Chairman’s Selection Highlights: Fall 2013

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Last week I attended my third Pennsylvania Fine Wine & Good Spirits Chairman’s Selection Tasting.


We spend the day tasting highlights from head buyer Steve Pollack, primarily for the wine specialists at premium Fine Wine & Good Spirits stores (yes, everyone spits).

The group tasting allows Pollack to talk about the purchases, give pointers on how to sell the wines (“know your customer”), and it allows me the chance to create this handy printable wine guide for you to take on your next trip to the store.

We were glad to have the media table back together (I was the sole occupant for the spring 2013 tasting!), and enjoyed sharing the experience with BOB 94.9 FM’s Nancy, a veteran of the tastings along with her partner-in-crime, Newman, plus fellow writer, Sue Gleiter.

Most of the table has a preference for red wines; Nancy and I have the most similar palates, and both enjoy exploring Pennsylvania Chairman’s Selection wines. We implement the same method for selecting our wines, carefully considering each Selection’s dryness, price and value.

Do note that some of these wines are available in limited quantities and may only appear in premium stores (Lemoyne and Jonestown Road, locally); however, most will be easy to find — and all you need to do is ask your knowledgeable Fine Wine & Good Spirits employee for assistance.

Let’s dive in! Click through for a printable guide of this season’s Chairman’s Selections.

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Chairman’s Selection Highlights: Fall 2013

Torres Verdeo Verdejo
$11.99 (Quoted at $18.99)

This white is clean and refreshing. It’s style is similar to South African Sauvignon Blanc, but it’s not nearly as tart or mouth-puckering. This would pair well with light seafood like scallops or shellfish, or just with some fruit before a meal. This is very drinkable, and one I would definitely buy. Available now (1,500 cases).

MacMurray Ranch Chardonnay
$12.99 (Quoted at $20)

Wine Enthusiast calls this “fun to drink,” while Pollack calls it “sexy.” Buy it and find out for yourself. I found this to be a very nice chardonnay, and it isn’t overly oaky. Instead, there’s a light butter/creaminess and hints of vanilla. Available Nov. 7 (2,000 cases).

Coli Chianti Classico
$9.99 (Quoted at $16.99)

This is a tremendous deal on a Chianti Classico. Medium-bodied and well balanced, this is a must-grab to pair with pasta or fall’s hearty stews. A PLCB staffer remarked,” Wow – That’s $10?”  Available now (4,000 cases).

Garnet Pinot Noir
$11.99 (Quoted at $20)

Not as light as some Pinot Noirs, this has a big more body. You’ll find strawberry and herbs in the nose, and the palate is fresh with cranberry, spice and plum. Pollack calls it, “A great price for everyday Pinot,” and I agree. Available Nov. 7 (3,000 cases).

Landmark Grand Detour Pinot Noir
$24.99 (Quoted at $35)

A bit to rich for my budget-buying blood, but if you need a gift or are taking wine for Thanksgiving, this Pinot Noir is polished and well-balanced. A step above some of the others. I got a hint of anise on the nose. Would go well with grilled meats. Available Nov. 7 (750 6-pack cases).

Columbia Winery Merlot
$9.99 (Quoted at $17)

This affordable Merlot has strong flavors of blueberry with hint of cocoa powder. It’s mostly merlot but features a small amount of malbec. Hunters will like to pair this with roasted pheasant or other grilled meats. Available now (2,000 cases).

$10.99 (Quoted at $19.99)

Take it from Pollack — and me: “A must try!” This blend is made with 80% sangiovese, 20% merlot and is quite pleasant with notes of vanilla, bitter chocolate and allspice. Available Nov. 7 (4,000 cases).

Sassello Bolgheri Rosso
$13.99 (Quoted at $19.99)

I really enjoyed this blend — made with cabernet franc, merlot, syrah and petit verdot — and would pair it with veal or lamb. Medium to full tannins. Available now (2,400 cases).

Vina Eguia Crianza
$8.99 (Quoted at $15)

This does the double duty of having an incredible price point and a great rating. Wine Advocate gave it 91 points, and Wine Spectator 87. It’s made from Tempranillo grapes. This is a must-buy. I’ll be having this with venison steaks. Available Nov. 7 (2,000 cases).

Durigutti Reserva Malbec
$15.99 (Quoted at $24.99)

Grab this complex Argentinian Malbec (with just a hint of Cab Franc grapes) for a dinner party serving lamb chops, spare ribs or rib roast. Bright ruby color with a little spice, it’s sure to impress — just ask your hosts to decant before serving. Available now (1,200 case).

Castello di Gabbiano Chianti Classico Riserva
$13.99 (Quoted at $22)

Another must-buy, this mostly-Sangiovese (5% Merlot) Chianti Classico is good now — and later. Buy a couple bottles and hold on to one for a year or two. This has Sunday dinner pairing written all over it — listed food pairings include crab cakes and veal parm, but I’d make a roast or rack of lamb with rosemary and thyme, and serve this with it. Available Nov. 7 (2,000 cases).

Santa Julia Magna
$10.99 (Quoted at $18)

Another great buy for the price. Nancy described it as having a “buttery nose,” and this is another match for red, slow cooked meats on a cool fall day. Like the previous, buy an extra bottle or two to age through 2015. Available Nov 7 (3,000 cases).

Maison Bouachon Les Rabassieres Vieilles Vignas Cotes-du-Rhone
$9.99 (Quoted at $14.99)

My notes say, “Hell yeah,” and considering the price, why not? This pure expression of grape — meaning unoaked — blend of grenache, carigan and mourvedre grapes will pair well with fall’s venison steaks, hearty stews or other lean meats. Available now (2,500 cases).

Goose Ridge Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon
$19.99 (Quoted at $35)

Nancy and I both enjoyed this wine, and it slowly gained popularity around the table. This one will be a bit of a challenge to find with only 500 cases available across the state, but you can’t go wrong with this pick from Washington state. Available now.

Clos du Bois Marlstone
$24.99  (Quoted at $49.99)

Everyone — okay, one had on defector who shies away from heavy reds — at the table loved this wine. This is your steak wine, perfect to pair with a nice, fat Delmonico or prime rib. Available Nov. 7 (500 cases).

Conway Cabernet Sauvignon
$39.99 (Quoted at $77)

A bit too rich for my blood, but Newman declared this as the perfect pairing with a nice cigar. “Sold!” Pollack described it as “stunning … powerful but perfectly balanced.” Available Nov. 7 (500 cases).

Heitz Cellar Trailside Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon
$49.99 (Quoted at $90)

I always joke that the only way I’m spending this much on a bottle of wine is if the President is coming for dinner. And if that is the case, this is in my shopping cart this fall. A classic Cabernet made by a respected California vineyard, perfectly balanced with a long, wonderful finish. Just lovely. Available Nov. 7 (850 cases).

Villa Mora Motefalco Sagrantino
$17.99  (Quoted at $34)

Need a bottle for dinner at Pastorante or Gabriella’s? Take this. The nose features plum, tobacco and even fresh flowers, with a bold, rich flavor that pairs well with Italian red sauces, beef braciole or prime rib. Available now (800 cases).

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Sara Bozich
Author: Sara Bozich

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