I’m actually proud of myself for not writing an article on wine pairing for Thanksgiving. Let’s face it, wine is a personal choice, subjective as we like to say. Who needs a thousand articles guiding us as to what we should or should not drink with the Thanksgiving meal. As an example, I’ve read over and over again how Zinfandel is one wine that should be included in this meal. Hell, I’ve recommended it myself. After trying it over and over again, I’ve only been successful one time with the pairing, and that was this year (2013 Klinker Brick if you need to know). All the other times the wine just did not work. Too many tannins and too much alcohol. The wine I found to be most successful this year was Grenache. Yes, Grenache can have tannins, but they are less aggressive than the latter. Writer’s Block Grenache from Steele Winery out of Lake County California was absolutely perfect with my Thanksgiving meal. I may write an article again on Thanksgiving and wine, it’s in my blood as a writer. However, I would like to know what your best wine experience was during Thanksgiving. Stop by the store and tell me, or send me an email. I would love the input.

Have you ever noticed that Fall is the forgotten season? How many times have you heard October and November referred to as winter? Unless I’m mistaken, winter begins in the third week of December and ends in March. Why is it that when it rains a lot in October, people say…”Wow! We are sure having a wet winter.” Or, if it is sunny most of October you will hear…” I think we are having an Indian Summer.” Not true by the way, look up Indian Summer and find out. I could be off my rocker here, but I rarely hear Fall mentioned. Summer and Winter yes, but Fall seems to fall off most people’s radar. Fall and Spring are my two favorite Seasons. Spring gets a lot of attention, but Fall is forgotten.

I am now working on my “Top Forty Wines Under Twenty Bucks” for 2016. It’s crazy, but I think I was a little hard on most of the wines I tried. I only found 39 wines in my Moleskine with a B+ or higher. I’m still tasting, and many of the wines I try in the next few weeks could make the list. However, this is the first year I had so few with a higher grade. Most interesting to me, was the amount of white wines that showed so well. My list this year will include an inordinate amount of white wines.

I also have decided on my winery of the year. I’ve only spilled the beans to a couple of folks, but I am very excited about this winery and what they are doing. It’s hardly a new winery, but the juice they are putting out is fantastic and affordable. I should be revealing my choice in mid-December. Stay tuned!

Speaking of mid-December, I’m getting very excited for my trip to London/Paris/Champagne at the end of December and into January with my lovely girlfriend Susie. We have it all planned out, and we are both trying to slow down time so that we can enjoy each day leading up to the trip. I have my top forty list and winery of the year articles to finish up. Big projects for sure. Christmas is coming and family time is important. England is just around the corner, but not before we enjoy the last days of Fall, family and friends.

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 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.

2014 Browne Family Vineyards Chardonnay (Columbia Valley, WA)… $28.

Buttery on the nose with notes of pineapple and apple, joined by hints of pear and toast. Seamless on the palate and nicely intense. Pear and pineapple notes come through with a spine of butter. Good acidity underneath giving this chard structure and balance. Baking spices join the party on the long finish. Oak is present but well-integrated. (A/A+)

2014 Battle Creek Cellars “Unconditional” Pinot Noir (Oregon)… $18.

Cherries and bark all day on the nose backed by hits of root beer, tobacco and black tea. Very toasty on the palate with notes of charred bark, roasted cherries and root beer. This baby is old world in style with ample acidity that is well-integrated. Finishes with a meaty element coming through that lingers. Not for those looking for a fruit party. (B/B+)

2015 Canoe Ridge The Expedition Rose` (Columbia Valley, WA)… $16.

Aromas of cherry Bubbleyum, Watermelon and hints of raspberries. Good acidity keeps it fresh front to finish. Notes of ripe Rainier cherries with watermelon underneath. There is a slight bubblegum component that comes through front to mid-palate. Dried herb notes join the party on the back of the mid-palate with mineral notes sneaking in on the finish. A blend of Cinsault and Mourvedre (B+)

2013 Waterbrook Melange Rouge (Columbia Valley, WA)… $14.

Fairly expressive nose with notes of currants, cherries and a pinch of plum and tobacco. Juicy on the palate without going fruit-bomb on you. Ripe currants front to back with an undertow of tobacco and bark. Good balance of acidity and tannins that have a slight grip. Finishes toasty and dry. (B)

2013 Pendulum Cabernet Sauvignon (Columbia Valley, WA)… $20.

Aromas of ripe currants, violets and a hint of tobacco and licorice. Polished tannins support notes of currants, tobacco and a touch of bark and earth. Serious tannins, but well-integrated with the fruit. A hit of bell pepper and licorice come through on the finish. (B/B+)

2014 Alder Ridge Six Prong Cabernet Sauvignon (Horse Heaven Hills, WA)… $18.

Aromas of rose petals, bark and currants, with a backdrop of earth, tobacco and licorice. Nice intensity on the palate with good structure and a seamless flow start to finish. Notes of currants, licorice and vanilla come through along with a touch of coffee bean and chocolate. There is a little leathery grip on the finish. (B+/A-)

2012 Browne Family Vineyards Merlot (Columbia Valley, WA)… $38.

Big nose on this baby with a blast of licorice and currants up front. Subtle vanilla and tobacco notes with hints of cinnamon and chocolate. Cinnamon, licorice and currant notes rest on structured, smooth tannins in the mouth. There is an interesting ball bearing element that comes through on the tongue no doubt due to the fresh acidity that supports the fruit. A core of red flowers and tobacco joins the party on the finish. Very interesting Merlot. (B+/A-)

2012 For A Song Petit Verdot (Washington)… $18.

Dark cherry notes are prominent on the nose, joined by notes of blueberries, coffee bean and a dash of black raspberries. Silky, structured tannins support intense blueberry, milk chocolate, coffee bean and tobacco notes. Licorice sneaks in on the mid-palate into the finish with milk chocolate notes lingering. Tobacco and coffee bean notes lie underneath front to finish with balanced acidity. This is a lot of wine for the money and will age nicely over the next 3-5 years. (B/B+)

2014 Domaine Allimant-Laugner Riesling (Vin D’Alsace, France)… $16.

Slate notes all over the nose with hits of lemon, honey and white flower blossoms. Crushed rock notes on the palate joined by tropical fruit notes, Mango and papaya. Nice cutting acidity with a steely/slate backbone. Clean, dry, citrus finish with mango and papaya lingering underneath. A solid Riesling lovers Riesling. (B+/A-)

2013 Robert Ramsay Mason’s Red (Columbia Valley, WA)… $18

Aromas of crushed red brick, red flowers, red plums and smokey toasted marshmallow with a touch of currants. Very gutsy in the mouth (whatever that implies) with notes of ripe currants, vanilla, mocha and chocolate. Seamless on the palate with smooth yet structured tannins. Chocolate and currant notes linger with just a hint of tobacco. New world wine with some old world personality. 49% Cinsault, 26% Syrah, 16% Mourvedre, 5% Grenache, 4% Counoise (B/B+)

2014 Podere Ruggeri Corsini Rosso Matot (Langhe, Italy)… $12.

A little vinegar cherry action on the nose joined by red flowers, carnations, dirt and chocolate. Very rustic on the palate with notes of bark, earth, currants and a heavy dose of tobacco. Fresh acidity lies underneath with a dill component joining on the finish. This is all about old world and really needs some food. A blend of Nebbiolo, Dolcetto and Barbera. (B/B+)

2014 Lone Birch Red Blend (Yakima Valley, WA)… $10.

Very slight aromas of currants and dark cherries with a hint of vanilla. Gritty tannins support notes of currants and tobacco with slight bark and chocolate notes coming through. Red flowers join the party on the mid-palate leading into a gritty finish. A blend of Merlot, Malbec and Sangiovese. (B-)

2014 Domaine Le Clos des Lumieres Cotes-du-Rhone Rose` (Rhone, France)… $6.

Aromas of dried herbs, crushed rock and Rainier Cherries. Bone dry on the palate with notes of plums and strawberries coming through on a backbone of dried herbs. Decent acidity and a delicious finish. (B-/B)

Stan The Wine Man

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I think it most appropriate to start this by saying I am very sad that Arnold Palmer has died. I know that we all die eventually, but this guy inspired me with his style of golf. His dad was a grounds keeper for a golf course and taught Arnold how to play the game. Arnie as fans affectionately called him broke 100 at the age of 8. He came from a working class family, developed a style of golf that was hardly traditional and became perhaps one of the greatest golfers to play the game. He had style, charisma and was very approachable. You will be missed Arnie.

The one thing that Arnold did was bring an elitist sport down to the level of the common person. In that spirit, there are many wine writers like myself who want to keep wine where is should be, as a beverage that can be enjoyed by anyone. For reasons unknown to me, there are still a lot of folks out there who seem to think that wine is more than that. They want wine to be high society, blue blood juice. They stick their noses up at any wine that doesn’t have some sort of pedigree and heaven forbid they buy an eight dollar bottle. For all of you out there who shy away from wine because of this attitude, please reconsider. Ignore the ignorance of wine snobs and join me in finding great wines without spending a lot of money. There are a lot out there, and i will go to my grave helping you find them.

One question that has been thrown my way often is how do you know if a wine will age? I’ve been in wine for a long time and one thing I can say for sure is that no one will get it right 100% of the time. There are four basic elements I look for in a wine to determine its ability to age, and one other factor that plays a role. Acidity, fruit, tannins and balance. These are the most important elements to look for in a wine that will age. For me, acidity is crucial to aging. Without acid, a wine will go flabby before its time. However, the acid cannot be so harsh that it dominates the fruit. Otherwise, you will have a wine that will end up quite tart in a few years. There must be fruit behind the acidity. Tannins also play a key role in a wines ability to stand the test of time. That is where barrel aging comes in. There are both wood tannins (barrels) and skin/seed tannins. Both are important in the wines ability to continue to improve over time. Balance of the three elements makes for a wine that will improve as it rests in your cellar. The other factor is quite important…Reputation. Is the producer known for making age-worthy wines. A little research and guidance from your trusted wine steward should help you in building a modest cellar with wines that will age.

I took a trip to Walla Walla last week compliments of Vehrs Dist. out of Kent WA. It was their inaugural trip and I was one of the fortunate they invited to come. Let’s just say that it was a stellar trip…Treveri, Leonetti, Long Shadows, Woodward Canyon, Gordon Brothers, Fidelitas, Waters, and more. I will be writing something about that trip soon, but I wanted to share something that most of you will be interested in. All of the wine makers and vineyard managers were quite high on the 2016 vintage. I would keep my eye and wine spending budget out on the wines from this vintage out of Washington State…Just say’in.

One last tidbit…For those of you that were fooled by the storm predictions that came our way recently, I hope you learned something. Hype sells, and most of us fall for it. How many times has the weatherman predicted 5 straight days of eighty degree weather and none of us believed it? We want to believe the worst! Weather happens, and there is nothing we can do about it. We live in a time where power outages are taken care of in a timely manner. Roads get cleared, life goes on. I know there are a lot of you out there that now have enough water, milk and food to last you a few months. Good for you! However, we barely got a puff of wind in my part of the hood, and now, what do you do with all the excess? Blame the weatherman!

Stan The Wine Man

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Bulliat Beaujolais-Villages

Bulliat Beaujolais-Villages

It’s nice to see a trend towards appreciation of wines that are not bombastic. Wines that show finesse and character, rather than big bold fruit flavors. Mind you, I have nothing against the later. I find myself craving a big, bold wine from time to time. However, I find that to keep balance in my wine life, I often seek out old world wines like this little gem from southern Burgundy.

2014 Bulliat Beaujolais-Villages (Burgundy, France)… $12.

Do not in any way confuse this wine with Beaujolais Nouveau. Certainly a cool wine to buy in late November to enjoy with your Thanksgiving fare, but hardly the real representation of what Gamay is all about. The Gamay grape is what Beaujolais is all about and they take it quite seriously in southern Burgundy. This wine is a classic example of what this grape can do at a very reasonable price. Trust me when I tell you that there are cru Beaujolais out there that demand some serious bucks.

Aromas of red clay, iron, violets, rose petals crushed rock, currants, tobacco and bark. No kidding, this baby has a lot going on with the nose. Red flowers are prominent on the palate, backed by cherries and tobacco with a hit of bark on the back-end. Soft tannins with good structure and a little rust action front to back. This wine is light yet intense at the same time. Instead of scrambling for the Nouveau when it hits the market, why not stock up on some of this. It is quite a step up, and in some cases less than its little sibling. (B+/A-)

Distributed by Cru Selections (Seattle, WA)

Stan The Wine Man

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