BIT’S & BOBS

I am really looking forward to the Fall and upcoming holidays. It will be interesting to see what they bring in terms of business. The islands have become a haven for people, as they come in hordes to get away from the city. It is the busiest I have seen it during this time of the year. There is a small group of people that would like to see everyone go back home. However, one must remember that visitors to the islands are very important for our economy, and some of the noisiest in this group were once tourists themselves. Thankfully, the core of our population understands this and embraces the visitors a.k.a tourists. However, it’s not just tourism that is making it busier. More people are moving here and calling it home. The Real Estate agents are selling houses at a steady clip, as more people realize what a cool spot the San Juan Islands are, not only to visit but to live.

As Fall settles in, my wine buying direction changes a bit. Whites will start to disappear off the floor and will be replaced by reds. When I say “off the floor” I mean displays of wine in my department. However, I have learned that I can’t completely stop stacking whites. Occasionally someone will ask for a case of white wine that they need for company. In the past, I have had to work hard to put a case together for them, simply because I have eliminated most stacks of white wine. I will also need to keep a Rose’ or two around as well. I love to see diversity in wine drinking habits and my group of customers has become quite diverse, which is very cool!

On a final note, can anyone predict what Halloween is going to be like with all this COVID b-s going on? I have no idea, but I am willing to guess that there will be some private parties with a limited amount of people. Remember, Halloween is before the election, so chances are none of the politicians will move forward by then out of fear for their jobs. I have talked with a lot of people and a majority feel that things will change dramatically in November, once the election is over. I hope it’s for the better and we can start moving toward some sort of normalcy. Time will tell. The kids need to go back to school, they need to be able to Trick-or-Treat, and we need to be able to start seeing people’s faces again. Of course, a vaccine will help dramatically and that is still in the future. Scientists are making some progress and we could see one in the early Spring or sooner. Just remember this… according to science, alcohol is a solution.

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 Il Palagio “When We Dance” Chianti (Tuscany, Italy)… $19.

Aromas of toast, black olive and currants, with a backdrop of dark cherries and perfumed red flowers. Dark cherries and currants on the front of the palate that is buried by dry oak tannins on the mid-palate into the finish. The fruit keeps trying to get out of the oak, but it can’t. Tobacco notes sneak out on the mid-palate. Finishes dry and oak-driven with a kiss of citrus. Food might help this one. (D+/C-)

2017 Fumanelli Valpolicella Classico Superiore (Veneto, Italy)… $23.

Aromas of black tea, strawberries and cherries with a little Fruit Stripe gum action and wet stone. Balanced minerality on the palate that backs notes of currants, tobacco, pomegranate and orange citrus. Nicely integrated acidity rounds it out front to finish where interesting spice notes sneak out. Bring on the lasagna! (B+/A-)

2018 Big Hand “Red Hand” Red Blend (Columbia Valley, WA)… ?

Red beets and dark cherries on the nose with a touch of violets. In the mouth, it’s a vanilla mocha cherry and coffee latte, with a little wood thrown in. Oak tannins hit big-time on the finish where violet and tobacco notes come through with a kiss of chocolate. (C-/C)

2015 Schooler Nolan Red (Horse Heaven Hills, WA)… $22.

Tar and tobacco on the nose, joined by notes of old wood, blueberries and hints of currants. Solid blueberry and ripe currant notes on the palate. Underlying tobacco and dark flower notes front to finish where leather and earth notes join the palate party with a kiss of orange citrus. Good complexity and balance. Nicely integrated acidity gives the wine a lift on the palate. (B+/A-)

2017 Writer’s Block Roussanne (Lake County, CA)… $16.

Caramel apple notes on the nose with a big splash of pears. Fresh on the palate with notes of pear and apple supported by baking spices underneath. Clove notes come on strong on the long finish where pear notes join and linger. Good balance and integration of fruit and spices. (B)

Cheers!

Stan The Wine Man

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BITS & BOBS

I’ve just finished shooting episode 500 for my YouTube channel. Mike Sharadin who owned a winery called Northwest Totem Cellars and now owns Mikes Cafe and Wine Bar in Friday Harbor is my guest on this episode. Mike and I have talked about him being on one of my episodes. I wanted him to be a guest when my program hit a certain number. First, it was 100 and that didn’t happen. Then 250 and then 400, you get the picture. Finally, as I got closer to 500 and I knew this had to be the one. Mike and I both love Cabernet Franc. I thought that he made one of the best in Washington under the Northwest Totem Cellars label. So, the theme of the episode had to include Cab Franc. It goes on air Tuesday, September 15 with a blind tasting of four Cab Francs. I also interview Mike as we talk about his transition from swimming coach to winemaker to restaurant owner. It’s a little longer than most of my episodes, but it should be quite interesting. In the meantime, check out some of my current videos on Stan The Wine Man TV.

Smoke and more smoke! It is the dominant part of everyone’s conversation next to Covid-19. This is the first time I can remember California, Oregon and Washington State dealing with big wildfires at the same time. The air quality is shit right now. The weather seems to be cooling a bit and rain is in the forecast which will help quite a bit. One thing that’s on the mind of anyone in the wine biz is smoke taint, which will affect the grapes growing in this smokey environment. Some wineries will refuse to produce wine if there is any sign of smoke taint. Of course, there will be wineries that do not have that luxury and will do their best to produce quality wine during this time. There are tricks of the trade that can be used to remove most of the smoke taint and there are actually some wines that may benefit from a slight hit of smoke. Syrah comes to my mind. One of the best Syrahs I’ve had came from a vintage out of Oregon a few years ago that had some smoke taint. Don’t get me wrong, it will be a difficult vintage for all concerned and I feel bad for the wineries affected. Winemakers have to deal with a lot of challenges and most of them are very good at it.

Susie and I planned a trip over to Walla Walla and Richland at the end of the month. We started planning before the fires hit in eastern Washington. We will not let it stop us from going of course, but it may make it more difficult to visit a few wineries while we are there. We both love to get away and enjoy time together. Smoke or not, we will have a great time. I plan on interviewing Rob Griffin, owner of Barnard Griffin Winery in Richland while we are there. Rob is an icon in the Washington wine scene and getting a chance to have him on one of my episodes is very exciting. I hope to hook up with another winemaker to interview while I’m over there, we will see how things go.

Cheers!

Stan The Wine Man

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BITS & BOBS

It’s always interesting to observe the drinking habits of different crowds that come through my department. Labor Day weekend is different from Memorial Day weekend, which is again, different from The Fourth of July. Memorial Day weekend was the Cabernet Sauvignon weekend this year. The Fourth was all about Chardonnay, and for Labor Day it has been Pinot Noir. My Pinot Noir section got absolutely hammered over the weekend! I can’t put my finger on why certain wines are focused on over others on any particular weekend, but it seems to be consistent. Cooler weather generally leads people to heavier reds and warmer weather to crisp whites. We’ve had some pretty nice weather this past week, so I was expecting a huge run on lighter style white wines. So much for my crystal ball, I think I’ll have to trade it in for a new one. It’s been over seventy degrees (sometimes close to eighty) and for some reason, everyone is looking for Pinot Noir.

One wine that has been consistent all summer is Rose’. Stack after stack of all different styles has disappeared off the sales floor. I actually keep three to four different Rose’ in the cold box and it is difficult to keep them stocked. I have debated with myself on how to present Rose’ on the floor. I have thought of making a huge pink section somewhere and I may do that next year. I think it would look impressive. A wall of Pink! However, my strategy over the past few years is to encourage the customer to hunt for Rose’. This strategy from a marketing standpoint is to get the customer to look around the department which may get them to buy something different in addition to a bottle of Rose’. It does work, but I’m not sure how many more times I want to be asked where we keep the Rose’, especially in the middle of August when we can barely keep up with the department which includes wine, beer and spirits. It would be so much easier to say it’s on the back wall, you can’t miss it. That’s a hard one for me because I really do enjoy engaging with the customers and helping them find a good bottle of Pink. The debate in my head rages.

Through all of the weirdness of 2020, I have come to the conclusion that the official beverage of Covid-19 is the Margarita. We have sold more Tequila than ever and our Grocery Manager is having trouble keeping Margarita Mix on the shelf. I’ve tried to help him out by finding different sources to buy it from with some success. People are actually having a good time learning to mix different kinds of cocktails and creating things that in the past they let the bartender take care of. The Margarita is leading the pack in this strange year of 2020. I love to see people have some fun despite everything going on around us. It’s not to say that it isn’t serious, but let’s not let this thing take us down. Life goes on and someday we WILL get back to normal. Some of us sooner than others.

Cheers!

Stan The Wine Man

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