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 Corvidae Wine Co. Rook Red (Columbia Valley, WA)…$12

Aromas of canned beets (not pickled), dark cherries and blackberries with hits of wilted rose petals. Dark cherries, ripe blackberries and tobacco notes on the palate front to back. Nice balance with good acidity giving it a fresh finish. There is a white pepper hit on the back-end and the tobacco notes linger. Good wine, just a little boring. (B)

2014 Cavatappi Sangiovese (Columbia Valley, WA)… $12.

Very toasty on the nose with notes of strawberries and cherries with a touch of tobacco and caramel. Spicy oak notes on the palate…I mean lots of oak. Notes of cherries and strawberries try to sneak in with a little white pepper and tobacco. Very grippy on the finish with a good acid hit. WAY TOO MUCH OAK BABY! Yep, if you are an oak hound this would fit the bill. (C-)

2012 Domaine Pierre Guillemot Bourgogne (Burgundy, France)… $28

Strawberry jam all day on the nose with a touch of wet stone, rose petal and a hint of perfumed soap. This is an acid driven wine for sure which isn’t surprising for a Pinot Noir from this region. Notes of baked earth and crushed red brick supported by an underbelly of under ripe strawberries and herbs. There are hints of sarsaparilla and black tea on the finish. This Pinot is pretty wound up and acidic, it will be interesting to see how it develops over the next 5-8 years. (C-)

2009 Reserva Vina Eguia Rioja (100% Tempranillo)… $16.

Classic Rioja nose of crushed rock, baked earth, dill, red flowers, cassis and tobacco. Violets and cassis on the front of the palate with a good dose of crushed rock. There is a nice backbone of acidity with a little black olive coming through on the mid-palate with dill notes joining on the finish. This baby is old world with a nice kiss of cassis and currants. (B)

2013 Elsa Bianchi Malbec (Mendoza, Argentina)… $12.

Red flowers, cherries, tobacco and a touch of crushed red brick and licorice on the nose. The fruit on the palate is very close to rich, with notes of ripe currants and black plums, backed by notes of licorice and tobacco. Notes of wilted violets (you like that one?) and cured meats hit on the mid-palate and continue into the finish Silky tannins, with good structure and balance. (B+)

2013 Gustave Lorentz Reserve Pinot Blanc (Vin d’Alsace, France)… ?

Aromas of wet stone, lemon, white flowers and Honeydew melon rind. Nice round Honeydew melon notes on the front of the palate, backed by notes of white flowers and a touch of lemon and wet stone. The flavors linger on the finish with a steely edge to it. This is a lively little Pinot Blanc with a lot of flavor. Sorry about the price, I forgot to write it in my Moleskine. (B+)
2010 Soos Creek Winery “Commander Comet” Syrah (Washington State)… $30.

Aromas of boysenberries and plums with a hit of smoke and iron and a splash of red dirt. Licorice and boysenberry all day on the palate with a hit of tar coming through on the mid-palate and finish. Smooth and structured with a nice flow across the palate into a long boysenberry driven finish joined by hits of violets. (B/B+)

2013 College Cellars Sauvignon Blanc Clarke Vineyard (Walla Walla, Washington)… $12.

Notes of Meyers Lemon, apple Jolly Ranchers, white flowers and a touch of cut grass on the nose. Dried herbs all over the palate with an undertow of lemon and honey. It has a dry, white flower finish with a touch of honey and lemon. (C+)

2012 Airfield Estates “Dauntless” Red (Yakima Valley, WA)… $15.

Very deep and aromatic on the nose with notes of wilted rose petal, currants and a touch of rust and licorice coming through. Solid fruit and good structure on the palate. Notes of currants, rose petal and licorice on structured, approachable tannins. Nice flow across the palate with a touch of bark and earth on the grippy finish with minerals and veggies lingering. 72% Merlot, 13% Malbec, 11% Petit Verdot and 4% Cabernet Franc. (B)

2013 Forge Cellars Riesling (Finger Lakes, New York)… $24.

Aromas of rubber beach ball, sweet apples and a touch of wet stone and orange blossom. Mouth-watering acidity with a ton of crushed rock, white flowers and ripe apples on the palate. Cold steel all day, feels like your licking refrigerated stainless steel. Bazooka notes hit on the mid-palate leading into a bone-dry finish. I don’t get to try very many Finger Lakes Riesling, and this one really impressed me. I get the hype. (B/B+)

2012 Vindicated Cabernet Sauvignon (Napa Valley, CA)… $25.

Aromas of currants, cherries and tea with a little lavender and wet stone thrown in. Good fruit and smooth tannins with nice structure. Notes of currants, licorice and red flowers with a hint of bark on the back-end. (B+)

2012 Descendants Liegeois Dupont Syrah (Red Mountain, WA)… $25.

Smokey and a touch stinky on the nose with notes of boysenberries, plums earth and bark. This baby is as close to old world you might get from the new world. Boysenberries and roasted meats on the palate with a healthy dose of crushed rock and a pinch of bacon fat on the back-end. Notes of red flowers and minerals linger on the finish. Are you sure this isn’t from the Rhone Valley? Nope…Red Mountain WA. (B+/A-)

2010 Bouchaine Pinot Noir (Carneros, CA)… $25.

Aromas of root beer, black tea and toast with a backdrop of currants and ripe strawberries. Dark cherries and black tea on the palate with underlying root beer notes. Nice balance of acid and fruit with good structure and a long finish. (B+)

Stan The Wine Man


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August is one of two Washington wine months. March was the original and then August joined the party some time ago. It’s a good thing, because there are so many wines to feature, that one month just can’t do justice to what this great wine-producing state is accomplishing. There are so many talented wine makers coming out of Washington State. The early days included the likes of John Abbott (Canoe Ridge), Rick Small (Woodward Canyon), Charlie Hoppes (Fidelitas), Gary Figgins (Leonetti Cellars) and Rob Griffin (Barnard Griffin) to name a few. Following in their footsteps, many more talents have come on the Washington wine scene making their mark in a big way. Chris Camarda (Andrew Will), Christophe Baron (Cayuse), Mark McNeilly (Mark Ryan Winery), Trey Busch (Sleight Of Hands) and Kevin White (Kevin White Cellars)…Again to name a few. Mark McNeilly and Trey Busch have joined talents in The Underground Wine Project Winery. Their first release was the Idol Hands Red which has accrued some pretty nice reviews from various critics. Recently (very), they released a series of wines called “Sustain”, including a red blend, Malbec, Cab, Merlot and Pinot Gris. I’ve tried them all, and the red blend stood out to me. It is my pick for August.

August 2015 Pick Of The Month.

August 2015 Pick Of The Month.

2013 The Underground Wine Project Red (Columbia Valley, Washington)… $15.

Very meaty and smokey on the nose joined by notes of cherries, licorice, violets and hints of chocolate. BBQ spices and charcoal all over the palate with notes of white pepper, vanilla, currants and dark cherries. This is a rustic wine with a smooth edge or two. Nice balance of acid and fruit with a fresh, violet driven finish along with notes of vanilla chocolate and mocha joining the party. I love this wine, because it is new world with an old world attitude. Great food red that can be drunk solo if you like the style. I could swear this has a fair share of syrah. It is a great representation of what Washington has to offer in this price range and one I know a lot of you will enjoy.

Stan The Wine Man

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Yes, it was in my possession.

Yes, it was in my possession.

The hundred point scoring system is merely a gauge for determining how much the reviewer that uses it likes the wine, based on their experience and personal preferences. No system, whether it be stars, grades, points or glasses should be used to define a wine, only to define the palate of the reviewer. So, when someone tells me a wine scored a 98, I am curious of course, but not entirely convinced its going to be a great wine. All it tells me is that someone who has tasted many wines in their career liked the wine a lot and felt that it passed certain criteria that they use. I realize having tasted many wines myself, that there are components that are necessary to make it either a mediocre wine or a great wine. Things like fruit quality, tannins, acidity and the integration of all those components. When you find a wine, no matter the cost, that hits all those elements, it is an exciting experience.

As a lot of my readers know, I have a friend (Dionysus) that loves wine and loves to share. His employee ( also a friend of mine), will often get wine from Dionysus and has on many occasions shared them with me. I often wonder why, since some of the wines have just a few sips left, and he could easily take them home and enjoy them solo. Thankfully, like Dionysus, he loves to share and converse with me about the wine that we are enjoying together. Isn’t that what wine is all about after all?

Not too long ago, he stopped by the store with a bottle of ’97 Bryant Family Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon with a couple of tastes left that he scored from Dionysus. I was eager to try a Napa Valley Cab that was older than most of the courtesy clerks at the grocery store I work at. It also was given a 98-100 point score from Robert Parker Jr., which merely meant that he liked it quite a bit. I also believe that if someone who has tasted a boat-load of great wines liked it that much, it certainly deserves a try. So, I shared the experience with Bob, and I thought you might enjoy hearing the results.

The wine had been uncorked for a while, so it had plenty of time to open up. It was as smooth as you might expect from a wine with this much experience. Like a jazz piece by Miles Davis, if you know what I mean. No rough edges, just pure smooth. I was particularly impressed with the complexity. Ripe currants, anise, vanilla, mocha and just a hint of herbaceous. It was very close to raisin, but never got there. The tannins were smooth, the acidity was there and not faded into memory…It still had structure, but I felt it was at its peak for drinking. In about three years, it will start it’s decline down the hill into raisin juice history.

Byrant Family Vineyard’s first vintage was 1992 and has become a cult winery demanding a lot of money for a bottle of its coveted Cabernet Sauvignon. A favorite of Robert Parker Jr., garnering some serious scores. This ’97 vintage as I mentioned, received 98-100 points from him. Like many of the pricey wines out of Napa such as Screaming Eagle, Bryant Family Vineyard seeks the services of world-renowned consultant Michel Rolland. Whenever Rolland is in the picture, you can expect a premium price for the wines. In 2014 Bryant Family Vineyard’s wine maker Todd Alexander left the winery to become head wine maker for Force Majeure in Washington State. As he put it, he wanted to make wines that he could afford.

I give the ’97 Bryant Family Vineyard an A-, which means that I enjoyed it just as much as Parker. High-five to my friend for sharing with me, and a shout-put to Dionysus for handing it off. I may never buy a bottle myself, but I am not foolish enough to turn down the opportunity to see what all the fuss is about.

Stan The Wine Man

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Here in the San Juan Islands, we had one of the hottest 4th of July’s in a long time. I think the last time I remember it being this warm for a long stretch through June into July was back in ’03 or ’04. The weather has a lot to do with where I go for my pick of the month. I’m sure you have already deduced that it is a white wine. I always get excited when I find an interesting wine for under nine bucks, and this white is more than just interesting…It is downright excellent!

Pick Of The Month.

Pick Of The Month.

2014 Domaine De Pajot Le 4 Cepages (Vins De Gascogne, France)… $8.

Yes it’s true…Eight bucks for a white from France that rocks. Hailing from southwest France near the Pyrenees mountains is the Cotes De Gascogne region. This is an area that produces a ton of table whites and reds that are meant to be consumed at a young age. What I like about this region is the quality of whites that can be found readily. This Pajot is a classic example.

A blend of four white grapes (cepages), 35% Sauvignon blanc, 35% Colombard, 20% Ugni blanc and 10% Gros manseng. Aromas of melon, honey, herbs, ripe lemons and apple blossoms come through in spades on the nose. Loads of zesty apple notes blended with lime juice and hints of crushed rock with a splash of kiwi. Wet stone and steel front to back with a lemon-honey backdrop. Throw that all together and you get a zippy, tasty white that makes your mouth water for more. It certainly can be drunk all by itself, but also think oysters, clams or mussels. For eight bucks, this is a stupid value that should be taken advantage of during these warm summer days. (B+/A-)

Stan The Wine Man

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