BITS & BOBS

I’m eight subscribers away from four-hundred on my YouTube channel. I’m super stoked that so many are following me on this platform and I am super appreciative! I started it a long time ago. In the early days, I wasn’t focused on growing the channel as much as honing my skills in presenting wine to my viewers, giving honest reviews and helping people to find good values in wine. In the past three years, I have really concentrated my efforts to grow my audience and it has paid off. My goal is to hit seven-hundred subscribers by the end of 2021. A bit lofty I know, but without goals, one can lose focus. One of my favorite things to do is program guests. I have had many of the years and they seem to be very popular. It’s been tougher over the past year to set up interviews due to Covid-19. But as I pointed out in last week’s edition of this piece, there is evidence of a silver lining sneaking out in 2021.

It’s funny to me that some of my top episodes on YouTube involve expensive wines. I reviewed some Harlan wines in 2016 and there are over a thousand views of that episode. Conversely, I have over a thousand views where I discussed the ability to age inexpensive wines, reviewing some older, inexpensive Bordeaux that I pulled from my cellar. This tells me that I have a diverse audience that understands that being a blue-collar wine guy does not limit me to value wines only. Those that know me, know that I get very excited when I find a great wine that is not expensive. However, I have been known to purchase expensive wines if they are worthy of being placed in my cellar, or for immediate consumption. Blue-collar folks will spend the money if they know it’s worth it.

March is the original Washington Wine Month and I plan on reviewing quite of few wines from our great state. I love wine from all over the globe of course, and I’m not particularly partial to Washington State wine. However, I’m very proud of what we have accomplished since the early days of wine in Washington. There are now over a thousand wineries in our state and more to come. The quality level just keeps going up. I have tasted some amazing wines that rival many wines from California at a third the price.

I have at least two wineries in my sights for “Winery Of The Year” in 2021. I will continue to do my research while I promote my 2020 “Winery Of The Year”…Barnard Griffin. So far, I have reviewed the Reserve wines from BG and will focus on their Signature wines in March. I believe that Barnard Griffin represents some of the best values out of Washington. Rob and his daughter are passionate about getting their wines into the hands of the masses, rather than pricing their wines out of the reach of the average customer. Barnard Griffin has been around a long time and I think it’s time to get to know their wines again.

Cheers!

Stan The Wine Man

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FRIDAY’S FIVE

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

2014 Cana’s Feast Nebbiolo Ciel Du Cheval Vineyard (Columbia Valley, WA)… $31

Aromas of strawberry, cola and a touch of bark and rust with a hit of red flowers. Red flower notes and rust all day on the palate, with nicely integrated acidity. There is a tiny kiss of cola on the mid-palate into the finish. Excellent balance and true to old-world Nebbiolo (think piedmont). Rusty, old world finish (B+)

2013 Cana’s Feast Sangiovese Grosso Ciel Du Cheval Vineyard (Columbia Valley, WA)… $44.

Currants and licorice on the nose, joined by dark red flower notes, beauty bark and baking spices. On the palate, notes of currants, bark, red flowers, orange peel and rust, with a splash of meat marinade front to finish where baking and BBQ spices join up and linger. (B-/B)

2015 Gifford Hirlinger Estate Merlot (Walla Walla Valley, WA)… $35.

Deep dark cherry and currant notes on the nose with hits of dark flowers underneath. A touch perfumed with a kiss of wood coming through. Dark, brooding cherry notes combine with notes of wood and spices wrapped in nicely integrated acidity. Licorice notes come through on the mid-palate into a dry finish where a pinch of tobacco sneaks in. Nice expansion of the cherry notes on the mid-palate. Good balance and integration. (B+/A-)

2019 Bodega Garzon Albarino (Uruguay)… $18.

Aromas of banana, peach, mango and a kiss of apricot. Fresh acidity on the palate supports notes of apricot, orange citrus and peach notes, all balanced nicely with good integration. Peach and orange notes linger for some time. (B+)

2018 Domaine Papagiannakos Retsina (Mesogaia, Central Greece)… $15.

Fig notes all day on the nose with a backdrop of rosemary and white peach. The rosemary hits big-time on the front of the palate and then the fig and white peach notes take over, joined by a kiss of lemon citrus on the back-end. The rosemary comes out on the back of the finish and lingers for some time. (B+/A-)

Cheers!

Stan the Wine Man

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BITS & BOBS

The big snow hit again this year. February seems to be the target month for the worst weather. Nice thing is, this storm is not sticking around for long. It’s raining as I write and by the end of the day, things should be a lot better. I’m not a snow guy myself. It’s pretty when it does snow, but it is as inconvenient as you can get. It’s messy as hell and I have a sales rep that will use any excuse to stay home. She already texted me last evening to inform me she won’t be over to write her order (which is huge) due to the snow. I know how she is, so I won’t even try to convince her that the roads are clear here and that there is no problem driving. So, I will have to write her order which is a huge task. The cool part is, I will have the opportunity to write a much better order, so there is a positive spin to the situation. 🙂

Speaking of ordering, I choose a wine each month as “Pick Of The Month. It has a home in the front of aisle 11. This month it’s the Mont Gravet Carignan and it’s only eight bucks. However, it delivers a lot for that price. A perfect combo for my pick. The funniest question I get asked almost every month by someone is… “Is it any good?” I am of course referring to my “Pick Of The Month.” Think about that for a moment. I taste dozens of wines each month, and out of all those wines, I find one that I feel should take that spot on the aisle. It meets the criteria of being a great qpr (quality-to-price-ratio) wine. My formula for making this pick is determining if it is an 80% wine. What that means is, I feel that 80% of the people who purchase it will like it. So, to address the question, is it any good? Of course it is! I just look at the person and politely say… “Well, it is my pick for the month.” They smile at me and grab one to buy. Many times, they come back for more.

One of the coolest things happened to me recently. A designer from Los Angeles watches my YouTube channel on a regular basis. He reached out to me via email and offered to design a shirt that I can wear on the channel with the logo “Stan The Wine Man” as well as an intro to my videos. I was quite flattered and I will take him up on his offer. It makes me feel good to know that there are people out there who follow me that are not locals. I get a tremendous amount of support from my friends which I appreciate deeply. To have a complete stranger from another state reach out is amazing to me. He mentioned he appreciates my episodes and has learned about some new wines by watching. I also get quite a few comments from Canada as well. It’s nice to know I am providing content that people like, which motivates me to continue with greater vigor. Sometimes when I’m talking to a camcorder in my studio reviewing wines, it seems as if nobody is there or even cares about what I’m doing. It’s awesome to get confirmation that it is worth the effort.

Susie and I are planning our first trip for 2021. We both feel that by October things should be closer to normal. This Covid outbreak has really put a crimp on traveling abroad. We both agree that wearing masks in the airport and on the plane is something we don’t want to do. I am really looking forward to the day when I can see all my friends faces without a piece of cloth on it. I’m reasonably sure there will still be folks out there who will continue to wear them even when the mask mandate is lifted. That group will not include my wife and I! There is a silver lining behind all of this and I see it starting to come out even now. It’s always good to be positive, negativity just brings a person down.

Cheers!

Stan The Wine Man

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STAN’S PICK FOR FEBRUARY

I want to apologize for being late on this one, mostly because it is such a good value and a lot of you have already been back for more. This time my pick hails from southern France, a place I often go-to for great values. Carignan, the much-maligned grape, especially by Jancis Robinson, a well-known wine writer who mentioned at one time that they should rip out all the Carignan vines. Well, everyone is entitled to their opinion and I happen to totally disagree with her on that. In my career, I have happened upon many a great wine made from this grape. The vines can be quite vigorous and produce a mind-blowing amount of fruit. Careful growers, make sure to prune accordingly and lower the yields so the fruit quality is much better. My pick for this month comes from old vines (Vieilles Vignes) which can, if taken care of properly, produce grapes of greater distinction. I’m not implying that this wine will ever make the Top 100 list in any wine periodical, but I am saying that it delivers a lot for the money. To put it bluntly, the price is stupid for what you get.

February Pick Of The Month

2019 Mont Gravet Carignan Vieilles Vignes (Pays d’Herault, France)… $8.

Aromas of licorice, blackberries and strawberries with a pinch of cinnamon coming through. Very light in body (Gamay-like) with solid notes of licorice, blackberries and ripe strawberries. There is an interesting herbal component that comes through on the mid-palate into the finish where a little cola action sneaks in. The tannins are light but the flavors have a nice intensity and the finish lingers. A steal at this price. Just saying. (B)

Cheers!

Stan The Wine Man

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