What do you get when you combine a chef with Rhone varietals from Oregon and Washington? Fausse Piste wines is what! We’re pleased to welcome our first featured Winery of 2014, Fausse Piste from Portland, Oregon. Winemaker Jesse Skiles, a Portland native, founded Fausse Piste six years ago in St. Paul, a suburb of Portland and moved the operation along with his new sister restaurant, Sauvage to Portland in the summer of 2012.
Jesse’s first experience with wine was working as a harvest cook for Owens Roe Winery in Oregon. When we spoke over the phone earlier this week, Jesse told me he sort of fell into winemaking by accident. He had tried opening restaurants, and the timing was never right. But having been inspired by his hands-on time at Owens Roe and visits to the Rhone Valley in France, Jesse and his partners Nicolas Vernon Duff, Chris Vandersloot, and Jeff Vejr started an urban winery + restaurant hybrid in the heart of Portland.
Jesse draws his inspiration from the wines of the Rhone Valley, in particular Matthieu Barret in Cornas. After visiting Matthieu, Jesse was blown away by how differently Matthieu approached winemaking in comparison to what Jesse had seen here in the US. It was all very non-interventionist, and surprisingly old school for a relatively new producer. Jesse’s style of winemaking is greatly influenced by this style. He sources grapes from a handful of growers in Washington and Oregon and is very minimalist and experimental in his winemaking. He doesn’t add anything during the process except for minimal sulfur at the end for stability, and he experiments with various vessels for fermenting and aging from concrete and stainless steel to acacia and large casks.
It’s impressive that Jesse is also the chef for his sister restaurant Sauvage, attached to the winery. His approach to food in similar to his winemaking. He strives to simplify things for his guests and keep everything approachable. His wine list has a staggering 70 wines by the glass, all naturally made and natively fermented, including rotating Fausse Piste selections, and all food-friendly. His food is also remarkably ‘wine friendly’ – seasonal and uncomplicated. If you’re ever in Portland, definitely check out Sauvage and Fausse Piste, but until then come by either Market to sample his wines!
Jesse’s rosé is 100% Syrah, but is a blend of various vineyards in the Columbia Valley. The deep ruby color is a result of everything being blended for 8 days before being pressed off into cask. Jesse got an old 1400 gallon cask from a producer in Gigondas (which barely fit through his winery door!) and the wine fermented and aged directly in this cask. The resulting wine is a robust rose, with gripping peppery notes and plenty of juicy tart cranberry flavors. And who said rose is only for warm weather? This will pair perfectly with hearty winter dishes like leek risotto or cioppino.
2011 Fausse Piste ‘Garde Manger’ Syrah - $21.99
The ‘Garde Manger’, named as an homage to Jesse’s cooking background, is a blend of all of the vineyards he works with. It’s an homage to all of his growers and a chance to showcase the raw material they had to work with in a given year. Each plot is vinified separately, about 85% of them whole cluster, and then blended together. The end result is a lovely and rustic Syrah with plenty of dark cherry, rosemary, and savory notes. A great Syrah to pair with some roasted duck and winter root vegetables.
Wine Seminar: New California Wines with Jon Bonné
Wednesday, February 12, 6:30-8:30pm
Rich Higgins Beer Workshop: Food Pairing Techniques
Saturday, February 15, 3:00-5:30pm
Inexpensive and Incredible: How to Spot Great Value Wine
Monday, April 21, 7:00-9:00pm
(First session sold out. New session added!)