Andrea’s review of Cooper’s Hall in the paper this week got me thinking about a lesser known tasting room that also does remarkable food called Tesóaria. Located on North Williams, it’s the Portland outpost of Tesóaria winery and vineyard in Roseburg. Winemaker John Olson takes the approach that if a wine seems fun to make, he’ll make it, which means that as well as the ubiquitous Pinot you’ll find around a dozen other varieties, from Vermentino to Dolcetto to a Port-style wine. Many of the wines are very good indeed—the Sangiovese and Bull’s Blood are pretty spectacular—though occasionally one will crop up that doesn’t quite hit the mark, which given the range is perhaps not surprising. Still, they are all available to taste, with generous pours and if Olson is around, an accompanying story to go with it; there are usually a couple of barrels to sample from, too.
The other half of the equation is Chef Max’s food—he prepares a range of dishes to match the wines, and he’ll have cheese and charcuterie to match specific flights, as well as bites to accompany the sweeter wines (including an incredible house made candy bar). There’s a short list of tapas dishes that are carefully constructed, such as white bean spread with seared oyster mushrooms and toast, and house made truffle potato chips. It’s top-notch stuff, especially considering the wine is supposed to be the star. Last time I was in there, Max was developing his pizzas and served up a stunning blue cheese, mozzarella and red onion slice that also included a cabernet reduction. The crust was thin and crispy enough to give any of the players in town a run for their money.
They have events, music nights and are currently running pizza nights on Tuesdays; tonight they’re running a version of the TV show Chopped, where Chef Max is given a bunch of ingredients to turn into a three-course dinner. It’s that kind of place, fun and informal, where they take their products (but not themselves) all too seriously. TeSoAria Portland Tasting Room, 4003 N Williams Avenue