Featured Wines From The Newsletter
Olabarri Rioja Gran Reserva 2007
$23.99/$19.20 by the case Regularly $30
Time to say wow again; last October we offered the 2004 vintage and wow, was that a hit. It sold out much too quickly but happily this 2007 is a more than worthy successor. Offering all the same aged Rioja character that made the 2004 so special yet with a little more richness and power, this clearly stands out from the crowd. The nose is complex and deep with dried floral and brown spice cayenne notes as well as a woodsy stone cellar air. The texture is caressing and smooth as the dark red and blue fruits stay gently sappy across the palate, gliding into fruit-encased tannins on the finish. Ten years old and still vibrant and quietly intense, this is a highlight of the season.
Les Chênes Blancs Gigondas 2012
$23.99/$19.20 by the case Originally $30
Portland’s Gigondas king is at it again. Addicted to importing more southern French red than any one person needs, he offered this deal to trim inventory and the timing, as we head into cooler fall weather, is perfect. Mostly Grenache from 50 year old vines, this is full-flavored and dense with a bass note beefiness. A few years in bottle give it a developed layered profile, as its black currant and rich kirsch fruit is surrounded by notes of garrigue, bacon fat and black pepper. 2012 was a charming approachable vintage for many southern French reds and this is drinking great now; open-knit and relatively juicy yet still packed with the classic garrigue-y countryside flavors of traditional Gigondas.
Basel Claret Columbia Valley 2013
$14.99/$11.99 by the case
Another favorite from last fall, the 2012 Claret was our default go-to Washington red for months. This 2013 in many ways aims ever higher - a new classier label, a flashy yet balanced profile and starting next month, a new higher price; so load up while you can! Whereas the 2012 tasted much like straight Cabernet Sauvignon, the 2013 offers a wider range of flavors and looking over my notes, seemed to taste slightly different every few sips. Overall supple and vibrant, it has the full-flavored softness of the 2012 but with more lift and freshness. The varying shades of aromatic spiciness are as alluring as a fine parfum, from sexy vanilla oak notes to black tea and cedar shavings. The fruit is punchy and fluid, shifting from bright raspberry to black cherry to dried currant and more. Tastes like a much nicer wine than the current price suggests.
Cameron Pinot Noir Reserve 2015
$35.99/$28.80 by the case
And for all you Cameron fans out there, here’s yet another delicious Pinot to consider. Comprised of barrels of Clos Electrique and Abbey Ridge that were culled right before bottling those two star vineyards, this so over-delivers for the price. Truth be told we’ve been loving the Dundee Hills bottling and were happy to ride that until gone; then we tasted this…deeper, richer and more complex, this has a beautiful silky texture but intense flavor concentration with just enough of that old Cameron funk to know what you’re drinking. Inspired by a glass of this last week, I opened a 2004 Cameron over the weekend; sadly that didn’t last long; I better get some of this...
Ampeleia Unlitro Rosso Toscana 2016
$16.99/$13.60 by the case
A liter of Tuscan red wine, as simple as that. Well, not quite. Made by the renowned Dolomite winemaker Elisabetta Foradori from a mix of traditional Mediterranean varietals (Grenache, Carignan, Alicante Bouschet), this is not your typical Super Tuscan. Rather, it’s a dusty-road country wine, made naturally from an inexact mix of young vines located by the sea, yet made with care and skill. Full of character, the fresh red berry fruit is user-friendly and thirst-quenching while the dry leaf earthy notes evoke the Tuscan hillsides. This sells quickly every year and the new vintage just arrived. Just in time for fall.
Hot Wines From Sept. Still Available
Walter Scott Chardonnay La Combe Verte 2016
$27.99 retail, $25 by the 6 pack, $22.40 by the case (mix and match fine)
The past two vintages proved that Walter Scott is making some of the best Chardonnay in Oregon and here is more proof. Youthful and racy but boasting that incredible Walter Scott texture you hoped for, the nose is lemony with a nutty edge and flashes of creamed honey and waxy notes. Crisp green apple is accented by dried oregano and fresh spearmint, and with air the texture gets better and better: supple and smooth and long on the palate but with great underlying acidity. As always there's minimal intervention in the cellar: native yeast fermentation, 20% new wood and minimal lees stirring. Fruit sourcing includes some of the best including X Novo, Vojtilla, Clos des Oiseaux, Freedom Hill and Sojourner.
Walter Scott Pinot Noir La Combe Verte 2016
$27.99 retail, $25 by the 6 pack, $22.40 by the case (mix and match fine)
Many would be hard pressed to guess this as Oregon Pinot - it tastes so European but then again, it tastes very much like...Walter Scott. Cutting no corners for their introductory bottling, this is dense and layered with complex flavors just like their single vineyard wines. Plus like the Chardonnay above, it has a silky pretty texture that hides the power and structure underneath. Savory and wild in aroma, there are airy hints of sweet strawberry and dark blueberry before a more leathery, spicy savory personality emerges. There's plenty of dark cherry and black plum fruit on the palate that balances perfectly with the other flavors. I can't wait to see how this tastes tomorrow and the next day. Already opening up nicely but there's so much promise for the future: decant if drinking now now or cellar for up to five years. 15% whole cluster, all native yeast, 30% new oak for 10 months and mostly Eola-Amity Hills vineyards.
Planeta Cerasuolo di Vittoria 2014
$18.99/$15.20 by the case
This summertime Sicilian red favorite was a hit at a spring tasting and is a perfect pick for warm weather. A blend of Nero d’Avola and Frappato, two very different varietals, this derives its complexity and tension from this oddfellows pairing. Nero d’Avola is almost always dark, robust and masculine while Frappato is the opposite: aromatic, fresh and elegant with high-toned red fruit notes that crackle above the beefier black fruit notes of the Nero. Planeta is a wine star of Sicily and this has long been one of their more popular bottlings. The purity of fruit is confident yet casual and the mix of red flavors (strawberry, red licorice) and black is a seesaw that keeps the palate engaged. Inspired (or should I say forced) by the recent hot weather, I served this chilled at an outdoor dinner party with caponota and crostini; that didn’t last long...
Can Feixes Penedes Blanco 2016
$14.99/$11.99 by the case
This is one of those wines most people see and wonder “what the heck is that?” Then after tasting it, they say: “I still don’t know what it is but I sure like it!” A blend of Parellada, Macabeo, Chardonnay and Malvasia de Sitges from a region just west of Barcelona, it’s racy and dry but satisfyingly fleshy around the middle- a bite of summer white peach crossed with prickly lime zest. The nose offers a range of citrus, from Meyer lemon to tangerine, while notes of gunflint, chalk and white pepper linger on the snappy finish. The winery sits on gravelly slopes near the tree line and the high elevation and mountainous terrain give this a more northern European feel than a Spanish coastal white. Time moves slowly here; vineyards have been planted here since the 1400s yet the family produces an average of only 6000 cases a year.
Ascheri Barolo 2012
$32.99/$26.40 by the case
Looking ahead to the cooler weather of fall or want a bargain to add to the cellar? We ended up with a little more of this high-scoring Barolo so despite Barolo and August weather being a questionable marriage, this is worth mentioning. 94 points from the Wine Spectator who sez "Licorice, cherry and tar notes mark this intense, chewy red, packed with sweet fruit midpalate that offsets the dense, dusty tannins. Shows fine integration and length, with the aftertaste echoing licorice, cherry, tar and mineral details. Best from 2019 through 2035.” I can’t vouch though for that 2035 drinking target...
Cameron Pinot Noir Dundee Hills 2015
$25.99/$20.80 by the case
A favorite year after year and how can it not be? A blend of Abbey Ridge and Clos Electrique, Cameron’s top two vineyards, this is such a lot of wine for the money - especially if you can age it a few years to coax out even more complexity. The warmth of the 2015 vintage makes it bigger and richer than the 2014 but there’s still plenty of layers of flavor to explore. Roughly 70% Abbey Ridge and 30% Clos Electrique, it shows the high toned floral dark red cherry quality typical of Abbey paired with the more animale, savory meatiness of Clos. After pouring it at our Memorial Day Friday night tasting, I drank a bottle over two days; it just got better and better.
Abeja Cabernet Sauvignon Columbia Valley 2014
$54.99/$44 by the case
Another northwest favorite that just arrived, this is a gorgeous Cab and true to the Abeja style: supple and flowing, silky and caressing, saturated with flavor but elegantly so. The nose is charming with vanilla crème and baking spice aromas while the fruit flavors are balanced right in the middle: red plum to black cherry and dark blueberry, just hinting at blackberry. Well-knit with refined tannins, it finishes with a light savory dustiness, a perfect complement to the richly expressive fruit.
De Forville Nebbiolo d’Alba 2014
$21.99/$17.60 by the case
De Forville produces beautiful Barbaresco and a Langhe Nebbiolo, but the vines for this special cuvée are located in the commune of San Rocco d’Elvio, perched on a hilltop in between the Barbaresco and Barolo zones. Importer Neal Rosenthal refers to this (somewhat jokingly) as De Forville’s Barolo as its structure and fruit profile leans more Barolo than Barbaresco. Whichever way it leans, it tastes delicious. Dark, spicy and roundly textured with classic Nebbiolo aromatics of roses and damp earth, the black cherry flavors are crunchy and lively, drawn out across the palate and lingering on the finish. Traditional in style but really sexy (two descriptions that are usually mutually exclusive), this struck us as charmingly versatile, equally suited to a chilly Juneuary night or served slightly chilled al fresco on a properly warm July evening.