Staff Favorites - Bryan Brick

Bryan Brick

Reviews

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2010 Matchbook Dunnigan Hills Tempranillo
Review Date: 11-13-2013
Why the heck are we sending you an e-mail on a domestic Tempranillo from vineyards that are close to Highway 5? Because it may just be one of the sneakiest values of the year from California, even Robert Parker says so. A blend of 83% Tempranillo, 10% Tannat and 7% Graciano this is not to be confused with Spanish Rioja or Ribera del Duero (where the Tempranillo cutting for this vineyard came from, coincidentially) but a truly Californian take on what we can do with the noble Tempranillo grape. Aged in oak barrels, not on chips or staves, for 26 months in a mixture of American, French and Hungarian 15% of which was new this wine has a lovely sweet tinged and opulent nose full of friendly pencil lead, dried wild berries, coffee grounds and fresh blackberries. Ripe and lush on the palate with a deep set core of black fruits, sagebrush, cola and bakers cocoa this just wildly over delivers for the paltry $13 price tag. Bright and sassy on the finish much like great Rioja, but totally different, this shocked me with its varietal honesty and superb balance. A must try wine for lovers of the varietal or great bargains.
Price: $12.99 Add To Cart RP 90 BC 0

2010 Neely "Picnic Block- Spring Ridge Vineyard" Santa Cruz Mountains Pinot Noir
Review Date: 10-18-2013
If you receive our e-mails and/or newsletter and you haven’t yet heard of the wines from the Varner Brothers you probably really have not been paying attention. We’ve championed their numerous brands (Varner, Spring Ridge, Neely and Foxglove) for years and have made many a friend with their wines along the way. I stand by my assessment that they may be the best Chardonnay producer in California over the last decade, heck, even Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate has gotten on the bandwagon giving the Varner Bros. wines consistently high scores over that same amount of time. That being said we really love what they are doing with Pinot Noir as well. All the Neely/Varner Pinots are 100% Estate fruit and while the Neely Pinots focus on single blocks, the Varner Pinot is a blend of three Estate blocks. The 2010 Neely Picnic Block Pinot Noir is possibly the most ageworthy of the three Neely wines. With much more foresty aromatics of fern, sous bois, redwood and wet earth this comes off leaner and a bit more terroir driven. Still carrying the trademark texture of the 2010 vintage from the Varners this adds brooding notes of black fruits, spice cake, cracked pepper and chewy back end tannins. There is much more scope and breadth here with flavors of Earl Gray tea, sage, boysenberry and ash but the wine needs a decant if you’d like to drink it right away or a cozy spot in your cellar for the next 3-5 years.

2010 Qupé "Bien Nacido Reserve-Block Eleven" Santa Maria Valley Chardonnay
Review Date: 10-18-2013
It’s kind of funny if you really read the wine critics reviews that are listed here. All say very complementary things about the 2010 Qupe Bien Nacido-Block 11 Chardonnay but all four of the reviews describe the wine somewhat differently. This isn’t wildly odd in this biz, after all wine is certainly “in the eye of the beholder,” but it may be a bit confusing to our customers. I believe that the reason all four of these reviews differ so much, and mine as well, is that this wine is supremely balanced. In fact it is this balance that dominates the wine from nose to finish. Because of this I think you can really focus on what you enjoy in Chardonnay as a whole. If you like them bigger you’ll probably zone in on the brioche, toasted pecan aspects of the nose and the rich weighty texture, slightly tropical fruit and the toasty roasted corn-like new oak component. If you like leaner Chards then you’ll probably focus on its citrusy, honeysuckle aromatics along with the wines unmistakable energy on the palate with lemon curd, apricot, sous bois and a long acid driven finish. Either way there is something that I think every Chardonnay fan is really going to enjoy about this wine.

2012 Ancient Peaks/K&L Wine Merchants Paso Robles Zinfandel
Review Date: 10-8-2013
We here at K&L couldn’t be more excited to bring you the third wine in what hopefully will turn out to be a long, fruitful, project with wineries from around the US working with us directly to make exclusive bottling for you, our customers. Long an idea in the heads of the Domestic team here at K&L we’ve kicked around the idea of approaching wineries or winemakers we love and asking them to work with us to create exclusive wines to our specifications. Furthermore we wanted to not only promote these outstanding wines but the wineries behind them rather than putting the wines in our anonymous house labels like Kalinda. We hope that you think that these wines offer a tremendous value and a slightly different expression of wineries that you are already familiar with. Ancient Peaks burst on the scene a number of years ago with one of the highest rated, inexpensive, Zinfandels to ever come out of California by Wine Spectator’s standards. I was intrigued by the winery wondering if they were just a tank farm somewhere down in Paso, or a legitimate producer that we needed to watch out for. In visiting them the following year I realized that they couldn’t be more in the latter camp. Their sizable estate vineyard has to be seen to be believed, with it impeccable vineyard management, incredible diversity of soil types and singular microclimate that betray the notion of Paso Robles’s intense heat. Since that visit I have touted their wares and this year I took a crew of K&L folks there that were unaware of the quality behind these undervalued wines. As we were launching the new “Co-Branded” project with Qupé and Au Bon Climat I really wanted to have Ancient Peak involved as well and Zinfandel was the wine that I though best expressed the quality of the winery. Made from one block of Zinfandel, Block 32, this is a blend of 75% old oak, 20% new oak and the 5% to round out the wine is Syrah. I loved the bright clarity in the aromatics of the old oak Zin and while it was lighter in body it had all the Zin flavors I was looking for, briary fruit, white pepper, wild berry and a touch of baking spice. The new oak Zin component added pitch and much more spice in a confectionary way adding ripeness of fruit and more of a bass tone to complement the sassy old oak fruitiness. The Syrah worked perfectly to add mid palate weight and concentration and add a bit more “beef” in both flavor and texture, not to mention adding a touch of pretty floral complexity. I am so impressed with how this wine is already completely integrated in bottle and is ready to drink right away. The staff here couldn’t be more happy with the outcome and I hope you will be too.
Price: $19.99 Add To Cart BC 0

2011 Stolpman "Estate" Santa Ynez Valley Syrah
Review Date: 9-3-2013
If you haven’t tried the Stolpman wines in a while it may be time to give them another shot. For years I thought of the wines of Stolpman to be sort of the best of the modern bunch: high extraction, higher in alcohol, bigger oak components and very ripe. However over the last couple of vintages that style has been changing bring the wines back down to a more balanced place. The wines now show off the varietals more and the unwavering quality that their vineyards always have produced rather than the winemakers hand in the cellar. The new 2011 Santa Ynez Valley Syrah unmistakenly shows this new lean with a nose more about new leather, freshly picked wild blackberries and cured beef than high toast oak barrels and prickly alcohol. Bright and sassy for Syrah, this has a wealth of spice components and really shows them off from the minute it enters your mouth. Whole black peppercorns, tar, cassis, mesquite smoke, pork belly and anisette are all apparent here with a pretty fresh green herbaceous note hiding underneath. This is Syrah in its purest form and could easily be mistaken for a young wine from the Northern Rhone from the 80s-90s. For any fan of traditional spice driven Syrah this is a must try.

2009 Cameron Hughes "Lot #285" Rutherford 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. A perfect example of this is the level of quality fruit found in this Rutherford Cab. I mean, seriously, when was the last time you found a Cabernet from the Rutherford designation for less than $40? 5 years, 10 years ago? Full of flashy oak, classy fruit, seamless texture and serious complexity this is a silly good value that we think people are going to flip out about.
Price: $21.99 Add To Cart WE 91 BC 0

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.
Price: $24.99 Add To Cart WS 91 BC 0

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.
Price: $24.99 Add To Cart BC 0

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.

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.
Price: $24.99 Add To Cart BC 0

2009 Saarloos & Sons "His" Santa Ynez Valley Cabernet Sauvignon
Review Date: 4-3-2013
Sometimes you just know. You just sort of have a feeling that everything is going to work out just fine. Some call it ESP, some say it is their gut feeling and some are just so braggadocios that they will tell you they knew all along. Well, whatever you want to call it I think all of us that visited Saarloos and Sons on our recent trip to the Central Coast back in late February knew pretty quickly that we were going to do some really cool stuff together. I originally heard a hot tip about this winery from Bob Lindquist at Qupé a while back and if Bob says someone is doing a good job than that is good enough for me. What I didn’t know was just how much this family is committed to making great wines, being true stewards to their vineyards all the while having ridiculous amounts fun and trying to pass their wines onto people in a truly different way. I mean cupcakes with wine pairings at the tasting bar??? Seriously rad. Gift Certificates made out of barrel staves. Totally bitchin’ right? Letting their 6 year old daughter decide when to begin harvest on their Sauvignon Blanc? Genius! Writing a sustainable 250 year business plan? That is just plain cray-cray. But even without all the coolness surrounding this family project I would have loved these wines every bit as much. The reason: purity. These wines are the essence of well farmed fruit made gently into even better wines. Sometimes when you taste wines with the people behind them it gives you a better context in which to understand the wines. Here we instantly saw the personality of the people in the wine: honest, dedicated, farmers, looking to do something classic but always with a modern spin. Basically what I’m trying to say is these awesome guys and gals make wines that perfectly personify that awesomness.
Price: $39.99 Add To Cart BC 0

2010 Saarloos & Sons "Hers" Santa Ynez Valley Grenache Blanc
Review Date: 4-3-2013
Sometimes you just know. You just sort of have a feeling that everything is going to work out just fine. Some call it ESP, some say it is their gut feeling and some are just so braggadocios that they will tell you they knew all along. Well, whatever you want to call it I think all of us that visited Saarloos and Sons on our recent trip to the Central Coast back in late February knew pretty quickly that we were going to do some really cool stuff together. I originally heard a hot tip about this winery from Bob Lindquist at Qupé a while back and if Bob says someone is doing a good job than that is good enough for me. What I didn’t know was just how much this family is committed to making great wines, being true stewards to their vineyards all the while having ridiculous amounts fun and trying to pass their wines onto people in a truly different way. I mean cupcakes with wine pairings at the tasting bar??? Seriously rad. Gift Certificates made out of barrel staves. Totally bitchin’ right? Letting their 6 year old daughter decide when to begin harvest on their Sauvignon Blanc? Genius! Writing a sustainable 250 year business plan? That is just plain cray-cray. But even without all the coolness surrounding this family project I would have loved these wines every bit as much. The reason: purity. These wines are the essence of well farmed fruit made gently into even better wines. Sometimes when you taste wines with the people behind them it gives you a better context in which to understand the wines. Here we instantly saw the personality of the people in the wine: honest, dedicated, farmers, looking to do something classic but always with a modern spin. Basically what I’m trying to say is these awesome guys and gals make wines that perfectly personify that awesomness.
Price: $26.99 Add To Cart BC 0

Jolly Pumpkin Artisan Ales "Bam Biere" Farmhouse Ale, Michigan 750ml
Review Date: 5-25-2010
The Jolly Pumpkin Artisan Ales "Bam Biere" is one of the best work horse beers out there. Made in the style of a Saison this is one of the best interpretations coming out of the US right now. With its yeasty, fruity nose of peach, apricot, fresh bread dough, tangerine and a pinch of clove this is about as traditional as Saison gets. Lightweight on the palate but full of flavor the beer displays flavors of brewer’s yeast, fried plantains, wet earth, savory grassy tones and a bit of drying hoppiness in the finish. The sweet/bitter interplay here is perfect, keeping the beer from ever getting out of balance or cloying white the understated fruitiness builds complexity as it goes. Big time Boosh!
Price: $10.99 Add To Cart WE 91 BC 0

West County Cider "Redfield" Cider, Massachusetts 750ml
Review Date: 5-25-2010
A perfect summer beverage is the West County Cider "Redfield" Cider. This is far from your typical cider made from the apple varietal of Redfield which is red fleshed giving the cider its brilliant orange, ruby color. Aromas of raspberry, rose water, mango and warm clay are wonderfully alluring and really add a separate dimension that most will not expect from cider. The cheery, bright flavors of cherry, cinnamon and pear build on each other developing acidity and cut as they go until you reach the grainy bittersweet apple quality towards the center of the mid palate. Mildly tannic and totally serious this has the ability to change any negative opinions you may have had about cider in the past. Total Boosh!
Price: $16.99 Add To Cart BC 0

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