PA Chairman's Selections for Spring 2014

10 years ago by Tim

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. For those of you who want more California wines, fear not - Steve said the next wave of 160,000 cases from their recent March buying trip is largely California and will hit stores sometime in June.

Highly recommended wines, in order of tasting not preference:

  • 2012 Beringer Sauvignon Blanc
  • 2012 Nobilo Icon Sauvignon Blanc
  • 2013 Monchiero Carbone Recit Roero Arneis
  • 2011 Evening Land Pouilly-Fuisse
  • 2011 Greg Norman Malbec
  • 2011 Chateau de Belcier Castillon Cotes de Bordeaux
  • 2008 Bodegas Heredad de Aduna Reserva Rioja
  • 2012 Feuerheerd's Anchor Wine
  • 2006 Villa Cafaggio Cortaccio
  • 2009 Conti Sertoli Salis Valtellina Superiore Grumello
  • 2007 Contino Gran Reserva Rioja


2012 Roth Estate Sauvignon Blanc. This isn't an overly complex wine, but it's got bright, fresh fruit and nice acidity. Fairly typical grapefruit notes with some pear on the nose and palate. At this price point, it's an easy buy for the spring and summer months. It will also be widely available and distributed to all stores.

2012 Villa Marchesi Pinot Grigio. A typical Pinot Grigio with prominent lemon and peach notes with medium acidity and body. It's not mind-blowing, but it's an attractive price point for an enjoyable, straightforward wine.

2012 Beringer Sauvignon Blanc. This was my favorite of the Sauvignon Blancs we tasted. Fresh citrus fruit with refreshing acidity, but with surprising complexity from dense New World fruit and use of seasoned French oak for a portion of the wine. It's a no-brainer at $10.99.

2013 Steven Kent Winemaker's Selection Sauvignon Blanc. Distinctly tropical fruits here, with grapefruit, mango and melon and even some banana notes. It's a good wine with refreshing acidity, but for me it wasn't quite as … pure as the Beringer.

2012 Nobilo Icon Sauvignon Blanc. A really great example of New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc, with overwhelming herbal, grassy, grapefruit and jalapeno notes. Great acidity gives this wine a long, mouthwatering finish. This wine probably is not for everyone, but I really enjoyed what this wine brought to the table.

2011 Chalk Hill Sauvignon Blanc. This is definitely more in the style of a White Bordeaux, with a rounder body from lees stirring and the use of French oak. Reminiscent of Chimney Rock Elevage Blanc, a previous Chairman's Selection, which also blends in Sauvignon Gris. In this wine, the Sauvignon Musque also brings some additional aromatics. Fruit here is more in the pear and nectarine space. Certainly worth the money.

2013 Monchiero Carbone ReCit Roero Arneis. An incredibly pretty, delicate wine from Roero Arneis DOCG in Piedmont, the only white wine appellation in an area known for Nebbiollo. The nose is a pretty bouquet of honeysuckle, white flowers, peach, pear and tropical fruit. It's fruit-driven but well balanced with elevated acidity. It's a nice example of a more expressive Italian white. I highly recommend this one if you want to try something a little different.

2011 Firriato Quarter Bianco. A very aromatic nose driven by the Zibbobo (also known as Muscat of Alexandria) which hints at sweetness, but it's still very much a dry wine. Pear and peach dominates on the nose and palate with a hint of spiciness. It's a chance to try something a little different and perfect for coming warm months, and a very well made wine for the price point.

2011 Evening Land Pouilly-Fuisse. This was probably my favorite white wine overall in the tasting. Evening Land, probably best known for their Oregon Pinot Noir, typically makes subtle and restrained wines, and this white Burgundy is no exception. It's a rich Chardonnay, but still has precise focus and intense minerality typical of the region. I think it's a fantastic wine and I will be buying plenty of it at this price.

2011 Aura Chardonnay. Oak is the dominant flavor here, probably from staves or chips. Think baked apple pie and vanilla. It's certainly not the most elegant wine in the world, but it's an easy stand-in for most supermarket Chardonnays that sell at the quoted price. For the price, it's a good value. A private label Chardonnay from Gallo for the Pennsylvania market.

2012 Wild Horse Chardonnay. A fairly typical California Chardonnay. There's definite oak influence, but it's a little more subtle and better integrated than with the Aura. A small amount of Verdelho and Malvasia bring a little more acidity than you might expect and a bit more lift on the nose. It's a well-made wine for $9.99.

2010 Marimar Estate "La Masia" Don Miguel Vineyard Chardonnay. This was a wine I've had at their tasting room a couple of times and was excited to see in the Chairman's program. Unfortunately, I've been a little disappointed with both bottles I've tasted so far, with a bit of an off-putting nose. That said, it's a good wine and perhaps is in a phase where it needs to be decanted as Steven Tanzer suggested in his review. is a creamy, buttery Chardonnay aged in French oak with extended lees contact.

2011 Coppo Moncalvina Moscato d'Asti. A pretty typical example of Moscato d'Asti - a sweet, sparkling wine that is very low in alcohol. Not for everyone, but it's a good example of what it is. Grab a bottle or two for BBQs when people ask for sweet wine.

2012 Pacific Rim Wallula Vineyard Riesling. A very dry Riesling with bracing acidity, but it felt like there was something missing. It was a bit austere and I almost wish it had a touch more residual sugar. It's a good wine, though I might give it a little time in the cellar. Unlike the shelf talkers you may see, this is far from an off-dry wine.


2011 Fetzer Mendo Grand Reserve Pinot Noir. It's far from a great wine, but it's not bad as far as $12.99 Pinot Noir goes. This is described as Fetzer's "second label", which perhaps should set expectations. It's not offensive in any way, but also doesn't stand out in any way.

2011 Roth Estate Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir. It lacks the acidity and fruit density of some better examples from the Sonoma Coast AVA, but it's definitely a step up from the Fetzer. For the price, it's a nice Pinot but for me didn't have the elegance and precision of the Londer Pinot Noir we saw previously at this range in the Chairman's program.

2011 Bodegas La Magdalena Sueno. This Tempranillo hails from the hot Castille-La Manche region in Spain, with intense blackberry and plum along with some lead on the nose. It's a smooth and enjoyable wine with ripe fruit that will likely appeal to fans of California wines (at least their bigger examples). It's a good quality wine for the price.

2012 Bonny Doon Contra. It's an enjoyable, but unremarkable, red wine. One of those wines where there's not a lot to dislike, but there's also not a lot to get excited about either. At the price point, it's a good buy for cookouts and parties.

2010 Sebastiani Merlot. An unapologetically ripe Merlot from California, it's a plush, velvety fruit-driven wine with loads of ripe plum. It was well-received at our table; Mark Wilkins of PAWineTalk, who notoriously hates Merlot, actually said "if I had to drink any Merlot, this would be it". Personally, if I have to drink any Merlot it would be Petrus, but I understand where he's coming from. You might call this a "walk of shame" wine - a little personal indulgence you don't want anyone else to know you're drinking.

2013 Vinha Das Mouras de Arraiolos. This unoaked red wine from the dry, hot Alentejo region of Portugal is fruit forward, with jammy red fruit, blackberry and herbal notes. It's a ripe wine with elevated, but silky, tannins. It's a very good wine for the price and definitely worth trying.

2009 Solar de Tueles Rioja Reserva. It's a pretty typical Rioja Reserva, balancing sour red fruits with sweet spice. I always recommend Spanish wines as good value, especially Rioja, because of aging requirements. It's a good wine for the price, though personally for a few dollars more I think the Bodegas Heredad de Aduna was showing significantly better.

2012 Vignerons de Caractere Domain de la Pertiane Vacqueryas. Deep purple in color with a distinct gaminess. It came across as a high alcohol wine, with ripe fruit. It's drinkable now, but I think it probably needs a year or two before it comes around.

2013 Finca Don Leta Reserva Cabernet Sauvignon. I honestly don't know what to say about this wine. I was sure I got poured the wrong wine - the red fruit, floral nose and diminished tannins just don't match with a Cabernet Sauvignon. All in all, I just didn't enjoy the wine very much and can't really recommend it. (Also, remember Reserva doesn't have any meaning in Argentina).

2013 Finca Don Leta Reserva Malbec. This was a little more typical of its varietal than the previous wine, with deep purple color and intense plum and blackberry aromas and flavors. Still, I wasn't overly impressed and would recommend the Greg Norman over this.

2012 Poggio Scalette Chianto Classico. A rather typical example of Chianti Classico, with prominent red cherry flavors and elevated acidity. A well-balanced wine that is very enjoyable and food friendly. It is drinking well now but would also benefit from some cellar time.

2011 Greg Norman Malbec. Deep, deep purple color and typical ripe plum and blackberry notes. Aged in both French and American oak, which really rounds out the wine and brings vanilla, clove, baking spice and some coconut notes. It's plush, simple, enjoyable wines like this that made Argentinian Malbec a commercial success. Another "Walk of Shame" indulgence.

2011 Alexander Valley "Sin Zin" Zinfandel. This is a typical, fruit-forward Zinfandel with loads of red fruit, peppery spice and a bit of smokiness. It's a relatively simple and straightforward wine, but enjoyable. You could certainly do a lot worse for $11.99.

2011 Chateau de Belcier Castillon Cotes de Bordeaux. On the nose, plum and blackberry fruit is well integrated with spice, cedar and tobacco. Elevated acidity and great structure, particularly for what I would normally expect from a Cotes de Bordeaux. This wine will certainly benefit from a little age. It's really a pretty nice Bordeaux for the classification and price.

2008 Bodegas Heredad de Aduna Reserva Rioja. A great example of a very elegant Rioja Reserva at an extremely attractive price point. Thought it doesn't quite reach the levels of the Contino Gran Reserva tasted later, it's also half the price. For the money, I think this is a real winner.

2012 Feuerheerd's Anchor Wine. The wine is driven by ripe plum and blackberry fruit. It's drinking well now, but there's still some structure and could be especially interesting as secondary and tertiary notes come in. I really enjoyed the wine and I think it would be a good choice to bring to cookouts or parties given the interesting and eye-catching packaging. (The bottle is wrapped in paper).

2006 Villa Cafaggio Cortaccio. A bold and muscular Super Tuscan with incredibly dense black fruits, it is balanced by somewhat elevated acidity compared to some New World counterparts. It's a very good wine, though perhaps not the most subtle. It is screaming for a steak or similarly rich, fatty meats. With a big of age, it's also drinking very well right now - making it an ideal choice if you want to bring a bold Cabernet Sauvignon to a dinner party.

2009 Conti Sertoli Salis Valtellina Superiore Grumello. This is a lighter-bodied, elegant Nebbiollo with dried red cherry, raspberry, tobacco and rose notes with elevated acidity. It definitely punches above it's price point, and will especially appeal to lovers of Italian reds and Pinot Noir. For the price, I definitely recommend trying this wine from a relatively obscure DOCG.

2007 Contino Gran Reserva Rioja. This was the clear standout for me on the reds. An extremely classy, elegant wine with sweet-and-sour flavors typical of Rioja. It's a sibling, of sorts, to the 2004 CVNE Imperial Gran Reserva which was named 2013 Wine of the Year by the Wine Spectator. This wine is typically only bottled in magnums but the PLCB bought the entire vintage and opted to have it bottled in regular 750ml bottles.

An unhandled error has occurred. Reload 🗙