I have come to the conclusion that Friday’s Thirteen, an article I do each Friday with my review of thirteen wines I’ve tasted over the course of a week, needs to be renamed “Friday’s Five.” Who am I kidding? Most of you don’t have the time or patience to read through thirteen wine reviews. We live in a fast-paced society that screams for fast-paced information. I myself love to read wine reviews because it clues me in on certain wines that I might be interested in. It also gives me ideas on the type of prose I might use in my reviews as well. I’m a wine nerd, that’s for sure. I know there are many like me out there who would not mind reading through thirteen wine reviews. However, I’m going with the odds and shortening my Friday wine reviews to five. The original idea for Friday’s Thirteen was obvious. Every once in a while, the article would actually fall on Friday the thirteenth, which was kind of cool. I guess the point is, I want you to read my reviews, and it will be much easier if I only put five reviews out there each Friday for your perusal. If you have any thoughts on this, let me know in the comments. Am I on to something here, or do you want me to continue the thirteen thing? For now, I am going with Friday’s five, I think it will better.

I recently did a sherry review on my YouTube channel. It was a very cool assignment I gave myself. I had to do a ton of research before I shot it. I’m not much of a sherry drinker myself, but it is a part of the wine world and recently I tasted some I really liked. I now am on a mission to make it a part of my wine drinking experience. It is very versatile with food depending on the style of sherry you choose. Fino and Manzanilla are the lighter and drier versions. They pair well with sushi or a lighter fish dish. Amontillado has a little more complexity, and Oloroso is also complex but sweeter. I immediately thought of a spicy Asian dish with the Oloroso, something I will try in the near future. PX or Pedro Ximenez is just otherworldly. One of the best dessert wines you will put to your lips. I love Port of course, but if you haven’t yet tried a PX, I would encourage you to seek it out.

The excitement builds everyday as our trip to England, Paris and northern Italy gets closer. I am very pumped to make the trek to the land of Barolo and Barbaresco. I hope to set up a couple of interviews with either the wine maker or owner of the wineries we will be visiting. We will also be staying in Verona in the Veneto region, where the wine of the Pope, Amarone is produced. The owner of the store I work at simply adores Amarone. I have to say that I agree with his adoration. However, this region is also famous for the likes of Prosecco, Valpolicella (of which Amarone is the top dog), Bardolino and Soave. Susie loves Soave, so we will stop at one or two wineries there. Basically, I will have a ton of writing material from this trip as well as a few episodes for my YouTube channel. Of course, all work and no play is not a good thing. Susie and I are using this trip as our honeymoon, so there will be a lot of sightseeing and leisure time as well. I can’t think of a better person to travel the world with than my wife Susie. We have the best times together!


Stan The Wine Man

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Since I am going to Italy in a couple months, how appropriate that I go there for my first pick of 2019. Not only is my “pick” from Italy, but it’s also from the region that I am visiting. I would like to tell you that it was on purpose, but I would be lying. I would say it is more on the serendipitous side. From the land of Barolo and Barbaresco comes this grape, not as famous as its aforementioned cousins, but the most popular table red in that region. Kermit Lynch, a fairly famous importer once told me that he visited the region, and at every home, he had lunch or dinner, they served Barbera instead of the more famous Barolos or Barbarescos. Barbera is a fantastic food wine and can be drunk young, whereas Barolo and Barbaresco need time in the cellar. I discovered this little gem while on a quest to find wines for an upcoming tasting event.

January 2019 Pick Of The Month

2016 FontanaFredda “Briccotondo” Barbera (Piedmont, Italy)… $14.

Blackberries and perfumed currants on the nose, with a hint of raspberry, bark and tobacco in the background. Good acidity balanced with blackberry and raspberry notes on the palate that is quite intense. Tobacco notes join up on the mid-palate into an intense finish of licorice, blackberry and black raspberry notes hang around with the tobacco. Great balance and structure and mouth-watering. A perfect food red. Try it with anything Italian that involves a red sauce or lamb. Also a great burger or pizza wine. Personally, I enjoyed it all by itself as well. (B+/A-)

Stan The Wine Man

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First and foremost I want to wish Susie a Happy Birthday! I am so happy I met her and we fell in love. She fills my life with love and adventure. I look forward to many more years together, traveling the world, sharing each others company and just living life together.

My son has his birthday tomorrow and I am very proud of what he has become in his life. He is well liked by anyone who crosses his path. Micah’s girlfriend Jesse and I took the two out to dinner last night and we had a great time together. Micah turns 29 tomorrow and we were talking about celebrating his entry into a new decade next year, with a trip to Vegas. The planning has begun. At dinner last night we, of course, enjoyed wine with our meals. Susie and Jesse had bubbles, while Micah and I took care of a bottle of Thurston Wolfe Family Red. At the end of the meal, Micah and I each ordered up a glass of Fidelitas 4040 Red. The wine was stunning! Deep, concentrated and complex. We each took the first sip out of our glass and just looked at each other with a little touch of awe. Charlie Hoppes, owner and winemaker at Fidelitas is coming to the island as a guest at one of my tasting events in April. I am really excited to have him up. After drinking the 4040, that excitement intensified.

While dining, a regular customer of mine at the store sauntered up to our table with a bottle of wine in his hand and asked if I could order up a case of it for him. I told him he might want to know the price before he committed. I mentioned it was around thirty dollars a bottle and he back-peddled immediately. He is a great guy and I know his preferred budget for wine purchases. There isn’t a lot of us who can spring for a case of wine at that price. There was one thing he said that caught my attention. After telling him the price, he said…”No wonder it was so good.” That begs the question. Does price drive quality?

I have been in the wine business for many years, and I have built a reputation for finding wines that are not only well-made but also well-priced. I have had great success finding wines that are amazing for under twenty bucks. It’s not to say that wines over that price are not amazing as well. The point is, that price does not always dictate quality. I have had many wines in the 40-80 dollar range that was to say the least, disappointing. Now, there are reasons why wine of high quality is expensive. Cost of fruit is a big reason. Quality fruit is key for producing quality wine. For instance, if a winemaker chooses to, he or she can spend up to $4,000 a ton to get what they consider the best fruit. If they don’t screw it up during the winemaking process, they will most likely come out with a stellar wine. Of course, the price of the fruit has to be reflected in the cost of the bottle of wine, or they couldn’t stay in business for very long. Oak barrels, equipment, consultation among other things will dictate the price of a bottle of wine. Not all of those things are necessary to make good wine, except for the quality of fruit, that is of utmost importance. Quality fruit can be found in many places without forking out $4,000 a ton. Some feel that in order to charge a lot for their wines, they need to have Napa Valley or Walla Walla Valley on their labels. I have customers who will only buy wines from these appellations. Personally, I hope you never get stuck in that kind of rut. Wine does not have to be expensive to be quality and just because it is expensive does not mean it is of high quality.

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A boatload of wine

A boatload of wine

In a weeks time, I taste a boatload of wine (seriously). I lot of my friends think I’m lucky. Well, they’re right, and I wouldn’t give this job up for the world. The only thing that makes my job hard, is my feeling of responsibility to taste the samples given to me as quickly as possible and to put my reviews either in my Moleskine, on my Youtube channel (Stan The Wine Man TV), or right here on Here for your reading pleasure, are thirteen wines that I have reviewed in my Moleskine (good or bad), this past week.

2015 L’Ecole Perigee Seven Hills Vineyard (Walla Walla Valley, WA)… $55.

A touch candied on the nose with aromas of licorice and currants with a little spice action underneath. Currants and blackberries on the palate, supported by edgy, slightly gritty tannins. Tobacco notes with a pinch of veggie sneak in on the lengthy finish. 56% Cabernet Sauvignon, 16% Merlot, 14% Cabernet Franc, 7% Malbec, 7% Petit Verdot (B+/A-)

2014 L’Ecole Apogee Pepperbridge Vineyard (Walla Walla Valley, WA)… $55.

Tobacco, currants and BBQ spices on the nose with a hit of red flowers and a little alcohol coming through. Solid currant and boysenberry notes up front on smooth, structured tannins. Blueberry notes come through on the mid-palate into the long fresh finish with a hit of chocolate on the back-end. Good balance and structure. 50% Cabernet Sauvignon, 31% Merlot, 15% Malbec, 4% Cabernet Franc (A-/A)

2016 Cadaretta SBS (Columbia Valley, WA)… $23.

Stinky melon notes on the nose with a kiss of fresh-cut grass. =Melon notes on the palate with grapefruit and white pepper notes sneaking in. Good balance of acidity and fruit. Grass notes sneak in on the clean, fresh finish. 67% Sauvignon Blanc, 33% Semillon (B+)

2013 Cadaretta Cabernet Sauvignon (Columbia Valley, WA)… $40.

Perfumed currants on the nose (almost soaplike) with a splash of licorice and tobacco. Chewy on the palate with notes of currants, tobacco and leather on serious tannins. Chocolate notes join up on the mid-palate with spice notes hitting on the finish where the acidity sneaks out. Good integration of acidity, fruit and tannins. This is a young pup and will age well over the next 10 to 15 years. (A)

2014 Cadaretta Windthrow Red (Columbia Valley, WA)… $55.

Almost bloody on the nose (no pun intended), with notes of raspberries, cherries, vanilla, mocha and chocolate. Solid cherry notes on the palate with a big hit of smoke and tobacco on seriously chewy tannins. It gets somewhat fresh in the mouth on the mid-palate into the finish where leather notes and gritty mineral notes join the palate party. Crushed rock notes linger. This is a baby and needs more time in the bottle, maybe five more years. 76% Syrah, 15% Mourvedre, 9% Grenache (B+/A-)

2017 Espelt Garnacha Blanca (Emporda, Spain)… $12.

Aromas of melon, backed by light apple, tangerine and roasted nuts. Creamy mouth-feel up front with notes of apple and tangerine, joined by slight wet stone notes on the mid-palate into an apple driven finish with a kiss of white pepper. (C+)

2017 Black’s Station Chardonnay (Yolo County, CA)… $10.

Ginger, pears and apple on the nose. A touch of butter and a burnt element comes through on the palate with peach notes sneaking in on the back-end. Finishes fresh with a kiss of citrus. (B-)

2014 Vermell Tinto (Valencia, Spain)… $11.

Aromas of red flowers, crushed red brick, red berries and blackberries with a hit of licorice. Plush on the front of the palate, with notes of blackberries, red cherries and a little tobacco and earth thrown in. The tannins start off slick and then get a little grit to them. Bark and tobacco notes dominate on the finish with the acidity giving a little “pop” on the back-end. (B-/B)

2016 Black’s Station Red (Yolo County, CA)… $10.

Blackberries and licorice notes in spades on the nose with a hit of ginger coming through. Nicely intense notes of cinnamon, ginger and blackberries on the palate with a little dirt underneath. Fresh and intense at the same time with good balance of acidity and fruit with well-integrated tannins. Ginger and licorice notes linger on the finish. 65% Malbec, 18% Petit Verdot, 17% Petite Sirah (B-/B)

2016 Black’s Station Malbec (Yolo County, CA)… $10.

Red licorice, candied plums and chocolate on the nose. Plums and cherries on the palate, supported by well-integrated acidity with a kiss of baking spices and white pepper. Licorice and milk chocolate notes hit on the back-end where the acidity gives it a little lift on the finish that reminds me of a chocolate graham cracker sandwich. (C+/B-)

2016 Black’s Station Cabernet Sauvignon (California)… $10.

A little coughdrop action on the nose with slight notes of currants and dark red flowers. Dark cherry and currant notes hit on the palate, supported by gritty tannins. The fruit expands on the mid-palate than thins out on the fresh finish that has a little stem action. Almost cough syrup-like but not quite. Warm going down on the finish. (C)

2017 Thomas Henry Chardonnay (Napa Valley, CA)… $13.

Baking spices and pear on the nose with a slight hit of apple. Butter and pear notes front to finish on the palate with a kiss of butterscotch and baking spices. A little oak dust component sneaks in on the mid-palate. (C+)

2016 Brooks Pinot Noir (Willamette Valley, OR)… $27.

Aromas of black tea, earth and cherries with a hit of strawberries, Root Beer and red flowers. Chewy cherry notes on the palate with a little cherry skin thrown in. Smooth and structured with Asian spices and Root Beer notes lying underneath. Red flower and tea notes come through on the mid-palate into the finish where cherry and Asian spice notes linger. Nice long finish. (A-)

Stan The Wine Man

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