BITS & BOBS

Two of the biggest wine holidays are just around the corner. Thanksgiving screams for wine and many of you answer the call. I’m not sure how much thought you give to what wine pairs the best with the traditional meal. For many it has already been decided based on what they do just about every year. Being the wine guy that I am, I have been putting a lot of thought into what I will do this year and where I will guide the customers seeking my advice. This year I am going Grenache. I will be putting out two You Tube episodes featuring Grenache this Tuesday and Friday. I review some choices I selected, and surprisingly one didn’t show very well. I say surprisingly because the producer of said Grenache is usually quite reliable and consistent. You’ll have to watch to find out who that is. I know it’s a cliffhanger, but I would like you to see my reaction to the wine in question.

The reason I am looking to Grenache is the fact that it is low in tannins and when emanating from Spain (called Garnacha), it is usually at a very reasonable price. The flavors of Thanksgiving are savory and subtle. If you pair a wine with solid tannins like a Cab, it will dominate and drown out the flavors of a traditional Thanksgiving meal. Of course, you can do whatever you want, it’s your palate and your money. I am here to guide those that want guidance. Grenache a.k.a. Garnacha is soft in tannins, has in a lot of cases a bit of spice and shows a fair amount of fruit. Usually but not always, notes of strawberries and plums with a little boysenberry thrown in. Not quite as much fruit as a Zin, which a lot of people pair the meal with. However, I have tried Zin many times with this meal and have had mixed results. I have a few Grenache set aside for our celebration and I will give a report afterward. Whatever you decide to do, I hope you have a fantastic holiday with your families. Later this week I will put out a list of my top ten wines I recommend for Thanksgiving. Stay tuned.

On a somber note, a very close friend and mentor of mine died suddenly at her home last week. Yvonne Swanberg was a maverick in the wine world. Her husband who died in 2006 from cancer, left her with a winery that she had already taken under her wing. She worked tenaciously to build San Juan Vineyards and take care of the grapes her husband had planted years earlier. She was a force to be reckoned with and under her guidance San Juan Vineyards produced award-winning whites and reds. She watched wine makers come and go, but held the winery together with her hard work and love of the winery. She sold the winery in January of this year and just started getting comfortable with retirement. It saddens me each day to realize that I won’t be seeing her smiling face coming down the aisle to say hi and chat about what’s going on in the wine world. Yvonne loved wine and many times I would be invited to her house for a tasting she orchestrated for her friends. She was a passionate woman and a good friend that will be missed by many in our community and throughout the Washington wine scene. I miss you Yvonne and I want to thank you for your advice, support and friendship. Rest in peace, and may you have your angel’s share of any barrel you choose.

Cheers!

Stan The Wine Man

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FRIDAY’S THIRTEEN…

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 Stanthewineman.com. Here for your reading pleasure, are thirteen wines that I have reviewed in my Moleskine (good or bad), this past week.

2015 Casa Fortunata Red (Calatayud, Spain)… $10.

Aromas of BBQ spices blended with tar and blackberries with hits of raspberry and dirt. Plump blackberry and currant notes on the front of the palate that morph into earth and tobacco notes. Dirt notes lie underneath front to finish. Crushed rock notes sneak in on the back-end, joined by tobacco, BBQ spices and a kiss of tar. 75% Garnacha, 25% Tempranillo (B-)

2016 Toi Toi Sauvignon Blanc (Marlborough, New Zealand)… $15.

As close to cat pee as you can get on the nose with notes of grapefruit, gooseberries and white flowers. Fresh and bright on the palate with notes of white grapefruit and grapefruit pith. Solid fresh fruit front to finish with a beam of lime underneath and a hit of white pepper on the back-end. (C+/B-)

2016 Ironside Pinot Noir (Monterey, CA)… $22.

Aromas of Asian spices and cherries with hits of cranberries, leather and tobacco. Ripe dark cherries on the palate blended with black tea and a kiss of Asian spice and Root Beer. Tobacco notes join the party on a long-ass finish. Sweet fruit on the palate that is balanced by solid acidity. Good balance and structure. (B+/A-)

2016 Parusso “Piani Noce” Dolcetto D’Alba (Piedmont, Italy)… $23.

Strawberries and red flowers on the nose with a hit of pomegranate in the background along with a little licorice. Solid acidity and structure with notes of pomegranate and strawberries that have a slight tart edge. Red flower notes underneath front to back with an interesting tangerine twist on the finish, joined by hits of licorice. (B/B+)

2016 Conundrum Blanc de Blanc Sparkling Wine (California)… $23.

Apples and a touch of funk on the nose. Linear and crisp on the palate with vibrant apple notes. Good depth on the mid-palate into the dry, long finish. (B+)

2017 Harken Chardonnay (California)… $14.

Dusty pears on the nose with hits of baking spices. Creamy pears on the palate front to finish with an underbelly of baking spices and a kiss of butter on the finish. Wants to go fruit forward, but is held in check by a decent amount of acidity that keeps it from going flabby. A “10” in the delicious category. (C+/B-)

2017 Antoine Simoneau Sauvignon Blanc Touraine (Loire Valley, France)… $9.

Aromas of grapefruit, grape seeds, white flowers and slate. High acidity drives notes of lemon and grapefruit pith. It expands on the mid-palate into a laser sharp, vibrant finish. Nice backbone of slate and wet stone. Very clean on the palate with a long, mouth-watering finish. (B+)

Non-Vintage Domaine Saint de Just Cremant De Loire Brut Rose` (Loire Valley, France)… $20.

Raspberries, strawberries and cherries on the nose with a kiss of yeast. Loads of veggies on the palate backed by solid acidity and a background of strawberries and raspberries. It expands a bit on the mid-palate into a dry finish. Very linear on the palate. 50% Cabernet Franc, 50% Cabernet Sauvignon (B-)

2017 Hamilton Russell Vineyards Pinot Noir (South Africa)… $50.

Baked earth on the nose, joined by notes of crushed brick, Root Beer and cherries. Solid acidity front to finish, supports notes of under-ripe cherries, cranberries, bark and earth. Good balance and a little on the tart side. A slight veggie and citrus component sneaks in on the back-end. This is a baby and needs time in the cellar. I think you will be rewarded if you give it 8 more years of age. (B)

2016 faganan Vinos Atlanticos Tinto (Canary Islands, Spain)… $30.

Aromas of red plums and blackberries with a load of minerals and hints of licorice and red flowers. High acidity supports notes of red flowers, crushed rock, tangerine and cranberries with a solid hit of rust and red flowers on the finish. (C+/B-)

2016 Caprice Crozes-Hermitage (Rhone, France)… $35.

Blueberries and blackberries on the nose with a touch of charred wood and tobacco. Nice intensity on the palate with good acidity. Raspberry and blueberry notes backed by a good shot of tobacco. Super high-toned on the mid-palate into the finish. Once again, this is a baby and needs to age for at least 8-10 years. (B/B+)

2016 Numbskull Red (Columbia Valley, WA)… $35.

Currants, black plums and a touch of oak on the nose. Sweet tannins support currant and plum notes with a solid hit of black pepper. Smooth, with good structure and balanced acidity. Fresh on the finish with hits of tobacco and raspberry on the back-end 78% Merlot, 18% Cabernet Sauvignon, 4% Petit Verdot (B/B+)

2015 L’Ecole Perigee Seven Hills Vineyard (Walla Walla Valley, WA)… $55.

Aromas of licorice and currants with a little spice action underneath. A touch candied on the nose. Currant and blackberry notes on the palate supported by edgy, slightly gritty tannins. Tobacco and veggie notes sneak in on the fresh finish. (B+/A-)

Cheers!
Stan The Wine Man

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STAN’S PICK FOR NOVEMBER

November 2018 Pick

November is a very cool month for wine. The Thanksgiving holiday is a time when a lot of you give quite a bit of thought to what wine you will imbibe for the festivities. Although I wouldn’t suggest this wine for the actual meal itself (I have lots of choices at the store for that purpose), I would suggest this wine for any other day of the month. As soon as this wine hit my mouth, I knew it was a great wine for the money.

2014 Zeni Costalago Rosso Veronese (Veneto, Italy)… $15.

Aromas of bark, earth, perfumed currants and milk chocolate. Sweet tannins support notes of bright currants and red berries. Good depth and structure on the palate. Iron notes sneak in on the mid-palate into the finish. This baby sings on the palate with mouth-watering tangerine notes on the underbelly with tobacco joining up on the back-end. This reminds me somewhat of baby Amarone with attitude. A blend of 70% Corvina, 15% Cabernet Sauvignon and 15% Merlot. (B+/A-)

Cheers!
Stan The Wine Man

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FRIDAY’S THIRTEEN…

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 Stanthewineman.com. Here for your reading pleasure, are thirteen wines that I have reviewed in my Moleskine (good or bad), this past week.

2017 Matua Sauvignon Blanc (Marlborough, New Zealand)… $12.

Grapefruit, pine needles and melon on the nose. Light on the palate with notes of grapefruit, gooseberry and a kiss of lime. Acidity is medium. The fruit notes liven up on the mid-palate, finishing with white grapefruit, and a kiss of lime with a stainless steel element lingering. (C+/B-)

2016 Saint Damien Vin De France Red (France)… $13.

Aromas of violets and boysenberries with a little burnt wood and marshmallow action. Plush notes of boysenberries and cherries on the front of the palate, joined by notes of white pepper and trace minerals. Coffee notes join up on the mid-palate leading into a grippy, mineral driven finish where leather and red flower notes show up and hang around. 80% Grenache, 20% Marsalan (B-/B)

2016 Dievole “Ledue Arbie” Rosado (Toscana, Italy)… $18.

Strawberries on the nose with underlying raspberry and minerals. Crushed rock and strawberries all day on the palate with strawberry notes penetrating on the finish. A backbone of solid acidity keeps it fresh front to finish. (B+)

2017 Longship Cellars Wild Harvest Rose’ (Wahluke Slope, WA)… $17.

Cherries and red flowers on the nose. Ripe cherries on the palate with underlying strawberry notes on a fresh bed of acidity. Good depth of fruit without going sweet. Cherry notes linger. Made from Syrah (B/B+)

2015 Cote Bonneville Cabernet Franc Rose` Dubrul Vineyard (Yakima Valley, WA)… $32.

Very challenged on the nose with faint dried herb notes. Deep cherry notes on the palate backed by a solid hit of white pepper. Creamy mouthfeel and somewhat soft on the finish. Very subtle and over-priced. (C-)

Non-Vintage Cattier Champagne Rose` (Champagne, France)… $61.

Strawberries, cherries and bread dough on the nose. Cutting, laser-sharp acidity drives notes of minerals, strawberries, and cherries with bread dough notes coming through on the back-end. There is a sweet edge to the finish that is held in check by the laser-sharp acidity. (B+/A-)

2013 Freja Cellars Pinot Noir (Willamette Valley, OR)… $18.

Aromas of Asian spices, Root Beer and cherries with hits of dried bark. Fresh and bright on the front of the palate merging into notes of cherries and Asian spice. This baby wants to go tart, but doesn’t quite get there. Good balance of acidity and fruit. Dances lightly on the palate front to finish. (C+/B-)

2013 Villa Borghetti Valpolicella Ripasso (Veneto, Italy)… $23.

Strawberries and wet stone on the nose with hits of bark and rust. Solid fruit on the palate with notes of ripe currants, strawberries, licorice and traces of bark. Fresh acidity gives a lift in the mouth. The fruit notes expand on the mid-palate with a fresh, clean finish. Nice complexity and balance. (A-)

2013 Brady Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon (Paso Robles, CA)… $23.

Currants and wilted rose petal on the nose with a kiss of chocolate. Currant and chocolate notes front to finish on the palate with a slight underscore of tobacco. The tannins are edgy with a little grip action on the finish and a little crushed rock coming through. Good structure, but a little hot from the alcohol going warm down the throat on the finish. 15% abv shows on this one. (C+/B-)

2016 Claar Cellars Sauvignon Blanc (Columbia Valley, WA)… $13.

A touch stinky on the nose with notes of apples and melon with hits of baking spices. Apple notes on the palate with a spine of burnt match. Almost like someone dumped apple juice on a pile of burnt matches sprinkled with white pepper. (D-)

2016 Brady Vineyard Sauvignon Blanc (Paso Robles, CA)… $19.

Melon and apple notes on the nose with a kiss of sweaty arm pit and white flowers. Apple and apple skin notes on the palate with white pepper notes hiding underneath. Acidity is a little soft causing it to thin out on the finish where a touch of bitterness comes out from the apple skin notes. (C-/C)

2015 Terreta Red (Spain)… $10.

Aromas of licorice and crushed red brick with a little red flower thrown in. Notes of ripe and under ripe cherries on the palate joined by notes of currants, leather and tobacco. A nice beam of acidity is well-integrated joined by edgy, approachable tannins. There is a sweet edge on the front of the palate, but finishes dry and savory with a kiss of crushed rock on the back-end. A little old world gem with a solid kiss of fruit. Monastrell, Cabernet Sauvignon, Tempranillo (B+)

Cheers!
Stan The Wine Man

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