Our picks for the Pittsburgh Wine Festival

9 years ago by Tim

With the upcoming Pittsburgh Wine Festival, I thought it would be fun to ask some of our friends for recommendations.

John Wabeck, sommelier & general manager at Spoon and Master Sommelier candidate:

Adelsheim. Classic expressions of Oregon Pinot Noir. Don't sleep on the Rose or the Elizabeth's Reserve.

Bonny Doon. I recently tasted through most of the portfolio. Cigare Volant is fantastic as always, new (to me) things to not miss are "A Proper Claret" and 'Clos Gilroy" Grenache.

Groth As much as I pretend to not drink Napa wines, when I do, it always seems to be Groth. Sauvignon Blanc, Chard, Cab, Reserve Cab are all big hitters.

Alto Moncayo. As much as I pretend to not drink 15% alcohol wines, I am in the tank for this style of Garnacha... a big, chewy, impossible to see through, unbalanced roller coaster ride of a wine.

Hamilton Russell. If you like Pinot Noir, taste this one. Precise, balanced and tastes like Pinot should. Add in a touch of the South African terroir and you have a winner.

Tenuta San Guido and Tenuta dell' Ornellaia. Hopefully they are positioned side-by-side so you don't have to walk very far. Taste the Le Difese vs. Le Volte, the Guidalberto vs the Serre Nuove, and if you are lucky, taste the Sassacaia vs. the Ornellaia.

Elena Walch. For those who think Italian white wines are insipid, go taste these and have your mind changed. Pinot Grigios of note with character and elegance.

Jerry Metallo, Wine Specialist at the Cranberry store

Tamarack Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon Columbia Valley 2012. Very impressive Washington cab loaded with dark berry fruit, smoked meats and nice acidity to keep it all balanced. If you've never had a Washington cab before, this is the one to try!

Elena Walch Beyond the Clouds Alto Adige DOC. VIP – A truly unforgettable white wine. A blend of Chardonnay and "other indigenous grapes" from Italy's most northerly region, Alto Adige. The best way I can describe it is – the nose of a Gewurztraminer, the body of a rich, buttery Chard and the crisp, clean mineral finish of a premium Pinot Grigio. Exotic and delicious!

Achaval Ferrer Mendoza Malbec. Lush and spicy but oh so balanced, this Malbec from one of Argentina's top producers is sure to please. Full of black fruit with a polished, lingering finish. Have it with some grilled skirt steak with chimichurri sauce and you’ll be in heaven!

James McCeney, owner and winemaker at Bridges Wine Co (and new father):

Elk Cove. I once had the 2008 Elk Cove Pinot Gris (randomly) twice blind in the same tasting back at UC Davis. There were two different cork producers and one of the bottles was out of condition. I emailed the winemaker, Aaron Campbel, to ask about the corks and he wrote back a really nice detailed explanation of their recent cork trial and that for the next vintage they'd actually switched to screw cap.

Pine Ridge. My friend Jason Ledbetter made the wines, though he's since moved on to winemaker at a sister company in WA. I've tasted in the cellar a couple of times with him and think the wines are very good.

Roederer Estate. This is the gold standard for the Master of Wine assessment of new world sparking wines.

La Spinetta. I visited in 2008 and had a very, very hospitable reception. An informative discussion ensued during the tasting on new oak use (they use a lot) and the evolution of tannin management for Nebbiolo in the Piedmont.

Schild. I tasted here in 2006 and 2007 while working in the Barossa. The wines were some of the best value in the region. I believe they have since expanded.

Pittsburgh Winery. My friend Tim makes the wines here. You can also visit the winery in the Strip District.

Tara Licata, WSET Level 3 Advanced and co-founder of Vinelog:

Jermann Pinot Grigio. This is not your mother’s Pinot Grigio. If your idea of Pinot Grigio is one of a tasteless, lifeless and generic white wine that exists only to appeal to the masses, then I encourage to try the Jermann. It’s not what you expect.

Chateau Lynch Bages (VIP ticket). If you have a VIP ticket, make a mad dash to this table before they run out. What else can I say? It’s Lynch Bages.

Domaine Drouhin Oregon Arthur Chardonnay. A delicious New World chardonnay that tastes worlds apart from its CA counterparts. If you are a New World chard hater, this will change your mind.

Gaja DaGromis Barolo DOCG (VIP ticket). An iconic producer. Do not miss.

Megan Painter, CSW, FWS, Wine Specialist at Monroeville

Try the wines of Vignobles Bertier, a "little guy" that makes awesome wine. Winemaker Clement Bertier will be at the festival, pouring new vintages (2013) of his wines from the Loire. Here's a video from the importer describing the wines, from their Chateau in France.

Other tables to check out:

  • Bodegas Muga (Rioja)
  • Clos Pegase & Whitehall Lane (California)
  • Cockburn’s or Graham’s for some fine Ports (Portugal)
  • Hermann J Wiemer - Finger Lakes makes a great weekend getaway! (New York)
  • Pol Roger for some Champagne (France)

Tim Marman, WSET Level 3 Advanced, co-founder of Vinelog:

Bridges Winery. James is a contributor to Vinelog and good friend. More importantly, he's an excellent winemaker making great value wines. He was previously assistant winemaker at Patz & Hall and Acacia, and spent time in Burgundy and Australia. His Zinfandel and Pinot Noir are sourced from excellent California fruit and bottled here in PA. The 2012 Pinot Noir from Sonoma Coast is a beautiful, well-balanced expression of the grape and the 2012 Zinfandel was recently awarded 90 points from Wine Enthusiast. His 2014 Moscato is a fun and delicious wine for summer. You can purchase his wines at many local restaurants including Spoon, Grit & Grace and the Carlton - or directly from his website. East Club Lounge.

Lopez de Heredia. The gold standard in Rioja.

Sandhi. Founded in 2010 by Raj Parr, one of the world's best sommeliers, Charles Banks (former owner of Jonata and Screaming Eagle), and winemaker Sashi Moorman. The wines are excellent. Table #60

Flowers Winery. Perched up in some of the coldest areas of California wine growing, their wines are tense with bright acidity.

Penfolds. I know John wanted to recommend this, so since he didn't I will. The RWT Shiraz is a powerhouse.

Trimbach. All of Trimbach's wines are excellent, but the Cuvee Frederic Emile is remarkable.

A Chateauneuf-du-Pape tasting. It's not often you get to try these wines side by side. If you're here for the VIP section, grab a glass of the Vieux Telegraphe "La Crau" (Table #156), the Domaine du Pegau Cuvee Reserve (Table #134), and the Domaine des Senechaux (Table #122). Try to grab three glasses and taste side by side - a fun experiment.

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