Sunday, November 22, 2015

Nouveau Division Crawl 2015: Celebrating France, Oregon and the newly harvested wines

The weather warmed and spirits, dampened by the terrorist attacks in Paris, lightened a little last Thursday night. The Nouveau Division Crawl, now in its second year, was the place to be for wine enthusiasts, foodies and those who just wanted an excuse to socialize.

It’s traditional to taste the first wine of the vintage on the third Thursday of each November, so the SE Wine Collective decided to take the party to the streets and set up a cruise along Portland’s restaurant row.

I parked a block away and walked up to the SE Wine Collective to sign in and experience my first tastings of the evening. A sparkling Eiffel Tower decoration and the tricolor flag of France welcomed everyone. Inside the barrel room five tasting stations were set up.

Each of the participating locations for the evening would host a tasting of a new wine such as Beaujolais/Gamay Nouveau and a delicious bite representing their cuisine.

Needless to say, the party atmosphere at the SE Wine Collective kept me there well into the first hour. Chef Althea Grey Potter sent me out into the night with a delicious bite of pork belly confit with smoked butternut squash purée and a smile.

Before participants reached the corner, they were offered Pizza Margherita from Cibo.

And then it was a short few blocks to another favorite, Boulangerie St. Honoré, for a savory smoked pork loin with rose-apple butter, apple and fennel slaw paired with a real French Beaujolais Nouveau. Crawl participants were serenaded as we sipped and ate.

The wine kept flowing and the food kept being served all the way down SE Division. Pedi cabs were on duty to get you back to your car or to transport you along the street.

I ended my evening with a Nouveau Pinot Sorbet at Salt & Straw. As I enjoyed the sorbet on a cone, I couldn’t help but notice all the Thanksgiving flavors on the chalkboard. Salt & Straw has gone over the top with creativity again this season.

The pours and bites were more than generous. Participants enjoyed an evening of fun, food and new wine for $25 each (pre-purchased tickets) which is very easy on the pocketbook.

And, for those who managed to visit all seven stops on the crawl and return a completed punch card that same day to the SE Wine Collective, they received a complimentary wine tasting flight for a later use!

This year’s participants in the festivities included Cibo, Imperial Bottle Shop, Pizza Maria, Salt &Straw, Southeast Wine Collective, St. Honoré Boulangerie, Sunshine Tavern, Woodsman Tavern and more.

I highly recommend this event and urge you to watch for next year’s Nouveau Division Crawl. I came away this year with good memories of the cheerful purveyors as well as good food and wine during what had been a difficult week in the world.


Note: As is common in the travel industry, the writer was provided with a complimentary event ticket for the purpose of review. While it has not influenced this review, the writer believes in full disclosure of all potential conflicts of interest.