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Staff Favorites - Joe Manekin
Joe Manekin | Send Email | Subscribe to My Sommelier Service
Joe arrived at our doors in February 2007 from far away, Washington, DC to be exact. Just so no one gets the wrong idea, though, he was merely earning a living in DC; Joe’s cultural identity, as well as his professional sports allegiances and, when he has a few drinks in him, his accent, are all Baltimore through and through. After working on the wholesale side of the business for nearly 4 years, Joe decided that he wanted to work wine retail with the best, so he emailed Cindy Westby at K&L and the rest is history. While Joe is well versed in a number of wine regions, he most enjoys the wines of Europe, though he is growing increasingly interested in the great wines of the Santa Cruz mountains. When he is not at K&L, Joe enjoys cooking, traveling, catching up on The Wire, doing occasional PR, booking and recording work for reggae band JohnStone (www.johnstonemusic.com), and writing for his wine, food and music blog, Old world Old School (www.oldworldoldschool.blogspot.com)
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2012 Bernabeleva "Camino de Navaherreros" Garnacha Vinos de Madrid
Review Date: 2-4-2014
Yes, we consistently hype this wine year after year, but I have to say there is a very good reason for this: it is, quite simply, amongst the best under $15 red wines in the store. Particularly so if you enjoy some crispness, fresh acidity, and real energy to your reds. All without sacrificing great intensity of fruit. Kudos to Marc Isart and the team at Bernabeleva for continuing to make such a delicious wine and charge very reasonably for it!
2011 Millton "Te Arai" Chenin Blanc Gisborne
Review Date: 1-29-2014
This kiwi Chenin is lip-smacking, thirst-quenching and very well balanced. Classic Chenin stone fruit--think peaches, apricots and pears rather than any tropical varieties--is refreshing and beautifully balanced. I am not ashamed to say that I drank the 3-4 ounces remaining after our recent tasting, straight out of the bottle (not on the clock, of course).
2011 Lothian Vineyards Chardonnay Elgin
Review Date: 1-29-2014
Serious Chardonnay! This is creamy and rich, yet balanced and mineral as well. While so many Chardonnays are either overripe and aggressively oaked, or minimally oaked but one-dimensional and over-sulphured, it is refreshing to taste one that just shows great and drinks wonderfully right now! For those who value Chardonnay with bottle age, a hint of fat but tempered by mineral and elegant flavor development, this is as good a Chard as any in our current inventory.
2008 Rippon Riesling Lake Wanaka Central Otago New Zealand (Biodynamic)
Review Date: 1-29-2014
Rippon, the iconic Central Otago estate best known for Pinot Noir, also happens to skillfully produce a range of whites. Their Riesling is just one of them, and to give you an idea how these age, how about giving this '08 a try? Candied citrus on the nose leads to a slightly creamy, exotically fruited palate that shows good development and a style more reminiscent of Alsace or even the Alto Adige than either Germany or Austria. Not surprisingly, this is a very balanced and elegant wine from the pros over at Rippon.
2011 Jacques Bavard Saint-Romain Blanc "Sous le Château"
Review Date: 1-29-2014
While I have huge respect for the many talented, multi-generational domaines working in historic terroirs, producing excellent wine year after year, it is interesting to me how an outsider, or at least one not long involved on the production side of the business, can make excellent wines due to their palate preferences, context for wine tasting, work ethic, and savoir faire. Bavard is a perfect example. The Saint Romain Sous Le Chateau is so bright, with so much drive, that if you're like me and love such whites you may almost forget its capacity to put on weight and intensity with a few years of bottle age. So, enjoy now but don't forget to stash a few away for later!
2011 Peñalolen Cabernet Sauvignon Maipo Valley
Review Date: 1-28-2014
This is a big, brawny and richer style of Cabernet, but one that also shows solid tannin structure and balance for its heft. Aromas of dark and red fruits also show a hint of eucalyptus. On the palate, this Cab has intensity and rich fruit to spare, coupled with a savory, meaty quality. This would certainly work nicely with your favorite cut of steak. Bone in ribeye would work, though I'd personally go for a New York!
2012 Carlos Diaz "Estrela" Ribeira Sacra
Review Date: 1-15-2014
Our first Galician DI is this delicious Ribeira Sacra. What I love about the better red wines from this region (and I would certainly place the Estrela amongst them!) is their freshness, their minerality, medium body and overall balance. While the treacherously steeply sited vineyards, the poor slate soil and the dramatic scenery is eye catching,the most important thing here is the quality of the wines, which is terrific and improving with every vintage.
2011 Tikal "Patriota" Mendoza
Review Date: 1-8-2014
Tikal's Patriota has always been a favorite of many of our customers. Stylistically, I find this wine somewhere between Sean Thackrey's Pleiades and The Prisoner, in that it's got loads of blue and mixed berry fruit, well framed by oak, but with enough freshness and lift from acidity to keep it from going too much to the heavy side. We usually sell this for several dollars more, so for under $17 it's a solid deal to boot.
1973 Berberana Reserva Rioja( top shoulder fill)
Review Date: 11-19-2013
How do I build upon the flowery prose I already entered on this one? Berberana was known back in the day for the quality of their wines - we're talking pre 1970's vineyard expansion and grubbing of older vines for more productive clones. This wine is a testament to that reputation. Of all the older wines we recently opened, several of us agreed that this might have been most complete and elegant, with such terrific poise, balance and persistence. Simply amazing mature Rioja - one could not hope for much better in 40 year old wine!
2011 Bodegas y Viñedos Ponce "La Casilla" Manchuela
Review Date: 11-13-2013
From my earlier minimal experience with Bobal grapes, I was not sold on this grape variety, not until I tasted Juan Antonio Ponce's wines. Boy was I ever wrong about this underrated grape! The 2011 La Casilla is legit, bonafide, purely fruited, seriously structured, complex, delicious yet tightly wound, cellar ready wine, no doubt about it. To use a much over-used expression in the relatively small, insular world of wine email blasts, "Don't sleep." For under $20, this is quite possibly my favorite young red wine of the year.
2009 Bodegas Muga "Selección Especial" Reserva Rioja
Review Date: 11-1-2013
Keith Mabry and I tasted Muga's current releases on a blustery, mid-March morning, where large, wet snow flurries punctuated the sky and we were reminded of the cold, Atlantic climactic influence on the Rioja town of Haro! To me, this was the most impressive and Rioja affirming line-up of wines we had the opportunity to taste all trip. While a few staunch traditionalists may quibble over Muga's decreasing length of elevage and increasing use of newer oak barrels, we remaining traditionalists will likely recognize how complete, how delicious and reflective of Rioja Alta terroir these wines are. Fans of richer wines will find a lot to like with the plush, spicy blackberry and black cherry flavors, while those who prefer subtlety, nuance, acidity and minerality will also be able to enjoy these now - though probably opting to cellar for another decade or more. If you are a Rioja lover or simply looking for a great red wine to cellar, I would buy as much of this as you can afford.
2005 Island Distillery (Ledaig) 7 Year Old K&L Exclusive "Exclusive Malts" Single Barrel Cask Strength Single Malt Whisky 750ml
Review Date: 10-9-2013
Peat, honey and a wonderful grainy quality to the aromas(brought out with a few drops of water)lead to similar flavors. Given the strength, this is a whisky with terrific balance and tasty sweet/savory flavors of Carr's wheat biscuits or even a less sweet honeynut Cheerios. Great stuff for the price; I'm definitely buying some!
2011 Beso de Vino Garnacha Cariñena
Review Date: 9-25-2013
The lip-smacking berry fruit of this Garnacha makes it as delicious for a pre-dinner copa de vino as it would be for a casual dinner of pasta with sauteed vegetables. Supple, roundly textured and very pure fruited, Beso de Vino is a "kiss of wine," indeed!
2010 Finca El Encinal Crianza Ribera del Duero
Review Date: 9-11-2013
Admittedly, it was Patricio Tapas' highly complimentary review that brought my attention to this wine. Once the wine was in the glass, though, I could tell that this wine had a clear sense of place. The dark fruits, subtle hints of licorice, lightly toasted bread and spice notes all spoke of a traditionally made Ribera del Duero. For anyone who is a fan of wines such as Pesquera, Condado de Haza, Federico, et al, this would be a wine well worth checking out! It should also make for a solid cellar candidate, with at least 7-8 years of positive development ahead of it. Not so bad for a $15 bottle!
Campeòn K&L Exclusive Blanco Tequila 750ml
Review Date: 8-30-2013
I do not drink tequila often, but when I do, I prefer Campeon K&L Exclusive Blanco. Seriously, though, you don't need to be the most interesting man in the world to appreciate this tequila's spicy, agave character. It's crisp, very pure and clean tasting, and at under $30 this is definitely up there amongst the best values in the spirits department right now.
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