It’s Date Night for my darling and I. Being wine club members at Teso’aria, we get the inside scoop on special events. Teso’aria is a winery nestled in the Umpqua Valley on the banks of the North Umpqua River, close to Roseburg, Oregon. They also have a tasting room in North Portland. This award-winning vintner offers an exclusive wine club and holds regular events including Pizza Tuesday, Sunday Brunch and most recently, “Date Night.”
Owners John and Joy Olson share their passion for wine with in this warm and friendly setting, whether it be educating on the entire winemaking process or just chatting. John is a virtual encyclopedia of information when it comes to grapes and winemaking. If there is something to be known about wine, this vintner knows it. On the food side of this enterprise, Chef Max Germano is a genius in the Teso’aria kitchen creating everything from tapas to full blown gourmet meals.
This particular Date Night carried a pice tag of $95 per couple and was worth every penny. My darling and I attended, sharing the evening with John and Joy Olson and two other couples. We had a choice of tasty menu items, each personalized by Chef Max himself. Our personal menu consisted of an appetizer of mussels in a saffron, chardonnay sauce with a toasted baguette. The main course was a brined pork chop, accented by a blackberry-dolcetto sauce and a mustardy fingerling potato salad. We finished with a Coconut foam, pop rocks and mango chutney with orange tapioca pudding.
The mussels were tender and prepared in such a way that they melted in your mouth. Served in a savory broth of Chardonnay, saffron, diced tomatoes, and minced Italian parsley. John paired them with a Sparkling Gamay — a light, fruity, young wine with a gentle sparkle to it that dances in your mouth.
The main course was a tantalizing combination of tangy and sweetness that blended wonderfully with the brined pork chop which was amazing. The tanginess of the fingerling potato salad was balanced the sweetness of the blackberry-dolcetto sauce, allowing the full flavor of the pork chop to come through. John paired this course with his 2013 Petite Verdot which is a lovely red that is bold on the front with a mild vanilla finish. The tannins present in this wine are apparent without overpowering the flavor. My darling suggested that it would also go quite nicely with dark chocolate.
The dessert was as delicious as it was unusual. It’s rare that you find a gourmet dessert that has Pop Rocks as an ingredient. In a word, it was just fun. The citrusy zestiness that accompanied the flavors of the orange tapioca were a pleasant contrast to the sweet tanginess of the mango chutney. The coconut foam, infused with Pop Rocks, added a creamy sweet dimension. We took it upon ourselves to pair this one and decided on a very nice 2013 Zinfandel. The peppery undertones of the Zin added a new experience when mixed with the light exploding of the pop rocks and played very nicely with the sweet creaminess of the dessert.
At one point during the dinner, John stood up from the table. “Guys, guys, I got something special and this seems a good time to bring it out.” Moments later he produced a delicious 2011 Cabernet Sauvignion, that carried soft, velvety notes that held the body of the wine without overpowering it.
By the end of the evening our little group had enjoyed an amazing dinner and 8 different bottles of wine. The evening was a true success for John, Joy, Chef Max and the rest of the Teso’aria staff who took wonderful care of us.
Teso’aria and this tasting room comes highly recommended.The space the tasting room is in is decorated in warm earth tone colors, and natural finish wood tables and benches of various heights. John has made a point of not having any “wine memorabilia” decorating, deciding instead on local art, photos of local landmarks and the abundant, well deserved awards his wines have won over the years. The awards they have won for their wines are well-earned.
Chef Max and his culinary creations rival any 5 star restaurant and the atmosphere of the Portland Tasting room is a warm and friendly place. When asked, one of the staff confided that when designing the tasting room, they were inspired by the TV show Cheers. A place that is welcoming, where everybody knows your name.
Teso’aria Portland Tasting Room
4003 N Williams Ave
Portland, OR 97227
At the intersection of North Williams & Shaver