Chairman’s Selection Preview Tasting March 2017

Last week I was invited to join PLCB wine experts and the Chairman Selection team for a tasting of Chairman Selection wines.   Wines that I feel offer value and interesting characteristics are listed below.   Some wines have external ratings, which are included where possible – otherwise I include comments from Steve Pollack, the head of the Chairman’s program and my own comments outlining why I see value in the wine.
Hopefully you will find something interesting in these selections:

Firriato Altavilla della Corte Grillo Sicilia 2015
Sicily, Italy
PLCB Code# 78455
“Aromatic, with orange blossom and spice notes, offering flavors of pink grapefruit granita and Thai basil. Light-bodied and fresh, presenting a citrusy finish. Drink now.”  – 87 points Wine Spectator, Sept 30, 2016
Why this is good value: “Another fine Firriato Sicilian value – aromas are delicate and closed when chilled, but after a few minutes in the glass the floral notes start to blossom.  Flavors include mostly citrus with underpinning of peach and some tropical notes – finish is crisp with a savory hint and fine freshness.  An all but forgotten Sicilian grape that has found new popularity in the past 20 years, this wine offers something an interesting alternative to lovers of Sauvignon Blanc, and at this price a great value to all!” 89 Points Jack Brice

Fattori Danieli Soave Veneto DOC 2015 
Veneto, Italy
PLCB Code# 78524  (1,500 cases released March 1st)
“When the grape Garganega is produced correctly, Soave can be stunning. I agree with the winemaker’s notes. Fresh fruit, flowers, spice and perfume. Try with baked cod or flounder. Serve chilled not ice cold.”   – Steve Pollack, wine buyer for the Chairman’s Selection® program
Why this is good value: “Soave is a favorite light-weight, summery white from the Veneto region of Northern Italy.   This 2015 Fattori Soave is full of spicy citrus and peach flavors while remaining light on the palate – a great way to avoid getting lost in the Pinot Grigio crowd” 87 Points Jack Brice

The Coorong Reserve Chardonnay 2016
South Eastern Australia
PLCB Code# 78568  (3,500 cases to be released April 5th)
“Orange Mandarin, tangerine, with honey and spice.  A deliciously ripe and tropical moderately oaked Chardonnay.  Exceptional!”  – Steve Pollack, wine buyer for the Chairman’s Selection® program
Why this is good value: “I tasted light citrus with a healthy dose of green and baked apple followed by a light oak-spice finish.   This is a light, fruit-driven Chardonnay that does not scream geographic origin, but certainly provides a nice sipper that won’t cause offense for $9.99.”  87 Points Jack Brice

d’Arenberg The Hermit Crab Viognier Marsanne 2015
McLaren Vale, Australia
PLCB Code# 78563  (1,200 cases to be released March 29th)
“This is medium to full in body and rounded in the mouth, with loads of yellow plum and ripe pineapple flavors.  It’s not the most complex wine, but offers a satisfying mouthful of fruit and solid length.  Drink now.”  – 89 Points Wine Enthusiast, April 1 2017
Why this is good value: “A fine offering year after year, d’Arenberg finds a way to provide good wine at a fine price yet again with The Hermit Crab – an oddly named but satisfying Rhone-style white blend (58% Viognier, 42% Marsanne) with peach and pear flavors delivered in a medium bodied package.  Serve as an alternative to Chardonnay.”  90 Points Jack Brice

Atalon Sauvignon Blanc Napa 2014
Napa Valley, California
PLCB Code# 78610  (3,000 cases scheduled release April 8th)
“Grass, gooseberry and grapefruit wind their way around a light-bodied, crisp and ephemeral wine, aged mostly in stainless steel, with a small percentage in neutral French oak.  Tiny bits of Semillon and Sauvignon Musque make their way into the mix, for a wine that’s textured and refreshing”  – 89 Points Wine Enthusiast, May 1 2016
Why this is good value: “Aromas of grapefruit and grass, Light to medium bodied with flavors of lemon, lime and pear.   This is a satisfying white that checks the boxes of Napa Sauvignon Blanc without over-reaching ripeness – unusual to find a balanced Napa white at this price.”  89 Points Jack Brice

Chateau Virant Coteaux d’Aix en Provence Rose 2015
Provence, France
PLCB Code# 78578  (2,500 cases)
“A beautifully balanced, crisp rose showing sweet watermelon and red fruit, tightened up by crisp acidity!”  – Steve Pollack, wine buyer for the Chairman’s Selection® program
Why this is good value: “Rose is one of America’s fastest growing wine varieties, and Provence is the epicenter of ‘rose culture’ – this Chateau Virant hits the mark with light strawberry and melon notes wrapped up in a crisp, mouth-watering finish.   There are many new rose wines in the market, but why go elsewhere?”  88 Points Jack Brice

Domaine des Carteresses Rose Tavel 2015
Rhone, France
PLCB Code# 78582  (1,176 cases scheduled release April 8th)
“This is ripe, round and lush.  Cherry-scented goodness leads the way, accented by hints of cracked pepper, cinnamon and allspice that linger elegantly on the finish.”  – 92 Points Wine Enthusiast, August 1, 2016 and #72 in Top 100 of 2016
Why this is good value: “This is a big rose.  The Southern Rhone is famous for big rustic wines and Tavel may be the most well-known Rhone Rose producer.   Tons of cherry aroma and flavors with solid spicy underpinnings form a big-framed rose wine (with untypical for rose 14% alcohol).   Those who are a fan of Tavel will likely not find another at this price.”  90 Points Jack Brice

Reserve de Bonpas Cotes du Rhone 2015
Southern Rhone, France
PLCB Code# 78516  (3,200 cases released March 8th)
“Ripe roasted allspice, salted meat, and raspberry jam flavors. A beautifully lush, ripe Cotes du Rhone. A must-try!”- Steve Pollack, wine buyer for the Chairman’s Selection® program
Why this is good value: “Cotes du Rhone wines often provide a great deal of fruit-driven flavor for good value – the Bonpas is no exception – lots of red raspberry and cherry fruit flavors supported by spice and savory olive flavors.   This may be too rustic for some but it provides lots of old-school Rhone flavor for the price.”  87 Points Jack Brice

Villa Cavallo Toscana 2006
Tuscany, Italy
PLCB Code# 78562  (1,500 cases to be released April 5th)
“Sandalwood, roasted plum and cranberry with hints of cedar and balanced wood notes.  Finishes long and balanced with spice and antique dust.”- Steve Pollack, wine buyer for the Chairman’s Selection® program
Why this is good value: “Wow – where to start… A 2006 vintage red that is neither too old nor too young.  The bottle age afforded this wine time to balance flavors and tannin, resulting in a lush, soft mouth feel featuring plum, red fruit and leather flavors that move smoothly into a smooth, slightly woody finish.  A good opportunity to taste what bottle age does for a humble Tuscan red!”  90 Points Jack Brice

Firriato Altavilla della Corte Syrah Terre Siciliane 2013
Sicily, Italy
PLCB Code# 78456  (1,000 cases released February 15th)
“Ripe cherry and berry fruit followed by an earth spice note, finishes with a hint of vanilla extract. Very good!”  – Steve Pollack, wine buyer for the Chairman’s Selection® program
Why this is good value: “Syrah grapes in France’s Rhone region benefiting from warm, dry, hot summers and rocky soil contribute to some of the world’s most sought after wines – similar climate and rocky soils in Sicily help the Syrah grape to mature into exceptionally pleasing wines.   The Firriato Syrah is dark ruby red, with aromas of raspberry and vanilla.   After some breathing, the wine comes to life with broad textured mouthful of dark red fruits with elements of spice and tannin.”  90 Points Jack Brice

Toad Hollow Pinot Noir Russian River Valley Goldie’s Vineyard 2013
Russian River Valley, California
PLCB Code# 78628  (1,232 cases to be released April 26th)
“Pretty plum and raspberry-cherry.  Soft and velvety.  Toad Hollow puts together an impressive Pinot Noir in this bottling.”  – Steve Pollack, wine buyer for the Chairman’s Selection® program
Why this is good value: “Smooth texture with sweet cherry and plum followed by a hint of cranberry.  Russian River Valley is known for ‘California-style’ warm-weather Pinot Noir and this wine delivers on those rich flavors and textures at a good price.”  89 Points Jack Brice

Fathom Cabernet Sauvignon Horse Heaven Hills 2015
Columbia Valley, Washington
PLCB Code# 78609  (2,800 cases to be released April 12th)
“Cocoa powder, coffee, cherry and anise.  Ripe and elegant.  A superbly balanced Cabernet from Washington State.  Excellent.”  – Steve Pollack, wine buyer for the Chairman’s Selection® program
Why this is good value: “This Cabernet is comprised of 76% Cabernet Sauvignon, 17% Merlot and 7% Syrah.  Columbia Valley reds are known for big fruit and this is no exception.  The very first sip provides a blast of chunky fruit with lush dark fruit flavors continuing through to a tannin-laced finish.   Decant for an hour or more and drink today, or wait a year or two for the tannin to calm down.  Either way, lots of lush Washington State fruit for the price.”  89 Points Jack Brice

Havens Winery Merlot Napa Valley 2014
Napa Valley, California
PLCB Code# 78622  (1,500 cases to be released April 12th)
“The 2014 Merlot from Havens remarkably celebrated their 30th vintage in Napa.  It has a dense purple color and beautiful black cherry and blacker fruits, with hinst of delicate chocolate and coffee bean.  It is full-bodied, opulent and certainly about as good as Merlot in Napa can be.  This lushcious, sexy style of wine is totally charming.  Drink it over the next decade or more.”  92 Points Wine Advocate, December 30, 2016
Why this is good value: “For me this is a throwback to when Merlot was super-popular and so many new Merlot makers were releasing easy-drinking reds to please the masses.   While that time is passed, it was arguably good for California Merlot as current releases are more carefully produced and can be appreciated all the more.   Havens offers a smooth and lush Napa Merlot that hits all the traditional marks: lush mouth feel, dark cherry and blueberry fruit flavors backed up by moderate tannins.  Any Napa red at this price is unusual and this represents a good value.”  90 Points Jack Brice

Buoy Ten Pinot Noir Willamette Valley 2015
Willamette Valley, Oregon
PLCB Code# 78551  (2,800 cases released March 15th)
“Stone, plum, hints of sage, spice, cherry sauce and tea flavors. Perfect balance with a long impressive finish. Wow!”  – Steve Pollack, wine buyer for the Chairman’s Selection® program
Why this is good value: “Oregon Pinot Noir is potentially the most highly regarded Pinot Noir regions in North America – mainly because the Pinot grapes benefit from a long, comparatively cool growing season.  These factors allow many Oregon Pinot Noirs to show cooler fruit flavors and higher acidity than their California cousins, while retaining a velvety mouth feel.   This Buoy Ten Pinot Noir displays these characteristics with plum, raspberry and background hints of minerals, underbrush and tea – finishes with a slight tart cherry note, while smooth cherry still dominates.”  90 Points Jack Brice

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