Staff Favorites - Bryan Brick

Bryan Brick


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2012 Hess Collection "19 Block Mountain Cuvée" Mount Veeder Red Blend
Review Date: 07-22-2016
The family of Hess Wines has long been synonymous with great value. Whether it be for their fairly ubiquitous “Select” series, which is more big box store oriented, or the interesting mountain fruit-driven series that this 19 Block Mountain Cuvee is part of, they have a long history of making great wines for great prices. This wine is a bit of an outlier in the world of Bordeaux-styled blends in that it is dominantly Malbec, at 60%, with 30% Cabernet Sauvignon and 10% Syrah. With all that Mount Veeder Malbec in the blend you’d think that this was some sort of inky beast, but in reality it is actually quite refined and approachable, with a pretty porcini mushroom, dried raspberry, cherry cola and sweet oak-driven nose. Graceful and layered on the palate, this is one delicious blend, with well-formed flavors of dried meats, savory chaparral, roasted beets and pitchy wild berry fruit that resonates well into the broad and refined finish. If you are looking to break out of the box a bit, this blend is a great option and would be a great option for BBQs, burgers, brats and any other meaty treats.
Price: $26.99 Add To Cart
RP 93 JS 90

2014 Hahn Santa Lucia Highlands Pinot Noir
Review Date: 07-16-2016
$20 Pinot Noirs are rare these days with the grapes themselves, and the materials to make them “right,” costing too much to have a twomp pencil out in the ledgers and still be able to keep the lights on. However you still see them everywhere, mass produced and not tasting so much like the varietal on the label, we are always apprehensive about the quality before we taste them. So on the rare occasion that we find one that is not only affordable but also varietally and regionally correct and critically acclaimed the only thing we can do is back up the trucks and shout from the heavens, or at least our e-mail platform, “BUY THIS, BUY THIS NOW!”
The Hahn label is not unfamiliar to K&L; the 2012vintage did extremely well in our wine club and had people coming back for more. The 2013 was one of the top selling Pinot Noirs of the year, and a wild customer favorite, for us last year. The 2014 may be the best of this tremendous run from this producer with just as much deep set, black and blue fruits and warm spice but with a new added lift and Bing cherry brightness that we haven’t seen in the previous vintages. This new resonance and pitch to the wine adds another layer of complexity and packs even more into this bottle that already wildly over delivers.
Price: $19.99 Add To Cart
WS 92 DC 90

2014 Casa Smith "Cervo-Northridge Vineyard" Wahluke Slope Barbera
Review Date: 07-10-2016
Some of you maybe wondering why in the hell are we emailing you about a Washington State Barbera? My answer to that is because it is just that delicious and needs to be tried to be believed. This brand new label, Casa Smith, which focuses solely on Italian varieties, is the newest in an ever-expanding series of wines from Charles Smith. The man with the crazy hair that brought some of the best wines Washington State can produce to market, both at value prices (Wines of Substance, Charles & Charles, Kung Fu Girl) and at the pinnacle of quality (K Vintners, Royal City).
Cervo is a single vineyard Barbera from the Wahluke Slope, a veritable hotbed of amazing vineyards, and while not Asti or Alba, it could be the next best place for the varietal if this wine is any indication. This wine has all the vigor and snap Barbera has to offer, with a bit more punch. Bing cherry, sassafras, blueberry and a touch of milk chocolate combine in the nose. Fresh and full of lifted blue fruits, this is a wine that will be certain to wake your mouth up no matter what you are, or are not eating. Adding a layer of tobacco and tar to the energetic fruit adds ballast and dimension and keeps the wine from becoming too linear in its approach, but this wine will surely cut through the richest of foods and help shepherd other high acid tomato based foods along easily and without issue. This should be your new table wine, full stop.
Price: $19.99 Add To Cart
RP 93

2014 Taken Wine Co "Complicated" Sonoma County Pinot Noir
Review Date: 07-08-2016
Anytime you can find $15 Pinot Noir that actually tastes like Pinot Noir it is a major victory and a huge find, something akin to the wine Holy Grail. That is exactly what we found with this Complicated PN. I love the name of this wine because at $15 it should be anything but complicated but I’m happy that it actually is. Delicate blueberry fruit, pliable and perfectly ripe, dictates the nose and rides over subtle sage and mushroom tones and a touch of understated French oak. Surprisingly full and complex on the palate this completely over-delivers with serious notes of ash, chaparral, old leather, red currant and cranberry all while presenting itself in a seamless and complete way. Tangy but not sharp, ripe but never jammy, flavorful but with out excess, this is a great accomplishment in the world of inexpensive Pinot Noir and is instantly one of the best values in the shop.
Price: $14.99 Add To Cart
WE 91

2014 Martin Ray "Coast Grade Vineyard" Santa Cruz Mountains Pinot Noir
Review Date: 07-08-2016
In recent years we’ve seen the resurgence of the Martin Ray name in the California wine industry. Having no real connection to the historic figure that Martin Ray was this brand has quickly become one of the best negociants in the Domestic market. Starting with affordable wines, like their second label Angeline and their myriad of Cabernets through out the state, we’ve quickly become fond of these wines and thing they are near, or at the top of the heap for large production, purchased fruit wines from California.
In the last year or two they’ve added a more “reserve” tier to their line up with great sub-appellation wines and single vineyard bottlings that have been very impressive. One of these that really caught our eye was the 2014 Coast Grade Vineyard Pinot Noir which knocked our socks off. Naming this one of my Top 10 Pinot Noirs of the year is high praise but this is firmly entrenched on that list already. Crunchy red and black berry fruits ride a high line with exotic undertones of cardamom and star anise aromatically. Full of life and vibrant this is what Pinot should be but more and more rarely is: a perfect combination of earth, fruit, herbal complexity and subtle spice with acid dictating its pace and focus. Long savory and floral in the finish this lingers on the palate long after it is gone for hauntingly pleasing effect.
Price: $34.99 Add To Cart
WE 95

2013 Mercer "Sharp Sisters" Horse Heaven Hills Red Blend
Review Date: 07-08-2016
Mercer first popped up my radar screen about five years ago when I toured their vast operation in the Horse Heaven Hills of Washington State while on a trade junket. I had tasted a few of their wines before and was impressed with their quality/value ratio but I had no idea how massive and historic their farming operation is. The Mercer family dates back to 1886 in what then would become Washington State. They were the first to plant grapes in the Horse Heaven Hills 1972 and that block became the famed Champoux Vineyard, they are one of the main growers for the Chateau St. Michelle empire, and have started quite an empire of their own with numerous labels under the Mercer moniker.. They also have one of the largest miniature carrot processing plants in the US and farm something like a few thousand acres total.
This Sharp Sisters blend which consists of 47% Merlot, 41% Syrah, 10% Cabernet Sauvignon, 1% Sangiovese and 1% Petit Verdot is a perfect example of that aforementioned quality/value ratio. As a somewhat unusual blend this is a crowd pleasing wine that is fully of ruddy, honest charm and plenty of fruit to spread around. Spiced cherry, 60% chocolate, black raspberry and café con leche combine on the dark and lightly spiced nose. Sappy and ripe on entry this opens to show fun red berry fruit laden with more serious black pepper, pipe tobacco and clove notes. This is a versatile and easy going wine that would be a great foil to BBQ fare, burgers or tomato based pasta sauces.
Price: $19.99 Add To Cart
WS 92

1998 Dunn Howell Mountain Cabernet Sauvignon
Review Date: 07-02-2016
You can argue that 1998 was a terrible year, being the last real El Niño year in California, but to anyone that wants to throw that out there, my retort is this wine. This is Dunn. Mountainy, funky, intense, powerful and sure, with a little bit of Brettanomyces just to make things interesting. I’ve always maintained that this is one of the best wines of the vintage, and 18 years later it looks like I was on to something. Sure, it isn’t squeaky clean, but therein lies so much of its charm. In an era where everything has to be almost clinical, it is so refreshing to find a wine that is not. With vigorous flavors of morels, green olive, sweet currant, shaved fennel and lemon thyme, I’ll take this with prime rib in a second.

2011 Domaine Carneros Brut Sparkling Wine
Review Date: 07-02-2016
This never disappoints, and while people can be down on the 2011 vintage all they want, sparkling wine does not play by the same set of rules. This blend of 50% Pinot Noir and 50% Chardonnay is laden with brioche, dried apple, talc and orange blossom aromatics. Bright, while still holding richness and leesy weight, this resonates with lime flesh, sea foam, bread crust, alfalfa and tangerine. Talk about bang for your buck!
Price: $24.99 Add To Cart
CG 90

2013 Corison Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon
Review Date: 07-02-2016
Always one of our favorite, dare I say, “overlooked” Cabs, this wine always delivers and does so for a relative value. In fact, I’d go so far as to say that this wine is one of the best Napa Cab bottlings I can currently think of for $90 in the store, and will be a sure-fire bet to go 15–20 years in the cellar. Textural without heft or excess, this is poised Cabernet, not bogged down by oak char, high sugar or high alcohol. Classic black fruits intertwined with sage, tobacco and sandalwood make for a classic and classy wine that I would love to see develop over time.

2014 Cave Dog Napa Valley Bordeaux Blend
Review Date: 07-02-2016
The 2014 Cave Dog Napa Valley Bordeaux Blend is something really exciting. From Michael Havens, one of my favorite winemakers and a name that should ring far and loud for our longtime customers, this new 70% Merlot and 30% Cabernet Franc blend is a recreation, of sorts, of Michael’s “Havens Borriquot.” Made from the same vineyard as the Borriquot, it has the same intense aromatics and spice box nature, with fresh gingerbread, Bing cherry and dry-cured olive aromatics. Soft and velvety on the palate, with the plush, cassis-driven Merlot fruit adding dimension to the delicately spiced Cabernet Franc. A rock-solid offering that should turn heads with its tension and balance.
Price: $54.99 Add To Cart

2013 Amici "Reserve" Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon
Review Date: 07-02-2016
The 2013 Amici “Reserve” Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon ($79.99) is a perfect example of why we have long touted the wines of this comparatively under-the-radar producer and its sister label, Olema (out of Sonoma), for years. Basically, everything they touch turns to gold, and does so for a discount. And gold, or in this case wine, at a discount is something we can all get behind. We’ve sold past vintages of this reserve wine in small quantities, but this vintage is going to be huge for us all the way through the end of the year. It easily outperforms about 95% of the Cab coming out of Napa at this price point, which is a boatload of wine. Powerful but engaging, ripe but balanced, fruity but well sculpted, this wine has amazing complexity and tension that will serve it well over the next 6–12 years. Boysenberry, sweet tobacco, dried lavender, black olives and a touch of tar all combine for a complete wine. This is fun enough to drink with your friends at a simple dinner at home, or serious enough to take to that power dinner you have with work bigwigs.
Price: $79.99 Add To Cart
JS 93 RP 93

2005 York Creek "Madrone" Spring Mountain District Cabernet Sauvignon
Review Date: 06-24-2016
The 2005 Madrone is maybe the most “mountainy” of the three current York Creek wines with notes of fresh mint, Porcini mushroom, hazelnuts and lots of scrub brush over a well of dried red currants. White this wine may sound a little rugged, it is anything but once on the palate, with very feminine and soft flavors of clay, blueberry, violet and tobacco. Seamless and fully realized, with a long complex finish of lifted red berries, cigar tobacco and sweet licorice, this is a wine that is at the peak of its drinking window.
Price: $29.99 Add To Cart

2014 Varner "Home Block-Spring Ridge Vineyard" Santa Cruz Mountains Chardonnay
Review Date: 06-24-2016
I’m not scared to say it, and I have many times, out loud, to real people: I think the Varner Chardonnays are some of the best, if not the best, Chardonnays made in the United States. These wines are still way under the radar for most wine fans, due to their small production, out-of-the-way location--high in the hills above Portola Valley in the Santa Cruz Mountains--and stylistic choices. But for all of us lucky enough to have tasted these wines vintage after vintage, we can’t help but feel this way. The wines are just too good, with pinpoint precision, amazing complexity, and little “winemaking” to get in the way of the amazing raw materials they put into each and every bottle they make. The bad news, however, is that the 2014 vintage will be the last vintage for these wines from the Spring Ridge Vineyard, as the Varners couldn’t come to an agreement with the owner of the vineyard on and extension of the lease for the vineyard. So get them before they are gone forever.
The Home Block is the most focused and fully realized of the trio of Chardonnays in 2014. With a floral aromatic intensity that is not found in the other two wines, this is a lifted and spicy nose packed with lime blossom, honeysuckle and magnolia blossom. Brisk and energetic on entry, this has a touch of a brackish/sea salt quality as a background note that resonates behind the wall of orange pith, nectarine, sweet tobacco and morel mushroom flavors. Precisely balanced and well formed, I found this to be the most instantly drinkable of the three Chardonnays and maybe the most typical, given the history of the brand.
Price: $47.99 Add To Cart

2014 Varner "Amphitheater Block-Spring Ridge Vineyard" Santa Cruz Mountains Chardonnay
Review Date: 06-24-2016
I’m not scared to say it, and I have many times, out loud, to real people: I think the Varner Chardonnays are some of the best, if not the best, Chardonnays made in the United States. These wines are still way under the radar for most wine fans, due to their small production, out-of-the-way location--high in the hills above Portola Valley in the Santa Cruz Mountains--and stylistic choices. But for all of us lucky enough to have tasted these wines vintage after vintage, we can’t help but feel this way. The wines are just too good, with pinpoint precision, amazing complexity, and little “winemaking” to get in the way of the amazing raw materials they put into each and every bottle they make. The bad news, however, is that the 2014 vintage will be the last vintage for these wines from the Spring Ridge Vineyard, as the Varners couldn’t come to an agreement with the owner of the vineyard on and extension of the lease for the vineyard. So get them before they are gone forever.
The 2014 "Amphitheater Block” is much friendlier than in previous vintages. Historically, this wine has been the most linear and hard-lined of the trio, but not this year. Crushed minerals with notes of crimson clover, persimmon and a touch of caramelized corn swirl in the nose and lead in to the much more round and fleshy set of flavors. Pear, apricot, peach and a honeyed lace dominate the flavors but these rich, lush flavors never tip into overbearing territory. Rather, there is a broad beam of acid that cuts through this pitch like a hot knife through butter. This is the vineyard that intrigues me most every year with its changes and development. I’ll be sad to not to see it continue to grow up.
Price: $47.99 Add To Cart

2014 Varner "Bee Block-Spring Ridge Vineyard" Santa Cruz Mountains Chardonnay
Review Date: 06-24-2016
I’m not scared to say it, and I have many times, out loud, to real people: I think the Varner Chardonnays are some of the best, if not the best, Chardonnays made in the United States. These wines are still way under the radar for most wine fans, due to their small production, out-of-the-way location--high in the hills above Portola Valley in the Santa Cruz Mountains--and stylistic choices. But for all of us lucky enough to have tasted these wines vintage after vintage, we can’t help but feel this way. The wines are just too good, with pinpoint precision, amazing complexity, and little “winemaking” to get in the way of the amazing raw materials they put into each and every bottle they make. The bad news, however, is that the 2014 vintage will be the last vintage for these wines from the Spring Ridge Vineyard, as the Varners couldn’t come to an agreement with the owner of the vineyard on and extension of the lease for the vineyard. So get them before they are gone forever.
The 2014 “Bee Block,” long the favorite block of most of our local customers, is once again the richest and fleshiest of the Chardonnay trio. Golden fruits, Gala apples, sous bois and a touch of quinine combine on the serious and centered nose. Weight and ripeness abounds here from the moment it hits your palate. This is textbook Bee Block right down to its hallmark honey background tones. Milled corn, grilled peaches and almond skin, all with the slightest bit of creaminess, roll easily over the palate and barrel towards the direct and powerful finish. If you like your Chards on the bigger side, this is as big as the Varner Chards get.
Price: $47.99 Add To Cart

2005 York Creek "Track" Spring Mountain District Cabernet Sauvignon
Review Date: 06-16-2016
The 2005 Track is the more powerful and masculine of the two Cabernets on this release of York Creek. Chaparral, dried blackberry, white pepper and a centered core of grilled meat fill the nose. While sizeable, this is more of a gentle giant than a monster, with wild berry, olive, well-integrated oak toast and super fine tannins over a more savory than sweet palate. Like the Madrone this is about as good as it’s ever going to be--I’d drink this over the next 3-4 years and be perfectly happy.
Price: $29.99 Add To Cart

2005 York Creek Spring Mountain District Petit Verdot
Review Date: 06-15-2016
We couldn’t resist sending out this sort of oddity from York Creek in the 2005 Petit Verdot, it was just too delicious and rare not to be passed on to our customers. From 100% varietal this is a fun and snappy wine which is a bit different than the inky, monolithic Petit Verdot that you can sometimes find on the market today. Milk chocolate shavings, iron, blood and sweet berry cobbler filling mingle on the fresh and open nose. On the palate it picks up heft and density with a darker edge of flavors like pencil lead, wet gravel, black raspberry candy, ink and scrub brush. Fresh acid, in a grape that is known for everything but in Bordeaux blends, dominates the lively finish with pliable tannins and a long mouthwatering nature. Just delicious.
Price: $19.99 Add To Cart

2013 Obsidian Ridge "Obsidian Ridge Vineyard" Red Hills Lake County Cabernet Sauvignon
Review Date: 06-10-2016
Do any of you remember the story about the little train that could? Maybe you read it to your kids/grandkids or maybe you remember having it read to you when you were young like I do. The way I recall this story, not having heard it in a couple of decades, is there was this little, forgotten, overlooked train that had great pluck and determination. He kept with it always knowing that he could pull with the best of them. One day he got his chance, and wouldn’t you know it, he saved the day! In my mind that’s a perfect metaphor for the Cabernets of Obsidian Ridge. After selling these wines for years I feel that little train of Obsidian Ridge is just starting to get its due. Customers are finally realizing just how great of a value this wine is and how so much power and intensity can come from Cabernet not grown in Napa or Sonoma, but in Lake County, of all places.
A half a mile up on the steep hillsides of Lake County is a vineyard filled with giant veins of pure obsidian glass. This vineyard was planted with care back in 1999, in what was an old walnut grove. These stressed vines combine with the 100% Hungarian oak cooperage of Kádár, which the owners of Obsidian Ridge are partners in, to produce a singular expression of Cabernet. Full of purple floral tones and ashy volcanic material in the nose, this is very exotic — and while instantly recognizable as Cab, it has so much more complexity aromatically than most. Dense and chewy on the palate the wine is not for the faint of heart with powerful streaks of black currant, black olive, cinnamon stick, clay, more ash and lavender. Tannic and firm, this is a wine that will please all the bigger-is-better crowd but do as well on the dinner table with red meat as just about any Domestic Cabernet twice its price point. I’d decant it for a hour and serve it with any hearty meat-based dishes.
Price: $24.99 Add To Cart

2013 Dierberg "Dierberg Vineyard" Santa Maria Valley Chardonnay
Review Date: 06-08-2016
Dierberg has long been on our radar as a tremendous vineyard site where other producers made great wines from. After the success of their 2012 Estate Chardonnay I think they have finally transcended from an up and coming grower to a full fledged winery to watch out for. The 2013 is even better and more fully integrated and formed than the 2012 vintage was at this point. Persimmon, pie crust and apricot fill the nose that has substantial heft with out excessive oak. Those rich, almost oily, tones that fill the nose are instantly counterbalanced by the Bosc pear flesh, lemon curd and orange marmalade that are found on the entry. Gaining polenta-like richness and a pretty honeysuckle lace as it rolls over the palate this is a pretty and balanced Chard rather than one that hits you over your head with its intensity. I found this way too easy to drink and full of friendly accessible character.

2013 Dominus "Napanook" Napa Valley Bordeaux Blend
Review Date: 06-01-2016
The 2013 Dominus is one of the most heralded wines I’ve seen in quite some time from California, with its multiple 100 point scores collectors have been ringing our phones off the hook for months looking for any way to make sure they are able to secure the wine for themselves. While that wine is just a bit away from release the 2013 Napanook is here and is one of the best values of the tremendous 2013 vintage in the Napa Valley. Made from the exact same vineyard and in the exact same way as the Dominus this wine is about three times less expensive than its big brother and should age almost as long. Tightly wound and powerful on the nose this wine is all about tension and inky weight. The word monolithic came to mind with brooding dark fruit and woody, tannic intensity. In fact I’ve tasted past vintages of Dominus that weren’t this wound up in their adolescence. Savory olive, fresh thyme, black fruits, asphalt and hardwood combine for a powerful and earthen wine. Simply put I was blown away by the intensity, concentration and power of this wine. A cellar wine for sure, in fact if you want to drink this before it’s 10th birthday I think you’d be doing the wine a great disservice. This is one for the cellar for sure.
Price: $79.99 Add To Waiting List
JS 97 VN 95 RP 93
Limit of 6 per customer

2014 Andrew Murray "Tous les Jours" Santa Ynez Valley Syrah
Review Date: 06-01-2016
Somewhat quietly over the last 3-4 vintages one of our best selling Domestic wines has been the Andrew Murray Tous les Jours Syrah, we sold almost 400 cases of the 2013 vintage alone. Andrew has flown under the radar for a long time in the world of Domestic Rhone producers making workman-like wines that punch way above their price points. His wines are always varietally correct with great balance, rich flavors and tons of spice and that is exactly what you get with the new 2014 vintage. With a nose packed with spearmint, pastilles, whole black peppercorns and beef blood this wine gives you more on the nose than most Syrahs twice its price. Plump and ripe on entry this wine rolls around in a big ol’ field of spice as it picks up steam and heads to the darkly hued finish. Concentrated, sun drenched fruit comes out with more aeration but that core of black pepper, cardamom, mace and thyme never leave pulling the wine along effortlessly. At $15 this is easily the best Syrah we have from any region in the store right now!
Price: $14.99 Add To Cart
WE 92

2014 Alma Rosa Santa Barbara County Chardonnay
Review Date: 05-31-2016
For years the Sanford winery produced amazing, intense, under-priced wines from the Central Coast. Richard Sanford, the former owner of the winery, was and still is very much a pioneer of the region and his mark is still seen on some of the best wines from the area. Selling Sanford a few years back, Richard had a vision of something smaller, more manageable and more rooted in the vineyards, exactly the things that made Sanford so great for so many years. Alma Rosa is that project. The idea here is to have complete dedication to sustainable and organic agriculture; already they have over 100 acres of organic vineyards in the Santa Rita Hills. The 2014 Chardonnay is a Petite Chablis knock- off in my mind. Racy and full of wet stone and apple skin on the nose with a nice golden hued fruit this wine charms with subtlety rather than power. On the palate the honeyed fruit kicks in with white pineapple, a core of Golden Delicious apples and underlying notes of chalk and marzipan. Aged in stainless steel this is certainly brisk but picks up some leesy weight at it rolls to the rounded out finish of lemon curd, rolled oats and hints of jasmine. Certainly a wine for fans of more European-styled Chards yet at $15.99 this comes in way less expensive than many of those wines.
Price: $15.99 Add To Cart
WE 92

2013 Route Stock Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon
Review Date: 05-26-2016
Wilson Daniel’s label Route Stock has hit a giant home run with this 2013 Napa Cabernet bottling. I mean when was the last time you saw Napa Cabernet with a 92 point score from a major wine publication for under $20? It just doesn’t happen these days and I implore you to take full advantage of it. Soft, pliable and full of fleshy cassis, cigar tobacco, roasted fennel and cocoa powder this is fully drinkable right now and should continue to be delicious over the next 3-4 years. This is exactly the kind of wine that we love here at K&L, a wine for the people, all of the people, with no guilt or over-thought. Just good old fashioned Cab at a unheard of price.
Price: $17.99 Add To Cart
WE 92

2013 Lynmar Russian River Valley Chardonnay
Review Date: 05-19-2016
On our recent trip to Lynmar we were stunned by the overall quality of the wines they produce. They spare no expense and are fully dedicated to making top notch wines all from their Estate Vineyards. We have been big on their Pinot Noir for the last couple of months and our customers have responded to it in a big way making it one of the best selling Domestic Pinot Noirs of 2016. At this point we are very excited to bring you their 2013 Russian River Valley Chardonnay which we think is every bit as good and made in that same polished, rich, “something for everyone” style as the Pinot Noir. With a nose full of roasted cashew, apricot preserves and wet stone this has scope and breadth from the on set. Mouth filling and lush with toasty oak folded into flavors of peach pit, marzipan, lime pith and orange marmalade this is a “big” Chardonnay that surprisingly light on its feet. Never cloying or excessive in any way it gives the full flavored Chard fans something to rave about and the more classical fans something to think about. Win-Win
Price: $34.99 Add To Cart
WE 94

2014 Wines Of Substance Columbia Valley Cabernet Sauvignon
Review Date: 05-18-2016
Wines of Substance is yet another project from Charles Smith (K Vintners, Sixto, Kung Fu Girl) the famed winemaker and larger than life personality from the state of Washington. Somehow he chugs out case after case of top notch wine for insanely reasonable prices. This Substance Cabernet is a perfect example of that. Bold, fully weighted, complex and encapsulated in spicy oak this is the kind of Cab that generally goes for at least twice this price. Flavors of black currant, grilled beef, blueberry, dried currants and vanilla bean build and build until the lifted and fresh finish put the proverbial cherry on top of this value sundae. Simply a must for anyone on the prowl for value Cabernets.
Price: $14.99 Add To Cart
RP 90 - 92

2012 Clos du Val Stags Leap District Cabernet Sauvignon
Review Date: 05-18-2016
Clos du Val maybe on one of their best hot streaks ever right now. Both the 2012 and 2013 vintage Napa Cabs were massive hits here at K&L with our customers and the staff, not to mention the national press, having nothing but outstanding things to say about the wines. So we were thrilled when we found this super-secret deal on their 2012 Estate-Stags Leap District Cabernet. Full of aromas of hot chocolate, plum, sweet licorice ropes and roasted fennel this is taking all the goodness of those Napa Valley bottlings and ratcheting them up to the next level. Creamy and mouth-filling this is “big” Cab but one that would not be afraid to use the word restraint at the same time. The flavors are rich and confectionary leaning but with nice brightness at the edges. Black cherry, mocha, cigar tobacco, more plum and a touch of torched sugar build on the large scale mid-palate which glides nicely to the woodsy, but not woody, finish of cigar tobacco, porcini mushroom and sage. This is plenty accessible now but also should age well for the next 6-10 years.

2014 Orin Swift "Machete" Red Blend
Review Date: 05-12-2016
Dave Phinney can’t miss. He is the winemaker equivalent of giving Gretzky an open net to shoot on, or leaving Steph Curry wide open at the 3-point line with nobody closing out on him. Automatic. First building a wine that launched a brand which became an empire with The Prisoner he has made bombastic, full throttle, bigger is better wines for well over a decade. Just get a load of some of the wines he’s created: Papillon, Abstract, Mannequin, Saldo, Palermo, The Cuttings and Machete, and those are just the brands he started under his own labels, he makes plenty of other well-known wines as a consultant. The Machete in 2014, hot off its previous vintages Top 100 Wine Spectator award, is based as always in Peite Syrah with portions of Syrah and Grenache. Bold, teeth staining and large-scoped this is pure Dave. With massive bass toned fruit aspects, sweet tinged oak toast and glycerin-like texture this is exactly what his followers have loved about his wines for years. You know who you are.
Price: $47.99 Add To Cart
WS 94

2014 Route Stock Willamette Valley Pinot Noir
Review Date: 04-30-2016
Routestock Pinot is a great example of just how fun, drinkable and plentiful the 2014 vintage is in Oregon for Pinot Noir. The vintage was easy and uneventful, just like the winemakers hope for; in fact many winemakers from the Willamette Valley told me something along the lines of “2014 was the easiest vintage I could ever remember.” What does that mean in practice? The wines of 2014 are ripe, lush, easy-going, fruit centered and drinkable on release and while the vintage was certainly on the hot side I’ve seen very little in the way of desiccated fruit, issues with sugar or physiological ripeness. Oh and did I mention there is a ton of wine to go around in 2014 with yields being higher than anyone can remember without giving up quality.
Routestock is a great early return for the vintage. Made by one of the early family wineries in the valley, hint: look up the longitude and latitude on the label if you want to know where this comes from, this combines 40+ years of family wine making knowledge with the relationships that are needed to source top quality fruit from the Valley. Pretty and complex the nose of black cherry, loganberry, amaro and fried sage is fully formed and alluring from the pop of the screw cap. Flavors of cherry skin, pomegranate, orange pith, medicinal spices and tangy wild berry dovetail nicely to the surprisingly long and savory finish that wraps in some mushroom fritters and beef jus. This is one of the first in a long line of tremendous 2014 Willamette Valley Pinot Noir offers we are sure to send you this year.
Price: $18.99 Add To Cart
WS 91

2014 Bedrock Wine Company "Old Vine" California Zinfandel
Review Date: 04-27-2016
Morgan Twain-Peterson may be the most talented young winemaker in United States. How could he not be growing up in vineyards besides his well known father, winemaker Joel Peterson (Ravenswood). Morgan has done exceptionally well in the eyes of the press, and us here at K&L, with his label Bedrock. His wines are thoughtfully crafted small production bottlings from old vines located in “Heritage” vineyards throughout California. Hard to come by, these Bedrock wines already have a loyal and rabid following that just keeps growing year after year.
The one wine that you’re most likely to find, as all of his wines are quite limited in production, is his “Old Vine” Zinfandel. Made from a selection of historic vineyards from throughout California, averaging over 80 years old, this is not only one of the best Zinfandel values on the market but one of the best values period in the world of California wine. Dark and inky as it’s poured into the glass it’s surprising how giving this wine is throughout. Whole black peppercorns, wild berry, clove, roasted fennel and black tea combine on the pretty yet powerful nose. Slightly brambly, but never sweet or jammy, on entry this is a spiced and complex wine that has everything you could ask for in a zin of this price point. The perfectly polished tannins give plenty of structure to the fleshy mid-palate full of black cherry, boysenberry, pencil lead, dried blueberry and nutmeg. I’m always stunned at just how much wine Morgan packs into this bottling every year and 2014 may be his best vintage yet.

2013 Alexander Valley Vineyards "Wetzel Family Estate" Cabernet Sauvignon (1.5L)
Review Date: 04-11-2016
Alexander Valley Vineyards is not the newest, coolest or most talked about winery in Sonoma; hell, they probably wouldn’t even be on that radar screen. Sometimes wine doesn’t need to be about all that nonsense, sometimes it is just about what is in the bottle, nothing more nothing less. And what AVV has been making in the world of Cabernet recently is nothing less than a revelation in the world of inexpensive options for the varietal. We’ve long sold the 2013 vintage of this wine, touting its powerful charm, tremendous structure and hallmark varietal flavors all for well under $20. In a recent Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate issue, Parker himself did the same and the wine disappeared quickly; at the time of writing this there were just a few 750mls and 375mls left, but we received notice that there was a hidden lot of magnums that could become available to us. We jumped on the opportunity and are happy to offer them to you at no upcharge for the larger format. Honestly we think that this is one of the best values in Domestic Cabernet that we’ve seen in some time. Stock up for Mother’s/Father’s Day, graduations, wedding season and any other party you can think of, because this is one can’t-miss value.
Price: $34.99 Add To Cart

2014 Saini Dry Creek Valley Zinfandel
Review Date: 04-07-2016
I love the first week of baseball season. Whether you are in the freezing cold and snow or in the spring sunshine, there is a sense of hope and dreams flow free and easy. Maybe your team won’t be terrible again this year, maybe you’ll surprise everyone and be a buyer at the trade deadline, and maybe you’ll have a great, fun run towards the playoffs; maybe one of those trades will finally pay off? Regardless, the weather is just about to turn, if it hasn’t already (it’s about 80 degrees as I write this in SF today) and we’ll get to the games more, listen to the radio on the porch more and there will be plenty of times to BBQ.
These Saini Zins are like getting the next MVP in a trade for an out-of-his-prime, over-paid player, a shocking and wholly welcome find. Their estate vineyard is surrounded by much more well-known vineyards like Nalle, Ridge-East Bench, Mauritson and Mazzocco. While they’ve been growers for four generations, not only did they grow grapes—as you’ll see by their block names, their brand is relatively new, beginning with the 2008 vintage—but their vineyard is around 90 years old. The 2014 Dry Creek Valley Zin is a steal. Previous vintages of this wine have been some of the most under-the-radar finds of the last couple of years and the 2014 is the breakout vintage. Perfect balance, powerful but agile, with a number of years left on its contract, this is what everyone wants on their team: a perennial plugger that makes an adjustment and hits the next strata of performance. Bright, juicy, darkly fruited and full of perfectly ripe exuberant Zin fruit, this is an everyday Zin that you want to build a team around.
Price: $19.99 Add To Cart
RP 91

2013 Saini "Pear Block-Old Vine" Dry Creek Valley Zinfandel
Review Date: 04-07-2016
These Saini Zins are like getting the next MVP in a trade for an out of his prime and over paid player, a shocking and wholly welcome find. Their estate vineyard is surrounded by much more well known vineyards like Nalle, Ridge-East Bench, Mauritson and Mazzocco. While they’ve been growers for 4 generations, not only did they grow grapes as you’ll see by their block names, their brand is relatively new beginning with the 2008 vintage but their vineyard is around 90 years old. The 2014 “Pear Block” Dry Creek Zinfandel is a bit lighter on its feet than its brotherly “Apple Block.” Brighter and more open knit from front to back this begins with a fresh and flowery nose full of lavender pistou, wildflowers, white pepper and a whole lot of the same brooding power but with a more bass toned red fruited nature. As soon as this hits the palate this reminded me of the most delicious bowl of fresh assorted berries I’ve ever eaten, just in wine form. Highlights of cardamom cream and more white pepper add complexity while the silky, dare I say sexy, mouthfeel kept me engaged and intrigued all the way through. While the “Apple Block” is that long term wine that the cellar is going to do wonders for this is a wine that is about as fun now as it’s ever going to be, and that is on the level of fun of being able to hang out with Bill Murray at a baseball game and sing the “Take Me out to the Ball Game” together over the house PA in the Seventh Inning Stretch.
Price: $32.99 Add To Cart
RP 94

2013 Robert Craig Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon
Review Date: 03-23-2016
A lot of changes have happened at the edges over that last couple of years at Robert Craig, the good news is that the wines are still as good as ever with the release of the 2013 vintage. The most noticeable change is to the packaging this year but there is also a major change with the entry level wine from the winery. For years that wine was Affinity, always one of the best wines in Napa Valley for the money, but in 2013 Robert Craig made a change to that. Now the entry level tier is just called Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon and it is a blend of around 50% estate and 50% purchased fruit from throughout Napa Valley and it is priced where the Affinity used to be, right around $50. Spicy and bold with woody notes on the nose but little in the way of excessive toast this has a great bloody, iron rich beam surrounded by red currant, roasted fennel and cedar. Streamlined with everything it needs and nothing else this is a stylish Cab that is more about precision and balance than it is about heft or bombast. Impeccable in its balance and packed with traditional Cabernet markers of olive, gravel, cassis and tarragon this was certainly impressive. I’d even go so far as to say it’s one of the best Cabernet values of the year from Napa Valley.
Price: $49.99 Add To Cart
JS 92

2013 Robert Craig "Affinity" Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon
Review Date: 03-23-2016
A lot of changes have happened at the edges over that last couple of years at Robert Craig, the good news is that the wines are still as good as ever with the release of the 2013 vintage. The most noticeable change is to the packaging this year but there is also a major change with the Affinity this year. The bad news first: the price on this wine has gone up a substantial amount. Why? Because they’ve repositioned this wine now to be all Estate fruit from a single vineyard that they’ve owned since 1993 called La Londe Vineyard. This vineyard, sort of sandwiched between Stags Leap District and Coombsville has come into its own and the winery is fully confident that this, the 20th anniversary of Affinity, is as good as ever.
I’d agree with them wholeheartedly. While the wine is incredibly young and tight, my god this wine was good on the 4th day open, it couldn’t be more packed with Cab based goodness. With heady aromas of lavender, dark roasted coffee beans and cigar box you can tell they spared no expense on their oak regime. But at the same time I was really impressed with just how well all those pieces integrated with one another, lifting each other up rather than fighting each other and mucking up the works. Creamy and round with savory, dusty fruit flavors of black currant and wild blackberry along with licorice and ash the palate is stuffed to the brim. The tannins firm in the back end a bit but that is just the youth of the wine showing and they will be fine in a few years’ time. Affinity has always been one of the great values of Napa and this year it still is but it is taking itself a lot more serious. Now it wants to play with some of the bigger kids on the block and guess what? It’s holding its own.

2012 Joseph Swan "Trenton Estate" Russian River Valley Pinot Noir
Review Date: 03-23-2016
Anyone that knows the staff at K&L is fully aware of our love affair with the wines of Joseph Swan. The classically styled wines are full of honest flavors, vibrant acid and have proven time and time again that they develop wonderfully in the cellar. Not to mention Rod and Lynn Berglund are two of the sweetest people you'll ever meet. If you haven't been to their incredibly modest tasting room, where the wines are the centerpiece, it is a must the next time you are in the Russian River Valley. If you visit there, or have in the past, the vines around the winery are part of the Trenton Estate block which makes one of the best Pinots in the Russian River Valley if not all of California.
The 2012 is outrageously great. In fact I want to use every superlative I can think of for just how good, and how special, this wine is but that would just be superfluous, so I’ll give you the details instead. This is about the intensity and power of the vines that Joe Swan himself planted back in the late 60’s and not much else, not about oak, not about Rod’s winemaking ego, not about points, just those incredibly special and historic vines. One of the signs of a great pinot to me is that it has power, complexity, drive and structure all while having little heft. This wine is a perfect example of that. Oolong tea, pomegranate, blood orange, wet clay and crushed rock aromas are just now starting to come out of this as it is still a baby in its development. For how light and transparent this wine is it certainly packs a wallop of powerful, concentrated red fruits, exotic spice, Sevilla oranges, cranberry and clove on the palate. Tangy and full of zing on the finish this wine is anything but shy at this point but you can’t help the feeling that so much more is coming down the road. Lay this one down for a while or break it out for special occasions, or special recipes, with a long gentle decant. It will be the star of the show.
Price: $59.99 Add To Cart
WE 95 ST 92

2012 Thomas Coyne Livermore Valley Merlot
Review Date: 03-22-2016
One of the great surprises when I originally tasted the Coyne wines last year was just how good the two offerings of Merlot were. I couldn’t help but think that if more Merlot were made like this in California, and other regions around the world, that more people wouldn’t have lost interest in it in the first place. In a lot of ways Merlot became the Chardonnay of red wines with winemakers overloading the grape with so much “technique” that the grape lost its soul along the way. Thomas Coyne realized what made the grape work in the first place-it’s naturally fruity/savory interplay and it’s mid-weighted flesh that works with just about anything at any time.
The plum, blueberry, cassis and chocolate sprinkle aromas that surround the core of savory herbal components instantly told me that this is serious, yet fun, wine that had more in common with old-school Right Bank Bordeaux than Napa Valley. Ripe and fleshy with a soft and pliable mid-palate this is completely varietal driven with its blue/black fruits and subtle acidity. Coffee bean, crushed blueberries, wild berry and touches of blood, gravel and chaparral combine in a truly fun a delicious Merlot. When is that last time someone said that?!?
Price: $14.99 Add To Cart

2013 Bonterra Mendocino/Lake Counties Cabernet Sauvignon
Review Date: 03-17-2016
Bonterra has long been a leader in the world of organic wines. Before they were cool, hip, en vogue, or rad, Bonterra was producing solid, interesting and incredibly inexpensive wines from certified organic grapes. This Cabernet is a perfect example of just how good their wines can be with tremendous savor and depth. Nicely earthy on the nose with wet red clay, beef jerky and a touch of whole leaf tobacco over a nice core of blueberry fruit, this is much more complex, and much less sweet-tinged, than most of its competitors. That continued dryness is seen on the palate — however, that is not to say that it is astringent or edgy, because it is far from either. Juicy and full of generosity on entry, this is Cabernet in a very pure form with little oak or glycerin getting in the way of the black and green olive, sous bois, leather, pastille and thyme flavors that mesh well over a core of darkly roasted coffee and more blueberry fruit. I think this is better suited for the table than a cocktail but I can see the fans of affordable Bordeaux using it for both.
Price: $11.99 Add To Cart
WE 91

2013 Larkmead Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon
Review Date: 03-17-2016
A lot of changes have taken place at Larkmead over the last few years, but none of those moving parts have affected the quality of the wines. In fact, these wines are as good as I can ever remember them being. The new winemaker, Dan Petroski, who has his own brand Massican, and has worked for the likes of Valle dell'Acate in Italy and DuMol here in the States is one of the great up and coming winemakers in Napa. He has taken a more detail oriented approach with fermenting and keeping separate all the parcels of the vineyard until blending. This approach has made the wines a bit different than in the past, in my opinion, channeling specific lots into each of the proprietary bottlings. The Cabernet in 2013 is awesome, plain and simple, but it is much more spice and earth-driven than in years past. With considerable loamy earth qualities backed by laurel, dusty black currants, menthol/camphor and touches of Tiramisu, this is heady and intriguing aromatically. With more old school tannin/acid interplay and a rustic texture, this has really become serious wine that I think is going to age effortlessly. Flavors of cedar, cigar smoke, baking chocolate, eucalyptus, tar and boysenberry are already very well integrated and continue to come together and evolve in the glass. Savory edged throughout, this is a rare Napa Cab that impresses with structure and complexity rather than with sexy, bombastic fruit. I couldn’t be happier with it.
Price: $120.00 Add To Cart
RP 93 VN 92

2014 Sonoma Loeb "Sangiacomo Vineyard" Carneros Chardonnay
Review Date: 03-16-2016
One of my favorite things is finding new wines that I think our customers will love. Sometimes these wines come from brand new wineries, sometime they come from superb vintages and sometimes, and this is my favorite, they come from wineries that you have tasted with for years with little luck. When that wine comes along I can’t help getting a little extra jazzed. It means that they have transcended not only my history with the brand but my preconceptions which are usually much more difficult to tackle. That is exactly what the 2014 Sonoma-Loeb “Sangiacomo Vineyard” Chardonnay did. It blew away numerous years of previously tasted wines and all my thoughts about what the brand could do. There was certainly a stylistic shift here going from sweet, butter-bomb Chard to one of more balance and finesse while still maintaining creamy texture and flesh. There is lovely tension in this wine from its flavors of butterscotch and lemon oil, or from the citrusy finishing acidity to counter balance the tremendous baked apple and pie crust found on the mid-palate. Basically they are trying to please all Chard drinkers all of the time and doing a hell of a job of pulling it off. They always told me it couldn’t be done…
Price: $21.99 Add To Cart
RP 92 WS 90

2013 Henderlong Nalle "Henderlong Ranch" Dry Creek Valley Zinfandel
Review Date: 03-14-2016
One of the best Zinfandels, if not one of the best wines, we tasted on our February Sonoma trip. Powerful but weightless, rich yet full of lifting acidity, this Zin is a pure tightrope act. With two percent Carignane added, this Zinfandel, from 100-plus-year-old vines planted around the winery, is deeply briary on the nose with refined spice notes of whole black peppercorns, cardamom and oolong tea, and is fruited like a wild berry cobbler. On the palate, it is dark and brooding at its core and energetic at its edges, with a tension between its bass-toned blue fruits and its high-toned red fruits—all with a silky smooth feel, no residual sugar and little oak getting in the way. This is just great raw material from these tremendous vines shepherded into a bottle with no excess or pretense. Exactly the way we like it!
Price: $44.99 Add To Cart

2014 Hartford Court Russian River Valley Chardonnay
Review Date: 03-14-2016
The 2014 Hartford Court Russian River Valley Chardonnay is full of floral edges, with magnolia and honeysuckle on the nose, bolstered by touches of polenta and apple flesh. A stony intensity drives the palate, bolstered by rich, plump flavors of Asian pear, orange oil and grilled peaches. A tasty value, to be sure.
Price: $24.99 Add To Cart

2014 Seghesio Sonoma County Zinfandel
Review Date: 03-11-2016
Consistency. That is the word I think of when I think of the Seghesio Sonoma County Zinfandel. Whether it is a cold or hot, rainy or dry or large or small yielding vintage this wine always delivers the goods. So it is no surprise that in a great year like 2014 this wine is just fantastically good. With its typical spice-driven nature, this leads with alluring aromatics of whole black and white peppercorns, star anise, nutmeg and blackberry purée. With a round and seamless entry, the wine impresses with its considerable stuffing and core of berry tart, mocha, café au lait and vanilla laces all encapsulated by a bright edge of fresh strawberry-like acidity. Drinkable by the bottle and perfect for those cool evenings of late winter and spring or the warm backyard BBQ meat fests, this is wildly versatile and appropriate in just about any occasion.
Price: $19.99 Add To Cart
WS 93

2013 Michael David "7 Deadly Zins" Lodi Zinfandel
Review Date: 03-11-2016
Sometimes wines just taste good. Instead of being cerebral exercises they can just be sensory joy with little thought or energy put in by the drinker. All the work is done by the wine, it tells you what it has and you can agree, sometimes without hesitation that you are “in.” That is the way I felt about this vintage of the 7 Deadly Zins. Long a staple at K&L, this Zin has always carved out a place on our shelf with its straightforward deliciousness. Full of warm spice on the nose, this reminds me of being a teenager somehow with precocious aromatics of clove cigarettes and Big Red gum over a wild berry cobbler base. Juicy and ripe with a load of cinnamon stick, spice cake, cherry cola and pipe tobacco notes on the palate this is big, ripe, full-bore Zin but stays away from being overloaded with residual sugar. Far from cloying it gives you everything it has in a fun and charming way and never asks too much of you. After all don’t you have enough to occupy your mind these days? The last thing you need to take up your bandwidth is what you are drinking.
Price: $12.99 Add To Cart
RP 90

2013 Buehler "Estate" Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon
Review Date: 03-11-2016
$25 dollar estate-grown Cabernet Sauvignon from Napa Valley? What is this, 1990? Nope! It is just the tremendous value from Buehler. Yearly this is one of the best little-known values in Napa Cabernet, and in 2013 it is as good as any vintage that I can recall from them. Deep set clay, black olive, roasted beets, red currant and a touch of coffee grounds combine on the heady and effusive nose. On entry this is very open and pliable yet it builds structure with what is becoming the signature of the 2013 vintage in Napa: super fine and integrated tannins and vibrant acidity that adds lift and high tone. Muffuletta, unsweetened cocoa powder, dried Ancho chili, bay leaf and plenty of wild berry fruit combine on this fully weighted mid-palate. Layered with warm spices like clove and star anise and with a confectionary laced finish this is just drinkable and friendly Cabernet. But at this price it may be asking to be your best friend, and you may just say yes.
Price: $24.99 Add To Cart
RP 91 VN 91

2014 Foxen "Bien Nacido Vineyard - Block UU" Santa Maria Valley Chardonnay
Review Date: 03-08-2016
Many of you know just how impressive the Foxen Pinot Noirs are these days. Produced from some of the best sites in the Central Coast, they have been impressing the critics, K&L Staff members and our customers alike for the last few years. The big secret is that their Chardonnays are every bit as good as their Pinots, maybe even better. The Block UU bottling is a perfect example of what I’m talking about. From a 31 acre vineyard planted in 1973 to Clone 4 Chardonnay, this is some of the oldest Chardonnay planted in the Central Coast and the intensity of these vines shines through in the wine. Concentrated and weighty the nose is packed with notes of milled corn, Porcini mushroom and touched of whipped butter and fresh cream; however, this is far from another big, buttery, oaky Chardonnay. With only a smattering of new oak every year, between 10-15%, this lets the power and vigor of these older vines shine through. Energetic flavors of Tangelo, orange pith, white sage and crushed rock shine on the weighty/oily palate. Fully flavored yet in no way clumsy or overblown, this is a singular Chard that is not trying to be like any White Burgundy, Napa Valley or other great Chard, and it doesn’t need to be. It’s fantastic just being itself.
Price: $29.99 Add To Cart
VN 95

2013 Turnbull "Oakville" Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon
Review Date: 03-04-2016
Big, powerful and extracted, this new vintage of Turnbull Oakville is just a blockbuster of a wine. Dripping with rich, gooey liquored cassis and kirsch fruit, this has all the forward intensity that one could want. With softness at the edges of the dense, tarry, olive, mocha and fresh mint found on the mid-palate, this is a huge mouthful of wine. Enjoyable in its baby fat now and fully formed to last well over a decade, this is deftly done and rare in its simultaneous richness and balance. Turnbull has been on a great run lately and this wine continues to push them into rarefied air in Napa.

2012 Burgess "Estate" Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon
Review Date: 03-04-2016
Long respected as a great “Classic” Cabernet Sauvignon Burgess Cellars has been making great wines since 1972. However recently they have sort of been lost in the hustle and bustle of Napa Valley. They just don’t have the same amount of money to throw into marketing, chasing after scores and social media as many of the newer Napa wineries do. Instead they have updated their label and continued to make the same tremendous Howell Mountain-based Cabernet that their reputation has been founded upon.
The 2012 Burgess Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon is made from 100% Howell Mountain fruit and it shows. The nose is full of mint and camphor with forward notes of cherry cough drops and sweet black tea over more earthy tones of porcini mushrooms and scrub brush. Friendly and fleshy on entry this charms with its old-fashioned cedar, black currant, olive, cigar box flavors but firms up and shows the hallmark structure of Howell Mountain. The thing I liked the most about this wine is that is it an antithesis to the dominant style of Napa wines currently. It is dry with no residual sugar or glycerin, it actually has lifting acid and feels alive on the palate rather than flat and heavy and it is more about structure than big, obtuse, bombastic flavors. If you like the classics (like Montelena, Monte Bello, Heitz, Mount Eden, Dunn) this is something you should certainly check out.
Price: $39.99 Add To Cart
VN 93 WE 90

2008 Martinelli "Hop Camp Vineyard-Gravel Lens" Russian River Valley Syrah
Review Date: 02-23-2016
When this wine was first presented to me a couple of years ago I loved it. It was a meaty, savory, powerful Syrah that had all the bells & whistles to make our customers incredibly happy. Then I heard what it was going to cost. $65 retail. Sorry, but no thanks. At that price it was a great wine from one of the most iconic Russian River Valley producers, but I just couldn’t see many shelling out that kind of dough at what was probably the lowest point of interest for high-end Syrah from the U.S.
Fast forward a few years and people love California Syrah again, so it was a surprise to me that this wine was still kicking around and there was a ton of it! Was the wine still good? Even better! With a few years to round out its tannins and let the acid integrate better this was becoming a stunner of a wine. But what about the price? Well just this once the folks at Martinelli decided that they’d let us have a massive discount, so massive we can’t publish the price on-line, to help sell this forgotten gem.
Full of menthol, black pepper, exotic spices and bloody beef tones on the nose this is packed full of varietal intensity and vigor. Juicy and bursting with tangy cherry and raspberry fruit over fresh rosemary and dried meats this walks a tight rope of fruit versus spice, neither ever really getting the upper hand. Savory on the finish with camphor, chaparral and fresh thyme long present after the kirsch fruit resides this is great both as a cocktail for fans of more rustic wines or at the dinner table for larger scoped game dishes. Bottom line--jump on this value! We’ll never see another one from Martinelli like this again!
Price: Hidden View Price
RR 92

2013 Smith & Hook Central Coast Cabernet Sauvignon
Review Date: 02-23-2016
One of our most successful wines over the last 2-3 months has been the 2013 Hahn Santa Lucia Highlands Pinot Noir. Its combination of friendly style, honest Pinot flavors and ridiculous value has captured our customers' attention, and palates, and has held it. Always on the hunt for the next big thing, we wanted to see if the Hahn Family wines produced anything else that held a candle to the value of the Pinot Noir. Much to our delight, we found the 2013 Smith & Hook Central Coast Cabernet Sauvignon and we were floored by the same combination of value, flavor and drinkability we found in the Hahn.
Made from 100% Cabernet Sauvignon from a blend of San Antonio Valley, Paso Robles, Hames Valley and Arroyo Seco fruit and aged in 100% French oak, this Cab has the polish and slick black fruit of a wine 3-4 times the price. A lace of menthol and sage weaves through the boysenberry fruit and mocha richness found on the nose, leading to the fresh and zesty entry. Fleshy and easygoing, this Cab delivers a fully weighted core of olive, black currant, plum, tarragon, cedar and loam flavors on the lush palate. Velvety tannins wrap up the ripe and juicy finish and a long mélange of fresh herbs resonate long after the glass is empty. This is the easily the best value Cabernet we have in the store right now.
Price: $16.99 Add To Cart
WE 92

2013 Roberts + Rogers "Louer Family" Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon
Review Date: 02-16-2016
Robert & Rodgers is not a household name in Cabernet yet. Yet is key word in the previous sentence because producers with this kind of dedication and background will not be under the radar for long. R&R started as a joint project between Robert Young and Roger Louer back in 1999 when they sourced fruit from a vineyard high upon Howell Mountain for their first vintage. In 2009 Roger made his first wine from his Louer Family Vineyard in St. Helena selecting the best barrels from his 34 acre parcel. Made in 100% new French oak this pure Cabernet has never been shy and in 2013 really strikes another victory for a tremendous vintage. Hefty from the onset this is a powerful wine full of muscular tones of dark chocolate and carob with tons of cookie dough and other confectionary tones over a savory, game driven base. Ripe and extracted on entry this comes at you with bombast and intensity but slowly relents and you’re left with a sense of beauty and class. Dry throughout with no excessive oak toast the wine is framed in a way that lifts the cassis, cocoa dusted cherry, chaparral and sandalwood tones rather than bogging them down. I was impressed with the balance here in that where so many Napa wines these days are going for broke, and this one pulls up just short to be sure, the folks at Roberts & Rogers realized that just a little restraint can make a world of difference.
Price: $59.99 Add To Cart
RP 95

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