Affordable Chairman's Selection Wines

Updated: Jan 4

Dear friends,


Let me offer you a new round of Chairman's Selection commentaries. This time you will see a prevalence of French wines because I am preparing a French Wine Tour at Christine Frechard's Art Gallery for December 6th and 7th and I am busy trying wines. I am giving some overdue attention to Chilean wines, presenting interesting Spanish wines from remote appellations, and commenting some wines from the US, Portugal, Argentina and South Africa, with an underrated California beauty at the end of the report that I would like to claim as a discovery to share with you. I also have a culinary surprise hidden in the report. I hope you find it.


I hope you enjoy these wines and, as always, I will love your emails with comments and ideas. If you know of any friend who'd be interested, feel free to forward this newsletter..


Ricardo Llovet



Château Bois Pertuis 2016 (Bordeaux 20 Km North of St. Emilion - France)

Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc

Refined aroma of cassis, raspberries and licorice. Solid texture with powdery tannins that get your mouth really dry. Age for a few years to get the tannins mellow.

This wine is pretty good in my opinion. Great year. Stock up on Bordeaux 2016 and particularly on this one! JS 92 pts.


My rating 92 pts.

$16.99

Highly recommended



Château Paillet-Quancard 2016 (Cadillac -

Côtes de Bordeaux, France)

Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc

Now you know where the classic car make came from!

This wine is rather opaque after de-corquing and needs a good couple of hours to open up.

Dark and red candied fruits aromas with prunes, some pencil graphite and mushrooms.

In mouth it is still a bit tannic (fine powdery mouth-drying tannins) and with some acidity producing a freshness feeling that contrasts with the depth.

The bouquet is harmless but does not provide any additional experience.

I have tried significantly better 2016 Bordeaux, but it lets itself to be drunk.


My Rating 87 pts.

$12.99



Château Loumelat 2015 (Blaye Côtes de Bordeaux - France)

Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon


Aroma of ripe cherry juice and some notes of blood orange. Refined and deep but a bit simple.

In mouth it is smooth, a bit acidic and deep. Some white chocolate notes surface among the fruit. It's missing some body in my opinion. However, it is a refined wine.

Deep but subdued bouquet.

One of many Bordeaux.

WE 90 pts,


My rating 88 pts.

$14.99






Casa Natal 2015 (Mendoza - Argentina)

Malbec


Blackberry and raspberry with slight tobacco notes.

Fruity in mouth, expressive as many Argentinean Malbecs, and a bit peppery. Smooth. Pleasant bouquet. Easy to drink.

One Argentinean Malbec of many.

JS 93 pts. W&S 90 pts.


My rating 88 pts.

$14.99












Vitiano Rosso 2015 (Umbria IGP - Italy)

Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Sangiovese


Fruity and fresh simple aroma of flowers (maybe carnation), mature strawberry, plum and pomegranate. A bit vinous.

Warm mouth with an explosion of aroma volatilizing to your palate and some slightly sweeter tones. Still a few powdery tannins in there and some lively and refreshing acidity.

Very Good value for the price.


My rating 89 pts.

$9.99

Recommended





Château Aladères 2015 (Corbiéres - France)

Syrah, Carignan, Grenache


Where is Corbiéres? Well, it is the French Catalonia, transferred to France by a treaty that established the Spanish/French border in the Pyrenees. I guess that, if at the time, this wine had existed, the Spanish king would have thought twice before signing the treaty!

Very aromatic and flavorful Mediterranean style wine. I would have taken it for a solid Australian Syrah in no blink. Aromas and taste of confited red berries. Evolved notes of coffee roast.

Perfect acidity and tannic level. Pleasant mouth feel. Deep.

Just a precision job with no defects. Very pleasant to savor. Another French IGP with great quality/price ratio.

91 pts. W&S


My rating: 91 pts.

$12,99

Highly recommended




Berina 2016 (Alicante - Spain)

Monastrell, Garnacha

(or Mourdèvre, Grenache)


Another very good Mediterranean style wine. In comparison with the Corbiéres, just commented above, it has similar aromas more towards blueberry with hints of dry rope. It is more acidic and pungent. Fleshy, almost bloody. Fresher and not as deep. This is a wine with some characteristics from both. young and aged. I’d age it a bit more though. Overall pretty good and with intriguing name and label.

92 pts. WA


My rating 90 pts.

$13.99

Recommended



Petit by Ken Forrester 2018 (Stellenbosch - South Africa)

Chardonnay


Ken Forrester produces all ranges of wines from very exclusive to the simple but well-crafted Petit range. This wine has clean aromas of white peach, pear and kiwi. In mouth it is creamy but fresh, with some acidity and minerality.

Sharply different from over-oaked California Chardonnays. Very pleasant and apt for Chardonnay haters.

Various 88 pts.


My rating 88 pts.

$11.99

Recommended



SKW The Steven Kent Winery 2018 (Livermore Valley - CA)

Sauvignon Blanc


Prototypical aromas of this varietal: green apple, herbs, stone and lime.


In mouth it evolves providing some pine tree resin flavor and a bit of sweetness.


Correct wine.


My rating 88 pts.

$12.99








Casas del Bosque Gran Reserva 2015 (Casablanca Valley - Chile)

Syrah

Aromas of Lindt chocolate with berry filling. Multiple berries (blackberry and pomegranate) and herb (maybe rosemary?).

In mouth it is full and chewy. Meaty. A pity a bit too acidic. Long bouquet that evokes hints of candy.

A big wine. One of the stars of this review. It was in the clearance section but you can order it.


My rating 92 pts.

$15.19 (Clearance)

Highly recommended



Casas del Bosque Gran Reserva 2017 (Casablanca Valley - Chile)

Cabernet Sauvignon

It was pretty insubstantial after opening. Generic New World Cab in the lean side.

The tasting is after 2 days (showing significant improvement):

Dark berries, coffee and grandfather’s leader suitcase pulled from the attic. Smooth in mouth with a fresh bouquet showing some mild acidity.

Clearly, they should age it more and refrain themselves from assigning it the “Gran Reserva” classification until several years from now. It does not compare to the other two wines I commented from this producer. The label design gives a “cheap” feeling. It was more elegant in the 2015 vintage.


My rating 88 pts.

$14.99




Zocker 2016 (Paragon Vineyard

Edna Valley, CA)

Grüner Vetliner


Olive oil, apples. Over-aged, almost oxidized. Reminds me of a Sherry fino. A poor imitation of Austrian veltliners.

I have seen this wine offered for $20.99 in the internet. Chairman’s price is relatively very low, however, even with that price, …

89 pts. WS


My rating 84 pts.

$9.99






Quinta do Vallado 2017 (Douro - Portugal)

Touriga Franca, Touriga Nacional, Tinta Roriz, Sousão

Aromas of red plum, dust and spice. It promises some depth.

In the attack I feel a pinch that evolves into a silky medium body and some acidity. The bouquet is light and a bit sour. Finesse and some reminiscence of Bordeaux wine.

Nice wine but far below the denser and more serious 2015 I had two years ago.

WA 90 pts.

Allen, who tasted it with me, would agree with the rating

My rating 88 pts.

$11.99



Château Gabaron 2018 (Bordeaux, France)

Sauvignon Blanc

Mature green apple and citrus, with some herbaceous touch.


Fresh and aqueous in mouth. Pretty insubstantial.


Not bad but it does not compete with a Malborough Co. of the same price.


My rating 85 pts.

$9.99










Château Haut Maurin 2018 (Bordeaux, France)

Sauvignon Blanc


Lively green apple, lemon and lime. Herbaceous and mineral. Fresh and pleasant in mouth with a very slight hint of sweetness.

Affordable Bordeaux Sauvignon Blanc with a very nice label. I love it. It reminds me to what I think was my first foreign wine. I took a train from Madrid to Paris with Inter Rail, I was walking in a street with my backpack, and I saw two enticing straw canisters with bottles of white wine. Good looking and cheap.

My rating 87 pts.

$9.99



Portada 2016 (Lisboa - Portugal)

Tinta Roriz, Alicante Bouschet, Cabernet Sauvignon, Caladoc, Castelão, Pinot Noir, Touriga Nacional

Intense red fruit aromas. Raspberry, red plum, … . I also noticed a bit of violets and anise. Not surprised by the many aromas. Look at the number of varietals used! Portuguese are fond of complex blends. In many cases it may come from lack of control in the old times with all kinds of varietals planted in the same plot.

In mouth, I really noticed an explosion of the same fruits but in their jam version and sweet. I felt like the wine had aged a couple of years from the time I smelled it to the time it was in my mouth!

Soft texture, mid to full-bodied. It really fills up your mouth but it evolves fast into an excessive sweetness. The bouquet is less impressive but with no apparent defects.

A good wine for the price for the lovers of semi-sweet fruit forward wines. Not my style. Prior vintages have been better in my opinion.

My rating 85 pts.

$9.99


Castle Rock 2016 (Central Coast - CA)

Pinot Noir


Aromas of raspberry and spice with some undertones of cave.

Smooth and pleasant palate with lively but not excessive acidity and short but pleasant bouquet.

A pleasant Pinot Noir at a very affordable price but I have seen better vintages in the past.

The 2017 is rated #79 and 89 points in Wine Enthusiast’s October 2019 issue on Best Value wines under $15.


My rating 88 pts.

$9.99









Casar de Burbia Heritage 2015 (Bierzo - Spain)

Mencía


Very fruity and floral. Expressive. Medium body, I think that Pinot Noir lovers that want a bit more body would like this wine. In mouth it is full and acidic.

I took this wine to the Annual Spanish Tapas Contest to drink while the tapas were being arranged on the tables of the Mellon Park shelter. I offered it to our friend Fernando in honor of the land of hi mother's land. After sipping it we felt the urge to start eating!

See how discrepant the professional ratings are for this wine. Maybe because Mencía is such as remote varietal that some people are still getting their arms around it? A wine expert commented when he visited the region “Lord of the Rings déjà-vu!”.

93 pts. JS, 90 pts. RP, 87 pts, WS


My rating 92 pts.

$13.99

Highly recommended


See below the Spanish tapas we tasted (or devoured, depending on who tells you):









Abadía de Gomariz 2012 (Ribeiro - Spain)

Mencía


Big and lush aromas of black plum, blood orange and pomegranate. Coffee and dark chocolate (mocha?).

In mouth it is rough, voluminous and chewy. Very big, but excessively acidic. Acidity is characteristic of Ribeiro, so that, if you want the other wonderful attributes be aware that you will have to pull up with this one, from the attack to the bouquet.

The Ribeiro apellation, in North Western Spain, was the destiny of British ships that navigated upstream the Miño river in the XVI century.to get their wine. This trade later disappeared due to the countries' frequent wars. I remember, when I was a kid, how my father would drink it with my Galician uncle, Moncho, in an old, small and smelly tavern in Vilagarcía harbor in white porcelaine vases. The wine would look as ink and leave everything etched. The paradigm of rusticity, but that had its own attraction. Try, open your mind, and judge by yourself!


My rating 93 (aroma) 89 (flavor)

$13.99

Highly recommended



Wente 2015 (Livermore Valley - CA)

Merlot


The back label says blackberry and plum. I just notice the plum, and some prune. Peppery.

Smooth in mouth. Medium to light body. See how many legs it develops in your glass! This vintage shows up disguised of Grenache.

I remembered the prior two vintages of this Merlot as yummy. This one was just very nice, but nothing impressive. Several raters 89 pts.


My rating 87 pts.

$13.99







Vinus Reserve 2018 (Pays D’Oc IGP - France)

Viognier

Lots of tangerine, some mango and apricot. I’d take the risk to add young onions.

In mouth it shows some resinous effects of the barrel aging that make it similar to a Chardonnay and I am not enamored with. Mid acidity. Quince and green plum candy and sour mint come up sharp. For me, pleasant in general and amusing because of the many different aromas in there. Rather good for people who like whites with a lot of flavor.

Not sure why a 2018 can be called “reserve”.


My rating 88 pts.

$8.99

Recommended






Domaine du Cros 2017 (Marcillac - France)

Fer Servadou (Lo Sang)

Marcillac is a lesser South Western appellation. Although in French the last letter is mute, the “c” in this case, is pronounced. That comes from the almost extinct Langue d’Oc or Occitaine. Think Médoc, Cognac, LeGarrec, …

This wine has red fruits aromas (raspberry) and no other note I can detect.

Lively in the tip of the tongue, the palate still bears some light residual roughness with some bitterness. Little bouquet. A bit vinous and rustic. Would benefit from some more aging in oak. Overpriced.


My rating 84 pts.

$14.99



Match Book 2014 (Dunnigan Hills - CA)

Syrah with some Petit Syrah

An invasion or blueberry and prickly pear aromas with a feeling of opening the door of a pastry shop. Really intense blueberry and very fruity. Wow!

In mouth it had another flavor explosion. Same flavors but added blood orange and some chocolatey notes. Soft silky texture with sufficient but not excessive acidity. Yummy and continuously tempting me to take another sip. Dangerous!

This AVA is northwest of Sacramento and it is clearly underrated in my opinion. It has a special micro-climate within the Central Valley, and very suitable soils. They are also trying Spanish varietals like Tempranillo and Verdejo. Watch! And for now, try this Syrah. I was impressed in spite of the ratings around the upper 80s these wines get from the established media.


My rating 91 pts.

$11.99

Highly recommended

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