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Staff Favorites - Steve Bearden
Steve Bearden | Send Email | Subscribe to My Sommelier Service
I’m the Bordeaux liason for the San Francisco store, starting my run there around 2000. Over the years I've gained a great respect for subtlety, finesse, elegance and terroir, or a sense of place, that I believe all great wine should have. I enjoy practically anything and everything but mostly French and Italian with heavy emphasis on Rhône and Bordeaux. Be adventurous. There is tremendous diversity in regions, varieties and styles, so don’t let your palate get pigeon-holed.
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1999 Fugue de Nenin, Pomerol
Review Date: 3-20-2014
The Delon family of Leoville-Las-Cases fame has made great strides with Chateau Nenin in Pomerol and this second wine has become a consistant over achiever. This is elegant, clean, classy and sweet, offering an iron tinged mineral edge to the fine finish. Drinking perfectly right now, this offers the sophistication of the first wine at a fraction of the cost.
1991 Palmer, Margaux (1.5L)
Review Date: 3-19-2014
At a recent staff dinner this was silky smooth and simply stunning. The plush and velvety texture retains plenty of acidity for freshness and there is nothing awkward, angular or tannic, just creamy, dusty cherry fruit, earthy woodsy scents and a long satin textured body. There are aromas of ceder and leather present but there is nothing at all drying about the elegant finish. This is pure cashmere in a bottle.
2010 Fombrauge, St-Emilion
Review Date: 2-21-2014
The person responsible for the great wines from Chateau Pape-Clement also brings you this over-achieving St-Emilion bargain. There are plenty of toasty espresso roast aromas and flavors to go with the copious dark fruit buried in the velvety body of this serious wine. The tannins are almost buried under fruit and the dark and brooding nature is lifted by a wonderful sense or elegance and balance.
2007 Domaine de Chevalier Rouge, Pessac-Léognan
Review Date: 2-21-2014
Already ready to drink and showing great complexity and textural roundness. This is deep and fleshy with earthy and toasty aromas of damp soil and lots of rich cherry fruit. The ample weight and absence of any hard edges make this very satisfying.
2012 Sharp Zombie Rioja
Review Date: 2-20-2014
This starts out with flowery aromas of ripe black cherry fruit, oak shadings, spice, a hint of vanilla and a touch of earth. Medium-weight and smooth, this lithe and agile wine has a creamy finish and an easy charm making it perfect for the table or cocktail parties. This versatile and food-friendly value might just become your new favorite bargain Rioja.
2009 Tronquoy-Lalande, St-Estèphe
Review Date: 2-20-2014
This lush, warm and gentle wine will surprise anyone expecting classic St-Estephe firmness. Smooth, sweet, ripe chocolate cherry Merlot flavors fan out across the satin textured mid-palate before the faintest hint of fine, gentle tannins carry the long finish. Almost opulent and very easy to drink.
2009 Alter Ego de Palmer, Margaux
Review Date: 11-22-2013
This has all the class, breeding and richness of Palmer but in a style and price that won't force you to wait. At 50% Merlot this has the dark chocolate and coffee notes and deep blackberry fruited middle this property always delivers, yet the Cabernet component expresses the class and sophistication you expect. Decant tonight or cellar for a decade.
Deligeroy Crémant de Loire Brut Rosé
Review Date: 9-4-2012
This is long and fine with red cherry fruit and a persistant limestone laced finish. There is an amazing amount of elegance and restraint showing here for only 13 bucks.
Franck Bonville Grand Cru Blanc de Blancs Champagne
Review Date: 7-7-2011
When it comes to Champagne this is probably our all time staff favorite. The fact that it is a direct import and sells for less than half what it would if it went through the same distribution system as the big name brands doesn't hurt either. Fresh and ripe Chardonnay flavors, intense mineral notes and hints of earth leap from this vibrant and full-textured bubbly.
2007 Langoa-Barton, St-Julien
Review Date: 3-31-2011
At a recent staff tasting in the San Francisco store this wine from the much maligned '07 vintage was fantastic. Not only did it show better than Langoas from much more hyped vintages, but it beat out several highly rated vintages of its big brother Leoville Barton. This is velvety,soft and earthy with very sweet fruit and a mineral edge right down the middle. Decant this and try it tonight.
Ariston Aspasie Blanc de Blancs Brut Champagne
Review Date: 12-29-2009
Chardonnay from Brouillet makes a richer, creamier style of Blanc de Blanc than other areas of Champagne. This is an easy to like style that is perfect for less formal occasions like New Year's eve toasts and quiet sipping during parties. This generous, rich bubbly is an amazing deal to direct buy pricing.
2005 Keenan Spring Mountain District Cabernet Sauvignon
Review Date: 12-1-2009
When I'm drinking Cabernet if it's not Bordeaux it's usually from the Spring Mountain District of Napa. Keenan is a super-high quality producer making beautifully structured wines that have tons of up front fruit and a wonderful sense of balance. This has sweet dark fruit, a creamy, polished texture and super-fine, ripe tannins supporting the long finish. This wine can hold its own against classified growth Bordeaux that cost twice as much. A rare bargain from an area known for expensive wines.
2005 Guiraud, Sauternes
Review Date: 3-11-2009
The #4 wine on Spectator’s Top 100 with good reason. This is rich and complex, showing tropical fruit, spice, honey, citrus oils and more. Creamy, smooth and sweet, but not at all heavy, this maintains a sense of balance and freshness despite huge flavors.
2004 Malescot-St-Exupéry, Margaux
Review Date: 5-20-2008
Robert Parker calls this the “quintessential expression of finesse, power, and terroir” and I couldn’t agree more. This is powerful for the vintage, but wonderfully balanced and perfumed with flowers, black fruits and a touch of licorice. Decant now or cellar.
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