after dinner sneeze

a lot of g says, t says

Posts Tagged ‘PLCB

lightning strikes again

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t says:  So, as I had foreshadowed at the end of the last post about PLCB’s 2011 Broadside Cab, I went back to buy another bottle to have as a good back-up.   And while that seems easy enough, I happened to go on Valentine’s Day…

(… HUGE!)

(g interrupts: t doesn’t understand how funny it was to reference this Pretty Woman line on Valentine’s Day … like in the movie Valentine’s Day)

The cashier line went straight across the store and curved down one of the aisles to the front windows.  As I looked out the window with my bottles in hand, I couldn’t help but curse my bad luck and what would undoubtedly be a waste of precious Valentine’s Day time (g was cooking a splendid meal at home).   An unintended effect of the line was that I was given the opportunity to essentially “tour” the store but looking up and down every aisle and reading every Chairman advertisement … smirking and muttering wise-ass remarks under my breath (I couldn’t help myself – the line put me in a foul mood) …

But then one wine caught my eye:

2012 Conte d'Attimis-Maniago "Sauvignon" (i.e. Sauvignon Blanc - not to be confused with Cabernet Sauvignon)

I’ve been really getting into some California wines that have been using Italian grapes, so this would be like Italians using … well … kinda-California grapes (not really – this region in Italy has been using sauvignon blanc, or “SB” as I’ll abbreviate it, for a while).  And it was on sale!  And those who know me know that I have really poor impulse control when it comes to sales (my entire work ensemble is composed of clothes I bought on sale – not one item was purchased not on sale, from shirt to shoes, outerwear to socks).  Upon seeing this wine, a battle ensued on my shoulders: the angel shouted loud and clear, “don’t be stupid!  don’t be stupid!  it’s a ‘Chairman’s Selection’!  you hate the Chairman!”, while the devil whispered, “but what if it’s delicious? maybe a will call it ‘impressive‘ and you’ll call it ‘interesting‘?  and it’ll be a wine you found in a state store.  and it’s inexpensive ... and then you can blog about it.  you know how much you like that …” With logic like that, how could I say no?  Sorry angel, you lose again …

A few days passed, and, because g was prepping us up some lovely lemon-accented sockeye salmon (a real treat!), I pulled out the d’Attimis SB, ripped off the peculiar pre-perforated foil, corkscrewed out the cork like it was my job, and splashed some into our glasses.  It was time to test the Chairman again.  As I swirled, a nose wafted up out of the stemware with stone fruits (peaches), citrus fruits (lemon), pineapple, and a bit of fresh-cut-grass.  It was not at all what I was expecting, as Italian whites, for me, are often a bit more floral or a bit more rustic (hay … lots of hay), not necessarily tropical fruity … but I’ll take it!  And as I swished, the same flavors came through on the palate as well, with a lovely mouthwatering effect and smooth viscosity.  I swore it was a New Zealand sauvignon blanc … a good New Zealand SB.  Maybe I opened the wrong bottle?  Maybe someone was playing a joke on me?  (I know it’d be the kind of joke I’d like to play on others … right, a?).  I said, “hmmm” so as not to let on to my enjoyment and eagerly waited for g’s reaction.  The result: “oh this is good! passionfruit! how much was it?” Game-set-match – g likee (but I’ve never had real passionfruit before, so I don’t know what exactly that tastes like, but I trust g ‘implithitly’ (that’s another movie reference/joke)).

Now, keep in mind that g and I are sauvignon blanc fanatics.  We like them juicy and very zippy.  We like them with minimal oak, and if they have a dose of petrol or linoleum, all the better!  If you want some kind of full-bodied, fleshy, vanilla-laden Chardonnay, this wine will rub you every which way but right.  But if you’re the kind that reaches for Kim Crawford as a “go to” white, then this will be right up your alley.  But be careful – there is a shocking amount of acidity that feels like lightning in your mouth on the finish.  Basically, if you ever needed an eye-opener of a wine to wake you up in the morning (not that I endorse AM drinking), this would be it.  This producer also makes a pinot grigio and cab sauvignon blend (more on that below).

Could it be?  The PLCB is now 2 for 2 in terms of wines that I’ve taken a chance on and been impressed!  And, this wine seems to be in great abundance at the 20th and Market store, as it’s on the butt-end of an aisle with a big Chairman’s note placard (i.e. not on one of the shelves along an aisle with the other wines), so I look forward easy access for some time.  So now I’m at 2 “cellar recommendations” that can be found in PLCB stores!  Yay!  (There is a third wine, a white named Silencis, but it’s a bit pricey at $18, and not as widely available).

Ah – and now time for some fast updates about other wines I’ve recently tasted between me writing the above and it going to post:

1)  The first was a follow-up to the last post on the 2011 Broadside Cab – I tasted to 2011 Broadside Printer’s Alley Red Blend and added it to the end of the original Broadside post!  Check it out.

2)  The second follow-up was the cabernet blend made by Conte d’Attimis-Maniago, the producer on this post.  There will be a special someone who will like this Italian red, but it’s not me.  While some of what I don’t like about it might be “stylistic” or “terroir” or whatever, I suspect that my biggest problem is the 50% of what the producers are calling “cabernet franc carmenere” (I thought that cabernet franc is different than carmenere?) mixed in with the 50% cabernet sauvignon.  And that’s not to say that I don’t like cab francs or carmeneres, but when they come from a relatively cool climate, they could lead to a pretty green-tasting wine … like this one!  As I sipped this surprisingly light-bodied red, it attacked me with this bitter green vegetal flavor (imagine biting into the stem of a cluster of grapes) that I didn’t find pleasant.  However, had that been removed, I really do like the nice red fruit, and light-to-medium body – it would have been a pinot-drinkers cab.  Oh well – I can’t win ’em all …

Written by afterdinnersneeze

21 February 2014 at 9:57am

plcb strikes again …

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t says: Fine wine and good spirits strikes again with some intriguing buys …


greywacke: this wine was delicious when we had it last.  i’m suspicious of plcb’s score given how tight supplies have been since their glowing Wine Spectator reviews – i had to do a double-take to make sure it’s the real thing.  if it’s like the last bottle, it’ll be delicious indeed!  and if not, i’m going to blame the plcb’s storage practices and return all that i bought … (as an FYI – this wine takes a few minutes of swirling or an hour or so after bottle opening to let the super-funky-skunky petrol to blow off the nose – give it time and be rewarded handsomely with tropical fruits, citrus, pith, and a zing at the end that screams New Zealand!)

bennett lane

bennett lane: a is a huge fan of bennett lane – he hearts them a lot.  he thinks it’s quite a deal.  he’s probably right – maybe worth a shot.

Written by afterdinnersneeze

13 June 2013 at 9:35pm

Posted in Happenings

Tagged with , ,

the plcb gets some taste!

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t says: I’m not a huge fan of the PLCB – the selection is very often limited and the people who work in the stores are of no help.  That said, even the blind squirrel finds an acorn … or five …  While these are some of the pricier wines that the PLCB offers at its 19th and Chestnut store, I have to say that I was impressed to see them there.  It’s not that I’ve had any of them (as a matter of fact, I’ve had none of them), but it’s the first time in a while that I’ve actually been excited to see something in a state store!  No, I didn’t buy any of them (I’m not made of money!), but I’m hoping that in seeing these, it’s a sign that some more-better wines are in the pipeline …


So you need Bordeaux, but you’re stuck in a state store?  Go for an ’09 or ’10.  Supposedly fabulous vintages in Bordeaux, the saying goes, “If you couldn’t make a good Bordeaux in ’09 or ’10 … you shouldn’t be making Bordeaux.”  I spied a bottle or two hanging out with some recognizable names.  It’d be worth a shot …


Tucked away behind all those distracting chianti was this bottle.  You see, the 2009 Sughere di Frassinello was a phenomenal wine at ~$17.  Well … this is that wine’s older, more sophisticated brother who went to Ivy League school, is a tennis phenom, and drives a Porsche.  What does it taste like?  I have no idea.  But this is the first time I’ve ever seen it on a shelf, so I’m VERY intrigued.  Am I $40 intrigued.  Oh-so-very-close …

Dunham Riesling.  One of a's favorite, this bottle is a gamble - it could be wonderful

Dunham Riesling. One of a’s favorite American Rieslings, this is a great bottle to try to see if you’re down with Riesling (beware, it is going to be off-dry).  I’m actually wondering if, upon reading this, a will “stop by” tomorrow on the way home and pick up a bottle or two …

2011 Ayoub Memoirs.  This is the more plebian version of the estate bottle above.  The man makes good wines, so I'd venture this one (and at $35-ish, it's)

2011 Ayoub Memoirs. This is the more plebian version of the estate bottle below.  Ayoub makes some fine Oregon pinot, and a previous version of this that I’ve had was pretty darned tasty.  For $34, it’s not exactly a “steal”, but I’m glad to know it’s there in case I need something for a “nicer” weekend BYO dinner.

Ayoub 2011.  I haven't had it yet, but I have had other Ayoubs that have all been very classy.  2011 was a rough year in Oregon, but if I needed to find a $50 bottle of pinot in a hurry, this is what I'd get (P.S. never have I EVER had to find a $50 bottle of ANYTHING in a hurry ...)

Ayoub 2011. It has a big-ass bottle with a stupidly ostentatious waxed cap.  But I love it.  Or at least, I haven’t had this one yet, but I have had other Ayoub (2008 and 2009) that have all been beautiful very elegant pinots.   Now, I know that 2011 was a rough year in Oregon (which is probably why the PLCB had a shot at attaining ANY of these Ayoub wines at all), but if I needed to find a $50 bottle of pinot in a hurry at a state store, this is what I’d get (P.S. never have I EVER had to find a $50 bottle of ANYTHING in a hurry …)

Written by afterdinnersneeze

12 May 2013 at 12:05am

Posted in Happenings

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think drink pink

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t says:  g and I are always on the look-out for delicious wine – you know – the kind that you want buy over and over again because it’s just that good … and the kind that you can buy over and over again because it’s just that affordable.  Here’s our latest addition the cellar:


it’s pink!

What you see above is a wine that manages to balance some very nice flavors.  First up, you get a plusher-than-expected lightly-sweet red fruit (strawberry, cherry) – it’s very fleeting, but a referred to it as “lollipop”.  Then it gives way to a clean citrus zip that offsets the sweet (kinda like lemon juice vs. sugar), as it goes into a nice refreshing medium-length finish that beckons you to drink more.  This is not a “really sweet” wine, but there is indeed some residual sugar in there – but I think that’s what makes it so interesting (g and I normally can’t handle sweet wines: late harvest wines, dessert wines, ice wines, etc).  Is it “complex”?  Not really – but definitely very “fun”.  I’d be willing to bet that if brought to a dinner party, people will get over it’s pink-ness very fast and drink it down.  I don’t know how many liquor stores will stock this wine regularly (i.e. it can’t be found in PA), but if you do happen to be venturing into NJ sometime, swing by our fave, wineworks, and pick up a bottle (place the online order ahead of time – it’s a buck or two cheaper).  It’s a perfect color for Valentine’s day … but it’s a great flavor for any day … (well … maybe not steak day …)

Written by afterdinnersneeze

1 February 2013 at 10:36am

another reason to be suspicious of wine “perfection”

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t says:  Ok – so from the last post, you know that I sought out some wine from the PLCB based on a pretty strongly-worded review.  Well, this past Friday, I put that wine to the test:

what a Snooki-shaped bottle! (before the weight loss)

What I didn’t mention previously about my purchase is that the bottle is a pretty silly shape.  It’s short and stout.  It won’t fit in any wine cellar/refrigerator that I’ve seen, including the one that I own.  And it’s not particularly pretty when lying down next to other bottles.  Actually, it’s not pretty in any orientation.  All in all, pretty silly if you ask me – but what do I know?

So I got to decanting the wine for a half hour or so and eventually poured it into the glass.  I reviewed The Wine School’s note:
Luxurious, like a velvet cushion of dark sweet fruit. The only fault is its perfection –round, sexy, slick perfection– which takes away some of the pleasure of drinking a Umbrian wine.”

I braced for “perfection”.

I didn’t find it …

2009 Falesco Tellus (Umbria, Italy, $13.99 at PLCB)Sweet-smelling dark fruits on the nose, like blackberries.  On the palate, there’s some initial pleasant fruit but a surprising lack of the spice or pepper that I normally think of when I think “shiraz” (I guess I’m used to Australian Shirazes).  There’s a medium body.  The finish is kind of short – shorter than I’d expect from a shiraz.  However, it’s also silky-smooth, with only trace tannic bite and only a tidbit of alcoholic heat.  It’s a dry wine, but it goes down really easily.  As far as flavors are concerned, it’s a little one-dimensional. a’s review was similar to mine: “A ‘berry-e’ nose, good fruit up front, not much on the back. Certainly NOT perfection, unless ‘perfect’ means ‘enjoyable’.”

In my mind, the Tellus lost in a head-to-head against a Cali Cab (PLCB Product Code: 000514628) that I had also pulled out that night – one that I had purchased for $10 in NJ.  a disagreed, though, feeling that the Tellus was more interesting of a wine with a fuller, more inviting body.  I felt the opposite.  Knowing that a can handle some criticism, I told him he was “wrong”.  He informed me I was misinformed and requested that I re-taste the Tellus to ensure we were tasting the same wine.  I did.  Nope – it was the same Tellus, so I wasn’t budging.  I suspect it’s because he has higher expectations from a California Cabernet Sauvignon than an Italian Shiraz.  Despite not agreeing after a few more seconds of debate, it didn’t come to fisticuffs, as we agreed that no matter which way we sliced it, this wine is definitely not “perfect” in any aspect: bottle shape, nose, flavor, finish, etc.

In summary: It’s smooth and pleasant and it won’t disappoint anyone at a party … well … unless they’re expecting “perfection”.

Written by afterdinnersneeze

11 March 2012 at 8:38pm

Posted in PLCB-approved, Wine Room

Tagged with , ,

wine that saves lives

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t says:  What do you look for in a “nice” bottle of wine.  A pretty nose?  Complex flavors?  A long finish?  Yes to all of those!  How about a wine that saves lives?  That’d be like icing on the cake …

In contrast to our last post about Dreaming Tree, it’s time to focus on some “spendier” wines: Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon.  Wines from this region are famous, pricey, and, unfortunately, not always tasty.  Those under-$20 bottles are very hit-or-miss (with the hit:miss ratio being very low).  Meanwhile, you start getting to the $35+ and now things start to improve rapidly … but there’s still a wide range of hitting and missing.  Damn.  In a world of limited income, there’s just not enough green to waste on “ok” wine, much less bad wine.  Well here’s a deal that was introduced to us at The Wine School at the “Luxury Wines of Napa” class we all went to:

2006 Ehlers Estate “1886” (USA, CA, Napa, St. Helena; $49.99 at PLCBFirst off, note the sexy bottle.  This is one of the few times when you’re allowed to judge the book by its cover.  It’s pretty!  Also note the heart-shape hiding in the E (n.b. it’s not an anatomically correct heart).  So what gives?  Well, you see, Ehlers Estate began with Jean Leducq, a philanthropist who started the Leducq Foundation, a not-for-profit organization dedicated to funding international cardiovascular research.  As a future cardiologist, I approve of this link between drinking wine and increasing cardiovascular health (albeit indirectly) because it turns out that that whole “a glass of red wine a day is good for the heart” might not actually be true.  That’s a shame … oh well … Ehlers to the rescue!

a’s parents visited Ehler’s Estate a few years back and had a wonderful time. (Check the vineyard out here.) The tasting was well worth the $25 which can usually be circumvented with schmoozing or a wine purchase. Their “lower” Cabernet, if you can find it, is also quite good – a Merlot-lover’s Cab thanks to the luscious fruit and soft tannins.

Next, note the original price and the PLCB price:

it's like a 50% off sale!

It’s no lie – this bottle really did sell at $95 at one time.  Nowadays, the cheapest I’ve seen it for is about $87 … except in PA where it’s being blown out at $50.  Must mean it sucks, right?  WRONG.  It does not suck – quite the opposite!  In the glass it’s super-dark and opaque.  On the nose, it’s dark berry-ful.  On the palate, you get dark fruit meets cola meets a hint of raspberry (that little bit of sour).  a gets a little more cherry and chocolate on his palate.  I didn’t get the classic “green bell pepper” of Cabernet Sauvignon, but maybe I’m just not keen enough.  The mouthfeel is reasonably plush, but there’s still some mouth-watering acid and integrated bitterness (tannins) there, giving structure.  The finish lingers for a while – 30 seconds or so.  Keep in mind that this wine should ideally be decanted for a bit before drinking so that it’s allowed to open up and show off its flavors and soften some of its tannins.

So why the “deal” of $50?  I suspect it’s because Wine Spectator scored it 87/100.  Never mind the 94 points that you’ll see on the PLCB’s website from the Connoisseurs’ Guide or the 92 it currently has on Cellartracker, that 87 is a scathing published score for a Napa Cab and usually spells doom for a particular vintage’s bottling … which is probably how PA ended up with so much of it (PA likes buying the excess at a “good deal”).  So I guess then the real question remains: is it worth the price?  Well, I’d say that for the $100 original price it is not – when I taste a $100 wine (not that this happens very often – I can count them on one hand), I expect to be moved – to be brought to silent pause in order to fully appreciate the evolution of flavors throughout the finish.  This wine is delicious, but not quite “moving”.  Is it worth $50?  I’d say so.  It stands above all those standard under-$20 bottles that I normally pull out on weekend dinners.  So it’s “special”.  In our book, it deserves a special occasion – something like Valentine’s day.  It deserves to be decanted and served with nice stemware.  It deserves the respect of the $50 you spend on it.  And, even if it turns out you don’t “love” it, you can at least be happy that your dollars might have gone to support medical research.  And those who are environmentally-conscious will be happy to know it’s 100% organic and biodynamically farmed.

Buyer beware, however, as whatever the state has is whatever the state has (and they’ll likely never get another shipment), so find a way to get a bottle either at your local PLCB (the item code and store locator in the above PLCB page will help – search “Philadelphia” in the city field as your only criteria – searching by zip codes sucks) before it’s gone.  Even without a real “cellar” to store it, keep it on its side in a cool, dark place (i.e. not in the kitchen) and drink it sometime over the next year or two.  Those with wine cellars can keep it for longer but it’ll be hard to wait …

Oh, and one last thing … before you plunk down the credit card (or cash if you’re bawler) at the Wine and Spirits Shoppe, look at the cork (you can do this because there’s no foil on these bottles).  Ensure that the cork is not protruding out beyond the rim of the bottle.  ALSO, turn the bottle on its side and then rotate it about its long axis, and look at the cork to ensure that no purple of the wine is encroaching beyond a centimeter or so up the cork.  If the purple color makes it all the way to the top of the cork, put the bottle down and walk away – it’s likely a compromised bottle.  I would say go and tell a worker there about it, but that might be an exercise in futility (e.g. when I spotted one such compromised Ehlers bottle this past weekend at a PLCB store and told someone, they just took the bottle from me and put it behind the counter without asking for any clarification or even looking at the bottle – I sense that after I left she just put it back on the shelf).  So … y’all be careful out there …

Written by afterdinnersneeze

23 January 2012 at 11:42pm

Restaurant Owners vs. PLCB … Re: GTC

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t says: I didn’t know about this, but I recently was linked to this article via foobooz.  Restaurant owners feel it unfair that there’s a PLCB-certified shoppe within Garces Trading Company, a venue that contains a BYO restaurant.  I believe they feel that this is an unfair advantage in Garces’s favor.  But what if the PLCB opened up a shop right next to GTC – would that be ok?  Or maybe the little wine store needs to be staffed by non-GTC employees?  I dunno.

Of course, the restaurant owners say that they aren’t targeting Garces, but they are taking a shot at the PLCB with a lawsuit.  On one hand – I’m not a PLCB fan.  On the other hand, I don’t want to accidentally hurt GTC, which is a great, not-expensive-but-tasty place to go for food!

Written by afterdinnersneeze

31 May 2010 at 11:42pm