Summer Came Early
Lemelson Six Vineyards Pinot Noir
Willamette Valley 2013
$18.99/$15.20 by the case
Our best-selling under-$20 Pinot several years in a row, we're always
happy to see this return. As usual this delivers excellent bang for the
buck (it's so nice they haven't raised the price) and here's why: made
like all their other Pinot, much of the fruit is declassified from top
vineyards (Meyer, Stermer, Mount Richmond, etc.), cropped at only 1.9
tons per acre, fermented with indigenous yeasts, yada yada yada...in
short this is no tanker-truck castoff. It's also remarkably consistent
in style vintage to vintage, which to us shows thoughtful winemaking.
Expressive and aromatic, the sweet red cherry fruit turns darker
mid-palate and notes of orange zest, black tea and woodsy bramble add
depth and distinction. Fullish-bodied and long on the palate, it's hard
to go wrong with this one.
Owen Roe Syrah Ex Umbris Columbia
$21.99/$17.60 by the case | Originally $28
David O'Reilly & Co. made a lot of this longtime favorite and recently
lowered the price to blast into the next vintage. I've seen plenty of
customers happily surprised at the lower price so I figured probably
should spread the word. Originally created ten years ago to capture the
smokiness imparted by wildfires close to the vineyard, this remains a
dark, aromatic powerhouse; although there's no smoke, the fire of
inspiration is alive and well. Like many northwest 2012s, this offers an
abundance of fruit, blackberry and dark plum, and being an Owen Roe
wine, the texture is gorgeous, lightly polished yet layered and
toothsome. Throw in some dark chocolate, cracked black pepper and
memories of distant wildfires and you've got a winner.
Mas de Martin Cuvée Roi Patriote 2012
$14.99/$11.99 by the case
Clearly recognizable by the French Revolutionary dude on the label, this
Languedoc red has long been popular in Portland yet is still a curious
anomaly. Although his winemaking regime is decidedly old fashioned,
Christian Mocci is an adventurous iconoclast in other ways, proudly
embracing biodynamic viticulture, creative labels and wines made from
non-traditional varietals. Despite being from the heart of the Languedoc
just north of Montpellier, this is 50% Cab Sauv, 25% Cab Franc, 20%
Merlot, and 5% Tannat. The result is a red that tastes mostly Languedoc
with an added mysterious note that keeps the palate interested and
guessing. The nose is floral and classic southern French with savory
wild herb and a brambly spiciness. The warm blackberry fruit is round,
soft and enveloping while the finish gets grippy and darker, trailing
notes of cigar ash and macerated plums. Full-bodied and beefy yet
mellow, it mixes the cerebral and the wild to great effect.
Manucci Droandi Chianti Colli Arentini
$12.99/$10.40 by the case
There's plenty of mediocrity in the sea of Chianti but when a good one
stands out it reminds us why these wines continue to be so popular.
Versatile, food-friendly, flavorful yet lively... sure, its fun to try
new things but sometimes nothing beats an old familiar friend, like this
one. Made organically in the hillside region south of Chianti Classico
and imported direct to Portland, this for years has been a go-to high
quality Tuscan bargain. Airy and open-knit, the red cherry fruit rolls
into dark plum, vibrant and clean, with mild forest floor and spice
notes hanging in the background. Tasting descriptors such as classic,
really solid, and tasty may seem banal but they suggest a happy
comfortableness, and sometimes that's all we need.
2010 Brunello di Montalcino available
"Iconic, vintage of a lifetime, soaring beauty, the new standard in
quality"... reviews like this sure are exciting, unless they so
over-hype the vintage that the wines disappear immediately. Many of our
favorites are imported directly in small quantities and some are already
almost sold out (before even arriving). Prices are good despite the buzz
thanks to a stronger dollar, making it relatively easy to get in on this
legendary vintage. We have pre-ordered many but expect them to sell
quickly. Altesino, Casanova di Neri, Campogiovanni, Fanti, Mocali and
more. Please call for more details if interested.
Refreshingly Off the Beaten Path
Ca' Montebello Pinot Nero Bianco 2014
$16.99/$13.60 by the case
The name may not ring a bell but hopefully your face will light up when
you recognize the bottle. A seemingly unassuming white from Lombardy's
Oltrepo Pavese region, this was a huge customer favorite a few summers
ago, then disappeared after one vintage. A local importer had discovered
it while visiting the area; sadly discord at the winery quickly cut off
supply. It appears all is better now because this suddenly appeared last
week and it tastes as good as we remembered.
100% Pinot Noir made without skin contact, this drinks mostly like the
white it is but enough red fruit notes sneak in to make this a roller
coaster of flavors: light apricot and white peach roll through tangerine
and dried pineapple before shifting to just-ripe strawberry and cherry.
The texture is just as fun: pliant and taffy-like, it shifts from zippy
lemon saline highs to creamy gentle tannic lows, while maintaining a
crackling fresh personality throughout.
Douloufakis Dafnios Vidiano 2013
$15.99/$12.80 by the case
If a Pinot Noir Blanc from the wilds of Lombardy isn't far enough away
for you, take a trip to the Greek island of Crete and feast your taste
buds on this, made from the indigenous varietal Vidiano. We (and
customers) have had some fun lately with whites from Corsica, and this
has a similar vibe. On one hand it is dry yet full-flavored, its gently
creamy texture dappled with bread dough and a ripe musk melon
fruitiness. Then the bracing sea breeze blows in, carrying with it a
brisk salty note that echoes with lemon zest and a wet rock minerality.
Rare and generally unknown to everyone except zealous fans of Greek
wines, this is a tasty, affordable, adventurous summer fling; if you
can't travel to a Greek island this summer, at least you can drink their
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