Staff Favorites - Melissa Smith

Melissa Smith
Growing from a Redwood City sales position in 2009, to the company sake buyer in 2011, and then to the Head Sommelier in 2013 my love of wine spreads the gamut from mineral laden Sancerres to California Zinfandels aged over 20 years, Urban wines to classic Bordeaux, and 99% of the spirits that we carry. As a CIA trained chef I spent 15 years in some of the top kitchens in the country until my love of wine won out and I transitioned to the wine industry in 2004 where I began utilizing my skills as an instructor, a writer, and a restaurant consultant after passing the introductory level exam of The Court of Master Sommeliers. In 2010, I developed the first iPhone app for wine pronunciation, the Enotria Guide. In 2011, I became one of the few certified Sake Sommeliers in the country through the Sake Education Council. Outside of K&L I run private and corporate wine and spirits events around the Bay Area, consult on private cellars, and attempt to write professionally.

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2010 Maison Blanche, Médoc  
Review Date: 1-15-2015
This is a fantastic, Merlot-based Bordeaux at a fantastic price. The wine is 80% Merlot and 20% Cabernet Sauvignon from the fabulous 2010 vintage. Red and blue ripe fruit with healthy notes of chocolate, tobacco and cedar wrapped by brilliant acidity. Tannins are alive and on the harder side but an hour in a decanter and this baby will open up and taste great.
Price: $14.99 Add To Cart JS 90 BC 0

2009 Columbia Crest "Reserve" Columbia Valley Cabernet Sauvignon  
Review Date: 1-15-2015
Dark purple-black color in the glass. Subtle aromas of chocolate, earth, truffles, cassis, and blackberry. Juicy and plush on the palate with fair acidity and integrated oak tannins. This is ready to drink now and is a lovely wine that expresses Washington terroir very well.

2013 Petit Clos (Henri Bourgeois) Sauvignon Blanc Marlborough  
Review Date: 1-15-2015
Made by esteemed Sancerre producer, Henri Bourgois, it's no surprise that this wine has some of that character. Lemon and lime blossom aromas mix with notes of grapefruit, passion fruit, a hint of tarragon and a flinty mineral note. On the palate there is good texture due to some time on the lees supported by zesty acidity that leads to a long finish.

2013 Petit Clos (Henri Bourgeois) Sauvignon Blanc Marlborough   | Public Pending Approval
Review Date: 1-15-2015
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Fantastic Savvy! Grown on a close-planted, organically farmed estate in Marlborough's Southern Valley sub-region. Clos Henri is a project owned by master vigneron family Domaine Henri Bourgeois from Sancerre. The wine is a lovely combination of New Zealand's typically overt, bright fruit and Sancerre's more classic, restrained personality, with focus and minerality. We really liked this wine and took a serious position on it to bring you the best pricing around. This is a real bargain for lovers of dry, crisp, refreshing whites.
Top Value!

2011 Cos d'Estournel, St-Estèphe  
Review Date: 1-15-2015
Off vintages? Cos d'Estournel doesn't have off vintages. That's why their 2011 (an "off vintage") is still loaded with soft, succulent fruit, an earthy core of integrated goodness, and pretty notes of flowers and spice on the finish. The price is right as well. A good Cos vintage to invest in considering the lower bottle cost and the outstanding quality here.

2012 Poujeaux, Moulis  
Review Date: 1-15-2015
There's nothing like shopping in an off vintage to really illustrate how meaningless terms like "good year" or "bad year" really are. 2012 isn't a "good year" for Bordeaux, but you wouldn't know it after drinking a glass of the 2012 Poujeaux. The fruit is soft and open on the initial sip, but slowly fades into mineral notes and more earthiness. This is a wine that will definitely reward a few years in the cellar, but with decanting can be enjoyed now with a steak (or two).

2009 La Cardonne, Médoc  
Review Date: 1-15-2015
Despite the ripe vintage, the 09 Cardonne doesn't stray from the classic Bordeaux flavor profile. It uses the fantastic ripeness as a strength, but it still maintains a leaner, more subdued, classically claret-style of palate with dusty tannins on the finish. A great grab to drink now for those that appreciate the most restrained French flavor.

2010 Maison Blanche, Médoc  
Review Date: 1-15-2015
If you're looking for a more fruit-forward style of Bordeaux to drink now (as in tonight) then look no further. It doesn't get much better than this. The aroma is just stunning: lush red fruits that linger long on the nose. The palate has more of that promising aroma, but with just enough tannic structure to balance out the ripeness. California drinkers could easily crossover with this one. No need to lay it down. It's drinking perfectly right now.
Price: $14.99 Add To Cart JS 90 BC 0

Highland Park "Dark Origins" Single Malt Whisky 750ml   | Public Pending Approval
Review Date: 1-14-2015
Highland Park peat is like no other that I've encountered, so far, on my whisky journey. And this whisky's response to a heavy dose of sherry is singular, too. "Dark Origins" is a NAS (no age statement) single malt, and as I understand it, many people have reservations and/or criticisms of this genre of whisky. Certainly, the opaque black bottle, the price point, and the "outlaw" backstory may set off some alarms, for some. Caution--am I being marketed to? Yes, but here's what I found: Highland Park don't fool around. This is a medium-bronze hue, not luridly dark (the label says, a naturally dark hue but does not specifically say it's not colored; it does state non-chill filtered). The peat aroma is of a floral, gentle heather sort, not a hot, burning heather like some young Islay peaters; there's milk chocolate, too, accenting the perfumy sherry--no walnut or rancio character, here. Like an HP 21-year that I sampled last year, this retains its applejack character to the last, but it's so refined, it's like the champagne of whiskies--the warmth spreads slowly across the palate, instead of quickly burning a retronasal path out and up. Maybe, eventually, I'll appreciate the more subtle, ethereal whiskies for what they are, but for now, this is like my perfect fantasy of what Highland Park can be--the subtle grace, plus a wee bit more stuffing.
Price: $79.99 Add To Cart BC 0

2012 Georg Albrecht Schneider "vom Rotliegenden" Niersteiner Hipping Riesling Spätlese Trocken (dry)  
Review Date: 1-14-2015
The nose on the Schneider Red Slate offers spice, sweet pea blossom, honey, golden apple, and just the faintest whiff of mineral and petrol way in the background. On the palate it is graceful and elegant, sporting a lush mouth-feel and weight, without any heaviness. The flavors keep to the floral, delicate side, and it wears its mineral component lightly. While dry, it finishes more plush and supple than brisk or austere. All in all, this is a complex and charming white wine that’s yours for a pittance!

2001 Tertre Daugay, St-Emilion  
Review Date: 1-14-2015
Developed wine still showing beautiful fruit and elegance. Plums, sweet coffee, dark cherries and very enticing spices, along with soft tannins and bright acidity framing the palate. This wine will benefit with an hour or two of decanting. It is a delightful Bordeaux that is ready to drink right now.
Price: $24.99 Add To Cart BC 0

2010 Raymond Lafon, Sauternes (375ml)  
Review Date: 1-14-2015
Sauternes is the most expensive wine to make in Bordeaux, and many would say the best value for the wine lover. They are nearly eternal wines which develop effortlessly across generations, yet they are very charming young. The 2010 Raymond Lafon has it all, beautiful honey and dried apricot flavors and aromas, luscious sweetness and fantastic focus and acidity on the endless finish. If you haven't had Sauternes in a while, this is a great one to try!
Drink from 2015 to 2040
Price: $19.99 Add To Cart RP 93 BC 0

2010 Raymond-Lafon, Sauternes  
Review Date: 1-14-2015
Sauternes is the most expensive wine to make in Bordeaux, and many would say the best value for the wine lover. They are nearly eternal wines which develop effortlessly across generations, yet they are very charming young. The 2010 Raymond Lafon has it all, beautiful honey and dried apricot flavors and aromas, luscious sweetness and fantastic focus and acidity on the endless finish. If you haven't had Sauternes in a while, this is a great one to try!
Drink from 2015 to 2060
Price: $39.99 Add To Cart RP 93 BC 0

2009 La Cardonne, Médoc  
Review Date: 1-14-2015
The real story of the great 2009 vintage is wines like this La Cardonne. A Cabernet blend with this sort of balance is a rarity at any price in California. At the price we have now, this Medoc is simply a steal. The aromatics have opened up beautifully after six years and the texture has developed perfectly. Have this dark, curranty wine tonight with a steak and put down 11 more for the future!
Drink from 2015 to 2024

2009 Columbia Crest "Reserve" Columbia Valley Cabernet Sauvignon   | Approved
Review Date: 1-14-2015
This is an incredibly elegant wine that displays everything one might desire from a California Cabernet. A very well balanced structure of dark fruit, spice, and toasty aromas of espresso and toast, this wine is a great choice for a big ol' piece of meat! Delicious!

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