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Staff Favorites - Bryan Brick
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2011 Limerick Lane Russian River Valley Syrah/Grenache
Review Date: 2-26-2014
Limerick Lane was always one of the great mysteries of the Russian River Valley. I think however that mystery has finally been solved. Let me explain. For years this winery had zero consistency. Some years the wines would just floor you with their rare mix of finesse and complexity, the next they’d be undrinkable. It always seemed that the raw materials were exceptional; they were just not being molded in the right way. Then the Bilbro Brothers, previously working at their family’s winery Marietta, bought the winery in 2011 and everything changed. The wines, even the early ones that they didn’t make from front to back were of the level that I’d expect. The 2011 vintage is the first that they made in its entirety and the wines are absolutely stunning. The 2011 Grenache/Syrah is at first look a bruiser of a wine, but if one looks closely I think there is more than meets the eye here. Packed with bold aromatics of pepper bacon, chaparral, wild blackberries and fresh asphalt this is not shy on the instant the cork is pulled. On the palate it lightens up a bit with the fresh red fruited nature of the Grenache adding a counter weight to the hefty Syrah spice and meatiness. Add some pleasing structural tannins and a slick, polished nature and this is about as good as modern Rhone Blends get in California.
2011 Hendry "Block 7 & 22" Napa Valley Zinfandel
Review Date: 2-26-2014
Hendry long has flown under the radar in the world of Zinfandel except with maybe the most ardent fans of the varietal. They don't do a lot self promotion and they don’t have a big flashy building on Highway 29 or the Silverado Trail in Napa. All they do is quietly make amazing wines, their Zinfandels long my favorites from their bench land vineyards. This Block 7&22 Zin is one of the best I've seen in the past few years with alluring aromas of warm soil, blackberry, pastilles and subtle pepper notes. This is the rarest kind of Zin in my book, one of refinement and poise rather than hammering weight and extraction. Lithe and friendly from the moment it hits the palate this is full of black currant, bittersweet chocolate and a pleasing undercurrent of savory herbs and iron rich soil. Long and lasting with great finishing acidity this Zin is going to be much more appropriate on your dinner table than as a cocktail wine, even with its balanced 15.5% ABV. This makes me want roast pork with crispy skin really bad!
2011 Seven Hills Columbia Valley Cabernet Sauvignon
Review Date: 1-22-2014
Has there been a more consistent Cabernet Sauvignon at the $20 price point than the Seven Hills Columbia Valley bottling? Pretty much every year for the last decade this bottling has been top notch, rivaling bottles that are twice its cost. In 2011 a cold growing season, maybe the coldest on record in Eastern Washington, many wineries decided to not produce their top wines. This is exactly what Seven Hills did, funneling all of their best fruit into the lower tier bottlings. This Columbia Valley Cabernet comes from fruit throughout the massive appellation focusing on fruit from Wahluke Slope, Yakima Valley, Red Mountain and Walla Walla Valley, mostly from great declassified lots. This blend of 77% Cabernet Sauvignon, 6% Carmenere, 4% Merlot, 4% Cabernet Franc, 4% Petit Verdot and 5% Malbec, and it over-delivers greatly for $20. It's showing just how fantastic Cabernet can still be in this price point. Exciting and vital on the nose, this has alluring aromatics of crushed violet, old leather, Bing cherry, bay leaf and black olive. On entry the wine is lithe and accepting, it sort of waves you in with its cocoa powder, black raspberry, Oolong tea and crème brulee flavors. Softly tannic this is a wine that you can drink instantly but will also continue to develop over the next 3-7 years. I would be hard pressed to find a better Cab for $20 from Washington or anywhere else for that matter.
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.
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.
2007 Chateau Montelena Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon
Review Date: 3-24-2011
Call it "classic," call it "old school," call it whatever you want but this is still one of the best mid-priced Cabernets coming out of Napa. Full of intense black fruited richness, woody tannin and leafy/foresty spice this is sure to please those that are looking for something leaning more towards the traditional side of Cabernet.
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!
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!
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