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.

2012 Shingleback Red Knot Shiraz (McLaren Vale, Australia)… $17.

I continue my campaign in 2015 to increase interest in Aussie wines. This little Shiraz is a good example of why folks who love wine should continue to drink from the land of Oz. Aromas of black raspberries, licorice, rose petal, violets and currants. Nice acidity and structure (yes, Australian wines have that). Notes of BBQ spices, currants and beauty bark front to back, with BBQ spices lingering on the finish. (B)

2012 Shingleback Davey Estate Cabernet Sauvignon (McLaren Vale, Australia)… $24.

Currants and licorice on the nose with nice hits of violets. Excellent core of acidity backs the fruit notes making them “pop” on the palate. Currants and raspberries joined by notes of black tea and blackberry leaves. Very Bordeaux like in style with good balance and structure. This is still a puppy, and will age nicely over the next 5-8 years. (B+/A-)

2011 Henry’s Drive Morse Code Red (South Australia)…$13.

A little challenged on the nose, with light notes of ripe cherries. Ripe cherries on the palate joined by notes of currants and eucalyptus and licorice. Nice minerality front to back with a light beam of acid. A nice little picnic quaffer, that is on the simple side. (C+/B-)

2012 Henry’s Drive Syrah (Padthaway, Australia)… $27.

I’m hoping my notes are accurate, because I had to shake my head when I saw “Syrah” on the label. This is 100% Syrah with aromas of tobacco, BBQ spice and currants, with a backdrop of violets and oats. Boysenberry and plums on the palate with a tobacco edge. Red flower notes front to back with a eucalyptus edge. Spice comes through on the finish with tobacco notes lingering. This is quality juice with good balance and structure, once again proving that Australia isn’t just about Yellowtail and Jacob’s Creek. (A-)

2010 Henry’s Drive Pillar Box Red (Padthaway, Australia)… $15.

Very deep and resonant on the nose with notes of currants, tobacco, licorice and violets with hits of cherries. Currants like crazy on the palate with an undertow of eucalyptus and tar. Tobacco notes back up the fruit with good acidity. Sturdy, smooth tannins with just a touch of grip on the finish. 68% Shiraz, 27% Cabernet Sauvignon & 5% Merlot. (B/B+)

2014 Midnight Ridge Shiraz (South Eastern, Australia)… $8.

Notes of eucalyptus, licorice and currants pop from the glass with just a touch of tobacco. A solid backbone of acidity supports notes of currants and black raspberries. It gets a little tart on the mid-palate into the finish with tobacco notes joining the party. This is a bright and juicy red with good structure. I’m note sure how long this price will hold up, but if this is the style you like in a red, snatch some while you can and drink now. (B-)

2013 Thomas Goss Shiraz (McLaren Vale, Australia)… $15.

Toasty currants and dark cherries on the nose with hints of bark. Very brooding with tobacco notes lying in wait. Good core of acidity backs notes of red currants and cherries. Nice toasty edge on the palate with a slight hit of tobacco and black pepper on the lingering finish. Fresh and well structured. (B-)

2014 Renegade Wine Co. Rose` (Columbia Valley, WA)… $11.

Aromas of strawberries and watermelon with hits of cherries and dried herbs. Very fresh and lively on the palate with a slight steely edge. Watermelon and cherry notes all day with an herbal edge and a kiss of raspberry. A very crisp, dry, refreshing finish. This is a beauty for the money. 50% Syrah, 21% Cinsault, 18% Grenache, 6% Counoise & 5% Mourvedre (B+)

2014 Charles & Charles Rose` (Columbia Valley, WA)… $11.

Strawberries and cherries on the nose with a touch of rose petal. Clean and delicious with notes of strawberry Bubbleyum. Watermelon and dried herb notes come through on the mid-palate, leading into a bone-dry finish. Another great rose` for the money. (B+)

2014 Yamhill Valley Vineyards Rose` of Pinots (Willamette Valley, Oregon)… $15.

Ripe cherries and watermelon on the nose with hints of strawberries. Cherries all day on the palate balanced out by a good core of acidity. Hits of watermelon and strawberries join up on the dry, delicious finish. (B+)

2012 Sun Garden Riesling (Nahe, Germany)… $10.

Stone fruit, wet stone, melon, rosemary and thyme on the nose. Ripe pears and lemons on the palate with a nice steely edge. The fruit notes are ripe, but the brightness of the acidity cuts through the fruit, giving it a nice balance. For the money, this is a good introduction to German Riesling. Pair it with Asian fare, salads or shellfish. (B/B+)

2013 Butterfield Station Pinot Noir (Firebaugh’s Ferry, CA)… $8.

Bright cherries and cranberries on the nose with a backdrop of cola. Slightly thin on the palate, but true to the varietal. Light notes of cherries and a touch of cranberry. Simple, delicious, and no make-up. (C+)

Non-Vintage Tintero Moscato D’Asti (Piedmont, Italy)… $13.

Aromas of pine needles, tangerine and lime sorbet. Tangerine and lime sorbet front to back on the palate. It never gets too sweet with some pine action sneaking in. Finishes clean and not cloying at all. Super delicious and fresh. (B+/A-)

Stan The Wine Man

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2012 Saint Laurent Lucky Red Finally I am going domestic for my Pick Of The Month. Had I tasted this little gem in February, I would have featured it in March. Unfortunately it had not been released yet. I have to go with my gut on the POM and I am not going to plug-in an inferior wine just to stick to a theme like Washington Wine Month.

So, for my April pick I am featuring: Saint Laurent Winery “Luck Red” (Columbia Valley, WA)… $12.

Aromas of smokey cherries and plums with just a hint of licorice. Chocolate and currant notes all day on the palate with just a hint of earth. Structured tannins that are smooth, support the fruit notes with a nice balance of fruit tannin and acid. The finish is delicious with notes of tobacco, chocolate and currants that linger. A blend of 55% Cabernet Sauvignon, 40% Syrah (that’s the smoke in the aroma) and 5% Merlot.
This winery has cut back on some of its varietals to focus on this blend and a couple of other wines. The focus seems to be working, because this blend is an overachiever for the money. Don’t miss out on giving this one a try. (B+/A-)

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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.

2012 Joel Gott “Alakai” Grenache (California)…$18.

Aromas of rose petal, bark, strawberries, dark cherries, eucalyptus and licorice. Dark cherries on the palate all day with a back-drop of black licorice and chocolate. Smooth and structured with a touch of white pepper coming through on the back of the mid-palate. Finishes with notes of strawberries, cherries, licorice and chocolate that lingers. This Grenache definitely has California love handles and is a “10” in the delicious category. (B-)

2013 The Federalist Cabernet Sauvignon (Lodi, California)… $15.

This baby smells like tomato plant and blackberry bushes with a little black tea and currants thrown in. Very full and juicy on the palate loaded with notes of raisin juice with a splash of licorice and cherries. This is what we call a fruit-bomb front to back with tobacco, licorice and raisin juice lingering. You would never pick this out as a cab in a blind line-up. (C-)

2013 The Federalist Zinfandel (Lodi, California)… $15.

Currants and Beauty bark on the nose with a little pencil lead and a touch of tobacco. Round currant notes on the palate with a backdrop of ripe dark cherries. Very smooth and delicious with a little alcohol heat on the finish and hits of white pepper. A little hot for me, but I think there will be a lot of you that will like it. (C)

2011 Epicurean Bistro Grenache (McLaren Vale, Australia)… $13.

Aromas of strawberries, mint, Eucalyptus and cherries with hits of tobacco…Very interesting. Very spicy on the palate with hits of white and black pepper, joined by notes of strawberries and cherries. Very smooth and delicious. The tannins are smooth, but this little red has a lot of guts. Nicely integrated and layered. If you want to know where to look for interesting Grenache, look no further than the Oz. (B+)

2011 Shingleback Red Knot Cabernet Sauvignon (McClaren Vale, Australia)… $13.

I love the nose on this little cab…Notes of black tea, tomato stem, black currants, licorice and rose petal. Currants all day on the palate mixed with a little spice, tomato stem and black tea. Leather and rose petal notes sneak in on the mid-palate, joining the tomato stem, black tea and spice notes on the finish. For thirteen bucks you get a pretty interesting cab with nice complexity and balance. (B+)

2012 Heron Winery Chardonnay (California)… $12.

A little funkified on the nose with hits of spicy pear coming through. Very dry on the palate with light notes of pears and pear skin coming through. There is an interesting mineral element with citrus notes sneaking in on the finish. This is true to the Chardonnay fruit with very little if any malolactic fermentation. I’m thinking a Chardonnay for shellfish. Some will love it, and some won’t like it at all. (C+)

2012 Heron Winery Cabernet Sauvignon (California)… $13.

A ton of violets on the nose with a little eucalyptus, currant and cherry. Cherry notes come through big time on the palate with hits of licorice and tobacco. Nicely integrated with a nice flow across the palate with violet and tobacco notes lingering on the finish supported by smooth structured tannins. Nice cab for under fifteen bucks. (B-)

Non-Vintage Saint-Cosme Little James Basket Press Red (Vin De France)… $12.

Aromas of tobacco, roasted meats, black olive and underlying currant notes. Mineral notes support currants tobacco and baked earth with hits of red flowers. Tobacco and roasted meat notes linger with mingled currants on a medium to long finish. This wine is produced with the solera method, blending barrels from different vintages to give it the flavor profile the wine maker is looking for. Made from 100% Grenache (which is not always the case with this wine). A great bang for the buck. (B-)

2012 Heartland “Spice Trader” Shiraz (60%)/Cabernet Sauvignon (40%) (Langhorne Creek, Australia)… $15.

Aromas of black licorice, currants, eucalyptus and hits of root beer (excuse me, sarsaparilla). Dark cherry notes dominate on the palate with a black currant undertow. Silky tannins and solid structure. A touch of bark, supports the fruit notes (I love bark in my wine…Seriously), with black olive notes joining the party on the mid-palate. A touch of tobacco and black pepper on the looong finish. Serious cab from the land of Oz…Please do not blow-off wines from Australia just because of YellowTail or other cheap juice. They make some seriously good wine at more than reasonable prices. (B+)

2013 St. Hallett “Faith” Shiraz (Barossa, Australia)… $15.

A blend of currants, boysenberries and plums on the nose with underlying rose petal and tobacco. Nice and spice driven on the palate with notes of white and black pepper. Char and tar notes support Currants and blackberries up front with a nice backbone of acidity. There is a very meaty tar element to this wine finishing with tar/tobacco and charred currant notes with hits of white pepper. Nicely structured and balanced, this is well made Shiraz that needs food. (B)

2011 Tait “The Ball Buster” Red (Barossa, Australia)… $19.

A little raisany on the nose with hits of plum and tobacco with dark cherries underneath and a little warm. Round and polished on the palate with notes of black currants, black pepper and tobacco with a little wood coming through. Black plum notes join in on the mid-palate blended with cherries and currants leading into the finish with tar and tobacco notes and a hit of white pepper that lingers. This is what most folks expect from a Barossa Shiraz, but this is becoming the exception rather than the rule these days. 75% Shiraz, 22% Cabernet Sauvignon and 3% Merlot. (B-)

2012 Mas Lavail Terre d’Ardoise (Cotes Catalanes, France)… $15.

Aromas of Licorice, raspberries, blackberries, plums and red flowers. Crushed rocks all over the palate, with notes of bark, tobacco and underlying cranberry and raspberry. This is a light bodied red with good acidity finishing with crushed red flowers. Old vines Carignan. (C+)

2012 O.S. Winery Red (Columbia Valley, WA)… $15.

Cranberries and blueberries on the nose with a hit of cedar and rose petals. Very interesting on the palate with notes of blueberries, cranberries and beets with a little stewed meats and white pepper thrown in. Nice acidity front to back with bark and earth notes joining in on the finish. (B)

Stan The Wine Man

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I am not the first to write something about the arsenic scandal in the wine world and certainly will not be the last. In fact, I wasn’t going to jump into the fray at all until I read the satirical article by the HoseMaster himself. I laughed at what he wrote, and agree with the more serious comments he made (if you can call anything he writes,serious) after the piece.

Wine is not the only thing out there with trace amounts of arsenic and if you ask me, I would rather consume a little arsenic than a Twinkie any day. I’m not sure which will kill you quicker, but my bets hedge towards a Twinkie. Like I told someone at the store I work at, at least I am building up an immunity to arsenic so that if someone tries to seriously poison me, I have a greater chance of survival.

The other annoying part of all this is the group that continues to insist on wineries listing all the ingredients on the label. Really? I’d be happy if they just listed the grapes they use and the percentages. Most folks I know wouldn’t take the time to read what is in the wine let alone understand what some of the ingredients are. Have you ever read the ingredients in a Snicker Bar? I tried once, gave up and scarfed it down. I don’t eat many Snicker Bars simply because I want to keep my original teeth and my waistline. However, I do drink my fair share of wine, and at my last physical the benefits were obvious. My good cholesterol was so high, it balanced out the bad cholesterol. The doctor who knows me just smiled, saying that there is no doubt the red wine is helping. I should ask him on the next check-up to do a blood analysis and see if there are any traces of arsenic. If there was, he would probably tell me to lay-off the Snickers Bars (you know I’m kidding. Right?).

I think they should start requiring produce suppliers to put the ingredients found in a head of lettuce or an apple. Imagine if they listed the level of sulphites in a bag of grapes. I’m sure the folks that think they are allergic to sulfites might make an exception. However, I could hear a bunch of youngsters telling their parents that they probably shouldn’t eat salad because of the dangerous levels of sulphites.

I believe that if anyone wants to point fingers, it should be at the FDA (Food and Drug Administration). This is the organization that decides what levels of any element should be allowed in the food we eat. I’ve been told that one fast food restaurant in the U.S. has over fifty chemicals or ingredients in their food that are not even allowed in some countries. All these chemicals and ingredients are deemed acceptable by the FDA. That being said, we may decide not to eat at certain establishments because we believe it is not good for our health. However, many partake of the food on a regular basis and live a long and healthy life. Who gives a crap about trace amounts of arsenic in wine. I would be happier if they outlawed cigarettes or chewing tobacco. Just think how much healthier our society would be if just those two habits could be abolished. Freedom is a cherished commodity and I would never want to intrude on someone’s right to decide what they put in their body. Inexpensive red wine is not the problem. Trader Joes is not the problem. Fred Franzia is not the problem. Ignorance and fear are usually the problem behind any misconceptions, and some folks out there love to feed into both of these.

Remember the blogger that sensationalized the FireBall misunderstanding? The blogger used something that happened with a shipment of FireBall (a cinnamon whisky) to Europe that was rejected because of an ingredient that was at too high a level. That same shipment was allowed in the U.S. because the FDA approved of the level of that ingredient in this country. That blogger fed into to the fear and ignorance of the masses, and sales of FireBall slowed down for quite a while. Time heals all wounds, and the folks who drank FireBall and quit for a while are now back at it. Funny, but I have not seen anyone die from Fire Ball consumption in moderation yet. Once again, our trust has to lie in the governing body that does the research and decides what our body can or cannot handle. I would never encourage blindly following any organization just because they have authority to make decisions about our health. I still don’t want to consume irradiated vegetables, even though the FDA says it’s o.k. Sorry, but that just seems wrong to me. However, I do not have the research to say that it would be bad for me. It’s just a personal choice.

If you are really scared about trace amounts of arsenic in your wine, do the research, don’t jump to conclusions. When I say research, I don’t mean bloggers out there who sensationalize the situation and get off on striking fear into the hearts of their readers (there are a lot of them out there). The research I am talking about is real research. Go to the FDA website and see what they have to say about it. Google arsenic and see how harmful it is in trace amounts (Arsenic is found in the soil as the chemical compound As). Go to other well established research sources and do your best to get to the bottom of things. I believe you will find that you have nothing to fear. Let’s not get all worked up and try to force wineries to put a list of ingredients on the back of labels. We may find that only the U.S. wineries will have to do it and other countries won’t. Would that be fair. Let’s face it, after time goes by, we will simply buy the bottle of wine and drink it, and still be more concerned about which grapes are in the wine and not the actual break down of ingredients.

We consume a lot of things and have a lot of habits that are far worse for us than a glass of inexpensive red from California. Bottom line… Listen to your common sense and judgement, not to fear-mongers out there who just like to whip the masses into a frenzy without doing any hard-core research. Wineries are not in the business of poisoning people. They want wine drinkers to be long-time customers. Killing them is not an option. The only folks who are trying to hurt wine drinkers are the very ones who claim to be wine advocates…The wine bloggers out there who spend more time on the negative than the positive. Drink wine, enjoy it, life is too short (not because of wine) to sweat the small stuff.

Stan The Wine Man

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