In a week’s time, I taste a boatload of wine (seriously). A 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 on Here for your reading pleasure, are five wines that I have reviewed in my Moleskine (good or bad), this past week.

2018 Four Vines Naked Chardonnay (Central Coast, CA)… $14.

Pears and apples on the nose. Pear and apple notes blend together on the palate with a pinch of pineapple. Low in acidity, giving it a riper feel in the mouth. Finishes on the fresher side with a clean finish where apple notes linger. (C/C+)

2019 Domaine le Closdes Lumieres “Leclate” Rose’ (Cotes-du-Rhone, France)…?

Aromas of watermelon, citrus and cherries. Ripe fruit on the front of the palate with a round mouthfeel. Notes of ripe cherries with underlying watermelon, a kiss of orange citrus and a whole lot of spice and white pepper. Finishes fresh, clean and spicy. Ripe start, dry finish. 40% Cinsault, 30% Grenache, 20% Syrah, 10% Mourvedre (B-/B)

2018 Marisco Vineyards “The Ned” Pinot Gris (Marlborough, NZ)… $15.

A mix of apples and pears on the nose with a hint of white peaches. Creamy mouthfeel with a hint of oily upfront. Ripe notes of pears, peaches and apples with a kiss of apricot coming through. The acidity is balanced and gives the wine a fresh feel in the mouth starting at the mid-palate. The acidity pops the fruit notes on the finish where hits of tarragon sneak in. Very interesting Gris from New Zealand, the land of Sauvignon Blanc. (B)

2018 Le Blanc De Greysac Bordeaux Blanc (Bordeaux, France)… $24.

Grapefruit, cut grass and melon on the nose with a hint of popcorn kernel. Loads of grapefruit on the palate, joined by notes of dusty rocks. Lemon notes sneak in the background on the mid-palate into the finish where a kiss of sea salt joins with grapefruit pith, lemon and white flowers that linger. (B+)

2018 Avalon Chardonnay (California)… $12.

Aromas of Lemon Pledge, apples and a hint of butter. Butter, butterscotch, pineapple and pear on the palate with a little makeup thrown in front to finish where a hit of baking spice comes through. It’s buttery and butterscotch driven with a little manipulation rearing its head. There are some folks who love this style! (C-)


Stan The Wine Man

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I bet I had you all confused! For some reason, I put July’s pick as November. Now that’s getting ahead of myself. The problem has been fixed and it’s on to September. When I reviewed this wine on my YouTube channel, I was very excited. It immediately became a candidate for my top forty list of wines under twenty bucks, a list I put out in December. Josh Maloney is the winemaker and he did an excellent job with this Washington State red blend that is new to the market. I have already sold a ton of it and have received solid feedback from my customers.

2018 Dixie & Bass Red Blend (Columbia Valley, WA) …$12.

September 2020 Pick Of The Month

Aromas of ripe currants, vanilla, mocha and boysenberries with a touch of tobacco. Currant notes on the palate, supported by soft, structured tannins. This baby is seamless in the mouth. Cherry notes sneak out on the mid-palate into the finish where spice and tobacco notes join the party with just a pinch of veggie. A nice balance of acidity, tannins and fruit. This baby over-delivers! A blend of 54% Cabernet Sauvignon, 27% Malbec, 17% Merlot and 2% Cabernet Franc. (B+)


Stan The Wine Man

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August has proved to be what I always expect in the San Juan Islands. Screw essential travel, the tourists are coming to the San Juans in hordes. I say good for them. Covid-19 has not been an issue here and the only cases that have come here are almost entirely from locals, not tourists. I am in no way downplaying this pandemic, but let’s move on and forward. Sweden has done an excellent job with herd immunity, and they seem to be coming out of this with a strong economy and community. They are nearly back to normal. I know a lot of you are sick of all this, and just want to be able to walk out your door without a mask over your face. I’m with you on that one! We will get there, don’t lose hope and please don’t get used to wearing a mask.

August is the second Washington Wine Month of the year, March being the first and original. I continue to wonder why we have two. I still struggle to get behind August as Washington Wine Month. I love the wines from our great state and see no reason to act desperate by including another month to promote them.

We have a thousand wineries in Washington State and Chateau Ste Michelle still dominates the Washington wine scene. They have so many different labels, that it is hard to keep up. I will say that Chateau Ste Michelle has really taken the canned wine phenom seriously. I recently did an episode on canned wines and found some surprisingly good ones from Ste Michelle. Check it out.

I have read quite a few articles declaring that wine tasting notes are of no value to the consumer. They claim with great bravado that tasting notes are useless and will soon be extinct. I beg to differ. On a weekly basis, I have customers who tell me how much they love to read the tasting notes that I write for the wines in the store I work at. It helps them in their decision to buy a particular wine. I think there could be a couple of reasons why wine writers make such claims about tasting notes. One, they probably don’t like writing them. Tasting notes are not the easiest task in the business. They can be tedious for sure. They have to be true to the wine itself and if they are not, the consumer will see right through them. Another possible reason is that they are not good at it. To describe a wine in writing takes a bit of skill. You can’t just write that A plus B equals C. They need to be somewhat clever so that you do not bore the reader to tears. They also need to be candid. If a wine is high in acidity, a tasting note needs to highlight that, so the reader isn’t surprised when they buy it. Terms like bright in the mouth, crunchy, lifted on the palate, or mouth-puckering work well. Anything to let the consumer know what they are in for. If that is not what they want in the wine they drink than they will not make the purchase. That’s okay with me, I want my customer to be happy. Tasting notes are far from extinct and they are very useful to the consumer if written correctly.


Stan The Wine Man

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I’ve been through a lot of summers here on San Juan Island and I still let the summer slow down my content on this blog. Even with Covid-19 hanging over our heads, the summer-time crowd is as active as ever here in the islands. People are everywhere and I understand why. We can’t go to Canada because the border is closed, and no one wants us in Europe right now. So, taking a vacation to somewhere as beautiful as the San Juan Islands makes perfect sense. There are very few cases of Covid-19 here, and most are history anyway. I think there might be 5 or 6 active cases and that may be a stretch. The interesting part is that most of the cases were brought here by locals, not tourists. In the San Juans, it’s all about the outdoors and to be quite honest, that is the safest place to be. Some soothsayers proclaimed we would have a huge outbreak here fourteen days after the Fourth of July. Well damn, they were wrong! I am really looking forward to all of this going away and getting back to seeing faces without masks.

I acquired a few bottles of very good wine (I hope) from a friend I have referred to in the past as Dionysus. He has moved off the island and decided to share some of his stash with me and a few others. I have tried a few of the wines already, and the one that surprised me the most in a good way was the Cloudy Bay Sauvignon Blanc. This is a well-known Sauv Blanc out of New Zealand. It used to be one of my favorites even though I couldn’t really afford it at the time. They lost their original winemakers who moved on to start Dog Point Winery, also in New Zealand. I don’t know the whole story, but real or imagined, I thought the quality went down a few notches. The Cloudy Bay Sauvignon Blanc I was given was 2010, which was quitea bit after the said winemakers had made their exodus from the winery. I opened it fairly soon after getting it thinking there is no way a Sauvignon Blanc from New Zealand is going to be any good at ten years old. Boy was I wrong! It was stellar. A near-perfect balance of fruit and acidity, all in harmony. It wasn’t a grapefruit bomb like so many are from NZ. It had notes of lime, melon, kiwi and of course a pinch of grapefruit. It also had some nice minerality that rounded it out. Now, I am going to buy a bottle of the current vintage and try it. Dare I put one away in my cellar for a few years? Sauvignon Blanc is not known for its aging ability, but obviously there are exceptions. Sancerre, Sauvignon Blanc from the Loire Valley in France is one of those exceptions. However, I would have never thought to look to New Zealand for and ageable white. That is what I love about the wine world. It is full of surprises. You could spend your life studying this subject and to your last breath, you will not know all there is to know.


Stan The Wine Man

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