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.

2011 Franco Mondu Barbera d’Asti (Piedmont, Italy)… $16.

Aromas of wilted violets, iron, black olives, perfumed currants and hints of tobacco. You might ask why I say “wilted violets”? Well, the aromas did not smell fresh, more on the earthy side…Thus, wilted violets, which is actually a good thing when you’re talking Barbera. Ripe cranberries and blackberries hit the palate up front soaked in violets with a spoonful of minerals. Excellent acidity leads into a mouth-watering finish with a splash of iron. For the money, this is an outstanding example of Barbera from Asti in Piedmont. (B+)

2013 Teutonic Wine Co. Pig & Swords White (Willamette Valley, OR)… $25.

This winery has definitely caught my attention recently. This white is a blend of Pinot Noir, old vine Slivaner and old vine Chasselas. Honeysuckle notes come through on the nose along with slight peach and strawberries. Cutting acidity on the palate with notes of mandarin, kiwi and under-ripe strawberries. There is a steely edge to this wine with lemongrass notes coming through on the finish. Excellent balance and very lively. Perfect white for shellfish or salads. (B+)

2011 Memaloose Yorks Reward Red (Columbia Gorge, WA)… $22.

Aromas of cherry Bubblyum, rose petal, violets and a touch of iron on the back-end. Very bright on the palate (acid freaks will love this one), with notes of cherry and raspberry Bubbleyum, joined by notes of cranberries and violets. There is a little rust action on the mouth-puckering finish. This baby needs food, like a fatty steak or some BBQ ribs. But, if you feel like drying your mouth out with some bright fruit and rust, knock yourselves out. (B-)

2011 Fall Line Winery Tempranillo (Yakima Valley, WA)… $22.

Aromas of raspberries and cherries backed by notes of crushed rose petals and beauty bark. This red is very rustic in style with gritty tannins backing notes of raspberries and violets. Bright, but not over-the-top acidic. Finishes with raspberry and cranberry notes mixed with crushed violets. This is actually quite close to what you might get out of Rioja, but quite a bit brighter. (B-)

2012 Soter Vineyards North Valley Pinot Noir (Willamette Valley, OR)… $35.

’12 was a great vintage in both Washington and Oregon, so I am always very curious how these have turned out. This Pinot shows the quality of that vintage. Notes of bark, cherries and tar on the nose, with hints of strawberry and vanilla. Fresh and lively on the palate and very earthy. Notes of cherries and bark up front with a hit of white pepper and violets. There is a backdrop of root beer that hits on the mid-palate and lingers on the finish. Nice balance of acid and fruit, but this is still a baby in need of maturing. I will be really curious how this fleshes out over the next five years. (B+)

2013 Savage Grace Cabernet Franc “Copeland Vineyards” (Rattlesnake Hills, WA)… $22.

Very veggie on the nose with notes of beef soup, rose petals, violets and soft underlying cherry notes. Very elegant and sexy on the palate with round cherry notes and a soft vegetal edge with a dash of white pepper. Interesting floral notes front to back finishing with vanilla mocha and root beer notes. This is a classic example of not judging a wine by the nose. I thought it was going to be a mixed salad in the mouth, and it proved me wrong. (B+)

2013 Gorghi Tondi Coste A Preola Nero D’Avola (Sicily, Italy)… $13.

I think that Nero D’Avola is a nice segue from New World to Old World wines for those wanting to break into that side of the wine world.
Smokey on the nose with notes of red flowers, iron, stewed meat, coffee bean and cranberries. Red raspberry and cranberry notes on the palate backed by a nice backbone of acidity. Red flowers join the party with a good dose of minerals and a little iron thrown in. The finish is bright and mouth-watering. This Nero is a little more rustic than most, so it breaks the mold just a bit, but I like it. (B+)

2012 Hawkins Cellar Pinot Noir (Willamette Valley, OR)… $21.

Aromas of cinnamon, cherries, root beer, violets and beauty bark with a pinch of iron (love this nose). Red flowers all day on the palate, backed by earth and cherry notes with a hit of cranberries. Good acidity but integrated nicely with the fruit. Earth notes come through on the finish with touch of root beer and cinnamon. This is ready to drink now, but will develop nicely over the next ten years. (A-)

2013 Hawkins Cellar Pinot Gris (Willamette Valley, OR)… $18.

Very challenged on the nose with slight hits of pears, white flowers and spice. Creamy pear notes on the front of the palate, but then it goes lean right away into citrus. Notes of lemon, orange and tangerine on the mid-palate into the clean finish. (B)

Non-vintage Trust Cellars T.A.T.T. “Tried & True Table Wine” (Columbia Valley, WA)… $18.

Kind of old school on the nose with notes of violets, cherries, black raspberries. An interesting iron element comes through with hits of tobacco. Dominant cherry notes on the palate joined by currants and warm spices. Tobacco and violets come through on the mid-palate with a hint of vanilla leading into a violet driven finish. Smooth with good structure. This wine has an old world attitude. 51% Syrah, 26% Cabernet Sauvignon, 9% Cabernet Franc, 7% Merlot, 7% Mourvedre. (B-)

2013 Domaine La Rocaliere Rose` (Tavel, France)… $16.

Aromas of rose petals and cherries with a backdrop of herbs and a little watermelon rind. This has that nice meaty quality that rose` has from Tavel. Cherries, plums, watermelon and herbs come through on the palate with cherries dominating the finish. Nice balance, and a “10″ in the delicious category. In Tavel, all they do is rose`, so they know how to do it right. (B+/A-)

2013 Lone Birch Pinot Gris (Yakima Valley, WA)… $8.

Nice and fruity on the nose with notes of peaches, cantaloupe, watermelon and a touch of honey. Creamy on the front of the palate with notes of pears and honey coming through. There is a hint of peach pit on the mid-palate and Red Delicious apple on the finish. Good balance, a bit thin, but delicious. (C+)

2012 The Winery Of Good Hope Pinotage (Good Hope, South Africa)… $14.

Pinotage is a cross between Pinot Noir and Cinsault, and I have yet to find one that I like until now. Aromas of stewed meats, bark, red & black currants with a touch of cranberry. A little restrained on the front of the palate but then violets hit hard on the mid-palate, joined by cherries and minerals. The finish is mouth-watering. Who would have known? A drinkable, likeable Pinotage. (B-)

2013 Les Hospice Sancerre (Loire Valley, France)… $20.

Aromas of grapefruit pith, lemon and a touch of grass and wet stone. Lemon and grapefruit in spades on the palate with excellent acidity and minerality. Laser sharp lemon and lime notes hit on the mid-palate, leading into a mouth-watering clean finish. This is a very good Sancerre for the price with all the right elements. (A-)

Stan The Wine Man

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As I am sitting here in my room in Salamanca, Spain, I realized that I had not written up my pick of the month for September. Having discovered this gem from Spain before coming to this great country, I feel impelled to write about it now.

2011 Cellars Unio Dairo Crianza (Montsant, Spain)… $9.

This blend of 40% Grenache, 40% Carignan and 20% Syrah is one of those rare wines that delivers a crap-load of juice for the money. I will tell you right now, that it never ceases to amaze me what Spanish wines can deliver for next to nothing. A wine of this level from the states would go for close to twice as much (I am reasonably sure of that). This is also one of those wines that sits on the fence between old world and new in style, actually leaning towards the old world style. Grant it, I always give it a lot of thought before I go old world as my pick choice, but it wasn’t as tough with this one since it delivers so much.

Aromas of black currants, blackberries and crushed rock with a healthy dose of red flowers and herbs thrown in. Red flower notes are prominent on the palate backed by notes of currants, black olives and tobacco. Crushed rock, iron and stewed meat notes join on the mid-palate (old world baby), leading into a cranberry, blackberry and currant driven finish with mineral notes and red flowers lingering. This red has good structure, nice balance, approachable tannins and amazing complexity for the money. (B)

I have a lot to write about after I get back from my trip to Portugal and Spain. I hope you take the time to check out my stories in the days to come. In the mean time, give the Dairo a try, I believe you will be impressed.

Stan The Wine Man

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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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