It’s 10 am at Avalon and the first wine reps have arrived. We’re gathering at the back of the store, pulling wine glasses off the rack and finding our tasting notebooks. Each rep has a bag of samples- six, eight, ten different wines open for tasting. And they’re eager for us to try (and buy) them all.
Some days, we’re offered upwards of a hundred wines to taste. California, Australia, Pinot noir, whites from the Loire, Spanish Rioja, Barbera, Barolo, etc. from Italy – you name it, there’s a lot of wine on the market. We specialize in Oregon and Washington wines online, but we sell a carefully edited selection from around the world in our retail store.
Inevitably, we have to pick and choose what we try. The salespeople know we don’t buy California. Yes, we are odd. No CA wines in the store. We also shy away from anything you can get at the grocery. Why bother coming to our shop if you can pick a wine up while doing the weekly grocery shopping?
Because the small wineries we are most interested in tend to be sold by small distribution companies, we gravitate to their selections. Oregon is unique across the entire country in the quality of its small wine distributors. Wines are imported to Oregon that are rarely sold in any other state in the country.
We go particularly nuts over the Italian wines available in Oregon. No Italian wine importers in the country do a better job than ours. To have access in Oregon to Italian wines made in quantities of under 1000 cases that are recipients of Italy’s top scores (Three Glasses, or Tre Biccieri, as they call it) is incredible. Don has cultivated relationships with the winemakers for decades, and we are the beneficiaries of his hard work.
The signifiance of a wine receiving Gambero Rosso’s Three Glasses rating cannot be overstated; the selection process is rigorous, involving blind tastings of around 25,000 wines. A tiny fraction are selected for the Three Glasses taste offs. In the 2007 Guide only 282 received Three Glasses – one was the Deltetto Barbera Rocca delle Marasche 04 $31.95/$28.75. In 2008, 305 wines got Three glasses, one being the Marchesi Alfiera Barbera 05 $55.95/$50.36.
Gambero Rosso describes the Deltetto Rocca delle Marasche 04: “Barbera Rocca delle Marasche 2004, from fruit harvested slightly later than usual, shot through to the finals where its monumental nose and magisterial combination of acidity, fruit and alcohol stunned the judges. Three Glasses was the verdict..”
Gambero Rosso on the Marchese Alfiera Barbera 05: “”The nose on the Alfiera, aged 15 months in barrique, ranges from crushed flowers to plum before opening to mint and sweet spices. Its palate is warm and structured, and finishes long. This wine of wonderful complexity brought a new Three Glasses award to the estate, which has made Barbera its trademark.”
Both wines just arrived in Oregon, along with a couple more stunners. For a great Barbera at a bargain price, there is a $15.95/14.35 Deltetto Barbera 06 from the producer of the Three Glasses rated Marasche Alfiera.
Marcus describes the $15.95 Deltetto Barbera 06: “Rich, dark, and chocolaty. Its big blue and purple fruit is deep and long, with dark cherry and floral accents. Deltetto is a Barbera specialist. An exceptional table wine that’s equally at home with grilled sausages as it is as a sipper.”
And the Cascina Corte Barbera 06 $15.95/$14.35 is another real deal.
Here’s an article from us with tasting notes and a few additional Italian wines that are only offered in Oregon – and a special six pack of the wines at a reduced price.