Blue Slates, Red Slates and bubbles
Storyteller Wine Company
The Presidential election is so close to being over I can almost feel James Carville and Mary Matalin packing up for their annual Bermuda vacation. No matter who ends up winning this election, some of you are going to need some sparkling wine to celebrate and some of you are going to need sparkling wine to ease the agony of defeat. So forget about red states and blue slates and get ready to embrace blue slates and red slates!

Barnaby and Olga Tuttle make great German and Alsatian-style Oregon wines under their Teutonic Wine Company label but a few years ago Barnaby decided he wanted to start importing his favorite German wines to Portland. The Tuttles make a few trips each year to visit the Mosel and other regions, all the while hunting for cool little wineries that aren't represented yet in the United States. During one of those trips Barnaby fell head over heels in love with brut sekt, the dry sparkling Rieslings of Germany. Now Barnaby has put together a nice little portfolio (or sekt haus if you will) of these delicious bubblies and I'm hard pressed to think of a better sparkling wine value in the American market today. They are dry and delicious, providing a modestly priced alternative to champagne. Here are my three favorites from Barnaby and Olga's portfolio, all three of which are from the same vintage, have the same price and clock in at 12% alcohol.

2009 Weingut Hans Resch Anna Lioba Cuvée (29.00)

OK, I'm cheating right off the bat because this isn't made with Riesling, Instead, this excellent sparkling wine is made entirely with Pinot Noir fruit grown in the Saar Valley. Weingut Hans Resch is located in the village of Wittingen, near Trier. The winery was founded back in 1873 by current winemaker and winery owner Andreas Resch's  great-great grandmother, Anna Lioba Resch. There weren't a lot of women running wineries back then but Anna was evidently way ahead of her time. To honor her groundbreaking work (literally and figuratively) Andreas created a dry sparkling rosé in her name.  And trust me, this is one heck of a fine tribute!

The Pinot Noir vines Andreas manages grow in a combination of blue and red slate soils, so think of this as the perfect wine with which to reach across the aisles to your friends who don't share your same party affiliations. The Anna Lioba
Cuvée has a beautiful light salmon pink color and if you drink it from a traditional champagne flute the bubbles form a nice tight column right up the middle. But I prefer to drink this bubbly from a big ol' red wine glass in order to maximize the wine's aromas of tart red currants, dried strawberries and tiny bits of smoke and meat. Those same red fruit flavors repeat on the palate, along with a nice talc-like mineral quality and a wee bit of warm brioche. That combination of red fruit, brioche and minerals all comes together in a way that reminds me of nibbling on Fossier Pink Champagne Biscuits from France. Never had a Fossier Pink Champagne Biscuit?  They taste like a Cap'n Crunch crunchberry for adults.

This wine always finds a place on my family's Thanksgiving table and if you love brut rosés you owe it to yourself to check out the Anna Lioba Cuvée!

2009 Weingut Immich-Anker Riesling Sekt Brut Enkirchner Zeppwingert (29.00)

Epic. And I rarely use that word. But the word "epic" fits this wine like a glove. Heiner und Marika Immich's family have been growing grapes and making wine in the Mosel village of Enkirch since 1497. Based on this wine, I'd say they have the whole wine thing down pat at this point! Their sekt is made with fruit from one vineyard and the vines there range from 60 to 100 years of age. Those old, gnarled vines grow from blue slate which might explain the wines's aroma of crisp green apple, an aroma often associated with blue slate soils in the Mosel. Beyond the green apple, there are a wide range of aromas and flavors  to be found here, from yeast and brioche to chalk and citrus.

But what really stands out for me about the Immich-Anker Sekt Brut is its incredibly frothy and brisk mousse. The wine's aromas and flavors may be elegant and sophisticated but once it gets into your mouth it's like the dance floor at an Ibiza disco once the suds machine gets cranked up. Tiny bubbles never made me so happy as with the Immich-Anker. It goes well with a wide variety of foods (my favorite pairing with the Immich-Anker is the fennel gratin they make at Portland's Little Bird restaurant) but it's just so much fun to drink by itself it would make for a darn fine pre-meal aperitif. 

2009 Weingut Schwaab-Dietz Brüdersekt Trocken Erdener Treppchen (29.00)

From its light golden color to its fine little bubbles, this wine will make you think you are about to sip some old Pol Roger bubbly. But that's where the comparisons end as this wine is proudly 100% Mosel Riesling. The vines grow up on the sides of red shale cliffs so steep they must use billy goats to pick the grapes. When Barnaby and Olga first stumbled across this property they were having to scale cliffs on old rickety wooden ladders just to get to the vineyards.

The Schwab Dietz Brüdersekt has crisp, lively aromas of lemon-lime zest, chalk, and an exotic kind of herb note that many feel is an identifying mark of a Riesling made with fruit from vines that grow in red slate soil. The Schwaab-Dietz is bone dry, so much so it's firmly in Bollinger territory. The wine also has a wonderfully grapey Riesling flavor and nervy acidity, a combo I refer to as "steel grapes." It's a wine that definitely requires food to hit its peak potential and if you serve this wine with some take out Thai food you will be revered as a god by your friends and family.

These sparkling German beauties Olga and Barnaby bring straight from the wineries to Portland are great fun to drink, extremely food friendly and won't break your budget if you are putting together a bunch of bottles for a holiday party or meal. The only bad thing I can think of in regard to these wines is the Tuttles only bring very small batches of these wines into the US at a time so they run out quickly. Combine that scarcity with the fact these wines are absolutely revered by Portland sommeliers and restaurant wine buyers and you have one of those situations where I may not be able to completely fill your order. But I will try my best to make everyone happy. Feel free to order as few bottles as you like, but If you mix or match a six-pack the price will be 165.00. Go for a case of 12 bottles and the price will be 313.00. Now that's a party waiting to happen!

Tuesday Night Wine Event, October 16th, 6:00PM-8:00PM: Paolo Cerutti Rides in From Chicago!

One of my favorite people in the whole wine world is the enthusiastic, charismatic Paolo Cerutti. I've known and worked with Paolo for many years, starting back when he ran Vinifera's Italian wine operation for the midwest. Now Paolo has his own distribution/import company, Beivuma, and he scours his native Alba (and the rest of Italy for that matter) looking for tiny wineries that make great, honest wines but have never been imported to the US before. Since Paolo is traveling all the way to Portland we are going to pull out all the stops! Drop by between 6 and 8PM and you will get to try six very nice wines (including Petit Verdot!) from Tuscany, Piedmont and Lazio. All for free! Think of it as a way to avoid the presidential election for a few hours.So come on down and help me give Paolo a great Portland welcome.

Friday Night Wine Tasting, October 19th, 6:00-9:00PM: Bubble Bonanza!

Join us this Friday evening as we open up bottles of all three of the dynamite German sparkling wines mentioned in this newsletter. In addition you will have an opportunity to taste two dynamite whites, the 2010 Forstreiter "Kremser Kögl" Grüner Veltliner and the 2011 Punta Crena Pigato Riviera Ligure di Ponente Vigneto Ca’ da Rena from the Kermit Lynch portfolio, as well as the 2009 Scott Paul Wines La Paulée Pinot Noir. There will be no charge for this portion of the tasting.

The 5.00 "super pour" will be another Kermit Lynch offering, the majestic 2007 Chianti Classico Riserva from Villa di Geggiano. Should be quite a night, I hope you are able to join us!

Saturday Wine Tasting, October 20th, 12:00-5:00PM: Chardonnay Blitz!

Drop by anytime to taste a few fine examples of Chardonnay from the Willamette Valley. All for no charge!  In addition, every wine in the store that has the Chardonnay grape in it will be 20% off all day Saturday! 

Michael Alberty
Head Storyteller

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