Staff Favorites

If you’re going to have Robert Parker or Stephen Tanzer over for dinner, selecting a wine they’ve rated highly will be a nice choice. However, when you’re buying wines for yourself, we’d love to see you find wines that match up your unique palate and pocketbook. We have a large staff of friendly and knowledgeable wine professionals that taste hundreds of wines each week. They can put you in touch with bottles that you are likely to love, often at a much lower cost than the highly-rated gems that often see a run-up in price and frequent availability issues. Like any great group of opinionated professionals, our staff has varied tastes themselves. Often our customers will find a particular staff member with a style that corresponds to their own. That concept works extremely well in our retail stores, and this section is our effort to bring you the same online. Don’t get us wrong, we love the highly rated wines from the press and will continue to offer them, but we think you’re missing out if you’re not augmenting those selections with picks from our excellent staff. Here are their favorites. (Click on a name to see their other selections - or to drop them a line.) Cheers!


Reviews

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2013 Shafer "Red Shoulder Ranch" Carneros Chardonnay
 By: Michael Jordan | Review Date: 3/4/2015 | Send Email
  A California legend, the Red Shoulder Ranch has been wowing Chardonnay fans since 1994. No malolactic fermentation but the lees help add depth and creaminess. Stone fruit, citrus and a cornucopia of other flavors nicely integrated together with a touch of acid and cedar.

Faultline Blended Scotch Whisky 750ml
 By: David Othenin-Girard | Review Date: 3/4/2015 | Send Email
  Perhaps our greatest triumph to date because making good whisky cheap (or should that read “cheap whisky good”) is DANG hard work. I don't know if there is a product that we sell that I've spent more time or energy on getting right. We literally went through hundreds of samples of blended whisky from multiple suppliers. I worked meticulously with the artist to create the perfect label to exemplify this special blend. Ultimately, what we chose to blend wasn't necessarily the most powerful or intense option, but instead the goddamned most drinkable thing we could find at any price. We insisted it not be colored and bottled at 100 proof because while it was tasty at 80 proof, a whole lot of this stuff was going to go into long drinks and over rocks. Nothing else on the market stands up so well in a drink -long, short, classic whatever! The added proof does wonders to improve the flavor not to mention add texture. The inclusion of the beautiful bevy of Islay, Island, and Highland single malt give it depth, but the lack of caramel coloring might be the real reason this worked so well. The color will undoubtedly scare some old school whisky drinkers–it’s really really light in color. We’ve been conditioned by the industry to think, darker is better. Producers believe (and not without reason) that consumers will taste with their eyes first and therefore the negative flavor effects of the chemical coloring are vastly outweighed by the psychological effects of the dark color – it should be noted that some believe the addition of caramel color might enhance flavor of blended whisky, I am not one of those people. It is indeed true that consumers prefer darker colored whisky even if it’s the exact same stuff. Conditioning is a powerful thing. If the light color is a problem for you, please close your eyes (figuratively) because we are indeed incredibly influenced by our visual perceptions and this whisky deserves a fair shake. Needless to say, I was personally very happy with the final product before it shipped, but we knew the true test would always be when the real whisky geeks got hold of it. You know the guys who NEVER hold their tongue, no matter how obviously important or irritating something might be to you. Love those guys. While some diehards thought it was "pretty darn good for the price,” as expected, other whisky heads just about fell out of their chairs when they tasted it. "How much of this stuff do you have? I'm gonna bunker at least 2 cases…no 3 cases. Do you have enough?" Music to my ears. For now, yes we have enough, for now…
Price: $24.99 Add To Cart BC 0

2011 Raymond Fabre Crozes-Hermitage
 By: John Majeski | Review Date: 3/4/2015 | Send Email
  It's Wednesday night, right, so maybe you're in the mood for a big juicy bacon, mushroom and swiss burger to go along with that latest big juicy action flick, Spiderman vs. Speedoman or Ironman Finally Rusts 7, but what wine do you pour? Something with rich, mouthwatering flavor and just enough sinew to compete with the endless earth-shattering explosions onscreen. Since I track the Northern Rhone like an insect and just opened this Crozes-Hermitage, well....it's a medium-built, savory Syrah with impressive aromas and notes of bright cherry-red fruit, garrigue and licorice, with a welcome tinge of pepper and minerality on the solid finish. So bring on the monster cheeseburger and silly spandex superheroes, this supertasty red wine can handle 'em, and with no special effects needed.
Top Value!
Price: $19.99 Add To Cart BC 0

2010 Fattoria dei Barbi Brunello di Montalcino Pre-Arrival
 By: Greg St. Clair | Review Date: 3/4/2015 | Send Email
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  I absolutely love this wine, the best thing they've done... that I can remember. The nose is full of earth, spice, leather, dried wild cherries and is a powerful statement from the nose. On the palate a classic, long, slightly leathery character is in the middle of a broad, rich and luxurious follow through. Layers of spice, plum, wild cherry, wild herbs in a long procession of flavors marching to the finish. In the finish a long, persistent and so satisfying end, Super wine.
Drink from 2015 to 2035

Ariston Aspasie Blanc de Blancs Brut Champagne
 By: Kyle Kurani | Review Date: 3/4/2015 | Send Email
  The Aspasie Blanc de Blancs is a bottle I reach for time and time again. Perfect for almost any occasion that I can think of, from parties to picnics there is something here for everyone. From the immediate aesthetics of the clear glass holding in the beautiful straw gold elixir, to the beautiful breadth and depth that comes from single vineyard Chardonnay. Sun ripe stone fruits greet you, followed by lemon curd and a hit of toasty baguette. The textures is opulent, a kiss of minerality, and a long beautiful finish.
Price: $34.99 Add To Cart BC 0

Ariston Aspasie Brut Rosé Champagne
 By: Kyle Kurani | Review Date: 3/4/2015 | Send Email
  There is not another bottle of Pink Champagne that offers this value in the store, end of story. This perfectly crafted bottle of bubbles is sensational wine, and at a price that I can afford to drink more than just one special occasions. A pretty coral pink greets you in the glass, alongside a nose vibrant cherry, sweetened dried cranberry, and anise spice. Elegant red fruits burst on the scene out of the glass, kissing your palate with lifted notes rose petal and wild cherry. So good!
Price: $34.99 Add To Cart BC 0

2012 Meli Carignane Maule Valley
 By: Gary Westby | Review Date: 3/4/2015 | Send Email
  Our Chilean wine buyer Joe smashed so many of my prejudices yesterday that I woke up confused this morning. His biggest triumph over my closed mindedness was this triumphant selection... A Carignane that is a contender for the best red wine in the store at under $15. This is a perfect BBQ wine, spicy, smoky, black fruited. Think of it like Zin, but with more structure and less heat and find some brisket to have with it!
Top Value!

Alexandre Le Brun "Tradition" Brut Champagne
 By: Kyle Kurani | Review Date: 3/4/2015 | Send Email
  Alex Le Brun is one of our newest and most exciting producers we are lucky enough to import here at K&L. Getting to know the style of a new producer means some painstaking, grueling work, having to taste Champagne is pretty tough after all. It was a joy to discover his wines, made in a style that is serious, but not fussy, and absolutely delicious. The Tradition is a joy, toasty on the nose, baked core fruit, with intriguing spice. Bubbly and fresh on the palate with a pleasantly round mouth feel and texture, ending up lengthy and clean.
Price: $39.99 Add To Cart

WINE CLUB

Club Price: $34.99
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2014 Pipeño Pais "Coronel de Maule" Maule Valley (1.0L)
 By: Gary Westby | Review Date: 3/4/2015 | Send Email
  After 20+ years in the wine business it is great to find a bottle that is singing a song that I have never heard before... And enjoying it! This old vine Mission wine has the dark, granite infused fruit of a Morgon, the acid and tannic spine of a Roero Nebbiolo and a fun personality that is completely unique. Where are the beef empanadas? I am ready to do some liter drinking!
Price: $15.99 Add To Cart BC 0

2011 Familia Zuccardi "Q" Cabernet Sauvignon Gualtallary and La Consulta Valle de Uco
 By: Gary Westby | Review Date: 3/4/2015 | Send Email
  Our South American buyer Joe blew the staff away yesterday with his stereotype breaking selections! This wonderful Cabernet from Familia Zuccardi is full bodied, but has the magic lift that one rarely finds outside of the Medoc in Bordeaux. It is a powerful, dry wine with excellent cassis flavors and best of all a long, bright, mineral driven finish. The only thing missing is a big Gaucho steak!
Top Value!
Price: $16.99 Add To Cart BC 0

2012 Bodegas Sur de los Andes Malbec Reserva Mendoza
 By: Gary Westby | Review Date: 3/4/2015 | Send Email
  I love wines that prove my prejudices wrong. This generous, spicy, dark fruit style Malbec is soft and easy to drink, but still has enough spine and structure to encourage me to come back for more. At this price, it is an absolute steal... Real wine for a song!
Top Value!
Price: $9.99 Add To Cart WE 90 BC 0

2007 Mortlach 7 Year Old Hepburn's Choice K&L Exclusive Single Barrel Cask Strength Single Malt Whisky 750ml
 By: David Driscoll | Review Date: 3/3/2015 | Send Email
  We bottled this cask for those folks who like light, fruity-style whiskies and for those super geeks out there who want to see what young Highland whisky tastes like before the wood has completely taken over. It's bright, fresh, floral, and entirely reliant upon the inherent flavors within the Mortlach spirit itself. If you want to know what Mortlach tastes like before all the sherry maturation has sunk in, this one's for you.
Price: $49.99 Add To Cart BC 0

1990 Girvan 24 Year Old Sovereign K&L Exclusive Single Barrel Cask Strength Single Grain Whisky 750ml
 By: David Driscoll | Review Date: 3/3/2015 | Send Email
  Of the three grain whiskies we just brought in, this is the most definitive. This is the light, fruity, somewhat grainy (who would've thought?) profile that we've come to love in whiskies like the Nikka Coffey. Loves to love, and over ice it's an absolute dream.
Price: $99.99 Add To Cart BC 0

2012 Poggio al Tufo "Rompicollo" Toscana
 By: Greg St. Clair | Review Date: 3/3/2015 | Send Email
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  This is an outstanding wine for this price, a blend of Sangiovese and Cabernet from Coastal Tuscany. 2012 was an excellent vintage in Tuscany and the long growing season has given the wine a little more structure and focus than the previous vintage. Lots of easy to drink up front fruit flavors and a long finish, a lot of wine for the price.
Drink from 2015 to 2018

Enmore 25 Year Old Faultline K&L Exclusive Single Barrel Cask Strength Rum 750ml
 By: David Driscoll | Review Date: 3/3/2015 | Send Email
  25 year old wooden Coffey still-distilled rum from the old Enmore distillery in Guyana. Dark, rich, decadent stuff, but not really all that sweet. It's more about the inherent flavor of the molasses and therefore the rum. Good stuff from a lost distillery.
Price: $199.99 Add To Cart BC 0

2012 Remo Farina Bianco di Custoza
 By: Greg St. Clair | Review Date: 3/3/2015 | Send Email
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  I love this wine's refreshing balance, of crispness and supple body. Fermented and aged in stainless steel to keep the wine's clean, fresh fruit character, and it is just a delight to drink.
Drink from 2015 to 2016
Price: $9.99 Add To Cart BC 0

St. George Green Chile Vodka 750ml
 By: David Driscoll | Review Date: 3/3/2015 | Send Email
  Love it. My Bloody Marys will never be the same. It smells like a big bowl of salsa and tastes like an explosion of Mexican cuisine. The applications are endless. It's basically gin made entirely with chiles.
Price: $24.99 Add To Cart BC 0

2011 Fromm "La Strada" Pinot Noir Marlborough
 By: Shaun Green | Review Date: 3/3/2015 | Send Email
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  This bright and compelling Pinot from NZ is pretty hard to beat. Truly fantastic Pinots are nearly impossible to find under $20, but this one delivers. It's not a New World "thick" Pinot, rather it shows its varietal characteristics confidently and soundly while offering complex notes of spices, florals and earthy notes floating over a lovely array of red and blue fruits, and with fine tannins and a great acid balance. Bravo!
Top Value! Drink from 2014 to 2020
Price: $19.99 Add To Cart JS 93 BC 0

2010 Beausejour, Fronsac
 By: Daniel Maas | Review Date: 3/3/2015 | Send Email
  Too often ignored due to its close proximity to the legendary right-bank appellations of Pomerol and Saint-Emilion, Fronsac has been producing top-notch wines for years, often at remarkable values, as evidenced here. A blend of 85% Merlot, 10% Cabernet Sauvignon, and 5% Cabernet Franc, this is all about structure. Dark fruit, herbal mint, and toasty wood notes are held together in perfect order by supple tannins. From the amazing 2010 vintage, this is showing beautifully and will no doubt continue to age for decades. Enjoy!
Price: $14.99 Add To Cart BC 0

2012 Olivier Leflaive St-Aubin 1er Cru "Charmois"
 By: Keith Wollenberg | Review Date: 3/3/2015 | Send Email
  In Burgundy, it is all about terroir, a sense of place. What this means is that it is location, location, location. And here we have it. Charmois sits right on the border with Chassagne-Montrachet 1er Cru Chaumees. But wine from the other side of the invisible dotted line will cost you about 50% more money. So if you are looking for a bargain, you will see why we got the U.S. exclusive for this wine from Olivier Leflaive. Bright and crisp, with focused minerality and length, this is a terrific accompaniment for some grilled shrimp. The 15% of new oak gives a gentle toastiness to this wine, without dominating the flavors.
Price: $41.99 Add To Cart BC 0

2013 Jean-Paul Brun "Terres Dorees" Chardonnay Beaujolais Blanc
 By: Dulcinea Gonzalez | Review Date: 3/3/2015 | Send Email
  If you appreciate great-value Chardonnays like those from the Maconnais and up for something new, here is its rarer cousin, Beaujolais blanc. Marked with the scent of lemon chiffon, strokes of lime zest and a good dose of richness this is a fresh, clean and easy sipper to be put into the repertoire.
Price: $15.99 Add To Cart DC 95 BC 0

2012 Woodstock Shiraz McLaren Vale South Australia
 By: Shaun Green | Review Date: 3/3/2015 | Send Email
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  Another Aussie wine pulls the strings of my wine loving heart! This wonderfully rich and powerful Shiraz from winemaker Ben Glaetzer (yep, think Amon Ra!)shows all the great deep notes of mocha, black licorice root and spicy blackberries, but not ever overwhelming or hot. It's amazing how this wine balances density and richness with complex aromatics, structure and bright highlights - all coming together with remarkable style and beauty. Maybe the best deal in Syrah in the store.
Top Value!
Price: $16.99 Add To Cart JH 94 BC 0

2009 Poggiarellino Brunello di Montalcino
 By: Mike Parres | Review Date: 3/3/2015 | Send Email
  On this full-bodied Sangiovese you will find plum, chocolate, and cherries dancing with smooth and silky tannins. This Brunello will age well for the next couple of years, but no need to wait. This is the prefect accompaniment to many pork dishes.
Price: $29.99 Add To Cart

WINE CLUB

Club Price: $24.99
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2010 San Carlo Brunello di Montalcino Pre-Arrival
 By: Greg St. Clair | Review Date: 3/3/2015 | Send Email
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  The nose is full of spice and dried flowers. On the palate the wine is structured with dense, tannic shoulders, powerful, long tannins. The wine is a blockbuster on the palate then begins to narrow at the back of the palate with a long finish.
Drink from 2016 to 2035

2010 Caprili Brunello di Montalcino Pre-Arrival
 By: Greg St. Clair | Review Date: 3/3/2015 | Send Email
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  The nose is full of smoke, wild herbs, dried wild cherries, leather and a a seeming sweetness. On the palate the wine turns luxurious, and the flavors become more saline, crushed rock, dried flower, umami, wild herbs, dried meat, salted plums, soy, dried porcini that all arrive at a point of ultra savory. The finish is absolutely superb, long, lustrous with fine grain tannins. Tremendous wine.
Drink from 2015 to 2035

2002 Pol Roger "Cuvée Sir Winston Churchill" Brut Champagne
 By: Gary Westby | Review Date: 3/3/2015 | Send Email
  A lot of tete-de-cuvee Champagne is little more than fancy packaging. The Cuvee Sir Winston Churchill from Pol Roger is the opposite; all substance for Champagne lovers in the know!

2013 L'Ecole No. 41 " Luminesce" Seven Hills Vineyard Walla Walla White Wine
 By: Steve Bearden | Review Date: 3/3/2015 | Send Email
  Hailing from Walla Walla comes a refreshing white Bordeaux-style sipper with a balanced blend of 60% Semillon and 40% Sauvignon Blanc. The subtle citrus and kiwi fruit notes hit the tongue with just enough tartness to keep the succulent texture and mineral rich taste in line. It’s elegant enough alone or try pairing with basil pesto pasta or goat cheese stuffed chicken.
Price: $18.99 Add To Cart WE 92 BC 0

2013 Brash Higgins 'NDV' Nero d'Avola - Amphora
 By: Steve Bearden | Review Date: 3/3/2015 | Send Email
  This is one of the most interesting and unusual wines I have tried in some time. Wine geeks will love the flamboyant aromas of beeswax, wild flowers and steeped fruit that seem to meld together effortlessly, yet in the most unusual way. The body of this wine is a bit more restrained in its smooth, sweet and fresh flavors of berry and plum. This is just the thing for jaded palates looking for something exciting and different. This was done 100% in amphorae.
Price: $39.99 Add To Cart JR 17 BC 0

2010 Castiglion del Bosco Brunello di Montalcino (1.5L) Pre-Arrival
 By: Greg St. Clair | Review Date: 3/3/2015 | Send Email
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  The nose is dense, brooding pools of plum, earth, smoke and hints of wood spice. On the palate the wine is powerful, broad, deep, a muscularly vibrant presence that brings the fruit to life. The wine finishes very long, with a great central focus with hints of wood spice in the finish.
Drink from 2015 to 2035

2010 Castiglion del Bosco Brunello di Montalcino Pre-Arrival
 By: Greg St. Clair | Review Date: 3/3/2015 | Send Email
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  The nose is dense, brooding pools of plum, earth, smoke and hints of wood spice. On the palate the wine is powerful, broad, deep, a muscularly vibrant presence that brings the fruit to life. The wine finishes very long, with a great central focus with hints of wood spice in the finish.
Drink from 2015 to 2030

2011 Fromm "La Strada" Pinot Noir Marlborough
 By: Ryan Woodhouse | Review Date: 3/3/2015 | Send Email
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  This is a Pinot lovers Pinot...That might sound strange...but in this world of big, black, 15.5% ALC Pinot Noir...this Fromm bottling is a breath of fresh dirt! Much more concerned with dusty red fruits, forest floor, earth and savory tones than high octane, heavily extracted fruit and new oak. The nose sets the scene for the wines precision and focus. Tightly packed red berries, dry leaves and Chanterelles. The wine gains weight with some time in the glass taking time to unfold like all great Pinot should. Dusty dark red berries emerge, leaf litter, bark and river stone. A very Burgundian profile with some tell tale spiced orange peel and clove notes that give away it's Marlborough origins to the experienced observer. I truly believe this wine still has more to give and think it will flesh out further with a few more months / years in the cellar. However even now this wine is bright, fresh, pure Pinot Noir that is a really pleasing style for those looking for a more traditional, elegant expression of this fickle grape. Absolutely exceptional value thanks to our direct import.
Top Value! Drink from 2013 to 2020
Price: $19.99 Add To Cart JS 93 BC 0

2010 La Gerla Brunello di Montalcino 375ml Pre-Arrival
 By: Greg St. Clair | Review Date: 3/3/2015 | Send Email
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  The nose is full of dark earth, vibrant wild cherry, smoke, crushed stone, and a hint of gaminess. On the palate the wine is impressive; a powerful structure of very fine grain structure surrounds the core of this wine. A commanding central focus bonds the fruit and spice to the voluptuous layers of fruit that curl up around the core. Waves of flavor seem to never end bringing more wild cherry and earth with hints of wood smoke. The finish continues the lustrous richness that is backed up once again by that very fine grain tannin, it is a superb wine.
Drink from 2015 to 2025

2010 La Gerla Brunello di Montalcino 1.5L Pre-Arrival
 By: Greg St. Clair | Review Date: 3/3/2015 | Send Email
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  The nose is full of dark earth, vibrant wild cherry, smoke, crushed stone, and a hint of gaminess. On the palate the wine is impressive; a powerful structure of very fine grain structure surrounds the core of this wine. A commanding central focus bonds the fruit and spice to the voluptuous layers of fruit that curl up around the core. Waves of flavor seem to never end bringing more wild cherry and earth with hints of wood smoke. The finish continues the lustrous richness that is backed up once again by that very fine grain tannin, it is a superb wine.
Drink from 2015 to 2040

2010 La Gerla Brunello di Montalcino Pre-Arrival
 By: Greg St. Clair | Review Date: 3/3/2015 | Send Email
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  The nose is full of dark earth, vibrant wild cherry, smoke, crushed stone, and a hint of gaminess. On the palate the wine is impressive; a powerful structure of very fine grain structure surrounds the core of this wine. A commanding central focus bonds the fruit and spice to the voluptuous layers of fruit that curl up around the core. Waves of flavor seem to never end bringing more wild cherry and earth with hints of wood smoke. The finish continues the lustrous richness that is backed up once again by that very fine grain tannin, it is a superb wine.
Drink from 2015 to 2035

2010 Bellaria Brunello di Montalcino Pre-Arrival
 By: Greg St. Clair | Review Date: 3/3/2015 | Send Email
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  The nose is intense; plumy that shows some spice, wild herbs and a bit of fresh leather. On the palate the wine is dense, full of plum, wild cherry and bits of vanillin. This is a muscular wine, fleshy, full but still shows great balance with a vibrant core that stretches out over the length of this wine showing a broad powerful finish. Will benefit from a bit of aeration but I liked this more than the Assunto its big brother.
Drink from 2015 to 2025
Price: $44.99 Add To Cart BC 0

2010 Iliceus Brunello di Montalcino Pre-Arrival
 By: Greg St. Clair | Review Date: 3/3/2015 | Send Email
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  I have to admit I was quite surprised, I’m usually pretty good about knowing all of the producers in Montalcino, but this one got by me. Not surprisingly because they are one of the few producers not in the Consorzio so I gave myself a pass, that was until I tasted it…then I kicked myself. Deeply colored, the wines presence in the glass alone was impressive and one sniff of the nose let me know why it was a barriqued wine. Generally I’m not much of a fan of Sangiovese in barrique, it takes the right producer to be able to grow fruit powerful enough to withstand the barrels character, Iliceus is that wine., pronounced { ill-lee-chay-us}. The nose is packed with dense fruit a combination of wild cherry, ripe, yet vibrant plum, bits of leather, spice, very aromatic. On the palate the wine is sensational, an audacious, polished, supple force, powerful yet easy, superbly balanced yet opulent. The finish is long, stretched out to spread the frame of this powerful and delicious wine.
Drink from 2015 to 2030
Price: $39.99 Add To Cart BC 0

2010 La Lecciaia "Manapetra" Brunello di Montalcino Pre-Arrival
 By: Greg St. Clair | Review Date: 3/3/2015 | Send Email
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  The Manapetra is a plumper, broader, a richer, fuller version of the Brunello. The nose is brooding, slightly closed now but shows hints of power and size. On the palate the wine is full but shows a bit of tannic tension, roiling beneath the surface is a powerful structure and sizable density however this wine will need time in your cellar.
Drink from 2018 to 2030

2010 La Lecciaia Brunello di Montalcino (375ml) Pre-Arrival
 By: Greg St. Clair | Review Date: 3/3/2015 | Send Email
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  The nose is full of plum, spice, leather, gravel and smoke, that might seem a disparate blend for some of you but it is a heavenly flow of aromatics that escape your glass. On the palate the wine is classic, a long, vibrant flow from front to back that is layers of wild cherry, smoke and leather couched in a richly textured center. Superb balance and vibrant, classic aromatics, at the price an unbelievable deal.
Drink from 2015 to 2022

2010 La Lecciaia Brunello di Montalcino Pre-Arrival
 By: Greg St. Clair | Review Date: 3/3/2015 | Send Email
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  The nose is full of plum, spice, leather, gravel and smoke, that might seem a disparate blend for some of you but it is a heavenly flow of aromatics that escape your glass. On the palate the wine is classic, a long, vibrant flow from front to back that is layers of wild cherry, smoke and leather couched in a richly textured center. Superb balance and vibrant, classic aromatics, at the price an unbelievable deal.
Drink from 2015 to 2030

Billecart-Salmon Brut Rosé Champagne
 By: Gary Westby | Review Date: 3/3/2015 | Send Email
  This is the benchmark in rose Champagne, and it deserves every bit of its fame. I find it elegant and balanced every time that I have it, and the blushing pink color is always perfect. If you are looking for a famous producer that delivers the goods, the Billecart Salmon Brut Rose Champagne is a great choice. I like the wine best as an aperitif, the only thing it need to pair with is a good glass.

St. George All Purpose Vodka 750ml
 By: David Driscoll | Review Date: 3/3/2015 | Send Email
  Again, don't let the vodka moniker fool you: this isn't some BS, grain neutral throwaway. This is an art that Lance and Dave have perfected over at St. George. The all-purpose is actually made from a large proportion of pear distillate to give it a creamy and soft texture. They're not just trying to make a flavorless spirit. They're trying for ethereal beauty. And they've done it. The great vodka from the U.S. is now here.
Price: $24.99 Add To Cart BC 0

Michel Loriot "Theodorine" Brut Rosé Champagne
 By: Gary Westby | Review Date: 3/3/2015 | Send Email
  I love drinking Champagne on Tuesdays! I had prepared a merguez tagine with plenty of pimenton ahumado and large pearl cous-cous for dinner, and started to scratch my head over what to pair with it. It was going to be too spicy for anything tannic, yet the lamb in the sausage called out for some red wine flavors... Rose! Rose was the answer. But it is the middle of winter, and all of the still rose is sold! Rose Champagne! Rose Champagne is the answer! The Michel Loriot Rose was perfect, with lots of red wine richness from the 20% Pinot in the blend, but also great snap from the Loriot policy of no malolactic. The very ripe strawberry fruit in this wine was brought into perfect balance by the powerful finish. Try it out the next time you whip up something spicy!
Price: $39.99 Add To Cart BC 0

2002 Piper-Heidsieck "Cuvée Rare" Brut Champagne
 By: Gary Westby | Review Date: 3/3/2015 | Send Email
  The wonderfully rich Cuvee Rare from Piper Heidsieck reminds me of the great tete de cuvee's of years gone past. Like those, it is made in tiny quantities and only in the very best years- only 8 vintages have been made in 36 years! We drank this wine at a staff sushi and Champagne party at my house, and loved it with the eel especially, but I think the ultimate pairing for this wine would be a nice sunset. It doesn't need anything! I love the warm toastiness of this wine and its fine balance. The refreshing finish will have you coming back for more!
Drink to 2022

Ariston Aspasie Brut Rosé Champagne
 By: Gary Westby | Review Date: 3/3/2015 | Send Email
  Nobody in Champagne works harder on making a great rose than Paul-Vincent Ariston, owner of Champagne Aspasie, and no bottle that we carry is as outstanding of a bargain. Most producers either make a red wine to blend into their white or do a maceration of all the skins for a short time to make rose. Paul does both, as he likes the complexity that the maceration method brings to the wine, and the control that the addition of red wine offers. This isn't just a good deal, it is a Champagne of spectacular depth and character, that is also super easy to drink.
Price: $34.99 Add To Cart BC 0

St. George California Citrus Vodka 750ml
 By: David Driscoll | Review Date: 3/3/2015 | Send Email
  While you may think of this as flavored vodka, this is really just orange gin. At least, as far as the process is concerned. Lance and Dave made this incredibly beautiful spirit through multiple macerations of separate varietals of orange, along with individual distillations. The amount of skill and blending is paramount to the finest of ginmakers. It's just that they didn't use juniper. Don't let the vodka moniker make you think this isn't something great. It is.
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2004 Dom Pérignon Brut Champagne
 By: Gary Westby | Review Date: 3/3/2015 | Send Email
  When Champagne lovers ask me about what vintage they should think about collecting, I always bring up 2004 first. While many other vintages such as 2002, 2006 and 2007 have produced fabulous wines, they have all been crazy in one way or another. Because of climate change, the only two harvests that could be counted as typical, “classic” Champagne vintages in the last 25 years are 1988 and 2004. Of course, many vintages in the past 25 years have been great; 1989, 1990, 1996, 2002 and almost certainly 2008 and 2012. All of these vintages have a story, and all of them are odd. Even vintages with plenty of water and slow ripening, which over the last 200 years would be considered typical and classic, are an endangered species. The character of the 2004’s is very transparent, revealing of terroir (especially in single vineyard wines), long and light on its feet. The wines do not have the weight and authority of the 2002’s or the crazy concentration of the 1996’s. What they have is deft, elegant balance and I believe that they will, like the 1988’s, prove to be great. The Dom is a great indicator and example of the strength of this vintage. I can’t remember liking a vintage of Dom when it was first released as much as this since the 1990, or finding one of such good potential since the 1996. I wanted to make the most out of this chance to drink the 2004 as a preview and decided to prepare a special dinner for Cinnamon and I. I picked up an ounce of Osetra and we started out enjoying the bottle with blini and creme fraiche. For the main course I cooked some local wild king salmon on an alder plank on the grill after giving it a light brine. I topped it with some fleur de sel, pepper and paddlefish roe. The 2004 is certainly the driest non-Oenotheque release I have ever tasted from DP and the white gold color has a real flash of green to it. On the nose, the signature Dom Perignon yeastiness is front and center framed by some delicate Chardonnay fruit. The Osetra blini brought out the nuttiness of the Pinot Noir very nicely on the palate. It was too bad that there was only one ounce! One of the things that I learned from the DP seminar that I wrote about in April was that the wine is always close to 50% Pinot Noir and 50% Chardonnay, and this 2004 certainly tasted that way. When we had the salmon, which was very rich, the Dom showed more of its cutting, mineral driven Chardonnay side. This elegant bottle of Champagne went down very easily, and showed the strength of Moet’s massive vineyard resources and incredible store of knowledge. These wines age very well, and the 2004 has the balance to go the distance. I was very impressed!
Drink to 2024

Krug Brut Rosé Champagne
 By: Gary Westby | Review Date: 3/3/2015 | Send Email
  Chef Fossati of Quattro Restaurant at the Four Seasons was daring and paired the Krug Brut Rosé Champagne with lamb loin from Elysian Fields at the Krug dinner I attended with Krug CEO Margareth Henriquez. This Champagne needed food (and rich food!) in order to show well and was very different from the first Krug rose that I tasted more than a decade ago. My first visit to the maison in winter of 2001 was also my first experience with Krug rose, and its impression has haunted me ever since. The wine I drank in 2001 was so vanishingly subtle, so easy to drink, that its greatness did not occur to me until days later. I still think about that bottle. The bottle we had with the lamb had fresh baked bread and Nuits-St.-George like savor on the nose, and powerhouse black cherry fruit backed with firm acidity on the palate. I much preferred it with the lamb than on its own. This was large-scale wine that Margareth said she loved to cellar.

Billecart-Salmon Extra Brut Champagne
 By: Gary Westby | Review Date: 3/3/2015 | Send Email
  I love extra brut Champagne, and Antoine Billecart has made a great example of the style with this bottling. He and I drank this along with his team at Quince in SF the last time he was here, and with four years on the lees, it came across as dry, but without a hint of austerity. Many big houses lack respect for Meunier, but not Billecart- this wine gets its charm from the clean fruit that this indigenous grape brings to the blend. It is composed of 40% Meunier, 30% Chardonnay and 30% Pinot Noir and the long, cool fermentation and generous lees time has given this wine the fruit and balance to please even a first time extra brut drinker.

Thienot Brut Champagne
 By: Gary Westby | Review Date: 3/3/2015 | Send Email
  I was lucky enough to be invited by Garance Thienot to the Plumed Horse in Saratoga for an incredible Champagne dinner. I hadn't been to this restaurant in more than a decade and the story about it being the biggest fine dining remodel in all of Silicon Valley must be true- it was amazing inside. We started the dinner off with this rich, full bodied, toasty Champagne that still had the snap to make a great aperitif. What a tasty wine!
Price: $39.99 Add To Cart

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Ruinart Brut Blanc de Blancs Champagne
 By: Gary Westby | Review Date: 3/3/2015 | Send Email
  The Ruinart Brut Blanc De Blancs is a wonderfully different style of Chardonnay based Champagne than any other that we have. While almost all of the others that we carry rely on the laser precision of Cote de Blanc fruit exclusively, this wine balances this electricity with the rich, nearly grapey Chardonnay of the Mountain of Reims. The result is magic; a full bodied blanc de blancs that still finishes dry and long!

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