The Da Vinci IQ Has The Sleekest App Integration I’ve Yet Encountered and a Ceramic Oven That Produces Tasty Clouds

The first time I saw a vape with an app, I was very excited. The original make of the first brand I encountered with an app, the Firefly, underwhelmed me. But with iPhone-based controls and some other new features, it seemed like the second edition would be a game-changer.

Well, I didn’t really like the Firefly 2, which I found buggy. That feeling is not universal—the Portland Mercury’s cannabis columnist called it “the best portable vaporizer on the market,” after getting the exact same review model I had—but for me it that opinion is rather deeply held. I’ve been a loyal Pax man since.

Related: The Best Affordable Vaporizers of 2016

Well, the DaVinci IQ ($275) might finally flip me. This handheld loose-leaf vaporizer is one of the sleekest I’ve yet seen.

And that starts with the app. While the forthcoming Pax 3 also has an app, it’s not yet ready to link to the latest Pax, which has the same body as the Pax 2.

The DaVinci IQ’s app is up and running, and boy is it slick. It’s totally intuitive, makes a connection as easily as Bluetooth headphones and allows you to set up custom preset paths to bake the most out of any particular flower over a set time period. It heats up fast—about 2 degrees per second—and displays the temperature on a retro-futuristic array of dots.

There’s not many details to talk about with the app, which is the highest compliment you can give it. As far as I can tell, it’s accurate, gently toasting at 300 and charring a little once you move above 400. If you keep it up near 420 for any length of time, it also runs too hot to hold comfortably in your hand.

The body is about the size of a slide-open cellphone with nice rounded edges and a reassuring heft. It’s a bottom-loader with a battery that recharges inside the device by micro USB.

Like the Firefly (but unlike the Pax), it has a ceramic bowl and air path, which I find very easy to clean. At least when it’s new, a few taps leaves it looking like it did when it left the factory. I also found it makes for tastier vapor, a little smoother and milder than you get from flower baked in metal.

Related: Looking for a Portable Loose-Leaf Vape? Check These Out.

Like Pax, the DaVinci line makes a wide range of accessories, from a keychain pick to a little cloth carrying case. At least for now, little goodies like that $15 carry case, an adapter for glass, and a little aluminum bud box come with it, which definitely left me feeling like a baller.

Once the Pax 3 and app are fully operational, it’ll be interesting to compare and contrast the two. But if you’re shopping around, you should definitely check out the DaVinci.

Art Is More Important Now Than Ever—And We Can All Do Better

When people’s lives are being threatened because of the color of their skin or the way they pray, when people are having bottles broken over their noses because of whom they love, when families have to worry about being separated by mass deportation, when swastikas are being etched on walls, when nothing feels safe anymore, it’s easy to think that art doesn’t matter.

But that couldn’t be further from the truth. Never is art more essential than in times of separation; it is the ultimate force of creativity, hope, reflection and revolution.

What art does best is to hold up a mirror to the full spectrum of our humanity, to shine a light on our greatest failings alongside our greatest virtues.

I have seen so many things in the past year that have given me reason to feel optimistic at a time when it feels like the world is crumbling.

At Portland Art Museum, I witnessed Native photographers Will Wilson, Wendy Red Star and Zig Jackson gracefully challenge the legacy of Edward Curtis, the white ethnographer whose documentation of Native communities had frozen them in time for a century. These artists took back agency and humor, they honored the women that Curtis had effectively erased from history, they offered collaboration in place of exploitation.

I saw an exhibition at Blue Sky Gallery by photographer Jim Lommasson, who travels the country collaborating with Iraqi and Syrian refugees for the project What We Carried. Lommasson photographs the objects that are most dear to his collaborators and invites them to write their stories on the photos. He has recently been asked to extend the project to include Holocaust survivors.

I met an artist named Erica Thomas who challenges the patriarchal notion of what success in the art world should look like. She hangs a neon “Artist in Residence” sign in the window wherever she is working, creating a lifelong self-proclaimed artist residency. Her marriage appears on her CV as an ongoing project, the most collaborative work of her life. She empowers us to create without first having to ask for permission.

I sat for a one-on-one performance with artist Sharyll Burroughs, who rejects the label “artist of color,” because her work seeks to prove that all language and categorization is too small to contain the full breadth of our humanness.

Related: A Portland Performance Artist Turns Racist Imagery and Words Into a Lesson

At the show The Soul of Black Art at Upfor Gallery, I wept in front of a pair of images, hung side by side. The first was a photo from the Jim Crow South, in which an elderly black man climbs a steep set of stairs to get to the colored entrance of a movie theater. In the photo next to it, another black man climbs another steep set of stairs, but it was President Obama boarding Air Force One.

Before I had a chance to allow the full extent of that progress to wash over me, I turned to the adjacent wall. On it hung a diptych by painter Arvie Smith depicting a mob of white women and men with guns hanging black men from trees by shackles, slave ships in the distance.

This is art’s job. It keeps us honest by telling us how far we’ve come in the same breath as it reminds us how much farther we need to go.

To those of us in the art world who care so deeply about nurturing a culture that is inclusive, this is our time to be activists. Curators, arts writers, arts editors, gallery owners, board and jury members, administrators of large funding bodies: We must recognize the awesome responsibility of being gatekeepers, of being among the privileged few who help to determine an artist’s creative and financial viability in the marketplace. And we must use that power with care.

To my fellow arts writers: Go out of your way to see shows of underrepresented artists. Every review you give to an artist of color, a female artist, or a queer artist adds a line to their résumé, which makes him or her a more competitive candidate for grants, fellowships, residencies and future exhibitions. And if you are a white writer reviewing an artist of color, if you are a man reviewing a woman’s show, if you are a straight person reviewing a queer artist, be mindful of how you impose your experiences and your perspective on their work; we are not always equipped to properly contextualize it. Through interviews, we can allow these artists to speak about their work in their own words before we seek to comment on it. Take the extra time to get the artist on the phone.

To all of the curators, gallery owners, and executive directors of arts institutions: Continue showing work of underrepresented artists. Double down. But don’t expect that this in itself will be enough to engage the communities that have felt unwelcomed, unwanted and unrepresented for a long time in the white-box art world.

Related: Portland’s Newest Gallery Is Only Representing Female Artists

Most of the people who have influence in the art world have slowly worked their way up within galleries or arts nonprofits. So if you’re in a position to hire people for entry- and midlevel positions, extend your search beyond the pool of graduates from the local art schools and consider interns, preparators and gallery assistants from other communities. Establish curatorial fellowships for people who have an abiding passion for the arts but have not, perhaps, had the luxury of consistent exposure to the art world or a formal arts education.

To those of you who, so far, think that this article doesn’t pertain to you because you don’t consider yourself to be a part of the art world, please hear me: You are even more essential to the arts than the rest of us. You are the audience. You are, quite literally, our reason for being. So, please, after you’ve taken to the streets, take to the galleries and the museums. In our city, where 42 percent of the population is without religious affiliation, these institutions are our houses of worship. They connect us with something greater than ourselves. They offer the comfort and solace of beauty, and provide endless examples of what the human hand can do when it is guided by the heart. I promise it will astonish you.

Going to the galleries is always free, and the Portland Art Museum offers free admission on the first Thursday of every month, so if you’re a student or you have a large family, please don’t let finances be a barrier. If you want to go to the galleries but you feel unwelcome or intimidated by the prospect, or if you feel self-conscious about asking the wrong questions, email me and I will take you on a tour myself. (It is worth noting that you are in good company; I do this for a living, and there are still a few galleries where I, too, feel unwelcome.)

And to all of the artists out there: Take to your studios. Channel your outrage, your fear, your anger and sadness into a painting, a sculpture, a play, a dance performance, a film, a photograph, an essay, a drawing. Channel your optimism into something beautiful. Your creativity gives us hope; it opens up pathways of empathy, vulnerability and understanding. Creation counteracts destruction. Keep creating, friends. Keep putting meaningful things into the world. For yourself. For all of us. We need you now more than ever.

Kasbah Moroccan Cafe Serves Up North African Pastries, Stews and Spice

“The Ottomans went a lot of places,” Kasbah Moroccan Cafe co-owner Naji Bouhmid says as he takes our order, “but they never came to Morocco.”

(Thomas Teal)

In a tiny salmon-toned Old Town breakfast-and-lunch counter-service spot—advertised by the unlikely smiling face of Bill Murray on a poster from ill-fated film Rock the Kasbah—Bouhmid is a warm ambassador for a Moroccan cuisine he’s eager to differentiate from Greek- and Turkish-inflected Mediterranean and Middle Eastern fare. The cuisine, like the language, is a unique mélange of Spanish, French, Arab and Berbere influences.


Once home only to theme restaurants like Marrakesh, Portland has recently welcomed an influx of more casual Moroccan fare; Kasbah is the second excellent quick-service spot with cooks from food haven Fez to open in Portland in the past two years, alongside food cart La Camel and its sublime lamb-shank tagine. Bouhmid, for his part, learned to cook seriously from a neighbor in Fez who’d served the country’s onetime king.

Related: La Camel Is WW’s Fourth Place Food Cart of the Year

Whatever you do at Kasbah, always get the bastilla ($7), the almond and chicken pastry that is one of the world’s truly great comfort foods. The cinnamon- and sugar-dusted bun arrives hearth-warm, sweet and savory and blooming with coriander—made with airy, flaky warka dough that’s a slightly more ethereal cousin of the phyllo used in baklava, its layered leaves so thin they’re practically transparent. Once you’ve had the bastilla here, you will crave it anytime you’re nearby. Consider it a reminder always to escape Old Town by 5 pm, the time Kasbah closes on weekdays.

(Thomas Teal)

If you’re eating in, get the tray of sweet mint tea—which Bouhmid may teach you how to serve by filling the cups often and shallowly, raising the tea kettle high to allow the hot tea to both cool and breathe even before it hits the cup.

(Thomas Teal)

Tagines—stews named after the dish they’re cooked and often served in—are probably the most familiar of Moroccan cuisines for most Americans. Among the hearty tomato-stewed versions served here alongside griddled sunnyside-up eggs, go for the tender kefteh meatball stew over the somewhat rubbery merguez, and find as much comfort there as from any Sicilian grandma. I did find myself longing, however, for the pungent Spanish olives I fell in love with in the tagines of Spain and Tangier, over the generous pile of familiar Italian greens on offer here.

(Thomas Teal)

What makes Kasbah unique in town are its wide array of starters, such as the housemade batbot flatbread served with a three-deep array of intense sauces for $8 (or $3.50 singly), including a zaalouk eggplant puree bracingly dense with fresh garlic, a bakoula dip of wilted greens and olives, and a blessedly spicy bissara that’s a bit like a fava bean cousin of hummus.

The salads are a pungent school in North African spice and bright acidity, from a beautiful cilantro-cumin-cinnamon carrot salad ($3.50) laden with surprising heat to a vinegared potato salad topped with egg ($3.50) that puts the Germans to sad shame, and a refreshing, fast-pickled beet salad topped with parsley and onion ($3.50).

(Thomas Teal)

For breakfast, Kasbah offers eggier versions of the kefteh and merguez, a saucy omelet of the day that came, on our day, with a wealth of olives and veggies, and a cream cheese- and kefta-stuffed batbot pita made into a breakfast sandwich by the addition of egg ($6.50). Immediately, it’s one of my favorite breakfast sandwiches in town—toasty, fatty and spicy. But if you ask nicely, you might be able to get that bastilla meat doughnut in the morning as well—proof that Christmas spice can come early even in a terrible year.

EAT: Kasbah Moroccan Cafe, 201 NW Davis St., 971-544-0875. 7 am-5 pm Monday-Friday, 11:30 am-7:30 pm Saturday.

Remember When Infamous Thief Carmen Sandiego Stole All the Benson Bubblers?

Longtime Portlanders will remember waking up on the morning of June 9, 1993, to the news that all 52 original Benson Bubblers mysteriously vanished overnight. The crime shook the city. The Benson Bubblers were not only a truly unique historical treasure, they were also a crucial source of drinking water for the city’s homeless population and birds.

For weeks, the case went nowhere. That is, until ACME Crimenet agents recovered the bubblers and pinned the daring heist on none other than the notorious Carmen Sandiego. We recently caught up with Carmen, who is retired and married to a man from this area.

Dr. Millar: Thanks for taking the time to chat with me, Carmen.

Carmen Lakeoswego: It’s no problem. I love visiting Portland. James and I have a couple of properties here that we rent as Airbnbs. It’s nice. I love the sharing economy.

DM: Take me back to the crime. How did you set your sights on sleepy little Portland?

CL: That was a very busy time in my life. It was one caper after another, and each one had to top the one before it. It was stressful! In the months leading up to the Benson Bubblers, I had taken the Leaning Tower of Pisa, the Easter Island moai, and all of the sushi in Japan. People were always asking me, “What’s next for Carmen Sandiego?” I finally said, “Enough is enough!” I decided I wanted to go somewhere relatively quiet and steal something that people didn’t really care about.

DM: Talk to me about what you remember from that era of Portland.

CL: Portland was such a hip city back then. You walked around and there was a kinetic energy in the air. I remember doing a lot of shopping at the mall—what’s the mall called? The Lloyd Center? I think that’s it—and people would just walk up to me and start talking about the weirdest shit. Just whatever was on their minds. I did a lot of traveling back then, and that didn’t happen anywhere else.

DM: In what ways have you noticed Portland has changed since then?

CL: Portland is still a cool city, but in a much different way. I’m not sure I can explain it, except to say that back then, I was quite comfortable walking around in my crimson trench coat and floppy crimson wide-brimmed hat. I didn’t feel out of place. Now, though? I feel like people are more likely to stare or snicker. It’s like you get in a line at Disneyland and then you see a sign that says, “You must be at least this cool to ride.” To answer your question, even though there are lots of new buildings and so many of the neighborhoods have changed, the biggest change is probably the attitude and culture of the people.

DM: Unfortunate, isn’t it? One thing I’ve always wondered, just what did you do with the Benson Bubblers after you stole them?

CL: The same thing I did with everything else I stole. I had a giant warehouse, and I pretty much just kept them there. I had them cleaned, and I hooked them up to some water pipes, and I drank out of them a few times, but I didn’t really get it. Honestly, I never really did anything with any of the crap I stole. (Laughs)

DM: Thanks for taking the time to speak with me, Carmen.

CL: Thanks for having me.

“Future Sex” Explores Free Love Through Feminist Porn, Polyamory and Online Dating—Here Are the Book’s Four Most Interesting Moments

As Donald Trump is elected with promises of retracting reproductive rights, Emily Witt has been charting the places sex has been heading in an age of relative freedom, collected in her new, oddly moving book Future Sex (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 210 pages, $25), which I now want to buy for everyone I know. We can only hope the new frontier of free love Witt wryly explores through research and personal anecdotes—more open, honest, female-centric sex, assisted by New Age ideals and the tech industry—can continue to exist. Here are four of the most interesting moments and insights from Future Sex.

1. There is something called orgasmic meditation, propelled by San Francisco company OneTaste, whose mission is to “bring female orgasm to the world.” The woman lies on a towel while the man puts on gloves with a dollop of lube and rubs her clitoris for 15 minutes. The practice is meant to allow for an intimate connection but preserve an emotional distance: “Her partner needed only to know what he was doing and respect the boundaries. She did not have to love or even like him,” Witt writes.

2. was created by a self-described “kind of loser” computer scientist, but had a sexist reputation because the early internet excluded women—so he hired a team of female marketers. They forbade sexually explicit content, included questions about relationships and children, banned the mention of biological clocks, and published content offering women safety advice. They gave the site its clean interface and heart-shaped logo. Now, it’s the most-used dating site in the country.

3. A 1984 early feminist porn video shows a woman having unfulfilling sex with “an uncaring bodybuilder type” before asking him to leave. She sits alone underneath a Georgia O’Keefe-style painting before having sex with someone else “over animated backdrops of autumn leaves and lotus flowers.” Climax is depicted by “an explosion of early-1980s computer effects with a roiling saxophone accompaniment.” Today, there’s a feminist porn video depicting “a woman being turned on by watching a man assemble IKEA furniture.” Hot.

4. On a website called Chaturbate, Witt watched 19-year-old Edith who, for hours, “seduced her audience by dressing like an American Apparel model, revealing the depth of her existential despair,” discussing Camus and talking about why she was celibate. “For more than 1,700 viewers, she sat on the floor naked next to a pair of ballet slippers with an unlit cigarette in her hand.”

SEE IT: Emily Witt reads at Powell’s City of Books, 1005 W Burnside St., 503-228-4651,, on Thursday, Nov. 17. 7:30 pm. Free.

Inbox: Letters About Anti-Trump Protests, Parking for Apartments

Trump Protest Turns Violent

When a fellow “protester” is wearing a hoodie and a mask, carrying a baseball bat and rocks, you might want to assume they don’t hold your views and are going to hijack your cause [“Portland Anti-Trump Protest Turns to Chaos as Anarchists Smash Cars and Bus Stops,”, Nov. 10, 2016].

Police yourselves and stand up for the 99 percent. You know, the small-business owner who provides goods, services and jobs. The guy or gal who this morning is going to tell his employees to stay home while he waits for the insurance adjuster and glazier.

You outnumber the anarchists. Stand up to them, because today we don’t remember your voices, we remember the damage that was caused.

—John Retzlaff

This is about revolution. Destruction of property and sabotage are legitimate when it is done to the detriment to the bourgeoisie. Those who do not participate in revolution and defend the capitalist status quo are nothing more than traitors to the proletariat.

—Faolan Baldwin

Parking for New Apartments

I’m glad to hear Mayor-elect Ted Wheeler understands we don’t need a 1950s-style parking policy, and have more current tools to better match the supply with the demand [“Car Crushers,WW, Nov. 9, 2016].

The market can build parking where it’s needed. We don’t need to mandate each housing unit have a car-storage space costing $15,000 to $50,000, especially when the future of self-driving cars and shared mobility is soon upon us.

—Evan Manvel

Municipalities are famously bad at guessing how much parking is required for all potential land uses. Regulate where parking is located on the site, and let private property owners take the risk of delivering too much or too little parking.

Unlike many places, Portland is where people have actual options on how they spend their rent and transportation dollars. Cheaper rents are found in Beaverton or Vancouver, but that cheaper rent comes with higher transportation costs.

—R. John Anderson


A story on Ammon Bundy’s acquittal (“The Prosecution Flops,WW, Nov. 2, 2016) incorrectly stated that prosecutors spent nearly $12 million preparing for the trial. In fact, U.S. Attorney for Oregon Billy Williams told The Oregonian that law enforcement agencies spent that figure responding to the Malheur occupation. WW regrets the error.

Last week’s Dr. Know column correctly stated that county and municipal judges are not required to be members of the Oregon State Bar. But judges in the Multnomah County Circuit Court, a state court, must be bar members.

Letters to the editor must include the author’s street address and phone number for verification. Letters must be 250 or fewer words. Submit to: 2220 NW Quimby St., Portland, OR 97210. Email:

Is There a Public Listing of Local Business Owners Who Voted for Trump So I Can Boycott Them?

Is there a public listing of local business owners who voted for Trump so I can boycott them? Thank you! —Nan G.

I hate to rain on your parade, Nan—especially since it’s already a funeral parade—but (a) that’s not going to do a damned bit of good, and (b) no.

Let’s address the second objection first. As you would recall if there were still such a thing as high school civics classes, the U.S. has a long tradition of voting by secret ballot, rendering your proposed mini-reprisal impossible.

It was not always thus—until the late 19th century, each party would print its own pre-filled ballots, which were easily distinguishable from their rivals’ slates by color. Anyone hanging around the polls could easily tell who you’d voted for.

This turned out to be very handy for anyone who might have paid you for your vote, and by 1888, vote-buying was so rampant, flagrant, blatant—and possibly even piquant—that everyone agrees it cost Grover Cleveland the presidency. Most states adopted secret balloting (pioneered in Australia—shout-out!) soon thereafter.

And anyway, even if you could boycott Trump voters, that’s a pretty anodyne response to a pretty intractable problem.

That problem, by the way, isn’t that we’re totally fucked now (though we are). The problem is that we’ve been almost totally fucked since 2010, and nobody noticed. That’s when Republicans captured enough statehouses to gerrymander the congressional map.

Since then, Barack Obama has essentially been playing goalie on a one-man hockey team, but only now that the ice is completely empty is the well-deserved panic setting in.

In short, your mission isn’t to switch gutter-cleaning services, it’s to get those state legislatures back before the 2020 redistricting, assuming we live that long.

Howard Dean had a good grip on this idea, and there are rumors he may come out of mothballs to revive the 50-state strategy (Google it). Unprecedented quantities of money directed to state legislative races by folks like you would certainly help. Focus, people, focus.

QUESTIONS? Send them to

The New Addition to the Fixin’ To Has Finally Made Good on the Bar’s Honky-Tonk Aspirations

The Fixin’ To (8218 N Lombard St., 503-477-4995) has always been a little bit outlaw-country, a little bit rock ’n’ roll. But when the playfully ramshackle, vaguely Southern-themed St. Johns bar announced plans to expand into a concert venue earlier this year, it was easy to assume what that meant: put in a makeshift stage, install a low-end PA system, and, voila, you’re a club now!

The Fixin' To
(Will Corwin)

Related: The Fixin’ To Is Expanding Into a Concert Venue

Instead, the new addition—a self-contained, 100-capacity appendage built out from the main room—has finally made good on the bar’s honky-tonk aspirations. The decor mixes Elks Lodge kitsch with handsome newness. Antlers, a taxidermied boar’s head, framed black-and-white found photographs and a majestic deer tapestry line the unscuffed blue-green walls.

The Fixin' To
(Will Corwin)

A velvet painting of Elvis sits behind a surprisingly spacious shin-high wooden stage, and the window at the back of the room assures you won’t have to leave midset to restock on Hamm’s.

The Fixin' To
(Will Corwin)

Related: These Happy Hours Are So Cheap—It’s Unreal

The Fixin' To
(Will Corwin)

Since opening this summer, the calendar has filled with emerging local indie acts, a weekly Sunday concert night and even a little hip-hop, filling a void in North Portland music venues that seems especially crucial with the impending demise of the Know.

Related: The Know Is Closing

The Fixin' To
(Will Corwin)

As for the rest of the place, nothing much has changed: the food menu is still all Southern comfort, the cocktail names still reference the Ramones and Kiss, and a portrait of a young Bill Clinton is still on prominent display. Now, if only they could get that giant Game Boy arcade machine working.

The Fixin' To
(Will Corwin)

10 Wines That Will Change Your Life

I recently tried a new Oregon pinot noir from Nicholas Jay, a new Oregon wine concern from California with some high-end backing, made by a moonlighting winemaker from Burgundy. The wine cost $65, and I didn’t really dig it.

“This wine won’t change your life,” I told my editors.

This led us down the garden path: Are there wines that cost $65 or less that you can buy in Portland that will verifiably change your life—or at least what you think about wine?

Happily the answer is a resounding “yes.” All of these 10 bottles are available in retail wine shops across the city, and all of them are not just delicious, but delicious in a way that will make you think differently about wine in general. Either they show new possibilities for grapes whose potential you thought was exhausted, like Oregon’s ubiquitous pinot noir, or may even introduce you to flavors and varietals of wine you never knew existed.

Wine doesn’t have to be expensive, but if you’re spending more than $30, you better be damn sure the bottle doesn’t suck. These very much don’t.

COS Pithos Bianco, Sicily
$33 at Liner & Elsen, 2222 NW Quimby St., 503-241-9463,


Sicily is a hotbed of natural winemaking, working with indigenous wine varietals and old-school winemaking techniques. Giambattista Cilia, Giusto Occhipinti and Pinuccia Strano make wine together as COS, and their orange wine, Pithos Bianco, is a total mind-blower for first-time drinkers of orange wine—wines fermented in contact with the grape skin—and experienced winos alike. This wine is made from the obscure grecanico grape, vinified in clay amphora buried in the ground. The result is a wine with the weight of a red, but made from white grapes, with a color and flavor spectrum totally out of the ordinary.

Ridge Estate Cabernet Sauvignon, Santa Cruz, Calif.
$50 at Liner & Elsen.


California wine is boring and expensive, cabernet sauvignon is lame, and drinking anything with oak on it is a waste of time. And yet, one of the original Cult Cab winemakers from California, Ridge, makes an outstanding and accessible take on varietal cabernet from its estate vineyards in the Santa Cruz Mountains, where it’s been operating since 1962. Wine practices here are sneakily natural: Ridge uses only native yeasts, and minimal amounts of sulfur dioxide (those sulfites you keep hearing about). Sometimes you just want a big fucking bottle of red wine to pair with red meat, dammit. This is that but so much more—a living expression of hallowed terroir, a benchmark for American craft winemaking, an inspiration for today’s generation of hip, young winemakers—and a wonderful baseline to set against the other, weirder wines on this list.

Teutonic Alsea Pinot Noir, Alsea, Ore.
$50 at Division Wines, 3564 SE Division St., 503-234-7281,


Some of the most singular wine in the state of Oregon gets made at Barnaby and Olga Tuttle’s Teutonic Wines, just off Southeast Powell Boulevard. They make a variety of affordable, accessible German-inspired whites, but this is the heavy hitter, taken from the tiny Alsea Vineyard in the Oregon Coast Range, just 22 miles from the ocean. The Tuttles planted this vineyard themselves in 2005, interspersed with wild plants and beehives. It is the antithesis to every boring-ass Oregon pinot you’ve tried in that it is lean, linear and not at all jammy or Syrah-like, which is the knock on a lot of what’s made here. By looking to Alsace and Germany for inspiration instead of Burgundy and California, the Tuttles are making some of our state’s most singular pinot from a wild coastal vineyard. Buy a bottle now and dive in, or if patience is your jam, set this somewhere cool for a decade and forget it—this wine is due to morph and mutate in weird, wonderful ways over the next 10 years.

2011 Cowhorn Syrah, Jacksonville, Ore.
$46 at Division Wines.


Wine from Southern Oregon is about to blow up, and Cowhorn Wines in the Applegate Valley is at the head of the pack. It uses the region’s hot climate to good advantage, planting Rhône varietals that struggle further north, like roussane, marsanne, and some truly delicious syrah. This 2011 Biodynamic Estate Syrah is truly dope, coming on with big blackberry notes up front before smoothing out into something more elegant, reminiscent of the wines of Saint-Joseph in the northern Rhône. Drink this with barbecue—Rhônes and bones, brah.

Day Wines Running Bare, Dundee, Ore.
$33 at Mt. Tabor Fine Wines, 4316 SE Hawthorne Blvd., 503-235-4444,


More dope Southern Oregon wine, this time from Applegate Valley shaman Herb Quady, who grows some of the state’s tastiest cabernet franc at his vineyards down south. Brianne Day is quite simply one of Oregon’s most exciting winemakers, and this wine—inspired by Basque wines from Southwest France—is evidence enough to back that claim. It’s a blend of cab franc, tannat, and côt (called malbec in Argentina) that tastes like tobacco, olives and blood. You could blind-taste this with a thousand geeks and they’d never guess it was from Oregon. Or you can just drink it, like a normal person, and dig on all that texture and depth.

Paolo Bea San Valentino, Umbria, Italy
$40 at Pastaworks Wine at Providore Fine Foods, 2340 NE Sandy Blvd., 503-232-1010,


Pastaworks boasts some of Portland’s best wine at its two retail location—in Providore on Sandy and City Market on Northwest 21st Avenue—especially for imports from Italy. Wines from the region of Umbria are often overlooked, but the Bea wines stand out. Brothers Giuseppe and Giampiero Bea make wine from a vineyard their family has owned since at least the 15th century, growing olives, grains and grapes across 15 hectares. This is some of the most beautiful, pure, utterly natural wine made anywhere in the world—San Valentino is their entry-level red, made primarily from sangiovese, and it tastes like flowers and black tea, Chinese five-spice and tar. This is a great place to start with Paolo Bea, but if you come across any of their orange wines, buy it up and save a bottle for me.

2013 Kelley Fox Momtazi Vineyard Pinot Noir, McMinnville, Ore.
$43 at E&R Wine Shop, 6141 SW Macadam Ave., 503-246-6101,


I would mention Kelley Fox in the same breath as Brianne Day as one of Oregon’s most exciting winemakers, but their wines are utterly different. If Day Wines are a kaleidoscope of styles and experimentation, then Kelley Fox is mining more traditional territory, albeit with uncommon verve and touch. For my money, her pinots are perhaps Oregon’s best, channeling Volnay Burgundy in their complex, feminine expression of the grape. Not much of this stuff gets made, and it is an antidote to every woody, pricey pinot you wasted cash on. Fox’s Momtazi is a great place to start, from the biodynamic vineyards of the Momtazi family behind Maysara Wines.

Marie Courtin Champagne Resonance, Polisot, France
$57 at E&R Wine Shop.


Champagne is one of the wealthiest wine-growing regions in the world, second only to Bordeaux. For hundreds of years, the Champagne trade has been dominated by large blending houses—familiar names like Krug, Moët & Chandon, Veuve Clicquot and Louis Roederer. Some of these houses make delicious wine, but the grapes have to come from somewhere—and it turns out the humble farmers of the region make killer grapes on their own. Behind the big-money scenes in Champagne is a movement toward focusing on these farmer-winemaker bottlings, dubbed “grower Champagne,” indicated by the bottling label term RM (récoltant-manipulant). A star of the grower Champagne movement, Dominique Moreau makes wine as Marie Courtin—her grandmother’s name—in the southern Champagne village of Polisot. Most growers in Champagne sell their grapes to large blending houses; Moreau makes hers into utterly singular (and comparatively affordable) expressions of place. Resonance is made from 100 percent pinot noir, farmed biodynamically, vinified in stainless steel tanks, which means all that glorious yeasty pinot funk and fruit is preserved, resulting in a wine that smells as unique as it tastes. I don’t care how much cash you have—$100 or $1,000 or whatever—this is some of the best Champagne money can buy, and serves as a wonderful place to start for exploring the glories of small-batch grower Champagne.

Christophe Mignon Champagne Rosé de Saignée, Épernay, France
$60 at E&R Wine Shop.


Our construct for this article—life-changing wine under $65—means we can sneak in another wonderful Champagne, this time from Christophe Mignon, a grower-winemaker near the village of Épernay. Mignon specializes in pinot meunier, the third grape in the Champagne trilogy (behind pinot noir and chardonnay), meaning this is a single-grape variety Champagne from the runty little brother of the region—resulting in a wine totally unique and different from commercial blended Champagne (yellow-label Veuve at Safeway, we’re looking at you). Rosé de saignée is a formerly obscure (and now hotly en vogue) style of Champagne-making in which the skin contact from grapes imparts color and flavor on the wine; in Mignon’s hands, using 100 percent pinot meunier, the results are about as unique and mind-blowing as Champagne gets. Think rose petals, oolong tea, Christmas spices, herbal liqueurs, sassafras, licorice, fruitcake—a children’s treasury of tasting notes that keep giving and giving. If you splash out for one wine on this list, consider making it this one.

Ganevat Macvin du Jura, France
$39 at Vinopolis, 1610 NW Glisan St, 503-223-6002,


Dessert wine is not cool, but this is a truly cool fortified dessert-style wine that you can drink whenever. It hails from the Jura, a rural backwater in eastern Alpine France that is a darling destination of the natural-wine world, and Macvin is the buzz-inducing farmer tipple of the region. Start with base wine from late harvest, when sugar content is highest—Ganevat uses savagnin, an obscure Jura grape—then add a regional take on eau-de-vie called “Marc du Jura”, combining at a ratio of two parts wine to one part booze. The result is something sweet, deeply complex, and boozy without overpowering you, almost in the same flavorscape as vermouth or chartreuse, though it’s made completely differently. Jean-François Ganevat (“Fanfan” to his friends) is one of the Jura’s buzziest producers, and his macvin is the truth. Dessert wine can be cool—there, I blew your mind.