December 2023 Newsletter

Holiday Samplers

Sparkling Wines

Paltrinieri Lambrusco di Sorbara Riserva NV $23

Striking clear lightest blush of pink. Peach, strawberry-rhubarb pie, graham, and key lime. Intensely dry, citrusy, mouthwatering minerality on the finish.

Fresh green apple and pear notes with touches of apple blossoms and limestone. Delicately creamy bubbles and a lingering finish of yeasty brioche.

Diebolt Valois Brut Tradition NV Normally $50, Now Only $43
Notes of pear butter, rainier cherry, lemon and lime, velvety texture with ultra-fine mousse and a rich, lightly toasty finish.


Missoula Flood Sparkling Holiday Feature. $200 for a 3-pack
Missoula Flood is a sparkling wine project in the Columbia Gorge that’s unlike anything else in Oregon. These wines sparkle like Champagne, yet offer a vivid sense of place from vineyards perched high above the Columbia River. When we tasted these wines the first time we had stars in our eyes, and we couldn’t pick just one. For bonus points, these are some of the most beautiful labels we’ve ever seen, and we can’t think of a better way to introduce this truly inspiring Oregon sparkling wine than in a set of three distinct sparkling wines. Each pack contains one bottle each of these three wines:

No dosage. Classic Blanc de blancs, strong soil expression. Rich yeasty character

half a gram dosage. Blazing acidity, quinine, lemon, apples, salty minerality.

Still Waters
3 grams dosage. Apple sauce, floral nose, brioche, with a creamy palate.

Still Wines

 Gold Pinot Noir Sampler - $500

We've pulled out all the stops for this set of Oregon Pinot Noir. There are some classics in here, and some fresh new faces too! With luck, you next favorite bottle of Oregon Pinot Noir is somewhere inside this box. A showstopper as a gift, this set of wine is also an easy choice for the holiday table. Each sampler contains two bottles of the following:

  • Beckham Eola Amity Hills Estate "Creta" 2021
  • Crowley La Colina Vineyard L&E 2021
  • McKinlay Pinot Noir Willamette Valley Special Selection 2021
  • Little Crow Chehalem Mountains "Mermaid Cafe" 2021
  • Westrey Abbey Ridge Pinot Noir 2014
  • Twill Cellars Bracken Vineyard 2022 

Silver Pinot Noir Sampler - $250

We've put together a set of six Oregon Pinot Noirs that will satisfy every palate without breaking the bank. Each wine has something different to offer, and we think they're best as a set. Each sampler contains 2 of each of the following wines:

  • Delancelotti Willamette Valley Pinot Noir "La Sorella" 2022
  • McKinlay Willamette Valley Pinot Noir 2022
  • Violin Willamette Valley Pinot Noir 2021 
  • Ayres Willamette Valley Pinot Noir 2022 
  • Love & Squalor Willamette Valley Pinot Noir "Garageland" 2021 
  • Evesham Wood Willamette Valley Pinot Noir 2022


On the Winemakers' Barrel: Teutonic Wine Co.

We are so glad to welcome Teutonic Wine Company winemakers Barnaby and Olga Tuttle to the winemakers' barrel on Saturday, December 16th. Olga and Barnaby Tuttle make some of Oregon's best and most purposeful wines. From the very start, they set their compass to "Old & Cold, High & Dry, Wood & Wild", rules to live by to make lively wines with delicate textures and vivid flavors. Learn more about Teutonic here. 


Featured Teutonic Wines

Regular Newsletter Selections

Gilbert Chon Muscadet Les Marinieres 2022 $13

 The Chon family has been making wine in Muscadet since 1670. While most people in America have to consult a DNA test to know what their family was doing thirteen generations ago, Marine Chon and Arnaud Madec-Chon have only to look out the window to their vineyards at the family property, the Chateau de la Jousseliniere. The Chon domaine is long established as one of the best – and certainly best value – domaines in Muscadet. Their wines embody the ethos of the region, lightly salty, fresh and invigorating but never insubstantial. This bottling, Les Marinieres is named in honor of sailors, whose work sailing to and from the port of Nantes is still an integral part of both the wine trade and the regional economy. The nose offers notes of cooked apples, pear blossom, lemon balm and salt. The palate is lightly creamy yet clean-cut with acidity, with waves of tangerine and lemon alternating with pear and granite infused minerality. Salt – another cornerstone of the region’s history and a classic marker of Muscadet’s flavor – is also a flavor note here, especially on the finish. Oysters are the iconic pairing, but any freshly prepared seafood dish will do with this one.

Fattoria San Giuliano is a farm with a total of fifteen acres in Roero and Barbaresco’s Neive. Giulio Pastura and his wife Mariella do most of the farming and vinification themselves, producing a range of wine from Arneis and Moscatto through Barbera, Dolcetto, and Barbaresco. With a mixture of traditional and modern techniques, they aim to make wine that is distinct, sharply defined, and – at least with this Dolcetto – powerful. Peacocks roam their vineyards to control pests, and the wine has a similarly colorful personality. Aromas of deep, juicy black cherry, cranberry, rose petal, calcareous limestone clay, and black pepper burst out of the glass vividly dark. The palate offers more intensely dark cherry fruit and a bundle of Piedmontese herbs wrapped around long, silky tannins that reveal the measured yet vigorous skin extraction technique used in the winery, to express every ounce of Dolcetto’s vivid, dark and spicy palate.This is a wine for hard cheeses, savory meat dishes and herb-rich stews.

In 1989, a family friend told Marc Penaveyre that he was due to retire, and the French government was offering to pay him $50,000 to pull out his Fronton vines unless Marc left his work as a government viticulture researcher behind and returned to the village of Vacquiers just a few miles north of Toulouse. Freshly married to his wife Anne - an engineer - Marc returned and saved the vineyard. In the 30 years since, Plaisance-Penaveyre has led a renaissance for this modest variety Marc has converted to biodynamic farming and vinifies in a restrained manner without any new oak, nor too much extraction. Le Rouge is a blend of Negrette with Syrah and Cabernet Franc, and a beautiful example of how much potential is in this once forgotten corner of France. This is a rib-sticking black wine, with aromas of blackcurrant jam, dark roasted coffee, licorice, underbrush, earth and incense. Full bodied and full of iron ore clay notes, jet-black cherries, currants and prunes. The structure offers both long, stern tannins and refreshing acidity that keeps this wine surprisingly fresh. Drink this charmer with full bodied winter meals featuring caramelized vegetables and red meats.

Vincent Roussely’s vineyard is on the banks of the Cher river, a few miles south of the Loire and not too distant from Chateau de Chenonceau, the river-spanning castle that gives AOC Touraine Chenonceaux its name. This quarter of the wide and diverse Touraine appellation is interspersed with forests and frequent ravines, a slightly less settled part of the Loire. Roussely converted all his vineyards to organic in 2007, and makes a wide array of wines, from Sauvignon Blanc – ever-present here and thought to have originated just a couple miles up-stream – to this sturdy, winter-weight Gamay. This grape flourishes in the Loire Valley, where it tends towards earthy spice in keeping with the local clay-rich terroir, and the Canaille is a neat balance of Gamay’s complex personality, structured yet lively. Deep black cherry and pomegranate fruit comes alongside rich clay and black pepper. Full bodied with more tannin than we’re used to in Gamay, forest floor and chalky soil notes balanced with blackcurrant and cranberry that lead to a pepper streaked finish. This may be a Gamay, but it’s a substantial wine for winter dishes involving potatoes, roast chicken, and squashes.

Valeria Antolin is an artist who works in two media. On the one hand, she’s a winemaker in Mendoza, heir to famous winemaking lineage and a great winemaker in her own right with a deft eye and nose for balance and varietal character. She is also a painter, whose work is featured both in Loscano’s winery and on this bottle of wine, a deftly balanced Cabernet Sauvignon from the Uco Valley. The key element in great wines from Mendoza is restraint. The dry, sunny terroir here offers the temptation to turn the volume all the way up and produce syrupy gobs of fruit, but this cuvée is refreshingly light on its feet. Blackcurrant, blackberry, cinnamon toast, oak spice and vanilla bean feature on the nose, no one element dominating the rest. The palate has Cabernet Sauvignon’s signature bouquet of herbs like oregano, sage, and tarragon bundled together with plums, blackcurrants, and deep, resonant earth. This is a brilliant Argentine wine, and we’ve rarely seen one so complex and well balanced at this price. Priced for midweek burger night, but good enough for slow cooked pot-roast.

“The goal of Chateau de Brague’s Bordeaux Superieur is to make a wine that is supple and elegant, while still maintaining freshness.” In 1936, Maurice Trève purchased a vineyard in the area of Fronsac on the eastern edge of Bordeaux. For him, planting the vineyard took him away from his day job building railroad equipment, but his granddaughters today run the estate full time. Chateau de Brague’s Bordeaux Supérieur has been a mainstay in Portland for years, one of the best values available in Bordeaux. The just-released 2019 edition is a worthy successor to the great 2016 vintage of the last several years. Spicey blackcurrant and plum, cinnamon, violets and gentian root on the nose. The palate has the sort of fresh picked black cherries that stain your fingers, earth and rich leather and tobacco notes that linger through a finish with building tannins and a hint of roasted coffee. It’s a sturdy wine that holds up to the mission statement. Fresh enough to match with food, suave enough to enjoy by the fire with a good book.

To be honest, proper Riesling season is 365 days long, but if there is a special season to enjoy the grape’s unmatched ability to pair to any dish, to suit any occasion, and to bridge the gap between thirst quenching drinkability and mind-bending complexity, that season is winter. Consider this wine from Weingut Josef Leitz, since 1985 under the direction of Johannes ‘Josi’ Leitz. In the small Rheingau region, Leitz is considered one of the most important producers and a champion of high quality wine, something the Rheingau was once famous for. Most of his wines come from the western side of the Rheingau, a steep embankment of quartz and slate that faces almost directly south over the Rhein planted nearly solid with Riesling. Josi farms for low yields and has resurrected several ‘grand cru’ vineyards that had fallen out of use, but his Dragonstone cuvée is a neat summation of the estate; clean cut, vibrantly mineral, and delicious. A nose of orange, strawberry, lemon curd, slate, and a touch of salt leads to a palate of strawberry peach sundae with honeycomb and citrus fruits, a kiss of residual sugar is more than balanced by waves of acidity that lead to a razor sharp, crisp finish. Pair with most anything, but it will do special favors for spicy dishes.

When René Devine started selling barrels of wine to passing merchants in 1936, he was selling the sort of rich, full bodied and sun soaked wines that caused a sensation in Paris when railroads first connected the city to the vineyards of southern France. René’s granddaughter Agnes runs the domaine today with her husband Bertand Burle, and they look for balance in the wines. Balance between intensity and finesse, between fruit and savory earth, between the present and the future. They have the highest organic certification available and work as sustainably as possible. Font Sarade means ‘dry land’ in the Provençal dialect, and the grapes struggle even in normal years, so sustainable practices are always part of the conversation. The 2020 edition of the entry tier Ventoux is a blend of Grenache, Syrah and Carignan, full of dark cherry and boysenberry fruit, clay, leather, and a note of smoked ribs (that’s the Syrah talking). On the palate, the wine is impressively rich, with crusty earth and leathery fruit, black forest bacon with the peppery edge, and tar. Drink this wine with roasts or cook roasts with this wine.

The first thing you learn when visiting southwest France is that it’s not quite French. Walk into a café out in the country, you might hear Occitan, a language roughly equidistant between French and Catalan. Look at a road sign, and you will instantly get lost, because place names in this part of France look like they’re written in Celtic. However, wine is an international language, and in Pacherenc, growers use Gros- and Petit Manseng to make pure magic that anyone can understand. Christine Dupuy of Domaine Labranche Laffont makes brilliant red wines under the Madiran appellation, but her white wines might be the real treasure. This is the most complex, headiest wine of the newsletter. Aromas of peach, kiss melon, Red Delicious apple, lavender, candied pineapple, honeycomb, almond biscotti, and big salt crystals that come in small jars. The palate shows notes of papaya, Ataulfo mangos, lemon zest and Parmesan rind, texturally rich thanks to several months lees aging, but bursting out of its skin with acidity. Fans of Jurançon will find a kindred spirit. Fans of wine will simply love it. Duck and roast chicken, mushroom dishes, sweet potatoes, white fish, pork, and risottos will all work brilliantly.
The parcels of Grenache, Syrah and Mourvedre that go into this Cotes du Rhone are just outside the Chateauneuf-du-Pape appellation in the village of Courthézon. The vines are between 45 and 75 years old on a mix of soil types from loam to gravel and the famous galets that make Chateauneuf famous. Jean-Paul Autard works sustainably in his vineyards and picks grapes by hand to avoid damaging the fruit. Fermentation and aging take place in stainless steel tanks. The purity of fruit and suave texture of the wine come from this gentle philosophy. This is a rare sort of Cotes du Rhone that invites food pairing but doesn’t demand it. Bright and clean cut fruits meld easily with smoky, savory notes. Aromas of raspberry fruit leather, cherry, herbs de Provence, smoke and black plum. The palate is streaked with iron ore, raspberry and cherry cordial, and blackberry jam. Substantial and buttressed with sturdy, rough cut tannins. Have it with dishes that take a long time to cook, dishes with citrusy sauces, and hearty cheeses.

Eugene Carrel, alongside his son Olivier and son-in-law Sebastian manage their Domaine in the village of Jongieux, the warmest appellation in Savoie on west-facing slopes near Lac du Bourget. The Marestel Altesse is considered the premier wine of the winery and Savoie as a whole, a white with the depth and weight of Chardonnay or Roussanne, but the bright appley fruit and zest of all Savoie wines. Planted at 1500 feet, Carrel’s vineyards get 2 or 3 more hours of sun than most other vineyards in Savoie, so the grapes develop more flavor compounds before harvest. Thus, in a scintillating, sunny 2019 vintage, this wine shows deep, powerful aromas of apple sauce, gardenia, vanilla crème brûlée, salt and white pepper. The palate is luxurious, creamy, silky, and filled with apple, baking spices and white strawberry. This is a white wine for pork dishes, cold nights, steelhead salmon, and fireside card games.

One of our favorite moments as wine merchants is when we meet a new winemaker with one of their first vintages, and the wine is great. It’s always exciting to taste a new wine from a fresh perspective. This is why we’re happy to present Arabilis Chardonnay in our newsletter for the first time. Several weeks ago, Allison McMahon came into the shop to sample us on her latest vintages from the Willamette Valley and Columbia Gorge. She and her husband Kenny met while studying viticulture and have been making wine since 2018, and arrived on the scene with a clear eye for Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. This delightful Chardonnay from the Gorge offers Meyer lemon, fresh peach, and salty sourdough aromas before a buoyant palate of pear butter, amaretto, lemon zest, lime leaf, and candied orange peel. Fermented and raised in neutral oak, with 11 months on the lees, this Chardonnay shows impeccable balance with a core of racy acidity that keeps the wine aloft on the palate. This is a delicious wine with Chardonnay’s trademark versatility for food pairing, and we’re excited to see what’s next for Allison and Kenny.

Most people who know the name Mencia have Raul Perez to thank. Few winemakers in history have had such a transformative impact on their wine region. Before Raul left his family winery in Valtuille, Northeastern Spain’s Bierzo district was hardly known at all, and whatever wine did find its way out of Spain was heavy, oaky wine from the river valley, made in the image of Priorat. Raul Perez knew the Mencia grape was capable of much more. He grew up among the high country vineyards in the mountains of Bierzo, nearly abandoned ancient vines digging through slate and granite and shale, some more than a century old, exposed to wind and frosty nights at elevation. When he started making wine from these vineyards, the renaissance of Bierzo began. Wines like this Saint Jacques cuvee, with soaring aromas of juicy black cherry and blood orange, smoked sage, white pepper and brambly underbrush. Mencia is a powerfully flavored grape – showing cranberry, raspberry and orange, with a faint touch of organic earth and gravel that lingers on the finish – but this wine stands alone because of its texture, ethereal elegance with tannins made of pure satin. Pair this to paella with hare and chorizo, to tuna steaks, and large parties whose guests have diverse palates.

In 1793, Raffaele Castorani – a noted eye surgeon and inventor of cataract surgery – married Adelina Ruggeri De' Capobianchi, whose family gave a hunting estate in Abruzzo as a dowry. Of course, the estate included vineyards. Over the centuries, ownership changed hands several times, the estate was broken up into separate parcels, and came close to disappearing altogether, until in 1999, a group of friends from the Trulli and Cavuto families came together to reconstitute the property and revive vineyards that were at the time lost in an obscure sea of bulk wine. Under the guidance of Jutto Trulli, the vineyards were converted to organic farming, and a new winery built to improve the standard of winemaking. In Abruzzo, the Montepulciano grape is king, and the Cadetto cuvee is Podere Castorani’s entre to their portfolio of solidly built, savory Montepulcianos. The nose is a rich bundle of cherries and blackberries, with touches of violets and baker’s chocolate. Study tannins define the palate with a core of crushed berries and tarragon, sage and oregano at the core and a lingering note of chocolate. A wine for all seasons and a variety of hearty dishes.

The Kumeu River is a small, cheerful stream that runs through rich farmland just northwest of Auckland. It gives its name to a winery that put Auckland’s wine country on the map with vibrant Chardonnay that still sets the tone for New Zealand. Today, the winery draws from vineyards all across the North Island, but the bright, zesty-yet-creamy core of pure fruit and intense minerality that made the winery famous still runs through every bottle. Kumeu has grown a lot since it was founded in 1944, but all their vineyards are still hand harvested and all their ferments use native yeast. This entry tier Villages bottling has sharp, crystal clear aromas of lemon, green apple, bee pollen, flint, and a light touch of brioche. On the palate, it shows live wire tension and zest, with lemon and lime and apple fruits woven together with gravelly earth and a few sprigs of sage. Approachable now and an easy choice for seafood of every sort, this wine has the acidity to age a few years too.