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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2007 La Rioja Alta "Viña Ardanza" Reserva Rioja
Review Date: 08-23-2016
The 2007 Viña Ardanza is showing very well right now. While not necessarily a departure from the house style (if you've liked it in the past, I suspect you will continue to with this vintage), I will say that it shows a bit more development than normal, perhaps with a more dark fruited and savory profile. It seems like the Rioja Alta Tempranillo is more dominant in the 07. Vintage characteristics aside, Viña Ardanza is one of the true bargains in the wine world, a wine which spends three years in barrel, another three in bottle, and is produced from fruit which hails from time tested vineyard sources (many owned by the winery). When it comes to Rioja, this is the one that, perhaps more than any other, I can depend upon to be delicious in California, satisfying in Spain, wonderful now or fantastic after ageing. A must have for me.

2004 Lopez de Heredia "Viña Tondonia" Reserva Rioja
Review Date: 08-23-2016
This is a fantastic Tondonia, one of my favorites at this relatively early stage. What I love about the 04 is it tension, it's taut fruit and acid forward personality. Starting from the top with the aromatics, there are some interesting notes of tar, bitter licorice and a slight suggestion of cumin as well. On the palate is where things become really interesting, as the fruit is fresh, incredibly so for having spent so long in barrel. Keep in mind these are used barrels, and not merely 2nd, 3rd or 4th year, but perhaps 16th or 20th year. This is the sort of wine I invariably want to drink, and cellar, in quantity. Don't miss it.
Price: $39.99 Add To Cart
RP 94 WS 90

1997 Auchentoshan 18 Year Old K&L Exclusive "Old Particular" Single Barrel Cask Strength Single Malt Whisky (750ml)
Review Date: 08-12-2016
If you're familiar with Auchentoshan, then you know the deal with these single malts. If not, then you owe it to yourself to get acquainted. This is one of the more bright, citrus inflected, easy drinking single malts around, though given the 18 year old expression and our exclusive selection from Douglas Laing and the Davids (with a contribution this year from the Duke of Denim, our SF store's own Jeff Jones!), there of course is added complexity, drinkability, and deliciousness in this expression. Candied citrus, and light buttercream frosting notes combine for one tasty, very drinkable Scotch.
Price: $69.99 Add To Cart

2009 Can Mayol Loxarel "Gran Reserva de Familia" Brut Nature Penedes
Review Date: 08-12-2016
*I'm updating my review from last Fall to reflect the new, February 2016 disgorgement. Now with around six years on its lees, tthe GR de Familia/Reserva Familiar (take your pick, two different names for the same wine) is delicious: yellow and citrus fruits show surprising intensity, matched by an elegant mouth feel and a real ability to refresh! At $19.99, this is my favorite house sparkler I have come across in over a decade of tasting, buying and selling wines professionally.
Price: $19.99 Add To Cart
RP 93

2014 Casas del Bosque Cabernet Sauvignon Maipo Valley
Review Date: 08-11-2016
I too see the Napa-ness in this big, crowd pleasing Cab from Casas del Bosque. Aromas of toasty oak, roasted and unroasted coffee beans, dark fruits and wood smoke lead to a palate of rich, warmed dark fruits, with more coffee and mocha notes revealing themselves. Not a shy wine, this brings to mind plenty of mid, even upper tier Napa Cab brands which we sell (for 2-3x the price) in quantity. If you're into the more generously fruited style of Napa Cabs, this should be in your cart!
Price: $14.99 Add To Cart
JS 94

2009 Can Mayol Loxarel "MM" Blanc de Noir Gran Reserva Brut Nature Penedes
Review Date: 08-11-2016
Whoa - Loxarel has stepped up their game with this Pinot Noir driven Blanc des Noirs. A beautiful deeper golden hue, the MM shows its Gran Reserva authority both in elegance of texture and intensity of chalk. Speaking of chalk, the Pinot Noir here grows at some of the highest elevations of the property in very calcareous soil. Arguably Spain's finest producer of methode champenoise sparklers, Loxarel definitely continues to come correct with their delicious bubblies. 5+ years on the lees, and loads of class for just $25!
Price: $24.99 Add To Cart

2013 Can Mayol Loxarel "Refugi" Reserva Brut Nature Penedes
Review Date: 08-11-2016
This 2013 vintage, freshly disgorged bottling of Refugi is showing spectacularly well. Bright, salty mineral laced citrus flavors show a rare combination of traits for under $20 bubbly: bone dry yet super drinkable, elegant bead and texture, and the intrigue that keeps you coming back for another (large) sip. New bottle and package for this crisp and linear number from staff favorite DI Can Mayol Loxarel. Think of it as their blanc des blancs: racy, clean and mineral driven.
Price: $17.99 Add To Cart

2015 Arboleda "Aconcagua Costa" Chardonnay
Review Date: 08-09-2016
This is an incredibly tasty expression of Chardonnay, with a flinty nose of citrus leading to a lean, mineral driven palate with high toned fruits and white flowers. While a majority of the wine undergoes malolactic and is aged in barrel for 10 months, I find the oak to be well integrated and balanced, no doubt due to the quality of the coastal fruit, low pH and vibrant acidity of the wine. In a year chock full of delicious surprises form Chile, here is yet another one!
Price: $15.99 Add To Cart
DC 95 JS 93

2012 Oakridge Estate "Whitsend Vineyard" Cabernet Sauvignon Yarra Valley
Review Date: 07-28-2016
GREAT CAB. This satisfying Cabernet is for: -People who like Ridge or Mount Eden Cab -Those who enjoy Cabernet with fresh fruit and a balanced hit of leafy or green notes in the background -Anyone who is seeking out top quality stuff for under $20! This is easily one of my favorite and more noteworthy Cabs I've tasted this year.
Price: $19.99 Add To Cart
JH 96

2013 Bodegas Caro "Caro" Malbec-Cabernet Sauvignon Mendoza
Review Date: 07-15-2016
Recently I told my boss he needed to taste this wine. According to our intrepid Bordeaux buyer Clyde Beffa, "Wow, this smells like Bordeaux!" I would agree. The one thing that impresses me most about this latest bottling of Caro is it balance. While I was on the lookout for obvious new oak and heavy extraction, neither was anywhere to be found. Instead, there are beautiful black currant aromas and flavors, with Malbec adding some mid-palate volume without detracting from the freshness. Oak is extremely well integrated. While this wine's best years lie ahead, decant it now and enjoy with a grilled ribeye if you would like to get a peak at what lies ahead. Impressive stuff!
Price: $49.99 Add To Cart
JS 96

2013 Le Battistelle "Battistelle" Soave Classico
Review Date: 07-13-2016
Delicious, mouthfilling, stone fruits show generosity, a decidedly savory, volcanic soil marked savor, and loads of freshness. Balance, refreshment, acidity and richness of texture rarely come together in a white wine so inexpensive. Please do not let the price fool you, whether or not you frequently enjoy Italian whites, this deserves a place in your regular rotation!
Price: $12.99 Add To Cart

2014 Einaudi Dogliani (Dolcetto)
Review Date: 07-13-2016
A serious Dolcetto, Einaudi's bottling shows beautiful, penetrating dark and red plum fruits that are inviting and delicious, but structured, serious and nicely dry. Greg mentioned Chinon, I was thinking a weightier cru Beaujolais - either way, this Piemontese delight does seem to have something of a French accent. Once again, I do like what Einaudi does with Dolcetto.
Price: $14.99 Add To Cart

2013 Felsina Chianti Classico
Review Date: 07-13-2016
Felsina Chianti Classico is, well, a classic! The spicy, slightly woodsy, tangy fruit of this wine always places it amongst my favorite Tuscan wines. I don't think there is a better introduction to Chianti than Felsina.

2015 Zudugarai "Amats" Rosé Getariako Txakolina
Review Date: 07-13-2016
Txakoli rosé! Composed of 100% Hondarribi Beltza, this delicious, tangy, lighter bodied (just 10.5% ABV) rosé is fantastic. It is tailor made for food. The same sorts of foods (oysters, jamón, cured fish) that work with the regular txakoli are also wonderful with this rosé, though one of my favorite combinations is the famous "Gilda," an olive and anchovy skewer named for the character in a Rita Hayworth film. Amats rosé is one of our favorites and always limited, so case up while you can!
Price: $13.99 Add To Cart

2015 Zudugarai "Amats" Getariako Txakolina
Review Date: 07-13-2016
There is no better warm weather refresher than good Txakoli. And Amats is very good Txakoli! Incredibly crisp, with bright fruit and racy acidity, as well as the trademark fizziness, Zudugarai does Txakoli every bit as well as anyone else out there. And instead of the $40-50 you may pay at your favorite tapas spot in the city, Amats is priced to guzzle down in the comfort of your own home! Enjoy this well chilled, with jamón, grilled or smoked fish, and definitely, without a doubt, with oysters. Speaking from experience, there are few things better than spending time with family or friends, slurping oysters and washing them down with Txakoli - do it!
Price: $13.99 Add To Cart

2013 Green & Red "Tip Top Vineyard" Napa Valley Zinfandel
Review Date: 07-08-2016
Serious Zinfandel, the 2013 Green & Red Tip Top shows all the spicy, brambly berry and dark cherry fruit I like in Zinfandel, with the added tannin structure and brighter acidity provided by mature vines on a higher elevation site. In other words, this is spectacular and likely to be my favorite Zinfandel of the year. Great stuff from a legendary Zin producer.
Price: Hidden View Price
W&S 94

2012 Condado de Haza Ribera del Duero
Review Date: 06-29-2016
Does it get any more Spanish than the 100% Tempranillo from Condado de Haza? To answer my own rhetorical question, I would have to say that, nope, it probably doesn't! Structured dark fruit, nicely ripe, with hints of macerated blackberries, baking spices and leather are all nicely integrated and framed by impressive tannins. I'm glad I returned to this wine on day two, at which point the fruit fleshed out even more and the wine had become more expansive on the palate, all without sacrificing its leathery and mineral driven notes. This is a textbook mid-term cellar (7-8 years) proposition, tasty now and bound to improve in the bottle. A tried and true classic for the Spanish portion of your collection.
Price: $19.99 Add To Cart
WS 93

2013 Garcia & Schwaderer "Vigno" Carignane Maule Valley
Review Date: 06-28-2016
Imagine a top quality Priorat, only with more acidity. A lot more. Then, maybe think of a great Pinot Noir but with juicier, rounder fruit. Last, and most important, lower the price of either example by about $25-40. Now that you've got the picture, I'd like to introduce you to a most intriguing wine from Chile, indeed one of the more interesting red wines we've had all year: the Garcia & Schwaderer Vigno. The fruit here is expressive, irresistibly tangy, high-toned and lively wild berry fruit flavors. Though it is not a wine that has been made for long and therefore does not have a track record of improving in bottle, I'd be surprised if it doesn't continue to gain complexity over the next 7-8 years. It's spectacular now, however. What a delicious, original bottle of red wine! This has my strongest recommendation, though we do not have too many bottles - best to act quickly if you're interested!
Price: $39.99 Add To Cart
RP 95 JS 92

2013 Nin Ortiz "Planetes" Garnatxes i Carinyenes em Amfora Priorat
Review Date: 06-24-2016
Based in the Priorat village of Porrera, Ester Nin and Carles Ortiz have steadily plied their craft over the past 12 or so years, and these days are making some of the most delicious and exciting wines in Priorat. They are as deep into organic viticulture, carefully made compost, and plowing by mules as they are into expressing the fruit of their labor carefully in the cellar. This has lead to a preference for larger foudres and occasionally amphorae, as is the case for this bottling. It is tough to find Priorat as carefully made, from the vineyard to the bottle, as it is here. And it absolutely shows in the quality of the wine.
Price: $34.99 Add To Cart
JR 91 RP 91

Kavalan Solist Ex-Bourbon Cask #75 K&L Exclusive Cask Strength Single Barrel Taiwanese Single Malt Whisky (750ml)
Review Date: 06-22-2016
This is a delicious cask of whiskey! It's got incredible richness and sweetness: think vanilla cream frosting and cake batter. Adding a bit of water helps to bring out more layered aromas and balance this intense whiskey. This has my highest recommendation for anyone who loves full flavored Scotch not that is not lacking in decadent richness or sweetness.
Price: $149.99 Add To Cart

2014 Moss Wood Sauvignon Blanc-Sémillon Margaret River Western Australia
Review Date: 06-22-2016
Serious "Sem-Savvy" blend here, folks! A pretty, Pessac like white with rich yellow stone fruited elegance and impeccable balance. This was one of my favorites, white or red, in a recent NZ-Australia-South Africa line-up put together by buyer Ryan Woodhouse.
Price: $24.99 Add To Cart
JH 94 VN 91

2014 FRAM Chenin Blanc Citrusdal Mountain
Review Date: 06-22-2016
Good South African Chenin has a combination of fruit purity, textural richness, mouth watering acidity and deliciousness only matched by top quality Loire valley Chenin. And this is top quality South African Chenin, so if you enjoy the grape variety or are simply looking to explore, you are in for a treat. Juicy tangerine fruit flavors are both bright and richly textured at the same time - a great combination.
Price: $22.99 Add To Cart

2014 Fromm "Clayvin Vineyard" Pinot Noir Marlborough
Review Date: 06-22-2016
Part of our recent Clayvin Vineyard vertical, this bottling is the most vertical, the most tense and serious. Cherry fruited, quite dry and palate staining, this wine is for ageing (or drinking now with a nice decant and lamb rib and loin chops!)

2012 Giesen Single Vineyard Selection "Clayvin" Pinot Noir Marlborough
Review Date: 06-22-2016
This formed part of a recent Clayvin vineyard three producer vertical we tasted with resident NZ expert and buyer Ryan Wood house. Giesen now owns Clayvin. Their bottling may have been the most delicious right now, with lovely cherry fruited purity and even some cherry pit/almond notes adding further complexity. This is so drinkable now but will undoubtedly improve in bottle for at least another 6-8 years.

2013 Reyneke Sauvignon Blanc Stellenbosch (Biodynamic)
Review Date: 06-22-2016
This is a fantastic Sauvignon Blanc. The depth of flavor and complexity do suggest a wine closer to $20, instead of something that at under $11 you might expect to be tasty but much more simple. Ripe stone fruit flavors show balanced acidity, a lovely texture as well as the multi-vitamin like nuances I sometimes get from higher quality, carefully made, terroir driven Sauvignon Blanc. It's rare to find SB this good, for this cheap, so if you enjoy the grape I would load up..
Price: Hidden View Price
RP 90 WS 90

2012 Cune Crianza Rioja
Review Date: 06-21-2016
Few sub $15 brands as well established and distributed offer as much tastiness, regional typicity and value as does Cune. Red and mixed berry fruits are ripe and tasty, yet balanced by a core of acidity and freshness. This is the quintessential weeknight red, ready to handle any food you throw its way or simply delicious on its own as you throw together a quick snack before dinner. Consider a case - this is a wine that wants to be consumed!

2015 Domaine Bousquet Cabernet Sauvignon Tupungato Uco Valley
Review Date: 06-15-2016
This is a bright, clean, red fruited Cabernet Sauvignon, with wonderful fruit purity and terrific cut. Given its medium body and bright fruit, this is a wine that should work as nicely with grilled chicken, vegetables or pasta as it would with hamburgers or other grilled meats. It's also worth mentioning that the wine is made from 100% organically grown grapes. I would be hard pressed to think of a value Cab in our inventory that is as easy to drink and as versatile with food than the Domaine Bousquet Cabernet Sauvignon.
Price: $9.99 Add To Cart
W&S 91

2005 York Creek "Madrone" Spring Mountain District Cabernet Sauvignon
Review Date: 06-15-2016
The 05 York Creek Madrone Cabernet Sauvignon seems to be just beginning to hit its stride. Dark fruits with hints of green notes opens up to a palate with great poise, freshness, and tight currant fruit. While it is still perhaps just a hint on the early side for my taste, it still tastes great and shows promise for further bottle ageing. This definitely ranks right up there with my favorite York Creek bottlings of the past year.
Price: $29.99 Add To Cart

2013 Jacques Bavard Auxey-Duresses Rouge
Review Date: 06-10-2016
In the past it has always been Jacques Bavard's whites in particular that have drawn my attention. While that continues to be the case (his 2014 whites are predictably fantastic) I was quite impressed with this slightly foresty, floral, dark-fruited, rather tense and linear Pinot Noir - lots of intrigue and charm, especially for under $20!
Price: $19.99 Add To Cart

2014 Jacques Bavard Auxey-Duresses "Les Clous" Blanc
Review Date: 06-10-2016
I consider Jacques Bavard's wines not only amongst the best Burgundies in our store, but amongst the very best Burgundies in, well, in Burgundy! Roumier, Fourrier, Dujac, De Montille...all great names, but when it comes to that rarest of rare treasures, the $30 and under bottle of Burgundy that keeps you coming back for more, no one can touch Jacques Bavard. The 2014 Auxey Duresses Les Clous is incredible Chardonnay: brightly fruited, energetic and mineral laden, but with such a lovely texture to match. This shows the greatness of 2014 for white Burgundies, as well as the deft touch Mr. Bavard always shows with Chardonnay. A must have wine.
Price: $29.99 Add To Cart

2013 Joan d'Anguera "Finca L'Argata" Montsant
Review Date: 06-07-2016
Joan and Joseph d'Anguera have been making some serious changes at their family-owned winery over the past decade or so. Starting with a focus on organic farming, the brothers soon reaped the rewards of healthier vineyards and fruit, but felt that they were still looking for brighter, lighter, fresher wines. To achieve this they began picking a bit earlier and including some whole clusters in the fermentation, going for what Joseph calls more an "infusion" rather than extraction, of color and flavor. This 2013 consists primarily of Garnacha. This is an intense wine, but also a taut one, rather linear, with fresh aromas and flavors of wild berries and fennel. Serious, but very drinkable wine.
Price: $29.99 Add To Cart

2008 Viña Real Gran Reserva Rioja
Review Date: 05-24-2016
A classic. No doubt about it, this Viña Real is a real charmer, a wine that is just beginning to show its beauty now (decant for at least 30 minutes) but that will easily improve another 12+ years. A wonderfully fragrant, complete nose marked by mixed berries, cherries in liqueur and delicate floral notes leads to a lively, pure, energetic palate. I love Viña Real when it is on its game, and rest assured that the 2008 vintage is absolutely that. At under $35 this is one of my current favorites in our inventory.
Price: $34.99 Add To Cart
RP 94 VN 92

2010 Miguel Merino "Unnum" Rioja
Review Date: 05-24-2016
What a beautiful expression from our friend Miguel Merino! Unnum's pure fruit shows the intensity, fruit purity and elegant tannin structure of old vine material. The two tiny vineyards used for this cuvee were planted in 1931 and 1940. Aromas of blue fruits and candied licorice lead to a fresh, balanced palate, with fresh flavors of blueberries and ripe currants. This wine is delicious now, but built to age.
Price: $29.99 Add To Cart

2011 Viña Quebrada "Domus Aurea" Cabernet Sauvignon Maipo Valley
Review Date: 05-12-2016
If Maipo is to Chile as Napa is to California, then the Viña Quebrada could be compared to Heitz Martha's Vineyard. It's an historic vineyard, with many a mature vine. As does Martha's Vineyard, the Domus Aurea has a lovely combination of Cabernet's bright red currant intensity, a tell tale snappy green, eucalyptus vineyard stamp and very fine grained tannins. Classic Cabernet. It should age well for quite a while, so if you are a Cabernet drinker or collector, you should absolutely grab some Domus Aurea.
Price: $49.99 Add To Cart
W&S 96 RP 94

2013 Mas Que Vinos "Ercavio" Tempranillo Roble Tierra de Castilla
Review Date: 04-21-2016
There was a time when we used to habitually stock this little Tempranillo from La Mancha. It's been off our radar of late, but when I tasted the 2013 I know we had to bring it back. Especially since it's never been better and it's still under $10! Rich and fruit forward aromas also show a hint of lightly toasty oak. On the palate, the wine has the authority, and nearly the tannin structure, of a young Ribera del Duero. A delicious red that outperforms the price.
Price: $9.99 Add To Cart
VN 90

2014 Mas Doix "Les Crestes" Priorat
Review Date: 04-15-2016
A cool, fresh vintage combined with vineyards located in one of the cooler villages, and some higher elevation vineyards in Poboleda, makes for this beautiful, purple-fruited wine. Scrumptious, delicious fruit! Snatch these up before a likely big review causes this to quickly sell out.
Price: $24.99 Add To Cart
VN 92

2011 Finca El Encinal Crianza Ribera del Duero
Review Date: 04-13-2016
I'm stoked to have this wine back in. The 2010 bottling was one of our best selling Spanish wines a few years ago, and the 2011 picks up where that wine left off. Dark fruits showcase the Ribera del Duero region's serious tannin structure and complexity, but combine also with a dry, savory balance and a deft touch with both the modest level of extraction and oak, particularly given their competition in this region of big, spicy, full-bodied, oaky wines. Finca el Encinal Crianza - dang, that's delicious!
Price: $14.99 Add To Cart
WS 92

2013 Zorzal "Gran Terroir" Malbec Valle de Uco
Review Date: 04-13-2016
Zorzal's Gran Terroir Malbec is absolutey that: a "gran" display of terroir in Argentina's Uco Valley. Unlike most others around them, Zorzal's Michelini brothers favor a regimen of early harvesting and vinifying/ageing in concrete and well used oak barrels. The results are stunning: crisp, focused dark fruit aromas, in this case showing lovely green and black olive savory qualities, lead to a remarkably dry palate (are we tasting Crozes-Hermitage or Mendoza Malbec??) I love this wine's balance of fruit and savory notes, the utter and complete absence of toasty oak, and the sheer drinkability this represents. It offers a glimpse into the future of Argentinean Malbec, shows strong mid-term cellar potential and is a true joy to drink now. At under $20 I strongly recommend you buy some for now and some bottles to cellar as well.
Price: $19.99 Add To Cart
RP 93

2014 Domaine Les Pins "Les Rochettes" Bourgueil
Review Date: 04-13-2016
If you are looking for a crisp, textbook Cabernet Franc, a dry wine that is on the light side of medium-bodied, with bracingly fresh fruit, lovely floral notes and effortless balance, a wine to gulp down with roasted chicken and pan fried, herb studded yukon potatoes, the Les Pins is your wine! Year in, year out, I love to get re-acquainted with this beauty. I'd be happy if this cost nearly $20, but at under $12, this is one of our most delicious and best value direct imports.
Price: $11.99 Add To Cart
WE 92

2014 Gen del Alma "Otra Piel" Red Blend Gualtallary
Review Date: 04-04-2016
Gen del Alma (G d'A as it is appears on the label) is a project of Gerardo Michelini and his wife Andrea Mufatto. Their goal is to showcase the unique, calcareous terroir of Gualtallary (within the Tupungato sub-zone of the Uco Valley) and to make very fresh, acid focused, mineral wines. To do so they experiment with concrete eggs (designed by their engineer father and fabricated locally), older barrels and in this case, a very large clay amphora which they made themselves. Otra Piel is a blend of Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Pinot Noir, all grown on a single vineyard in Tupungato. The wine is aged in amphora and then in bottle prior to release. It shows a combination of intense mixed berry fruit and some brawn and heft while retaining its lively, engaging acidity. A rare peek into a serious Cab Franc blend that never sees the inside of a new or used barrel. Delicious.
Price: $34.99 Add To Cart
DC 96 RP 93

2014 D. Ventura "Viña do Burato" Ribeira Sacra
Review Date: 04-04-2016
A project of Ramon Losada, with some guidance early on from the great Gerardo Mendes (of Do Ferreiro fame), these Mencía-based reds grown in the steeper Ribera Sacra D.O. are truly expressive, terroir-driven wines. Bright red fruits show a crisp minerality, as well as wonderful fruit purity. 2014 is the best vintage of this wine that I can recall; it's all crunchy red fruit - a super quaffable red and a real winner.
Price: $16.99 Add To Cart
VN 91

2011 Haras de Pirque "Hussonet" Cabernet Sauvignon Gran Reserva Maipo Valley
Review Date: 04-01-2016
This is a deceptively priced bottle of Cabernet. A 100% Maipo Valley Cab, it opens with straightforward mixed fruit aromas punctuated by green herbaceous notes. I encourage you to approach this one with a skeptical eye. At first glance, a straight ahead Chilean Cab, the aromatics open to reveal charred poblano, freshly ground black pepper, licorice and black currant confit. A similar opening occurs on the palate, which shows deeply pitched black fruits, some scruffy savory notes, and a length and supple tannin quality which suggests a more serious (and seriously priced) Cabernet! For under $10 this is an absolute steal.
Price: $9.99 Add To Cart
JS 95

2012 Joseph Swan "Trenton Estate" Russian River Valley Pinot Noir
Review Date: 03-29-2016
I was reviewing my notes on this wine from exactly one year ago. As excited as I was then, I'm even more bullish now after tasting the wine with another year in bottle. This is a very good vintage of a truly awesome wine. It absolutely oozes old school Russian River Valley charm in its scrumptious, layered, berry fruit. And yet there is a freshness, a clarity and purity of fruit that brings to mind a delicious bottle of young Burgundy (without the rough edges of tough tannin or fierce acidity). This wine is delicious now and should age very well for quite a while. It has my highest recommendation for Pinot Noir for drinking and/or cellaring.
Price: $59.99 Add To Cart
WE 95 ST 92

2012 Calcu Cabernet Sauvignon Colchagua Valley
Review Date: 03-23-2016
Big aromas of plum confit and dark cherries lead to a genuinely structured palate. Fruit and tannins are well balanced and present themselves in a way that results in a deliciously dry expression of Cabernet. With a bit of pleasant grit showing in the texture of the wine, this is wonderfully honest, pitch perfect Cab that tastes a whole lot more expensive than its price.
Price: $12.99 Add To Cart
DC 92

2014 Do Ferreiro Albariño Rias Baixas
Review Date: 03-02-2016
Do Ferreiro is a benchmark Albariño. Every year, it delivers the goods, showing a degree of aromatic complexity, nervy minerality, and pure intensity of flavor that always makes it stand out from the rest. Delicious upon release, it is also one of the few Albariños to improve in bottle for up to a decade (maybe longer?) beyond the vintage year. There is bright fruit intermingling with the classic Do Ferreiro salty/smoky mineral bite. Enjoy this wine on its own or with all types of seafood. This would even be terrific with a hearty bean soup.
Price: $25.99 Add To Cart
VN 91 JS 90

2009 Louise Brison Vintage Brut Champagne
Review Date: 02-11-2016
While the 2008 Louise Brison (a few of you I think may have purchased a bottle or two!) is sadly sold out, I would not hesitate to recommend this 2009. It's a bright, yellow stonefruit-driven effort, with plenty of drive and a nearly unmatched drinkability and value for money for vintage Champagne. At the risk of re-stating the obvious I think it does bear repeating: this is VINTAGE Champagne (good quality vintage Champagne, at that) from an RM (grower/producer) for under $30! Stock up and drink the good stuff.
Price: $29.99 Add To Cart

2012 Achaval-Ferrer Cabernet Sauvignon Mendoza
Review Date: 01-30-2016
Achával Ferrer's Cabernet Sauvignon is, like the rest of their range of wines, impeccably made, tasty, and very well balanced. Red currant and raspberry leaf flavors show just a hint of a developed savory side, while the particularly smooth mid-palate and round, polished tannins, a consistent trait in most of their wines, show themselves as well. Solid Cab for under $30, and an absolute steal for under $15!
Price: $14.99 Add To Cart
JS 90

2010 Cune "Imperial" Reserva Rioja
Review Date: 01-27-2016
This is a fantastic vintage of Cune's Imperial Reserva, possibly the best since the heralded 2001 vintage. Unlike that great vintage, 2010 was not quite so warm and dry, and this wine has a classic, spicy, fresh and firm quality to it. Aromas of spicy oak, dried coconut and blackberry fruit suggest classic Rioja Alta fruit sources , but perhaps brighter and with more lift this year. Upon further review, black cherry and cedar also enter the picture. The fruit flavors are pure, spicy, linear and intense. This is gorgeous young wine that will continue to impress for quite a long time (I'm talking well north of a decade.) Take note and buy accordingly!

2014 Ponzi "Tavola" Willamette Valley Pinot Noir
Review Date: 01-16-2016
I've always respected Ponzi for their clean, brightly fruited Pinot Noir bottlings. Tavola is typically a solid value, but with this 2014 vintage I feel like it's truly an overachieving effort, especially for under $20! Loads of crisp, red plum and mixed berry fruit flavors are easy to enjoy for those who like their fruit, but precise and just edgy enough for those who (like me) tend to value dry flavors above ebullience in their Oregon Pinot Noir. Great balance and Williamette typicity in this wine. Bright, juicy, smashable and well priced, I can't recommend this highly enough.
Price: $19.99 Add To Cart
W&S 92 WE 91

2012 Freemark Abbey Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon
Review Date: 01-16-2016
Freemark Abbey is on a roll. The pitch-perfect Cabernet hits keep coming at this venerable northern Napa Valley winery. Inviting aromas are classic Cab: somewhere between kirsch and cassis, but with an underlying green, savory, brush quality. I love the juicy, yet ultimately balanced, pure fruit on the palate, which makes it a delicious young Cab for drinking now. That said, given the tannins, flavor intensity and overall structure, I would not hesitate to lay some of these down for mid-term (5-10 years) cellaring. Want to go longer? Go for it, I suspect these will age wonderfully.

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