February 15, 2017
“Oregon wine is out of the safe period.” he says
Photo: Henry Cromett
By Jordan Michelman, Willamette Week
Somewhere between a Didier Dagueneau “wild man of the Loire” and a total hesher who likes listening to Black Sabbath in the auto shop, Teutonic’s Barnaby Tuttle seems larger than life.
In his little industrial warehouse off Southeast Powell Boulevard, he’s as likely to pour a can of Rainier as he is a white-hot “Riesling rocket fuel” eau de vie. Tuttle’s newest bottle of wine-an electric-orange Gewurztraminer spiked with Pinot Noir-is probably the most singular Oregon wine we drank last year.
“I’ve got the full fucking deck of cards in my background,” says the 49-year-old North Portland native. “I worked in restaurants, back of house, worked in a wrecking yard, was an iron worker.” But the light bulb went off when he was forced into wine classes while working at Sellwood dessert spot Papa Haydn. “I was like, ‘You mean that Frasier Crane shit is real?'”
Tuttle never looked back. “A year later, I was the wine buyer for Papa Haydn,” he says. “A year after that, I needed to buy some Riesling, and so I called this guy who brought in 14 German Rieslings. I came home after that tasting and told [my wife] Olga, “I have to make this.”
None of it would work without Olga Tuttle, who runs the business and oversees nationwide distribution of Teutonic-more than half of which ships to eager wine buyers in California, New York, Minnesota and Texas. The specialty of the house is Riesling from cold-weather sites in the Willamette Valley, inspired by the Tuttles’ obsession with (and partnerships in) the Mosel Valley in Germany.
But Barnaby Tuttle’s style, like Tuttle himself, veers madly-his wines may include riffs inspired by Basque Country, eastern Italy, Switzerland or Spinal Tap.
“Oregon wine is out of the safe period.” he says. “Wine went through a softening here after the traditional pioneers-Pinot, Chardonnay and Riesling have been the wines everyone has been making for so long. I think it’ll keep popping off. I wouldn’t be surprised if Felipe, the bartender here, starts making wine. The genie is out of the bottle- it’s not going to stop.”
February 15, 2017
Oregon wine has not been weirder or wilder, and it’s finding a new audience tired of it’s parents’ Pinot. It’s never been a better time to drink Oregon wine. By Jordan Michelman, Willamette Week
Five years ago, Olga and Barnaby Tuttle couldn’t get invited to dinner in New York.
The winemakers from Southeast Portland winery Teutonic flew east for a sales trip, after signing with a noted distributor, hoping to pour for influential big-city wine buyers. They had poured wine with several avant-garde, progressive winemakers from California, the ones famously dubbed “the New California Wine” by noted San Fancisco Chronicle wine write Jon Bonné.
The Tuttle watched as people fawned over the California bottles. Around them, the winemakers and sellers made dinner plans— none of which involved the Tuttles.
“It was made quietly clear to us that we, as Oregon winemakers, were not invited to dinner.” Barnaby Tuttle recalls.
But five years later, if you go to New York’s hippest wine bars and bottle shops—places like Roberta’s in Brooklyn, or famed restaurateur Danny Meyer’s Gramercy Tavern—chances are you’ll see Teutonic on the list alongside other young-turk Oregon winemakers like Bow & Arrow and Day Wines. Forbes, The Wall Street Journal and The New York Times have all written love letters to the Tuttles.
“All the patrons of our wines come from Brooklyn or Brooklyn,” Tuttle says, referring also to his winery’s neighborhood in Portland.
Those people aren’t drinking Pinot Noir, the grape Oregon has staked an entire industry on since 1979, when Oregon’s Eyerie Vineyards shocked the world by competing successfully against some of the greatest Burgundy vineyards in France.
“Ask the younger generation walking out of the hip Brooklyn wine shops, ‘What does Oregon wine mean to you?’ Don’t be surprised if the answer is…click here to read entire article.
February 15, 2017
April 28, 2016
Teutonic’s New Tasting Room Is Just as Singular and Handmade as the Wine – By Jordan Michelman
At the new Brooklyn tasting room for Teutonic Wine Co. (3303 SE 20th Ave., 235-5053, teutonicwines.com), the first thing winemaker Barnaby Tuttle did was ask if we wanted a beer.
This wasn’t quite a joke. There’s Rainier on the menu under a list of 11 mostly German- or Alsatian-style wines by the glass, served on a bar top made by pouring clear resin over cuts from Tuttle’s neighbor’s woodpile. It’s a rare place where…click here to continue reading.
April 6, 2016
Here’s a game: Hide a bottle of Teutonic Riesling in a bag and pour a glass for a Euro-loving wine snob. They’ll sip smugly, confident it’s a light-bodied Germanic stunner. Then, whip off the bag and watch their eyes bug out, agog to discover this classical restraint emanates from Oregon City and a pair of beer-drinking rock lovers.
Local wine geeks have fallen hard for Teutonic’s Swiss-German-style wines since Barnaby and Olga Tuttle debuted their Pinot Noir in 2008. Since then, Teutonic has sold out vintage after vintage. The Tuttles, outspoken yet humble, blaze their own Oregon Trail, creating natural wines that bristle with personality, including a few, like silvaner and chasselas, that practically no one else in Oregon makes. Now, the Tuttles aim to introduce their bottles to a wider audience with an urban winery and tasting room in Southeast Portland.
“I just want to avoid making monotonous, engineered wines that all taste the same,” explains winemaker Barnaby. “I want wines that show off what we have [in Oregon].” He does this, by channeling techniques he gleaned from winemakers in the Mosel wine region in Germany and Alsace, France: connections he forged through years of visits to the famed winemaking valley.
Still, nothing Teutonic does is quite ... normal. The duo selects fruit from cool, high-elevation Willamette Valley sites where grapes spend extra time on the vine soaking up summer sunshine, developing higher sugar levels than most winemakers prefer.* In the cellar, Tuttle incorporates warm fermentations, using wild yeasts native to the vineyard, and ages some wines in Romanesque clay amphorae crafted in Sherwood.
The result: nervy, fruity wines that show off subtle whispers of minerality, spice, and texture—secondary characteristics that less labor-intensive winemaking processes might fail to wring out of the grapes.
In an industrial pocket near SE Division Street, the Tuttles’ cozy new winery perfectly captures their mix of Euro style and modern grit. Drinkers can linger with glasses of Teutonic while Barnaby spins vinyl, waxes poetic like a history prof, and challenges guests to chess matches between tastes of Gewürztraminer and Pinot Meunier. And, of course, he also stocks cans of Rainier: “That’s what winemakers drink,” he says with a smile.
Drink This Now
Teutonic Pinot Gris 2014 challenges the received wisdom on Pinot Gris (or Pinot Grigio). Rich and ripe, lithe and bright—ignore the label and you’ll think you’re drinking an exquisite German Riesling. Refreshing lemon, juicy pineapple, sweet biscuit, and subtle petrol captivate your attention. With its kiss of sweetness, this very good wine begs for salty, fatty foods.
*Winemakers typically worry that excessive sugar leads to high-alcohol wines. Tuttle contends those same grapes also result in higher acidity to balance out sugars in the fermentation and aging processes. “Nature has its own system of checks and balances,” he says.
September 25, 2015
Anyone who’s meet Teutonic Wine Company’s Olga and Barnaby Tuttle know they aren’t your typical winemakers. Put simply, Olga doesn’t take any shit, and Barnaby, with his motorcycle boots, handle-bar mustache, and hard rock t-shirts, looks as though he’s just walked out of a Metallica music video. Tenacious and forward-thinking, they’re championing new styles of Pinot Noir and Riesling wines in Oregon (not to mention the connection between cheap beer and fine wine). Click here to continue to full article.
April 14, 2015
This small Oregon operation, run by a husband-and-wife duo, has accumulated a big geek fanbase thanks to their dedication to making lean, refreshing, food-friendly wines. Theirs are the kind of wines you present to an Old World-drinking snob who still isn’t convinced that awesome, focused, cool-climate wines can be made stateside.
July 21, 2014
April 30, 2014
When Jon Bonné released New California Wine, it gave a name to the weird combination of new-school and super-old-school producers making great wine without a lot of manipulation. Although it would have been nice for him to have written New American Wine, because there is great stuff happening in other states, Bonné writes for the San Francisco Chronicle and one has to start somewhere. Here’s a list of the nine people you need to know about right now in American wine, in no particular order: Click here to continue reading…
March 31, 2014
A quick glance at winemaker Barnaby Tuttle and it’s clear that he isn’t one for trends.
Tuttle, co-founder with his wife Olga of Oregon-based Teutonic Wine Company, sports an elaborate mustache. He’s the tallest guy in the room. He likes to lob potentially volatile conversation topics to near-strangers, as though gauging some threshold of how entertaining they may or may not be.
The common denominator here, and Teutonic’s recipe for success, is to…click here to continue reading
December 2, 2013
2012 TEUTONIC LAUREL VINEYARD WILLAMETTE VALLEY ROSÉ ($19, 11.3%): BARNABY AND OLGA TUTTLE CONTINUE TO TURN OUT THEIR ROSTER OF QUIRKY, CHARMING WINES – CHASSELAS? – FROM OREGON, AND WHILE THE HIGH-ELEVATION, COLD LAUREL VINEYARD CAN BE TRICKY FOR REDS, THE PINK VERSION IS JUST A BIT SWEET AND FULL OF MELLOW, ZESTY FRUIT: RIPE RASPBERRY AND SEVILLE ORANGE TO BALANCE ITS COOL, FORESTY PINOT SIDE. – JON BONNÉ
WINES WITH A GERMAN ACCENT – NORTHERN EUROPEAN TRADITIONS SHINE THROUGH IN TEUTONIC WINE COMPANY’S LIVELY WINES, BORN IN SOME OF OREGON’S COOLEST VINEYARDS. – COLE DANEHOWER FOR THE REGISTER GUARD
November 21, 2013
Oregon wine aficionados understand the French connection: the Willamette Valley’s cool climate is similar to Burgundy and therefore we can grow beautiful pinot noir. But Burgundy isn’t the only Old World analog for the Willamette Valley’s vaunted viticultural riches. How about Germany?
“Germany and Alsace are two growing regions that are very close to the Willamette Valley in terms of growing climate and the kinds of grapes that grow well,” says winemaker Barnaby Tuttle, speaking for himself and his wife and business partner, Olga. “That means we can make the kinds of high-acid, low-alcohol wines we love to drink.” ….. Click here to read the entire article.
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October 20, 2013
2012 PINOT GRIS, MARESH VINEYARD – 92 POINTS
Teutonic’s 2012 Pinot Gris Maresh Vineyard – from none other than Jim Maresh Sr.’s iconic vineyard on Worden Hill Rd. just west of Dundee, but a north-facing block (with 23 year old vines) that other vintners consider undesirable – is briny, saline and alkaline on the nose as well as its polished and buoyant palate. Strong, tangy fruit resembling pineapple close to the core, leads to a finish of positively vibratory intensity, exuberantly juicy and invigoratingly tinged with bittersweet lime zest. The sweetness here is perfectly judged to support the fruit without getting in the way, or indeed even being detectable as sweetness. At 12.25% alcohol, this still projects a lovely sense of levity. What a sensational value, and what a statement concerning what’s possible with Willamette Pinot Gris! How it will age is for now anybody’s guess, but I can’t imagine it thriving for fewer than 2-3 years. (It’s disconcerting to me that the 2011 – reviewed in Issue 202 – could have been so modest and this so memorably delicious, but I have had no way to go back and re-tasted that predecessor).
2012 WHITE BLEND FEINE MISCHUNG – 92 POINTS
Representing a blend of early Muscat, Gewürztraminer, and Pinot Noir, Teutonic’s 11.1% alcohol 2012 Feine Mischung Laurel Vineyard is beautifully scented with orange blossom and rose petal, mint and celery seed. Soft and delicate in the mouth, its floral profusion billows across the palate backed by cucumber and lettuce-like juicy, crunchy pulp; but then, just when I anticipate the flavors dropping away precipitously, there comes a totally improbable burst of salinity and infectiously juicy, bright fruit acidity (from the Pinot, perhaps?) This amazing wine not to mention phenomenal value has to be tasted – indeed, has to be played around with at table – to be believed. I have no idea how it will age other than feeling confident it isn’t about to fade over the coming year.
2012 RIESLING, CROW VALLEY VINEYARD – 91 POINTS
Teutonic’s 8.8% alcohol (yes, you read that right!) 2012 Riesling Crow Valley Vineyard – from a site high at the edge of the Coast Range in the extreme South of the Willamette and from old vines of unknown clonal origin – projects lusciously sorbet-like apple, pear, white peach and lime, garlanded with honeysuckle, laced with mineral salts, and invigoratingly tinged with lime and pear pips as well as peach fuzz on a nearly weightless palate, finishing with mouthwatering persistence and impeccable balance. And apropos balance, here’s the amazing thing. Unlike virtually any other non-dry German Riesling I have tasted, wherein 20 grams of residual sugar would stick out as overtly sweet even if the acidity was sky-high and the pH under 3.0, here those 20 grams and that (on paper) wince-inducing pH collaborate just as they would in the best German examples, for supportive sweetness barely detectable as such. “This site is too cold to be economically viable if you are just getting two or three tons per acre,” notes Tuttle. But then, he needs high yields in order to finish up almost dry-tasting yet at less than 9% alcohol. I expect this outstanding value to be worth following through 2020 at the least, but really until a track record accumulates at this address nobody can do better than speculate about age-ability on the basis of sheer intuition.
January 1, 2013
October 1, 2012
If you import antique glass bottles from Germany for your Oregon wine, if you find one single 46-year-old row of chasselas vines growing in Forest Grove and vinify it, if you plant your own vineyard just 22 miles from the ocean in a freezing-cold, high-elevation site that may or may not ripen, you might be completely nuts.
Or, you might just be Barnaby and Olga Tuttle. The rules of the wine game are changing, and in Oregon, the Tuttles are at the forefront of the new guard. Where the old buzzword was “big,” as in oak and alcohol, it’s now all about “small”—low pH, low alcohol and low brix (a ripeness measure) at harvest. Where the cool 2007 vintage was viewed in some quarters as disastrous, the cooler 2010 and 2011 vintages are triumphs-in-the making.
That’s because the Tuttle way of thinking is taking hold.
March 30, 2012
The grandson of a prominent Portland smoke-shop owner and the son of a well-known local television correspondent, Barnaby Tuttle comes from strong genetic stock. But it was his stepmother, Evelyn Franz, who gave Tuttle the wine bug. For close to two decades, young Barnaby worked his way up through the ranks at Franz’s Papa Haydn restaurants, ending up as General Manager and Wine Director. Today, Barnaby and wife Olga are evangelists for Alpine-style winemaking: Their feather-light pinot noir (think 11.5% ABV), blanc, silvaner, chasselas and riesling make one want to run through the hills singing “Edelweiss.” And did we mention they import unknown family labels from the Mosel? Yes, they’re that cool.