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Affordable Chairman's Selection Wines

Updated: Dec 22, 2021

Hello again, dear friends,

Let me share with you this review which includes 5 Italian wines, 4 American, 2 French, Argentinean and Portuguese, and 1 from Chile, Australia, South Africa, Greece and Armenia, yes, Armenia.

The cover picture shows the first flower of a nispero tree planted by my father-in-law 25 years ago. It just bloomed in our basement beside the wines I age. A miracle he would have been happy to see.

I hope you like the top rated wines and look forward to your comments.

Ricardo Llovet

Chateau Cantinot 2015, 55% Merlot, 35% Cab, 10% Cab Franc, Blaye Côtes de Bordeaux

The first aromas we detected were raspberry and paprika, but cherry cream pie opened its way to a point in which it became dominant. Interesting sporadic hints of coffee and mocha. In summary, a very complex mix with live primary aromas giving way to the bouquet from barrel aging. In mouth it showed mildly drying tannins and intermediate acidity level with an impressive evolution that enveloped the entire palate with the cherry and cream pie as well as vanilla. Aggressive entry into the throat (the only defect) that disappeared after two or three sips. Long finish that really never finished.

Beautiful and elegant jewel I really enjoyed. 91 RP pts., 89-91 WA pts.

I am making a big guess here thinking that this wine was discounted so much from its original $30 because of the excellent 2016, 2018 and potentially 2019 vintages, but 2015 was actually quite good and the wine has evolved in the bottle beautifully. I have stocked up on this one and used it in my two most recent wine tastings: Nancy's window garden club and Osher Lifelong Institute at CMU.

92 pts. $11.99


Manos Negras 2018, Malbec, Paraje Altamira, Mendoza

This wine’s color announces what’s coming. I’d describe it as opaque and inky beat juice. Intense and very fruity aroma of blood orange, prickly pear, blackberry, probably pomegranate, and some anise undertones.

In mouth it is dense with big body, drying tannins and some acidity that provides it freshness. The blackberry explodes in there crashed with some boldness and some cedar undertones. Easy aftertaste with medium duration.

I drank this wine over a period of 5 days, and it never deteriorated. I felt I had a beast in that bottle. 91+ WA pts., 93 JS pts.

I used it in the Nancy's and Osher wine tastings to highlight the contrast between a young, expressive and dense wine to the subtleness and depth of above 2015 Bordeaux.

92 pts. $12.99


Lieu dit Malakoff 2016, Pyrenees, Australia

Looking at the picture you'd think I am crazy if I recommend this wine. The label was poorly placed and the cork showed a leakage path that almost found its way to the air. What has gone on with the bottling of this wine? However, I had tried their 2014 in my April 2020 post and had it highly rated in a prior post, so that I gave it a chance and found it as good.

Aromas of cherry, blood orange, dark figs and anise with a bouquet of espresso liquor. In mouth it is full and dense, with vibrant tannins and some bitterness probably from high juice extraction. A structure ready to confront a goulash. 92 WA pts.

BTW, as a curiosity, if you know how to read Braille you can try with this label. Typical of Chapoutier wines and KUDOS

92 pts. (but drink it now) $15.99


Lemelson Vineyards Thea's Selection 2016, Pinot Noir, Willamette Valley, OR

This wine displayed a combination of mature red fruit aromas with some intriguing bouquet that reminded us of orange marmalade toast with sparkled nutmeg. In mouth it was consistent and structured, darker than some other Oregon Pinots I had lately, with very fine but noticeable tannins and good acidity level to keep it alive. Deep aftertaste. 93 JS pts., 91 WS pts.

Only available in Sewickley and Greensburg

92 pts. $19.99


Tenuta di Burchino 2015, Sangiovese, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Toscana IGT, Italy

Commented in my January 2020 post but surprisingly still in the store.

Blood orange. pomegranate and Mediterranean shrub.

In mouth it is solid, dense, silky and deep. Even though it is only 13% alcohol, it feels liquorous like pacharán from Navarra.

Consume it the first night. It will taste overripe the next day.

A good affordable version of the Super Tuscans. 92 JS pts.

91 pts. $12.99


Novas Gran Reserva 2018, Carmenère 85%, Cabernet Sauvignon 15%, Colchagua Valley, Chile

Aromas of red fruits, perhaps including cranberry, with significant presence of white and red pepper as well as cooking herbs, as expected from this varietal. After stirring the glass, barrel aging came out, as expected from a gran reserve, that Sally described as cream croissant. Integrated tannins in a medium body with the right acidity. A harmonic wine I’d say. 14.5%. 90 pts. WA

90 pts. $10.99


Château Tour Chapoux 2018, 60% Merlot, 20% Cab, 20% Cab Franc, Bordeaux, France

This wine displayed typical aromas of blackberry and cassis. The tannins, as well as the acidity, were relevant, promising very good aging. Apparently, this Bordeaux vintage is excellent and it will be worth it, if you have the space and conditions, to keep some bottles for a few years.

90 pts. $14.55


Cabriz 2017, Alfrocheiro Preto, Touriga Nacional, Tinta Roriz, Dao, Portugal

This wine was full of aromas and flavors. Very expressive, … on your face! Strawberry, licorice, ripe roses, cinnamon, leather, and some dried fruit flavors such as prune and cherry. Dao has been forever one of the Portuguese wine Meccas, but for a long time Cooperatives dominated the landscape and delivered common table wine rather leathery. Those times seem to be gone and now, even some large production Cooperative products like this one, are delivering good quality and promise. Another interesting feature of this region is its specific varietals. In this case Alfrocheiro represents about 40% of the blend. This wine presents a great opportunity to escape from the boring international varietals realm. The 2016 vintage was #46 of WS Top 100 list

89 pts. $9.99


Coppola Diamond Collection 2018, Chardonnay, Monterrey Co., CA

Yellow apple and pear, melon, something green (kiwi, laurel, oregano , … Sally said Asian basil) probably from the whole cluster pressing technique. Also vanilla and pine wood from some measured barrel aging. After stirring I got a blast of limoncello and perhaps anise or agave. The palate was very herbal with crisp acidity balancing very ripe fruit flavors. Pleasant aftertaste not particularly long but correct. This wine avoids the overwhelming honey and resin taste of many over-oaked CA Chardonnays.

89 pts. $12.99 (discounted from $15.99)


Cantine Madauro Capovero 2018, Nerello Mascalese 90%, Nerello Cappuccio 10%, Etna, Sicily, Italy

Light color suggesting light body. The aromas were sort of original. I detected carnation, cumquat, blood orange and cinnamon, while Sally, I promise, without knowing where the wine was from, detected volcanic ash. Can you believe it! Medium acidity and light structure. 13.5%. Very pleasant.

Although it is said that Mascalese is very similar to Pinot Noir, in our opinion, the wine had a high terroir expression that differentiated it greatly.

Premium Collection - Centre Ave.

89 pts. $15.99


Chiaramonte 2017, Nero D'Avola, Sicilia, Italy

Delicious and concentrated dry fig aroma was prevalent in this wine but I also noticed some sulfur. Medium body with some level of creaminess and right acidity level. Nice wine but I could not agree with the 94 pts. from JS. I will try another bottle just in case.

88 pts. $11.99

Coppola Diamond Collection 2017, Merlot, CA

Aroma sort of mono-dimensional to ripe raspberry but in mouth it delivers much more, always in the ripe side as one would expect from CA as compared to Bordeaux. Lively tannins and some brisk acidity give it life. Pleasant, although, as I said, sort of mono-dimensional.

87 pts. $14.99 (discounted from $17.99)

Zuccardi 2018, Cabernet Franc, Uco Valley, Argentina

Aromas of cherry, blackberry and perhaps violet. Soft slightly drying tannins and some acidity. Correct but nothing remarkable to discuss.

92 pts. WA

86 pts. $12.99

Luna e I Falo 2016, Barbera, Barbera D'Asti, Italia

Ash and underbrush in an aroma dominated by crashed cherries predicting acidity. In mouth, yes, it is acidic, veering towards vinegary. Medium body with tannins taken care of. This is one of those where I cannot help disagreeing with the professionals. I am probably the wrong one. I liked the label. 90 WS pts., 91 JS pts.

85 pts. $12.99

Lua Cheia, 2018, Portuguese Red Blend, Douro, Portugal

Concentrated raspberry aroma complicated with a slight residual Sulfide and some sort or animal fur that disappeared after 20 minutes.

In mouth it was fresh, equilibrated, medium body and easy to drink with depth for a relatively young wine. 90 pts. and Best Buy WE

85 pts. $8.99

Safriel House, Chardonnay, Coastal Region, South Africa

Aromas of yellow apple, baked apple, pastry and probably apricot. While that aromatic combination sounds enticing, we were not impressed with the overall result amongst other things because of the sulfide odor. I hope it was just our batch.

Beautiful label. 89 WE pts. 88 WS pts.

83 pts. $8.99

Renwood 2018, Zinfandel, Amador Co., CA

There have been many Renwoods in the wine store. I loved their 2015 vintage and their red label Zin. However, this one just does not have those qualities I remembered.

Aroma of mature black cherries with lots of pepper and possibly some fennel. In mouth it is silky and unctuous, as announced by its legs, and alcoholic (14.5%). The aromas evolve into overripe, sweetish and liquorous. Not sure whether it is just the vintage or something else that has changed.

82 pts. $11.99

Moschofilero Boutari 2018, Mantinia, Greece

The sulfide aroma interfered with the rest. I almost left it for cooking, but after persistent stirring and time the odor faded away and gave way to green apple, grapefruit and some green similar to the small cucumbers used for pickles. That would go well with Greek tzatziki I thought! The pine resin, so prevalent in many Greek whites was present but at not overwhelming intensity. Turpentine was there too.

Light and crisp in mouth.

Mantinia wine region is just north of Sparta. I wonder what they drank!

79 pts. (84 pts. after significant stirring and 1/2 hour with the bottle open) $9.99

Armenia, mostly Kangun varietal, Aragatsotn Region, Armenia

I got this one to expand our horizons with something exotic. Armenia has a millenary wine tradition and indigenous varietals.

We did not get more than two sips of it and discarded it. It may have gone bad, it may be just bad, or its sweetish unknown sort of chemical characteristics may just be an acquired taste in that part of the World unfamiliar to me

55 pts. $15.99 (in clearance discounted to $7.99)

Anselmi San Vinzenzo 2018, 80% Garganega, 10% Chardonnay

10% Sauvignon Blanc, Veneto, Italy

Both, Sally and I, independently, immediately spitted out our first and only sip of this wine. A pity because the label was promising. I am using it for cooking.

50 pts. $11.99

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