Staff Favorites - Joe Manekin

Joe Manekin
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Joe arrived at our doors in February 2007 from far away, Washington, DC to be exact. Just so no one gets the wrong idea, though, he was merely earning a living in DC; Joe’s cultural identity, as well as his professional sports allegiances and, when he has a few drinks in him, his accent, are all Baltimore through and through. After working on the wholesale side of the business for nearly 4 years, Joe decided that he wanted to work wine retail with the best, so he emailed Cindy Westby at K&L and the rest is history. While Joe is well versed in a number of wine regions, he most enjoys the wines of Europe, though he is growing increasingly interested in the great wines of the Santa Cruz mountains. When he is not at K&L, Joe enjoys cooking, traveling, catching up on The Wire, doing occasional PR, booking and recording work for reggae band JohnStone (www.johnstonemusic.com), and writing for his wine, food and music blog, Old world Old School (www.oldworldoldschool.blogspot.com)


Reviews

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2013 Marqués de Murrieta Reserva Rioja
Review Date: 04-23-2018
While 2013 was not easy, for those in Rioja who have serious acreage, an experienced team and the ability to select, there were some incredibly solid wines that were made. Indeed, I have had some great Rioja´s from this vintage. True to the year, this bottling has a a slightly darker pitch to the fruit and a slightly firmer overall feel, without any hard edges. The flavor development is impressive considering its age, with all of the sweetly spicy and savory notes we love in Rioja unfurling in this delicious Reserva bottling. For the price, Marqués de Murrieta continues to be one of our best Rioja´s in stock, and from one of the most consistent leaders in quality and value from the region. Highly recommended!
Price: $19.99 Add To Cart
RP 92

2014 Schlumberger Saering Riesling Grand Cru Alsace
Review Date: 04-22-2018
Please allow me to quickly recap the obvious selling points (Grand Cru under $30! Strong vintage! Riesling, the last world class value white!) before focusing on this particular wine. For starters...damn, does this smell terrific and taste good! In an acid forward vintage like 2014, 'Saering' could very well be an anagram for 'searing, 'as in, 'My, this acidity is searing.' Thing is, great vineyards yield fruit that produces wine which has acidity, fruit intensity, volume and terroir magic, all in perfect balance. All of which are present in this bottle of classically styled Alsatian Riesling. Aromas and flavors remind me of a most delicious fruit salad, one that is particularly heavy on perfectly ripe mandarins. Enjoy with a simple dish of pan fried petrale sole, or something richer like a potato and onion, gruyere and parmesan gratin.

2014 Charles Joguet "Les Varennes du Grand Clos" Chinon
Review Date: 04-16-2018
There are few wines that deliver value as consistently and as convincingly as a well made Loire valley Cab Franc. Joguet is a reference producer of Chinon, one of those benchmarks that not only ought to be tasted by anyone studying for their advanced WSET levels (i.e., taste this and remember it, this is Chinon), but also demands to be cellared by anyone with even a small collection of French wines. To the latter point, the fact that such a delicious - and serious - wine can be purchased for so little money is solely a function of the region and grape variety. The only wine I can think of to demand top quality Bordeaux or Burgundy pricing made from Cabernet Franc is Clos Rougeard, and though Joguet is not as trendy or highly sought after, having recently tasted this particular cuvee, I can't help but think that the quality is certainly right up there. A lovely, deeply foresty and elegantly savory nose (don't worry, there is fruit too) leads to a tense, high toned, chiseled, and well built palate. Decant a while if drinking now and you will not be disappointed, but...the real magic begins 5+ years from now.
Price: $32.99 Add To Cart
W&S 94 WS 92

2014 Tapiz "Alta Collection" Cabernet Sauvignon Mendoza
Review Date: 04-12-2018
*UPDATED 4/12/18. Once I heard that there was one last chunk of this vintage of Tapiz Cab, I was curious to see where the wine would be one year afterwards. Happily, it's developing beautifully, with all the surprising elegance, fruit purity and structure that impressed us so much a year ago. This is your last chance to load up on one of our most popular Cabernet deals of all time, so best to lock down what you'd like before it's gone. Here is my original review from a year ago: Sub $15 Cab is plentiful. In fact, Cabernet at any price point is the most common request we here at K&L get. Cult cab, value cab, cab with bottle age...these are all questions we are well equipped to handle. That said, if you were to ask us for 96 point, pure varietal Cabernet for under $20, prior to this year, we would have had nothing for you. Of course this year, that all changed. So what does the Tapiz taste like? It''s good. Plenty of red fruits and hints of eucalyptus, coastal forest aromas on the nose (those who love hiking on the Marin and Sonoma Coasts will feel right at home) lead to a juicy palate which suggests younger vine fruit, but with a poise and structure lacking in most other $15 Cabs that I've had. That's it. Is it life changing? World beating? We'll let you decide. But is it fairly priced, tasty and varietally true Cab? Absolutely.

2016 Pascual Toso Malbec Maipú
Review Date: 04-11-2018
Ever since the 2006 vintage of Pascual Toso gave our internet servers everything they could handle, we have consistently carried this Malbec and have liked what we have tasted, perhaps a bit more so in some years than in others. That said, we feel strongly that a decade later, this wine has regained some of its mojo. It is every bit as delicious, but updated for the times: fresher, less heavy feeling, not as obviously flavored by oak. As always, this is wonderfully representative malbec, with fresh and plummy fruit aromas, taking a deeper whiff, perhaps a hint of licorice as well. On the palate, it is silky smooth, with fine tannins and a juicy core of fruit. For fans of fruit forward, easy to drink reds, you would be hard pressed to find something tastier at under $10.
Price: $9.99 Add To Cart
JS 92

2015 Catena DV "Tinto Histórico" Mendoza
Review Date: 03-29-2018
If Buenos Aires is the "Paris of South America," then it follows that Argentina would be France, which - at least in terms of their high per capita consumption of wine - is pretty spot on! Catena's Tinto Historico is a nod to the Argentinian population's love of red wine, and a particular style of red blend that consisted of some Malbec, for sure, but was also significant for its use of Bonarda, Argentina's original red grape of preference. The resulting wine is a bit more savory and brawny, drier as well, with less noticeable oak spice than many Malbecs at this price point. And, it is delicious. For a suggestion of what Catena's wines once tasted like, and a feel for the style of everyday red that is still wildly popular in Argentina, you cannot do better than Catena's tinto histórico. Serve in a decanter or carafe, with lots of company and good food, for maximum efecto argentino!
Price: $14.99 Add To Cart
JS 93 DC 91

2013 Fratelli Barale "Castellero" Barolo
Review Date: 03-27-2018
We have loved the past two vintages of Fratelli Barale, though, not surprisingly with these 2013's, I think it's safe to say I will be consummating this relationship with a purchase for the cellar. The Castellero opens with aromas of dark cherries, licorice and cocoa powder, opening up with air to show dried orange peel as well. Bright cherry and almond flavors show greater intensity and persistence than on the normale, and leads me to believe that this will easily age 20 years past the vintage date. Though it is not a waste to enjoy this Barolo young, even at this early stage the wine is well integrated and is already bringing a whole lot to the table.
Price: $39.99 Add To Cart
WE 93 JS 92

2013 Fratelli Barale Barolo
Review Date: 03-27-2018
We all knew we had something special when St. Clair first introduced the Fratelli Barale wines (in the 2011 vintage, I think?) These are classic, softly textured, expressive wines which not only faithfully represent the region, but do so in a comfortable, old school style --without any of the flaws of being overly old school, or the sticker tag shock of being "old masters" old school. This fact combined with the great 2013 vintage, makes this a wine to load up on -- for Piemonte afficionados as well as those who perhaps are just beginning to explore the region.
Price: $29.99 Add To Cart

2013 Giacomo Ascheri Barolo
Review Date: 03-27-2018
For under $25, one could purchase: a bottle of cheap Pinot Grigio at a local Italian restaurant, a commercially made, mass market California Cabernet or Pinot Noir, a fancy bottle of craft brewed beer, or... a bottle of well made Barolo from one of the region's best vintages in modern history. I know where I would allocate my resources! This is delicious, direct, brightly fruited Barolo, with plenty of poise and great cut, something to sink your teeth into now or to cellar mid-term if you are so inclined. To be able to find such a representative bottling from one of the world's great wine regions, in a vintage as successful as 2013, for this low a price, is one of the more compelling buys in the wide world of European imported wines..

2014 Ritual Sauvignon Blanc Casablanca Valley
Review Date: 03-27-2018
A fantastic SB for the money, the Ritual drinks more like a $20 white (and a good one at that) than one that sells for less than $13. One of the things about new world Sauvignon Blanc, is that while the aromatics leap out of the glass, sometimes the palate lacks nuance, volume and subtlety. Given Veramonte's prolonged study of their varying soil types, the careful elevage (this is not your simple ferment in stainless and bottle it quickly job) and few years in bottle, there is no lack of complexity and volume on this wine. Flavors suggest tart kiwi, loquat, and fruits that I don't typically associate with Chilean Sauvignon Blanc. Treat this Sauvignon Blanc as you would a Sancerre and enjoy with your favorite goat cheese and a brightly dressed salad, or on its own while you unwind before dinner. Given its quality and value, Ritual will be a go to, inexpensive white for many of our customers.
Price: $12.99 Add To Cart
JS 93 RP 90

2015 Bodegas Volver "Tarima Hill - Old Vines" Monastrell Alicante
Review Date: 03-19-2018
This is an especially fruit forward, rich and lush Tarima Hill vintage. Whereas past vintages show a bit more of an exotic and spicy oak imprint, the 2015 in my mind is all about the fruit. Just a bit of smoky French oak is quickly overtaken by dense, thickly textured blackberry and black cherry confit. This is a wine that always over delivers for the price, generates tons of repeat orders, and anecdotally, is enthusiastically received by critics, customers, staff, and friends and family alike.

2016 Bodegas Lanzaga (Telmo Rodriguez) "LZ" Rioja
Review Date: 03-12-2018
Immediately after opening one of our recently arrived bottles of LZ , I quickly nosed the bottle and was absolutely floored by the aromatics: juicy peaches, macerated red fruits, almost like a berry and peach cobbler before it goes into the oven. There is a delicately candied quality as well, which leads to a palate that delivers on all the freshness and brightness promised on the nose, with a finish that shows a chalky and tannic quality that you might expect from unoaked Tempranillo grown in a prime Rioja Alavesa village. This is the type of Tempranillo driven field blend, fermented with a portion of whole clusters (which are de-stemmed prior to pressing) that I imagine would be similar to the wine made in the region prior to the large scale introduction of small barrels in the mid to late 19th century. Rioja is in the midst of a renaissance, and fortunately for wine lovers, this time around it's not points, toasty new barrels and triple digit pricing, but brightly fruited, humbly priced yet delicious bottles of wine which are leading the way.
Price: $14.99 Add To Cart
RP 91

2015 Clos Erasmus "Laurel" Priorat
Review Date: 02-27-2018
If we were tell you that you could get a wine with a nearly identical varietal make-up, from similar terroir and made by the same winemaker as a recently awarded 100 pointer - let a lone a 100 pointer with an extensive track record of high 90s to 100 point ratings - at roughly 25% the retail, would you be interested? Moving on from that rhetorical question, I must say that Laurel is a special bottle of wine. It is a dense, richly fruited and mineral accented embodiment of the Priorat, made from biodynamically farmed grapes, carefully fermented with indigenous yeasts and aged in used barrels with a few amphoras thrown in for good measure. Real Priorat from one of the region's founding pioneers in Daphne Glorian, who is still humble even as she continues to makes some of the world's most highly coveted wines. This wine is as delicious an introduction into the Priorat as you are likely to find anywhere.
Price: $49.99 Add To Cart
JD 95

2013 Bodegas Aleanna "Gran Enemigo" Cabernet Franc Gualtallary Argentina
Review Date: 02-27-2018
Several of us were tasting this wine yesterday, when suddenly Kirk exclaims, "I get it, it's the Cab Franc!" What he meant was the importance of the impact of Cabernet Franc in the famous 1st growth amongst St. Emilion estates, Cheval Blanc (we were lucky enough to taste through some of their wines last year). While I don't have a cellar full of Cheval Blanc, I do see the similarity in the floral, intensely fruited, yet impeccably balanced and refined qualities of both wines. Whether it's the grape variety well adapted to its site, the limestone, the deft barrel ageing and winemaking, or some combination thereof, it is clear that this is top quality red wine which should age quite nicely for some years. This is a superlative red wine that has many of us digging deep for the appropriate words to describe it!

2016 Mas Codina Xarel-lo Penedes
Review Date: 02-20-2018
As much as we love their cava and rosé cava, Mas Codina has really raised the bar with their table wines of late: their 2015 Cab is perhaps our most underrated Cab under $15, and this Xarel-lo is fantastic! Xarel-lo is an important component in the cava blend, and while it is increasingly popular when done as a still wine, there are not many versions that show the grape as beautifully as Mas Codina's. Stone fruits, particularly peach, combine with salty minerality and a subtle almond note in this refreshing, easy to drink yet far from simple white. As much as I enjoyed this wine when I first tasted it last year with winemaker Toni Garriga, I have to say that it is absolutely singing right now. Very highly recommended!
Price: $14.99 Add To Cart

2014 Honorío Rubio "Lías Finas" Blanco Rioja
Review Date: 02-20-2018
Our second vintage of the lias finas, the 2014 is similarly driven by an old fashioned aesthetic towards white wine making in Rioja. That and lees, lots of lees. No stirring, simply a large amount acccumulated in a concrete tank. There is barrel ageing too of course, though the oak is nicely integrated and will continue to meld into the background as Lias Finas continues to age in bottle. Aromas and flavors of quince, apricot, and gentle oak spices present themselves over a broad, rich textural frame, which makes this wine complex, delicious, and very food friendly. While this isn't quite as much of a throwback style as his multi-vintage Añadas blend, it certainly is a nod to the old days when patiently barrel aged white Riojas were more the rule rather than the exception. Highly recommended.
Price: $29.99 Add To Cart

2015 Capçanes "Mas Picosa" Montsant
Review Date: 02-19-2018
Capcanes is an excellent co-op, one whose top value Garnacha based wines have always been good, but continue to improve by leaps and bounds. Take for instance this humble bottle of Mas Picosa. For under $14, we have an honest expression of primarily Grenache, with delicious fruit and savory notes of thyme and fresh Mediterranean countryside air. Any fan of reliable old world value reds, from Cotes du Rhone to Tuscany or elsewhere, should love this delicious red.
Price: $13.99 Add To Cart

2014 Benmarco Malbec Uco Valley
Review Date: 02-06-2018
I can see why this earned the trifecta of solid reviews: there is simply a lot to like in this vintage of Benmarco. While the wine does not disappoint fans of Malbec and fans of fruit-forward wines with its rich, forward and plummy fruit, there is more going on than initially meets the palate. Iron-like minerality, pleasant spice, and very well integrated oak round out the palate with complexity and appealing style. A tasty value Malbec that's ready to drink!

2016 Amalaya Malbec Salta
Review Date: 02-06-2018
Every now and then, I come across wines that are not merely tasty, well made, or solid values, but are consistently best in class. Given its back-to-back showing in 2015 and 2016, I'm tempted to place Amalaya in this category. We have spread the word on both the Torrontes and Malbec blends for two consecutive vintages, and I can tell by the enthusiastic hand-selling of my colleagues, as well as your orders/re-orders, that the message has been sent and received! The 2016 Amalaya Malbec has dark fruit, showing a savory and mineral quality, along with a balanced, slightly smoky aspect. The savoriness of this wine seems to be a stylistic hallmark. While we have plenty of year to go, I'm tempted to place Amalaya among our top red wine values going for those who like a medium to full-bodied wine with plenty of fruit, but not at the expense of structure or character.
Price: $11.99 Add To Cart
DC 90 WS 90

2015 Aquitania Cabernet Sauvignon Maipo Valley
Review Date: 02-06-2018
Alto Maipo, the highly coveted portion of Chile's most important Cabernet growing region, is generally a source of fruit for Cabs that retail for upwards of $30, often times going for multiples of that price point. There is definitely something to be said for the alluvial, gravelly soil and relatively higher elevation that this sub-zone is famous for; it makes wonderful Cabernet. The Aquitania has delicious fruit expression, though what stands out most for me are actually the aromatics, red fruited and rather subtly leafy, with hints of black currant as well. Coupled with an elegant and persistent palate, this is what well made Cabernet based wine is all about.
Price: $14.99 Add To Cart
JS 91 RP 90

2014 Cascina Alberta "Giacone" Barbaresco
Review Date: 02-01-2018
A charming, brightly fruited Barbaresco, this is a fantastic wine. I wish I could offer more specifics, but ours was a rather raucous tasting group and my notes on this one were not very detailed! I did make a point to describe the fruit as quite pure, suggestive of mixed berries, and I do recall a nearly effortless balance for such a young Barbaresco. Highly recommended.
Price: $36.99 Add To Cart
WE 94

2013 Bersano "Mantico" Barbaresco
Review Date: 02-01-2018
This is a supple, lovely, floral and forward Barbaresco from the great 2013 Piemonte vintage. Unlike many of those 2013's, however, this will not set you back $60+ dollars and will not require years of cellaring. The price is right, the wine tastes great now, and any fan of Nebbiolo should absolutely load up!
Price: $19.99 Add To Cart
WE 91 JS 90

2011 Miguel Merino Reserva Rioja
Review Date: 01-31-2018
In 1994, Miguel Merino made his inaugural Rioja wine, a Reserva. To this day, the Reserva is the most important, and at a modest 7,000 total bottles, his largest production wine. I love this 2011: it is every bit as richly fruited, sweetly spicy and delicious as usual, and I find the oak at this early stage to be nicely integrated into the wine. Tasting this, I am reminded of what drew Miguel to the beautiful village and vineyards of Briones (it wasn't merely the pretty scenery!) Black cherry, blackberry confit, dried orange peel, and underlying baking spices combine in this delicious Rioja. While this will age gracefully, there is no reason to wait as it is showing beautifully now. A perennially under the radar gem of a wine that we are happy to have on hand for those who know their Rioja.
Price: $29.99 Add To Cart

2015 Laventura "Lanave" Rioja
Review Date: 01-30-2018
A blend of 50% Tempranillo and 50% Garnacha from trusted vineyard sources, this is Rioja with the Bryan MacDonald treatment! Turns out that ends up delivering you an amazingly fresh, red fruited wine with great cut, purity and poise. This tastes like no other young Rioja I have ever tried, and yet even as a Rioja fanatic (ok - at times, purist) I want more. How does Bryan Mac D do it? While it obviously starts in the vineyard with terrific sources, I also think that Bryan approaches wine making rather differently from most of his colleagues in Rioja. The result is a wine that you must try, regardless of whether or not Rioja is your thing. Super tasty and interesting wine, a real eye opener!
Price: $14.99 Add To Cart
RP 90

2011 Miguel Merino "Unnum" Rioja
Review Date: 01-30-2018
Take fruit from Miguel Merino's two oldest vineyards (planted in 1931 and 1946), hand harvest, sort and ferment as normal, and then rack to exclusively French oak barrels, a portion of which are new, and leave the rest to the winery's heir apparent, Miguel's son (also Miguel), and you have Unnum. It's a big wine, more deeply pitched than the Gran Reserva, and in some ways more tightly structured. It is a lot of wine, capable of improving nicely in bottle. One of the more fascinating wine ageing experiments I plan to conduct involves ageing the same vintages of Miguel Merino Gran Reserva and Unnum, and seeing where they are at 10, 15, 25 years old. Same vineyards, different barrel and bottle ageing. I will have to report back once the results are in....
Price: $34.99 Add To Cart

2009 Miguel Merino Gran Reserva Rioja
Review Date: 01-30-2018
Merino's two oldest vineyards of Tempranillo and Graciano are included in this Gran Reserva - in my mind the most age-worthy of Miguel's stable. Initially somewhat reticent, the spicy oak and dark fruit confit - with rich, dried fruit aromas also present - give way to a palate that opens nicely with air. Plum and blue skinned fruit flavors continue to gain in freshness in this young Gran Reserva. You can enjoy now with a nice decant, though for my money this is as solid a 10+ year cellar candidate Rioja as you will find, particularly for fans of fruit and more richly styled wines from this region.
Price: $39.99 Add To Cart

2014 Miguel Merino Mazuelo de Quinta Cruz Rioja
Review Date: 01-30-2018
Mazuelo (Carignane) is a key component to the Rioja blend. That said, it's not the easiest vine to cultivate and yield tasty results. For those who have well sited, mature vines, and the patience to wait a bit longer to harvest, however, you can get something really fantastic, though it is rarely bottled on its own. Here is one of those rarities, Mazuelo de la Quinta Cruz, from a vineyard planted to a particularly stony parcel of land - it is a tiny plot and therefore an extremely limited production. Bright, red fruited, and somewhat earthy, gamy, animal all at the same time. This is perhaps Merino's most original bottling.
Price: $21.99 Add To Cart

2011 Miguel Merino "Vitola" Reserva Rioja
Review Date: 01-30-2018
Vitola may be Miguel Merino's most affordable wine - a reserva bottling, at that - but here affordability is not to be conflated with "simple" or "entry level" as this is a serious bottle of wine. Primarily Tempranillo from 40+ year-old vineyards in the prime Rioja Alta village of Briones form the basis of this structured, yet fresh and limestone laden medium to full bodied red. Aged for 22 months in barrels with American oak staves combined with French tops and bottoms, Vitola is a great introduction to the wonderfully tasty Riojas of this boutique Rioja Alta bodega. Buy some to drink now and some additional bottles to cellar for up to another (conservative window, here) 7-8 years.
Price: $19.99 Add To Cart

2011 Los Autores "El Brujo" Reserva Rioja
Review Date: 01-26-2018
Often, our wine reviews will lead with the value proposition at hand: an extremely limited production, terrific value for money, the complexity of aromas and flavors. In this case, I find it necessary to open with an introduction of one of the more towering personalities in the wine world (or in any world, for that matter) I have ever met: Ezequiel "El Brujo" García. El Brujo studied with the great Bordeaux oenologist, Emile Peynaud. He made the incredible Cune wines of the 1960's. He was responsible for fine tuning Cune's Monopole white, a wine which absolutely dominated in its day (and a style which has become fashionable once again). He also became a friend of mine later in his life, someone who would enthusiastically discuss Rioja history, his experience informally advising wineries (amongst them, Lopez de Heredia), and really anything related to the region's local traditions and culture of wine. I love the name of this Rioja, Los Autores, because it was crafted by a true auteur. Ezequiel drew the image on the bottom right hand side of the label. He had an intimate understanding of the vineyards which would form the blend, as well as an idea of what proportion of the various grape varieties should be involved (typical of El Brujo's wines, there are important components of Mazuelo, Garnacha, and even white Viura grapes included). Finally, Ezequiel also selected the well seasoned, 8-10 year old barrels that the wine would age in for 36 months. Now to the wine: how does it taste? It's old school, light on its feet, history in a bottle. 2011 is a generous vintage if you're drinking it now, capable of early consumption, though this wine will undoubtedly reward cellaring. It reminds me of Tondonia, with its understated dark fruit, soft texture, and incredibly easy to drink profile. Sadly, this is the last wine that Ezequiel "El Brujo" would ever blend as he passed away last August. I would encourage you to stash some bottles away, being sure to enjoy at least one of them now and toast to the legend of "El Brujo."
Price: $19.99 Add To Cart

2014 Castillo de Viñas Crianza Rioja
Review Date: 01-24-2018
A blend of Tempranillo and Graciano, this 2014 Crianza shows loads of delicious red fruit character and intensity for under $12. Our newest Rioja DI, Castillo de Vinas has Tempranillo and Graciano situated on prime, stony higher elevation terroir in the Rioja Baja, the result being a wine with loads of richness and character. Highly recommended.
Price: $11.99 Add To Cart

2011 Can Mayol Loxarel "MM" Gran Reserva Brut Nature Classic Penedes
Review Date: 12-20-2017
This is an oeuil de perdrix, light coppery pink colored rose. Flavors are precise, with red currant, fennel and subtle herbs, an underlying calcareous minerality and a wonderfully elegant bead. Super classy stuff for under $25. Maybe about seven years ago, I tasted a few of the bubblies from Loxarel at a Spanish wine trade show. Ever since then I have been hooked. I have consumed so many bottles across their dizzying array of products, and built up so much product conviction along the way, that I would put these up against any sparkling wines in the store.
Price: $24.99 Add To Cart
RP 91

2005 Can Mayol Loxarel "109 Mesos" Gran Reserva Brut Classic Penedes
Review Date: 12-14-2017
109 Mesos is the tete de cuvee at Can Mayol. The oldest vine Xarel-lo vines are blended with a 10% dash of Chardonnay, and as the name suggests aged on its lees for 109 months, under cork. In fact, it is never disgorged, as winemaker Josep Mitjans believes that for this cuvee the lees, which contributes to the wine's complexity, longevity and freshness, should be allowed to do so right up until the point of purchase. That said, you will need a toolbox on hand to grab a pair of pliers, bend the iron prongs and disgorge this beauty yourself. You will be amply rewarded with one of the most original bottles of bubbles in our inventory. Maybe about seven years ago, I tasted just a few of the bubblies from Loxarel at a Spanish wine trade show. Ever since then I have been hooked. I have consumed so many bottles across their dizzying array of products, and built up so much product conviction along the way, that I would put these up against any sparkling wines in the store.
Price: Hidden View Price
RP 93

2013 Can Mayol Loxarel Garnatxa Blanca Brut Nature Classic Penedes
Review Date: 12-14-2017
Maybe about seven years ago I tasted a few of the bubblies from Loxarel at a Spanish wine trade show in San Francisco. Ever since then I have been hooked. I have consumed so many bottles across their dizzying array of products, and built up so much product conviction along the way, that I would put these up against any sparkling wines in the store. This is the first vintage of Garnatxa Blanca, and the only bubbly made from this grape that I have yet to try. Loxarel's trademark fine bubbles combine with slightly weightier fruit from the high elevation Garnatxa blanca grapes to create something that is equal parts food friendly and refreshing.
Price: $14.99 Add To Cart
RP 90

2016 Can Mayol Loxarel "Apel" Ancestral Classic Penedes
Review Date: 12-14-2017
Josep Mitjans, winemaker of Loxarel, is not one to rest on his laurels. One of his more recent creations is Apel, a methode ancestrale sparkling consisting of 100% old vine Xarel-lo, fermented with indigenous yeasts and without any liqueur de tirage or dosage (aka, in both cases, sugar). The resulting wine is nicely dry, perhaps with a softer bead and less savory Mediterranean notes when compared to their flagship Reserva Familiar. I love them both, and expect to go through many bottles of the Apel (as well as many more of Loxarel's other delicious sparklers!) Maybe about seven years ago, I tasted a few of the bubblies from Loxarel at a Spanish wine trade show. Ever since then I have been hooked. I have consumed so many bottles across their dizzying array of products, and built up so much product conviction along the way, that I would put these up against any sparkling wines in the store.
Price: $18.99 Add To Cart

2014 Can Mayol Loxarel "999" Brut Nature Rosat Classic Penedes
Review Date: 12-14-2017
Maybe about seven years ago, I tasted a few of the bubblies from Loxarel at a trade show. Ever since then I have been hooked. I have consumed so many bottles across their dizzying array of products, and built up so much product conviction along the way, that I would put these up against any sparkling wines in the store. The 999 is quite a dry expression of high elevation Pinot Noir and Xarel-lo Vermell (red skinned mutation of the indigenous Xarel-lo and a key component to most cava and sparkling Penedes wine). The wine is recently disgorged, stylish, and very easy to drink!
Price: $13.99 Add To Cart

2014 Cune Crianza Rioja
Review Date: 12-05-2017
For value seekers, Rioja continues to be fertile ground to find great deals at every price point. Cune Crianza has definitely become one of these values in the Rioja under $12 category. They have applied extra attention to this fairly ubiquitous (in Spain, that is) bottling over the past 5 years, and it clearly shows in the quality of the wine. Supple, red fruited, very easy drinking, this functions perfectly as everyday house red or party wine, with the added bonus of some undeniable, unique regional style points - tough to get in such an inexpensive commercial production many other places in the world.
Price: $11.99 Add To Cart
JS 90

2014 Viña Real Crianza Rioja
Review Date: 12-05-2017
Vina Real Crianza is a model of consistency: year in, year out, it is a lovely brightly fruited Rioja. The wine always comes across with admirable freshness and poise, well integrated background barrel notes (here, in the case of the well delineated, fresh feeling 2014, they are really quite subtle) and, most importantly, drinkability for days. I go through drinking phases like anyone else, and may find a new regional rabbit hole to explore while temporarily retiring another, but I will simply never tire of Riojas as delicious and affordable as Vina Real Crianza.
Price: $14.99 Add To Cart
JS 92

2011 Viña Real Gran Reserva Rioja
Review Date: 12-05-2017
Often times listed as "Cune Vina Real," Vina Real may be under the Cune corporate umbrella, but it functions as its own independent winery (an architecturally award winning one at that) with its own unique fruit contracts in Rioja Alavesa which lend its bright, fruit forward style to the wine across the board. It is also made in smaller quantities than the large sized production of wines such as Cune Crianza, for example. In 2011, the Vina Real GR style is one that I can best refer to as "generosity, defined." As in, the fruit is generous, perhaps even flirting with lush, but clearly defined by a thread of acidity that leads to a wonderfully fresh finish and points towards great drinking for years to come, or at least (conservatively) 7-8 additional years. Savory, meaty notes are only just beginning to emerge, with tell-tale notes of sweet baking spices flirting with the fruit, though ultimately it is the beautiful mixed berry fruit which carries the wine. Expect lots of deliciousness, endless pairing possibilities, and a nicely drawn out drinking window for this fairly priced, iconic Rioja.
Price: $34.99 Add To Cart
JS 95 W&S 92

2009 Sarget de Gruaud Larose, St-Julien
Review Date: 11-29-2017
The 2009 Sarget is - no surprise here - a seriously built and structured wine. That is not to suggest that those who choose to enjoy now (ideally with a 45 minute plus decant) will not get more than their fair share of Gruad Larose style and savor but, rather, simply to say that those who choose to age this wine for another several years (or longer) will be amply rewarded.
Price: $39.99 Add To Cart

2009 Bel Orme Tronquoy de Lalande, Haut-Médoc
Review Date: 11-29-2017
The 09 Bel Orme exists on the more lithe and elegant side of the style spectrum, particularly considering the power of the 2009 vintage in Bordeaux. Discreet, measured, quiet red fruited aromas lead to a nicely firm, delicious palate with just enough fruit showing itself. While it will surely handle a steak, this is one of those Bordeaux that you could successfully pair with many other entrees. Delicious and classy claret.
Price: $19.99 Add To Cart

2014 Tilia Malbec Mendoza
Review Date: 11-29-2017
I would urge anyone reading this to not be turned off by the low price of this wine, since it: a.) is delicious and b.) drinks at least as well or better than many of the $10-$15 reds in our already highly curated selection. Tilia is pure, plummy Malbec, but with loads of freshness and drinkability. There is a much drier and more serious palate impression than what one may expect for under $10 red. A naturally occurring 13% ABV thanks to a cooler vintage, this is fantastic wine for any and all value seekers. Just might be the value red of the year for me - don't be shy about the price, you will love this wine. Added bonus: Tilia continues to be made from organic grapes.
Price: $7.99 Add To Cart
RP 90

2014 Bodegas Volver "Tarima Hill - Old Vines" Monastrell Alicante
Review Date: 11-28-2017
While the 2015 vintage of Tarima Hill placed an impressive #17 on this year's Wine Spectator Top 100 list, it is the 2014 that many winemakers and Spanish critics consider the stronger vintage on the Mediterranean influenced, eastern portion of Spain. As usual, this is all old vine Monastrell, which gives fresh, spicy, satisfying, more deeply pitched red fruit flavors and an underlying citrus peel note, with just a smidge of new oak influence which rounds out the texture and contributes a bit of flavor as well. Deceptively complex for a $12.99 wine - and a wine that I am used to being a bit plumper from its earlier vintages - I found myself editing this review a few times as the wine opened up and developed with time. A delicious, super friendly wine for entertaining - at a great price.
Price: $12.99 Add To Cart
RP 92 JS 90

2014 Mas Doix "Salanques" Priorat
Review Date: 11-28-2017
This is Priorat!! My colleague Chantel and I tasted the 2014 Mas Doix Salanques earlier today and were both impressed - very impressed. While we come to expect rich fruit and structured tannins in Priorat at this price, what made both of us take notice was the extraordinary energy and freshness of the wine, combined with a tactile feel of minerals. While I don't go around licking Llicorella (Catalan dialect for slate) this wine has the feel of a richly fruited Mediterranean red with a tight mineral core. I love it because it's so generous and delicious now, with loads of lively black cherry and raspberry flavors and sweet violet florals lingering on the palate as well. A phenomenal Priorat.
Price: $39.99 Add To Cart
DC 98 W&S 92

1977 Quarles Harris Vintage Port
Review Date: 11-14-2017
This little known port house is actually one of the oldest, first founded in 1680 and held by the same family up until 1920 or so, at which point the Symington family (who own Graham's, Dow's, and Warre's) purchased it. This wine is in great shape, likely re-conditioned with what appears to be a newer cork. Relatively light on the palate, there is a perfectly balanced sweetness, notes of candied violet, lovely minerality and an overall sense of subtlety and elegant balance. Not a blockbuster, but rather a beauty, Quarles Harris also happens to be the most reasonably priced of our 1977 vintage ports.
Price: $129.99 Add To Cart

2015 Palacio del Burgo Tinto Rioja
Review Date: 11-14-2017
This is exactly the type of Rioja I seek out when the holidays come our way: inexpensive, brightly fruited, no oak whatsoever, juicy and surprisingly structured, with a fresh acid structure that makes it sing with food. Unoaked Tempranillo is not always the easiest wine to produce, as it can show a heat stamp in warmer years and be reductive and firm in cooler ones. In great vintages like 2015, however, unoaked wines represent one of my favorite types of Rioja as they accentuate the grape's delicious inherent fruit, and show off the pleasing lightly tannic grip of a young red wine. For under $10, this won't break the bank, and you can afford to stock a case to have plenty of wine on hand for visiting friends and family. Highly recommended, sub $10 house red!
Price: $9.99 Add To Cart
VN 90

2011 Can Mayol Loxarel "Reserva Familiar" Brut Nature Classic Penedes
Review Date: 11-13-2017
Once again, another release of Loxarel Reserva Familiar brings the goods. As always, the aromatics are filled with generous yellow fruits, clean chalk and some traces of the Mediterranean countryside. It's the palate where the fireworks really begin: ripe citrus fruits show real precision and a mouthwatering saline quality as well, with a fine stream of bubbles creating a wonderful texture, and flavors that linger nicely long after taking a sip of the wine. For this organic, estate grown, old vine Xarel-lo dominated blend, carefully aged on its lees for over five years and then hand disgorged (and hand labelled!) to come in at under $20 is mind boggling. I don't say this lightly, but pound for pound, euro for euro and dollar for dollar, this is my favorite bottle of bubbles in the store.
Price: $19.99 Add To Cart

2014 Fleur de Pedesclaux, Pauillac
Review Date: 11-08-2017
This lovely Pauillac from one of our favorite value properties in the communie shows pretty mixed berry fruits and a rather sumptuous, supple quality which belies the more typically classic and restrained quality of the 2014 vintage. That said, this precocious Pauillac is delicious now and should continue to drink well for a decade.
Price: Hidden View Price
JS 90

2016 Viña Godeval Godello Valdeorras
Review Date: 11-08-2017
Compared to our other delicious $15 Godello from Valdesil, the Vina Godeval shows more yellow and stone fruit, with a bit more volume. Godello is definitely the white everyone is after in Spain, and tasting how good it can be, from well made inexpensive versions such as this on up to more rare $50 bottlings, I can see why! This wine's fruity freshness makes it perfect as an aperitive.
Price: $14.99 Add To Cart

2008 Raventos i Blanc "Manuel Raventos" Conca del Riu Anoia
Review Date: 11-08-2017
From one of our favorite Spanish producers in Raventos i Blanc comes this tete de cuvee, a selection personally selected by someone who is by all accounts an incredibly gifted taster, owner Manuel Raventos. This spend 72 months on the lees and shows lovely toasty and doughy qualitites, though incredible structure and freshness, all the more impressive given the length of its ageing. Only 2000 bottles of this delicious and serious wine were produced.
Price: $99.99 Add To Cart
RP 93

2015 Azul y Garanza Tempranillo Navarra (1L)
Review Date: 11-08-2017
Does slightly peppery, fresh and dark fruited Tempranillo hold some appeal for you? How about one bottled in a one liter bottle, for maximum bang for buck? For value red seekers, whether or not you veer towards Spain, this is absolutely a delicious Tempranillo to try.
Price: $12.99 Add To Cart

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