PA Chairman's Selections Spring 2015 Preview

9 years ago by Tim

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.


2012 Valley of the Moon Pinot Blanc. A pretty well balanced wine, with a bit of an aromatic nose and a touch of residual sugar. $9.99, quoted at $18.00.

2013 Benzinger Sauvignon Blanc. It's an easy drinker, if not a little boring. We felt this one was a bit thin and lacked intensity. $10.99, quoted at $15.00.

2013 Bernardus Sauvignon Blanc Gria Vineyard. A good everyday white wine. Chalky minerality and citrus zest on the nose and good acidity makes for a refreshing finish. $11.99, quoted at $22.00.

2012 Turnbull Oakville Estate Grown Sauvignon BlancA ripe Sauvignon Blanc with intense aromas of lychee and gooseberry. $14.99, quoted at $24.99.

2011 de Ladoucette Pouilly-Fume. A well made wine, but not particularly interesting. There's a dusty minerality on the nose, but the finish is a bit short and overall the wine lacked the intensity. $27.99, quoted at $44.00.

2013 Manifesto Chardonnay. Baked apple, very ripe melon on the nose with tons of new oak. The mouth is plush with a hair of sweetness coming through. This is a very rich wine and should appeal to Kendall Jackson drinkers at this price point. $9.99, quoted at $15.99.

2012 Etre Sonoma Coast Chardonnay. A straight forward Chardonnay. Fleshy, ripe fruit gives again gives this wine a touch of perceived sweetness, though it finishes slightly bitter. A little crisper than, and a slight step up, from the Manifesto. $14.99, quoted at $25.00.

2013 Fess Parker Viognier. A typical, highly aromatic Viognier - there's a ton of honeysuckle aromas as well as a minty/herbal thing going on. On the palate, nectarine, peach and apricot fruit dominates. It's a decent wine overall, but kind of feels a little disjointed. $14.99, quoted at $28.00.

2011 Etude Grace Benoist Ranch Chardonnay. Etude makes a return to the Chairman's Selection program and this is another recommended purchase There's a lot of complexity on the nose from barrel aging and lees stirring. The cooler 2011 vintage keeps this fairly crisp and light on the palate, and there's a long, fruit-driven finish. $17.99, quoted at $32.00.


Santa Julia Innovac!on Malbec-Shiraz Rose. The nose is really fruit-driven, very grapey There's a fair amount of complexity going on here, with a nice balance of tannin and residual sugar It's a well made wine at a great price and a welcome addition as the weather starts to warm up $7.99 (1L bottle), quoted at $11.99.


2012 Mark West Pinot Noir Santa Lucia Highlands. Red fruits dominate on the nose and lush, fruit-driven palate. I found the acidity a bit lacking for my preferences, which made it come across as a bit fat. For the price, it's a very fine everyday Pinot Noir. $11.99, quoted at $18.99.

2012 Wente Sandstone Merlot. There's some promising green Bell pepper and plum notes on the nose. The mouth is very fat and plush. The alcohol comes across as a bit hot, and the finish drops off. $9.99, quoted at $18.00.

2013 Clos LaChance Estate Syrah. There's a lot of complexity on this wine, but it's also quite approachable. Lots of black and blue fruit on the nose along with typical pepper and gamey aromas. There's ripping acidity and a long finish that is just begging for food. At this price, it's a perfect accompaniment to your cookouts. $11.99, quoted at $18.00.

2012 Martedi Lavello Rosso.  There's a bit of Brettanomyces on the nose to go along with black fruit, and we thought the wine is a bit out of balance. $11.99, quoted at $18.00.

2011 Chamisal Edna Valley Pinot Noir.  There's a nice spice element on the nose to go along with red raspberry and cranberry. The palate is lush but balanced, with medium plus acidity. There is new French oak on the wine, but it's well integrated. Overall, a solid buy. $23.99, quoted at $40.00.

2013 Domaine Drouhin Oregon Pinot Noir.  There was a surprisingly low concentration of fruit on the nose and palate. Overall, the wine is very muted even by Oregon standards. There's enough tannin and acid that makes me think the wine might just be in a weird spot, but overall I was slightly disappointed for a wine I was excited to see in the program. I'll still pick up a few because it's possible that this will blossom a bit. $29.99, quoted at $50.00.

2013 Zuccardi Serie A Cabernet Sauvignon. Green nose. Big tannins. Unresolved $9.99, quoted at $14.99.

2012 Vin du Lac of Chelan Cuvee Rouge.  This is a dark, deep wine with stewed fruits and a decent amount of oak on the nose. The finish is a little hot. $11.99, quoted at $20.00.

2012 3 Rings Barossa Valley Shiraz. This is a huge wine with elevated alcohol (15.7%), but itstill manages to be well balanced overall. There's a hint of alcohol heat on the finish, but it's matched by the big, big dark fruit. The elevated alcohol (15.7%) $12.99, quoted at $20.00.

2012 Penfolds Bin 8 Cabernet Sauvignon/Shiraz.  This wine nicely marries the dark black and blue fruit of the Shiraz with the tannin and structure of the Cabernet. The result is a big but balanced wine with good concentration of aromas and flavors. $14.99, quoted at $24.00.

2012 Angove Vineyard Select McLaren Vale Shiraz. Lots of super ripe, dark fruit and black olive on the nose. There was perhaps a touch of residual sugar on the mouth which helps balance the compelling tannin structure. James, and others, liked this wine more than I did. $12.99, quoted at $20.00.

2012 "1846" by Nottingham Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon.  This is a big, structured wine with coarse, grainy tannins and red and black fruit befitting the blend. There's a fair bit of oak indicators, but it wasn't terribly resolved and feels like it might be additive (oak chips, powder, etc). Pair this with rich food.  $15.99, quoted at $30.00.

2011 Summers Knights Valley Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon. The nose is dominated by red fruit, and the mouth is bright and refreshing with enough acidity and decent length on the finish. It seemed like some secondary and tertiary notes were coming in, perhaps showing some bottle age. $19.99, quoted at $40.00.

2011 Two Angels Cabernet Sauvignon.  Green olive notes on a typical Cabernet nose. Silky tannins. It's a fairly dense, big wine but there's enough acidity so it finishes clean. A fine wine for the price. $16.99, quoted at $26.99.

2013 Vasco Urbano Brunswick Petite Sirah. There's a boatload of smokey black fruit here. The oak is not yet integrated, and perhaps it needs more to soften the elevated tannins (even by Petite Sirah standards). Pair with hearty grilled meats and perhaps give it some time. $16.99, quoted at $36.00.

2011 Robert Craig Affinity Cabernet Sauvignon. A very well-structured wine, with fully resolved oak, silky tannins and nice acidity. The brambly red fruit is compelling and complex. This is an elegant, refined wine sourced from top-quality Napa sites. While it's enjoyable now, I think this will definitely benefit from at least a couple of years of age given the style and vintage. At this price, it's worth holding on to a couple. $29.99, quoted at $55.00.

2012 Terra d'Oro Zinfandel.  An easy drinking wine. The nose and palate are a bit nondescript and generic big, red wine. Despite this being a relatively young wine, our bottle was showing a bit of bottle age. Buy and drink now. $11.99, quoted at $18.00.

2012 Curious Beasts Blood Red Wine. Despite the name, this was a pretty nondescript and uninteresting red wine. It's not a bad wine, just a little boring - and the cheesiness of the label doesn't help. $12.99, quoted at $24.99.

2012 The Criminal Dry Creek Valley Red.  A simple, juicy, fruit-driven red wine. It's nice enough for the price to be an easy drinking, everyday wine. $14.99, quoted at $29.99.

2007 Bodegas Montecillo Gran Reserva Rioja. Gran Reserva means that the wine has been aged for at least 5 years, including 2 of which is in oak. (Rioja uses American oak, which gives more coconut and dill as compared to the sweeter vanilla and nutmeg flavors from French oak). The bottle age is definitely showing here, with a lot of leathery and tobacco notes taking center stage over the fruit. This is an opportunity to try a pretty solid Gran Reserva for not much money.  $19.99, quoted at $30.00.

2008 Rancho Zabaco Zinfandel Monte Rosso Vineyard.  A very complex nose of peaches and dried red fruit. More dried fruit flavors on the concentrated and dense palate, with a really nice tannin structure. Monte Rosso is considered one of the best Zinfandel vineyards for a reason. While this isn't necessarily cheap for Zinfandel, it's a good price for an excellent bottle of wine. $29.99, quoted at $45.00.

2011 Von Strasser Cabernet Sauvignon Diamond Mountain District. Given the mountain fruit and cooler 2011 vintage, this wine is almost old world in structure - more austere than fruit. The elevated tannin is slightly harsh, but give it time and this will be a very nice wine. $29.99, quoted at $50.00.

2011 Flora Springs Trilogy. There's nice red and blue fruits on the nose and palate, though following on the theme of the cooler 2011 vintage, the fruit is a little more restrained than other vintages of the Trilogy. The use of high quality new French oak is evident, with well integrated and smooth vanilla, toast and cinnamon notes. It's a very nice wine and it's a decent value at $40, though I wouldn't buy it at the quoted price. $39.99, quoted at $75.00.

2011 Clos du Val Stags Leap District Cabernet Sauvignon. From a cooler Napa vintage, this wine plays more acutely to Clos du Val’s French founders and influences. It's a very well made, impeccably balanced wine that I think will reward patience. We recently had a 2005 bottle of this wine and it was absolutely singing. Buy a couple of these for the cellar. $39.99, quoted at $84.99.

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