© Liner & Elsen, all rights reserved. Availability and prices may have changed since the newsletter date.

MARCH 2020 REVIEWS

 

RED WINES

CHILE - RED

2017 Los Vascos (Domaines Barons de Rothschild), Carmenere, Grande Reserve
Colchagua Valley, Chile 16.99/183.4
9

Los Vascos is Barons de Rothschild’s (Lafite-Rothschild) estate in Chile’s esteemed Colchagua Valley. Los Vascos has tamed the fickle Carmenere, a traditional Bordeaux variety, and helped elevate it to become Chile’s signature variety. The estate's 2017 Carmenere Grande Reserve reflects a deep plum-ruby hue transitioning to a brilliant bouquet of cedar, cassis, red bell peppers, and oil-cured black olives. Dense and velvety on the palate, the wine layers suggestions of Belgian chocolate, cherry skin, bay leaf, and tobacco. The wine finishes clean and bright with added notes of freshly crushed cherries and currants complicated by lingering notes of Szechuan peppercorns, fresh thyme, and vanilla. This is textbook Carmenere that fuses French tradition and know-how with Chile’s unique blend of high-altitude vineyards. A most affordable choice for a full-bodied red, Los Vascos’ Carmenere will give many classified Bordeaux a run for their money…and probably win! Enjoy this now and over the coming five years with hearty braises, roasts, and grilled meats, as well as potato tapas and rich vegetarian casseroles featuring eggplant.

FRANCE - RED

2018 Domaine des Pothiers, Cote Roannaise, Reference, France (O) 14.99/161.89

Father-and-son team Georges and Romain Paires emphasize organic viticulture, hand harvesting, indigenous yeasts, and minimal sulfur to craft their superb portfolio of classic Roannaise wines. Pothiers’ Gamay Reference, is fashioned from Gamay Saint-Romain, a variation of Gamay found only in the Cote Roannaise and renowned for producing fleshy reds that are deliciously approachable at a young age. A translucent purple-ruby in the glass, Pothiers’ Reference bursts with scents of crushed red raspberries, strawberries, black cherry skin, and smoky granitic minerals. Fleshy and open for business, the wine greets the palate with chewy cherry fruit infused with a spine of granitic soil. Complex suggestions of violets, cloves, and Chinese five spice join lingering impressions of fresh red berries on the long, delicious finish. Effortlessly versatile, Pothiers’ Reference will make a lovely option at brunch, and a natural partner to young cheeses, light poultry dishes, charcuterie, mushrooms in a cream sauce, and pan-seared pork chops. Enjoy now and over the next two years.

2017 Maison Champy, Bourgogne Pinot Noir, Cuvee Edme, Burgundy, France (O)
24.99/269.89

Sprightly on the palate, the Maison Champy Cuvee Edme reminds us of Burgundy wines past, where lightness, purity of fruit, and authentic soil transparency reigned supreme. Maison Champy is the oldest wine company in Burgundy, and since 1720 has issued classical, old-school Burgundies from its superb vineyard holdings throughout the Cote d’Or. Their Cuvee Edme is a selection from their vineyards in the Cote de Beaune, primarily near the village of Santenay. This cuvee (which pays tribute to founder Edme Champy) casts a transparent crimson-garnet hue followed by pure scents of Montmorency cherries, cinnamon, rose petals, limestone, and barrel smoke. Yes, indeed, this is genuine Burgundy from yesteryear through and through, and a silly good value to boot. Enjoy now and over the next five years with roast poultry, pan-seared pork chops, traditional coq au vin, and rich recipes featuring springtime morel mushrooms.

2018 Oinos, Corbieres, Les Carderes, Languedoc-Roussillon, France 12.50/135.00

The rugged landscape of Corbieres produces some of the Languedoc’s wildest and most characterful wines. Oinos’ Les Carderes is a textbook introduction to Corbieres’ charms and "sauvagerie." Based on a delicious cuvee of Syrah (50%), Grenache, and Carignan, Oinos’ Les Carderes presents an opaque black plum robe and textbook aromas of blackberries, cracked peppercorns, oil-cured olives, menthol, and herbal garrigue. Impressively deft on the palate, the wine’s bright core of red and black fruits yields to complex overtones of bay leaf, lavender, cured meats, game, and leather. Soft, food-friendly tannins segue the wine to its long peppery finish, which readies your palate for another forkful of ratatouille, grilled sourdough bread slathered with garlicky tapenade, grilled lamb rib chops, or roast pork shoulder. Enjoy this deliciously rustic and savory Corbieres now and over the coming three years. A frequent feature in these pages, this is the most delicious, complete and lip-smacking Carderes yet!

2018 Domaine de la Guicharde, Cotes du Rhone, Southern Rhone Valley, France (B)
11.99/129.49

Domaine de la Guicharde’s biodynamic Cotes du Rhone rouge is pure, classic, and truly one of the great values in authentic Cotes du Rhone. A classic blend of Grenache (70%) and Syrah, co-fermented on indigenous yeasts, the wine casts a translucent purple-ruby robe and soars with sunny Southern French aromas of Provençal cherries, herbal garrigue, cinnamon stick, and black licorice. On the palate, notes of juniper-scented garrigue, sweet tobacco, star anise, and menthol join the vibrant core of cherry and cassis-inflected Grenache fruit. Chewy old-school tannins appear on the back-palate to frame the wine’s kernel of fruit and segue it to a long garrigue-driven finish. We suggest picking up a case to enjoy now and over the next decade with grilled eggplant, lamb and beef stews, burgers, and anything scented with rosemary, garlic or anchovies.

2017 Domaine Berthet-Rayne, Chateauneuf-du-Pape, Southern Rhone Valley, France (CO) 31.99/345.49

This is the most honest, delicious, and affordable Chateauneuf-du-Pape on the market! Employing organic viticulture, manual harvesting, superbly situated old vines, and traditional methods in the cellar, the Domaine Berthet-Rayne is fashioning a portfolio of elegant and restrained wines from the Southern Rhone’s finest terroirs. A classic ruby color, Berthet-Rayne’s Chateauneuf-du-Pape explodes with textbook Chateauneuf aromas of wild cherries, leather, stones, vine smoke, and black pepper. Sleek, suave and elegant on the attack, the wine blossoms on the palate to reveal dusty, old-school Chateauneuf tannins framing layers of Bing cherries, tobacco, cinnamon, cloves, and anise. Based on a classic blend of Grenache (60%), Mourvedre, Cinsault, and Syrah, the wine finishes fresh, vibrant, chewy, and appetizingly tannic – reminding us that the balanced, age-worthy, and characterful Chateauneufs of yesteryear can still be found today. Enjoy this complete and classical CdP now and over the coming ten years with roast lamb, grilled burgers, and ratatouille.

ITALY - RED

2018 G.D. Vajra, Langhe Rosso, Piedmont, Italy (S) 13.50/145.80

G.D. Vajra’s Langhe Rosso – the venerable winery’s creative and affordable regional blend – has become a client favorite over the past decade. Vajra’s Langhe Rosso blend is primarily Nebbiolo, Dolcetto, and Barbera, with deft touches of Albarossa, Freisa, and Pinot Noir to add verve and complexity. Sporting a translucent cherry skin robe in the glass, the 2018 Langhe Rosso casts vibrant aromas of plums, black currants, black tea, tobacco, and tar. Brisk and bristling with energy, the wine conveys a core of chewy cherry, black raspberry, and red currant before transitioning to a long finish marked by notes of menthol, tobacco, sassafras, and leafy underbrush. The combination of dazzling aromas, fresh, transparent red and black fruits, food-friendly tannins, authentic Piemontese character, and everyday affordability makes Vajra’s Langhe Rosso a lovely choice at the table. Serve now and over the next five years with pasta tossed with a butter and sage sauce, grilled burgers, salumi, beef, lamb, sausages, pizza – anything that calls for a robust, versatile red.

2018 Cardedu, Monica di Sardegna, Praja, Sardinia, Italy (O) 15.99/172.69

Monica is a grape indigenous to Sardinia. This lovely traditional example from Cardedu winery hails from the most mountainous and least populated sector of the island. Here vineyards are planted near cliffs that go straight down to the Mediterranean Sea and capture the salty sea breeze coming directly from the waters below. Transparent garnet in the glass, Cardedu’s Praja casts aromas of wild cherries, licorice, raisins, and dried herbs. Deft and herbal on the palate, the wine thrills with uncomplicated red cherry, earthy cranberries, pomegranate, and smoky granitic soil. The Praja finishes fresh, zesty, and stunningly refreshing with a touch of the good ol’ funk adding dimension and character. The wine begs to be paired with barbecued meats and vegetables, pizzas, and pasta dishes dressed with garlic, sun-dried tomatoes, and pine nuts. Its lightness and deftness make it a perfect choice for taking a slight chill and serving it with antipasti, charcuterie, and light picnic fare. The importer asserts that Monica is the natural partner to fregula, Sardinia’s couscous-like toasted pasta. In any case, you'll want to try this wine!

2018 Marchesi di Gresy, Barbera d’Asti, Piedmont, Italy 16.99/183.49

Marchesi Di Gresy’s 2018 Barbera, sourced from south-facing vineyards on clay soils on their La Serra estate in the Alessandria province, reflects a radiant plum-ruby color alongside classic Barbera aromas of ripe plums, blackberries, menthol, violets, and leather. Bright and vibrant on the palate, di Gresy’s Barbera presents blackberry and dried cherry fruit alongside complex notes of licorice, button mushrooms, anise, tar, and tobacco. Bracing acidity cuts through the Barbera’s rich fruit expression and segues the wine to a long, balanced finish featuring fine tannins, juicy black fruits, and chewy licorice. Delicious, balanced, and ready to drink, this grand cru Barbera is ready for your table tonight and over the coming five years with hearty pastas, braises, pizza, marinated flank steak, and eggplant casseroles.

PORTUGAL - RED

2012 Sino da Romaneira, Tinto, Douro, Portugal 17.99/194.29

Here is a smashing red wine that seamlessly fuses the unique characters of the Douro’s indigenous grapes with gentle winemaking and a modern polish. Romaneira, one of the largest and most historically important estates in the Douro and renowned for its fortified Port wines, is also crafting a superb portfolio of dry white and red wines from indigenous varieties. The estate's Sino da Romaneira Tinto is a blend of Touriga Franca (40%), Tinta Roriz (30%), Tinto Cão, and Touriga Nacional grown on precipitously steep slopes of schistose soil and aged fourteen months in French oak barriques. Casting an opaque black plum robe, the wine fills the glass with aromas of fresh red plums, cherry compote, and cassis accented by barrel notes of vanilla, toffee, and dark-roasted coffee beans. A subtle spicy edge emerges as the wine graces the palate and segues it to a velvety, supple texture propelling waves of cherry and currant fruit. Fine tannins, mouthwatering acidity, and reprises of delicious red fruit notes appear on the Tinto’s long finish, culminating in a final coda of fine bittersweet chocolate. A terrific choice now an over the coming decade with roast lamb, burgers, braised pork, tagines, and kebabs or either meat or vegetable varieties.

SPAIN - RED

2013 Bodegas Faustino, Faustino V Reserva, Rioja, Spain (S) 18.99/205.09

Old-school Rioja is one of the world’s most unique, satisfying, and versatile wine expressions. From cool, high-altitude vineyards in the prestigious Rioja Alavesa zone, Bodegas Faustino’s 2013 Reserva V sports a black cherry color gradating to chestnut and a beautiful amber rim. Deep and complex aromatically, the Reserva V offers vibrant aromas of black cherry skin, tamari, pipe tobacco, vanilla bean, and dusty earth. The wine’s suave and velvety palate texture opens to reveal suggestions of sour cherry and tangy black currant fruit backed by fine tannins and notes of tarry earth, coconut husk, cloves, and sarsaparilla. Buoyant acidity lifts the wine’s inner core of saturated Tempranillo (92%) and Mazuelo fruit before segueing to a long, cedar, tobacco, and leather-tinged finish. Delicious, distinctive, and sure to delight all fans of traditional Rioja, Faustino’s Reserva can be served now and over the coming ten to fifteen years with hearty meat dishes, potatoes sauteed in olive oil, hearty bean stews, braised duck, and hard sheep’s milk cheeses.


WHITE WINES

FRANCE - WHITE

2018 Arnaud Lambert, Saumur Blanc, Breze Clos du Midi, Loire Valley, France (O)
18.99/205.09

The Breze hill is considered one of the wine world’s two finest sites for dry Chenin Blanc, the other being Savennieres. Lambert’s Clos du Midi – from a cool site near the top of the Breze hill – casts a pale straw-gold hue from the glass and classic Saumur Blanc aromas of Anjou pears, dried apricots, chamomile, and perfumed yellow limestone. Brisk on the attack, the wine presents a mouthful of pear-driven Chenin fruit framed by smoky limestone minerals and nervy acidity. Pleasant notes of quince and honeycomb emerge on the wine’s long pear and apricot-tinged finish followed by an electric acidic undercurrent and a dusting of lip-coating limestone minerals. Pair the wine now and over the coming three years with freshwater fish preparations, aged chevres, dishes featuring chanterelle mushrooms, and roast pheasant. This is grand cru dry Chenin for a song!

ITALY - WHITE

2018 Tibaldi, Roero, Arneis, Piedmont, Italy (CO) 15.99/172.69

The Roero’s sandy soils are home to Piedmont’s (and thus the world’s) greatest Arneis. These sandy soils provide the aromatic Arneis with beautiful floral top notes on a base of fresh orchard fruits. A lovely, pale lemon-gold in the glass, Tibaldi’s fresh, zesty 2018 Arneis casts high-toned aromas of crushed lemongrass, Bartlett pear, quince, and freshly cut fennel. Brisk and invigorating on the palate, suggestions of green apple skin and sweet almond meal are buoyed by citric acidity, savory mineral notes, and impressions of preserved lemon, chamomile, and ginger. Given its fickle nature - Arneis translates to "rascal" in English – fine examples are rarely inexpensive. Thankfully, Tibaldi’s 2018 delivers all the freshness, zest, and complexity we so love in this inimitable varietal at a most comfortable price. Pair now and over the coming year with delicate white-fleshed fish preparations, light pastas, seasonal squashes, and vegetarian risottos.

2018 Cantina Andriano, Pinot Bianco, Finado, Alto Adige, Italy 15.99/172.69

This is a brilliant Pinot Bianco in the inimitable, refreshing, Northeastern Italian style. In 1893, the vintners of Andriano combined their skills and energies to form the first winemaker’s cooperative in the Südtirol. With dedication and a keen sense of taste, they strove to achieve and maintain a level of quality that stands above their peers. Their 125-year-long dedication is reflected in this superb 2018 Pinot Bianco grown on limestone and dolomite soils at 850 to 1,250 feet above sea level. A gleaming lemon-gold in the glass, Andriano’s Pinot Bianco is brisk and mineral-driven, fusing juicy lemon and pear fruit with fresh herbal overtones and crunchy suggestions of freshly shaved fennel. Long and gripping, Andriano’s Pinot Bianco finishes with a core of pear and white grapefruit complicated by fresh mountain herbs and dark limestone minerality. A steal for its tariff, be sure to pair this wine now or over the next two years with Dover sole, brook trout, quiches, mild cheeses, and vegetable frittatas.
-James Suckling: 92 points

2016 Bucci, Verdicchio dei Castelli di Jesi Classico Superiore, Marches, Italy 14.99/161.89
reg. 17.99

Verdicchio, central Italy’s most distinctive and important white varietal, reaches its greatest expression in the mineral-rich soils of the Marches’ Castelli di Jesi zone just a few miles from the Adriatic Sea. Bucci’s Verdicchio casts a limpid gold color from the glass followed by explosive aromas of yellow flowers, smoky minerals, Golden Delicious apples, and Mirabelle plums. Full-bodied and rich, the wine’s fleshy fruit expression is complemented by a saline tactile grip and impressions of almond paste, shaved fennel, quinine, and smoky minerals. Long and lingering on the palate, the wine segues to a gripping and impressively complex finish suggesting apricot, jasmine blossoms, and genmaicha tea. This is a delicious and unusually expressive Verdicchio; it should be paired now and over the coming three to five years with hearty fare like swordfish, fresh albacore tuna, rabbit, duck, zucchini casseroles, potato dishes, and pastas in cream sauce.

PORTUGAL - WHITE

2018 Quinta de Porrais, Douro Branco, Portugal 10.50/113.40

The terraced shale vineyards of the Douro are a sight to behold. Here the vines cling to precipitously steep hillsides and absorb the plenitude of minerals in the vineyards’ shallow soils. Grown at nearly 2,000 feet above sea level, Quinta de Porrais’s Branco – a blend of 65 to 80-year-old Códiga do Lorinho (55%) and Rabigato – is the white wine deal of the year. Bristling with mineral energy, the blend expresses the signature of the shale soils on which each indigenous variety grows. Pale lemon-gold in the glass, the wine casts smoky, mineral-infused aromas of green pineapple, honeydew melon, acacia, orange, and gardenia blossoms. Brisk and invigorating on the palate, the wine’s acid backbone propels a tart core of green plum, papaya, and melon fruit. Floral notes reappear to segue the Branco to its long, clean finish featuring waves of smoky shale and schistose minerals. Serve this stunning value as an everyday sipper or to accompany green salads, prosciutto-wrapped cantaloupe, sauteed zucchini, oysters on the half-shell, sashimi, steamed clams, and seafood tapas.

SPAIN - WHITE

2017 Bodegas Granbazan, Albarino, Etiqueta Ambar, Rías Baixas, Galicia, Spain 18.99/205.09

Albarino comes in many expressions, from fruity to exotically floral to crisp and mineral driven. Our favorite examples are clean, crisp, minerally, and mouthwateringly saline: precisely what this Etiqueta Ambar bottling from Granbazan delivers. Crafted from hand-harvested vines over 35 years of age, Granbazan’s Etiqueta Ambar reflects a deep green-glinted lemon gold in the glass with elegant saline-inflected aromas of jasmine blossoms, Comice pears, and lemongrass. The wine is impressively intense and tactile on the palate, offering suggestions of key lime, Meyer lemon, fresh ginger, and quinine all lifted by shimmering acidity and propelled by a palate-dusting salinity. The wine finishes delicious and incisive with further waves of freshly squeezed citrus juice, white flowers, bitter herbs, and salty minerals. This is sensational Albarino in the floral, citrus and mineral aesthetic; pair it over the coming three years with calamari, clams, oysters, or Dungeness crab, or enjoy it all on its own as an attention-grabbing aperitivo.

2018 Sabate I Coca, Castellroig, SO Blanc, Penedes, Spain (O) 16.99/183.49

Xarel-lo, one of Spain's finest white-wine varieties, is largely responsible for the age-worthiness of the finest Cavas. The esteemed Sabate I Coca estate is spotlighting the Xarel-lo as its signature variety to transmit and magnify the estate’s many varying soil types. A bright straw color, Sabate I Coca’s SO Blanc casts fascinating aromas of Anjou pear, linden blossom, and quinine. The wine presents a bristling, incisive palate marked by nuances of green pears, freshly shaved fennel, quince, meadow flowers, and dark soil minerality. Taut and tensile on the finish, the wine shows superb cut and soil transparency as its pungent mineral undercurrent reprises pear, lime zest, and juicy fennel. Pair now and over the coming four years with seafood and vegetable tapas, paellas, escargots, and grilled albacore tuna. Superb Xarel-lo!


ROSE WINE

2018 Can Sumoi, La Rosa, Penedes, Spain (CO) 15.99/172.69

The ancient Can Sumoi estate sits at nearly two thousand feet above sea level in the Penedes’ Massís del Montmell range. Organically farmed on mineral-rich limestone and clay soils, the estate's La Rosa (rose) – a blend of Sumoll (50%), Parellada, and Xarel-lo – opens with a copper-tinged peach color and high-toned aromas of cranberries, rhubarb, orange peel, and dusty limestone. On the palate, Can Sumoi’s La Rosa is earthy, mineral-driven, and marked by suggestions of high-toned wild yeast, grapefruit juice, and bitter orange pith. Brisk and mineral-driven, the wine finishes taut and tensile with superb cut and a shimmering undercurrent of golden raspberries, Seville orange peel, and bitter herbs. This is an idiosyncratic, rewarding rose that will thrill disciples of the natural wine movement. Pair now and over the coming four years with seafood and vegetable tapas, grilled albacore tuna, veggie burritos, and pizzas.

Liner & Elsen Wine Merchants
2222 NW Quimby Street Portland, Oregon

** NEW HOURS **
Tues.-Sat. 10-5

Map and Directions

e-mail

503-241-9463 (WINE)
1-800-903-9463 (WINE)

Curbside pickup during business hours: Call from our parking lot

 

Saturday, March 21 was our last
in-store shopping day

We'll be staffed and following up on your calls and emails as they come in.

Shipping, local delivery, and curbside pickup in our parking lot will continue to be available.

 

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

March 6 - A bounty of Barolos

Mar. 20 - Great Southern Rhone wines from Gigondas

April 3 - Three decades of Chenin Blancs!

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

Feb. 29 - Wines from Iberia: Quinta de Porrais Douro Branco, and Bodegas Frontonio Macabeo Seleccion El Casetero. From Austria: Arndorfer Gruner Veltliner.

Mar. 7 - Vins de France: Arnaud Lambert Saumur Blanc Breze Clos du Midi, Dom. des Pothiers Reference, Champy Bourgogne Pinot Noir Cuvee Edme, and Berthet-Rayne Chateauneuf-du-Pape.

Mar. 14 - Vini d'Italia: Tibaldi Roero Arneis, Bucci Verdicchio Classico Superiore, Cantina Andriano Pinot Bianco, Cardedu Monica di Sardegna Praja, G.D. Vajra Langhe Rosso, and Marchesi di Gresy Barbera d’Asti.

Mar. 21 - Vinos de Espana: Can Sumoi La Rosa (Rose), Bodegas Granbazan Albarino Etiqueta Ambar, Sabate I Coca Castellroig, SO Blanc, and Faustino V Reserva Rioja. Vino de Chile: Los Vascos Carmenere Grande Reserve.

Mar. 28 - Vinhos de Portugal: Quinta de Porrais, and Sino da Romaneira Tinto. Vins de France: Oinos Les Carderes, and Dom. de la Guicharde Cotes du Rhone.

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Special Events at L&E:


Selbach-Oster Tasting with Johannes Selbach
Tuesday, March 3, 5:30-7:00

Please join Ewald Moseler, Portland's "Rieslingmeister," for a tasting of some of Germany’s finest Rieslings. No reservations needed; tasting fee: $10.

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Maison Joseph Drouhin Burgundy Tasting with Veronique Drouhin
Friday, March 13, 6:15 sharp

Please join us for a tasting of great red and white Burgundies with Veronique Drouhin. We will feature superlative wines from one of Burgundy’s greatest wineries.

Seating is very limited, and reservations are necessary. Price per seat $75.

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The list of wines to be served at the events is on our website


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

© Liner & Elsen, all rights reserved. Availability and prices may have changed since the newsletter date.