Pittsburgh Wine Festival returns next week

John Heller, Post-Gazette
Sorting the wines during a VIP tasting during last year's Wine Festival at Heinz Field.
Click photo for larger image.

The fifth annual Pittsburgh Wine Festival will open next week with an expanded program of events.

The festival has raised $400,000 for Pittsburgh beneficiaries over the past four years. This year's festival proceeds will be donated to the University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute.

The festival will kick-off with a pre-opening dinner and live auction at The Carlton Restaurant, One Mellon Center, Downtown, at 6:30 p.m. this Saturday.

The wines for this dinner will be selected by Kevin Joyce and the dinner is hosted by former White House Chef Walter Scheib. The cost is $189. Call 412-391-4099.

Wine educator Marnie Olds will offer wine seminars on such subjects as "How the Wine World Works" on Monday at the Renaissance Hotel.

On Tuesday and Wednesday, a series of dinners will be held in six homes around the Pittsburgh region.

These dinners will feature the region's best chefs and visiting vintners and are expected to raise $1 million for the Pittsburgh Cancer Institute.

To attend one, call Jennifer Zgurich at 412-623-4709.

On Wednesday, there will also be wine dinners attended by vintners held at 10 Pittsburgh area restaurants. For a list of the restaurants please go to www.pittsburghwinefestival.com.

The big day is next Thursday, when 125 wineries from Europe, North and South America, Australia and New Zealand will be pouring tastes of more than 400 different wines at the East and West Club Lounges at Heinz Field.

This is a unique opportunity to taste a wide variety of world-class wines, from Napa cabernets to super Tuscans and from Bordeaux grand crus to late bottled vintage ports.

Since it is almost impossible to get to all of the booths in the limited amount of time allotted, I suggest that you take a few minutes to go through the catalog that you will receive upon entering the festival.

Mark the wines you are most interested in and go first to those booths.

If there is time left after sampling your priority wines, you can explore some unfamiliar labels and discover some new favorites.

Here is my list for the booths and wines not to be missed:

Allegrini -- Amarone 2001.

M. Charpoutier -- LeBernardine Chateauneuf du Pape 2004.

Chateau du Beaucastel --the entire lineup of Rhone and Burgundy wines.

Chateau Mouton Rothschild -- Chateau Mouton Rothschild 2003.

Kim Crawford --Riesling Ice Wine 2005.

Diago Bordeaux -- Chateau Margaux 2002, Chateau Haut Brion 2002.

Folio Partners -- Ornellaia 2003.

Gaja -- Barberesco 2001.

E. Guigal -- Condrieu 2005.

Heitz Cellars -- Bella Oaks Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon 2001.

Paul Jaboulet Aine -- Hermitage Blanc 2003 and Cote Roti, Les Jumelles 2004.

Louis Jadot -- Meursault Les Perrieres 2004 and Gevrey Chambertin Clos St. Jacques 2004.

Pascal Jolivet -- Sancerre Chateau du Nozay 2005.

Louis Latour -- Corton Charlemagne 2004.

Marchesi de Frescobaldi -- Castelgiocondo Brunello de Mont Ris 2000.

Dominus Estates -- Dominus 2003.

Pio Cesare -- Borolo 2001.

Premium Port Wines -- Dow's Vintage Port 1994 and Smith Woodhouse Late Bottled Vintage Port 1995.

And I'll end my tasting with a glass of prestige label vintage champagne, La Grande Dame, at Veuve Cliquot.

On April 27, Slow Food Pittsburgh will present The Taste of the Place: A Toast to the New American Terroir.

This cocktail buffet will feature wines from small-scale winemakers from Long Island, Virginia and Eastern Pennsylvania. It will be held at Duane Rieder Photography Studio in the historic Engine House No. 25, 3339 Penn Ave., Lawrenceville.

Tickets are $45. Call 412-343-7354 to reserve.

Tickets for the tasting should be purchased early. The VIP tasting runs from 5 to 6:30 p.m. It costs $250 and is normally sold out in advance. The Grand Tasting is from 6:30 to 9 p.m. and costs $125.

The Wine Festival is organized by Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board and Comcast.

Elizabeth Downer can be reached at edowner@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1454.


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