February 2011: South Africa

Over past several years of being on the Tasting Circle panel, Fernando has picked South African wines — blind — out of mixed country lineups, proclaiming: “This wine is from the great land of South Africa!”  How does he know? What makes wines from this part of the world special?  The three panelists this month (Ken O’Hara, A&B Imports (which began importing exclusively South African wines); Fernando Martinez; local chef (lived & worked in South Africa); Jens Strecker, Portalis Wines (who also lived & worked in South Africa back in his emergency doc days) are all big fans of South African wines & had pretty much rave reviews for this lineup of South African wines currently available in the Seattle marketplace.  Here’s a link to the 3 panelists “unveiling” their favorite wine at the tasting.  Below are rankings/tasting notes on all the wines: 

Ken O’Hara, Fernando Martinez & Jens Strecker

Boekenhoutskloof 2008 Syrah (94 points) 
Region: Frankschhoeck, South Africa;  Varietal: Syrah
$54.99 | Mixed Case $43.99
Tasting Notes: N: Northern Rhône aromas of bacon fat & garrigue, wet hair & in the distance someone is grilling meats!  P: Bold marionberry & blueberry with Eastern spices, espresso, dried bark & black tea.  Intense!  (Ken)  Tasting Notes: Dark Bordeaux style of red.  Violet & cloves.  Bacon & chocolate on the palate.  Nice perfume of blackberries.  A touch of sweetness, firm structure, great finish.  (Fernando)

Boekenhoutskloof 2008 Cabernet Sauvignon (93 points) 
Region: Frankschhoeck, South Africa; Varietal: Cabernet Sauvignon
$54.99 | Mixed Case $43.99
Tasting Notes: N: Toasted coconut, thyme, blueberry – somewhat muted, young?  P: Rick black fruit flavors, bitter-sticks, huge herbal complexity, graphite minerality & gripped tannins. (Ken) Tasting Notes:  Beautiful nose of fresh vine, black currants, dark cherries with herbed components.  Fantastic!  Super-complex, elegant, with fantastic concentration & acidity.  Beautiful flavor profile of red & dark fruits.  Fine tannins on the long finish.  Tastes like a really good cab sauv. (Jens)

De Toren 2007 Fusion V (93 points)  $54.99 Stellenbosch
Region: Stellenbosch, South Africa; Varietal: Cabernet sauvignon, cabernet franc, malbec, merlot, petite verdot
$54.99 | Mixed Case $43.99
Tasting Notes:  Superb color.  Smells like you are in a flower garden with fruit trees around you.  Wonderful texture & concentration.  This is the real deal.  Well integrated acidity.  Fantastic flavors of mainly black fruit (black, blue & boysenberries), with floral notes.  Fresh, vibrant with lots to give – delicious down the years!  (Jens)  Tasting notes: Ink dark, bright beautiful color.  Cloves & Chinese spices aromas with blueberry tones.  Aromas of flowers.  Firm tannins; red meat flavors.  Delicious big red!! (Fernando)

Spice Route 2008 Chakalaka (92 points) 
Region: Swartland, South Africa; Varietal: Syrah/Carignan/Mourvedre
$22.99 | Mixed Case $18.39
Tasting Notes: Elegant nose of dark fruit, blackberries, anise & a touch of licorice.  This is very elegant & complex with very good acidity & structure.  Wonderful flavors of dark fruit, blackberries, boysenberries & a hint of smoke & herbs.  Ultra-fine tannins on the finish. (Jens)  Tasting Notes: Dark cherry color & concentrated black fruit.  Flowers on the nose.  Blackberries, cinnamon & a touch of chocolate.  Very sophisticated red; great balance, full body. (Fernando)

Badenhurst Family 2009 Secateurs Blend (91 points) 
Region: Coastal Region, South Africa; Varietal: Shiraz/Cabernet Sauvignon/Cinsault
$19.99 | INSIDER $16.99 | $15.99
Tasting Notes: More delivered nose with beautiful dark fruit – Smooth, medium-bodied, elegant – Great texture and acidity.  Beautiful, dark fruit in the mid-palate.  Fine tannins on the finish. (Jens)  Tasting Notes: Dark red color, licorice and candied fruit on the nose.  Dry with some hard tannins.  Strawberries on the palate and a long finish.  Very unusual for a South African red. (Fernando)

Black Pearl Vineyards 2007 Shiraz Cabernet Sauvignon (89 points) 
Region: Pearl, South Africa; Varietal: Shiraz/Cabernet Sauvignon
$22.99 | Mixed Case $18.39
Tasting Notes: Bright color. Black fruit of the nose, some chocolate and meat aromas; a touch of sweet raspberries and fresh grass.  Medium body with soft tannins. (Fernando)  Tasting Notes: N: Roasted meat, grilled sausages, cranberry, minty.  P: Chunky, tarry meat flavors with a tart pomegranate fruit flavor. (Ken)

De Toren 2007 Z (89 points) 
Region: Stellenbosch; Varietal: Cab Sauv, Cab Franc, Malbec, Petit Verdot
 $31.99 | Mixed Case $25.59
Tasting Notes: Superb color – lots of very inviting dark, black fruit & lots of floral notes on the nose.  Fantastic acidity, elegant & complex; well formed.  Beautiful black fruit flavors with floral, smoky & herbal notes.  Very long finish with amazing live tannins.  (Jens’ favorite with 96pts; clearly by the average score above, the other 2 weren’t that taken.)  Tasting Notes:  Opaque red color; dark aromas & a bit of South African taste.  Bouquet of red fruit & smoke as well.  Old school!!  (Fernando)

Finlaysan Family Vineyards 2009 The Pepper Pot  (86 points) 
Varietals: Syrah, mourvedre, tannat 
$16.99 | Mixed Case $13.59
Tasting Notes: Spicy red & dark fruit up front – lovely texture & acidity.  Smooth, medium-bodied with beautiful red and dark fruit (raspberries, blackberries & dark cherries).  Not very deep but very drinkable.  (Jens)  Tasting Notes: N: reductive, tarry.  P: tar & blackberry, mulberry, smoky. (Ken)


February 24, 2011 at 11:47 pm Leave a comment

November 2010: Holiday Champagne & Sparkling Wines

What a great line up this year for our annual bubbly tasting.  This year had more Champagne proper than previous years, but notice how well the sparkling wines compared (at sometimes half the price).

Click here to see a short video clip with each member of this month’s tasting panel unveiling his/her favorite!

Jean-Louis Denois NV Brut Blanc de Blanc
(94 points)
Region: Languedoc, France; Varietals: Chardonnay
Retail: $19.99 | Mixed Case $15.99 
Tasting Notes:  Wonderful nose of biscuits, beeswax & apples. Elegant, complex & great acidity. Beautiful apple & pear fruit with some citrus notes. Great, long, tasty finish. Champagne? (Jens’ favorite) Tasting Notes: Lemon curd color! N: beach ball plastic, lemon, hazelnuts. P: full mouth of miniature mousse, meaty flavors with equatorial citrus flavors – starfruit, wonderful acidity & softness at once. (Ken)

Gosset NV Brut Excellence Champagne (93 points)
Region: Champagne, France; Varietals: Chardonnay/Pinot Noir
Retail: $44.99 | Mixed Case $35.99 
Tasting Notes:  Polished brass color. N: buttered nuts, brown butter too, roasted pears. P: big bold pear & apple pie flavors, ginger, pecan sandies cookies, taut acidity & style (Ken’s favorite) Tasting Notes: Color is rich honey with pink due (pale). Nose has shortbread & raw almonds  – on the palate – olive & lemons, soft bubbles. Finish lingers & beckons like a fresh baked apple pie cooling. I like this very much. Comfortable & festive. (Gina)

Graham Beck 2006 Brut Blanc de Blanc (93 points)
Region:  Stellenbosch, South Africa; Varietals: Chardonnay
Retail: $27.99 | Mixed Case $22.39 
Tasting Notes:  Light golden hue. Fresh crisp Fuji apples and white flowery bouquet. White melon and citrus on the palate with a lovely creamy mouthfeel. Long finish of white fruits. (William’s favorite) Tasting Notes: N: Cured meat, jamon?, gingered apples. P: rich caramelized apple flavors, lemongrass, crystallized ginger. (Ken)

Aubry NV Champagne Premier Cru (92 points)
Region: Champagne, France; Varietals: Chardonnay/Pinot Noir
Retail: $44.99 | Mixed Case $35.99 
Tasting Notes:  Absolutely gorgeous color. Fantastic  nose with aromas of biscuit & crème brulée. Super texture & acidity with wonderful flavors of citrus, lime, bosch pears & biscuits again. Long, elegant finish. Should be Champagne. (Jens) Tasting Notes:  Fast rising bubbles … light copper edges. In the nose toast, bread dough & a little nut. Round creamy mid-palate. Bubbles fade on finish. Flavors of peach & strawberry. Has great mousse quality, but finish fades fast. (Gina) Tasting Notes:  Granny Smith apple skins, over ripe peach, honey. Clipped finish. (William)

De Gastinière NV Champagne (92 points)
Region: Champagne, France; Varietals: Chardonnay/Pinot Noir
Retail: $33.99 | Mixed Case $27.19 
Tasting Notes:  Gold, light brass. Developed notes of Brazilian nuts, mature apricots & citrus. Balanced by oxidative notes of almonds and dried honey. (William) Tasting Notes: Golden color with aromas of ripe apples, quince & dried apricots. Great acidity – lots of apple flavors on the mid-palate with some pink grapefruit. Nice finish. (Jens)

Domaine Rosier NV Blanquette de Limoux (92 points)
Region: Languedoc, France; Varietals: Mauzac/Chardonnay
Retail: $27.50 | Mixed Case $22  
Tasting Notes:  Expansive bubbles – crisp with fervor! Nose has light yeast but also floral notes. Bubbles dance all over the palate.  Great mousse quality. Clean finish with perfect amount of toasted nuts. (Gina’s favorite) Tasting Notes: Clean, minerally nose, lemongrass & herbal thyme aromas. P: spiced apples, lemon peel, citrus flavors, lemon/lime. (Ken)

Pierre Ferraud NV Blanc de Blanc (89 points)
Region: Burgundy, France; Varietals: Chardonnay
Retail: $24.99 | Mixed Case $19.99  
Tasting Notes:  Lime, freshly squeezed lemons, with kiwi fruit. Young with terrific potential for nuance. (William) Tasting Notes:  Inviting nose of lime, citrus, white peaches. Very good acidity give this wine a lift. Ripe fruit, mainly apples, with citrus & lime. Very refeshing. (Jens)

Vignerons des Terres Socrétes NV Blanc de Noir Cremant de Bourgogne (89 points)
Region: Burgundy, France; Varietals: Pinot Noir
Retail: $25.99 | Mixed Case $20.79 
Tasting Notes:  Beautiful aromas of fresh grass, pears & melons. Soft, medium-bodied, good acidity with nice flavors of citrus, apples & melons. Nice finish. (Jens)  Tasting Notes:  Pale yellow. Nose has almonds & white flowers. Soft & light fruit. Bubbles are subtle … finish has a little grapefruit citrus. (Gina)

November 2010 Tasting Panel:  Jens Strecker, Gina Gregory, Ken O’Hara, William Woodruff, Catherine Reynolds

The following wines are in-stock or can be ordered at:
Portalis Wine Shop + Wine Bar
5205 Ballard Ave NW
Seattle, WA 98107
email: info@portaliswines.com
phone: 206-783-2007

November 23, 2010 at 10:36 pm Leave a comment

October 2010: Holiday Gift Wines ~ $40 & Up

We’re back … leaner & meaner (Details?) … to taste, note & rank wines on any given theme in the Seattle marketplace.   This tasting focused on a lineup of HOLIDAY GIFT WINES (from around the world) which retail above $40.  We do this tasting every fall in preparation for the upcoming wine-giving season & it’s a great one as there’s never a bad wine in the bunch.  You should have seen Jens today, trying to decide which one of the 3 wines that scored 94 points should be his favorite for the unveiling, going with the one he noted as rocking!  And that’s our new thing, watching people discuss wine can be more fun (for some people) than reading wine notes, so if you’re interested … here’s the UNVEILING>

And for you old fashioned fans, here’s the final ranking with notes.  Wine receiving the same score are ordered alphabetically:

Cadaretta 2007 Syrah (94 points)
Region: Columba Valley, WA; Varietals: Syrah
Retail: $38.99 | Mixed Case $31.19
Tasting Notes: Nose: big, bold aromas of grilled & charred beast, dark berries, burnt vanilla, thick cut crispy bacon with raspberry jam. Palate: sweet rigpe fruit of brambleberries, roasted coffee beans, roasted beef, dried herbs – thyme + oregano & spices – coriander & clove. (Ken’s personal favorite – 93 points)
Finca La Anita 2006 Petit Verdot  (93 points) 
Region: Mendoza, Argentina; Varietals: Petite Verdot
Retail: $39.99 | Mixed Case $31.99
Tasting Notes:  Very inviting aromas of dark fruit, blackberry pie with some spicy notes.  Aahhh … this is wonderful! Excellent mouthfeel. Wonderful acidity & tannic structure. Layers of red & dark fruit. Ripe black & blueberries, dark chocolate & mocha. Finish goes on forever.  Rocking!  (Jens’ personal favorite –94 points)

Vall Llach 2006 Priorat 
(93 points)
Region: Priorat, Spain; Varietals: Garnacha/Carinena/Cab/Syrah/Merlot
Retail: $39.99 | Mixed Case $31.99
Tasting Notes: Nose has nice spice, black pepper, nice amount of ripe black fruits, balanced light acidity. Very smooth, rich fruit on the palate. The fruit is ripe enough to pair with duck & raspberry sauce. Yum! (Gina, 93 points)

Chateau de Saint Cosme 2008 Gigondas (92 points)
Region: Southern Rhône, France; Varietals: Grenache/Syrah
Retail: $44.99  | Mixed Case $35.99
Tasting Notes:  Beautiful aromas of red & dark fruit with lots of pepper.  Intense, tight flavors of dark fruit – lots of blackberries & raspberries & lots of pepper … I mean pepper! Very long finish. Lots of potential! (Jens, 92 points)

Boekenhautskloof 2006 Syrah (92 points)
Region: Coastal Range, South Africa; Varietals: Syrah
Retail: $53.99 | Mixed Case $43.19
Tasting Notes:  Very lovely nose – lots of ripe dark fruit with some herbal notes. Big, full-bodied, but well-balanced. Excellent fruit. Again lots of dark fruit, mainly blackberries, blueberries, dark chocolate with some herbal notes. Long, elegant finish. (Jens, 94 points)

Mas Doix 2007 Salanques Priorat (92 points)
Region: Priorat, Spain; Varietals: Garnacha/Cariñena/Syrah/Merlot/Cab;
Retail: $44.99  | Mixed Case $35.99
Tasting Notes:  Nose: Cherry blossoms, sweet grass, raspberry pie, mocha on the nose, clove too. Palate: Dark berry, marionberry fruit, coca-cola, bramble, sticks & stones – very elegant & almost velvet on the palate. (Ken, 93 points)

K Vintners 2008 Morrison Lane Syrah
(91 points) 
Region: Walla Walla Valley, WA; Varietals: Syrah
Retail: $51.99 | Mixed Case $41.59
Tasting Notes:  This has a subtle nose, red fruits – raspberries & cranberries. The color isn’t as vibrant … perhaps has a few years on it.  Delightful, on the palate fruit is subtle like the nose. Earthy & nice acidity. Tart cherry but elegant. (Gina’s personal favorite – 88 points [not her highest ranking, but still her favorite wine])

October 2010 Tasting Panel:  Jens Strecker, Gina Gregory, Ken O’Hara

The following wines are in-stock or can be ordered at:
Portalis Wine Shop + Wine Bar
email: info@portaliswines.com
phone: 206-783-2007

October 21, 2010 at 6:19 am Leave a comment

Summer 2010

The Tasting Circle will be taking a break this summer, returning in October 2010. 
See you then …

August 27, 2010 at 10:24 pm Leave a comment

April 2010: Syrah vs. Shiraz

Wow – what a diverse lineup!  The countries/regions represented cover the spectrum: Australia, South Africa, France, Washington & California with 3 Shiraz (Australia & South Africa) and 6 Syrah, but the question is … can you tell and what do people prefer?  Here’s the blind tasting tally: 3 Syrah & 2 Shiraz all tied for the top spot with 90 points. The tasting notes are great:

Animale 2007 Syrah Reserve (90 points)
Region: Yakima Valley, WA; Varietals: Syrah; Retail $55
Tasting Notes:  So dark in color, looks almost black. Some green tea and almonds on the palate, great long finish. Very different. I like this. (Fernando, 90 pts)

Cooralook 2007 Shiraz (90 points)                      
Region: Heathcote, Australia; Varietals: Shiraz; Retail $17.50
Tasting Notes:  Tar, toasted seaweed, blueberries on the nose. Plums and blackberries on the palate, fine grained tannins, nice minerality. (Chris, 92 pts)

Jim Berry 2007 The Lodge Hill Shiraz (90 points)
Region: Clare Valley, Australia; Varietals: Shiraz; Retail $22
Tasting Notes: Dark ruby color. Subtle aromas – cherry fruit, fresh-cut radish, hints of citrus & minerals (earth/steel). Full-bodied and balanced acidity & tannins. (Matt, 95 pts)
Jones of Washington 2007 Syrah (90 points)
Region: Wahluke Slope, WA; Varietals: Syrah; Retail $17.50
Tasting Notes:  Whoh Nellie, this color is like blood.  Nose has tart cherry – fresh red fruits – & cedar.  Yum is this lovely – light acidity with dried cherry flavors.  Not over blown, but still interesting … delicate, smoky & flavors of cassis and almond (toasted). (Gina, 93 pts)

Novy 2006 Syrah (90 points)
Region: Sonoma Valley, CA; Varietals: Syrah; Retail $23
Tasting Notes:  Nose is intoxicating … fresh rain followed by sexy baked fruit … the kind you know you will eat the whole pie just by smelling it.  On the mouth – bittersweet chocolate, big round ripe blackberry & black licorice. Finish is spicy but not peppery. What would I eat this with? BBQ ribs? Grilled lamb chops? Or a creamy stinky blue! (Gina, 94 pts)

Saint Cosme 2008 Côtes du Rhône (89 points)
Region: Southern Rhône, France; Varietals: Syrah; Retail $19.50
Tasting Notes:  Dark, dark ruby color – wonderful, deep aromas of dark berries, garrique, violets with some spice.  Tastes lighter than it smells, but still very pleasant – beautiful flavors of dark berries, cassis, olives and tar.  Builds up to a great finish – again barrique and black pepper notes.  Could be Rhône or Languedoc. (Jens, 95 pts)

Spice Route 2005 Shiraz (88 points)
Region: Swartland, South Africa; Varietals: Syrah; Retail $19.50
Tasting Notes:  Dark cherry color. Game aromas and eucalyptus. Somehow smells like South African wine. Some sweet touch. This one must be something from the Cape. (Fernando, 89 pts)

Clos du Mont-Olivet “Verene” 2007 Côtes du Rhône (87 points)
Region: Southern Rhône, France; Varietals: Syrah; Retail $87
Tasting Notes:  Bit cloudy red.  Sulfur like qualities. Strong mature aromas of dried fruit and black cocktail olives, though extremely pleasant on the palate. Good! (Giuseppe, 87 pts)

Milbrandt Vineyards 2006 The Estates Syrah (87 points)
Region: Wahluke Slope, WA; Varietals: Syrah; Retail $23
Tasting Notes:  Deep dark appearance. Herbaceous nose with aromas of honey and baked red fruits and burnt butter. Round silky body & butter & pepper in finish. Eucalyptus, heavy butter. Drinkable now. (Karli, 89 pts)

All wines available at Portalis Wine Shop.

April Tasting Panel:  Jens Strecker, Gina Gregory, Giuseppe Caraturro, Matt Gubitosa, Fernando Martinez, Chris Nishiwaki and guest taster: Karli Pickett

May 11, 2010 at 8:59 pm Leave a comment

March 2010: Oregon Pinot Noir

Most Seattleites know and love a well-made Oregon Pinot.  Oregon’s new world style Pinot is known for its baked cherry pie accompanied by earthy, campfire smoky flavors.  The lineup is strong, and the winners are … 

Alloro 2007 Pinot Noir (91 points)
Region:  Willamette Valley; Varietals: Pinot Noir; Retail $22
Tasting Notes:  Now that’s the nose of pinot – roses & mushroom.  Please let the mouth be good too … oh yes! Juicy – nice acidity, even citrus … it’s feminine (the kind of pinot I enjoy … sshh).  Something tells me it will become more elegant with time.  Very balanced & nicely done. (Gina)  Tasting Notes: N: roasted meat aromas (duck, pheasant?), plums, plump nose, black cherry, sage. P: cherry vanilla cola, summer herbs coming through, plum sauce, more cooked flavors, wet dog!  I love it! (Ken)  Tasting Notes:  Some gamey notes on the nose, some black truffle notes. Some strawberries & green grass on the palate, very soft finish. (Fernando)

Domaine Serene 2007 Yamhill Cuvée (91 points) 
Region:  Willamette Valley; Varietals: Pinot Noir; Retail $45
Tasting Notes:  Wonderful aromas of wild flowers and black cherries. Elegant, complex, with lots of depth. Excellent integrated acidity.  Full of flavors in the middle. Lots of dark cherries and raspberries. Fantastic aftertaste. (Jens)  Tasting Notes:  This is pretty sexy. It has beautiful notes of dark berries, with well-balanced tannins and body. Extremely well-balanced, long lasting finish. Yummy.  A good Oregon Pinot Noir. (Giuseppe) Tasting Notes:  Darker fruit on the nose – brambleberries with vines intact – very nice complement of herbs and woodsy notes.  Much higher toned fruit on the palate balanced by a beautiful expression of terroir. Brown earth, tobacco, leaf with grippy tannins and acidity. (Theresa)

The Four Graces 2007 Pinot Noir (90 points)
Region:  Willamette Valley; Varietals: Pinot Noir; Retail $
Tasting Notes:  Very expressive nose, what I was looking for, concentrated berries, grained with spicy tannins, a glamorous Pinot. (Catherine)  Tasting Notes: Dark red, very distinct. Tight aromas of bright wild fruits. Just like “fruiti di Bosco.” This is a powerful Pinot Noir. The flavors are very intense! Beautiful finish blends well tobacco, leather & fruit. (Giuseppe) Tasting Notes:  Nose – Pinot on steroids with a touch of fatty meat. Also modern, with a fair amount of leather & cedar on finish. Fruit has layers of cherry and raspberry with a hint of cocoa. Not my style but delightful. (Gina)

Coeur de Terre Vineyard 2007 Pinot Noir (89 points)
Region:  Willamette Valley; Varietals: Pinot Noir; Retail $ 24
Tasting Notes:  Oh, beautiful aromas of black cherries, raspberries and cocoa. Smooth, elegant and complex.  Good acidity all the way through. Great flavors of mainly black cherries and raspberries. Flavored with some spicy, toasty notes. Nice tasty finish. (Jens) Tasting Notes:  Sweet Jolly Rancher balck cherry candy on the nose – with a dusting of brown earth and spice. Balck cherry cola flavors with baking spices – leaning towards the savory – big tannin & acid. This is a red meat Pinot! (Theresa) Tasting Notes: Nice raspberry color. Some tobacco notes and sweet chocolate. Nice and sweet on the palate, not much to say. Some berries at the end. (Fernando) Tasting Notes: N: smells like classic Oregon Pinot, charred twigs, pepper, thyme rhubarb & cherry, espresso roast. P: slight Campari bitters flavor, pomegranate molasses, plums & mocha. (Ken)

The Pines 1852 2006 Pinot Noir (88 points)
Region:  Columbia Gorge; Varietals: Pinot Noir; Retail $27
Tasting Notes:  Nose… suspiciously doesn’t smell like Pinot … maybe it was fertilized by an ox or garlic? Or was formerly a field of blackberries. OK – if I were to judge this as a pinot I would say it has big, ripe jammy black fruit with a touch of cinnamon or I would say it would double as a smooth syrah. (Gina) Tasting Notes: Dark red color. But no classic Pinot Noir aromatics noticeable. Instead notes of dried cherries and faint hints of aldeuyes due to oxidation. Decidedly fruity flavors and soft finish. How much Syrah did they put in this? More than they’ll admit. * This is good but if it purports to be Pinot Noir it is in trouble for illicit blending. (Matt) Tasting Notes: N: smalls hefty, dark, spicy, currents, hot bricks, summer savory + thyme. P: Big, jammy style Pinot, Syrah-like-fruit-blackberries, Masata spice, blackberry compote. (Ken)

Westrey 2007 Abbey Ridge Vineyard (88 points)
Region:  Willamette Valley/Dundee Hills; Varietals: Pinot Noir; Retail $30
Tasting Notes:  Color somewhat alarming. Light orangey-red. Authentic Burgundian aromas of damp earth, mushroom, roasted root vegetables. Full-bodied, tannic finish and zesty acidity with smokey wood notable but not dominant. (Matt) Tasting Notes: Clear in color. Shows some brick color on the edge but yet elegant. Aromas of red meat and sandal wood. Green olives on the palate and some dark chocolate. Very delicate but not a long finish. (Fernando) Tasting Notes:  Good barnyard smell, but I find a bit too much sulfur on the nose. Still well-balanced, good, sweet finish! Drink it with crostini with chevre cheese & sun-dried tomato.  Good! (Giuseppe)

Raptor Ridge 2007 Reserve Pinot Noir (88 points)
Region:  Raptor Ridge; Varietals: Pinot Noir; Retail $33
Tasting Notes:  Pretty nose, rose petals & raspberries, streamlined anise spice, favorite so far [3rd of 8], layered, fresh but multi-dimensional, silky. (Catherine) Tasting Notes: Nose has spice & dark fruit … more plum & black cherry. A more modern style … luscious cherry jolly rancher, yes cherry. Bold in the mid-palate. Finish lacks a little, mostly get fruit. (Gina)

Winter Hill Vineyards 2006 Pinot Noir (87 points)
Region:  Willamette Valley; Varietals: Pinot Noir; Retail $
Tasting Notes:  Nice aromas of red cherries and mushrooms – mainly fruit flavors of red and black cherries. Good acidity but a little bit too hot. Fine tannins, but short finish. (Jens) Tasting Notes:  Color clear, transparent ruby. Aromas of mixed freshly crushed peppercorns, cherry and hints on mushroom & menthol. Palate alas is ruined by dominant flavors of wood and alcohol, along with cherry candy. (Matt)

March Tasting Panel:  Jens Strecker, Gina Gregory, Theresa Slechta, Catherine Reynolds, Ken O’Hara, Matt Gubitosa, Fernando Martinez, Giuseppe Caraturro

The following wines are in-stock or can be ordered at:
Portalis Wine Shop + Wine Bar
email: info@portaliswines.com
phone: 206-783-2007

April 21, 2010 at 4:32 pm Leave a comment

February 2010: Chianti DOCG (Tuscany)

Ken O’Hara, Catherine Reynolds & Matt Gubitosa at the blind tasting

Chianti doesn’t always speak to the American market as these are classic food wines intended to be enjoyed with the acidic foods that are found in Tuscany, e.g. tomato based sauces. When Americans try this type of wine as a sipper, it can be a little tart … but with the right pairing it’s a match made in heaven. Apparently, though, the panel didn’t need food to be wowed! I don’t think we’ve ever had such across the board agreement in the scoring of the wines nor have the overall scores ever been this high. They loved these wines!  Hope you will too …

Ken adoring the lineup after the unveiling

EXCELLENT (90-95 points)
San Felice 2005 Chianti Classico Riserva
(93 points)
Region: Tuscany, Italy; Varietals: Sangiovese; Retail: $23
Tasting Notes: N: nice gamey nose, wet hair, spicy dark bing cherry, big fresh fennel beams on the nose. P: juicy yet firm flavors of black cherry forest cake, winter spices, game roast, fennel and good times, leathery oak. (Ken) Tasting Notes: Big nose – purple flowers, spice – it’s like smelling a bottle of Calvin Klein. The mouth? Let’s just say it reminds me of a gorgeous day in Tuscany, the kind that includes wild boar, veal meatballs, squash gratin & vin santo as a chaser. All al fresco of course! Salute – I love Italy! (Gina) Tasting Notes: Gorgeous, very inviting nose. Aromas of black cherries, licorice, wild flowers, rosemary and thyme. Fantastic weight, depth and length. Very elegant and complex. Beautiful integrated acidity and tannins. Flavors are herbal with lots of blackberries and black cherries with hints of earth. A beauty! (Jens)

Fattoria di Felsina 2007 Chianti Classico (92 points)
Region: Tuscany, Italy; Varietals: Sangiovese; Retail: $29
Tasting Notes: It can’t get better than this. Classic Chianti aromas of dark fruit, dark cherries and leather with lots of herbal components. Harmonious, elegant, well-balanced. Gorgeous texture with superb acidity. Flavors of dark black cherries, balckberries, rosemary and thyme. Long, elegant finish with fine tannins. (Jens) Tasting notes: Cherry skins, dusty, sail to the old world, violets, floral notions on palate, very supple, sprinkling of spices. (Catherine) Tasting Notes: N: warm baked plums, summer savory, Mexican farm leather, supple & round. P: Medium weight, summer herbs, beautiful dried cherries, cocoa. (Ken)

Rocce delle Macie 2003 Chianti Classico Riserva de Fizzano (91 points)
Region: Tuscany, Italy; Varietals: Sangiovese; Retail: $41
Tasting Notes: Nose – stinky mushroom, olive pits and campfire. Whoa – massive explosion of plums, tar and tannins – but I love it. I’m still licking my teeth from the viscosity. Complex and a finish that lingers. (Gina)  Tasting Notes: Beautiful color. Very inciting aromas of blackberries and black currants with floral and herbal notes. Beautiful mouthfeel. Good concentration and complexity. Wonderful length and depth, lots of layered dark fruit with some leather and tar. Fine tannin on the long finish. (Jens)  Tasting Notes: Medium red color. Cherry candy aroma but hints of yogurt and sulfur. Elegant medium body. Balanced acidity but nice lingering tannic finish. (Matt)

Viottolo 2005 Chianti Classico Riserva (91 points)
Region: Tuscany, Italy; Varietals: Sangiovese; Retail: $21
Tasting Notes: translucent, plummy, wet earth like walking into an old village, very very nice, feminine & graceful, touch of passionfruit/apricot. (Catherine)  Tasting Notes: Fresh raspberries in the nose, caramel & violets. Balanced acidity – fresh fruit follows through on the mouth. Smooth on the finish – I’m thinking salami and pecorino … Bring it! (Gina)

Borgo Scopeto 2004 Chianti Classico Riserva (90 points)
Region: Tuscany, Italy; Varietals: Sangiovese; Retail: $35
Tasting Notes: N: Cherry candies, cherry cordials, anise stewed cherry sauce with duck!, cherry cola. P: WOW! Priorat-like, more stewed cherries, cinnamon sticks, bouquet garni, mocha. (Ken)  Tasting Notes: Intoxicating, smoky, bacon, black cherry. In the mouth, it’s the gift that keeps on giving. Chewy, earth, crazy good dark fruit. I’m going to help myself to another taste … “just to make sure.” (Gina)

Bibbiano 2004 Chianti Classico Riserva (90 points)
Region: Tuscany, Italy; Varietals: Sangiovese; Retail: $31
Tasting Notes: Inciting aromas of dark fruit with thyme and oregano – wonderful acidity and concentration. Elegant, comoplex with wonderful flavors of blackberries, blackcherries, violets, wildflowers and lots of herbal components. Long, long excellent finish with fine tannins. (Jens)  Tasting Notes: Animally, dark brooding fruit, cassis, liqueur-like, mouth-filling ripemess, feels modern, toast spread with jam, raspberries. (Catherine) 

Borgo Scopeto 2006 Chianti Classico (90 points)
Region: Tuscany, Italy; Varietals: Sangiovese; Retail: $18.50
Tasting Notes: N: dusty violets, dried crushed rose petals, sun-dried cherries, roasted fennel. P: super dry, yet seriously firm flavors of spicy tobacco, cherry wood, plums & herbs. (Ken)  Tasting Notes: Black currants, something funky on the palate, black licorice, serious but juicy, toasted marshmellow finish. (Catherine)

VERY GOOD (85-89 points)
Renzo Masi 2006 Chianti Riserva
(89 points)
Region: Tuscany, Italy; Varietals: Sangiovese; Retail: $16.50
Tasting Notes: Dark red wine. Very pleasant aromas of freshly cooked cherries or cherry pie with hints of clove & cinnamon, medium body but powerful cherry liquor-like flavors, with zesty, almost fracing acidity and a lingering, almost bitter tannic finish. (Matt)  Tasting Notes: Nose: dark plum spice – mushroom; luscious round black fruit, probably would be more complex with more time to breathe … breakfast tomorrow? (Gina)

February 2010 Tasting Panel:  Jens Strecker, Gina Gregory, Ken O’Hara, Catherine Reynolds, Matt Gubitosa.

A special welcome back to Catherine who has spent the last year recovering from an aneurysm.  Look at her … she looks wonderful!

The following wines are in-stock or can be ordered at the following local wine shops: Portalis Wine Shop + Wine Bar
email: info@portaliswines.com
phone: 206-783-2007

March 2, 2010 at 8:12 pm Leave a comment

January 2010: Southern Rhône (France)

Arnaud with Madame Guerin (his mother) visiting from Paris

There’s an art to knowing if a wine is good for that type of wine (varietal, region, etc) and not being swayed by your personal enjoyment of that wine (… is that even possible??)  This tasting had several wines where more than one taster thought the wine was “off” or even “corked” but when Arnaud showed up with his mom (pictured above), who was visiting from France, she had a sip and then said that she thought they were fine, that’s just how they taste.   In our point-driven wine world, the interesting idea to have a little think about is how much any given taster’s personal preferences determine the fate of a wine.  Okay, enough philosophizing …

This tasting focused on table wines from France’s Southern Rhône Valley, with the majority of the wines priced in the teens.  Tasters had pretty varying opinions on the wines (thus the tasters’ points are noted), but there was generally a pretty solid thread.  Note that price/subregion did not necessarily indicate success …

EXCELLENT (90-94 points)
Domaine Brusset 2007 les Travers Cairanne (91 points)
Retail: $21.99 | Case $17.59
Tasting Notes: Whoa – spice! Blackberry & clove. Definitely big fruit, ripe with dark, velvety black pepper notes. If I was a cloak wearing super hero … this is what I’d be drinking! (Gina, 93 pts) Tasting Notes: Very aromatic and attractive. Lots of dark fruit on the nose, with licorice and black olives. Fuller-bodied, but very complex and elegant. Good depth and length. Lots of dark fruit, raspberries and blackberries on the palate, with floral and herbal notes. Long, beautiful finish with fine tannins. Must be Chateauneuf or Gigondas. (Jens, 94 pts)

Chateau la Borie 2005 Côtes du Luberon
(90 points)
Retail: $17.50 | Case $14
Tasting Notes: Black fruit – all kinds, put into a pie and just starting to bake. The sweet spices peek through. The palate is lush like velvet with the perfect amount of tannin & acid. (Theresa, 94 pts) Tasting Notes: Black pepper & cooked spice in the nose. The palate is surprisingly smooth & balanced, though. Lots of ripe cherry & bold tannins. A little high in alcohol. (Gina, 84 pts) Tasting Notes: Bacon, BBQ, tasty, smoky … that’s it … (Arnaud, 91 pts)

Chateau Virgile 2007 Costieres de Nimes $15 (90 points)
Retail: $14.99 | Case $11.99
Tasting Notes: Bring some wild boar or something!! Gamey like we like them. Delicious, great potential … (Arnaud, 90 pts) Tasting Notes: Great ruby red. Layers of meat, bacon and pencil on the nose, elegant! Medium to full body. Baked prunes and a touch of cloves. (Fernando, 92 pts)

VERY GOOD (85-89 points)
Domaine de Font-Sane 2006 Gigondas (89 points)
Retail: $14.99 | Case $11.99
Tasting Notes: Ripe raspberries, strawberries, with wild flowers on the nose. Dense & deeply concentrated, but elegant and attractive. Medium- to full-bodied. Packed with dark & red fruit, dark olives & violets. Long finish with fine tannins. Will develop nicely. Gigondas or Chateauneuf? (Jens, 92 pts) Tasting Notes: Oh yes, life is good!!! This is delicious, big fruit, with serious but beautiful tannins. Nice & long aftertaste. (Arnaud, 91 pts) Tasting Notes: Black cherry cola, violets on the nose. Cedar spice with cinnamon and juicy berries on the palate. A finish with firm tannins with a grip! (Theresa, 88 pts)

Chateau de Montfaucon 2005 Baron Louis Côte du Rhône (89 points)
Retail: $14.99 | Case $11.99
Tasting Notes: Black cherries hide behind forest floor aromas. Oakiness is balanced by generous fruit and voluminous mouthfeel. (Chris, 92 pts) Tasting Notes: Very dark purple color, herbs of Provence on the nose and bread pudding, red meat and black pepper. Good acidity, long finish. (Fernando, 88 pts)

Chateau Val Joanis 2004 Côte du Luberon (88 points)
Retail: $24.99 | Case $19.99
Tasting Notes: Dark, concentrated aromas of dark fruit, dark olives, smoke and tobacco. Medium- to full-bodied. Complex, concentrated and elegant. Lots of fruit on the mid-palate. Smoke, spike, licorice, mixed with layers of dark fruit. Good tannins on the long, vibrant finish. (Jens, 93 pts) Tasting Notes: Dark inky color. Mint, tarragon & leather on the nose. Baked bread! And blackberries on the palate. Great tannins and great long finish!! (Fernando, 92 pts) Tasting Notes: I could smell this all night. The alcohol seems high on this, but I don’t care … it’s delicious! Black cherry, chewy, cinnamon & big tannins. I’d love to taste in another 5 years. (Gina, 91 pts) Tasting Notes: BBQ sauce, beef jerky, smoke & a touch of leather on the nose. Oak overwhelms fruit on the palate, though a touch of raspberries comes through. Chalky tannins come off green. (Chris, 87 pts)

Yves Cheron 2007 Côte du Rhône (87 points)
Retail: $14.99 | Case $11.99
Tasting Notes: Color medium red. Pleasant muted aromas of ocean breeze, fresh strawberries and ground white peppercorns. Medium body, flavorful & zesty. Lingering finish, slight bitterness at end. (Matt, 94 pts) Tasting Notes: Deep red color. Dark raisins and baked plums. Dry herbs on the palate, a touch of bitterness, medium body. (Fernando, 82 pts)

Domaine Le Clos des Lumieres 2007 Côte du Rhône (86 points)
Retail: $14.99 | Case $11.99
Tasting Notes: Nose – violets, caramel … the palate is rich with cooked plums, finishes easy, spices are subtle. Round mouthfeel with balanced tannins. (Gina, 93 pts) Tasting Notes: Bouquet of blueberries, plum & lavender, soft elegant palate, clipped finish. (Chris, 88 pts)

GOOD (80-85 points)
Domaine Catherine Le Goeuil 2007 Cairanne (82 points)
Retail: $22.99 | Case $18.39
Tasting Notes: Yeasty bread dough on the nose, medicinal. (Chris, 83 pts) Tasting Notes: I don’t get much fruit in the nose … a funky, earthy aroma. Fruit is a little disjointed on palate also. Some minerals & ripe cherry. (Gina, 83 pts) Tasting Notes: Compote of dry fruit. Long finish, not much on the palate. Sorry!! (Fernando, 82 pts)

January Tasting Panel:  Jens Strecker, Gina Gregory, Theresa Slechta, Matt Gubitosa, Fernando Martinez, Chris Nishiwaki, Arnaud Guerin & guest David Autrey of Westrey Wine Company (OR).

Jens (owner, Portalis Wines) & Fernando (chef, Purple Café)

Guest taster, David Autrey, Westrey Wine Company

Matt Gubitosa (winemaker, Animale) & Chris Nishiwaki (journalist)

Theresa Slechta (Vinum) & Arnaud Guerin (Elliott Bay)

The following wines are in-stock or can be ordered at:
Portalis Wine Shop + Wine Bar
email: info@portaliswines.com
phone: 206-783-2007

February 15, 2010 at 11:06 pm Leave a comment

December 2009: Sparkling Wines

Very interesting results … non-Champagne sparkling wines did just as well in this blind tasting as the real deal. See what your local professional panel had to say and which ones sound interesting for your upcoming New Year’s Eve celebration.  I, for one, want to try the Graham Beck from South Africa which was repeatedly described as having notes of seaweed & sea salt in combination with a pronounced fruitiness.  Aren’t you curious?!

EXCELLENT (90-94 points)

Boizel NV Champagne Brut Reserve
(92 points)
Region: Champagne, France; Varietals: Pinot Noir/Pinot Meunier/Chardonnay; Retail: $49.50
Tasting Notes: Beautiful yellow color. Aromas of toast, brioche and biscuit. Fuller-bodied, excellent acidity and complexity, elegant and classy. Fantastic flavors of apples, with some citrus and lime and some mousse. Again brioche and biscuit. Must be Champagne! (Jens)
Tasting Notes: Lovely nose of toast and biscuits – would definitely say Champagne … full of apples, tea biscuits, ginger. A lovely balance and a finish that lingers on and on … superb! (Theresa)
Tasting Notes: Nose: bubble bath (in a good way), exotic cocnut milk creaminess, orange creamsicle. Palate: exciting balance of ginger, graham crackers, white pepper & fennel, pink grapefruit. (Ken)

Graham Beck 2007 Brut Rosé
(92 points)
Region: Stellenbosch, SA; Varietals: Pinot Noir/Chardonnay; Retail: $19.50
Tasting Notes: Blush pink – don’t let the color fool you. Nose has intense sea salt, light rose & watermelon. Wonderful acidity – juicy red fruit and perfect balanced bubbles. Finish is moderate, but delightful all the way there. (Gina)
Tasting Notes: Wonderful light ink color. Very floral on the nose. Aromas of wild flowers, strawberries and notes of seaweed. Well-balanced, complex and elegant. Beautiful flavors of strawberries with elmon and lime. Hints of mousse and biscuit with a touch of sea salt. Wonderful long finish. (Jens)

Paul Ginglinger NV Cremant d’Alsace (92 points)
Region: Alsace, France; Varietals: Riesling/Pinot Blanc; Retail: $24
Tasting Notes: Doughy on the nose, with scone & candied lemon peel. Palate: meaty with green fig, cantaloupe, & a mysterious bright starfruit beam riding the bubbles all the way down. (Ken)
Tasting Notes: Subtle notes of toast, yeast & underlying brioche. Palate much more expressive than the nose – moussey, small bubbles. Fills your mouth and keeps expanding – citrus & mineral focused. (Theresa)
Tasting Notes: Nose is a little more subtle – light apples, light spice, light minerality. Maybe a little vanilla. Great bubbly! Really well-balanced mouthfeel. This one is screaming for oysters (or caviar, if you swing that way!). I like it! It finished dry & perfect. (Michael)

Schoenheitz NV Crement d’Alsace
(92 points)
Region: Alsace, France; Varietals: Auxerois/Pinot Blanc ; Retail: $22
Tasting Notes: Shimmery golden hues – mmm – toasty aromas, a little hazelnut, cooked pears. Very elegant mouthfeel, bubbles are very light , but wow, flavor and finish makes up for it. This is easy like Sunday morning … creamy, vanilla-y, more pears. (Gina)
Tasting Notes: This one really smells like “champagne” – yeasty – like bread rising. Super light notes of apple, maybe some white peach in there. Tons of minerality on the palate but great fruit too. This is a party wine. The wine will have everyone looking forward to food! (Michael)

Bernard Bremont Champagne Grand Cru (91 points)
Region: Champagne, France; Varietals: Pinot Noir/Chardonnay; Retail: $46
Tasting Notes: Again [followed Boizel in tasting lineup], beautiful pale yellow color. Very complex aromas of toast and biscuit with some baked apples. Very complex and elegant. Fantastic acidity going all the way. Wonderful flavors of mousse, apples, citrus and lime with brioche and biscuit notes. (Jens)
Tasting Notes: Mineral and slate in the nose with a dusting of graham cracker. Rich and round then followed by racy acidity that cleans the palate – in wait for the next taste. (Theresa)

GOOD (85-89 points)
Alvise Langien NV Prosecco
(89 points)
Region: Prosecco, Italy; Varietals: Prosecco ; Retail: $14
Tasting Notes: Nose is all green apple, a little yeasty, but in a pleasant way. Palate is still all apple, but there is a little overlying sweetness, almost like more of a demi-sec, but great. This would rock with some spicy apps. (Michael)
Tasting Notes: Lemon zest and ginger in the nose. Flavors of lemon custard, touch of honey dew melon, small frothy bubbles, good structure and acidity, great long finish (Theresa)

Antech NV Blanquette de Limoux (88 points)
Region: Limoux, France; Varietals: Mauzac/Chardonnay; Retail: $15
Tasting Notes: Great pale straw color. Nose is super subtle, light apple, light everything. Great apple/peachy on the palate. Great airy finish with just a hint of floral/fuity happiness left “hanging around” to make you want more. (Michael)
Tasting Notes: Very eggy notes on the nose, ripe fruits, lots of verve and cut on the finish, wild honey, violets & rose. (Catherine)

Mountain Dome NV Brut Rosé (87 points)
Region: WA State; Varietals: Pinot Noir/Chardonnay; Retail: $25
Tasting Notes: Nose – White flowers x ripe strawberries. Light bubbles, very delightful, soft creaminess. Flavors of juicy strawberry. Finish is short and delicate. (Gina)
Tasting Notes: Hints of strawberry, citrus and stone in the nose. The strawberry extends to the palate with some fresh green herbs. Finishes with a rich creaminess that makes for a long finish. (Theresa)

Bisol NV Crede Prosecco (86 points)
Region: Veneto, Italy; Varietals: Prosecco; Retail: $23
Tasting Notes: Fun bubbles! Nose has prominent minerality, banana peel and a little forest. Flavors of walnuts and Asian pear, finish is a little short, but the mid-palate explodes. (Gina)
Tasting Notes: Nose: bananas, cotton candy. Palate: pez candies, fruit stripes, good & plenties, lime starburst. (Ken)

December Tasting Panel:  Jens Strecker, Gina Gregory, Ken O’Hara, Catherine Reynolds, Theresa Slechta, and guest taster: Michael Friesen.

The following wines are in-stock or can be ordered at the following local wine shops:
Portalis Wine Shop + Wine Bar
email: info@portaliswines.com
phone: 206-783-2007

December 23, 2009 at 9:54 pm Leave a comment

November 2009: Holiday Wines ~ $30-$50

Every wine in this lineup would make a stellar holiday gift; it just depends on what you’re looking for:  a more medium-bodied Pinot Noir from California?  a full-bodied, Cab blend from South Africa? We won’t pretend that this is an across the board representation of what’s available in Seattle in this price range (as the reps drop off their candidate bagged and so we don’t know what we’ve got for a price point tasting like this until the unveiling) but the fun thing about this tasting was the level of oohing and aahing going on in that back room! The lineup was superior as you can see from the scores and notes. And, with a wink at last November’s Holiday Wine Tasting, where the overall winner was the El Quintanal 2005 Ribera del Duero (95 points) … the Spaniards are kicking butt! Happy Holidays and happy reading:

EXCELLENT (90-94 points)
Arzuaga 2005 Ribera del Duero Crianza
(94 points)
Region: Ribera del Duero, Spain; Varietals: Tempranillo/Cab Sauv/Merlot; Retail: $35
Notes: N: cherry candy, gamey, cola, vanilla, high toned – so much going on here – I feel I need night vision goggles just to capture all the elements I am missing. P: nose follows through on palate with big flavors, leather, blackberry, cherry, smooth oak, perfect balance. (Ken)
Notes: Dark, dark ruby color. Powerful, but delicate aromas of dark fruit, saddle leather and herbs. Lots going on here – layers over layers of dark fruit, leathers, with herbal and spicy notes. Wonderful. Full-bodied but elegant and complex. Great acidity and long finish. Tastes like high-end Spanish. (Jens)

Mas Doix 2005 Salangues Priorat (94 points)
Region: Priorat, Spain; Varietals: Garnacha/Carenena/Syrah/Merlot/Cab Sauv; Retail: $51
Notes: Wonderful, dark ruby color. Beautiful, powerful aromas of wild berries, dark fruits and wild flowers. Big, full-bodied, great concentration and depth. Wonderful acidity. Lots of dark fruit, boysenberries, blackberries with herbal notes and some spice. Long, long finish. Needs to age. (Jens)
Notes: N: still coy, closed on nose, needs to open yet, blueberries & spice, cloves & cardamom, French perfumes. P: taut still but good firm tannins, balanced flavors of candied black cherries, espresso mocha, spiced sugar plums, worn leather. (Ken)

De Toren 2006 Fusion V (93 points)
Region: Stellenbosch, South Africa; Varietals: Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cab Franc, Malbec, Petit Verdot; Retail: $50
Notes: N: roasted game meat, bacon, smoked spices, with a bright beam of blackberries & black pepper P: meaty wine with pomegranate, espresso, plum jam (Ken) Notes: Mature notes of prunes, almond and wet feather, very elegant on the palate delivering everything in the nose plus smoke, tobacco and leather on the finish. (A Pinotage style.) Rustic but yet smooth. Very good. (Giuseppe)

Capanna 2006 Rosso Di Montalcino (92 points)
Region: Tuscany, Italy; Varietals: Sangiovese Grosso; Retail: $32
Notes: Little lighter on the nose – more red fruit – cherry/plum/raspberry. Great finish. Great balance of fruit/acid/oak/alcohol! This wine is awesome! (Mike) Notes: Framboise, black raspberries, has a sweet punch, gentle and feminine upfront yet juicy and firm. (Catherine)

Freeman 2005 Pinot Noir (92 points)
Region: Sonoma Coast, CA; Varietals: Pinot Noir; Retail: $47
Notes: N: Pinot Noir! Nutty huckleberries, forest twigs, pine, savory cherry sauce P: very perfumed plalate of butter simmered plums, fennel, pepper & roses (Ken)
Notes: Love the nose, bursting with berries on the vine, classy, violets, minerals strike through it, has intrigue, flinty finish, pine & fir needles. (Catherine)

Andeluna 2003 Grande Reserve Passionado (91 points)
Region: Mendoza, Argentina; Varietals: Cab Sauv, Merlot, Malbec, Cab Franc; Retail $50
Notes: Dark intense red. Sweet aromas of stewed fruit and dried blueberries. Delicious. Truly sexy.Old world smell with new World finish. Very polished. Well done. (Giuseppe)
Notes: Beautiful, dark ruby color. Powerful aromas of ripe blackberries and cassis. Dense, complex, good concentration and elegance. Lots of dark fruit, boysenberries and black berries. Very good mouthfeel. Long finish with fine tannins. (Jens)

DeLille Cellars 2007 D2 (91 points)
Region: Yakima Valley, WA; Varietals: Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot; Retail: $41
Notes: Dark ruby. Bright bouquet of sour cherries, dried apricots and peaches. Sexy but elgant. Powerful note of tobacco leaf. Superb red with strong blue cheeses. (Giuseppe)
Notes: Beautiful, dark ruby color. Fantastic nose of dark fruit, black currants. Very complex, well-balanced with great acidity which lifts the dark fruit flavors. Coffee, espresso, mocha notes. Beautiful long finish with fine tannins. (Jens)

Terra Valentine 2005 Cabernet Sauvignon (91 points)
Region: Napa Valley, CA; Varietals: Cabernet Sauvignon; Retail: $45
Notes: Great Old World/New World mix – all fruit up front, but the finish has this smoky/earthy thing going on – great wine. (Mike)
Notes: Beautiful bright ruby red. Very elegant. Silky long finish, mouthfeel. Well-balanced. Sexy, velvety red. A cross between Cabernet and Syrah? Great present. Friendly but a blockbuster! (Giuseppe)

November Tasting Panel:  Jens Strecker, Ken O’Hara, Catherine Reynolds, Giuseppe Carraturo, and guest taster: Michael Friesen.

The following wines are in-stock or can be ordered at the following local wine shops:
Portalis Wine Shop + Wine Bar
email: info@portaliswines.com
phone: 206-783-2007

November 27, 2009 at 9:06 pm Leave a comment

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