An Update

One of the original reasons I started this blog, just over three years ago now, was to post on the wines that were available at the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board (PLCB) stores here in the wine-lover hostile Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. Specifically, I was going to focus on the Chairman’s Selection program—the only somewhat saving grace of an otherwise failed system.

From the Commonwealth Foundation

From the Commonwealth Foundation

On Monday, I gave a brief overview of the program: the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania is the second largest purchaser of wine in the world (behind Ontario, Canada) and it claims it uses its purchasing power to bring “great deals” to the customers of the state through the Chairman’s Selection program. (Although I have never heard an explanation why the same purchasing power is not applied to non-Chairman’s Selection wines, which are at least 10-20% more expensive than they are in neighboring New Jersey or Delaware.)

So the thought back when I started this blog was to occasionally post about what I thought were the better Chairman’s Selection wines since frankly, in addition to some of the “great deals,” the PLCB also purchases a bunch of swill.

Initially, I kept up with posting about those wines, but for whatever reason, I let that part of the blog wither away a bit.

Well, not any more (at least for now).

I thought this one was pretty funny. From the Commonwealth Foundation.

I thought this one was pretty funny. From the Commonwealth Foundation.

Up on the top of the page, in the menu, there is a section called “PLCB Wines” where I will keep a monthly updated list of about five reds and five whites (and a sparkler or two when available–the PLCB is woefully inadequate when it comes to stocking quality sparking wines). There will be hyperlinks to both the wine descriptions and the state inventory (I do have to say that given all the PLCB’s ineptitude, their online inventory is actually pretty good, although the employees often have no clue that the wine is actually in their store—I have had countless conversations with store personnel trying to convince them that they did indeed have the wine in stock).

One caveat: these are wines that I would probably try if I were to go shopping at the PLCB. I have tried a few of them (and indicate that in the note), but as a rule, I rarely go to the state stores any more since it is all far too depressing (and I have far too much wine to drink as it is).

So here is this week’s list, which you can also access by clicking on “PLCB Wines” in the menu up top.

REDS

2010 Antico Monastero Barbaresco 

$19.99 (Retail* $40)    PLCB Code: 33627

Barbaresco is one of the “killer B’s” of Italian wine (along with the Barolo and Brunello). It comes from Tuscany and is 100% Nebbiolo (which I often find has similar characteristics to Pinot Noir). While I have not yet tried this wine, it is certainly one of those that is worth taking a bit of a flyer on–a really good price for a wine from the region.

1999 Bodega Vega Sauco Adoremus Reserva

$16.99 (Retail* $59.99)    PLCB Code: 33548

This seems like a great opportunity to get your lips around some 15+ year old wine for not much investment. The wine is made from Tempranillo, perhaps the “national grape” of Spain. The best Tempranillos can age for decades, but I have not tried this, so proceed cautiously (and if the wine is off, be sure to return it to the PLCB!).

2008 Bodegas Palacio Glorioso Reserva

$14.99 (Retail* $22)    PLCB Code: 33349

Another Tempranillo from Spain, but this seems to be less of a risk than the previous. Apparently, this is a more modern style wine, with more fruit and certainly ready to drink now.

2011 Domaine St Eugene Corbieres Rouge Languedoc Roussillon

$8.99 (Retail* $13)     PLCB Code: 33638

This wine comes from the Corbières region in the Southwest of France. It is made from Carignan, which, when made in France, can be austere and somewhat tannic. This wine has a few years on it so those tannins will have likely faded a bit and should be approachable. For $9? Even if you don’t love it, you need something to pour when your brother-in-law comes over….

2012 Lillium Zinfandel Russian River Valley

$17.99 (Retail* $32)    PLCB Code: 33559

I tried this not too long ago and it is somewhat of a typical “fruity Zin” but it does have some underlying structure as well. At 18 bucks, this is a pretty well-made wine that will work well by itself or alongside some barbecue or a steak.

2012 Siduri Pinot Noir Lingenfelder Vineyard

$34.99 (Retail* $48)     PLCB Code: 33640

This is certainly a bit steeper in price than the others on this list, but this is a wine from one of my favorite Pinot producers in California. The screw cap should not fool you, this is a fantastic wine (I tried it the other night), that should only get better with some time.

WHITES

2013 Domaine du Chapitre Sauvignon Blanc Touraine

$11.99 (Retail* $17.99)  PLCB Code: 33404

I think that Sauvignon Blanc from Touraine might be one of the most under-appreciated wines. Certainly not the most introspective, but there is some fruit and minerality, yet above all else there is a driving acidity. I like having a couple of bottles of this around for either oysters or, better still, for a nice round of Kirs.

2012 Dr. Pauly-Bergweiler Wehlener Sonnenuhr Reisling Kabinett 

$17.99 (Retail* $26)   PLCB Code: 33370

A Riesling from Mosel-Saar-Ruwer, from a rather well-known producer. Riesling is perhaps the most versatile of white wines and not many do it better than the Germans (I would argue the Alsatians do Riesling better, of course, but we know that is how I roll).

2011 Evening Land Bourgogne Blanc 

$9.99 (Retail* $25)   PLCB Code: 33575

A white Burgundy for $10? The PLCB claims that this wine is a $25 value and to be honest, I agree. We have had this a few times now and it is a no brainer at $10. A bit disjointed, but other than that, I would not hesitate to serve this in just about any situation.

$13.99 (Retail* $19.99)    PLCB Code: 33464
This is a bit of a stretch since I really am not a fan of Italian whites. So why is it on here, you ask? Good question. One of my New Year’s Resolutions this year was to drink more Italian wines. Is that a good enough reason? Try this wine from a classic region and let me know.
*The retail prices quoted are from the PLCB’s website, which may or may not be associated with the actual truth.

About the drunken cyclist

I have been an occasional cycling tour guide in Europe for the past 20 years, visiting most of the wine regions of France. Through this "job" I developed a love for wine and the stories that often accompany the pulling of a cork. I live in Houston with my lovely wife and two wonderful sons.
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26 Responses to An Update

  1. andreawu says:

    Good to know. Am moving there shortly (sigh) and having a wine mentor is a plus. Thanks for posting this and I look forward to trying some of these.

    Like

  2. Stefano says:

    Of course I am happy to hear about your new year’s resolution. Source or get samples of some quality Italian whites and, who knows, maybe you could be pleasantly surprised…

    Liked by 1 person

  3. It seems odd how various states control liquor in different ways. In my home state wine has to be purchased at a liquor store, in my current state it is sold at the grocery store (how handy!). Thanks for explaining PA’s system (which I find extremely convoluted).
    BB

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  4. It seems like Pennsylvania has such an antiquated system of control. Hard to imagine in 2015 your liquor choices are limited to such an extreme by the state. Furthermore, I recall from some of your past articles about restrictions to receiving wine shipments as well. I am confused as to why the good people of Pennsylvania continue to allow this system to remain; unless of course it is largely supported by the population. Otherwise, seems like a good place to exercise voting power.

    Like

    • It is beyond ridiculous–now it has become a political football as well. The only constituency that has no voice is the consumer…. The population has had enough (if the polls are correct), but the politicians do not seem to care.

      Like

  5. GFwinecountryliving says:

    The tone of this post sounds like you ran into a problem by not reviewing enough of their wines. ???

    Like

  6. Wait…you mean OMG was just a ruse…just a shill for swill? Seriously, did not realize PA holds such a tight fist and carries such a big stick. Good luck, wine drinker with taste.

    Like

  7. Wow! Sounds like PA rivals TN on liquor control…I miss the days of being able to buy whatever my heart desired seven days a week at a gas station, grocery or liquor store in Iowa…

    Like

  8. ATdF says:

    …do not tell me you are not a big fan of italian wine…!!! i told you, rent a mercedes, put your bike inside and i show you some tremendous good italian cantine (-;

    Like

  9. Well thank goodness! I thought the vague title of “An Update” meant you weren’t going to blog anymore, which meant I’d never have Sundays are for Sebastian or OMG anymore. Whew! Carry on.

    Like

  10. myphotowine says:

    So, if I understand this and wikepedia correctly the PLCB is a government agency that monopolises the sale of alcohol whether as wholesaler or a retailer? I believe the same model is used in some provinces of Canada. I might be out of line here but isn’t that a tiny winy socialist even anti – capitalist! And I thought we (Western Australia) were bad.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Good choice with that Siduri – and worth the $35. Drank it last night with some cheese and smoked venison. Seems that it is only in Philly at 20th and Market store. On another note, picked up a $30 chablis from Savary. It was NOT worth the $30. Maybe worth $20, which is probably what it costs elsewhere…

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    • Addendum… That Savary made it to a second day and tasted like a different wine. Much fuller fruits on the second day, on top of its great minerality. I had been looking for a Greco di Tufo that day and I think the Chablis just didn’t fit the bill.

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