasted coffee bean and well-structured tannins. Drink now or in the next 5 years.

You can pick up your wines anytime. Wine Tasting Pickup Day will be Thursday, August 18.  Hope you can make it.

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

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JULY 2016 |Italian Wines for Summer

The Nottola “Il Fatore” Vino Nobile di Montepulciano Riserva is a direct import of ours that I really love, so I decided to build a summer wine club around it, as it is especially delicious with grilled fare. So here goes:

2-BOTTLE CLUB
Tuscany: Located in the picturesque countryside of Montepulciano, Azienda Agricola Nottola (pictured above) was founded in 1992 as the realization of Cavaliere Anterivo Giornarelli’s vision: a winery that produces only the highest quality wines. Giornarelli placed Riccardo Cotarella in charge of the estate’s wine production. Cotarella works alongside wine technician Francesco Bozza, who is responsible for the estate’s agronomical affairs.  International recognition quickly followed with the introduction of Nottola’s Vino Nobile di Montepulciano line, earning Nottola’s reputation as one of the top wine producers in Montepulciano.

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Nottola “Il Fatore” Vino Nobile di Montepulciano Riserva
Reg $45.99 | INSIDER $43.99 | 20% Mixed Case Discount $35.19
Classifed DOCG, the varietal is Prugnolo Gentile, which is the big brother to Sangiovese. It has an intense ruby red with garnet tints and a full-bodied aroma that have hints of ripe fruit, splashes of spices, coffee and touches of violet. Rich taste and well-balanced with a dose of elegant tannins that linger. Drink now to 10+ years.

Alto Adige:  The Castelfeder Winery was founded in 1970 by A. Giovanett, who had attended the renowned wine school in San Michele all’Adige and at the founding already had extensive experience as a vintner. In 1989 the founder’s son, Günther Giovanett (born in 1958), took over the management of the winery. 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. Today is his son, Ivan, is the winemaker, and his daughter, Ines (pictured below) is the international salesperson for the winery.
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Castelfeder “Rieder” Lagrein
Reg $17.99 | INSIDER $16.99 | 20% Mixed Case Discount $13.59
Aged in stainless steel, this Lagrein is a dark garnet red color with aromatic wild berries & violets. The palate is harmonious with its soft tannins, intense currant and black cherries and complex spice notes. Ideal for grilled red meats & roasts!  Drink now or over the next five years.

3-BOTTLE CLUB
For our 3-bottle selection, we’re including this white from around Naples:

Campania: Casa Setaro is a winery located on the slopes of Mt. Vesuvius, in Trecase. The vineyards are located just inside the Vesuvius National Park. Massimo Setaro (giving a vineyard tour in the photo below) takes care of all the production, from the vineyard to the cellar. He is sided by his wife Mariarosaria. For generations, the Setaro family has been dedicated to grape cultivation and wine production on the slopes of the Vesuvius.
Mt Vesuvius National Park_vineyards inside
Casa Setatro “Campanelle” Falanghina
Reg $19.99 | INSIDER $17.99 | 20% Mixed Case Discount $14.39
Falanghina is the varietal, and it is manually harvested then fermented in stainless steel tanks with a touch of sur lie action.  Straw yellow in color, it has scents of broom and quince mixed with mineral tones that make this a true Vesuvian Falanghina. Green melon, ripe apples enriched by an elegant, volcanic minerality. Long finish. Enjoy with seafood cuisine, shellfish, vegetable and pulses soup, legumes and fresh cheeses.  Drink now to 1 year.

You can pick up your wines anytime. Wine Tasting Pickup Day will be Thursday, July 21st.  Hope you can make it.

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

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JUNE 2016 | Burgundy (France)
Chablis (in the north of Burgundy) and the Mâconnais region (in the south) are the major producers of white wines in Burgundy. The style of Chardonnay from the two sub-regions, however, is vastly different. Though typically unoaked, the Chardonnay from Mâconnais is warm, ripe and full bodied. The Mâconnais transforms the rolling hills of Chalonnaise into rocky soils and structures. We will feature two whites this month: a Crémant de Bourgogne (bubbly) and a Chablis!  Both are 100% Chardonnay.
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Domaine Perraud is a great story of a young winemaker encouraged by his parents (who made their living growing grapes for the local coop) to strike out on his own. So, at the age of 24, Jean-Christophe Perraud began making wine from the family’s vineyards. In 2005 he produced his first vintage out of 4 hectares of vines. Less than a decade later, Domaine Perraud has 25 hectares of Bourgogne, Mâcon and Saint-Véran vineyards. This domaine practices sustainable agriculture and is moving to organic.

2-BOTTLE CLUB
Domaine Perraud Le Grand Sorbier Crémant de Bourgogne
Reg $23.99 | INSIDER $22.99 | 20% Mixed Case Discount $18.39
Lemon gold in color with ripe apples and toasted notes.  On the palate: rich mousse with crisp Braeburn apples, lemon zest and brioche. Pairing: Enjoy as an aperitif or with oysters, clams, pastas, poultry.
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Descending from an old family of wine growers living in Courgis, farmers for generations (since 1788) have been practicing mixed farming including cereal farming and, some years ago, cattle and ovine race breeding. Two brothers, Claude and Jean-Louis, decided to revive the ancestral activity of winemaking in 1986, primarily Chablis wine because the appellation stretches itself out on almost 13 hectares. The appellations are delimited by the geological areas of the secondary Jurassic, a Kimmeridgian soil made of limestone and clay. The winemaking process takes place in a wine and spirit house in Montallery. Montallery is a typical little village surrounded by hills and located between Beines and Courgis.

Domaine Chevallier Chablis
Reg $26.99 | INSIDER $25.99 | 20% Mixed Case Discount $20.79
Brilliant yellow-greenish color with fragrant white flowers and warm golden apples. On the palate: tropical fruits- pineapple and guava with hints of almond. Nice acidity and minerality. Pairings: Aperitif, seafood, fish, white meats and cheeses. Awards: Argent medal Concours BURGONDIA 2013 | Tastevinage Printemps 2013 Chevalliers du Tastevin

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For our 3-bottle selection, I’m giving you a special deal for this vintage for our wine club members ONLY. As wine club members, we’ll honor this price for you as long as supplies last. It’s a gorgeous Pinot Noir from the village of Santenay in the Côte de Beaune. Traveling southeast of Chablis is the Côte d’Or (the Golden Slope) which encompasses Côte de Nuits and Côte de Beaune.  These two sub-regions hold Burgundy’s most prestigious vineyards. Santenay is a sub-region located furthest south in the Côte de Beaune and is one of the few Premier Cru (1er Cru = best select vineyard noted by AOC).

3-BOTTLE CLUB
Domaine Claude Nouveau Santenay 1er Cru Grand Clos Rousseau
Reg $47.99 | INSIDER $41.99 | 20% Mixed Case Discount $33.59
Situated in the heart of the Côte-de-Beaune, the Nouveau family has been making wine there for 6 generations. With the objective of producing quality wines, as naturally as possible, linked to the size of the yield and informed through being close to the soil and sensitive to the seasons. Classification: Premier Cru appellation since 1937. Terroir: clay & marly limestone located at an altitude of 300 meters on eastern-facing slopes.

Bright purple-mauve in color with aromas of woodland berries and kirsch with a touch of licorice.  On the palate: Complex, well-structured and supple with very fine texture blended with pleasant tannin and a long finish. Pairings: Game, filet of beef, braised beef! Drink now to 10 years.

You can pick up your wines anytime starting today. Wine Tasting Pickup Day will be Thursday, June 23rd.  Hope you can make it. I am delighted with this month’s club.

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

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MAY 2016 | Gualdo del Re (Western Tuscany)
Many of you know that my wife, Julie, and I started an import company five years ago so that we could support small family wineries and co-operatives that get lost in the mix of the agri-wine business. We are not the only ones! I ran across Wine Trust out of Oregon and tasted these killer coastal Tuscan wines. Organic and biodynamic as well as a woman winemaker hit all the markers beyond tasting so good. Here is their story:

Family-owned by husband and wife Nico & Teresa Rossi, they hired winemaker Barbara Tamburini (pictured) to lead the viticulture and winemaking at their estate.  A forward looking pair in all ways, Nico and Teresa hired a top female enologist at a time when women in the cellar were pretty rare. Tamburini has been with Gualdo del Re for about 13 years. She started her career working with noted Tuscan enologist Vittorio Fiore.
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Teresa and Nico Rossi have always worked the land using organic methods, but felt that certification was a further seal of approval for consumers who want to be certain they are purchasing “natural” products.  After completing the three-year process for certification, they received approval in 2011 for two of their white wines:  Eliseo Bianco 2011 and Valentina 2011. The reds wines were certified organic in 2014.

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The winery is located in Suvereto, a small medieval town in the Tuscan province of Livorno, on the western coast (light green on the map).  Previously a subzone of Val di Cornia, Suvereto was established as a seperate DOCG in 2011.  The winery lies at just 300 feet above sea level, on clay, limestone and sand soil.  Industry experts have compared Suvereto to Pomerol in terms of terroir and growing potential for certain grapes. This part of Tuscany has a mild climate due to the tempering influence of ocean breezes. Gualdo del Re borders Tua Rita property, which put Suvereto on the map with a 100pt Robert Parker score for their 2000 Merlot.

2-BOTTLE CLUB
Gualdo del Re Eliseo Rosso  | Reg $17.99 | 20% Mixed Case Discount $14.39
60% Sangiovese, 20% Cabernet Sauvignon, 20% Merlot. Ruby red richness with fresh summer cherries, soft plum, black peppercorn with hillside herbs.  Lively yet balanced by tannins and structure. Drink now to 5 years.

Gualdo del Re Federico Primo | Reg $31.99 | 20% Mixed Case Discount $25.59
100% Cabernet Sauvignon. Cookied cherries, cedar box, cocao nibs, peppercorn… layers of character! Elegant with great tannins. Drink now to 1 year.

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For our 3-bottle selection, we have a classic Vermentino — refreshing and rich, perfect for these warmer spring days.

3-BOTTLE CLUB
Gualdo del Re Valentina | Reg $17.99 | 20% Mixed Case Discount $14.39
100% Vermentino. Bright straw-yellow with white floral aromas, citrus peel and subtle sea salt notes. Fresh, complex and persistent. Great with seafood. Drink now to 2 years.

I’d like to close with a special plug for the Gualdo del Re> website.  With lots of outstanding photos and little video clips, they’ve done an excellent job of showing off their corner of western Tuscany. Man, you’ll want to go!

You can pick up your wines anytime starting today. Wine Tasting Pickup Day will be Thursday, May 19th.  Hope you can make it! I am delighted with this month’s club.

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

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APRIL 2016 | Spring Wines
Spring has sprung with a vengeance this year!  We have already had several evenings where we could enjoy hanging out on our patio with friends. Here are three wine club selections perfect for this time of year:

2-BOTTLE CLUB
Domaine Claude Nouveau Santenay “Le Chainey” Reg $44.99 | INSIDER $42.99 | 20% Mixed Case Discount $34.39
Burgundy, France | Situated in the heart of the Côte-de-Beaune, the Nouveau family has been making wine there for 6 generations with the objective of producing quality wines, as naturally as possible, linked to the size of the yield and informed through being close to the soil and sensitive to the seasons.  See our current link to Jaci’s Burgundy Blog> for more details on Santennay.

100% Chardonnay and aged 10 months in oak barrels. Bright golden tints of green colors, it is bursting with hawthorn and acacia floral notes. Ripe pear laced with minerality, texture and hints of hazelnut. Excellent chilled on its own or paired with rich risottos, seafood such as scallops & halibut or with roasted poultry. Drink now to 3 years.
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Weingut Castelfeder Vernatsch “Breitbacher” Reg $17.99 | INSIDER $16.99 | 20% Mixed Case Discount $13.59
Alto Adige, Italy | The Castelfeder Winery (estate vineyards pictured at the top of the email) was founded in 1970 by A. Giovanett, who had attended the renowned wine school in San Michele all’Adige and at the founding already had extensive experience as a vintner.  In 1989 the founder’s son, Günther Giovanett (born in 1958), took over the management of the winery. 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.

The varietal is Schiava in Italian, Vernatch in German and is bright ruby red in color with flavors of ripe cherries, strawberries, red currants, black currants and almonds!  Notes of vinous characteristics: nettles and forest floor. Rich tannins and structure yet medium to light in body.  Pairing: Traditionally best with Speck!  Salumi, cheeses, grilled salmon, pastas and light appetizers would also be delightful. A great wine for the afternoon or to start your coursed meals. Enjoy now to 3 years.
Drink Ribera Drink Spain_Harvest Celebration_Sep 2013_from FB
For our 3-bottle selection, I want to share with you Zuazo Gaston’s Rioja Reserva.  It is not just gigantic but refined in tannins, leather and spice.  Awesome for BBQ steaks, roasts and lamb!!
3-BOTTLE CLUB
Zuazo Gaston Rioja Reserva  Reg $31.99 | INSIDER $26.99 | 20% Mixed Case Discount $21.59
Rioja, Spain | Wine Growers since the 1850’s, the Zuazo Gaston family transformed the foundation of their growing and bulk wine operation to a family winery in 2001. This Reserva is 90% Tempranillo, 5% Mazuelo, 5% Graciano with 20 months in new French & American oak. Vibrant ruby color with spicy aromas.  This is a big Daddy!  Intense black berries, cherries and plum skin integrated with soft aged tannins. This allows for a silky mouth-feel and lingering notes of spice and vanilla.  Pairings: Roasts, games, red meats & hard cheeses. Drink now to 5 years.

We hope that you enjoy this selection of spring wines and pairings with your friends and family!  You can pick up your wines anytime. Wine Tasting Pickup Day will be Thursday, April 21st.  Hope you can make it!

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

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MARCH 2016 | Emerging Washington Varietals
Forty years ago when the pioneers of Washington wine making began, the focus was primarily on Bordeaux varietals. That success gained momentum quickly. However, Washington is so diverse topographically, it naturally allows for many varietals to flourish. Over the last twenty years we have seen many more styles of wines produced beyond the original Bordeaux blends and Syrah, including Southern Rhône varietals such as Syrah and Cinsault, Spanish varietals such as Tempranillo, Sangiovese, Nebbiolo and Barbera from Italy, and Malbec from Argentina and France.

Mar 2016_Cinsault Lodi CA
Cinsault (pictured above; image credit) was actually one of the first recorded varietals planted in Washington State; however, it was removed during prohibition to be replaced by Concord grape vines.  A blending varietal originally from Provence, France, the oldest vineyard in the world is actually located in California.

We can thank Red Willow Vineyard (pictured below; image credit>) owner Mike Sauer and Columbia Winery for being pioneers in Washington State in planting Sangiovese and Malbec. These fields were originally potatoes and alfalfa. Mike initially worked with WSU planting Concord grapes and Cabernet Sauvignon. Then in 1979 in collaboration with Columbia Winery’s Master of Wine winemaker, David Lake, Red Willow Vineyards added several new varietals, specifically Sangiovese & Malbec.
WA_Yakima Valley_Red Willow Vineyard
I like these lesser-known single varietals from WA State. They are interesting and tasty and fun to compare to the same varietals grown in other parts of the world. I hope you enjoy this club, which we put together in honor of Washington Wine Month!

2-BOTTLE CLUB
Robert Ramsay Cellars Cinsault | Reg $31.99 | 20% Mixed Case Discount $25.59
Horse Heaven Hills — Owner/winemaker Robert Ramsay Harris, known to most as Bob Harris, named the winery after his great-uncle Mason Ramsay, a rancher, shop teacher, friend and mentor to many, and a nurturer of the creative forces hidden within his students. Bob’s focus is on Rhône varietals like Syrah, Grenache and Mourvedre, all of which exhibit incredible fruit in addition to minerality and earthiness reminiscent of wines from their French inspiration. Tasting Notes: This blend of 94% Cinsault & 6% Syrah is full of briar patch strawberries, black cherries, summer baked fruit with hillside herbs. Enjoy now to five years.

Walla Walla Vintners Sangiovese | Reg $27.99 | 20% Mixed Case Discount $22.39
Columbia Valley — In 1981, Gordy Venneri & Myles Anderson started making wine as a hobyy in Myles’ basement.  In 1995, Walla Walla Vintners came to fruition. Tasting Notes: With a touch of Malbec and Syrah, the flavors of ripe rainier cherries (classic in a Sangiovese) have a touch of blackberries and spice.  Enjoy now to five years.
WA_Walla Walla
Our 3-bottle selection comes from the first estate in WA State to plant Malbec:
3-BOTTLE CLUB
Seven Hills Winery Malbec |Reg $29.99 | 20% Mixed Case Discount $23.99
Walla Walla Valley — A fourth-generation farmer, owner/winemaker Casey McClellan was raised in Walla Walla, Washington, and started working in agriculture in the seventh grade. In 1982, he joined his father in planting the now-famous Seven Hills Vineyard. Inspired by this experience, Casey went on to earn a Masters of Science with a focus on enology from UC Davis, and in 1988, he and his wife, Vicky, founded Seven Hills Winery.  Tasting notes: Blueberries and fig compote with hints of sage and thyme.  An explosive dark Malbec with structure.  Enjoy now to five years.

There are several other cool varietals coming out of the woodwork in WA State: Mourvedre, Tempranillo, Marsanne…  We encourage you to be adventurous and check them out!

You can pick up your wines anytime. Wine Tasting Pickup Day will be Thursday, March 17th.  Hope you can make it!

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

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FEBRUARY 2016  Syrah vs. Shiraz
Syrah or Shiraz? They are one in the same!  Shiraz is labeled in South Africa and Australia, whereas European countries and the USA primarily use Syrah.  Some claim to use the different names to differentiate between styles of wine with Shiraz extracted & jammy and Syrah rich with nuances of smoke and herbs.  But when it comes down to it, Shiraz is Syrah. (NOTE:  Petit Sirah is Durif and not related to Syrah.)
FEB 2016_Glaetzer

So for February we decided to showcase how beautifully different Syrah/Shiraz can be from the classic Southern Rhône variation (soft jammy fruits & tannins, light or little oak, hillside herbs and peppercorn) to fine-tuned Australian Shiraz (extracted dark fruits, lush tannins, with rich baking spices from the oak) and the exotic South African Shiraz (cooked dark cherries, summer black berries, plum skins and smoky BBQ notes). We hope you enjoy their differences!

FEB 2016_ syrah

2-BOTTLE CLUB
Glaetzer Bishop Shiraz Reg $37.99 | 20% Mixed Case Discount $30.39
Barossa Valley (Australia) — 100% Shiraz — “Vivid purple. Highly fragrant aromas of candied cassis, blueberry and licorice, with pungent notes of vanilla bean, violet and mocha. Lush, intensely flavored and broad, offering deep black and blue fruit and vanilla qualities and an exotic floral nuance. Finishes smooth, smoky and long, with resonating spiciness and slow-mounting, supple tannins.”  Stephen Tanzer (92 pts).  This family winery began in 1995; however, the family originally migrated from Germany in 1888. Second generation Ben Glaetzer is the winemaker. Enjoy with steak, grilled portobello mushrooms, spicy dishes.  Enjoy now to ten years.

Domaine du Petit Romain Rouge (France) Reg $15.99 | INSIDER $14.99 | 20% Mixed Case Discount $11.99
Costières de Nîmes (France) — 90% Syrah, 10% Grenache — Deep purple with ruby red tones with black raspberry and black currant, cinnamon and spice.  Jammy strawberry, blackberry, blue berries, vanilla, pepper, cloves with youthful tannins.  Enjoy with steak, meat casseroles and ripe cheeses.  Domaine du Petit Romain is a family-owned vineyard within the Costières de Nîmes region at the base of the Rhône Valley in Southern France. Owner Bernard Angelras named this estate of 67 hectares after his son, Romain. It is on the edge of the ancient town of Nîmes. Terra Vitis certified.

FEB 2016_ Goose SB
For our 3-bottle selection, a very hard to come by South African Shiraz:
3-BOTTLE CLUB
“The Goose” Shiraz  Reg $22.99 | 20% Mixed Case Discount $18.39

Upper-Langkloof (South Africa) — 67% Shiraz, 33% Cabernet Sauvignon — Velvety with soft tannins, cooked black cherries, freshly picked sage, oregano and cracked white pepper. Pair with oxtail, stews, steak, game and venison.  Enjoy for 10-15 years.  Professional golfer Reitef Goosen and business partner Dr. Werner Roux began Goose Wines in 1999.  The Goose Wine Estate is in the unique Upper-Langkloof Valley, protected by the Outeniqua Mountains in South Africa.  The farm and the surrounding area was named “Ganzekraal” over a century ago.  This translates to “goose enclosure” as wild geese co-exist with the cattle and sheep, foraging as the animals are in pasture.

You can pick up your wines anytime. Wine Tasting Pickup Day will be Thursday, February 18th.  Hope you can make it!

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

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JANUARY 2016: Gigondas | Southern Rhône

The Rhône Valley reaches from the middle of France, fanning down to the Mediterranean.  It is divided into two regions (North and South) as well as several sub regions.  Northern Rhône is 100% Syrah and Viognier.  Southern Rhône has the opportunity to utilize 13 different red varietals and just as many whites. In the Southern Rhône, AOC Châteauneuf-du-Pape is considered the prized wine region, with Gigondas as its little brother.

AOC Gigondas was designated in 1971.  Rules for Gigondas lend themselves towards rich reds. All red varietals contain a minimum 50% Grenache, blended with smaller amounts Syrah and Mourvèdre. Other Rhône grape varieties—excluding Carignan—are allowed. The terroir is impacted by the Dentelles de Montmirail (Lace of the Montmirail), a small range of mountains that is situated on the fault known as the Nîmes-Fault.  The Dentelles Mountain range emerged at the same time as the Pyrenees Mountains and the Alps. The resulting soils produce structured and unique terroirs for very complex wines.
Jan 2016_ vineyard Gigondas

With long maceration, similar to Châteauneuf-du-Pape style, Gigondas wines are extracted dark fruits with definitive tannins and unique hillside herbs and mineral notes.  Aging up to eight years is not uncommon and as they settle into their skins, one finds smoke, iron, tea and vivacious herbs.

2-BOTTLE CLUB
JB Meunier Moulin de La Gardette 2013 Cuvée Tradition Gigondas Reg $29.99 | Mixed Case $23.99
90% Grenache, 10% Mourvèdre, 10% Cinsault — Jammy cherries and black berries.   Violets and ripe blackberry. Savory.  Enjoy now to five years.

Les Couventines 2012 Gigondas Reg $29.99 | Mixed Case $23.99
75% Grenache, 15% Syrah, 10% Cinsault & Mourvèdre — Ripe baked cherries with licorice and vanilla undertones.  Hedonistic jammy black cherries, black berries and raspberries layered with peppercorn, fresh hillside herbs and anise.
Jan 2016_ Gigondas
For our 3-bottle selection, a very hard to come by Gigondas!

3-BOTTLE CLUB
Domaine du Grand Montmirail 2013 Les Deux Juliette Gigondas Reg $26.99 | Mixed Case $21.59
65% Grenache, 25% Syrah, and 10% Mourvèdre — Dark inky ripe black cherries and black berries with rocky and minerally notes. Spicy!  Enjoy now to five years.

Wine Tasting | Pick Up Day will be Wednesday,  January 20th.  Hope you can make it!

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

 

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DECEMBER 2015:  Ka-POW!  Super Tuscans!
Big! Brash! And on a mission to save the art of winemaking! Marquis Incisa della Rocchetta and enologist Giacomo Tachis produced Sassicaia, the original Super Tuscan in the late 1960’s.This monumental step transformed Italian winemaking for several reasons. The government had a lock down on which grapes could be used in wines from each part of Italy (similar to France) however without rhyme or reason to make those decisions. The Marquis and Tachis decided to shed light on the beauty of the Tuscan terrior by planting Cabernet Sauvignon (not an Italian variety) in the gravelly areas of the vineyard sights not able to grow Sangiovese.  And the rest is history.
WC DEC flag
Super Tuscans (also known as Toscana Rosso) are a combination of:
1.  Utilizing French (or non-Italian) varietals that were planted after phylloxera, with a touch of:
2.  Spiting the government regulations on blends and…
3.  A lot about producing market competitive wines after Italy’s glut of Chianti basket wines destroyed consumer confidence.

Super Tuscans tend to be more robust, with more fruit, New World in style, less acidic than straight Sangiovese. They are not classic Italian, but they are delicious and well-suited to the American palate!

Photo © Red Box Pictures
Photo © Red Box Pictures

2-BOTTLE CLUB
Nottola 2010 Anterivo Super Tuscan  Reg $45.99 | Mixed Case $36.79
Varietals: Prugnolo Gentile & Merlot. Rich, luxurious ruby red with black cherries, blue raspberries, currant and layers of complex tannins, vanilla and baking spices.  Pair with strong cheese, salumi or ragu dishes.  Enjoy now to five years.

Nottola 2012 Tre Pezzi Reg $19.99 | INSIDER $16.99 | Mixed Case $13.59
Varietals: Merlot & Petit Verdot.  Bright vibrant ruby red with summer berries: cherries, raspberries, blackberries & supple notes of vanilla. Soft tannins that linger through the long velvety finish. Pairing suggestion:  Sip, sip, sip …or enjoy with leaner cuts of beef, richer cuts of pork.  Enjoy now to three years.

For our 3-bottle selection, a new release!  I am thrilled with this big daddy! It arrived on the last ship from Italy.

Tuscany_Kristen_April 2015_Fattoria Del Colle in Trequanda
3-BOTTLE CLUB
Andreucci 2013 Regale Toscana Rosso Reg $27.99 | INSIDER $26.99 | Mixed Case $21.59  Varietals: Sangiovese, Cabernet, Merlot.  Dark ruby red with aromatic rose petal, summer black berries, vanilla. Dry, yet expressive fruit. Slightly tannic, with rich texture that confirms the thickness of the fruit gives way to hints of sweet spices and dried fruit.  Pair with wild boar ragu, salumi or mushroom risotto.  Enjoy now to five years.

Wine Tasting | Pick Up Day will be Thursday, December 17th.  We hope you have a fantastic month of feasting with family and friends!  Look forward to seeing you at the tasting!

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

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NOVEMBER 2015:  Wines for Giving Thanks

The wines this month are not just great choices for Thanksgiving, but for any fall dinners you are preparing or sharing with friends and family!

Sparkling wines are excellent wines as aperitifs, a lovely start to your dinner! As well, they pair beautifully with salad courses, fruit desserts and courses that need something to “cut” the weight of your dish.  We chose Phillipe Deval’s Crémant Rosé as it is dry & clean, yet has character that complements unique flavors: chanterelles, Brussels sprouts, asparagus — all delicious.

Pinot Noir (pictured below) is notoriously paired with salmon.  That’s not a bad thing, but in general it is a versatile wine to pair with many foods, including roasted fowl, braised pork, baked ham & more. Medium to light body with medium acidity, Pinot Noir is much more complex in flavors, ranging from cherry cola to warm summer Rainier cherries, black tea to compost, black peppercorns to mushrooms in the forest.  We could take a day writing down notes!  We chose Evening Land Blue Label for this month’s 2-bottle club, as it is elegantly expressive and an excellent example at this price point from Oregon’s Willamette Valley.

Claude Nouveau_grapes_pinot noir_v2_square

2-BOTTLE CLUB
Philippe Deval Crémant de Loire Rosé  Reg. $23.99 | INSIDER $19.99 | Mixed Case $15.99
100% Cabernet Franc from France’s Loire Valley. Pale pink, raspberry color with flavors of small red raspberries, currants and crushed wild strawberries.  Dry with subtle earth mid-palette.  It’s fresh & round with a wonderfully acidulous finish.  Enjoy as an aperitif or with desserts. Drink now.

Evening Land 2013 Blue Label Pinot Noir Reg $23.99 | Mixed Case $19.19
From Oregon’s Willamette Valley, rich plums, black berries, cooked cherries with lingering black tea, rosemary and forest floor notes.  Enjoy with roasted meats, poultry, roasted vegetables and squash.  Very versatile.  Enjoy now to 2 years.

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For our 3-bottle selection, we pulled out the big guns: Châteauneuf-du-Pape Cuvée Classique Blanc from our Domaine Nalys producer.  Aromatic with white flowers, weighty on the palate but with eager citrus notes so the lingering of flavors is poetic.  A great wine for fall, it is fuller-bodied yet clears the palate, a nice compromise for the group that needs a Chardonnay but really wants a lighter-bodied crisper wine!

3-BOTTLE CLUB
Domaine de Nalys 2013 Châteauneuf-du-Pape Cuvée Classique Blanc  Reg $45.99 | INSIDER $43.99 | Mixed Case $35.19
A blend of Grenache Blanc, Clairette, Bourboulenc, Roussanne, Picpoul & Picardan from France’s Southern Rhône Valley. Pale yellow with aromas of citrus & white flowers. Fresh & fruity mouthfeel with lovely minerally notes. Enjoy with smoked fish, steamed shellfish, grilled fish, poultry, veal, risotto with asparagus.  Enjoy now to 2 years.

Wine Tasting | Pick Up Day will be Thursday, November 19th.  We hope you have a fantastic month of feasting with family and friends!  Look forward to seeing you at the tasting!

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

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OCTOBER 2015:  William Church Winery | Woodinville Washington

William Church Winery, founded by Rod & Leslie Balsley, is one of the original eight Woodinville wineries. Their winemaker, Noah Fox Reed, has a decade plus of wine making experience including six years at North Star Winery, several as an intern and assistant in other prominent WA wineries, as well as an extensive amount of travel through wine regions around the world. He graduated from the Walla Walla Community College viticulture and enology program.

2015 marks William Church Winery’s 10th year of winemaking! Starting with just 300 cases in 2005, the last two years have grown to 3500 cases. The 2012 red wines and 2014 Viognier all were rated 90 points or above, with the 2014 Viognier selected to be poured at the 2015 US Open event. As well, this year they added a new Red Mountain vineyard — Quintessance — dedicated to Cabernet Sauvignon.
WC_WCW vineyard
These wines are very good value for Washington State. We always got rave reviews when pouring the Bishop’s Blend at the wine bar through the years. We’ve been fans since the beginning, and it’s been a pleasure to watch them have such good success. For this month’s club, we’ve chosen two red blends: one Cabernet-driven and one Merlot-driven and the always popular Viognier for the 3-bottle club.

2-BOTTLE CLUB
William Church 2012 Bishop’s Blend  Reg $22.99 | Mixed Case $18.39
53% Cabernet Sauvignon, 36% Merlot, 10% Syrah and 1% Petite Verdot. Restrained use of oak. Full and robust. Notes of cardamom and freshly baked rhubarb pie with apples and spice, ripe fig and thyme. Drink now to 2 years.

William Church 2012 Sur La Mer Blend  Reg $36.99 | Mixed Case $29.59
Sur la Mer in French means “on the sea” and is a reference to the romantic seaport city in France where Leslie, one of WCW owners, was born. Lush and elegant, this Bordeaux style blend consists of 66% Merlot, 11% Cabernet Sauvignon, 9% Petite Verdot, 7% Cabernet Franc, and 7% Malbec. Flavors of blackberry and black cherry are complimented by subtle black tea ad a soft herbal complex of roasted sage & thyme that goes beautifully with a variety of dishes. Medium-bodied with depth and complexity and a long, pure finish. Drink now to 2 years.

3-BOTTLE CLUB
William Church 2014 Viognier  Reg $26.99 | Mixed Case Discount $21.59
Sourced from Conner Lee and Gamache Vineyards, this 100% Viognier starts with classic aromas of honeysuckle and mango that lead into fresh pear and honey flavors, reflecting the warm 2014 vintage. Full-bodied with a touch of acidity to keep it fresh. 90 Points – Wine Enthusiast; Gold – Seattle Wine Awards. Drink now to 1 year.

WC_ WCW family

Wine Tasting | Pick Up Day will be Wednesday, October 20th (instead of Thursday).  We hope you enjoy these excellent Washington wines. Look forward to seeing you at the tasting!

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

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SEPTEMBER 2015: Portugal
Portugal_ Douro
Hundreds of years ago, Portugal was placed on the map of wine fame with its fortified wines: Port and Madeira.  However, in the mid 80’s, Portuguese wine recognition began to slowly transform.  Entrance into the European Union (then European Community) “insisted” that the government dissolve several monopolies of cooperatives that had been in control of the wine program for decades. Tearing down these walls allowed for investment (especially from other countries), as well as development of wine styles. Many small estates (quintas) severed their ties with co-operatives and started making their own wines. Portugal devised a new appellation system in line with EU standards, designating Regiões Demarcadas as Denominação de Origem Controlada (DOC). With over 200 unique varietals and a distinctive landscape, Portugal continues to maintain its own character.

Varietals of Distinction:
Touriga Nacional – Wonderful, intense flavours,at the same time floral and fruity – ripe blackcurrants,  raspberries – with complex hints also of herbs and licorice.

Touriga Franca – Richly-coloured, dense yet elegant wines with copious blackberry fruit and floral notes (roses, rock roses, wild flowers…) and firm but velvety tannins.

Tinta Roriz (Aragonês) – AKA Tempranillo (Spain); creates rich, lively red wines that combine elegance and robustness, copious berry fruit and spicy flavor.

Tinta da Barca – It forms part of most red Douro blends, contributing dark colour without too much tannin,  plums and cherries.

Sousao (Vinhão) –  Biting acidity and dark, opaque color; it is the most-planted grape of the Vinho Verde/Minho region. Unlike most red grapes, where practically all the colour comes from the skins, Vinhão also has red flesh and therefore instant red juice.

Alicante Bouschet – A cross of Petit Bouschet and Grenache; it is a teinturier, a grape with red flesh and known for intense color and depth.

Portugal_ Alicante Bouschet

For this month’s club, we’ve selected several red wines that are blends of many of the above varietals, with 2 from the Douro Valley and one from the Alentejo Valley. Several of the wines were on killer sales. To be honest, I can’t believe we got them for these prices. They’re excellent. Enjoy!

2-BOTTLE CLUB
Quinta do Crasto 2012 Superior Douro Red
Reg $31.99 | Mixed Case $25.59
For over a century, Quinta do Crasto has graced the hills of Portugal with its presence. It’s located in the heart of the Douro Valley, situated on the right bank of the river halfway between Regua and Pinhao.  Centuries ago, this estate was once occupied by the Romans. Tastiing Notes: 50% Touriga Nacional, 25% Touriga Franca, 20% Tinta Roriz and 5% Sousao. This wine is packed with flavors of dark currants, black raspberries, blackberry and cherries, expressive minerality, sweet oak and tannins. Drink now to 5 years.

Herdade do Mouchão 2009 Ponte das Canas Alentejano Red
Reg $31.99 | INSIDER $22.99 | Mixed Case $18.39
Following the 1974 revolution, the estate was expropriated and only returned to the family in 1985. Today, the Herdade do Mouchão continues to be run by the descendants of the original family whose cellar and vineyard workers have been with them for generations. The process is, as it always has been, unhurried.  The grape varieties are local, picked by hand and foot-trodden. In the ever-changing world of winemaking, Herdade do Mouchão, remains a traditional, family-run winery. Tasting Notes: This wine is a blend of Alicante Bouschet, Touriga Nacional, Touriga Franca and Shiraz. With flavors of black cherries, this is a full, deep colored wine with its concentration and spiciness of the Alicante Bouschet combined with the elegance of the Trincadeira and a tannic structure. Drink now to 2 years.

3-BOTTLE CLUB
Ramos Pinto 2012 Duas Quintas Douro Red
Reg $22.99 | INSIDER $15.99 | Mixed Case Discount $12.79
Founded in 1880 by brothers Adriano and Antonio, Ramos Pinto is run today by the heirs of these two energetic vintners. The House was acquired by Champagne Louis Roederer in 1990 and Owner Jean Claude Rouzaud calls Ramos Pinto “the jewel of the Douro.” A visitor sitting on the porch at Bom Retiro, sweeping his gaze up from the valley floor to the vine covered terraces stepping up steep slopes and culminating in  blue sky above, can appreciate his sentiments. Tasting Notes: This wine is a blend of Touriga Nacional 50%, Touriga Franca 40%, Tinta da Barca 10%. It’s full of inky dark black berries and rich tannins which linger with spice and licorice undertones. Drink now to 2 years.
Portugal_ map
Wine Tasting | Pick Up Day will be Thursday, September 17th.  We hope you enjoy the vast variety of flavors that Portugal provides us. Look forward to seeing you at the tasting!

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

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AUGUST 2015: FINALLY!  German Wines (Mosel & Pfalz)
Not an easy find in this market… but this month we will feature wines from Germany!  Why such a challenge to locate?  Several reasons (as Chris Chan and Jens explain on Happy Hour Radio):  these wines are time consuming to produce (hand harvested on extremely steep slopes) and a majority of the wines produced are sold to the European market. They are also a bit obscure to most consumers in the United States.
German Wine Classification chart
Part of the obscurity comes from the German wine classification system: Qualitätswein bestimmter Anbaugebiete (QbA) and the Qualitätswein mit Prädikat (QmP). This system regulates the levels of must and sweetness of the wines.  It is a huge help if one has preferences for a sweet or dry wine.  In this month’s 2-bottle club, we have a standard Riesling (QbA), finished trocken (dry) as well as a Kabinett Riesling.  The trocken Riesling is clean, refreshing and racey.  The Kabinett Riesling is full, rich with warm apricot, peach and almond notes. Here are more details on the 2 wines:

MOSEL
Maximin Grünhäuser 2014 Riesling
Reg $23.99 | Mixed Case $19.19

The Grünhaus estate has a long and rich history of wine cultivation, starting with the Romans (where is was densely populated and artifacts such as wine jugs and grape harvesting knives suggest that wine was produced) to the Abbey of Saint Maximin which managed the vineyards until Napoleon secularized all church property, and it was sold to Friedrich Freiherr von Handel in the early 1800’s. In 1882 Carl Ferdinand Freiherr von Stumm-Halberg purchased the estate, and it remains in the hands of the same family today. This wine is classified as QbA Trocken. Tasting Notes: Fresh green apples, grapefruit, minerality, herbal notes. In Germany, we would enjoy this wine with Bratwurst, Sauerkraut & Schnitzel. Drink now to 3 years.

MOSEL
Maximin Grünhäuser 2013 Herrenberg Riesling
Reg $32.99 | Mixed Case Discount $26.39

This wine is classified as QmP Kabinett. Tasting notes: Gooseberry, apricots, peaches, almonds, with full weight and texture. Traditional pairings for this wine would be similar to above. Drink now to 3 years.

German Map_ Wolf
Our third bottle selection is in the warmest, sunniest and driest of all German wine regions.  Red wine varietals tend to need more sunlight hours. Of them Spätburgunder (German for Pinot Noir), needs the least although it is one of the most temperamental varietals. The Pfalz region is situated under the Palatinate Forest on the Haardt Mountains, a continuation of Alsace’s Vosges Mountains. Its climate is much like that of Alsace (France) which is well-suited to grow Pinot Noir. Our 3-bottle club includes:

PFALZ
Dr. Loosen Villa Wolf 2013 Spätburgunder
Reg $16.99 | Mixed Case Discount $13.59

Founded in 1756 in the Pfalz region of Germany, the J.L. Wolf estate (now called Villa Wolf) was a successful and highly regarded winery for more than two centuries. In the latter part of the 20th century, however, the estate languished, and in 1996 it was purchased by Ernst Loosen (of the Dr. Loosen estate) who took over the vineyards, launching a dramatic turnaround in the estate’s quality and reputation. Today, Villa Wolf is dedicated to wines that express the pure, authentic terroir of the Pfalz. Tasting Notes: Warm dark cherries, black pepper spice. Medium-bodied, with a firm acid structure. Enjoy this wine with grilled salmon or roasted chicken or turkey. Drink now.

Wine Tasting | Pick Up day will be Thursday, August 20th.  We are excited to taste through these special and somewhat complicated wines with you. Hope you can make it!

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

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JULY 2015:  Va-Va-Verona! Veneto
Veneto is in the northeastern corner of Italy, below Alto Adige and Austria.  Home to Venice, this region is rich with history, culture, Mediterranean delights and of course, wine.  Of Veneto’s 13 designated wine regions, Soave and Valpolicella are nestled under the western nook of Verona.  Verona saddles up to the southwestern edge of Lake Garda.  The lake is a mitigating influence to this northern Italian wine region. The mists from the valleys are one of the biggest concerns as varietals from both Valpolicella and Soave are late ripeners (thick skinned and stubborn!).

Valpolicella is home to Corvina and Rondinella.  These two red varietals comprise the primary blend for Valpolicella and Amarone. Molinara, Negrara and Oseleta are additional red varietals that may be utilized.

For the sake of simplicity, this is the Dick and Jane version of Valpolicella vs Ripasso vs Amarone:  Valpolicella Classico is the base red wine.  Valpolicella Ripasso is the red wine that has been re-passed through the dried and raisonated skins (musts), then aged.  Amarone is aged for a longer period than Ripasso. The result: rich cherry and almonds, black pepper spice, oregano and leather tannins. (There are more specifics than this for all our fellow wine nerds. Come in and get geeky with us at the tasting on July 23!)

Soave and Chianti were the first zones in Italy (in 1931) to be recognized by Royal Decree as having the potential for producing fine wines.  Soave DOC is 70% Garganega, the rest typically Trebbiano.  This region is know for its limestone and volcanic rock.  Characterized as a nice complement in body to Chardonnay, Garganega produces a light weight body with supple honeydew melon, warm apple and peach fruits.

Two bottle club members will receive:
VALPOLICELLA
San Cassiano 2012 Corte Guala Classico
Reg $18.99 | INSIDER $17.99 | Mixed Case $14.39 and
San Cassiano 2011 Corte Guala Ripasso
Reg $27.99 | INSIDER $26.99 | Mixed Case $21.59

Three bottle club members will receive in addition:
SOAVE
Tenuta di Corte Giacobbe 2013 Soave
Reg $15.99 | INSIDER $14.99 | Mixed Case $11.99

Still thirsty for more information?  Come taste on Thursday, July 23rd (when you can also pick up your wines) or visit these links:  Valpolicella | Soave. If you like the Classico & Ripasso, we also carry the San Cassiano 2010 Corte Guala Amarone!

Hope you enjoy these wines. I think they’re excellent, especially the Ripasso which could almost pass for Amarone.

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

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JUNE 2015: Greece:  Antonopoulos and Oenos

Rather than focusing on the things that don’t work in Greece, we thought we would showcase something that does: wine!  Greece may be in the midst of financial chaos but their wine industry is a stronghold for their economy.  Up and coming yet still obscure, Greek wines are profound and flavorful.  Steer away from the retsina wines for your initial observations, and enjoy these selections. Wine fits in with what makes Greece so amazing–food, travel, art, history, culture.

The 2-bottle members will get the Moschofilero and Xinomavro. The 3-bottle members will also get to try a Malagouzia. Cheers to the beginning of summer! Hope you enjoy.
Greece_ map

ARCADIA (PELOPONNESE) : Antonopoulos 2013 Moschofilero
Reg $15.99  | Mixed Case $12.79

100% Moschofilero [mos-ho-FEE-le-ro]. A distinct aromatic grape from within the AOC region of Mantinia in the Peloponnese, Moschofilero grapes have a gray colored skin and therefore produce a wine that is a blanc de gris. Its crisp character and beautiful floral aroma of roses and violets with hints of spices can be drunk as an aperitif or with food. Drink now.

MACEDONIA: Oenos 2011 Naoussa
Reg $22.99  | Mixed Case $18.39
100% Xinomavro [ksee-NO-ma-vro]. The predominant grape variety in Macedonia is a native red called Xinomavro (meaning “acid-black”). The wines made from Xinomavro are known for their superb aging potential and their rich tannic character.  Their complex aromas combine such red fruits as gooseberry with hints of olives, spices and dried tomatoes. Drink now.

ACHAEA (PELOPONNESE): Antonopoulos 2013 Malagouzia
Reg $24.99  | Mixed Case $19.99
100% Malagouzia [mah-lah-gou-zeeAH]. This grape is originally from the region of Nafpaktos in western Greece. The winemaker Gerovassiliou, was the first to begin experimenting with the nearly extinct Malagousia grape, realizing its vast potential for producing high quality wines. It is found mainly in Macedonia and is now cultivated in some vineyards in Attica and the Peloponnese. It is an especially aromatic grape leading to elegant full-bodied wines, with medium acidity and exciting aromas of exotic fruits, citrus, jasmine and mint. Enjoy with salmon, shellfish, white fish, oysters as well as white meats. Drink now.

Details provided by:
http://www.oenos-imports.com/antonopoulos
http://www.allaboutgreekwine.com/varieties.htm

If you receive your shipment via UPS, you should receive it by Friday. If you pick your club up at Portalis, you can stop by at your convenience. Our new location is 6754 15th Ave NW 98117.

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

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MAY 2015: Islands Next Door… New Zealand
After visiting the land down under last month, it’s hard not to saunter on over to the mystical land of New Zealand.  The two countries couldn’t be any more different. New Zealand is a bit further south (closer to south pole=colder) than Australia, and its landscape is primarily mountainous and coastal. Australia is very much a desert climate.  In turn you find an array of different varietals, many with higher acidity and crisper undertones.

The 2-bottle members will get the Sauvignon Blanc & Pinot Noir, both classic varietals from New Zealand. The 3-bottle members will also get to try a Grüner Veltliner. Cheers to spring! Hope you enjoy.

HAWKES BAY
Craggy Range 2013 Te Muna Road Sauvignon Blanc
Reg $22.99 | Mixed Case $19.16
The Peabody family began with deep roots in hospitality.  With a love of wine and the art thereof, their children propositioned the parents to create a vineyard that would last several generations.  Terry and Mary researched worldwide for the perfect vineyards, and with the assistance of MW Steve Smith, the family settled in Hawkes Bay, New Zealand.  Wine Notes: single vineyard: Avery Vineyard, yields grapes with great complexity.  Lime, citrus blossom and passion fruit with gracious acidity. Drink now.

MARLBOROUGH
Jules Taylor 2012 Pinot Noir
Reg $25.99 | Mixed Case $21.66
Winemaker Jules Taylor began as a zoologist; however, fate turned another direction.  Zoologist positions were scarce and the wine industry was beginning to boom in New Zealand.  Mentored by some of the greatest New Zealand producers (Crawford, Waghorn and Thompson), she created her own winery with her husband in conjunction with creating a family and two sons. Wine Notes: Dark cherries, with extraction and tannins.  Wild berry aromas, spicy notes and a hint of smoky oak.  Mild acidity. Enjoy with roasted chicken or salmon. Drink now to 3 years.

Jules Taylor 2013 Grüner Veltliner
Reg $18.99 | Mixed Case $15.83
Ah Grüner …  In New Zealand no less!  No better place to experiment.  Lingering aromas of white peach, apple blossoms and notes of spice. Tantalizing crisp apple with lingering acidity and excellent minerality. Enjoy as a summer sipper on the deck with friends. Also excellent with an array of summer dishes: appetizers, seafood, summer salads. Drink now.

If you receive your shipment via UPS, you should receive it by Friday. If you pick your club up at Portalis, you can stop by at your convenience. Our new location is 6754 15th Ave NW 98117.

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

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APRIL 2015: A Delicious Spread from South Eastern Australia

We haven’t featured wines from Australia in years, so it’s about time! As many of you know, the Australia Wine Commission invited me to visit their Pinot Noir country in 2011. It was a great experience, travelling through the cooler climate production areas in Australia, namely Victoria. More>

The better known —and much hotter– appellations of McLaren Vale and Barossa Valley (plus more appellations concentrated around Adelaide on the western coast of South Australia) produce Australia’s famed Shiraz grape which we will feature in this wine club. The 2-bottle club will get a red Shiraz blend from the Barossa Valley and a white (should be excellent!) from Mollydooker located in the McLaren Vale Valley. (Should be excellent!). The 3-bottle club will get an additional Shiraz/Viogner blend from an outstanding producer in the McLaren Vale Valley. Australia does great work, and these wines are fabulous. Enjoy!

MCLAREN VALE
Mollydooker 2012 The Violinst Verdelho
Reg $28.99 | Mixed Case $23.19
The winemaker’s tasting notes say it all: “This wine is fantastic. It was exciting to taste it through all the winemaking stages, because it always kept the fresh vibrant fruit that was there the night we picked the grapes. I see tropical fruit bowl, citrus, pear and a creamy texture. For me, it’s the creamy texture that makes this wine so enjoyable, just like fruit salad and ice cream. At 71% Fruit Weight, it is really standing out as one of the best Violinists of all time. –Andrew  We recommend this wine as a sipper. Celebrate your first beautiful patio evening this spring with this wine and some good company. Drink now to 2 years.

BAROSSA VALLEY
Tait 2011 The Ballbuster Shiraz
Reg $21.99 | Mixed Case $17.59
Back in our wine bar days, this red was was one of our best selling glass pours of all time! The Barossa Valley vines used to produce this wine are low yielding, producing highly concentrated flavors and aromas.This vintage of The Ballbuster is made from 75% Shiraz, 22% Cabernet Sauvignon and 3% Merlot. Deep ruby in color. Full-bodied with dark berry fruit and a little minty spice. A smooth wine with velvety tannins and a long, fruity, persistent finish. This wine is a great match for grilled meats, hamburgers or chili. Drink now to 5 years.

MCLAREN VALE
D’Ahrenberg 2010 Laughing Magpie
Reg $28.99 | Mixed Case $23.19
D’Arenberg is one of the most significant wineries in McLaren Vale. In 1912 Joseph Osborn purchased the well-established Milton Vineyards. Initially the fruit from this vineyard was sold to local wineries. In 1928, their own cellar was finished, and the winemaking began. Now into the fourth generation of wine makers, Chester d’Arenberg Osborn is at the helm. Very much a character, this guy is one of the most well-known winemakers in Australia. The 2010 vintage The Laughing Magpie is thought by many as an absolute classic McLaren Vale vintage for Shiraz. Enormous concentration of blackberry and blackcurrant fruit on the nose and palate, with a whiff of mint, classic from this part of Australia. Pair this wine with maple chicken with cranberry & mushrooms on the side. Drink now to 5 years.

If you receive your shipment via UPS, you should received it by Friday. If you pick your club up at Portalis, you can stop by at your convenience. Our new location is 6754 15th Ave NW 98117.

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

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MARCH 2015: Two Lesser-known Washington State AVAs:
Horse Heaven Hills & Wahluke Slope

Washington State has twelve federally defined American Viticultural Areas (AVA) with all but one located in Eastern Washington. The largest AVA is the Columbia Valley AVA, which extends into a small portion of northern Oregon and encompasses most of the other Washington AVAs. The other AVAs within the Columbia Valley AVA include Walla Walla Valley AVA, Horse Heaven Hills AVA, Wahluke Slope AVA, Lake Chelan AVA, Naches Heights AVA, and the Yakima Valley AVA, which in turn also encompasses the Rattlesnake Hills AVA, Snipes Mountain AVA and the Red Mountain AVA. The Columbia Gorge AVA is west of the Columbia Valley AVA. Washington’s only AVA located west of the Cascades is the Puget Sound AVA. The Ancient Lakes wine-growing region is currently seeking federal AVA status. Confused yet??

We will start to explore these AVA regions periodically through the wine club. This month (which is WA Wine Month!), we are featuring Horse Heaven Hills and Waluke Slope. The 2-bottle club members will enjoy a great Cabernet Sauvginon from Horse Heaven Hills and a Malbec from Wahluke Slope. The 3-bottle club will get an additional Syrah from Wahluke Slope. All three wines showcase excellent work coming out of WA State at their respective price points.

HORSE HEAVEN HILLS
McKinley Springs 2010 Cabernet Sauvignon
Reg $24.99 | Mixed Case $19.99
The Horse Heaven Hills AVA is located in southeastern Washington, and is part of the larger Columbia Valley AVA. Grapes planted on the south-facing slopes of the Horse Heaven Hills AVA benefit from strong winds that arrive from the west via the Columbia Gorge, reducing the likelihood of rot and fungal diseases. Horse Heaven Hills was established in 2005, but has been producing fruit since 1972. This 2012 McKinley Springs Cab is a blend of fruit from the original “old block” planted in 1980, and the newer block 17, from the McKinley Springs own estate vineyard. It also has a splash of Petit Verdot added to enhance the rich garnet red color. Tasting Notes: On the nose is sage brush, cinnamon and earthy aromas. It sings with dark black cherry fruit, dark chocolate raspberry truffle, and a hint of spice. Enjoy with a fatty, cowboy, Ribeye steak right off the grill. If you’re a fan of chocolate & Cab, this wine would be great with a rich dark chocolate cake garnished with fresh raspberries. Enjoy now or over the next couple years.

WAHLUKE SLOPE
Milbrandt Vineyards 2012 Malbec
Reg $24.99 | Mixed Case $19.99
The Wahluke Slope AVA is, again, part of the larger Columbia Valley AVA. This AVA was established in 2006 and is home to more than 20 vineyards. The area has the warmest climates for grape growing in the state. Top grape varieties are: Merlot, Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon, Riesling, Chardonnay and Chenin Blanc. This 2012 Milbrandt Vineyards Estates Malbec sources fruit from some of Milbrandt’s best vineyard sites in the Wahluke Slope. Northridge Vineyard consistently produces some of their most concentrated and complex Bordeaux varieties. Clifton Bluff Vineyard, closer to the Columbia River, has sandier soils and is one of the warmest sites, which leads to early ripening grapes with intense flavors. And the Wahluke Slope Vineyard (the oldest of the Milbrandt vineyards) with its sparse and shallow soils, produces very dark fruit with mature flavor. Tasting Notes: On the nose this garnet-colored Malbec has aromas of wet stone, blueberries, white pepper, dried herb with a hint of vanilla & earth. This wine has a chewy mid-palate, with loads of fruit. It is actually 83% Malbec, 11% Merlot and 6% Cab Sauv. Pair with teriyaki beef and veggies or roasted lamb. Drink now to 5 years.

WAHLUKE SLOPE
Milbrandt Vineyards 2012 Syrah
Reg $44.99 | Mixed Case $35.99
The Milbrandt Vineyards 2012 Syrah is 100% Syrah, with all the fruit sourced from the Clifton Hill Vineyard. This vineyard is located in the northwestern corner of the Wahluke Slope AVA, with steep slopes that over look the Columbia River. It is among the warmest and driest sites in the Columbia Valley. The soil is made up of wind blown sand layered atop gravelly glacial outwash that was deposited by the great Missoula floods (said to have occurred at the end of the last ice age). Tasting Notes: This vintage of Syrah has savory herbal notes with ripe red fruit aromas — think cherry and current that open up to flavors of blackberry, licorice and thyme. Later, you’ll pick up on dense fruit and spice with an exceptionally long, soft finish. Drink for the next 3 to 5 years.

If you receive your shipment via UPS, you should have received it by last Friday. If you pick your club up at Portalis, you can stop by at your convenience. Our new location is 6754 15th Ave NW 98117. Also, it has come to our attention that some 2-bottle club members didn’t get their email this month, so we are resending. Our apologies.

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

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FEBRUARY 2015: CANADA
New arrivals from the Okanagan Valley
Canada’s Okanagan Valley (pictured) is located in southern British Columbia about equal distance between Vancouver and Banff National Park. It’s a magnificent valley that runs north south, with the southern end almost reaching the border of Washington State. When we first opened Portalis in 2003, Canadian wines were available in the Seattle market. For many years in between (despite you asking for them!), they were nearly impossible to find. Now, several wines have appeared in the marketplace again, and we are delighted to offer them to you in this month’s wine club.

The 2-bottle club members will enjoy a bubbly & a Pinot Noir from Blue Mountain Vineyard and Cellars. The 3-bottle club will get a second Pinot Noir from Quails’ Gate Estate. I think these wines are quite good with a special Canadian flair. I hope you enjoy them!

Blue Mountain Vineyard NV “Gold Label” Brut
Reg $27.99 | Mixed Case $22.39
Blue Mountain Vineyard and Cellars, started by Jan & Ian Mavety in 1971, has always been a family operation. For the first 21 years, the Mavety’s supplied grapes to commercial wineries. Then in 1991, the allure of producing their own wines inspired them to craft their own label and strike it out on their own. Today, on their 31-hectare estate, they make limited quantities of wines from noble varietals including Pinot Noir, Gamay Noir, Pinot Gris, Pinot Blanc and Chardonnay — the same varietals found in the Champagne, Burgundy and Alsace regions of France. In the vineyards, methods favor low crop yields to concentrate and intensify flavors. While using modern equipment in the winery, wine making is respectful of traditional methods.

Tasting Notes: The Brut “Gold Label” has a fine mousse, with lemons and toasty notes on the nose and palate. The finish has nice crisp lemon flavors. The wine is made in the Methode Traditionnelle style. 57% Pinot Noir, 38% Chardonnay, 5% Pinot Gris, the grapes for this Brut are 100% estate grown. Recommended pairings: oysters on a half shell, pan seared scallops & mushroom risotto, or truffle popcorn! Enjoy now.

Blue Mountain Vineyard 2012 Pinot Noir
Reg $27.99 | Mixed Case $22.39
Tasting notes: This 2012 Okanagan Valley Pinot Noir is a rich, ruby-colored wine with complex layers of red fruit, spice and integrated oak. Great to pair with leg of lamb with rosemary or roasted duck breast. The wine could age 7 to 8 years.

Quails’ Gate Estate 2011 Pinot Noir
Reg $25.99 | Mixed Case $20.79
The Stewart family has been pioneering horticulturists since the turn of the last century. Having come to the Okanagan in 1908, Richard Stewart Sr. settled in the Kelowna area and founded one of the valley’s most successful nurseries. Some 50 years later his son, Dick Stewart, moved into grape growing. In 1956 Dick purchased the Quails’ Gate Estate knowing that it was potentially an excellent site for premium grape production. The first vines were planted in 1961 and in 1989 Ben and Ruth Stewart founded Quails’ Gate Winery and began the family’s transition into the winery business. Today the family farms over 180 acres of vineyards in the valley and is regarded as a leader in the development of viticulture practices in Canada.

Tasting notes: This Pinot Noir is silky in texture with bright, ripe, red fruit flavors. It has lovely, musky earthiness to it special to wines from this area of Canada. Pair this wine with butter herb crusted chicken, roasted lamb, savory slow cooked game or side dishes with an earthy or nutty character. Drink now to 5 years.

Cheers!!
Jens Strecker, Owner Portalis Wines & J. Strecker Selections

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JANUARY 2015: REGIONS OF & AROUND BORDEAUX

The region of Bordeaux covers a vast amount of area and produces almost 700 million bottles of wine every year. The wines that are produced in Bordeaux (both red and white) are almost always blends of two or more varieties of grapes. The Bordeaux wine region is divided by the Gironde Estuary with the majority of the vineyards located either on its “Right” or “Left” Bank. There are many sub-zones along both banks known for their exceptional quality. The current permissible red grapes allowed are: Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Malbec and Petite Verdot. Common white grapes allowed are Sauvignon Blanc, Semillon and Muscadelle. Note: Carménère, once one of the original red varietals permitted (historically known as Grande Vidure) is rarely used since the grape has difficulty ripening in Bordeaux’s climate. Bordeaux has a very complex system of regional wine classification. Each area within Bordeaux has its own system and specific terminology which adds to the complication. Some classifications are based on estate and not the land. Bergerac, which lies just to the east of Bordeaux, has produced wines since the 13th century and was considered to be a part of the Bordeaux wine-making region up until the 20th century. The wines found in Bergerac are very similar to those produced in Bordeaux.

The 2-bottles club will enjoy the Left & Right Bank blends. The 3-bottle club will get the red blend from Bergerac in addition. All wines for this month’s club have our 20% off Moving Sale discount!

LEFT BANK
Les Chevaliers de Dauprat 2010 Pauillac
Reg $31.99 | INSIDER $29.99 | Moving Sale $23.99
Pauillac is one of the most important communes on the Left Bank along with Médoc, Haut Médoc, Saint-Julien, Saint-Estèphe & Margaux being other notable names. Blends on the Left Bank of the Gironde River have more Cab than Merlot as Cabernet Sauvignon thrives in the gravely soil on this side of the river. (This blend is 62% Cab, 31% Merlot & 7% Cab Franc from vines with an average age of 25 years.) This estate hand-picks its grapes and uses sustainable farming techniques. The wine spends 12 months in French oak barrique. Appearance is dark ruby. On the nose there is cocoa, cedar & cassis. It is rich with muscular structure. Beautiful with lamb, beef or mushroom dishes. Drink 2-5 years. Prior to two years, decant before serving.

RIGHT BANK
L’Adage 2011 Saint-Emillon
Reg $23.99 | INSIDER $22.99 | Moving Sale $18.39
Saint-Émilion is located on the Right Bank of the Gironde Estuary, where the soil has more clay, and the Merlot grape thrives. This Merlot dominant AOC is one of the oldest wine regions in Bordeaux and produces powerful, rich and dense wines superb for aging. L’Adage is a 15 hectare estate. Vineyards are located south of Saint-Émilion. This blend is 90% Merlot and 10% Cabernet Franc and is aged 12 months in French oak barrique of which 30% is new. The color is dark purple. The bouquet includes truffles, toasted bread & blackberries, with flavors of rich baked fruit, cassis and chocolate. Drink now to 3 years.

BERGERAC
Château des Eyssards 2008 Bergerac Rouge
Reg $21.99 | INSIDER $16.99 | Moving Sale $13.59
Bergerac red wines fully represent the ‘terroir’ of the region. The grape varietals that are planted include: Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Malbec. They tend to be well-structured, tannic and have bold fruit flavors. On a 38 hectare estate just southwest of the town of Bergerac in France’s Dordogne Valley, winemaker Pascal Cuisset uses the assets of the land & climate along with the new wine making technology to produce beautifully full wines in the Bordeaux style with traditional Bordeaux grapes, exemplified in this blend of 80% Merlot, 10% Cabernet Sauvignon & 10% Cab Franc, aged 12 months in French oak barrels. The wine has a bright red ruby hue. The nose is full of fragrant red berry fruits, with deeper notes of plum & black cherry. Well balanced, with firm tannins on its velvety body. Flavors of bright raspberry & red cherry with a touch of black pepper spice to last through the long smooth finish. It begs for some roasted lamb or beef. Drink now to 3 years.

Cheers!!
Jens Strecker, Owner Portalis Wines & J. Strecker Selections

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DECEMBER 2014: OBSCURE FRENCH TREASURES

We often come across lesser-known varietals, regions or styles of wine that are wonderful examples, but these random wines are not a big enough theme to merit the full attention of a wine club or the market doesn’t offer much in that particular category. All three of these wines are varietals that you don’t often see. All three are excellent examples of that particular grape. And all three are higher-end, which makes them a great December offering! We’ve grouped them together to form an “obscure treasures” club. Our 2-bottle club members get the Bandol Rouge & the Muscadelle blend. The 3-bottle club members get the Chateauneuf-du-Pape in addition! Here’s a little bit about each wine. Enjoy!

MOURVÈDRE: Domaine de Frégate 2009 Bandol Rouge
Reg $31.99 | INSIDER $29.99 | Mixed Case $23.99
Bandol, a subregion of Provence, is known for its world-class rosé (easily up to $50+ a bottle). Lesser-known from this area are its reds, which are usually Mourvèdre (this one is 65%) with some Grenache & Cinsault blended in. Mourvèdre is a grape that is plush and at the same time herbaceous. It’s normally a blending varietal found in the Southern Rhône and some parts of Australia & Washington State. Too much of this grape is not typically enjoyed with delight unless it is exposed to a vast amount of heat (which is why it is seldom the primary grape). But this one is a treasure! Aromas of violet, raspberry, mulberry, truffle & undergrowth. A strong, unique wine. Stays balanced & elegant. Enjoy with wild game, roasted meats, strong cheeses. Drink now to 5 years.

MUSCADELLE: Château des Eyssards 2012 Bergerac Sec
Reg $19.99 | INSIDER $16.99 | Mixed Case $15.39
This wine is a J. Strecker direct import, and it’s one of those wines I chose simply because it was a phenomenal wine, and I wanted it in our book. I understood well that it was a white wine from Bergerac and our chances of selling a lot of it were slim. Just the opposite! This wine took off from the first time we showed it to people, and it has done nothing but sell-out since! The je ne sais quoi of this wine is definitely the Muscadelle which makes up 30% of the blend (with 40% Sauvignon Blanc & 30% Sémillon). The vineyards for the grapes are located near the town of Monestier, which has a slightly warmer micro-climate thus concentrating the sugars in the grapes, leading to a fuller, richer more complex white wine. This wine has an alcohol content of 14.5% which is quite high, but is not surprising with this style of wine. Bright & deep golden straw in color, this wine has a beautiful nose of jasmine flowers & ripe stone fruits. It has a full, lush body. The Muscadelle, difficult to cultivate, creates a deep layer of flavor that adds impressive complexity & character to the traditional Bordeaux Blanc blend of Sauvignon Blanc & Sémillon. Drink now to 2 years.

GRENACHE: Domaine Le Mourre 2011 Châteauneuf-du-Pape
Reg $53.99 | INSIDER $51.99 | Mixed Case $41.59
Châteauneuf-du-Pape is a region known for making crazy-delicious blends from a big mix of grapes: Grenache, Syrah, Mourvèdre, Cinsaut, Vaccarèse, Terret Noire, Counoise, Muscardin & more. What’s special about this wine is that it’s 100% Grenache — very unusual! Domaine Le Mourre takes its name from the Provençal “Lou Mourre” which means little hill. The vineyard on this promontory has been grown for generations by the family owner of the estate vineyard. The vineyard benefits from ideal southern exposure for grape ripening, bringing to the wine both roundness and aromatic complexity. The color of this wine is a glowing garnet red. Intense nose of fresh red fruits and typical Grenache spiciness. Beautiful mouth feel with supple and melted tannins, nice sweetness and roundness. It has beautiful aromatic length. This wine will match perfectly with all kinds of grilled meats, game and cheese. Drink now to 5 years.

If you receive your shipment via UPS, you should have received it by Friday. If you pick your club up at Portalis, it is ready for you to swing by.

Happy Holidays!  Jens
Jens Strecker, Owner Portalis Wines & J. Strecker Selections

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NOVEMBER 2014: WORLD CAB BLENDS

It’s a classic red wine — Cabernet Sauvignon blended with other grapes to help tone down the structure but allow the wonderful dark fruit flavors to shine through. This club features three different styles of wine from three different continents working off this blended Cab premise! The 2-bottle club gets the pleasure of the Bordeaux & the South African blend. The 3-bottle members get a special treat: a WA State Cab blend from Guardian Cellars. Enjoy!

FRANCE
La Croix Dillanges 2010 Saint-Julien
Reg $40.99 | INSIDER $38.99 | Mixed Case $31.19 Bordeaux’s Left Bank produces Cabernet heavy blends. This wine is from the commune of Saint-Julien and is a second label produced by the more famous Château du Glana (making it, of course, a more reasonable price!). It’s 67% Cab, 27% Merlot & 6% Cabernet Franc. It comes from 21-year old vines growing in Garonne gravel. The wine spent 12 months in French oak. It’s a beautiful plum purple in color with blackberry, plum & cinnamon on the nose. On the palate it has great richness with mellow tannins & dark berry fruit. This is very much a food wine! Enjoy with game, grilled steaks, leeks and white beans. Drink now to 5 years.

SOUTH AFRICA
Graham Beck 2007 Railroad Red
Reg $14.99 | Mixed Case $11.99 The international sales manager from Graham Beck did a tasting at Portalis years ago. He was a funny storyteller, sharing all kinds of antics from life & winemaking in South Africa. This winery makes some lovely high-end wines (if you are ever interested). The Railroad Red is an entry level wine with good quality for the price. It’s a Shiraz/Cab blend with lots of fruit flavors — dark berry fruit from the Cab and some lovely spiciness from the Shiraz. It has a little oak, but it doesn’t overpower. Enjoy with veal, roast lamb, stews or rich pasta dishes. Drink now.

WA STATE
Guardian Cellars 2011 Chalk Line
Reg $28.99 | Mixed Case $23.19 Jerry Riener (winemaker/owner/janitor/police officer!) makes this outstanding local wine. It’s a crazy blend of 29% Cabernet, 24% Syrah, 23% Merlot, 11% Cab Franc, 11% Malbec & 2% Petit Verdot including grapes from the following vineyards: Ciel du Cheval, Conner Lee, Klipsun, Obelisco, Stillwater Creek & Stonetree. This wine features delightful flavors of black raspberry, bittersweet chocolate & herbal notes. If you like it and are interested in meeting Jerry, we’ll be hosting him at Portalis for our Sunday Tasting on Dec 14 from 11am to 4pm. Save the date! Drink now to 2 years.

If you receive your shipment via UPS, you should receive it by today (Friday). If you pick your club up at Portalis, it is ready for you to swing by.

Cheers,  Jens
Jens Strecker, Owner Portalis Wines & J. Strecker Selections

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October 2014: Viticoltori Associati di Vinchio & Vaglio Serra

The heart of Italy’s northern-western Piedmont wine region is clustered around the towns of Alba & Asti. The Viticoltori Associati (co-op) for the villages of Vinchio & Vaglio Serra was founded in 1959 by a small group of vineyard farmers located around these two villages in the commune of Asti. Most of the vineyards are located on the steep slopes of the Alto Monferrato’s hills (see the photo above which is a picture of their Gavi vineyards). The land, being composed of mostly calcareous & sandy soil, is not very fertile. Thus the closely planted vines need to be meticulously cultivated, resulting in low-yielding vines. With plenty of sun exposure the low-yield vines concentrate the sugars in the grapes. Along with careful cultivation to protect the vines, the growers of Vinchio & Vaglio Serra care for the environment with reduced use of pesticides & other chemicals. It’s also noteworthy that the winery is totally operated on solar energy. We’ve been impressed with their wines through the years, and the prices for the quality of the wines are unbeatable.

The 2-bottle club gets to enjoy the Langhe Nebbiolo & the Barbaresco. The 3-bottle members get a bottle of their delicious Gavi as well.

Vinchio-Vaglio Serra 2013 SetteFiglie Langhe Nebbiolo
Reg $19.99 | INSIDER $18.99 | Mixed Case $15.19
The Nebbiolo grape is known for its structure and tannins, but amazingly enough, this young, stainless-steel fermented version is approachable & easy drinking with its medium body & bright fruity notes. It’s a beautiful ruby red color with deeper garnet reflections. Bright red berries on the nose with notes of cherry & violets. It pairs well with risotti, light fried dishes, fonduta cheese sauce, chicken & pork dishes, roast beef as well as game. A beautiful fall wine made for food! Drink now to 3 years.

Vinchio-Vaglio Serra 2011 Barbaresco
Reg $33.99 | INSIDER $31.99 | Mixed Case $25.59
Like its neighbor Barolo, Barbaresco is a DOCG classification for Nebbiolo grown in certain vineyards around the commune of Barbaresco. Compared to Barolo which is deep and dark and structured, Barbaresco is known for being more elegant, even graceful, and is generally much more accessible (fewer tannins) than Barolo. This wine undergoes stainless steel fermentation, 12 months in French oak, then 12 months in bottle prior to being released. It has a wonderful nose of violets & tobacco. On the palate it’s fruity with a long tannic finish when young, and a warm & caressing taste when matured. This wine pairs well with red meat, roast beef & wild game. It is also suitable with matured & spicy cheeses. Drink now to 5 years.

Vinchio-Vaglia Serra 2012 Dorato Gavi
Reg $24.99 | INSIDER $19.99 | Mixed Case $15.99
This beautiful white wine is classified DOC Cortese dell’ Alto Monferrato. It’s made from 100% Cortese, but it’s more commonly known as Gavi which is town at the center of this areas of vineyards. The wine has a bright straw yellow color with golden overtones. It has a fresh & fruity bouquet. On the palate it has a well-balanced, delicate body with fresh crisp notes & a hint of tropical richness. This wine would be a wonderful accompaniment to fish, crustaceans, antipasti & white meats. Drink now to 1 year.

We hope you enjoy these wines from their little corner of Piedmont. We think they give you a wonderful experience of wines from this part of Italy.

If you receive your shipment via UPS, you should have received it by Friday. If you pick your club up at Portalis, it is ready for you to swing by.

Cheers, Jens

Jens Strecker, Owner Portalis Wines & J. Strecker Selections

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September 2014:  Sono Montenidoli Redux

Last March, our Portalis Wine Club featured this same producer, showing off its entry level wines: Vernaccia di San Gimignano, Vinbrusco & Chianti Colli Senesi. Due to a strange turn of events, all of these wines are now on close-out sale which puts them at a price point (barely!) that we can treat you to them in this month’s club. It is unusual that we would feature 2 whites & a red this time of year, but these whites have Thanksgiving written all over them, and they are such special wines at such good prices that we couldn’t pass up this opportunity.

Here’s a little reminder about this outstanding winery:

The property of Montenidoli (mountain of the little nests) had been abandoned and overgrown when Sergio Muratori and Elisabetta Fagiuoli arrived with their 9 children in 1965. Today, the 24 hectare estate of vineyards focuses on indigenous varietals using organic farming methods. Their love for the land is evident in their high quality and award-winning wines. Sergio recently passed away but Elisabetta is still at the helm, working hard to continue their tradition in the vineyards as well as be an ambassador for the charitable works that she and her husband started nearly 50 years ago.

The 2-bottle club gets the Il Templare & Carato. The lucky 3-bottle recipients will enjoy the Toscano Rosso as well!

Sono Montenidoli 2009 Il Templare
Reg $39.99 | INSIDER $21.99 | Mixed Case $17.59
The winery says that this wine was “the great white wine of the warrior monks of the Middle Ages, to be drunk, says the rule, ‘as needed to distance the cold’.” This wine is a blend of 70% Vernaccia, 20% Trebbiano Gentile & 10% Malvasia Bianca. It was fermented in old barriques and then aged in these barrels for 12 months. It is light yellow in color with a nose of tart green fruit & minerals. Perfect with seafoods such as “mollusks, crustaceans, swordfish and the other great fish of the high seas” as well as roasted fowl. Drink now to 3 years.

Sono Montenidoli 2009 Carato Vernaccia di San Gimignano
Reg $42.99 | INSIDER 28.99 | Mixed Case $23.19
This wine is 100% Vernaccia made from Vernaccia grown on the hills around the Tuscan town of San Gimignano (pictured). Since the Renaissance, Vernaccia from this small area has held a special position as one of Italy’s finest white wines. Vernaccia di San Gimignano was named a DOC in 1966, the first white wine in Italy to get this status, and then in 1993 it was escalated to DOCG, which denotes the highest ranking vineyards in Italy. This wine is made from the free-run must of the estate’s best vineyards. It then ferments in barrels and ages on the lees for 12 months. Wood contributes to the complexity of the secondary aromas, developing over time a richness of flavor and taste that brings to mind citrus and honey. We suggest delighting your Thanksgiving guests by pairing this rich, full-flavored white with your turkey dinner. The winery suggests serving it with “cheeses or richer dishes. It is also ideal for the evening, refreshing the palate after the fuller reds of an important meal.” This is such a beautiful and unusual wine! We hope you enjoy it! Drink now to 3 years.

Sono Montenidoli 2005 Toscano Rosso
Reg $56.99 | INSIDER $37.99 | Mixed Case $30.39
This red is 100% Sangiovese and is a monster of a wine! The winery says that this wine is made from “the finest bunches of Sangiovese from Montenidoli’s vineyards. After macerating in the tank, it ages for 12 months in barriques and for at least three years in bottle. Its power and tightness reveals it youth, and it has a long future ahead of it.” It is higher in alcohol (14.5%) with a deep ruby red hue. The nose is full of ripe berry & red plum. It’s rich and full-bodied with firm tannins. It is the perfect wine for special occasions. Enjoy with game, braised meats and red meats off the grill. “It is a cure for all depressions of body and spirit.” You can drink this wine now, but if you do we highly recommend decanting it. Better would be to lay it down and enjoy in 10-15 years!

If you receive your shipment via UPS, you should have received it by Friday. If you pick your club up at Portalis, it is ready for you to swing by.

Cheers, Jens

Jens Strecker, Owner
Portalis Wines & J. Strecker Selections

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August 2014: Provence

Peter Mayle’s A Year In Provence humorously details the wonderful adventure that he & his wife, Jennie, had when they moved from England to Provence in the 1980’s. This excerpt describes a visit to a Sunday market:

“At the end of the market, a van from the wine cooperative was surrounded by men rinsing their teeth thoughtfully in the new rosé. Next to them, a woman was selling free-range eggs and live rabbits, and beyond her the tables were piled high with vegetables, small and frangrant bushes of basil, tubs of lavender honey, great green bottles of first pressing olive oil, trays of hot house peaches, pots of black tapenade, flowers and herbs, jams and cheeses–everything looked delicious in the early morning sun.

We bought red peppers to roast and big brown eggs and basil and peaches and goat’s cheese and lettuce and pink-streaked onions. And, when the basket could hold no more, we went across the road to buy half a yard of bread–the gros pain that makes such a tasty mop for any olive oil or vinaigrette sauce that is left on the plate. The bakery was crowded and noisy, and smelled of warm dough and the almonds that had gone into the morning’s cakes. While we waited, we remembered being told that the French spend as much of their income on their stomachs as the English do on their cars and stereo systems, and we could easily believe it.”

Very much tied to this food culture is a long history of wine making and enjoyment, always served with food! Located in southeastern France, it borders Italy to the east and the Mediterranean Sea to the south. Provence has a typical Mediterranean climate with hot, dry summers and mild winters with little snow. This region is known for having abundant amounts of sunshine (almost 3,000 hours of sunlight a year). Provence is also home to the famous Le Mistral, these aggressive winds help cool the vines and prevent rot on the vines.

There are a multitude of grape varietals grown in Provence, reflecting the rich cultural history of the region: Rhône varietals, Provencal varietals, Italian varietals, and Northern French varietals. The leading appellations in Provence are: Coteaux Aix-en-Provence, Bandol, Côtes de Provence, Les Baux de Provence and Cassis.

The 2-bottle club gets the Domaine La Bessonne & the Bandol Rouge. The lucky 3-bottle recipients will enjoy the Bandol Rosé as well!

Domaine La Bessonne 2013 Côteaux Varois en Provence Rosé
Reg $19.99 | INSIDER $18.99 | Mixed Case $15.19
This rosé is typical of the region of Châteauvert in Provence where the wines are made with great respect for tradition. Winemaker Serge Loudes is currently at the helm. The winery cultivates 25 hectares of vineyard. Tasting notes: This blend of Grenache & Cinsault creates a pure, clear, luminous rosé. The nose is full of ripe red fruits. It’s fresh to the taste with a long, refined mineral finish. The winery recommends enjoying this wine with crunchy summer vegetables or pan-seared white fish with little broad- beans, peas and asparagus. Drink now to 2 years.

Domaine de Frégate 2009 Bandol Rouge
Reg $31.99 | Mixed Case $25.59
Located between the towns of St Cyr/Mer and Bandol and placed on the hills overlooking the sea (pictured above), Domaine de Fregate is exposed to the south and west, ensuring an ideal climate for regular and complete maturity of wine grapes.

The vineyard has a surface of 30 hectares and is planted on clay and calcareous soils that are dry and rocky. The result is a harmonious wine that is characteristically bold but maintains a mild finish. The varieties of grapes used are Mourvedre, Grenache and Cinsault giving both the red and rosé wines the characteristics very typical of the Bandol appellation.

This wine is a blend of 65% Mourvedre, Grenache, Cinsault which aged 18 months in oak barrels. It has aromas of violet, raspberry, mulberry, truffle and undergrowth. It’s a strong wine. Stays balanced & elegant. The Mourvedre grape makes this an original wine, with an aroma that’s very unique! It is a perfect match for wild game and of course cheese. Drink now to 5 years.

Domaine de Frégate 2013 Bandol Rosé
Reg $29.99 | Mixed Case $23.99
Like the Bandol Rouge above, this rosé is a blend of Mourvedre, Grenache, Cinsault creating a beautiful pale colored rosé. You’ll enjoy white floral notes on the nose. It’s soft & fruity on the palate and at the same time still very dry. It is perfect to serve with grilled meat and fish. It is also very popular as an aperitif and with the specialties of the region. Drink now to 2 years.

If you receive your shipment via UPS, you should have received it by Friday. If you pick your club up at Portalis, it is ready for you to swing by.

Cheers,
Jens

Jens Strecker, Owner
Portalis Wines & J. Strecker Selections

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July 2014: Owen Roe

Owen Roe O’Neill was a seventeenth century Irish patriot and is the inspiration for the label. The man behind that label is David O’Reilly. O’Reilly, one of twelve children, spent his childhood in Belfast before moving to British Columbia with his family just before he became a teenager. In college, O’Reilly worked for a small winery in California, finding his love for wine and winemaking. Later on he worked for Elk Cove Winery in Oregon. During that time he met Peter Rosback, and together they started the project: Sineann. O’Reilly left Elk Cove in 1998 and founded his own winery to produce the Owen Roe and O’Reilly labels.

Owen Roe is playing a large part in putting Washington wines on the national map. They started as a low-production, cult winery but with some new properties and new contracts with national distributors, these wines are on their way to having a higher profile. With the vintages in this wine club, you can say you knew them “back when”. Both clubs include the Sinister Hand and the Sharecropper’s Pinot. The 3-bottle club includes the Sharecropper’s Cab as well.

Owen Roe 2011 Sinister Hand
Reg $28.99 | Mixed Case $23.19
Here’s the winery’s story behind this unusual label: “The story goes like this- Long ago, during the 17th century, the O’Neills and O’Reillys were two revolutionary Irish families. They formed a rowing competition to reserve rights to some highly regarded land. The two rowing teams agreed that the first to touch the land, after rowing across the lake, would become ruler of the land. O’Neill’s boat was falling behind so a member of the crew grabbed his own sword, cut off his hand and threw it ashore, winning the title to rule the land. This land still remains in the family.” The winery continues on to say that a dark story deserves a dark wine. This wine is made from the Rhône varietals Syrah, Grenache & Cunoise and is similar in profile to this French-style wine, just deeper, darker, jammier with flavors of raspberry, current & black cherry. Would be beautiful with roasted game or chicken. Would also be a lovely sipper to celebrate a special evening. Drink now to 2 years.

Owen Roe 2011 Sharecropper’s Pinot Noir
Reg $27.99 | Mixed Case $22.39
A little about the Sharecropper’s line: During the economic recession of 2001 growers were having trouble selling their grapes. Owen Roe was just starting up at that time (and was short on cash), so they agreed to bring back the historical business practice of “sharecropping” whereby Owen Roe took the fruit, made the wine and once it sold, they shared the profits with the growers.

The grapes for this wine are sourced from Oregon’s Willamette Valley. The wine has nice marionberry and cherry flavors with notes of mulled spices. Enjoy with grilled salmon or as a summer sipper. Drink now to 1 year.

Owen Roe 2011 Sharecropper’s Cabernet Sauvignon
Reg $17.99 | Mixed Case $14.39
The grapes for this wine come from WA’s Columbia Valley. It’s a nice medium-bodied food wine, more in line with a European Cab than a US Cab. It lots of nice dark fruit flavors (plum & blackberry) with pleasant toasty notes, but it’s not heavily oaked. For the price point, it’s quite a good wine. Enjoy with burgers, meatloaf, or roasted pork dishes. Drink now to 1 year.

If you receive your shipment via UPS, you should have received it by Friday. If you pick your club up at Portalis, it is ready for you to swing by.

Cheers,
Jens

Jens Strecker, Owner
Portalis Wines & J. Strecker Selections

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June 2014: France’s Southern Rhône Valley

It’s always fun to feature wines from the Southern Rhône because they are crowd-pleasers and at the same time, you get such a lovely array of wines, each with their flair from their little neck of the Southern Rhône woods, so to speak. This club we figured out a way to include a bottle of Chateauneuf-du-Pape (which is no small feat when you have price constraints) and it’s fun to have it next to your solid little steady-eddy Côtes-du-Rhône table wine. Here’s a BLOG> post to give you a little more detail on how the Southern Rhône is classified. To greatly oversimplify, though, most of the valley is classified as Côtes-du-Rhône with little enclaves of vineyards around villages such as Chateauneuf-du-Pape, Gigondas, Vacqueyras, Rasteau, Sablet (& more) that have a higher classification. The wines from these premier vineyards are more complex and more expensive. A wine from Vacqueyras is included for our 3-bottle club members.

CHÂTEAUNEUF-DU-PAPE
Domaine de Nalys 2010 Cuvée Classique Rouge
Reg $45.99 | INSIDER $41.99 | Mixed Case $33.59
The AOC Châteauneuf-du-Pape, which is the crown jewel of the Southern Rhône, surrounds the village of the same name which was built around a fortress/castle (erected in the early Middle Ages) that is now a ruin (pictured above). The Nalys family operated this domaine from the 17th century until the French Revolution when it was purchased by the Dufays family who lovingly cared for it for 7 generations. Today, a group of growers continue the heritage of this old estate. This red cuvée uses 6 permitted red grapes (50% Grenache) and is aged 20 months in concrete vats and oak. With flavors of blackberries, cassis & cinnamon, it’s superb with beef, lamb or strong cheeses. Drink now to 5 years.

CÔTES-DU-RHÔNE
La Vieille Ferme de L’Eoune 2009 Rouge
Reg $14.99 | INSIDER $12.99 | Mixed Case $10.39
In 1951, Monsieur Durand decided to become a winemaker. He bought 30 hectares of unplanted land to start his vineyard and thus began a wonderful adventure. Today his son, Laurent, has taken over the winemaking for the estate that has now expanded to 100 hectares. This wine is medium-bodied with notes of cherries & raspberries followed by a spicy finish. Enjoy this wine with a burger off the grill, meatloaf, roasted foul, even salmon. Drink now!

VACQUEYRAS
Château des Roques 2011 Rouge
Reg $22.99 | INSIDER $21.99 | Mixed Case $17.59
A few miles from Avignon, Château des Roques is a 32 hectare estate set in the heart of the AOC Vacqueyras, one of the 15 Cru Villages in the Rhône Valley. This blend of Mourvedre, Grenache & Syrah is full of concentrated black fruits & plum with lingering spicy notes. Would pair beautifully with duck, boar & lamb. This is a beautiful wine in a beautiful bottle! It’s also a great price compared to most wines from Vacqueyras. Drink now to 3 years.

If you receive your shipment via UPS, you should have received it by Friday. If you pick your club up at Portalis, it is ready for you to swing by.

Cheers,
Jens

Jens Strecker, Owner
Portalis Wines & J. Strecker Selections

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May 2014: Pinot Noir from Different Lands

Karen MacNeil does a great job describing Pinot Noir in her Wine Bible, saying: “More than any other wine, pinot is described in sensual terms. Pinot noir’s association with sensuality derives from the remarkably supple, silky textures and erotically earthy aromas that great pinot noirs display. In your mouth the best pinots exude warm baked cherries, plums, damp earth, mushrooms, cedar, cigars, chocolate, worn leather, sweat, and dry leaves. Pinot noir is lighter in body and far less tannic than cabernet sauvignon, merlot, or zinfandel. It is lighter in color, too, leading beginning wine drinkers to assume that pinot noir’s flavors are feeble. For the great pinots just the reverse is true.”

This wine club offers you several examples of this subtle wine, grown in different countries, soil, altitudes. It’s a wonderful selection of wines, and I hope you enjoy it! The 2-bottle club gets a classic Pinot from Burgundy and a wonderful example from Northern Italy. The 3-bottle club adds in a tasty selection from New Zealand, another country known for its outstanding Pinot Noir.

FRANCE
Maison Paul Reitz 2011 Santenay
Reg $41.99 | INSIDER $39.99 | Mixed Case $33.59
The original estate was created in 1793 by Jean Adam Reitz. Strengthened by following generations, Paul Reitz began his winemaking business in 1872. The Paul Reitz winery is situated at the heart of Burgundy vineyards at Corgoloin, on the border of the Côte de Nuits and the Côde de Beaune. This lively Santenay is intensely aromatic with notes of red & black fruits. It’s an ample, rich wine, with flavors of smooth cherries. Enjoy with braised veal or beef dishes. Cheese would also be delicious. Winemaker suggests: Brie de Meaux, Pont-l’Evêque, Citeaux, Reblochon, Bleu de Bresse. Drink now to 8 years.

ITALY
Castelfeder 2011 “Glener” Pinot Nero
Reg $20.99 | INSIDER $19.99 | Mixed Case $16.79
This estate, located near the village of Egna in Alto Adige, was originally founded in 1970 by A. Giovanett, and was 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. His son, Ivan, is now the winemaker, and his daughter, Ines, is the international sales manager. They have quite a line of varietals including Pinot Grigio, Kerner, Lagrein & more, but their award-winning Pinot Nero (also called Blauburgunder in this bilingual part of Northern Italy and pictured in the photo above) is one of their specialties. On the nose it’s fruity with traces of spice & smoke. On the palate it’s powerful and expressive with a pleasant tannic structure. Enjoy this wine with roasted chicken or game. Drink now to 5 years.

NEW ZEALAND
Villa Maria 2011 Private Bin Pinot Noir
Reg $19.99 | Mixed Case $15.99
The fruit for this wine comes from vineyards in the Awatere and Wairau Valleys of Marlborough. Here are the winemaker’s notes: “Displaying lifted aromas of mature red cherries and berry fruits – hallmarks of Marlborough Pinot Noir, whilst on the palate the wine displays succulent fruit with complex spice, wild herb and savoury elements.” New Zealand Pinots are known for lots of cherry fruit with campfire smoke. This wine is fruitier and fuller-bodied than the other two selections; should be a lovely comparison. Enjoy with grilled salmon! Drink now to 3 years.

If you receive your shipment via UPS, you should have received it by Friday. If you pick your club up at Portalis, it is ready for you to swing by.

Cheers,
Jens

Jens Strecker, Owner
Portalis Wines & J. Strecker Selections

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April 2014: Weingut Prechtl (Austria)

Weingut Prechtl was established in Zellendorf in 1839 and five generations later, it is owned and run by Franz & Petra Prechtl. Franz (pictured above with his daughter) is also the winemaker and puts great emphasis on sustainable farming techniques, allowing the grapes to grow as naturally as possible. We enjoyed a tour with him last summer when we visited him in Zellendorf, and the vineyards were gorgeous. The 15 hectare estate produces top quality wines based on their knowledge of the soils, conditions and the age of the vines. The vines in their prime vineyards are at least 25 years old, with these deep-rooted vines giving their wines their special, complex style.

Located in the northeastern corner of Niederösterreich, the Weinviertel region of Austria shares its borders with Slovakia (to the east) and is adjacent to the Czech Republic (to the north). The area has many rivers that flow through it. The majority of the region is considered to be hilly although the land around Zellendorf (pictured) was relatively flat. The top grapes produced throughout this region are Grüner Veltliner, Pinot Blanc (Weissburgunder), Welschriesling, Zweigelt, & Blauer Portugieser. All of these wines are flavorful, elegant, balanced, and tend to have notes of pepper to them.
The 2-bottle club has the pleasure of tasting a Grüner Veltliner & Reserve Red Cuvée; the 3-bottle club also includes a sparkling Pinot Noir or Schaumwein (as it’s known in Austria). Note that Weingut Prechtl was named Champion Grüner Veltliner at the Austrian Salon 2013 Competition last year, truly a coup for a small, little-known producer! The winning wine was his other single vineyard: Längen vom Löss Grüner Veltliner. Let us know if you’re interested in this wine as it’s also available (at the same price as the Altenberg). Enjoy!

Weingut Prechtl 2011 Altenberg vom Urgestein Grüner Veltliner
Reg $19.99 | INSIDER $18.99 | Mixed Case $15.99
Grüner Veltliner has a reputation for being extremely food-friendly & one of Austria’s most exciting varietals. Indigenous to central Europe, this grape is made into many different styles of wine. This wine is a single vineyard 100% Grüner Veltliner with gentle stone fruit & melon notes. Full-bodied on the palate, it’s elegant with great acidity and delicious exotic fruit flavors. Its acidity makes it a refreshing sipper as well as great with a wide variety of foods: salads, fish, chicken or even sausages off the grill! Drink now.

Weingut Prechtl 2007 Reserve Red Cuvée
Reg $17.99 | INSIDER $16.99 | Mixed Case $14.39
The label on the wine you received says “Reserve Rot” which means Reserve Red in German. Because my native language is German, I didn’t realize how unappetizing that label looked in English (until Julie explained it to me) and we have since changed the label to say just: Reserve. I hope you’ll get a kick out of the cultural misstep and that you’ll think the wine is as delicious as I do!  It’s a blend of traditional Austrian grapes: Zweigelt, St. Laurent & Blaufränkisch with flavors black cherry. It’s sweet & toasty on the nose with concentrated fruit, mature tannins & lovely caramel flavors. In my opinion, it’s pure pleasure! Would pair well with roasted chicken or pork. Drink now.

Weingut Prechtl Pinot Noir Schaumwein
Reg $19.99 | INSIDER $18.99 | Mixed Case $15.99
This wine is a dry sparkling Pinot Noir & a lip-smacking opportunity to impress at your next occasion. It’s pale coppery-pink in hue with notes of raspberry & citrus on the nose. On the palate, it’s full of juicy cherry, almonds & a delightful racy effervescence, finishing with delicate red fruits. This wine is great for a summer toast, an aperitif, and with richer fish dishes, especially salmon! Drink now.

If you receive your shipment via UPS, you should have received it by Friday. If you pick your club up at Portalis, it is ready for you to swing by.

Cheers,
Jens

Jens Strecker, Owner
Portalis Wines & J. Strecker Selections

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March 2014: Sono Montenidoli

When we first opened down the street at 5310 Ballard Ave over ten years ago, we had an employee named Shane Salois. Anyone remember? He had outstanding wine knowledge and left many years ago to return to Chicago where he worked for a mid-sized importer. When Elisabetta Fagiuoli (pictured) asked him (as her Chicago importer) for a recommendation for an importer in Seattle (as her longtime mid-sized importer had recently sold to one of the large US distributors and she wasn’t going to do business with the “evil empire”), he passed our name along. When I was in Europe last spring I met with her and let me tell you what, she interviewed me for the honor of carrying her wines!  We are showcasing these wines in the wine club now as she will be in Seattle at the end of April, so all of you local Seattle folks get a heads up for a don’t-miss tasting!  She’s an amazing woman (in German we’d call her a Powerfrau!) and her wines are out of this world. Here’s a little about her & the winery:

In 1965 the property of Montenidoli (mountain of the little nests) had been abandoned and overgrown when Sergio Muratori and Elisabetta Fagiuoli arrived with their 9 children. Today, their 24 hectare estate of vineyards focuses on indigenous varietals using organic farming methods. Their love for the land is evident in their high quality and award-winning wines. Sergio recently passed away but Elisabetta is still at the helm, working hard to continue their tradition in the vineyards as well as be an ambassador for the charitable works that she and her husband started nearly 50 years ago.

The 2-bottle club has the pleasure of tasting Elisabetta’s Vernaccia & Chianti. The 3-bottle club has the addition of her Vinbrusco. These are unbelievable wines! Enjoy!

Sono Montenidoli 2011 Tradizionale Vernaccia di San Gimignano DOCG
Reg $22.99 | INSIDER $21.99 | Mixed Case $17.59
Tuscany produces the famous white wine: Vernaccia di San Gimignano, made from a minimum of 90% Vernaccia grape. Grown around the medieval hillside village of San Gimignano it has the historic status of being the first red or white wine in 1966 to be designated DOC. Then, in 1993, it became the first white wine of Tuscany to be promoted DOCG, a distinction primarily reserved for reds. This particular Vernaccia is top of its class! Elisabetta and her team use the old tradition of maceration with skins, pressing as soon as fermentation begins, thus extracting the native flavors of the land. It’s the color of straw with hints of gold. On the nose you get herbs & almonds. On the palate it’s rich with a dry, crisp finish. Food pairings: Mediterranean dishes using olive oil, fish & vegetables especially artichokes, asparagus & spinach. Drink now.

Sono Montenidoli 2011 Il Garrulo Chianti Colli Senesi DOCG
Reg $22.99 | INSIDER $21.99 | Mixed Case $17.59
Chianti is the backbone of Tuscan wine production. Located just outside of Sienna, Colli Senesi is a DOCG subregion in Tuscany known for both New & Old World-style Chianti. Elisabetta’s is (no surprise) Old World-style through and through. It’s rustic and bigger and delicious. Her blend includes 75% Sangiovese, 20% Canaiolo, 3% Trebbiano Gentile, 2% Malvasia Bianca. Fermentation follows the dictates of Barone Ricasoli, whose Chianti formula called for two red grapes, Sangiovese & Canaiolo, and two white grapes, Trebbiano Gentile & Malvasia Bianca. It’s a deep ruby red in color. The nose is full of fresh herbs, currants & flint. On the palate it’s spicy red fruit with light sweetness & balanced acidity. Enjoy this delicious wine with Mediterranean dishes using tomatoes, fish & grilled meats. Drink now.

Sono Montenidoli 2009 Vinbrusco IGT
Reg $22.99 | INSIDER $21.99 | Mixed Case $17.59
For you lucky 3-bottle members, you get her Vinbrusco, which has a long history in this part of Italy. Before the rising popularity of Vernaccia di San Gimignano, Vinbrusco was the traditional white wine drunk by the local farmers. It’s a blend of 65% Trebbiano Gentile, 35% Malvasia Bianca. The free-run must ferments in steel and ages on the lees to acquire body and softness. It’s a brassy gold in color with a wonderful nose of flinty herbs & green vegetables. It’s fresh on the palate with minerally, round fruit & a long finish. Enjoy this wine paired with vegetables, saffron, anchovies, tuna & cheeses. Drink now!

If you receive your shipment via UPS, you should have it by Friday.  If you pick your club up at Portalis, it is ready for you to swing by.

Cheers,
Jens

Jens Strecker, Owner
Portalis Wines & J. Strecker Selections

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February 2014: Bodegas Rauda

February is full of good things for our devoted Wine Club members! This month’s selection of wines include outstanding reds from the celebrated region of Ribera del Duero, Spain (the end of this year’s harvest pictured above). Bold, rich & full of dark silky fruit, they are a perfect accompaniment for winter comfort foods and just in time to enjoy with your special Valentine. Happy sipping!

Ribera del Duero
The wine region of Ribera del Duero is located 2 hours north of Madrid and is a part of the large province of Castilla y León. It became a DO (Denominacion de Origen) in 1982, which at the time only had 9 wineries in operation. Today, there are nearly 300 wineries in this DO that stretches 70 miles and runs along the Duero River (from which the region gets its name). Wines from the Ribera del Duero have a rich past, dating back to Roman times. With a third of its vineyards being 50+ years old and many over 100 years old, the DO has become known for its exceptional quality. This region is situated on an elevated northern plateau where most of the vines are planted at a height of 2,500 feet or more. The primary grape is Tempranillo (locally known as Tinto del Pais and Tinto Fino) but other approved gapes include: Garnacha, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Malbec and the white grape Albillo. With its Mediterranean climate (lots of sunshine!), gorgeous landscape & superb wine, it’s no wonder Ribera del Duero has become such a desirable wine destination for enthusiasts from all over the world.

Bodegas y Vinedos Rauda
This winery was established in 1956 by a group of grape growers who were dedicated to producing top quality wines, making it one of the first wine growing associations in Ribera del Duero. Located in the historic village of Roa it is also the seat of the Wine Regulation Consortium for all of Ribera del Duero.  Production at Bodegas Rauda combines the latest technology with tradition. Innovative and modern stainless steel tanks stand side by side with traditional cement vats which continue to preserve the best qualities necessary for fermentation. The aging cellar holds over 475 French, American & Central European oak barrels of various toasting levels. The cost of wines from this part of Spain have risen drastically in the last 10 years, but with this co-op, you get great quality for the money. We are proud to import these wines via J. Strecker Selections. They are doing excellent work!

Bodegas Rauda 2012 Tinto Roble
Reg $15.99 | INSIDER $14.99 | Mixed Case $11.99
Made from 100% Tempranillo, this red is full of plush berry notes. Roble means “oak” and this wine was aged 4 months in French and Central European oak. So though it’s meant to be drunk young, it is complex with hints of toasty spice & ripe raspberries. A great wine on its own, but it will shine even brighter with spicy seafood dishes, grilled meats or aged cheeses. Drink now.

Bodegas Rauda 2007 Tinto Roa Reserva
Reg $36.99 | INSIDER $33.99 | Mixed Case $27.19
With this wine, you are in for a real treat! Reserva wines in Spain are required to be aged at least three years with a minimum of 12 months in oak. This 2007 Reserva is 100% Tempranillo, and it was aged 14 months in French & American oak. Its long bottle-aging produces an extra special experience with layers of deep mature fruit & silky tannins. Pair this full-bodied red with something rich: sirloin steak, lamb chops, roasted game or mushrooms. Drink now to 5 years.

Bodegas Rauda 2009 Musai de Tinto Roa
Reg $43.99 | INSIDER $39.99 | Mixed Case $31.99
For you lucky 3-bottle members, you get the crown jewel of the winery! Spanish wines are known to not hold back, and this wine is no exception. This 100% Tempranillo is aged 15 months in French and American oak, resulting in a perfectly orchestrated blend of lush fruit, leather & fragrant oak. With expressive dark cherry flavors this wine will linger long after it’s been sipped. Simply delicious, it is best enjoyed with braised meats, grilled lamb chops or aged Manchego cheese. Drink now to 5 years.

If you receive your shipment via UPS, you should have it by Friday.  If you pick your club up at Portalis, it is ready for you to swing by.

Cheers,
Jens

Jens Strecker, Owner
Portalis Wines & J. Strecker Selections

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January 2014: Burgundy

Even in this higher-end price range for the wine clubs we offer, it’s tricky to come up with two & three bottle clubs from this region of France that stay within budget. Burgundy is unquestionably one of the finest wine producing regions in the world. And the region remains mysterious, probably through a complicated classification system (that even the most avid fans have trouble understanding) and a long history of being tradition bound. With the world’s trend over the last couple decades towards bigger, oakier fruit bombs, Burgundy has stuck to its more medium-bodied style of muted elegance, turning its back on the American ranking system while continuing to sell out of its $100+ bottles. Hats off to them!

A little about Burgundy: The region runs north-south from Dijon to Lyon along the Saone River. As a general rule, Burgundy grows two grapes: Chardonnay & Pinot Noir. They also grow a small amount of a white grape known as Aligoté in southern reaches of the region and some Gamay (a juicy red grape) in and around Beaujolais. The 2-bottle club will get 2 bottles of Pinot Noir from two different small family producers. The 3-bottle club will get an additional bottle of Aligoté for an experience of the lesser-grown white.

Domaine Claude Nouveau 2010 Maranges
Reg $37.99 | INSIDER $35.99 | Mixed Case $28.79
Situated in the heart of the Côte-de-Beaune, the Nouveau family has been making wine there for 6 generations with the objective of producing quality wines, as naturally as possible, linked to the size of the yield and inspired by being close to the soil and sensitive to the seasons. (A recent harvest pictured above.)

Tasting Notes: This wine is 100% Pinot Noir, grown in clay & marly limestone. It comes from a vineyard that is 3 acres in size with 15-50 year old vines. The wine has wonderful aromas of wild red berries (red currant & raspberry). On the palate it’s fuller-bodied & well-structured with wild red berry flavors & peppery undertones. Pair with poultry (coq au vin) or grilled red meats (beef, lamb, duck). Also matches well with grilled or braised pork. Drink now to 5 years.

Domaine Perraud 2010 Bourgogne Rouge
Reg $22.99 | INSIDER $21.99 | Mixed Case $17.59
Domaine Perraud is a great story of a young winemaker encouraged by his parents (who made their living growing grapes for the local co-op) to strike out on his own. So, at the age of 24, Jean-Christophe Perraud began making wine from the family’s vineyards. In 2005 he produced his first vintage out of 4 hectares of their vines. Less than a decade later, Domaine Perraud has 25 hectares of Bourgogne, Mâcon and Saint-Véran vineyards. This domaine practices sustainable agriculture and is moving to organic.

Tasting Notes: This wine is also 100% Pinot Noir made from 15 year old vines situated in the village of La Roche-Vineuse on clay-limestone and clay-silt soils. This silky Pinot was aged in oak barrels for over 6 months. Aromatic with ripe red berries & delicate tannins, it’s perfect with salmon or roasted chicken. Drink now.

Domaine Claude Nouveau 2011 Aligoté
Reg $22.99 | INSIDER $21.99 | Mixed Case $17.59
This wine is 100% Aligoté, a lesser-grown white varietal seeing a small comeback in Burgundy. This grape, when done correctly (which this one is!), is brighter & more acidic than the more commonly grown Chardonnay. It’s somewhat similar to French Sauvignon Blanc but not so grassy.

Tasting Notes: This wine comes from the same domaine as the first red. The terroir is clay & marly limestone. The vineyard surface area is 1.7 acres with 25-50 year old vines. The wine is a pale golden color. The nose is fruity with floral notes of acacia & hawthorn. On the palate it’s crisp & solid with hints of citrus fruit & hazelnut. The winemaker suggests that you enjoy this wine with grilled fish, oysters, taboulé salad, steamed vegetables, Burgundian « gougères », « jambon persillé » (thickly sliced Burgundian ham cooked with garlic & parsley) or escargot. Also perfect with black currants as an aperitif. Drink now.

If you receive your shipment via UPS, you should have it by Friday.  If you pick your club up at Portalis, it is ready for pickup.

I hope you enjoy these wines! I think they are excellent examples from their respective regions!

Cheers,
Jens

Jens Strecker, Owner
Portalis Wines & J. Strecker Selections

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December 2013: EUROPEAN TRIPLE CROWN

With the holiday upon us, we thought our Portalis Wine Club members deserved a superior wine experience. This month brings extraordinary European reds from regions known for their quality and outstanding pedigree. These are not your ordinary, everyday wines.  No, they were meant for greatness – a special meal or celebratory occasion amongst friends and loved ones. Your wine club includes: a big, spicy red from Priorat, Spain, an elegant, complex red from Pauillac (Bordeaux) France and for those of you in the 3-bottle wine club, the European Triple Crown is rounded out with a beautiful SuperTuscan from Italy. From our family to yours we hope you have a wonderful holiday season and enjoy your wine club selection down to the very last drop!

Costers del Priorat, Spain
Bodegas Maset 2011 Mas Viló
Reg $29.99 | INSIDER $27.99 | Mixed Case $22.39
Located in the Catalan region on northeast Spain, wines from Priorat date back to the 12th century as recorded by the monks at the Scala Dei Monastery. The area was named after the “Prior” who ruled over the 7 villages of the region.  Priorat is one of only two regions in Spain with the prestigious DOQ/DOC status (the other being Rioja).

This red is produced by the Maset family who’ve been producing wines for over 200 years. They make wines in the traditional way, with great care, following rigorous quality assurance process and leaving each wine to mature in the tranquility of the cellar.

This blend of Cariñena and Garnacha is first hand-harvested then aged six months in French oak. Deep crimson in color, with flavors of blackberry and ripe blueberries, it is velvety yet dense and rich with lively tannins. Pair with grilled beef or lamb and some Cabrales blue cheese. Drink now up to 5 years.

Bordeaux, France
Chevaliers de Dauprat 2010 Pauillac
Reg $32.99 | INSIDER $29.99 | Mixed Case $23.99
Pauillac (a village and AOC) is located on the Left Bank of the Gironde estuary in the Bordeaux wine region of France. Home to three of the Premier Grand Crus, these wines are full and opulent with noticeable tannins, acid and notes of black currant and cedar.

This is one of the oldest vineyards in the Médoc and an enclave among plots of some of the most prestigious classified growths in its appellation (Latour, Pichon-Longueville and Lynch-Bages). Château Bellegrave produces Chevaliers de Dauprat in exclusivity for the Maison Querre, a négociant house established in 1897.

A blend of 62% Cabernet Sauvignon, 31% Merlot and 7% Cabernet Franc, this wine spends 12 months in French oak barrique. Dark ruby in color, it has notes of cocoa, cedar and cassis. This is a rich wine, complex with a muscular structure and long finish. Wonderful paired with roasted meats, duck or mushroom dishes. Drink now up to 10 years.

Tuscany, Italy
Tenuta Montecchiesi 2011 Preziosaterra SuperTuscan
Reg $23.99 | INSIDER $21.99 | Mixed Case $17.59
The label “SuperTuscan” originated in the 1970’s to designate those wines in Tuscany that used non-traditional varietals not allowed under the DOC laws. SuperTuscan wines soon began to out price the traditional Chianti wines and become sought after by collectors due to their high quality and modern-style.

Tenuta Montecchiesi is the second domaine for the Dal Cero family, based in the Veneto. The Cortona property has belonged to the family since 1980, when the brothers Giuseppe and Dario, attracted by Tuscany’s charm, decided to undertake this new adventure. In places where great part of the vineyards were uprooted, confident in a market in evolution and convinced of the wine-growing potential of the area, they decided to plant new varieties of vineyards in addition to the existing Sangiovese.

This luscious red blend of 55% Sangiovese and 45% Syrah is nothing short than sublime.  After traditional manual harvesting, the grapes macerate for 18 days. It is matured in French oak barrique for 5 months then additional 6 months in the bottle. Ruby red with aromas of prunes, cherries and spice, it has ripe black fruits and firm tannins on the finish. Excellent paired with roasted meats, ragu, wild mushrooms and aged cheeses. Drink now up to 3 years.

If you receive your shipment via UPS, you should have it by Friday.  If you pick your club up at Portalis, it is ready for pickup.

I hope you enjoy these wines! I think they are excellent examples from their respective regions!

Cheers,
Jens

Jens Strecker,
Owner Portalis Wines & J. Strecker Selection

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November 2013: Tenimenti Andreucci (Tuscany)

Tenimenti Andreucci is a J. Strecker Selections new arrival from Tuscany. I’ve not yet met Flavio Andreucci (pictured), but we hope he will visit Seattle this next year. His wines were a tip from our Alto Adige producer, Ines Giovanett of Castelfeder. I tasted them when I was in Europe last spring and knew they would be a hit in Seattle. Here’s a little bit on the Andreucci’s:

Located in Pienza in the heart of the Tuscan wine region, this small family winery has had a vineyard in the region for over 200 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 200 years ago. Today, Flavio Andreucci labors to produce the best quality wine combining modern technology, superb vines and a remarkable terroir. For higher-end Tuscan wines, I think these are killer for the price! 2-bottle members get the Riserva & Rosso; 3-bottle members get the Classico in addition.

Andreucci 2011 Poggio Colombo Chianti Classico
Reg $26.99 | INSIDER $19.99 | Mixed Case $15.99
This DOCG 100% Sangiovese is ruby with garnet edges. A little more Old World in style, the Classico has notes of black cherry, orange peel & dried violets on the nose. On the palate it’s full of sweet dried cherries, smooth concentrated round fruit with fleshy texture & good tannins. Pair this wine with salumi, ragu, aged parmigiano-reggiano, grilled steak. Drink now to 3 years.

Andreucci 2010 Costevecchia Chianti Riserva
Reg $28.99 | INSIDER $22.99 | Mixed Case $18.39
The Riserva is also 100% Sangiovese, but it’s aged in oak and is more complex. It’s an intense ruby red with sweet red fruits & notes of wisteria. It has flavors of dry, sweet cherries. It is fuller-bodied and slightly tannic with good acidity. Enjoy with ragu dishes, risotto with meat, sausage, grilled meats. As well it’s suitable for hard cheeses. Drink now to 5 years.

Andreucci 2008 Solatio Rosso di Montalcino
Reg $27.99 | INSIDER $22.99 | Mixed Case $18.39
100% Sangiovese Grosso, this “Baby Brunello” is anything but little. Dark ruby in color, it has intoxicating aromas of ripe blackberries, vanilla, rose petals & ripe black berries. On the palate it’s rich & silky with notes of luscious dark cherry fruit. Pair with wild boar ragu, salumi or mushroom risotto. Drink now to 5 years.

Remember:  20% CASE & 10% HALF CASE Discounts …includes mixed cases! If you receive your shipment via UPS, you should have it by Friday.  If you pick your club up at Portalis, it is ready for pickup. Please note: Our shop hours have changed. On Tuesday/Wednesday/Thursday we now open at 3pm.

Cheers!
Jens

Jens Strecker
Owner & Wine Manager
Portalis Wine Shop + Wine Bar

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October 2013: Bordeaux’s Right Bank

The Gironde River splits the region of Bordeaux into two parts, known as the Left Bank (to the west) and the Right Bank (to the east). All three of the wines featured in this month’s club are from the east side: St. Emilion, Lussac (a satellite of St. Emilion) and the Bordeaux Rouge is from vineyards outside of Lalande de Pomerol. The soil on the Right Bank is marl and limestone which is very good for Merlot (making it plush) whereas Cabernet Sauvignon needs just the opposite (drainage!) which it gets in the gravel soils of the Left Bank. All three of these wines are new J. Strecker direct imports, and I am delighted to show them off in this month’s wine club. The 2-bottle club gets the Chateau Franc Grace-Dieu & the Belle Eleonore with the Chazal added into the 3-bottle club. I hope you enjoy them; I think they are outstanding!

Château Franc Grâce-Dieu 2010 St-Emilion Grand Cru

Reg $32.99 | INSIDER $29.99 | Mixed Case $23.99
Château Franc Grâce-Dieu is a 12 hectare Saint-Emilion Grand Cru estate. It’s situated near Château Figeac and is only 2 kilometers from Cheval Blanc. It benefits from a complex soil structure of brown sand & iron deposits in the subsoil and clay. It follows along the traditional Saint-Emilion properties with a grape variety proportion of 70% Merlot and 30% Cabernet Franc. Tasting Notes: Impressive wine from a fantastic vintage in Bordeaux. It shows fine, sweet tannins, a luscious, concentrated, multi-layered mid-palate & lots of dark fruit intermixed with smoke, licorice & earth! If you were in the wine club in Dec 2012, you got the 2009 vintage of this wine. We had other St-Emilion wines to choose from, but the 2010 vintage is so killer, nothing could compete with this Grand Cru, especially for the price. This gem will be delicious for the next 5 years! At least!

Belle Eléonore 2010 Lussac St-Emilion Rouge

Reg $19.99 | INSIDER $18.99 | Mixed Case $15.19
In 1952, Paul Lassagne, who ran an oven in the local tile factory, bought a small 2 hectare plot including a cellar. Today, his son Daniel has expanded the estate to 30 hectares, including 24 in a single block in Lussac Saint-Émilion. The winery has been entirely renovated, and the most up to date techniques are used to produce the finest possible wine. The blend is 80% Merlot and, 15% Cab & 5% Cabernet Franc. Tasting Notes: Aromatic red fruits, brioche. Flavors of strawberry, blackcurrant with well integrated tannins. Pairs will with roasted meats, game, cheese & mushrooms. Drink now to 5 years.

La Fleur Chazal 2010 Bordeaux Rouge

Reg $15.99 | INSIDER $14.99 | Mixed Case $11.99
For three generations the Cardarelli family (whose ancestors emigrated from Southern Italy) has produced quality wines in the Bordeaux region. Located near Pomerol, the vineyards for this wine lie on a 400 ft high plateau which provides for full sun exposure, accounting for the wine’s richness & finesse. This wines is a blend of 70% Merlot & 30% Cab. Tasting Notes: Aromas of ripe red fruits (raspberry, cherry) with nice well-rounded tannins. Best paired with meats, salami & cheeses. Drink now.

Remember:  20% CASE & 10% HALF CASE Discounts …includes mixed cases!

If you receive your shipment via UPS, you should have it by Friday.  If you pick your club up at Portalis, it is ready for pickup. Please note: Our shop hours have changed. On Tuesday/Wednesday/Thursday we now open at 3pm.

Cheers!
Jens

Jens Strecker
Owner & Wine Manager
Portalis Wine Shop + Wine Bar

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September 2013: Bunchgrass Winery (WA)

In the chaotic scramble that is the WA wine market, there’s a reasonable chance that you’ve never heard of Bunchgrass Winery (unless you’ve had it as a glass pour at Portalis), but it is worth noting that it was the 11th bonded winery in Walla Walla (no small claim to fame!), producing its first vintage in 1997. Bunchgrass Winery is housed in a quaint cinder block building that once served as the dairy for the Cockerline family farm. The facilities are surrounded by twelve acres of natural paradise bordering Mill Creek. The farm is home to abundant wildlife. In fact, the name of the winery comes from a book of poems written by Northwest poet Robert Sund called “Bunch Grass”, who wrote poems speaking to the native landscapes, lifestyle, and culture of Eastern Washington State.

The winery’s production is very limited (600 cases of wine per vintage), and I think the quality price relationship is seldom to be found. These wines are outstanding for the price! The 2-bottle club members get the blend & the Syrah. The 3-bottle club members have the added pleasure of a WA Malbec. Enjoy!

Bunchgrass 2009 Triolet

Reg $31.99 | Mixed Case $25.59
With a production of 175 cases, this red is a blend of 67% Cabernet Sauvignon (Dwelley Vineyard), 27% Cab Franc (Dwelley Vineyard) & 6% Petit Verdot (Frazier Bluff Vineyard). It’s smooth and velvety red with rich flavors of blackberry, ripe currant and spice. Meaty and plush in your mouth, it’s a pleasure to drink! Drink now up to 3 years.

Bunchgrass 2007 Lewis Vineyard Syrah

Reg $19.99 |Mixed Case $15.99
This wine got 91pts from the Wine Spectator and deservedly so. It’s a well-balanced Syrah with lots of dark fruit (plums, cassis, blackberry) and a hint of mint. This wine won’t overpower your meal. Enjoy with roasted meats. Drink now up to 3 years.

Bunchgrass 2010 Malbec

Reg $38.99 | Mixed Case $31.19
100% WA Malbec (Frazier Bluff Vineyard) is lots of fun! It’s bigger than an Argentine Malbec, with peppery black currant & a note of chocolate. Tannins are soft, but there. Would be delicious with a nice steak or just sip & enjoy. Drink now up to 3 years. (72 cases produced!)

Remember:  20% CASE & 10% HALF CASE Discounts …includes mixed cases!

If you receive your shipment via UPS, you should have it by Friday.  If you pick your club up at Portalis, it is ready for pickup. Please note: Our shop hours have changed. On Tuesday/Wednesday/Thursday we now open at 3pm.

Cheers!
Jens

Jens Strecker
Owner & Wine Manager
Portalis Wine Shop + Wine Bar

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August 2013: Bonny Doon Vineyard (CA)    

We are excited to present this month’s featured wines from Bonny Doon Vineyard located in Santa Cruz, California. The winery began in 1983 with owner & winemaker Randall Grahm, who is a bit of a rock star in the wine world. Mr. Grahm originally started with Pinot Noir on his Santa Cruz land but the vines met an unfortunate end (Pierce’s Disease) and so he began planting experimental Rhône batches. And he didn’t stop there! As a result of his European travels, he also started planting Italian and Spanish varietals. Turns out California’s temperate climate is well suited to the Mediterranean varietals. Since 2004, Bonny Doon has adopted biodynamic practices and only sources their grapes from other biodynamic growers. Mr. Grahm has achieved many awards over the years, but perhaps he is best known for his nickname:”The Rhone Ranger.” Included in this month’s 2-bottle club is a Rhône-style red (Le Pousseur) & a Spanish style white. The 3-bottle club adds in another red blend. Enjoy!

Bonny Doon Vineyard 2012 Albariño

Reg $24.99 | Mixed Case $19.99
Harvested from vineyards in the Salinas and Edna Valley, this Albariño would make its native home of Spain proud. The microclimate of these valleys allows cool temperatures throughout the growing season. With its sleek texture, citrus lime and peach undertones this white is perfect with shellfish, cheeses and just about anything salty. Drink now.

Bonny Doon Vineyards 2010 Syrah “Le Pousseur”

Reg $24.99 |Mixed Case $19.99
A beautiful old-world style Syrah! The fruit for this wine is sourced from two growers in the Santa Maria (Central Coast) area. This wiine shows Bonny Doon’s dedication to producing wines in a true-to-the-grape, hands-off style. The result is an elegant Syrah with concentrated black fruits, spice and earth. Aged in French oak barrels, it has notes of anise, leather, bacon and plum. This 2010 vintage is one of the winemaker’s favorites, claiming it the most “classic” expression of Syrah and possibly finest vintage of Le Pousseur to date. Decanting recommended.

Bonny Doon Vineyards 2008 Le Cigare Volant

Reg $39.99 | Mixed Case $31.99
This homage to Châteauneuf-du-Pape is mostly Grenache, Syrah and Mourvedre with a little Cinsault and Carignane. It has a beautiful tannic structure, a rich body with complex layers of black fruit (mulberry, cassis & black raspberry) and discreet earthiness. Wonderful paired with game, lamb & roasted meats. Aged in French oak barrels this is built to age 10-15 years.

Remember:  20% CASE & 10% HALF CASE Discounts …includes mixed cases!

If you receive your shipment via UPS, you should have it by Friday.  If you pick your club up at Portalis, it is ready for pickup. Please note: Our shop hours have changed. On Tuesday/Wednesday/Thursday we now open at 3pm.

Cheers!
Jens

Jens Strecker
Owner & Wine Manager
Portalis Wine Shop + Wine Bar

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July 2013: Three Wines from Rioja (Spain)

La Rioja, more commonly known simply as Rioja, is best-known for two things: 1) being on the pilgrimage route to Santiago de Compostela and 2) its wonderful wine. Rioja is the most famous wine region in Spain. It’s located in north-central Spain, on the southern edge of Basque country, not far from the French border, and is Rioja Spainsubsequently known as “Spain’s Bordeaux”. The region has a mild Mediterranean climate and is renowned for its red wines made primarily from Tempranillo, but which can include (or be exclusively) Garnacha, Graciano, and Mazuelo.

Rioja wines laws dictate their aging requirements. In order for a wine to be considered “Crianza” it must be aged two years (one year in oak). For “Reserva” it must be aged three years (one year in oak). And for “Gran Reserva” it must be aged at least five years (two in oak, and three in bottles). This wine club includes a 100% Garnacha Crianza (very usual to find in the US) and two Reserva level wines, which are smoother, richer and more complex than their lesser oak aged family members.

Two-bottle members will get the Zuazo Gaston Reserva & the 5 Oros Crianza, 2 wines which should make a very interesting comparison. Three-bottle club members will also get the Fenojal Reserva, which is a crazy good price for a Reserva. Enjoy!

Zuazo Gaston 2007 Rioja Reserva

Reg $31.99 | INSIDER $29.99 | Mixed Case $23.99
The Zuazo Gaston family has been cultivating wine since 1933. Their 52 hectare estate is located near the town of Oyón, right on the border to Navarra. A blend of Tempranillo, Mazuelo & Graciano and aged 20 months in new French & American oak, this is not your everyday wine. Silky mouthfeel, chewy tannins with dried black cherry flavors – beautiful! Pair with roasts, game, red meats & hard cheeses. Drink now up to 5 years.

5 Oros 2009 Rioja Crianza

Reg $17.99 |INSIDER $16.99 | Mixed Case $13.59
This is a newer family-owned winery which was started in 2001. Located in the southeast part of Rioja, the vines from their 75 hectare estate average 20-50 years old. This wine is 100% Garnacha, giving it a fruitier flavor profile than the more traditional Tempranillo-based Rioja wines. It’s dark purplish red with flavors of ripe cherries, sweet flowers & spice. It has silky tannins, subtle licorice and dried cherries on the palate. Enjoy with grilled beef or roasted lamb. Drink now to 3 years.

Señorio del Fenojal 2007 Rioja Reserva

Reg $24.99 | INSIDER $17.99 | Mixed Case $14.39
This line is also produced by Isidro Milagro, the same family that produces the 5 Oros above. This line is 100% Tempranillo. The vineyards are 10+ years old & the wine is aged 36 months in French and American toasted oak. On the nose you get red fruits, vanilla. On the palate, the wine is elegant with dark red fruits, toffee & velvety firm tannins. Enjoy with grilled beef, lamb chops & cured meats. Drink now to 3 years.

Some red wines can be too much in the summer, but these will be wonderful additions to any grill party, family get-together or simply a delicious sipper on the deck with friends.

Remember:  20% CASE & 10% HALF CASE Discounts …includes mixed cases!

If you receive your shipment via UPS, you should have it by Friday.  If you pick your club up at Portalis, it is ready for pickup. Please note: Our shop hours have changed. On Tuesday/Wednesday/Thursday we now open at 3pm.

Cheers!
Jens

Jens Strecker
Owner & Wine Manager
Portalis Wine Shop + Wine Bar

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June 2013: Alto Adige / Südtirol (Italy)

When you come over the pass from Brenner, Austria, the view over Alto Adige and into the valley must be one of the most magnificent I’ve ever seen. This part of northern Italy (near Lago di Garda) is well-known to (and well-visited by) Germans as an easily accessible vacation destination; however, it’s off the beaten path for Americans who tend towards the warmer, Renaissance centers of central Italy.  This area is a hidden gem and a don’t-miss on your next trip to Italy. The commercial center of this area is Bolzano, and it’s a couple hours north of Verona and Valpolicella (if you are a wine-driven tourist). This area has been part of Italy for 100 years now, but up until World War I, it was part of Austria, and its culture is still bound to its Tyrolian neighbors. Fifteen grape varieties grow in Alto Adige, with different microclimates every 5 kilometers. We are including a special high-end Cab Riserva as well as a delicious Pinot Bianco (traditional to this area) in the 2-bottle club. Three-bottle club members will get the special experience of a bottle of Kerner, a wine special to Germany, Austria & Northern Italy. Enjoy!

Burgum Novum 2007 Cabernet Sauvignon Riserva
Reg $46.99 | INSIDER $41.99 | Mixed Case $33.59
This is a beautiful wine & not at all what you expect.  It’s medium-bodied and smooth with lovely minerality from being grown at such altitudes. A deep garnet-red color, this wine exhibits understated aromas of cherries, cassis and wild berries. Forceful yet round in flavor, its impressive depth and elegance persist throughout its lingering finish. An excellent accompaniment to pork, veal, or beef, lamb, poultry, game or gamebirds. Drink now up to 5 years.

Castelfeder 2011 Pinot Bianco “Vom Stein”
Reg $18.99 |INSIDER $17.99 | Mixed Case $18.39
Ines Giovanett, the daughter of Günther Giovanett (who owns the winery) visited Seattle last fall and talked about this wine, saying it has been grown in Alto Adige “since ever”. It’s crisp & fresh with delicate fruit, floral notes with hints of ripe apple. It’s lively in style with balanced acidity. Perfect to pair with appetizers, asparagus, seafood, pork, veal. This wine ages well for a white. Drink now to 3 years.

Castelfeder 2011 Kerner “Lahn”
Reg $22.99 | INSIDER $21.99 | Mixed Case $17.59
Kerner is a cross between the German grape varietals of Riesling & Trollinger. It is similar in flavor to Riesling but has less acidity and is much more aromatic & full-bodied. It is also easier to produce than Riesling (it can thrive in harsher conditions), and also has much higher yields. This wine is fresh & aromatic with lovely peach flavors, but the sweetness is couterbalanced with high acidity & a spicy aftertaste. Great food wine, especially with spicy ethnic foods! Also, try it with oysters for a wonderful salty/sweet combo. Drink now.

Enjoy! These wines are great!

Remember:  20% CASE & 10% HALF CASE Discounts …includes mixed cases!

If you receive your shipment via UPS, you should have it by Friday.  If you pick your club up at Portalis, it is ready for pickup. Please note: Our shop hours have changed. On Tuesday/Wednesday/Thursday we now open at 3pm.

Cheers!
Jens

Jens Strecker
Owner & Wine Manager
Portalis Wine Shop + Wine Bar

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May 2013: Willamette Valley Pinot Noir (Oregon)

I am a big fan of Oregon Pinot Noir. My introduction was getting to go to Pinot Camp soon after I arrived in Seattle. I had a wonderful time, and it gave me a great base for the beginning of a long love affair. I picked these three wines for this month’s club as I think all three are great value for what you’re getting. The Boedecker is the biggest of the three, with beautiful complexity. You normally pay much more for this quality. The Haden Fig is an easy sipper with great fruit and again, great value for what you get. Walnut City Wineworks (included in the 3-bottle club) is a staple at Portalis for all the same reasons – delicious wine, great price. Enjoy!

Boedecker 2009 Stewart Pinot Noir

Reg $33.99 | Mixed Case $27.19
The husband/wife winemaking team of Athena Pappas & Stewart Boedecker (pictured above) collaborate to make their wines, but each one likes quite different styles of Pinot. Therefore, they source different grapes, but still taste through their barrels blind to create the best of what each one likes. (Here’s a great CLIP> of them sharing how they work.) Ultimately Athena goes for the deeper, darker fruits with lots of forest floor, while Stewart prefers brighter fruit, a little more European in style. This is the wine I have picked for this wine club. It’s medium- to full-bodied with dark cherry & raspberry fruit. It’s spicy with lovely finesse! Drink now up to 3 years.

Haden Fig 2010 No.52 Pinot Noir

Reg $22.99 | Mixed Case $18.39
Winemaker Erin Nuccio has a crazy story of how he became a winemaker, including falling in love, coast to coast moves, and lots of animals (his girlfriend turned wife is a vet), and I love his nervy mission: “To make the most interesting, balanced, and complex wine possible in the US.” To do this, he said he had to move to the Willamette Valley! This wine is certified organic from the Johan Vineyard. The wine is medium-bodied with bright cherry flavors. Earthy notes on the spicy, peppery finish.  Very versatile with food; try it with roasted chicken, salmon, paté and more. Drink now up to 2 years.

Walnut City Wineworks 2010 Pinot Noir

Reg $21.99 | Mixed Case $17.59
The winemaker at Walnut City Wineworks is Michael Lundeen, who like so many people in the wine business started in a completely different field (journalism) and then through the happenstance of a summer job, fell in love with wine & winemaking, saying: “It was then I discovered that wine is this amazing confluence of agriculture, science, art, culture, history, and pleasure, and I never looked back.” This wine is a staple at Portalis. We’ve poured thousands of glasses of it over the years to rave reviews. I like the winemaker’s notes for this wine: “Purple flowers, dried herbs and wet earth open the bouquet, gradually giving way to tart cherry, raspberry and rhubarb.”  Drink now. Great with salmon, chicken & pork dishes.

I hope you enjoy these wines; I think they’re great!

Remember:  20% CASE & 10% HALF CASE Discounts …includes mixed cases!

If you receive your shipment via UPS, you should have it by Friday.  If you pick your club up at Portalis, it is ready for pickup.

Cheers!
Jens

Jens Strecker
Owner & Wine Manager
Portalis Wine Shop + Wine Bar

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April 2013: Argentine Malbec featuring La Puerta

I am a big fan of Argentine Malbec, and these wines are outstanding examples at each of their price points. The property of the Valle de la Puerta was established in 1994 and is located between the Famatina and Velasco Mountain ranges which are part of the Andes Mountains. This unique valley offers a magnificent visual backdrop (noted in the photo above) and provides well drained top soils and magnificent water. This area of northwest Argentina is warm year-round with hot dry summers and cool nights, combined with clean air and desert like topography which is ideal for ripening grapes. The winery was built in 2002 and is one of the most modern and technologically advanced in Argentina. The 2-bottle club members will get the La Puerta Gran Reserva & the La Puerta Malbec. Our 3-bottle club members will also get to enjoy the Familia Barberis Malbec from Mendoza.

La Puerta 2008 Malbec Gran Reserva

Reg $55.99 | INSIDER $49.99 | Mixed Case $39.99
This wine is a blend of 60% Malbec, 23% Bonarda & 17% Syrah. The grapes are hand harvested & the wine is barrel aged 12 months in French & US oak. The wine is an intense black-red color with purple hues. It has full red fruits on the nose with hints of smoke. It’s complex & well-structured with a lengthy finish. Rounded tannins give a unique character with great balance and acidity. Drink now (as long as you air it for a minimum of 30 minutes) up to 5-8 years.  This wine is screaming for a steak off the grill!

La Puerta 2012 Malbec

Reg $14.99 | INSIDER $13.99 | Mixed Case $11.19
This wine is 100% Malbec. It’s also hand harvested & barrel aged, but the new wine is blended 50/50 with wine that has been aged 6 months in American & French oak. It’s dark ruby in color with ripe fruit characteristics of plum, blackberry & mulberry with hints of mocha & vanilla oak on the nose. On the palate it’s silky smooth with juicy berry fruit balanced with soft round tannins on the elegant long finish. Drink now. Also good with meat off the grill, including a nice homemade burger!

Familia Barberis 2010 Malbec

Reg $17.99 | INSIDER $16.99 | Mixed Case $13.59
This 100% Malbec comes from Luján de Cuyo, Mendoza, Argentina. It has a ruby-violet color with lots of dark fruit & vanilla spice. It’s well-balanced, luscious with mellow tannins on the finish. Delicious! Drink now, and like the other two, pair with red meat off the grill!

I hope you enjoy these wines!

Remember:  20% CASE & 10% HALF CASE Discounts …includes mixed cases!

If you receive your shipment via UPS, you should have it by Friday.  If you pick your club up at Portalis, it is ready for pickup.

Cheers!
Jens

Jens Strecker
Owner & Wine Manager
Portalis Wine Shop + Wine Bar

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March 2013: South Africa

South Africa is special to me as I lived in Johannesburg in the spring of 1994, doing a 4-month medical rotation at the emergency room in Soweto. That spring is particularly significant as it is the spring of the country’s first democratic election, where Nelson Mandela was voted president. It was tense. It was dangerous. It was alive, and I had a wonderful experience there.  I travelled to Cape Town while I was there and in my many travels around the world, I remember Cape Town as one of the most beautiful places I have had the pleasure of seeing.  And the wines! Wow! South African wines have a special minerality that makes them quickly identifiable. I highly recommend South African wines. If you know them, you’ll enjoy these excellent selections. If this is an introduction, prepared to be wowed! Also, these wines are on ridiculous sales right now, so enjoy the value as well.

The 3-bottle club members will get the Stark-Conde in addition to the first two wines:

Solms-Delta 2010 Langarm Red

Reg $24.99 | INSIDER $14.99 | Mixed Case $11.99
Solms-Delta is a magnificent wine estate located 15km outside the village of Franschhoekin the heart of the Cape Winelands. The Langarm is a blend of of Shiraz (62%) Pinotage (27%); Tannat (6%); Mouvedre (5%). Langarm was fermented at warm temperatures for maximum fruit extraction, without the need for extended skin contact. This has created an accessible, lightly wooded wine with sweet tannins and nutty undertones that complement the dark red color. Drink now to 2 years.

Boekenhoutskloof 2010 The Chocolate Block

Reg $44.99 | INSIDER $37.99 | Mixed Case $30.39
The prime grape growing areas of South Africa spread out from Cape Town, and include the Paarl (‘pearl’ in Afrikaans), which to the east encompasses Franschhoek (‘French corner’) home of the first French Huguenot settlers. Boekenhoutskloof, its homestead dating from 1784, is located in the Franschhoek Valley. The owners of Boekenhoutskloof have revamped an ancient cellar, and have installed state-of-the-art equipment as well as a quality maturation cellar. The use of chairs on the label, some of which are made from boekenhout, the Afrikaans name for the indigenous Cape beech, are a tribute to the skills of the Cape craftsmen of yesteryear. Everything you get from Boekenhoutskloof is fantastic. The Chocolate Block (their affordable line!) is a big blend: 67% Syrah, 14% Grenache Noir, 10% Cabernet Sauvignon, 7% Cinsault, 2% Viognier. It has redcurrant, plums, crushed rock, and spices on the nose. Intense fruit on the palate with spicy oak aromas.  Drink now up to 5 years.

Stark-Condé 2008 Cabernet Sauvignon

Reg $25.99 | INSIDER $22.99 | Mixed Case $18.39
Stark-Condé Wines is a family-run winery making hand-crafted wines using tried-and true traditional methods. The wines are made from grapes from their own “Oude Nektar” farm vineyards in Jonkershoek Valley in Stellenbosch. Jonkershoek Valley is a small ward within Stellenbosch and shows unique characteristics. The total production is less than 3000 cases, making them one of South Africa’s few true boutique wineries. This blend is primarily Cabernet Sauvignon (86%) with a small bit of Merlot, Cabernet Franc & Petit Verdot. It received 91pts Wine Spectator: “Broad and rich, with a loamy underlay to the mulled black currant, roasted fig and singed mesquite notes. There’s also a nice backdrop of spice and tobacco, with well-buried acidity on the finish. Rock-solid.” – Wine Spectator. Drink now up to 3 years.

I hope you enjoy these wines as much as I do. It was a great walk down memory lane as I picked them out for you!

Remember:  20% CASE & 10% HALF CASE Discounts …includes mixed cases!

If you receive your shipment via UPS, you should have it by Friday.  If you pick your club up at Portalis, it is ready for pickup.

Cheers!
Jens

Jens Strecker
Owner & Wine Manager
Portalis Wine Shop + Wine Bar

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February 2013: Valentine’s in Veneto (Italy)

Veneto is the wine region in northeastern Italy that includes the city of Venice on its southeastern coast & Verona due west, next to Lago di Garda on its western border. The region has an amazing range of wines with delicious bubbly (Prosecco) produced around Trevision, outstanding whites (Soave, Pinot Grigio), and world-renound reds: Amarone, Ripasso & more.

This wine club includes a Prosecco & a Ripasso for the 2-bottles members, adding in a wonderful Pinot Grigio blush for the 3-bottle members. Enjoy:

La Farra Valdobbiadene Prosecco Superiore Brut

Reg $17.99 | INSIDER $16.99 | Mixed Case $13.59
Prosecco is made from the Glera grape grown in the hills above Treviso. Prosecco wines tend to be fruitier than champagne, are generally dry, and fully sparkling. High-end (DOCG) Prosecco comes from the village of Valdobbiadene, located just north of the city of Venice, and this is what’s included in this month’s club. La Farra is owned & operated by the Nardi Family. They strive for exceptional quality through gentle care of the land & vines (pictured above), along with meticulous wine making processes from start to finish. The vines are grown high in the high hills of Farra di Soligo, Farr, Solighetto & S. Peter Feletto where the soil is composed of clay & limestone. (Gina visited the Nardi’s on her last trip to Italy, so for MORE>) Tasting Notes: The wine is straw yellow with delicate & persistent bubbles. It is fresh on the nose with fruity notes of peach & apple. On the palate, it’s elegant & fruity with notes of stone fruits & apple.  Delicate bubbles last through the finish that pleasantly lingers with dry sweet & tart notes. Wonderful celebratory wine! Cheers!

Tentua di Corte Giacobbe 2011 Pinot Grigio Blush

Reg $17.99 | INSIDER $16.99 | Mixed Case $13.59
You didnt’ think you’d get a Valentine’s selection without something pink, did you? This wine is fun as it’s actually Pinot Grigio (not a rosé) created according to the ancient tradition of the Republic of Venice, whereby the grapes are left in contact with skins for 12 hours. Then the wine is fermented three months in stainless steel vats. The producer, the Dal Cero Family, has been making wine for over three generations, combining love of tradition with the most modern wine-making techniques needed for the production of great wines. With vineyards in the Veneto and Tuscany regions, the brothers Giuseppe and Dario, with the help of their adult children, personally manage the company, from the cultivation of the grapevines to the vinification of the grapes up to the bottling process. (For more on the Dal Cero family, see Gina’s BLOG> from her trip there last fall.) The results are unique wines created using expert wine-making techniques with a sense of modernity. Tasting Notes: This beautiful wine is copper in appearance, with aromas of exotic fruits with sweet white flowers. On the palate it is elegant, velvety, full-bodied, structured and well-balanced. This wine has a beautiful freshness and a long lasting persistent finish. Drink now. Very flexible with food. Try it with light pasta, baked chicken or just to sip.

Musella 2008 Valpolicella Ripasso Superiore

Reg $29.99 | Mixed Case $23.99
Ripasso is a realatively new style of wine whereby the left over skins and seeds from the fermenation of the big brother, Amarone, get added to the batch of younger Valpolicella grapes, adding a depth of flavor and an alcohol boost. Sourced from northeast of Verona, on the hill that seperates Montorio from Valle d’Illasi, this wine is a blend of Corvina/Molinara/Rondinella. It is a richer, satisfying Ripasso, absolutely dense with dark cherry fruit. Silky smooth but still finely structured. This should be held up and shown to everyone as the perfect example of proper Ripasso. It’s a terrific wine! Tasting Notes: Aromas of dark fruit enhanced by an earthy richness. Intense berry fruity flavours with spice from a little ageing in cask and a raisin richness from fermenting on the Amarone wine-soaked-grape skins. Firm tannins with a sappy streak of acidity. A well rounded Valpolicella. Drink now to 5 years. A great food fine. Pairs perfectly with dark meats & hearty dishes such as beef stroganoff, stuffed mushrooms & veal campagnola.

I hope you enjoy these wines; I think they are excellent examples from this area!

Remember:  20% CASE & 10% HALF CASE Discounts …includes mixed cases!

If you receive your shipment via UPS, you should have it by Friday.  If you pick your club up at Portalis, it is ready for pickup.

Cheers!
Jens

Jens Strecker
Owner & Wine Manager
Portalis Wine Shop + Wine Bar

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January 2013:  Côtes-du-Rhône Villages  

The Southern Rhône is one of those great areas you keep coming back to. From the basic Côtes-du-Rhône table wine to a fancy bottle of Chateauneuf-du-Pape, seldom do you come across wine drinkers who find these wines not to their taste.  Simply put, they’re approachable, delicious crowd-pleasers. Because this is our exclusive club where we have the budget to go exploring, this month’s wine club will feature higher-end wines from this area. All three wines are designated Côtes-du-Rhône Villages & two have the additional distinction of being Cru Villages wines. (More info on Demystifiying> Côtes-du-Rhône)

Most wines from the Southern Rhône are some blend of Syrah, Grenache & Mourvedre and are recognizable for their gentle earthy spiciness.  What you get with the Villages wines is a little bit bigger wine, with more fruit, and more depth & complexity to the wines. The 2-bottle club will receive the Sablet & the Gigondas, while the 3-bottle club members will receive the Vacqueyras in addition. Enjoy:

Le Gravillas 2009 Sablet

Reg $18.99 | INSIDER $15.99 | Mixed Case $12.79
The village of Sablet is nestled in at the foot of the Montmirail Laces, with a history of wine producing that dates back to the ancient Greeks. In 1974, Sablet was brought into the AOC Côtes du Rhône. The winery “Le Gravillas” was founded in 1935 in Sablet village. The founders christened the co-op “Le Gravillas” in honor of the soil of Sablet village formed by sand and gravel. Today the Gravillas co-op groups 150 vintners & covers 550 hectares. The vintners of the Gravillas co-op are regularly honored in wine fairs at Orange, Mâcon, Paris & Vinalies. I picked up these wines to import for J. Strecker as I think that co-ops are a fantastic way to seize value. They have access to finest grapes in the area, most co-ops have accomplished winemakers in charge, but they almost always offer their product at a very competitive price. These wines are no exception. This blend of Grenache & Syrah has wonderful notes of ripe black fruits on the nose. On the palate it has a full, round body, well-balanced with elegant tannins & dark fruits. Spices linger on the long finish. This wine won a Bronze medal at the Decanter 2010 World Wine Awards. Drink now.

Le Gravillas 2011 Vacqueyras

Reg $21.99 | INSIDER $19.99 | Mixed Case $15.99
From the same co-op, we are including the Vacqueyras for the 3-bottle members. Vacqueyras can easily top $30-$35 per bottles, so you can see that this wine is (comparatively speaking) competitively priced. It has a beautiful deep purple hue with aromas of blackberries, black currant & blueberries, with notes of Provencal herbs & spice. The wine is full-bodied with a lovely velvety mouthfeel and nice elegant tannins on the finish, making it a great food wine. Try it paired with duck, boar, lamb – roasted meats with gamier flavors would be fabulous. Can drink now, but let it breathe for a good hour beforehand. You could easily put this wine down for 5+ years.

Domaine du Gour de Chaulé 2009 Gigondas

Reg $38.99 | Mixed Case $31.19
The Domaine du Gour de Chaulé, situated in the heart of the village of Gigondas, was founded in 1900 by Eugene Bonfils, the great-grandfather of the current proprietor, Stephanie Fumoso. The domaine comprises 15 hectares, 10 of which are within Gigondas, with the remaining 5 hectares situated in the surrounding communes of Vacqueyras and Violes. Stéphanie believes strongly that Grenache is the heart and soul of Gigondas; thus, 85% of the vineyards are planted to Grenache, with approximately 10% dedicated to Syrah and Mourvedre and the balance planted to Cinsault. The average age of their Grenache vines is 55 years. New oak is not used at this domaine. The resulting wine is sturdy, braced with sweet, dusty tannins. It is intensely aromatic with notes of crushed white pepper, oriental spices and game. Pairs best with gamey meats. You can drink this wine now as long as you let it air for some time. Good up to 5+ years.

I hope you enjoy these wines; I think they are excellent examples from this area!

Remember:  20% CASE & 10% HALF CASE Discounts …includes mixed cases!

If you receive your shipment via UPS, you should have it by Friday.  If you pick your club up at Portalis, it is ready for pickup.

Cheers!
Jens

Jens Strecker
Owner & Wine Manager
Portalis Wine Shop + Wine Bar

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December 2012: Old World Triple Crown

I actually had a different plan for this month’s wine club, and then as December approached, I got the idea to feature 3 of my favorite, higher-end wines from Europe: 1 from France, 1 from Italy & 1 from Spain. Each one of these wines is a beautiful jewel on the Old World crown, and the holidays are a great time to enjoy these special wines. All three are wines that I’ve selected to import via J. Strecker Selections as I think they are supreme examples from their respective areas, representing the style of wine you get from that region. The 3-bottle club members will, of course, get all 3. Two bottle club members will receive the Bordeaux & the Rioja. Let me tell you about them:

Château Franc Grâce-Dieu 2009 St-Emilion Grand Cru (FRANCE)
Reg $31.99 | INSIDER $29.99 | Mixed Case $23.99
Château Franc Grâce-Dieu is a 12 hectare estate located in St-Emilion on Bordeaux’s Right Bank near the famous Château Figeac & only 2 kms from Cheval Blanc. The history of Franc Grâce-Dieu begins in the 18th century when it was part of a Cistercian priory. In 2008, the Truant family bought the property, making large investments to restore the prestige of the estate. This 2009 vintage is excellent! The wine has a lightly toasted flavor with aromas of ripe fruit. From the Cab Franc you get a well-developed sweetness while the Merlot contributes a sensation of velvety cashmere on the palate. A beautiful, beautiful wine! We are so pleased to have it in our book of imports! Drink now to 3 years.

Pelassa 2007 Antaniolo Roero Riserva (ITALY)
Reg $41.99 | INSIDER $39.99 | Mixed Case $31.99
Located in Montà d’ Alba, in the Roero area of Piemonte, the Pelassa family owns 12 hectares of land used for vine cultivation and wine production. Mario Pelassa (pictured above with his son, Daniele) first came into the wine industry in his youth, travelling around on his bicycle selling various wines to the locals. (He quickly upgraded to a motorcycle!) At 18 he entered the army where he continued to sell wine to his comrades. After the army, Mario bought his first 5 acres of vineyards, and the rest is history. His two sons, Davide & Daniele now head up the family winery bringing with them an air of modernization to their family tradition. This wine (100% Nebbiolo) has strong scents of strawberries, cherries & spices, with an undertone of licorice. It’s dry & decisive on the palate. Well-balanced, with notes of soft oak and striking red fruit. A full bodied and tannic wine that is perfect for accompanying any meal with stronger flavors. Drink now up to 5 years.

Zuazo Gaston 2010 Finca Costanillas (SPAIN)
Reg $35.99 | INSIDER $31.99 | Mixed Case $25.59
Prudencio Zuazo Gaston produces this lovely line of Rioja. His family’s vineyards are located on 52 hectares in the Oyón region within the DOC Rioja. This wine is their top wine, made with their oldest vines, making it more intense & complex. The fruit flavors are so concentrated that you get less oak on this than with the Reserva. It’s a fine & gorgeous wine! It’s also a very flexible food wine, tasting great with wild game, grilled meats, tapas, even roasted pork & chicken. Drink now up to 5 years.

Remember:  20% CASE & 10% HALF CASE Discounts …includes mixed cases! If you receive your shipment via UPS, you should have it by Friday.  If you pick your club up at Portalis, it is ready for pickup.

Cheers!
Jens

Jens Strecker
Owner & Wine Manager
Portalis Wine Shop + Wine Bar

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November 2012: Lobo Hills (Washington)

This November, Portalis Wine Club is showcasing several wines from local (Wedgwood!) winery Lobo Hills. Named aptly after a beloved childhood pet (‘Lobo’), Tony Dollar and his wife Diana aim to produce beautiful expressions of Washington sourced grapes that pair delightfully with food and are also affordable. In addition to making wine, Tony has also worked at the iconic Seattle restaurant Canlis as a wine steward, which cements the fact that he crafts his Lobo Hills wines specifically with food in mind.

I met Tony after he & his wines were recommended to me (via Gina) by the wine buyer at Chez Shea before they (sadly) closed their doors earlier this year.  She set up an appointment on a Saturday so that we wouldn’t miss each other and the rest is history. I love these wines! They are from a tiny local producer, they are excellent quality, the price is right & he delivers on his motorcycle. What more could you want??

Members of the two bottle club will receive both the 2011 PGR White as well as the 2009 Cabernet Sauvignon. The three bottle club members will also receive the 2009 Right Bank Blend. Enjoy!

Lobo Hills 2011 PGR White
$17.99 | Mixed Case $14.39
A blend of 50% Pinot Gris, 40% Gewürztraminer, and 10% Riesling sourced from the Yakima Valley, this Alsatian style white is bursting with ripe fruit flavors. A complex nose leads into a palate rich with notes of honey, lychee, peach, and passion fruit. Expect a nice acidity with this wine; perfect for pairing along such foods as pork, chicken, or seafood based dishes. Drink now.

Lobo Hills 2009 Cabernet Sauvignon
$22.99 | Mixed Case $18.39
Made using 90% Cabernet Sauvignon grapes and 10% Merlot, this is a quintessential steak wine. Sourced from the Columbia Valley, this wine is full of rich aromas of black currant, strawberry jam, and anise and has hints of hazelnut and sagebrush as well. An excellent example of what Washington State wines can produce, drink this wine now or within the next 5 years. Beef tenderloin is a match made in heaven for this wine.

Lobo Hills 2009 Right Bank Blend
$20.99 | Mixed Case $16.79
This Columbia Valley sourced wine is made up of 69% Merlot, 21% Cabernet Sauvignon, 5% Petit Verdot, and 5% Cabernet Franc. This is a rich red that opens with notes of plum, cassis, fig, and honey on the nose. Pair this with equally rich dishes such as beef stews, a grilled lamb dish, or roasted portobello mushrooms. Can be drunk now or within the next 5 years.

Remember:  20% CASE & 10% HALF CASE Discounts …includes mixed cases! If you receive your shipment via UPS, you should have it by Friday.  If you pick your club up at Portalis, it will be ready by Tuesday afternoon.

Cheers! Jens

Jens Strecker
Owner & Wine Manager
Portalis Wine Shop + Wine Bar

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October 2012: Weingut Dr. Loosen (Germany) 

This October we are showcasing the renowned Dr. Loosen Estate located in the heart of the Mosel River Valley in Southern Germany. In existence for over 200 years, the estate is now owned and operated by the charismatic & entertaining Ernst “Ernie” Loosen(pictured right at a Portalis tasting in 2010). After gaining ownership in 1998, Ernst did a complete restructuring of the estate both in vineyards used and techniques applied to his wineries. Now, there is only organic fertilizer used in the vineyards, the crop size has been dramatically reduced, and the cellar uses only minimal technological interferences to produce the wines. These remarkable changes have allowed the estate to create some of the most exciting German wines available on the market today. The wines that will be featured this month include: Dr. Loosen 2010 Erdener Treppchen Riesling Kabinett, Dr. Loosen 2009 Villa Wolf Pinot Noir, and finally in the three bottle club the Dr. Loosen 2011 Villa Wolf Dornfelder. Cheers!

Dr. Loosen 2010 Erdener Treppchen Riesling Kabinett
Reg $28.99 | Mixed Case $23.19
The most delicate type of German Rieslings, Kabinett wines are very light in style. This particular wine is harvested from grapes grown in the ‘grand cru’ vineyard near the small the village of Erden. The Kabinett combines remarkable concentration with the refreshing characteristics of a well-produced Riesling. Expect strong notes of rich ripe fruits, strong acidic backbone, notes of allspice, complimented by a refreshing mineral structure. This wine can be drunk now or stored for a few years. Pair with lighter dishes, seafood, or poultry.

Dr. Loosen 2009 Villa Wolf Pinot Noir
Reg $16.99 | Mixed Case $13.59
From the Dr. Loosen value-priced line of wines, this estate produces varietal wines supplemented by contracted grape growers throughout the Pfalz region. This particular Pinot Noir is medium in body with lots of structured warmth and firm acidity. Bursting with fruit forward notes of ripe black-cherry fruits, this wine is juicy in mouth with spicy mid-palate nuances. Subtly smoky flavors & earthy tannins thanks to the 12-month fermentation in aged barrique add to the finish. Both an elegant and every day wine, this should be drunk now. Pair with lighter red meat dishes or stews.

Dr. Loosen 2011 Villa Wolf Dornfelder
Reg $13.99 | Mixed Case $11.19
This third bottle wine club addition is again from the Villa Wolf Line. This particular grape is one of the most successful German red grapes produced. Named after the founder of the German Wine School (Imanuel Dornfeld) it accounts for more than 8% of the country’s overall grape production. The 2011 Villa Wolf Dornfelder is medium-bodied with velvety tannins and strong plum and cherry flavors. Well-balanced and intense in color, this fruity red wine is perfect for a variety of different foods. Drink this wine now.

Remember:  20% CASE & 10% HALF CASE Discounts … includes mixed cases! If you receive your shipment via UPS, you should have it by Friday.  If you pick your club up at Portalis, it will be ready by Tuesday afternoon.

Cheers! Jens

Jens Strecker
Owner & Wine Manager
Portalis Wine Shop + Wine Bar

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September 2012: Pelassa, Romantic Wines from Piedmont

I didn’t make up that by-line.  That’s truly what the label says: Romantic Wines from Piedmont.  But if you met Daniele Pelassa and saw the twinkle in his eye as he said that phrase, you’d totally buy in!  This month’s wine club is showcasing wines from the wonderful Pelassa family, located outside of Alba in the northwestern Italian wine region of Piedmont.  When Daniele was in Seattle visiting us this last fall, he talked about how, when his brother, Davide, & he took over the winery for his father, Mario, it was just a little local winery, where the primary customers were elderly locals who would bring their jugs for periodic refilling (including Barolo).  What Daniele quickly realized was that these older Italians were dying off and the younger generations were not continuing to get their wine this way.  They were more cosmopolitan, wanting wines from regions other than their local village, and therefore, not in the traditional big flasks.  Daniele said that they have spent efforts to find new markets outside of Italy, but other than that, the only big investment they’ve made in how they make wine is in temperature controlled tanks.  Other than that, he says, it’s the same traditional methods, because the wine is made in the fields.  Enjoy these wines!  They are fabulous!   The 2-bottle club members will receive the Arneis & the Barbara.  The 3-bottle members will get the Bricco Enrichetta in addition.

Pelassa 2011 Roero Arneis
Reg $22.99 | INSIDER $21.99 | Mixed Case $17.59
Arneis  or ‘rascal’ in Piedmontese dialect is a grape that is best grown in the DOC region of Roero. Pelassa winery takes extreme care in cultivating the vines in order to fully extract the delicate flavors of this wine. Arneis is one of the best grapes suited for the land, and is therefore a beautiful compliment to be included in the Pelassa collection. Known as the ‘white barolo’ expect a dry & harmonious wine with notes of honey, white flowers, & chamomile on the nose. Fresh on the palate with body; a perfect pairing with seafood. Drink now.

Pelassa 2009 Barbera d’Alba
Reg $25.99 | INSIDER $24.99 | Mixed Case $19.99
A Decanter 4 star wine for a reason, this is a beautiful expression of the excellent Piedmontese terroir. Made using 100% hand harvested Barbera grapes, this wine is full & harmonious in body with balanced tannins. Ripe forest fruits & dark black berries on the nose leading in intense palate of dark concentrated fruit flavors that linger through the finish. Pair with any dark meat or roasted game. Drink now.

Pelassa 2009 Bricco Enrichetta Langhe
Reg $20.99 | INSIDER $19.99 | Mixed Case $15.99
A blend of Barbera & Nebbiolo from the DOC region of Langhe, this is a very complex & versatile wine. Nebbiolo is extremely difficult to cultivate, but creates all of the top wines in the Piedmont region. Ruby red in color, expect notes of elegant ripe fruit with berry notes. Pair this wine with roasts, ragu sauces, or other gamey meats. Drink now.

Remember:  20% CASE & 10% HALF CASE Discounts … includes mixed cases! If you receive your shipment via UPS, you should have it.  If you pick your club up at Portalis, it’s ready for you to swing by.

Cheers!
Jens

Jens Strecker
Owner & Wine Manager
Portalis Wine Shop + Wine Bar

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August 2012: Castelfeder (Alto Adige / Südtirol)

This month, we are featuring wines from the family operated winery, Castelfeder, located in Alto Adige (also known as Südtirol in German) which is the northern most region of Italy, located on the border to Austria. Surrounded on all sides by mountains, the region of Alto Adige is home to some of the steepest vineyards (up to 3600 ft) in the world. From the 2 names of the region, you may have guessed that you are as likely to have German be the native tongue as Italian.

Castelfeder, originally founded in 1970 by A. Giovanett, is now run by his son Günther. The entire family takes pride in involving themselves in each aspect of winemaking, from caring for the vines to marketing the products. We are featuring the Pinot Grigio & the Lagrein in the 2-bottle club, adding the Grauvernatsch to the 3-bottle club. All three are wonderful expressions of their family tradition.

Castelfeder 2011 Pinot Grigio “15er”
Reg $18.99 | INSIDER $17.99 | Mixed Case $15.19
Made using grapes from 15 year old vines, this is an excellently balanced wine with structure & strength. Dry & smooth on the palate, with a pleasant mineral aftertaste.  Striking notes of pear & apple on the nose. Drink this wine now! Excellent paired with fried foods or freshwater fish.

Castelfeder 2010 Lagrein “Rieder”
Reg $20.99 | INSIDER $19.99 | Mixed Case $15.99
Lagrein is an elegant red grape varietal only grown in the region of Alto Adige. This is a textbook example of the kind of deep purple, rich berried wines that the grape can produce. Dark garnet red wine full of harmonious, soft tannins on the palate. The nose has strong notes of wild berries and violets. An intense and complex red that is an ideal pairing for heavier red meats, or roasts. Drink this wine now!

Castelfeder 2011 Grauvernatsch/Schiava Grigia “Kegl”
Reg $17.99 | INSIDER $16.99 | Mixed Case $14.39
This bright, ruby-red colored wine is very easy to drink. It’s a light-bodied red, full of fine fruit aromas, almond notes on the palate, and light tannins. A very elegant wine that is both smooth and well-balanced. Drink this wine now. Perfect pairing for lighter meals, or poultry.

Remember:  20% CASE & 10% HALF CASE Discounts … includes mixed cases! If you receive your shipment via UPS, you should have it.  If you pick your club up at Portalis, it’s ready for you to swing by.

Cheers!
Jens

Jens Strecker
Owner & Wine Manager
Portalis Wine Shop + Wine Bar

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July 2012: Weingut Prechtl (Austria)

This July, Portalis Wine Club features wines from the family-owned and operated Austrian winery, Prechtl. Established in 1839 in a town on the outskirts of Vienna, Weingut Prechtl is still producing delicate & delicious wines five generations after it was started. Today, Franz & Petra Prechtl (pictured right) are at the helm of the operation (Franz is the head winemaker). The Prechtl’s goal is to allow grapes to grow as naturally and sustainably as possible in order to produce the best grapes. Using this philosophy and their knowledge of the 15 hectare estate’s soils, conditions, and vines, allows them to create unique, complex, and expressive wines. I met Franz & Petra in March and knew immediately they would fit perfectly in the J. Strecker book!

The 2-bottle club members will receive the 2011 Längen vom Löss (produced using 25 year old Grüner Veltliner vines) & the 2010 Satzen (Zweigelt), a classic Austrian red. The 3-bottle club members will also get the 2011 Kirchfeld vom Löss Welschriesling (an ancient grape varietal grown throughout Eastern Europe) which comes from the one of the oldest vineyards on the Prechtl estate.

Weingut Prechtl 2011 Kirchfeld vom Löss Welschriesling
Welschriesling is a highly-acidic wine with slight effervescence. This particular expression of that grape brings animated fruit to the palate (roasted apple notes), is slightly salty, very easy-to-drink, nice ripe acidity and a harmonious finish. I would pair this with Zwiebelrostbraten, Tafelspitz, or Wiener Schnitzel! You can pair this with your any of your own favorite grilled sausage. Drink now!

Weingut Prechtl 2011 Längen vom Löss Grüner Veltliner
Medium yellow-green in appearance, this wine has an enticing nose of white pepper & spice. Expect this wine to be clear and earthy on the palate, with light notes of exotic fruits and gooseberry. An optimal, textbook expression of the Grüner Veltliner grape; delicate on the palate, dense & persistent. Pair this wine with a dish that has lots of spices (curry & saffron), risotto, crustaceans, saltier foods (pickled/smoked fish), or soft cheeses. Drink this wine now!

Weingut Prechtl 2010 Satzen Zweigelt
One of the most common red grape varietals in Austria, this grape is found in cooler climates. Dark ruby red in color, expect notes of blackberry on the nose. The palate is full of cherries & spices, full-fruit, velvety smooth, plump, and easy to drink. Tannins are present and have a grip that is well sustained throughout. Lightweight in body and slightly sweet. This wine is very versatile with food. Pair with anything from mushroom polenta to duck, all cuts of beef, white asparagus, vegetable stews, white meats, or anything cooked in a tomato based sauce. Drink this wine now!

Cheers!
Jens

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June 2012: Alpha Loire Domaines (France)

This month, Portalis Wine Club is showcasing wines from the Alpha Loire Domaines. Located in the Loire Valley, this winery is committed to creating quality brands & wines while utilizing sustainable development techniques for their vineyards. The name “Alpha” is derived from both the brightest star in the sky, but also is a combination of the winemakers names (AL for Alain, FA for Fabienne, and PH for Philippe). The focus of Alpha Loire is to control all processes of winemaking from the start of the vineyards through planting, harvesting, fermentation, & aging. This allows them to insure both the quality of the wine the sustainability of their vineyards. Their usage of unique labels combined with the focus on expression of the Touraine area makes every wine distinctive in its own right. I met Philippe (far right) two years ago on a wine buying trip to Europe & I have continued to be impressed with the quality of their wines.  The Sancerre is particularly good for the price! The two bottle club will receive the Sancerre & the rosé. The three bottle club will receive the Croix Bouquie Touraine in addition.  If you like these wines, keep an eye out for an extension of the Alpha Loire line due to arrive in Seattle later this month: Roche de Lune Vouvray & 2 reds: Roche de Feu Chinon (100% Cab Franc) and Croix Bouquie Touraine Rouge (Gamay/Cab Franc blend).

Alpha Loire: Domaine de la Croix Bouquie 2009 Touraine
Reg: $15.99 | INSIDER: $14.99 | Mixed Case: $12.79
From the highest domaine under Alpha Loire, this wine is an ultimate example of finesse, excellence, and balance. Made using 100% Sauvignon Blanc grapes sourced from Touraine vineyards near the city of Amboise, this wine holds a wonderful balance of acidity and minerality. Expect aromatic fruit notes and note of citrus on the palate from this award-winning wine. Perfect to pair alongside fried chicken, brie, veal, baked fish, or sardines. Drink this wine now!

Alpha Loire:  Domaine de la Croix Bouquie 2010 Pineau d’Aunis Rosé
Reg: $15.99 | INSIDER: $14.99 | Mixed Case: $12.79
This unique rosé is made using the Pineau d’Aunis grape (a hybrid of Pinot Noir & Chenin Blanc) rarely seen outside the Loire Valley, let alone France! This pale pink wine has bright & clean flavors with a complimentary soft finish on the palate. Expect a nose of strawberries & fresh rhubarb. Rosé pairs well with most foods including: sushi, seafood, barbeque, prosciutto, hors d’oeuvres, and spicy ethnic cuisine. Drink this wine now!

Alpha Loire: Roche de Lune 2009 Sancerre
Reg: $29.99 | INSIDER: $28.99 | Mixed Case: $23.99
Sancerre is one of the best-known wines from the Loire region, and this is an exquisite example of this particular AOC region. Sancerre is famous for producing excellent food friendly dry white wines made using 100% Sauvignon Blanc grapes. This Roche de Lune Sancerre has a nose of aromatic fruits, with bright acidity, mineral notes, and an elegant finish. You can either enjoy this wine now or store it up to 4 years from now.

Cheers!
Jens

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May 2012: Rueda & Ribera del Duero (Northwest Spain)

The subregions of Rueda & Ribera del Duero are within one of the largest regions of Spain: Castilla y Leon (noted right in red).  Ribera del Duero has been vetted for centuries for its deeply concentrated & richly textured red wines. Filled with medieval castles perched atop mountain crags, this also the land where Don Quiote was set. The climate here is very harsh, and many of the vines are visibly gnarled from standing up to this climate. This region is known for its ability to create wines that both have packed fruit flavors, yet have a gentle finessed quality to them. Ribera del Duero and Rioja are very often compared to each other in terms of taste, but because of the harsher climate of Ribera del Duero, the grapes tend to have bolder and more rustic structure to them. Rueda, located to the west of Ribera del Duero, became a DO in 1980 and is noted for the white wine grape, Verdejo, which makes refreshing whites which are lively, fruity & slightly nutty.

This month, the two bottle club is receiving the first two wines, both full of flavor & finesse. The three-bottle club members are receiving an additional red blend from Arzuaga (created by a former winemaker from Vega Sicilia!)

Bodegas Casto Pequeno 2010 “Chamelin” Rueda
$17.99 |INSIDER $15.99 | Mixed Case: $14.39
Bodegas Casto Pequeno was acquired in 1977, but has the ‘experience of several centuries’. This wine comes from the neighboring sub-region of Rueda (still part of Castilla y Leon). Made with 100% Verdejo grapes, this wine is full of honey, apple, & citrus flavors. Verdejo is a native varietal of the region, and these wines tend to be very light-bodied & aromatic. This is a great food wine! It pairs well with just about any dish, but is particularly delicious with fresh tomatoes, poultry, shellfish, cheese, and grilled fish.

Bodegas y Viñedos Rauda 2008 Tinto Roa Ribera del Duero Crianza
$22.99|INSIDER $21.99| Mixed Case $18.39
Bodegas y Viñedos Rauda was established in 1956, and is situated within the town of Roa and was one of the first wine-growing associations in the region of Ribera del Duero. The goal of the winery is to combine technology with tradition. Expect a smooth and well-balanced wine with ripe fruit flavors, tannins, good body, and a persistent finish. This wine is to die for!! Pair with grilled meats, chorizo, pizza, and cured ham.

Bodegas Arzuaga Ribera del Duero Crianza
$33.99| Mixed Case $27.19
Located in the village of Quintanilla de Onesimo, the estate has been around since the 1980s. Located next door to the venerated Vega Sicilia winery, this is another phenomenal Ribera del Duero red blend. Many of the acreage of this vineyard is reserved for nature: 800 head of wild boar, and 200 deer live safely within “La Planta” (what the estate is known as). This love of animals is also documented on the label, having a deer grace the front of each bottle.  Made using a blend of Tempranillo, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Merlot, this is a very big, rich wine. Decant this wine if you wish to enjoy it now, but you can leave this one to age for a few years on the shelf. Pair this wine with grilled lamb!

Cheers!
Jens

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April 2012: Bordeaux (France)

This month, wine club is featuring the renowned French region of Bordeaux. The region of Bordeaux covers a vast amount of land in France and produces around 700 million bottles of wine every year. Bordeaux wines are almost always a blend of two or more grape varietals. (This applies to both red and white wines.) Bordeaux has a very complex system of regional classification. Each area within Bordeaux has its own system and specific terminology. The wines in the club this month are from different sub-regions of the Bordeaux Right Bank: Fronsac, Lalande de Pomerol, and Saint-Emilion. The 2-bottle club includes both the Château Barrail Chevrol 2009 Fronsac as well as the 2006 Château de Bel-Air Lalande de Pomerol. The 3-bottle club adds the 2005 Roc de Candale Saint-Emilion Grand Cru.

Chateau Barrail Chevrol 2009 Fronsac
$16.99 | Mixed Case $13.59 Said to have once impressed the likes of Charlemagne, the Fronsac region continues to produce rich, powerful, supple wines. This wine is a blend of 80% Merlot, 15% Cabernet Franc, and 5% Cabernet Franc. Expect the nose to have rich fragrances of cassis, cherry and plum. The palate is rich in texture with lots of red fruit flavors and herbal notes. Expect this wine to have a rich depth and well-rounded body leading to a long soft finish with notes of leather. Drink now or leave to rest for a few years.

Chateau de Bel-Air 2006 Lalande de Pomerol
$29.99|Mixed Case $23.99
This quintessential example of a Bordelaise château is located on 15 hectares of rolling land in the heart of the venerated district of Lalande de Pomerol. The vineyards ideal elevation and sun exposure lead to the name of “Bel Air” or “good air”. This wine is a blend of 75% Merlot, 15% Cabernet Franc, 5% Cabernet Sauvignon, and 5% Malbec (all from 35 year old vines). The wine is aged between 16-18 months in French oak barrels prior to bottling. Expect rich, dark berry flavors that continue to evolve with age. Can drink now or wait a few years before opening.

Roc de Candale 2005 Saint-Emilion Grand Cru
$35.99| Mixed Case $28.79
This picturesque Château is located to the east of the famous limestone plateau of Saint-Emilion near La Mondette. A Decanter 4 Star winner, this wine is a blend of 90% Merlot and 10% Cabernet Franc and exhibits qualities of elegance, precision, and complex tannins. Expect notes of oak, a refined palate, and a rich after-taste. Drink from 2013-2018.

Cheers!
Jens

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March 2012: Burgundy (France)

Burgundy is home to some of the most expensive, sought-after wines in the world. Located in central-eastern France, there are two main grape varietals used in winemaking here: pinot noir (red) and chardonnay (white). Burgundy wines are extremely complex, both in what ‘terroir’ means to wines, and how vineyards in the area are classified. This wine club includes a wonderful selection of wines that highlight the nuances and extraordinary flavors of Bourgogne.

The 2-bottle club includes both the Frederic Magnien 2009 Bourgogne Rouge as well as the Domaine Philippe Garrey 2007 Clos de Montaigu, Mercurey Premier Cru. The 3-bottle club adds a Pommard, one of the most sought-after terroirs in the region.

Frederic Magnien 2009 Bourgogne Rouge
$26.99 | Mixed Case $21.59
A blend of various pinot noir grapes from throughout the “Côte de Nuits” located within the northernmost (and most renowned region) in Burgundy: the Côte d’Or. The Côte d’Or is a 30-mile-long limestone ridge that only produces Pinot Noir grapes. Within this particular region are 6 premier crus villages (the highest rank for the region). This wine is a special selection of Pinot Noir grapes from vineyards throughout Brochon (on the Gevrey side). Expect the nose to have notes of black cherries, raspberries, and hints of earth; the mouth is full of baking spices and blueberry jam. This wine is as smooth as cream, velvet-like in texture. This wine pairs well with lighter game, roasted poultry, or dishes that have rich red wine sauces. This wine can be aged up to ten years (2022) as the quality is so superb.

Domaine Philippe Garrey 2007 Clos de Montaigu Mercurey Premier Cru
$22.99|Mixed Case $18.39
Located a few miles south from the Côte d’Or, the Côte Chalonnaise is home to five wine villages; Mercurey being one of them. The Mercurey Premier Cru vineyards are all located in the same general area around the city of Mercurey itself. There are only about 30 premier cru village recognized, accounting for just under a quarter of Mercurey wine production; its terroir is comparable to the top villages in Côte d’Or the Côte de Beaune. This biodynamic wine has deep flavors of red & black fruits, earthy notes of game and wild mushrooms and a velvety texture. Pair this wine with grilled or roasted meats, richer cheeses (like brie), or stews. Can be drunk now, or can be aged for quite a while.

Albert Bichot 2009 Pommard
$38.99| Mixed Case $31.19
Pommard is one of leading villages of Burgundy, located in the Côte de Beaune region and known for its ‘masculine’ red wines. The grapes in this vineyard are all handpicked and traditionally vinified according to Burgundian custom. It is then aged for 14-16 months in order to bring out all the flavors of the Pommard terroir. Expect notes of smoke, wood, and earth complemented with lighter aromas of raspberry and plum on the nose. Well-blended tannins, complex structure, and minerality persist throughout the wine. Pair this wine with tender red meat dishes, feathered game, or dishes cooked with red wine. Drink this wine now, or wait 2-4 years (or longer).

Cheers!
Jens

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February 2012: Nottola (Tuscany)

Nottola Azienda Agricola is located in the Tuscan countryside of Montepulciano, a picturesque, world-renowned wine production region outside of Siena. The Nottola Estate was founded in 1992, realizing the vision of Cavaliere Anterivo Giornarelli, that is producing wines of outstanding quality. Today, this 25 hectare family run estate is still owned by the Gionarelli family, and run by Guiliano (one of the sons) along with Riccardo Cotarella, who oversees the estate’s wine production. Nottola combines daily dedication and state-of-the-art technologies to express the distinct terroir of the estate in their wines. The Nottola Estate has already gained international attention for several of its wines, and is now recognized as one of the top producers in Montepulciano.

The 2-bottle club includes the award winning Vino Nobile di Montepulicano and the Tre Pezzi IGT Toscana (aka Super Tuscan). The 3-bottle club adds the Rosso di Montepulciano to the group, showcasing another magnificent wine varietal from the region.

Nottola 2007 Vino Nobile di Montepulciano
$26.99 | Mixed Case $21.59
“Vino Nobile” translates to “Noble Wine” and historically, this was the wine that the nobility drank (too good for the common people!). Fortunately, now everyone can enjoy this wonderful combination of 80% Prugnolo Gentile, 15% Cannaiolo, and 5% Mammolo. The grapes are hand harvested in October, aged for 2 years in Slovenian oak, then for one year in bottle prior to release. This is a full & robust wine with dark rich notes of fruit, spice, and lots of tannins (perfect for red meat!). Drink this wine now!

Nottola 2009 Tre Pezzi Toscana
$19.99 | Mixed Case $15.99
An extraordinary Super Tuscan! This wine is only produced in exceptional vintages by Nottola, and is a wonderful bold and fruity combination of 80% Merlot and 20% Petit Verdot. Aged 6-8 months in French oak, this wine has soft tannins, and a velvet finish. This wine can be enjoyed up to two years from now, but is perfect to sip or drink alongside rich cuts of beef or pork.

Nottola 2009 Rosso di Montepulciano
$19.99 | Mixed Case $15.99
Rosso di Montepulciano’s are considered ‘sister’ wines to Brunello di Montalcino and are exciting, complex, and fruity. Nottola’s Rosso is produced using 80% Prugnolo Gentile, 15% Cannaiolo, and 5% Mammolo grapes that were hand harvested in October. The grapes are vinified separately in stainless steel tanks, then blended together and aged 6 months in Slovenian oak barrels. Expect this wine to have balanced tannins, a smooth body along with elegant notes of dark fruits. Drink this up to three years from now.

Cheers!
Jens

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January 2012: Douro & Alentejo Valleys (Portugal) 

Portugal has been a wine growing area since the time of the Romans but a trade treaty with England in early 1700 boosted the wine growing, especially in the Douro Valley which became the world’s first appellation in 1758. The Douro Valley is Portugal’s best known appellation, especially when it comes to port wines, but this region is now producing some of Portugal’s most impressive red wines, made primarily from port grapes. The Alentejo region is lesser-known but larger, encompassing most of the southern third of Portugal and is known for producing large quantities of very decent, easy drinking reds with ripe fruit flavors.

In this month’s wine club, we show two of the well-known & impressive producers of the Alentejo & Douro regions (Cortes de Cima & Quinta de la Rosa). For those of you in the 3-bottle club, we are adding in another excellent (13 year old!) wine from the Douro (Quinta do Fojo).

Cortes De Cima 2004 Reserva
$32.99 | Mixed Case $26.39
Cortes De Cima is family-owned winery with 130 hectares of vineyards & 50 hectares of olive groves, located in Alentejo, in southeastern Portugal. Tasting notes: This red is a blend of 52% Aragonez (Tempranillo), 24% Touriga Nacional, 14% Syrah & 10% Cabernet Sauvignon, aged for 12 months in French & American oak. This is the star of the Cortes De Cima range, a powerful expression of rich dark fruit, packed with blackberries, ripe black plums & black currants with hints of dark chocolate, mocha & mint. Amazing structure & texture, well-balanced, with great acidity. Rather full-bodied with fine tannins on the spicy & smoky finish. An absolute pleasure to taste & drink after 2 hours of aeration. Drink now, up to 6 years. Best paired with grilled steaks, grilled lamb, lamb roasts.

Quinta De La Rosa 2007 Passagem Vinho Tinto
$18.99 | Mixed Case $15.19
This red is a co-production between the Bergqvist family (Quinta de la Rosa) & Jorge Moreira (owner & winemaker of Poeira). The grapes are sourced from the Quinta de Bandeiras estate, located on the Douro River, the hotter Douro Superior. Tasting notes: This red is a blend of mainly Touriga Nacional & Touriga Franca fermented for 18 months in French oak. Intense & complex nose of dusty cherries, wild strawberries, leather & spice. Full-bodied, with great balance & freshness, good complexity & structure. Lots of dark, black fruit with fine herbal & spicy notes. Round, smooth tannins on the long, lingering finish. Drink now, up to 4 years. Best with grilled dark meat & roasts.

Quinta do Fojo 1999 Vinha Do Fojo
$32.99 | Mixed Case $26.99
I thought it would be interesting for the 3-bottle club members to taste a 13-year old wine from one of the Douro’s cult producers & was rather surprised to find this wine for this price. This is a wine that Bordeaux lovers will like a lot! Tasting notes: This red is a blend of Touriga Nacional, Tinta Roriz & Touriga Franca. This wine needs aeration (1 hour) & will come around quickly. Quite intense dark, black fruit on the nose. Full-bodied, dense, powerful, great structure & texture, well-balanced.  Still lots of dark fruit, dark chocolate with some herbal & spicy components. Fine tannins on the long, long finish. Watch out for sediment when finishing the bottle as this wine is unfiltered. What a treat! Christmas in January! Drink now, up to 8 years. Best paired with dark roasts, grilled lamb, grilled steaks!

Cheers!
Jens

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December 2011: Cruz de Piedra (Argentina, Part II)

You probably remember in August when we introduced you to some fantastic Argentine Malbecs. I couldn’t resist showing you some more Malbecs from a producer that I think is doing top notch work. (The red blend included in this month’s club won a gold medal in the International Wine Challenge!)

Cruz de Piedra is owned by the Alfonso family, located in Maipu, Mendoza. The trick is that they operate under four different labels. Their first vines were planted in 1973 & are used in premier blends, such as the Cruz de Piedra Red Blend (your treat this month!). Cruz de Piedra is also known for their excellent, very reasonably priced Malbecs!

The 2-bottle club includes the premier Red Blend & the Cuesta del Madero. The 3-bottle club adds in the Umbral:

Cruz de Piedra 2006 Red Blend
$45.99 | Mixed Case $36.79
This red is a blend of 60% Malbec, 30% Cabernet Sauvignon & 10% Petit Verdot, mostly from 30-year old vines & all estate grown. Beautiful, full aromas of dark fruit, with espresso & mocha notes. This is a powerful red, with lots of dark fruit, cassis, dark chocolate & coffee notes. Complex, great structure & texture with great acidity. Wonderful long finish with some smoky notes. Best with beef tenderloin, prime rib. Drink now, up to 5 years.

Umbral de Los Tiempos 2008 Malbec
$18.99 | Mixed Case $15.19
One of the Malbecs from the Cruz de Piedra line. 30-year old vines from the estate in Mendoza. Smooth, medium-bodied with wonderful red & dark fruit flavors. Touch of cedar, tobacco & slightly earthy notes. Aged for 12 month in French oak. Beautiful long finish with fine tannins. Drink now, up to 2 years. Best with grilled meat, steaks.

Cuesta Del Madero 2010 Malbec
$13.99 | Mixed Case $11.19
One of the entry-level Malbecs from the Cruz De Piedra estate blended from different vineyards.  Red fruit & vanilla notes upfront. Smooth, elegant, fresh & fruity. Great acidity with wonderful red & dark fruit flavors, notes of dark chocolate & coffee. Very easy to drink! Drink now.  Best with smoked turkey, grilled meat.

Enjoy & cheers!
Jens

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November 2011: Vinchio-Vaglio Serra (Piedmont)

This producer is our newest addition to the J. Strecker Selections portfolio. It all started with a cold call from Emiliano Morando, the international export manager, whose friend, Massimo Gonzi of Nottola, had recommended us to him as a possible importer/ distributor. A meeting at Portalis ensued shortly thereafter and after tasting the wines, we couldn’t resist introducing these wines to the Seattle market.

Vinchio-Vaglio Serra is a co-op of 180 producers from Vinchio, Vaglio Serra & Nizza Monferrato (villages southeast of the town of Asti). The co-op was originally founded by 19 members in 1959. Head winemaker, Dr. Giuliano Noè, (awarded Italy’s Winemaker of the Year 2005 & former head winemaker for Michele Chiarlo, pictured right) focuses on top quality, low costs & an organic approach. But let the wines speak for themselves!

The 2-bottle club includes one of their top Barbera & their Langhe Nebbiolo. The 3-bottle club adds in a wonderful Roero Arneis.

Vinchio-Vaglio Serra 2010 Il Griso Roero Arneis

$19.99 | Mixed Case $15.99
A deliciously mature white made out of 100% Roero Arneis. Wonderful flavors of lemon, lime, white peach & ripe apples with hints of stone fruit. Good depth, structure & body. Well-balanced & good acidity with some spicy notes on the lingering finish. Drink now. Well-paired with seafood!

Vinchio-Vaglia Serra 2009 I Tre Vescovi Barbera d’Asti Superiore
$19.99 | Mixed Case $15.99
100% Barbera from the 3 Bishops Vineyard. This red shows beautiful aromas of strawberries & red cherries with dried herbal notes. Smooth, medium-bodied, with good texture & structure. Wonderful earthy, slightly smoky red berry flavors unfold on the palate. Long, velevety finish. Simply delicious! Drink now, up to 5 years. Best matched with mushroom risotto, dark roasts, hearty soups.

Vinchio-Vaglio Serra 2010 Langhe Nebbiolo
$18.99 | Mixed Case $15.19
100% Nebbiolo. Traditional style, even slightly rustic, with chestnut aromas & complex, nutty, earthy red berry flavors, violets with notes of dried herbs & a touch of cinnamon. Good acidity through the lively finish. Drink now, up to 2 years. Best paired with risotto, game, white meat & roast beef.

Cheers!
Jens

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October 2011: Brennon Leighton & Efeste (WA)

It’s difficult to find a more charismatic winemaker in Washington State than Brennon Leighton from the Efeste Winery. After being raised by artists & hippies in Santa Cruz, California, Brennon went from playing in a punk rock band to bussing tables in restaurants to getting a degree in Viticulture & Enology from the University of California, Davis.

After working for Chateau Ste Michelle, where he was in charge of producing Washington State’s famous Riesling ‘Eroica’, he became head winemaker for Efeste where he is surely developing ‘cult’ status collecting noteworthy scores from some well-established wine magazines.

According to his Facebook page he is ‘The Man”! I can only agree!

The 2-bottle club has two of his reds. The 3-bottle club adds in his 2010 Feral Sauvignon Blanc.

Efeste 2010 Feral Sauvignon Blanc
$19.99 | case $15.99
By far his best Sauvignon Blanc up to date & in my opinion it’s one of the best produced in Washington State. Tasting notes: 100% Sauvignon Blanc from the Evergreen Vineyard. Named after the wild yeast (Feral) this white shows wonderful aromas & flavors of lemon, lime & white grapefruit with notes of wet stone & herbs (thyme). Excellent balance & acidity. This wine zooms through your palate all the way to the lively finish. Drink now! Sip! Sip! Sip!…or pair it with white fish, salads, grilled chicken.

Efeste 2008 Final Final
$29.99 | case $23.99
Two varietals, nine vineyards. This red is a blend of 58% Cabernet Sauvignon & 42% Syrah. The ‘Final’ blend if you ask Brennon & his best so far according to his statement on the Efeste website. Tasting notes: Very attractive aromas of ripe dark fruit with some smoky components. Elegant, complex, smooth & medium-bodied. Wonderful flavors of blackberries, boysenberries & black cherries with some herbal & smoky notes. Fine grained tannins on the endless long finish. A fantastic effort! Drink now, up to 3 years
Best with dark grilled meat, roasts.

Efeste 2008 Big Papa Cabernet Sauvignon
$49.99 | case $39.99
This red is a 100% Cabernet Sauvignon blended from 4 different vineyards. Average age of the vines used in this red is over 30 years old. Tasting notes: This red is a class-act. Lots of dark fruit, espresso & mocha notes on the nose. Big, full-bodied, well-balanced & complex. Flavors of dark fruit (blackberries & dark ripe plum) with dark chocolate and herbal notes & some smoky components.
Up to 5 years. Best paired with grilled steaks, dark roasts.

Cheers!
Jens

Jens Strecker
Owner & Wine Manager
Portalis Wine Shop + Wine Bar

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September 2011: Zuazo Gaston (Rioja)

La Rioja, located in north central Spain in the Basque country, is one of the better known wine regions in Spain and for good reason. Twenty years ago when Jules and I were in Germany, Riojas were reliably delicious and pretty close to dirt cheap. They often came with a traditional netting around the bottle. They were medium-bodied with nice red fruit and this special oakiness characteristic of this region of Spain. Today you can get a much broader variety of wines from Rioja – Old World (more rustic) and New World (smoother) styles as well as varying levels including young (aged a few months in oak), Crianza (aged for 2 years with a minimum of 6 months in oak), Reserva (aged for 3 years with a minimum of 1 year in oak) and Gran Reserva (5 years of aging with a minimum of 36 months in oak).

Zuazo Gaston is a family owned winery located in the Alavesa sub-region of Rioja near the town of Oyón. The vineyards are located on 52 hectares with vines ranging from 10-60 years old. I selected this wine as our first direct import from Rioja because I think it’s an excellent example of New World (softer, smoother, more feminine) Rioja. Very drinkable, uncomplicated wines, delicious and well-priced!

If you are a 3-bottle club member, you’ll receive all three bottles.  If you are a 2-bottle member, you’ll receive the Crianza & the Reserva:

Zuazo Gaston 2010 Rioja
Reg $15.99 | INSIDER $13.99 | Mixed Case $12.79
Grapes: 95% Tempranillo & 5% Graciano. Aged for 5 months in American oak. Tasting Notes: Clear bright ruby hue. Nose of fresh berry fruits, licorice spice with a hint of vanilla oak. Fresh, fruit driven characteristics that soften mid palate with a long delicate finish. Pairings: Rice dishes, pastas & white meats. Drink now.

Zuazo Gaston 2008 Rioja Crianza
Reg $21.99 | INSIDER $19.99 | Mixed Case $15.99
Grapes: 90% Tempranillo, 5% Mazuelo, 5% Graciano. Aged for 14 months in American oak. Tasting Notes: Bright garnet hue. Nose of jammed fruits with vanilla & cedar. Complex & elegant with rich notes of dark fruits. Full, yet soft body with a long intense finish. Pairings: red meats, game, seasoned stews, cheeses. Drink now.

Zuazo Gaston 2006 Rioja Reserva
Reg $31.99 | INSIDER $29.99 | Mixed Case $23.99
Aged for 20 months new French & American oak. Tasting Notes: Vibrant ruby color. Rich & spicy aromas. Silky mouth feel with notes of dark fruits & spice that lasts through the lingering finish. Pairs well with roasts, games, red meats & hard cheeses. Drink now to 3 years.

Remember:  20% CASE & 10% MIXED CASE Discounts … includes mixed cases!
If you receive your shipment via UPS, you should have it by now.  If you pick your club up at Portalis, it’s ready for you to swing by.

Cheers!
Jens

Jens Strecker
Owner & Wine Manager
Portalis Wine Shop + Wine Bar

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August 2011: Southern Rhône (France)

I have been to the Southern Rhône Valley many times and I’m always impressed at how diverse the region is. You’ve got many subregions (from better-known Chateauneuf du Pape, Gigondas, Vacqueyras, Côtes du Rhône Villages … to the lesser-known: Rasteau, Beaumes-de-Venise, Lirac, Tavel, Plan de Dieu, and more) — a huge area of land with varying soils and a large number of permitted grapes at 13. The predominant grape is the red Grenache. Almost all the wines produced in this area are blended. The main red blending grapes are Syrah, Mourvedre, Cinsault & Carignan. In general, the value with wines from the Southern Rhône is good, but you get even more wine for your money with the lesser known AOC’s . So have fun exploring! The Plan de Dieu & Rasteau are phenomenal, as is the Vacqueyras, especially at this price!

The 2-bottle club includes the Vacqueyras & Plan de Dieu. The 3-bottle club adds in the Rasteau.

Château des Roques 2007 Vacqueyras
$20.99 | Mixed Case $16.79
Château des Roques is a 32 hectare, 300 year old family-owned estate, located just outside of the town of Vacqueyras but in the middle of the Vaqueyras AOC. Tasting notes: This red is a blend of 70% Mourvedre, 15 % Grenache & 15% Syrah. Impressive aromas of game, dark fruit & spice. Firm structure but quite elegant on the palate with delicious flavors with lots of dark fruit mixing with notes of cassis, dried herbs & dark chocolate & a certain mineral character. Fine tannins on the long finish. This red has a lot personality! Drink now, up to 3 years. Best paired with dark roasts, steaks, grilled meats.

Le Gravillas 2009 Plan de Dieu
$15.99 | Mixed Case $12.79
From the Sablet cooperative Cave des Vignerons de Sablet. The co-op groups 150 vintners, covers 550 hectares & is located in the village of Sablet at the foot of the mountain “Les Dentelles de Montmirail”. The grapes for this red come from the Plan de Dieu AOC. Tasting notes: This red is a blend of Grenache, Syrah & Mourvedre. Ripe, sweet & supple, it’s a lovely wine from start to finish, with ripe plum, red berry & spicey flavors. It is elegant, seductive & lush on the palate which goes over to a long lingering fresh finish. Delicious now! Worth buying a case wherever you can. Drink now, up to 2 years. Best paired with fresh market cheeses, charcuterie, grilled meats & roasts.

Domaine de La Vieille Ferme de L’Eoune 2009 Rasteau
$17.99 | Mixed Case 14.39
This family owned-estate was founded in 1951 when the Durand family bought 30 hectares of unplanted land & started growing grapes. The winery & the vineyards are located on the plateau of Roaix. The winery currently owns 100 hectares of vineyards.  Tasting notes: This red is a blend of 50% Syrah, 40% Grenache, 5% Mourvedre & 5 % Carignan. Beautifully aromatic, with lush raspberry, plum, vanilla & licorice aromas. Well-balanced, elegant, good structure & a silky texture, with wonderful jammy fruit of blackberries, blueberries, blackcurrants & prunes, with notes of truffles & provincial herbs. Long finish with fine tannins. Drink now, up to 2 years. Best paired with white meats & poultry as well as game.

If you get your wine shipment via UPS, you should have received it by last Friday.  If you requested an in-store pick up, your wine club is ready.

Enjoy & cheers!
Jens

Jens Strecker
Owner & Wine Manager
Portalis Wine Shop + Wine Bar

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July 2011: J. Strecker Selections, our Argentine line

I was in Europe this spring looking for French, Italian & Spanish producers for our direct import business. On the second day between meetings I had an hour to kill & I stumbled upon Guillermo Moore, a handsome Argentine export manager from Buenos Aires representing Cruz de Piedra. We hit it off, the wines tasted great, but there was one problem — his wines were already imported to the US.

Long story short, he introduced me to a gentleman by the name of Andrew Miller who is the co-owner of an import company called Ecovalley & and we now distribute four of his Argentine wines (including Cruz de Piedra) in the Seattle area. Here are some samples in this wine club.  The Tiasta is only included in the 3-bottle club:

Maurico Lorca 2006 Tematico Malbec
$20.99 | Mixed Case $16.79
This beautiful, powerful red from a small producer from Mendoza is full of chocolate & coffee flavors, French oak & ripe fruit notes of plum & cassis. The tannins are smooth, the finish long & lingering. A delicious Malbec! Drink now! Best paired with grilled steak & lamb.

Umbral De Los Tiempos 2008 Malbec
$18.99 | Mixed Case $15.99
A wine from the Cruz De Piedra line. Fourty year old vines from the estate in Mendoza. Smooth, medium-bodied with wonderful red & dark fruit flavors. Touch of cedar, tobacco & slightly earthy notes. Aged for 12 months in French oak. Smoky notes on the long, wonderful finish. Drink now, up to 2 years. Best with grilled meat, steaks.

Tiasta 2009 Malbec Reserva
$15.99 | Mixed Case $12.79
Another Malbec from the Cruz De Piedro estate in Mendoza. A medium-bodied Malbec with delicious aromas of raspberries, blackberries & licorice with some notes of dark chocolate & smoke. Elegant, smooth structure with fine tannins on the long finish. Drink now! Best with grilled meat.

Enjoy & cheers!
Jens

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June 2011: Exploring Languedoc-Roussillon (France)

When I came over to the United States eleven years ago and switched careers from being an emergency doctor to managing a wine shop (Best Cellars) in the University Village Mall and then starting my own wine shop & bar three years later, I never imagined that one day I’d be importing wines. But with the recent changes in Washington State’s liquor laws my life had taken a turn to more exciting times and we have started J. Strecker Selections, a direct import company.  Now, with the arrival of our first container from France, we have the lovely challenge of how to sell 800 cases of wine in the Seattle market. It’s quite exciting, I can tell you that!

In our first container we mainly selected wines from Southern France: the Languedoc & Southern Rhône. In this wine club, we are featuring two producers, one from Corbières & one from Faugères, two sub-appellations in the Languedoc which is located right along the Mediterranean from Montpellier down to the Spanish border. The 2-bottle club has the Le Reve & the Grand Caumont Impatience and the 3-bottle club adds in the Grand Caumont Cuvee Tradition.

Domaine Les Fusionels 2008 Cuvee “Le Reve” Faugeres
$20.99 | Mixed Case $16.79
A small winery owned by a Franco-Australian couple, Jem & Arielle Harris. They call themselves Vignerons Artisans & their philosophy is to produce wines as organically as possible. Tasting notes: A blend of 60% Grenache & 40% Syrah. Beautiful nose of ripe blue- & blackberries upfront with some herbal & smoky components. Smooth, medium-bodied, elegant, complex, with a round, velvety texture. Lots of red & dark fruit, cherries & strawberries, coffee, cocoa, milk chocolate, violet & floral notes. Smooth, soft tannins all the way through a long, lingering finish. Drink now, up to 2 years. Best matched with grilled meats, steaks.

Chateau du Grand Caumont 2008 “Impatience” Corbières
$20.99 | Mixed Case $16.79
With 100 hectares of planted vines within the 140 hectare estate in the Lezignon Corbières commune, Chateau du Grand  Caumont is one of the largest family-owned wine estates in Corbières. The rugged  stony clay-limestone soils of the terraced vineyard create excellent filtration for the vines.  Tasting notes: This red is a blend of 45% Syrah, 45% Carignan Old Vines & 10% Grenache, fermented 12 months in French oak. Aromas of dark fruit, prune, figs & black pepper. Rich, complex, elegant. Good concentration, great depth & length. Lots of dark fruit, blueberries, blackberries, ripe dark plums & fine spices. Well-balanced tannins on a long finish. Drink now, up to 3 years. Perfect accompaniment for game dishes.

Chateau du Grand Caumont 2008 Cuvee Tradition Corbières
$13.99 | Mixed Case $11.19
From the same producer, the entry-level Corbières. Tasting notes: This red is a blend of 60% Carignan, 35% Syrah & 5% Grenache. Wonderful nose of black berry fruits, violets & black pepper. Well-balanced & structured. Smooth, elegant with delicious flavors of dark fruit, dark plums, herbal & spicy components. Good length with a long, lingering finish! Drink now!  Best paired with grilled meat, meats in sauces, stew & cheese.

We love these wines & hope you do, too!

Enjoy & cheers!
Jens

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April 2011: Exploring Catalunya

Having lived in Barcelona in the mid-eighties, I have wonderful memories of the good wines and good food of the surrounding regions. Barcelona is not only the capitol of soccer (they just won the Spanish championship & are playing in the European finals this month), but also the capitol of Catalunya & the center of the regional wine industry.

Catalunya, which is located in northeastern Spain, includes some of Spain’s famous appellations like the cult wine regions of Priorat & Montsant, the big Cava producing region of Penedes & the up & coming Costers del Segre region. Most of this area’s wine regions are located along the Mediterrenean Coast & in the adjacent hill country. Winemaking in this area dates back to the Phoenicians & Romans, but it was in 1872 when, with the invention of the sparkling Cava, the wine industry in Catalunya took off.

Priorat is one of two regions (the other is Rioja) that has earned the Denominaciones de Origen Calificadas for outstanding quality & consistency. Terraced hillsides, steep slopes, poor soil (slate & shist), the Mediterrenean climate & old vines of mainly Garnacha & Cariñena make this appellation so special. Montsant was not given official DO status until 2001 but has come a long way fast. This appellation is next to Priorat & has lots of similarities (soil, climate & old vines). The big difference is still the price/value ratio. Costers Del Segre is an up & coming region in the hill country, northwest of Barcelona around the city of Lleida near the Segre River & delivers some stunning wines.

The 2-bottle wine club includes a Priorat & Montsant, the 3-bottle club adds in a wine from Costers Del Segre:

Terra De Verema 2008 Priorat
$39.99 | Mixed Case $31.99
Terra De Verema is a boutique-sized Priorat estate sourcing from vineyards in the villages of Scala Dei & El Lloar. The winemaker is Esther Nin from the famous Clos Erasmus estate. This red is a blend of 60% Cariñena, 30% Garnacha & 10% Syrah, fermented 12 month in French oak. Tasting notes: Fantastic aromas of ripe black plums, blueberries, licorice & bitter chocolate. Big, dark, racy, intense. Lots of dark fruit, mainly plums & black cherries with garrigue & lavender notes, smoke & licorice. Long & beautiful! Approachable now, but will peak in 6 to 8 years. Best with dark roasts, grilled steaks, grilled lamb.

Celler De Capçanes 2008 Mas Donis Barrica
$14.99 | Mixed Case $11.99
The winery is located in the village of Capçanes & used to be the village cooperative till it was remodeled in 1995. It is now one of the leading wineries in Montsant. This red is a blend of 85% Garnacha & 15% Syrah & is aged in French & American oak barrels for 9 months. Tasting notes: Very inviting aromas upfront of spice box, black cherries & black raspberries. Big, ripe, medium- to full-bodied, with lots of spicy black fruit, smoky & herbal components. Wonderful, long finish. Drink now, up to 4 years. Best with dark grilled or roasted meats.

Celler Tomas Cuisine 2008 Vilosell
$18.99 | Mixed Case $15.19
A small family winery in the Costers Del Segre appellation, northwest of Barcelona. This red is a blend of 62% Tempranillo, 14% Cabernet Sauvignon, 13% Merlot, 5% Syrah, 3% Garnacha,  3% Samso.  Tasting notes: Beautiful aromas of black pepper, spice box, blackberries & black currant & blueberry pie. Smooth, medium-bodied, plush texture with layers of spicy black fruit. Smooth tannins on the long finish. Drink now, up to 4 years. Best with grilled meat.

Remember: 20% Mixed Case Discount & 10% Mixed Half Case Discount!

Enjoy & cheers!
Jens

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April 2011: Discovering New Zealand

New Zealand, to date, still counts as one of the more “exotic” wine countries. Grapes have been grown in New Zealand dating back to 1851; however, it has only been in the last 30 years that the wines have developed an international presence, and it’s my feeling that most people here still don’t have a big connection to these wines.  The main wine growing regions are Marlborough, on the northern end of the Southern Island, & Martinborough, on the southern end of the Northern Island (map). The predominant white varietals are Sauvignon Blanc (grown more in the south) & Chardonnay (grown more in the north). The main red varietal is Pinot Noir.

The 2-bottle club features 2 different Pinot Noir.  The variety in the Pinot coming out of New Zealand is amazing. Pinot from around Otago is in line with higher-end Burgundy: deep, full-bodied, complex, while Pinot from around Marlborough is softer, sweeter, more accessible in style. The 3-bottle club adds in a Sauvignon Blanc. New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc is known for its crisp, refreshing, tropical fruit flavors, and this one is an excellent example of that.

Eradus 2006 Pinot Noir
$29.99 | Mixed Case $23.99
This winery is located in the Atawere Valley, Marlborough.  It is a small, family-operated winery.  Grapes are hand-harvested & selected.  Tasting notes: This Pinot has lots of floral aromas, rose petals, red & black cherries combined with some smoke. Lots of black cherry fruit with cassis, blackberries, smoky & herbal notes. Medium-bodied with vibrant acidity. Supple, smooth with a touch of sweetness.  Elegant & harmonious. Wonderful, long finish. Best with grilled salmon, roasted chicken or turkey. Drink now, up to four years.

Jules Taylor 2009 Pinot Noir
$22.99 | Mixed Case $18.38
Although Jules Taylor calls Marlborough home, she has spent a lot of time abroad. For 8 years she worked in Italy (Piedmont & Sicily). After Italy, she worked in Australia at Yarra Ridge (Victoria) & Rothbury Estate (Hunter Valley). Then, in New Zealand she worked for the famous producers Villa Maria & Cloudy Bay, until she became the head winemaker at Kim Crawford.  With her distinguished wine background & years of experience she started her own winery, Jules Taylor. Tasting notes: This Pinot has wonderful aromas of ripe black cherries & cola on the nose. Soft, smooth, medium-body, with fantastic acidity & texture. Attractive black fruit, red & black cherries, cola & clove all the way through the elegant, vibrant finish. Best matched with salads, grilled salmon, roasted chicken. Drink now, up to 2 years.

Jules Taylor 2010 Sauvignon Blanc
$16.99 | Mixed Case $13.59
From a new producer in Marlborough comes this classic New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc. Tasting notes: Very aromatic upfront with lots of fresh cut grass & gooseberries. Wonderful texture, structure & acidity.  On the palette flavors of gooseberries, exotic tropical fruit & fresh grass. Fine, elegant, fresh finish. Drink now.

Cheers!
Jens

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March 2011: South Africa

South Africa is the oldest New World wine growing country in the world. The first vines were grown in 1642 by a German fellow with the name Saxenburg.  It took off from there.  South Africa is currently the ninth largest wine producer in the world.  All the grapes are grown in the Cape area in 80 different appellations. The most famous & well-known area is Stellenbosch.

With increasing quality (as the Tasting Circle panel recently found out) South African wines deserve more attention.  We couldn’t resist putting the Tasting Circle winning wine in the Portalis Wine Club: Boekenhoutskloof 2008 Syrah as well as a red blend from Badenhurst Family Wines that also showed well in the tasting.  The 3-bottle club adds in a lovely pinotage from Spice Route.

Boekenhouskloof 2008 Syrah
$54.99 | Mixed Case $43.99
Founded in 1984, the winery is located in Franschhoek (French corner), home of the first French Huguenot settlers.  The owners of Boekenhoutskloof have revamped an ancient cellar with the most modern equipment to produce high quality wines.  On the label, the chair, traditionally made from boekenhout, Afrikaan for Cape beech, symbolizes a tribute to the skills of the Cape craftsmen.  Tasting notes: 100% syrah, fermented 27 months in French oak. Beautiful aromas of blackberries & blueberries with notes of bacon. Big, full-bodied, complex, with a firm structure & great acidity. Fantastic flavors of bold marionberries, blueberries, espresso, dried bark, black tea & again notes of bacon & dark chocolate. Wonderful, great, long & intense finish.  Best matched with grilled steaks or grilled lamb.  Can be kept up to 5 years.

Badenhurst Family 2009 Secateurs Blend
$19.99 | INSIDER $16.99 | Mixed Case $15.99
Owned by Hein & Adi Badenhurst (former chief winemaker for Rustenburg), this winery is located in the Paardeberg area, which falls in the Swartland appellation, north of Capetown. They have restored a neglected cellar on the farm last used in the 1930’s to make natural wines in the traditional matter.  Tasting notes: A red blend of mainly shiraz, cabernet sauvignon & cinsault.  Beautiful dark fruit with licorice on the nose.  Smooth, medium-bodied, elegant.  Great texture & acidity. Wonderful dark fruit & strawberries on the mid-palate with hints of Eastern spices.  Fine tannins on the long finish.  Best matched with grilled burgers, smoked turkey, grilled steaks.  Drink now, up to 2 years.

Spice Route 2008 Pinotage
$21.99 | Mixed Case $17.59
Owned by Fairview’s Charles Back, Spice Route is located just outside of Malmesbury, in the Swartland appellation.   Focused mainly on bush-vine shiraz, pinotage & viognier, Spice Route is known for producing exceptionally ripe & deep-flavored wines.  Tasting notes: Lots of dark berries, roasted meat & bacon on the nose.  Dense, big, powerful, but well-balanced.  Dark fruit flavors with lots of spice, hints of dark chocolate & black tea. Smooth tannins on the long finish.  Best with grilled meat, dark roasts.  Up to 3 years.

Remember: 20% Mixed Case Discount & 10% Mixed Half Case Discount!

Enjoy & cheers!
Jens

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Feb 2011: Giant Steps & Innocent Bystander

Just came back from Victoria, Australia, an invitation from Wine Australia to learn first hand about the wines coming out of the southern tip of Australia. This wine club features wines from one of the best wineries in the Yarra Valley (one of 21 sub-regions of Victoria): Giant Steps & its second label, Innocent Bystander.

After a 3-day Pinot Conference on the Mornington Peninsula, we headed out for Giant Steps, where we had an unforgettable afternoon & evening with Steve Flamsteed, winemaker of Giant Steps & Innocent Bystander. It was an impressive, modern facility. But more interesting was Steve, a passionate winemaker & former cheesemaker, who gave us the low-down on the Yarra Valley while driving out to the spectacular vineyards.

With the first vineyard planted in 1838, the Yarra Valley is Victoria’s oldest wine region. Located in the wine belt surrounding Melbourne, this region is cooler & higher (up to 400m) than its neighbors. Although it is located inland, it does receive some maritime influence (the ocean is approximately 70km southwest). The region is highly regarded for its Chardonnay, Pinot Noir & Bordeaux blends.

Giant Steps was founded in 2001 by Phil Sexton who formerly owned Devil’s Liar in the Margarete River appellation. In this wine club, we are including Giant Steps Pinot Noir, Innocent Bystander Shiraz/Viognier, with the 3-bottle club including the Innocent Bystander Pinot Noir as well.

Giant Steps 2008 Pinot Noir Sexton Vineyard
$33.99 | Mixed Case $27.19
From the Upper Valley vineyards. Tasting Notes: Very inviting aromas of red & dark fruit. Medium- to full-bodied, complex, elegant, well-balanced, with wonderful raspberry & cherry fruit & intermixed herbal & spicy notes. Big, deep, long, with fine tannins on the long finish.. Drink now, up to 5 years. Good match with grilled salmon, tuna, smoked turkey.

Innocent Bystander 2007 Shiraz/Viognier
$19.99 | Mixed Case $15.99
A wonderful Shiraz/Viognier blend from grapes sourced around Victoria. Tasting Notes: Beautiful black fruit on the nose with herbal & spicy components. Smooth, elegant, complex, silky texture with wonderful dark fruit, blue- & blackberries, dark chocolate with hints of mint & other herbs. Long, elegant finish. Drink now. Good match with grilled lamb, steaks & burgers.

Innocent Bystander 2009 Pinot Noir
$19.99 | Mixed Case $15.99
100% Pinot Noir grapes sourced from vineyards around Victoria. Tasting Notes: Very refined, elegant red fruit, raspberries & cherries, with beautiful herbal, spicy, peppery notes. Good acidity & structure. Drink now, up to 3 years. Best matched with grilled fish, salmon, roasted chicken.

Enjoy & cheers!
Jens

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January 2011: Stunners from Bordeaux

Bordeaux is one of the most famous wine regions in the world, and is home to many of the world’s most prestigious wineries:  Château Lafite Rothshild, Château Mouton Rothshild, Château Cheval Blanc & Château Petrus, just to name a few.

The Garonne & the Dordogne Rivers run from the Massif Central to the Atlantic dividing the region into 3 segments: west of the Garonne are the Left Bank vineyards of the Médoc, Pauillac, Saint-Julien, Margaux, Graves & Sauternes; east of the Dordogne is the Right Bank area, including Saint-Emilion, Pomerol, & Fronsac. Maritime climate & gravelly soils (Left Bank) & limestone/clay (Right Bank) make ideal vine growing conditions for this region.  Both banks feature wines made primarily from Cabernet Sauvignon & Merlot, with the Right Bank using more Merlot while Left Bank blends have more Cab. Whites from Bordeaux tend to be nice, drinkable table wines most commonly blended from Sauvignon Blanc & Semillon.

The wines in the 2-bottle club are a white from the Pessac-Léognon (which has been a standard at the wine bar for months & has a tremendous following) as well as a red from Saint Emilion (Right Bank). The 3-bottle club adds in a Margaux from the Left Bank. Have fun noting the differences!

Château Lafont Menaut 2006 Pessac-Léognon

$20.99 | Mixed Case $16.79
This winery is located in the heart of Pessac-Léognon appellation, 15 kilometers south of the city of Bordeaux. In the 18th century the land of Lafont Menaut belonged to the writer & winemaker Baron de Montesquieu. The current owner of the land & winery is Philibert Perrin, who for the past 15 years, with the experience of generation of winemakers, has been replanting the vineyards to bring this superb gravel terroir back to life. Tasting Notes: This white is a blend of Sauvignon Blanc & Semillon. Terrific aromas of lemon, lime, grapefruit. Medium-bodied, soft & beautifully balanced. Good acidity & length with flavors of lemon, grapefruit & pears, with some notes of peach & minerals. Nice lingering finish. Drink now. Good sipper or good match with sautéed or grilled fish.

Château Mangot 2005 Saint-Emilion Grand Cru
$34.99 | Mixed Case $27.99
This château is located in the commune of St. Etienne-de-Lisse with the property situated on outcroppings of limestone that are the same as on the hillsides & plateau of the more famous Cru Classé wines (Château Angelus, Château Pavie), something only a few vignerons in the commune are fortunate to have. Tasting notes: This red is a blend of 85% Merlot, 10% Cabernet Franc & 5% Cabernet Sauvignon. The average age of the vines is 40 years. A stunning red, with fine, delicate aromas of coffee, blackberry, dark cherry & wild flowers. Rich, deep, well-balanced, with soft, round tannins. Oozes with red & dark berries, plum, chocolate, coffee, tobacco & smoke flavors. Beautiful texture & impressive finish. Drink now, up to 3 years.

Château Pichecan 2003 Margaux
$43.99 | Mixed Case $35.19
A very small producer from one of the most prestigious appellations in the Left Bank (Margaux). The winery owns only 3 hectares of vineyards & is located in Soussans. Tasting notes: This red is a blend of 60% Cabernet Sauvignon, 30% Merlot & 10% Petit Verdot. Intense aromas of black currants, black cherries & roses. Smooth, medium-bodied, with great texture & concentration. Fantastic flavors of dark fruit, black currants, black cherries, with hints of toasty oak, smoke & ultrafine tannins on the finish. Drink now, up to 3 years.

Both reds are a perfect match with grilled lamb, lamb roast & grilled meats.

Cheers!
Jens

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December 2010: Small Vineyards Imports

Small Vineyards is an importer of Italian wines (although they have branched out into other Mediterranean lands in recent years), specializing in small producers with very good quality. At Small Vineyards, they believe some of the very best wines come from small places. And with this conviction, they are committed to discovering artisan winemakers and then introducing them, their families, their land, their wines & their stories to the markets they serve in the western US.

The 2-bottle club includes a Gamay from Valle D’Aosta & a Rosso Conero Riserva from Marche. The 3-bottle club adds in a Brunello Di Montalcino from Tuscany.

Lo Triolet 2009 Gamay
$34.99 | Mixed Case $27.99
Located in the small Valle D’Aoste in Northwestern Italy, Lo Triolet focuses on Pinot Noir & Gamay. From the vineyards, one has a breathtaking view of Mont Blanc. Lo Triolet’s Gamay is an outstanding expression of the varietal & is one of the finest outside of Beaujolais. Tasting notes: Beautiful floral aroma of violets, red cherries & red plums. Medium-bodied, superb balance with a spicy, zingy palate & flavors of red plums, cranberries, pomegranate & red cherries with notes of wild violets. Long finish.
Drink now, up to 2 years. Best paired with grilled salmon, tuna, grilled chicken, salads.

Marchetti 2006 Rosso Conero Riserva
$27.99 | Mixed Case $22.39
This small estate is owned by Maurizio Marchetti & is located in Marche in central Italy. A recent winner of Gambero Rosso’s highest Tre Biccheri for this red, Marchetti’s Rosso Conero Riserva is quickly becoming one of the best wines to be found in the Marche. This sleek, muscular wine is aged 14 months in French oak & like all of Marchetti’s wines, it is produced organically. Tasting notes: Inviting aromas dried cranberries & red plums. Smooth, medium-bodied with superb balance & elegance. Wonderful flavors of dark fruit black & blueberries, cranberries, dark chocolate, with notes of vanilla & exotic spice, all the way through the long, impressive finish. Drink now, up to 3 years. Best paired with dark meat, roasts.

Antonio Sanguineti 2004 Brunello Di Montalcino
$54.99 | Mixed Case $43.99
From one of the most prestigious DOCGs in Italy, the Montalcino appellation.
Tasting notes: Sanguineti’s Brunello is a powerful expression of Marasca cherries, black tea, coffee & pomegranate with herbal & leathery notes. The tannins are smooth, silky & integrated. Nicknamed “Il Maestro” by his colleagues, Antonio tries to be the master of creating the perfectly balanced wine. We believe he has achieved here again. After 42 months in French oak, it is amazingly approachable, but could easily age for 20 more years. Best paired with grilled steak, wild boar, other wild game & aged cheeses.

Happy Holidays & all the best for the New Year!

Cheers!
Jens

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November 2010: Westrey (OR)

Westrey Wine Company, located in McMinnville in the Willamette Valley, was founded in 1993 by co-winemakers & husband/wife team: Amy Wesselman & David Autrey, along with David’s father, Robert Autrey. They source their wines from estate vineyards (Oracle Vineyard in Dundee Hills) as well as from vineyards of long-time friends. Amy & David focus on crafting elegant Pinot Noir wines & fruit-driven Burgundian-style Chardonnay. The wines are designed to be balanced, ageworthy & to pair well with food, and I think they are successful on all fronts. I hope you agree.

The 2-bottle club features the 2007 Oracle Pinot Noir & the 2007 Reserve Pinot Noir; the 3-bottle club adds in the 2009 Willamette Valley Chardonnay.

Westrey 2007 Oracle Vineyard Pinot Noir
$28.99 | mixed case $23.19
Westrey’s first estate vineyard, Oracle is located in the Dundee Hills appellation with predominantly southern exposure. Tasting notes: This red shows aromas of raspberry fruit, red currents, violets with m                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                               ineral, earthy notes. On the mid-palate the wine explodes with red berry fruit, lots of ripe red cherries, raspberries combined with some spicy notes & some beautiful oaky notes on the finish. Excellent balance, weight & acidity. Drink now, up to 5 years. Best paired with turkey, grilled chicken, grilled salmon or tuna.

Westrey 2007 Reserve Pinot Noir
$32.99 | mixed case $26.39
This red is a Pinot Noir blend from four different vineyards in the Willamette Valley (Justice Vineyard, Oracle Vineyard, Abbey Ridge Vineyard & Momtazi Vineyard). The wine was fermented with special yeast imported from Burgundy & aged in 25% new oak barrels & 20% one year old barrels which gives the wine a nice woody expression. Tasting notes: This Pinot is a little thriller! Lots of floral aromas upfront with some red current fruit & coffee notes. This red is mouth-filling & supple, well-balanced with good acidity & rich flavors of raspberries, dark cherries, red currents & coffee notes. Beautiful long, spicy, peppery finish. Up to 5 years. Best paired with smoked turkey, grilled salmon, swordfish.

Westrey 2009 Chardonnay
$22.99 | mixed case $18.39
This Chardonnay is a blend from 2 different vineyards (Justice Vineyard & Oracle Vineyard). This wine displays the ripe & balanced character of the 2009 vintage. Tasting notes: Sweet, opulent fruit is balanced by crisp citrusy acidity. Aromas & flavors of sweet vanilla, white peach, subtle oak & ripe pear. Hints of slate-like mineral character on the mid-palate. Wonderful bread dough & toasty oak on the finish. Drink now, up to 3 years. Good sipper or well matched with grilled chicken, white cream pasta.

Remember: 20% Full & 10% Half-Case Discounts (includes mixed cases)

Enjoy & cheers!
Jens

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October 2010: Sineann, A Truly NW Winery

Sineann is a small winery in Newberg, Willamette Valley, Oregon. Owned by Peter Rosbeck, who is also the winemaker, Sineann was founded in the year 2000.  Peter sources his fruit from some of the best vineyards in Oregon & Washington State. The Oregon winemaker lives in the Willamette Valley, but produces wines from both Oregon & Washington State, thus making Sineann a truly northwest winery. His “holy” trail is scattered with beautiful hand-crafted wines. Currently, Peter releases 28 wines under one label … a rare & impressive feat. Rosback has several biodynamic ally & organically farmed vineyards in his portfolio, even though in his opinion there is not much difference between the non-biodynamically farmed & the organic vineyards, which is an interesting position is today’s world. Peter is also currently the consultant for David O’Reillys “Owen Roe” label.

The 2-bottle club includes the Cabernet Sauvignon & Red Table Wine; the 3-bottle club adds in the Oregon Pinot Noir.

Sineann 2008 Red Table Wine
$18.99 | Mixed Case $15.19
Once the “top-of-the-line” wines are made, the leftover wine goes into the table wine, producing some darn good flavors at an inexpensive price. Only God (Peter) knows what is in this blend. For sure some old vine Zinfandel, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot & Pinot Noir. Very inviting aromas. Lots of black fruit, blackberries, blueberries, dark plums, with some peppery notes. Long finish. You almost can’t find a better deal. Drink now. Good sipper. Good match with grilled steaks, dark roasts.

Sineann 2007 Cabernet Sauvignon
$35.99 | Mixed Case $28.79
Sourced from old Cabernet vineyards in the Columbia Valley. Incredible aromatics. Lots of baked, spicy dark fruit. Big, ripe, full-bodied. Flavors of baked plums, blackberries, blueberries & ripe, dark cherries with some dark chocolate & toasty notes. Great acidity & tannic structure. Long finish. Drink 1 to 4 years. Best with grilled steaks.

Sineann 2008 Pinot Noir
$35.99 | Mixed Case $28.79
Pinot Noir fruit from several vineyards in the Willamette Valley. Big, rich, full, deep aromas & flavors of blackberries, sweet, ripe blueberries & black raspberries with hints of milk chocolate & dried herbs. Cedary notes & fine tannins on the gorgeous, long finish. Up to 1 to 4 years. Best paired with grilled salmon, grilled tuna.

Enjoy!
Jens

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September 2010: Piedmont (Northern Italy)

Located in the hills of northwestern Italy, Piedmont is one of Italy’s most famous wine regions. If Piedmont had an enological soul-mate it would be Burgundy. In both wine regions, the estates are mainly small & family-owned, and the style of winemaking is ultra-traditional & focused on regional history. Two of Italy’s most traditional, powerful red wines come from Piedmont: Barolo & Barbaresco.  Both are made from the locally grown Nebbiolo grape. Other well-known red wine grapes are Barbera & Dolcetto which are mostly used as red table wines & the Moscato D’Asti, a semi-sweet sparkler, used for aperitivo or as an after dinner drink.

In the 2-bottle wine club we will show a Barbaresco & Dolcetto from 2 different producers. In the 3-bottle wine club, we’ll add in a Barbera D’Alba.

Ronchi 2006 Dolcetto d’Alba Rosario
$26.99 | Mixed Case $21.59
Tasting Notes: Spicy, juicy & robust, with great concentration & acidity. Wonderful flavors of blackberries, blueberries, bright red cherries. Wonderful bright, fresh finish. Drink now, up to 2 years. Bring on the pasta with red sauce.

Ronchi 2006 Barbera d’Alba Terlé
$32.99 | Mixed Case $26.39
Tasting Notes: Kind of sweet aromas of freshly baked cherry pie. Lots of spices that remind of a lively Moroccan market. Outstanding silky balance & texture, with just beautiful flavors of ripe black cherries & ripe cranberries. Smoky, woody notes on the long, lasting finish. Can’t get better than this. Best paired with mushroom risotto or pasta dishes with mushrooms.

Luigi Giordano 2004 Barbaresco Montestefano
$37.99 | Mixed Case $30.39
Tasting Notes: 100% Nebbiolo, with beautiful aromas of red fruit, rose petals & sandalwood. Bold, concentrated but well-balanced with great acidity & flavors of mainly blackberries & ripe black cherries. Wonderful depth. Will age beautifully.  Drink in 2-6 years. Best paired dark roasted meats, hearty stews.

Enjoy!
Jens

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August 2010: Domaine Brusset (Southern Rhône)

On this family estate, founded in 1947 & located in Cairanne in the Southern Rhône, the Brusset family has managed to combine the “savoir faire” of traditional winemaking with the newest techniques introduced by each generation. Andre Brusset (1910 – 1999), his son Daniel Brusset, & his grandson Laurent Brusset: three wine-growers & winemakers with a variety of experiences have all contributed to the success of the winery. The family owns several vineyards (the most important ones in Cairanne & Gigondas) situated in the heart of the Rhône Valley. The diversity of soil & grapes in the different vineyards contribute to some amazing wines.

The 2-bottle wine club includes the 2008 Gigondas & the Cairanne Les Travers Rouge. The 3-bottle club adds in the Les Travers Blanc.

Domaine Brusset 2008 Gigondas Tradition 
$34.99 | Case $27.99
A blend of 65% Grenache, 15% Syrah, 15% Mourvèdre & 5% Cinsault from stony terraced vineyards facing full south in the Gigondas appellation. Tasting notes: Ripe red fruit, strawberry & raspberry aromas. Full-bodied, good concentration, elegant. Broad & velvety in texture, with layers of dark plums, boysenberries, raspberries, roasted figs & espresso notes. There are tobacco, violet & spicy notes on the everlasting finish.  Up to 4-8 years. Best matched with red meats, grilled steaks, game.

Domaine Brusset 2007 Cairanne Les Travers Rouge
$21.99 | $17.50 (TC 91pts)
A blend of 60% Grenache, 20% Syrah, 15% Mourvèdre & 5% Cinsault. About 30 year old vines from the Cairanne appellation, mainly grown on limestone. Tasting notes: Elegant & inviting aromas of ripe blackcurrant & elderberries. Starting with full, concentrated flavors, turning into s smooth, silky mid-palate with soft tannins. Mainly blackcurrant & cherry fruit, with a touch of pepper & anise. Smooth, long finish. Drink now, up to 3 years. Best matched with red meats, game.

Domaine Brusset 2008 Cairanne Les Travers Blanc
$21.99 | Case $17.59
A white blend of 30% Clairette, 30% Grenache Blanc, 20% Roussanne, 10% Marsanne, & 10% Viognier. Tasting notes: Floral predominance on the nose. Well-balanced, soft, medium-bodied, with good acidity. Pear, citrus, with hints of exotic fruit, apricots & a touch of vanilla. Wonderful, long, dry finish. Drink now. Best paired with grilled fish, white meat.

Enjoy!
Jens

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July 2010: Carol Shelton – Mastering the Zen of Zin (CA)

In the year 2000, Carol Shelton and her husband, Mitch Mackenzie, launched their own brand — Carol Shelton Wines — located in Santa Rosa. Given the opportunity to create her own identity, she chose to focus on Zinfandels. Carol carefully selects the best vineyard sites for growing Zinfandel in California, thus producing great fruit reflecting the terroir of the region.  The Wine Spectator has mentioned Carol Shelton as one of the best Zinfandel winemakers in the United States.

Each of Carol’s wines receives a memorable name, reflecting her love for words & wine. Her Wild Thing Zinfandel shows that only natural wild yeasts grown on the grapes are used. The Karma Zinfandel signifies the good luck that brought Carol to a 100+ year old vineyard in the Russian River Valley. The appellation of Cucamonga got her connected with the “humongous” flavors described in that particular Monga Zinfandel. The Rocky Reserve Zinfandel is Carol’s nickname for the rocky Rockpile Vineyard.

The 2-bottle wine club shows off the Karma Zinfandel & Monga Zinfandel; the 3-bottle club adds in the Rocky Reserve Zinfandel.

Carol Shelton 2006 Monga Zinfandel 
$25.99 | Case $20.79
From the Cucamonga Valley. Planted in 1918. Dry-farmed Zinfandel bush vines. Tasting notes: Very inviting raspberry & blackberry aromas. Medium- to full-bodied. Rich, with lots of wonderful raspberry & dark fruit flavors. Well-balanced, elegant, with good acidity. Notes of milk chocolate on the long, beautiful finish. Drink now.

Carol Shelton 2005 Karma Zinfandel 
$37.99 | Case $30.39
From The Rue Vineyard in the Russian River Valley. 100 to 107 year old vines. 85% Zinfandel. The remaining 15% is a field blend of Alicante Bouschet, Petite Sirah & Carignan. Tasting notes: Oooh, this is superb. Raspberry & inky black fruit melt into an ultra-rich bouquet. Has the balance & depth of a great Cabernet Sauvignon, combined with Zinfandel’s spicy, brambly personality. Lots of wild berries, cola, leather, mocha, milk chocolate, peppery spice flavors that are so rich, deep & long. Hard to beat. Drink now, up to 3 years.

Carol Shelton 2006 Rocky Reserve Zinfandel 
$37.99 | Case $30.39
The name for this Reserve Zinfandel comes from the deep red, rocky soils of the Florence Vineyard Rockpile, 1400 feet over Lake Sonoma & Dry Creek Valley. Tasting notes:  This is a more elegant & restrained Zinfandel. Ripe, complex aromas & flavors of blackberries, blueberries & raspberries, with notes of chocolate & exotic spices. The finish is dry but with the right amount of sweetness. Beautiful, long, spicy finish. Up to 5 years.

Enjoy!
Jens

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June 2010: Australian Pinot Noir, introduced by Mark Davidson

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

Mid-morning on a Friday a couple months ago, a guy with a thick, Australian accent called up Portalis, introduced himself as Mark Davidson (Market Development Manager, Wine Australia USA), in Seattle from his current home base in Vancouver, and asked me if I would like to taste some “good” Australian Pinot Noir. I normally don’t taste on Fridays but I was quite curious. In he came with 14 different bottles of Australian Pinot (at varying price points), and almost all of them were pretty darn good. Mark had to catch a flight and left me with a mountain of wine. No complaints here. To make sure I was not hallucinating, I tasted some of these wines with some lucky customers who happened to be shopping for wine later in the afternoon. The response was great. Unfortunately I didn’t have any to sell that day but it made me start thinking about my next wine club!

Here is a little information about Australian Pinot Noir: Only 2.5% of the wine production in Australia is Pinot Noir. The main Pinot growing areas are Tasmania and the relatively cool Victorian regions (around Melbourne) of the Yarra Valley, Mornington Peninsula and Geelong. The Macedon Ranges wine region is still one of the best Pinot producing areas in the country and is home to the two famous producers Bindi & Curly Flat (both very limited!). But in this wine club we’ll introduce you to some other producers.

The 2-bottle members will get the Cooralook & the Yabby Lake.  The 3-bottle members will get the Stonier in addition.

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

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

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

All these wines match well with grilled salmon & tuna.

Enjoy!
Jens

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May 2010: Alvaro Espinoza, Chile’s leading organic winemaker

Alvaro Espinoza is currently Chile’s leading organic winemaker. He is the owner of Chono Winery, which is located in the central Maipo Valley, just outside of Santiago (Chile’s capital).  Chono is the name of the ancient native tribe that lived on the islands and coast of southern Chile. The winery was founded by his father, who is also an award-winning winemaker and enologist. The winery owns 25 acres of vineyards in the Maipo Valley and sources other grapes from the northern Elqui and Bio Bio Valley.

Alvaro Espinoza focuses on Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah and Carménère, Chile’s signature grape varietal. This grape was once grown mainly in Bordeaux, France, but thrives today mainly in Chile. The Cabernet Sauvignon and Carménère vines are mainly estate grown in the Maipo Valley, while the Syrah is sourced from the northern, more elevated Elqui Valley. Almost all of his vineyards are organically farmed.

The 2-bottle wine club features the Chono 2007 Reserva (a Carménère/Syrah blend) and the Chono 2007 San Lorenzo Estate (Carmenénère/Syrah/Cabernet Sauvignon/Cabernet Franc).  The 3-bottle club adds in the Chono 2007 Syrah.

Chono 2007 Syrah
$14.99 | Case $11.99

Classic cool climate Syrah from the Elqui Valley in Northern Chile. This red is a 100% Syrah with inviting dark fruit, spice and black pepper aromas. Smooth, medium-bodied, with rich black fruit, tar and bacon fat. Well-balanced, with great acidity. Fine, round tannins on the long, smooth, spicy finish. Drink now.

Chono 2007 Reserva
$18.99 | Case $15.19
This red is a blend of 65% Carménère (from the Maipo Valley) and 35% Syrah (from the Elqui Valley). Intense aromas of ripe black cherries, dark berries and tobacco. Lush and round on the palate with flavors of blueberries and cherry vanilla. Notes of tobacco (framed by zesty acidity), smoke and spicy vanilla with fine tannins on the long finish.  Drink now, up to 2 years.

Chono 2007 San Lorenzo Estate
$34.99 | Case $27.99
A blend of 50% Carmenénè, 20% Syrah, 20% Cabernet Sauvignon and 10% Cabernet Franc. A limited production with the grapes coming mainly from the Maipo Valley. Complex aromas of red and dark berries, smoke and tobacco. Medium-bodied but fleshy, with beautiful raspberry and cassis flavors and  fine-grained tannins. Complex, elegant with dark chocolate and mocha flavors on the big, long finish. Up to 5 years.

All wines pair well with grilled steaks and dark roasts.

Enjoy!
Jens

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April 2010: Four Vines (Paso Robles)

Here is a good and interesting story for you: His name is Christian Tietje (nickname “Zinbitch”) and he founded Four Vines in 1994 in San Francisco in his garage-cum-shack with not much more than determination, his love of Zinfandel and the idea to produce four “killer Zins” from the four top appellations: Napa, Sonoma, Armador and Paso Robles.

With that goal in mind, Four Vines made a statement on the scene with “Maverick”, “Sophisticate” and “Biker”. He then moved to Paso Robles built a winery and started making wines with California grown Rhône varietals. Christian’s approach to winemaking is simple: great grapes, good barrels, and very good equipment. Pretty soon he started making wines of his “high-end line”, which he calls “The Freak Show”, meaning unusual blends, for example Rhône varietals blended with Zinfandel or Petite Sirah).

In this wine club we’re showing off “The Peasant” and Old Vines Zinfandel in the 2-bottle club, adding “The Maverick” into the 3-bottle club.

Four Vines 2007 The Peasant 
$39.99 | Case $31.99
This Rhône blend is 37% Mourvèdre, 31% Syrah, 21% Grenache, and 9% Cunnoise with 5% Tannat from different vineyards in Paso Robles. Tasting notes:On the nose smoky black fruit & spice, hints of crème brulée, followed by delicate flavors of rich black fruit, raspberries, anise & black pepper. Rich, deep, and a velvety texture, with a great, long, spicy finish.Up to 3 years.

Four Vines 2007 Old Vine Cuvée 
$13.99 | Case $11.20
This is a fantastic multi-appellation Zinfandel blend from all over California and a big crowd pleaser. Tasting notes:On the nose multiple layers of red & dark fruit, hints of anise & black pepper. On the palate you find blackberry, blueberry & spicy plum fruit as well as raspberries & black cherries. Smooth, velvety but rich mouthfeel. Fine oaky tones on the finish. This wine shows a lot for the money. Drink now!

Four Vines 2007 The Maverick Zinfandel
$27.99 | Case $22.39

This red is made out of old vines from several vineyards from the Shenendoah Valley, Armador County in the Sierra Foothills. Tasting notes:Rich, big, chewy & spicy black fruit, raspberries, anise & hints of cedar. Jammy, with great acidity and elegant texture. Long, big, jammy, spicy finish. Up to 4 years.

All wines are great Barbecue wines. They also match well with grilled steaks or richer meat dishes with a spicy and/or sweet twinge. For more on food pairing with Zinfandel, see our BLOG> When Zinfandel is called for

Enjoy!
Jens

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March 2010: German Pinot Noir

Wow, watch out Burgundy! Anyone who thinks Germany can’t produce good Pinot should check these out. It is incredible how the quality of German Pinot Noir has increased over the last 10 years.  There is definitely a Pinot movement in Germany with more and more Pinot Noir being planted, especially in the Pfalz, Rheinhessen and Ahr regions.

This month the 3-bottle club will have a wine from a producer from each region named above. The 2-bottle club will have wines from the Pfalz and Rheinhessen.

Becker 2007 Pinot Noir 
$19.99 | Case $15.99
The Becker Estate is located in Schweigen, a small village in the Pfalz region, not far from the French (Alsace) border. Friedrich Becker actually owns vineyards in Germany and France. He is also the pioneer and first winemaker who planted Pinot Noir in Germany in 1967. He has been named Winemaker of the Year in Germany 4 times in a row. Tasting notes: You find more red than black cherries on the nose. Very aromatic and inviting. Beautiful flavors of black cherries, plums and blackberries, with hints of cocoa and tobacco. Complex, elegant, with a great texture. Fine tannins on the long finish. This wine has an incredible length for an entry level German Pinot Noir. Tanzer gave it 97 Pts. Drink now, up to 4 years. Best paired with grilled salmon, grilled chicken, turkey.

Julius Wasem & Söhne 2005 Spätburgunder
$19.99 | Case $15.99
The original owners of this winery, located in Ingelheim (Rheinhessen), were German nobility belonging to the Ritter Hundt von Saulhein family going back to the year 1726. In the year of 1912 Julius Wasem, then 18 years old, took over the winery and reorganized the winery and vineyards, producing mainly white wines. His sons started making Spätburgunder (Pinot Noir) in the early seventies. The current winemakers are Burkhart and Holger Wasem (third generation) who mainly grow red wine varietals like Spätburgunder, Saint Laurent, Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon. Tasting notes: A beautiful nose, with rich aromas of red and black cherry fruit. On the palate, the cherry fruit just glows – it’s so ripe – with wonderful notes of raspberries, exotic spices and pepper. Beautiful acidity going through all the way to a long finish. Good concentration and length. If (by chance) you don’t finish this bottle the day you open it … it is unbelievable the next day.  Drink now, up to 4 years.  Best paired with grilled salmon, grilled tuna, burgers.

Meyer-Näkel 2006 Spätburgunder (sold out)
$32.99 | Case $26.39
The estate was founded by the Meyer family around 1870. In 1950, through the marriage of a Meyer daughter and Willibald Näkel, the estate became known as Meyer-Näkel. On 1983, son Werner Näkel took over the estate and has developed into one of Germany’s best Pinot Noir winemakers. In 2004 he was named Winemaker of the Year in Germany. The winery is located in the small Ahr appellation, Germany’s most northern wine growing region. Tasting notes: Sweet dark berry and cherry fruit in the nose mixes with spice and pepper notes. This wine is rich, dense, and packed with blackberry, dark cherry, and raspberry fruit, with mineral, black pepper, tobacco notes. Long, deep, with great acidity, excellent concentration, and texture. Taste like a mini grand Cru from Burgundy for a fraction of the price. Up to 6 years. Excellent sipper when aged. Excellent match with grilled salmon.

Enjoy!
Jens

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February 2010: Izadi (Rioja, Spain)

The Anton family (owners of the famous Ribeira del Duero estate, Finca Villacreces, as well as the one-star Michelin restaurant, Zaldiaran) owns and operates the fantastic Izadi winery located in Rioja Alavesa.  Mariano Garcia (of Vega Sicilia fame) helped transform this estate into on of the major players in Rioja Alavesa. The current winemaker is Angel Ortega, who is one of the most interesting winemakers in Spain. He uses grapes from hundreds of small plots which are dry-farmed and harvested by hand. Ortega chooses his grapes and barrels carefully and has developed an interesting style of Rioja wines that falls somewhere between distinctive old & new world styles being produced today.  Izadi also produces a wine from the Toro region called Vetus which we will include in the 3-bottle wine club. Izadi has been allocated since its first year of production and it typically pre-sells out before arrival in the US.

Izadi 2004 Rioja Crianza (Rioja) $21.99 | Case $17.59
This red is made from 100% Tempranillo grapes, aged 14 months in American oak barrels. Tasting notes: Bright cherry and raspberry aromas upfront, followed by beautiful flavors of dark cherries, black tea and some coffee notes. Elegant finish with some spicy, oaky tones on the finish. A well aged Rioja. Drink now. Best paired with Paella (Valencia style), grilled sausages.

Izadi 2002 Reserva (Rioja) $33.99 | Case $27.19
A blend of 75% Tempranillo, 15% Graciano, 10% Mazuela from a variety of plots where the vines are at least 50 years old. The wine is aged for 18 months in French and American oak barrels. Tasting notes: Strong bouquet of tobacco, cigar and old sweaty saddle leather. Medium- to full-bodied. Tannic frame around dark fruit, blackberries and plums with spicy, dusty, earthy notes. Layered and deep on the finish, with cola, herbs and licorice notes. Fascinating. Still lots of potential. Up to 4 years.

Izadi 2005 Vetus (Toro) $32.99 | Case $26.39
This red wine is a selection of Tempranillo grapes, 40 years of age, from the Toro region and aged for 12 months in French and American oak barrels. Tasting notes: Aromas of smoke, toast, black pepper and dark fruits, followed by wonderful flavors of ripe dark fruit, blackberries, cassis and boysenberries, with plenty of spice and herbs. Great acidity with a good tannic structure. Long, strong finish. Up to 6 years. This wine should develop nicely.

The last 2 wines pair well with dark roasts, grilled steaks.

Enjoy!
Jens

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January 2010: Wines from the Douro Valley (Portugal)

The Douro Valley, which is protected by UNESCO as World Heritage, is located in Northern Portugal. Portugal has the oldest appellation system in the world, with the Douro Valley appellation created around 1655, 200 years before that of France. The Douro Valley is divided into three subregions: the Lower Corgo, the Upper Corgo, and Douro Superior, which extends to the Spanish border. Vines are grown in all three subregions. The five leading grapes are Touriga Nacional, Tinta Barroca, Tinta Cão, Touriga Francesca, and Tinta Roriz. Most reds are blends. Notable about the Douro Valley is that the steep hillsides make it very difficult to grow and harvest vines, yet this region produces some of the world’s finest, most unique and highest value wines for the money.

This month’s wine club includes two of the best producers from the Douro Valley.  2-bottle club members will receive the two Quinta de la Rosa wines.

Poeira 2006 Pó de Poeira Tinto $24.99 | Case $19.99
Since 2001, this winery has been owned by Jorge Manuel Nobre Moreira, who is also the head enologist at Quinta De La Rosa, one of the most famous producers in the Douro Valley. Tasting notes: This red is a blend of younger vines of Tinta Roriz, Touriga Franca, Touriga Nacional, and Tinta Barroca. Very fresh, with a delicious array of dark plum and blackberry flavors, dark chocolate, with plenty of minerals and spice. Well-structured and balanced. Fine grained tannins on the long finish. Up to 2 years. Best paired with dark roasts, lamb, grilled steak.

Quinta De La Rosa 2006 Douro Tinto $22.99 | Case $18.39
This winery, located right next to the Douro River, has been family-owned since 1906 and is currently under the leadership of Tim Berqvist.  The head enologist is Jorge Manuel Nobre Moreira.
Tasting notes: This red is a blend of Touriga Nacional, Touriga Francesca, and Tinta Roriz. Floral and aromatic flavors of mainly raspberries and strawberries. Medium-bodied, very elegant, with a round, balanced structure. Lovely flavors of strawberries, raspberries and ripe cherries. Beautiful finish. Aged one year in French oak. Drink now, up to 2 years. Best paired with white meat, roasted chicken, and turkey. The gamier flavors of duck would also go nicely.

Quinta De La Rosa Douro Tinto Reserve $44.99 | Case $35.99
From the same estate as above, the Reserve is also a blend of Touriga Nacional, Touriga Francesca, Tinta Roriz, and Tinta Cão, but mainly from older vines. Tasting notes: Very intense aromatic fruit, with lots of violets, cherry jam, raspberries and herbal undertones. More powerful and full-bodied. Great acidity and concentration. Long, elegant finish, with fine tannins coming through. Up to 4 years. Best paired with dark meat, lamb, and grilled steak.

Remember:  20% Full & 10% Half-Case Discounts (includes mixed cases)

Enjoy!
Jens

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December 2009: Treasures from Italy

The last wine club of the year 2009 focuses on some small treasures from Italy. The ancient Greeks called Italy “Oenotria”, the land of wine. It’s one of the oldest as well as one of the most beautiful wine growing countries in the world. Vines grow everywhere in Italy. There is simply no region, no district that does not produce wine. Often the grapes from any given region are exclusive to that region and with thousands of Italian varietals, the grapes are names that you may never have heard of, for example Inzolia, Catarratto & Perricone to name just a few.  All of these elements combine to form the charm of exploring wines from Italy.

The 2-bottle wine club includes a Brunello di Montalcino from Tuscany (a big hitter from a tiny producer) & a Southern Italian table wine (Palama). The 3-bottle wine club adds in a Sangiovese from Toscana (Podere Ciona).

Antonio Sanguinetti 2003 Brunello Di Montalcino
$54.50 | Case $43.60
Tuscany is the home of three of Italy’s most important red wines: Chianti, Vino Nobile di Montepulciano and Brunello di Montalcino. Tasting notes: Sanguinetti’s Brunello is a powerful, wonderful expression of marasca cherries, black fruit, coffee, leather, with a hint of cassis. Excellent complexity and elegance. Well-balanced with smooth, silky, well-integrated tannins. Aged for 42 months in French oak. An amazing Brunello! Very approachable already. No wonder Antonio Sanguinetti’s nick name is “Maestro”. Drink now, up to 10 years. Best paired with wild boar, bistecca alla fiorentina (grilled beef).

Podere Ciona 2007 Montegrossoli $18 | Case $12
This is a family-owned, very small estate, located in Gaiole, the heart of the Chianti Classico region in Tuscany. There are only 290 cases produced of this wine. Tasting notes: This Tuscan red is a blend of 95% Sangiovese and 5% Alicante Bouschet. You can call it a “Baby SuperTuscan”. Fresh, ripe, Chianti-like cherry aromas. Flavors of black fruit, red and black cherries, violets with hints of cloves and other spices. Elegant, well-structured, with good acidity, and a long finish that lingers. Delicious and lovely. Drink now. Best paired with pasta with tomato based sauces, pizza in all form.

Palama 2008 Arcangelo Salento $13.50 | Case $10.80
Since 1936, the Palama family has been making wine on their small estate in the warm climate of Puglia, the deep south of Italy, where Negroamaro thrives. Tasting notes: Aromas of ripe plums, blackberries, with notes of black pepper and cinnamon. Rich and robust, but complex an elegant, with ripe plum, sweet rhubarb, and blueberry flavors. It’s a delicious experience. Drink now, up to 2 years. Best paired with grilled vegetables, pasta, and pizza.

Remember:  20% Full & 10% Half-Case Discounts (includes mixed cases)

Cheers & Happy New Year!
Jens

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November 2009: Winemaker David O’Reilly

Almost everybody in Washington State has seen wines under the Owen Roe label.  Owen Roe O’Neill was a seventeenth century Irish patriot and is the inspiration for the label. The man behind that label is David O’Reilly. O’Reilly, one of twelve children, grew up in Belfast and experienced the violence of the Troubles, before his family moved to British Columbia just before he became a teenager. It was during the time O’Reilly was doing his major in philosophy in California that he worked for a small winery in the area and found his love for wine and the making of it. Later on he worked for Elk Cove Winery in Oregon. During that time he met amateur winemaker Peter Rosback (also Irish), and together they started the project Sineann. O’Reilly left Elk Cove in 1998 and founded his own winery in St. Paul outside of Newberg in the Willamette Valley to produce the Owen Roe and O’Reilly labels. In addition, he has a new project called Corvidae which focuses on reasonably priced wines produced in Washington State.

This wine club focuses exclusively on the Owen Roe labels. The 2-bottle wine club features the Owen Roe Sharecropper’s Pinot Noir and Ex Umbris Syrah. The 3-bottle Wine Club adds in the Owen Roe Abbot’s Table Blend.

Owen Roe 2008 Sharecropper’s Pinot Noir $28.99 | Case $23.19
The Sharecropper’s Pinot Noir comes from a variety of northern Willamette Valley appellations. Tasting notes: Very aromatic, with floral aromas of violets and black cherries. Exciting palate. Explodes with velvety, licorice and raspberry fruit, with luscious cherry cola flavors and some earthy notes. Beautiful spice on the finish.
Ready to drink. Best paired with, yes TURKEY!

Owen Roe 2007 Ex Umbris 2007 Syrah $28.99 | Case $23.19
Ex Umbris is Latin for “out of the shadows”, but after you taste this beauty you may think it deserves more spotlight.  Tasting notes: Jammy mulberry, blackberry aromas with some spice. Velvety, offering a plush mouthfeel of spicy black cherries, and red berry flavors, with hints of milk chocolate on the long, lively, smoky finish. Fine integrated tannins. One of the best, most affordable Syrah from Washington State on the market. Drink now up to 5 years. If you go for a beef roast or beef tenderloin instead of turkey for Thanksgiving, then this is the wine for you.

Owen Roe 2008 Abbot’s Table $24.99 | Case $19.99
Just in time for 2009 harvest, David O’Reilly has released his 2008 Abbot’s Table. This red is a blend of Zinfandel, Sangiovese, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Syrah and Malbec. This is the first wine David makes every year. Tasting notes: Very aromatic, almost perfumed, with ripe fruit, flowers, and some spice. Medium-bodied, smooth, well-balanced, velvety texture, with wonderful flavors of dark fruit, cassis, milk chocolate, hints of cinnamon and other spices. The Zinfandel and Sangiovese provide the backbone and show additional flavors of sweet plums, raspberries and cherries.  A wine you can open right away. Another fantastic Thanksgiving wine.

Don’t forget, we offer a 20% case & 10% half-case discount, mixed cases included, if you’d like more of these wines or any other wines we carry.

Happy Thanksgiving!  Enjoy the wines …
Jens

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October 2009: Sparkman Cellars

Founded in 2004, Sparkman Cellars is a family owned and operated winery, located in Woodinville, Washington, a rapidly growing wine community northeast of Seattle. The owners, Chris Sparkman, head winemaker at Sparkman Cellars, as well as general manager & sommelier at the Waterfront Seafood Grill in Seattle, and his wife, Kelly, a wildlife biologist who worked in Alaska, Wyoming and California, believe that Syrah, Merlot, Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon are the premier Washington State wine varietals.  I picked Sparkman Cellars for the wine club because colder weather is the season for bigger wines and I think Sparkman Cellars produces excellent examples of the big wines coming out of Washington State.

The 2-bottle wine club includes the 2007 Lumiere Chardonnay and the 2007 Wilderness Red; the 3-bottle wine club includes the 2006 Stella Mae Red Blend.

Sparkman Cellars 2007 Lumiere Chardonnay $25/Case $20
100% Chardonnay from Stillwater Creek vineyard.  Aromas of lemon, pears and crème brulée followed by flavors of citrus and peach fruit, with notes of hazelnuts and nutmeg. Long, clean finish. Excellent sipper. Best paired with grilled fish (tuna, swordfish, marlin). Drink now, up to 2 years.

Sparkman Cellars 2007 Wilderness Red $32/Case $25.60
A portion of the revenues for this wine go to the Wilderness Society. This red is a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Syrah, Petite Sirah and Petit Verdot. Full of dark fruit and chocolate on the nose. Flavors of dark fruit, cassis, black cherries with notes of violets and vanilla, followed by cigar box notes on the finish. Also a very good sipper. Best paired with grilled steaks, dark roasts. Drink now, up to 3 years.

Sparkman Cellars 2006 Stella Mae Red $48/Case $38.40
Named after their oldest daughter, this red is a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Petit Verdot and Cabernet Franc. Fine, concentrated aromas of cassis, black cherries and chocolate leading to flavors of ripe blackberries, black cherries and Asian spices. The chewy tannins frame a massive, yet elegant structure. Fantastic finish. Drink in 3 to 6 years. This red will get better and better. One of the best red blends in Washington State. Best paired with grilled steaks, beef tenderloin, roasted lamb.

Don’t forget, we offer a 20% case & 10% half-case discount, mixed cases included, if you’d like more of these wines or any other wines we carry.

Enjoy & cheers!
Jens

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September 2009: Qupé Wine Cellars – “A Modern Stone Age Winery” (CA)

… proclaims Bob Neil Lindquist, owner of Qupé Wine Cellars. The winery was founded in 1982 and is located on the Bien Nacido Vineyard in Santa Maria, California. Qupé shares a production facility with Au Bon Climat. Bob’s love for the wines of the Rhône Valley led him to focus on Rhône varietals, particularly Syrah as well as Roussanne and Viognier (regarding the white Rhône varietals). Chardonnay continues in the portfolio because of Bob’s connection to the wonderful fruit sources in the Bien Nacido vineyard. In this wine club we focus on the Rhône varietals.

The 2-bottle wine club includes the Central Coast Syrah and the Bien Nacido Hillside Estate Roussanne. The 3-bottle wine club adds in the Bien Nacido Syrah.

Qupé 2006 Bien Nacido Hill Estate Roussanne $40/Case $32
This white wine is 100% Roussanne, grown in Block 10 at Bien Nacido Vineyard. Block 10 is a west facing hillside slope just opposite the winery. It is planted entirely to the Tablas Creek clone of Roussanne, which cane originally from Château de Beaucastel, the famous Châteauneuf-du-Pape producer. Tasting notes: This wine is absolutely delicious. Big, rich, ripe with aromas of ripe Bosch pears. Complex and elegant. Flavors of pears, apples with notes of pineapple, toasted wood, coconut and hazelnut. Finishes full and with great finesse. Excellent sipper; good match with halibut, grilled tuna, swordfish. Drink now up to 5 years.

Qupé 2006 Central Coast Syrah $21/Case $16.80
Best Californian Syrah for the money. 98% Syrah with 2% Grenache from several Californian appellations (17 different vineyards from 5 different Appellations), but mainly Santa Barbara County. The wine is essentially a blend of cool-climate Santa Barbara grapes and warm-climate Paso Robles grapes. The cool-climate fruit gives spice, acidity and balance while the warm-climate fruit shows softness, ripeness and more upfront fruit flavors and aromas. Tasting notes: Medium-bodied, dark red with aromas and flavors of cassis and dark chocolate, with delicious notes of dark, ripe cherries, raspberries and oak. Touch of spice on the beautiful finish. Good match with dark roasts, grilled steaks, and grilled burgers. Drink now, up to 2 years.

Qupé 2007 Syrah Bien Nacido Vineyard $30/Case $24
This red is a 100% Syrah from the Bien Nacido Vineyard in the Santa Maria Valley. Tasting notes: Aromas of raspberries, pepper and lavender. This Syrah is rich in dark fruit, black cherries and raspberries with mocha, and chocolate notes. Good mouthfeel. Well-balanced, elegant, with great structure and acidity. Beautiful, long, spicy finish. Best matched with dark meats, roasts or grilled steaks. Drink this for its wonderful fruity character over the next couple years, or put it down for 8 to 10 years to take it to the next level

Don’t forget, we offer a 20% case & 10% half-case discount, mixed cases included, if you’d like more of these wines or any other wines we carry.

Enjoy & cheers!
Jens

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August 2009: The Magic of Château Miraval (Provence)

Château Miraval, located in the heart of the Var, is one of the most beautiful historic domaines in Provence. Miraval is situated close to the Via Aurelia (one of the five main roads radiating from Rome), which provides it with a long history.

First settled by the Ligurians and then by the Celts, who were driven out by the Romans, Miraval first appears on a map in the 1200s as a monastery. The estate was in the hands of the Orsini familiy for centuries and then, at the turn of the century, Miraval was owned by the inventor of reinforced concrete, Joseph Lambot.

In the 1970s Jacques Loussier, the well-known jazz pianist, created a record studio at Château Miraval, known as Studio Miraval, where many great musicians including Pink Floyd, Sting and Sade recorded some of their music. In fact, Pink Floyd recorded “The Wall” at Studio Miraval.

Château Miraval is currently owned by the Bove family and Emmanuel Gaujal is the current winemaker for Château Miraval and Château La Mascaronne.

The 2-bottle wine club includes the rosé from Château Miraval and the red from Château La Mascaronne; the 3-bottle club adds in a white from Château Miraval.

Château Miraval 2008 Pink Floyd Rosé $26/Case $20.80
This rosé is a blend of 60% Cinsault, 30% Grenache, 10% Syrah, all estate fruit. One of the best rosés we have tried this year. Tasting notes:  Intense yet elegant aromas of wild red berries. The palate is round, soft, and packed full of strawberries, raspberries, red apple and citrus, finishing with clean, fresh acidity. Just beautiful. Drink now, up to 1 year. Good sipper. Pairs well with all kind of salads or spicier foods.

Château Miraval 2008 Clara Lua Provence Blanc
$27/Case $21.60
This white is a blend of 75% Rolle and 25% Grenache Blanc, all estate fruit.
Tasting notes: lemon, yellow color. The clear, slightly overripe Rolle shows fresh citrus aromas. Soft, medium-bodied and round with flavors of citrus and lime with a light almond aftertaste on the finish. Well-balanced and good acidity.  Interestingly enough the wine opened up on the second day and tasted even better. Drink now, up to 3 years. Best paired with grilled white fish.

Château La Mascaronne 2004 Côtes De Provence Rouge $24/Case $19.60
This red is a blend of 70% Syrah, 18% Cabernet Sauvignon and 12% Grenache.
This winery and the vineyards are owned by Emannuel Gaujal (the winemaker of Château Miraval) and are located in the heart of Provence, just outside of the medieval village of Le Luc. Tasting notes: Complex aromas of red fruits and spice. Medium- to full-bodied, with flavors of blackberries, boysenberries, blueberries, with hints of black pepper, thyme and violets. Complex, concentrated and elegant. Up to 3 years. Best matched with dark grilled meat, cheese.

Don’t forget, we offer a 20% case & 10% half-case discount, mixed cases included, if you’d like more of these wines or any other wines we carry.

Enjoy & cheers!
Jens

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July 2009: Torbreck Vintners (Australia)

Torbreck Vintners was founded by David Powell in 1994.  The winery is named after the Torbreck Forest in Scotland where David worked as a lumberjack. After returning to his native Australia, David started making wine in a shed on his 12 hector Marananga property and in 2002 he purchased the historic “Hillside Property”, one of the original wine growing properties in the Barossa Valley.  David uses the classic Barossa Valley varietals: Shiraz, Grenache & Mataro (Mourvedre).  His winemaking shows influences from the great wines of the Rhône Valley, evidence of his love of wines from this part of France.

This month’s 3-bottle wine club includes two reds & one white.  Torbreck makes two white wines, a Marsanne/Rousanne/Viognier blend as well as a Semillon, a beautiful summer sipper which is the one included in your shipment.  The 2-bottle club members will receive the two reds.

Torbreck 2007 Semillon $21/ case $16.80
Tasting Notes: Delicate aromas of lemon, limestone, candle wax and toasted brioche. Medium-bodied, soft & elegant with flavors of citrus, white peach & pineapple. Good acidity follows through to the refreshing finish. Up to 2 years.  Good with sushi, sashimi and fresh shellfish.

Torbreck 2007 Woodcutter’s Shiraz $25/ case $20
The name Woodcutter’s Shiraz comes from David’s time as a lumberjack in the Torbreck Forest in the Scottish Highlands.  Tasting Notes:  Dense, rich and opulent. Aromas of dark fruit. Medium-bodied, smooth textured, with flavors of dark berries, cherries & a dash of pepper. Fine tannins on the smooth finish.  Up to 3 years. Matches well with dark meats and grilled steaks.

Torbreck 2007 Juveniles $26/ case $22.80
David makes this Cuvee for Tim Johnston, the owner of the Juveniles Wine Bar in Paris. Note, too, that the label for Torbreck is a simple black & white, while the Juveniles label is a bold, colorful label, specially made for the wine bar.  This is a red blend of 60% Grenache, 20% Shiraz and 20% Mataro. Tasting notes: Juicy, ripe flavors of blackberries, spiced cherries, with mineral notes and Asian spices. Soft & smooth on the mid-palate with fine tannins on the finish.  Drink now up to 2 years. Pairs well with dark meats and roasts.

Don’t forget, we offer a 20% case & 10% half-case discount, mixed cases included, if you’d like more of these wines or any other wines we carry.

Enjoy & cheers!
Jens

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June 2009: Tuscan Varietals ~ Sangiovese & Vernacchia

This month we are showcasing Tuscan Sangiovese & Vernacchia.  Tuscany is one of Italy’s most prodigious wine regions. Tuscan wines account for over thirty of Italy’s DOC and half a dozen of Italy’s DOCG wines. The hilly soil and weather conditions of Tuscany are ideal for grape growing and these two grapes thrive there. Today the most grown variety is the noble Sangiovese, which is often combined with small amounts of locally grown Cabernet Sauvignon, Canaiolo, Ciliegiolo and other grapes into wonderful blends such as Carmignano, Morellino Di Scansano, Supertuscans and, of course, the signature Tuscan wines: Chianti and Chianti Classico, which notably are the best known Italian wines in the world.

Tuscan Sangiovese from the inland region of Chianti is known for being a bright, juicy, acidic red that can hold its own against acidic tomato dishes from this area. Sangiovese from the coastal areas of Tuscany are less acidic, more complex, a little softer, often blended with Cab/Merlot to make the wines bigger. Vernacchia, a delicious white wine grape from this area is characterized by scents and flavors of almonds and pleasant acidity … a refreshing summer sipper or delicious with seafood, salads and white meats.

The 3-bottle wine club features a Vernaccia Di San Gigmignano, a Rosso Di Montalcino and a Maremma.

Casa Alle Vacche 2006 Vernacchia Di San Gigmignano I Macchioni $20/case $16
On the slopes northeast of the Tuscan hill-town of San Gimignano lies the town of Pancole which is considered to be the best growing region for Vernacchia. The Casa Alle Vacche winery and vineyards are in this zone. The estate has been family-owned for generations and is known for its Vernacchias and Chiantis.  Tasting notes: Vernacchia I Macchioni is produced from grapes of the best vineyard sites. Pale, yellow straw color with aromas of almonds, peach, citrus and fresh herbs. Rich, deep and elegant with flavors of apple, citrus and lime, with hints of peach and apricot. Smoky notes in the background. Beautiful, refreshing finish. Best paired with Tuscan roasted chicken and shellfish. Drink now.

Capanna 2007 Rosso Di Montalcino $33/case $26.40
The Capanna Estate has been owned by the Cencioni family since 1957 and is located to the north of the Montalcino village, which has always been considered as one of the best “cru” sides of Brunello. Rosso Di Montalcino is often called “Baby Brunello” because it is produced in the same way as the pricier Brunellos, but aged for 2 years as opposed to 4 years in Slovanian oak. Tasting notes: This red is made out of 100% Sangiovese Grosso. Young but already has a broad and complex nose, with herbs and spice mixed in the red berry, cherry fruit. Starts soft, round and velvety on the palate, and finishes long and firm. A wine with a great future. Good match with roasted meats. Up to 3 years

Carla Benini 2007 Sassotondo Maremma
$25/case $20
Carla Benini is part of an emerging group of Tuscan winemakers who look for exceptional grape quality to produce extraordinary, terroir driven wines. The grapes are sourced from the Sassotondo vineyard, which is located in the Maremma region of Tuscany, which is organically farmed and surrounded by olive trees.  Tasting notes: This red is a blend of 80% Ciliegiolo, 10% Alicante and 10% Sangiovese. Intense aromas of blackberry, cherry and plums with a touch of black pepper. Great texture and concentration with flavors of dark berry fruit, violets and herbs. Super-fine tannins on a long, juicy finish.  Best paired with roasted meats, wild boar, roasted lamb. Up to 3 years.

Enjoy & cheers!
Jens

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May 2009: Beckmen Vineyards (Santa Ynez Valley, CA)

Steve Beckmen (pictured left) joined us at Portalis this spring for a tasting, and we were delighted to meet the guy whose wine won the March 2009 Tasting Circle showdown between Washington and California Cabs (beating out much more famous and expensive wines, mind you).  So, here’s the scoop on Steve and Beckmen Cellers.  By the way, don’t think you’re limited to reds with this winery.  It’s summer and Jens (Who’s Jens?) thinks the Beckmen Sauvignon Blanc is the best Californian SB he’s tasted in the last couple years.

Founded in 1994 by Tom and Steve Beckmen, Beckmen Vineyards is a family-owned, estate winery located in the Santa Ynez Valley (Santa Barbara County).  After traveling to the Rhône Valley several times, Steve discovered his love for Rhône varietals. He started making wine without any experience, but after several vintages, Beckmen Vineyards has emerged as one of North America’s premier producers of Rhône varietals.

In Steve’s opinion vineyard management is the most important part of winemaking. It drives the whole winemaking process. All of their wines are biodynamic and in 2008 they became certified biodynamic. Their production remains small.

Beckmen Vineyards was named Food & Wine’s “Most Promising Winery” in the magazine’s 2000 American Wine Awards. Since then, Beckmen Vineyards has lived up to that. In 2007 it was selected as one of the “Top 100 Wineries” in the world by Wine & Spirits magazine. Not bad for a winemaker without any experience.

Jens & Gina (Who’s Gina?) are part of a local professional tasting panel called the Tasting Circle.  They meet monthly to blind taste & rank wines in the Seattle marketplace.  At a customer’s request in March 2009, the Tasting Circle tasted a lineup of Washington vs. California Cabernet.  The Beckman 2005 Estate Cab won the tasting, beating out other more expensive and well-known competitors such as Caymus.  This vintage is no longer available, but the 2006 is outstanding as well.

Beckmen Vineyards 2008 Estate Sauvignon Blanc $18.50/case $14.80
The estate Sauvignon Blanc comes exclusively from biodynamic certified grapes grown on the Purisma Mountain Vineyard, mainly on limestone. Tasting Notes:  very aromatic. Offers rich, exotic, tropical fruit, with pineapple and melon. Lots of grapefruit and lime on the mid-palate. Full-bodied, ripe and balanced. Powerful, yet elegant and persistent. Great acidity. Wonderful, long finish. One of the best Sauvignon Blancs I have tasted in the last 2 years. Up to 2 years. Excellent sipper. Good with light seafood and salads.

Beckmen Vineyards 2007 Le Bec $23/case $18.40
A blend of 44% Grenache, 28% Syrah, 20% Mourvedre and 8% Counoise. The 2007 vintage turned out to be one of the best vintages to date. A well-balanced growing season with long hang time offered exceptional flavors with low alcohol levels, creating wines with great length and depth. Tasting Notes: Meaty, peppery scents on the nose followed by flavors of black currant, black licorice and black cherries. Ripe, firm and vibrant. This wine has power with finesse. Fine tannins and smoky notes on the finish. Barrel aged for 15 month in 15% new French barrels and 85% neutral barrels. Up to 3 years. Good with roasted chicken, white meat.

Beckmen_CabBeckmen Vineyards 2006 Estate Cabernet Sauvignon$27/case $21.60
Following the 2005 vintage (which won Seattle’s Tasting Circle Tasting in March matched up against more well-known and expensive competitors) this wine again shows stunning balance and depth. One of the best Cabernet deals in California. Tasting Notes: Very aromatic. Smoked plums and blackberry fruit on the nose followed by flavors of dark fruit and raspberries. Well-balanced, complex and elegant. Great acidity which carries the fruit to a lingering, long impressive finish with espresso and coffee notes.  Up to 3 years. Fire up the grill and start the rib eyes.

Don’t forget, we offer a 20% case & 10% half-case discount.  Mixed cases included.

Enjoy & cheers!
Jens

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April 2009: Cave de Tain (Northern Rhône)

This month we are featuring wines from Cave de Tain, a winery located in the Northern Rhône Valley. The Rhône Valley (southeastern France) is one of the oldest wine growing regions in the world and is divided into the Northern and Southern Rhône Valleys, which produce distinctly different wines. The Northern Rhône is influenced by the continental climate with strong winters but warm summers as well as the mistral wind, which brings cooler air from the Massiv Central. Northern Rhône is therefore cooler than Southern Rhône, which makes its wines more concentrated, such as those from Burgundy (just to the north). Red wines from the Northern Rhône appellation are mainly made from the Syrah grape, sometimes blended with Viognier. Viognier, Marsanne and Roussanne are the only white wine grapes used in this appellation. The most famous sub-regions of the Northern Rhône are Côte Rotie, Condrieu, Cornas, Hermitage, Crozes.

Cave De Tain L’Hermitage was founded in 1933 by 100 wine growers from the district of Tain L’Hermitage. Today the co-op has 370 wine growers and a total vineyard area of 1140 hectares, of which 1000 hectares are AOC wines (appellation specific).  The 3-bottle wine club includes a red & a white from Crozes Hermitage and a red from Saint Joseph:

Cave de Tain 2007 Crozes Hermitage Blanc $23
This white is made out of 100% Marsanne. Pale yellow color with aromas and flavors of fresh, ripe citrus fruit, white peaches, apricots, and white flowers. Good acidity, complex and well-balanced. Beautiful fresh finish. Best paired with salads, white grilled meats. Drink now.

Cave de Tain 2005 Crozes Hermitage Rouge $23
100% Syrah grown on alluvial granite. Intense and delicate aromas of dark fruit and blackberries. Rich, powerful, but well-balanced. Smooth tannins with good length and depth. Flavors of blackberries, blackcurrants, cherries and oriental spices. Wonderful jammy finish.  Best matched with cold cuts or grilled red meat. Up to 3 years.

Cave de Tain 2005 Saint Joseph Esprit de Granit $35
This red is a 100% Syrah from several vineyards located in the Saint Joseph appellation. Beautiful aromas of candied dark fruit followed by flavors of dark fruit, blackberries, blueberries, dark chocolate with some spicy and toasty notes. Rich and powerful on the mid-palate, with smooth tannins on the finish. A great wine for ageing. Up to 5 years. Best with grilled red meat, game birds and cheeses.

Enjoy & cheers!
Jens

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March 2009: Alves de Sousa (Portugal)

Portugal has the oldest appellation system in the world, the Douro Valley, which is protected by UNESCO as World Heritage. The appellation was created around 1655, 200 years before that of France. This region produces some of the world’s finest, most unique and highest value wines.  It is also noteworthy that Portugal has a large variety of native vines (about 500) producing a very wide variety of different wines, including mainly blends.

This month’s wine club features the Alves de Sousa Estate (run by Domingos and his son Tiago) which produces some of the most exciting wines coming from the Douro. Alves de Sousa was the Portuguese producer of the year 1999 and 2006 as named by the Portuguese Wine Magazine.

Alves de Sousa 2004 Vale Da Raposa Red $17/case $13.60
A blend of Touriga Nacional and Tinto Cão from the Quinta do Vale da Raposa estate in the Douro. The vines are over 20 years old. Tasting notes: Aromas and flavors of orange blossom and fresh red fruit are making this red fresh and attractive. Very young, plenty of cherries but smooth, velvety texture, with very well integrated tannins. A perfect combination of two of the main Douro grapes, with the power of the Touriga Nacional balanced with the elegance and complexity of Tinto Cão.  Drink now to 2 years. Best matched with white meat, roasted chicken, turkey.

Alves de Sousa 2003 Quinta do Vale da Raposa Grande Escolha $37/case $29.60
A blend of Touriga Nacional, Touriga Franca and Tinto Cão from the same estate as above. The vines are over 60 years old. Tasting notes: Aromas of red and dark fruit, with spicy and herbal notes. Flavors of intense red and dark fruit, mainly cherries and blackberries. Full-bodied, complex, well-balanced, with great acidity. Fine tannins, and herbal notes on the long finish. An extraordinary wine. Drink now up to 4 years. Best matched with dark roasts, lamb, grilled steak.

Alves de Sousa 2004 Quinta do Vale da Raposa Tinto Cão $29/case $23.20
100% Tinto Cão from the Quinta do Vale da Raposa estate. The vines are over 20 years old. Tasting notes: Aromas of red fruit and cherries followed by flavors of raspberries, dark cherries and blackberries. Smooth, medium-bodied, velvety texture. Soft tannins with a fruity finish. It’s a very elegant and complex wine. Drink now up to 3 years. Best matched with hearty salads.

Enjoy & cheers!
Jens

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February 2009: Nicola Biscardo, Italian exporter & winemaker

This month’s wine club is featuring an upcoming winemaker and Italian exporter, Nicola Biscardo, who recently visited us for a wine tasting at Portalis. Nicola manages Conexport, a family-owned business that oversees a consortium of boutique wineries representing most all of the prominent wine regions in Italy. He was born in Verona into a family of winemakers. Raised in the land of Amarone, he took his first wine class at the age of nineteen while studying Political Science in college. It did not take him long to realize that he needed to continue in the family business of selling wine, so he switched to wine studies and attended the Masters program at the Italian Association of the Guild of Sommeliers. He is a professional Wine Taster, a Sommelier, and a member of The Society of Wine Educators. He lived in New York during the late 1990’s to market and organize the distribution of Conexport, but now lives in Verona and is the owner and winemaker at Marchesi Biscardo as well as the owner and winemaker at the Feudi di San Nicola project, where vines from Southern Italy are vinified in his facility in Northern Italy.

The three bottle wine club includes a Vedicchio dei Castelli di Jesi from Marche, a Primitivo from Puglia and a Vino Nobile di Montepulciano Riserva.

Bonci 2007 Verdicchio dei Castelli di Jesi $16
Domenico Bonci founded the winery in 1900 which is located in Cupramontana and has been family owned since then. The current owner is Joseph Bonci who mainly grows Verdicchio. Tasting notes: Fine aromas of citrus, apples and almonds, followed by flavors of citrus fruits, pear, yellow plums and a hint of vanilla. Soft, medium-bodied with great acidity. Long refreshing finish with hints of almonds. Best paired with roasted white meat, fish and white pasta dishes. Drink now.

Feudi di San Nicola 2005 Primitivo $19.50
This red is made by Nicola Biscardo in his winery in Northern Italy (outside of Verona). The grapes are harvested in Puglia, Southern Italy, and then trucked to the Veneto area. Tasting notes: This red is made with 100% Primitivo grapes and shows aromas of sweet dark fruit, olives and plums, followed by flavors of ripe, dark fruit, plums and prunes with notes of black pepper. Smooth and velvety, fine tannins and a long, spicy, smooth finish. In Nicola Biscardo’s words, this is a “southern wine with a northern touch.” Try this wine with pizza. Drink now.

Ortaglia 2003 Vino Nobile di Montepulciano Riserva $36
The winery has been family-owned for centuries and is located in the town of Montepulciano in Tuscany. They winery is also known fore their olive oil production as well as a popular place to stay. Tasting notes: Made from 85% Prugnolo Gentile, the noble variety of Sangiovese that makes Vino Nobile so special, and 15% Mammolo grapes. This red is a full-bodied, intense wine showing flavors of plums, violets and dark fruit, with some spicy and herbal components. It’s a classic expression of both “terroir” and variety with a firm backbone of smooth tannins that will allow it to evolve beautifully for the next 5 to 8 years. Very good depth and length.  Best paired with grilled lamb, dark roasts.

Enjoy & cheers!
Jens

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January 2009: Montsant & Priorat (Spain)

Montsant and Priorat are some of the most interesting wine regions in Spain. The two regions are clustered together about 100 miles southwest of Barcelona, slightly inland from the Mediterranean coast. Priorat, also called Priorato, is probably the most ragged, atypical wine region anywhere in the world, with its very steep hills, stony villages, and special soil (thin, volcanic slate, with small pieces of schist), which gives the wines their special mineral character. Wines from the Priorat region are very famous, but the appellation is relatively small, with 60 wineries sharing 1500 hectares. 1991 was the first “commercial” vintage, where some wines were exported to countries outside of Spain.

Directly south of the Priorat appellation, not far from the town of Tarragona in Catalunya, lies Montsant, formerly the Alt-Priorat, and a subsection of the Tarragona appellation. Montsant became its own appellation in 2001. There are 40 wineries located in the Montsant appellation, some over 180 years old. They operate in the shadow of the famous Priorat appellation but produce stunning wines for a fraction of the price of the Priorat wines.

For the 3-bottle wine club we chose two wines from Montsant and one from Priorat:

Celler de Capcanes 2001 Costers del Gravet Montsant $26.50
The winery is located in the village of Capcanes, was founded in 1933 and served for several years as the village cooperative. Tasting notes: A blend of 50% Cabernet Sauvignon, 30% Garnacha, 20% Carinena. Big, full-bodied red, with ripe, almost roasted flavors of plum, prunes, cola and coffee. Elegant on the mid-palate. Great concentration and acidity. Long, clean, almost floral finish with fine tannins. Drink now through 2010

La Cova Dels Vins 2006 Ombra Montsant $19.50
This is the personal project of Capcanes winemaker Cisco Perello. The vineyards are located in the districts of Falset (Priorat) and Capcanes (Montsant) at 300 to 700 meters altitude. This red is produced from 3 different varietals (Garnacha, Carinena, Syrah) on 3 different soils. 96 year-old (!) Garnacha on chalk soils, 75 year old Carinena on slate soils, and 25 year old Syrah on clay soil. Aged for 14 months in French oak barrels. Tasting notes: Round and lush, with great fruit from the nose to the palate. Aromas and flavors of sweet plums, red fruit, with smoky components and a touch of pepper and herbs. Beautifully balanced and elegant. Doesn’t need much cellaring. Drink now till 2011

Celler De L’Encastell 2006 Priorat Marge REG $35/SALE $30.99
Family-owned, this winery was selling wine to other estates for a long time. The winery is located in the village of Porrera and started bottling its own wine in 1999. This red is a blend of 60% Garnacha, 14% Syrah, 13% Merlot, and 13% Cabernet Sauvignon aged for 8 months in French and American oak barrels. Produced from vines planted on pure slate. Tasting notes: A beauty that represents Priorat. A floral, herbal nose with notes of lavender and violets. Flavors of dark cherries, blueberries, plums and prunes. Medium- to full-bodied with a smooth, elegant texture and balance, with spicy, peppery notes. This red blend has terrific length and depth, and a long, smooth finish with fine tannins. You won’t find a better value from Priorat. Best from 2010 for a decade.

All these wines are a good match with grilled steaks, dark roasts and lamb.

Enjoy & cheers!
Jens

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