Food+Wine: Simple, Fresh, Good & EASY

Jamie Oliver_5 Ingredients_ginger shakin beef_square
That’s our theme for the new year, and we’re using Jamie Oliver’s new book: 5 Ingredients for inspiration. Back story: We got our 16-year old a cookbook for Christmas. She enjoys food, is an adventurous eater …can’t scramble an egg! Had fun at Book Larder: A Community Cookbook Store getting suggestions for an engaging, yummy, EASY cookbook to inspire a teen. Landed on Jamie Oliver’s new: 5 Ingredients. I don’t know if she’ll learn to cook, but she’ll get lots of good meals out of it for sure, because I’m hooked! We’ll use these simple, fresh, good & EASY recipes at Portalis for some 2018 wine pairing ideas, starting with:

5 Ingredients_Sizzling Seared Scallops
Sizzling Seared Scallops — Pair with Bodages Langa Chardonnay (Catalayud, Spain) — organic, lightly oaked, delicious.

5 Ingredients_Epic Rib-Eye Steak
Epic Rib-eye Steak — Pair with (splurge) Chateau des Gravières Graves (Bordeaux, France) or (bargain) 1851 Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon (Columbia Valley, WA)

Scrambled Egg Omelette — How very French! Pair with (splurge) Chevalliers Chablis (Burgundy, France) or Ozilhan Réservé Blanc (Southern Rhône, France)

Thai Red Chicken Soup — It’s spicy, so enjoy with a round white that will calm the fire: Domaine Moltes Tradition Riesling (Alsace, France) or Domaine Haut de Mourier Viognier (Languedoc, France) or Weingut Prechtl Alte Reben Grüner Veltliner (Weinviertel, Austria).

5 Ingredients_Easy Sausage Carbonara
Easy Sausage Carbonara — Sausage calls for Chianti from Colli Senesi, full of blue fruits and perfect for sausage flavors. We recommend: Nottola Chianti Colli Senesi or Andreucci Chianti Colli Senesi. Both would be outstanding!

Crab & Fennel Spaghetti — Enjoy seafood meals with world-class fish wine like Albariño (we recommned: Outon Albariño from Spain’s Rias Baixas) or a light red with some licorice undertones. We recommend Palazzo Malgara Negroamaro from Salento, Italy’s heel of boot. Seafood is a staple in this part of the world, and this wine would pair beautifully!

Roast Tikka Chicken — Curry flavors call for an off-dry white, a juicy red, or bubbly! Looking for something festive? Go with Bodegas Maset del Lleo Cava Reserve from vineyards outside of Barcelona.

5 Ingredients_Pork and Mash Gratin
Pork & Mash Gratin — A little spice from the Muscadelle in this French white blend would be terrific: Chateau des Eyssards Sec (Bergerac, France) or a lighter red with lean pork. Try: Weingut Castelfeder Vernatsch (Alto Adige, Italy)

Ginger Shakin’ Beef — It’s beef, but it’s got some sweetness with the honey. Don’t go too tannic! A Pinot Noir would be great. Splurge with Chelan Cellars Pinot Noir (Lake Chelan, WA). Go thrifty with Louise Dubois 1885 Pinot Noir (Languedoc, France).

Have fun! More to come…


Wine Tour of Southern Italy

Wine Folly_Italy_cropped to Southern Italy_croppedAre you ready for an adventure? It’s a new year- time to expand the horizons! Southern Italy hosts beautiful, lesser-known varietals (and regions) at reasonable prices (on both accounts). From the Amalfi Coast to the “heel” of the boot to the bounties of Sicily, Southern Italy has so much to offer with wine, cuisine, culture and travel.

Mt Vesuvius_v3_sciencehowstuffworkscom
photo credit:

Southern Italy does not include Central Italy. Southern Italy begins at Campania and Puglia as the demographics change with Mt. Vesuvius (pictured above) and the impact of the Ionic sea and Amalfi coast. Gorgeous. One of the most dynamic and most beautiful aspects to Southern Italy is embracing that it is greatly influenced by the migrations that occurred through Greece (Rome) and the Arab eras. The cuisine, the culture, the cultivation of wine- everything began here- THEN migrated north.

Differences in cuisine begin with sardines, oil, beans, cured meats, livestock and the curing of dishes. It’s all in the transport. The southern tip has a mild Mediterranean climate which is excellent for vacation and travel; however, the land is supposedly infertile and best for wine, livestock and creativity. Why else would I pick it? Here are a few top picks for my dream adventures for 2018:

Casa Setaro_Massimo cutting grapes_FULL

Campania– A region perhaps more noted for art, culture, history, and cuisine …but the wine! If only I could eat pizza in Naples! But, rumor has it they make an amazing rabbit dish and some beautiful fish dishes. If I could get my hands on Massimo’s rosato again, we would enjoy that with colatura di alici. But as many of you know, my go to is that killer Aglianico! Massimo makes other classic wines from Campania, including the white wine Falanghina, known for flavors of citrus minerality combines with fleshy tree fruits and the lesser-known Peidrosso, more like Pinot Noir, just more dirt! [Note: Massimo Setaro (pictured above) is the owner/winemaker at Casa Setaro . We hosted him for a wonderful tasting at Portalis in 2017.]

Casa Setaro_vesuvius gravel
This is the Vesuvial gravel that makes up the dirt in Massimo’s vineyards.

Casa Setaro Falanghina
Reg $19.99 | INSIDER $14.99 | Mixed Case $11.99
Casa Setaro Piedrosso
Reg $19.99 | INSIDER $14.99 | Mixed Case $11.99

Wine Folly_Puglia

Puglia– the “heel” of Italy’s boot. Nothing could be farther from the truth when you discover the quality, diversity, the amazing cuisine and the gorgeous coastline. Salice Salento is a sub-region within Puglia that offers native plump bombastic Negroamaro or the killer Rosso that you can blind test with your Chianti Classico besties to see if they know the difference. It is not Sangiovese! It’s Malvisa Nero. And that is just a subregion. Puglia, and Southern Italy, are known for Primitivo. A varietal that has been dna proven to be related Crljenak Kasteljanski from Croatia to Zinfandel (grown in California). Puglia is HOT with Mediterranean influences… why would it not be just as killer as California if not better?

Photo credit:

Palazza Malgara Negroamaro
Reg $14.99 | INSIDER $13.99 | Mixed Case $11.19
Palazza Malgara Primitivo
Reg $15.99 | Mixed Case $12.79
Palazza Malgara Rosso del Salento
Reg $14.99 | INSIDER $13.99 | Mixed Case $11.19

2013-05-10 10.43.35

Sicily– The give and take of war, culture, struggle, life and wine… wait, not just Sicily? Truth, most wine regions are filled with this dynamic. Sicily is an island constantly in the midst of cultural transition. Most know Sicily for Marsala or the Italian Mafia… times change and Sicily has embraced change. The late ’90’s brought infrastructure to embrace clean winemaking techniques. Grillo, the base for Marsala, is clean, rich and refreshing. Excellent with sea bass, poultry, and rich cheeses. Inzolia, a classic native, is a bright ray of sunshine on a cloudy day. The fruits are freshing yet warm- ripe apples, soft melon, with subtle citrus. Nerello Macalese– a light bodied, hedonistic leather bomb with the abilty to convert lovers of old school Burgundy to try something new. It iss unique and worth the adventure. And many of you know my favorite Boulliabaise pairing- Nero d’Avola– not a light weight contender, nor is that dish.

2013-05-10 14.17.12
Vineyards at the Planeta estate, Sicily

Palazza Malgara Grillo
Reg $13.99 | Mixed Case $11.19
Palazza Malgara Inzolia
Reg $15.99 | INSIDER $14.99 | Mixed Case $11.19
Palazza Malgara Nerello Mascalese
Reg $15.99 | INSIDER $14.99 | Mixed Case $11.99
Palazza Malgara Nero d’Avola
Reg $14.99 | INSIDER $13.99 | Mixed Case $11.19

As with any region- culture, history, cuisine and transition- all go hand in hand to tell a vivacious story. This one is not to be ignored, and on top of that it’s affordable- for now.

I may not make it to Italy this year, but I will definitely be in Seattle soon.


Holiday Picks — 2017!

Here they are… Our favorite wines for this holiday season:

About_Jens_gina's party_square_v2
JENS, owner and wine buyer for Portalis Wines and J. Strecker Selections, its direct import company, has been at this in Seattle since 2003! A native German, he is oriented towards the Old World, but he can easily be distracted by well-crafted wines from the New World:

Franchetto 2011 Lessini Durello Spumante Riserva
VENETO, ITALY — Reg $52.99 | Mixed $42.39
We can understand why this would be Jaci’s pick to exit- bubbles, well executed. Toasted notes with ripe apples, chamomile, broom, dried apricots and hints of citrus. Stellar.

Domaine Chevallier 2015 Chablis
BURGUNDY, FRANCE — Reg $27.99 | Mixed Case $22.39
100% unoaked Chardonnay! This award-winner has white flowers and warm golden apples on the nose. Subtle flavors of tropical fruits- pineapple and guava with hints of almond. Nice acidity and minerality & a beautiful lingering finish!

Château des Roques 2013 Vacqueyras
SOUTHERN RHONE, FRANCE — Reg $22.99 | Mixed Case $18.39
Mourvedre, Grenache & Syrah — full of concentrated black fruits, plum, with delightful lingering spicy notes. Enjoy with duck or lamb. Beautiful wine, beautiful bottle! We’ve been importing this wine since our first container in 2011 & it never disappoints!

Franchetto 2013 Amarone della Valpolicella DOCG
VENETO, ITALY — Reg $59.99 | Mixed Case $47.99
Viva Giulia Franchetto! This up-and-coming woman winemaker is kicking it! This is her first vintage for her Valpolicella line. Take note! Strong bouquet of brandied cherries. Full-bodied flavors of spiced plums, licorice. Smooth tannins. Can drink now up to 10 years!

La Togata 2012 Brunello di Montalcino DOCG
TUSCANY, ITALY — Reg $64.99 | Mixed Case $51.99
The King of Tuscan wines! Made from old vine Sangiovese Grosso. Intense fruity bouquet of cassis, red berries, leather & licorice (which is a little unusual). Full-bodied, well-balanced, good acidity, smooth tannins, elegant. LONG finish. Age up to 15 years.

Zuazo Gaston 2010 Finca Costanillas
RIOJA, SPAIN — Reg $35.99 | Mixed Case $28.79
When old world meets new, or they just fall in love. This wine is a layered experience of brandied cherries, summer cherries, vanilla, spice, soft tannins and perhaps some secrets.

Patricia Green 2015 Pinot Noir Reserve 
WILLAMETTE, ORGEON — Reg $28.99 | Mixed Case $23.19
A powerful wine. Expressive cran-cherry-raspberries balanced with wood smoke, spice and terroir. Great price for an outstanding wine!

Elderton 2014 Estate Shiraz
BAROSSA VALLEY, AUSTRALIA — Reg $25.99 | Mixed Case $20.79
Hedonist black fruits with vanilla bean. What more do you want? Well, how about a bit more spice and chocolate. An easy crowd pleaser.

W.T. Vintners 2013 Les Collines Syrah
WALLA WALLA, WASHINGTON — Reg $49.99 | Mixed Case $39.99
Why wouldn’t you want a Washington wine crafted as an Old World Northern Rhone– olives, hedonistic cherries, spice, and stories. Jeff Lindsay-Thorsen is the winemaker, and I like his work a lot! Great WA gift wine for the season.

Weingut Prechtl 2016 Grüner Veltliner Eiswein
WEINVIERTEL, AUSTRIA — Reg $24.99 | Mixed Case $19.99
Refreshing sweetness balanced by fine acidity. Ripe apples, sweet pear, notes of honey. Takes me home!

JULIE, co-owner of Portalis & J. Strecker Selections with her husband, Jens, has just recently returned to working at the shop (after 3 years focusing on the import business and letting Jaci run the shop) and is enjoying being on the floor again. Here are her selections:

Bruno Zanasi NV Lambrusco Grasparossa di Castelvetro
EMILIA-ROMAGNA, ITALY — Reg $17.99 | Mixed Case $14.39
Looking for a new twist on sparkling wine? This would be it: a red, Italian, dry bubbly! Dark cherries and plum aromas with flavors of ripe plum, cherry, cassis compote and hints of eucalyptus. Simply put… Killer!

Weingut Prechtl 2012 Grüner Veltliner Reserve Leitstall von Molasse
WEINVIERTEL, AUSTRIA — Reg $31.99 | Mixed Case $25.59
This scrumptious white is a single vineyard GV, and it will knock your socks off! Rich, hedonistic, and savory all at the same time. If you are a lover of fancy Chardonnay & would like to try something new — get it!

Domaine de Nalys 2012 Chateauneuf-du-Pape Cuvée Classique Blanc
SOUTHERN RHÔNE, FRANCE — Reg $45.99 | Mixed Case $36.79
Rhône Blancs are killer food pairing wines! When in doubt, Rhône Blanc. And this one is special to boot — oily, rich and (pardon my terms) kind of a Cougar. It will take your attention away and keep you busy.

Domaine de Frégate 2013 Bandol Rosé
PROVENCE, FRANCE — Reg $29.99 | Mixed Case $23.99
Summer raspberries, white hillside flowers, minerality … a classic from Provence with distinction. So why rosé at the holidays? Because rosé is festive and it has NEVER met a food it doesn’t like! I drink it all year long, and this one when I am celebrating!

Giant Steps 2013 Pinot Noir Sexton Vineyard 
YARRA VALLEY, AUSTRALIA — Reg $52.99 | Mixed Case $42.39
Pinot Noir outside of Burgundy can lead you astray. But I won’t. This wine will shock your senses. Aromas of fennel, briar, spice to Maraschino Cherries…. then white pepper and acidity. Enjoy on its own or with your holiday feast.

Lobo Hills 2013 Spiyla Vineyard Syrah
YAKIMA, WASHINGTON — Reg $33.99 | Mixed Case $27.19
“Rich, opening with aromas of tobacco, sage, lavender, fig and blackberry.” -Tony Dollar, owner, winemaker & Wedgwood resident. I like how Tony keeps his WA Syrah well-balanced, food friendly, elegant!

Burgum Novum 2013 Cabernet Riserva 
ALTO ADIGE, ITALY — Reg $46.99 | Mixed Case $37.59
Nuanced is the best way to describe this wine. Understated aromas of cherries, cassis and wild berries. It is a flavorful, yet subtle wine, full of thoughtfulness and secrets. Made to accompany food of many sorts: pork, veal, beef, lamb, poultry, game & cheeses.

Bodegas Rauda 2008 Tinto Roa Reserva
RIBERA DEL DUERO, SPAIN — Reg $36.99 | Mixed Case $29.59
This Tempranillo is made from 40-60 year old vines! “Intense perfume of ripe fruit and jam, wrapped in a fine oak fragrance with menthol notes.” That description is from the winery, and this wine takes you to the high, desert plateau of north-central Spain.

Alvear 1927 Pedro Ximénez Solera (375ml)
MONTILLA-MORILES, SPAIN — Reg $32.99 | Mixed Case $26.39
PX is not your typical sherry. If anything, it is the matriarch of caramelized goodness, with the dryness of sherry. Excellent for pairing with desserts, on its own – or with roasted meat dishes, pulled pork, tarts.

Amy_Nov 2017_square_04
AMY, recently joined the Portalis family on Sundays. She is a sommelier and the contributing wine writer to the local travel blog, Rain or Shine Guides. Here are her picks:

Champagne Henriot Rosé
CHAMPAGNE, FRANCE — Reg $79.99 | Mixed Case $63.99
A beautiful holiday sparkler from a 200-year-old producer, this elegant and limited rosé from Champagne will delight your taste buds with aromas of red fruits, rose petals, finishing with a silky effervescent mousse. Start your holiday with a pearly glass! holiday wines.

Frank Family Vineyards 2013 Chardonnay
CARNEROS, CALIFORNIA — Reg $43.99 | Mixed Case $35.19
Where Sonoma and Napa collide, magic happens. This zesty chardonnay is both refreshing and enveloping, with bright acid and lovely stone fruit aromas.

Palazzo Malgara 2016 Primitivo di Manduria

PUGLIA, ITALY — Reg $15.99 | Mixed Case $12.79
While the wines here are all my children, this everyday red comes home with me the most. Zippy and fresh with just enough old world funk, this wine goes with a variety of dishes, but especially weekly fare like pizza, burgers, and Italian sausage.

Va Piano Vineyards 2013 Syrah
COLUMBIA VALLEY, WA — Reg $44.99 | Mixed Case $35.99
Inky, dark, and powerful, this delicious fruit-forward Syrah pairs with virtually any braised beef dish I make. Can there be bacon flavor in a wine? You bet! Meaty and unctuous!

Château Seuil de Mazeyres 2014 Pomerol
BORDEAUX, FRANCE — Reg $41.99 | Mixed Case $33.59
If Burgundy is your Finicky Aunt, Bordeaux is your Stalwart Uncle. The life of any party, this is a dependable red with rounded tannins and great acidity.

Chateau Montelena 2014 Cabernet Sauvignon
NAPA VALLEY, CALIFORNIA — Reg $68.99 | Mixed Case $55.19
Famed winning winery from The Judgement of Paris in 1975, Chateau Montelena delivers a robust, yet elegant cab sav. Every glass sings of plums, coffee beans, and blackberry jam. Decant if you are drinking now, or cellar for up to 10 years.

Artimino Vin Santo di Carmignano
TUSCANY, ITALY — Reg $28.99 | Mixed Case $23.19
Vin Santo immediately transports me back to Florence — full and content after a delicious meal, yet there’s always room for sweet Vin Santo with Cantucci biscotti. A perfect dessert!

Jaci_Jan 2016_03_email
JACI, Portalis’ long-time manager, just moved to Pullman, but she’s here in spirit, continuing her wine writing for the shop remotely. And sure enough, she has some special wines to recommend as well:

Reserve du Chevalier Crémant de Bourgogne Brut
BURGUNDY, FRANCE — Reg $23.99 | Mixed Case $19.19
I sometimes dream about what wine I will purchase when I return to Seattle. Yes. This is one of them, especially this time of year. Toasted nutty goodness, with baked apples, a bit of brioche helps too…

Château Moulin de Launay 2016 Entre Deux Mers
BORDEAUX, FRANCE — Reg $15.99 | Mixed Case $12.79
I CAN NOT get enough of this wine. Moulin de Launay is French in every way. Complex, evasive and intriguing. A balance of refreshing Sauvignon Blanc and soft extra virgin olive oil, lemon citrus, minerals, and lime peel.

La Colline aux Princes 2015 Sancerre
LOIRE VALLEY, FRANCE — Reg $27.99 | Mixed Case $22.39
Seems like a splurge for Sauvignon Blanc but taste and you will understand why we have guests who purchase cases of this wine. Delicate yet pronounced. Refreshing, though leaving you to ponder. Truly poetry in motion (once it hits your lips, the rest, I am off the hook).

Stark-Conde 2013 Syrah
STELLENBOSCH, SOUTH AFRICA — Reg $22.99 | Mixed Case $18.39
For my smoked turkey fans- You really have to get on the South African Syrah train. (This is not a negative leadership pun). These wines have a killer brine note that matches perfectly with smoked meats, especially poultry. Get some!

Vinchio-Vaglio Serra 2011 Barbaresco AND
Vinchio-Vaglio Serra 2010 Barolo
PIEDMONT, ITALY — Reg $33.99 | Mixed Case $27.19 // Reg $49.99 | Mixed Case $39.99
Barolo/Barbaresco- You really couldn’t go wrong either way- Vivacious Barbaresco or thoughtful, brooding Barolo? Both are crowd stoppers and on my list of go-to’s for holiday wines.

Smith Woodhouse 2000 Colheita Tawny
DOURO, PORTUGAL — Reg $57.99 | Mixed Case $46.39
With 13 years of barrel aging, the color is amber, the aroma smoked caramel and the palate is explosive- rich textures with hints of spice.

Turkey Dinner in 4 Wine Lessons

Thanksgiving_Turkey_imagekindcom_orange turkey

It’s not the bird as much as what we eat with it (sweet potatoes & heaven-forbid marshmallows, cranberry sauce, fruit salad, etc.) that causes the wine challenges with a turkey dinner. Many of these sweet & salty combos can cause wines to taste tart. Here’s your down & dirty guide to a wine that tastes great with a traditional turkey dinner:

Cheers_Languedoc Limoux

#1 — Bubbles
Well-made sparkling wine always has good acidity, and acidity is an asset when a food is salty (imagine an anchovy on top of an hors d’oeuvre), sweet (tastes great with chocolate or dessert or sweet dishes such as sweet potato soufflée), and rich foods (cuts through the fat of a cream puff or foie gras or pork rillettes). It can be rosé or white, and any style of sparkling will work with a traditional Thanksgiving dinner: Champagne, Crémant, Prosecco, Cava and more! We recommend:

Jose Dhondt NV Blanc de Blancs
(Champagne, France) — Reg $62.99 | Mixed Case $50.39
Domaine Perraud Le Grand Sorbier Crémant de Bourgogne
(Burgundy, France) — Reg $23.99 | INSIDER $22.99 | Mixed Case $18.39
Philippe Deval NV Crémant de Loire Rosé
(Loire, Italy) — Reg $23.99 | Mixed Case $19.19
La Farra Prosecco Superiore Brut
(Veneto, Italy) — Reg $17.99 | INSIDER $16.99 | Mixed Case $13.59
Bodegas Maset (nu) Cava Reserva
(Penedès, Spain) — Reg $14.99 | Mixed Case $11.99
Bruno Zanasi Lambrusco
(Emilia Romagna, Italy) — Reg $16.99 | Mixed Case $13.59

#2 — Round Whites
This style of white is fuller-bodied with nice fruit (not too dry), some acidity for balance but not highly acidic like a Sauvignon Blanc, and key — little to no oak! Round whites can can also be off-dry, meaning that they have a slight sweetness in the middle, off-set by good acidity. This type of wine pairs well with spicy foods (especially ethnic foods such as Thai or Mexican), foods with some sweetness (it’s Thanksgiving, so I’ll return to sweet potatoes!) and rich food (a richer wine can balance a richer food). Examples of varietals that fit into this group are: Riesling, Chenin Blanc, Sémillon, Kerner, Viogner, Chardonnay (stainless steel aged or with less oak), and many more! We recommend:

Maximin Gruenhaeuser Riesling
(Mosel, Germany) — Reg $24.99 | Mixed Case $19.99
Lobo Hills PGR
(Columbia Valley, Washington) — Reg $18.99 | Mixed Case $15.19
Weingut Castelfeder Kerner
(Alto Adige, Italy) — $22.99 | Mixed Case $18.39
Domaine Claude Nouveau 2011 Santenay Le Chainey
(Burgundy, France) — $42.99 | INSIDER $29.99 | Mixed Case $23.99
Beauregard Vouvray
(Loire Valley, France) — Reg $20.99 | Mixed Case $16.79

#3 — Rosé
Rosé has never meet a food it doesn’t like. FULL STOP. We recommend:

La Colline aux Princes Sancerre Rosé
(Loire Valley, France) — $27.99 | Mixed Case $22.39
Domaine de Frégate Bandol Rosé
(Provence, France) — $29.99 | Mixed Case $23.99
Château du Grand Caumont Cuvée Tradition Rosé
(Languedoc, France) — Reg $14.99 | Mixed Case $11.99

And although this wine is not technically a rosé (which is made from red grapes), it sure acts like one! Made from Pinot Grigio which has been left to ferment for a longer-period with its grey skins:

Santa Clerissa 2016 Pinot Grigio Ramato
(Veneto, Italy) — $17.99 | Mixed Case $14.39

#4 — Juicy Reds 
Reds are where this meal can be especially tricky because tannic wines go sour with a sweet food and reds that are too big overpower the bird. Juicy reds can be described as lighter or medium in style with good fruit, good acidity, but NOT too tannic! Varietals that fit the bill are: Pinot Noir, Gamay, Sangiovese, Vernatsch, Zweitgelt & more. We recommend:

Elk Cove Pinot Noir
(Willamette Valley, Oregon) $31.99 | Mixed Case $25.59
Weingut Castelfeder Vernatsch
(Alto Adige, Italy) — Reg $17.99 | Mixed Case $14.39
Weingut Prechtl Zweigelt
(Weinviertel, Austria) — $17.99 | Mixed Case $14.39
La Togata Barengo Toscana Rosso
(Tuscany, Italy) $23.99 | Mixed Case $19.19

Don’t want to think about it this much? Stop in & we’ll get you set up!

Happy Thanksgiving,
Julie + Jens

World Wide Syrah

Washington State Syrah

The bold, luscious red varietal- Syrah- is grown world wide.  Originally from the southeastern part of France, the grape has migrated to several regions with great success!  Tales have been told of it originating from Iran, Sicily and other Mediterranean delights; however, DNA analysis concludes that it is a cross of Dureza and Mondeuse Blanche (both of French origin).

So, where in the world do we find Syrah?

Northern Rhone_Cote Rotie vineyards
Côte Rotie vineyards, Northern Rhône

Classically Rhône- Syrah is found in both the Northern & Southern Rhône, and they are very different. In the Nothern Rhône, it is 100% Syrah with only a touch of Viognier (a white varietal) allowed per AOC laws.  Expect dark, hedonistic, inky fruits mingling with earth, mushrooms and pencil lead.  Southern Rhône is allowed to blend– and they do!  With the availability of several different varietals, Châteauneuf-du-Pape takes the lead as King of Blending.  In addition to Syrah, CNP can use:  Cinsaut, Counoise, Grenache Noir, Mourvèdre, Muscardin, Piquepoul Noir, Syrah, Terret Noir and Vaccarèse (Brun Argenté). Since it is primarily Grenache based, expect bright summer cherries with expressive spice, depth and higher acidity. Killer.

Nalys_vineyards with tree
Domaine de Nalys vineyards, Chateauneuf-du-Pape, Southern Rhône

We recommend:
Vignerones Propriétés Associés- Crozes-Hermitage
Northern Rhône, France — Reg $23.99 | INSIDER $22.99
Domaine de Nalys 2010 Châteauneuf-du-Pape Cuvée Reserve
Southern Rhône, France– Reg $65.99

Not quite the cousin to France, as Spain always has to add a bit of umphf and vigor to their reds.  Found in Catalonia and Jumilla primarily, the heat explodes the juices and spice- plump fruit with baking spices of cinnamon and cardamom. Lower acid, higher alcohol.

Mollydooker_shiraz vineyard
Mollydooker Syrah vineyards, McLaren Vale, Australia

Renamed Shiraz when it migrated, Australian Shiraz is Syrah, just spicier.  Not too dissimilar to Spain where the heat creates an extracted fruit bomb with amazing black peppercorn delights- Australians are very methodical and exacting.  Expect a balanced fruit explosion.

D’Arenberg 2010 The Dead Arm Shiraz
McLaren Vale — Reg $69.99

Syrah_lodiwinecomSyrah vineyards, Lodi, California

North America
The States have several growing regions, but for the acclaim: California and Washington get the ticket.  California is hotter with a maritime influence, whereas Washington is a desert climate- hot with a cold evening.  California provides a fruit bomb experience.  Washington, expect a diverse experience from ripe fruits to stones, granite, olives, and peppercorn spice!

K Vintners 2013 Rock Garden Syrah
Walla Walla Valley, WA — Reg $65.99

South America
Argentina – Known for Malbec, yes… Argentina makes a rock star Syrah.  Extracted yet the mountains cool down and allow for great acidity for food pairing (spicy dishes!!). Chile is similar to Argentina yet cooler.  Experience softer fruit with higher acidity and refinement.

Elqui 2013 Syrah
Elqui Valley, Argentina — Reg $27.99

South Africa
If you haven’t had anything from South Africa, this is where you should start (though there are great several contenders).  Bodacious ripe and often cooked fruits with subtle hints to BBQ smoke and brine. An amazing Syrah for meats and bold flavors (curries and spice). Get it!

Stark-Conde 2013 Syrah
Stellenbosch, South Africa — Reg $22.99

Tuscany, Italy
Not native to Italy… but when times change the Italians embrace it.  Super Tuscans came about in the late 1890’s when Phylloxera hit France.  French winemakers, trying to save their stock, asked to grow in Italy (as well as all over the world).  The end result was a bit of a controversy.  The wines, of course brought Phylloxera , but also introduced non- traditional wines to Italy.  High end producers couldn’t sell the wines, per government regulations. But they were amazing. So- guess what they did? Sold it anyways.  They are Italians! Syrah, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon are some of the heavy hitters to the most renown Super Tuscans.

La Togata Azzummeta Toscana Rosso — Reg $45.99

Mannucci-Droandi (Tuscany)

Hungary, Switzerland, and Eastern Europe

I have personally never tasted these wines, but I have no doubt that the reason they are not imported is because…  they are consumed!

Cheers!  Jaci

New World Wine | Argentinian Varietals- Not Just Malbec

Argentina_Kaiken_Mendoza_v13_Caiquen bird
Bodega Kaiken, Mendoza

On the spectrum of New World wine country (i.e., Australia, New Zealand, South America, South Africa & the United States), it is not necessarily a time punch card as it is so much a style of wine. Argentina has the classic fruit driven, higher alcohol wines with mild outlining characteristics of New World wine. As the fifth LARGEST producer of wine in the world, what defines Argentinian wine varietal history? Layers of migration and the cultures that brought varietals to Argentina, as well as the investment in South American wines over the last thirty years.

A story of wine is not without cultures immigrating with vines. Truly, no different than that of Grenache vs Garnatxa from France to Spain and then back and forth again as the Moors battled. Yet Argentina is overseas, continents and mountains, and it is a saga in which varietals that lasted tell a story for each New World wine region. Argentina… the immediate thought is Malbec.

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Familia Barberis, Malbec vineyards

That resurrected varietal from the famous six used for Bordeaux red blends made a 1990’s debut and killed it. Bordeaux, France, may produce wines with a combination of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Petit Verdot, Malbec and Carménère. Malbec is otherwise known in Cahors, France; however it is unctuous, inky, tannic… like a 1800’s sailor fresh from the sea but not ‘refreshed’ yet. (Still amazing in my opinion…) Malbec in Argentina is anything but that- it is plush with ripe plums, macerated cherries, black raspberries then layered with cocoa nibs, herbs, sometimes a hint of crushed green peppercorn. Not a surprise that the masses would devour that?! But that is not the only varietal that Argentina is successful with. These other varietals are perhaps not internationally renowned out of Argentina but definitely worth seeking out.

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Val de La Puerta, Torrontés vineyards, La Rioja

Argentina’s immigrants thrived with varietals from Old World varietals including the unique Torrontés (pictured above). Originally claimed to be Torrontés from Spain, Argentinian Torrontés is DNA proven to be a cross between native Crillo and Muscat Alexandria (hence the amazing aromatics). Torrontés is grown throughout Argentina with three different variations- Riojano, Sanjuanino and Mendocino. It is intensely aromatic with notes of lily of the valley, rose petals, honeysuckle as well as citronelle and lemon grass. Fruits of key lime, pear, kiwi (and its seeds) yet is is surprisingly refreshing with brightness and a clean acidity. Definitely worth the adventure to find and enjoy– especially with summer seafood and fresh cuisine.

Wine Folly_Argentina

Back on track to other killer varietals, the history shows that the Spanish missionaries in the late 1500’s first brought vines (Tempranillo and once thought Torrontés) to the region. Then, in the 1900’s, a new wave of varietals from Europe arrived. From Italy came Bonarda (actually Doux Noir), Sangiovese, Nebbiolo, Lambrusco & more. From France, the following influx arrived: from Burgundy, Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, from the Rhône, Syrah and Viognier as well as from the Loire Valley, Chenin Blanc. Escaping the phylloxera epidemic that decimated their homeland vineyards, immigrants brought not only their vines but their background in winemaking. The 1900’s were not easy times. It was not until well after the Great Depression, political conflicts, inflation (1960-70), and finally the 1990’s resurgence with investment from foreign countries in the wine regions of Argentina did the small pockets of Argentinian winemaking expand into such large production.

Val de La Puerta vineyards, La Rioja

The rise of Malbec as the glory child may be on the forefront of what people imagine Argentina to represent; however, there are many more varietals produce there that deserve your attention — classic Old World varietals and the beautiful Torrontés. Adventure to try:

  • La Puerta 2012 Alta Malbec La Rioja — Reg $16.99
  • La Puerta 2013 Malbec La Rioja — Reg $14.99
  • La Yunta Torrontés La Rioja — Reg $10.99
  • Antigal 2013 Malbec Mendoza — Reg $24.99
  • Durigutti 2013 Cabernet Franc Mendoza — Reg $16.99
  • Durigutti 2015 Malbec Mendoza — Reg $16.99
  • Martino 2014 Malbec Mendoza — Reg $21.99
  • Salentein 2016 Portillo Malbec — Reg $16.99
  • Salentein 2014 Reserve Malbec — $25.99
  • Salentein 2010 Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon — $25.99

Thursday, July 13th, 2017 5pm to 7pm | Carlos Bosso

  • Carlos Basso Dos Fincas Sauvignon Blanc Mendoza– Reg $12.99
  • Carlos Basso Dos Fincas Chardonnay Mendoza — Reg $12.99
  • Carlos Basso Dos Fincas Pinot Noir Mendoza — Reg $12.99
  • Carlos Basso Dos Fincas Cab/Malbec Blend Mendoza — Reg $12.99
  • Carlos Basso Dos Fincas Malbec Mendoza — Reg $12.99

Cheers!  Jaci


Franchetto: Sustainability, Harmony & the Family Business

Sustainability is not a new concept for families in Old World countries (i.e. Italy, France and Spain).  Here in the States, we have many laws and regulations for labeling sustainable, bio-dynamic, and organic; however, the Old World has lived for centuries practicing sustainability.  Besides few consistent regulating laws (as of yet) and the costly procedure to become certified, it can be hard for these wineries to justify certification for the sole purpose of sales in foreign markets (such as the US).

Supporting Articles on Sustainability >> 1 2 3

Many Old World winemakers, land-owners and enologists are trained in sustainability.  It is a part of the culture and lifestyle.  When asked about certification and regulation, it is an awkward shuffle to define European standards- yet many of them follow standards, dabble in the designation programs as well as attempt certification (though it is a moving target).  The biggest question is- why do they grow their grapes sustainability without caring about formal certification? It is their way of life! Woman winemaker and  sustainability-trained enologist Giulia Franchetto explains in her own words…

We are a family run winery, located in Terrossa di Roncà, a little village situated between the provinces of Verona and Vicenza – in the Veneto region. Our company has peasant origins from 8th Century but it is in 1982 that we have taken up the road of winemaking. Antonio Franchetto, my father, founder and owner, understood the fortune to have vineyards in this great land and decided to start his big adventure: transform his own grapes into wine. In the year 2000 we created the brand Franchetto and we started to bottle our wine. It’s been a quite long road to arrive to the wine that Antonio had in his mind. Today, by our philosophy, the wine has to tell about the terroir that it comes from, without contamination; it is for this reason that our main vines are Garganega and Durella: two indigenous vines with strong roots in this beloved area.

From 2016, I, Antonio’s oldest daughter, Giulia, have run the winery with the support of my parents. I graduated in enology in 2015 and have worked in the family’s winery since 2012. Today, at 27, I am like-minded with my parents – aware of the importance of her vineyards and soils.  My younger sister Anna shares chores of bottling and supports, however it is not her passion.  (We will talk more of this later!)

We strongly believe that the wines are born in the vineyards. There we have the possibility to grow healthy and clean grapes that will be able to give life to amazing wines, free to express 100% the soil and grapes that they come from. From this comes our greatest respect for nature and our surrounding environment. With this philosophy in mind, we farm our vineyards according to the guidelines of modern-day agriculture. We analyze our soils about every 3 years in order to understand how they are. The major part of our soils are quite rich but where and when it is needed, we use organic fertilizer. To control the growth of weeds we don’t use herbicides (or chemicals) but a mechanical machine that moves the soil between every vine: in this way we take away the bad grasses and give some oxygen to our vines’ roots.  We mainly treat the vines with products allowed in organic agriculture; only in the event of particularly serious circumstances, do we make use of other types of sanitary protection, while strictly adhering to the advice and doses recommended by qualified agronomists. We work in this way first of all for our health as we are every day in the vineyards and then because we want to contribute to safeguarding and protecting our Mother Earth.

We have always cultivated the environment around us with love and respect, conscious that a healthy ecosystem is the base to obtain wines that can give emotions to the people that taste them. That’s the reason why we decided to follow some techniques that allow us to reduce to the minimum the impact of our work on the soil, in order to leave our vineyards in good condition for us and for the next generations of winemakers.”


In addition to sustainable farming, the Franchetto family has invested in a photo voltaic system which covers all the energetic needs of the company. More from Giulia: “The photo voltaic plant, installed on the roof of the winery, produces 45.000 kWh per year and, beyond the economic saving for the company, it contributes to the protection of the environment because it reduces the usage of fossil fuel and the emissions of CO2 in the atmosphere.”  Reducing their carbon footprint with investment in farming and winery sustainability, the Franchetto family has also taken care to plot their vineyards from the beginning to utilize their resources wisely.  With two vineyards in two locations, focusing on very different varietals (traditional Garganega and Durella), the vineyards are selected for their ideal soil, elevation, but also the steepness of the slope.  “The Capellina vineyards are located at 250 m.a.s.l. on a very steep slope; this contributes in a very decisive way to the flow of water and prevents stagnation and excessive irrigation problems.”  The Vestenanova vineyard produces a rare local varietal, Durella, which Giulia’s parents planted 25 years ago. The family uses this grape to produce a one of a kind Spumante (sparkling wine) known as Lessini Durello.

Wine making is not the only passion of this talented family – all of them are musicians performing frequently at local festivals and events.  Giulia explains more here:

We are a musician’s family– I (Giulia) have studied music (French Horn) at Verona’s conservatory while attending high school and I have collaborated with different groups and orchestras. My father (Antonio) is a Trombone player, my sister (Anna, who doesn’t really work with us but is always happy to help during events – bottling and other works) plays Transverse Flute, while my mom is a singer.  We are all involved in the symphonic band of our area.  We enjoy every aspect of play and study with this group (where we are all friends). The best moments are of course the concerts, lots of happiness and satisfaction after months of studies!  

Smiling (because I usually tell this in a funny way) I always like to say that our wines have “something more” because they are made with love and above all because during the harvest time me and my dad often play our instruments inside the winery if we have some free minutes so also the grape juice that is fermenting can enjoy and relax with our music 😉 😉 ;)!”

And what is a winery without its winery dogs (or other “pets” )...  “We have three female dogs: Stella (that we enjoy calling Nerina because she is really black) – Birba and Lilli. The first 2 are owned by my grandfather while Lilli is our sweet and funny puppy. I could say that she is almost as famous as my wines, a lot of people (friends – clients etc) know her :). She is an important piece of our family. <3.  About me (Giullia): with wine and music I have another big passion – horses! I practice horse riding (jumping) and since June 2016, I have owned my first horse: Cerbelo dell’Alma!  I am really in love with him!”


A phrase that truly rings clear for this family is “I think having land and not ruining it is the most beautiful art that anybody could ever want.” Andy Warhol.  Sustainability is the foundation of the Franchetto winery.  They follow techniques that reduce the impact of their work on the soil, allowing the vineyards to flourish now and for the next generations of winemakers.  Furthermore, their lifestyle harmonizes with the earth, family life, culture, and wine making.  Beauty is a balance of intention and art in every day living.

Finalizing this interview/blog, Giulia informed me that BOTH of their Soaves just won awards in DECANTER WORLD WINE AWARDS!!
* Soave DOC “Recorbian” 2015  BRONZE medal
* Soave DOC “La Capelina” 2015 PLATINUM medal for BEST VENETO WHITE!!!!

Salut!  Jaci Kajfas
Manager, Sommelier, Food + Wine writer