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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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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.
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.
2005 Heras Cordon Reserva Rioja
Review Date: 8-9-2013
This is a lovely, softly textured, classic, fruit forward Rioja that is beginning to show a hint of the savor which we love in this region. To benchmark it, we recently had it open alongside another 2005, the traditional stalwart and one of our favorites, La Rioja Alta Viña Arana. I think that this more than held its own, perhaps showing less spicy intrigue and classic American oak flavors, but definitely exhibiting a similar effortless balance and comparable length on the palate. Very good stuff for now or over the next several years.
2010 Finca Decero "Remolinos Vineyard" Cabernet Sauvignon Mendoza
Review Date: 5-7-2013
Finca Decero is a relatively new project, but one that has already earned some glowing press, including the aforementioned review from Neal Martin as well as some praise from Jancis Robinson. This cab is both polished and fruity, yet balanced and true to the grape variety as well. A subtle, appealing leafy note weaves its way between layers of red and dark cherry fruit, baking spices and well integrated oak. While this may seem like cliché at this point for top quality cab producers outside of Napa, it bears repeating here: you will not find a Cab nearly as good as the Finca Decero at this price in Napa!
2004 Bodegas Fernandez "Escudo de Plata" Gran Reserva Jumilla
Review Date: 4-24-2013
If you are a fan of old school, long aged Rioja, old school southern Rhone wines, old school, slightly more rustic 1990's era Spanish reds...then may I humbly suggest this 100% Monastrell (Mourvedre)? The Escudo de Plata is a delicious wine that offers an incredible balance of generous fruit, intensity of flavor without excessive heaviness,and nice developed complexity from long barrel and bottle ageing. This is true Monastrell, unmistakably Spanish and simply one of the better values in mature red wine we're likely to find this year. Don't miss out!
2010 Qupe "Sawyer Lindquist Vineyard" Edna Valley Grenache
Review Date: 3-29-2013
This young vineyard is producing very good quality grenache. Bright, savory, slightly peppery and wonderfully balanced. If you like Grenache that is not in the riper style, then this would be a good one to try.
2005 Michel Loriot Vintage Brut Champagne
Review Date: 8-7-2012
Much richer than the non-vintage Loriot cuvee reserve, this almost pushes the limit of my tolerance for richness in a Champagne (consider the source though...I enjoy acidity at least as much as Westby does!) Regardless, the wine is still wonderfully balance, with lots of golden fruits and a biscuity quality as well. Very tasty champagne that's drinking great right now.
Michel Loriot "Authentic" Brut Champagne (previously Cuvee Reserve)
Review Date: 8-7-2012
The Loriot cuvee reserve is showing just wonderfully right now. Aromatically, this is definitely on the spicy and appley side of Meunier based champagne, but with a crisp, bright quality (this wine does not go through malolactic). Soft bead, mouthwateringly delicious fruit, great style, what else could you ask for in a Champagne at this price? Without a doubt, this is one of my favorites in the store right now.
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