Staff Favorites - John Downing

John Downing

Reviews

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2013 Capezzana Carmignano
Review Date: 04-16-2018
Carmignano is a lesser known yet important subzone (located just northwest of Florence)of Tuscany that has held the long tradition of blending Cabernet with Sangiovese. Capezzana remains the benchmark producer here and their 2013 is a classic. Made from 80% Sangiovese and 20% Cabernet, it's juicy and medium-bodied with red fruit from the Sangiovese taking the lead while the Cabernet fills in the palate with a nice touch of dark chocolate. A fine layer of tannins adds a pleasant touch of structure to this wonderful Tuscan red.
Price: $26.99 Add To Cart
VN 90

2015 Cascina Ca' Rossa "Vigna Mulassa" Barbera d'Alba
Review Date: 04-16-2018
Cascina Ca'Rossa is located in Roero, the zone adjacent to Barolo and Barbaresco that is best known for the production of Arneis. Their "Mulassa" Barbera comes from the vineyard of the same name where predominantly sandy soils yield grapes that result in highly aromatic and flavorful wine. It's aged in large Slavonian oak casks which allows it to showcase rich, high toned earthy black cherry and black berry fruit amplified by ample acidity. This is a first class Barbera that is more than worth the price. Great with hot appetizers and substantial pastas.
Price: $29.99 Add To Cart

San Venanzio Prosecco Valdobbiadene Superiore Brut
Review Date: 04-16-2018
San Venanzio Brut certainly stands out amongst its peers and remains one of the finest quality Proseccos we've come across at this tremendous price. Known for its vibrant fruit, bright florals, minerality and exceptional balance, this creamy, fresh sparkler continues to impress.
Price: $12.99 Add To Cart
WE 90

2013 Fratelli Barale Barolo
Review Date: 04-16-2018
One of the reasons we cherish our direct import program is that we have the opportunity to offer our customers impressive wines at incredible prices. Barale's first-rate 2013 is one of the steals among our Italian selections currently especially in light of the going rate for Barolo. This medium-bodied gem offers an aromatic array of pretty red fruit, dried florals, earth and cedar and a seamless palate with a bright snap of acidity on the finish. Although it can be enjoyed today after ample aeration, it's certain to improve in the cellar.
Price: $29.99 Add To Cart

2015 Isole e Olena Chianti Classico
Review Date: 04-16-2018
After just one sip of this wine I was immediately reminded why owner Paolo De Marchi has developed such a sterling reputation and following. His 2015 Chianti Classico is simply sublime. It's a seamless blend of mostly Sangiovese with small amounts of Canaiolo and Syrah that showcases lush cherry and plum flavors with polished tannins and perfectly integrated acidity. This is one of the finer Chiantis I've tasted in some time and I have no doubt many will share my sentiment.
Price: $24.99 Add To Cart

2015 San Vincenti Chianti Classico
Review Date: 04-16-2018
San Vincenti is one of the more recent and impressive additions to our Italian section that took us a bit by surprise during an LA staff tasting. It's medium-to-full-bodied with earthy layered blackberry and black cherry fruit and a healthy dose of ripe tannnins throughout. While aged in and rounded by small French barrels, the fruit in this wine takes center stage. This substantial Chianti will only improve with a year of cellaring.
Price: $22.99 Add To Cart

2014 Cascina Alberta "Giacone" Barbaresco
Review Date: 04-10-2018
The wines of Cascina Alberta are welcome new arrivals to K&L and outstanding values at their respective price points. We're especially taken with their Barbaresco for its classic aromas of cherries, mint, minerals and a hint of licorice as well as its bright, medium-bodied palate. There's just the right balance of fruit and acidity and the wine can be enjoyed today or over the next few of years.
Price: $36.99 Add To Cart
WE 94

2016 Tenuta Le Calcinaie Ingredienti Uva.
Review Date: 04-10-2018
Le Calcinaie is a small Tuscan estate close to the town of San Gimignano and one of our favorite in this area. Not only are the wines certified organic but also owner Simone Santini has chosen to produce this wonderful 100% Sangiovese entirely in steel tanks without the use of sulphur. It's texturally plush and round yet pleasantly structured with some youthful tannins and acidity that emerge on the finish. The combination of earthy Tuscan terrior and primary black fruit make this perfect with hearty pastas, meats and firm cheeses.
Price: $19.99 Add To Cart
VN 92

2015 Cantina Terlan "Gries" Lagrein Riserva
Review Date: 04-02-2018
Terlano's "Gries" is among the finest examples of Lagrien in Alto Adige. The grapes are harvested near Bolzano and result in a wonderfully aromatic wine with heady scents of earthy dark plum, dark cherry and blackberry fruit and a velvety palate with rounded tannins. 2015 was a very warm and dry year that yielded small, concentrated grapes. Cantina Terlan managed to harvest at just the right moment making this an especially full-flavored, memorable Lagrien.
Price: $35.99 Add To Cart

2015 Pecchenino Dolcetto Siri D'Jermu
Review Date: 04-02-2018
Pecchenino is one of the top estates in the Dogliani zone where nearly all of the vineyards are planted to Dolcetto. This native grape thrives in this slightly higher altitude area adjacent to Barolo and Barbaresco. "Siri d'Jermu" is a densely packed Dolcetto with dark berry and cherry fruit flavors that envelope big ripe tannins and a fair amount of acidity. Although a few months of aging in large casks has toned the wine and made it somewhat accessible now, it definitely opens with ample aeration and is at its best with food. An impressive Dolcetto.
Price: $19.99 Add To Cart
WS 92

2013 Giacomo Ascheri Barolo
Review Date: 03-31-2018
The past several vintages of this impressive and well-priced Barolo have been consistently good and wildly popular with our customers. Matteo Ascheri is a real pro and his 2013 reflects this excellent vintage. It's a classic style Barolo with ample weight, texture and finesse and plenty of delicious spiced red fruit. While the tannins are big, they're not austere and are well integrated. This is an impressive Barolo at the price and will cellar well or drink nicely in the near term.

2015 Yves Cheron "Les Dentelles" Côtes du Rhône
Review Date: 03-26-2018
This wine is yet another example of why I'm such a fan of Rhone reds. Wines like this certainly over-deliver at the price and this medium-to-full-bodied blend of Grenache and Syrah is packed with earthy, peppery red and black fruit along with pleasant tannins and a touch of rusticity on the finish. Meats and cheeses with this one.
Price: $12.99 Add To Cart
RP 92

2013 Castello di Monsanto Chianti Classico Riserva
Review Date: 03-26-2018
While many Chianti producers have altered their wines in pursuit of a more international style, this storied estate has remained consistent and continued to craft the outstanding, more classic Chianti they are best known for. Although their 2013 drinks nicely today, it certainly has enough structure to age gracefully. Chianti lovers will want this one for sure.

2011 Bocale Sagrantino di Montefalco
Review Date: 03-26-2018
Quite a few customers and even a couple of my esteemed colleagues have been whispering about Bocale for some time now. Well, we not only have their wonderful 2011 Sagrantino in stock, but also are offering it at a terrific price. It's an exuberant, richly flavored red with surprisingly ripe tannins and just the right touch of French oak. Bocale is a pleasant contrast to the also excellent more tannic/rustic versions of Sagrantino and will appeal to those who love powerful, fruit-driven reds.
Price: $39.99 Add To Cart

2012 Baricci Brunello di Montalcino
Review Date: 03-26-2018
This first class Brunello has filled out since we tasted it in Italy and is showing its underlying depth and structure at the moment. In my opinion, this is certainly one of the must-buy Brunellos of the 2012 vintage. It combines rich, concentrated fruit with deftly balanced tannins and acidity and will improve with a couple years of cellaring. Francesco Buffi manages to combine exceptional Sangiovese with the best characterictics of the Montosoli zone all in one bottle.

2016 Saint Cosme Côtes du Rhône
Review Date: 03-26-2018
While I tasted this recently I was immediately reminded why the arrival of this wine is always eagerly anticipated. It's a tremendous value and delivers even in lesser vintages. St Cosme's 2016 offers some impressive concentration and surprising assertive tannins that are enveloped by mouth-filling black fruit. This one hundred percent Syrah is the ideal foil for lamb and most certainly shines with meats, firm aged cheeses and heartier fare.
Price: $13.99 Add To Cart

2016 Blason Malvasia Friuli-Venezia-Giulia
Review Date: 03-26-2018
Blason's 2016 Malvasia hits all the right notes in perfect pitch. This wonderfully fresh and aromatic white melds fragrances of rose petals and orchard fruit with a medium-bodied palate of subtle fruit and crisp acidity. It's delicious on its own and pairs nicely with soups, salads, vegetables and white meats.
Price: $10.99 Add To Cart

2015 Fèlsina Chianti Classico
Review Date: 02-27-2018
It's never difficult for us to go long on Felsina in any vintage but their 2015 deserves attention. The vintage is already turning heads in Tuscany and the Felsina Chianti Classico is definitely one of the stars. It captures the signature Berardegna berry fruit with subtle highlights of dried florals, cedar and minerals. This medium-bodied gem manages to deliver elegant fruit with perfectly balanced tannins and acidity. A very fine Chianti Classico we highly recommend.

2016 Ermacora Pinot Bianco Colli Orientali del Friuli
Review Date: 02-26-2018
As much as we love all of Ermacora's wines, their Pinot Bianco always seems to remain the star of the show. It has an extra dimension of complexity and verve that make it stand out. The 2016 is bright and inviting with lifted notes of green apple and citrus that shine throughout. It's perfect with vegetable dishes and soups, risotto and fish. A real gem.
Price: $14.99 Add To Cart

2016 Ermacora Friulano Colli Orientali del Friuli
Review Date: 02-26-2018
Originally known as Tocai Friulano, this wine is the most popular white consumed in Friuli and known by some as the ambassador of Friulian wines. Ermacora's features the classic scents of almond and white flowers as well as subtle flavors of orchard fruit and spice. This outstanding white pairs wonderfully with prosciutto, fresh cheeses, white meats and fish.
Price: $14.99 Add To Cart

2016 Ermacora Pinot Grigio Colli Orientali del Friuli
Review Date: 02-26-2018
Pinot Grigio is certainly one of the most versatile white wines today and it's also one of the most beloved by consumers. Whether served as an aperitif or at the table it's a great all-around white wine. Our friends at Ermacora craft an especially good one with classic aromas of pear, white peach and florals and delicious flavors of melon, baked apple and hints of tropical fruit. A mid-weight palate with moderate acidity make this perfect to drink today.
Price: $14.99 Add To Cart

2012 Gulfi "Nerojbleo" Nero d’Avola Sicilia
Review Date: 02-26-2018
The owner of this top tier estate once told me that one of the reasons he prizes this wine is that it expresses the darker, more concentrated side of Nero d'Avola. The vineyards are inland in Chiaramonte and thus the wine is a bit bigger shouldered than many of its contemporaries that tend to be a bit brighter, lighter and more red fruited. Gulfi's Nerojbleo is richly textured and full-bodied with delicious spiced plum and blackberry fruit. It's exceptional with bbq and pairs well with grilled meats, red sauced dishes and a variety of heartier meals (and it's great on its own as well).
Price: $18.99 Add To Cart
RP 91 VN 90

2016 Poggiarellino Rosso di Montalcino
Review Date: 02-26-2018
This is one of the earlier 2016 Rossos to arrive on our sales floor and if it's any indication of things to come, this vintage shows great promise. Poggiarellino's 2016 is pleasantly aromatic, concentrated and a bit lower in alcohol than most of late. It's definitely an excellent wine to pair with food as it trades a bit more acidity for slightly less forward fruit and offers plenty of length as well. Great to open today with ample aeration yet wil cellar nicely for a couple of years.
Price: $16.99 Add To Cart

2016 Fratelli Barale Dolcetto d'Alba "Le Rose"
Review Date: 02-20-2018
Sadly, even as the demand for Dolcetto has greatly increased here in the US, the popularity in Italy has plummeted along with production levels. It's why we're so elated to be able to offer Barale's at a great price and in good quantity. Their 2016 is fresh and aromatic with scents of cherry and berry fruits, rose petals and a pleasant earthy character from the Monforte soils. It's a versatile red that is especially great with pizza, pastas, lighter meats and cheeses.
Price: $13.99 Add To Cart

2015 Domaine des Remizières "Cuvée Christophe" Crozes-Hermitage
Review Date: 02-19-2018
The warmth of the 2015 vintage has seemingly taken this wine to another level. The fruit appears riper and more concentrated than usual yet possesses an underlying structure and freshness of a more typical vintage. This wonderful Crozes opens with aromas of meaty ripe black fruit, earth and licorice that continue on the palate with fine grain imbedded tannins and a long finish. The wines of Remizieres continue to go from strength to strength.

2013 Fratelli Barale "Castellero" Barolo
Review Date: 02-19-2018
Castellero is an important Barolo for the Barale's as the vines are grafted from the original old clones of Nebbiolo on their property. The 2013 is especially complex with lots of spice and potpourri on the nose and a layered and structured palate with wonderful density, ample acidity and grippy tannins on the finish. This will certainly gain stature with a bit of time in the cellar yet is quite expressive if opened now. Ideal with roasts, meats and heartier meals.
Price: $39.99 Add To Cart
WE 93 JS 92

2012 Baccinetti "La Saporoia" Brunello di Montalcino
Review Date: 01-22-2018
Since so many of our customers are regularly in search of value-priced Brunellos (and we are as well!) we wanted to make mention of Baccinetti's outstanding 2012. Since tasting it over a year ago, this wine is really showing beautifully. It opens with attractive scents of forest berries, dried florals and spice and offers captivating flavors of black cherries and red fruit with ripe tannins and mild acidity that bring it all together. It's a tremendous value Brunello that we highly recommend.
Price: $29.99 Add To Cart
JS 92

2016 Moulin de la Gardette "Petite Gardette" Gigondas
Review Date: 01-22-2018
Although this wine continues to improve and fill out with time in the bottle, currently I'd recommend decanting it or giving it plenty of time to open up. It's packed with loads of spiced red and black fruit, ripe tannins and just the right amount of acidity that adds to its freshness and length. It's a very impressive red and one of the best deals within our Rhone selection. Open with aeration or give it a bit of time to round out in the cellar.
Price: $19.99 Add To Cart

2014 Cantele Salice Salentino Riserva
Review Date: 01-15-2018
This has been a consistent hit with our customers and Cantele continues to produce high quality wine at very modest price points. Their latest Salice offers up their trademark rich baked red and black fruit with sweet tannins and bright acidity that together make this a wonderful table red. Cantele sets the bar high which is why we sell so much of this wine every vintage.
Price: $8.95 Add To Cart

2013 Bersano "Mantico" Barbaresco
Review Date: 01-15-2018
The 2013 Bersano Barbaresco represents outstanding value with the convergence of a great vintage and an exceptional price. This authentic Nebbiolo highlights classic characteristics of earthy red fruits, licorice, dried florals and a hint of leather. It's light on its feet yet has deceptive tannins and acidity that bring it together. It's perfect for meats, cheeses and pasta dishes.
Price: $19.99 Add To Cart
WE 91 JS 90

2013 Brezza "Sarmassa" Barolo
Review Date: 12-26-2017
When last we tasted this, the wine had certainly shut down by comparison to its "Cannubi" counterpart giving the impression it's built for the long haul. Brezza's "Sarmassa" vines are planted primarily in clay which explains why the wine is often more structured than the Cannubi. Ample and expressive aromas of red fruit, licorice and earth belie a concentrated and complex palate that while closed at present, is sure to emerge with proper cellaring. A first class 2013 Barolo.
Price: $58.99 Add To Cart
WE 96

2015 Villa Russiz Pinot Bianco
Review Date: 12-26-2017
2015 has turned out to be a first rate vintage for Italian white wines so those from top tier producers like Villa Russiz are especially impressive. Their Pinot Bianco combines wonderful aromas of white florals and subtle orchard fruit with a palate of soft apple flavors enveloped by overall richness and density. Although it's medium-to-full-bodied the acidity keeps the wine bright and fresh on the finish.
Price: Hidden View Price

2015 Ferrero "Pepita" Rosso di Toscana
Review Date: 12-26-2017
This is one of those occasions when the sum is better than its parts. That's not to say that the single varietal wines were not great on their own, but the blend that comprises 'Pepita' is a real stunner. We normally expect a wine of this depth and quality to hit the floor above $20 so it's no surprise why it comes with our highest recommendation. This is a real super Tuscan.
Price: $14.99 Add To Cart

2015 Brezza Langhe Nebbiolo
Review Date: 12-26-2017
Brezza remains among the top tier producers within the Barolo zone and their recent releases are quite impressive. We have a lot of demand for quality, value-priced Nebbiolos and continue to bring them in when we find them. What makes this one unique is not only it's lighter color but also its softer palate and easy drinkability. Some have mentioned it reminds them a bit of a deeper rose with just the right amount of fruit and moderate acidity. It's a perfect intro to Nebbiolo with a lighter touch.
Price: $21.99 Add To Cart

2011 Felsina "Fontalloro" Toscana
Review Date: 12-26-2017
The Super Tuscan category is a great place to look for value these days and Felsina produces one of the finest Sangiovese based wines in the zone. Their 'Fontalloro' is a selection of high and low altitude fruit that weds the best characteristics of Sangiovese. That, coupled with the warmth of the 2011 vintage, make this exceptional to drink now or hold for a few years. It's surprisingly fresh for the vintage and brimming with ripe, flavorful and densly packed fruit. We're glad we went long on this one.

2016 Pala "I Fiori" Cannonau di Sardegna
Review Date: 12-26-2017
Cannonau has gained attention of late due to its cultivation within one of the noted "blue zones" that dot the globe. People who inhabit these places are said to live the longest, healthiest lives and the Cannonau wines of Sardegna are included due to their polyphenolic content. Aside from the said health benefits, Cannonaus like this one are tasty, versatile red wines that our customers love. Pala's is bright and lively with scents of fresh raspberry, prickly pear, white pepper, and a pleasant touch of wild herbs. It's medium-bodied in texture and fills out with a bit of aeration. This is a great everyday red that will pair with a wide variety of mild and spicier foods. A wonderful island red.
Price: $14.99 Add To Cart
JS 93

Ca de Medici "Terra Calda" Lambrusco
Review Date: 12-26-2017
We've had a thriving Lambrusco business for years but for some reason the wines of Ca De Medici have flown a bit under the radar. We're certainly paying greater attention to this one after just re-tasting it. The winery manages to offer some of the best from the zone and we're especially taken with this one. It's concentrated and flavored-packed from start to finish yet pleasantly dry throughout with loads of black cherry and mild effervescence. Perfect with pastas, burgers and daily meals. (Low alcohol too!)
Price: $14.99 Add To Cart

2016 Silvano Follador Prosecco Superiore Brut Nature
Review Date: 11-07-2017
During our visit to this winery in 2016, Alberta Follador mentioned that her brother Silvano was a perfectionist. This was hardly a surprise to me as Follador is the finest Prosecco I've come across. While most of the Prosecco hitting the market is made in an Extra Dry (slightly sweet) style, Follador is a Brut (dry) which makes it not only somewhat unique but also in a class all its own. It really is that good.
Price: $19.99 Add To Cart

Wine Club

$16.99

2014 La Massa "La Massa" Toscana
Review Date: 10-30-2017
Giampaolo Motta has continued his string of impressive wines with the release of his 2014 La Massa. Although the 2014 is finer in texture and tone than the recent vintages, it offers no shortage of concentration, length and acidity. Excellent to drink now but will hold well for several more years.
Price: $15.99 Add To Cart
JS 91 WS 90

2012 La Magia Brunello di Montalcino
Review Date: 10-30-2017
This is definitely a big, concentrated style Brunello with moderate tannins and mild acidity, and a more modern expression as well as the wine is aged in medium-sized French barrels. It's packed with rich fruit and a touch of new French oak that adds to its overall appeal. Open this one with a juicy steak.

2012 Cortonesi "Poggiarelli" Brunello di Montalcino
Review Date: 10-30-2017
This is a bold and vibrant Brunello that will especially appeal to those looking for Sangiovese with ample intensity and length. "Poggiarelli" boasts penetrating red and black fruit flavors that carry on to a lengthy finish thanks to some solid acidity. It's aged in medium-sized French barrels yet the oak is perfectly integrated allowing the fruit to shine.

2012 Armilla Brunello di Montalcino
Review Date: 10-30-2017
Armilla has definitely released what we think is their best wine to-date. Their 2012 Brunello exudes elegance and subtle texture enhanced by delicious strawberry flavors and bright acidity. There's no shortage of personality to this wine and it certainly showcases the wonderful red fruit their region of Montalcino is known for.

2012 Albatreti Brunello di Montalcino
Review Date: 10-09-2017
My colleagues discovered the wines of this producer several years ago and they have remained customer favorites since. We met up with Gaetano Salvioni in 2016 during our Italian travels and were reminded why. His 2012 Brunello hits all the right notes with wonderful savory red fruit, exotic spices and an overall freshness, depth and length not normally found at this price.
Price: $34.99 Add To Cart
JS 93

2015 La Gerla Rosso di Montalcino
Review Date: 09-26-2017
For me the wines of La Gerla always manage to showcase a purity and intensity of fruit in an elegant framework and their 2015 Rosso is certainly one of their best yet. It's a real classic aged in large casks which preserves its aromas of dried florals, sandalwood and red fruits. Additionally, this concentrated, mouthwatering Sangiovese is perfectly balanced and will drink nicely now and for several years to come. Pasta, roast pork or cheeses with this one.
Price: $19.99 Add To Cart
WS 90

2014 Tenuta Roveglia "Vigne di Catullo" Lugana Riserva
Review Date: 09-26-2017
After tasting this new arrival I would never have guessed it was a 2014 but rather a 2015. It's bold and intensely concentrated with a surprising amount of acidity that makes it the complete package. Although it's full and round, it's also light on its feet. Rich honey and minerals emerge on the palate and continue on a long finish. It reminded us somewhat of a well made Chenin Blanc with the uniqueness that makes it truly Italian. Seafood, white meats and egg dishes with this one.
Price: $17.99 Add To Cart
WE 93

2015 Luigi Boveri "Derthona" Timorasso Colli Tortonesi
Review Date: 09-25-2017
Although Walter Massa remains the benchmark for Timorasso, this latest from Luigi Boveri is knockout. Surprising aromas of hazelnut, honey and minerals are only enhanced by a round and creamy textured palate with great acidity and length. We guessed it was over $20 which made this even more impressive. This truly is among the best Italian whites we've added to our cellars of late.
Price: $14.99 Add To Cart

2013 Skerk Vitovska Carso
Review Date: 09-25-2017
We receive a lot of requests for orange wines and, in my opinion, Skerk is one of the best producers of this genre. It takes a lot of focus and talent to make orange wines with this level of complexity and freshness and Skerk manages to do just that. His Vitovska sees weeks of skin contact and the tannins in the skins prevent oxidation of the wine. It's quite aromatic with notes of tropical fruit and wet stone and powerful on the palate with impressive structure from both tannins and acidity. Whether you are an orange wine fan or interested in trying one for the first time, look no further.
Price: $19.99 Add To Cart

2016 Franck Millet Sancerre Blanc (1.5L)
Review Date: 09-19-2017
I've made a lot of friends over the past few years thanks to the wonderful wines of Franck Millet. They remain one of my very favorite Sancerre producers and their 2016 speaks volumes. It's rounder and more concentrated than the most recent vintages with no shortage of chalky mineral notes, lime, lemongrass and crisp acidity. A Sauvignon Blanc not to be missed.
Price: Hidden View Price

2012 Castelgiocondo Brunello di Montalcino
Review Date: 09-11-2017
This excellent 2012 Brunello from Frescobaldi represents a more modern approach to the category and is one of the best examples of the style. It's bigger shouldered and denser in weight than average, which translates to a concentrated palate that's smooth and polished with loads of delicious black fruit flavors. Aging in newer French oak adds a pleasant touch of well-integrated oak as well.

2012 Abbadia Ardenga "Piaggia" Brunello di Montalcino
Review Date: 08-29-2017
Ardenga may not be well known here in the States but they produce terrific Brunello. Their 2012 captures the best characteristics of the vintage; lush fruit combined with excellent freshness and structure. Ardenga boasts irresistible, concentrated cherry and plum fruit that packs a mid-palate punch and a lengthy finish. Pleasant grippy tannins add another dimension to the overall appeal of this wonderful red from the hills of Montalcino.
Price: $39.99 Add To Cart
WE 95 JS 93

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