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Summertime Rolls

Owen Roe Yakima Red 2011
$27.99/$22.40 by case (Regular price $42)
Owen Roe's longtime flagship Bordeaux blend is going away and the winery is sending it off with a bang. Despite being one of their most highly-regarded wines for almost ten years, David O'Reilly and company are excited to shake things up a bit and what better way to get some attention than to shave 30% off the price of this farewell vintage. The 2011 once again captures the elegance, prettiness and complexity that has always been a hallmark of this bottling. Fragrant and enticing, the lovely array of flavors and aromas dance across the palate - mocha espresso, tangy black cherry, freshly-cut flowers, tobacco, cedary spice and more - and the texture starts silky and ends creamy. We're sad to see this longtime favorite go, but I suppose at this price we can load up for the future.

J. Albin Pinot Noir Laurel Vineyard 2008
$20.99/$16.80 by the case (Regular price $30)
While we're excited to see more great 2012s rolling through the door we couldn't pass up this curious deal from Oregon's previous "best" vintage. Around when this was being released, winemaker John Albin was sued by a California winery with a similar sounding name and was forced to change his label for out-of-Oregon markets. Someone didn't pick up all they ordered, and now, having moved on to more current vintages locally, the winery just wants this gone. Lucky us! Laurel vineyard sits high up in the Chehalem Mountains - at 1100 feet it is the highest in the appellation. Planting began in 1981 with a clone similar to Pommard and now these old vines produce an age-worthy wine of structure and distinction. Old world and elegant in style, the red cherry fruit is delicate yet supple with black tea and savory peppery notes on the finish. Since almost all 2008s are long gone (certainly in this price range), this is a cool opportunity to step back in time and reload for the cellar.

Podere Capaccia Querciagrande 2006
$15.99/$12.80 by the case (Was $40-$50)
Okay, this story is a bit complicated. The crux of the biscuit (nod to Frank Zappa) is this: this is a 100% Sangiovese Super Tuscan that is 8 years old (from a great vintage no less), made by a respected Chianti producer and originally was supposed to sell for $40-$50. The winery switched hands a few years back and the new owners are cleaning house. We sold the 2001 a few years ago (labeled as Riserva di Famiglia); customers loved it and it sold out in a few weeks. We had so many reorder requests after that bonanza and were bummed that we'd seen the last of it. Surprise! The winery recently offered the 2006 to the same small local importer who passed the info on to us. Given the quality of the 2001 (powerful, layered and complex, it drank beautifully even when a decade old) and how quickly it sold out, we suspect this bargain won't last long.

Maison Angelot Bugey Gamay 2011
$13.99/$11.20 by the case
Although we have plenty of rosé selections to choose from, sometimes we crave something light and refreshing but with a little more oomph, something like this. Bugey is a small appellation, located about halfway between Lyon and the Swiss border, that is little known even in France. The few I've had are good authentic country wines - inexpensive and honest - and this is no exception. Bright, juicy and invigorating for a red, this is low tannin and comparatively low alcohol. Notes of strawberry, tart cherry and zesty spice jump from the glass and stay lively on the palate through to the crisp finish. Chill it and you have a robust rosé, or drink it unchilled for a sappy yet lighthearted red. The silly edgy label (apparently designed by a French punk band) screams fun and so does the wine. I like how the importer describes it: "Totally slurpable, simply delicious. Gulp it by the bottle. Gulp it by the case!"

Cameron Pinot Noir Dundee Hills Reserve 2012
$TBD (Arriving around Septeber 1)
Despite 2012 being a great vintage for Oregon Pinot Noir, John Paul got hammered on yields: his two Dundee Hills vineyards, Clos Electrique and Abbey Ridge, had yields down almost 40%. Consequently he didn't make a Dundee Hills bottling so it's been a long wait since the limited release of Willamette Valley in the spring. So with little wine from a high-demand vintage, we want to fly this flag before it's all gone. This bottling is made up of barrels from both Clos Electrique and Abbey Ridge (and nothing else), barrels that don't fit the single vineyard profile but are still clearly top notch. The last two vintages offered the best bang for the buck from Cameron: serious age-worthy wines at half the price of the single vineyards. That said, in classic Cameron fashion John Paul hasn't decided yet on the price; probably around $33 retail but we'll find out soon enough. If interested speak up soon, this may sell out before it even arrives.

Refreshingly Off the Beaten Path

Valdespino Manzanilla Deliciosa En Rama (2014)
$14.50/$11.60 by the case - 375ml bottles
Although I've become a sherry addict, I know it's a wine still haunted by misconception. The sherry that I crave (happily along with an ever-growing crowd) is dry, crisp and thirst-quenching, much like a distinctive white wine and nothing like the "sweet" sherry of popular imagination. This brand new arrival is a perfect example. Manzanilla is a bone dry aperitif wine, served before dinner (or lunch, etc.) alone or with light tapas. Aged under a thin veil of yeast called flor in the seaside town of Sanlucar de Barrameda for a minimum of two years (Valdespino waits five to six years - amazing at this price), a good Manzanilla offers captivating yet subtle flavors of salty sea air, mineral and a mild yeast nuttiness all in a wildly refreshing palate-priming package.

En Rama bottlings are extra special: bottled unfiltered directly from the cask, all of the wine's complexity and character is preserved. Released just once a year in limited amounts, it's like eating fruit right off the tree. We tasted this 2014 bottling at our Saturday Sherry tasting in June (samples hand-carried from Spain by Valdespino's export director) and wow; as much as we liked the 2013, this struck us as even "way more better". Bracingly vibrant, dare I say scintillating, with expressive aromatics and a pulsing core, this is a cool way to beat the heat.

Domaine Ciringa Sauvignon Blanc Fosilni Breg 2013
$22.99/$18.40 by the case
A thrillingly mineral-driven white from the Slovenian/Austrian border, this could easily be twice as expensive if it came from Sancerre or Pouilly-Fumé. The limestone soil in this vineyard is littered with shells from an ancient inland sea; the fossilized starfish on the label was found in the vineyard, fully intact and bigger than my hand. This gives the wine an incredible stony backbone but also echoes of other flavors, from baking bread to sautéed beef (really we didn't make that up) that made this really fun to drink. Not much is brought to Portland, the 2012 came and went quickly, so let's drink some fossilized shells while we can!

Orin Swift Locations Corsica NV
$18.99/$15.20 by the case
If you love his big lusty reds, why not a white? Winemaker Dave Phinney must never sleep, he has so many projects going. This brand new one joins his powerful winemaking style to the typically minerally racy profile of Corsican Vermentino. The result is a full-flavored white, fleshy and roundly textured, that still has enough acidity and spunk to keep the palate hopping. The fruit flavors touch on light peach, Asian pear and green apple while the aromatics are full-on floral fruit blossom, even verging on cherry. While Phinney's winemaking is evident in the richness and polish, varietal characteristic takes over on the stony salty finish.

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