November 2023 Newsletter Wines

Holiday Samplers

Sparkling Wine

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 Wine 

Holiday Gamay Sampler - $260

A set of six delicious Gamay wines from around the world. ‘Tis the season for this most food-friendly of wines. Each 6-pack will feature one bottle of each of the following wines. 

Christophe Lapierre Domaine de Chenepierre Moulin a Vent 2021
Ripe cherry, clay soil, silky texture.
James Rahn Jubilee Vineyard Gamay Noir 2020
Delicate red and orange fruits, brown soil.
Domaine Valma Fleurie Les Labourons 2021
Deep black raspberry, violets, chalky clay potting soil, silky.
Domaine Perraud Brouilly En Saburin Pollen 2021
Red cherry and red raspberry, red green fruit, elegant, touch of chalky earth on fin.
Grosjean Vallee d’Aoste Gamay 2022
Energetic cherry and cranberry, granite laced earth.
Division Villages Gamay Noir Les Petits Fers 2022
Chalky soil, Fresh picked cranberries and cherries.

Liska Wines on the Winemaker's Barrel

For November, our featured winery is Liska, the brainchild of Chris Butler and Draga Zheleva, who came to Oregon to make cool climate varieties like Riesling, Gruner Veltliner and Gamay. We'll be sampling the wines on Saturday, November 18th, but if you can't wait, here's their selection of wines.

Regular Newsletter Selections

Granbazan Rias Baixas Albarino Ettichetta Verde 2022 $22

Granbazan planted a winery in the heart of Rias Baixas wine country in 1981. At the time, the region was hardly known outside of the local community and pilgrims who reached the end of the Camino de Santiago on Spain’s Atlantic shore. The founders of Granbazan saw an opportunity to bring Albarino to a wider audience. Their list of firsts in the region is long. The first to use temperature controlled fermentation. The first to employ an enologist. The first to make wine from free-run juice, and for many people outside of Spain, it was their first taste of Albariño. We recommend this wine for your next taste of Albariño, a citrusy, spicy and salty joy with aromas of lime, green apple, pineapple, fresh ginger root and salt. The palate walks a tightrope between electric acidity and lightly creamy, full body. Flavors of apple and lemon and lime lead to a finish of lemongrass, beach roses and sea salt. A brilliant match for scallops, paella, or octopus dishes.

Jean & Jean-Paul Versino Vin de France Cuvee le Petit Oursan NV $14
In 2015 Jean-Paul Versino found a vineyard just few miles outside Chateauneuf-du-Pape, and he saw something special in it. Just 4 hectares of vines divided between Grenache, Syrah, and Merlot, which the winemakers of the great Bois de Boursan Chateauneuf domaine farm organically. The name Petit Oursan is a pun – because french wineries simply can’t help themselves when it comes to puns – combining the French word for bear (Ours) with the family name. This elegantly rustic wine is an insane value. A blend of 45% Grenache, 40% Merlot, and 15% Syrah offers a plump nose of blackberry and wild blueberry, hay, fresh turned earth, and cinnamon. The palate reveals the Bois de Boursan touch, full bodied with long, silky tannins. Dried cherries and raspberries, prunes, figs, and dry leaves. The finish is surprisingly clean and snappy for such a hearty wine. Earth and fruit share the gentle finish, begging for another bite of stewed root vegetable, burger, or mushroom risotto.
La Madone Cotes de Forez Gamay Sur Volcan 2022 $21
The Cotes de Forez is the southernmost appellation of the Loire Valley, a little bit west of the city of Lyon. Far closer to Beaujolais and the vineyards of the northern Rhone, this distant outpost of of the Loire is dedicated wholly to Gamay. Gilles Bonnefoy began La Madone in 1997 with a few scattered plots, and over the last 25 years has grown to 11 biodynamically farmed hectares on granite laced clay and basalt soils. He works organically in the vineyard and without sulfur in the cellar. This Sur Volcan comes from black volcanic basalt, a note that shines through in the wine, giving aromas of iron ore and black pepper alongside bright black cherry, blood orange, and dried leaves. On the palate, the Sur Volcan is polished and silky, full bodied with vivid acidity bringing life and lift to red and black berries, dusty clay and smoked orange peel. A distinct note of marionberries lingers on the finish. It’s a little triumph of Gamay, with enough silky, juicy texture to keep the meal moving if you’re having roast chicken, goose, duck, pheasant, guinea fowl, partridge, or any other bird that’s traditionally served in November.
Famille Fabre Corbieres Blanc Lux de Luc 2022 $20
A random bit of useless trivia, almost the first thing this writer learned about wine is that Corbieres is a delicious, savory red. It was many years later before I tasted my first white Corbieres, but even my younger self would have recognized the irreducible savor of this wonderfully complex wine from the Louis Fabre. Drawn from the classic garrigue-laced soils of Corbieres, the Lux de Luc is organically farmed Vermentino, Roussanne, and Grenache, each one about a third of the blend. The wine is brimming with herbs and spices on the nose; fennel and oregano, lemon pepper, rosemary and curry spice, with dramatic, intensely yellow yuzu and preserved lemon fruit and a dash of salt. The palate is a warm salty Mediterranean breeze, full bodied and zesty with notes of lemon and apricot. If this is what Corbieres can do with white wine, maybe some day in the future people will be surprised to learn they also make red wine there. This is a stunner, and a great choice for complex, subtle dishes. While it will do great things with chicken or mushroom dishes, this wine is also an opportunity to open the Indian cookbook, especially to the chapters on Assam, Gujarat or a milder Bengal dish.
Principiano Ferdinando Dosset 2021 $20
Americo Principiano founded his domaine in the 1950s, and made humble, traditional and easy drinking Dolcetto. His son Ferdinando took over in the 1990s and quickly fell in with the wrong crowd, winemakers of the era who tried to bulk up their wines with too much oak, trying to chase scores. After a few years of this, he changed his mind. Recalling the lighter style wines his father made, he created the Dosset, the local Piemontese name for Dolcetto. Through the late 1990s and 2000s, he moved to Organic and then fully biodynamic farming, and picks grapes for this wine early to make a bright, refreshing, chillable red that’s only 11% alcohol. Aromas of cranberries and tart cherry, Italian seasoning herbs, fennel, lavender, and white pepper. Practically soothing on the palate with pure and crisp cherry, black soil, and tarragon. As light and bright as the Dosset is, there are some tannins that build nicely on the finish to remind us that this Dolcetto deserves a meal to stand beside. Mushroom pizza and pasta are easy choices, but not the only ones for such a versatile wine.
Domaine de Villargeau Coteaux du Giennois 2021 $19
For the second month in a row, we’re featuring a Sauvignon Blanc from the Coteaux du Giennois, a long ribbon of vineyards on the limestone clay right bank of the Loire river between Pouilly Fuissé and Orléans. Domaine de Villargeau stands in a hamlet of the same name, a modern, solar powered building across the road from a 17th century stone barn, both owned by the Thibaud family. Farming (mostly) organically, Marc Thibaud oversees the winery with the aim of producing a richly textured wine with crisp-edged aromas. Native yeast fermentations take place in stainless steel, where the wine is aged before bottling. This edition showcases the cool temperament of the 2021 vintage, with notes of crushed white pepper, lemon and apple, acacia, gentian root, salt, and just the faintest touch of horseradish. On the palate, the wine sings with verve and clarity, offering lemon juice, verbena, lavender, lemongrass, and a finishing kick of pure limestone. Bright but substantial texture gives this wine the ability to stand up to rich, savory cuisine. Rich cuts of freshwater fish, roasted birds rubbed in brine, and scallop soups come to mind.
Domaine Jean Masson & Fils Apremont Vieille Vigne Traditionnelle 2020 $21
Apremont is one of the most famous wine villages in Savoie, with stony limestone soil, the legacy of the disastrous landslide of 1248 when a significant portion of Mont Granier collapsed and slide into the valley below. Several villages were buried, and the event was so traumatic that the area lay undisturbed for centuries afterward. Vineyards – about the only crop hardy enough to grow in the rocks – were planted in the 15th century to commemorate the victims. Today, Jean Masson is the most famous winemaker in Apremont, and his old vine cuvées of the indigenous Jacquere grape are the gold standard for Savoie’s fresh, appley quaffer. This 2020 vintage is aged an extra year for more textural intensity, and starts with a bouquet of applesauce, honeycomb, white spring blossoms and tangelo. The palate follows up with crisp fall apple, blossoms, limestone and granite tinted minerality highlighting the bright, mouthwatering acidity. This is an ideal wine for charcuterie and fromage boards, for mussels, or squash based dishes.
Frauwallner Vulkanland Steiermark Welschriesling 2022 $15
Styria, in southeastern Austria, is a heart-thumpingly beautiful part of the country, a carpet of rolling hills peppered with pleasant villages and vineyards that turn fluorescent green at golden hour. In the higher elevation portion, the hills are of volcanic origin, giving rise to one of the most metal appellation titles in Europe, Vulkanland. If Austrian wine is often characterized as spicy, wines from Steiermark’s Vulkanland are logically even spicier. Weingut Frauwallner outside the hilltop town of Straden is one of the foremost wineries of the region, their vineyards tucked into the forested hillsides of the area. Among their wide range of wines, the Welschriesling is the largest production and the touchstone grape of the region, with a fascinating nose of lemon and pear, verbena, chamomile, smoky soil, and white pepper. The palate is as bright as Styrian sunlight (editor’s note: Do a google image search for Styrian vineyard if you don’t have any plans). Light and crisp flavors of lemons, apples, and a strong floral character that turns to granitic mineral cut on the finish. Serve this with the first course at any gathering, with ash rubbed cheese or peppery sausages.
La Pepiere Vin de Pays de Val de Loire La Pepie 2022 $19
Domaine de la Pépière is a great Muscadet house, founded in 1984 by Marc Ollivier. He retired in 2019 and passed the domaine to his apprentices Remi Branger and Gwénaëlle Croix, who learned Marc’s single vineyard philosophy – rare in Muscadet – and helped transition the estate to biodynamic farming. With such emphasis on the vineyards, Pépière makes some of the most profound Muscadet available. Somewhere along the way, the domaine picked up a few rows here and there of red grapes. Cabernet Franc and Merlot planted in Muscadet that are not allowed any sort of AOC designation, but in the right hands these vineyards can still produce a red wine with the strong scent of the Loire. This “Dancing Chicken” cuvée has a wildly complex and wonderfully spicy nose of red cherries, cranberries, tangerine, smoked paprika, sage, and ras el hanout. Thanks to the nearby Atlantic ocean, the palate is alive with acidity, surprisingly full yet juicy, with more tangerine and cranberry along with a touch of smoked meat. Dusty tannins build on the finish. This might be the only ‘Muscadet’ that doesn’t pair with oysters. Try it instead with duck, with pâté, with sweet potato dishes or smoked salmon.
Coppo Barbera d’Asti Camp du Rouss 2020 $20
When the weather turns cold and root vegetables fill the dinner table, our thoughts turn towards wines like this one, Cantine Coppo’s Barbera d’Asti. A winery in the heart of Barbera country, Coppo is among the foremost producers of Barbera’s new prestige appellation Nizza. All their wines come with rich, deep flavors and densely structured texture. Camp du Rouss is named for the original owner of the vineyard, a giant man with fiery red hair. Under the direction of Coppo, the vineyard still produces some of the fullest bodied Barbera in Asti. The aromas are equally full and savory. Leather and tomato leaf, black cherry cordial and tamarind, soil from the herb garden and tamari. When the wine hits the palate, there’s pie cherries and oak spices to accompany the soulful, earthy elements. Velvety tannins neatly wrap this rib-sticking wine. Put it next to rib roasts and stews, potatoes and any dish that spends the afternoon in the oven.
Umani Ronchi Casal di Serra Verdicchio dei Castelli di Jesi Classico Superiore 2020 $13
When Gino Umani Ronchi sold his farm to Massimo Bernetti in the early 1960s, he put it in good hands. Massimo transformed the mixed-agriculture property into a vineyard in the heart of the Verdicchio dei Castelli di Jesi zone, and expanded it with an eye on the export market. In addition to making more wine, Massimo also made the denomination’s first official single vineyard Verdicchio in 1983, the Casal di Serra. In the 1990s his son Michele took over running the company, and they brought on Giacomo Tachis, who created the modern Super Tuscan, to consult. This charming Verdicchio offers all the classic notes of great Verdicchio at an unbeatable price. Aromas of white pepper, limes, green apples and snap peas lead into a pure yellow palate of lemons and yellow apples and salty minerality. Five months on the lees in steel tanks gives this charming wine a lightly creamy texture that leaves the palate refreshed after every sip. A charming white that begs for a classic roasted chicken, but Verdicchio’s signature is versatility, so you have a lot of choices.
Lamblin & Fils Bourgogne Blanc 2022 $20
The Lamblin family has been farming their domaine on the very northern edge of Chablis for three centuries. They make a wide array of Chablis from both their own vineyards and partner growers, but this simply made and classically styled Bourgogne Blanc is an incredible value, offering everything you want from Chablis except the word on the label. The wine comes from vineyards on both Kimmeridgian limestone inside Chablis and other vineyards just outside, and is fermented and aged only in stainless steel tanks. Notes of pear butter, brioche, green apple and salty shortbread make up the aroma, while the palate is supple yet tightly strung with limestone minerality and a flinty edge with flavors of buttercream, lime and lemon curd. $20 for such an emblematic white Burgundy is an increasingly rare bird, but the chicken or turkey you should cook to go with it is much easier to find. This is a winter weight white wine, but if you have some left when springtime comes it will still be the right choice for those first picnics of the year with ham sandwiches.
Yves Cuilleron Collines Rhodaniennes Syrah Les Vignes d’à Côté 2022 $20
There’s no record of whether Yves Cuilleron is a fan of Kansas, but in the 1980s he was a bit of a wayward son. Yves’ grandfather Claude had founded the domaine in 1920, and by 1987 Yves’ uncle Antoine was retiring with no heirs interested in making wine. Meanwhile Yves was pursuing a career as a mechanic. He caught the wine bug just in time, the family did not sell, and Yves proceeded to become one of the best winemakers in the Rhone Valley, famous for his obsessive viticultural and winemaking practices – not explicitly organic or natural, but detailed and different for every one of the dozens of wines he makes. This Cuvée comes from Syrah vineyards at high elevation in the countryside surrounding famous villages at the heart of the northern Rhone. All Cuilleron grapes are hand harvested, and work in the cellar is largely done by hand too before the wine was exposed to a judicious degree of older oak. The wine shows a nose of smoked pork belly, blackcurrant, wild blueberry, black pepper, sage and rosemary. Syrah’s soulful fruit comes out on the palate, deep black raspberry and blackberries, pipe smoke and leather and gravelly brown soil that drive all the way through the finish, carried on a bed of elegant tannins. Both gulpable and ageable, this is a wine for cold nights featuring hearty potatoes, pizza, or pork loin.
Domaine A. Pegaz Beaujolais-Villages 2022 $18
An evening meal over a long table, buzzing with happy conversation. There’s Beaujolais on the table, and probably some kind of duck dish too. Outside, the vineyards are just about ready to harvest, but for now it is dinnertime. This is making wine at Domaine A. Pegaz, headed by Jean-François, the sixth generation winemaker. In his term at the head of his family’s domaines, he has converted to organic farming on some of the steepest and highest vineyards in and around Mont Brouilly. More than that, Pegaz holds Terra Vitis certification, a more expansive program that demands both organic practices and social responsibility, engagement with the local community, and ethical treatment of workers. Pegaz employs only viticulture students, houses them on the property, and shares group dinners during harvest. Put another way, the Pegaz family is working to preserve both the land for the future, and the community that will farm it. This well-rounded Beaujolais-Villages is the perfect introduction to the domaine’s wine. Drawn from a vineyard across the street from the Brouilly Cru, this wine never touched oak barrels between the vine and the bottle. Fresh limestone-infused black cherry, raspberry and orange oil notes come with a dusting of cinnamon and dried leaves. The palate is wrapped in long, silky tannins and offers hints of raspberry and rhubarb. Partial carbonic maceration ensures the wine maintains a bright, cheerful tone even with a surprisingly full body.
Kintzler Alsace Pinot Blanc 2022 $17
If you note that Kientzler wines are frequently featured in our newsletter, that’s because Thierry Kientzler has a version of the Midas touch, he can’t touch a vine without producing another delicious wine from the family vineyards in Ribeauvillé in the heart of Alsace. Kientzler wines have always been among the freshest and sharpest cut wines of the village, and this is true even when they work with less valuable varieties like Pinot Blanc, generally considered a ‘bulk’ grape in Alsace. The 2022 vintage opens with crystal clear focus. Notes of pear butter, Rainier cherry, flint, acacia blossom and apple burst out of the glass. The palate is clean cut and buzzing with acidity, notes of flint, green apple, and garden blossoms. An edge of granite arrives on the finish, with cherry blossoms and oranges in tow. For a wine so full of energy, the Kientzler Pinot Blanc has full body enough for roast chicken, risotto, or a rich, creamy seafood stew.