We recently tasted through nearly 40 current and upcoming Chairman's Selections coming for the holiday season.
With the upcoming Pittsburgh Wine Festival, I thought it would be fun to ask some of our friends for recommendations.
The latest installment of the Chairman's Tasting was heavy on New World wines (only two Old World wines among the thirty-four tasted) and skewed red. Frankly, I would have liked to see a little more diversity - but I'm assured that there will be a round of white wines coming for spring and there are still plenty of wines from the last tasting still making their way into stores. None of these wines are on shelves yet - the first round of these wines will hit stores at the end of March.
I was joined this time by my good friend James McCeney, a Master of Wine candidate and winemaker/owner of Bridges Wine Co.
How do you like to taste wine? Personally, I prefer a blindfold. Ok, I'll stop there. But I will say that there is a fair bit of pleasure when blind tasting wine... and after my third Malbec in a row, a touch of pain. It's more than just a party trick to impress your friends. I can assure you it's not a magic trick and it's not even brain surgery. It's a skill that anyone can learn, but I warn you... you're going to have to spit... I mean drink... let's say taste a lot of wine in order to really master the art of blind tasting.
I recently tasted through a very diverse list of 45 Chairman's Selections wines along with guest contributor Sean Rosenkrans, sommelier at Allegheny Wine Mixer and one of the brainiest bartenders in Pittsburgh. The wines definitely skewed red, and there was some really nice higher end wines for those looking for gifts or just to stock their cellar.
After a relatively long drought, the first wave of new Chairman's Selections are hitting stores, and we tasted through 33 of them, plus an additional "bonus" flight of 6 wines that will be coming soon. The theme of these wines is diversity, with Spanish and Italian wines both well represented here.
My first exposure to Saarloos + Sons was on an episode of Grape Encounters back in 2011. I was immediately intrigued by their branding, though I hesitate to use that word since their "brand" is really all about the Saarloos family. Each label bears a family photo or something else of significance to the family. I’d highly recommend checking out these wines and think you’ll fall in love just as we have.
During our last trip, we were fortunate enough to have the opportunity to meet Dick Grace, the owner of Grace Family Vineyards. He is a fascinating man with a fascinating story, and he just happens to produce one of California's best wines. On the surface, Mr. Grace is a study in paradoxes. He makes one of the most sought after California wines, but doesn't drink it. He is immensely concerned with how much his wine sells for, but donates a significant amount of his profits to charity.
I once again had the opportunity to taste through upcoming Chairman's Selections. Befitting the cooler weather, the wines are predominantly red and in general offer great values at all price points.
We tasted, and were very impressed by, the 2008 wines from Rocca Family Vineyards in Yountville.
I attended the Chairman's Tasting event last week with guest contributor John Wabeck, an Advanced Sommelier and the wine director & GM at Spoon in East Liberty. This tasting focused primarily on the Old World Wines being offered through the program, some of which are currently in stores and some of which are coming.
We're planning another tasting trip this fall (and will be taking more detailed tasting notes this time). We haven't set itinerary yet, but here's the running list of wineries we would like to taste at. Are there any other great, under-the-radar wineries we shouldn't miss?
We had a great dinner at Spoon recently with Maco Scapagnini from Domodimonti wines, organized by John Wabeck (wine director, restaurant manager and Advanced Sommelier).
We recently attended the Palm Bay Winemaker's Tour in Baltimore. This tasting was exceptional and it was quite a treat to attend as the wines were presented by the owners and/or winemakers themselves. It was fascinating to chat with these folks about their wines and winemaking process.
I had the opportunity to attend a tasting for the Spring 2013 Chairman's Selection wines on Thursday. Here are my comments on the thirty wines we tasted - or at least as much as I could get in while trying to keep up with the frenetic pace set by Steve Pollack.
2000 was a notoriously bad California vintage, but this has turned into a real steal - and a real treat - for PA wine drinkers with a new Chairman's Selection.
I thought I'd do a post with my holiday wine picks for fellow PA residents, because while our selection can be more limited in some ways, there are some serious gems to be found in the Chairman's Program.
Hartwell is a Napa powerhouse, where rising superstar Benoit Touquette is making top-notch wine in the Stag's Leap District.
We wandered into the Thumbprint Cellars tasting room off the main Healdsburg Square and really enjoyed their delicious reds.
We recently tasted the new releases at Sojourn and Audelssa (soon to be Repris), two of our favorite wineries shared by a common bond: winemaker Erich Bradley.
I'm planning a series of posts on specific wineries, but thought it might be fun to start with our itinerary and drill in from there. We didn't take extremely detailed tasting notes, so this will end up being more of a "broad strokes" impression of the wineries and trends and so on as opposed to reviews of specific wines.
I was first introduced to the Lieb Pinot Blanc at Gramercy Tavern, one of our favorite restaurants in NYC. They had the 2003 vintage while featuring locally sourced wines & foods. I grew up on Long Island, but this was the first time I had even heard of, let alone tried, a wine being made on Long Island.
We quickly fell in love with the North Fork wine country and made regular trips out. There's a decent amount of wine being produced there, but the overall quality can be hit-or-miss. That said, Lieb is definitely one of the better producers in the region and are best known for their consistently good Pinot Blanc. I was excited to see this wine being carried by PA Wine & Spirits and think it will make a fine introduction to the region for many PA natives. I'm also hopeful this will be the start of more North Fork wineries being available in the state.
The 2011 Lieb Pinot Blanc has a touch more sweetness than I remember in other vintages, but there's still plenty of acidity. It's crisp, but with body and complexity - not just a box of rocks. It's an absolutely wonderful summer wine and very food friendly. It's an absolute steal for $12.99 - we regularly bought in the winery for $24 and local NY wine stores never had it cheaper than $20.