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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2013 Daou Vineyards Paso Robles Cabernet Sauvignon  
Review Date: 11-14-2014
This is the most bang for the buck you can get in California! Loaded with black licorice, mocha, black cherry, cola and Asian spices, the 2013 Daou really blew me away. The concentration of this wine is deep and intense, while still keeping a round, seamless mouth feel. When you taste this wine it is hard to believe it is under $25!

Ariston Aspasie "Carte Blanche" Brut Champagne  
Review Date: 11-14-2014
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It is remarkable to me, and to much of our wine staff, some of the unique, profoundly produced Champagnes from the small producers that Gary Westby, our Champagne Wine Buyer, has discovered over the last decade. Virtually all of these producers, including the Aristons, are making sparkling wine strictly from estate fruit from Grand Cru recognized vineyard sites, and in small lots. As with any small producer, these wines are “hands-on” creations that are given extensive individual attention and long term aging before being disgorged. The Ariston “Carte Blanche’s” exquisite, superb quality is at a mind boggling low price vis-à-vis its style and complexity. Rich and authoritative both on its nutty, doughy yeasty nose and in the mouth, the very fine mousse leads to an amazingly rich, full style brut, with a long, intense finish. Some of you will probably not enjoy this Gem, due to the fact that you have gotten use to flavorless, bulk productions from the international, well-known, simply made name “brands,” but for those of you that seek complexity and profoundness in your Champagne, you will not find one even close in quality to this Gem at this price. The Guys (Rusty, Eby, The Beaner, and Rizzo) have forcefully made this our house sparkling wine forever. Don't be afraid to age this wonderful Champagne; it will only keep getting better. ABV 12%
Drink from 2014 to 2020
Price: $27.99 Add To Cart BC 0

2010 Our Wine Rkatsiteli Republic of Georgia   | Public Pending Approval
Review Date: 11-14-2014
I LOVE ORANGE WINE (In case you're unfamiliar with what Orange Wine is, basically, it's white grapes pressed and left in contact with the skins/lees for a super long time...like years instead of days or months...). This Georgian beauty is full of flavors of roasted citrus peel and a crazy wonderful herb garden. It's almost waxy in texture and so grippy tannic! This is so "new" to most Americans but so old school in Eastern Europe. This is my winter white.
Price: $18.99 Add To Cart W&S 95 BC 0

2010 Ostler "Caroline's" Pinot Noir Waitaki Valley North Otago  
Review Date: 11-14-2014
Seriously stunning Pinot! A lovely perfume on the nose is quick to announce its presence. Soft tannins and persistent fruit on the palate with remarkable focus. The fruit and over-all loveliness of the wine continues beautifully into the finish. There won't be a lot of this available so you'll be well-served not to hesitate.

2010 Ostler "Caroline's" Pinot Noir Waitaki Valley North Otago  
Review Date: 11-14-2014
A lovely, expressive nose with a nice hint of development. A stylish and elegant Pinot drinking beautifully right now!

1988 Blair Athol 25 Year Old K&L Exclusive Signatory Sherry Butt Cask Strength Single Malt Whisky 750ml   | Public Pending Approval
Review Date: 11-14-2014
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Don't think about it just buy it. For me the best cask of this "batch" of Signatory bottlings. Rich, textured, layered showing its sherry beautifully with a combination of ripe red fruits, cake spice and sweet rancio notes. An amazing bottle for the holiday season!
Price: $154.99 Add To Cart BC 0

2011 Obsidian Ridge "Obsidian Ridge Vineyard" Red Hills Lake County Cabernet Sauvignon  
Review Date: 11-13-2014
Obsidian Ridge Cab has always been my "go to" when I don't want to spend twice as much as some of the Napa Valley counterparts. From just north of Napa, this densely packed Cab hits all the right notes. Dark and full in the glass, with great aromatics of black current, cedar, baking spice and cassis. Super lush and forward on the palate with well-integrated oak and tannins making it the perfect winter red that can be enjoyed solo or with a juicy steak!
Price: $24.99 Add To Cart W&S 92 BC 0

2013 Ancient Peaks/K&L Wine Merchants Paso Robles Cabernet Sauvignon  
Review Date: 11-12-2014
The Best Paso Cab I've had in a LONG Time! I love Ancient Peaks for its unique mesoclimate and being able to construct Paso Robles AVA Cabs that are so beautifully structured and food friendly. This has all the fruit you need but the structure, acid, and tannin that Paso Cabs usually lack, and it's not overripe, raisiny, or stewy as can be the case, either! Love, love, love this Cab and so will you!
Price: $24.99 Add To Cart BC 0

2013 Brewer-Clifton/K&L Wine Merchants "B-C. Kessler-Haak Vineyard" Sta. Rita Hills Pinot Noir  
Review Date: 11-12-2014
Bright, forward, yet sweetly seductive, this K&L Barrel selection Pinot Noir delivers all the goods! Not as candied as the typical Brewer Clifton Pinots tend to be, yet still shows the same intensity of red fruits. The aromatics burst out of the glass and the palate is full of juicy, bright fruit, acid, and seamless texture. This is amazing to drink now or put away for a few years! Such a Thanksgiving classic!
Price: $39.99 Add To Cart BC 0

2013 Au Bon Climat/K&L Wine Merchants "Bien Nacido Vineyard" Santa Maria Valley Pinot Noir  
Review Date: 11-12-2014
Last year’s Co-Branded Pinot Noir from Au Bon Climat was such a hit we couldn’t help but to make it again! Once again we think Jim Clendenen and his wildly talented crew at Au Bon Climat has out done themselves with the quality of the components that they allowed us to make this wine from. Just like last year this wine is 100% fruit from the famed Bien Nacido Vineyard, with both components coming from Block 2, which was planted in 1994. Made from 50% Clone 113 and 50% Clone 115, of which 50% was whole-cluster fermented, this was actually the first blend we put together once we ran through all of the components we had available to us. That’s right; we nailed this blend on the first go around! We certainly tried to improve it but it always lingered on our palates as the best of the bunch. Instantly drinkable this is packed with boisterous red fruits on the nose of Bing cherry and muddled raspberry with a hint of sassafras, tarragon and finely ground white pepper. Mouthfilling and with no roughness, which is impressive in its youth, this is one easily gulpable wine but it’s so much more serious than what you’d first expect. With velvety fine tannins and a persistent mouthwatering acidity this wine has plenty of structure to get better over the next 4-8 years. However if you drink it now you’ll be able to experience plenty of delicious flavors like red plum, dragonfruit, cola, violets and Rainier cherries. Long and lasting on the palate with a likeable plush texture we think this Pinot has a little something to please everyone. Go ahead prove us wrong.
Price: $24.99 Add To Cart BC 0

2013 Bethel Heights/K&L Wine Merchants Eola-Amity Hills Pinot Noir  
Review Date: 11-12-2014
On our recent trip to Oregon this summer we certainly found plenty of great wines and met with a multitude of amazingly talented people. Many of the wines we found on that trip have already come in and sold out mostly due to our sheer excitement about the quality of wines we found. One of the most exciting opportunities from that trip was to work closely with our friends at Bethel Heights to put together a Pinot Noir exclusive to K&L as part of our burgeoning Co-Branded project. This 2013 Bethel Heights/K&L Wine Merchants Eola-Amity Hills Pinot Noir ($24.99) is a blend of the young vibrant fruit of the bordering Bjornson Vineyard, a vineyard planted in 1996, and the more nuanced, ethereal fruit from the old Wädenswil block at Bethel Heights Estate, planted in 1977. Ben Casteel (winemaker for BH), the K&L staff and I came up with and tasted numerous blends before we enthusiastically chose the one in the bottle here. We thought it was a perfect middle ground between the sappy, rich black fruits of Bjornson and the more earthen, sage and subtle red fruits from the Estate. We loved how the nose really spoke of classic Oregon Pinot focusing on earthen, sous bois and floral tones rather than chunky fruit. The wine is seamless in texture at this point with a feminine frame and well integrated acid/tannin interplay. A bit of aeration, either by untwisting the convenient Stelvin closure or popping this into a decanter, will really help to heighten the lovely tones of loganberry, evergreen, black currant, white sage, new leather and lavender found here. Thanks to the entire Casteel Family for helping make this wonderful wine that we couldn’t be prouder to have our name on!
Price: $24.99 Add To Cart BC 0

2011 Zind Humbrecht Pinot Blanc   | Public Pending Approval
Review Date: 11-12-2014
The aromatics of this Pinot Blanc blew me away, never have I had a Pinot Blanc with so much intensity. The nose is extremely complex, full of honeysuckle, snowbell flowers, honeycomb, apricot, pears, and I can go on and on and on....The palate starts out similar to the nose with honey and pear until all of a sudden you're smacked with high acid, slate, wet stone, and steely minerality. The finish is long, dry, and satisfying. An exceptional Alsatian white that is sure to become a staple in my home.
Price: $21.99 Add To Cart WE 89 BC 0

2012 Domaine Cabirau Côtes du Roussillon   | Public Pending Approval
Review Date: 11-12-2014
The wine reminds me of the holidays! With a nose of clove, black pepper, cardamom, and bramble fruits and a palate full of ripe plums, blackberries, baking spices and fine tannins, all you’ll need is this bottle to season and spice up your holidays.
Price: $12.99 Add To Cart RP 92 BC 0

2012 Greywacke Pinot Noir Marlborough  
Review Date: 11-12-2014
Former Cloudy Bay winemaker Kevin Judd has knocked it out of the park with his 2012 Greywacke Pinot Noir. The bouquet opens with ripe raspberry, cherry, earth, clove, forrest floor and dried orange peel that is framed by light toasted oak that is perfectly integrated. On the palate there is good acidity giving a juicy mid-palate that is supported by dusty fine supple tannins and a long finish. Delicious.

2009 Domaine Cabirau "Malgre les Fonctionnaires" Côtes du Roussillon  
Review Date: 11-11-2014
This is one of these wines that completely surprised me. Crimson color and a very meaty, irony nose. Loved that, and expected a somehow savory herby palate. Than the surprise commenced... Cocoa powder, raspberry coulis, and plums, fruity for sure, but delicately so, and with lots of minerality. Very well balanced with silky-soft tannins. Think of it as a dry and lighter Banyuls-like wine. An absolutely delicious Roussillon (Catalan) wine.

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