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 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 Here for your reading pleasure, are thirteen wines that I have reviewed in my Moleskine (good or bad), this past week.

2013 For A Song Riesling Caliche Lake Vineyard (Ancient Lakes Vineyard, WA)… $10.

Bright pear, apple and lemon notes on the nose. Very mouth-watering on the palate with notes of lemon, apple and Asian pear coming through. There is a slight sugar element on the mid-palate, but it finishes clean and bracing. The acidity “pops” the fruit in the mouth making the wine dance on the palate. Pretty good Riesling for ten bucks. (B+)

2012 For A Song Chardonnay Caliche Lake Vineyard (Ancient Lakes, WA)… $11.

Interesting aromas of pears, smoke, fish (yes I said fish), toast and hints of butterscotch. Round pear notes up front on the palate with apple skin notes sneaking in continuing through to the finish. There is just a slight kiss of butterscotch front to back. (C+/B-)

2012 For A Song Pinot Noir (Willamette Valley, Oregon)… $18.

Aromas of black tea, sarsaparilla and cherries with a kiss of earth. Good acid and fruit balance on the palate. Dark cherries notes rest on a bed of acidity, joined by notes of black tea and sarsaparilla. There is a Cola element sneaking in on the mid-palate joined by notes of violets and a hint of licorice on the finish. A very nice effort for this price showing true Pinot noir elements. (B+)

2012 For A Song “The Score” Red (Columbia Valley, WA)… $10.

Smoked ham all day on the nose, backed by currants and violets with just a hint of chocolate. Smooth and polished on the palate with just a little attitude. Notes of smoked ham, currants and cherries with an underscore of licorice. There is a big hit of violets on the mid-palate finishing a touch thin with hits of powdered chocolate. 95% Merlot, 3% Cabernet Sauvignon & 2% Syrah. (C+/B-)

2012 For A Song Cabernet Sauvignon (Columbia Valley, WA)… $12.

Just a touch of stink on the nose with aromas of burnt match, currants and hits of violets. Ripe currants, rose petal and violet notes on polished tannins that carry the fruit into a spicy, long finish. Good intensity on the palate, but finishes fresh. (B-/B)

2013 For A Song Syrah (Columbia Valley, WA)… $14.

Aromas of maple bar, currants and a backdrop of boysenberries and a hint of old bark. Smooth tannins support intense notes of boysenberries and currants. There is a slight splash of white pepper on the mid-palate, finishing with notes of violets and blueberries lingering. True Washington State Syrah personality for a great price. (B+)

2012 For A Song Petit Verdot (Washington)… $17.

Aromas of coffee bean, currants and baked earth, with hits of violets and blueberries. Smooth, polished notes of blueberries, currants and coffee beans. Nice balance and flow across the palate with a little tobacco and white pepper action on the mid-palate. The finish is medium to long with violet notes lingering. (B+/A-)

2014 Bergevin Lane “Linen” Sauvignon Blanc (Columbia Valley, WA)… $12.

White flowers and white grapefruit notes on the nose, joined by lemon, honey and a hit of orange blossom. Fruity on the front of the palate with notes of ripe melon, coconut and white flowers. Apple notes hit on the mid-palate joined by pink grapefruit and a touch of grass on the finish. From fruity to fresh with a touch of grip on the finish. (B-)

2013 Raeburn Chardonnay (Russian River Valley, CA)… $20

Aromas of toasted walnuts, butter and Asian pear. Sweet pears and butter on the front of the palate with a hit of ripe pineapple on the mid-palate, finishing with a kiss of butter. Good balance and nice flow across the palate. Simple, but delicious, and finishes very clean. (C+/B-)

2012 Hermanos Torrontes Valle De Cafayate (Salta, Argentina)… $13.

Aromas of banana peel, orange peel, Meyers lemon and almond skin. Immediately round on the front of the palate, but then goes fresh. Notes of orange peel, lemon peel, melon and white flowers. Excellent balance of acid and fruit. Clean, long ass finish with notes of orange and lemon lingering. (B+)

2013 Novelty Hill Roussanne Still Water Creek (Columbia Valley, WA)… $20.

Melon, banana, lemon and orange blossom on the nose. Creamy mouth-feel, but very closed up on the palate. Notes of melon, grass and orange blossom come through with a clean, fresh finish. I think this has some potential, but it is not showing off in the least. (C)

2013 Novelty Hill Sauvignon Blanc Still Water Creek Vineyard (Columbia Valley, WA)… $15.

Steely on the nose with notes of white flowers, apples and melon rind. Very soft in the mouth with notes of apples, melon, white flowers and a touch of grass and rocks. Green apple skins and banana skin notes come through on the finish. A Sauvignon blanc in search of an identity. (C+)

2013 Colle Stefano Verdicchio (Verdicchio di Matelica, Italy)… $15.
Aromas of slate, walnuts and apples with hits of white flowers and honeysuckle. Walnuts on the palate, joined by notes of honeysuckle, stainless steel and slate. Crushed rock notes come through into the middle palate finishing clean with notes of slate, white flowers and a slight lemon edge. (B-)

Stan The Wine Man

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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 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 Here for your reading pleasure, are thirteen wines that I have reviewed in my Moleskine (good or bad), this past week.

2009 Two Angels High Valley Petite Sirah (Lake County, CA)… $26.

Blueberries all day on the nose with notes of black raspberries and red flowers underneath. Nice intensity on the palate showing blueberries, black raspberries and currants. A solid core of acidity gives the fruit notes a “punch” on the palate. Tobacco and red flower notes join the party on the mid-palate with licorice notes hitting on the long finish. A classic example of what Petite sirah can achieve. (B+/A-)

2014 Chateau De Costis “Blanc De Costis” Bordeaux Blanc (Bordeaux, France)… $8.

Aromas of white flowers, melon rind, wet stone and hits of lemon. Lemon-lime zest on the palate with crazy acidity that makes it dance in the mouth. A little grass and herbs sneak into the picture mid to finish. This little white has a load of attitude for the money. 60% Sauvignon blanc, 30% Semillon and 10% Muscadelle (A-)

2013 Domaine Notre Dame Des Pallieres Rose De Gigondas (Rhone, France)… $13.

A touch of rose petal on the nose joined by notes of strawberries and cherries. Ripe cherries all day on the palate with a kiss of strawberries and huckleberries. Some herbal notes sneak in leading to a bone dry finish. Even though its last year’s vintage, it is still fresh and vibrant. (B-)

2012 Mascerelli Montepulciano D’Abruzzo (Abruzzo, Italy)… $9.

Aromas of bark, cherries, crushed rock, rose petals and coffee bean. Rose petals soaked in cherry juice on the palate with a splash of gravel. Finishes slightly thin. Good balance of acidity and delicious fruit notes. (C+/B-)

2013 Chateau La Vernede Tradition Red (Coteaux Du Languedoc)… $10.

Very perfumed on the nose with notes of cherries, blackberries and a pinch of lavender. Round blackberry and cherry notes on solid, approachable tannins. A trace of tobacco comes through, with a spicy black pepper finish. Red flower notes underneath front to back with a minerality that lingers. (B)

2013 Gaudou & Co. Cahors “Cuvee Tradition” (Cahors, France)… $9.

Rose petal, tobacco, cassis and cherries on the nose with a soapy edge to it. A touch thin up front with notes of currants, violets and rose petal well-integrated with the acidity. The fruit expands on the mid-palate and then a big dose of gravel hits on the finish as it thins out a bit again with hits of licorice coming through. It definitely gets better, as the air gets to it. Would love to decant this and see how it holds up. 80% Malbec, 15% Merlot, 5% Tannat (C+/B-)

2013 Vino De Euzaguirre Cabernet Sauvignon (Colchagua Valley, Chile)… $10.

Very challenged on the nose, but that changes immediately on the palate. Massive notes of ripe currants and tobacco with a touch of cassis. Good acidity backs the fruit with mocha, cassis and mineral notes showing on the finish. This Cab isn’t for everyone, but I know there are a lot of folks who will love it. (B)

Non-Vintage Pithon-Paille Brut De Chenin Cremant De Loire (France)… $29.

Aromas of almonds, walnuts, lemon, pears and wet stone. Bone dry on the palate…It almost tastes like a fine apple cider with a hit of lemon and wet stone. Almond skin comes through on the mid-palate joined by notes of kumquat and lichee notes on the finish. A very interesting bottle of bubbles from the Loire Valley. (B/B+)

2013 Andorfer Vorgeschmack White (Niederosterreich, Austria)… $17.

Aromas of buttery figs, peach pit, wet stone and lemon oil. Bright acidity on the palate, yet there is good balance. Notes of wet stone, lemon and cut grass start to finish. Almost steely on the palate, showing a little creamy element on the front of the palate and a nice long finish. 80% Gruner Veltliner, 20% Riesling (B)

2012 Vino di Anna “Palmento” Vino Rosso (Mount Edna, Italy)… $25.

Toasty violets, apples and cherry Jolly Ranchers, with a touch of watermelon. Round cherry and red plum notes up front on soft tannins. Crushed rock notes show up on the mid-palate, leading into a thin, acidic finish. This baby is a tale of two wines. Open up front, and tightly wound on the finish. 100% Nerello Mascalese (C-)

2012 Monte Bruno “Kathken Vineyard” Pinot Noir (Eola-Amity Hills, Oregon)… $40.

A little stink on the nose with notes of cherries and black tea and hits of cranberries and violets. Cranberries and tart cherries all day on the palate, blended with notes of baked earth. High acid, with a Sweet-Tart element coming through. This is a baby, and needs time in the bottle. If you drink it now, make sure you decant it. (B)

2007 San Fereolo Red (Dogliani, Italy)… $31.

Aromas of raspberries and dark cherries with a little wilted rose petal, rocks and violets coming through…Very s interesting. Deep and layered on the palate with notes of currants and cherries. Structured, approachable tannins support the fruit notes and it gets a little spicy on the mid-palate. This is a very mineral driven red which you expect from the old world. Notes of wet stone and dusty rocks underneath joined by notes of black olives front to back. With the fruit comes the old world attitude. This winery is certified organic and Bio-dynamic. 100% Dolcetto (B=/A-)

2013 St. Supery Sauvignon Blanc (Napa Valley, CA)… $24.

Aromas of grass, melon, grapefruit and orange blossoms. Good acidity and balance with notes of sweet orange blossoms with grapefruit pith as the backbone. A touch of grass sneaks in on the medium to long finish. Not bad for a Cali Sauvignon blanc. (B)

Stan The Wine Man

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Last month I went domestic, and once again I find myself going to Spain where the values keep coming like the Seahawks to the Super Bowl. This little gem blew me out of the water for the money and it makes the perfect red for grilling, which I know a lot of you are doing that with this great weather. So, what did I find this month from the land of Tempranillo… Rioja.

May 2015 Pick Of The Month.

May 2015 Pick Of The Month.

2011 Vina Zaco Tempranillo (Rioja, Spain)… $12.

Aromas of violets, caramel, Cinnamon Imperials, tobacco and baked earth. There is a creamy element on the palate, which I know a lot will like. Notes of currants, spice and pepper come through with a background of violets and a healthy dose of tobacco. Seamless flow across the palate with good balance and structure. It shows its old world side with a touch of rusticity joining the polished element. Finishes with earth notes joining the dark fruits and white pepper notes that linger. This wine offers up enough diversity to appeal to many palates. 100% Tempranillo (A-)

Stan The Wine Man

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Public Relations, Media & Wine… A Tricky But Necessary Relationship.

To put it bluntly, wine guys like myself and others that write about it, rarely buy a bottle of wine to review. No matter how much Robert Parker Jr. liked to bloviate about buying most of the wines he reviewed, it has been proven that this is not true. We get samples, because PR companies that represent wineries want the wines reviewed by the likes of Parker, The Wine Spectator or a blogger such as myself. Because I am small potatoes, my samples are fewer. However, a blogger such as Joe Roberts or Blake Gray receive many samples a week.

Jo Diaz recently published an article featuring the dos and don’t s for PR companies when dealing with the media people. Have you ever heard the term “getting too big for your britches”? After reading this article, I have to say that I think there are some writers out there suffering from this problem.

PR companies send free wine. They are looking for a write-up of some sort, and they follow-up not only to see if we received the samples, but also to see if we wrote about them. I think it is only fair that they do that, since there is a bit of an investment on their part. I think it is both polite, appropriate and easy, to give them a simple, forthright response.

I have another layer to my sampling issues that most media guys and girls do not experience. I work in a retail store where up to 10 different sales reps. call on me with samples to try on a weekly basis. They will often drop off bottles for me to review on my You Tube channel, Stan The Wine Man TV. However, most of them will bring open bottles for me to try to take notes while I sit in my office and they stand over me waiting. Although I am a big customer for most of these salespeople, I know that they need that bottle sample to stretch to many other accounts. I could be a jerk and tell all of them that I don’t have the time to sit there and taste their wines while I’m working and that if they want me to try it, they need to drop a bottle off for me to taste in my leisure. That would be “too big for my britches.” Believe me when I tell you,there are folks like that on the retail side.

I look at it this way: If they are taking their time to visit me with free wine to try, and my job is to find wine that is a good value for the store or for my readers…It is a no brainer. I am doing what I do, because I love the subject of wine, the ins and outs, the stories and the beverage itself. The sales rep. comes with all of these for free. Because of this, I welcome them to my tiny office and taste whatever they have to offer up, give them my opinion, treat them with the respect they deserve and move on. It’s pretty simple courtesy 101. That same courtesy should be shown to all the PR companies out there working hard to get the wines in front of the media. If they are persistent in getting a response from us, I understand. It’s their job.

One area in which I am becoming the exception, rather than the rule, is that I review all wines on my blog…Good or bad. It has become the in thing for writers to only put the positive reviews out there and skip any negative ones. What good is that to the consumer? For example: Let’s say I taste a $30. bottle of wine, and it does not even come close to the quality expected for this price range. I’m not talking personal preference here. I’m talking over-priced wine for what you get. I believe that it is our responsibility as the media to let the consumer know, so they can save their money. Granted, my reviews come with some detailed descriptors. This way, the reader can at least see why I grade a wine low. However, there might be some things in my description that appeals to the reader and they may decide to go ahead and buy the wine. Fair enough. At least I gave them some educated guidance, and I can sleep better that night.

If the PR person doesn’t like me putting out a negative review of their wine, they don’t have to send me samples…It’s that easy. So far, that has not been a problem, either with them or sales reps. The bottom line is trust. I give fair reviews and they understand and respect that. I have a retail palate, so it makes it easier for them to take what I say about their wine. I am also not influenced by graft…Free trips to wineries or other countries etc. Trust me, it happens. We as the media, must remain objective in our writing or videos. If we start depending on PR companies or wineries for trips or accommodations, we risk losing objectivity in our reviews.

I will be the first to tell you that I like some wineries more than others, and it is a tough thing to give a bad review of their wines. I can still remember the time I gave a negative review of a chardonnay produced by a winery where I am close friends with both the owner and the wine maker. I have to see them on a regular basis, so I just sucked it up, gave my review, and knew that I would have to hear it from them. There were a few awkward moments, but since they know I do my best to be fair, we got through it without damaging our relationship. Thankfully, that situation doesn’t happen a lot.

To be fair, I know that most media folks are totally honest with their reviews, I just wish they would publish all their reviews no matter how time-consuming or painful it is. It would be a heck of a lot easier for me to tell PR companies that I didn’t write-up a review, because it didn’t make the cut. Just think of all the free wine I could enjoy without reviewing them. I’m not calling anyone out here, I’m just saying.

I appreciated Jo Diaz’s article on how PR companies should treat the media. This piece is the flip-side…How should the media treat PR companies. The answer: With respect, understanding and courtesy. Like Jo said on FaceBook…If you don’t like the way they do their job, then go out and buy your own wine (not a quote, just the substance of what she said). I don’t think there are a lot of media folk out there that like that option.

Stan The Wine Man

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