Good news for wine lovers in Northeast Portland: the owners of Bar Norman and Vivienne have teamed up to bring a brand-new, $21-and-under natural wine bottle shop to Hollywood, which opens Saturday, October 24. Named Petit Norman, the wine shop is essentially a walk-up window at Robin Wheelright’s homey New American restaurant, Vivienne. Petit Norman will display around 20 wine bottles curated by sommelier Dana Frank of Bar Norman.
This isn’t the first time Wheelright and Frank have worked together. Last year, they hosted a wine dinner series at Vivienne, each focusing on a different region, including Croatia, Alsace, and the Jura region of France.
Both business owners have made adjustments to their business model during the pandemic. Vivienne (4128 NE Sandy Blvd), which would normally be open for sit-down breakfast and lunch, now operates as a walk-up window offering made-to-order items from the menu, like griddled bread pudding, as well as take-and-bake cookie dough, green mac and cheese, and pantry items. Bar Norman’s main location (2615 SE Clinton St), which used to offer bar seating, now operates as a bottle shop that also sells corkscrews and glassware. Petit Norman is a way for Wheelright and Frank to continue collaborating in a pandemic-safe way.
“Surviving as a small business in the pandemic means being creative and thinking of ways to do as much as you can with what you have,” Wheelright says. “We thought, we’ve got these great windows and really want something that can be a walk-up attraction for people.”
Petit Norman will focus on European wines as well as some wines from Oregon, California, Central America, and South America. All the wines are natural according to Frank’s definition: no pesticides or sprays, no additives other than sulfur, the use of wild yeast rather than commercial yeast, and fair labor practices for vineyard workers. Though Frank is a huge proponent of food and wine pairings—she co-wrote a cookbook with wine pairings called Wine Food—the wines at Petit Norman are designed to play nicely with a wide array of dishes, including the menu at Vivienne.
“Because so many of the wines fall into the category of lower alcohol, higher acidity, it means that they’re fresher, and they in general complement a wider array of food across the board,” Frank says. “Flexibility is the name of the game.”
One of the wines Frank is particularly excited about is Cala Cala ($20), a Calabretta wine from Sicily that’s grown on the pumice-filled slopes of Mount Etna. “It’s something that’s a little bit different, a little bit more approachable than some of the reds that come from Sicily, which can be more structured, have a little more tannin and dryness and be a little more serious,” Frank says. “This is a fun, more fresh, approachable style of that wine.”