Staff Favorites - Ralph Sands

Ralph Sands
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Ralph is the senior Bordeaux specialist on the sales staff. In between trying to break into professional baseball, Ralph was picking up hours at a K&L store in Millbrae. Back then it was more about kegs and cheap booze, and both Ralph and K&L have evolved since that time. Since those long ago days in 1978, Ralph has visited his beloved Bordeaux 37 times, evaluated 19 straight vintages and has escorted over 200 customers to Bordeaux on his "Taste and Golf the Greats Tours of Bordeaux". Ralph has also conducted tasting seminars in 9 different states as well as in France, Spain and Hong Kong. Ralph's passion for wine reaches far beyond Bordeaux; to the fine wine regions of Burgundy, Loire, Rhone, Germany, Oregon and of course his home state of California.


Reviews

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2013 Langoa-Barton, St-Julien Pre-Arrival
Review Date: 5-8-2014
* Nice freshness, firm elegant wine with hints of cranberry and black cherry fruits. Consistent, tasted three times, classic claret at every tasting.

2013 Rauzan-Ségla, Margaux Pre-Arrival
Review Date: 5-8-2014
Amazing consistency and what a classy perfectly balanced wine from front to finish. Lovely.**

2011 Cantemerle, Haut-Médoc
Review Date: 5-2-2014
Sweet raspberries and black fruits, very floral, with herbal notes and earth all pulled together by round, firm tannins and a very long finish. Tasted twice. I'm 56 years old and Cantemerle is now my #1 favorite château, and I seriously doubt that will ever change. The reason is simple: great, complex wine, consistent quality and a fair price. A winner every time! **

2012 Pavie, St-Emilion Pre-Arrival
Review Date: 5-1-2014
* The other St-Emilion estate to elevate to PGC Category A. The terrior here is phenomenal. This has a fine nose of expressive Merlot; it is dark, super sleek and not a fruit bomb. Always a tough wine to taste young, so I will reserve final judgment.

2012 Angelus, St-Emilion Pre-Arrival
Review Date: 5-1-2014
*½ As usual this is an exotic wine with deep black fruit that screams of boysenberries, but it lacks some middle flesh and sweetness in that fruit. The problem for me is that the finish is somewhat dry. Huge and well deserved congratulations to Hubert de Boüard and his team for their elevation to Premier Grand Cru Category A.

2012 Margaux, Margaux (1.5L) Pre-Arrival
Review Date: 5-1-2014
** 87% Cabernet Sauvignon, 10% Merlot, 2% Cabernet Franc and 1% Petit Verdot. Lovely aromas of red roses and warm spices. Much rounder and deeper than the Pavillon. May not possess the weight and length of a great vintage, but does have the velvety texture the château is famous for. Lovely, charming and will drink well young.

2012 Margaux, Margaux Pre-Arrival
Review Date: 5-1-2014
** 87% Cabernet Sauvignon, 10% Merlot, 2% Cabernet Franc and 1% Petit Verdot. Lovely aromas of red roses and warm spices. Much rounder and deeper than the Pavillon. May not possess the weight and length of a great vintage, but does have the velvety texture the château is famous for. Lovely, charming and will drink well young.

2013 Margaux, Margaux (1.5L) Pre-Arrival
Review Date: 5-1-2014
The nose of a great Ch. Margaux is there, followed by medium-bodied sweetness and impeccable balance. A strict selection of 38% of the crop went into the first wine but is a prime example of how difficult this vintage was. *½

2013 Margaux, Margaux Pre-Arrival
Review Date: 5-1-2014
The nose of a great Ch. Margaux is there, followed by medium-bodied sweetness and impeccable balance. A strict selection of 38% of the crop went into the first wine but is a prime example of how difficult this vintage was. *½

2013 Léoville-Las Cases, St-Julien Pre-Arrival
Review Date: 5-1-2014
Serious business, a powerful expression of concentrated reds fruits that are fresh and attractive. The key is the long finish. Great vineyard, great wine. (The Petite Lion is the second wine, a bit lighter in body but super clean and has all freshness as well as nice tannins.) **

2013 Léoville-Barton, St-Julien Pre-Arrival
Review Date: 5-1-2014
This wine, like so many of the best St-Julien estates is just amazingly consistent. Bursting with masculine, deep purple and blue fruits. Sparking acidity and firm tannins are the backbone. *½

2011 Domaine de Chevalier, Pessac-Léognan
Review Date: 4-29-2014
Round, sweet and pure red fruits, fine overall balance. A nice, elegant wine. *

2013 Cantenac Brown, Margaux Pre-Arrival
Review Date: 4-28-2014
Winemaker Jose Sanfins is making a very flashy, modern style wine these days. Lots of deep ripe fruits, sparkling acidity and lots of new oak.*

2013 Smith Haut Lafitte Blanc, Pessac-Léognan Pre-Arrival
Review Date: 4-28-2014
90% Sauvignon Blanc, 5% Semillon, 5% Sauvignon Gris. Beautiful aromas of white flowers and vanilla on the nose. Persistent green apple fruit on the palate and throughout the long finish. Another outstanding winner for your chicken dinner! **

2013 Giscours, Margaux Pre-Arrival
Review Date: 4-28-2014
Record 80% Cabernet Sauvignon in the blend, good, powerful firm fruit with sweet tannins. Zesty acid, serious wine. This estate as well as Ch. Du Tertre are on a fine roll under the direction of Alexandre Van Beek. *½

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More Favorites

Ralph Sands is also a fan of the following items. To become a fan of Ralph Sands, click here to join Ralph Sands's Personal Sommelier Service.
2005 Ducru-Beaucaillou, St-Julien ($229.99)

2005 Lynch-Bages, Pauillac ($229.99)

2003 Lynch-Bages, Pauillac ($174.99)

2006 Phélan-Ségur, St-Estèphe ($49.99)

2005 Pontet-Canet, Pauillac ($199.99)