Staff Favorites - Steve Bearden

Steve Bearden
Steve Bearden  | Send Email  |   Subscribe to My Sommelier Service
I’m the Bordeaux liason for the San Francisco store, starting my run there around 2000. Over the years I've gained a great respect for subtlety, finesse, elegance and terroir, or a sense of place, that I believe all great wine should have. I enjoy practically anything and everything but mostly French and Italian with heavy emphasis on Rhône and Bordeaux. Be adventurous. There is tremendous diversity in regions, varieties and styles, so don’t let your palate get pigeon-holed.


Reviews

  
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2013 Luna Beberide Mencía Bierzo
Review Date: 07-01-2015
This is a warmer, richer somewhat riper take on the Mencia grape but there is enough freshness and balance to carry the day. This screaming value is a great introduction to the wines of the Bierzo region with pepper and earth accents adding complexity and fine, ripe tannins holding the finish together. Amazing bang for the buck here.
Price: $13.99 Add To Waiting List
W&S 91 AG 90

2000 Pontet-Canet, Pauillac
Review Date: 07-01-2015
Although this has the depth, structure and balance to age many more years I really can't imagine it getting any better than it is right now. This is fabulously complex with smoky, woodsy blackberry fruit, steeped tea, leather and cigar box aromas and a creamy texture that seems to accent the sweetness of the fruit. The fine and subtle tannins on the graphite laced finish add tremendous length to this delicious wine.

2010 Haut Charmes, Sauternes (375 ml)
Review Date: 06-26-2015
This starts with surprisingly complex aromas of Pineapple, tangerine, clover honey and tarragon that seem to build as the wine aerates. The mid-palate is viscous and rich but with great acidity to the spiced apricot fruit, honeysuckle and paraffin notes that show great volume but no excessive weight. The fact that this is made by one of the most well regarded Sauternes houses makes the price/quality ratio even more astonishing.
Price: $13.99 Add To Waiting List

2009 Mastrojanni Brunello di Montalcino
Review Date: 06-26-2015
This is bold, warm and clean with red cherry fruit, notions of leather and puttanesca and hints of strawberry and red licorice. Here is a structured but balanced bottle to enjoy now or cellar further.
Price: $46.99 Add To Waiting List
AG 90 JS 90

2010 Tolaini Valdisanti Toscana
Review Date: 06-23-2015
Here is a big, hearty Bordeaux wannabe from Tuscany that thinks it's a Chianti. This is ripe, rich and focused, with smooth, earthy black cherry fruit, a deep, warm personality and a blockbuster finish of deeply embedded tannin, mineral and roasted herb. This chewy, mouth-filling wine could handle the richest lasagna or braised or grilled meat.

2013 Rickshaw California Pinot Noir
Review Date: 05-29-2015
This brash and exuberant value is a best seller, and not just because of the low price. There is surprising complexity here and a transparency that allows you to taste right through the wine without being overwhelmed by too much over-ripeness and extract. This is not a $15.00 Pinot fruit bomb, but rather a lively, energetic bottle from the folks who make the outstanding Banshee wines.
Price: $14.99 Add To Waiting List

2013 Fossil Point Edna Valley Pinot Noir
Review Date: 05-29-2015
Edna Valley is known for richer, fuller Pinot Noir but with great balancing acidity due to the marine influence. In the world of Pinot, $16.00 is a price point where you need to lower your expectations but this focused, deep wine truly over delivers. This is smooth, balanced, very fresh and above all, a great drink.
Price: $15.99 Add To Waiting List

2013 Sequillo (Eben Sadie) White Blend Swartland
Review Date: 05-28-2015
The Sequillo white blend is unfined, unfiltered, naturally made and possessed of fantastic texture and weight. Aromas and flavors of honey, apricot, almond, honeysuckle, white peach and more resonate in this layered, full-bodied and impeccably proportioned wine. This has all the texture, complexity and acid/mineral tension of a great Vouvray but at less than half the price. Amazing quality for less than twenty bucks!
Top Value!
Price: $19.99 Add To Waiting List

2012 Sequillo (Eben Sadie) Red Blend Swartland
Review Date: 05-28-2015
Attention all Chateauneuf-du-Pape lovers who are on a budget: here is a wine for you. This bold and lively Rhone blend has layers of crisp and crunchy dark fruit, a rich, smooth texture, balanced weight and a long, compelling finish. Here is a satisfying and delicious naturally crafted wine for less than twenty bucks. Easily the quality of a $40.00 bottle.
Top Value!
Price: $19.99 Add To Waiting List

2009 La Velona Brunello di Montalcino
Review Date: 05-26-2015
This is soft, warm, caressing and just delicious to drink over the next several years. Oodles of lush, baked cherry fruit, earth, and herb meld into a long mineral laced finish. The tannins are ripe and enveloped in the plush texture of this food-friendly wine.

2012 Carpe Diem Anderson Valley Pinot Noir
Review Date: 05-26-2015
2012 was a spectacular Pinot Noir vintage all up and down California and Anderson Valley was no exception. This has a wild, brambly side rarely seen in this appellation yet retains all the cool balance and equilibrium you expect from this outstanding Northern region. There is freshness as well as depth to the layers of earthy dark cherry and berry fruit that linger on the gripping finish.
Price: $29.99 Add To Waiting List

Wine Club

$24.99
WS 90

2001 Tertre Daugay, St-Emilion
Review Date: 05-23-2015
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.
Price: $24.99 Add To Waiting List

2009 La Cardonne, Médoc
Review Date: 05-23-2015
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.
Price: $19.99 Add To Waiting List
WS 89 - 92

2013 Grey's Peak (Greystone) Pinot Noir Waipara
Review Date: 05-19-2015
This is rich and balanced with layers of sweet, creamy dark fruit all balanced by amazing acidity. There is such great lift and freshness to the fleshy, textured middle that the finish seem to glide on and on. Fantastic quality here.

1999 Fugue de Nenin, Pomerol
Review Date: 04-23-2015
The Delon family of Leoville-Las-Cases fame has made great strides with Chateau Nenin in Pomerol and this second wine has become a consistant over achiever. This is elegant, clean, classy and sweet, offering an iron tinged mineral edge to the fine finish. Drinking perfectly right now, this offers the sophistication of the first wine at a fraction of the cost.
Price: Hidden View Price

2001 Moulin Haut-Laroque, Fronsac
Review Date: 04-23-2015
This is darkly fruited and quite earthy but with a lush core of sweet, clean and fresh fruit. The tannins are well hidden and there is nice length to the lively finish. This is easy and forward even without decanting.
Price: $29.99 Add To Waiting List

2014 Domaine Saint Roch Touraine Rosé
Review Date: 04-23-2015
This summer-in-a-bottle bargain is juicy, gulp-able and way too much fun. There are hints of spice and plenty of red fruit and berry flavors and a lip smacking strawberry finish that will keep you going for another sip. 100% Gamay and 100% affordable.
Price: $12.99 Add To Waiting List

2012 Yangarra Estate Shiraz McLaren Vale
Review Date: 04-11-2015
This is not your typical Aussie fruit bomb but rather a rich, complex and balanced wine showing wonderful finesse. There is a sleekness to go with the dark fruit flavors and plenty of finely integrated tannins on the expressive finish. The dark fruit flavors are ripe but beautifully matched by the proportion, structure and length.
Price: $21.99 Add To Waiting List
JH 95 RP 90

2011 Domaine Maestracci "E Prove" Corse Calvi Rouge
Review Date: 04-10-2015
This is a fantastic bottle of wine for less than 20 bucks. This is earthy and dark with a sleek structure and polished tannins on the long finish, Along with the black and blue fruit there are some animal notes and a funky and savory dig into the Corsican terroir of ocean spray and mineral. Amazing complexity for the money.
Price: $18.99 Add To Waiting List

2013 L'Ecole No. 41 " Luminesce" Seven Hills Vineyard Walla Walla White Wine
Review Date: 04-10-2015
Hailing from Walla Walla comes a refreshing white Bordeaux-style sipper with a balanced blend of 60% Semillon and 40% Sauvignon Blanc. The subtle citrus and kiwi fruit notes hit the tongue with just enough tartness to keep the succulent texture and mineral rich taste in line. It’s elegant enough alone or try pairing with basil pesto pasta or goat cheese stuffed chicken.
Price: $18.99 Add To Waiting List
WE 92

2013 Domaine Combier "Purple Label" Crozes-Hermitage
Review Date: 04-03-2015
This bottle with the bright purple label is a great introduction to the wines of the Northern Rhone. Cracked pepper, smoke, bacon and a cool iron finish show off great wine making. This is a great value in Syrah.
Price: $19.99 Add To Waiting List

2013 Mount Trio Sauvignon Blanc Great Southern Western Australia
Review Date: 04-03-2015
This juicy and fresh bargain falls into the no-brainer category when grabbing something while on the way to a party or picnic. Although this is from Australia it will remind you more of New Zealand with its snappy and crisp flavors of citrus, passionfruit and kiwi. The savory aromas of herb, white flowers and lime invite you to dive right in.
Price: $9.99 Add To Waiting List
JH 92

Amaury Coutelas "Cuvée Louis Victor" Brut Champagne
Review Date: 04-01-2015
This multivintage blend which includes harvests from 2007 through 2012 is a must try for those who like their bubbly on the rich side but without giving up any complexity. This is chock-full of red fruit and berry flavors and there is an additional layer of maturity provided by the inclusion of the older stocks. This is produced using the solera system (as in sherry) and there is nothing else quite like it.
Price: $34.99 Add To Waiting List

Wine Club

$29.99

2011 Valli "Gibbston Vineyard" Pinot Noir Central Otago
Review Date: 04-01-2015
Of the four Valli Pinots I tasted i think I prefer the 2011 to any of the 2012's most likely due simply to the extra year of age. All four of these fantastic Pinot Noir bottlings are simply delicious and will only improve with time although the Gibston vineyard seemed the most complete and ready to drink at this stage. This is bright and floral with plenty of rich red fruit flavors and a wonderful acid tension that keeps this substantial wine fresh and balanced. Just a lovely bottle.

2013 Boekenhoutskloof "The Wolftrap" Red Western Cape
Review Date: 03-12-2015
This South African Cotes du Rhone wannabe is a screaming value and an excellent wine to boot. The Syrah component of the blend really shines through giving the wine weight, spice and a slightly meaty texture. The 32% Mourvedre adds brambly dark plums and minerality while the 2% voignier lifts the aromatics beautifully. Bargain hunters should not miss this.
Price: $8.99 Add To Waiting List

2012 Penley Estate "Phoenix" Cabernet Sauvignon Coonawarra
Review Date: 03-11-2015
Wow. What a super value in a Cabernet that is fresh, understated and well made. Plums, mint, sage and currants combined with great acid/tannin balance make this super food friendly and easy to sip on its own. This is great winemaking that sells for a song.

2013 Brash Higgins "NDV - Amphora Project" Nero d'Avola McLaren Vale South Australia
Review Date: 03-03-2015
This is one of the most interesting and unusual wines I have tried in some time. Wine geeks will love the flamboyant aromas of beeswax, wild flowers and steeped fruit that seem to meld together effortlessly, yet in the most unusual way. The body of this wine is a bit more restrained in its smooth, sweet and fresh flavors of berry and plum. This is just the thing for jaded palates looking for something exciting and different. This was done 100% in amphorae.
Price: Hidden View Price
JH 90

2008 Pauillac de Latour, Pauillac
Review Date: 02-25-2015
In 2008 the Third wine of Chateau Latour is sleek, sophisticated and classy. The high percentage of Merlot makes this a little more approachable than the Second wine Forts Latour, but all the class and breeding you expect is still there. The crunchy cherry fruit and graphite minerality are poised, polished and open up beautifully with decanting.
Price: $79.99 Add To Waiting List

2013 GRÜNER by Etz Grüner Veltliner Kamptal (1L)
Review Date: 02-25-2015
I've lost track of the number of times I have taken this bargain bottle to a picnic, BBQ or party and had people gush over how delicious it is. Honestly, I usually grab it because $14.00 for a litre of wine with a screw cap is exactly what I need on my days off-easy and cheap. White pepper, crunchy lentil, snappy apple and green pear fruit and a touch of trapped CO2 make this one perfect party sipper.
Price: $13.99 Add To Waiting List

2012 Robert Craig "Affinity" Napa Valley Bordeaux Blend
Review Date: 02-19-2015
This is exactly what most people have in mind when they think of a classic big, bold Napa Cabernet from a great vintage. Here is a brawny, rich fruit-driven wine with a solid smack of oak, creamy blackberry fruit, spice and enough structure to hold it all together. This in-your-face bottling belongs in every steakhouse in the country.
Price: $49.99 Add To Waiting List
RP 92 AG 91

2012 Yangarra Estate "Old Vine" Grenache McLaren Vale
Review Date: 02-10-2015
I absolutely love this funky, cool, electric version of Grenache from the McLaren Vale region of Australia. This has tightly wound dark fruit, spice, earth and plenty of food friendly fine tannin bound together in a dark and vibrant package. This is wild Aussie wine for lovers of Old School Southern Rhone reds.
Price: $22.99 Add To Waiting List
JH 94

2009 La Fortuna Brunello di Montalcino
Review Date: 02-10-2015
Vintage after vintage this wine over delivers, but the beauty of the 2009 is you won't have to wait 10 years for it to be at its peak. This is delicious now and shows a real softness to the earthy and sweet cherry fruit flavors. The round, broad and rich middle lets you sink your teeth into the terroir and the ripeness and warmth of the vintage makes for early drinking.
Price: $39.99 Add To Waiting List

2012 Champy Bourgogne Chardonnay
Review Date: 02-06-2015
We love the Champy wines because they practice organic methods with their estate vineyards and because direct pricing makes them affordable. This bottling includes fruit sourced from around Puligny-Montachet, giving it a little more weight and texture than most bottlings at this price. This is elegant yet weighty with crushed apple fruit and fine persistence to the finish. A baby Puligny!
Price: $17.99 Add To Waiting List

2013 Haut-Bergey Blanc, Pessac-Léognan
Review Date: 02-06-2015
Here is a serious white that combines great weight and texture with wonderful, mouthwatering acidity. This is dry and concentrated with exotic citronella, fleshy citrus pith, juicy green melon and palate-cleansing mineral on a clean and powerful structure. This should cellar really well and I might even decant it for enjoying tonight.

2004 Haut-Bergey, Pessac-Léognan
Review Date: 02-05-2015
Many wines from the under appreciated 2004 Bordeaux vintage are finally starting to strut their stuff and this is a prime example. This is restrained and balanced with a lingering sweetness to the crisp finish. The middle is filled with smoky cherry and plum fruit, notes of tobacco and hints of earth that are lively, fresh and textured. Enjoy this tonight or age further.
Price: $29.99 Add To Waiting List
RP 90

1998 Haut-Bergey, Pessac-Léognan
Review Date: 02-05-2015
This earthy wine is surprisingly rich and hearty for a 1998 Left Bank Bordeaux. Tobacco, mineral and cherry and plum fruit combine with hints of cedar and leather and there is a slightly firm edge to the stony finish. Decant this dry wine tonight and enjoy with hearty fare.
Price: $24.99 Add To Waiting List

2013 Siduri Sonoma County Pinot Noir
Review Date: 02-03-2015
Like all Siduri Pinots this does not skimp on fruit but there was clearly a deft hand guiding the winemaking, allowing for a sense of equilibrium. The balance between the creamy texture and lush fruit lets the savory and spicy components poke through, leaving an impression of complexity and freshness. In today's market for delicious Pinot Noir this is a bargain.
Price: $21.99 Add To Waiting List

2013 Calera Central Coast Chardonnay
Review Date: 01-29-2015
I love this affordable and fresh bottling for its value and consistency. Always juicy and full of character without resorting to the heavy, cloying tactics that push so many chards over the top. In a market of over priced and over manipulated wines this is a sigh of relief for your wallet and your palate.

2010 Raymond Lafon, Sauternes (375ml)
Review Date: 01-21-2015
Surprisingly viscous, fat and waxy but with great balancing acidity to boot, this seems to hit the sweet spot between flamboyant richness and cool, electric freshness. The pineapple, coconut, honey, citrus and marmalade flavors would be an ideal match for veined cheeses, fruit tarts, pound cake, a plate of butter cookies or my favorite, as an aperitif. The powerful finish here actually leaves an impression of dryness on the palate.
Price: $19.99 Add To Waiting List
RP 93

2012 Elderton "Estate" Shiraz Barossa Valley South Australia
Review Date: 10-22-2014
There is a fine sense of proportion and balance to this big, brash wine which offers a measure of restraint to the bold fruit. The flavors and aromas of blackberry, plum, pepper, mint, spice and smoke are lifted by fine grained tannins, moderate acid and a persistent limestone infused finish. In today's market for world class wines, this is a screaming value.
Price: Hidden View Price
JH 93 RP 92

2012 Pessagno "Central Avenue" Monterey County Pinot Noir
Review Date: 10-16-2014
During a recent visit to the Santa Lucia Highlands appellation we discovered this outstanding value at tiny Pessagno Winery and bought it on the spot. This family-run boutique has a small portfolio of distinctive wines and this refreshing Pinot is one of the most elegant we encountered in the region. This is medium-bodied with aromas of spice, cherry and rhubarb that tingle the senses. The persistent cherry-vanilla fruit is enhanced by hints of tree bark, tea and a surprising minerality that lends a refreshing note to the finish. This is rare quality/price ratio for Pinot Noir.
Price: $17.99 Add To Waiting List
WE 90

2012 Joseph Jewell Russian River Valley Pinot Noir
Review Date: 09-18-2014
This has the weight and texture you expect of Pinot from the Russian River Valley yet remains pure, bright and dry. An array of ripe red fruits, touches of earth and hints of spice evolve and expand as this opens up in the glass and the palate cleansing finish is clean and snappy.
Price: $29.99 Add To Waiting List
W&S 95

2012 Pisa Range Estate "Black Poplar Block" Pinot Noir Central Otago
Review Date: 09-05-2014
This is a seriously good bottle of wine and I would put it up against any $40.00 Pinot Noir we carry. This has earthy aromas of dark fruits and wild berries touched by herb and spice nuances. The complex array of red and black fruit flavors is followed by a schist-like mineral finish showing fine grained tannins and great length. The impressive depth is tempered by balance and proportion.

2010 Scali "Kalkis Vineyard" Pinotage Paarl
Review Date: 08-19-2014
This is hands-down the finest expression of this varietal I have ever tasted. This smells like a clean, classy N. Rhone Syrah with its sweet, dark raspberry fruit, spice and iron minerality on the finish. This is sophisticated, perfectly proportioned and delicious. If you hate Pinotage or love Pinotage or have never tasted Pinotage, do yourself a favor and try this tonight.
Price: $29.99 Add To Waiting List

2013 Kalinda Napa Valley Chardonnay
Review Date: 08-06-2014
If you are tired of soft, blowsy California Chardonnay and have almost given up on the category this will surprise and refresh you. This is firm and toasty with stone fruit and lemon oil flavors, a touch of honey and a complex leesy note on the finish. There is wonderful freshness and vibrancy to this rich and beautifully balanced wine.
Price: $17.99 Add To Waiting List

Wine Club

$14.99

2013 TWR (Te Whare Ra) Sauvignon Blanc Marlborough
Review Date: 07-16-2014
I am a big fan of the entire TWR portfolio but my favorite is always this vibrant Sauvignon Blanc because of its pure flavors and rich texture. Herb, melon, crushed citrus and just a hint of musk add complexity to this weighty but very refreshing value.
Price: $18.99 Add To Waiting List
RC 94 SK 93

2009 Ferrero Brunello di Montalcino
Review Date: 07-15-2014
When we tasted this young wine recently I was surprised at how warm and approachable it was. This is ripe, broad and fleshy with sweet plum and baked earth aromas and flavors and gentle, ripe tannin. Decant this for an hour and enjoy tonight.
Price: $29.99 Add To Waiting List

2009 Nairac, Sauternes
Review Date: 07-14-2014
This sensational wine combines aromas and flavors of clover honey, saffron, pineapple, orange spice tea and sweet scented wildflowers. Full-bodied without being unctuous, an oily sleekness holds the mid-palate and a mineral/acid tension glides along the long finish. This really over-delivers for the price.

Can Mayol Loxarel "999" Brut Nature Rosat Penedes
Review Date: 07-05-2014
This is a bone dry and serious bottle of bubbly offered at a ridiculous price. With its sophisticated bead, laser like red fruit flavors of cherry and berry and steely finish, this would be right at home with the classiest of fare. Try this with surf & turf or sushi and don't be embarrassed by the price.
Price: $12.99 Add To Waiting List
W&S 91

2012 Kirkham Peak Santa Lucia Highlands Pinot Noir
Review Date: 04-16-2014
This is a bargain from an appellation known for richer, fuller Pinot Noir, but at prices substantially higher than you see here. Bold and smooth with an array of red fruit flavors and a touch of tannin on the finish, this would stand up to hearty food and even summer BBQ. Although drinking well now, short term ageing should do wonders for this delicious value.
Price: $17.99 Add To Waiting List

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