Favorite Featured Wines From The Newsletter

 
 

On the Sunny Side of the Street

Tyrus Evan Claret Ciel du Cheval 2015
$17.99/$14.40 by case    Normally $36
This time last year our switchboard was lighting up with excitement as we rolled through case after case of the 2012 vintage. Whether you fondly remember the wine or this is new to you, here’s one last chance to play as 2015 is the final vintage. Tyrus Evan is a side label of Ken Wright Cellars, designated for non-Pinot reds, and is made at the winery in Carlton with the same attention to detail as their single vineyard Pinot Noir. Ciel du Cheval, considered among Washington’s elite vineyards, is located in the tiny Red Mountain AVA. Historically Washington's warmest growing area, wines from here are almost always dark, richly flavored and full-bodied. The soil is unique as well, typically giving the wines a distinct minerality.

This 2015, while youthful and restless, clearly shows the pedigree of winemaker and vineyard. Jazzy and initially light on its feet, the flavors seem dominated by Cabernet Sauvignon leaning red with cherry, cassis and raspberry floral notes. With air and time in the glass, the fruit gets fuller and darker shading into rich ripe blackberry while distinct flavors emerge, from vanilla and lightly toasted oak to oregano and eucalyptus. Decant, drink over two days or pile it in the cellar for the future- whichever you choose, this is a deal worth taking advantage of.

Château Lanessan Haut-Médoc 2003
$29.99/$23.99 by the case   
If you prefer your Cab blends more old world in style and with more age, check out this beauty if you haven’t already. Coming straight outta Bordeaux via a NYC importer, this has been a shop favorite for over a year and we’re now down to the last of it. Family-operated for eight generations, Lanessan has a proud history as well as a few gaffes; when the now-famous 1855 Classification was being organized Lanessan disregarded the request for samples as their wines were already in high demand. In hindsight obviously not the best financial move for the winery but their outsider status partly explains why Parker calls them “always one of the better values and age-worthy wines from the Haut-Medoc”. This 13+ year old bottling proves its age-worthiness: still showing a generosity of fruit common in that warm vintage, it has otherwise developed a lovely texture and multi-dimensional flavor profile, a perfect example of why aged Bordeaux is so enjoyable. Floral, perfumed and rosy, the red plum and black currant fruit is mellow yet alive and framed by gentle cedary graphite notes. 

Sketches of Spain


Alvaro Palacios Camins del Priorat 2015
$19.99/$15.99 by the case
You may have stopped reading after the word Priorat thinking “I’m done with the heavy winter reds!” but this beauty is as spring-like as they come. The Camins bottling is usually quite approachable for Priorat but this new vintage seems especially so. Aromatically fresh and floral, its texture is smooth and supple, almost gentle, as rich flavors of strawberry jam and black raspberry mingle with notes of wild Mediterranean herb and wet black earth. Despite its airy charm, it’s no lightweight with enough grip and bramble to peg it as Priorat. We all agreed this would pair well with a classic Easter dinner of roasted lamb and spring vegetables; it seems a perfect match in flavor, body and springtime vibe.

Martinez Alesanco Rioja Reserva 2011  
$17.99/$14.40 by the case
The first wine in our recent Rioja tasting, we knew this was good enough to serve as warm-up to the older, more expensive wines in the flight. It did that and more, totally keeping pace with the bigger guns. Made by a small family winery that exports very little, the price appears artificially low for the quality. With a silky caressing texture that seems more evolved than the vintage would suggest, this offers warm tones and flavors from dried black cherry and plum to an incense sandalwood spiciness. Aged in both American and French oak, the wood is well integrated and delicious in a more modern style; the smoky bacon, brown sugar and light vanilla notes are undeniably seductive and provide balance to the darker earthier background.  

Ordonez Nisia Rueda Old Vine Verdejo 2015  
$14.99/$11.99 by the case
For your white wine needs à la España, take this tasty Verdejo hailing from some of Central Spain’s highest vineyards for a spin. It’s flavorful and bold, with the fruit basket running from bright lemon/lime and pink grapefruit, to deeper peach and tropical notes, yet the Nisia remains relatively dry and fresh. All that flavor balances well with a rich texture and weightiness that’s buoyed by zippy acidity and a nice streak of minerality plus a touch of herbs and saline tang. Imagine a winter-weary Chablis on a getaway trip to Maui… This is not a fancy wine, but it’s generous, satisfying and fun - perfect for cheese ‘n apps, roast chicken and seafood like freshly grilled fish or roasted shrimp.


Newly Arrived Walter Scott 2015s

Mix and Match: Take 20% Off a mixed case of Walter Scott wines  

Last spring we were blown away by how good the 2014s were and it didn't take long for others to notice as well. Across the board, these were some of the most talked about, requested and reordered wines of 2016. Ken Pahlow and Erica Landon are some of the sweetest, most hard-working people in the Willamette Valley, so much that you just want to support them. We loved their wines and by midsummer they received some of the highest Oregon scores from The Wine Advocate.

The 2015s pick up right where the 2014s left off, although at this point the 15s offer more depth and focus. Daytime temperatures were higher overall than 2014, but nights were cooler and it shows. While the 14s have an airy open-knit charm, the 15s have more structure, delivering nuggets of intensity and well-defined flavors. Balanced and expressive, these are some of the most complete, beautifully-textured wines coming out of the valley. 

The hardest thing about them is deciding which ones to highlight and/or drink. After twenty vintages making wine, Ken knows how to let vineyard characteristics shine and each bottling has its very own personality. Here are two of our favorites but you shouldn't stop there. We will have many vineyard selections in the shop and can take orders for the rest. 

The 2015 Pinot Noir

(All 2015 Single Vineyards are $49.99 or $39.99 by the case)

Clos des Oiseaux Pinot Noir
A big favorite last year and wow, is the 2015 gorgeous! Beautiful nose and texture, it’s all rosy spicebox perfumed aromas and polished cool rubies rolling about on the palate. (That’s what it made me think of.) This small parcel sits right next to Cristom’s Jessie Vineyard in the Eola-Amity Hills where three soil types, rocky exposure and three clones of Pinot conspire to produce complex wines with distinctive flavors. Beyond the dappled red fruits and savory wildness, there’s an irresistible Asian spice note that makes this stand out. Elegant but deeply flavored, this is a joy to drink.

Dubay Pinot Noir
New to the lineup, Dubay is also in the Eola-Amity Hills and is rocky volcanic soil over sedimentary. This looks to be a winner, with a dynamic, evolving personality and competing flavors to match. The nose is pretty and demur dark cherry while the palate displays a rowdier side: round and fleshy with a thicket of brambly blackberry, then flavors change course mid-palate as tangier red fruits take over finishing zesty and bright. 30% whole cluster brings added dimension, tension and a satisfying briary touch to the smooth texture and long long finish.

Freedom Hill Pinot Noir
Tasting the Chardonnay and Pinot side by side, it's clear that Freedom Hill's signature personality remains consistent no matter the color: big, bold and powerful with layers of flavors. This bottling  from the Dallas-area vineyard consists of co-fermented classic old-school Oregon clones Wadesnwil and Pommard. One sniff and you can tell this is rich and ripely dark-fruited, which is confirmed by mouth-filling dark cherry and medium raspberry that slides into marionberry territory. Yet it's nicely balanced by spice, floral lift and a savory note that adds complexity. Plenty of structure and depth adds some waltz to the brawn - think Beauty and the Beast...

The 2015 Chardonnay  

Cuvée Anne Chardonnay
$39.99 or $31.99 by the case
This tastes like white Burgundy, no exaggeration - I can list all sorts of adjectives but there’s no quicker way to convey what this wine tastes like. With its tension and complexity, light nuttiness and dried fruit quality, it sits on a whole different level from the typical domestic Chard. I have never seen so many customers clamor for Oregon Chardonnay like they did for the 2014 Anne. Whether you’re a white Burg addict or just want to see how good Chardonnay from the Willamette Valley can be, this should be wine # 1 on your research drinking list.

Ex Novo Chardonnay
$49.99/$40 by the case
Ken calls this "an epic site" and based on the 2014 and 2015 versions, he's right on the money. Planted by noted California Cabernet winemaker Craig Williams, it hosts an amazing 15 clones of Chardonnay! In Ken's hands, this is a Puligny on steroids. Razor-sharp and attack-mode fast, it's in your face with bright and zippy lemon/lime floral aromas and flavors, saturated with mellow green herbs and underpinned by layers of minerality that deliver power and structure on a light frame. The finish remains ultra-long, making it clear this is a killer toddler of a wine that will be spectacular when it grows up. So put some down to cellar, then pop some bottles for a tasty thrill ride in the meantime.

Freedom Hill Chardonnay
$49.99/$40 by the case
This warmer Van Duzer Corridor site delivers a Chard that is Ken's weightiest and deepest. With flavors ranging from lemon cream to red apple and pear that meld nicely with light toast, nuts, green herbs and a hint of butter, this reminds us of a classic Meursault. The rich smooth texture is lifted by bright acidity that helps pull everything together to a long finish. Still a baby, this is damn delicious now, but will be wonderful with age.


Hot Wines From February Still Available

Strike Up the Smock Shop Band

Nate Ready, Master Sommelier turned winemaker/farmer, is an explorer out to unearth the heart and soul of wine from mere grape clusters. Years working in wine retail then top restaurants provided tasting experiences that generated ideas - and achievement of one of the highest wine sommelier certifications. After working at wineries in Italy and Napa, Nate become winemaker Maggie Harrison's major domo at Antica Terra in Dundee. Multiple vintages in the cellar and learning "Maggie's tricks" taught him how to make those ideas finally blossom. He and partner China Tresemer took an older winery in Hood River and created Hiyu Wine Farm, with animals, orchards and 14 acres of vineyards.

Nate lets wines mature in barrel for several years, seeking to transform pure fruit flavors into something more complex. Influenced by those years of tasting, he takes an Italian approach to winemaking that prizes creative exploration and individual expression. Whites see "super-gentle long pressings,” reds get long whole-cluster macerations and sulfur is not added until bottling so fruit keeps evolving. "Being a bit older has thankfully brought me a lot of varied experience and perspective" Nate says, "and I think it shows in the wines."

Smock Shop Band White Wine 2014                    
$29.99/$24.99 by the case
Inspired by French winemaking legends such as Marcel Deiss and Jean-François Ganevant, this blend of 90% Chardonnay and 10% Pinot Gris is darker yellow in color, richly-textured and is full of deep flavors and layered complexity. No surprise Nate calls it "a bit hedonistic." After being slowly whole-cluster pressed over 24 hours, it spent two years on the lees in used barrels, which added a nutty yeastiness. The aromatics are rich and full of tree blossom and classic Chardonnay spice; a sip brings lemon custard, Asian pear, tropical notes, green herbs and  a hit of caramel. There's so much happening, but it's well balanced and harmonious - and yes, very European in style. Fascinating and delicious..

Smock Shop Band Pinot Noir 2014                      
$29.99/$24.99 by the case
The Italian influence is clear in this personality-filled Pinot Noir that underwent gentle pigéage and a "Nebbiolo-type fermentation" with whole berry clusters macerated for 35 days, "retaining flavors that would normally get pressed out," before spending two years in barrel. Medium-dark red in color, there’s a gorgeous nose with hints of iris, sandalwood, nuts and anise - hmmm, like Nebbiolo. The palate delivers dense dark cherry and raspberry fruit, smoke, savory herbs and botanicals. The texture is subtly dense and nicely chewy, while remaining smooth and juicy into the long finish. This is an excellent wine representing a unique exploration into Oregon Pinot.

Smock Shop Band Red Wine 2014               
$44.99/$36 by the case
A Rhône-inspired blend of 55% Syrah and 45% Grenache from a leased plot east of Lyle that was left entirely whole cluster and sat for 70 days on the skins. The result is dark in color, aroma and flavor - and high in impact. There's a wildness to the nose that leads to flavors of dark plum, cherry and blackberry interlaced with earth, savory herbs, smokiness, light tobacco and nuts. There's a weighty richness, but nice lift that adds a freshness to keep the party rolling. Clearly ready to become better with age, it kept opening up as it sat in the glass. This one is for you lovers of Northern Rhônes or bold Mediterranean French reds.

...And More Wines

El Corazon Pistolero! Walla Walla Valley 2013
$34.99/$27.99 by the case
Vividly displaying the Art of the Winemaker, this new arrival is a blend of all six original Bordeaux varietals. Deliciously integrated and seamless, this is super smooth yet jazzy, packed with flavor yet light on its feet. In other words, firmly in the vein of why the El Corazon wines are irresistible catnip for Walla Walla wine fans. Drawing a little something from each varietal, the broad cascades of mixed dark berry coulis flavors are edged with notes of dark chocolate and toasted oak while a tobacco-y cayenne pepper spiciness hangs in the background and lingers on the finish. And those six original Bordeaux varietals? Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot, Malbec and Carmenère.

Montaribaldi Barbaresco “Palazzina” 2012
$23.99/$19.20 by the case
Single vineyard Barbaresco for under $25? That’s worth taking a look at. Like the ever-popular Reverdito Barolo, this is imported directly to Portland and offers such great value and Nebbiolo character for the money. Traditional and elegant in style, this is full of classically layered Piedmont flavors: dark smoky cherry, raspberry spice, loamy earth, savory herb and a touch of tar. It's medium to full-bodied but with a clean, lighter touch that makes it very engaging on the palate. A hint of oak adds depth but clearly the star here is Nebbiolo’s personality: lightly gripping tannins, a vein of rocky minerality and a swirl of perfumed aromatics, violet and rosy. 

Pernot Belicard Bourgogne Blanc 2014                      
$24.99/$19.99 by the case

A relatively new domaine with old vineyards, Pernot Belicard is the marriage between Philippe Pernot (grandson of Puligny rock star Paul Pernot) and his wife’s family the Belicards whose have prime vineyard holdings in Meursault, Puligny and beyond. Philippe learned winemaking from his talented grandfather and his skill shows. This delivers great value for the money and drinks like a delicious marriage between Puligny and Meursault: the nutty richness of the fruit echoes Meursault while a punchy minerally Puligny precision adds focus and cut. The nose is lemony and lightly toasted, very pretty and inviting, while the palate offers ripe red apple and a creamy texture, ending with a nice touch of fresh green herb.

Frédéric Esmonin Bourgogne Rouge “Les Genévrières” 2015                 
$22.99/$18.40 by the case
A relatively new domaine with old vineyards, Pernot Belicard is the marriage between Philippe Pernot (grandson of Puligny rock star Paul Pernot) and his wife’s family the Belicards whose have prime vineyard holdings in Meursault, Puligny and beyond. Philippe learned winemaking from his talented grandfather and his skill shows. This delivers great value for the money and drinks like a delicious marriage between Puligny and Meursault: the nutty richness of the fruit echoes Meursault while a punchy minerally Puligny precision adds focus and cut. The nose is lemony and lightly toasted, very pretty and inviting, while the palate offers ripe red apple and a creamy texture, ending with a nice touch of fresh green herb.

Pravis Pinot Grigio “Polin” 2015
$15.99/$12.80 by the case
Curious about so-called orange wines but reluctant to take the $30+ plunge to try one? This isn’t a full-blown orange style (it’s light copper) but a step in that direction and besides being a worthy drinker on its own, it’s a way to see if the orange style appeals to you. Orange wines are made with white varietals and get some color from lengthy skin contact. Unlike regular white wines, they’re left to macerate with the skins for weeks or longer and consequently gain color, structure, tannin and a variety of flavors. This Polin bottling from Pravis sits on the skins for a shorter time, long enough to gain additional flavor and body but not long enough to get too dark, tannic or funky. Goldilocks might call it “just right” on the orange scale. Clearly present floral aromatics roll into pear and honeyed lemon on the palate. The medium-bodied creamy texture is balanced by bright acidity and a spine of minerality (thanks Dolomites!) A classic lively Grigio but with more depth and richness, this is an excellent choice as the cold weather lingers into spring.

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 GWB Newsletters Archive

Here are current and back-issues of the Great Wine Buys Newsletter to help you print out the month or find a wine from past issues.

 

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