The Chairman’s Hits and Misses


Baseball is a game of finely calibrated failure. Go to bat 600 times and fail to get a hit two thirds of those trips to the plate and you’re an All Star. Manage two fewer hits per week over the course of a season and you’re just another .250 hitter. All of which has nothing to do with wine. But now that baseball season is in full swing (except in Philadelphia, where that term is an oxymoron) I wondered how the Chairman’s Selections would rank if you tallied the hits and misses from a random sampling of recent price friendly discounts. You’ll be able to figure which ones are deals and which are duds from the reviews.

Cantina Villa Grisa Calu Nero d’Avola 2013 ($11.99)
This wine should be brought before the Court of Master Sommeliers on charges of impersonating Sicily’s signature grape and causing harm to those who drink it. It is on a short list of candidates for worst wine I’ve had from Italy.

Domaine-la-CelestiereFazio Calebianche Catarratto 2013 ($11.99)
Referring to a wine as pretty is not always a compliment. Catarratto is supposed to be more flavorful and firm than this perfumed mosh of floral sensations that hold the grape’s usual fruitiness at bay until it’s too late for a comeback. Maybe it could be marketed as cologne.

Domaine La Celestiere Cotes du Rhone 2012 ($12.99)
it may start out with loads of ripe cherries and red plums, blackberries and sweet spices from the 60% Grenache, but it’s not an in-your-face fruit driven CDR. It fills the mouth with layers of flavor without being dense or extracted. You pick up pepper, game and smoke from the inclusion of Cinsault on a palpably dry finish. A four season wine.

Cantine Faliesi Vitis Aeclani Aglianico Taurasi 2009 ($13.99)
Mike already wrote about this one, but I’ll add that – in addition to it now being further reduced to the obscene price of $13.99 – it refutes the idea that Aglianico is the “Nebbiolo of the south.” From nose to finish it’s a template of the lower regions of the peninsula: ripe dark fruit; tarry earth; volcanic soil minerals; gripping tannins; slightly grainy, rustic texture. An example of power sans opulence.

Cascina Chicco Montespinato Nebbiolo Roero 2011 ($15.99)
A reticent and understated Nebbiolo, typical of Roero, that serves as a counterpoint to Aglianico. Fresh and lively with a tingly snap on the back of the palate. Light bodied, redolent of cherry and raspberry with a touch of varietal specific dried roses. Warm, dry tannins surface on a finish that tails off too quickly – a minor complaint.

Tasca-D-Almerita-grilloMondo del Vino Luna Argenta Negroamaro Primitivo 2013 ($13.99)
Thankfully it was only put through partial appassimento, otherwise the super concentrated, amped up explosion of fruit would be even less palatable. If you enjoy wine that tastes like hard candy this is for you, but it’s definitely not what Negroamaro is supposed to be. As far as I know Puglia hasn’t been annexed by Australia.

Tasca d’Almerita Cavallo Delle Fate Grillo 2013 ($13.99)
Opening this wine transports you to warm Sicilian evenings lingering over a plate of seafood culled from the Mediterranean that morning. Aromas and flavors of the island drift from the glass…citrus, peach, apricot, melon, dry grass, mint, white flowers. Flinty, mineral laced acidity takes on a more floral aspect at mid-palate. As I write I’m salivating for pasta with sea urchin or octopus carpaccio.

Villa Canestrari Bonuzzi Soave 2013 ($8.99)
Flat as a Nebraska prairie and about as interesting. So lacking in character and definition it beggars description, but here goes – flaccid, boring, impotent, dead on arrival. Better at the newly reduced price of $8.99, but only for cooking.

Flavio Andreucci Costavecchia Chianti Riserva 2010 ($9.99)
Age has withered and custom staled whatever it set out to be. There’s not much to like or dislike, it’s inoffensive and straight down the middle. Positives: juicy, fresh, correct Sangiovese flavors. Negatives: too much sweet vanilla, peters out halfway through, none of the earth and leather you expect from the varietal. The reduced price (it was $14.99 originally) makes this more enticing, but it still lacks excitement.

Without resorting to advanced analytical tools that have become all the rage in measuring player performance, basic math tells us the Chairman had four hits in nine at bats, a sterling .444 average. Statue in the park and Hall of Fame credentials for sure. The flip side shows more than half were strikeouts – not good for a hitter, worse for those consumers looking for decent wine with a satisfactory QPR. The reality is that Selections can be a Gumpy box of chocolates, we’re not sure what we’ll get and end up spitting some out.

With the upcoming transition to the PLCB’s three tiered Chairman’s Advantage program about which Mike recently tweeted, it will be interesting to see the effect, if any, on the type and quality of what will be offered. Label me cautiously pessimistic.

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