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|If you’re going to have Robert Parker or Stephen Tanzer over for dinner, selecting a wine they’ve rated highly will be a nice choice. However, when you’re buying wines for yourself, we’d love to see you find wines that match up your unique palate and pocketbook. We have a large staff of friendly and knowledgeable wine professionals that taste hundreds of wines each week. They can put you in touch with bottles that you are likely to love, often at a much lower cost than the highly-rated gems that often see a run-up in price and frequent availability issues. Like any great group of opinionated professionals, our staff has varied tastes themselves. Often our customers will find a particular staff member with a style that corresponds to their own. That concept works extremely well in our retail stores, and this section is our effort to bring you the same online. Don’t get us wrong, we love the highly rated wines from the press and will continue to offer them, but we think you’re missing out if you’re not augmenting those selections with picks from our excellent staff. Here are their favorites. (Click on a name to see their other selections - or to drop them a line.) Cheers!|
2011 Cameron "Arley's Leap" Dundee Hills Pinot Noir
One of the most beautiful Pinot Noirs I've ever had. Sumptuous and savory, the delicate red fruits meld perfectly with an earthy umami and salinity that linger seamlessly on the palate. Absolutely gorgeous and absolutely worth brooding over. I love it.
2013 GRÜNER by Etz Grüner Veltliner Kamptal (1L)
If you haven't tried Gruner before you HAVE TO hop on the gruner train and taste it for yourself to see why all the geeky sommeliers and wine lovers are going crazy over this little grape. There is only 50,000 cases of Gruner Veltliner produced world wide with most of it coming out of Austria, with style ranging from crisp and zesty to rich and nutty. The Etz is done in the more zesty, refreshing style, and I will give you 3 simple reasons why you should have this wine in your life. 1. This is the more exotic, fuller and much more fun cousin of Sauvignon Blanc 2. It's one of the very few wines that actually pairs well with asparagus and artichoke (they are a pain to pair with wine!). 3. It's a twist off bottle! and #4. It's in a LITER bottle for only $13.99!!!! Ok, I realize I gave you four instead of three reasons... but hey, I like to over deliver sometimes... enjoy, grab a bottle and cheers!
2012 Haut-Monplaisir "Tradition" Cahors
This is a Cahors which is much more my style than other producers I have had in the past. This is almost an old meets new world style of Malbec. It is gorgeous! You get the cassis and dark red fruits, with the rustic farmyard essence which all meet beautifully on the palate. Another great thing about this region in France, is that they are still not on every wine drinker's radar,so it keeps the prices very reasonable. Not to mention, that Cahors is the birthplace of the Malbec grape - some say as much as 2,000 years ago! Note: This style of Malbec is still VERY different from the South American take on Malbec, so if that is the style you like than this might not be the wine for you...that being said, if you want a "old" take on this great grape than this is what you want to try! Enjoy!
2012 Ellero "Pisa Terrace" Pinot Noir Central Otago
Wow! This is a serious Pinot Noir. The nose is filled with plum, black cherry, and a hint of herbs. On the palate, this wine delivers black raspberry, black cherry, and spicy earthiness layered in soft tannins that linger just beneath the bright finish. New Zealand continues to deliver the goods when it comes to Pinot Noir!
2013 Pedro Martinez Alesanco Tempranillo Rioja
Looking for a wine to sip on after a long day of work? Look no further! This Rioja brings plenty of beautiful berry fruit to the party while maintaining its crisp acidity. And, at under $10, this wine is affordable enough to drink daily.
2012 Antech "Cuvée Eugenie" Cremant de Limoux
I don't think there's a better value for bubbles in our inventory! This wine brings clean, citrus notes on the front end with enough yeasty complexity for champagne fans on the finish. Bring a bottle to brunch soon and all your friends will assume you spent big bucks.
2012 Domaine Cyrot-Buthiau Volnay
I loved this wine! Surprisingly rich for a Volnay, this bottling by the young producer is structured and most notable for its balanced wood. Elegant dark fruit, cedar, and soft tannins lead to a fairly lean finish. Definitely something that will age well over the next five to ten years.
2013 Gerovassiliou Estate White Epanomi
A world class white wine. The Gerovassiliou Epanomi is a blend of two indigenous to Greece grape varitials, Assyrtiko and Malagousia. The Epanomi offers beautiful almost floral aromas, that are textured with soft stone fruit flavors and balanced out with clean crisp acidity. Should be great with fish or fowl.
2012 Sesta di Sopra Rosso di Montalcino
One of the most serious Rosso di Montalcinos I've tasted. Touch of red clay with lots of earthy mineral characteristics on the nose. The wine is round and warm on the palate with a long lasting finish. To me this is the perfect bottle to introduce others to Brunello without breaking the bank. I am stocking up on this wine to drink while waiting for my 2010 Brunello to age! Bravo!
2011 Campo alla Sughera "Adeo" Bolgheri DOC
60% Cabernet and 40% Merlot, this is a bottle I would bring to a sommelier blind tasting if I really want to mess with someone. The wine is dark, powerful, with oak signatures of mocha, chocolate, espresso and nutmeg spices. A touch of pencil shaving that almost brings me to Bordeaux but layers of dark fruits makes me want to say Napa. Either way, the wine is well made and sure to impress your dinner guest if they like full, powerful Cabernet blends.
2014 Franck Millet Sancerre Rosé
What a Rosé! Set this bottle down at any outdoor party and it will be gone in seconds. The nose hints of orange peel and cherries. On the palate, this wine seduces you with freshly picked strawberries. However, the mineral-driven, crisply acidic finish is what really stands out in a wine that could only be Sancerre.
2013 Franck Millet "Insolite" Sancerre
This Sauvignon Blanc should appeal to New World and Old World drinkers alike. The nose brings grapefruit, apricot, crushed stone, and subtle grassy notes. The palate confirms grapefruit and other citrus fruits that slowly wind down into a soft, mineral backbone while the acidity lingers just long enough to encourage you to take another sip.
2013 Bench Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir
This is a Pinot that keeps the phrase "over-deliver" from becoming a cliche. There is ripe plum and black cherries on the palate, followed by just a hint of spice. The acidity makes for a mouth-watering finish. This drinks like a wine nearly double in price.
2013 Castillo de Monseran Garnacha Cariñena
This Garnacha is like that affable friend you can confidently bring to any party knowing they will fit right in. An easy-drinking red with a palate of dried cherries, raspberry, and just a touch of spice. I dare you not to enjoy this wine!
2001 Tertre Daugay, St-Emilion
Here is yet another example of how fantastically the wines from the very good 2001 Bordeaux vintage are drinking at 10 years of age. This is a dark plum color with aromas of ripe cherry, savory herb and potting soil. The wine has lively acidity and as it opens up very fresh flavors and aromas of blackberry and dark cherry become even more evident. The smooth, creamy middle is substantial and is supported by dry, fine tannins on the intense, mineral finish. Decant one hour.
2009 La Cardonne, Médoc
Here is yet another fantastic value from the great 2009 Bordeaux vintage. This is quite firm, very smooth and wonderfully warm with a nice chewy texture on the finish. There is great mid-palate sweetness to this substantial and overachieving wine so don't hesitate to decant tonight or cellar for a few years.
2014 Montmassot Picpoul de Pinet
It was a bit of a cold and rainy day when I visited the cooperative that produces the Montmassot. We cruised around and toured the vineyards for an hour before we did the thing that all Picpoul demands - drink it with oysters! We had oysters three different ways: raw with a mignonette; baked with sauteed fennel and cheese; and broiled with a gorgeous aioli. Wow!! I really began to understand beyond the brightness and freshness of the wine. This is a wine from a region famous for its oysters and the wine paired perfectly with every permutation of that food. Vibrant and clean with notes of pink grapefruit and green apples on the palate. The finish is full of salty sea air. I think you know what you're supposed to do next...
2012 Haut-Monplaisir "Tradition" Cahors
Cahors, the home of the original Malbec. Much different than the plush Malbecs of Argentina, this French Malbec is bit more earthy, mineral driven and balanced. Aromas of violets, slate, and the slightest hint of barnyard. The palate provides fresh blackberries, plums and graphite, with plenty of acidity and a fine integrated tannin. Try it with stews and red meat.
2013 Angeline California Pinot Noir
Year in and year out, one of our best value Pinot Noirs. If you don't believe me, just ask any K&L customer. This Pinot comes from Sonoma County's Martin Ray Winery, which also has a great value Cabernet flying out the doors. Martin Ray Winery does both quality and value, which is hard to find these days. Great intensity in the Pinot Noir. A very complex and alluring aroma of dark cherry and holiday spice. Palate gives way to juicy raspberry and cherry flavors. Silky smooth tannins for an easygoing finish. What more can you ask for?!
2014 Franck Millet Sancerre Rosé
I love Provence Rosé just like the next person BUT there are other wonderful rosés just as amazing! The Franck Millet Sancerre Rosé is that bottle. 100% Pinot Noir, it blends two styles of rosé winemaking (pressed juice and saignee juice). Then, the must is settled and low temperature fermentation begins. No malolactic fermentation. Light filtration and stainless steel tank aging. All this brings out a crispness that you will find ONLY in Sancerre (limestone-clay soil). Being a direct import for K&L this is coming to you at a discounted price. This is the perfect summertime wine!
2014 Cibonne "Tentations" Côtes de Provence Rosé
This fantastic blend of Cinsault, Grenache and Tibouren is one of the best selling Rosé from Provence! As the price for lesser-quality rosé rises, this one holds steady. With a delicate nose of spice, floral and stone fruit. Elegant and soft palate reminds you why we love Côtes de Provence Rosé soooo much! A must with simple grilled fish, fresh fruit, cheeses. This is the one bottle to grab for any summertime affair.
2009 Poggiarellino Brunello di Montalcino
Poggiarellino is of the old rural Tuscan tradition in winemaking. Don't look for any New World style Brunellos here. This 30-acre farm is surrounded by beautiful oil trees. What grape wouldn't want to live here! The wine is bold, earthy, and full-bodied. Red and black fruit with a subtle grace on nose and palate. Finishing with well-developed tannins, mineral texture, tobacco and underbrush notes. What a bottle for $30 bucks!
2014 Domaine de Millet Colombard-Ugni Blanc Cotes de Gascogne Blanc
This super summer sipper is an amazing value and very versatile for BBQ's, the patio, picnics casual get- togethers and as an all-around thirst-quencher. This delicious and affordable blend of equal parts Colombard and Ugni Blanc is crisp, clean and tangy with a crushed fruit middle of citrus and peach.
2012 Olema Sonoma County Cabernet Sauvignon
Again and again, the Olema Cabernet never fails to be the best in its class! The 2012 is even more exceptional than usual because the fruit is matched by its pure elegance. More richness, but also more texturally pleasing, without too much oak, leaving it supple and food friendly with its integrated light tannins and juicy acidity. This is the perfect $20 Cab for anyone looking for a super versatile everyday red that can pair with almost any food, or just enjoy it on its own!
2012 True Myth Paso Robles Cabernet Sauvignon
The only truly unbiased way to judge the quality of a wine is through blind tasting format. Why? Because as much as we think we don't judge a book by its cover, we all do it to a certain degree. I was in a blind tasting group (along with three other advanced sommeliers, and one master sommelier) going through flights of Cabernet Sauvignon without knowing ANYTHING about the wines besides it's made from the Cabernet grape, and we all unanimously gave this wine very high marks before knowing what the bottle was. Some of the notes were "very classically California style" "Very well made" and "great balance of fruit and solid structure." We all thought it was from Napa, most likely from a well-known producer and guessed the price at around $60.00 a bottle. Imagine our pleasant surprise when we find out it was a $20.00 bottle from Paso Robles!!! I will be honest with you here, I would have totally judged this bottle just by its label and the price alone, but I'm glad I actually got a chance to blind taste this and realize what a well-made wine it is! Don't believe me? Buy a bottle and have it in a blind tasting lineup beside other expensive California Cabernet and see what happens. Honestly, my favorite California Cabernet for under $20.00 in the entire store right now!
2012 Kismet "Papa's All Blacks" North Coast Red Blend
What a cool wine!! This is a blend of approximately 60% Zinfandel plus a field blend of 14 other grapes including Petite Sirah, Carignane,and Alicante Bouschet. Some of the vines are over a century old! Very fitting for the name "all black" (all red grapes) and just a cool project overall. It's harder and harder these days for grape growers to keep their super-old vineyards (since they don't produce as much fruit) or obscure varietal plantings (they don't sell for as much $ as the popular grapes) so it's nice to see this traditional style of winemaking in this modern bottle. The wine is very lovely and high-toned, with hints of salty meaty notes. touch of spices, ripe cherry and red currants. Very complex and different. Cheers!
2013 Foxen Santa Maria Valley Pinot Noir
Wow, what a tasty Pinot Noir! The Foxen Santa Maria Valley Pinot Noir does not see any new oak and is NOT your flashy, overripe, blockbuster style of Pinot at all. If that's the type you are looking for, stop reading this now and try a different wine. However, if you like a Pinot that's more earthy, slightly stemmy (yes I'm making up words here, but you know what I mean) and has a good touch of allspice, you are in for a treat! Very well made old school style indeed.
2014 Domaine des Côtes Blanches Sancerre Rosé
Juicy melon, bright cherry, blood orange and mouthwatering acidity. Perfect for that summer heat!
Pierre Paillard Grand Cru Brut Champagne
Simultaneously delicate and well-structured, this Grand Cru Brut stands head and shoulders above a mountain of clumsy, overly sweet non-vintage Champagne. Balancing pears, lemon curd, gentle minerality and saline acidity, this certified organic bottling is the roundest, cleanest entry level Champagne to impress my palate in a while. A perfect pairing with equally delicate meals like sushi or ceviche. Enjoy!
2013 Sequillo (Eben Sadie) White Blend Swartland
This fascinating South African wine is definitely a must try! Made by one of the most acclaimed vintners, Eben Sadie, it is incredibly complex yet very approachable for any palate. It has an inviting nose of orange blossom and stone fruit with an amazing richness and structure. It tastes fantastic now but I would also love to see this age!
2013 Sequillo (Eben Sadie) White Blend Swartland
Sometimes hyperbole isn't enough to get your point across. "This is the BEST, ever, ever, ever, ever!" wouldn't really even do this wine justice. The quality of Eben Sadie's wines speaks for itself, but usually you'll have to pony up about $40-$60 a bottle to test out that quality for yourself. Somehow, someway, our wine buyer Ryan Woodhouse worked out a deal to bring in Sadie's Sequillo wines direct: for $19 freakin' 99!!! That's just unreal. The Sequillo white is like elegance in a bottle. It's soft and seamless, yet never lacking in acidity or minerality. I took a bottle of his T'Voetpad white (the single vineyard version of this wine) to my anniversary dinner with my wife this year. She fawned over that bottle like a school girl at a New Kids on the Block concert in 1989. Get a bottle of this wine. Get two cases. Get in while it's here. ASAP. You won't be sorry.
2012 Sequillo (Eben Sadie) Red Blend Swartland
Sometimes hyperbole isn't enough to get your point across. "This is the BEST, ever, ever, ever, ever!" wouldn't really even do this wine justice. The quality of Eben Sadie's wines speaks for itself, but usually you'll have to pony up about $40-$60 a bottle to test out that quality for yourself. Somehow, someway, our wine buyer Ryan Woodhouse worked out a deal to bring in Sadie's Sequillo wines direct: for $19 freakin' 99!!! That's just unreal. The Sequillo red blend is soft, juicy, incredibly balanced, and elegant in its profile. It's a testament to quality winemaking and dedicated vineyard practices that manifests itself clearly in the bottle. You won't wonder one bit why Even Sadie is a superstar after tasting this bottle. You'll be wondering why you didn't buy another ten cases for your cellar.
2014 Xavier Clua "El Sola d'en Pol" Rosado Terra Alta
This is another great bottling of Xavier Clua's rosado, a blend of Garnacha and Syrah. Given the beautiful, relatively paler pink color and fresh flavor profile, it would seem that the maceration is on the shorter side for this rosé, emphasizing juicy red fruit flavors and hints of watermelon. Though the fruit is tasty and up front, this wine finishes nicely dry and would give most any French rosé from similar grapes a real run for its money!
2012 Terra Rosa Malbec Mendoza
If you are a fan of Patrick Campbell's legendary Laurel Glen wines, then you probably know that he sold the winery. What you may not know, however, is that Patrick continues to source terrific fruit in Mendoza to make some of the best Malbecs around! Terra Rosa has fruit from five vineyards in Lujan de Cuyo and the Uco Valley. This wine boasts expressive flavors of dark fruits with an honest, balanced tannin structure.
2007 Vina Santurnia Reserva Rioja
Based in the Rioja Alta village of Briñas, on the north bank of the Río Ebro opposite Haro and Lopez de Heredia's Viña Tondonia, Viña Santurnia has quietly been producing reliably delicious, authentic, traditionally inspired Riojas. In the cooler, more "Atlantic" vintage of 2007, Viña Santurnia's wine shows crisp bright mixed berry fruit flavors, high toned but not lacking generosity, depth or the subtly sweet baking spice and earthy notes we love in Rioja. (Joe Manekin, K&L Spanish & Portuguese wine buyer)
2010 Vale La Pena Malbec Uco Valley
If you are a fan of Patrick Campbell's legendary Laurel Glen wines, then you probably know that he sold his iconic winery. What you may not know, however, is that Patrick continues to source terrific fruit in Mendoza to make some of the best Malbecs around! For his Vale la Pena bottling, expressive dark berry fruits abound on the nose and palate. The wine manages to be generous while still showing great structure. Fruit comes from a formerly abandoned, low yielding vineyard in the Uco Valley.
2014 Domaine Begude Chardonnay "Terroir 11300" IGP Haute Vallée de l'Aude
If you are interested in trying French Chardonnay, this is where you should start. The ‘terroir’ is bright, fresh and clean, showing no obvious oak influence. Aromas of white flowers, pears and chalky minerality lead to rich but not heavy palate of apples and lemon with lifting acidity and a dry finish.
2012 Sequillo (Eben Sadie) Red Blend Swartland
If you could make a classic styled Chateauneuf du Pape in South Africa (OK, with a little modern nod), or more precisely if superstar winemaker Eben Sadie could make one, it would be this. Stunning intensely deep fruit, black spices, ground minerals and a perfumed, lifted nose of rose petals, black raspberries and sweet spices all mingle together in a very exotic and enticing wine. The balance and structure of this wine makes me wonder what it will do in 5-10 years, but I sincerely doubt anyone buying it will be able to keep their hands off it this long.
2014 Domaine Lafage "Miraflors" Côtes du Roussillon Rosé
On a cold February day, I tasted a tank sample of this wine with Jean Marc Lafage at his magnificent new winery just outside of Perpignan in the south of France. Throughout the afternoon we tasted about 30 wines and I kept coming back to the rose. I was entranced by its light color and refreshing qualities. Frankly, I needed something to rejuvenate me after a week and a half of hardcore wine tasting. Now that the wine is in bottle and newly arrived in the States, I popped one to see where it was at. Racy red currants led off followed by flavors of Seascape strawberries, blood oranges and white peaches. The intensity and minerality erupt from the glass. The Miraflors is expressive, focused and balanced. Definitely a top rose wine this year!
2014 Ameztoi "Rubentis" Rosé Getariako Txakolina
While Rubentis will get a run for its money this year from the excellent Txmomin Etxaniz rosé, we must give credit where it is due. Ameztoi virtually created the rosé txakoli category, at least from our vantage point here in the US market. Showing a bit more of a green snap to the fruit this year, the Rubentis also has its usual display of tangy red berry fruits, fizz and bright acidity. This is a wine for charcuterie and cheeses, particularly the best jamón you can find and Pais Vasco's famous idiázabal cheese.
2013 Carballal "Sete Cepas" Albariño Rias Baixas
Carballal returns to our shelves after a brief absence, and this time we have the pleasure of enjoying the wine after a year in bottle. While freshly bottled Carballal shows a hint of fizz, ripe yellow fruits, sometimes just a hint of banana, this is a wine that gains volume, becomes drier and more balanced if allowed the time to do so. I like both versions, but must admit a preference for this more mature, rounder, less fruit forward and more elegant 7 cepas.
2014 Ameztoi Getariako Txakolina
Ameztoi once again produces their trademark, fizzy, refreshing, pack leading Getariako Txakolina in 2014. Given the particularly cool conditions in 2014, this wine is suprisingly delicious and gulpable.
2013 Do Ferreiro Albariño Rias Baixas
2013 was a cooler, damper vintage, one that presented lots of difficulty on the Iberian peninsula, particularly up north. For Do Ferreiro, though, this may be their best Albariño since 2010. It is classically steely and racy, with a palate staining yellow skinned fruit and citric mid palate, leading to an appealingly subtle bitter lime and mineral laden finish. One for shellfish, of course, as well as a wine that can dress up for a nice meal, but also a great white wine to enjoy with snacks among friends.
Mas Codina Cava Brut Reserva Penedès
Mas Codina is a humble family operation, and man do they make delicious sparkling wine! They have been slowly ramping up the amount of Pinot Noir in their otherwise traditional cava blend, in order to gain a bit more in color and mid-palate presence. These are very drinkable cavas, wines that strike a great balance between ripe, bright, snappy fruit, weight, and texture. For under $14, the detail and value of this wine is undeniable.
2004 Vega Sicilia "Unico" Ribera del Duero
This is a great vintage of Vega Sicilia, really a classic. Though it has been called 'the Latour of Spain,' 'Spain's first collectible wine,' and many other superlatives, the fact remains that this is, historically and presently, Spain's greatest wine. While not inexpensive, it is rare in that it is one of the world's finest red wines, with a long track record, whose price has been relatively stable. Compared with the world's other greatest and most often collected wines, Vega Sicilia is one of the most consistent names out there.
2012 Sequillo (Eben Sadie) Red Blend Swartland
Wow! This wine is off the charts good. It has pure, bright aromatics of deep, spicy crushed berries, ripe currants, red fleshy plum, granite, and toasted spices and dark red floral tones. The wine is rich and layered but precise and focused. The fruit shows macerated raspberries, logan fruit, dark cherry hints with subtle leather, charred meat and dusty mineral tones showing through the purity of fruit. There is an intense soil quality to this wine that is equally impressive as the quality and fruit and floral tones. A complex wine that I love for it's combination of power, purity and subtlety all combined into one slick package. An insane value thanks to our direct import.
2014 Txomin Etaniz Rosé Getariako Txakolina
Pink, fizzy, bone dry, low in alcohol...sign me up! This rosé from outside of San Sebastián is, believe it or not, one of three we will be featuring this summer. If you prefer a zippy, very acid driven rosé, with just enough tangy red fruit to have you reaching for a re-fill, then this is a rosé to put in the rotation this summer.
2012 Carmelo Patti Malbec Lujan de Cuyo
If you’re curious about how to make a delicious, textbook Malbec, with all of the bursting purple fruit, a minimal amount of oak and no overextraction to distract from the wine’s expression, here’s how it’s done. Start with terrific fruit (in this case from Pedriel in Lujan de Cuyo). Ferment with only native yeasts and age one year in concrete. Then age for another year in good quality, primarily used French oak barrels. Finally, another year of ageing in the bottle. It’s that simple, though when you taste the wine your thoughts will likely not be about winemaking, but wine drinking
2012 Ferrero Toscana Rosso
And now for something completely different! This is a Super Tuscan at a super price. This bad boy is made up of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Montepulciano and Alicante, and I swear you can taste all of these. On the palate you will find flavors of black cherry, plum and soft floral notes blended with silky tannins. The Cabernet gives this a backbone you can feel and a nice smooth and long finish.
2012 Sequillo (Eben Sadie) Red Blend Swartland
This is a delicious red, full of very dark fruit flavors and a salty, mineral driven quality that seems to be amplified by the serious tannin structure. With some air, the wine freshens up, retaining its dark fruits and licorice notes while picking up red fruits and energy on the mid palate. A serious wine that easily stands toe to toe with some of the best of Chateauneuf du Pape - for less than half the price.