BITS & BOBS

Wine is an interesting subject for sure. We often will say that wine is subjective. This is true about anything we put in our mouth to consume. For instance, I absolutely abhor liver. It doesn’t mean the liver isn’t good, it only means I don’t like it. Wine like food is dependent on the opinion of the person imbibing it. I read a statement made in a very popular book on wine. The author said… “Just because you may think a wine is good, doesn’t mean it’s a good wine.” I know what her premise is for making such a pretentious statement. A wine that is well-made is different from a mass-produced wine, there is no doubt about that. However, most consumers who purchase wine don’t give a rat’s ass about those details. They just want to enjoy a glass of wine sans the snobbery that can surround the wine world. I will be the first to admit that there are wines out there I like that may not fall into the aforementioned authors’ “Good Wine” category. If I like it, I like it. I don’t care what other people think.

Although wine is subjective, it doesn’t give me as a wine steward an excuse to get lazy. I have to strive to understand my customer’s palate and not chalk up a recommendation that went askew to subjectivity. Are you following me on this? For instance, my wife Susie does not like New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc. Period! She dislikes the grapefruit component that is so prominent in NZ whites (although she does like grapefruit). She is so sensitive to it, that Sauvignon Blanc with just a pinch of grapefruit flavor puts her off. It’s not just NZ that gets to her, it’s any white that displays that flavor profile. So, when I recommend a white to her, I am very careful to make sure it doesn’t have the dreaded flavor of grapefruit, no matter how minute. Now, take that to a larger scale. My customer base is huge, and I take the responsibility of understanding their individual palates quite seriously. When I strike out on a recommendation, it hurts. It happens from time to time and I never write it off to subjectivity. I blame myself for not taking the time to understand what they like or dislike. It’s not always easy to coax out of a customer what they prefer in wine. However, with patience, I can usually get to the bottom of what they might enjoy. This effort has paid off in spades, leading to many of my long-time customer’s trust in my ability to pick out a wine they will like.

On a final note, I recently put up an episode on my YouTube channel about different styles of wine glasses. Do they change how a wine smells and tastes? Check it out and let me know what you think about it.

Cheers!

Stan The Wine Man

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BITS & BOBS

“I’m going to hit you hard!” Those were the exact words a sales rep said to me the other day. Why did he say that you ask? Recently the company he works for lost a ton of wine from their portfolio. In the wine business that happens quite a bit. He gave me a few samples to try in an attempt to get some placements in my department or stacks of wine on the sales floor. I get it. His salary is based on commission. Losing brands, especially good brands means his paycheck could suffer. I of course would love to help him out, but only if what he presents to me is worthy of being in the wine department. Using the term…” I’m going to hit you hard” is a poor approach to indicate he is going to aggressively try to get me to buy more wine from him. When he said that, I immediately put my guard up. I rarely put up with someone who is aggressive in their sales approach. My customer is my biggest concern. I buy wine for them, and if what is presented to me doesn’t fit my customer base, I won’t go there. A quick note to all sales reps who visit me…Don’t be pushy, it will get you nowhere.

Susie and I took a trip to The Gorge appellation in Washington State recently. The main two towns in this area are Carson and Lyle. When I say main, I don’t mean large. They are both small towns that sort of bookend the appellation. Talk about an awesome area for growing grapes. Most of the vineyards are in the hills and face southwest. The mighty Columbia River is the backbone of the Gorge and almost everywhere you go, Mount Hood looms in the background. The area is both rugged and beautiful. You certainly have to be adventurous to consider putting a winery in this area of Washington State. We paid a visit to three wineries while down there. Susie and I stopped at Syncline Cellars, Cor Cellars (which are right next to each other) and Savage Grace Winery in Underwood. I will give a more detailed write-up on the experience in a later article. What is hard for me to believe is that this was the first trip I’ve made to this part of Washington State. One would think that as deeply as I’m immersed in the world of wine, that I would have been down to some of these wineries long ago. Needles to say, I will be making another trek down that way in the near future.

“One is better than zero.” Someone said that a long time ago and it struck me as so true. I can’t remember the first subscriber to my YouTube channel (although I think it was a good friend of mine), but I do remember how good it felt to have one person that felt a need to view my content. I now have over 400 subscribers and the idea that there are so many people that want to watch me blather on about wine is humbling. I love talking and teaching about the subject of wine. I also like to lead people to a good value. I don’t adhere to simply reviewing inexpensive wine. I go all over the board and in doing so, I hope to educate and entertain my audience. My current upload is comparing Syrah and Petite Sirah. I want to take a moment and thank all of you who support my channel, and I hope that you have found some value in what I am putting out there.

Cheers!

Stan The Wine Man

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FRIDAY’S FIVE

Tasting and analyzing wine is something I have done for a long time. It’s funny when people pass by my office at the store and see me tasting wines with a rep. Often times they will quip about what a tough job I have. I know it looks fun, but both my assistant Scott and I take it quite seriously. Ninety percent of the time, I’m scratching notes in my Moleskine so that later, if I decide to purchase a certain wine, I have the notes to share with the customer so that they know what to expect when they purchase it. Here for your reading pleasure are the notes from five wines I’ve tasted recently, good or bad.

2017 Brick House Vineyards Le Dijonnais Pinot Noir (Ribbon Ridge, OR)… $57.

Dark cherries and cherry skins on the nose, joined by Asian spices and rose petal with a kiss of bark and black tea. Cherries and Root Beer all day on the palate front to finish. Nicely integrated acidity comes on a bit on the finish where bark and stem notes come out as well, with a kiss of Asian spices and red raspberries. Asian spices linger with the cherry, raspberry and Root Beer notes. Excellent balance and complexity. (A)

Non-vintage Coviolo Lambrusco Biologico (Reffiano, Italy)… $12.

A touch of funk on the nose, joined by notes of dark cherries, bark and black raspberries. Black and red raspberry on the palate with a big hit of dark cherries on solid, bright acidity. The funk hits just a little on the mid-palate. This red is fresh, dry and delicious. Good balance and great food wine. Think pizza or blue cheeseburgers. (B- /B)

2015 Pieza El Coll Red (Calatayud, Spain)… $14.

Coffee bean, blackberry and a touch of raisin on the nose. Ripe currants, blackberries and a kiss of coffee bean on structured tannins with a petrol edge coming through on the palate. The petrol notes expand on the mid-palate and fade on the finish where white and black pepper notes join in the palate party with the ripe currant notes that linger. 50% Garnacha, 30% Carignan, 20% Monastrell (B)

2019 Vietti Roero Arneis (Piedmont, Italy)… $22.50

Aromas of peaches, earth, mushrooms and tangerines. Minerals all day on the palate with notes of peaches, tangerine and a kiss of lemon. Nice fruit medley in the mouth supported by balanced, nicely integrated acidity. This gem has a long finish. (A-)

2020 Villa Maria Rose (Hawkes Bay, New Zealand)… $14.

Strawberries all day on the nose, joined by hits of rhubarb and watermelon. Solid acidity backs notes of strawberries and watermelon on the palate with a slight underbelly of rhubarb, front to finish. Dry and flavorful with good balance. Strawberry and a kiss of rhubarb hit hard on the bright, mouthwatering finish. 100% Merlot (B/B+)

Cheers!

Stan The Wine Man

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FRIDAY’S FIVE

Another week has flown by and it’s time once again to share with you my notes I’ve taken as I taste through samples that have been presented to me. Writing down my thoughts on wines I’m tasting is a satisfying endeavor and one I take quite seriously. When I feature a wine at the store, I want to put tasting notes that help you the consumer make an informed decision whether or not to spend your money on that wine. So, here for your reading pleasure are five wines I have reviewed recently.

2020 Cloudline Cellars Pinot Noir Rose’ (Willamette Valley, OR)… $18.

Strawberries and cherries on the nose with a splash of pink rose petals and earth. Watermelon rind notes come through on the palate, joined by notes of strawberries and cherries. Dry and juicy at the same time with watermelon rind notes hitting big-time on the finish, joined by a hit of citrus. Fresh, clean, well-made Rose’. (B+/A-)

2017 Les Vignobles Gueissard Bandol Cuvee G Red (Provence, France)… $25.

Aromas of currants, tobacco and earth, with a little cinnamon action underneath. Earthy currant and BBQ spices on the palate backed by a solid spine of acidity. Structured, approachable tannins that have a little grip on the back-end. Red flower and leather notes (not red leather) hit on the mid-palate into the long, earthy finish. This wine is bright and intense at the same time. Good balance and complexity. Lay it down for five years and it will just get better. 70% Mourvedre, 15% Grenache, 10% Carignan, 5% Cinsault (B+/A-)

2017 Vietti Langhe Freisa Vivace (Piedmont, Italy)… $25.

Barnyard and baking spices on the nose, joined by notes of blackberries, plums and worn leather. Blackberry cola on the palate with a little barnyard action and leather. Crunchy tannins and fresh acidity make this baby bright and tight front to finish where the barnyard notes sneak out on the back-end. 100% Freisa (B-)

2017 Caymus-Suisan Grand Durif (Suisun Valle, CA)… $61.

Big-time boysenberry notes on the nose with an undertow of plums, brown sugar and tobacco. Brown sugar-coated boysenberries on the palate with plum and leather notes on the underbelly on sweet, soft tannins front to finish. This is a hedonistic style wine that is just a bit too much money for what you get. Durif is another name for Petite Sirah, (C+)

2018 Brickhouse Chardonnay (Ribbon Ridge, OR)… $26.

Pears and orange citrus on the nose with a little white flower action sneaking in. Solid pear notes on the palate with citrus notes sneaking in underneath front to finish where oak and citrus notes linger with a kiss of fig. Nicely integrated acidity keeps it fresh in the mouth. This is made for food. (B/B+)

Cheers!

Stan The Wine Man

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