In the 19th century, Portland was the end of the line for pioneers trundling west on the Oregon Trail. Today’s trailblazers converge for the abundant seafood, rainbow of locally-sourced produce and wines from around the world as well as Oregon’s 23 AVAs. Supported by an easygoing population of taste-obsessed locals – many of whom have fled San Francisco’s skyrocketing prices over the past decade – a variety of new wine bars, caves à manger, bottle shops and wine-focused restaurants have joined Portland stalwarts over the past decade, transforming the largest city in Oregon into a must visit for wine aficionados.
An abundance of drizzly ‘liquid sunshine’ in winter and spring means planning a visit during summer or early autumn is the best bet for exploring this trendsetting city of flavour geeks, where it comes as no surprise that restaurateurs and sommeliers are open to experimenting with unexpected wine and food pairings. Locals and visitors alike are drawn into the city’s leafy neighbourhoods to kick back at these hyper-local, welcoming places with some of the most innovative, personal wine lists in the country.
For an insider’s overview of Portland’s weird and wonderful wine world, head to Flor, a downtown bottle shop in the Pearl District, for a conversation with owners Sergio Licea and Andrew Fortgang (2019 Food & Wine Magazine sommelier of the year) over a glass of their rotating selection of wines by the glass (or from the bottle you‘ve just purchased). ‘Everyone is welcome here, from novices to collectors,’ says Licea, of the ‘intimidation-free zone’ the Oregon wine luminaries opened in 2021.
Over 500 carefully-curated wines sit on open shelves ready for browsing, while a communal table and swanky lounge area await patrons who want to sip, sit and relax while the downloadable Floral Notes music playlist, which is updated each month, sets the perfect indie vibe.
Oregon wines are well represented, but extensive industry connections allow the owners to source little-known selections from France (about half the stock) followed by Italy, the US and Spain.
Licea says he’s ‘always on the hunt for good value, fantastic unicorn bottles that will be the trophy wines of tomorrow’. Speaking of which, the backroom temperature-controlled wine vault contains plenty of top bottles from the best producers in Burgundy, Barolo, and the Northern Rhône.
825 NW Glisan St.
503 206 4736
Canard and Le Pigeon
Sister restaurants Le Pigeon, a 35-seat restaurant with upscale French-inspired fare, and Canard, a casual bistro where American classics get a French twist, highlight the unconventional deliciousness of Portland both on the plate and in the wine pairings. When Le Pigeon opened in 2006, it put Portland on the culinary map. Today, the refined five-course dinner-only menu evolves with the seasons. It’s worth springing for the wine pairing to discover the cellar’s special bottles.
Next door at Canard, French bistro meets American diner in comfort food like the duck stack: buttermilk pancakes slathered in savoury duck gravy, topped with a fried duck egg (and a slab of foie gras, if you dare). Other favourites include steamed bun burger sliders inspired by the White Castle burger chain. If all this umami-rich food is too much, opt for Pacific coast oysters and a glass of Muscadet. But definitely save room for the soft-serve passion fruit ice cream sundae with a glass of Eugen Müller Riesling. At both unpretentious places, award-winning Chef Gabriel Rucker has built original menus that Portlanders crave, and 2019 Food & Wine Magazine sommelier of the year Andrew Fortgang (who also co-owns Portland’s Flor wine shop) serves a bevy of unusual French and Oregon wines.
Canard: 734 East Burnside St.
971 279 2356
All day (call ahead for exact hours)
Le Pigeon: 738 East Burnside St.
503 546 8796
Domaine Serene Wine Lounge
Source : https://www.decanter.com/wine/portland-oregon-best-bars-and-restaurants-for-wine-lovers-484111/