Staff Favorites - Chiara Shannon

Chiara Shannon
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Chiara moved north from her hometown of La Canada Flintridge in the foothills of Los Angeles to attend college at UC Berkeley. Not knowing what to do with her Bachelor’s degree in English and Spanish literature, Chiara pursued several careers, from education to marketing to fashion, before she realized her destiny lay in the wine business. She started out as a marketing assistant at Schramsberg Vineyards. After a year in wine country, she relocated to Los Angeles to try out the retail side of wine at a specialized wine shop near her family’s home, Mission Wines. Working under the tutelage of a seasoned veteran sommelier-turned-retailer, Chiara was inducted into the world of fine wine. She has since returned to the Bay Area joined the team at K&L, received her WSET Advanced certification, now manages the K&L Personal Sommelier Service. In her free time, Chiara is passionate about dance and travel, loves her husband and their life of food, wine, and music in San Francisco, practices yoga and reads in her leisure time, and is eternally grateful to her friends and family.


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Jean-Louis Denois Brut "Tradition"
Review Date: 2-19-2010
If you are looking for quality sparkling wine that is produced in the image and style of Champagne but more budget-friendly, try this brut from the Languedoc. Made from classic Champagne grapes Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, harvested at low yeilds to preserve quality, this French sparkler is crisp, dry and refreshing, with green apple and citrus flavors backed by a leesey texture, creamy mouthfeel, and delicate mousse. The finish is long and clean. Perfect for a wedding or other celebratory occasion! Your guests will thank you.
Price: $14.99 Add To Cart BC 0

2006 Hanzell Sonoma Valley Chardonnay
Review Date: 11-24-2009
In a recent tasting of 20 different California Chardonnays in this price range, the 2006 Hanzell Sonoma Valley was in a league of its own in terms of quality and class. This is a big wine, but exhibits structure, richness, complexity and length where others in this category are lacking. The nose is clean, showing more pear, melon, and citrus flavors (as opposed to caramel-soaked pineapple) and the palate is broad and rich, but supported by levels of minerality and acidity that keep the overall impression fresh and lively (as opposed to cloying). The finish is long and dry. A Chardonnay worth its weight in dollars.

2002 Bruno Michel "Cuvee Millésime" Brut Champagne
Review Date: 11-6-2009
When tasting this enchanting Champagne at our last staff tasting, the conclusions were, "definitely a 'geek' wine." In wine-land, this is a high compliment. It means that the wine possesses qualities that are uniquely and fascinatingly its own, and that you will be hard-pressed to find something similar. I love the tangy nose of yeast and fennel, the crisp, focused palate, and the finish full of surprises - mandarin orange? lemon zest? Encountering wines like this - that enhance one's taste experience, are the reason why I love this business (and this Champagne).
Price: $59.99 Add To Cart BC 0

Noah's Mill Bourbon 750ml
Review Date: 11-6-2009
This Bourbon is distilled to proof, which means that no water is added to bring the proof down after distillation. The benefit (and joy) of this is that when you drink it on the rocks, it changes dramatically with each sip as layers of flavor are unleashed by the melting ice. It starts out with intense, earthy aromas of peppercorn and chocolate, which are echoed in the mouth at first sip. What struck me about tasting this Bourbon for the first time was how the flavors exploded with intensity in the mouth without the sensation being hot or burning, as can happen with such a high proof spirit. Each sip thereafter was a surprise, as chocolate and vanilla became toffee, became hazelnut, became sweet soy and even some stone fruits made an appearance. What fun!
Price: $54.99 Add To Cart BC 0

West County Cider "Redfield" Cider, Massachusetts 750ml
Review Date: 9-23-2009
YUM! This pink-colored cider is made from an heirloom vareity of apples that actually have red flesh. The flavor is like a cross between Bugey Cerdon (a sparkling wine from the Savoie that is fresh, grapey, and a little sweet - one of my all-time favorite light bubblies) and green apples, and the overall effect is dry and refreshing. Since I can't drink beer, I am constantly on the look-out for dry, fresh and distinctive ciders - I LOVE IT!!!!
Price: $16.99 Add To Cart BC 0

Ginga Shizuku "Divine Droplets" Junmai Daiginjo Sake (720ml)
Review Date: 7-28-2009
A very elegant sake, driven by delicate aromas of almond, sweet cream and lychee fruit. The palate is tangy, and shows more of a white pear flavor. Overall, this is a dry sake with mineral structure and acidity, that hints at saltwater taffy on the long, dry finish, and would be ideal with sashimi.
Price: $64.99 Add To Cart ST 94 BC 0

Kanbara "Bride of the Fox" Junmai Ginjo Sake 720ml
Review Date: 7-28-2009
For an accessible sake that has a forward nose of bananas and tropical fruits, with creamy, nutty undertones, the Kanbara "Bride of the Fox" certainly promises to please a crowd. Don't let the fruit-driven aromas fool you, however - this sake is structured and very well balanced. The smooth finish hints at sweetness, which is ideal for pairing with a variety of sushi rolls, especially the more complex ones featuring spicey and umami flavors.
Price: $32.99 Add To Cart BC 0

Urbanite Cellars "Redart" Red Blend
Review Date: 7-15-2009
One of the the things I love about Luis Moya is that he gives all the wines in his portfolio 100 points - after all, unless you believe 100% in a wine, how do you justify selling it to others? And I am so happy he has taken his passion and applied it to a locally grown and produced red table wine under the Unrbanite Cellars label that has 100 points in my book. A well-made everyday drinker with loads of personality for under $10 is hard to find. Cabernet Sauvignon provides structure and a core of black fruit, the Syrah adds smokiness and a touch of gamey mystique, and the Zin lends spice, brightness, and punch. This is an ideal party wine, and would work very well as a wedding or large dinner reception red option because it is very food friendly and sure to please a crowd.
Price: $9.99 Add To Cart BC 0

Sorelle Bronca Prosecco DOCG
Review Date: 5-19-2009
I am impressed by this prosecco's delicate, fresh mousse, lively minerality, and mouth-watering green apple flavors. Can you smell sunshine? It's in there too. Perfect bubbles for summer. Or in the middle of winter, when you want to be transported to summer. Makes a wonderful, lighter alternative to Champagne, too.
Drink from 2007 to 2011
Price: $17.99 Add To Cart BC 0

J. Laurens Brut Cremant de Limoux
Review Date: 4-10-2009
Cremant de Limoux, the AOC for budget-friendly Champagne-esque sparkling wines, is in itself cause for a toast. The NV Cremant de Limoux, J. Laurens Brut is one of our most popular party bubblies. It looks like Champagne with sparkly light gold and a lovely bead. Creamy mousse and delightful yeasty/toasty flavors on the palate. Bone dry, and at only 12% abv,this is a no-brainer for a big event, but can make Monday night special too!
Drink from 2009 to 2011
Price: $13.99 Add To Cart BC 0

Schramsberg "Mirabelle" North Coast Brut Rosé
Review Date: 2-15-2009
Schramsberg has a special place in my heart as it was the place where I started my career in the wine business. If you haven't visited Schramsberg, I strongly recommend you do - tucked up in the hills just south of Calistoga, it is a historical landmark with some of the oldest caves in the Napa Valley, and it is one of the only places where you can see the traditional (and highly labor-intensive) methode champenoise process of making sparkling wine without going all the way to Champagne. Mirabelle is Schramsberg's non-vintage label. Composed of 64% Chardonnay and 34% Pinot Noir, this June '08 release of the rosé might be the best yet: clean and crisp, it exhibits a nose of fresh strawberries and very very subtle vanilla notes. The palate is vibrant, amplified by a fine mousse and delicate flavors of red berries and sweet-cream that I want to describe as...flirty? Try one and see for yourself.
Drink from 2009 to 2011
Price: $19.99 Add To Cart RP 90 BC 0

Caveau du Mont July Bugey Cerdon Rosé
Review Date: 12-9-2008
I really love this wine! I can't drink beer (it is very sad, I know - allergies) but this Bugey Cerdon makes up for it by being a wonderful, low alcohol, just off-dry, refreshing, food-friendly, frothy sparkler. Yes, it has it all. Lower in alocohol, it is perfect for brunch or luncheons, as well as complicated mid-day meals like Thanksgiving or Christmas, where it simply works with everything. You will be the hit of the potluck if you bring this baby, but (as I learned the hard way) bring more than disappears very fast.
Drink from 2008 to 2010
Price: $15.99 Add To Cart BC 0

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More Favorites

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2011 Dalwhinnie Moonambel Chardonnay, Pyrenees, Victoria ($32.99)

2011 Brooks Willamette Valley Pinot Noir ($21.99)

2011 Mustilli Fiano Sannio ($17.99)

2010 Oakridge Local Vineyard Series "Whitsend & Oakridge Vineyard" Shiraz Yarra Valley Victoria ($24.99)

2011 Waterkloof "Circumstance" Chenin Blanc Stellenbosch ($16.99)

2007 Domaine Faverot "Cuvée du Général" Côtes du Luberon ($17.99)

2012 Les Roches Sauvignon Touraine ($9.99)

2009 Léoville-Barton, St-Julien ($139.99)

2010 Amelia Park Cabernet Sauvignon-Merlot Margaret River Western Australia ($19.99)

2010 Rustenberg "John X Merriman" Bordeaux Blend Stellenbosch ($29.99)

2010 Moulin de la Gardette "Ventabren" Gigondas ($34.99)

2011 Les Clos Perdus "Le Rouge" Vin de Pays des Côtes Catalanes ($13.99)

2011 Oakridge 864 Single Block Selection "Drive Block: Funder and Diamond Vineyard" Chardonnay Yarra Valley ($49.99)

2010 Dalwhinnie "Moonambel" Shiraz Pyrenees Victoria ($49.99)

2011 Domaine Sylvain Langoureau St-Aubin 1er Cru "Bas de Vermarain à l'Est" ($33.99)

2010 Correggia "Val dei Preti" Nebbiolo Roero ($32.99)

2010 Domaine des Varoilles Gevrey-Chambertin 1er Cru "Champonnets" ($59.95)

2010 Claiborne & Churchill Edna Valley Pinot Noir ($24.99)

2010 LaRue Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir ($59.99)

2012 Origine Russian River Valley Sauvignon Blanc ($13.99)

1999 York Creek Spring Mountain District Meritage ($24.99)

2011 Clos Pepe "Barrel Fermented" Sta. Rita Hills Chardonnay ($24.99)

2009 Paloumey, Haut-Médoc ($23.99)

2012 Te Whare Ra (TWR) Sauvignon Blanc Marlborough New Zealand ($18.99)

2004 Bodegas Fernandez "Escudo de Plata" Gran Reserva Jumilla ($16.99)

2012 Giuliano Pecorino Terre di Chieti ($14.99)

2009 Saarloos & Sons "His" Santa Ynez Valley Cabernet Sauvignon ($39.99)

2006 Trabucchi Amarone della Valpolicella ($74.99)

2008 Clendenen Family Vineyards "Le Bon Climat" Santa Maria Valley Chardonnay ($39.99)

2005 La Rioja Alta "Viña Arana" Reserva Rioja ($26.99)

2010 Saarloos & Sons "Hers" Santa Ynez Valley Grenache Blanc ($26.99)

2010 Cameron Hughes "Lot #318" Atlas Peak Meritage ($16.99)

2012 Palmina Santa Barbara County Pinot Grigio ($15.99)

2005 Bodegas Muga "Prado Enea" Gran Reserva Rioja ($49.99)

2001 Malescasse, Haut-Médoc ($21.99)

2006 Léoville-Barton, St-Julien ($89.99)

2011 Bodegas Casa Juan Señor de Lesmos "Cuarteto" Rioja ($9.99)

2010 Bodegas Nekeas "El Chaparral de Vega Sindoa" Old Vines Garnacha Navarra ($12.99)

2011 Primitivo Quiles "Cono 4" Monastrell Alicante ($11.99)

2009 Capbern Gasqueton, St-Estèphe ($24.99)

2000 Terrey-Gros-Cailloux, St-Julien ($34.99)

2004 Lanessan, Haut-Médoc ($19.99)

2009 Tor Kenward "To Kalon Old B" Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon ($139.99)

2009 Le Bonnat, Graves ($16.99)

2010 Meli Carignane Maule Valley ($12.99)

2010 Knez Winery "Demuth Vineyard" Anderson Valley Chardonnay ($34.99)

1997 Potensac, Médoc ($26.99)

2006 Marguet Pere et Fils Grand Cru Brut Champagne ($49.99)

2005 d'Aiguilhe, Côtes de Castillon ($49.99)

2002 Dunn Howell Mountain Cabernet Sauvignon ($97.99)

2000 Labégorce, Margaux ($39.99)

2009 Sarget de Gruaud Larose, St-Julien ($34.99)

Billecart-Salmon "Brut Reserve" Champagne ($44.99)

2006 Cantemerle, Haut-Médoc ($44.99)

2007 Domaine Senechaux Châteauneuf-du-Pape ($64.99)

2005 Mount Eden "Estate" Santa Cruz Mountains Cabernet Sauvignon ($124.99)

Bruno Michel "Les Roses" Brut Rosé Champagne ($49.99)

Casal Garcia Vinho Verde Rosé ($8.99)