Staff Favorites - Bryan Brick

Bryan Brick


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2011 Westerly Santa Ynez Valley Sauvignon Blanc
Review Date: 1-22-2015
Sometimes in the profession of Wine Buying you really have to work hard, whether it is tasting and assessing a hundred plus wines in a day, dealing with testy winemakers/winery owners, long boring conversations with marketing people about pricing or a whole myriad of other things, you can really get beat up. Then there are times when everything is simple and just kind of clicks into place. The latter is what happened with this Westerly Sauvignon Blanc. It really just sort of fell into my lap, or my e-mail box, specifically. The winery reached out to see if we were interested in the wine and being that we were they sent us bottles to check out. We tasted the wine and immediately took the rest that they had. This Sauvignon Blanc impressed us with its fresh, persistent orange flesh-like acidity and pretty notes of alfalfa, tangerine and lemon curd on the palate. When we figured out we could sell it to you for a paltry $7.99 we jumped at the opportunity. What we have in stock currently is all we can get; I don’t expect this to be around for more that 24-48 hours. Act fast.
Price: $7.99 Add To Cart WE 90 BC 0

2012 Seven Hills Columbia Valley Cabernet Sauvignon
Review Date: 1-22-2015
I don’t know how they do it, I really don’t. Somehow Seven Hills puts out a $20 dollar Cabernet every year that just crushes the competition. Deep and inky, this wine has plenty of complexity to offer on the packed nose. Aromas of pencil lead, sweet licorice, pipe tobacco and black olive swirl freely in the glass. Ripe but structured, this is perfectly positioned to be an everyday drinker for fans of big Cabernet. It has enough fruit to please, but enough structure to be friendly at the table. Black tea, currant, ink, wet stone, subtle olive and dried sage flavors combine here for one shockingly complex wine, especially considering the price tag. Be it the super high quality fruit, the fantastic 2012 vintage in Washington or the open, friendly style of the winery but this wine maybe one of the best Columbia Valley bottling I’ve seen from them in the last 4-5 vintages. It’s surely not a wine to be missed.

2013 Seghesio Sonoma County Zinfandel
Review Date: 1-7-2015
Back in 2011 there was quite a scare in the world of Zinfandel. That was the year that the Seghesio Family sold their winery to a large company named Crimson Wine Group. This was a bit unsettling at the time being that the Seghesio Family was second only to the Foppianos for the crown as the longest running winemaking family in Sonoma County. We were all a little depressed by it for a while but then nothing really changed. The family still held control of the old vine plots like Cortina and Home Ranch, Pete stayed on as CEO and Ted as winemaker. The quality and branding was the same as it ever was and quite honestly I think most people even forgot that the Winery changed hands. This was great news to all Zin fans, especially when they kept churning out tremendous, affordable Zin like the 2013 Sonoma County. Just released this is a great wine for $20 with all of is warm spice cake, berry cobbler, whole peppercorn and sweet tea aromatics. Big and burly but with wild acidity acting as a counter weight this has a little something for everyone in the Zin world with its briary richness of fruit, bushels of pepper, fresh berry notes and a sweet oak lacing which ties up the substantial finish. I guess change, or the lack thereof, isn’t always a bad thing!
Price: $19.99 Add To Cart WS 92 BC 0

2012 Chateau St. Jean Sonoma Coast Chardonnay
Review Date: 12-16-2014
Can you really teach an old dog new tricks? I don’t really know but I think that some old dogs are smart enough to pick some new things up as they go along. That is exactly what Chateau St. Jean did with this brand, spanking new Sonoma Coast bottling. (By the way please don’t confuse this with the Sonoma County bottling that is everywhere and is completely different.) To say that I was taken by surprise by this new wine would be an understatement. I was blown away by the amount of power and richness it had, all the while keeping true, cool weather Sonoma Coast acidity throughout. With a nose laced with apricots, crème brulee and persimmons, while having an underlying citrus backbone, this was completely appealing and felt really natural. On the palate comes waves of vanilla, baked apples, some crushed stone and a lovely white floral highlight. For the under $20 arena of Chardonnay it certainly does not get much better than this. I’d scoop this up before the powers that be at CSJ realize just how good this wine really is!
Price: $16.99 Add To Cart RP 90 BC 0

2007 York Creek "Lake Block" Spring Mountain District Cabernet Sauvignon
Review Date: 12-15-2014
After the rousing success of past vintages and the first couple of Single Block offerings, the 2005 “Sunny Hill” and 2004 “Track,” both of which sold out in a matter of weeks if not days, we have another great wine in the pipeline. The 2007 “Lake Block” is the youngest wine we’ve worked with to date from York Creek. But don’t let that youth fool you, this is one amazing wine. Powerful and completely reminiscent of some of the great wines from Spring Mountain, this is a superstar Cabernet. Full of the minty, sage, chaparral, black currant and licorice aromas so often found on the upper echelon Cabernets from the region. This is unmistakably “mountain” Cab. With its adolescent, grainy tannins and a tight core of black fruit, spice box and pipe tobacco flavors on the mid-palate, this is certainly a wine that can age for another 10-15 years without issue. Just look at some of the other wines we’ve already sold from YC if you need a track record. However with a perfect rare steak or other hearty/braised meat dishes this is about as close to a wide open Steph Curry 3 pointer as you can get in the wine world. Automatic!
Price: $29.99 Add To Cart BC 0

1995 York Creek Spring Mountain District Meritage
Review Date: 12-15-2014
After the last few years I think just about everyone has heard us pontificating about just how good, and how insanely inexpensive, the York Creek wines are. Luckily for us and our thirsty customers, Fritz Maytag kept deep cellars over the years and still has plenty of wine for us to sell. After the rousing success of past vintages we just keep reloading because the wines are that good and you keep asking us for more. We’ve found an extra special treat to roll out this time: The 1995 Meritage. That’s right... we are wildly excited to sell this wine, which was made when Clinton was president, people went to see Waterworld just because of Costner, and somehow Hootie and the Blowfish sold like seven million copies of a record. Luckily this wine has aged much better than at least those last couple things. Still vibrant and with a lovely bouquet of dried rose petals, new leather and red currants, this is a wine that is a testament to just how well California wines can age over long periods of time. With a solid entry of sweet black tea, fresh tobacco, cocoa powder, spearmint and dried blackberries, this is one complex and likeable wine that is just about perfect for folks that are fans of more mature wines. Fully meshed and with little to no desiccation of fruit, this is just great old wine for a silly price. Think Toy Story rather than Jumanji and Radiohead’s The Bends over anything from Silverchair.
Price: $24.99 Add To Cart BC 0

2012 Michael & David "6th Sense" Lodi Syrah
Review Date: 12-9-2014
Incredibly surprising or surprisingly incredible, either way I think those two statements describe the new releases from the Michael & David winery. Always known for their amusing labels and marketing I think the most recent batch of wines will make people take notice for just how much quality is in the bottle for such little cash. The style of wine is still full throttle, fruit driven and bold, as the wines always have been but there is much better balance in the wines overall and most importantly I found there to be no discernible residual sugar in the wines. These are a must try for fans of exuberant Domestic Wines for reasonable prices. The 2012 6th Sense Syrah was really eye opening for me. I’ve tried this wine for years and it’s always been a bit clumsy in regards to its ripeness levels, not so much this year! Now don’t get me wrong this is not Northern Rhone Syrah but it is a wildly pleasurable fruit driven Syrah for a measly $12.99 and there is certainly nothing wrong with that. Aromas of chocolate ganache, wet black top and white pepper are very alluring leading to a exuberant palate of raspberry coulis, sweet licorice, pipe tobacco and wild berry cobbler with fine tannins and a stealthy long finish of toasted coconut and black pepper. A complete steal for fans of “big” wines.
Price: $12.99 Add To Cart WE 91 BC 0

2012 Michael & David "Freakshow" Lodi Cabernet Sauvignon
Review Date: 12-9-2014
Incredibly surprising or surprisingly incredible, either way I think those two statements describe the new releases from the Michael & David winery. Always known for their amusing labels and marketing I think the most recent batch of wines will make people take notice for just how much quality is in the bottle for such little cash. The style of wine is still full throttle, fruit driven and bold, as the wines always have been but there is much better balance in the wines overall and most importantly I found there to be no discernible residual sugar in the wines. These are a must try for fans of exuberant Domestic Wines for reasonable prices. I’m a big fan of party rock. Think Rick Springfield’s Working Class Dog album or any of the great Power Pop Albums of the late 70’s early 80’s like The Beat’s Self Titled album. These are certainly not the most critically acclaimed albums but when you hear them, especially at a party they really make everyone feel good, loosen up and start moving around the room. I sort of felt this way about the Freakshow Cab. Not the most critically amazing wine but damn if it doesn’t taste great and won’t please everyone in the room. Under $20 this is like a record that has 3 hits on it that you’ll never get tired of and is in the dollar bin, pure magic. Deep, with silky black fruits and a nice waft of tobacco this is palate coating and intense wine that really brings some fun to the Cabernet game. Blackberry, spice cake, toffee and café con leche flavors are all apparent here and are meshed nicely. It’s going to be hard to beat this cab for this price.
Price: $18.99 Add To Cart RP 90 BC 0

2013 Au Bon Climat/K&L Wine Merchants "Bien Nacido Vineyard" Santa Maria Valley Pinot Noir
Review Date: 12-2-2014
Last year’s Co-Branded Pinot Noir from Au Bon Climat was such a hit we couldn’t help but to make it again! Once again we think Jim Clendenen and his wildly talented crew at Au Bon Climat has out done themselves with the quality of the components that they allowed us to make this wine from. Just like last year this wine is 100% fruit from the famed Bien Nacido Vineyard, with both components coming from Block 2, which was planted in 1994. Made from 50% Clone 113 and 50% Clone 115, of which 50% was whole-cluster fermented, this was actually the first blend we put together once we ran through all of the components we had available to us. That’s right; we nailed this blend on the first go around! We certainly tried to improve it but it always lingered on our palates as the best of the bunch. Instantly drinkable this is packed with boisterous red fruits on the nose of Bing cherry and muddled raspberry with a hint of sassafras, tarragon and finely ground white pepper. Mouthfilling and with no roughness, which is impressive in its youth, this is one easily gulpable wine but it’s so much more serious than what you’d first expect. With velvety fine tannins and a persistent mouthwatering acidity this wine has plenty of structure to get better over the next 4-8 years. However if you drink it now you’ll be able to experience plenty of delicious flavors like red plum, dragonfruit, cola, violets and Rainier cherries. Long and lasting on the palate with a likeable plush texture we think this Pinot has a little something to please everyone. Go ahead prove us wrong.
Price: $24.99 Add To Cart BC 0

2011 Obsidian Ridge "Obsidian Ridge Vineyard" Red Hills Lake County Cabernet Sauvignon
Review Date: 11-18-2014
Do any of you remember the story about the little train that could? Maybe you read it to your kids/grandkids or maybe you remember having it read to you when you were young like I do. The way I recall this story, not having heard it in a couple of decades, is there was this little, forgotten, overlooked train that had great pluck and determination. He kept with it always knowing that he could pull with the best of them. One day he got his chance and wouldn’t you know it he saved the day! In my mind that’s a perfect metaphor for the 2011 Obsidian Ridge "Obsidian Ridge Vineyard" Red Hills Lake County Cabernet Sauvignon ($24.99). We’ve always kept this wine around in corners of the store that sometimes just get passed by too quickly. The staff has always loved the wine but maybe it slips their minds when someone asks them for a recommendation. This year’s wine is just too good to forget. Simply put it may be their best effort yet and it certainly is one of the best Cabernets we’ve seen from the much, yet sometimes unfairly, maligned 2011 vintage at it respective price point. There is just so much wine in this bottle; the scope and largesse here is pretty spectacular with bold, rich flavors of tar, ink, blackberry, ash, fried sage and lavender. Add a ton of spicy, exotic oak notes in the nose and a rock solid tannic structure and this is a wine that will be mistaken often for a wine twice its cost. Come on; give the little train a chance.
Price: $24.99 Add To Cart W&S 92 BC 0

2013 Bethel Heights/K&L Wine Merchants Eola-Amity Hills Pinot Noir
Review Date: 11-12-2014
On our recent trip to Oregon this summer we certainly found plenty of great wines and met with a multitude of amazingly talented people. Many of the wines we found on that trip have already come in and sold out mostly due to our sheer excitement about the quality of wines we found. One of the most exciting opportunities from that trip was to work closely with our friends at Bethel Heights to put together a Pinot Noir exclusive to K&L as part of our burgeoning Co-Branded project. This 2013 Bethel Heights/K&L Wine Merchants Eola-Amity Hills Pinot Noir ($24.99) is a blend of the young vibrant fruit of the bordering Bjornson Vineyard, a vineyard planted in 1996, and the more nuanced, ethereal fruit from the old Wädenswil block at Bethel Heights Estate, planted in 1977. Ben Casteel (winemaker for BH), the K&L staff and I came up with and tasted numerous blends before we enthusiastically chose the one in the bottle here. We thought it was a perfect middle ground between the sappy, rich black fruits of Bjornson and the more earthen, sage and subtle red fruits from the Estate. We loved how the nose really spoke of classic Oregon Pinot focusing on earthen, sous bois and floral tones rather than chunky fruit. The wine is seamless in texture at this point with a feminine frame and well integrated acid/tannin interplay. A bit of aeration, either by untwisting the convenient Stelvin closure or popping this into a decanter, will really help to heighten the lovely tones of loganberry, evergreen, black currant, white sage, new leather and lavender found here. Thanks to the entire Casteel Family for helping make this wonderful wine that we couldn’t be prouder to have our name on!
Price: $24.99 Add To Cart BC 0

2013 Ancient Peaks/K&L Wine Merchants Paso Robles Cabernet Sauvignon
Review Date: 10-6-2014
What we agreed upon for the final blend was as follows: 40% Cabernet Sauvignon from Block 15 (the structural and aromatic backbone of the wine), 40% Cabernet Sauvignon from Block 49 “A” (the mouthfeel of the wine and oak richness), 10% Malbec from Block 45 (added mid-palate weight and density), 8% Merlot from Block 3 (finishing complexity and length) and 2% Cabernet Franc from Block 9 (toasty oak and sweet spices). This blend was easily the best on the table creating a complete and complex wine that we thought showed both the style of Ancient Peaks and the collective palate of K&L. Plum, cassis and a touch of mildly toasty oak came together instantly for a surprisingly integrated and pretty nose. Ripe, with plenty of plush fruit and a medium-full weighted palate the wine showed plenty of blue/red fruit interplay along with tobacco, gravel and pencil lead. The finish is bright and juicy with a lovely layer of oak toast adding a nice confectionery spice to long and energetic finish.
Price: $24.99 Add To Cart BC 0

2012 Ponzi "Tavola" Willamette Valley Pinot Noir
Review Date: 10-2-2014
Let’s just make this as simple as possible. The 2012 Ponzi "Tavola" Willamette Valley Pinot Noir is one of the best bottles of Pinot Noir we have under $25. From the first moment I tasted the wine back in May at the Ponzi’s beautiful new winery and tasting bar I knew this was a wine that we would sell by the case--in fact I wrote just that in my notes that day. A perfect storm of a high yielding, forward fruited vintage and two generations of experience have made this one of the best entry level wines of 2012 in Oregon. Darkly fruited and showing considerable spice, this has a nose of a Pinot that could be twice its price. Juicy and fresh on the entry this has a wealth of loganberry, plum, violet, sandalwood and spice cake all wrapped into a simplistic yet wildly enjoyable wine. Long and savory on the finish this is one stellar wine that will take great care of you over the next few years if you can somehow not drink it all right away.

2012 Eyrie Vineyards "Estate Grown" Willamette Valley Pinot Noir
Review Date: 9-8-2014
It always shocks me that people don’t know more about Eyrie Vineyards. The history is rich: they were the first to plant Pinot Noir in the Willamette Valley and the first to plant Pinot Gris in the New World; their prices are comparatively reasonable; and the quality of the wines is second to none. A perfect example of why Eyrie should be known more than they are is this 2012 Eyrie Vineyards "Estate Grown" Willamette Valley Pinot Noir ($32.99). This stunning wine rivals any Pinot from anywhere in the world at the price point. Truly exceptional. Heck, I even wrote the word “Superstar” in my notes the first time I tasted it. Deeply perfumed on the nose, the wine expresses itself openly with layers of blood orange, rose water, crushed lavender, and white cherry. Long, open and sort of lanky, this is a pretty, Old World-influenced Pinot with no manipulation, just a pure expression of the great estate vineyards. Light to medium weight but bursting with flavor and complexity, this is packed with sassy flavors of loganberry, wild blackberry, clay, sous bois, tangy red cherry and a subtle herbal quality. Simply put, I don’t know of any better Pinot Noir on the shelves right now in this price range.

2013 Talley/K&L Wine Merchants Edna Valley Chardonnay
Review Date: 8-20-2014
Back in the late winter/early spring of this year I was really trying to identify a Chardonnay producer that we might be able to do a co-branded wine with. In looking at what we had and what was popular with our customers, I thought Talley would be a great fit for the project. We spoke and we both agreed that we really were excited to work with each other on this level. So at the end of June I drove down to Arroyo Grande to blend the wine with winemaker Eric Johnson out of barrel. There were 13 barrels for us to choose from, all of which were from one of Talley’s estate vineyards, Oliver’s Vineyard, and I got to select five of those barrels for this blend. What I found that day is that if I could have taken all 13 barrels, I would have. The quality of all the barrels was just superb and really showed off the vineyard and all of the subtleties that Chardonnay can have, but rarely does, in California. The final blend was actually the first we put together and while we futzed with it a bit, we agreed that this blend was always the best blend of the bunch. The nose showed a really delicate interplay of white floral notes, baked apple, sandy soil and a richer core of peach flesh and a hit of tropical fruits. With good entering cut and resonating energy and intensity throughout, this richly weighted Chardonnay never felt bogged down in anything excessive like oak or manipulated buttery richness. Instead it traded on its richly textured mid-palate and wealth of stone fruit and cleansing earth aspects as well as a lifting citrus oil note. I honestly couldn’t be happier with the way this wine came out. Thanks, Talley, for making us such an awesome wine!
Price: $24.99 Add To Cart BC 0

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