Michael Florentino Cellars and Sherman Winery specialize in European-style wines using Washington state grapes. Owner and winemaker Brad Sherman crafts Italian and Spanish wines for Michael Florentino, while all Sherman wines are made from French varieties. Twenty current releases range from $20 – $41. For example, Brad produces Pinot Grigio, Sauv Blanc, Albariño, Marsanne, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cab Franc, Barbera, Tempranillo, Mourvèdre, Sangiovese and Nebbiolo.We recently tasted samples from both wineries. Read on for details.
The Story: Michael Florentino Cellars and Sherman Winery
Brad Sherman is one of dozens of winemakers to come out of the Boeing Employees Wine and Beer Club over the last 40+ years. He also studied viticulture at UC Davis, traveled to Europe and worked with many wineries along the way.
Michael Florentino Cellars began with Brad’s personal production in his garage, similar to many winemakers in Washington state. He made his first Sangiovese in 2008, when a local wine shop asked him for it. This inspired him to choose the path of winemaking. Next, he purchased the Michael Florentino Cellars brand in 2009 to represent his Italian and Spanish wines. (The name was another winery’s third label that was used for just a few years.) Further, he joined three other winemakers to rent a spot in Woodinville’s Wine Warehouse District. In 2012, Brad moved Michael Florentino Cellars to his own new location there.
By 2015, Brad also started crafting Bordeaux-style blends under a new brand, his self-named Sherman Winery. “There isn’t a grape I don’t like, and I love creating balanced, fruit-driven, distinctive wines,” he said.
Subsequently, in 2018, Brad leased a Seattle SODO location in addition to his Woodinville spot, and named it Old World Tasting Room. Since opening in 2020, both Michael Florentino and Sherman wines rotate through this tasting room, which also offers tapas.
Michael Florentino and Sherman Wines
Unlike many Washington wineries that are mainly releasing 2018-2020 vintages, Brad ages many of his wines. His lineup includes many older reds from 2013-2017. A bit of time in the bottle helps create flavors and textures not as evident in young wines.
We recently experienced four samples of wines that Brad kindly sent us. First, we poured the two samples of white wines on the deck, without food, on sunny afternoons. Both were a refreshing treat. On the other hand, we chose to pair the two reds with meals because they clock in at 14.6% alcohol. These reds are hotter than we prefer but they definitely complement rich meat dishes. And certainly, everyone interprets the taste of alcohol differently. We know many people who would really enjoy these red wines in addition to the whites.
Michael Florentino Pinot Grigio 2017 ($20) is a refreshing glass of happiness on a warm afternoon. Crisp and zesty flavors of apple, pineapple, citrus and minerality mirror the pretty nose. Brad topped off the Pinot Grigio with a touch of Albariño (9%) for structure. This lovely white wine is tasty enough to drink on its own, which is what we did. Absolutely delicious. In addition, it would complement chicken and seafood or a simple summer salad.
Sherman Winery Viognier 2019 Yakima Valley ($24) is a very pleasant surprise. We don’t drink Viognier very often, but we applaud this one. Elegant and full-bodied, this Viognier is aromatic, clean and fresh. Aromas of flowers such as lilacs and lemon blossoms lead into citrus and melon flavors laced with minerality. This Viognier paired well with our patio in the sunshine. But we would also open a bottle with scallops, prawns or other seafood.
Sherman Winery Red Wines
Sherman Winery 2017 Merlot Reserve Horse Heaven Hills ($38) is a limited release of only 50 cases. Brad blended Merlot (92%) with Cabernet Franc (7%) and Cabernet Sauvignon (1%) from Destiny Ridge Vineyard. This is a rich wine with aromas of blueberries and raspberries, leading into flavors of black cherries and chocolate. We recommend pairing it with grilled meat dishes. Not surprisingly, we loved it with chocolate after dinner too.
Sherman Winery 2016 Malbec Yakima Valley ($38) is 100% Malbec, sourced from Crawford Vineyard in Yakima Valley, also known for its blueberries. This Malbec is opaque purple, featuring rich, smooth dark fruit flavors with hints of cocoa. We suggest pouring it with a blue-cheese burger on the grill or barbecued ribs. Or serve this Malbec with pork, lamb, salmon, chicken or food with rich sauces.
In conclusion, stop by Old World Tasting Room in Seattle or the Woodinville Wine Warehouse to try some Michael Florentino and Sherman Wines. With the warm weather upon us, the whites are perfect for the deck or poolside. And the reds go well with summer barbecues.
Margot and Dave