I consider myself a pretty good marketer, and no matter how many different ways I have approached it over the years, I just cannot find a way to get folks interested in wine as a beverage for Halloween. It doesn’t mean that I have stopped trying. This year I put The Ghost of 413 Red on my ad hoping to spark a bit of interest…I have my doubts. Halloween seems to be a Fireball and beer sort of event and it is hard if not impossible to get folks on the wine train for this night of costumes and Trick-Or-Treaters.

That being said, Halloween falls on a Friday this year, which should make it a party night for a lot of people including myself. However, I do have a couple of ideas for all you folks that are stuck at home in a busy neighborhood of little children all dressed up looking to get their hands on a handful of candy to fill up their cute little bucket. What should you uncork and enjoy while involved in this yearly ritual?

Let the guys get hammered on their Fireball while you (the women and some men of course) enjoy a nice bottle of buttery Chardonnay. Seriously, there can be nothing quite as enjoyable as drinking a delicious Chard while you pass the time away handing out candy to the eager youth that come knocking. There are a lot of good ones out there that don’t cost a lot of money and are very enjoyable. Here a couple of suggestions….

Hayes Ranch Chardonnay (California) … $8.

I don’t know if you’ve tried this one yet, but for the price it is one of the better chards I have tried with a nice tropical fruit and buttery edge that makes it go down all to easy (be careful with this one).

Lockwood Chardonnay (California)… $10.

This winery is very consistent at putting out a nice creamy, buttery style chard at a good price. This shouldn’t be hard to find since it has wide distribution.

Now from Washington…

Columbia Crest Grand Estates Chardonnay (Columbia Valley, WA)… $11.

This is like a household name chard from Washington, and I believe over-delivers for the price. If you like them bold, smooth and buttery, look no further.

Waterbrook Winery Chardonnay (Columbia Valley, WA)… $14.

I tried this one recently and was very impressed. It’s a little more money than the others, but delivers what you want if you are looking for a chard with some oak and creaminess.

Some of you may be thinking that a white is not going to cut it. What about a red? My first thought is a Zinfandel or Zinfandel based blend. Let’s face it, Zinfandel is big and juicy and delicious. Who wants to think about what they’re drinking while they’re handing out candy and enjoying the company of friends. Zinfandel in the budget range is perfect for the occasion…Here are a few suggestions.

Montoya Zinfandel Old Vines (Lodi, CA)… $12.

Here is a zin for the ages at this price. Juicy dark and red fruits with a nice peppery edge. I love zin, and this is one that I go to often.

Ravenswood Vintner’s Blend Zinfandel (California)… $9.
You can’t talk zin without talking Ravenswood. This went through a bit of a funk a few years ago, but they have come around again, producing a consistently good product at a great price. Not as dynamic as the Montoya, a little lighter on the palate, but still has all the elements of a good zin.

Peirano Estate Vineyards “Immortal” Old Vines Zinfandel (Lodi, CA)… $11.
Another zin that delivers for next to nothing. This one doesn’t have as much spice, but leans towards the chocolate raspberry side of the varietal. Nice juice for the money.

I’m sure you can think of many other examples to try, but the idea is to go simple and good while you talk with friends and hand out the goods. Another reason you should consider wine instead of whiskey and beer is the next morning… You will feel a lot better!

Have a great Halloween no matter what you decide to do. And, please give me some feedback on any wines that you have found appropriate to the occasion.

Stan The Wine Man

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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+)

Stan The Wine Man

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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+)

Stan The Wine Man

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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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