So, a friend calls me (close friend) and asks me what I’m doing. I tell him I’m BBQ’n chicken at home…He tells me he’s coming over right away, and I know he is bringing a special bottle of wine. How do I know you might ask? Well, he works for Dionysus, the generous, philanthropic wine lover who loves to share bottles of wine that he opens. I have no idea what my friend is so eager to share with me, but I never miss an opportunity to taste from the wonderful Dionysus cellar.

As I am working out in my shop, getting utensils for the BBQ, I hear my friend bantering with my Bella (my chihuahua). When I step out to greet him, he asks me if I would like to taste some ’96 Domaine de la Romanee-Conti La Tache Red Burgundy (Pinot Noir). As soon as those words left his lips, I was so excited, I could hardly keep myself in check. DRC is on my bucket list of wines I would like to try before I (like you know, go under the grass), pass away. This Pinot Noir is some of the most sought after in the world, and one that I thought I would never get a chance to try. In steps Dionysus. I didn’t want to try it because it is outrageously expensive (which it is). I wanted to try it because, it comes from some of the finest vineyards in Cotes-du-Nuits and is talked about in hushed tones. Domaine de la Romanee-Conti (DRC) is considered by most in the wine world to be one of the masters of Burgundy and those who have tried either the Romanee-Conti, La Tache, Romanee Saint-Vivant or Richeborg continue to talk about it as they might the birth of their first-born.

Romanee-Conti is the hardest to get with a production of only 450 cases a year. On release it goes for close to $8,000 a bottle. The La Tache, considered to rival Romanee-Conti in quality, has a production of 1.870 cases a year and is easier to find (it sells for around $2,000 a bottle). I for one consider no wine to be worth that much, but it sells out every year and is considered to be the best Pinot Noir in the world and maybe some of the best wine in the world. When the opportunity to try it came my way, I was not going to pass it up.

The aromas on this wine were other-worldly (and I’m not kidding). Asian spice, cinnamon, ripe strawberries, red cherries, perfumed red flowers, wet stone and chocolate tones. Intense, intense, intense. Bright cherries on the palate with mineral notes and a touch of tea. Asian spices came through on the mid-palate into the finish. It was almost meaty in texture, with spice and white pepper notes lingering on the bark, red flower and mineral driven finish with a touch of Asian spices that lingered. This Pinot Noir is a baby, even at eighteen years old with a load of personality that is waiting to burst at the seams. Give it ten to twenty more years (seriously), and then you will see its full potential. If there is anyone out there that is willing to share this bottle with me ten years from now, I would be happy to participate in the name of research…Just saying.

Cheers to my good friend for sharing, and of course my friend Dionysus!
Stan The Wine Man

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On August 14th the small town of Friday Harbor on San Juan Island had the privilege of having the iconic wine maker Michael Januik visit to be the guest at the “Intimate Tasting With The Wine Maker” event held at the Mullis Community Center. Of course, I organize this event, and it took me a good two years to get Michael to come up to the island. I believe that after the event was over, he realized what he had been missing.

Nearly 130 folks packed the house to listen to Michael and his son Andrew talk about their views on wine, wine making and other related topics. They also came to taste his wines both under the Januik label and Novelty Hill. We tasted through twelve of his wines, and I have to say there was not a mediocre on in the line-up, they were all stellar. Mike and Andrew did a fantastic job answering questions from the audience and explaining very detailed elements of the wine making process.

Mike Januik is really an icon in the Washington wine industry, whether he likes to think of himself that way or not. A graduate of U.C. Davis having received his masters in enology and viticulture, Mike was offered a job at Stewart Vineyards in Yakima, Washington. Stewart Vineyards no longer exists, but it was there that Mike got a hands on lesson in wine making. From Stewart, he went to work for Languth where he caught the attention of Allen Shoup, CEO at Chateau Ste. Michelle. Allan hired Mike to oversee the production of both red and white wines. Mike stayed on at Chateau Ste. Michelle for nearly ten years before he set out on his own.

His wines both at Januik and Novelty Hill have fostered many awards and accolades over the years. The group got evidence of why his wines gain so much attention as they tasted through the line-up. Starting with the Januik Sagemoor Vineyards Sauvignon Blanc and finishing with the Novelty Hill Syrah, there were people coming up to me throughout the event, praising each of the wines.

Here are some of the favorites based on what people ordered. 2012 Januik Cold Creek Vineyards Chardonnay. This Chard had excellent balance, striking a harmonious note between fruit and oak. It has a buttery edge with some butterscotch notes sneaking in, balanced by notes of pears and apples. The acidity is just right giving it a mouth-watering edge, lending it well with food.

The 2012 Novelty Hill Roussanne was also a favorite with its tropical fruit notes and subtle acidity. I found out that Mike is known as the King of Merlot, and that was evidenced in the 2011 Januik Klipsun Vineyard Merlot. However,the wine that stole the show (which completely surprised me), was the 2011 Januik Weinbau Vineyard Cabernet Franc. It didn’t surprise me that it was as good as it was, but how many times does a Cabernet Franc outsell a Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay or even a Sauvignon Blanc? The Cab Franc again struck a perfect balance between oak and fruit. Silky tannins backed notes of black olive, tobacco, vanilla, cherries and black currants. It stays away from the vegetal side of this grape, but never goes to the fruit forward side. Like I said, it is well-integrated, smooth and structured. It certainly caught the attention of the crowd.

I could write a book about this event, but I will spare you the words and just reiterate that all of the wines were stellar. Mike and his son Andrew (who now produces his own Cabernet Sauvignon from Red Mountain fruit), impressed the crowd with their knowledge and humility. I certainly was happy that Mike decided to make the trip to the San Juans, and very glad that he got to meet my group of folks who were a wonderful and appreciative audience.

Both Januik and Novelty Hill wines are widely available. If you are in Washington State and would like your local wine shop to carry some of their wines (they most likely already do, if they know what they’re doing), tell them they can get them through Noble Wines Distributing.

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.

2011 Bodegas Triton “Tridente” Tempranillo (Castilla y Leon, Spain)… $15.

Tempranillo is sometimes referred to as the Pinot Noir of Spain. If that is the case, than this is the Santa Barbara version of Pinot Noir in Castilla y Leon. This is a big boy for a Tempranillo with some serious fruit and a lot of old world attitude.
Very perfumed on the nose with a punch in the nasal cavities of some serious alcohol. Joining the nose party are notes of licorice, minerals, baking spices, currants and boysenberries. Powerful, solid dark fruit notes hit the palate on the front side with notes of black currants and dark cherries. There is an interesting perfumed soap element on the mid-palate and then the old world shows its head. Beauty bark and tar notes come through with trace minerals. Earth notes are the backbone of this big a^@ wine giving it a lot of appeal and helping you forget the heady alcohol. Also, the label is kicka@*! (B+)

2011 Barahonda Sin-Madera Monastrell (Murcia, Spain)… $15.

Monastrell, also referred to as Mourvedre is one of my favorite varietals. In Spain it takes on a whole new personality compared to its sibling in let’s say…The Rhone Valley. I always find that it has a real grapey characteristic when it hails from Spain…This one is no exception.
Aromas of grape juice (Welches comes to mind), dusty rocks, currants, cherries, black licorice and blackberries. Currants, blueberry and blackberry notes surround the crushed rock, tar and tobacco on the palate. This baby has very polished (smooth) fruit notes that are roughed up a bit by a heavy dose of minerality. Add a little grilled meat to the mix and “Viola”, you have a match made in heaven (so true with so many old world wines). (B)

2009 Ramos Pinto Duas Quintas Red (Douro Valley, Portugal)… $13.

Aromas of blackberries, minerals, leather and a touch of currants (old world baby!). Minerality rears it’s head all over the palate, backed by notes of tar, currants and blackberries. Good balance and intensity with a bright edge. Very fresh on the finish with a tar driven edge. This is a great example of the table reds coming from the land of Port. (B+)

2011 Heredade das Barras “Unique” Tinto (Alenteljano, Portugal)… $14.

Tarry black cherries and blackberries come through on the nose with a hit of worn leather, crushed rock and dusty cinnamon. Very tar driven on the palate (which I like), with a bright core of cherries and blackberries. Alcohol makes its presence on the front of the mid-palate with mineral notes sneaking in. The finish is bright and long with notes of tar, cherries, tobacco and a touch of blackberry. (B+)

2013 Marques de Caceres Verdejo (Rueda, Spain)… $8.

Marques de Caceres decided to go with a straight up Verdejo instead of the blend that they have been offering under this same label. The results are pretty nice. Aromas of grass, lemon, melon, crushed rock, honey and hints of orange blossoms. Very gravelly on the palate with notes of lemon pith, fresh-cut grass, melon and orange blossoms. Clean and fresh with a touch of roundness on the mid-palate. Mineral driven on the finish backed by citrus and grass notes. For eight bucks, this is a steal. (B)

2011 Renwood BBQ Zinfandel (California)… $12.

Old wood notes come through on the nose soaked in cherry and currant juice with a touch of raspberries and black licorice. There is a blast of black cherries and currants on the palate (what zin lovers look for), with a chocolate cherry back-end. Good integration of alcohol and fruit and very smooth with an edge of wood tannins. This wine is a “10″ in the delicious category. (B/B+)

2012 Elk Cove Vineyards “La Boheme” Pinot Noir (Willamette Valley, Oregon)… $50.

Rose petals, cranberries, red cherries come through on the nose with hints of Root Beer and bark. Nice acidity on the palate drives notes of dark cherries, cranberries and hints of Root Beer. Bark and Root Beer notes join hands on the cherry driven finish with a touch of violets coming through. Fifty bones may seem like a lot, but put this next to a red Burgundy of the same quality and think thirty to fifty dollars more…. Just saying. (A-)

2013 Elk Cove Vineyards Pinot Blanc (Willamette Valley, Oregon)… $19.

Pinot Blanc is one of those varietals that flies under the radar. So many folks are attached to Chardonnay, Pinot Grigio, Sauvignon Blanc or Riesling. This Pinot Blanc gives a compelling argument as to why you should give it a shot. Very nutty on the nose with notes of almonds and walnuts coming through (sound interesting?). Peach notes back the nuttiness with hits of lemon, lime and lychee nuts. Lemon-Lime meets orange Creamsicle on the front of the palate flowing into a laser sharp lime sorbet finish joined by notes of cut-grass. The finish is bone-dry with a chalky edge. If you haven’t tried a Pinot Blanc yet, this may be a good place to start. (A-)

2011 Jean Perrier Chignin Bergeron Cuvee’ Gastronomie 100% Roussanne (Savoie, France)… $9.

Aromas of roasted nuts, melon, honey, white flowers and wet stone. Honey, papaya and banana notes hit the front of the palate with a little wet stone sneaking in on the mid-palate. Banana peel notes hit on the back of the mid-palate leading into a very dry mineral driven finish. This white has a new world feel up front, but definitely finishes with old world attitude. (B-)

2011 Jean Perrier Apremont Cuvee Gastronomic 100% Jacquere (Savoie, France)… $9.

A little funky and smokey on the nose, joined by notes of crushed rock, lemon drop and melon. There is a bright backbone to this white on the palate with notes of honey, melon, white flowers, cut grass and a healthy dose of crushed rock. There is a nice fullness on the front of the palate leading into a dry, crushed rock and slate driven finish. If you want a little palate change and try something new, I think you will be pleasantly surprised with this white from the old world side. (A-)

2012 Copos Nature Tinto (Terra Alta, Spain)… $10.

As the name indicates, this is an organic red made from 40% Tempranillo, 40% Cabernet Sauvignon, 20% Carignan. Aromas of crushed red bricks, earth, red licorice, bread dough and currants. Earthy brick notes on the palate (some bricks and dirt whipped up together), backed by cranberries, violets and a bright acidity. Mineral notes are subdued but there, with some licorice notes coming through on the mid-palate. This is a red for those who like mouth-watering, earthy, acidic wines with a lot of old world attitude. (B-)

2012 Tre Fili Pinot Grigio (Veneto, Italy)… $10.

Aromas of garden hose, wet stone, lemon and honeysuckle. Simple and refreshing (it’s Pinot Grigio you know) on the palate with notes of honey, white flowers and slight crushed rock coming through. Apple skin on the mid-palate and finish joined by some honeydew melon. A great back porch on a warm summer day white. (C)

2012 Husch Gewurztraminer (Anderson Valley, CA)… $15.

Aromas of lychee nuts, honey, peaches and apricots. Honey and almond notes hit on the palate backed by notes of peaches and apricots with lychee notes on the back-end. This is a very dry style Gew with a finish of almond and walnut skins blended with citrus and apricot notes. If you don’t like a super sweet white that is delicious, this should do. (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.

2010 Luna Vineyards Lunatic Red (California) … $18.

Powerful on the nose (a little alcohol comes through) with notes of violets, smoke, currants, boysenberries and a hint of oak. Interesting black olive notes come through on the palate, backed by currants and boysenberries with a touch of violets. Silky tannins carry the wine into a dark cherries, currants and violet finish. There is a worn leather backbone to this juice that gives it a nice, interesting mouth-feel. This is a big, smooth red with good structure. (B+)

2013 Charles & Charles Rose` (Columbia Valley, WA)… $10.

This Rose` from Charles & Charles is comprised mostly from Syrah with a little Cinsault and a splash of a couple other grapes. Nice aromas of ripe cherries with a backdrop of strawberries and rhubarb. Strawberries dominate the palate backed by notes of cherries, herbs and a nice minerality. The fruit notes expand on the mid-palate, but this baby finishes nice and dry like a good rose` should. Very nice effort for ten bucks and should hit the spot for most Rose` fans. (B)

2012 Charles & Charles “Eve” Chardonnay (Washington State)… $10.

Aromas of pineapple, pear, apples and an undertone of interesting baking spices. Good acidity on this puppy (not for the malo fans) backing notes of pineapple and apple (more green apple than red) with a splash of lemon. This Chardonnay is clean and refreshing on the palate, which will lend it well with shellfish. However, it has enough weight to go with roasted chicken or crab. I nice alternative if you are tired of oaky chards. (B-)

2011 Corvidae Wine Co. “Lenore” Syrah (Columbia Valley, WA)… $15.

Aromas of smoked meat, baked earth, cherries and red currants with a backdrop of red flowers. Polished on the palate (meaning very smooth) with notes of red currants, bacon fat, vanilla and red flowers. Baked earth notes come through on the finish joined by red currants, red flowers and tobacco that lingers. This is classic, old world style Syrah with a little new world love. (B)

2012 Soter Vineyards Planet Oregon Pinot Noir (Oregon)… $20.

This has a very expressive nose with notes of red flowers, cherries and raspberries with a little red plum and root beer sneaking in. Ripe cherries, raspberries and plums with a Root beer back on the palate. Solid acidity backs the fruit notes with hints of black tea, red flowers and licorice sneaking in. Raspberry notes dominate on the finish. For twenty bucks, you get a Pinot that represents Oregon nicely. (A-)

2012 Hiedler Gruner Veltliner (Osterreich-Austria)… $19.

Hits of fig, lemon, wet stone, cut grass and melon rind come through on the nose. Gravel and wet stone all over the palate (a good thing for you wine geeks out there), with notes of melon rind, white flowers and lemon-lime pith joining the party. Crushed rock dominates on the finish with a touch of cut grass. If you want to get a good feel for what old world Gruner is all about, this is a classic example. (A)

2010 Tempus Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon (Columbia Valley, WA)… $32.

A little alcohol sneaks in on the nose with notes of currants, cherries and baking spices. Structured, sweet tannins support intense currant and dark cherry notes. Leather and earth notes join the fruit on the mid-palate (which thins out slightly), leading into an earth and currant finish that lingers for some time. Classic Cab from Washington. (B+)

2010 Tempus Cellars Merlot seven Hills Vineyard (Walla Walla Valley, WA)… $28.

Aromas of currants, dust and rust come through on the nose with underlying dark cherries. Polished and intense notes of black currants and dark cherries with underlying bark and earth notes. White pepper sneaks in on the mid-palate leading into an intense finish with some nutmeg notes lingering around the palate. Excellent balance and structure, this is what Washington State Merlot is all about. (A-)

2012 Hanna Sauvignon Blanc (Russian River Valley, CA)… $16.

Aromas of grapefruit pith, ripe lemons and a touch of crushed rock with a little sweat thrown in the mix (not off-putting at all). Nice and dry on the palate with notes of crushed rock, grapefruit pith, bubble gum, and grass. Citrus notes dominate the palate with that nice minerality coming through. This is a great sauv blanc from an area that is not necessarily known for this varietal. (B+)

2013 Carlos Basso “Dos Fincas” (Mendoza, Argentina)… $13.

Fairly intense and perfumed on the nose with notes of black licorice, blackberries, black plums and charred oak. Black plums and blackberries on the front of the palate with interesting black and green olive notes. Oak comes through big time on the mid-palate and finish making it bitter and astringent. This is a fairly young wine and the char/oak notes could calm down with time. (C+)

2013 La Clotiere Rose D’Anjou (France)… $10.

Aromas of wet stone, rose petal, watermelon, herbs and cherries. Crushed rock, earth and cherries all day on the palate. Riper fruit up front and on the mid-palate, and then it dries up on the finish with notes of cherries, red flowers and crushed rock lingering. (B+)

2012 Husch Gewurztraminer (Anderson Valley, CA)… $15.

Aromas of Lychee nut, honey, peaches and apricots. Honey and almonds up front joined by notes of peaches and apricots. Lychee notes come through on the back-end finishing with almond and walnut skins, with notes of citrus and apricots lingering. This is a very dry style Gew. (B)

2013 Henri Bourgeois Petit Bourgeois Pinot Noir Rose (Loire Valley, France)… $13.

Somewhat challenged on the nose with trace notes of strawberries and watermelon with a little bubblegum action. Fresh, clean and lively on the palate with notes of crushed rock, watermelon and strawberries. There is a little Granny Smith apple presence on the mid-palate leading into a crushed rock citrus finish. This is a warm summer day Rose’ (or anytime for that matter) and would match up nicely with shellfish. (B)

Stan The Wine Man

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