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Staff Favorites - Bryan Brick
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2010 Tamarack Cellars Columbia Valley Cabernet Sauvignon
Review Date: 7-29-2013
Quietly Tamarack Cellars have been cranking out some of the best values in Cabernet Sauvignon over the last few years. Some of you may remember the 2009 Cabernet we sold from them around the Holidays of 2012, it was a rousing success for us and there were plenty of complements by our customer on how delicious the wines was. The 2010, I think, is just as successful mainly due to the amazing fruit that is put into this wine. Tamarack uses some of the highest regarded vineyards in the state in the production of this wine, Ciel Du Cheval, Taptiel, Seven Hills, Weinbau are just some of the big name fruit sources that go into this wine. This is akin to taking the best vineyards in Oakville, Rutherford and Calistoga, blending them together and selling it for less than $30. In the bottle the wine is certainly more structured than was displayed in the 2009 with a much more tannic structure and more complexity of aromas and flavors than was dictated by the hotter vintage previous. Dense and inky in the glass this is a big, masculine wine with plenty to offer those that want their Cabs to punch them in the mouth a little but yet is still restrained enough to be drunk now, preferably with rare red meat. Licorice, tar, sweet pipe tobacco, cassis and olive flavors are all discernable and delicious. The finish is long and powerful alluding to the possibility of a long life ahead. My best guess is that the zone for this wine is from December 2013 to sometime in 2018.
2010 Qupé "Sawyer Lindquist Vineyard-K&L Selection" Edna Valley Syrah
Review Date: 7-23-2013
A blend of 91% Syrah and 9% Grenache this is a lovely wine already with alluring aromatics of cocoa powder, dried fennel, camphor and subtle notes of bacon smoke covering warm blueberry muffins. Soft and inviting this is wonderful right now with supple, caressing texture and fleshy black fruits all pinned down by velvety tannins and some pleasing black pepper spice. Long and juicy on this finish this keeps echoing flavors found on the palate along with notes of fried sage and sweet licorice. I couldn’t be happier with the wine and think it is going to be just as well received as a cocktail wine as it will on the dinner table. Think cassoulet, short ribs and pork loin as willing and justified partners.
2009 Cameron Hughes "Lot #316" Napa Cabernet Sauvignon
Review Date: 6-26-2013
I’ve known Cameron Hughes and his wines since his first release almost a decade ago. Over this time Cameron has turned his little Negociant project into one of the best California has to offer. He obtains some of the best fruit, not only from California, but now from around the world. Lot #316 is a tremendous Napa Valley wine from a big name vineyard in the Valley that Cameron was sworn to secrecy about. No matter where the fruit comes from this is just insanely good, drinkable, crowd-pleasing wine for probably a quarter of the cost it would be if it was made into its “original” label. Full of toasty, rich oak spice in the nose along with camphor/mint notes this wine instantly over delivers for $16.99. Sweet licorice, cassis, plum and blueberry fruit combine in a masculine style with a gooey density and a rich creamy finish. $16.99!! Seriously???
2007 Cristom "Louise Vineyard" Willamette Valley Pinot Noir 375ml
Review Date: 6-20-2013
I’ve loved the 2007 pinots from the moment they were released which was a unpopular stance to take. Sandwiched between the ripe, or mostly overripe, 2006’s and the blockbuster 2008’s 2007 got lost in its cool vintage nuance and subtlety. The wines were always incredibly aromatic, a note that is lost on most critics sadly, and had incredible energy, acidity and life. The problem was, for most, that they didn’t have a lot of stuffing, power or heft. Fast forward to now and many people are eating crow on the 2007 vintage. The wines have become even more wonderful adding mid-palate complexity and weight and are beginning to fully flesh out. This 2007 Louise, the warmest block on their property helpful in this cold year, is just delicious. Exotically perfumed with a load of tropical fruits, rose petal, cardamom and talc this is why I loved the aromatics of the vintage back when it was released. Bright and savory on entry this has loads of earthen/forest-y spice and an energetic yet surprisingly textural feel. White cherry, thyme, fern, apple skin and cranberry are delicately meshed on the palate and lead to a wine of great polish and poise.
2006 Cristom "Marjorie Vineyard" Eola-Amity Hills Pinot Noir (375ml)
Review Date: 6-20-2013
For some reason I’ve always gravitated to the wines from the Marjorie block at Cristom as being the most intriguing and interesting wines from their estate. This leads me to generally pick these wines as my favorite of the single blocks. The Marjorie block existed on the property when the Gerrie Family purchased the land in 1991/1992. The vines date back to 1982 making it one of the oldest vineyards in the Eola-Amity Hills. The overall heat in 2006 has been well documented and all wines were struck by it including this one. The good news here is that this wine still has surprising cut and energy. The nose instantly shows the vintage with ripe, sunny tones of warm asphalt, dried raspberry and a bit of barrel char from the 64% new oak that it saw. Lush, expanse and open this is why so many people loved this vintage. This wine is all about texture and mouth feel and fans of more modern styled Pinots will love this will all of its bass toned red and black fruits and it overall round nature.
2005 Cristom "Louise Vineyard" Willamette Valley Pinot Noir (375ml)
Review Date: 6-20-2013
2005 Willamette Valley Pinot Noir has always been a crowd pleaser. From the beginning the wines had tremendous fruit and supple, rich texture and a hefty overall nature. The fear about these wines was if there would be enough structural tension to hold everything together, and while I certainly won’t vouch for all the wines of the vintage I will go to bat for the 2005 Louise. Louise was the first vineyard that Cristom planted on their estate and is one of the warmer sites on the estate due to its lower elevation. The wine has a deep nose full of confectionary spices like cinnamon stick and clove and has brighter tones of dried cherry, rhubarb and sage all of which combine to give the nose a sort of exotic nature. That same nature really translates on the palate with layers of passion fruit, dragon fruit, clove, sweet licorice and a mélange of other red fruits. Still muscular and brawny this is a wine that will continue to grow into itself.
2004 Cristom "Eileen Vineyard" Willamette Valley Pinot Noir 375ml
Review Date: 6-20-2013
The Eileen Block on the Cristom Estate is their highest elevation vineyard and their youngest Pinot Noir vines. This combination of youthful exuberance and tension from struggle makes for wonderful wines from this parcel. A perfect example of that is from the superb 2004 vintage which is one of the best vintages of the decade for my money in Willamette Valley Pinot Noir. A packed and inviting nose of whole cluster spiciness, wet soil, tree bark, tar, cassis, bay leaf and dark centered boysenberry combine give away early on just how complete and complex this wine is. Silky soft on the palate with a sexy mix of sandstone, more cassis, raspberry, black cherry, beet and rhubarb this is a wine that is easy to lose yourself in. Perfect for the dinner table with its overall poise and balance this is a testament to what Cristom is truly trying to accomplish.
2010 Seven Hills Columbia Valley Cabernet Sauvignon
Review Date: 6-13-2013
Seven Hills has long been one of favorite Washington producers here at K&L and one of my personal faves for about as long as I’ve been in this business. This first generation Washington winery has made great wines, seemingly continuously, since its founding in 1988 in all price points and from all varietals. A perfect example of how it can make amazing value driven wines is the 2010 Seven Hills Columbia Valley Cabernet Sauvignon. This bottling , vintage in and vintage out, has been one of the best relatively unknown values in Domestic Cabernet for around $20. This year is no exception, the cooler 2010 vintage allowed for exceptional hang time letting the fruit ripen slowly and create added complexity and structure. The nose of this wine wowed me with layers of sweet licorice, cola, caramel and nervy Asian plum fruit. Open and fleshy this can be drunk right away with ease and has gobs of precisely ripened blue fruits and a depth of confectionary spices like nutmeg and cinnamon. The finish has ample but pliable tannins and plenty of fruit driven complexity bolstered by earthy notes and touches of violet. If you haven’t ever tried this wine now is a perfect time to start.
2010 Ojai "McGinley Vineyard" Santa Ynez Valley Sauvignon Blanc
Review Date: 6-13-2013
On a recent trip down the Central Coast I was lucky enough to get an appointment at Ojai Vineyards. Tucked away in a beautiful spot in the town of the same name it would be easy to overlook the winery being that there is no advertising, no ballyhoo, heck there isn’t even a sign on their gate letting you know where they are. But once you are there it becomes readily apparent the level of attention and detail that is put into all of their wines. A perfect example of this is the 2010 Ojai "McGinley Vineyard" Santa Ynez Valley Sauvignon Blanc. 2010 was a cooler vintage in the Santa Ynez Valley and the wine shows that vintage character with its brisk acidity and pleasing, varietal muskiness. Fermented in old oak barrels this is allowed to come along slowly and frame the truly complex flavors that are rarely found in today’s Domestic Sauvignon Blancs. Quince, musk, lime, chalk passion fruit and Meyer lemon flavors swirl around the palate, all noticeable in their own right but meshed so tightly that they all become a sort of new flavor: Ojai “McGinley” Sauvignon Blanc. The finish is long and lasting and will certainly make you mouth water and ask for simple, nor not so simple salads, roast chicken or pork tenderloin. This is a rare find in Sauvignon Blanc that will hold up with the best in the world.
2009 Au Bon Climat "Talley Vineyard-Santa Barbara Historic Vineyards Collection" San Luis Obispo County Chardonnay
Review Date: 6-12-2013
Due to our wonderful relationship with the folks at Au Bon Climat we are lucky enough to bring you this tremendous Chardonnay. Back in May I went down to ABC and had lunch, tasted a bunch of cool new wines and put together a Pinot Noir blend that we’ll be seeing later in the year, but that is a totally different story. One of my favorite wines from that day was the 2009 Au Bon Climat "Talley Vineyard-Santa Barbara Historic Vineyards Collection" San Luis Obispo County Chardonnay which I was told that K&L could have an exclusive on. I was floored I couldn’t believe that a wine with this level of poise and balance could still be kicking around and furthermore we could be the only ones selling it, but both were certainly true. A lovely pithy nose of custard, egg cream, peach pit and nutmeg builds richness as its airs in the glass. Alluring and feminine that nose is a perfect prelude to the nectarine, apricot, apple skin and tea leaf qualities found on the palate. Stylistically speaking this is just about in the middle of the Domestic Chardonnay spectrum, oak and texture is there but it is not overwhelming the pretty stone fruit and integrated acidity. Seamless and bordering on beautiful it is rare to find such a complete chardonnay at the apex of its drinking window for $25.
2010 Ramey Russian River Valley Chardonnay
Review Date: 6-5-2013
Simply put David Ramey is one of the most popular and influential winemakers in the United States today. His wines, whether from his own winery or one of the numerous wineries he consults for, are not only well received year in and year out by all the major wine publications but also by the vast majority of our customers. Simply put his wines are about as “can’t miss” as they come. The 2010 Russian River Chardonnay shows exactly what Mr. Ramey is all about: texture, richness, mouth feel and counterbalance. The round, invitingly rich aromas of apple pie, lychee and passion fruit here let you know right away what to expect. A rich, but precise, Chardonnay that is bold enough for the bigger is better fans and has enough acid and balance for those that want something more classic. Packed with vanillin oak, a touch of coating texture and fresh flavors of Rome apples, Clementine and passion fruit this is about a stylistically pleasing as it gets.
2010 Brewer-Clifton Sta. Rita Hills Chardonnay
Review Date: 5-23-2013
The wines of Brewer-Clifton have long been some of the K&L staff’s favorite Pinot Noirs and Chardonnays made in California. Maybe it was because of their unflinching stylistic choices to make energetic, sunny, fresh wines. Maybe it was due to fact that they offered some of the best values in their respective price points. But mostly I think that it was just because they made wines that just about anyone could enjoy. The wines from B-C straddle a perfect line between the modern, richly flavored, bold wines that I like to call “new-school” and the subtle, thoughtful, precisely balanced wines of the old world. This Santa Rita Hills Chardonnay, pulled from some of the most famed vineyards of the region,Mount Carmel, 3-D, Gnesa, Sea Smoke, and Zotovich , to be exact is just a silly value for $24.99. Full of vibrant aromas like cantaloupe, kiwi, clover honey and apricot one would think that this would be one of those monster chardonnays but it is far from it. Sure it has a wonderful, round, filling texture on the mouth but it is far from heavy. Richly flavored, check, but this is no hammer with lifting tones of Kaffir lime, peach skin and orange flesh and a long nervy finish that speaks of the cool climate of the region. If you never had a wine from B-C this is a perfect place to begin and if you already have you know what a tremendous value this really is.
2011 Kenneth Volk "Jaybird" Santa Maria Valley Chardonnay
Review Date: 5-23-2013
After a considerable absence we couldn’t be happier to have the Kenneth Volk wines back at K&L. Honestly, I couldn’t really tell you why they’ve been gone so long because there really wasn’t a distinct reason. What I do know is that the Jaybird Chardonnay is a perfect reintroduction of the winey which began operations in 2004 under the watchful eye of Ken Volk, the original proprietor of Wild Horse Vineyards. A large proportion of this wine comes from the tremendous vines at the Sierra Madre Vineyard just down the road from the winery and that is exactly what shows up here, those wonderful raw materials. Completely unoaked this is a refreshing Chardonnay akin to those of the Macon in riper years. The think that I really loved about this wine is that it doesn’t fall into the trap of so many Domestic unoaked Chards which is picking the fruit so ripe that the wine is uber-tropical/textural even if there is no oak. Here you get just delicious flavors of apple skin, Bosq pear flesh and lovely zesty acidity. Far from linear in scope this also shows nice breadth on the palate and just a touch of leesy richness on the finish. Welcome Back Kenneth Volk!
2011 Talley Estate Arroyo Grande Pinot Noir
Review Date: 5-23-2013
This delicious Pinot is a combination of 85% Rincon and 15% Rosemary’s vineyards, Talley two famous estate blocks. Pretty and full of spice cake/ginger bread aromatics and bold, expanse flavors of cassis, fennel and tar this is very complete for such a young wine. I love the way this wine unravels and rolls over the palate giving you everything it’s got. Talley nailed this one.
1999 York Creek Spring Mountain District Meritage
Review Date: 5-7-2013
At some point last year I was sitting at my desk thinking about some of the wines I’ve had from what I believe to be truly great wineries in the fine state of California. One of these great wineries that kept popping into my head was York Creek. The saddest part is that I hadn’t carried the wine for a couple of years due to lack of distribution. So I picked up the phone and made a call, long story short James Beard Award winner, beer icon, owner of York Creek Vineyards and an all around great man Fritz Maytag was at my desk a couple of weeks later showing me the lineup from his estate high upon Spring Mountain. From that meeting a fruitful business relationship developed which began with us selling almost 300 cases of the highly touted 2007 Estate Cabernet, followed by the possibly even more popular 2004 Estate Cabernet that flew out the doors during the Holidays of 2012. Well we’ve gone back to the well once again and found another true gem at a completely ridiculous price. We recently tasted every vintage, minus the 1998 which they did not make, between 1994 and 1999 of the Estate Meritage. What we found was amazing, all of the wines were wonderful in their own vintage specific way but we really loved the 1999 vintage. I feel like this vintage is really at its apex right now and is a wonderful example of an old wine with plenty of freshness and life. Sure there are some secondary notes of tobacco, sandalwood and mint in the nose and of course the tannins here are polished to a fine patina but this is insanely drinkable and full of fresh red fruits and a deep set forest driven spice that only Spring Mountain can deliver. Add that all up, plus you get a wine that is almost 15 years old, for $24.99 and this maybe the bargain of the year.
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