OCTOBER 2019 REVIEWS


RED WINES

OREGON – RED

2017 Haden Fig, Pinot Noir, Willamette Valley, Oregon (B) 19.99/215.89

As the owner of both the Evesham Wood and Haden Fig labels, Erin Nuccio’s dedication to biodynamic farming and minimal intervention in the cellar has produced authentic, transparent, elegant Willamette Valley wines. Haden Fig’s 2017 Willamette Valley bottling casts a transparent red ruby hue in the bowl followed by soil-driven aromas of earthy cranberries, sour cherries, and rhubarb. Brisk and coiled on the palate, the wine unfurls to reveal suggestions of red raspberries, dried orange peel, cinnamon stick, and menthol. Delicate, savory tannins, deft barrel tones, and complex sous bois notes emerge on the wine’s lip-smacking finish. We suggest giving this beauty a little air before pairing it with broiled salmon, roast turkey, and grilled squashes. A stunning value at its sub-$20 tariff, enjoy this classic Willamette Valley Pinot now and over the next five years.

WASHINGTON - RED

2016 Waters Winery, Interlude, Washington State 19.99/215.89 reg. 29.99

Waters Winery's Interlude is designed to show that the blend of classic Bordeaux varietals from vineyards around the state of Washington is greater than sum of its parts. Opaque plum-ruby in the glass, the wine presents an elegant bouquet of black plums, cassis, pencil lead, toffee, and dried herbs. Spicy loganberry and blackberry notes segue on the palate to dusty cherry fruit, coconut, fine tannins, and lovely brightening acidity. Taut, elegant, and well balanced, Waters’ Interlude finishes suavely with chewy black cherry fruit that mingles with complex notes of pipe tobacco, licorice, and herbs. This is a terrific – and terrifically affordable – Bordeaux-styled Washington red that conveys the elegance of a fine claret with a distinctly American approachability. Enjoy now and over the coming five years served on its own, or paired with herbed chicken, beef rib roasts, grilled burgers, and rich vegetarian lasagna.

FRANCE - RED

2017 Maurice Ecard, Bourgogne Pinot Noir, Burgundy, France 21.99/237.49

Maurice Ecard’s 2017 Bourgogne, from vines just outside of the Savigny appellation, exudes authentic goodness from the moment it’s poured. Opening with a gleaming transparent garnet robe, Ecard’s Bourgogne fills the room with gorgeous scents of fresh red raspberries, clay earth, and cinnamon-driven potpourri. Fresh and vibrant on the palate, the wine quickly transitions to reveal a chalky, stony soil signature, and complex overtones of violets, orange peel, and dried rose petals. Light and delicate yet packed with an energetic kernel of red fruit, this is the kind of wine that turns people on to red Burgundy, while also serving as a delicious and satisfying cellar-saver for the already converted. Enjoy now and over the coming five years with roast chicken, pan-seared pork chops, and earthy mushroom preparations.

2017 Pascal Aufranc, Chenas en Remont, Vignes de 1939, Beaujolais, France (S) 13.99/151.09

This is sensational Chenas! From 78-year old vines in Beaujolais’ smallest cru, Pascal Aufranc’s 2017 single-vineyard en Remont Chenas opens with a deep black-ruby color and kaleidoscopic aromas of freshly crushed black raspberries, cassis, Asian spices, game, smoky granitic minerals, lavender, and cinnamon. The wine stains the palate with blackberry and elderberry fruit complemented by plentiful chewy tannins, tangy acidity, dusty granitic minerals, and floral notes of iris and violet. The wine’s old-vine concentration echoes on its long, persistent finish, adding notes of bitter cherry skin, mustard seed, white pepper, and fruitwood smoke. Delicious now, Aufranc’s Chenas also has the poise and concentration to improve over the next seven years in your cool cellar. Pair with the full spectrum of poultry, as well as Thanksgiving turkey and all the trimmings. It will also serve a lovely foil for braised rabbit, coq au vin, hearty stews, and dishes featuring chanterelle mushrooms.

2017 Chateau la Canorgue, Luberon Rouge, Southern Rhone Valley, France (B) 19.99/215.89

Jean-Pierre and Martine Margan biodynamically farm sixty acres of terraced vines on highly mineral soils. Fashioned from a traditional Southern Rhone blend of Syrah (70%) and Grenache, Canorgue’s 2017 Rouge bursts out of the glass with an opaque black plum robe and classic Southern Rhone aromas of black cherries, tar, peppercorns, and herbal garrigue. Vibrant and energetic on the palate, Canorgue’s rouge follows through with a chewy kernel of black plum and black cherry fruit accented by notes of licorice, leather, thyme, mushrooms, and Provençal herbs. Full-bodied and fleshy, yet focused with lifting acidity and framing tannins, the wine finishes long, complete, and soul satisfying. Enjoy now and over the coming three years as a lovely foil for long-roasted lamb, hearty bean stews, braised short ribs, and garlicky ratatouille.

2018 Vincent Paris Selection, Syrah, Collines Rhodaniennes, Northern Rhone Valley, France (S) 16.99/183.49

The Collines Rhodaniennes IGP lies in France’s Northern Rhone Valley, just outside the boundaries of the famous Cote-Rotie, Condrieu, Cornas, and Crozes-Hermitage appellations. Here visionary vignerons such as Vincent Paris are restoring the noble Syrah to this underappreciated terroir. Paris’ selection opens with classic aromas of cured meats, spicy blackberries, and leather. On the palate, the wine shows deep damson plum and black cherry fruit accented by salty, granitic minerals, smoke, lavender, and dried herbs. The wine finishes bright and juicy, with vibrant acidity and just enough chewy tannins to rein in its exuberant fruit expression. This is terrific Northern Rhone Syrah that will satisfy ardent Northern Rhone geeks yet is affordable enough – and approachable enough – to be enjoyed on any occasion with grilled lamb, braised rabbit, eggplant casseroles, and everyday fare like grilled burgers and pork loin. Drink now and over the coming three years.

ITALY - RED

2015 Falchini, Chianti Colli Senesi, Titolato Colombaia, Tuscany, Italy 11.99/129.49

The critics are lauding the generous 2015 Tuscan vintage. The venerable Falchini estate fashions this classic Chianti cuvee from Sangiovese (85%) blended with Canaiolo and other indigenous red grapes. Falchini’s 2015 Titolato Colombaia opens with a deep ruby robe and spicy aromas of cherries, leather, mushrooms, and bay leaf. Fleshy cherry and bright red currant fruit fuse on the palate alongside plentiful fine tannins and appetizing hints of tobacco, leather, dried herbs, and underbrush. Compelling suggestions of camphor, dusty chalky soil, and cherry skin finish the wine and make it a terrific choice to pair with everyday fare like grilled hanger steaks, sauteed zucchini, burgers, and pizza. We love the Titolato’s combination of deliciousness, versatility, and value, and encourage you to pick up a case of this sub-$12 beauty for enjoyment over the coming three years.

2018 G.D. Vajra, Dolcetto d’Alba, Piedmont, Italy (S) 15.99/172.69

Barolo’s great G.D. Vajra estate aims for a pure, vibrant, and approachable expression of Dolcetto, ideal for many food pairings from appetizers to pastas, vegetables to white meats and egg-based dishes. Sporting a translucent ruby robe in the glass, Vajra’s Dolcetto casts vibrant aromas of mulberries, Bing cherries, cassis, and black tea. Fresh and bristling with energy, the wine conveys a core of chewy plum, loganberry, and currant fruit framed by plentiful fine tannins before transitioning to a long finish marked by notes of fresh thyme, tobacco, rose petals, and mint. The combination of dazzling aromas, fresh, transparent red and black fruits, food-friendly tannins, authentic Piemontese character, and everyday affordability makes this wine a lovely choice served with pasta tossed with a butter and sage sauce, grilled burgers, salumi, beef, lamb, sausages, pizza – anything that calls for a robust, versatile red. Enjoy now and over the next five years.

SPAIN - RED

2010 Vina Olabarri, Gran Reserva, Rioja, Spain 19.99/215.89  reg. 26.99

Is there a more complex, delicious, and age-worthy selection than Vina Olabarri’s Gran Reserva? Olabarri’s 2010 Gran Reserva casts tobacco and cedar aromas of black plums, cured meat, and camphor. Deepened by long barrel aging, Olabarri’s classic Rioja fusion of Tempranillo (80%) and a blend of Graciano and Mazuelo saturates the palate with chewy black currant and black cherry fruit backed by plentiful fine-grained tannins and classic, lifting Tempranillo acidity. Hints of camphor, cigar tobacco, pencil lead, leather, coconut husk, game, and vanilla bean creep in on the long, structured finish. This is classic, old-school Rioja Gran Reserva, and a wine that can be enjoyed now with hearty roasts of beef and grilled lamb, or, ideally, stashed away in a cool cellar for another decade or two to allow its structural components to meld together and its complexity to develop.

2016 Bodegas la Cartuja, Priorat, Catalonia, Spain (O) 17.99/194.29

Aiming for approachability, affordability and authentic terroir expression, the Bodegas la Cartuja fashions this classic Priorat from Garnacha (70%) and Carinena grown on the region’s finest sites. A translucent black plum color, the La Cartuja opens with deep aromas of black licorice, blueberries, grilled herbs and pungent minerals. Vibrant and energetic on the attack, the wine stains the palate with an impressive kernel of wild blueberry and black cherry fruit lifted by bright acidity, and notes of dark roasted coffee and lavender. Long, lingering, and thoroughly satisfying, the La Cartuja finishes with reprises of blueberry and plum fruit infused with flinty graphite and slate minerals. With top Priorats fetching stratospheric prices, it’s a pleasure to offer an authentic example that conveys the region’s distinctive soil signature at a most comfortable tariff. Enjoy this beauty now and over the next three years with beef brisket, cured meats, pork braises, game, rustic mushroom preparations, and potato tapas.


WHITE WINES

FRANCE - WHITE

2017 Sylvain Ravier, Vin de Savoie, Apremont Vieilles Vignes, Le Clos Saint Andre Monopole, France (S) 13.50/145.80

Ravier has crafted what we believe is the finest Jacquère in our experience. Ravier’s Clos Saint Andre retains the low alcohol refreshment we so love from Apremont, but expresses greater intensity, depth, and soil transparency. A gleaming green-tinged lemon-gold in the glass, the wine unfurls with a lovely bouquet of citrus blossoms, green pineapple, fresh fennel, and limestone minerals. On the palate, the wine shines with crisp, crunchy expressions of green plums, Pippin apple, lemon balm, quinine, and chalky minerals. Bone dry and bristling with Alpine purity, this is an outstanding choice as an aperitif and a natural complement to smoked trout, white-fleshed fish dishes in a beurre blanc sauce, oysters, salads, fondue, and cheese plates featuring cheeses from the Jura, Savoie, and Switzerland. Enjoy now and over the coming year.

2017 Joseph Drouhin, Macon-Villages, Burgundy, France 12.99/140.29

Leave it to Drouhin to elevate the humble Macon-Villages to new heights by deliciously capturing Macon’s clay and limestone minerality and infusing it into a sappy core of lemony Chardonnay fruit. A lovely pale gold color in the glass, Drouhin’s 2017 Macon-Villages opens with classic white Burgundy aromas of meadow flowers, raw hazelnuts, buttery lemon curd, and soft limestone. The wine’s minerality carries through to the palate, where it joins with notes of sweet butter, pear fruit, and fresh lemon zest. Crisp, focused, and returning focus to its persistent soil expression, the 2017 Macon-Villages finishes with reprises of lemony crème brûlee, green pears, and a final wave of limestone. It will prove a wonderful complement now and over the coming three years for sauteed squash recipes, roast chicken, pork, halibut, and snapper.

2018 Les Heritiers du Comte Lafon, Macon-Villages, Burgundy, France (B) 27.99/302.29

This is a sensational, impeccably balanced Macon, and perhaps Dominque Lafon’s finest Macon-Villages bottling to date. The 2018 Macon-Villages reflects a pale golden hue from the glass followed by smoky, soil-driven aromas of lemon pith, toasted hazelnuts, and a whisper of barrel smoke. Zesty and invigorating on the palate, the freshness of the fine 2018 white Burgundy vintage reveals a ready-to-drink core of apple and Mirabelle plum fruit. Aged primarily in old foudres, Lafon’s Macon-Villages finishes with floral limestone minerality and reprises of lemon, apple blossoms, orchard fruits, and smoky barrel tones. Enjoy now and over the coming five to seven years with broiled salmon, mushrooms in a cream sauce, roast pork tenderloin, boudin blanc, and other mild sausages.

2017 Nebout Vignerons, Vin de France, L’Incompris du Tressallier, Loire Valley, France 15.99/172.69

Dedicated vignerons such as Julien Nebout are nurturing the rare Tressallier grape on Saint-Pourcain’s mineral-rich alluvial soils. A gleaming straw-gold in the glass, Nebout’s Tressallier casts aromas of lemon zest, tart apples, and crushed stones. The wine greets the palate with fleshy pear and yellow plum fruit, but quickly focuses its energy on its shimmering mineral soil undercurrent. Juicy impressions of crystalline quince, Meyer lemon, and passion fruit layer the palate before yielding to brisk acidity and another lashing of stony minerals. Fans of Cour-Cheverny, Azay-le-Rideau, and other Loire Valley rarities need to get their hands on a bottle of this truly fascinating wine. Pair now and over the coming three years with herbed roast chicken, broiled white-fleshed fish recipes, fresh chèvres, and lightly dressed green salads.

ITALY - WHITE

2018 Tenuta le Velette, Orvieto, Classico Superiore, Lunato, Umbria, Italy 14.99/161.89

Orvieto, one of Umbria’s best known white wines, reaches its apogee when crafted from fruit grown on tufaceous soils and bedrock in the region’s Classico Superiore zone. Le Velette’s Lunato is among Italy’s most elegant, dry, and aromatic white wines. Fashioned from a blend of Grechetto (40%), Malvasia Bianco (20%), Trebbiano (20%), Verdello, and Drupeggio from the estate’s oldest vineyards, the superb 2018 Lunato opens with aromas of hawthorn blossoms, Golden Delicious apples, acacia, and quinine. Fresh and zesty on the palate, the wine conveys notes of apricot, lemon, fennel, and basil. On the finish, the Lunato is long, refreshingly dry, and persistent with further suggestions of Mirabelle plums, quince, and salty tuffeau minerals. Pair this world-class Orvieto – and world-class value – now and over the next two years with shellfish, freshwater fish dishes, light poultry preparations, white pasta dishes, sauteed green vegetables, and fresh cheeses.

2018 Francesco Rinaldi, Gavi, Piedmont, Italy (S) 17.99/194.29

Based on the Cortese grape, Gavi is Piedmont’s most celebrated white wine, and one of only a handful of Italian white wines to be honored with full DOCG status. Rinaldi’s sensational 2018 Gavi opens with a pale lemon gold color and fresh aromas of lemon zest, yellow apples, juniper berries, and chalky minerals. On the palate, Rinaldi’s Gavi unfurls with juicy white grapefruit and lemon and yellow plum notes followed by suggestions of Bosc pears, jasmine, and fresh lemon thyme. Tangy acidity and sweet floral notes segue the wine to its crisp and lip-smackingly delicious finish, which echoes further hints of juicy citrus, orchard fruits, lemon balm, and bitter botanicals. Drink this fantastic, affordable and delicious Gavi young to capture the wine’s freshness, and zip. Enjoy with golden trout, snapper, soups, vegetable frittatas, sauteed zucchini, clams, and halibut.

2018 Andrea Felici, Verdicchio dei Castelli di Jesi, Classico Superiore, Marche, Italy (O) 14.99/161.89

Verdicchio, central Italy’s most distinctive and important white varietal, reaches its greatest expression in the mineral-rich soils of the Marche’s Castelli di Jesi zone just a few miles from the Adriatic Sea. Felici’s organic Verdicchio casts a pale green-gold color from the glass followed by explosive aromas of Bartlett pears, green plums, and flinty minerals. Brisk, zesty, and mineral-driven on the palate, the wine’s green fruit expressions marry seamlessly with a backbone of bristling acidity and delicious impressions of lime zest, papaya, shaved fennel, and medicinal herbs. Long and lingering on the palate, the wine segues to a long, juicy finish suggesting white grapefruit, ginger, and quinine. Pair this crisp, focused, and versatile Verdicchio now and over the coming two years with light poultry preparations, freshwater fish, steamed shellfish, white pizzas, fried seafood, and recipes featuring zucchini and seasonal squashes.

2017 Paternoster, Falanghina, Vulcanico, Basilicata IGT, Italy 16.99/183.49

Falanghina is one of southern Italy’s most historic and noble white wine grapes. Thanks to modern, temperature-controlled fermentation, we can now capture and retain all of the Falanghina’s fragile floral, tropical fruit, and volcanic soil aromas. Brilliant lemon-gold in the glass, Paternoster’s Vulcanico – sourced from vineyards near Monte Vulture – conveys beguiling scents of orange blossoms, lemon zest, chamomile, and a whisper of piquant volcanic minerals. On the palate, Paternoster’s Vulcanico presents suggestions of passion fruit, yellow melon, nutmeg, and smoky minerals. The wine finishes fresh and zippy with delicious notes of quince, lemon zest, and orange blossom water lifted by brisk acidity and a smoky mineral undercurrent. Very versatile at the table, enjoy this superb Falanghina now and over the coming two years with sushi, clams, mussels, squid, and vegetarian and seafood pasta dishes sporting lots of fresh garlic and extra virgin olive oil.

2016 Guerra Albano, Sauvignon, Friuli Orientali, Italy 16.99/183.49  reg. 22.99

In Italy’s far northeastern corner, the Colli Orientali del Friuli represents one of Italy’s most prestigious white wine-producing zone. The star here is not an indigenous variety, but rather France’s famous Sauvignon Blanc. The Guerra family’s stellar 2016 Sauvignon sports a lemon gold hue and racy, classic Sauvignon aromas of lemon oil, pink grapefruit, tarragon, and mint. Flavors of zesty Meyer lemon, Golden Delicious apple, apricot, and fresh basil grace the palate, all lifted by refreshing acidity and chalky minerality. On the long, persistent finish, tropical hints of pineapple, passion fruit, and papaya appear alongside reprises of chalky minerals. Here's a perfect choice for pairing with green vegetables, oysters on the half shell, fresh goat cheeses, and seafood pastas. Very limited.
Ian D’Agata, Vinous - 90 points

SLOVENIA - WHITE

2018 Slavcek, Sivi Pinot (Pinot Grigio), Vipavska Dolina, Slovenia (O) 15.99/172.69

The ancient traditions of Slovenia are being rediscovered around the world, and skin-contact white, amber, and orange wines are all the rage. Slavcek is a family winery with over 200 years of rich viticultural history. The estate's Sivi Pinot opens with soil-driven aromas of golden raspberries, white peaches, dried flowers, and bay leaf. On the palate the wine combines the refreshment of a northeastern Italian Pinot Grigio with the full-on intensity of a skin contact “orange” wine. We love its sappy core of tart plum fruit, the deft, appetizing bitterness from its time on the skins, its effortless, natural refreshment, and its most comfortable tariff. This is the "must try" white wine of the newsletter. It’s delicious, versatile, and begging to be paired with cedar plank salmon, roast chicken, lightly dressed salads, fresh chèvres, and prawns sauteed in olive oil and garlic.

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FRIDAY TASTINGS:
First and third Friday of the month
5:30-7:30 p.m. ~Fee~

Oct. 4 - Great wines from Châteauneuf-du-Pape

Oct. 18 - Swoon-worthy wines from the Alto Adige and Sudtirol

Nov. 1 - Wines from Alto Piedmonte

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SATURDAY TASTINGS:
Weekly; 12-4:30 p.m. ~No fee~

Oct. 5 - Superlative Oregon wines from Lingua Franca with Jeremy Byrd. Plus, from Italy: Andrea Felici Verdicchio Classico Superiore, Albano Guerra Sauvignon Blanc, and Falchini Titolato Colombaia Chianti.

Oct. 12 - Chiantis from Fattoria di Petroio with Diana Lenzi. Plus, French beauties from S. Ravier Apremont Le Clos Saint Andre, Les Heritiers du Comte Lafon Macon-Villages, and P. Aufranc Chenas Vignes de 1939, and Maurice Ecard Bourgogne Pinot Noir.

Oct. 19 - Viva l’Italia: Le Velette Orvieto Lunato, Francesco Rinaldi Gavi, Paternoster Falanghina Vulcanico, and G.D. Vajra Dolcetto d’Alba. Plus, from France: Nebout Vigneron L’Incompris du Tressallier, J. Drouhin Macon-Villages, Vincent Paris Selection Syrah, and Ch. la Canorgue Luberon Rouge.

Oct. 26 - Wines from here and there: Slavcek Sivi Pinot Grigio (Slovenia), Vina Olabarri Gran Reserva Rioja, and Bodegas la Cartuja Priorat (Spain), Haden Fig Pinot Noir (Oregon), and Waters Winery Interlude (Washington).

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SPECIAL EVENTS THIS MONTH:

An Evening of Great Tuscan Wines
From Felsina

Thursday, Oct. 10, 5:30-7:00

Join us for an informal tasting of wines from one of Tuscany’s most lauded wineries. No reservations needed. Tasting fee: $10.
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Fattoria di Petroio Dinner with Diana Lenzi
at Portland’s Mucca Osteria

Monday, Oct. 14, 6:30 p.m.

Join winemaker Diana Lenzi for dinner at Mucca Osteria, where we will savor the beautiful Tuscan wines from Fattoria di Petroio as well as some of Portland’s finest Italian cuisine.

Seating is very limited, and prepayment is required. $125 per person, inclusive. All reservations will be made through Liner & Elsen: please contact us directly or purchase your seats online.

RESERVE NOW
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Benjamin Leroux Burgundy Tasting

Tuesday, Oct. 22, 6:30 p.m. sharp

We're pleased to host a comprehensive tasting of red and white Burgundies from Benjamin Leroux, with Tim Davey as our guide.

Benjamin Leroux is a rising star in Burgundy, and one of the most important producers in the superb Becky Wasserman Portfolio. The Leroux wines honor the classic Burgundies.

Seating is very limited, and prepayment is required. Tasting fee: $75.

RESERVE NOW
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~ Wines to be served at these events are listed on our website ~


B = biodynamic methods; CO = certified organic; O = organic; S = sustainably farmed
 


© Liner & Elsen, all rights reserved. Information and prices apply during the current month only. Wine availability and prices are subject to quantity on hand. We are not responsible for mispriced items in the newsletter.