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Affordable Chairman's Selection Wines

Updated: Dec 22, 2021

Dear friends and wine lovers,

Let me offer you this March 3rd 2019 report about some affordable wines from Chairman’s Selection.

I have included some excellent ones and some that I didn’t enjoy that much, but the joy of wine is in the variety and diversity. It makes things interesting.

I have included my rating and price at the bottom of every page.

I will love and embrace your comments since this is a very subjective matter.

Ricardo Llovet

Paul Dolan 2015, Zinfandel - Mendocino County

Blackberry jam and orange marmalade with some peppery notes. Very fruity in the jam side, hinting ripe grapes.

I found it a good and expressive wine worth drinking.

Can you actually see the sun when you shallow this red with your eyes closed?

91 pts. W&S.


My rating: 89


Milbrandt 2016, Chardonnay - Columbia Valley, WA

Pure cupcake!

Intense and with right acidity. Only light out-of-fashion resinous and honey aromas typical of many California Chardonnays. I barely detect any wood in it.

I like it, especially for the price (part of my rating).

And keep an eye on the Newest World of Washington State wines. Every year they get better and at better prices than their peer coastal states down South.

Jen, this one is made for you.


My rating: 91 pts.


Snake Charmer 2015, Shiraz - McLaren Vale, Australia

Beautiful label and good referrals: 91 pts W&S, a Shiraz from the excellent region of McLaren Vale.

However, I found it bland and uninteresting. It took Sally and me 3 days to drink it. Good wine to help you reduce your daily intake.


My rating: 83 pts.


La Vie en Rose 2017, Negrette - South Western France

Usual light rosé wine from Southern France

Cheap wines sold here at a premium price due to the surge in demand during these last years.

Nice effort to recover an old varietal, though.


My rating: 85 pts.


Fuerza 2015 - Monastrell (Mourvèdre)-Cabernet Sauvignon, Jumilla, Spain

Powerful aroma and very expressive attack. Very fruity! Cherries, blood orange, strawberries and some cocoa.

Smooth, mid acidity, dense and medium to full body. The fruit in mouth is saturating. Too much. I’d age it even more than the 12 months in oak it has to have it develop some more depth.

Cheaper relative of Infinito (see Special Report in the Website). Interesting wine.

I get the name and the horse in the label. Quite a daring proposition! In a more conservative mood I’d give it a label with fruits and lots of warm colors.


My rating: 90 pts.


Christopher Michael, 2016 - Cabernet Sauvignon, WA

Fresh and fruity aromas cassis, cherry, blueberry and blackberry.

In mouth it hits you with a needle of acidity, but it shows a pleasant evolution with flavors of blueberry cake.

The bouquet is thin, almost aqueous but shows some persistence.

A mix of grapes from the Columbia valley and one of the larger producers from that region (after the ubiquitous Chateau St. Michelle, indeed).

California, watch out, Washington State wines are coming!


My rating: 88


Fontana Vi. La Spinetta 2011 - Barbera, Barbera D'Asti DOCG, Italy

For a very long time in Chairman’s Selection. They either got a lot or the public has run tired of seeing it or think “nobody’s buying you, they got stuck with you”. But the truth is that I liked it the first time, and I loved it after 1 year of cellaring. It is out of stock but you may find some 2012 or 2013. Then age it as I did.

Very pleasant wine, really. Not a great one but very well crafted. Everything works well in this wine with nose of mature red fruits, solid structure, medium to full bodied, soft tannins, buttery as its long legs announce and with a bit of nice acidity.

Modern wine that seems to combine successfully an aim at the New World with Asti’s roots. I would not say that it is complex or that it has a deep bouquet, and I could perceive a bit of sweetness in the finish than what I like, but the wine was expressive, honest and round. Sally was impressed by it.


My rating: 90


Pacific Rim 2017 - Gewurztraminer, Snipes Mountain, WA

Aromas of green and yellow apples, honeysuckle and fennel. The label says lychee and rose perfume with taste of melon.

We recently compared it in the 2nd Muniain / Williams wine tasting with a Worldwide renowned Trimbach and they were difficult to distinguish from one another!

Great quality for the price, but you have to like Gewurztraminer. Not everybody does.


My rating: 89


Hidalgo Tradición 2012 - Tempranillo, Rioja, Spain

I am just paraphrasing Wine Enthusiast (I agreed):

Hidalgo may be based in Sherry but this foray into Rioja is a success. This warm-vintage wine is rich and ripe. Rich and dry with earthy, backed plum and blackberry aromas. Full drawing muscular palate along with lusty flavors of black cherry, blackberry and oak and many spices. Finishes full, lush and harmonious drink this tannic heavyweight trough 2018. 93 pts WE and #71 in WE Wines of the year.


My rating: 93 pts.


Terre Brûlée, 2017 - Chenin Blanc, Swartland, South Africa

Yellow apple and peach aromas.

I noticed the shortbread, and maybe banana cake, in the finish.

Nice wine but my rating is far from the 91 pts. and Smart Buy from WS. There must be something wrong with my wine appreciation.

I really try to approach wines from South Africa without any prejudice, but I may just have been unlucky. Other than some 2015’s I seldom found one that made me say Wow!

Please, when you try it let me know who you think was right. And send me the name and year of a South African wine you loved.


My rating: 87 pts.


Santa Julia Magna 2017 - Cabernet Sauvignon-Merlot-Shiraz, Valle de Uco, Argentina

Floral (violets, carnation) and fruity (cherry and red fruits in general).

Some tannins in there.

The label says that this is their very best wine. It received 90 pts from WA and excellent comments from Chairman’s but I just see a pleasant young wine with forward aromas but nothing going for me in mouth.

Valle de Uco is a high-altitude terroir. Once I had an excellent Torrontés from there.


My rating: 86 pts.


Monsanto 2015 - Chianti Blend, Chianti Classico DOCG, Italy

A wine that is evolved, with secondary aromas like truffle and humus. Also plum, pepper and mushroom.

In mouth it shows dusty tannins and dryness. Some bouquet.

Beautiful label that spoke to me saying “don’t mind the price, get me, I am authentic” and “I want to be there”.

The wine is very good, don’t take me wrong, but I was disappointed given the price and the rating given by some experts.

96 pts JS, 94 pts WS.


My rating: 91 pts.


Alanera 2018 - Corvina-Rondinella-Corvinone-Cabernet-Merlot, Rosso Veronese, Italy

Aromas of fresh and dried cherry and plum (red and black). Red licorice and maybe some coffee. Mild dusty tannins.

Dave, the Homestead wine store sommelier, showcased this one 2 weeks ago. I got 2, one to drink and one to keep. I liked it. It was a bit too acidic in the first sip, but I did not let that discourage me. It was disconcerting because it had some characteristics of very young wine and some of older ones. And these grapes had been in the vine few months ago!

When I read the label at home I understood. The producer applies the “appassito’ method. He lets half of the grapes raisinate before fermentation. That explained the duality of fresh and dried fruit flavors. Interesting. Try it.


My rating: 89 pts.


Secoli 2016 - Corvina-Rondinella-Corvinone, Valpolicella Ripasso, Italy

Medium intensity aroma of candied red fruits. Red licorice. Some anise.

In mouth it shows too ripe with a mix of acidity with sweetness … Puzzling. It might be the effect of the “ripasso”. Slight roughness and slight bitterness.

Ripasso is a technique by which the skins and pits of an Amarone are mixed with the rest of the wine for an extended maceration. The intent is to give this simpler wine some of the Amarone characteristics.


My rating: 88 pts.


Amicone 2014 - Corvina-Rondinella-Molinara, Italy

Licorice aromas. Ripe cranberry finish.

Although it just says Italia, given the varietals I’d say it is predominantly from the Veneto region.

I have seen a sommelier from the wine store recommend it but I found it thick and too sweet and syrupy for my taste.

It should be very appropriate for a beef stew, but one could even have it with chocolate.

An experiment: Have it with the prior two younger and more expensive wines in this list, based on Corvina blends, Secoli and Alanera, and tell me the differences and commonalities.


My rating: 87 pts.


Chateau L'Arc Saint Pierre 2016 - Sauvignon Blanc-Semillon, Graves, Bordeaux, France

Lots of citrus (lemon, lime, grapefruit), passion fruit. Fresh and acidic. Cut dry.

I like all 2016 and 2017 blanc Bordeaux I try. If you do not find this one get a cheaper but almost as good Chateau La Graviere 2017. A steal for $8.99.

Higher chances in Waterworks, Wexford or Pines stores.

I fall for dry white Bordeaux. It may be an acquired taste. It brings images of Paris in Summer, where I had arrived in inter-rail with my backpack and little money. I saw a few bottles on a straw canister by a shop front at a discounted price. I got one. My first foreign white wine. I had it in my youth hostel room with a girl friend from the journey. The rest is history.


My rating: 89 pts.


Sa Baixo 2014 - Douro Blend, Douro, Portugal

Raspberry and red plum. Decent, honest wine. Very much in the modern Portuguese style.

Beautiful label. I want to see in it the Douro river and the terraces where the vines grow.

If it is gone, get Gloria 2016. Similar and really better but we will be talking $15.99.


My rating: 87 pts.


Sogno di Ulisse 2016, Montepulciano, Montepulciano d'Abruzzo, Italy

Aromas of flowers, vanilla, red plum and cherry. Some of white wine for a red.

In mouth it is intense with fruit flavors and blueberry. Full body with some tannins present that did not bother me.

This wine could improve with aging but it is dangerously delicious today! I could not stop sipping it. An exceptional value, which is not uncommon in Montepulciano d’Abruzzo. Highly recommended.

If gone, you can still order it. A not as good alternative is Masciarelli, 2017. $9.99


My rating: 90 pts.


Collide 2014 - Tempranillo-Petit Syrah-Graciano-Carignan-Syrah-Alicante Bousquet

The name says it all. What other name can you choose for such a blend!

Rep plum, blackberries, cassis, orange peel, chocolate and peppery notes.

Savory and persistent, dense structure with saturating flavors. Fruity in the mature side. Almost sweet.

The label design could improve. It makes it look cheaper than it is.

91 pts. VM, 90 pts WA

I thought it was a very interesting wine worth trying.

Still in Waterfront, Waterworks and Pines.


My rating: 90 pts.

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