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Staff Favorites - Jeff Garneau
Jeff Garneau | Send Email | Subscribe to My Sommelier Service
Jeff has been a member of the sales staff in our Redwood City store for the past four years. His first introduction to wine was as a waiter in an upscale Italian restaurant in Hanover, NH more years ago than he likes to admit. He slowly made his way west to wine country, working his way across the US as a graduate student in geography, a public sector researcher in regional economic development, and briefly, in the wake of the Anderson-Enron scandal, a records management coordinator for one of the remaining Big Five accounting firms. Finally, surrendering to the inevitable, he accepted a position in the wine business here at K&L. His goals for the next four years include drinking more wines from Italy and France and trying to limit the number of open bottles on the dinner table on any given night to fewer than six.
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2009 La Fleur Calon, Montagne St-Emilion
Review Date: 8-31-2013
This well-priced Right Bank offering was the standout wine at a recent staff Bordeaux tasting. It just goes to show how good a vintage 2009 is for wines in the $10 to $20 range. Loads of rich fruit, ripe cherry and plum. Lively and fresh in character with fine tannins. Drink or hold.
2009 Martinat, Côtes de Bourg
Review Date: 8-31-2013
From the heart of the Côtes de Bourg on the Right Bank of the Gironde River comes the 2009 Chateau Martinat. The blend is 70% Merlot, 20% Cabernet Sauvignon, and 10% Malbec. This is a big, full-bodied red wine, impossibly huge with surprising weight and a rich, velvety texture. Ripe, mouth filling fruit reminiscent of a freshly baked plum tart. Fresh, lively, and balanced with fine tannins. Drink now or over the next 5 years.
2009 Caronne Ste-Gemme, Haut-Médoc
Review Date: 7-6-2013
Chateau Caronne Ste Gemme is located in the commune of Saint Laurent, due west of Saint Julien-Beychevelle, and is a near neighbor of Chateau Lagrange and Gruaud Larose. Francois Nony, whose family has owned the property for over a century, currently manages 40 hectares of vineyards planted on gravel soils. The wine spends 12 months in oak with about 25% of the barrels new. The extraordinary 2009 vintage produced a big, deeply colored wine with a rich, silky texture and very fine tannins. The wine is still youthful with tart, fresh blackberry and ripe, red cherry notes. Already more expressive than when tasted one year ago, it can be enjoyed now or over the next 1 to 5 years. A superb effort for this property and my top pick for best Bordeaux under $20 for the vintage.
2012 Napa Cellars Napa Valley Chardonnay
Review Date: 7-4-2013
You know what you like. You know what you want. You like Napa Chardonnay in a big, rich style and you're tired of paying $30 to $40 for it, when you can get it. This just released 2012 Napa Cellars Chardonnay offers all that and more. Notes of citrus and melon on the nose, ripe apple and pear on the palate. And, oh yeah, a sensuous, buttery character that's deftly seasoned with lightly spicy oak. All that for a mere $13.99, less than half the price of more famous brands. Buy it by the case. Enjoy it by the glass. No excuses. No apologies.
Valdespino "Deliciosa" Manzanilla en Rama (375ml)
Review Date: 6-29-2013
If you are a sherry fan be sure to grab a bottle immediately of this unfiltered manzanilla from one of the top bodegas in Jerez. Bone dry but with a richer texture and greater complexity than a typical manzanilla. Super fresh and absolutely delicious.
2010 Anna Maria Abbona "Maioli" Dogliani
Review Date: 6-29-2013
Insiders know that the best dolcetto comes from Dogliani. One of the top producers in Dogliani is Anna Maria Abbona, and their very best wine is the Maioli. Loads of dark fruit, intriguing spice. Fine tannins. Superb. Flawless. One of the best dolcettos you will every enjoy.
2010 Alta Maria Santa Maria Valley Pinot Noir
Review Date: 5-2-2013
I have a regular customer who is always looking for great values in California Pinot Noir in the $15 to $25 range. I sent her home with one bottle of the 2010 Alta Maria Vineyards Santa Maria Valley Pinot Noir and a week later she bought a case. Try it yourself and you will understand why. Intriguingly spicy nose with hints of nutmeg and allspice. Sweet black cherry and tart cranberry notes. Rich, ripe, and round, this is a generous but supremely balanced effort. Great wine. Great price. What's not to love?
2009 Saarloos & Sons "His" Santa Ynez Valley Cabernet Sauvignon
Review Date: 4-25-2013
When I walked into the Saarloos & Sons tasting room in Los Olivos a couple of months ago, I wasn't sure quite what to expect. Which, in hindsight, is just as well, since Keith and Brad Saarloos are pretty good at defying expectations, challenging preconceptions, and gleefully poking with a stick anything that smacks of convention and pretense. We tasted a lot of great wines, most of which I don’t remember well because Keith insisted I stop taking notes. At some point he also insisted I stop spitting, so tasting became drinking. So we drank and we talked. About wine, about grapes, about music, art, and life. It is worth noting at this point that Saarloos & Sons are farmers first and foremost. They grow grapes of exceptional quality, most of which they sell to other winemakers. A small amount they hold back every year to make their own wine. They sell exclusively direct to consumer, not through retail wine shops. But at the end of that evening they paid us the ultimate compliment. They offered us a couple of wines to make available to our K&L customers, the 2009 Saarloos & Sons "His" Santa Ynez Valley Cabernet Sauvignon, and the 2010 Saarloos & Sons "Hers" Santa Ynez Valley Grenache Blanc. I absolutely recommend a visit to their tasting room in Los Olivos to taste their full selection, but until your next trip we are honored to share these two wines with you. I enjoyed the Cabernet Sauvignon at dinner the other night with my nephew. We grilled a 2 lb “Fred Steak” from Schaub’s in Palo Alto, serving it with roasted baby Yukon potatoes and fresh local asparagus. The Cab was a perfect companion to the spicy, smoky meaty deliciousness that is Fred steak. A hint of violets and new wood on the nose. On the palate the wine has a rich, silky texture with notes of blackberry jam and cassis. Imagine the blackberry jam your grandmother used to make, heading out before dawn to her secret spot to pick fresh wild blackberries, then spending the rest of the day canning blackberry preserves. There is a sweetness of fruit, a ripeness perfectly offset by a liveliness and a freshness that keeps the wine in perfect balance. The finish is framed by fine tannins that lie lightly on the tongue, caressing the palate like a finely woven cotton blanket on a cool summer night. If there is a perfect California Cabernet Sauvignon, this is it. Expertly crafted, and a pure joy to drink.
2010 Cameron Hughes "Lot #341" Santa Maria Valley Syrah
Review Date: 4-13-2013
No, I don't know who actually made this wine. Cameron Hughes seems to have a talent for finding and bottling great wines from top producers at unbelievable prices, but they are famously tight lipped about the wine's origins. I do know that this is really good cool climate California Syrah. A suggestion of tar on the nose. Ripe, fresh-picked blueberries and cracked black pepper on the palate. Lively acidity and fine tannins frame a perfectly balanced expression of this classic Rhone varietal. All for less than $20. You don't need to know who made it to enjoy it. And your wallet won't care.
2010 Brewer-Clifton "3-D" Sta. Rita Hills Chardonnay
Review Date: 3-27-2013
My introduction to this remarkable wine was a first for me. I tasted the 2010 Brewer Clifton "3D" Santa Rita Hills Chardonnay while standing in the vineyard, my feet in the same soil that grew the grapes that made the wine in my glass. It was a powerful experience, made all the more memorable by the quality of the wine. Intensely mineral in expression yet textured and rich with extraordinary length and persistence. Crisp apple and pear notes with a light toast from the barrel aging. A perfect example of some of the best Chardonnay being produced in the Santa Rita Hills AVA today.
2009 Two Sisters "Lindsay's Vineyard" Sta. Rita Hills Pinot Noir
Review Date: 3-27-2013
Generous red fruits and intriguing spice notes. Big and bold, rich and round. There is plenty of ripeness here, but with superb underlying structure. Drinking well now, but with sufficient character for near term aging. An unbeatable value at this price.
2011 Rickshaw California Pinot Noir
Review Date: 3-14-2013
This just released 2011 Rickshaw Pinot Noir is the third vintage in a row we have carried of this wine and it is fast becoming a customer favorite. Good Pinot Noir in the $10 to $20 range is increasingly hard to find but the boys at Banshee (Rickshaw is their second label) keep turning out dependable wines at affordable prices. Pure Pinot character here. Generous, high-toned fruit. Tangy cranberry and jammy raspberry. Barrel aging adds richness along with a hint of cocoa. Great value.
2010 Haut de Poujeaux, Haut-Médoc
Review Date: 3-13-2013
Good news about Bordeaux. You CAN afford to drink it. OK. Maybe you aren't popping the cork on a bottle of vintage Chateau Lafite every night (and if you are, good for you), but the truth is there is a lot of wine made in Bordeaux, and in the best vintages like 2009 and 2010, there are some astonishingly good values in the $10 to $20 range. Like this 2010 Haut de Poujeaux, Haut Medoc. From the owners of Chateau Poujeaux in Moulis, this Cab/Merlot blend is a big, full-bodied wine, rich and round with superb structure. Plenty of ripe red fruits here, cherry and plum. I like this even better than the 2009. Approachable now but will more than reward another 3 to 5 years in the cellar.
2010 Calèches de Lanessan, Haut-Médoc
Review Date: 3-13-2013
K&L customers will quickly recognize the name of Chateau Lanessan. We have sold many vintages of this historic Medoc property. But 2010 is the first time we have carried their second wine, Les Caleches de Lanessan. The 2009 and 2010 vintages were the first overseen by new director, Paz Espejo. While building on the 200 year history of the chateau, the young Spanish woman has brought Lanessan into the 21st century, introducing a cleaner, more modern style. The 2010 Les Caleches is the beneficiary of her efforts, displaying youthful, berryish fruit and intriguing spice notes. There is lively acidity here, but matched by ripe red and black fruits and a rich texture. Firm tannins frame the finish. Don't be fooled by the sub $20 price point. This is a serious wine that will reward 3 to 5 years in the cellar. 45% Cabernet Sauvignon, 50% Merlot, 3% Petit Verdot, and 2% Cabernet Franc.
2009 Larmande, St-Emilion
Review Date: 2-25-2013
Consistently one of the best values in a Saint Emilion Grands Crus Classé, Chateau Larmande lies just to the north of the town of Saint Emilion itself on a mixture of sand, limestone, and clay soils. The vineyards are planted to 65% Merlot, 30% Cabernet Franc, and 5% Cabernet Sauvignon. 60% new oak is used each year. The 2009 vintage is classically-styled, rich and round with good weight and mouthfeel. Sweet red and black fruits here with firm, fine tannins. Will reward time in the cellar.
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