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Staff Favorites - John Majeski
2013 TWR (Te Whare Ra) Pinot Noir Marlborough
Review Date: 03-31-2015
While I loved prior versions of this favorite Pinot, this new expression from a near perfect vintage took a different qualitative turn with the inspired interplay of fruit from another site, creating a generous, complex, elegant rendering, the epitome of depth, sophistication and grace— perfumed aromas of dried flowers, forest mushrooms intermixed with wild strawberry, red plum and raspberry fruit on the palate. Well-defined acidity and a fine, harmonious finish, winemakers Jason and Anna Flowerday have surpassed their own uncompromising standards with this wonderful Pinot Noir. Not to be missed!
2012 Ellero "Pisa Terrace" Pinot Noir Central Otago
Review Date: 03-31-2015
Central Otago has, over the last decade, become the hot spot in New Zealand for Pinot Noir, and there are so many super producers and bottlings that it can be impossibly hard to keep up, but luckily we have Ryan Woodhouse, our inspired explorer and savvy spelunker of all things Kiwi-driven. Ok, maybe not spelunker, unless we’re talking wine caves. The Ellero comes from ‘Pisa Terrace’, a precious parcel of organic vines that may or may not grow on a badly tilted hillside …. anyway, this is a serious, well-wrought wine, combining both fine concentration and clarity, with a brilliant array of silky black and red fruits, savory tea spice, structured tannins and earthy, textural notes on the persistent finish. A masterful stroke of winemaking, likely to evolve beautifully for several more years.
2013 Domaine de Begrolles Muscadet-Sèvre et Maine sur Lie
Review Date: 03-31-2015
Diving into a chilled platter of locally-harvested Hog Island oysters accompanied by a crisp bottle of Domaine de Begrolles white is about as good as it gets— the marriage of mollusk and Muscadet is made in heaven, or as close as one can get while sitting by the bay on a warm summer day. This delightfully dry wine hails from Sevre et Maine not far from where the Loire River empties itself into the Atlantic, imbuing the wine with welcome marine influences— whispered salinity, seashell and iodine notes to complement the white flower, citrus and leesy elements. A great little wine to clean your palate without cleaning out your wallet.
2012 Krutz Family Cellars "Magnolia Series" Napa Valley Zinfandel
Review Date: 03-29-2015
Oh my Heart of Darkness, Mister Krutz! If you can read Conrad or enjoy a Coppola bad puns, you'll get it. This brazen beauty is one of the most arrestingly delicious, emblematic Zinfandels I've tasted recently, bursting with a veritable cornucopia of perfectly-picked, brambly black fruit....dark cherries, plums, and blackberries that project their rich aromatic personalities on the palate with both balance, generosity and power, all fitfully framed by finely-polished tannins and finishing smooth and dry and pure. Serve this Zinfandel with nicely grilled sausages or a spicy Moroccan tagine for a memorable meal.
2010 McClean X "Simone" Paso Robles Zinfandel
Review Date: 03-25-2015
A test... see if you can spot this one on our domestic shelves. I'll give you a few hints: Red vines, classic nail polish, fire extinguishers. Big Juicy Glorious, Five-Alarm Red. OK, try not to be put off by label shock, for this one definitely has the juju within, and whoever the heck this Simone is, she must be quite the ravishing head-turner. A gorgeous blend of opulent, spicy, peppery Zinfandel and dark, fathomless Petite Sirah, this astonishing wine possesses enough weight, mouthfeel and serious Zin flavor to seduce any dish bold enough to flirt with it. Enchiladas dancing in a rich mole sauce maybe?
2011 Raymond Fabre Crozes-Hermitage
Review Date: 03-24-2015
It's Wednesday night, right, so maybe you're in the mood for a big juicy bacon, mushroom and swiss burger to go along with that latest big juicy action flick, Spiderman vs. Speedoman or Ironman Finally Rusts 7, but what wine do you pour? Something with rich, mouthwatering flavor and just enough sinew to compete with the endless earth-shattering explosions onscreen. Since I track the Northern Rhone like a drone and just opened this Crozes-Hermitage, well....it's a medium-built, savory Syrah with impressive aromas and notes of bright cherry-red fruit, garrigue and licorice, with a welcome tinge of pepper and minerality on the solid finish. So bring on the monster cheeseburger and silly spandex superheroes, this supertasty red wine can handle 'em, and with no special effects needed.
2012 Antech "Emotion" Cremant de Limoux Brut Rosé
Review Date: 03-02-2015
Cremant de Limoux lies farthest west in the vast vinous ‘laboratory’ that is the Languedoc-Rousillon, where some of France’s most distinctive varieties and dynamic wines are to be found. The Emotion is blended from Chardonnay, Chenin Blanc, Pinot Noir and Mauzac, the latter an indigenous grape cultivated for both its lovely apple notes and variable color that can run from light green to pink to black! Displaying remarkable elegance and refinement for a wine of this modest price, with generous bubbles and crisply dry flavors of acacia, strawberry, cherry and toast. The perfect companion for lively catered parties, as it goes with virtually everything that lies prone on a plate. Also great with nothing, ha…..
2013 Spellbound California Chardonnay
Review Date: 02-28-2015
Can’t afford the pricier Rombauer but still want to be treated to a delicious, sun-baked apple-blessed, tropical, toasty and vanilla-imbued wine? Go for the Spellbound my friends, you will find plenty here to enjoy, and it really does the trick, offering plenty of rich wine pleasure for far less than you’d expect to pay. And if you happen to live in California, be sure to stock a few cases away, just in case we run out of, gulp, water....
2012 La Monacesca "Mirum" Verdicchio di Matelica Riserva
Review Date: 02-28-2015
For some bizarre reason, I never seem to drink enough Italian white wines, probably because I’m always driven to the Killer B’s (Barolos, Barbarescos, Brunellos). But Verdicchio, which sounds like Verocchio, the name of a Renaissance painter who is most famous for teaching Leonardo how to dip his brush, remains one of those quintessential grapes that demands serious respect from both scholar and consumer. And because it has a tendency to ripen slowly when properly planted, Verdicchio develops beautiful acidity and mineral notes to ballast the incredibly complex and succulent flavors of white pear, floral, almond and quince that are characteristic of this superb wine. And remember, the Riserva will continue to evolve for a decade or more, so practiced patience is as virtuous as the wine.
2004 La Temperance, Haut-Medoc
Review Date: 02-28-2015
As owner Clyde Beffa will tell you, few wine pleasures can surpass an aged Bordeaux, and this wine, although still relatively youthful, delivers substance and power with enough suppleness to reward drinking today. Smooth, rich Merlot fruit dominates this sustainable blend, with black cherry, blackcurrant, cedar, gamy and tobacco-tinged flavors working the palate. A solid, silky wine for serving alongside a meaty casserole or fresh grilled beef, vegetable and mushroom skewers.
2010 Bodegas Puelles Crianza Rioja
Review Date: 02-28-2015
Largely because of our courageous buyers who are often physically held down and forced to taste, sample, spit, analyze, and select wines from the far corners of the globe, our direct import program is second to none. Take Joe Manekin, our tried and true Spanish guru, for instance. He somehow discovered a clever fellow named Jesús Puelles in the small hamlet of Abalos in Rioja Alta who makes some of the most savory, well-delineated, sublime wines this side of Siberia, in Iberia. His 2010 Crianza heralds from a fine vintage and is a classic blend of the four signature red grapes of Rioja, headlined by Tempranillo of course, and traditionally aged in 225L older oak for nuance and aroma. Lush, friendly fruit— cherries, mulberries and red plums defined by balsamic notes of sandalwood and incense adorn this tasty crianza, a wine fit for a table decked with Iberico ham, roast chicken, lamb or soft cheeses.
2013 Kistler "Sonoma Mountain" Chardonnay
Review Date: 02-25-2015
What’s in a name, you might ask? The name ‘Kistler’ comes from the ancient Germanic-Swiss guild of Kistermacher, or ’makers of chests’, derived originally from the Latin ‘custos’, guardian or keeper. Of course in the wine world it has come to be known as ‘maker of iconic wines’, and Steve Kistler has, like, a fine cabinet maker, continued to burnish his craft by creating some of the most elegant Chardonnays and Pinots in the New World. Like every great artisan, he sought the finest wood, or in this case, budwood, for his wines, and found it over forty years ago in a low-yielding Chardonnay strain discovered at Mount Eden and originally believed to have come from Corton in 1896. From this single heritage Burgundian clone Kistler has fashioned ten different expressions of Chardonnay, each wine the definition of a specific terroir, and each remarkable. The Sonoma Mountain Chardonnay, planted on an elevated, well-drained site of mostly volcanic soils, showed a prismatic quality to the fruit, as if every nuance reflected another in a dancing kaleidoscope of citrus, apple, stone fruit, chalk, ginger and almond flavors, all harmoniously held together by superb, crisp acidity and a breathtakingly long finish. A truly prodigious feat of winemaking!
2010 Zaca Mesa Santa Ynez Valley Syrah
Review Date: 02-18-2015
A veritable raft of blueberries and blackberries, a suave pinch of baking spice, violet pastilles and vanilla all deliver the goods in this indulgent, pleasure-packed Syrah. With its voraciously voluminous fruit and engaging gorgeousness I marvel that whole herds, er, flocks of hungry, ravenous blackbirds never made a desperate, feathered assault on the Zaca Mesa estate vineyards, but don't ask why or wait, just sink your clever talons into a case or two before your next gathering of the human flock. It will be gone before you can say 'Birdman wins the Oscar'....I said it here first.....
2013 L'Ecole No. 41 " Luminesce" Seven Hills Vineyard Walla Walla White Wine
Review Date: 02-16-2015
'Luminesce'....sometimes even a wine's name can conjure glowing memories. As a kid growing up on the outskirts of Nashville, I will never forget my first sighting of hundreds of fireflies twinkling in the dusk of a warm midsummer's eve. Like tiny circuits on again, off again, now you see them, now you don't, they filled the air with magic, wonder and enchantment. This truly incandescent blend of Washington state cool-harvested Semillon and Sauvignon Blanc from the famed Seven Hills Vineyard was liquid, luminous sunlight in a bottle. Whole-cluster pressed fruit was given a slow primary fermentation on neutral oak followed by partial malolactic, and then spent four months napping on the lees. Fragrant and lively with luxurious aromas of citrus blossom and honeysuckle, interplayed with a core of crisp kiwi, passionfruit and green papaya frolicking on the palate, this beauty is a delightful, delicious treasure of a wine by any measure, and the perfect complement to fine poultry or seafood dishes.
2013 Calera Central Coast Chardonnay
Review Date: 02-04-2015
Oh, the Agony of the Pete...yesterday was both Groundhog Day and the day after the "Big Blame," I mean Big Game, and I couldn't help but wonder if Seattle Seahawks coach Pete Carroll saw his shadow or was, like the film, destined to relive that last play again and again forever. Sympathy might not go far in this case, but a bottle of good wine always helps to heal deflated dreams. The folks at Calera scored big by hand-harvesting fruit for this coastal Chardonnay from select vineyards stretching from Santa Clara to Santa Barbara. Grapes were whole cluster pressed and gravity fed into the barrel room, where they underwent native yeast fermentation and achieved full malolactic in 10% new French oak for ten months. The result? A well-balanced and value-priced Chardonnay brimming with orchard aromas and an enticing array of trophy fruits... juicy apples, ripe melons, lush peaches and nectarines, with plenty of weight and acidity to carry through the "super" finish...... now go and intercept a bottle or two of this winning wine! You can't lose.
2013 Banshee Sonoma County Pinot Noir
Review Date: 01-21-2015
As one felled by images, I’ve often mused about the strange creature on this wine’s label. It is actually a cockatrice, that eerie hybrid bit of mischief, a demonic cross between a serpent and a rooster, armed with a "death-darting eye that could slay men with the poison of their sight." And a Banshee being the spirit of a wailing woman said to lie outside the walls of peasants’ houses, waiting for mortal men to die…..ahem. Well, on to the magical stuff in the bottle! Yet another lovely incarnation, this cool-climate beauty captured all the purity and essence of Sonoma coastal vineyards, with a core of enticing red fruit enlivened by tea, plum and boysenberry notes, all ballasted by clean acidity and gentle tannins. Enough supernatural fruit in here to silence a Banshee and keep her pet cockatrice at bay…..enjoy!
2013 Charles Smith "Kung Fu Girl" Columbia Valley Riesling
Review Date: 10-28-2014
True Kungfession: I get a real kick out of this super-smooth, fun and funkadelic wine from our talented neighbor to the north, Charles Smith, who somehow conjures up a domestic Riesling releasing zingy flavors of Fuji apple, Asian pear, ripe apricot and citrus blossom that manages to hit me smack dab right in the center field of my price to quality comfort zone, and easily scores big on the home palate. Blame it on playoff fever mixed with the need to take in plenty of essential stress-quenching liquids during this nailbiter Fall Classic, but this pure and luscious, slightly off dry beauty with the krazy name remains a world-serious wine and a surefire winner. Don't miss it!
2013 Rutherford Ranch Napa Valley Chardonnay
Review Date: 10-22-2014
While this attractive charmer may not quite qualify as the "Hunter Pence" of Chardonnays, it does express his buoyant, infectiously-engaging personality and ability to generate hits with its unabashed aromatics and "give-it-your-all" flavors of ripe, luscious peach, glistening apple, creamy pineapple and mouthwatering citrus. It even manages a kiss of oak to balance the vibrant array of orchard fruits. A surefire hit with your base, and one to keep around for all your post-game and holiday celebrations......
2012 Joseph Jewell Russian River Valley Pinot Noir
Review Date: 09-21-2014
Nothing exists in isolation. I was just listening to Tom Waits' hilarious cryptic dirge from Mule Variations, "What's He Building In There?" about a strange guy hammering "what the hell?" in his garage when I flashed on not just Jobs and Wozniak but a few of the famed California winemakers—think Burt Williams and Ed Selyem—who started out finicking, blending and canoodling with stuff in their garage. It comes as no surprise that two young "garagistes," Micah Joseph Wirth and Adrian Jewell Manspeaker, also finessed their first Pinot from such economies of scale, by realizing that measured growth, savvy inspiration and the right fruit go a long way in the creation of a well-crafted wine. Their latest cuveé, gathering fruit from three primarily cooler sites in the Russian River Valley, is a deft expression— nothing overstated or overblown— just pure, delicate aromas of black cherry, gentle spice, a kiss of rose petals and oolong tea leaves, sleekly stylish yet savory, touched by sultry tannins and warm earth. Now put down that hammer, turn up the music, sit back and enjoy a glass of great Pinot!
2012 Eyrie Vineyards "Estate Grown" Willamette Valley Pinot Noir
Review Date: 09-08-2014
David Lett was barely twenty-five in 1965, fresh out of UC Davis, with a smart detour in Burgundy under his boots and a strong, irrepressible passion to make great wine. So the next year he and his wife Diana transported a few thousand Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and other varietal cuttings up to northern Oregon and christened them on a few acres of pristine, southern-exposed slopes in the Red Hills of Dundee, thirty miles south of Portland. These were the very first Pinot vineyards in the Willamette Valley, and David Lett remained an outspoken, influential and wise presence in the region until his untimely death in 2008, affectionately nicknamed "Papa Pinot" by those who knew, respected and treasured him. I visited Eyrie this spring with several K&L staffers, and was met by David Lett's son Jason, who took over the winery in 2005 and was shepherding it through yet another growing season. Having grown up in the vineyards, he spoke with gentle ease about the sense of bestowed responsibility and challenges—always small production, a distinctive sense of place, uncompromising ethics—that faced the winery as it entered its fifth decade, and of the importance of maintaining the Eyrie style of natural, lithely-textured, aromatically pure, age-worthy wines. A superb example that expressed the magnificent 2012 vintage, the Eyrie "Estate" Pinot was both rounder and riper than in 2011, with more lavish spice, silky red and black cherries and raspberry on the palate, pleasant acidity and a touch of iron earth and bramble on the fine, flavorful finish. A marriage of suave and sensual, and although age-worthy, this promises considerable charm now, as the tannins are well-integrated and impressively smooth. Lett it be!
2012 Eyrie Vineyards "Estate Grown" Dundee Hills Chardonnay
Review Date: 09-08-2014
Please note that our inventory of Eyrie wines is always rather scarce, as they just don't make very much wine, but what they do make, well… this latest Chardonnay reflects what has been described by many as an epic vintage—the warmest summer in years, a long growing season allowing for perfectly balanced ripeness and acidity levels. But as with everything Eyrie, it's in the raw material—the Burgundian clonal varieties scrupulously hand-chosen by David Lett over forty years ago that sets this delicately straw-colored Chardonnay apart, imbuing it with refined elegance and lingering aromatic complexity. Liminal notes of poached pear, quince, lees, apple and spice play upon the palate in a stunning wine that will continue to evolve for at least a decade, probably two.
2013 Michel Delhommeau "Symbiose" Muscadet Sèvre et Maine Sur Lie
Review Date: 09-03-2014
Every time I taste these magnificent Muscadets from Michel Delhommeau I cannot but reflect upon the manifest destiny of the wondrous grape- Melon de Bourgogne, from which they're created. Although it originated in Burgundy, it eventually managed to migrate, swim or magically rediscover its true and lasting home beside the rapturous sea in Muscadet. Imbued with sublime, effortlessly clean, lime pith and minerally-precise flavors, the Symbiose is a slightly weightier, glycerin-textured, richer companion to the excellent Harmonie. Remember, don't be shellfish, and share it with special friends!
2012 Viña Robles "Estate" Paso Robles Sauvignon Blanc
Review Date: 07-23-2014
With its alluvial sandy loam soil, good drainage and excellent exposure, the Jardine Vineyard possesses ideal conditions for growing crisp and flavorful Sauvignon Blanc, and this affordably tasty version reveals why Paso Robles has become the new California hotspot for fine wine cultivation. Tropical fruits from guava to passionfruit, highlighted by lemon and grapefruit "citricality" and a touch of minerality perform a lively dance number upon the palate. A lovely, versatile wine for parties and summer picnics with family and friends. Cheers!
Ariston Aspasie "Carte Blanche" Brut Champagne
Review Date: 08-02-2013
Vines have been cultivated on this tiny property in the hamlet of Brouillet for five generations, and it has remained a customer and staff favorite here for several years. Yeasty, full and complex, the Carte Blanche exhibits a fine intensely-focused bead with lively notes of tart apples, dried hazelnuts, vanilla and toast, all in all a remarkably well-built Brut that will compare well to cuvées at double the price. It is perfect for entertaining.
1999 Fugue de Nenin, Pomerol
Review Date: 11-30-2012
Attractive, classic, well-aged Bordeaux is always a welcome addition to the holiday table, and this second label Pomerol from Chateaux Nenin still delivers considerable charm and elegance. Imbued with smooth, round Merlot flavors of sweet plum, ripe cherry and cedar highlights, it invites a rosemary-roasted Cornish hen or two to join it for dinner.
Berry Bros & Rudd No. 3 London Dry Gin 750ml
Review Date: 10-30-2012
As Britain's oldest wine and spirit merchant (1698), Berry Bros. and Rudd should know a thing or three about the traditional making of gin. Their No. 3 English Dry Gin is an unabashedly pure blending of fruits and spices selected and distilled in traditional copper pots in Schiedam, Holland. Made from Italian Juniper, Spanish oranges and grapefruit peel, with added spices including angelica root, Moroccan coriander and cardamon pods, this exquisitely crafted yet assertive gin remains, with its distinctively aromatic nose and prolonged finish, a highly-recommended personal favorite. The ideal suitor for a dry Martini or classic Gin and Tonic.
Fleury "Cuveé Robert Fleury" Brut Champagne
Review Date: 06-01-2012
If you're searching for a non-vintage Champagne with generous texture, abundant freshness, depth of character and a distinctive aromatic profile, search no further! This stunning barrel-fermented assemblage of Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Blanc....yes, I said Pinot Blanc, an odd wine out in most of Champagne, is a triumphant display of everything one can discover in a fine bottle of bubbly- sparkle, effervescence, layers of brioche, chalk, herbs, toast and lemon, ever-evolving complexity, with a lengthy, lingering finish.
Einstök Icelandic White Ale, Iceland 12oz
Review Date: 04-30-2012
With summer fast approaching we're all in need of a super thirst-quenching beer to alleviate the effects of absorbing too much solar energy on our bodies while we flare up the grill for a swirling smoke-athon (ok, admittedly I'm not Mr. Weber, more like one of the guys who stands around getting hot smoke in his face while acting like it doesn't matter).... anyway, just discovered a fantastic antidote to insurmountable thirst in the Icelandic Einstok White Ale, like melting an iceberg slathered in freshly-ground coriander and orange peel. Well, to be truthful, it's a witbier brewed with the same ingredients and tastes absolutely awesome. Beer here now. And in honor of the 100th anniversary of the sinking of the ill-fated Titanic, pouring an iceberg down your throat might be a good tribute.
Fleury Blanc de Noirs Brut Champagne
Review Date: 12-03-2011
In his unwavering maxim that "we leave the earth to our children," Jean-Pierre Fleury was the very first winegrower in Champagne to adapt strict biodynamic principles and techniques in his steeply-sloping, calcareous vineyards near the northern village of Courteron. His exquisite Blanc de Noirs is an homage to the perfectability of Pinot Noir under his meticulous stewardship, and certainly one of the finest, long-lasting champagnes we carry at any price. Hand-crafted from select vintages, the Carte Rouge is emblematic, dry and complex, with a well-developed gamut of flavors from brioche and beeswax to cherry and acacia. Hard to say what 'not' to drink this with, but I guarantee you will be reaching for another glass after tasting this redolent, rewarding sparkler.
2008 Pontet-Canet, Pauillac
Review Date: 06-28-2011
My advice? If you have a few extra Benjamins lining your well-oiled wallet and are of the mind to buy a beautiful bottle or two of Bordeaux that will, when it eventually reaches full maturity around the time your same vintage 2008 son/daughter celebrate their 21st birthday (and will generously share it with you), then this is the wine for you! A superbly structured, absolutely pitch-perfect Pauillac, reflecting the august gravel and limestone terroir from which it was born.
Drink from 2020 to 2020
Dudognon Reserve Cognac 750ml
Review Date: 11-30-2010
A voter santé! Raymond Dudognon first distilled his own cognac in 1946, following the venerable traditions laid down by his great grandfather in 1776. The heart of the Charente region, located about 100 miles northeast of Bordeaux, is called Grande Champagne, and consists of deep chalk-rich soils, perfect for creating fragrant, long-lived cognacs. Made from 100% natural Ugni Blanc, this singular spirit is blended and distilled in the traditional alambic Charentais pot and eventually aged in 350 liter barrels. The Dudognon homage to tradition stresses minimal intervention, using only pure water as an additive to create a stunning cognac that charms and caresses the palate, displaying a weightlessness and delicacy of fruit found less commonly in cognacs at twice the price. Highly recommended!
Marguet Pere et Fils "Cuvée Reserve" Brut Champagne
Review Date: 02-26-2010
Every time we run low on the Marguet Pere et Fils I find myself suddenly weeping uncontrollably.... ok, tears of hyperbole, but seriously, this is one of the real gems in our sparkling, zestfully toast-worthy chorus line of great Cuvee Champagnes, and if you appreciate power, panache and expressive Pinot Noir notes, pour yourself a flute of this and salute the immeasurably talented Benoit Marguet, who produces and delivers this wondrous Gran Cru to us for a song.
Sorelle Bronca Prosecco DOCG
Review Date: 07-11-2009
This delightful Prosecco is a strong contender for best in class among its growing legions of fans, delivering dependably delicious flavors of sliced apples, citrus blossoms and almonds in a pure and sparkling persona. Showcasing both freshness and mineral vibrancy, it should complement most summer fare from salads to appetizers, and would be the perfect match for a basket of lightly-fried calamari.