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 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

2013 Smith Haut Lafitte Rouge, Pessac-Léognan Pre-Arrival
Review Date: 4-28-2014
Smith stays true to their international style by making a deliciously rich and round wine with lots of red-blue fruits and a warm, soft mouth feel. A touch of spice, minerality and tannin on the finish. Lovely mid-term drinker. *

2011 Poujeaux, Moulis (1.5L)
Review Date: 4-23-2014
** It is mind-blowing to me how good this wine always seems to be, especially in difficult vintages, and the 2011 is no exception. Sweet, deep black licorice fruit, with no angles or edges. Everything in fine balance. A complete wine.

2011 Cantemerle, Haut-Médoc (1.5L)
Review Date: 4-14-2014
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! **

2011 Lanessan, Haut-Médoc
Review Date: 4-14-2014
Dark fruit and a touch of pepper. Attractive front to back, with good grip and tannin control.
Price: $14.99 Add To Cart BC 0

2009 Château Thénac Bergerac Rouge
Review Date: 3-6-2014
During my 45 visits to southwestern France I have tasted hundreds of Bergerac reds and this is by far the best I have ever tasted. It's a big dark wine with lots of powerful fruit but without the rough and rustic tannins this area is known for. This wine is made by one of the great winemakers in Bordeaux Denis Durantou the owner of Ch. Eglise Clinet in Pomerol. Ralph Sands
Top Value!
Price: $9.99 Add To Cart WE 90 BC 0

2011 Pape Clément, Pessac-Léognan (1.5L)
Review Date: 2-17-2014
Very deep and full of grapey fruit, plus hints of clove and earth. Very pure and very good. Tasted twice. **

2009 Brown Rouge, Pessac-Léognan
Review Date: 1-15-2014
This is my pick for Bordeaux that is drinking well but won't break the bank! I was in Bordeaux in 2005 for a big blind tasting of 1995 wines from California vs Bordeaux, when a negociant told me the new young director of Ch. Brown Jean-Christophe Mau was going to do great things at Ch. Brown (they've had vines planted there since the 12th century). I agreed to go and meet him at his other estate (Preuillac) located in the far reaches/middle of nowhere of the upper Medoc. I found him perched 15 feet above the ground on a portable sorting table helping to sort out the non perfect fruit. I could tell this guy was passionate and intense. He invited me to visit him at Ch. Brown and I found him doing the same thing there but in the winery. The Brown wine always had a rustic-tough feel to it but Jean-Christophe told me that he was confident that after he analyzed the condition and health of every vine on the property and greatly reduced yields, that he would make wine of great purity without the rustic edge. I've tasted the wine every year since in April and the wine has improved dramatically.

2003 Sarget de Gruaud Larose, St-Julien
Review Date: 1-13-2014
I love this vintage and this property.
Price: $37.99 Add To Cart BC 0

2011 Poujeaux, Moulis
Review Date: 1-7-2014
It is mind-blowing to me how good this wine always seems to be, especially in difficult vintages, and the 2011 is no exception. Sweet, deep black licorice fruit, with no angles or edges. Everything in fine balance. A complete wine. **

2011 Croix Mouton, Bordeaux Supérieur
Review Date: 9-18-2013
* Concentrated dark fruit, very strong, serious wine.

2009 Suduiraut, Sauternes
Review Date: 6-11-2013
Thick fruit, with complex pear and persimmon notes.

2012 Haut-Brion, Pessac-Léognan Pre-Arrival
Review Date: 5-3-2013
** Established in 1525! The 64% Merlot in the blend pretty much tells the story of 2012. They started to pick the Merlot on Sept 17th and in good conditions. This wine is so delicious, rich but not heavy and seriously grapey. This wine is perfectly extracted with a lovely long finish. I love it.

2012 Pontet-Canet, Pauillac (3L) Pre-Arrival
Review Date: 5-3-2013
** Established in 1725!There is just no stopping the fantastic roll of quality here! The perfectly ripe blueberry and blackberry fruit is focused and is amazingly fresh! Firm but round tannins and new oak is the framework for this great tasting PC that is accessible and invigorating. Hats off to Alfred Tesseron for giving the world good reason to be excited about buying the best wines made in 2012 as he drops his price to 1/3 the price of his 2009 and 2010 now in the marketplace.
Top Value!

2012 Pontet-Canet, Pauillac (1.5L) Pre-Arrival
Review Date: 5-3-2013
** Established in 1725!There is just no stopping the fantastic roll of quality here! The perfectly ripe blueberry and blackberry fruit is focused and is amazingly fresh! Firm but round tannins and new oak is the framework for this great tasting PC that is accessible and invigorating. Hats off to Alfred Tesseron for giving the world good reason to be excited about buying the best wines made in 2012 as he drops his price to 1/3 the price of his 2009 and 2010 now in the marketplace.
Top Value!

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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)