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Affordable Chairman's Selection Wines

Updated: Dec 22, 2021

Dear friends,

Let me offer you a new round of Chairman's Selection wines commentaries. This review is very diverse. It includes some wines that have been real discoveries and wines with unmatched quality to price ratio. Really good. I have ordered them this time from highest rating to lowest.

I hope you enjoy them.

Ricardo Llovet

Marqués de Toro, Finca La Moura 2015, Mencía

Vino de la Tierra de Castilla y León, Spain

Very fruity and aromatic. I felt in the middle of the countryside with wild red berries, blueberry, níspero fruit, peaches and flowers, even a bit of chocolate. Surprisingly fruity for a 2015 red!

In mouth it did not disappoint. The first two sips brought some dryness but once that was overcome in the third sip the wine brought up a lot of its aromas. Very expressive into my mouth, like the opening of a carnation. The wine delivered bright and pleasant acidity and a lot of life. The bouquet was fresh and pleasant, although not deep or persistent.

This is a single vineyard wine that comes in beautiful wooden boxes. For that price, I cannot figure out how they are making money. They may be doing it for the pleasure of it, like me. I have given it a notch in the rating due to that. I have bought an entire case and will keep most, as I expect it to deliver very interesting experiences in a few years from now.

WS 90 Pts.


My Rating 92 pts.



Gouguenheim 2016, Malbec

Valle de Uco, Mendoza, Argentina

My preconception was: let’s try another one of many Argentinean Malbecs. However, this wine showed as much originality as its name.

Intense and expressive aromas. The first and most obvious was prune, then cherry candy and then … something else. That something else became more intense as I kept smelling it. It was very familiar but I struggled to identify what it was. Suddenly, I realized: Turmeric. It could not be true! I had never read that is a wine review. I reached to our spice shelf and smelled it. Yes! That was it! Turmeric be it.

In mouth the aroma would reach my palate as soon as I sipped it. Soft and silky, aqueous, just as fruit juice.


My Rating 92 pts.



Phantom 2015

Petit Shiraz and Zinfandel with a bit of Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon


Intense aromas of dry cranberry and strawberry jam. Some spice in it, I think neither but in between cinnamon and nutmeg.

In mouth it is full, filling and with very soft and chocolatey tannins. Great structure. Deep bouquet.

I really liked this wine when Dave, the Sommelier from the Waterfront store, gave me a sip. He had selected for Halloween it due to its label. Although above my usual price range, I bought it.

This is a limited edition from Bogle cellars. WE 90.


My Rating 92 pts.



Tenuta Il Burchino

Sangiovese, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon

Toscana IGT, Italy

This is a pretty solid wine. Aromas of prickly pear, pomegranate and Mediterranean shrub. In mouth it is solid, dense, silky and deep.

A good affordable version of the Super Tuscans.

I was going to give it a 92 but as time elapsed (I am talking less than 1 hour) the wine began to evolve into overripe. Drink immediately after pouring.


My Rating 91 pts.



Carlos Serres Gran Reserva 2010

Tempranillo, Graciano, Mazuelo

Rioja, Spain

Deep, mature, sleek and subtle berries with Mediterranean brush and cigar box aromas. The domesticated tannins produce a silky palate. Deep flavors, in the acidic side (as most Riojas) with very pleasant finish. Do not expect a full-body wine. Pinot Noir people will love it.

This wine is far from the best 2010 Rioja I have had, but it presents a great and unexpected opportunity this late in the game to taste a just released 10-year old wine from one of the greatest Rioja vintages ever at an incredible price. Just imagine the working capital needed by the producer to do this thing.

By the way, when I opened it the aromas were sort of tight. The other half of the bottle, that we drank next day was much better.

WE 93 and Editor’s Choice. WA 90 pts.


My rating 91 pts.



Paolo Scavino 2018

Vino da Tavola

Nebbiolo, Merlot, Barbera and Dolcetto


I love the name, with the word “vino” in there. This person was fit for the task since he was born. In fact he inherited the vineyards from his father, Enrico Scavino. This is an old family from Barolo. Not one of those newcomers without the word “vino” in their names and their hearts.

This is the youngest and most modest wine from a reputed Barolo producer. It does not even claim Barolo DOC. Very young and aromatic. Spicy red cherries. Bright in the palate. Light, soft and refreshing but intense, refined, subtle, ... hinting something deep to be discovered through the regions’ fog. If I could I’d have it with truffles from the surrounding woods.

This is a great opportunity to approach wines from the Barolo region and Nebbiolo varietal for little cost. Usually very expensive.

Decant it (it has some residue).

WS 92 pts.


My Rating 91 pts.



Medalla Real Gold Medal Limited Edition 2017

Cabernet Sauvignon

Maipo Valley, Chile

This wine is the quintessential Cab. If you want to have a reference, try this and compare other Cabs to it.

Medalla Real won the Paris Wine Olympics in 1987 ranking above 35 other Cabs from around the world and becoming the first wine from the Southern Hemisphere to win.

Aromas of red and black berries and some spice. In the palate it was smooth and silky. Warm and sleek with some pastry shop hints. Long and pleasant aftertaste.



My Rating 91


Villalta 2015

Valpolicella Ripasso Superiore DOC, Italy

This wine smells of flowers (carnation, hyathinct, violets, what else?). I also see cherry, strawberry and raspberry in it, and pepper. Medium to light body, similar to some Pinot Noirs. Silky and soft in mouth. Deep bouquet.

I really liked this wine and could not figure out how it sold at this price or the ratings.

Ripasso is a unique method by which the fermented wine is given 10 to 12 days on the dried skins of the Amarone wine grapes for a second fermentation.

WS 88, JS 90 pts.


My Rating 91 pts.



True Grit, Parducci 2016

Petit Sirah

Mendocino, CA

What a dark color and opaque structure!

Intense and fruity aroma. Violets, carnation, blackberries and pepper.

In mouth it is solid, fleshy, with the right level of acidity and some remnants of rough tannins. This wine has grip! The aftertaste unveils a bit of sourness but it is also sweetish, full and pleasant. Impressive.

I see more and more Petit Shiraz coming from Northern California. Great choice. This varietal is excelling in that region at great prices.

WE 90 pts.


My RATING 90 pts.



Maior de Mendoza 2018


Rías Baixas, Spain

Very herbal spice interesting aromas on a yellow apple, green apple and litchi soup. Sally, Sofia and I were so intrigued we began to smell the different cooking spices we have. We detected some hints of basil and anise, but we definitively converged on tarragon.

Really tasty wine with a good and solid structure. Fresh and tasty in the palate with measured acidity.

This wine is from my aunt Maruja’s town, Villagarcia de Arosa. And actually we knew the owner, Seso, specially my father. My uncle Moncho, my father and him went a couple of times in Seso’s boat into the ria (sort of mellow fiord). My father would remember it forever. I will never forget the many Easter weeks we spent at my aunt’s home, seeing our cousin Juana, their dog Martin and my kids growing up, as well as the wonderful beaches and unparalleled seafood. If you are thinking about visiting paradise, don’t let you be fouled by heavily marketed places and go to the beautiful and authentic Galicia. I can offer you advice if you want.


My Rating 90 pts.



Havens Luxury Collection 2016


Amador County, CA

Deep and complex aromas of mature plums, pomegranate, dark chocolate, pepper and cellar. In mouth that is what I‘d use to show somebody what velvety tannins are. Beautiful wine.

And I keep liking Sonoma Zinfandels. The other day I was talking with Javier and Mayte who love Primitivo. Allen too. I have competed these wines side by side and got interesting discussions going. We’ll do it again. However, Amador County is in another place, in the foothills of Sierra Nevada on the way to Lake Tahoe. First time I have a wine from there, as far as I know, and I like it. I really like everything from Heavens, ... I mean, Havens.


My Rating 90 pts.



Camaleao 2018


Vinho Verde, Portugal

Aromas of apple, white flowers and tangerine. In mouth it makes an impact with its very high acidity and intense lemon invading the mouth. Crisp and almost salty, it has a slight resemblance of mint and musk. Long bouquet for a wine of this class. Diana came to visit last night and Sally opened a bottle. They really loved it, which was a surprise because Sally does not usually like Vinho Verde. This one must be good. W&S 92 pts.


My Rating 89 pts.



Scola Sarmenti Critera 2016


Salento IGT, Italy

Very fruity aromas of mature blackberries, pomegranate and dark cherry jam, all presented in a way difficult to miss. In mouth the maturity increases … now you’re drinking jam or compote, and the aromas migrate to your palate saturating it. Very intense. Some slight acidity comes to the rescue to prevent it becoming too syrupy. Thick but soft texture and heavy body, this wine will coat your mouth and throat. I’d almost recommend it for calming a cough.

89 pts. WE


My Rating 89 pts.



Fiuza 2016

Alicante Bousquet

Tejo, Portugal

This wine looks dark and thick.

Aromas of ripe blackberry and other ripe dark fruits.

In mouth it is dense with little acidity and power. More ripe black fruits, like jam. Chocolatey and syrupy.

This varietal is not well known outside the Iberian peninsula but I have seen CA wines that use it. In Spain it is called Garnacha Tintorera (inky grenache), and you can tell why as soon as you see it.

Very good wine but it tended to be overipe as time elapsed. Drink it fast.

92 Points and number 69 in the Top 100 List of Wine Enthusiast in 2018.


My Rating 89 pts.


La Ciboise, Chapoutier 2017

Grenache Blanc, Roussane, Vermentino, Clairette

Luberon, France

To me this wine had overwhelming aromas of chamomile infusion. Other aromas were yellow apple and minerality.

In mouth it tasted to me a bit oxidized and overripe, in spite of being an all stainless steel wine. However, its minerality and right level of acidity gave it some freshness that partially compensated the ripeness. Interesting balance between tension and harmony.

Chapoutier is a reliable French commerciant from the Rhône Valley. You will never go wrong if you buy one of their wines. 89 JD


My Rating 88 points


Bovale 2016


Utiel-Requena, Spain

This wine takes its name from the Bobal grape, typical of inland Valencia, in high elevations where it meets La Mancha.

This area used to produce high alcoholic grade low end wines. However, in recent years it has experimented huge development and there are some Boval wines coming out that are surprisingly outstanding. This is a great story of old varietals being given the right care and coming back to be somebody in the World of Wine.

This wine in particular is middle of the road. Lots of berries, vanilla and spice.

Medium to heavy body. Soft tannins.

90 pts by VM.


My Rating 88 pts.


Buehler Vineyards 2015


Napa Valley, CA

Fruity aromas of berry in general. Impression of a wine younger than 2015. In mouth it shows light complexion and soft feeling.

A far cry from other Zinfandels (Sin Zin, Ulises Valdez, Rosemblum, …) reviewed in this site. I expected much more from the professional ratings of

WE 91 Pts and Editors’ Choice.


My Rating 85 pts.


Eco Domani 2018

Pinot Grigio

Veneto, Italy

Lots of green apple candy and lime. Take it or leave it. Interesting bottle decoration.

This is America's favorite Pinot Grigio in volume of sales.

Discounted $3 from its original $11.99 price.


My Rating 85 pts.


Château Hyot 2016

Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon

Castillon Côtes de Bordeaux, France

Some aromas of red fruits with (using lots of imagination) some slight resemblance to coconut and cumin. In mouth it is acidic. thin and watery. Shy bouquet. It reminds me somehow to the 2013 harvest of which I disposed some through the sink. Amazing. 2016 was supposed to be outstanding and it got high expert ratings! Is that this bottle that I had the bad luck to get?

JS 90 pts.


My Rating 84 pts.


Mustang Sally 2017


Barossa Valley, Australia

Intense blackberry aroma. In the palate flowers (violet) pop up. Also a bit of residual sulfite.

I was disappointed because I brought it as a present to Sally, and it was nothing special, unlike her. Its fruitiness promises a good result if you add orange, peach and other fruits to it and drink it as sangria.


My Rating 84 pts.


Vicente Gandia, Uva Pirata

Petit Verdot

Utiel-Requena, Spain

Petit Verdot is a SW France varietal that is making big strides in the Southern half of Spain. Is ripens very slowly and has been added in the past, more than nowadays, to some Bordeaux wines to give them tannin and color. During the last couple of decades we have seen it pop up at the mythical Dominio de Valdepusa from Marqués de Griñón, and subsequently in La Mancha and Andalucia. Now in Valencia. This migration through the Pyrenees border has made Spain the largest producer of Petit Verdot wines.

The aroma of this one was similar to Grenache. Red and some black berries, plum and possibly some violet flower. Above medium body. Sort of bitter in the palate possibly from over-extraction prior to fermentation, of from taking the risk of making a single-varietal wine from this powerful grape. I had far better Petit Verdots in Cadiz last Summer.


My Rating 84 pts.


Alaia 2016


Vino de la Tierra de Castilla y Leon, Spain

Extremely cheap but you get what you pay for. Well, you get a bit more, really, but still nothing special. Good opportunity to prepare white sangria. Add orange and lemon wedges, peach and apricot dices, a cinnamon stick, and a few drops of brandy. Strawberries and plum are optional additions you can experiment with. Let it soak in the refrigerator, stirring once in a while to mix the flavors. Serve straight from the refrigerator so that you do not need to add ice and ruin it. Please, if a Spaniard argues about this, just say that this is Ricardo’s recipe with no intention to replace the centuries-old sacred standard. There can be heated arguments about this. Do not enter into them and enjoy this recipe.


My Rating 83 pts.

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