I spent most of yesterday drinking wine. I was lucky enough to join area Pennsylvania Wine & Spirits store staff for the semiannual Chairman’s Selection wine tasting — we knocked out 40 wines in about 3 hours! Yeah, I learned how to spit this time.
Led by buyer Steve Pollack (an interesting man in his own right; Sue Gleiter will have a profile piece on him in the future), we were introduced to the latest Chairman’s picks, including several good “cult” wines not usually found in any discount program, but available in Premium Collection PA Wine & Spirits stores.
I sat next to BOB 94.9 FM’s Nancy, a veteran of the tastings along with her partner-in-crime, Newman, and she helped us power through the seven (7!) flights of wine. Nancy and I discovered we have a shared love for wine and for exploring Pennsylvania Chairman’s Selection wines. We implement the same method for selecting our wines, carefully considering each Selection’s dryness, price and value.
Click through for a printable guide of this season’s Chairman’s Selections.
Chairman’s Selections have such range — we sampled wines as inexpensive as $7.99 and as pricey as $55.99 (a wine quoted at $120, incidentally) — that we’ve found you can easily limit yourself to any price point – for instance, $11 or less (my personal usual limit) – and still find fantastic wines of all varieties.
It was easy to breeze through the thick guide and reference the familiar signs posted by Chairman’s Selection wines that share the body, sweetness, type, varietal and any Wine Spectator or Wine Advocate Points, as well as the sale price, the quoted price and savings. Nancy and I could pick wines we’d buy without tasting – based on price alone (okay, and sometimes the label).
However, since actually sampling all 40 of them, here are some highlights I recommend. Ask for these at your nearest Premium Collection PA Wine & Spirits store:
Anakena Single Vineyard Sauvignon Blanc
$7.99 (Quoted at $12.99)
This is the first on my must-buy list. It’s a very grapefruity sauvignon blanc, very crisp and perfect for hot days.
Monti Guidi Del Carmine Pecorino
$12.99 (Quoted at $19)
I love the cheese, so I reasoned I must like the wine! This was very nice. Almost a little buttery like a chardonnary, but lighter-bodied. This would pair well with fish or a salad this summer.
Chateau St. Jean Robert Young Vineyard Chardonnay
$14.99 (Quoted at $20)
This was a very good, rich tasting chardonnay. It has a bit of minerality to it, which I enjoy in a wine. It’s a little higher priced than I would usually spend on myself when experimenting with Chairman’s Selections, but I would buy this for dinner or as a gift.
Argiolas Isola Del Sole Rosso
$8.99 (Quoted at $15.99)
This is a nice medium-bodied red blend. I’d serve this with an Italian dinner.
Vina Eguia Reserva
$9.99 (Quoted at $19)
My notes for this were simple: “Wow.” This also boasts high scores — 92 points from Wine Enthusiast and 86 points from Wine Spectator.
The Lucky Country Shiraz
$9.99 (Quoted at $18)
Shiraz lovers can’t go wrong with this heavier red. Good to match with barbecue, beef, chicken.
Percheron Old Vine Cinsault
$9.99 (Quoted at $16.99)
I’m always looking for good wines to pair with venison, as we eat a lot of it in my home. This lighter bodied red will be a good one for Pinot Noir lovers to try. Also a good summer red.
Bernardus Marinus Red
$19.99 (Quoted at $28 — $35-$40 nationally!)
If you’re having a big T-bone on the grill, this is the wine to pair it with, period. Mostly cabernet sauvignon with merlot, petit verdot and cabernet franc. Two thumbs up.
Jean Leon Reserva Cabernet Sauvignon
$12.99 (Quoted at $24.99)
My husband always makes fun of my love of earthly reds. “I love when it tastes like dirt,” I may have said once or twice. This cabernet sauvignon (with a touch of cabernet franc) is earthy enough to please me and not scare him off. Smarter palates found “incense, tobacco leaf and spicy cedar” flavors. However you slice it, this is good.
Rare Earth Cabernet Sauvignon
$8.99 (Quoted at $14.99)
A very drinkable, night on the back patio kind of wine. Plus, it’s certified organic, if that floats your boat. At this price, we’ll be buying in bulk.
Parrot Ranch Cabernet Sauvignon
$12.99 (Quoted at $25)
A little bit fruit forward, very good cab. Take this to an outdoor housewarming party or just serve it when you grill.
Clos Lachance Estate Cabernet Sauvignon
$15.99 (Quoted at $35)
A phenomenal value. I got earth and spice from and enjoyed its rich flavor.
Heitz Cellar Trailside Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon
$34.99 (Quoted at $75)
Tasting 40 wines is hard. My notes for this are simply a hand-drawn heart. Splurge on it – another incredible value.
Adeline Cabernet Sauvignon
$19.99 (Quoted at $45)
Last cab, I swear. Pollack called this an impressive wine in a quite good vintage. I say it’s very good.
Giuseppe Cortese Rabaja Barbaresco
$39.99 (Quoted at $55)
I probably would only purchase this if the president was coming for dinner, and we thought our best meal option was something Andy killed himself and needed a wine to pair with dinner. This red is made from the nebbiolo grape and pairs well with roasted meat, wild game, wild boar and dried meats.