wine newsletter

The (very late) Wine School Newsletter for May 2018


I hope you are doing well.  I am a bit late with the newsletter this month. Sorry!  We’ve been a little busy renovating the school.  I hope you can forgive me. I’ve enclosed my top wine suggestions, and I’ve posted a few really cool classes. I think you’ll like them. Hope to see you soon!


Summer Wine School

Register Now For Summer School

Every summer, we offer accelerated versions of our top wine courses.  Summer Wine School is happening this year in August and features our top two sommelier-professors: Alana Zerbe and Keith Wallace.

Anyone can attend these programs: about half of our students are folks who just want to learn more about wine.

Accelerated Core Wine Program |  Earn the essential wine qualifications in a single week this August. Our summer accelerated programs offer the same level of education in a single week. Opt for National Wine School certification and earn your Sommelier Certification, as well! We just approved a new payment plan, so you don’t have to pay tuition in a single lump sum.  For details:

 Accelerated International Wine Scholar™ | This advanced wine course focuses on exotic and rare wines from around the world. This program covers topics that are critical to anyone who is dreams of becoming a Master Sommelier.  To be taken seriously in the world of wine, this is the wine course to attend. For details (and our new payment plan), check out this link:

We also are running some really amazing one-off classes for this year’s Summer School.

Beer 101 | Our popular introduction to beer and beer brewing. Lead by our own master brewer.

Wine 101 | The perennial favorite and hot off the press. Jump on this class before it sells out!

Great Ciders of the World | Our favorite Spanish, French, English, and American ciders

Sommelier Secrets | Master the sommelier tricks and taste some great wine as well

The Cocktail Creation Class |  Learn how to craft masterful cocktails in this hands-on class

Wine Reviews


Lea 2014 Pinot Noir Santa Rita Hills

Lea 2014 Pinot Noir Santa Rita Hills

A Wrinkle in Wine: The Former PLCB Chairman Returns. Sort of.

It’s been over a decade since Jonathan Newman was pushed out of the PLCB in a political standoff.  It was a blow to all wine drinkers in the state, as Jonathan had spearheaded much of the modernization of the wine stores in PA, and created the Chairman’s Selection program we have all grown to love. In an interesting move, Jonathan is supplying wine for the Chairman’s Selection program once again.   Read More. 


Tenuta di Burchino 2010 Il Burchino Toscana

Tenuta di Burchino 2010 Il Burchino Toscana

A blend of Sangiovese, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot, this is very sleek and international in style. This estate-grown wine is a Super Tuscan in all senses of the word. Licorice and vanilla on the nose, this Tuscan bottle is full-bodied and chewy on the palate with flavors of dried cherry, lactose, and milk chocolate. A finish moves towards leather and crushed sage.

$12.99 (PLCB) Rating: 91 Points (Wine School Rating)


Hecht & Bannier 2016 Rosé, Côtes de Provence

Hecht & Bannier 2016 Rosé, Côtes de Provence

A nose of fresh tarragon and red fruit, the palate is bright cherry with a juicy melon undercurrent. The texture is zesty with just enough texture to give the deep fruit flavors some dimension. The finish keeps the fruit coming. Salted peach, pear, and a closing note of honeysuckle. This is a spring and summer standby, perfect for lounging on the deck.

$10.99 (PLCB) Rating: 89 Points (Wine School Rating)

Moniker 2015 Cabernet Sauvignon Mendocino County

Moniker 2015 Cabernet Sauvignon Mendocino County

This is the last vintage of this wine, so I’d recommend picking up a few bottles. A rock-solid cabernet that has the big oak and extraction one would expect for a luxury wine, but it snuck into the PLCB Wine & Spirits stores for half of that. Moniker’s corporate overlords are focusing on the value-brands rather than high-end Cabernets. Their change of direction gives us some really good juice for a pittance.

$14.99 (PLCB) Rating: 90 Points (Wine School Rating)


The Chook 2015 Shiraz Viognier, McLaren Vale

The Chook 2015 Shiraz Viognier, McLaren Vale

A top-notch example of the classic Aussie model: big delicious jammy wines. On the nose, crushed herbs and smoke over ginger and chocolate. The palate gets a bit simpler, with dried fig and blackberries rolling into nutmeg and cinnamon. The varietal and reductive gamey notes come into the finish. Medium to full-bodied with plenty of silky tannins and boozy richness to drown a goose.

$11.99 (PLCB) 91 Points (Wine School Rating)


Robert Mondavi Winery 2014 Fume Blanc, Oakville

Robert Mondavi Winery 2014 Fume Blanc, Oakville

This is a landmark bottle of Napa wines. One of those historic wines that fly under the radar these days. This Sauvignon Blanc is largely sourced from the historic To Kalon vineyard in Napa Valley, and a small addition of Semillon to add some backbone and weight. Exotic fruit on the nose, with orange leaf and kafir lime on the palate. Bright and fresh, this is a bit fleshier than most Sauvignon Blancs, and a lovely springtime bouquet in the finish.

$17.99 (PLCB) 91 Points (Wine School Rating)

Simi 2014 Reserve Chardonnay, Russian River Valley

Simi 2014 Reserve Chardonnay, Russian River Valley

A barrel fermented, barrel aged, full buttery bomb MLF of a Chardonnay. Largely sourced from the Goldfields Vineyard in Sonoma’s Russian River Valley, this bottle offers exactly what you’d expect from a luxury-level Cali wine.

On the nose, there is rosewater and smoky popcorn. Full-bodied, the wine layers into a confection of lemon curd and pineapple cake. The fresh acidity dries out the the palate with fresh pear and toasted allspice.  Cedar, vanilla, and caramel on the finish.

$15.99 (PLCB) 92 Points (Wine School Rating)




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