Carmenere is one of my favorite varietals, but not one that many people are familiar with. It can be quite vegetal, like some Cabernet Francs from the Loire Valley in France. I, of course, am aware that most of my buyers would not gravitate toward a vegetal red from Chile. I am always looking for a Carmenere that falls into the 80% category, meaning that 80% of the people who buy it will like it. I was very happy when a sales rep stopped by with a Carmenere that I believe falls into that category. Therefore, I decided to make it my pick for June 2023.

Stan’s Pick For June!

2021 Carma Carmenere (Maipo Valley, Chile)… $12.

Aromas of red flowers, licorice, red cherries, blackberries and plum with just a hint of veggie. Cherries, currants and blackberries on the palate, backed by easy tannins and balanced acidity. The fruit beams on the palate with licorice notes lying underneath. Red flower notes “Pop” on the mid-palate into the finish. This is a juicy, fresh and delicious Cabernet Franc, that may turn you into a fan. This baby punches above its weight class for sure and the price is stupid for what you get. (B+/A-)


Stan The Wine Man

2020 Carma Carmenere
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First and foremost, I would like to thank all my new subscribers. My content output is not what it should be, so I appreciate the support. Bits & Bobs is one of my favorite pieces and I hope to start keeping up with it as a weekly article. Fingers crossed.

I started to run again about a year ago, something I love to do. I’m not preparing for a race, just trying to stay in shape. It feels good. Just a quick word to all those drivers out there that see a runner on the road. Most of you are awesome and give me a little berth when passing me (I always run on the side of the road where the drivers are coming at me). However, occasionally there is a driver that does not want to move over at all. Just a little tip… If I were to stumble at the right time, I could literally land on the road right in front of the car. Not a happy thought, but I think it when someone is driving that close to me on the side of the road. We all need to use the road, so please move over just a bit so the runner feels comfortable, it is greatly appreciated.

My wife and I are planning a trip to Sicily in September. Actually, Susie is doing most of the planning, my part involves lining up wineries to visit while we are there. We are both very excited as we do more research on the places we plan to visit while there. It’s so nice to be married to someone who has the same desire to travel to new places as I do. While we’re there, we will be celebrating our fifth wedding anniversary. As Susie would say…”Who knew.”

I am seriously considering going for my WSET certification. It stands for Wine & Spirits Education Trust. I believe I can start at a higher level like two or three. I also need to look into the CSW course (Certified Specialist of Wine). I don’t feel that certifications are necessary to prove one’s qualifications as a wine expert. For me, they would be a personal challenge that I would like to conquer. I’m very comfortable with what I do know and I believe my knowledge is more directed toward customer service than anything else. I work hard at understanding what people like in wine and try to match their preferences to a bottle that they will enjoy. I find that very satisfying and I’ve built strong relationships with customers who come to me for advice about wine.

Speaking of advice on wine, I’ve been quite productive on my YouTube channel. I recently discovered a winery that metaphorically is in my backyard. The owner and winemaker for Orcas Wine Co. stopped by the store and left some bottles for Scott and me to try. We were both very impressed with both the whites and reds. I told Scott after we were done tasting, that I needed to take them home and record two episodes. One featuring the reds and one the whites. Those are out there, so please check them out. I also did a blind tasting with my friend Mike who owns Mike’s Cafe and Wine Bar. He has a great palate and it’s always fun to banter with him. I am working on an episode featuring low-calorie wines, it will be interesting to see how they taste. My experience with these types of wines has not been good to date. The episode will feature wines I have not tried yet in this low-calorie category. I look forward to getting it out there.


Stan The Wine Man

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Well, well, once again, I find myself gravitating toward Spain for my pick. I have said it many times, Spain puts out some of the best values in the world right along with Portugal and southern France. This particular pick is made from a grape that not a lot of people are familiar with; Mencia. Mencia reigns in the region of Bierzo in northwest Spain. Mencia is also known as Jaen in Portugal, fueling the debate as to whether it originated in Portugal or Spain. For a long time, the wines that were produced from Mencia were not of high quality. Things are different today as wineries are putting out some serious Mencia reds as this month’s pick is an example.

2020 Ribas del Cua Mencia (Bierzo, Spain)… $10.

Aromas of black plums, boysenberries, earth and leather with hints of black olive and blueberries. Ripe plum and blackberry on smooth tannins with a kiss of white pepper on the finish. The ripe fruit notes are balanced nicely by notes of worn leather, iron and black olive notes. Blueberry notes lie underneath on the mid-palate into the savory, earthy finish with black olive notes lingering on the back end. If you’re going to try Mencia for the first time, this is an excellent choice to see what this varietal is all about. A lot of wine for the money. (B-/B)

2020 Ribas del Cua Mencia Joven
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Every once in a while I stumble upon a wine that blows my mind, especially for the price. When I choose a wine for the “Pick Of The Month”, I feel it is always a good value and at least 80% of the people who buy it will most likely enjoy it. They are not all mind-blowing wines. However, they are really good for the money. This month’s pick is what I consider mind-blowing and it’s under ten bucks!

2017 Pratello “Mille 1” Garda Rosso (Garda Lombardy, Italy)… $9.

A blend of 40% Corvina, 40% Rebo (I’ll explain in a minute), and 20% Merlot, this little gem normally goes for close to twenty bucks. However, because it is an older vintage, I got a screaming deal on it. Rebo is a crossing of Merlot and Teraldego. It adds depth and spice to a wine that it is blended into.

Aromas of Rust, cherries and plums with a kiss of blackberries. Red cherries and blackberries on the palate with an underbelly of plums and red flowers on sweet tannins. Nicely integrated acidity gives it good structure and balance. The fruit notes carry across the palate into a pleasing, long finish where ripe cherry notes linger with a slight kiss of tobacco. This baby is a “10” in the delicious category with enough structure to lend it well with roasted or grilled meats and strong cheese. I would be happy to pair it with pizza, burgers, or roasted chicken as well. (B)


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