Volcanic Vineyard Bounty

Mount Vesuvius- Campania, Italy

Soils layered with molten rock, pulverized pumice, stones, ash and clay, Mount Vesuvius vineyards offer character and diversity. An eruption of Mount Vesuvius in AD 79 decimated Pompeii, Herculaneum and the surrounding areas. The volcanic soils are ideal for vineyards in an area of vast biodiversity including pine trees, lavender, and broom sung.  It is a panorama of breathtaking beauty during all months of the year.
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The sides of Vesuvius are deeply scarred by past lava flows, and its lower slopes are extremely fertile, dotted with villages and covered with vineyards. Casa Setero‘s vineyards climb up the slopes of Vesuvius in Trecase. The area is protected by a National Park (per 1995).  The family grows traditional Campania varietals: Piedirosso, Aglianico, Falanghina and Caprettone.  Of these red varietals creates the blend the classic Lacryma Christi.

One of the few DOC’s in the area, Lacryma Christi (del Vesuvio), translates to “the tears of Christ on Vesuvius” and of course it comes with a story! The first legend is upon ascending to heaven Jesus wept tears of joy as he looked over the beautiful Bay of Naples which fell upon Mount Vesuvius. The second legend begins when an angry Lucifer is ejected from heaven, storming off with the fallen angels and a piece of “paradise”.  This lands on Mount Vesuvius, and is why Jesus cries. And another legend is that Bacchus, the Roman god of wine, sheds tears of joy which sprout the vineyards on the slopes of Vesuvius.  Regardless of which rendition you (or the winemaker) believes, it is the reasoning why on any bottle from the Mount Vesuvius the crown label has either red wax or an image of red wax dripping to represent “the tears of Christ on Vesuvius”.
Mt Vesuvius National Park_vineyards inside
Lacryma Christi red is a blend of Piedirosso, Sciascinoso and Aglianico grapes and the white varietals are typically blends of Verdeca, Coda di Volpe and Falanghina grapes. Fragrant, with scents of wild strawberries, raspberries and hints of aromatic herbs such as oregano and thyme  as well as wild flowers and violets.  On the palate, blueberries, tart cherries, pomegranate mingle with balsamic and subtle sea breeze notes.  Earth notes such as pine and volcanic ash are noted with a gentle tannic finish. Pairs with seafood, white meats, fresh cheeses, pizza, fish soups, white meats, roasted chicken, root vegetables and pulse soups.

One of Italy’s oldest grape varieties, and cultivated in Campania since ancient Roman times, Falanghina is the white wine of the region. Primarily cultivated in Campania, Falanghina can be located in Puglia and Abruzzo (Southern Italy).  Mount Vesuvius’ porous volcanic soils and the warm Mediterranean climate are an excellent environment for this beautiful, floral and citrusy white.  Tasting notes of citrus-blossom, bitter orange, summer apple and Bosc pear layered with minerality. Pair with pizza; combinations with pear, walnuts, Gorgonzola;  seafood cuisine, shellfish; vegetable and pulses soup, legumes; fresh cheeses; or even meats roasted in citrus or peppers.

Aglianico is one of the most widespread red varietals in southern Italy. Originally assumed to be of Greek origin, Jancis Robinson has suggested that the lack of DNA support and the strong Greek merchant activity in the height of growth most likely trends this belief, however Aglianico is mostly likely an indigenous Italian varietal.  It is a rich and full-bodied with notes of balsamic and pomegranate compote. Visualize a compote of rich red raspberry, currants, pomegranate and cherries mingled with an elegant minerality, hints of balsamic and subtle licorice. Tannic finish with medium acidity.  Pair with roasted meats, chicken, pomegranate, rich seafood, squash, roasted vegetables.


We hope you enjoyed our feature of Mount Vesuvius! Join us to try these wines at our shop:

  • Casa Setaro Lacryma Christi Reg. $19.99 | INSIDER $18.99 | Mixed Case 20% $15.19
  • Casa Setaro Aglianico Reg. $17.99 | INSIDER $14.99 | Mixed Case 20% $11.99
  • Casa Setaro Falanghina Reg. $19.99 | INSIDER $17.99 | Mixed Case 20% $14.39

Cheers!  Jaci



Understanding Vintage & Aging


Shuffling through the wine shop- we restock, we straighten, and above all, we check vintages. So- it may seem basic, but here we go: What’s in a vintage? The vintage on the bottle is the year that the grapes were in the vineyard. That eventual fermented juice could spend a few years in a barrel, but the vintage will not change when it is bottled.  Some regions have aging requirements on the label to inform the consumer how long it was in the barrel (for example Crianza in Spain or Riserva in Tuscany) and some do not. And then, then there is non vintage (NV).  This is when a winemaker decides that blending of two or more years produces the results s/he wants. It is found most often in fortified or sparkling wines such as Champagne and ports.

Most wineries have their style for their wine and do their best to keep that mark.  Why does it matter if one year is different or not and what would make it any different?  Well, crafting wine is not the same as making legos. Winemakers cope with the weather, which (as we know in Seattle) is more variable than one might expect. As much as winemakers desire to hold true to their style, each year has a challenge.  For those of you that enjoy visiting wine country, you have heard the stories- and every year has them!

  • Early frost, or surprise frost for that matter
  • Hail– as seen this year in Chablis and few years ago in Piedmont
  • Over the top temperatures (2015 California)
  • And even a simple rainy finish prior to harvest can create watery juice…

All situations create unique growing adventures. Variable weather conditions have to be accounted for through vineyard management- early harvest, tarping and heating the vines, or adjusting pruning and maintenance.  And all play a factor in how winemakers maintain their end product- that potentially delicious bottle of wine.  The winemakers with the ability and skill to manipulate from vintification to vinification are classically the wines that people seek when the vintage reports are claiming poor years.

Want to learn more about each years’ vintages per region?  Check out Jancis Robinson>

So as much as we seek consistency, wines are variable.  The same applies when it comes to aging wines.  It is a gamble!  A potentially delicious and fascinating gamble, but a gamble nonetheless. There is the dynamic of vintage year and the above mentioned impacts, but as the wine ages the variables increase! Proper storage is vital. That is, out of direct light, with little vibration, with no contact with chemicals and odors, minimal fluctuations in temperature as well as humidity, and of course, on its side so that the cork stays moist. When that is said and done, which wines age? Think of freshness- fresh whites with no oak as well as rosé wines should be consumed in the first few years of bottling. Wines with high residual sugar age well as do wines with supple tannins and higher acidity. The last component to look for is alcohol.  High alcohol can turn your wine to vinegar, if the wine is out of balance of other said components (sugar, tannins, acidity).  For example, port is high in alcohol +  residual sugar  + tannin, so it’s balanced and ages well.

So as you endeavor in the world of wine, aging and vintage choice, ask your local wine merchant to guide you.  That’s what we are here for!

Jaci, Sommelier, Wine Writer & Portalis Manager

Local Beers: Scuttlebutt

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Everett, Washington– (Everett, Washington) — Home brewers of the 90’s, Scuttlebutt owners are Everett classics.  A Father’s day home brewing kit turned into a retirement investment. Now they produce almost 200,000 gallons of beer a year! More>

Scuttlebutt Tripel 7 Belgium
  —  $1.59 12 fl oz — Very smooth & delicate, finishes dry with a hint of tartness.  Dark Gold, Slight Copper in color with aromas of clove and banana, white pear.  Hops: Bullion and CZ Saaz
Scuttlebutt Transistor IPA  —  $2.79 12 fl oz — Crisp and light with pleasant floral and woody hop flavors.  Support your local public broadcast radio station with this great tasting beer! All net proceeds are donated to KEXP! Gold color with hops of Columbus, Chinook, Glacier, and Nugget.


Anniversary Gift Pairings


Traditional anniversary gifts typically are flowers and metal or stone objects. Below is a whimsical list of wines that represent the objects. –Jaci

5th | Spring Valley Vineyards Derby Cabernet Sauvignon  (Walla Walla Valley, Washington) — Reg $61.99 | Mixed Case 20% $449.59 — Traditional Objects:  Wood and Daisy– Big, Bold and oaky! Wine: This wine could be cellared for future anniversary or consumed now.

10th | Domaine Chevalliers Chablis (Burgundy, France) — Reg $27.99  | Mixed Case $22.39 — Traditional Objects: Tin/Aluminum, Daffodil. Wine: Nothing better than a flinty, minerally refreshing Chablis!

15th | Jacques Lassaigne (Champagne, France) — Reg $61.99 | Mixed Case 20% $49.59 — Traditional Object: Crystal, Rose- Crystal clear bubbles and a bouquet of roses!

20th | K Vintners Cattle King Syrah (Walla Walla Valley, Washington) — Reg $75.99 | Mixed Case 20% $60.79 — Traditional Object: China, Aster. Wine: Purple and blue tinged Syrah from WA.

25th | La Colline aux Princes Sancerre (Loire Valley, France) — Reg $27.99  | Mixed Case $22.39 — Traditional Object: Silver, Iris. Wine: Reflections of silver and hints of iris!

30th | Claude Nouveau Santennay 1er Cru  (Burgundy, France) — Reg $44.99 | Mixed Case 20% $35.99 — Traditional Object: Pearl, Lily. Wine: Creamy rich texture like a pearly and lovely like lilies: Burgundian Chardonnay!

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40th | Paul Reitz Volnay  (Burgundy, France) — Reg $57.99 | Mixed Case 20% $51.19 — Traditional Object:  Ruby, Gladiolus. Wine: Bright ruby colors with rich terrior.

50th | Domaine Nalys Châteauneuf-du-Pape Reserve (Southern Rhône, France) — Reg $65.99 | INSIDER $62.99 | Mixed Case 20% $50.39 — Traditional Object: Gold, Yellow rose, violet. Wine: Beautiful hints of violets and field roses.

60th | Bruno Paillard (Champagne, France) — Reg $59.99 | Mixed Case 20% $47.99 — Traditional Object: Diamond. Wine: Brilliant diamond sparkles!

75th | Vilmart et Cie (Champagne, France) — Reg $89.99 | Mixed Case 20% $71.99 — Traditional Object: Diamond/Gold. Wine: Flecks of gold and diamonds.

80th| Rombaurer Cabernet Sauvignon  (Napa Valley, California) — Reg $61.99 | Mixed Case 20% $49.59 — Traditional Object: Oak. Wine: the most oak of them all!

90th | W.T. Vintners Damain Syrah  (Walla Walla Valley, Washington) — Reg $48.99 | Mixed Case 20% $39.19 — Traditional Object: Granite. Wine: Layers of blueberries, cherries and granite

Fathers Day & BBQ Pairings

SALE_Wines for Grilling_Medals by Clara!_Jul 2012_square

Whether you are gathering for Father’s Day or not- this is a fun list of BBQ pairings for any upcoming events as the weather is getting warmer and the dance cards are filling up! –Jaci

Brisket and Braised | Four Vines The Biker Zinfandel (Paso Robles, Califonia) — Reg $25.99 | Mixed Case 20% $20.79 — Complement that rich and tangy meat with bold dark plums and spice!

BBQ Pork/Brats/Sausages | Resérve Générac Syrah (Costière di Nîmes, France) —Reg $13.99  | Mixed Case $11.19 — Savory with fatty goodness balanced with rich fruit and acid.

Hamburgers | 1851 Cabernet Sauvignon (Columbia Valley, Washington) — Reg $14.99 | Mixed Case 20% $11.99 — Layers of grilled onions, garlic, rosemary and lean meat with dark cherries, soft tannins!

Veggie Burger | Jacky Marteau Sauvignon Blanc (Touraine | Loire Valley, France) — Reg $15.99 | INSIDER $14.99 | Mixed Case 20% $11.99 — Rustic herbs and grains with tart Touraine fruits and earth.

Pulled Pork | K Vintners River Rock Syrah (Walla Walla Valley, Washington) — Reg $49.99 | Mixed Case 20% $39.99 — Good and juicy with bold and bodacious WA Syrah.

BBQ Ribs | Neil Ellis Pinotage (Stellenbosch, South Africa) — Reg $22.99 | Mixed Case 20% $18.39 — Match that rich sweet and tangy sauce to the powerful cooked fruits and smokey undertones of a South African Pinotage!

Grilled Lamb | Zuazo Gaston Crianza Tempranillo  (Rioja, Spain) — Reg $19.99 | INSIDER $15.99 | Mixed Case 20% $12.79 — Almost any grilled meat, but this meat is a classic pairing with Tempranillo.

Corn on the Cob | 1851 Cellars Chardonnay (Columbia Valley, Washington) — Reg $13.99 | INSIDER $12.99 | Mixed Case 20% $10.39 — You have to add your own butter, as this Chardonnay is stainless steel but with a touch of malo- full bodied and rich.

Grilled Salmon | Palazzo Malgara Grillo (Sicily, Italy) — Reg $13.99 | Mixed Case 20% $11.19 — The bright sunshine rays of a refresshing Grillo matched with a fresh catch- gorgeous.

Grilled Veggies | Weingut Prechtl Altenberg Grüner Veltliner (Weinviertel, Austria) — Reg $19.99 | INSIDER $18.99 | Mixed Case 20% $15.19 — Full and lush, vegetal in its own right, with a clean, peppery finish.

Grilled Mushrooms | Chateau du Grand Caumont Cuvée Spéciale (Corbières, France)– Reg $15.99 | Mixed Case 20% $12.79 — Inky dark plums, black cherries, hillside herbs, soft tannins.

Stay Local and Fresh! PNW Seafood

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Growing up actively fishing, clamming, crabbing and covered in tide-flat, one becomes a bit of a seafood snob!  The Pacific Northwest is blessed with an abundance of delicious and seasonal treats.  Here we present some of our favorites with pairings.

My cousins, siblings and I would spend HOURS on the beach at Samish Island digging for clams.  Razor clams and Goeducks that is- these meaty rich shellfish are excellent for fritters, soups and stews.  Enjoy with Pinot Bianco from Castelfeder (Alto Adige, Italy).

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Chef Tracey’s Manila Clams with coconut milk, shallots

Manila Clams, originally from Japan, live in the rocky depths, sandy areas as well as squishy tide-flat areas.  I didn’t grow up with these as much.  But I did find a love for them when I was older-  toss them in white wine with linguini or with Andouille sausage, corn and potatoes!  Pair with a Rosso di Montalicino from Nottola (Tuscany, Italy).

Five am is nothing to beach kids in my day- we would suit up, grab some pitch forks and buckets and float along on inner tubes next to our uncles when the tide flat was out.  They had pots out that they would harvest later on in the evening, and this allowed Nana to start making fresh Dungenous crab cakes-  Wow.  Enjoy that with Vinchio Vaglio Serra Gavi (Piedmont, Italy).

There are several species of shrimp in the PNW- over 80!  The most common, and largest is the Spot Prawn. Steam, peel and eat.  Enjoy with Domaine Moltès Pinot Blanc (Alsace, France).

Squid–  oh yes- calamari!  My favorite style of calamari is non-breaded, sautéed with Calabrian olives, capers and tomatoes.  Serve with La Farra Extra Dry Prosecco (Veneto, Italy)!  Want the old school breaded with aoli style… very well, then 1851 Cellars Chardonnay (Columbia Valley, Washington) for you!  Cheers!

Bouillabaisse, paella, or just a steamed bowl with chili flakes and butter- Mussels are a staple in PNW cuisine. It truly depends on the preparation- if you are having stew, enjoy with Domain Perraud Macon (Burgundy, France) or Santa Lucia Losco from coastal Maremma (Tuscany, Italy).  Paella- Outon Albariño (Rias Biaxas, Spain) all the way!  Simple butter and chili- have Okocium Lager (Poland)!

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Ines Giovanett (Castelfeder Winery) & Tom Stocks at Taylor Shellfish, 2012

I can spend a whole day pairing to Oysters as Washington State has so many to choose from!  Check out this link for all the different styles>>  And classically- the pairing should be Muscadet: Chateau de La Bigiotière or Domaine des Herbauges (Loire Valley, France).

With eight different styles of Tuna consumed, the four most common are Albacore, Yellow-fin, Blue-fin, and Big-eye.  Blue-fin, especially Atlantic Blue-Fin, is an endangered species.  The others are border line threatened.  If you are fortunate to consume some, enjoy with Santa Lucia Vermentino (Tuscany, Italy)

Sturgeon, known more for caviar than as a dish, is a meaty, oily and rich dish.  Many species are endangered due to illegal caviar trade as well as over-fishing and pollution.  You need a Burgundian white for this one: Domaine Perraud Mâcon Villages or  Chateau Eyssards Bergerac Blanc Sec (Bergerac, France)

Mildly sweet, dense white meat- Swordfish is often overlooked!  If you like the meaty texture of salmon but not the fishy character, you will enjoy swordfish.  Moderate consumption as it does carry levels of mercury, and it is on a watch.  Pair with Ozilhan Réserve Blanc (Côtes du Rhône, France)

I don’t believe you need to pair Salmon with Pinot Noir.  Don’t get me wrong- I LOVE PINOT NOIR.  But…  there are plenty of gorgeous wines to pair with especially pending what you are making with your salmon.  I’ll give you two choices…

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Of the five WILD Salmon – Chinook, Chum, Coho, Pink, and Sockeye – what’s the difference?

  • Sockeye is the darkest and meat-y-est.  Pair with a bold 5 Oros Vendemmia Seleccionada (Rioja, Spain) or Willamette Pinot- like Domaine Serene (Willamette Valley, Oregon).  Awesome smoked! Pair with Starke Conde Syrah (Stellenbosch, South Africa).
  • Chinook (King) is the lightest in color yet expressive in flavor and the highest in the marbled fat content.  Depending on what you prepare it with, pair with a wine that has a bit more earth and richness- Santa Lucia Morellino di Scansano or Claude Nouveau Santennay (Burgundy, France)
  • Coho and Pink are similar with a medium to light coloring, medium flavor and medium oil.  Try a rosé- Château Frégate Bandol Rosé or for your pinot noir: Paul Reitz Volnay (Burgundy, France).
  • Chum is very light in color and very lean.  Sometimes with an orange hue. Enjoy with Les Couventines Gigondas (Southern Rhône, France) or Wish Wine Co. Pinot Noir (North Coast, California)

Since we are talking about salmon, what’s the deal with Steelhead Salmon?  It is actually a sea-bearing Rainbow Trout.  You will find the same richness of salmon, yet medium flakes of orange goodness.  Pair with Scopone Brunello di Montalicino (Tuscany, Italy) or Walter Scott Pinot Noir (Willamette Valley, Oregon).

Rainbow Trout spends its life in the fresh water- so rich in style yet cleaner and leaner.  Think the same for your wine pairing- Castelfeder Vernatsch (Alto Adige, Italy) or Walnut City Wine Works Pinot Noir (Willamette Valley, Oregon)

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Chef Tracey’s Halibut Cheeks on Roman gnocchi

Halibut is a delight.  Light, lean with a sweet freshness, it is so versatile for pairing as well as preparation.  Plain with lemon- Chevaliers Chablis (Burgundy, France); Fried- Asara Chenin Blanc (Stellenbosch, South Africa); Ceviche!!  Casto Pequeño Cotoval Verdejo (Castilla y Leon, Spain)

Since we are speaking white fish, next we move to Cod.  There is Atlantic and Pacific and whole races that sustain themselves on these beauties.  Simple clean and mild flavor.  Not dissimilar to halibut but a bit oily and not as sweet.  Pair with Lobo Hills Sauvigon Blanc (Yakima Valley, Washington).

Black Cod/Sablefish has a rich, buttery, satin like texture with high oil content.  It lives in deep dark waters and along the muddy areas of the ocean.  Pair with Domain Moltès Alsatian Riesling (France).

Lingcod– is not actually a cod.  Lingcod is a lean, white-fleshed fish with a mild flavor profile, medium-firm texture and large flakes.  Enjoy with a bright and refreshing Sancerre- La Colline aux Princes (Loire Valley, France)

Bass– similar to the tale of Steelhead and Rainbow trout, several bass species are fresh water to seawater bound.  Large mouth bass are the most common in our area- expect a rich, oily fish with full flavor!  Go local- have a Washington Syrah: Beresan Cellars (Columbia Valley)

Petrale Sole and Dover Sole are actually Flounders and both have a mild, delicately nutty, sweet flavor with small, firm flakes. Definitely Palazzo Malgara Grillo (Sicily, Italy)

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Chef Tracey’s Pacific Rockfish with yellow tomato pureé, avacodo, basil oil & smoked paprika oil

Rockfish, aka Pacific Snapper, is lean, with a sweetness and nutty undertone.  Firm and flaky.  A great fish for mixing into seafood stews or baked in parchment with clams and herbs!  Pair this with a Bordeaux Blanc- Château Martinot (France).

Please keep in mind that we are stewards to our environment.  Many species have been over harvested and not properly managed, so please make sure to check sites like this >>  as well as health sites for toxin levels (especially for small children, pregnant women, and those with illnesses) >>


Seafood Availability–

Cheers & hope you enjoy some of these pairing suggestions!
Jaci Kajfas
Sommelier, Portalis Wine Shop Manager & foodie extraordinaire!