Great Northwest Wine Blog Reviews

Portland Wine Company’s reserve approach to the noble grape of Germany is not your grandmother’s Riesling — unless, by chance, her name is Brunhilda. The greenish hue of the drink comes with heavy vapors of diesel and petrol, joined by gooseberry, lychee nut and Thompson Seedless grapes. Across the palate it takes nerdy, nervy and succulent approach with fresh gooseberry, Granny Smith apple peel and lime pith. A bit of the petrol also trickles into the flavors, backed by a structure that’s a dry as bone and unusually lowin alcohol. The IRF Scale portrays this blend of Brooks Vineyard (66%), planted in 1976, and Cherry Grove Vineyard as “dry.” And the chemistry from this cool vintage reflects that rocket ship ride with the pH at 2.86, titratable acidity of 11.8 grams per liter and lemon/lime residual sugar down around 0.6%.

Rating: Recommended
Production: 54 cases
Alcohol: 9.9%

Portland vintner Matt Berson works with Temperance Hill in the Eola-Amity Hills, Winter’s Hill in the Dundee Hills and Saikkonen Vineyard on Ribbon Ridge for this Pommard-leaning Pinot Noir, and the Antsy Pants reference represents the barrel select tier for Love and Squalor. It’s indeed a more reserved style of Pinot Noir with aromas of ripe strawberry, dried Montmorency cherry and dried apricots, backed by cherry wood, earthiness, eucalyptus and anise. On the palate, there’s a delicate approach with Bing cherries and pink raspberries, backed by sweet tannins, moderate acidity, a touch of straw and cherry pie filling. Berson holds back the Antsy Pants bottlings until he believes the time is right, and while this would pair well with grilled salmon, the wine’s structure and moderate ABV bodes well for the future.

Rating: Outstanding!
Production: 75 cases
Alcohol: 12.6%

Matt Berson launched this edgy brand in 2007 under his Portland Wine Co., starting with a mere 65 cases. Now, he’s running at a clip of 1,800 cases, and this Riesling serves as a significant portion of his production. The dry-farmed vineyard sources include Brooks, which is poignant because the late Jimi Brooks helped mentor Berson, as well as other 40-year-old plantings such as Cuddihy and Sunnyside. Contributing diversity are Roncali near Eugene and Tunkalilla, the latter a younger site that joins Brooks Vineyard in the Eola-Amity Hills. Aromas of Ambrosia Salad, dried apricot, alyssum and dusty Granny Smith apple also pick up a pinch of spearmint. On the palate, there’s a marvelously dry and Grüner-like entry of Bosc pear, gooseberry, river rock and a touch of raw honey. Citrusy acidity more than balances the residual sugar of 1.3%, which reveals itself as a lick of Jolly Rancher Green Apple candy in the finish. Riesling geeks will appreciate the chemistry numbers of 9.7 TA, 2.92 pH and 10.6% ABV, and it slots in at “medium dry” on the International Riesling Foundation taste profile.

Rating: Outstanding!
Production: 440 cases
Alcohol: 10.6%

About Great Northwest Wine

Articles authored by Great Northwest Wine are co-authored by Eric Degerman and Andy Perdue. In most cases, these are wine reviews that are judged blind by the Great Northwest Wine tasting panel.


PinotFile Review


Matt Berson, the owner and winemaker of Love & Squalor began work in the Oregon wine industry in 2003 at Patricia Green Cellars. He gained additional experience in the cellars of Brooks Wines, J. Christopher, Escarpment, NZ, and Erni Loosen (Dr. Loosen). He has been the assistant winemaker for Ransom Wines and Brooks Wines. Currently, Matt makes his wines in a shared winery in McMinnville, while the home of Love & Squalor is The Portland Wine Company in Portland, Oregon.

Reviewed Wines

2012 Love & Squalor Antsy Pants Willamette Valley Pinot Noir
13.6% alc., pH 3.65, 150 cases, $N/A. Areserve wine produced from selected barrels. Sourced from Saikkonen Vineyard in Ribbon Ridge (32%, clone 667), Cherry Grove Vineyard in Yamhill-Carlton (17%, clone 777), Cuddihy Vineyard in Yamhill-Carlton (17%, unknown clones), Winter’s Hill Vineyard in Dundee Hills (17%, Pommard clone), and Methven Vineyard in Eola-Amity Hills (17%, clone 115). 27% whole cluster, cold soaked for 7 to 8 days. Small-lot fermentations not inoculated and punched down gently by hand or foot. Aged in 33% twoyear- old and 67% neutral French oak barrels for 18 months before bottling on May 22, 2014. · Moderately light reddish purple color in the glass. Nicely perfumed with aromas of black cherry, black raspberry and flower garden. The perfectly ripened fruit makes a statement on the palate and holds on to a lasting, satisfying finish. The wine has shoulders but is still refined. A hint of spice from the whole cluster adds interest, the oak is beautifully integrated, and the overall impression is one of sheer beauty. Should be fine in the cellar long term. Score: 92. Reviewed March 16, 2015 ARTICLE »

2012 Love & Squalor Willamette Valley Pinot Noir
13.6% alc., pH 3.61, TA 0.61, 900 cases, $24. A multi-vineyard and multi-appellation blend. Pommard, 777 and 667 clones. Grapes were mostly de-stemmed (10% whole cluster) and cold soaked for 7 to 8 days. Small-lot fermentations were not inoculated and punched down gently by hand or foot. Aged in mostly neutral French oak barrels for 18 months before bottling on May 22, 2014. · Moderately light reddish purple color in the glass. Tres Pinot, with aromas of black cherry, pomegranate, rose petal and herbs, and the mid weight flavor of black cherry. This wine reflects the ripeness of the vintage and offers easy drinking with suave tannins, complimentary oak, a silky mouthful and a pleasing burst of cherry fruit on the finish. Score: 90. Reviewed March 16, 2015 ARTICLE »

2011 Love & Squalor Antsy Pants Willamette Valley Pinot Noir
12.6% alc., 75 cases, $36. Antsy Pants is the name given to the vintner’s barrel selection bottling of any given vintage, and is a reserve wine. Sourced from Temperance Hill Vineyard in Eola-Amity Hills (34%, Pommard clone)), Winter’s Hill Vineyard in Dundee Hills (33%, Pommard clone) and Saikkonen Vineyard in Ribbon Ridge (33%, clone 667). The grapes are de-stemmed and cold soaked for 7 to 8 days. Small-lot fermentations were not inoculated and punched down gently by hand or foot. Aged 18 months in neutral French oak barrels and racked twice before bottling on April 16, 2013. · Light reddish purple color in the glass. Pleasing aromas of cherry, allspice, violet, bramble and dried herbs. Modest in weight and delicate, but flavorful, with a core of red berry and cherry fruits framed by supple, suede-like tannins. Very silky on the palate with some finish and admirable balance. This wine reflects the vintage nicely. Score: 90. Reviewed March 16, 2015 ARTICLE »

Portland Wine Examiner


Why Wine? An interview with Matt Berson of the Portland Wine Company

December 23, 2014 12:15 PM MST

Michele Francisco

Portland Wine Examiner

This is part of a series introducing you to interesting people in the wine industry. For many, the journey into wine is not only intriguing but often quite an adventure. These talented individuals are what make the wine industry what it is today so follow this series to meet this group of passionate people who have dedicated their lives to wine.

Why Wine? An interview with Matt Berson of the Portland Wine Company and Love & Squalor Wines

Examiner: Was there a specific wine, moment or place that unlocked your passion?

Matt Berson: I was definitely excited when I first tasted the Oregon Rieslings from Ransom and Brooks, and Patty Green’s Pinots. But I just wanted to drink them and meet the people who made them, not make my own. Then fate intervened and I was hanging out with those same winemakers and cleaning their barrels and washing tanks and I was bit with the bug and was in the perfect place to pursue my new passion.

A lot of winemakers have an “aha” wine. Interestingly, it is usually a style or varietal that they are no longer fond of. Mine was a right bank Bordeaux that some tech guys brought into one of the restaurants I worked at and they shared with me. I had never had a merlot like that before. It was delicious and intriguing. I wish I could say it was a Dagueneau or Nuits St. George, but in any case it did the trick.

What did you study in school and what were you doing before you started in the wine industry?

I was a restaurant manager. I came up in the San Francisco food scene of the 90’s. My degree in Modern American Culture from UC Berkeley and my thesis on The History of Disco did little to prepare me for the vinous life. However, my food service experience has been crucial to my success.

How has being in the wine industry changed you?

I always wear grubby clothes and rarely comb my hair. Really it’s made me more connected to the world. At least to the cycles of nature, and to the experiential world. To go from the mud of a vineyard to a consumer drinking and talking about the wine - usually all in the course of one day - is a very full and connected thing.

What’s your favorite part of being in the wine industry?

My favorite part of making wine, and owning my own business, is the continual learning and growth. Rarely a day goes by that I don’t learn something new. My favorite part of being a winemaker is the response I get when someone at a party asks me “ So, what do you do?”

Looking back, was there something in your past that led you to wine?

There is no doubt that growing up with a wide variety of foods on our table, and a mom who loves to cook, and seeing wine on the table too, and travel, lots of travel, and foreign foods. And the VW camper bus breaking down in Bordeaux and then breaking down once again in Champagne. It may all be coincidence, but here I am.

Vinography Review


Coastal Diamonds: The Rieslings of Oregon

About every two years, I get an invite to attend the International Pinot Noir Celebration in Oregon's Willamette Valley. The event continues to be one of the best run and highest quality wine events in the country, with a fantastic combination of excellent wine and equally fantastic food. More about Pinot Noir in a day or two. In addition to attending one of the best wine parties around, IPNC also gives me (and a number of other wine writers) the excuse to do something slightly less expected: taste a lot of Oregon Riesling. Each year following IPNC, the Oregon Riesling Alliance holds a tasting of a recent vintage.  Most people still have no idea that Oregon even grows Riesling, yet amidst the crowded hills of Pinot Noir, there lie an increasing number of Riesling vineyards. So many, in fact that continuing to describe these growers as experimental is as inaccurate as it is unfair.

Riesling has actually been planted in Oregon since the very first days of Oregon viticulture. Pioneering vintner Richard Sommer, whose 1960's Hillcrest Vineyards winery was one of the state's earliest forays into wine, included Riesling as part of his plantings. By 1980 Riesling actually accounted for 25% of the state's plantings. But then Pinot Noir came along and as often happens when a region discovers a gold mine, Riesling all but disappeared.

Today Oregon has close to 800 acres of Riesling, spread across the Umpqua Valley, the Rogue Valley, the Colombia River Valley, and of course, the Willamette Valley. From the perspective of broad climate measures, Oregon fits nicely in the known range for growing Riesling, which likes a cooler climate, known as Region 1 to climate scientists. Other winegrowing areas in Region 1 include Burgundy and Germany's Rhine region.

2011 Love & Squalor "Antsy Pants" Riesling $28
Pale gold in color, this wine smells of mandarin oranges, pink grapefruit, and a hint of candle wax. In the mouth, juicy mandarin zest, pink grapefruit flesh, and lemon pith are beautifully balanced and fresh, with bright, mouthwatering acidity. Very pretty. 54 cases produced.

2012 Love & Squalor Riesling, Willamette Valley $18
Palest greenish gold in color, this wine has a very distinctive nose of ripe pear and ripe papaya aromas. In the mouth, bright tropical fruits, including papaya, mix with pink grapefruit and delicate acidity that has a nice balance to it. Quite distinctive and interesting. Dry. 440 cases produced.

Portland Food & Drink Blog Review

Portland Food & Drink Blog Review

2008 Behemoth Wine “Columbia Valley” Red: "This wine has amazing body and texture. Combine that with its intense dark berry, cocoa and cherry tinged flavors, and its smooth, voluptuous finish, and you have a wine that is begging to be served with something off the grill."

Beyond the Bottle Blog Review

Love & Squalor 2007 Riesling Willamette Valley

Posted by Thad W. on September 24, 2009 09:00 PM | Permalink

What a terrific wine the Love & Squalor 2008 Riesling Willamette Valley (12.4%) is to enjoy with spicy Asian cuisine. This Oregon riesling was a very light straw color in the glass, providing slight hints of petrol and citrus notes.

Citrus fruit flavors, crisp acidity, light texture and a long finish made this wine very enjoyable. There was just enough residual sugar to make this wine shine, without the usual viscous, cloying nature of some rieslings.

We paired the Love & Squalor riesling with beef tenderloin yakitori marinated in miso, sesame oil, soy sauce, garlic, salt and pepper. At $17, this was a very nice wine in terms of its quality to price ratio. I would definitely buy more of this Oregon riesling.

It's unfortunate that the folks at Love & Squalor don't offer more information about who they are and the wines they offer online. I would have placed an order immediately had they offered wine to sell on their site.