Label 1 of Domaine Brunely Cairanne
2018 Domaine Brunely Cairanne Rouge… $11.

Cairanne is an appellation in the southern half of the Rhone Valley that produces quality reds, whites and rose’. When a sales rep stopped by my office to sample me on this wine, it didn’t take long for me to decide that this would be my January pick.

A blend of 50% Grenache, 30% Syrah, 15% Carignan and 5% Cinsault. On the nose, you get notes of red plums, iron, coffee bean and just a tiny hit of funk, with a little bark action thrown in and a kiss of strawberries. Sweet tannins support notes of red plums, strawberries, bark and coffee bean with blueberry and tar notes lurking in the background. Fresh acidity pops the fruit notes on the palate with notes of licorice and tobacco joining up on the mid-palate into the vibrant delicious finish that lingers with a kiss of spice. The price on this is stupid for what you get. Great balance, complexity and integration of fruit, tannins and acidity. (B/B+)


Stan The Wine Man

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Happy New Year everyone! I think it goes without saying, but I’ll say it anyway. 2022 has to be better than the last two years! Who would have ever thought this Covid thing would have carried on this long, Things are looking up and I hope we can soon start putting this in the memory books.

Talk about a cold snap. I can’t remember the last time I saw it dip down into the teens here and then it had to snow. Almost a white Christmas. I’m not a huge fan of snow. I think that if you like it, go to it, but please don’t bring it to me. I will admit that it is pretty. It’s gone for now, what a relief. So much easier to get to work and to function in general. I know the guys at the store will be relieved that they don’t have to shovel snow and spread salt around the parking lot and sidewalks. I’m happy for the kids, I know that when I was a kid and it snowed, I was out in it every day, all day. Nowadays, I just can’t seem to tap the kid in me when it comes to snow.

As most of you know, I’ve announced my “Winery Of The Year” for 2021. Washington Winery, Terra Blanca has garnered that honor. Terra Blanca Winery is located on Red Mountain and I have long been a fan of their wines. I will be posting my first episode featuring their wines on my YouTube channel today. I review three of their entry-level wines called the Arch Terrace Series. I am deeply impressed with all of them, especially for the price. Check it out if you get a chance. I really enjoy talking about and promoting my choice of “Winery Of The Year”, which I will be doing over the months to come. This spring, I hope to make the trip over to the winery and interview Keith Pilgrim for my YouTube channel. I encourage you to go there and visit. They have a beautiful winery, one of the nicest I’ve seen, with an expansive tasting area, beautiful views and they have a great restaurant.

My wife Susie and I are really looking forward to traveling again. It’s been tough for both of us. So many places in the world to visit. It’s actually been three years since I’ve traveled abroad. We were planning a trip to the Rhone Valley when the pandemic stopped everything in its tracks. As a wine writer, traveling enhances my content. Susie and I still reminisce about our trips to South Africa, Italy and Reims in France. All those trips gave me so much to write about. One of my fondest memories is getting a call while we were in Santa Margherita Ligure, informing me that Marilisa Allegrini would be willing to do an interview with me. She is pretty much a rock star in northern Italy. Marilisa and her brother own Allegrini, one of the most respected wineries in the area. They make a stunning Amarone as well as other outstanding wines. As you can imagine, I was very nervous. Marilisa was a gracious hostess and she made the interview easy. That is a moment in life I will always cherish.


Stan The Wine Man

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As I’ve always said, choosing a winery of the year is a difficult task, mainly because there are so many great wineries to choose from. However, this year was a bit easier for me. My wife and I made a trip over to Eastern Washington in the fall of 2020. We visited a few wineries in Walla Walla, then we moved on to the Tri-Cities with a stop at Red Mountain to meet with Keith Pilgrim managing winemaker and owner at Terra Blanca Winery. Keith met us and we tasted through quite a few of their wines. Afterward, we had lunch with Keith and his wife ReNae. During lunch, Keith opened a few older vintages of their flagship red wine, Onyx. I was deeply impressed with all the wines Keith shared with us and the Onyx was simply mind-blowing. When we left the winery, I had already made up my mind as to who would be my winery of the year in 2021 ( had already decided on Barnard Griffin for 2020.

Terra Blanca is nestled on the lower side of Red Mountain and one of the first wineries you will spot a sign for. I’ve been to a lot of wineries all over the world and I have to say that Terra Blanca stands out in the crowd. Just walking to the tasting room and restaurant makes you pause and reflect. The tasting room is expansive and well designed. They have a restaurant that is worth the trip all by itself, with beautiful views of the well-maintained property which Keith and ReNae purchased in 1992.

They purchased three hundred acres back then consisting of rattlesnakes and sagebrush. Keith had flirted with the idea of buying some land in Paso Robles, CA. However, he made a trip to Red Mountain to taste some of the wines being made there. A U.C. Davis trained geologist, he was intrigued by the soil type and climate on Red Mountain. After tasting through a few wines, he was convinced that this was the spot where he and his wife would build a winery. Terra Blanca was born in 1993 and they released their first estate-produced vintages in 1997. Their first tasting room Opened in ’98 which was located in the house they built on the property. Construction on the facility that we see today started in 2001, the same year Red Mountain was officially made an AVA.

Red Mountain is the smallest AVA (American Viticultural Area) in the state of Washington. The whole area is 4040 acres and let me tell you, in that small area of land come some of the best wines you will find in the state. Red Mountain had its first bonded winery in 1980, spearheaded by John Williams and Jim Holmes who planted ten acres of vineyards on Red Mountain in 1975. It’s hard to nail down, but as far as my research has taken me, there are now twenty wineries in this AVA. Keith and ReNae were one of the early wineries to be established on Red Mountain and today they have come to be one of the many success stories in Washington wine history.

I chose Terra Blanca this year for the same reasons I have picked other wineries in the past. All the wines produced by Terra Blanca from the Arche Terrace Series to the Signature series to their flagship wine Onyx, show an outstanding quality-to-price ratio. I often lead my customers who are looking for good Washington State wine at a lower price to the Arch Terrace wines. Although the Signature Series wines are a big step up in price point, they do not disappoint. The JT wines are only available on their website, but you can find their flagship wine Onyx in many wine shops. When Keith shared the older vintages of Onyx with me as I mentioned earlier, I was deeply impressed with how they improved over time. To put things in perspective, if Onyx came from Napa Valley, it would be at least twice the price.

Keith and ReNae Pilgrim take great pride in what is being accomplished at Terra Blanca and they should. My focus will be on this winery for the following months. I will be reviewing the wines on my YouTube channel as well as making the trek over to the winery to interview Keith. I encourage you to explore their wines if you haven’t already and I believe you will agree that Terra Blanca is deserving of being my pick for winery of the year.

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Well, well, it’s been a while since I’ve tackled one of my favorite pieces to write. A lot has been going on since my last Bits & Bobs. Coming soon I will be revealing my “Winery Of The Year” for 2021. I’ve been working hard on the article and am excited to reveal my choice this year. Last year, Barnard Griffin had the honors. I interviewed Rob Griffin on my YouTube channel and reviewed many of their wines on other episodes. I had a good time talking and writing about Barnard Griffin. They have been around a long time and sometimes we can forget just how good the wines are. Rob has been putting out quality wines that represent some of the better values out of Washington State. Stay tuned for my selection this year.

The Seattle P.I. shut down their reader blogs where I wrote articles as “The Blue Collar Wine Guy.” I’m a bit sad they took that away because it garnered great traffic and exposure. I usually posted my winery of the year on that site. In some ways, it’s a positive turn of events. Now, I have to focus on this blog and learn how to increase exposure and traffic to my site that I have had for quite a while. I believe I have been writing on this blog for nearly twenty-one years. I’ve had some strong years and weak years and now it is time to hunker down and get my audience directed to this blog only. If there is anyone out there that would like to give me some advice on how to increase traffic to this site, I am eager to get your advice.

My wife Susie and I are starting to make travel plans again. First, we will be headed to Mexico to spend a few days in the sun and relax, something I personally have trouble doing. After that, we are looking forward to a trip to somewhere in Europe. Because of Covid, we have been put off traveling for over two years now. Enough of that!

As you know from past articles, Susie and I adopted Koko from the Animal Shelter this past August. She is mostly Siamese and a bundle of energy. She has settled into her new home and we love her. If you remember, she had a habit of waking me up in the early morning hours and started to wear me down. We have found a solution to that issue and things are much better now. Koko still doesn’t like it when I spend time writing in the morning instead of giving her my undying attention. However, I have noticed an improvement in this as well. She is letting me write this article with very little interference. It really helps that we can let her outside now to roam the property. Susie can actually call her to come in and she responds immediately. This is something you don’t often see in a cat.

I hope all of you have a great Christmas with your family and friends.

Merry Christma!

Stan The Wine Man

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