BITS & BOBS

We are living in strange times, my friends. I go to work (thankfully) and the first thing I do is put a mask over my face. I take a walk around the store and ninety percent of the customers are wearing masks. All the employees are donning the same gear, some with gloves. The masks I understand since the Coronavirus is spread by spittle or touching. However, when I see someone wearing the same pair of gloves all day, how can that be good? There’s a simple trick that will keep you safe without wearing gloves. It’s called “washing your hands.” I have never heard any of the experts suggest the wearing of gloves. Many times I’ve listened to them speak of the importance of hand sanitizer and handwashing with handwashing emphasized over and over. It’s amazing how effective it is. Not only will it protect you from Covid-19, but it will also protect you from things like the common cold, and the flu. If there is one thing that comes out of this whole Covid-19 mess, I hope it is better hygiene.

I’m happy to see people going back to bubbles. When the virus started spreading throughout the world and made it our way, I wrote that sparkling wine sales were sagging. In the last couple of weeks, sales of bubbles are picking up at a brisk pace. I literally got wiped out at the store this Mother’s Day weekend. I had quite a bit in back stock, but it evidently wasn’t enough. I’m not talking the cheap stuff either. Folks were going for it! That’s a good sign to me, because it means that people are feeling like celebrating! Hope reigns eternal and I think that many of us are seeing light at the end of the tunnel.

My wife Susie and I are eager to start traveling once again. We have been talking seriously about making our way to South Africa again, perhaps in 2021. Both of us fell in love with that part of the world when we traveled there a couple of years ago. Not only is it a beautiful part of the world, the people are friendly, the wine is fantastic and the food is amazing! It is a big country, and we saw just a fraction of it. So much more to explore. We stayed in Cape Town and traveled east, making our way to a game reserve where we had the chance to see elephants, giraffes, lions and hippos, along with many other wild animals. It is something we will never forget. This time we would like to venture north of Capetown and check out wine country there. We will have to make a trip to Constantia again and also make our way up to Swartland where they make some incredible wines. Of course, we will check out the west coast and enjoy some relaxation together. Susie is a huge supporter of my career, but I don’t want to make any trip we take all about wine. That is one of the many reasons we are so good together.

This Thursday will be the first time I conduct a wine tasting event over the internet. Trey Busch from Sleight Of Hand Cellars will present his wines to my group over Zoom. I am putting together sample packs, so they can join along in tasting and talking about the wines. My group will also have a chance to buy a couple of wines that are not in the sample pack. It will be interesting to see how it goes. However, this approach will never take the place of our normal gatherings each month. Once I get the green light to have a group tasting, we will be back at the Mullis Center. For now, creativity is important and I may have to take the Zoom approach for a couple of months, I will give you a report on my next Bits & Bobs.

Cheers!

Stan The Wine Man

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BITS & BOBS

What a strange month April has been, perhaps the longest month in my lifetime. Susie said it went by quickly for her. It’s funny how individuals look at and react to the same situation. This Covid-19 pandemic has messed with a lot of lives. I feel fortunate to be working full-time and for one of the best employers on the planet. It’s funny when people thank me for being at the store. I appreciate their kindness and concern, but at the same time, I feel a bit guilty. I’m working and most of them are not. That being said, we have a lot of folks where I live that have a fair amount of discretionary income and are retired. They don’t need to work and can stay home safely without concern. However, we also have a large workforce and many of them have filed for unemployment while they wait for this to play out. I hope things open up soon (carefully of course) and people can get back to somewhat of a normal life. The new normal that is.

I think that wearing a mask all day at work is the hardest part of this. I wear glasses, so they are constantly getting steamed up by my breath and I have a hard time seeing things. I think wearing a mask will be part of the new normal for a while. Shaking hands will also go away until they develop a vaccine for this virus, which could take another year, although they are giving it top priority. It’s all the testing they have to do to make sure it works that takes time. In the meantime, we will all have to keep on with the social distancing (the phrase for 2020) and just use our common sense. I certainly believe they can open things up and we can get on with our lives. For those who are afraid to get out there, stay at home, but please do not make us feel guilty for doing things like fishing, golfing, shopping for clothes and going to restaurants. If you are older, feeble, or have underlying health problems, I suggest you avoid any of the aforementioned activities until there is a vaccine. But hey, it’s your life and you can make your own decisions on what you do. Right? Just be careful.

It’s interesting to observe the alcohol buying habits since this lockdown. Hard alcohol sales have gone through the roof. Wine sales are holding as they always have, no big increases there. However, it’s interesting to note that more expensive wines are being purchased. I think since people are stuck at home, they might as well drink the good stuff. Seriously! It feels like August in my department. Wines that normally move slowly during this time of year (wines over forty bucks) are selling at a brisk pace. Sparkling wine sales are also starting to pick up again as people feel that they may be able to get out there and do some things that they have been denied for the last two months. Celebration time everyone! I read that even in New York, the state that got hit the hardest by Coronavirus is making some moves to open up. We, of course, do not want to see a second outbreak of this virus, but our economy cannot take this complete shut-down much longer. I know that lives are more important, don’t get me wrong. With the proper precautions and a well thought out plan, we can start living the new normal.

Cheers!

Stan The Wine Man

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FRIDAY’S FIVE

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

2018 Tascante “Buonora” Etna Bianco (Etna, Italy)… $21.

Wet rocks, lemon and melon on the nose with a touch of apple. Creamy in the mouth that morphs into a steely, crushed rock finish. Melon and apple notes on the front of the palate with dusty wet rocks underneath front to finish where lemon-lime notes join up and linger. Nicely balanced and well-integrated acidity. 100% Carricante (B+)

2018 Taska d’ Almerita Catarratto (Sicily, Italy)… $19.

Aromas of fig and nuts with a hint of melon and oranges. Fresh acidity supports lemon and bright orange notes front to a steely, bracing finish. Orange notes linger with a kiss of filberts. (B+)

2016 Maloney Cabernet Sauvignon Quintessence Vineyard (Red Mountain, WA)… $43.

Currants and red cherries on the nose with a touch of raisins, licorice and red flowers. Smooth structured tannins support notes of currants and licorice with tobacco notes in the background. Tobacco notes sneak out on the long finish with a hit of leather coming through. Excellent balance. This baby will age ten years plus. (B+)

2013 Zero One “Wild Sky” Cabernet Sauvignon (Columbia, Valley, WA)… $30.

Aromas of dark currants, tobacco, prunes and a hit of rust. Ripe dark currants on the palate with a little dirt action underneath. The tannins are a little edgy. The fruit expands on the mid-palate into the finish where a kiss of veggie comes through, joined by notes of tobacco, earth and currants that linger. The tannins show some attitude from the back of the mid-palate into the finish. (B)

2014 Thurston Wolfe “Conglomerate” Cabernet Sauvignon Upland Vineyard (Snipes Mountain, WA)… $30.

Oak, currants and oatmeal cookie on the nose. Oak dominates on the palate, with currant notes pushing through underneath. There is a freshness to the mouthfeel. The currant notes are held back a bit by the oak and tannins. Not over-powering, but it hinders the fruit. It could come together with a couple of more years, but I have my doubts. (C)

Cheers!

Stan The Wine Man

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FRIDAY’S FIVE

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

2017 Liberation de Paris Cabernet Sauvignon (Vin De France)… $14.

Aromas of earth, cherries and currants with a kiss of raisins and oranges. Dark currant notes on the palate with a hint of orange peel underneath. A kiss of licorice sneaks in on the back of the mid-palate into a decently long finish. Soft, structured tannins and nicely integrated acidity give the wine a lift in the mouth and an edge on the finish. Solid Cab for the money. (B-)

2017 Time & Direction Diamond Cutter Red (Columbia Valley, WA)… $33.

Boysenberries and plums on the nose, with a hint of bacon fat and Worcestershire sauce. Red flower notes all day on the palate, joined by notes of raspberries and cherries with a kiss of citrus on the back-end. Bright on the palate with a mouthwatering finish where citrus and red flower notes linger. Good intensity and balance. (B+)

2017 Domaine des 3 Cellier Alchimie Chateauneuf Du Pape (Rhone, France)…. $37.

Tons of cherries on the nose joined by notes of red flowers, crushed red brick and licorice. Smooth and polished on the palate with notes of cherries, coffee bean and earth. Roasted meat notes hit on the mid-palate leading into the finish where coffee bean and earth notes linger. Nice integration, intensity and balance. Great old world wine for a new world palate. What a price for a quality CDP. (A-)

2016 Boniperti “Carlin” Colline Novaresi Nebbiolo (Piedmont, Italy)… $24.

Earth and strawberries on the nose with a kiss of rusty nails and oranges. Solid acidity on the palate, balanced by notes of strawberries and cherry notes that are nicely integrated with mineral and earth. Soft, earthy finish with a little rust action on the back-end. Smooth yet old world at the same time. (B)

2017 David Duband Bourgogne Rouge (Burgundy, France)…. $36.

Slightly challenged on the nose with hints of cranberries, cherry and licorice. Soft fruit notes of cherries and cranberries on the palate with a touch of earth underneath and a kiss of citrus. Thins out on the mid-palate into the finish. (C-)

Cheers!

Stan The Wine Man

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