FRIDAY’S THIRTEEN…

In a weeks time, I taste a boatload of wine (seriously). I lot of my friends think that 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 Stanthewineman.com. Here for your reading pleasure, are thirteen wines that I have reviewed in my Moleskine (good or bad), this past week.

2012 Beaumont Cellars Cabernet Franc (Ancient Lakes, WA)… $32.

Aromas of bark, tobacco, currants, stewed meats, dark cherries and a hint of coffee bean. There is way to much lumber on this baby and it buries the fruit. Pull the wood away and you get notes of black pepper, spice, tobacco and currants with a healthy dose of bark. This is a classic example of a wine that could shine without all the oak. (C-)

2012 Beaumont Cellars Petit Verdot (Wahluke Slope, WA)… $35.

This is old school juice, with notes of red flowers, violets, red cherries, cranberries and a touch of bark on the nose. The is a slight hit of blackberries and tar on the back-end. Black olives on the palate with a dose of cherries and currants. Like its sibling, this red has a healthy dose of oak and bark notes with a touch of green tobacco and violets. This baby finishes clean and lean. It reminds me a lot of a Bordeaux in style, but the oak puts it out of balance. (C)

2011 Louis Jadot Chablis (Chablis, France)… $26.

Slate, lemon, chalk, tarragon and melon on the nose. Classic Chardonnay from the northern end of Burgundy…Chalk, slate and lemon notes come through on the palate with herbal notes on the clean, chalky finish. Good fruit, medium acidity, good balance. This is a great bang-for-the-buck. (A-)

2011 Laroche Petit Chablis (Chablis, France)… $29.

There are four distinct quality levels in Chablis, but I find that although Petit Chablis is considered the bottom tier, it can shine through even ahead of some its snotty peers. As noted, this demands a higher price than the Louis Jadot version which is from the next level of quality “Chablis” (the other levels are Chablis Premier Cru & Chablis Grand Cru).
Aromas of wet stone, chalk, fresh-cut grass and lemon. This wine has a little Old English lemon polish mixed with rocks and herbs on the palate (use your imagination on that one). There is a nice fullness on the mid-palate, but then it goes dry and herbal on the mineral driven finish. Good acidity and balance, this gem proves that pedigree doesn’t always mean it’s going to be better. (A)

2012 Louis Bernard Cotes-du-Rhone (Rhone Valley, France)… $10.

Notes of cherries and currants come through on the nose with a backdrop of earth and tar with hints of tobacco and red flowers. Smoked meat notes on the palate backed by notes of currants and pepper. Sturdy structure with a backbone of earth and forest floor notes, finishing with tobacco and red flowers blended with the fruit notes. This is true Rhone wine with a lot of “old world” character, yet with enough fruit to keep the mainline wine drinker interested. This is a stupid price for such a well-made wine. (B+)

2012 Carmenet Cabernet Sauvignon “Vintners Collection” (California)… $10.

Aromas of currants, oak, spice, vanilla and a backdrop of blackberries. Smokey currants on the palate backed by notes of vanilla and mocha front to back. Oak notes seem a little fake, but not enough to take away too much from the wine. Smooth, structured tannins with a nice core of red flowers and just a touch of grip on the finish. Not bad for the price (C+)

2013 Poggio Morino Vermentino (Tuscany, Italy)… $12.

Lemon oil and saline on the nose joined by notes of wet stone and a back-end of herbs. Very steely on the palate with notes of honey and lemon all day. This wine is borderline grassy with a good hit of minerals and dried herbs on the pleasing finish. Tuscany is not my normal place to seek out Vermentino, but this one is not bad. (B-)

Non-Vintage Francois Diligent Champagne Brut Rose` La Cote des Bar (Champagne, France)… $40.

Strawberry jam and pie crust all over the nose. Bone dry on the palate with notes of strawberries a hit of peach and yeast notes. Excellent acidity and balance. This is not a bad price for the quality, and if you are a big rose` Champagne fan like I am, this is worth the dough. (B+/A-)

2012 Castillo De Daroca (Calatayud, Spain)… $8.

Loads of plums and blackberries on the nose with a hit of red flowers and licorice. Dark plums and blackberries up front with a trace of white pepper and minerals. Red flower notes join the party on the mid-palate with a little tobacco sneaking in. A little bright on the finish with notes of red flowers, tobacco and cherries with trace white pepper notes. A blend of Grenache and Syrah. )(C+/B-)

2011 Obelisco Estate Cabernet Sauvignon (Red Mountain, WA)… $50.

Currant, cherries, oak and tobacco comes through on the nose with a touch of Red Mt. dirt, green bell pepper and red flowers. Fairly intense of the palate with firm smooth tannins backing notes of red and black currants with hits of spice. There is a layer of oak underneath with a little tobacco and forest floor. A heavy dose of currants on the finish backed by spice and tobacco notes, which have a little lift from the acidity. This is my first taste of wine from this producer, and I was more than pleasantly surprised. (A-)

2011 Obelisco Estate Syrah “Les Gosses Vineyards” (Red Mountain, WA)… $40.

Aromas of smokey currants and boysenberries with an edge of bacon-fat, blue fruits and a touch of oak. Round and smooth notes of currants and blueberries with hits of vanilla and bacon-fat. A beam of acidity supports the dense fruit notes with an underbelly of tar and earth notes. Excellent structure and complexity with notes of tobacco and fruit on the long finish and a touch of licorice that lingers. (A+)

2012 Fidelitas 4040 Red (Red Mountain, WA)… $32.

Aromas of currants and dark cherries, with a backdrop of oak, tobacco, red flowers, chocolate and vanilla (I really don’t expect you to get all that, I get carried away). Bold and spicy on the palate with notes of currants and cherries front to finish. Firm, smooth tannins carry the fruit notes into a finish of currants, cherries, tobacco and chocolate with a trace of veggie coming through on the back-end. A touch tight, and will benefit from a couple more years in bottle. (A)

2012 La Merika Chardonnay (Central Coast, CA)… $17.

Very buttery on the nose with hits of butterscotch, pineapple and pear notes. Fresh on the palate with a nice buttery edge (nice combo). It gets a little creamy on the mid-palate with notes of pear and butterscotch coming through. Good balance and a pleasing finish adds up to a very nice Chardonnay for the price. (B+)

Cheers!
Stan The Wine Man

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FRIDAY’S THIRTEEN…

In a weeks time, I taste a boatload of wine (seriously). I lot of my friends think that 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 Stanthewineman.com. Here for your reading pleasure, are thirteen wines that I have reviewed in my Moleskine (good or bad), this past week.

2012 Maison Bleue Chardonnay “French Creek Vineyards” (Yakima Valley)… $20.

Aromas of pineapple, hay with a hint of lemon and melon. Pineapple and hay notes come through on the palate with hits of lemon peel and oak on the back-end. This has a very dry finish with a touch of bitterness, I am a huge fan of Maison Bleue, but I wasn’t enamored by this Chardonnay. (C-)

2010 Chateau des Laurets “Puisseguin” (Saint-Emilion, France)… $28.

Aromas of red flowers, bright red cherries, licorice and leather. Intense on the front of the palate with notes of red cherries, iron, crushed rocks and leather coming through. Chocolate and licorice notes come through on the mid-palate and into the leather driven finish. Forest floor notes are the back-bone of this wine with notes of iron and wilted red flowers underneath. This will evolve nicely over the next twenty years. I have to say that this is an incredible wine for under thirty bucks. (A)

2012 Villa Tonino Nero D’Avola (Terre Siciliane, Italy)… $8.

Plums and cherries with notes of wet stone, red flowers, earth and a touch of licorice come through on the nose. Very earthy on the palate with notes of tobacco, wet stone and plums coming through, joined by dark cherries and black olives. Good balance of firm tannins, minerals and acidity with a hit of rust on the finish. Old world red with a little new world fruit action. (B-)

2013 Mas De Mas PicPoul De Pinet (Languedoc, France)… $10.

Notes of apples, lemons, wet stone and a touch of honey comes through on the nose. Bright acidity drives this wine with notes of minerals, honey, slate and wet rock with a splash of lemon. Grass notes come through on the mid-palate followed by a zesty, bracing finish. This gem has a lot of attitude for the price. (B+)

2013 I Campi Soave (Italy)… $13.

Aromas of wet stone, lemon rind, ripe lemon and melon. Very steely on the palate with notes of melon, lemon and slate coming through. There is an interesting oily element that comes through on the finish. However, it is very clean on the back-end with notes of wet stone, lemon and steel. If you want to try a Soave for the first time, I would suggest going here instead of Bolla. (A-)

2012 Massaya Red (Baqaa Valley, Lebanon)… $13.

Notes of black cherries, violets and a hint of grape jam come though on the nose. Grape jam all day on the palate with a splash of black olive and white pepper, with a hint of minerals. Soft tannins, a touch of oak and a medium finish with pepper notes lingering. 60% Cinsault, 20% Cabernet Sauvignon & 20% Syrah. I think this is the first ever wine I have tasted from this country, and I am impressed. (B)

2013 Des Collines Rhodaniennes “La Syrah” By Charles Helfenbein (Vin de Pays, France)… $15.

This is 100% Syrah and reminds me a lot of something from the Northern Rhone…This is old world juice baby! Aromas of smoke, red flowers, crushed rock, red currants and red plums. Crushed rock and red flowers all day on the palate. Red currants are the backbone of this wine with a little meaty element coming through and a splash of iron on the backside of the finish. If you are into Cornas or Saint Joseph reds from the Rhone Valley, get this gem and save yourself some dough. (B)

2012 L’Ecuyer De Couronneau Bordeaux Superieur (France)… $17.

I love finding wines with the Bordeaux Superieur designation, because many times you get a lot of Bordeaux for next to nothing. Aromas of violets, wet stone, tobacco, currants and licorice. Black olive comes through on the palate backed by notes of currants, violets, and a touch of wood. Soft tannins and good structure, although it is a little closed on the finish with a touch of leather and tannic grip. It’s a little young, but it is a pretty good example of Bordeaux (Right Bank that is, being predominantly Merlot). (B-)

2010 Triennes St. Auguste Vin de Pays (Provence, France),,,$18.

This blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Syrah, is pretty amazing for the dough. On the nose, I got a hit of liquid iron vitamins (I think you can remember that smell), stewed meats, tobacco and red flowers. Liquid iron notes come through on the palate joined by boysenberries and stewed meats. Firm smooth tannins, with a heavy dose of minerals leading into a finish of boysenberries, stewed meats and iron. This red has nice balance of tannins, minerals and fruit. A pretty serious red for under twenty bucks. (B+)

2012 Bodegas Riojanas Puerta Vieja Blanco (Rioja, Spain)… $10.

Made from the white grape of Rioja, this is 100% Viura. Aromas of lemon, kiwi, chalk, menthol and slate (wild nose!). Nice richness on the palate with notes of lemon pith, chalk and melon. Medium plus acidity (not high not low), with a little apples skin coming through on the back of the mid-palate. Nice balance in this wine with a clean, slate/chalk finish. If you want to go off the beaten path in your white wine selection, this is a great price point and a really good wine. (B-)

2012 Veiga Naum Albarino (Rias Baixas, Spain)… $16.

Speaking of going different on your white wine choice for the day, I highly recommend an Albarino. They are crisp, delicious wines that show good fruit and minerality. This one goes a slightly different direction, but is still awesome.
Tangerine, lime, orange peel and wet stone notes come through on the nose. This Albarino is a little creamier on the palate than most, and I think a lot of you out there will like that. Notes of lemon and lime with a dash of tangerine flow across the palate with attitude and a generous share of minerality. Nice fresh, dry, creamy lingering finish. If you are a first-timer to this varietal, you might want to start here. (B+)

2011 Domaine Sorin Bandol Rouge (Bandol, France)… $25.

Now I have to tell you that finding a Bandol Rouge at this price could be very exciting if the wine shows well, so you can imagine my excitement when this was presented to me. This blend is predominately Mourvedre with a splash of syrah.

Very poopy on the nose (yes I mean stink baby), with notes of tobacco, cedar, currants and wet leather. This baby is rich on the palate, and I mean right from the start. Deep ripe currant and dark cherry notes with a healthy dose of wet leather and wilted violets. Rustic, tight tannins with a good mixture of forest floor notes that flow into a dense wet leather and currant finish with a touch of spices. This is everything you would expect from a Bandol rouge at half the price… (A-/A)

2012 Louis Bernard Cotes-du-Rhone (Rhone Valley, France)… $10.

Cherries and currants on the nose backed by notes of earth and tar with a little tobacco and red flowers thrown in. Smoked meat hits the front of the palate joined by notes of currants, black and white pepper. Forest floor notes are the backbone of this wine giving it good structure and balance, leading into a tobacco and red flower driven finish. This is true old world style Cotes-du-Rhone that is not worried about catering to the new world palate. I love authenticity, and this wine shows it in spades. (B+)

Cheers!
Stan The Wine Man

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STAN’S PICK FOR OCTOBER 2014.

Outstanding juice from Chile.

Outstanding juice from Chile.

I think it is safe to say that a lot of you have not sought out a Carmenere for your wine purchase of choice. I say this not because Carmenere is not worth seeking out. No, I say it because I know a lot of you have no idea what it is. You’re not alone. Back in the day, Chileans thought what they were growing was Merlot, and they labeled it as such. However, after close examination, it was realized that this was one of the grapes that originated from the land of Bordeaux, and was actually one of the grapes used in those famous blends in the nineteen century before phylloxera hit the scene.

It made its way to South America, like its friend Malbec, and was widely planted in Chile. Carmenere does have some similarities to Merlot, but at closer examination there are many differences that make it stand out as a varietal that is worthy of regular consumption. Often times it will be very veggie on the nose with notes of green bell pepper, asparagus and leaf lettuce. Sometimes it translates into the palate and a lot of people can be put off by this. I myself enjoy a little veggie in my wine from time to time, but would never feature it as a pick of the month, simply because I know it wouldn’t be well received. This one is what I consider the perfect introductory Carmenere. After you try this one, I believe you will become a fan of this varietal.

2012 Anderra Carmenere (Chile)… $12.

This bottle has the name Baron Philippe De Rothschild printed on the front of the label. That is a name that many of us are familiar with when it comes to French wines. Many of these top producers have looked to Chile, understanding the value of the land and fruit. Carmenere is king in Chile and this version is proof as to why that is so.
Aromas of red leaf lettuce, green bell pepper, asparagus. red cherries and blackberries. Nice currant and cherry notes up front, that evolves into notes of forest floor and minerals with tobacco joining the party. Wilted rose petal notes hit on the mid-palate with just a touch of veggie coming through on the back-end. The finish is delicious with notes of bittersweet chocolate lingering. If you haven’t given Carmenere a try yet, this would be a good start. (A-)

Distributed By Youngs Market Company

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BARNACLES, WINKLES AND GREAT WINE…PORTUGAL DOES IT ALL.

Portugal and More 012Family owned. That is a rarity among many wineries these days with all the big companies gobbling up the small guys to enrich their portfolios. Portugal, a small country on the Iberian Peninsula, is not immune to the corporate monopolization of wineries. However, there are a couple that have not only survived, but have thrived as family owned. Most notable is Esporao Winery, located in central/southern Portugal. In 1978 the Roquette family purchased an existing winery in the Alentejo region of Spain with high ambitions.

In ’73, Alentejo (an appellation in southern Portugal) was noted for its cheap table reds, not for quality. It was under those conditions that the Roquette family decided to purchase an existing estate with the vision of producing some world-renowned wines from this region. Of course, many thought it was a fruitless effort (no pun intended). Turns out, most were wrong as Herdade Do Esporao has become not only a producer of some excellent reds and whites, but also a major tourist destination. I had the privilege of traveling to Portugal and visiting Esporao and it’s sibling winery in the Douro, Quinta Dos Murcas. Both wineries reflect the vision of quality and innovation that the owners and winery personnel have.

Esporao is located about thirty minutes southwest of Evora at the heart of Alentejo, in the sub-region of Reguengos. At first appearance, it is like any other winery I’ve visited, until I started looking around. Esporao is a sustainable winery with cutting edge technology and an obvious goal to produce high quality wines that express terroir. Esporao has three wine making facilities on the property. One dedicated to red wines with wine maker Luis Patrao, one for whites with wine maker Sandra Alves and a newer facility dedicated to producing their reserve wines. The director of wine making (basically the one in charge of it all) is David Baverstock originally from Australia, who also had a stint in the Douro with Croft and Symington before he came on board with Esporao in ’92.

As I toured the winery with David, I was blown away with how calm everything was around me, despite the fact that they were right in the middle of crush. I have been in the midst of many wineries during this time of season and let me tell you, it can be close to frenetic. However, after hanging out with David for a couple of hours, I began to understand.

David is calm, cool, and collected. Cool Hand Luke comes to mind (for anyone who remembers that Paul Newman flick). His passion for detail and quality were obvious, but his ability to get his team to achieve his vision in the smoothest of fashions was remarkable. He led us through a tasting of the wines of Esporao after the tour, and I have to admit that there wasn’t a bad one in the line-up, from the entry-level Alandra white and red to the reserves.

2012 Alandra White

2012 Alandra White

Speaking of the reserves, I was really impressed with the facility dedicated to these wines. there was a line-up of impressive six-ton open fermentation tanks. The foot-treading technique (yes, they stomp the grapes with their bare feet), is put into practice during fermentation. As David explained, this allows for a more gentle approach to maceration, leading to finer tannic structure and more elegant, graceful wines. They also employ the use of both concrete and clay fermenters along with basket presses, all designed to bring out the quality of the fruit and terrior. I believe (and I could be wrong of course), that this is the first winery I have been to that put so much emphasis on the production of their reserve and top-tier wines.

The bottling facility was one of the most modern and efficient I have seen to date. Upwards to a truckload of wine can be bottled in this facility on a daily basis. Very automated and really mind-blowing to watch (that is if you are as geeky about that kind of thing as I am).

Although most of the region of Alentejo is flat-lands, there are a few hillsides, and Esporao took advantage of one, digging into the hillside to create an underground holding facility for their barrels and bottled wines. As we walked through the dimly lit tunnels, the temperature was perfect for storing wine and barrel aging. It was a really cool place (pun intended).

As we toured the vineyards and grounds of Esporao, I was blown-away by one vineyard in particular. The top dogs of red grapes in this region are Aragones (Tempranillo), Trincadeira, Castelao, Touriga Franca, Alicante Boushet and Touriga Nacional. They grow other grapes of course, including Syrah. However, in this one vineyard (which was quite large), they have planted 189 different varietals. Why would they do that? It’s an experimental vineyard to see how other grape varietals will fare in the land of Alentejo. Pretty cool stuff if you ask me, and it certainly reflects the attitude of the winery…Cutting edge technology along with visionary wine making practices and a deep respect for the land.

One of 189 different varietals planted.

One of 189 different varietals planted.

The Rouqette family started something years ago that many thought was a ridiculous notion. Create a world-renowned wine making facility in the heart of a region known for cheap table wines. They succeeded. Esporao under the direction of wine maker David Baverstock, produces some excellent wines both in the value category and the premium category. The winery itself has become a tourist destination stop with one of the finest restaurants I have eaten in (I will write about the cuisine in Portugal in another article). If you haven’t explored the wines of Alentejo in Portugal, I encourage you to start with Esporao. Top notch wines at great prices.

The Rouquettes purchased Quinta Dos Murcas in the Doura Valley in 2008. I will dedicate the next article to my visit to this region and the outstanding wines from this winery.

Cheers!
Stan The Wine Man

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