Bonehead of the week goes to none other than myself. Yesterday, a customer came in to my department and asked for a Vouvray or Chenin Blanc. They are the same grape, but Vouvray is from France and Chenin can be from anywhere. When I say anywhere, I mean that if a winery wants to give it a try they can, but very few attempt this varietal. Washington State used to have quite a few but not anymore as they have quit making this white wine. L’Ecole No 41 still makes a nice one and there are a few coming out of the Okanagan Valley in BC Canada. So I lead said customer to my Vouvray section only to find they are both out of stock. O.K., so I took him to the L’Ecole version and again, out of stock. I apologized for not having one for him and he of course was fine with that and went on his merry way without grabbing a substitute white. As I continue to stock my department and the day goes on, I stock something in the South African wine section and feel sick. Here, right before my eyes stood two very nice Chenin Blancs. Duh! How did I let that slip my attention when helping that gentleman? I know very well that South Africa is well known for producing this wooly white wine. In fact, someone might claim they do it better than Vouvray (I’m not going there). I hand selected both of them and put them in that section! I felt like slapping myself right there. Lesson learned but bonehead move nonetheless.

I few weeks ago, Susie and I received an invitation to Dionysus’ house to have dinner and taste a flight of K Vintners wines. Susie and I both love this family and jumped at the opportunity to hang out with them. I myself relish the opportunities to taste some wine from his fantastic cellar. Dionysus is not a collector of wine as he has made clear to me. He drinks it and shares it, and has no intention of collecting to sell later. He is most generous, and enjoys talking about and drinking wine with his friends. The K Vintners wines were stellar and Dionysus lined up some counterparts, such as Penfolds Grange, Janasse XXL Chateauneuf-Du-Pape (could have been my favorite of the night), Noon Winery Shiraz and a couple Sine Qua Non wines…Shot In The Dark Syrah and In The Crosshairs Grenache to name a few. All of the wines were from Rhone varietals if not from the Rhone Valley itself. It was awesome to taste them and see the differences, playing with the same grapes. Very cool indeed.

As most of you know, the Seahawks etched out a W in what might have been one of the ugliest games I have witnessed. Why Pete Carrol keeps Bevells in control of the offense is beyond my comprehension. Thanks to Wilson, who scrambled all over the field to make things happen and the Defense for keeping San Francisco in check. It will be a happy day when Darrell is not longer at the helm, but I don’t see that happening any time soon. Thankfully the Hawks have enough talent to work around this weakness and hopefully make the playoffs once again. GO HAWKS!

Stan the Wine Man

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There are two reasons I started this segment on my blog. First, my new found love, Susie is from England and this is a term she uses often to describe random things such as the array of items found in the junk drawer ( I know we all have one of those). I love this term and thought that it would make a good name for an article on my blog. Second, and most important is that I thought this would be an easy article to put out every Monday, since it is just random thoughts that I have ruminated on over the past week. They are not always wine related which is something I write about on a somewhat regular basis. I have failed miserably getting this article up every Monday. I do not want this to be the story of my career, so the only way I will make it happen is to just DO IT!

Speaking of writing on my blog, I have run into a little writer’s block lately. I have a ton of material to write about, but can’t seem to force myself to sit down at my computer and type away. It’s a problem I know other writers have had and talked about. For me, I know it is just a matter of forcing myself (as I am right now), to just start writing and let the rest come together. Like anything else, the more you do it, the easier it becomes. With writing, I have only experienced that feeling a couple of times. I am ready to experience that once again (please)!

As I’m plunking away on this article, I am also preparing to go down to Seattle to check out Charles Smith’s new digs. He has a 32,000 square foot urban winery with two tasting rooms near Boeing Field. It’s been open for a while, but I have yet to see it. I received an industry only invitation and excepted the chance to go down and see this place, which is the second largest urban winery in the states (Gruet is slightly larger down in New Mexico). I am also looking forward to tasting through many of the Wines Of Substance and K Vintners wines. I promise to give a full report in my blog next week No writer’s block allowed.

Susie and I continue to plan our trip to South Africa. I have a couple of appointments in the books to meet with wine makers and shoot a couple You Tube episodes. We also have a safari in our sights and have booked a room for two nights in Dubai. I am stoked to visit these areas of the world, places that neither of us have been. I am also searching out South African wines to put in Kings Market. I have actually discovered some very nice wines. The Goose Pinot Noir rivals most that I have tasted out of the Willamette Valley and it rolls in at a mere $25. Also, I have found a Cab that is under fifteen bucks and a Pinotage that is very drinkable for a prayer. I know there are a few wine snobs out there that believe Pinotage, a grape that is a marriage of Pinot Noir and Cinsault, shouldn’t even exist. I have found one that should and it is resting in my wine section at Kings and I hope to find more.

I have established a new business called Stan The Wine Man Education, Research and Entertainment. My hope is to monetize my blogging and You Tube channel as well as to organize trips to wine country for groups that may want a tour guide. Because of the wording I put in my application, they sent me a letter to apply for a catering wine only license. I sent in the application only to find out that this included a liquor license. I called the licensing department to explain that this is not the direction I wanted to go. I was treated quite rudely by one of the agents who felt it was better to lecture me rather than help me figure out what I should do. It was obvious that I needed to rephrase my business application and avoid certain actions that would put me in violation of the Liquor Control Board. I’m a smart guy, but this agent didn’t seem to respect that at all. There’s our government in action. Shouldn’t they try to help us figure things out rather than push us around like bullies? Just saying.

Stan The Wine Man

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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 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.

2016 Reserve De Marande Rose` Pays D’OC (France)… $9.

Aromas of cherries, bubblegum, watermelon and a touch of rose petal and orange peel. Ripe cherries on the palate backed by notes of orange peel and watermelon rind. Wet stone notes lie underneath leading into a bracing, steel driven finish with mineral notes lingering. (C=/B-)

2016 Reserve De Marande Sauvignon Blanc (Cotes De Gascogne, France)… $9.

Grapefruit and wet stone on the nose. White grapefruit and grapefruit pith front to finish on the palate. Pith lingers on the finish with just a kiss of minerals. Simple and clean. (C/C+)

2015 Reserve De Marande Chardonnay Pays D’OC (France)… $10.

Aromas of dusty oak, butter, caramel and hits of butterscotch. Butterscotch and pear notes hit on the palate with somewhat fake oak notes that are very disjointed. A little apple skin and lemon sneak in on the on the funky finish. (D-)

2015 Reserve De Marande Pinot Noir Pays D’OC (France)… $10.

Cranberries, dark cherries, red flowers and tobacco on the nose. Cranberry and tobacco notes on the palate with a good dose of acidity that lies underneath but doesn’t take over the fruit notes. It dances lightly in the mouth, but it is very interesting. Tobacco notes linger on the finish. For ten bucks it’s a good play, especially with food. (C/C+)

2015 Reserve De Marande Cabernet Sauvignon-Merlot Pays D’OC (France)… $9.

Intense currant and violet notes on the nose with a little vanilla/mocha thrown in. Sweet tannins support ripe currant notes up front into the mid-palate. Red flower notes join in, leading into a dry finish with citrus and tobacco notes joining the party. Mineral notes linger. This is a “10” in the delicious category and a nice intro wine for those looking to break into old world wines. (C+/B-)

2013 Cooper Mountain Vineyards Pinot Noir (Willamette Valley, OR)… $17.

Aromas of dark cherries and black tea with a touch of Asian spice, bark and worn leather. A little edgy and crunchy on the palate with notes of dark cherries, tobacco and black tea on a bed of acidity and bark. Good balance and complexity with spice and white pepper notes on the finish joined by tobacco and earth notes that linger. (A-)

2014 Awning Estate Cabernet Sauvignon (Apalta, Chile)… $15.

Green blackberry leaves on the nose with a hit of Nestle Quick and tobacco. Cherries and cocoa up front on the palate with tobacco notes joining up on the mid-palate into the finish where leather notes join the palate party and a little tannic grip. (C+/B-)

2014 Hazanas Vinas Viejas Rioja (Spain)… $13.

Aromas of red flowers, worn leather and a pinch of rust. Cherries and currants blended with earth and rust penetrate on the palate joined by notes of white pepper and spice. Excellent balance and complexity with earth and iron notes lingering on a clean finish. This is what Rioja is suppose to be baby! (B+)

2014 Mocali Piaggioni Rosso Toscano Sangiovese (Tuscany, Italy)… $18.

Stinky leather on the nose with hits of rust and cherries. Notes of tobacco, cherries and earth up front on the palate with a solid core of acidity that is well-integrated front to an earthy, leathery, tobacco driven finish. This is an old world wine for a new world palate. (B+/A-)

2012 Tornatoe Rosso (Etna, Italy)… $17.

Light aromas of red flowers, cola and hints of vanilla. Almost creamy in the mouth with notes of ripe plums and cherries. Good balance with notes of baking spice and marzipan joining up on the fairly long finish where there is a slight grip from the tannins. This gets big ups in the delicious category. (B+/A-)

2012 Al-Cantara Utoccu Pinot Nero (Sicily, Italy)… $28.

Earthy and rusty on the nose with underlying leather and cola. Dark cherries on the front of the palate with a kiss of cranberries. Red flower and rust notes lie underneath with a little cocoa action on the mid-palate. Red flower and rust notes expand on the clean, crunchy finish, where rust and earth notes linger. (A)

2016 Duck Pond Rose of Pinot Gris (Oregon)… $15.

Banana, peaches, watermelon and hits of rose petal on the nose. Round fruit notes on the palate, banana and peaches with underlying watermelon. It leans up and dries out on the lingering finish. (B-)

2014 Desert Wind Merlot (Wahluke Slope, WA)… $14.

Aromas of currants and violets with underlying black plums. Currant and tobacco notes hit hard on the front of the palate supported by sweet tannins. Good structure and acidity that is nicely integrated. Violet notes lie underneath with a little leather joining the palate party into the finish where tobacco notes linger. A solid Merlot with nice complexity for a prayer. (A-)

Stan The Wine Man

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I had a pretty amazing experience recently that I have to share simply because, well, it was an amazing accomplishment by a group of wine tasters. I will from time to time allow an organization that represents a good cause to auction off my services as a wine professional. I have conducted quite a few private wine events and they are always a blast. This last one I did on a neighboring island turned out to be quite different than any other.

I set this one up as a single blind tasting event. The idea is to help the group understand what to look for in each of the wines they are tasting and to emphasize the proper way to go about tasting a wine to get the most out of it. I talk about the wine regions and varietals they are examining in their glasses. This is the first go-round. I then mix up the wines in a blind format and their job is to identify each of the wines that they are tasting. With six wines I generally will get a couple of folks who get two or three correct. This group had five get four correct. Amazing! We had to then have two tie-breaker rounds and still had a tie in the end with two of the people. Now that is an astute group of tasters and my hat goes off to their attentiveness and interest. Also, the host and hostess were two of the nicest folks I have met and they did an excellent job of making sure everything went in a timely manner.

Our local Fair just finished up, but not before I had a chance to interview local wine maker Chris Lawler in front of a live audience in the main building. Chris is the new wine maker at San Juan Vineyards and although we have met and talked, I really have not had a chance to get to know him. This was my opportunity, and we had a great time talking about his approach to wine making, where he emanated from and where he garnered his wine experience. I will put the interview on my You Tube channel (Stan The Wine Man TV) on Tuesday, August 22. Make sure to check it out. We tasted four wines from the winery together as we talked including two barrel samples of his Syrah. The wines were very good and I am very excited for the bottling of the Syrah next year. It was stunning!

Susie and I continue to plan our trip to South Africa. I have a couple of interviews set up with wine makers already, and am very excited to make the trek with my lovely girlfriend to that country. She is working very hard on the side trips that we will take. There is so much to do there and thankfully she is a very good planner. I have expanded the South African wine section at Kings Market where I work, and have found some pretty amazing juice, including a Pinot Noir that rivals anything I have tasted from the Willamette Valley at a very reasonable price. There is also a Cabernet Sauvignon for fourteen bucks that will rock your palate. Stay tuned for reviews of the wines in the near future as I focus my attention on this great wine producing country.

Stan The Wine Man

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