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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2012 Mount Eden "Estate" Santa Cruz Mountains Pinot Noir  
Review Date: 9-10-2014
For me, the Mount Eden Estate is the best Pinot Noir in California. No other producer has a track record of great, age-worthy wines that is as long or as deep. If you have read down this far, you are already aware of how great the 2012 vintage was in California for Pinot... And this may prove to be the best wine of this great vintage. On the nose, it has a kaleidoscopic complexity that puts it among the best young wines in the store. In the mouth the texture is perfect, the finish is firm, and goes on forever. It is high class stuff. It will be hard to stay away from, but the patient will be rewarded!
Drink from 2014 to 2042

Kilchoman K&L Exclusive 100% Islay Single Bourbon Barrel #344 Cask Strength Single Malt Whisky 750ml  
Review Date: 9-10-2014
This is as Islay as it gets. If you like Islay whisky, it doesn't get any purer. The barley was grown on Islay, right next door to Kilchoman, harvested on Islay, malted on Islay, fermented on Islay, distilled on Islay, matured on Islay. AND it's delicious. Pure, fragrant, wildly savage with tangy citrus and savory peat smoke. Kilchoman whisky is so good that it sometimes blows my mind. The fact that there's such a pedigree to boot makes it all the more fun to sell.
Price: $109.99 Add To Cart BC 0

2013 Domaine Cherrier Père & Fils Sancerre  
Review Date: 9-10-2014
Citrus aromas. Full on the palate. Tasty bright fruit: peach, citrus, and even a hint of melon. The touch of grassy flavors and pure Sauvignon fruit will give you a great idea of what the Sancerre appellation is all about.
Price: $16.99 Add To Cart BC 0

2013 Eric Cottat Sancerre  
Review Date: 9-10-2014
Classic Sancerre aromatics of what I call "pierre à fusil" or flint -- but not aggressively so, along with bright citrus notes. Zippy and zingy on the palate for sure, but also with a honeyed red grapefruit core which I found absolutely delicious and incredibly food friendly. Paradise will be found if you pair this with fresh goat cheese and green apples, oysters, shrimp salad with red grapefruit, scallops, and I'm just getting started...
Price: $18.99 Add To Cart BC 0

2013 Eric Cottat Sancerre   | Public Pending Approval
Review Date: 9-10-2014
A bright and vibrant Sancerre, with high acid and crisp zesty lemon and lime on the nose and the palate intertwined with an enticing white blossom nose and a dry orange zest finish. Keep a few of these stashed in the fridge for company and patio sipping!
Price: $18.99 Add To Cart BC 0

2013 Bedrock "Old Vine" Sonoma Valley Zinfandel  
Review Date: 9-10-2014
This is California soul wine, and just the sort of thing that I like to bring with me to France as a gift for wine producers there. Zinfandel is our heritage vine here in California, and the Bedrock folks have made a classic in this 2012 Old Vine. It has tons of big, spicy, dark, wild berry fruit, and the acidic and tannic structure to back it up. This is not sweet, but it sure is rich, with plenty of texture and flavor. I can't wait to have it with some BBQ!
Drink from 2014 to 2023
Price: $24.99 Add To Cart BC 0

2011 Ancient Peaks Paso Robles Cabernet Sauvignon  
Review Date: 9-10-2014
What a value! The folks at Ancient Peaks know how to manage the Paso Robles heat, and have come up with a Cabernet that tastes like a Napa bottling at double the price. It is rich, ripe and powerful, but also polished and seamless in the mouth. I think that anyone looking for mid-week Cabernet will be very impressed with this tasty wine!
Top Value! Drink from 2014 to 2019
Price: $14.99 Add To Cart BC 0

2012 Banshee Sonoma County Pinot Noir   | Public Pending Approval
Review Date: 9-9-2014
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Another really solid effort from Banshee. A juicy, richer style of Pinot Noir that still has good lift and balance. Dark cherry, vanilla, clove and baking spice. Soft and supple with good mid-palate weight and texture. Seriously crowd friendly Pinot for holiday parties etc. Very good value for Pinot of this quality in the $20ish price point. Easy to drink, easy to love!
Top Value!
Price: $22.99 Add To Cart BC 0

2012 Eyrie Vineyards "Estate Grown" Willamette Valley Pinot Noir  
Review Date: 9-8-2014
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David Lett was barely twenty-five in 1965, fresh out of UC Davis, with a smart detour in Burgundy under his boots and a strong, irrepressible passion to make great wine. So the next year he and his wife Diana transported a few thousand Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and other varietal cuttings up to northern Oregon and christened them on a few acres of pristine, southern-exposed slopes in the Red Hills of Dundee, thirty miles south of Portland. These were the very first Pinot vineyards in the Willamette Valley, and David Lett remained an outspoken, influential and wise presence in the region until his untimely death in 2008, affectionately nicknamed "Papa Pinot" by those who knew, respected and treasured him. I visited Eyrie this spring with several K&L staffers, and was met by David Lett's son Jason, who took over the winery in 2005 and was shepherding it through yet another growing season. Having grown up in the vineyards, he spoke with gentle ease about the sense of bestowed responsibility and challenges—always small production, a distinctive sense of place, uncompromising ethics—that faced the winery as it entered its fifth decade, and of the importance of maintaining the Eyrie style of natural, lithely-textured, aromatically pure, age-worthy wines. A superb example that expressed the magnificent 2012 vintage, the Eyrie "Estate" Pinot was both rounder and riper than in 2011, with more lavish spice, silky red and black cherries and raspberry on the palate, pleasant acidity and a touch of iron earth and bramble on the fine, flavorful finish. A marriage of suave and sensual, and although age-worthy, this promises considerable charm now, as the tannins are well-integrated and impressively smooth. Lett it be!

2012 Mas des Agrunelles "Les Mauves" Coteaux du Languedoc  
Review Date: 9-8-2014
The wines of Mas des Agrunelles fall into what we call the "Natural" category - unfined, unfiltered, native yeast fermentations, minimal to no sulfur, no additions really of any kind. I'm a sucker for old vine, single-varietal wines. So to find 100% Cinsault in as pure form as possible is a real treat. This has great depth of flavor that evolves over hours. Fresh blueberries and raspberries (like a bowl of fruit right off the vine) dominate the nose. Spice and complexity evolve across the palate. This just keeps going. This is a fascinating wine.
Price: $29.99 Add To Cart BC 0

2011 Dog Point Chardonnay Marlborough  
Review Date: 9-8-2014
Spending 18 months in mainly used French oak, the Dog Point Chardonnay comes across as a modern style white Burgundy. The nose shows flint, light matchstick, wet stone, baked apple, pineapple, ginger and lemon zest. On the palate, the wine is round and juicy with moderate plus acidity and very nice persistence on the back end.

2011 Dog Point Pinot Noir Marlborough  
Review Date: 9-8-2014
The Dog Point Pinot Noir has a lifted bouquet that offers brambly raspberry, cherry, cranberry, a floral violet note, sandalwood, light toasted oak (18 months in mainly used French oak), earth, clove and a hint of white pepper spice. On the palate the wine is medium-bodied with fine balance, supple tannins, and good length. Somebody throw this dog a bone!

2011 Dog Point Chardonnay Marlborough   | Public Pending Approval
Review Date: 9-8-2014
Ok, I will admit it--this Chardonnay shocked the heck out of me! The nose is all butter, toast, and sweet cream, so I was expecting a rich, fat, Carneros style Chardonnay. I was stunned when those aromas turned into zesty, lively, high acidity, with lovely apple pie spice on the palate, mineral, and then the butter and sweet cream followed. Fabulous balance. Really interesting Chardonnay--incredibly unexpected. Wow.

2011 Dog Point Pinot Noir Marlborough   | Public Pending Approval
Review Date: 9-8-2014
Bright, vibrant fruit--Red cherry, cranberry, spice, red currant with lovely acidity and soft tannin. Easy to love!

2012 Eyrie Vineyards "Estate Grown" Dundee Hills Chardonnay  
Review Date: 9-8-2014
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Please note that our inventory of Eyrie wines is always rather scarce, as they just don't make very much wine, but what they do make, well… this latest Chardonnay reflects what has been described by many as an epic vintage—the warmest summer in years, a long growing season allowing for perfectly balanced ripeness and acidity levels. But as with everything Eyrie, it's in the raw material—the Burgundian clonal varieties scrupulously hand-chosen by David Lett over forty years ago that sets this delicately straw-colored Chardonnay apart, imbuing it with refined elegance and lingering aromatic complexity. Liminal notes of poached pear, quince, lees, apple and spice play upon the palate in a stunning wine that will continue to evolve for at least a decade, probably two.

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