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Staff Favorites - Keith Wollenberg
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Bruno Michel Brut Rosé Champagne (1.5L)
Review Date: 6-19-2014
OK, folks, this is a story that you have to love. It takes years to produce a champagne like this, and to have a single vintage one in magnum is unusual. Thanks to the bankrupt importer who had these specially made and whose failure allowed us to pick them up at a bargain price. 100% Pinot Meunier, from a biodynamic and organic grape-grower. This is absolutely delicious, and I am most definitely taking some home.
2011 Maison Ambroise Bourgogne Rouge
Review Date: 5-27-2014
Crisp, bright and just a bit earthy, this has unmistakable Nuits-St-Georges character, which is not a surprise, since that is where the fruit is sourced from and where the winery is located. But to get this much character and unmistakably Burgundian flavor and aroma is a very pleasant surprise at this price point. On the palate it has a bit of brambles and nice crunchy black fruit. This is not about complexity or patience, but it is about a delicious, affordable Pinot Noir that really speaks of Burgundy. It's finished in a Stelvin Luxe twist top for easy access at your next barbecue, or drinking over the next couple of years.
Top Value! Drink from 2014 to 2016
2004 Pierre Paillard Grand Cru Brut Vintage Champagne
Review Date: 3-21-2014
This is champagne that should sell for $100+. It is made entirely from Grand Cru fruit, averaging more than 45 years of vine age. It is all from Bouzy, a village known for its Pinot Noir, with south-facing vineyards (which is important in this high latitude). The nose promises red fruit and hints of brioche. It is rich and complex on the palate. But what really excites me is the acidity--2004 is a cooler vintage, with great promise for aging. If you are in Bouzy, this means that you have the ripeness and richness, but also have the focus, drive and energy that makes this truly exciting.
2000 Krug Brut Champagne
Review Date: 2-7-2014
This has a most attractive bouquet, with notes of pear, rose hips and seashells. On the palate it walks a beautiful line between richness and tension. Plenty of focus and acidity, but also lots of mid-palate weight. this is subtle champagne and beautifully balanced. And the finish, well that is truly something. It fans out on your palate and lingers for a long time. Bravo!
2012 Carlos Diaz "Estrela" Ribeira Sacra
Review Date: 1-23-2014
This exciting value comes form a professor in Spain who farms his vineyards part-time. He has about five acres of vines and makes a wine that is clean, bright and has lovely fruit. It is vinified in enamel-lined tanks, resulting in a bright and focused character with both red and black fruit notes and enough acidity to keep it fresh and delightful. Don't miss this direct import value from Spain. Good job, Joe Manekin!
2009 Malmaison, Moulis-en-Médoc
Review Date: 1-23-2014
This was once an abandoned property, renovated and replanted by the Rothschild family over 35 years ago, which means their vines are now mature. This is from a terrific vintage, and shows it. It has both spice and balance, with rich fruit and very nice length for this price range. It is going to be in my Tuesday night mix for the next couple of years. Bravo!
Lot 40 Single Pot Still Canadian Rye Whisky 750ml
Review Date: 1-15-2014
This is one of the best Ryes I have tasted in years. It starts with a slightly fruity nose, then moves to a note like a sourdough rye bread I used to bake. On the palate it is subtle and balanced, with a note of candied Kumquats on the finish. The only experience like it I have had was when tasting a bottle of Prohibition Canadian Rye Whisky I found in a secret cupboard at my Grandfather's house in San Francisco in the mid 1970's, with the notation on the bottle that it could be dispensed only for medicinal purposes. The combination of malted rye and rye yields a focused, delicious dram. Miss this and you will be sorry.
1999 Thienot "Cuvée Alain Thiénot" Brut Champagne
Review Date: 11-6-2013
This is a study in long aging on the lees, and the complexity that results. It as that calssic, yeasty nose, but on the palate it is complex and balnced, showing the ripenss of the vintage, but avoiding that clumsiness I sometimes found in 2005s (back when others were still bottling them). It is a real choice for me whether to go with age and power here, or elegance and delicacy with the 2006 Garance. Perhaps both, just with different courses?
2006 Thienot "Cuvée Garance" Brut Blanc de Rouges Champagne
Review Date: 11-6-2013
This comes from 100% Pinot Noir, all Grand and Premier Cru rated vineyards in Ay, and it tastes like it. But it manages to be soft and feminine and attractive in character, rather than big and rich. It reminds me of a Chambolle, if it were made into a sparkling white. Lovely chalky minerality, and a long finish make this terrifically attractive.
2005 Launois "Spécial Club" Brut Blanc de Blancs Champagne (ships as 1.5L)
Review Date: 10-16-2013
Ok, folks. Here we go. I wondered how our friends at Launois could possibly follow the 2004 Special Club. well, yesterday I found out. They produced a rich, complex champagne of distinction and breeding. it's a bit less racy than the 2004, but it trades off a bit more volume in the mid-palate in exchange. And, it shows why so many champagne growers prize their oldest vines. the old-vine intensity sings through particularly clearly in a bountiful vintage like 2005. Complex and dleicious. What's not to like?
2002 Piper-Heidsieck "Cuvée Rare" Brut Champagne
Review Date: 9-25-2013
Classic Piper Heidsieck, with a pronounced yeasty quality, and rich mouthfeel. If you want to avoid the current fashion for ever so bone dry Brut champagne, and are looking for a rich, traditional champagne, this is a fabulous place to find it.
Green Mark (Zelyonaya Marka) Russian Vodka 750ml
Review Date: 8-29-2013
Love that rich, oily quality of a good russian vodka? Tired of paying $30 per bottle to cover their marketing expenses? So were we. Then the Davids found this one. How the third best-selling vodka in the world missed our market, is a mystery. And how one of the winnners of russia's top mark of approval sells at this price is even a bigger one. All I know is that if you do not buy this one because of the price, you will be cheating yourself.
Franck Bonville "Belles Voyes" Brut Blanc de Blancs Champagne
Review Date: 8-2-2013
Based on the 2004 vintage, this is a terrifically rich and very lovely champagne, made from old vines, planted in the 1920s, long before commercial clones were available. The reulting concentration and depth is a reward that exceeds many champagnes costing well over $100.
2011 Oakridge Local Vineyard Series "Denton Vineyard" Chardonnay Yarra Valley
Review Date: 7-24-2013
This is my kind of Chardonnay! Coming from the cool climate of the Yarra Valley, this is completely different frmo the big, high-alcohol blowsy chardonnays from South Australia. It has acidity, focus, and balance. It is made from wild yeasts, and shows complexity and legth. And the alcohol is a modest (and appropriate) 12.5%. Bravo to K&L's Australian buyer and team for finding and bringing in this wine.
1995 Charles Heidsieck "Blanc des Millénaires" Brut Champagne
Review Date: 11-16-2012
One of my favorite things is old champagne. But I never seem to have enough in my cellar, so it's a joy to find a current release such a this on the market. 100% Chardonnay, rich and toasty, complex and long, this is a Don't Miss! sort of bubbly. Supplies are running low, and I hope it will last until New Year's. I am buying some now to be sure I have it laid safely away.
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