I'm not one for end of year "best of" lists. But I know this. One of the best things to happen in the Portland, OR, wine world this past year was the opening of Storyteller Wine Company.
I first met Head Storyteller Michael Alberty in the summer of 2006 at a wine gathering at the Manning's house. Alberty was the mysterious Christopher Walken-looking guy with a bottle of 2001 Pegau Chateauneuf du Pape Cuvee Laurence in his hand.
I immediately liked him. He's funny with a deep but totally unpretentious wine intellect, a great palate, seriously good taste in wine, and he tells great stories. It turns out he's a really good wine merchant too.
Storyteller is two stores really. One is virtual except for the back office of the John's Landing shop itself. Most of the sales here are internet and phone driven, with email specials, a website, and special orders of just about anything available out there. I'm on the email list but I don't special order much. But if you're looking for local stuff, or great Rhones or whatever, Michael's a really good guy to know.
Then there's the shop itself, open officially only Friday evenings and Saturdays. And when Michael's around (look for the Suburu wagon). Or by appointment. The shop is in a former day spa, with a few separate rooms that are different but work well, especially with events.
The tastings here have been consistently good so far, sometimes exceptional. I won't drop names, but Michael's not afraid to open pretty much anything ('05 Tempier Bandol Cabassou, oops) if the mood strikes him.
And it's just not for me, a sort of friend. I pay full price here by the way. No special favors. And I've been in the shop repeatedly where a lady walking her dog or who knows who else has stopped in only to end up drinking grower Champagne or three vintages of Vieux Telegraphe or whatever the line up was. "Oh, that is good, yes. What is that again?"
This is just a plain and simple good wine shop, and definitely one of the best wine things to happen around here in the past year. I look forward to seeing where Storyteller goes in 2008. Alberty's suggesting that bigger things are on the horizon. I'm usually skeptical of anything like that, but knowing Michael, I'm guessing this store has only just gotten started.