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SEPTEMBER 2019 REVIEWS


RED WINES

OREGON – RED

2017 Biggio Hamina Cellars, Pinot Noir, Biha, Yamhill-Carlton, Oregon 17.99/194.29

Winemaker Todd Hamina has made a name for himself in crafting restrained, natural, soil-transparent wines from some of the Willamette Valley’s finest vineyards. Biggio Hamina’s Biha, a blend of fruit primarily from the Hillside Vineyard in the Yamhill-Carlton AVA, casts a transparent garnet color followed by aromas of pie cherries, pomegranate, cinnamon, and wintergreen. On the palate, the Biha marries a vibrant kernel of red fruit lifted by plentiful fine tannins, herbal overtones, and a gentle touch of French oak. Long, savory, and delicious, the wine finishes further waves of cherry fruit, cinnamon, and high tones of fresh mint and wintergreen. A steal for its tariff, enjoy the Biha now and over the coming five years with broiled salmon, roast chicken, gratin dauphinois, and sauteed squashes.

2016 Domaine Drouhin Oregon, Pinot Noir, Dundee Hills, Oregon (O) 39.99/431.89

From the balanced, harmonious 2016 Oregon vintage, Veronique Drouhin has crafted another beautifully elegant and layered Oregon Pinot that oozes elegance and style. A translucent plum ruby in the glass, Domaine Drouhin Oregon’s 2016 Pinot fills immediately reveals deep black cherry fruit aromas accented by notes of sassafras, rose petals, dark roasted coffee, and Chinese five spice. Suave and velvety on the palate, black raspberry and black cherry fruit mingle with suggestions of cinnamon, vanilla bean, toffee, and sandalwood. Long and lingering with DDO’s inimitable textural elegance and just enough latent structure to balance its dense core of cherry fruit, the wine finishes with complex notes of star anise, violets, caramel, and mocha. This is a lovely, approachable, and generous vintage from DDO and a sure hit now and over the coming decade with richer fare such roast duck and chicken, morels in a cream sauce, or steaks grilled rare.

FRANCE – RED

2017 Patrice Colin, Coteaux du Vendomois Rouge, Vieilles Vignes, Loire Valley, France (CO) 16.99/183.49

The Colin family traces their winemaking tradition back eight generations to 1735. Colin’s Vielles Vignes cuvee is a certified organic blend of Pineau d’Aunis (70%), Pinot Noir (20%), and Cabernet Franc. On the nose, the exotic Pineau d’Aunis component announces itself immediately with aromas of white pepper, cherry skin, jalepeno, gunflint, and limestone dust. Tangy currant and cherry fruit graces the palate, while plentiful, chewy tannins lift impressions of blond tobacco, agave, green peppercorns, and bitter herbs. Light, deft, and packed with character, Colin’s Vieilles Vignes finishes with another lashing of snappy red currant and cherry fruit that frames peppery tannins, gunflint, and limestone. Pair this beauty now and over the coming five years with grilled chicken thighs, pork or lamb kebabs, seasonal squashes, and burgers. Give it a quick chill when it’s served during the warm weather months.

2016 Patrick Lambert, Chinon, Vieilles Vignes, Loire Valley, France (O) 17.99/194.29

Patrick Lambert runs a small domaine of fifteen acres planted exclusively to the noble Cabernet Franc. From the graceful and balanced 2016 Loire Valley vintage, Lambert’s old-vine Chinon jumps out of the glass with an opaque black-ruby hue and classic Chinon aromas of cassis, cherry skin, tobacco, gravelly minerals, and perfumed limestone. Plentiful, savory tannins frame the chewy core of black currant fruit, accented by nuances of button mushrooms, blond leather, cigar tobacco, and bay leaf. Long, complex, and driven by its electric limestone mineral undercurrent, Lambert’s Vieilles Vignes cuvee finishes with sappy raspberry and currant fruit and lip-dusting chalky tannins. This beauty is immensely pleasurable now and has the stuffing, poise, and structure for three to seven years’ evolution in your cool cellar. Pair with roast shoulder of pork, chicken, seared duck breast, and fresh chevres.

ITALY – RED

2016 Hilberg-Pasquero, Barbera d’Alba, 29.5 Per Alessandra, Piedmont, Italy (B) 15.99/172.69

Michelangelo Pasquero and Annette Hilberg established their domaine in Roero based on biodynamic principles, and the result is this fantastic 2016 Barbera. An opaque violet color in the glass, Hilberg-Pasquero’s 29.5 Barbera (named for the duration of the lunar cycle) shows the Piedmont’s sensational 2016 elegance with its pure aromatic expression of blackberries, violets, leather, cinnamon, and dark tobacco. Brisk and gently tannic, the wine’s tart blackberry and black currant fruit is complemented by complex hints of tar, leather, tobacco, licorice, and lavender. Delicious and ready to serve now with carne cruda, grilled hanger steak, roasted root vegetables, egg-rich pastas, grilled pork, and myriad risottos, Hilberg-Pasquero’s 29.5 Barbera will also cellar well for two to five years.

2014 Giuseppe Lonardi, Valpolicella Classico, Veneto, Italy 12.99/140.29 reg.15.99

Few red wines satisfy or are as deliciously versatile as the great Corvina-based Valpolicellas from the Veneto. From Valpolicella’s tenderloin Classico sector, Giuseppe “Bepi” Lonardi crafts one of the region’s finest portfolios of Valpolicellas, Ripassos, and Amarones. Blended from Corvina (75%), Rondinella (20%). and Molinara, Lonardi’s Valpolicella begins with a rusty garnet color and a nose of spicy cherry fruit, green peppercorns, earth, and tobacco. Medium-bodied, lively, and vibrant in the mouth, the wine expresses the textural nimbleness of a great Valpolicella with a bright core of bright pie cherry fruit, orange zest, cranberries, pomegranate, herbs, and earthy rhubarb notes. Notes of tobacco, tar, and lavender complement the wine’s tart cherry fruit expression on its long, elegant, palate-livening finish. We suggest pairing Lonardi’s Valpolicella with simple, satisfying foods like charcuterie, roast chicken, burgers, and vegetarian pasta dishes. Drink now and over the next two years.

2017 La Capranera, Aglianico, Campania IGT, Italy (O) 13.99/151.09

Located within the boundaries of Campania’s Cilento National Park, the La Capranera project is named after the breed of local black-haired goats that roam the park’s environs. La Capranera respects the Cinento’s pristine environment by assiduously adhering to organic and biodynamic practices. An opaque black purple color, the winery’s Aglianico soars with fresh, juicy aromas of black plums, cassis, cinnamon, licorice, and menthol. Full-bodied yet deft on the palate, the wine layers the palate with impressions fresh blackberries, mulberries, and cloves. Notes of black olive, grilled herbs, and cured meat appear on the long, savory finish. Crafted to express the friendlier, more approachable side of Aglianico, the wine buffers the Aglianico’s plentiful tannins with dense, chewy fruit and a lovely sumptuous texture. Pair this delicious and affordable southern Italian Aglianico now and over the coming three years with grilled Portobello mushrooms, salumi, pastas with sun-dried tomatoes and pine nuts, or marinated eggplant preparations.

PORTUGAL – RED

2014 Faldas da Serra, Quinta das Maias, Vinho Tinto, Dao, Portugal 13.50/145.80

The wines of Portugal’s Dao region have a special spicy terroir signature all their own. Quinta das Maias’s Dao blends the indigenous varietals Jaen (60%), Touriga Nacional (25%), Alfrocheiro (10%), and Tinta Roriz to craft a wine that thrills with complexity and character. Saturated plum ruby in the glass, this 2014 tinto offers aromas of wild blueberries, damson plums, crushed herbs, and graphite minerals. Bright, tangy and delicious the instant it hits your palate, the wine fuses tart cherry and blackberry fruit with accents of crushed bay leaf, dried orange peel, and chewy black licorice. Coiled, energetic, and palate staining, Maias’s tinto finishes deliciously long, with plentiful buffered tannins to frame its lively black fruit expressions and to amplify its spicy minerality and peppery top notes. Enjoy this terrific value now or over the next five years with cured meats, grilled pork, and red meat preparations featuring smoky pimenton.

SPAIN – RED

2014 La Rioja Alta, Rioja Reserva, Vina Alberdi, Spain (S) 19.99/215.89

With over a thousand acres situated in the Rioja’s finest terroirs, the great La Rioja Alta estate has been a bastion of tradition, quality and excellence in Spain’s most hallowed region for over 125 years. The estate’s 2014 Vina Alberdi Reserva – crafted from 40-year-old Tempranillo vines – continues La Rioja Alta’s string of triumphs with a deep mahogany-tinged cherry skin hue and classic Rioja aromas of pencil lead, cedar, cherry, coconut, vanilla, and smoke. Suave and sumptuous on the palate, the 2014 Vina Alberdi reveals a tangy kernel of cherry, black raspberry and cassis fruit complicated by leathery notes and mature barrel tones of vanilla bean, toffee, and medium-roast coffee. Bracing acidity lifts the wine’s sappy fruit profile while soft tannins segue the wine to a long, classic, tobacco and barrel-inflected Rioja finish. Enjoy this impressively deep yet lithe and deft Rioja Reserva now and over the coming decade with hearty meat dishes, potatoes sauteed in olive oil, hearty bean stews, braised duck, and hard sheep’s milk cheeses.

2016 Ramon Marcos Fernandez, Mencia, Cruceiro, Ribeira Sacra, Galicia, Spain 10.99/118.69

Grown on steep, terraced granite slopes in far northern Spain, the Ribeira Sacra boasts a winemaking history that dates back to Roman times. Ramon Marcos Fernandez farms in Ribeira Sacra’s Amandi subzone, which features a perfect south-facing slope above the Sil River. Casting an opaque black plum robe, Fernandez’s Cruceiro presents pure, chewy cherry and plum fruit expression accented by crimini mushrooms, tangy acidity and dissolved slate minerality. Smoky, earthy, juicy, and gripping with savory tannins, the wine offers suggestions of cracked pepper, star anise, cinnamon, tobacco, and persistent waves of smoky, slate-driven cherry fruit. This is a seriously delicious Mencia that drinks well today with heartier fare and will repay three to five years’ aging in your cool cellar. Enjoyable by itself, the wine will also prove a lovely partner with roast pork, chorizo, paellas, tapas, grilled mushrooms, braised rabbit, and recipes featuring smoky pimenton.


WHITE WINES

OREGON – WHITE

2018 Cameron Winery, Giuliano, Dundee Hills, Oregon (O) 26.99/291.49

Inspired by the incomparable white wines of far northeastern Italy, the irrepressible John Paul has fashioned a knockout of an Oregon bianco. Crafted from a blend of Friulano, Auxerrois, Pinot Bianco, Pinot Grigio, and Moscato – all from the great Clos Electrique and Abbey Ridge Vineyards – Cameron’s 2018 Giuliano casts a brilliant lemon-gold hue followed by complex aromas of lemon balm, muskmelon, tangerine, yellow peaches, and salty sea breeze. Fresh, gripping, and juicy on the palate, the Giuliano’s varietal mélange projects a kaleidoscope of flavors including lemongrass, bay leaf, orange blossoms, apricots, and sweet almond. Propelled by its electric Friulano component, which is fermented in amphora for sixty days, the wine finishes long, zesty, and head-spinningly delicious. As engaging as its maker, this is the most balanced, deft, complex, and utterly delightful Giuliano to date! Enjoy now and over the coming two years as a complement to grilled halibut, cedar plank salmon, zucchini frittatas, omelets, brook trout, and grilled vegetables.

FRANCE – WHITE

2018 Chateau de la Jousseliniere, Gros Plant, Perle Bleue, Loire Valley, France (O) 9.99/107.89

Is there a better sub-$10 wine on the marketplace than this beauty from Jousseliniere? The Pays Nantais, the environs around the western Loire Valley city of Nantes, is home to Muscadet and its lesser-known cousin, Gros Plant. Pale lemon-gold in the glass, Jousseliniere’s 2018 Gros Plant offers aromas of straw, white currants, lemongrass, and sea breeze. Zippy and focused in the mouth, the wine refreshes and enlivens the palate with citrus, Bartlett pear, and green plum fruit expressions lifted by brisk acidity and persistent minerality. The neutral Gros Plant varietal allows the briny air of the Atlantic Loire to fuse effortlessly with the region’s amazingly diverse soils. The combination makes for easy, economical, and completely satisfying drinking over the coming three years with clams, mussels, oysters, crab, halibut, green squashes, salads, and braised leafy greens.

2018 Samuel Baron, Sauvignon Blanc, Touraine, Loire Valley, France (O) 11.99/129.49

Here’s a Sauvignon Blanc that brings to mind a great Pouilly-Fume. A lovely green-glinted gold color in the glass, Baron’s 2018 Sauvignon Blanc casts classic varietal aromas of gooseberries, grapefruit, Thai basil, and green peppercorns. Riveting and citrusy on the palate, the wine conveys a brilliant kernel of grapefruit, pineapple, and passion fruit accented by notes of freshly cut grass, wintergreen, white pepper, and smoke. Floral, herbal, and mineral impressions segue to a long, crisp, flinty, mineral-driven finish. This is superb Sauvignon and a steal for its paltry tariff. It will prove a refreshing, crowd-pleasing aperitif, or at your table as a delicious foil for pan-fried trout, halibut, roast pheasant, grilled green vegetables, and fresh chevres.

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 chevres, and lightly dressed green salads.

2016 Drouhin-Vaudon Chablis, Burgundy, France (B) 20.99/226.69

Drouhin-Vaudon’s biodynamic viticulture and masterful winemaking imbue its impressive Chablis portfolio with authentic terroir expressions and remarkable purity of fruit. Brilliant lemon-gold in the glass, Drouhin-Vaudon’s 2016 Chablis casts flint and iodine-infused limestone soil notes alongside hints of pear skin, grapefruit, and yellow apples. Full yet brisk, intense, and energetic on the palate, suggestions of Golden Delicious apples, acacia blossoms, and quince fuse with undercurrents of flinty limestone soil, buttery lemon curd, and quinine. Further waves of saline minerals segue the wine to its long, full finish driven by citrus and oyster shell. This excellent value in the great 2016 Chablis vintage is drinking smashingly well now, but will easily reward three years’ patience in your cool cellar. Pair with all things seafood, vegetable souffles, potatoes au gratin, light poultry, and pork preparations.


ITALY - WHITE

2018 Montaribaldi, Roero Arneis, Capural, Piedmont, Italy (S) 11.99/129.49

Barbaresco superstars Montaribaldi fashion this superb, aromatic Arneis from vineyards on the sandy soils of Piedmont’s Roero district. A lovely, radiant lemon-gold in the glass, Montaribaldi’s fresh, zesty 2018 Arneis casts high-toned aromas of crushed lemongrass, tart Comice pears, green pineapple, and freshly-cut fennel. Brisk and invigorating on the palate, suggestions of tangerine, green apple skin, and slivered almonds are buoyed by citric acidity, savory mineral notes, and impressions of preserved lemon, white pepper, and ginger. Arneis is rarely inexpensive; thankfully, this direct import selection from Montaribaldi delivers all the freshness, deliciousness and complexity we so love in Piedmont’s inimitable Arneis varietal at a most comfortable price. Pair now and over the coming year with delicate white-fleshed fish preparations, light pastas, squashes, and vegetarian risottos.

2017 Dama del Rovere, Soave Classico, Tremenalto, Veneto, Italy (S) 12.99/140.29

Soave’s Dama del Rovere estate is one of the quality benchmarks in the Soave Classico appellation. The estate’s 2017 Soave Classico, fashioned from Garganega (95%) and Trebbiano di Soave, shines with a lovely lemon-gold color, and offers a dazzling bouquet of jasmine and almond blossoms, crushed aniseed, and lemon oil. Impressively coiled and energetic on the palate, the Tremenalto opens with aeration to reveal notes of Golden Delicious apple, Mirabelle plums, cling peaches, botanical herbs, and perfumed volcanic soils. Clean and fresh on the back end, the Soave lingers on the palate while adding nuances of freshly cut fennel, star fruit, and bitter almonds. This is serious Soave from the historical heart of the appellation that demonstrates breed and class. Enjoy it now and over the coming two years with canapes, fresh goat cheeses, lightly sauced freshwater fish dishes, and zucchini frittatas.

PORTUGAL – WHITE

2018 Adega de Moncao, Vinho Verde, Moncao e Melgaco, Portugal 13.99/151.09

Brisk, refreshing, and low in alcohol, few wines slake warm weather thirst as well as the crisp vinho verdes of northeastern Portugal. Pale, shimmering, and vibrant, Adega de Moncao’s zesty, mineral-driven vinho verde sports a whisper of trapped CO2 in its pale green-gold robe. Based on two of Vinho Verde’s classic varietals, Alvarinho and Trajadura, the wine casts scents of green apple, preserved lemon, and linden blossoms. Fresh and juicy, the 2018 vinho verde bristles on the palate with notes of green melon, kiwi, and white grapefruit coupled with saline minerality and a hint of kaffir lime leaf. The brisk finish wakes up the palate and prepares it for another bite of seafood, salt cod fritters, light salads, or pasta tossed in a light olive oil sauce. This is classically styled, reference-standard vinho verde that’s an absolute joy to drink. Buy plenty for the remaining warm weather days, but finish your stash before next spring.


ROSE WINES

FRANCE – ROSE

2018 Domaine le Galantin, Bandol, Rose, Provence, France (O) 18.99/205.09

This venerable Bandol estate crafts a superb rose with all the sun-drenched, herb-scented goodness that separate the finest Provencal roses from the rest of the pack. A pale copper-tinged peach-pink in the glass, Galantin’s rose – a blend of Mourvedre (50%), Cinsault, and Grenache – offers quintessential Provencal rose scents of sweet cherries, dried flowers, limestone, and herbes de Provence. Brisk yet fleshy, the wine conveys the warmth of the Mediterranean amid waves of fleshy cherry, orange zest, and red currant fruit accented by fragrant herbal garrigue. The wine tightens on the finish, presenting a bristling acid spine that amplifies the wine’s stony, dusty mineral undercurrent. As the rose blossoms in your glass, it gains aromatic complexity, precision on the palate, and additional savory texture. Try this beauty now and over the coming year with all sea fish preparations, grilled bread topped with tapenade, ratatouille, and barbecued chicken and ribs. At its sub-$20 tariff, this is the Provencal rose steal of the season!
-Josh Raynolds, Vinous: 90 points

LINER & ELSEN
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STORE HOURS:
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FRIDAY TASTINGS:
First and third Friday of the month
5:30-7:30 p.m. ~Fee~

Sept. 6 - Superb Burgundy from Chablis

Sept. 20 - A Taste of Monterrei, Spain: The amazing wines of Quinta da Muradella winery. Don’t miss them!

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

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

Aug. 31 - French wines to cool the summer heat: Domitia Picpoul de Pinet, Kientzler Chasselas, Metaireau Muscadet Petit Mouton, and Dezat & Fils Sancerre Rose.

Sept. 7 - Tour de France: Dom. le Galantin Bandol Rosé, Nebout Vignerons L’Incompris du Tressallier, Drouhin-Vaudon Chablis, and Patrick Lambert Chinon Vieilles Vignes.

Sept. 14 - From Oregon: Cameron Winery Giuliano, Biggio Hamina Cellars Pinot Noir, and DDO Pinot Noir. From Iberia: Adega de Monção Monção & Melgaço, Faldas da Serra Quinta das Maias Vinho Tinto, Ramón Marcos Fernandez Mencía Cruceiro, and La Rioja Alta Viña Alberdi Reserva.

Sept. 21 - Viva Italia! Dama del Rovere Soave Classico Tremenalto, Montaribaldi Roero Arneis Capural, Giuseppe Lonardi Valpolicella Classico, Hilberg-Pasquero Barbera d’Alba, and La Capranera Aglianico.

Sept. 28 - From France: Jousselinière Gros Plant Perle Bleue, Samuel Baron Sauvignon Blanc, and Colin Rouge Vieilles Vignes.

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SPECIAL EVENTS AT L&E:

A Tasting of Burgundy Wines
from Simon Bize

Tuesday, Sept. 10
6:30 p.m. sharp

Join Tim Davey, who represents Becky Wasserman’s outstanding portfolio of fine Burgundies, for a comprehensive tasting of wine from Simon Bize. The tasting will include grand cru and premier cru wines dating back to 2004.

Seating is very limited, and prepayment is required. Event fee: $60. reserve now

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Portuguese Fortified Wine Tasting with J Henahan of Haus Alpenz

Tuesday, Sept. 17
6:30 p.m. sharp

Join J Henahan of Haus Alpenz for a guided tour of the great fortified wines of Portugal. We will sample Carcavelos wines ranging back to 1989, and taste stunning older Madeiras from Henriques & Henriques.

Seating is very limited, and prepayment is required. Event fee: $50. reserve now


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.