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Chairman's Selections offer affordable tastes

Dave DeSimone
| Tuesday, Oct. 30, 2012, 8:56 p.m.

Here's a tip for Western Pennsylvania wine enthusiasts: When the Steelers play a home game on a Sunday afternoon, call the old dipsy-doodle play. Cut back against the grain by making a trip to your nearest Premium Collection store during game time.

You'll avoid the crowds that normally swarm the ever-popular Chairman's Selection wines stacked in the front of the store. The deserted aisles during game time allow unhurried, thorough consideration. Plus, after grabbing some great bottles, Black and Gold fans can always catch the end of the game on television while enjoying a glass, or two … or three of tasty vino.

Kudos to PLCB Chairman's Selection buyer Steve Pollack for delivering the following terrific bottles suggested for your pleasure:

2011 Niedermayr Pinot Grigio, Alto Adige, Italy (Luxury 33022; Chairman's Selection, on sale: $12.99): While Alto Adige may technically be Italy's northern-most jurisdiction, it carries a second official name — Süd Tyrol. Austria lies just to the north and has traditionally exerted a strong Germanic influence in the region.

This lovely wine reflects the region's dual cultural personality. The grape used — pinot grigio — could not be more “Italian.” Italian pinot grigios — many of them insipid, industrially produced bland white wines — now flood the American market. But pinot grigio need not be horrid. When lavished with care in the vineyard and treated deftly in the winery, the grape can produce terrific results.

Alto Adige's limestone soils and sunny hillside vineyards create the opportunity to harvest exquisite fruit. Many of Alto Adige's Germanic named winegrowers, such as Josef Niedermayr, take full advantage, and the hard work shows in this bottle.

Fermentation in stainless-steel tanks highlight the fruit's fetching citrus, apple and pear aromas. In the glass, creamy pear and apple flavors emerge balanced by bracing acidity through the dry, well-balanced finish. Pair it with either lightly pan-seared scallops with a cream and leek sauce or oysters on the half shell. Highly recommended.

2008 Domaine de Nizas Languedoc Rouge, France (Luxury 32656; Chairman's Selection, on sale: $11.99): Domaine de Nizas resides near Pézenas, a town with ancient origins at the heart of southern France's vast Languedoc winegrowing region. The estate's owner, John Goelet, gained fame in America by founding Napa Valley's esteemed Clos du Val winery in 1972. He purchased the Languedoc estate in 1998.

Pézenas' surrounding terroir features a complex mix of limestone, basalt and gravels mixed with clay. Combined with the classic Mediterranean climate of brilliantly sunny, hot days and relatively cool nights, the region ripens syrah, mourvèdre and grenache grapes with intense, complex aromas and lush fruit. Yet, with controlled yields, the fruit maintains bountiful acidity for intriguing, fresh balance.

Goelet wines emphasize finesse and elegance, as shown in this lovely bottle. Its initial dark-fruit aromas evolve with meaty, smoky notes and pleasant accents of thyme and lavender. Delicious black-fruit flavors follow with meaty, earthy notes balanced by refreshing, stony mineral flavors. Try it with roasted lamb with garlic and rosemary. Highly recommended.

2010 Qupé Syrah, Central Coast, California (Luxury 33015; Chairman's Selection, on sale: $12.99): As a pioneer of making Rhône variety wines in relatively cool climates along California's Central Coast, Qupé's owner Bob Lundquist holds a special affection for syrah, the king of northern Rhône wines. His single-vineyard bottling from sites in the Edna Valley and Santa Maria Valley attract cult followings and command hefty prices.

This tasty bottle, however, blends fruit from throughout the Central Coast. It provides an affordable and authentic taste of the pure flavors and confident, understated style of Qupé's (pronounced Qew-pay ) upper echelon wines.

The wine's dark-fruit and peppery aromas have accents of smoked meat and leather. Delicious, textbook syrah flavors with brooding black fruit balance with fresh acidity and elegant, smooth tannins. The fruity, yet well-balanced, dry finish lingers pleasantly. Pair with grilled rib-eye steak.Highly recommended.

Dave DeSimone is the wine writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at

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