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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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2005 Valandraud, St-Emilion
Review Date: 11-6-2014
The flagship wine of garagiste Jean-Luc Thunevin, this 2005 Chateau Valandraud, St-Emilion is a superb example of both the vintage and the "modern" style of Bordeaux winemaking. It offers loads of dense, dark fruit, black fig and damson plum, with a bit of spicecake thrown in for good measure. Rich, almost silky in texture, finishing with fine tannins. A very well made wine, generous in every way but with excellent balance. Needs another five to ten years in the cellar but will more than reward the patient connoisseur.
2012 La Monacesca Verdicchio di Matelica
Review Date: 11-6-2014
I have been drinking Italian wines for more than 30 years. I had my first Verdicchio dei Castelli di Jesi perhaps 10 years ago, and my first Verdicchio di Matelica three years ago. I initially encountered the wines of Agricola La Monacesca late last year. They are regarded by many as the finest producer of Verdicchio di Matelica in the Marche, and after tasting first the 2010 and now the 2011 vintage I am inclined to believe it. The wine has all of the intense minerality I have come to associate with the appellation, but displays better than average ripeness of fruit with more concentration and depth than I have encountered in other wines from the region. Really superb, and available for under $20.
2012 Domaine des Niales Rhedon-Marin Mâcon-Villages Vieilles Vignes
Review Date: 10-4-2014
While the Mâconnais district is well known as a great source of value-priced white Burgundy, the 2012 Domaine des Niales Rhedon-Marin Mâcon-Villages Vieilles Vignes may very well be one of the best Chardonnays under $15 in the store right now regardless of region of origin. While 2012 was a challenging vintage for red wines in Burgundy, the white wines are quite good, and this wine is no exception. Wonderfully mineral in character with hints of wet stone and earth. Bright, fresh citrus notes. Round and smooth textured with surprising concentration and persistence. The old vine character really makes itself felt here. An extraordinary value at a mere $12.99.
2012 Joseph Phelps Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon
Review Date: 10-2-2014
If you have not had this wine recently this is the perfect vintage to renew your acquaintance with this unparalleled Napa value. Since 2009 Phelps has shifted entirely to estate grown fruit, reducing their overall production and improving quality. They now consider their estate wine something of a "second wine to Insignia" at one third of the price. This 2012 vintage is stunning, with loads of dark fruit and fine tannins. If you are a fan of Napa Cabernet, this is a "must try." Do not miss out.
2014 Lake Chalice "The Nest" Sauvignon Blanc Marlborough New Zealand
Review Date: 10-2-2014
Our third vintage of this NZ classic and still one of our best values in a Kiwi Sauvignon Blanc. The slightly cooler 2014 vintage produced a more aromatic wine with tart gooseberry notes, a more pronounced mineral character, and a peppery finish.
2013 Domaine Renaud Mâcon-Charnay
Review Date: 9-4-2014
Best in class. This 100% Chardonnay from the Macon never fails to impress. Lovely weight and ripeness. Classic mineral and citrus notes. Superb value vintage after vintage.
Ariston Aspasie "Carte Blanche" Brut Champagne
Review Date: 9-2-2014
I think the Ariston Aspasie Carte Blanche Brut was one of the first grower-producer Champagnes I ever purchased from K&L. It remains to this day our best value in Champagne, and a superb introduction to the grower producer (RM) Champagnes. If your usual Champagne experience is Veuve Clicquot or Moet & Chandon, you owe it to yourself to try the Carte Blanche from Paul-Vincent Ariston. With roughly equal parts of the three classic Champagne grapes, and a retail price comfortably south of $30, this is a no-brainer. Open a bottle for no reason in the middle of the week. You'll feel like royalty.
2012 Bishop's Peak San Luis Obispo Pinot Noir
Review Date: 8-30-2014
I am a big fan of the Talley Vineyard's wines. We have been stocking their second label Bishop's Peak wines for several years now, and the 2012 Bishop's Peak Pinot Noir may be the best vintage yet. It is frankly tough to find great California Pinot Noir for less than $20, and the Bishop's Peak 2012 bottling really over-delivers. Plenty of ripe red and black fruits and intriguing spice notes. Rich and round in the mouth with lovely weight. Complex and multidimensional. Great Pinot Noir character at a terrific price.
2011 Relyea-Wood Santa Cruz Mountains Cabernet Sauvignon
Review Date: 7-29-2014
Santa Cruz Mountains Cab for only $15?! With only five barrels made of this 2011 Cabernet Sauvignon from R&W Vineyards on Montebello Ridge, it is the very definition of a boutique wine, but one without the extravagant price tag of many Napa bottlings. The cooler summer in 2011 meant harvest was delayed until early November. For all that, the wine is surprisingly full-bodied with plenty of ripe fruit. Bright, sweet red fruits – sour cherry and plum and fresh-picked raspberry. Notes of tobacco and blackcurrant leaf. A balanced, well-built wine with nicely integrated oak and a very reasonable 13.2% alcohol. A terrific value.
2013 Margerum Wine Company "K&L Blend" Happy Canyon Sauvignon Blanc
Review Date: 6-30-2014
You tend to see two main styles of Sauvignon Blanc in California. They are either lighter in style, very dry and crisp with tart citrus notes, or fuller-bodied, with more texture and weight (often due to barrel aging), showing more tropical fruit. The 2013 Margerum "K&L Cuvee" Happy Canyon Sauvignon Blanc somehow seems to combine the best of both. There is real richness here with exotic melon and mango notes. At the same the wine has a taut, linear style with a marked acidity and an admirable tension unusual in a California Sauvignon Blanc. Really superb, and the perfect wine for those who like having their cake and eating it too.
2013 Clendenen Santa Maria Valley Mondeuse Rosé
Review Date: 6-30-2014
Each year here at K&L the advent of warmer weather yields a brand new crop of rosé wines from all over the world. Rosés are the perfect summer wine – dry (for the most part), lighter in body, yet robust in character and flavor. I try to taste as broadly as possible in the early days yet, inevitably, one or two become my favorites and we end up drinking our way through a case or two over the summer. The early favorite this year was, rather unexpectedly, the 2013 Clendenen Santa Maria Valley Mondeuse Rosé. A bit obscure, Mondeuse is found primarily in the Savoy region of France. Jim Clendenden, of Au Bon Climat, maintains a few rows of the grape in the Bien Nacido vineyard. In some years, he adds a small amount to Pinot Noir for his Santa Barbara County bottling. The same grape makes for a bright, tangy rosé, very dry and crisp in style, with tart red fruits and a refreshing minerality. Delicious.
Daniel Ginsburg "Grande Reserve Sous Bois" Brut Champagne
Review Date: 6-2-2014
In any given week here at K&L, we taste dozens, sometimes hundreds of wines, and we try to do so in a comprehensive, consistent, and competent manner. However, just like our customers we are wine consumers as well, and sometimes, in the privacy and comfort of our own homes, professional detachment goes out the window. I was fortunate to enjoy the other night a bottle of the Daniel Ginsburg "Grande Reserve Sous Bois" Brut Champagne. My immediate reaction upon tasting it was “Wow! That is a manly goddamn Champagne!” I don’t know whether it is the high proportion of Pinot Noir, the partial barrel aging, the extended time on the lees, or some combination of all three, but this is a bruiser of a wine -– dense, powerful, broad shouldered –- and yet it manages to combine incredible richness with remarkable focus and clarity. Absolutely delicious, and a terrific value.
2010 Lambuena Crianza Ribera del Duero
Review Date: 5-30-2014
The extension of our Direct Import program to Spain is one of the most exciting things to happen to our Spanish wine selection in years. For the first time we are able to offer small production wines of extraordinary quality at unbelievable prices. Some of the first wines to arrive from the Ribera del Duero region come from Bodegas Lambuena. The best of these in my opinion is the 2010 Lambuena Crianza, a supremely balanced wine that combines a bright, lively character with ample ripeness of fruit. It is a rich, dark, oak-inflected wine that is sure to please a wide range of palates. The 2010 vintage is of such quality that while the wine can be enjoyed now, it will more than reward another 3 to 5 years in the cellar. Currently one of the best $20 reds we have to offer, irrespective of varietal or region of origin.
2013 Abbaye Saint Hilaire Coteaux Varois en Provence Rosé
Review Date: 5-29-2014
Every spring, the return of clear, blue skies and long, sunny afternoons heralds the start of rosé season. Rosé is the perfect wine to enjoy with a summer meal when you want something more substantial than a white and it’s just too hot for red. One of the world’s classic rosé wines comes from Provence in southern France. There are a number of different appellations but all produce blends made from Cinsault, Mourvedre, Grenache, and Syrah, among other varietals. One of my favorites is the 2013 Abbaye Saint Hilaire Coteaux Varois en Provence Rosé. This is a prestige cuvee made exclusively from their oldest vines, none younger than 25 years old. It is a blend of Cinsault, Grenache, and Syrah, and has that particular combination of ripeness and freshness that I associate with the best of the Provençal rosés. Tons of red fruits here – fresh-picked wild raspberry and strawberry notes. Delightfully refreshing and the perfect companion for a lazy summer afternoon.
2012 Hanzell "Sebella" Sonoma Valley Chardonnay
Review Date: 5-1-2014
One of the most impressive California Chardonnays I have enjoyed in a very long time. The perfect wine for those seeking an alternative to the popular "oaky/buttery" style which characterizes so much domestic Chardonnay. Aging in neutral oak adds texture but not flavor, perfectly complementing the citrus and mineral-driven character of the fruit. What a joy to drink!
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