Portalis Wine Club ~ Archives

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MAY 2020 // Jen’s Picks for Spring

Driven by some deals I couldn’t pass up, this month’s club is a mix of wines that have one thing in commom — spring! It’s a wonderful selection: Priorat (from outside of Barcelona), Châteauneuf-du-Pape on a crazy-town sale & Falanghina, a minerally white from outside of Naples. Enjoy! The wines are fantastic.

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Joseph Castan 2015 Châteauneuf-du-Pape
Southern Rhône, France // Reg $56.99 | INSIDER $34.99 (no further discount)

In 1907, Joseph Castan was a wine producer in the small Languedoc village of Lansargues. In 2007, his great-grandson Vianney Castan, founded his own wine trading company, including his family’s original estate as well as other wineries from Languedoc and the Southern Rhône. This Châteauneuf-du-Pape comes from vineyards with very stony soils (classic for the area — see photo above). The weather is dry (the driest in the Southern Rhône) and the heat stored by the stones during the day keeps the vines warm at night, contributing to the excellent maturity of the grapes.

Tasting Notes: 70% Grenache, 15% Syrah, 15% Mourvèdre. Wonderful, classic nose of red & black fruits, spices and that lovely, soft, Châteauneuf earthiness. Note of balsamic on the finish. Fuller-bodied, well-balanced, delicious. Enjoy with roasts, game, dishes with mushrooms, charcuterie & aged cheeses. Drink now to 5 years.

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Chapillon 2014 Cuvée Rémy
Priorat, Spain // Reg $25.99 | Mixed Case $20.79

Christophe Chapillon is a Frenchman from Tours who moved to Spain in 1986 and never went back. He makes wines in collaboration with Bodegas Langa in Calatayud (Aragon). For this Priorat, he sourced his grapes from an estate in Torroja del Priorat (pictured).

Priorat is a gorgeous, rugged, mountainous area in the region of Tarragona (about 90 minutes down the coast from Barcelona). With history in viticulture dating back almost 1000 years, its vines were wiped out by phyloxora, and growers didn’t return and replant until the 1970’s & 1980’s. In the last several decades, wines from Priorat have become some of Spain’s finest. The classic Priorat blend is old vine Carinena (Carignan) and Grenache. Some winemakers blend in Cabernet and/or Merlot for added body and complexity.

Tasting Notes: 35% Garnacha, 35% Carinena, 30% Cabernet Sauvignon. 16 months in oak. Aromas of black cherry, lavender and spice. Medium- to fuller-bodied with flavors of sun-ripened red and black fruits, plums with classic note of minerality and licorice. Pleasant tannins on the finish with good balancing acidity. Pair with grilled meats, oven-roasted poultry (turkey, chicken), richer vegetable dishes. A very easy sipper! Drink now to 5 years.

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Mastroberardino 2017 Falanghina
Campania, Italy // Reg $23.99 | Mixed Case $19.19

The Mastroberardino family established its original estate in Atripalda, about an hour due east of Naples & Mount Vesuvius. Ten generations later, they have 14 wine estates across Campania, all growing grapes indigenous to the area and its mineral, lava rock soil (pictured above).

Fun fact: Mastroberardino was selected by the local Italian government to manage the preservation of Pompeii’s ancient vineyards. “The winery carefully planted vines inside the Pompeii ruins following the plans and methods used by the Ancient Romans prior to the eruption of Vesuvius in 79 B.C.” Proceeds from the sale of these unique wines support the restoration of the ancient wine cellar at Pompeii’s Foro Bario.

Tasting Notes: 100% Falanghina. A truly fine Falanghina. Citrusy, pineapply, minerally goodness. Lovely, refreshing acidity. Good for spring and good for food pairing. Classic notes of honeysuckle and toasted almond on the finish. The producer encourages you to try this wine with seafood stews, gremolata sauces, bucatini alla puttanesca, or crab ceviche. Drink now to 2 years.

Quick note that we won’t have a pickup tasting again this month due to the continuing coronavirus shutdown. Enjoy these wines at home. They would be perfect for Mother’s Day festivities!

Don’t forget…. You can call in orders for pickup (we’ll run your wines to your car) or local delivery (4-6pm daily for an $8 fee). Call for details.

Stay well & cheers!
Jens Strecker, Owner

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APRIL 2020 // Obscure Languedoc

Stretching along the French Mediterranean from Nîmes (and the western border of the Southern Rhône) down to the Spanish border, Languedoc-Roussillon is known for excellent value red blends, most often Syrah/Grenache from sub-regions such as Languedoc & Minervois. Lesser-known, but still with their following are the regions of Corbières and Faugères, both known for blending in the raucous Carignan grape. And then there’s the rest…. the wild west of Languedoc wines. That’s the focus this month. We have 3 wines from sub-regions that are seldom available in Seattle — Côtes de Roussillon Villages (in the French foothills of the Pyrenees) and Picpoul-de-Pinet (known for its whites, but you’re getting a red!). I am particularly fond of this month’s selections. They are simply outstanding. Hope you enjoy.

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Château de Caladroy 2017 Eclats de Schistes

Côtes du Roussillon Villages, France // Reg $19.99 | Mixed Case $15.99

Located a couple of kilometers outside of the village of Bélesta (30 minutes west of Perpignan), this 130 hectare estate is owned by the Mezerette family. They grow Muscat d’Alexandrie, Chardonnay, Maccabeu, Syrah, Mourvèdre, Grenache Noir & Carignan. The soils are black schist mixed with sandy-clay. The vineyards, in the foothills of the Pyrenees, are at an elevation of 260 and 320 meters. The Caladroy Castle (the ruins of which are a part of the estate and are pictured above) dates back to 1020 AD and dominates the Roussillon plains at the foot of the Canigou Peak. Thanks to its altitude, the vineyards produce wines with a strong, enticing nose and rustic flavors of the area.

Tasting Notes: 60% Syrah, 20% Grenache Noir, 20% Mourvèdre from 30+ year old vines. Traditionally aged in tank followed by maturing in bottle in the estate’s cellars. Pronounced notes of black olives, blackcurrant, garrigue scrub with slightly spicy notes. Delicious dark fruit flavors with a note of licorice on the finish. Fuller in body with supple, coated tannins followed by good length. Goes well with grilled red meat, and various kinds of cheese. Drink now to 2 years.

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Château de Caladroy 2015 Cuvée Juliane

Côtes du Roussillon Villages, France // Reg $31.99 | Mixed Case $25.59

This wine is special. We bought it specifically for wine club and then it sold so quickly on its own (not the norm for $32/bottle) that we had a panic we wouldn’t have enough for wine club, pulling it all from the shelves and having a quick count. We had just enough, and lucky for you. It’s truly an amazing wine. And yes, we will get more, but not until fall.

Tasting Notes: Syrah 48%, Grenache Noir 40%, Carignan 12% on 30-60 year old vines. 12 months in oak barrels (30% new). Complex on the nose, this wine reveals notes of wax, flowers, wilted hay, undergrowth and mushrooms. Flavors include notes from the nose followed by ripe dark fruit. Fine, elegant, soft tannins with very nice length. Enjoy with roasted lamb or beef, game, mushrooms, strong cheeses. Drink now to 2 years.

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Château de Lancyre 2017 Coste d’Aleyrac

Coteaux du Languedoc – Pic Saint Loup, France // Reg $24.99 | Mixed Case $20.79

Aleyrac (pictured above) is a tiny Romanesque chapel dating from the 12th century. The vineyards used for this wine surround it. The winery says it’s an “enchanting setting, a true haven of peace, walkers invariably stop for a break. Here, they can soak up the sights and scents of the wonderful Mediterranean garrigue in the shade of centuries-old plane trees, lulled by the melodic song of the cicadas.”

Tasting Notes: Syrah 50%, Grenache 40%, Carignan 10% grown in clay-limestone scree. Really, the winery says it best: “The nose exudes notes of black cherry and rose on first pour then reveals aromas of black olive, liquorice and spice after swirling. The palate is full and fleshy [in a European sense] and delivers flavours of black olives and candied liquorice with a long, fresh finish and elegant tannins. … Food pairing: piperade [a traditional Basque stew made from onions, tomatoes & special local peppers], guinea fowl with morel mushrooms, platter of cold cuts and St Félicien cheese. An informal wine for sharing.” Drink now to 2 years.

Hope you enjoy this club. For Jules & me, it doesn’t get better than this for interesting, delicious wine exploration. Quick note that we won’t have a pickup tasting this month due to the coronavirus shutdown. You’ll just have to enjoy at home!

Also, we will continue to be open during the shutdown as long as we are able. You can call in orders for pickup (we’ll run your wines to your car) or local delivery (4-6pm daily for an $8 fee). Call for details.

Stay well & cheers!
Jens Strecker, Owner
Portalis Wine Shop & J. Strecker Selections

 

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MARCH 2020 // Bartholomew Winery

In honor of Washington Wine Month, we are featuring a local producer — Bart Fawbush of Bartholomew Winery, located in Kennewick (with a tasting room in Seattle at the Old Rainier Brewery). Originally from Ogden, Utah, Bart attended college at Gonzaga University in Spokane where he studied Biology and Chemistry. After college, Bart found he was well-suited to the business world and had a desire to be an entrepreneur. After working in several financial institutions, he opened a mortgage brokerage in the early 2000’s. His interest in winemaking called, though, and he combined his business & science backgrounds to form Bartholomew Winery in 2007.

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Over the years, Bart has become increasingly interested in obscure varietals — Primitivo, Albariño (both in your club), Carménère, Tannat, Petit Verdot, Cabernet Franc & more — and how they show when grown in Washington State.

We had Bart at the shop for a holiday tasting in December. Low-key, easy-going, loves his obscure varietal rabbit hole, super fun to talk to. If you like these wines, go visit him in Kennewick (maroon star above) for the full experience!

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Bartholomew 2018 Albariño
Horse Heaven Hills // Reg $21.99 | Mixed Case $17.59

Tasting Notes: 100% Albariño. Stainless-steel fermented. Less minerality but more fruit than what you traditionally find from Spanish Albariño and no salinity on the finish. Full of lovely citrusy goodness, nectarines & refreshing acidity. Enjoy with fish, spring vegetables with pasta, roasted or grilled chicken. Or find a pretty spring day and enjoy sipping it on the patio. Drink now to 3 years.

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Bartholomew 2015 Cuvée Rouge
Columbia Valley // Reg $37.99 | Mixed Case $30.39

2015 was a hot vintage, and Bart brought in all 6 of these Bordeaux varietals with a Cab heavy wine in mind, but it morphed into this Petit Verdot & Merlot dominant blend.

Tasting Notes: 57% Petit Verdot, 28% Merlot, 9% Malbec, 3% Cab, 2% Cab Franc (pictured), 1% Carmenere. “Leading with Petit Verdot, … aromas of sweet cocoa powder, forest floor and a whisper of mint, followed by flavors of ripe plum, blueberry and Baker’s chocolate, all backed by richly smooth tannins.” — Pacific NW Magazine. Enjoy with meats off the grill. Drink now to 3 years.

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Bartholomew 2017 Primitivo
Horse Heave Hills // Reg $32.99 | Wine Club $29.99 | Mixed Case $23.99

Bart stumbled into this grape several years ago, not even really aware that it was available in WA State, and then his customers dug it, so he has continued producing it.

Tasting Notes: 100% Primitivo. An early ripening grape, Bart says it kicks off his harvest every year. He ferments at a low temperature to maintain as much color and fruitiness as possible, and he uses neutral (used) oak, not for oak flavoring or to mellow out the wine but for “seasoning”, sort of like adding salt and pepper to a meal. Bart says: “This wine shows bright fruit flavors, a medium body, good depth on the mid-palate, and a fantastic finish that makes you want more. An extremely good value for this quality of American made wine. Pair with tomato based pasta dishes, burgers, and pizza!” Drink now to 3 years.

Hope you enjoy this club. Bart’s a great guy, doing great work. Please join us on Thursday, March 12 to taste and learn about your wines.

Cheers,
Jens Strecker, Owner
Portalis Wine Shop & J. Strecker Selections
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FEBRUARY 2020 // Côtes du Rhône Villages Gadagne

This month we are going to check out a somewhat obscure little area — Côtes du Rhône Villages Gadagne (circled on the map) — within one of the most beloved and well-known regions: France’s Southern Rhône Valley. If you look up the village of Gadagne using an online mapping service, it will default to its original name — Châteauneuf-de-Gadagne — but since 2012 (when it joined the group of elite villages that can declare their name at the end of the Côtes du Rhône Villages title), it got truncated to Gadagne. Apparently the Cru Village Châteauneuf-du-Pape wasn’t keen on sharing the name!

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Photo credit: AOP Gadagne Côtes du Rhône Villages

But, let’s back up a second and have a quick review of how France’s Rhône Valley is organized. Its vineyards are ranked in a pyramid: AOC Côtes du Rhône wines (about 50% of production) make up the base (of juicy, delicious, easy-drinking everyday wines). Next up the triangle is AOC Côtes du Rhône Villages, then AOC Côtes du Rhône Villages [+village name], and up on top are the Cru Villages where only the name of village is on the label, e.g. Châteauneuf-du-Pape, Gigondas, Vacqueyras (with 17 total in the Northern & Southern Rhône). As you move up the pyramid, the wines get more complex, more age worthy and more expensive.

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Map credit: Wine Folly

 

In addition to the red & white blends from CDRV Gadagne, 3-bottle club members will get a red co-op blend from Gigondas. This month, have fun reveling in the glory of TONS of wine for the money!

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Domaine des Pentelines 2018 Côtes du Rhône Villages Gadagne “Clara” Blanc
Southern Rhône, France // Reg $24.99 | Mixed Case $19.99

Domaine des Pentelines (vineyards pictured) has 26 hectares of vineyards in one single stretch of land. The Hardy family owned this property for 80 years before it was recently acquired by the Kandler family. The vineyard is orientated to the west and drains well thanks to its « Pentelines » which means soft slopes in the local dialect. The soils are covered with large pebbles, and the vines are swept by the Mistral winds. They grow a range of varietals including Grenache, Syrah, Carignan, Mourvèdre, Marselan, Cinsault, Clairette, Marsanne, Roussanne & Grenache Blanc.

Tasting Notes: Clairette 20%, Marsanne 20%, Roussanne 20%, Grenache Blanc 20%, Ugni Blanc 20%. 100% organic; certified AB (Agriculture Biologique). Savory notes of beer hops, fresh tarragon & white peaches. Creamy mouthfeel with flavors of apricots, grilled apples with a long finish. Enjoy with baked fish dishes, pan-fried scallops, grilled sea bass on a bed of sautéed vegetables, baked chicken & vegetable dishes. Drink now to 3 years.

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Domaine des Pentelines 2016 Côtes du Rhône Villages Gadagne “Les Galets” Rouge
Southern Rhône, France // Reg $25.99 | Mixed Case $20.79

Tasting Notes: Grenache 65%, Syrah 25%, Mourvèdre 10%. Intense & fruity. A perfect balance of cherry, dark plum & red berry fruits. Fresh and smooth with a fuller-body and a rich, fruity, velvety long finish. Enjoy with Gambas “a la Plancha” with herbs, lamb chops with vegetables, paté on fresh country bread or vegetable lasagne. Drink now to 5 years.

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Photo credit: Appellation Gigondas>

Les Couventines 2016 Gigondas

Southern Rhône, France // Reg $33.99 | Mixed Case $27.19

Denis Vaudier and his brother own Chateau de Peyguerol which provides grapes to the VPA co-operative in Générac where this wine in made. Co-op wines are generally great value for the money, and this one is no exception.

 

Tasting Notes: 75% Grenache, 15% Syrah, 5% Mourvèdre and 5% Cinsault. Ripe baked cherries with licorice and vanilla undertones on the nose. Hedonistic jammy black cherries, black berries and raspberries flavors with peppercorn, fresh hillside herbs and anise. Serve with duck, lamb and other traditional dishes from southern France.

Hope you enjoy this club. These would be wonderful Valentine’s wines by the way for a delicious, celebratory dinner at home. Please join us on Thursday, February 13 to taste and learn about your wines.

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

 

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JANUARY 2020 // Northern Portugal

We regularly hear about your travels as you pass through the shop, and Portugal has been on the rise over the last couple years as a destination for food, wine, hiking and low-key cultural delights. We thoughts we’d encourage the effort with some delicious wines from the Douro as well as the lesser-known region of Bairrada on the Atlantic coast below Vinho Verde. I think the wines are out of this world. Hope you agree!

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Alves de Sousa 2016 Branco da Gaivosa Gran Reserva

Douro Valley, Portugal // Reg $37.99 | Wine Club $35.99 | Mixed Case $28.79

For many years the Alves de Sousa family (father/son team Tiago & Domingo Alves de Sousa pictured below) used its grapes for making top quality ports (both white & red). In the early 90’s, Domingos decided to embrace the coming revolution of dry wines from the Douro. It’s not a decision he regretted. Multiple times awarded the Producer of the Year in Portugal, the estate has continued to grow and flourish with Tiago becoming the head winemaker in 2002.

Tasting Notes: A blend of Malvasia Fina, Gouveio, Avesso and Arinto. 20+ year old vines. Clear straw yellow color. Floral, with a hint of lychees and wonderful minerality. The fine oak presence is subtle and enhancing. Complex, fresh and elegant. Lovers of white Burgundy… this one’s for you! Drink now to 5 years.

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Alves de Sousa 2016 Caldas Reserva
Douro Valley, Portugal // Reg $23.99 | Mixed Case $19.19

Caldas, on the right bank of the Douro, is the largest (33 ha.) of Alves de Sousa’s quintas. Its location in Baixo-Corgo is cooler, resulting in a very elegant and fresh varietal expression.

Tasting Notes: 100% Touriga Nacional. 12 months in 2nd & 3rd year French oak casks. Deep ruby color. Intense flavors of dark plums, cherries, black pepper & violets. Very well-balanced with a refined toastiness from the oak. Fuller-bodied. A charming wine with lovely minerality & complexity. Very long finish. Drink now to 5 years.

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Vadio 2015 Baga

Bairrada, Portugal // Reg $23.99 | Mixed Case $19.19

Vadio is situated in the village of Poutena in the Bairrada region of northwestern Portugal (on the Atlantic coast). It is a small, family project founded in 2005 by winemaker Luís Patrão whose vision is to recover the traditional grape varieties of the area and produce authentic DOC Bairrada wines. Vadio has three small totally distinct vineyards and an old warehouse that they have adapted into a simple production facility. All of their wines are organically farmed and made using indigenous yeasts.

Tasting Notes: 100% Baga. Barrel aged for a minimum of 18 months. Low alcohol of 12.5%. Complex aromas of local red berries, red currants and the characteristic freshness of Bairrada with a little note of well-integrated oak. Ripe, rich fruity flavors of red plum and rich berries. Good acidity allows for pairings with rich dishes such as duck & pork belly. Would also be delicious with roasted pork loin and richer pasta dishes including those with mushrooms. Can handle spicier dishes well, too. Enjoy now to 5 years.

Hope you enjoy this club. I have been a long-time fan of Tiago’s wines. Then last spring I picked up the
Vadio wines while wine-buying in Europe, and I think they (there’s a white, too!) are interesting and delicious especially in contrast to wines from the Douro. Please join us on Thursday, January 16 to taste and learn about your wines before enjoying them at home. Happy New Year! Wishing you all the best in 2020!

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

 

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DECEMBER 2019 // Bodegas Altanza (Rioja)

Ah… Rioja, a historic and beloved region in north-central Spain known for lying directly on the path of the Camino de Santiago. From France, you head through Basque country, then Rioja, then on through Burgos, Léon and finally arrive in Santiago de Compostella. Rioja is also know for its elegant red wines, made primarily from Tempranillo and aged according to tradition in oak barrels as specified by the Denominación de Origen Calificada Rioja rules and regulations.

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Located in Fuenmayor (Rioja Alta) about 10 minutes due west of Logroño, Bodegas Altanza is a 300 ha. estate, 220 ha. of which are vineyards. They grow 100% Tempranillo aged primarily in French oak barrels which are renewed every 5 years. The winery describes Tempranillo as evolving more slowly than other varieties, making it deal for aging. You’ll get to experience that with the Crianza, Reserva & Gran Reserva included in this club. Details on Rioja’s aging rules are listed below with the wine descriptions.

Through a series of Spanish connections, I found this winery on my last buying trip to Europe and was wowed. I’ve been looking forward to their wines arriving since last spring. And here they are! Hope you enjoy.

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Bodegas Altanza 2010 Lealtanza Gran Reserva
Rioja, Spain // Reg $36.99 | Mixed Case $29.59

Rioja Gran Reserva is aged at least 2 years in barrel and 3 years in bottle before release.

Tasting Notes: 100% Tempranillo. Aged 24 months in 50% French & 50% American oak barrels and three months in 22,000 liter French oak vats. The wonderful bouquet is complex due to the aging with aromas of spice box, old leather, smokey notes with a faint hint of cocoa, toast & coffee. On the palate you still get some cherry and plum fruit, but the oak has played its role, and it is smooth, soft, complex. Pair with roasted meats & poultry and aged cheeses or sit in front of the fire and sip. You can enjoy this wine now (my suggestion is to open the bottle an hour before your meal; decanting is not necessary) or up to 10+ years. The wine will continue to get smoother over time.

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Bodegas Altanza 2016 Lealtanza Crianza
Rioja, Spain // Reg $19.99 | Mixed Case $15.99

Rioja Crianza is aged at least 1 year in oak and 1 year in bottle before release.

Tasting Notes: 100% Tempranillo. Aged 12 months in French casks, 15% new barrels and the rest in their second or third use. Intense, deep ruby red. Aromas of sweet red fruit (strawberry, cherry) and licorice with smoke, grilled bread & balsamic notes. Slight hint of earthy & minerals. Pleasant with a good acidity and a long aftertaste. Nicely balanced. Enjoy with tapas, stews, red meats and mature cheeses (Manchego). Drink now to 5 years.

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Bodegas Altanza 2014 Lealtanza Reserva
Rioja, Spain // Reg $27.99 | Mixed Case $22.39

Rioja Reserva is aged a minimum of 1 year in oak and 2 years in bottle before release.

Tasting Notes: 100% Tempranillo. Aged 18 months in French barrels followed by 3 months in 22,000 liter French oak vats. Complex bouquet of red raspberry and licorice with smoky & spicy notes from the oak. Rich, fuller-bodied on the palate with good fruit and a lovely meatiness. Nice tannins on the finish with just enough acidity to make this wine very food friendly. Enjoy with meaty soups, stews, roasts and cured cheeses. Drink now to 8 years.

Hope you enjoy this club. I lived in northeast Spain for several years after high school and my love of these wines will never wane!! It’s a busy time of year, but hopefully you’ll be able to join us for your pickup tasting on Thursday, December 12 to taste and learn about your wines before enjoying them at home. Happy Holidays! Happy New Year! Your next club will be in 2020!

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

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NOVEMBER 2019 // Nebbiolo

It’s an amazing grape, Nebbiolo, and not for the faint of heart!! Known for the high-end wines that come from the communes of Barolo and Barbaresco, Piedmont makes plenty of everyday Nebbiolo which is fresher, has less oak and is decidedly less complex than the big guns, but Nebbiolo always has its signature aromas — roses, cherries with a note of tobacco, leather & licorice and maybe most importantly, it’s DRY!! If you aren’t quite sure what we mean when we describe a wine as dry (or tannic), pay attention to what happens to your tongue at the end of a sip of Nebbiolo. I love drinking dry wine without food, but if it’s a little much for you, just have a slice of salami nearby, and you’ll get the magic of this pairing — the tannins in the wine cut the fat of the meat, making the meat less rich and the wine much smoother. It’s a match made in heaven.

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This club includes a beautiful Barbaresco, a younger, fresher style Langhe Nebbiolo (for 3-bottle club members), and a Nebbiolo blend so that you can see how other grapes can smooth it out. These wines would be great with Thanksgiving (as long as your meal is savory!) or with a wonderful fall dinner of roasted or stewed meat, mushrooms and/or root vegetables. Hope you enjoy!

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Giuseppe Nada 2014 “Casot” Barbaresco DOCG
Piedmont, Italy // Reg $33.99 | Mixed Case $27.19

Head winemaker at the estate since 2008, Enrico Nada (pictured above with his dad, Giuseppe, his mom, Nella) has visited us as Portalis in recent years to taste through a lineup of his wines. He’s a dear friend of Gina (of yesteryear Portalis Wine Bar fame) and her husband, Kenny, who now own and are renovating a property in the village of Santa Margherita in the province of Asti (also in Piedmont). We have grown fond of his wines, and this Barbaresco is an outstanding example of his work and of wines from the region.

Tasting Notes: 100% Nebbiolo. Aged 2 years in 500, 1000 & 3000 liter oak casks with the final wine a blend of the 3 different sized barrels. Garnet in color with orange reflections. Ethereal bouquet of roses, violet, wild berry, leather, forest floor, soft oak & spice. Wonderful juicy fruit on the palate with flavors of cherry, black raspberry, licorice, tobacco & truffle. You can drink this wine now, but the winery advises you to decant it first. It will be at its height between 2022 and 2030. Another benefit of highly tannic wines… they age well and long!

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Virna Borgogno 2017 Langhe Rosso
Piedmont, Italy // Reg $23.99 | Mixed Case $19.19

The next two wines are from Virna Borgogno (pictured right with her sister, Ivana). The winery is in the commune of Barolo in the heart of Langhe. [Note: We carry Virna’s wonderful Barolo (100% Nebbiolo), but that’s a conversation for another day!] In 1950, her father, Ludovico Borgogno, second generation winemaker, purchased several vineyards and constructed a new winery. Virna (the first woman to graduate with a degree in enology from Turin University) is now the proprietor and head winemaker at the estate. Ivana handles the administrative side of the business, and Virna’s husband, Giovanni Abrigo, oversees the vineyards and viticulture. The winery covers an area of about 12 hectares and produces prestigious wines from its estate vineyards, with historical Crus in the Barolo area.

Tasting Notes: This wine is a Barbera/Nebbiolo/Dolcetto blend, all traditional grapes of Piedmont and an excellent example of how a blend can balance out a single varietal wine. Intense ruby red color. Notes of juicy red berries and mellow cherries with a hint of tobacco & vanilla on the nose. In the mouth it is fruity and pleasant, with a long finish of ripe berries. Very soft tannins. Enjoy with mushroom pastas, poultry, roasted pork. Drink now to 5 years.

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Virna Borgogno 2016 Langhe Nebbiolo
Piedmont, Italy // Reg $23.99 | Mixed Case $19.19

Tasting Notes: 100% Nebbiolo. Aged for one year in oak barrels and left in the bottle for at least 6 months lying down. Delicate fruity scents of raspberry and violet. On the palate it’s dry but with nice pleasant fruit. Harmonious with good body. Becomes less dry with age. Pair with cheese pastas, dishes with truffles, lamb, roasted pork, roasted fowl. Enjoy now to 7 years. If you drink now, you can let it air for a good couple hours before drinking. You could even argue that it’s better on Day 2… if there’s any left!

I hope you get to know and love Nebbiolo… if you aren’t already smitten! This email tells you that your wines are ready for pickup at your convenience. If you would like to taste this month’s wines prior to enjoying them at home, stop by on Thursday, November 14 for your pickup tasting. Hope to see you then.

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

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OCTOBER 2019 // Zorzon

Azienda Agricola Zorzon is a small, family winery in the DOC Collio (see map below) in Italy’s northeastern most region of Friuli Venezia Giulia. It was founded in the 19th century by Louis Zorzon. It is currently managed by third generation winemaker, Giorgio Deganis (who is the winemaker – pictured below) and his Austrian wife, Petra (who runs the business side).

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Collio is a small hilly area bordering Slovenia. The soil there is known as Ponca (marl and sandstone) resulting in very aromatic wines that also have a unique minerality to them. This winery is known for producing beautiful native white wines such as Friulano, Malvasia and Ribolla Gialla, along with other international whites such as Sauvingon Blanc and Pinot Grigio. They also produce 2 red wines, Merlot and Cabernet Franc.

This is J. Strecker Selections’ first direct import from Friuli, and we are excited to have it here in the Seattle market. These wines are interesting, complex and delicious, telling their story from their little corner of the world. Our original plan was to put them in your November club with Thanksgiving in mind (they would be perfect) but we decided that they are great for fall in general, so you have the option to enjoy them now or save them (or enjoy them now and get more)!

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Zorzon 2018 Collio Friulano
Friuli Venezia Giulia, Italy // Reg $19.99 | Mixed Case $15.99
100% Friulano. Faint wild flowers, golden fruits on the nose. Flavors of yellow plum & quince. Dry, fresh, soft and velvety. Complex minerality. Enjoy as an aperitif or alongside fish dishes, grilled white meats, and cured & smoked hams. Drink now to 2 years. Drink now to 2 years.

Zorzon 2017 Collio Cabernet Franc
Friuli Venezia Giulia, Italy // Reg $23.99 | Mixed Case $19.19
100% Cabernet Franc. Aged in oak barrels for about 2 years. Cherries, red berries on the nose. Lighter in body with a depth of red fruit flavors. Soft dirt. Faint note of crushed gravel. Tiny hint of green pepper. Enjoy with pork roasts, game, roasted chicken, mushroom dishes. Drink now to 3 years.

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Zorzon 2018 Collio Pinot Grigio
Friuli Venezia Giulia, Italy // Reg $22.99 | Mixed Case $18.39
100% Pinot Grigio. A savory white with aromas of honeysuckle & a touch of tropical fruit. Smooth, juicy fruit flavors of honeydew melon, cantaloupe, a touch of baking spice and tangy citrus on the finish. This wine has Thanksgiving dinner written all over it! Until then, enjoy with grilled seafood, rich soups, rice dishes, roasted pork & chicken. Drink now to 2 years.

I have been excited about having these wines in Seattle since I tasted them in March on my wine buying trip. I hope you like them as much as I do. This email tells you that your wines are ready for pickup at your convenience. If you would like to taste this month’s wines prior to enjoying them at home, stop by on Thursday, October 17 for your pickup tasting. Hope to see you then.

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

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SEPTEMBER 2019 // Autumn Reds

It’s a great time of year for medium-bodied reds — complex, elegant, made for the bounty of fruits, vegetables and mushrooms available this time of year! We picked three wines from different countries — Barbera from Piedmont, a Bordeaux blend from Saint-Emilion & a Pinot Noir from the Willamette Valley. They are terrific wines. Delicious to sip. Wonderful paired with whatever you find at the farmer’s market this time of year. You choose.

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L’Adage 2014 Saint-Emilion Rouge
Bordeaux, France // Reg $23.99 | Mixed Case $19.19

L’Adage is a 15 hectare estate exclusively made for Mason Querre, a négociant house established in 1897. Vineyards are located south of Saint-Émilion in the foothills where the soil is sandy making for pleasant drinking, fruitier wines (as opposed to limestone marl in other areas of the Right Bank which is much harder to cultivate, producing less fruity, more complex wines).

Tasting Notes: 90% Merlot, 10% Cabernet Franc. 30-year old vines, with sandy soil. 12 months in French oak barrique of which 30% is new. The nose is full of truffles, toasted bread and blackberries. Rich baked fruit, cassis and chocolate on the palate. The finish has firm tannins with a velvety finish. Well-matched with aged sheep’s cheese, game, fowl or grilled steak. Drink now to 3 years.

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Pelassa 2016 San Pancrazio Barbera d’Alba Superiore
Piedmont, Italy // Reg $24.99 | Mixed Case $19.99

The Pelassa family owns 12-hectares in the Roero area of Piedmont. Last spring, Mario Pelassa died, leaving his wife, Maria-Theresa (pictured above thinning vines last month), and his two sons, Daniele & Davide, at the helm. They continue to lovingly care for this property in his honor.

This Barbera d’ Alba Superiore is their most highly decorated wine, appearing on the cover of the Decanter magazine several years ago as their Wine of the Year. $25 Barbera can be tricky to sell in the US, where fruitier wines often wine the prize, but don’t over look this delicious sample. It’s complex but not austere — pleasant, thought-provoking and flat-out delicious. Hope you enjoy!

Tasting Notes: Dark blackberries, soft summer cherries & vanilla, subtle baking spices and tannins. Perfect for roasted meats, game & dishes with mushrooms. Drink now to 5 years. Highly, highly recommended!

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Bethel Heights 2017 Pinot Noir Estate
Willamette Valley, Oregon // Reg $36.99 | Mixed Case $29.59

In 1977, brothers Ted & Terry Casteel together with their wives Pat Dudley & Marilyn Webb and Pat’s sister Barbara Dudley, bought 75 acres of farmland northwest of Salem. 14 acres were newly planted. 36 more acres were planted in 1979. In 1981 they had their first harvest and round of basement wine. Their first commercial vintage was in 1984. They raised their families on this property with Ted managing the vineyard, Terry making the wine and Pat & Marilyn running the business. In 2005 Ben Casteel (son of Terry and Marilyn) took over as winemaker.

Winemaker’s Tasting Notes: “Aromas of damp earth, warm spice, red cane berries and faint oak spice carry over to the palate, with balancing acidity and fine grain tannins showing potential for aging over the next 8-12 years.” I wouldn’t wait that long or you’ll lose some fruit, but up to 5 would be fine. I like this Oregon Pinot because it’s beautifully made — good fruit, well-balanced, very pleasant drinking, and it’s a reasonable price for well-crafted Pinot Noir from the Willamette Valley.

Hope you enjoy these fall reds! This email tells you that your wines are ready for pickup at your convenience. If you would like to taste this month’s wines prior to enjoying them at home, stop by on Thursday, September 12 for your pickup tasting. Hope to see you then.

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

 

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AUGUST 2019 // Faugères

This little known sub-region of Languedoc-Roussillon lies about 45 minutes inland from the Mediterranean Sea. It’s rocky (schist), hilly and rugged with relatively gentle winters and long, hot, dry summers. Historically olives were grown in this part of Languedoc,with wine not becoming prominent until the late 1700’s. Today the most common grapes are Carignan, Cinsault, Grenache, Mourvèdre and Syrah. Some whites & rosé wines are produced as well. The area of Faugères is small (1800 acres) and until recently, many of the old vineyards had been abandoned. But over the last several decades, winemakers have moved to this area, bought small properties, and have worked to bring these old vines back to life. So is the story of the two women winemakers featured in this month’s club: Arielle Demets of Domaine Les Fusionels and Catherine Roque of Mas d’Alezon.

Wonderful, off-the beaten path wines. Enjoy!

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Domaine Les Fusionels 2016 Cuvée “In Tempus” Faugères
Languedoc-Roussillon, France // Reg $27.99 | Mixed Case $22.39

Arielle Demets grew up in the heart of the Côte des Bar (in Champagne). Her adolescence was spent in the vineyards and was deeply influenced by her parents’ and grandparents’ strong attachment to the land and their respect for their terroirand winemaking traditions. In 2003, having completed a degree in viticulture and oenology, she worked at her family’s estate before striking out on her own in 2007 with a purchase of 6 ha of vines (in Faugères) from a local wine growing couple who were readyto retire. The vines are located in the far north of the appellation at a height of 350 meters near the village of Cabrerolles. The domain has gradually grown in size to cover a few hectares in Faugères and Caussiniojouls. Starting with the 2017 vintage,the wines will be certified organic. Estate vineyards pictured above & below.

Tasting Notes: 40% Syrah, 30% Carignan, 15% Mourvèdre, 15% Grenache. 12 months ageing in Burgundy barrels (previously used for 1 to 3 wines). Production is 6000 bottles. Mediterranean notes of juniper, cistus and stewed black fruits (blackberry, blueberry and cherry) on the nose. A rich, round, powerful wine with excellent intensity. Smooth tannins on the finish. Enjoy with grilled meats and vegetables or in cooler weather with casseroles and stews. Drink now to 5 years.

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Domaine Les Fusionels 2016 Cuvée “Le Rêve” Faugères
Languedoc-Roussillon, France // Reg $19.99 | Mixed Case $15.99

Tasting Notes: 60% Syrah, 30% Grenache, 10% Carignan. 40% of the blend is aged in Burgundy barrels. Production is 30,000 bottles. Floral notes (violet, thyme blossom), ripe fruits (sour cherry, raspberry) and roasted aromas on the nose. A smooth, seductive wine. Well-balanced and elegant. Simply a pleasure to drink. Pair with lamb burgers this summer or rack of lamb as we head into fall. Drink now to 3 years.

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Mas d'Alezon Faugeres
Mas D’Alezon 2017 Le Presbytère Faugères
Languedoc-Roussillon, France // Reg $27.99 | Mixed Case $ $22.39

Catherine Roque acquired Mas D’Alezon and its 7 hectares in the northern corner of Faugères in 1997. The vineyards are in the village of Soumatre (about 20 minutes northeast of Arielle Demets’ property). At 350-450 meters in altitude, they are the highest in the appellation. Catherine’s vineyard is certified organic, producing Grenache, Mourvèdre & Syrah as well as Clairette and Roussanne for her white blend. The average age of her vines is 25 years, including plots of 70-year old Grenache and 80-year old Mourvèdre. Due to the combination of infertile soils and cool micro-climate, her grapes are very slow to ripen and yields are typically 20 to 25 hl/ha. She relies on indigenous yeasts for fermentation, believing in long and slow fermentation at cool temperatures. The wine is aged in cement tanks and barrels (that are not new) for up to two years. No sulfur is used during this process and only at bottling is the smallest amount added.

Tasting Notes: The Presbytère is 80% Grenache with Syrah & Mourvèdre making up the final 20%. Dark, ripe berry fruits with notes of spice, licorice, herbs and little note of stony earth. Fine tannins on the long finish. Wonderful wine. Enjoy with dishes that have legumes, mushrooms, aubergine. Charcuterie and cheeses would also be a delicious pairing. Drink now to 5 years.

It’s so fun doing a wine club like this one where we’ve gotten our hands on wines from two tiny producers, working in an area that is still up-and-coming. Hope you like them as much as I do! This email tells you that your wines are ready for pickup at your convenience. If you would like to taste this month’s wines prior to enjoying them at home, stop by on Thursday, August 15 for your pickup tasting. Hope to see you then.

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

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JULY 2019 // Antoine de La Farge

For those of you who’ve been in this wine club for more than a year, you may recognize Antoine de La Farge (pictured left with his dad) as he was featured in a Loire Valley club (with other producers) about a year ago. The club this month is all him, featuring all new wines — white, red & rosé — from Menetou-Salon & Sancerre.

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With this club you are truly getting to taste an up and comer in Loire Valley wines. It’s just Antoine, making and selling his wines. As of yet, there is no website. There is no Facebook or Twitter account. We can’t even get our hands on technical sheets for these wines! Getting him to respond to an email has been like pulling teeth. And when he finally does, he pardons the delay with a heartfelt — “My apologies. I’ve been very busy signing on a new vineyard.”

So, aside from meeting him twice at ProWein and having the impression that he’s a solid guy with killer wines, here’s what we know about him:

He grew up in a Menetou-Salon wine family. His grandfather, Bernard Clément (founder of the famous Domain de Châtenoy and the founding father of the Menetou-Salon appellation in 1959), is a deep part of his oldest memories. Antoine studied enology, then formed a company with another guy and for 5 years traded French wines around the world. At some point during that experience (which he holds dear for its training), he decided that he wanted to return to his roots, be a farmer, and make the wine, not just sell it. Currently he helps his parents run Domaine de L’Ermitage (a part of the original Domain de Châtenoy given to his mother from her father), and in the last years he has started purchasing his own vineyards in Menetou-Salon, Pouilly-Fumé & Sancerre, producing wine under his name.

These are elegant, delicious food wines all year round, but they are especially wonderful in summer! I hope you enjoy.

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Domaine de l’Ermitage 2018 Menetou-Salon Rosé
Loire Valley, France // Reg $26.99 | Mixed Case $21.59
Above are the vineyards of the Domaine de L’Ermitage winery that Antoine runs with his parents, Laurence & Geraud de la Farge. They planted the 10-hectare estate in 1981 with their first vintage in 2003. This wine is produced using natural yeasts, and it won a Gold Medal at the Concours Mondial du Rosé 2019.

Tasting Notes: 100% Pinot Noir. Pure, fresh fruit notes on the nose (strawberry, a touch of citrus, red currant, peach vine) and white flowers. Elegant personality with slight notes of pepper. On the palate it’s fresh and fruity with a long-lasting finish. Drink now through the summer of 2020. The winery says to enjoy this wine as a sunny day aperitif with charcuterie or tapas (more or less spicy), with a range of dinner options: sea bass or scallops, sushi & sashimi, veal, lamb or salmon, and dessert — perfect with a nice sorbet.

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Antoine de La Farge 2017 Menetou-Salon Rouge “Les Pierres Chaudes”
Loire Valley, France // Reg $25.99 | Mixed Case $20.79
This wine is from Antoine’s newly acquired Menetou-Salon vineyard.

Tasting Notes: 100% Pinot Noir. Lighter in body. Intense roasted black cherry and prune notes. Slightly spicy with hints of pepper. On the palate, the wine is silky smooth with an intense concentration of cherry fruit flavors and a hint of licorice. Harmonious. Round. Elegant. Fresh. Soft finish with coated tannins. Enjoy now to 5 years. Ideal with grilled meats, game, fish, cheeses as well as chocolate desserts. 

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Antoine de La Farge 2018 Sancerre “La Carrière”
Loire Valley, France // Reg $29.99 | Mixed Case $ $23.99
Sancerre had a bad vintage in 2017. Much of the crop was destroyed due to storms, making supply low, and subsequently Sancerre wines were very hard to find in our market over the last year. Antoine’s Sancerre had sold out by the time I met him that first spring at ProWein, so I purchased his Menetou-Salon & Pouilly Fumé in the spring of 2018 so that we would have Sauvignon Blanc from this eastern most part of the Loire Valley. This vintage (2018), Sancerre is back and prices for all whites from this region of the Loire have dropped as supply has increased.

Tasting Notes: 100% Sauvignon Blanc. Lovely lemony nose with grapefruit, lime, white flowers and a little note of exotic fruits followed by the special flinty, minerality that the chalky Sancerre soils impart. This vintage was warm, so the body is a little fuller, but it maintains a crystal clear minerality, and the off-setting acidity keeps the wine fresh, intense, harmonious, round & deep. Wonderful with all sorts of seafood and fish (both fresh and salt water) and dishes with pork, veal or chicken. A versatile food wine and a delicious, refreshing summer sipper. Enjoy now to 3 years.

Keep your eye on this guy. He’s young, and his work will be around for years to come!! Hope you like his wines as much as I do. That said, your wines are ready for pickup at your convenience. If you would like to taste this month’s wines prior to enjoying them at home, stop by on Thursday, July 11 for your pickup tasting. Hope you can make it!

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

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JUNE 2019 // Châteauneuf-du-Pape

Vigneron independant_FranceVignerons indépendants de France (VIF) is a viticultural trade association based in Paris that promotes and assists small and independent winemakers within France. Both wineries featured in this month’s club are producers showing off their little corner of Châteauneuf-du-Pape, the most well-known and highly-decorated of the Rhône Valley’s Cru Villages.

Both of these properties are tiny (5.5 and 8 hectares respectively) and have small teams running them on a day-to-day basis. They are beautifully crafted local wines with all of the wineries’ efforts put into winemaking. You’d be hard pressed to find much info on either winery online, and don’t be looking to visit any tasting rooms! It’s fun to get to have these wines in Seattle. You could almost feel like you were there…

That said, here are the wines and a little about them:

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Le Plan des Moines_First tasting of the vintage 2018 from the tank (still fermenting)

Le Plan des Moines 2016 Les Charretons Châteauneuf du Pape Rouge
Southern Rhône, France // Reg $54.99 | Mixed Case $43.99

The winery’s self-stated MO: “Three friends, Daniel, Thierry and Claude with almost sixty years of combined experience in the wine trade, get together with one aim: … producing terrific, genuine and natural Rhône wines.” Claude Serra, the winemaker, an experienced viticulturist and Professor in Oenology at Montpellier University, controls the viticulture, winemaking and estate bottling of the wine. Pictured: first tasting of the 2018 vintage still fermenting in the tank!

Winemaker’s Notes: A blend of Grenache 70% – Syrah 20% – Mourvèdre 10%. The northeastern-facing vineyards have large pebbles and sand soil, enhancing (especially) the Grenache. The wine is vinified at the estate and matures 18 months, 30% in oak barrels and the other 70% in a tank. “The soil’s power is expressed by brandy cherry, laurel leaves, paprika and nutmeg notes. Fine tannins in the mouth with notes of fresh red fruits. Black licorice and cocoa complete the aromas of raspberry and crystallized blackberry.” Drink now to 10 years. Enjoy with a wide variety of red meat dishes and wild game.

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Le Plan des Moines 2016 La Borde Côtes du Rhône Rouge
Southern Rhône, France // Reg $18.99 | Mixed Case $15.19

This second wine is the winery’s Côtes du Rhône La Borde blend with 60% Grenache (estate grapes pictured) – 40% Carignan. Hand-harvested grapes, fermented in stainless steel tanks then matured 12-18 months in VAT before bottling. This wine is a couple price points higher than most Côtes du Rhône blends, but it’s so worth it! A top seller, this wine is more complex and fuller-bodied than most.

Winemaker’s Notes: “Delicate nose with notes of crisp red fruits, blackcurrant jelly, raspberries and a hint of cedar. …Fine and fleshy tannins and an almost mentholated finale.” Enjoy now to 2 years. Perfect for pizzas and other Mediterranean dishes.
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Domaine des Pères de L’Eglise 2017 Les Calice de Saint Pierre Châteauneuf du Pape Blanc
Southern Rhône, France // Reg $63.99 | Wine Club $29.99

Following four generations of winegrowers, Serge (pictured) and Laetitia Gradassi continue the tradition, strictly adhering the 1933 agreements governing the production of Châteauneuf-du-Pape wines. Their property is on the northern edge of the village of Châteauneuf-du-Pape. (Photo at top shows the view of the historic village from their vineyards!)

For this club we picked a white blend, a) because it’s so much lesser-known than the reds from this area, and b) because it’s almost summer. If you enjoy this wine and want more, be fast! We only have a couple bottles left of this vintage at this price.

Winemaker’s Notes: 70% Grenache Blanc, 20% Clairette & 10% Bourboulenc. “Golden in color, with soft floral aromas and soft flavors of peach & pear with some smokey notes and honey. Beautiful amplitude in the mouth with light minerality.” Enjoy now to 5 years with fish (grilled or in a cream sauce), crustaceans, sushi and cheeses.

Who doesn’t like wines from Châteauneuf-du-Pape?! And these small-production examples are outstanding! Your wines are ready for pickup at your convenience. If you would like to taste this month’s wines prior to enjoying them at home, stop by on Thursday, June 13 for your pickup tasting. Hope you can make it!

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

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MAY 2019 // Sicily

Sicily, the island off the tip of Italy’s boot, is famous for many things — Mount Etna, its flora and fauna as the largest island in the Mediterranean, Greco-Roman ruins and fresh, simple Sicilian cuisine paired with wonderful local wines! Most notable to me when I look at the map (below) is how few Sicilian wines are available in Seattle. Most of the DOCs listed below are little-known at best. That’s a wine club in the making if I’ve ever seen one!

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There are so many grapes grown in Sicily that I will avoid that rabbit hole> and head straight to the three red wines featured in this month’s club. I tasted these wines recently and thought they were stunning! I hope you enjoy them. More details on the wines and sub-regions below:

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Planeta 2017 Cerasuolo di Vittoria DOCG
Sicily, Italy // Reg $33.99 | Mixed Case $27.19

Planeta is steeped in history — “For five centuries and seventeen generations, the Planeta family has been involved in Sicilian agriculture. Their work on the island has contributed to the revitalization of Sicilian winemaking, now one of the most dynamic and sought-after viticultural regions in the world.” Planeta has 6 wine estates around the island, with this wine coming from Vittoria on the southwest coast. Cerasuolo de Vittoria is the only DOCG on the island with rules governing the blend & alcohol level. Planeta uses “solar panels and biomass production, principally pruning residues to produce energy, reusing and recycling of all materials used in the production cycle, and the exclusive use of recycled paper for packing and printed materials.” Planeta vineyards & herb garden pictured top and the Dorilli estate in Vittoria pictured above.

Tasting Notes: 60% Nero d’Avola / 40% Frappato. From the winery: “An intriguing wine with an extraordinary vital energy based on wild fruits, wild strawberries, mulberry and pomegranate. …Perfect with a slice of seared tuna, with chopped mushrooms or with feathered game, its harmony with pizza is a surprise throughout the year. On the palate the wine has beautiful volume with elegant spice and coated tannins.” Smooth, medium-bodied. Drink now to 5 years.

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Firriato 2016 Sabbie dell’Etna Etna Rosso
Sicily, Italy // Reg $19.99 | Mixed Case $15.99

The Firriato estate is located on the northeast side of Mount Etna where the vines “have adapted naturally to soil and climate conditions that are singular and unique at these latitudes. The vineyard is traditionally planted: Nerello Mascalese, Nerello Cappuccio and Carricante varieties, the reigning princes of the volcano. These specimens are of significant importance because, thanks to the sandy composition of the soil, they managed to survive the Phylloxera epidemic that in the early 20th century attacked and destroyed most of the vines in Italy.”
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Tasting Notes: 100% Nerello Mascalese. The winery says: “Le Sabbie dell’Etna Rosso comes to the glass with a delicious and complex bouquet with notes of cinnamon, black pepper, blackcurrant and cherries in alcohol. Only the extraordinary terroir of Castiglione di Sicilia, on the slopes of Europe’s largest active volcano, could yield a wine with such great personality.” This is a fuller-boded wine than the Planeta with lovely volcanic minerality, but not super tannic. If you haven’t been to Mount Etna, you’ll feel like you have after you drink this wine! Winery says to pair with Duck Breast in Orange Sauce. Drink now to 5 years.

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Zisola_vineyards by vespa
Zisola 2015 Nero D’Avola
Sicily, Italy // Reg $33.99 | Mixed Case $27.19

This 17-hectare estate (pictured) is in Nota, a tiny (and breathtakingly beautiful) DOC on the southeast coast of Sicily. The Mazzei family (an institution in Tuscany) purchased it in 2002. Nero d’Avola is their primary grape with small amounts of Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon and Petit Verdot cultivated as well. The vines enjoy a west/southwest exposure and benefit from a steady sea breeze, which cools the vineyards during the hot summer days and warms the land in the winter. In addition to the vineyards, the property is full of olive, citrus and almond trees, typical of this landscape. And vespa is surely the best way to see the vineyards!

Tasting Notes: 100% Nero d’Avola. Winery’s notes: “Well built, forest fruits and sunny orange peel flavors. Long and layered taste. Perfect match for spicy fish soups, savory pasta and rice dishes, grilled red meats and vegetables.” A pretty full-boded wine. Drink now to 2 years.

I had a lot of fun picking out these wines for this month’s club. I think they’re stellar examples of the interesting reds coming out of Sicily today. Hope you enjoy them!

Your wines are ready for pickup at your convenience. If you would like to taste this month’s wines prior to enjoying them at home, stop by on Thursday, May 16 for your pickup tasting. Hope you can make it!

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

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APRIL 2019 // Wines for Spring

Spring is here… trees are leafing out, buds everywhere, cherry blossoms are in full amazement, and the farmers markets will start to showcase the early spring vegetables soon. As well, spring lamb is available and morels are in season. This month we picked three wines with spring in mind — two reds (Châteauneuf-du-Pape & Tinta de Toro) and for 3-bottle club members a 2018 rosé from WA State. Hope you enjoy!

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Peres de l'Eglise_Laetitia Gradassi_daughter of Serge_Decuvage des vieux grenache
Domaine des Pères de L’Eglise 2016 “Les Calice de Saint Pierre” Châteauneuf-du-Pape Rouge
Southern Rhône, France // Reg $51.99 | INSIDER $38.99 | Mixed Case $31.19

This family-owned estate includes 19 hectares of which 15 are in Châteauneuf with plots located at the four cardinal points of the appellation. Serge Gradassi and his daughter Laetitia (pictured) vinify the “Chalice of St. Peter” according to tradition. The grape harvest is exclusively manual.

Tasting Notes: The blend is primarily Grenache with 10% Syrah & 5% Mourvèdre. The terroir is made up of red sandstone, sol brun, limestone & galets roulés (large round pebbles). The nose is full of jammy red fruits (blackcurrant, blackberries), notes of leather and tobacco with a slightly smoked minerally side, an expression of “garrigues”. On the palate the wine has beautiful volume with elegant spice and coated tannins. Enjoy with beef bourguignon, lamb, duck confit, garlic sausage and pungent cheeses (Affidelice, Epoisse and Pont l’Eveque). Drink now to 7 years.

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Bodegas Casto Pequeño 2015 Gravedad Tinta de Toro
Toro, Spain // Reg $19.99 | Mixed Case $15.99
Acquired in 1977 by the Casto family, this winery focuses on making quality wines that represent their region, DO Toro (located 2.5 hours northwest of Madrid). It is dry and hot as a pot and known for producing rich, full-bodied, DRY reds. (Toro vineyards pictured.) Sometimes Tinta do Toro can be overpowering and big to the point of not good with food, but this one is beautifully restrained while still being a fun example of wine from this area.

Tasting Notes: 100% Tinta de Toro (Tempranillo). Ripe raspberries and spice on the nose. Inky dark plums and cooked black cherries macerated with fresh anise and cinnamon. Good acidity balances the velvety finish. Enjoy with grilled lamb, cured ham or roasted vegetables. Drink now to 5 years.

3-BOTTLE CLUB

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Tranche 2018 Pink Pape Rosé
Yakima Valley, Washington // Reg $22.99 | Mixed Case $18.39

Tranche (vineyards pictured), second label for Corliss Estates, specializes in estate grown Rhône varietals. The estate (vineyards pictured) lies in the foothills of the Blue Mountains, east of Walla Walla.

Tasting Notes: A blend of Grenache, Cinsault & Cunoise, three traditional Châteauneuf-du-Pape varietals. “Pale salmon in color with a light pink hue. Delicate aromas of mountain berry, white peach, citrus blossom and honeydew, with lifted notes of pink grapefruit and lemon peel. The wine is bright and focused on the palate, with fresh citrus and stone fruit qualities underscored by a wet stone-like minerality. Driving acidity provides excellent focus and direction, drawing out the palate to a lingering,mouthwatering finish.” — winermaker’s notes // Rosé is always a wonderful food wine, pairing well with richer meats and veggies off the grill to freshwater fish dishes and steamed spring vegetables. Drink now to 2 years.

These wines are so different, yet all three are perfect to enjoy this time of year. Hope you do!! Your wines are ready for pickup at your convenience. If you would like to taste this month’s wines prior to enjoying them at home, stop by on Thursday, April 11 for your pickup tasting. Hope you can make it!

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

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MARCH 2019 // Italy’s Piedmont

Piedmont… land of rolling hills, fog, truffles, hazelnuts, ancient hilltop villages and wonderful world-class wines. Most famous from this part of northwest Italy is the Nebbiolo grape grown in the communes of Barolo and Barbaresco. Both producers featured this month make a wonderful Barolo. If you like their style of wine and want a delicious splurge, we can help! In the meantime, this month’s club features a high-end Barbera d’Alba, a Nebbiolo/Barbera blend and a wonderful example of Arneis (a white grape) from the sub-region of Roero (see map). These wines are all-time favorites of mine! I hope you enjoy.

2-BOTTLE CLUB

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Sandrone 2015 Barbera d’Alba
Piedmont, Italy // Reg $38.99 | Mixed Case $31.19
Pictured is Luciano Sandrone in his beloved Cannubi Boschis Barolo vineyard in 2013, the year of his 50th harvest. Considered one of the leading producers in Barolo, he is a self-made winemaker. He started working harvests as a teenager, using every penny he had (and continuing to work a day job) to purchase his first hectares of Cannubi Boschis vineyards in 1978. He and his brother Luca devoted tremendous effort to cultivating the finest fruit and experimenting (first in their parents’ garage) with how to make a wine of distinction and high quality that respected the traditions of Barolo while incorporating many of the technological innovations of the day. He continues to make a relatively limited number of bottles (from his now 27 hectare estate). Stylistically, he’s known to produce a top quality wine that is pleasant and accessible in style while maintaining a foot strongly planted in the Old World. The winery follows organic farming practices but has chosen not to seek certification.

Tasting Notes: Medium-bodied with delicious and plump berry and black fruits. Long and luscious fruity finish. It is a perfect match with richer dishes as the bright acidity keeps it from being too heavy. Drink now to 10 years.

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Pelassa 2016 Langhe Corte Enrichetta
Piedmont, Italy // Reg $19.99 | Mixed Case $15.99
Mario Pelassa comes from modest beginnings as well. To help his family financially, he started delivering wine to neighbors on his bicycle before the age of 10. Mario founded his winery in 1960 where he and his wife, Maria Teresa, have been making wine for more than fifty years. Today their sons run the estate. Davide (far left) cares for the vineyards and is the winemaker. Daniele enthusiastically promotes the family’s wines around the world in addition to helping with the winemaking. They are a small operation (12 hectares) but they have received some prestigious acclaim in the last years including having their San Pancrazio Barbera d’Alba Superiore on the cover of the Decanter Magazine.

Tasting Notes: 50/50 Nebbiolo/Barbera blend. 12 months in stainless steel. A fruity bouquet. Rich dark cherries, berries, soft rose petals, fertile earth. Harmonious. Silk in your mouth! The Pelassa family suggests enjoying this wine while listening to: FRANZ SCHUBERT, Symphony No.8, “Unfinished”. Drink now to 3 years.

3-BOTTLE CLUB

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Pelassa 2017 San Vito Roero Arneis
Pedmont, Italy // Reg $22.99 | Mixed Case $18.39
The vineyards pictured (at top) are the San Vito Arneis vineyards for this wine, full of the famous Roero winter fog. So beautiful! Just above is Davide during the Arneis harvest a couple years ago. As Daniele tells it, Arneis is Peidmontese dialect meaning “little rascal” because the grape is such a tricky one to grow. It’s finicky, susceptible to mildew and other pesky problems, so be glad that they sustain the effort, because it’s so darn good! And with spring around the corner, this wine will come in handy.

Tasting Notes: White flowers, chamomile & honey. Warm lemon citrus and peel, golden apple, minerals and succulent acid. Pair with crab, grilled fish, hors d’oeuvres, pasta dishes or just sip. Enjoy now to 3 years.

Since visiting Piedmont with my dad as a teenager, I’ve been a big fan of these wines. Hope you enjoy this month’s club. Your wines are ready for pickup at your convenience. If you would like to taste this month’s wines prior to enjoying them at home, stop by on Thursday, March 14 for your pickup tasting. Hope you can make it!

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

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FEBRUARY 2019 // Tuscany… Land of Love

With Valentine’s a week away, what could be a better feature than wines from Tuscany? And this year, we have a special treat with a bottle of Brunello di Montalcino featured in the 2-bottle club. But don’t let that overshadow the other two selections, both delicious in their own right — a Montecucco Rosso and a Vino Nobile di Montepulciano.

2-BOTTLE CLUB

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Scopone 2012 Brunello di Montalcino DOCG
Tuscany, Italy // Reg $52.99 | WINE CLUB $45.99 | Mixed Case $36.79
Theresia Baijens Genazzani is the matriarch of this estate which she runs with her beloved husband Andrea Genazzani and their four adult children. We import this wine directly from their winery located outside of the medieval village of Montalcino (pictured) and we deal directly with Tessie — matter-of-fact, knowledgeable, gracious. It’s a delightful exchange.

Tasting notes: 100% Sangiovese Grosso. Vanilla, rose petals, ripe black berries on the nose. Rich and silky with notes of luscious dark cherry fruit. Enjoy with wild boar ragu, salumi or mushroom risotto. Drink now to 10+ years. This wine is pretty approachable now. If you do enjoy it in the near future, open the bottle and let it breathe for an hour.

Montecucco_view over Monte Amiata_Asa Johansson
Vasco Sassetti 2016 Rosso di Montecucco
Tuscany, Italy // Reg $16.99 | WINE CLUB $15.99 | Mixed Case $12.79
Just southwest of Montalcino is the little known region of Montecucco (photo credit: Asa Johansson). It’s a DOC with a 60% Sangiovese requirement. Other than that, it’s relatively unstructured, with the wines remaining traditional and unassuming in the loveliest sort of way. This winery was founded 30 years go. Vasco Sassetti passed away 7-8 years ago with his nephew, Massimo, taking over as winemaker. They are humble people (no websites, no marketing), just traditional winemaking. This red is primarily Sangiovese with some Merlot and Syrah blended in. Full of red berries, cherries, earth and a touch of leather, it is intended to be enjoyed fresh and young. Drink now to 3 years. Pair with traditional Tuscan dishes, especially those with tomato bases.

3-BOTTLE CLUB

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Nottola 2015 Vino Nobile di Montepulciano
Tuscany, Italy // Reg $27.99 | Mixed Case $22.39
About 45 minutes northeast of Montalcino is the village of Montepulciano (pictured above from Nottola’s vinieyards), famous for Vino Nobile, a DOCG blend of primarily Sangiovese (known locally as Prugnolo Gentile), 10-20% Canaiolo and small amounts of Mammolo. The wine must be aged for 2 years, with a minimum of 1 year in oak barrels before it’s released.

Cantina Nottola was founded in 1992, and we have been direct importing this wine since 2012. Their blend is 80% Prugnolo Gentile, 15% Cannaiolo, 5% Mammolo. The vines grow in clay/limestone soil and are vinified separately in stainless steel tanks, then aged for 2 years in Slovenian oak barrels, then for one year in bottle before release. Beautiful aromas of plummy dark fruits, blackberry & raspberry with a hint of spice. On the palate it’s full, smooth & velvety. Very well-balanced with dark rich fruit notes, spice & firm tannins, Enjoy with red meats, game & aged cheeses. Drink now to 5 years.

Cheers to a lovely Valentine’s Day with your sweetheart! And… if you would like to taste this month’s wines prior to enjoying them at home, stop by on Thursday, February 14 for your pickup tasting and a Valentine’s Day toast! Hope you can make it.

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