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Staff Favorites - David Driscoll

David Driscoll
David Driscoll  | Send Email  |   Subscribe to My Sommelier Service
David Driscoll likes to drink alcohol when he is not working at K&L. His main interests include wine, beer, and distilled spirits. Before he worked here he went to college at a decent school, got a masters degree from an OK school, worked as a waiter and taught elementary school in Chinatown. He decided to get into the wine business after reading a few books about wine and realizing that one cannot seriously learn about wine solely through reading. His career goals include: trying to convince K&L customers that he does know something despite his youthful appearance, and learning everything about everything about every single wine ever made.


Reviews

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2014 Mindego Ridge "Estate" Santa Cruz Mountains Chardonnay
Review Date: 11-16-2017
Tasting this next to the Domaine Eden Santa Cruz Mountains Chardonnay was a real eye-opener because while the Eden had the richness and the weight, the Mindego Ridge had all that creaminess, but with vibrant acidity, accents of savory herbs, and minerality in one helluva complex ride from start to finish. It's everything I wish more California Chardonnays could be: full-boded and lush, but without ever sacrificing freshness or secondary flavor. This is a home run of a wine and I'm definitely putting Mindego Ridge on my shortlist of wineries to watch.
Price: $39.99 Add To Cart
VN 94 RP 93

2014 Mindego Ridge "Estate" Santa Cruz Mountains Pinot Noir
Review Date: 11-16-2017
There's delicious, juicy, easy drinking Pinot Noir and then there's serious Pinot Noir like the 2014 Mindego Ridge. What does "serious" mean? It means balance and beauty with layers of flavor that slowly develop and unveil themselves after time in the glass. The dark and brooding fruit of the Santa Cruz Mountains is the star, of course, but under that there are hints of herbs and spice that begin on the nose and continue unwind as your swirl and sip your way through the glass. It's everything I love about Santa Cruz Mountain wines: mystery and intrigue with fresh acidity. The Mindego Ridge wines are from a tiny family-owned estate property, making this all the more fun to drink. It's rare that I find new Pinots from Santa Cruz these days that wow me, but this is another great find.
Price: $39.99 Add To Cart
VN 95 RP 92

1993 Macallan 24 Year Old "Old Particular" K&L Exclusive Single Barrel Cask Strength Single Malt Scotch Whisky (750ml)
Review Date: 11-16-2017
As K&L's spirits buyer, I stopped looking for luxury casks years ago. The Port Ellens and Broras of the world are far too expensive at this point to justify the thousand dollar prices and the amount of customers still looking for rare editions of lost distilleries has dwindled, especially for an entire cask's worth of whisky. That being said, every now and again I can pull a little magic out of my dusty old Scotch hat and find a barrel of something truly stupendous. While $600 for a bottle of Macallan may not seem like a deal to everyone, I would do a price search for the 25 year Macallan as a comparison and see what pops up. You're looking at a minimum of $1500-$1700 for a single bottle in today's market and that's for a blend of numerous barrels proofed down to 43% ABV. Can you imagine what the Mac 25 would cost as a single barrel at full proof? It would be at least $3000 if not more! Even older independent editions like the one we're offering here sell for a minimum of $750-$1000 overseas. But in the spirit of the holidays, we're offering a pure, unadulterated cask of 24 year old Macallan from a single barrel at full proof for $599. There's not much of it. Only enough for 190 lucky people (if everyone only buys one bottle), but like I said before: Macallan is the only true first growth in today's single malt market and it's not often you get a deal on luxury. Aged in a refill hogshead barrel, there's no sherry influence here, just golden grains, soft vanilla, rounded fruits, and classic Macallan elegance. Getting the price down to $599 in today's competitive market was something of a miracle, but that's what the holidays are for, right? Those looking for something truly special this holiday season need look no further. We won't actually receive the bottles until January, so you might have to print out a gift receipt and place it in a card for your loved ones in the meantime, but it doesn't get more refined than this. This is the Chateau Margaux of single malt whisky casks. If you truly enjoy drinking old Macallan, I have to imagine this is the last time we'll see anything like this under $1000 at K&L.
Price: $599.99 Add To Cart

Macallan Classic Cut "2017 Limited Edition" Speyside Single Malt Scotch Whisky (750ml)
Review Date: 11-14-2017
Let's see...heavily sherried Macallan, at 58% ABV, with saturated flavors of toffee and Oloroso sherry, chewy and mouthcoating on the finish, in a limited edition package, for $79.99. How many can we buy? Less than 200 bottles? That means buy one, or three, or six. ASAP.
Price: $79.99 Add To Cart

1995 Miltonduff 22 Year Old "Old Particular" K&L Exclusive Single Barrel Cask Strength Single Malt Whisky (750ml)
Review Date: 11-14-2017
Everyone seems to be pretty thrilled with our 20+ year old, cask strength, single barrel, Highland malt whiskies thus far, so I'm not slowing down anytime soon. As long as I keep tasting great stuff like this for well under $100, I'll keep snagging them for our whisky-loving customers. Unlike say the Tamdhu we featured previously, this Miltonduff is far more gritty in its maltiness. We say "gristy" because it tastes like the grist smells when it's being cooked at the distillery. It's a sweet grainy note that has roasted flavors of cacao and dark chocolate that come through clearly in the whisky. This is a hearty whisky, made for the cold winter weather when something bold and assertive is needed to cut down the chill from outside. Again, for a single malt this old and at this proof, the price is a no brainer.
Price: $89.99 Add To Cart

2015 Valravn "Old Vine" Sonoma County Zinfandel
Review Date: 11-10-2017
"Old vine" is one of those terms you see on wine bottles that I'm not sure everyone understands, but nevertheless is used as a marketing tool by wineries to tout the quality of their hooch. It's kind of like "small batch" for Bourbon in that it implies something special or unique, but there's no real regulation regarding either term; it's really up to the integrity of the producer when it comes to the usage. What's so special about old vines then? It depends on which winemaker you talk to (as it can be a controversial subject), but old vines often give more concentrated fruit and a better sense of place when it comes to terroir, as the root networks extend deep into the soil, criss-crossing like veins through the heart of their terrain. Some winemakers say that old vines have a better ability to cope with diverse weather conditions because of their life experience—they have wisdom, so to speak. With every vintage, they gain a better understanding of their environment; plus, there's a reason they're still around after decades and decades, right? Someone must think they're pretty special to have left them in place for so long, while other vineyards get ripped up, replaced, and replanted. 2015 Valravn Old Vine Zinfandel: a wine that really impresses. It's made by the same team behind the Banshee project, focusing on 50 to 105 year old bush-pruned vines in Sonoma County that are all hand-harvested to preserve the varietal's full glory. What you get is concentrated red berry flavors, rich and juicy on the palate, but accented with savory spices, brush, and licorice-like peppery notes.
Price: $19.99 Add To Cart

2014 Domaine de la Côte Sta. Rita Hills Pinot Noir
Review Date: 11-10-2017
I was intrigued at first by the latest vintage of Domaine de la Côte not because of it's reviews from the American press, but rather due to its massive 97 point score from the British-based Decanter magazine. The Brits tend to celebrate classic, true-to-form wines rather than big, brash, in-your-face pomposity and I was curious as to why they were lavishing a California Pinot Noir with such praise. Then I realized that Domaine de la Côte was Raj Parr's estate, the former wine director for the Mina Group and renowned sommelier who spearheaded his own old world project in the Santa Rita Hills. The domaine is collection of vineyards that makes up more than 60 acres on a south-facing slope at about 700 feet, roughly seven miles from the Pacific Ocean. The Santa Barbara area has long been a Mecca for California winemakers looking for cooler climates to grow Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. Tasting the 2014 Santa Rita Hills expression (a blend of all the estate vineyards), you could tell you were getting serious Pinot Noir just by looking at the color in the glass. Lighter in hue (classic Côte de Beaune rouge), lower in alcohol at 12.5%, and aromatic on the nose, I could have been easily fooled had someone passed this off as French. The wine has tremendous acidity, concentration of crunchy red fruits, and real old world character. Sometimes it's hard to remember that Pinot Noir like this is still being made in California! Those of you looking for a mid-range Thanksgiving dinner option might want to snatch this up while we have it at this price. American made with a nod to the Côte d'Or.

Maker's Mark 46 "K&L Exclusive - #2" Private Select Kentucky Bourbon (750ml)
Review Date: 11-08-2017
If you're a fan of wheated whiskies, not because you just happen to think Pappy Van Winkle tastes better, but because you honestly enjoy the sweeter and creamier bourbon profile, then this is a bottle you won't want to miss. This new 55% ABV cuvee we put together is a mouthful of creamy vanilla goodness and baking spices galore with tons of power on the finish. There are only about 200 bottles of it and once it's gone, that's it. By the time you realize how much you like it, you'll be crying about not having enough. I wish we could have made 10 of these barrels, but allocations are tight in Kentucky. Just enjoy it while we have it!
Price: $69.99 Add To Cart

2015 Jax "Y3 Taureau" Napa Valley Red Blend
Review Date: 11-06-2017
If I owned my own California bistro, I know what my table wine would be year in and year out: the Jax Y3 Taureau. It's been one of the work horse reds of the domestic department here for the last three years and I've yet to have a bottle that didn't get the job done. A blend of 50% Merlot, 25% Cabernet Sauvignon, with the rest being Zin and Syrah, this is the PERFECT California red table wine that offers down-to-earth drinkability with a boutique level of detail and attention to care. It's a fleshy, fruit-forward wine, but it has acidity and character. It's balanced and it tastes like a more sophisticated wine than the price point would have you believe. It tastes good with everything, but is particularly suited to meats and heartier dishes, and it's so darn affordable. I love the Jackson family as well, a local member of our community, so like I said earlier: if I had my own restaurant, this would be the backbone of my menu.
Price: $19.99 Add To Cart
RP 90

2016 Prisoner Wine Co. "The Prisoner" Napa Valley Red Blend
Review Date: 11-06-2017
One of the biggest sensations to hit Bordeaux over the last decade has been the dry white movement, the lettered expressions from Yquem and Guiraud that have the weight and richness of a classic Sauternes, but without all the sugar. I've always felt that the Prisoner succeeded in providing Port customers with a similar red wine option. Everyone loves Port, but they don't always want that much alcohol and sugar in their table wine. The Prisoner has always been the happy medium for lovers of big, decadent wines. The 2016 has so much juicy red cherry fruit, bolstered by dessert notes like mocha and oak, but it comes with more approachable levels of alcohol and sweetness. It's everything it's always been: smooth, silky, and bursting with decadence. Back for another run with a new vintage.
Price: $39.99 Add To Cart

2015 Columbia Crest "Grand Estates" Columbia Valley Syrah
Review Date: 11-06-2017
Don't let the $9.99 price fool you: Columbia Crest has been pumping out deals like this since I was a teenager, consistently and continually providing some of the nation's best bargain bottles with no-frills, straight-forward wines like this Columbia Valley Syrah. What will wow you about the 2015 expression is how much it tastes like real, classic American Syrah. It has dark-fruited concentration, hints of pepper and spice, with blueberries and bramble on the finish. It's clean, well-made, and should provide you and 20 of your friends with plenty of good juice for NFL Sunday afternoons or holiday parties where volume and efficiency hold more weight than complexity. I can't say I'm surprised the wine tastes this good, but I can that I'm stoked we have plenty of it.
Price: $9.99 Add To Cart
WE 91

1997 Bowmore 20 Year Old "Old Particular" K&L Exclusive Single Barrel Cask Strength Single Malt Scotch Whisky (750ml)
Review Date: 11-03-2017
I've tasted old Bowmore whiskies with heavy peat, heavy sherry, heavy smoke, and heavy funk, but I've never tasted one with this much sweet malt and vanilla. That's not to say this edition goes easy on the smoke, however, because there's definitely plenty of phenolic goodness to light the way home on the finish. This 20 year cask is maritime whisky at its finest. It reminds me of walking the streets in Bowmore near the distillery for the first time years ago, grabbing a plate of fresh oysters at the Harbour Inn across the street, then ducking into Duffie's for a quick dram. In a sense, it's a nostalgic whisky. It reminds me of what got me into whisky in the first place, a sense of wonder and complexity at how a golden liquid like this could taste so damn good. If you're in search of that feeling, that sense of excitement that may have been lacking from your single malt consumption as of late, I invite you to find that feeling again in this bottle.
Price: $149.99 Add To Cart

2014 St Estephe de Calon-Ségur, St-Estèphe
Review Date: 11-03-2017
My favorite Bordeaux writer Steven Brooks recently named Calon Ségur as one of the ten most improved châteaux in Bordeaux after finally transitioning out from under the Capbern-Gasqueton ownership. He notes that much of that progress can be attributed to a man named Dr. Vincent Millet, who came over from Château Margaux as technical director of the property and did a complete investigation into the vineyards on site, retooling the layout of the varietals, eventually resulting in a prettier, more finessed grand vin. Not having an extensive tasting history of Calon Ségur under my belt, I have to take Steven's word for it, but I've tasted every vintage since 2009 and I have indeed noticed that 14/15/16 are remarkable wines in how approachable they are in their youth. Normally you get power and structure in a St. Estèphe claret, but the Calon Ségur expressions have been much more feminine over the years (2015 in particular). Where I have really noticed the improvement, however, is with the property's second and third wines, especially after retasting the 2014 Saint-Estèphe de Calon Ségur again yesterday. At a quarter of the price of the 2014 grand vin, the wine is simply breathtaking in its approachability already. In general, 2014 is a classic vintage. The wines have ample fruit, but ample structure simultaneously. Yet, somehow the tannins seem to melt away in this wine, allowing the gorgeous flavors of cherry and blackberry to take center stage. It's exactly what Brooks describes in his summary of Calon Ségur's improvements: "seamless fruit and a light touch in terms of extraction, although it’s far from a light wine." He's talking about the $100 version of Calon Ségur, however. What I'm telling you is that you can enjoy the fruits of the château's advancements for $25, as well. The Saint-Estèphe de Calon Ségur is the best second or third wine value I've yet tasted in 2014 in terms of a wow-factor and a level of complexity. It appears the improvements at Calon Ségur are far reaching.
Price: $24.99 Add To Cart

2014 Barde-Haut, St-Emilion
Review Date: 10-31-2017
Barde-Haut is usually one of my top five value picks in any vintage, but in 2014 where pretty much the entire harvest itself is a value compared to the higher-priced 15/16 duo, Barde-Haut stands out as a supreme deal: a "MUST BUY," if you ask me. I won't bore you with additional tasting notes about how delicious the wine tastes, rather I'll get straight to the bullet points: 1) You can drink this tonight, or a decade from now, or anytime in between. The suppleness of the fruit is enticing right now, but the wine has both the acidity and the tannic structure for long-term maturation and evolution. Few wines in this price point and with this pedigree offer that type of versatility. 2) The scores here don't lie, and there are few 94 pointers in the sub-$30 category. The Barde-Haut is true-to-form St-Emilion with chalky, mineral typicity underneath all that fruit, for a slam dunk price. 3) This is the ultimate Bordeaux gateway bottle for California drinkers who want to expand their horizons. You get ample fruit from the Merlot, but it's very much a classic Bordeaux claret in style. If you're intrigued by Bordeaux and want to venture into its waters without emptying your wallet, the 2014 Barde-Haut is a great place to start. I bought a case when it landed, and now that I've emptied that case I'm going back in for more.

2014 Comartin "R-Bar-R Ranch" Santa Cruz Mountains Pinot Noir
Review Date: 10-30-2017
Here's a wine that appeared on our radar solely through a personal connection between our buyer Ryan Woodhouse and winemaker Adam Comartin, and in my experience these are often the most exciting deals we find (although, I won't lie: it helps when there's a 95 point review attached to the wine). True California Pinot Noir lovers will want to take note of what is perhaps the best under-the-radar gem we've uncovered in the state this calendar year. The Comartin is a dark-fruited, juicy, and fleshy wine with loads of Santa Cruz Mountain character, meaning herbs, brush, and hints of savory spice on the finish. Adam did whole-berry fermentation for the R-Bar-R, which added in a bright, lively fruit element that explodes on your tongue with the first sip. I'm glad there's a nice score to grab everyone's attention, but the truth is we would have featured this wine either way. It's a sensational Pinot Noir from a local site that will definitely have customers coming back for seconds!
Price: $29.99 Add To Cart
WE 95

Kaiyo Mizunara Oak Japanese Whisky (750ml)
Review Date: 10-25-2017
Those looking to get a taste of real Japanese Mizunara oak-aged whisky will finally get a somewhat affordable option here with the new Kaiyo expressions. Made with whisky from an unnamed distiller (although there aren't many major players in Japan so you can begin to whittle down the options when you taste it) the Mizunara is the real star here. You get exotic spices and a sweetly-scented nose that leads into incense and toasted oak flavors on the palate. Kaiyo isn't some new microdistiller or craft project. It's taking malt whiskies from some of Japan's established players and using Japan's most treasured barrels to make something dynamic and new for the market. Get it while the gettin's good because this could be the next Yamazaki.
Price: $69.99 Add To Cart

1999 Lanessan, Haut-Médoc
Review Date: 10-18-2017
The documented history of Lanessan dates back to 1310 when records show that Dame Paironne la Montagne, the widow of Henry de Lanessan, sold the estate to Sieur de Blaignan. In 1793 it was purchased by Jean Delbos, a Bordeaux négociant, and it has remained in the family ever since. In 1855, Louis Delbos, who was the manager at the time, refused to submit samples for consideration in what is now the most famous classification in wine history – the decree from Emperor Napoleon himself that ranked the great wines of Bordeaux's Médoc into the five-tier growth system we still recognize today. While Delbos then regarded the procedure as "bureaucratic nonsense," Bordeaux author David Peppercorn called his disinterest "a piece of high-handedness that has cost Lanessan dearly." The 1855 Classification remains in place today. It has never been updated, despite a failed attempt to do so in 1960. Personal rankings from established Bordeaux critics are published from time to time, but they don't carry the weight of the original. Therefore, whenever enthusiasts peruse the one official ranking of top Bordeaux estates, Lanessan's name is nowhere to be found. So who is Lanessan, you ask? Why are they so important and why have we sold thousands upon thousands of bottles of their wine over the years? Lanessan is an old world Bordeaux producer that, due to a "high-handed" career decision, was kept out of the most important wine classification in history. A chateau that has always held true to its terroir-driven roots and made wine the old-fashioned way, regardless of who was handing out big points and fancy awards. I was talking to our own Clyde recently, who said to me: "Just think how much the owner’s refusal to submit samples in 1855 has cost the property over 150 plus years. It would have been rated at least a fourth growth - so many St Julien wines are rated 2nd growths. You figure the price would be double at least what it has been over the years!" Instead of fourth-growth status, however, Lanessan continues to fly under-the-radar, alluding the attention of most Bordeaux aficionados despite its quality. Take of sip of this 1999 and find out what the fuss is about. Clyde has had a soft spot for the Lanessan wines since 1996 when he first forged a relationship with the underrated chateau. That friendship has blossomed over time. Because of his support and enthusiasm for the wine, Lanessan has agreed to sell us back vintages like the 1999 directly, without distribution fees driving up the price. When we can buy wines directly from the chateau, not only can we keep the cost down, but we can also guarantee that they've been cellared in optimal conditions. When you're talking Bordeaux of that quality for $19.99, it's time to start talking case quantities.
Price: $19.99 Add To Cart

2015 Penley Estate "Phoenix" Cabernet Sauvignon Coonawarra South Australia
Review Date: 10-18-2017
This is such a great value and a real chance for newcomers to Australia to jump into one of the country's most interesting Cabernet regions: Connewara along the Limestone Coast of South Australia. The red soil along with the maritime climate creates expressive and characterful Cabernets that have much more than just ripe fruit and an ample mouthfeel. The Penley "Phoenix" is exhibit A, brimming with herbaceous flavors, hints of tobacco, but also a savory black olive note and a dark, decadent finish. There's A LOT of wine here for the money, but also a great learning opportunity. I've found my exploration into the wines of Australia to be incredibly rewarding, especially since visiting earlier this year. It's wines like this that keep me coming back for more.

2014 Trinity Hill "The Trinity" Red Blend Hawke's Bay
Review Date: 10-18-2017
Our buyer Ryan Woodhouse long converted me over to Southern Hemisphere values years ago because the dollar for dollar value that he's finding from Australia and New Zealand is unparalleled in any of our other departments. Case in point? This Trinity Hill Red Blend from Hawkes Bay for $9.99. Cab/Merlot blends of this quality, complexity, and elegance don't exist in California anymore for this price. You not only get dark, expansive, palate-coating fruit from the Trinity Hill, but also secondary flavors of minerality and spice that are generally present in wines double and triple the price point. Compare this to the last domestic wine you bought for $9.99 and do a comparison. I promise you you'll be on the Ryan Woodhouse express after doing so.

2014 Star Lane Santa Ynez Cabernet Sauvignon
Review Date: 10-17-2017
I don't think I could have named you one producer in the Santa Barbara region making Cabernet until I tasted the Star Lane this past week, but I was surprised by much more than the anomaly of such a thing. This is real deal Cabernet with structure and secondary flavors of earth and tobacco, not just some fruit-forward or simple bottle of California red. Star Lane vineyard, as I would later learn, is planted to 200 acres of Bordeaux varieties and the vineyard differentiates itself from other parts of Santa Barbara County by sustaining warmth. In a region dedicated to cooler climate varieties like Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, that's important. The vineyard also has elevations ranging from 750 to 1550 feet above sea level throughout Happy Canyon, meaning that different grapes grow in different microclimates, creating a diverse crop of fruit. You can taste that character in the wine as the flavors range from dark fruited and powerful, to herbaceous and savory. It's a California wine with the heart and soul of a Bordeaux. Give it time in a decanter and cook up a nice meal. You won't be sorry.
Price: Hidden View Price
VN 95

2016 Au Bon Climat/K&L Wine Merchants "Bien Nacido Vineyard" Santa Maria Valley Pinot Noir
Review Date: 10-13-2017
Au Bon Climat has always been one of my favorite California wineries, so I was excited when we started working on our own private label expressions. While I've enjoyed the previous two Pinot Noirs we bottled under the K&L label, the 2016 edition of the single vineyard "Bien Nacido" is by far the best of the bunch. We just need to give it 20 -30 minutes in the decanter before trying. Bien Nacido is one of our state's coveted sites for cool climate fruit, meaning the Pinot Noirs have more structure and acidity as a result. I can tell you from two empty bottles of experience that the difference a bit of air makes with this wine is night and day. After 20 minutes or so, you get everything you expect from a Burgundian-inspired Pinot Noir: crunchy red fruits, raspberry and hints of earth with lots of spice. I could easily be fooled into thinking this was a bottle of Bourgogne Rouge if poured blind. The best part is that previous editions of this wine sold for $25 - $30, but this time around you're getting the single vineyard edition for the same price as the standard release. How can you pass that up?
Price: $19.99 Add To Cart

2015 Ridge Vineyards "Lytton Springs" Dry Creek Valley Zinfandel
Review Date: 10-12-2017
The Ridge "Lytton Springs" has always been the Zinfandel to give to people who say they don't like Zinfandel. It's one of the most elegant, poised, and serious red blends made in the entire state and the 2015 takes that complex and layered formula to an entirely new level. More like a Bordeaux blend than a classic Zin, the addition of 16% Petite Syrah adds serious grit and structure, but it's brilliantly done and bolsters the richness of the fruit beautifully. When you start to think about what goes into crafting a great wine, not just the quality of the fruit or the location of the vineyard, but also the blending of different varietals to make something greater than the sum of its parts, the Lytton Springs is high on my list of iconic blends. As you decant the 2015 vintage, you'll notice more and more complexity as the air unlocks all that intrigue: berries, spice, brush, earth, excitement!

2015 Ridge Vineyards "Pagani Ranch" Sonoma Valley Zinfandel
Review Date: 10-12-2017
While the 2015 Lytton Springs is more a more structured and nuanced wine, the Pagani Ranch is the real crowd pleaser. It's so soft and loaded with sweet cassis fruit right off the bat with hints of violet on the finish and a texture that's like velvet on the tongue. I'm far from what you'd consider a big, rich California wine lover, but as a professional I like anything that's well made. I really enjoyed this wine, from its immediate charm and juicy character to its plush mouthfeel and seductive sweetness. There's a reason Ridge is one of the most iconic California winemakers in the business and it's wines like this that help to cement that reputation.

2014 Clos du Val Carneros Chardonnay
Review Date: 10-08-2017
This is the best all-around California Chardonnay we've offered for less than $20 since the Napa Cellars editions back in 2010. It's not flashy, or over the top, just classically round and fruit-forward Carneros style white wine for a great price. The 2014 Clos du Val isn't a super malolactic, buttery style by any means, but it still scratches that itch if that's what you're after. Those who like less oak will still want to give this a whirl. There's still a freshness to the acidity, but it straddles that middle of the road line quite wonderfully. If you like the richer Chardonnays of Napa, but don't feel like shelling out $30-$50 on a weeknight, this is a simpler, Wednesday night version that still delivers quality. It's your one-stop shopping Chardonnay for a nice little discount. Clos du Val was one of the original producers that partook in the 1976 Judgment of Paris, so the pedigree here is sound and they've been farming their estate Carneros vineyard for forty years. It's not often we see a wine with that type of history at this price point.
Price: Hidden View Price

2015 Fromm "Fromm Vineyard" Pinot Noir Marlborough
Review Date: 10-06-2017
Another concentrated and spicy 2015 Pinot Noir from Fromm that has a bit more finesse and nuance than the equally rich La Strada. The fruit is prettier and more feminine in the Fromm Vineyard expression, but the character of the 2015 fruit really comes through with dark bramble fruit and lots of peppery spice. I think these are the flavors that Burgundy fans secretly want, but are afraid to seek out from Down Under! Don't be afraid to admit that New Zealand Pinot can be every bit as good as Gevrey-Chambertin! I got over that fear long ago and I've been drinking happily ever since.

2009 Malartic-Lagravière Pessac-Léognan
Review Date: 10-04-2017
MAN....is this wine in a great place right now!! Everything is congealed, moving in and out of focus, as the symphony of fruit, forest, spice and earth sings across the palate; each element getting a brief solo, but ultimately contributing to the immense texture and harmony. This is a great bottle of wine, period, but it's more than that for those who are looking to understand the merit of aging your claret. Five years ago this wine didn't have anywhere near this level of complexity, but today its showing like you wouldn't believe. I'm glad I waited to pop my bottles, but luckily for those of you who didn't buy on pre-order back in the day, we've got another shipment of perfectly aged 2009 Malartic-Lagraviere for you to buy and open today.

2009 d'Issan, Margaux
Review Date: 10-04-2017
Whereas in vintages like 2012 and 2015 I've recommended Chateau d'Issan because of its finesse and its elegance, the 2009 about blew me away recently with its subtle power and surprising muscle for what is normally one of the more feminine Margaux wines. There's still plenty of life left in this wine and it has the stuffing for another ten years in the cellar, but when opened today the lushness of the 2009 fruit is almost too tempting to pass up. Those who like their Bordeaux textured and with a little chewiness on the finish will go crazy for this. It has all the aromatics of what you expect from Margaux with ample fruit and structure, to boot.

2009 Latour-Martillac, Pessac-Léognan
Review Date: 10-04-2017
I love how the 2009 Malartic-Lagraviere is beginning to show some of that textbook Gravesian minerality now that it's had some time to shed the baby fat of that ripe 2009 fruit. When we tasted this wine recently you could finally get deep into the iron, graphite and flinty notes that make the wine one of the best expressions of true terroir in all of Bordeaux. The fruit is still there to round out the edges, but the evolution on display here is what makes this wine worth buying. No need to wait; all the aging has been done for you!

2009 Lalande-Borie, St-Julien
Review Date: 10-04-2017
I hadn't tasted this wine since the spring of 2016 until this week, and I can't believe the difference another year and a half in the bottle has made. The dark and rich flavors of cassis and black fruit are still present, but they've now made way for more of the secondary flavors to come out and the tannins are a bit finer and less dusty than last time around. There's more earth, but the ripeness still guides the wine from the first sip to the final finish. I love the wines of the Ducru-Beaucaillou, and this second label from the Borie family drinks like a more affordable version of the bigger gun.

Four Pillars "Faultline" K&L Exclusive Gin (750ml)
Review Date: 10-03-2017
I've been obsessed with Four Pillars gin since the very first moment I tasted it in January of 2015 when the distillery gang flew out from Melbourne for the Superbowl that year in SF. They dropped by the store unannounced, put a bottle of the Rare Dry in my hand, and the rest is history. I'd never had a gin that good before and I've still yet to have one since—and I drink a LOT of gin. But beyond the flavor, what I respected most about Four Pillars was that they were ONLY making gin; not single malt, or vodka, or whiskey, or some other spirit to help pay the bills, but just gin. They're like gin specialists, concocting incredible flavors on their copper stills in the Yarra Valley. After two years of huge customer support, monstrous sales, and positive feedback like you wouldn't believe, I decided to head Down Under and create a special gin with distiller Cameron MacKenzie for K&L using our Faultline label. My goal was simple: make something distinct, exciting, new, but also characteristic of everything I already love about Four Pillars. I won't rehash the specs as they're all listed above, but Cam knocked this baby out of the park. Listing me on the label as the "co-distiller" is a bit misleading because I didn't do anything but taste and edit, however, I appreciate the acknowledgement. In the end, this gin is all about Four Pillars and their incredible talent. Our job is simply to put fantastic new spirits in your hands and I think we're living up to our end of the bargain there.
Price: $34.99 Add To Cart

2015 Moulin de la Gardette "Cuvée Ventabren" Gigondas
Review Date: 10-02-2017
We’ve been working for years now with the Meunier family to bring the Moulin de la Gardette wines from Gigondas directly to K&L and over the last few years they’ve become some of the most popular and beloved wines in the store with their plush fruit flavors and spicy complexity. With the wines of Châteauneuf-du-Pape and the Southern Rhône gaining traction once again with a growing legion of drinkers who appreciate both the ripeness and the approachability of the cuvées, we’ve had to increase our orders annually to satisfy customer demand and search out new expressions from one of France’s most historic appellations. With an average age of sixty-five years, the property's vines produce concentrated and focused berries and that richness shows through in just about every bottle of Moulin de la Gardette I've ever tasted. However, it was a recent bottle of the 2015 "Cuvée Ventabren" that really got my attention. Made from the property's oldest vines (between 80-100 years of age), the blend of 70% Grenache, 20% Syrah, and 10% Cinsault is simply stunning in both is pureness of fruit and in its expression of terroir due to the fact that Gardettes vines are planted in dry, high-elevation soils, forcing them to dig deep into the earth in search of water and nutrients. Tasting the Gardette you can clearly make out black cherries and fresh strawberries, but also sage, forest, and brush alongside the peppery accents from the Syrah. Jean-Baptiste Meunier vinified the Ventabren in cement tanks and aged the wine in giant foudres so as not to mask those delicate flavors with oak. I was taken aback by the pure deliciousness of the wine, right out of the bottle and even more so after it had time to breath. Perhaps the most exciting aspect of the 2015 Cuvée Ventabren is the price. The critics have already lauded the wine with huge scores and high praise, so our direct relationship plays a big role in keeping the bottle price well under $40. If you're looking for a knock out bottle that not only expresses the character of the Southern Rhône, but also tastes pretty damn great, I'd highly recommend snagging a few bottles.

Ardbeg "An Oa" Islay Single Malt Scotch Whisky (750ml)
Review Date: 09-30-2017
The An Oa is the best new Ardbeg I’ve tasted in more than five years and it’s the roundest and easiest to drink of the regularly available editions. While it doesn’t pack the power that both the Uigeadail and Corryvreckan offer with their bold proofs, it makes up for it with richness and a rounded sweetness on the finish. You get all the peat, brine, smoke, and salt that you could ever want, but with more texture and perhaps finesse—not something we normally associate with the beastly Islay profile. In any case, this is the first bottle of Ardbeg in some time that I’ve been adamant about buying for my own personal daily enjoyment, not just my collection.
Price: $59.99 Add To Cart

2014 Hyot, Côtes de Castillon
Review Date: 09-30-2017
When we're out visiting Bordeaux to taste the most recent vintage (like 2016), we're usually taking notes for the eventual pre-order campaign that follows. But sometimes we head out to visit producers and negociants and taste older vintages that are usually in bottle and ready to go. One such example is the recently arrived 2014 Château Hyot, a property located in Saint-Magne-de-Castillon that provided us with one helluva sub-$15 option. With its forty year old vines, the concentration of the Merlot (which makes of 70% of the blend) is stunning, adding a plummy lushness to the coffee notes imparted by the oak, and bolstered by the structure from the remaining 20% Cabernet Franc and 10% Cabernet Sauvignon. The wine is made by the Aubert family, one that has been living in the region for almost three hundred years. Amélie Aubert, who took over from her parents, is a seventh-generation winemaker with a special sense of how to tend the vines planted in both clay and gravel soils; she's made her mark with the 2014 expression, for sure. I've not made any secret of my affinity for 2014 with its classic, yet approachable flavors and even more attractive price points (especially when compared to the higher costs of '15/'16), and personally I'm always on the hunt for the next great Tuesday night Bordeaux—for those nights when I just want to pop something delicious, warm up my leftovers, and put my feet up in front of the TV. I love how the wine evolved over time, showing more than just oak and fruit with nuances of minerality like graphite and iron once it got some air into it. We kept going back to the wine later in the day to see how it evolved and we all agreed it tasted better after it had been open a few hours, so if you can decant it you'll be doing yourself a favor.

Bardstown Bourbon Company "Collabor&tion - Brandy Barrel Finish" Cask Strength Bourbon Whiskey (750ml)
Review Date: 09-29-2017
Who ISN'T in the market for an 11+ year old 57% ABV bottle of bourbon today? Especially when it's been finished in American brandy barrels for extra richness, sweetness, and viscosity! This little project between Kentucky's newest whiskey distillery and Kentucky's best brandy producer gives fans of both rare and unique bourbon a new bottle to obsess over and it's only available at K&L in the state of California. The nose blurs the line between brandy and bourbon as heavy fruit comes through right off the bat, but the palate is dominated by big oak, heavy spice, and soft, sweet fruit, accenting the best parts of the whiskey and intensifying the very aspects that most Stagg and Weller fans go crazy for. We've only got 200 bottles, so when they're gone, that's it!
Price: $124.99 Add To Cart

Bardstown Bourbon Company "Collabor&tion - Mistelle Barrel Finish" Cask Strength Bourbon Whiskey (750ml)
Review Date: 09-29-2017
I LOVE the Mistelle finish on this and it's funny because I thought my co-workers and customers would prefer the classic profile of the American brandy expression, but I was wrong. The sweetness and the texture provided by the liqueur finish is simply sensational here and the orange peel notes from the Mistelle really blend well into the baking spices of the bourbon. It's done with a balanced hand all the way through and the flavor of the whiskey never gets lost in the mix. Don't miss out on this one.
Price: $124.99 Add To Cart

2016 Dunham Cellars/MacLachlan "Pursued by Bear" Blushing Bear Columbia Valley Rosé
Review Date: 09-29-2017
This is far and away the best domestic rosé I've tasted this year, and the most nuanced domestic rosé I may have tasted--ever. I'm a Provence fan when it comes to pink wine because I like crisp, clean acidity and just the slightest touch of red fruit. If I'm going to spend more than 20 bucks on something I'll likely drink within 20 minutes, then it had better "wow" me, and that's exactly what the Blushing Bear did when I first tasted it. Kyle meant for it to be a Domaine Tempier substitute and that's exactly what he created, albeit by way of Washington's Columbia Valley. Gentle accents of red berries and notes of brush lightly dance across the palate here with an enticing balanced of weight and acidity. Have this with a piece of grilled salmon and treat it like a main course wine rather than a refreshing aperitif. It's worthy of the spotlight.
Price: $27.99 Add To Cart

2014 Neyers "Neyers Ranch - Conn Valley" Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon
Review Date: 09-27-2017
I was really taken aback by both how approachable the 2014 Neyers was right out of the bottle and how it seemed to embody everything today's modern wine drinker is looking for with their California Cabernet: typicity, complexity, terroir, and deliciousness. The Neyers Conn Valley Ranch has Cabernet growing at elevations from as low as 400 feet up to 1200 feet, mostly south-facing so the grapes get a nice dose of consistent, but manageable sun. They've cut out a lot of their pesticide and fertilizers over the last decade and instead now use cover crops and a ring of pest-attracting plants outside the vineyard instead. The effect these changes have had on the quality of the wine is tremendous and you can taste all that fruit because there's a very judicious use of oak with the 2014. It's there in spirit, but the fruit still takes center stage. However, there's more than just fruit here. You get hints of earth, licorice, a bit of a dusty note from the tannins, and a nice variety of textures from front to back. At fifty bucks, the price is right and the wine tastes more expensive than some of the $100 options I've run across recently. In summary, it's a wine I'd be happy to give to just about anyone interested in a serious bottle of Napa Cabernet. It's all estate fruit and it speaks to a well-maintained vineyard site by Neyers.
Price: $49.99 Add To Cart
WE 94 WS 90

2010 Louise Brison Brut Champagne
Review Date: 09-26-2017
If you liked the 2009 Louise Brison, you'll probably enjoy the 2010 as well, albeit for completely different reasons. 2009 was a ripe vintage for Champagne and that richness of fruit came through immediately in the Brison expression, but 2010 was back to traditional temperature levels so the 2010 has a laser beam of acidity that was definitely not there in the 2009 and for me that was a welcome addition. What is consistent between the wines is the brown apple flavors and the texture from the barrel fermentation that adds weight. However, whereas I would have recommended drinking the 2009's immediately, the 10's can age forever. That note of citrus and minerality is a total palate cleanser if you choose to drink the 2010 as an aperitif wine now, but it's also what will help the wine maintain its composure as it continues to evolve in your cellar. It's a can't lose proposition: you can drink it tomorrow, or twenty years from now! And you get a wine of that quality for just under thirty bucks. Hard to beat, right?
Price: $29.99 Add To Cart

2015 Domaine Parent Bourgogne Rouge
Review Date: 09-25-2017
The 2015 reds from Domaine Parent are utterly charming wines made with restraint and balance, with just the right concentration of fruit. A Bourgogne rouge is often a sign of a winemaker’s chops, and the simple 2015 Domaine Parent Bourgogne Pinot Noir is full of dark, juicy fruit with gentle tannins and a clean, elegant finish.
Price: $29.99 Add To Cart

2015 d'Yquem, Sauternes
Review Date: 09-15-2017
I don't know if I should call the 2015 Yquem the best wine I've ever had, but I can safely say that no other wine in my decade of working in this business has made my knees buckle, my heart murmur, and my mouth utter an F-bomb in the middle of a fancy en primeur tasting event. We were at Cheval Blanc for lunch and the 2015 Yquem was being poured as an aperitif in the parlor before the meal. I took one sip and it was like angels were trumpeting down from the heavens. I looked at my co-worker Phil and I could see in his face that he was having a similar, quasi-religious epiphany. Then I swallowed, closed my eyes, and took in the breathtaking finish. The 2015 Yquem is the whole package. It's a once in a lifetime wine, perfect in every way, without one symmetrical flaw. The fruit is so pure and concentrated you can almost see the dried apricots in your mind's eye, the acidity so balanced against the lush fruit and sweetness that any potential fatigue or overload from pure decadence is quickly erased. Your taste buds will be begging for more, and that's how the 2015 Yquem tastes right now...in its youth!! Imagine in a decade or two where this thing might be at. This is as perfect of a wine as I've ever tasted. I'm just hoping I get to taste it again someday.

2015 Domaine Parent Pommard 1er Cru "Argillieres"
Review Date: 09-08-2017
This was one of the best wines I tasted on our trip to Burgundy this past Spring and it was my first foray into the Parent sisters' portfolio, one that I've come to swear by since. Anne and Catherine have pooled their inheritance together and forged ahead under the family's domaine name, making wines with real character and grace. The 2015 "Les Argillieres" showcases the dark and fleshy fruit of Pommard, but with restraint and balance. It's never too tannic, earthy, or intense, peaking in the just the right places and exhilarating the taste buds with fresh acidity in addition to all that ripe 2015 fruit. This is a wine built for the distance, however, so no matter how good it tastes now, just know that it's going to taste even better down the line.

2013 Inglenook Rutherford Cabernet Sauvignon
Review Date: 09-08-2017
Previously known as Cask Cabernet and made from the same estate fruit as the Rubicon, the big difference between the Rubcon and what is now known as simply the Inglenook Rutherford Cabernet is the barrel selection and the use of both American and French oak. While it doesn't have the sweet spices or the exotic scents from that heavier French oak influence, what you get from the standard Inglenook is a wine that has every bit the quality of the Rubicon in terms of fruit, structure, and concentration, but for a price that's about 70% less. The Rubicon typically sells for $170 - $200, but in no way are you settling here taking the Inglenook at $59.99. This wine has an incredible bouquet of dark, juicy Cabernet fruit as well as ripe tannins that reflect the impeccable quality of the 2013 growing season in Napa. However, whereas many of the $50 -$75 wines I taste from Napa today are meant to drink now, the Inglenook is a wine with loads of potential beyond 2017. It has the guts for a serious ten to twenty year run in your cellar, but with some decanting and a nice rib eye you can definitely coax all that gorgeous fruit out of the bottle and into your glass tonight. While my professional opinion would be to wait as long as you possibly can, I'm fully aware that wines this tasty tend to get opened in the short term. Either way, you're going to be very, very happy with the Inglenook.

2005 Lynch-Bages, Pauillac
Review Date: 09-08-2017
I started a penpal relationship with Lynch-Bages owner Jean-Michel Cazes earlier this summer as a way to practice my French and in doing so ended up educating myself about the history of Lynch-Bages in the process. I brought a bottle of the 2005 Lynch-Bages to dinner and the other night and watched my friends swoon, after reading an email from Jean-Michel about the harvest and wanting to experience the wine for myself. He reminisced about the ease of the 2005 growing season, and about how the long summer thankfully never resembled the heatwave of 2003. It was "textbook" vintage, he told me, and the agreeable September weather allowed the Cabernet grapes to reach their maximum maturity. You can taste the perfection of that Cabernet in every sip of the 2005 at this point with its power and drive still fully intact. This wine has a long life ahead of it still as the tannins are still showing their might even twelve years after the vintage, but man oh man does this wine taste good right now. Brooding dark fruits, a bit of iron and graphite, and a core of concentrated Cabernet splendor.

2015 Kalinda Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir
Review Date: 09-07-2017
In an age where customers want to know every detail about what they're drinking, it's our job with the Kalinda label to find wines so delicious and well-priced that customers forget all about the specs and dive right into the bottle based on flavor alone. This 2015 Sonoma Coast pinot noir offers the essence of a true California expression with black cherry, spice, and balanced acidity thanks to the coastal breeze. We can't reveal our sources, but I can reveal to you that this wine is utterly delicious.
Price: $24.99 Add To Cart

2016 Kalinda Anderson Valley Pinot Noir
Review Date: 09-07-2017
I can't tell you how nice it is every once and a while to taste a classic cool climate California pinot noir with a nice little zip of acidity. With bramble fruit rather than soft cherry. With savory herbs rather than sweet baking spices. The latest installment in the Kalinda series is a quintessential Anderson Valley pinot noir that should serve as a reminder to domestic drinkers than California pinot extends far beyond Sonoma, Santa Cruz, and the Central Coast. Those who want something in between Oregon and Burgundy need not look outside the state. We've got it all here in the Golden republic and this wine has it all going on as well. Black fruits with real tartness, earth and subtle forest floor. This is a terroir-driven cuvee for a great price thanks to our Kalinda label.
Price: $24.99 Add To Cart

2002 Balvenie 14 Year "Peat Week" Vintage Single Malt Whisky (750ml)
Review Date: 09-01-2017
What attracted me immediately to the 2002 Balvenie was the subtle and haunting nose. Aged entirely in American oak barrels, there's no sherry to be had here. Instead you get a noseful of lush golden grains, honey with sweet barley, peaches in syrup, and vanilla extract. Faintly, underneath all those lovely aromas, is just the tiniest hint of peat. The second thing that I loved about the whisky is that it's all finish. The mid-palate flavors are where the peat picks up (30 ppm) and remember we're dealing with Highland peat here, not Islay peat. There's a compositional difference between the two and the resulting flavors are profoundly different (if you remember the old Glenmorangie Finealta). There's no brine or medicinal character here, just soft brush and faint campfire smoke in low levels, hanging onto the underbelly of the malty core. Everything about the drinking experience is understated until you get to the end, and then: whoooooosh! A wave of rich vanilla and sweet smoke comes racing through your nostrils and over the roof of your mouth, lingering for a solid five minutes after lapping up onto the shore of your lips. With the 2002 Peat Week, Balvenie has proven to me yet again that it can excite experienced drinkers while still maintaining a big tent approach. Nothing about this whisky is difficult to understand, but there's so much to unlock for those who enjoy the analysis. We're witnessing the ascension of a great distillery in peak form. Balvenie is on its way to first growth status in the single malt hierarchy.
Price: $99.99 Add To Cart

1991 North British 25 Year Old "Old Particular" K&L Exclusive Single Barrel Cask Strength Grain Whisky (750ml)
Review Date: 09-01-2017
Well this is just everything you could ask for in a Scotch whisky, right here. It's potently rich and full of vanilla, brimming with sweet oak, and punchy on the finish. It's like the buttery icing on a chocolate cake and then the oak takes over and the finish turns woody in the best possible way. This almost tastes like something in between Scotch and Bourbon. Oh....and it's 25 years old, full proof, from a single barrel, and less than $75. Swoop in quickly before the masses seal the fate of this hot deal.
Price: $69.99 Add To Cart

2015 Jax Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon
Review Date: 09-01-2017
I've been drinking the Jax wines for years now and I think I can safely say that the 2015 Napa Cabernet is the best wine I've ever tasted from the local producer. Their winemaker Kirk Venge continues to fine-tune this expression with every vintage and each time he seems to get better at doing it. The 2015 is his masterwork thus far. I've tasted it on five separate occasions now and the wine is simply perfect from front to back. It's also the perfect mid-range bottle for those of you who enjoy your Napa Cab on the younger and richer side, but I can foresee plenty of cellar life on the horizon. The dark red fruits pop with juiciness, but are buoyed by velvet tannins and plenty of acidity. It's never cloying or bloated with sweetness, but rather expansive and mouthcoating with just a bit of chewiness on the finish. The Jax Cabernet has always been my go-to fifty dollar Napa red. We've been tremendously successful with the brand for some time. But the 2015 goes beyond simple dependability. This is a masterpiece of modern Napa winemaking. Bravo.
Price: $49.99 Add To Cart
RP 92 - 94

2014 Malartic-Lagravière, Pessac-Léognan
Review Date: 09-01-2017
Every Bordeaux producer I've spoken with thinks 2014 will be looked back upon as one of the best value vintages of the last two decades. Currently sitting in the shadow of 2015/16, two harvests with HUGE scores, it's a vintage that's getting lost in the crowd, which is a good thing for those of you who hunt for value. 2014 is classic Bordeaux through and through, and it was an especially good year in Pessac-Leognan, a region from which I've tasted dozens of incredible cuvees for less than $50. The 2014 Malartic Lagraviere was right there with the Domaine de Chevalier in my book for value of the vintage. This wine has equal amounts of dark cassis, herbaceous character, and fine tannic structure, but it still needs time to congeal. Buy six of these, throw them in your cellar, and forget about them for a decade. Then call us back in 2027 and tell us how happy you are.

2014 Domaine de Chevalier Rouge, Pessac-Léognan
Review Date: 09-01-2017
Domaine de Chevalier is one of my all-time favorite properties in Bordeaux, and that sentiment only intensified after visiting the property this past Spring. Not only were Olivier and his wife humble and charming hosts, their wines were just as enchanting. I like buying wine from people who I respect and admire. It always tastes better that way. To say that the 2014 Chevalier Rouge is subsequently better than any of the other vintages I've tasted would be difficult. I've never had a bad vintage from the property and it's one of the few wines from Bordeaux that I'd say I actually "collect." What is abundantly obvious is that the 2014 is significantly cheaper than its 2015 counterpart (at $65) and the 2012 we have in stock now ($55). The wine is easily as good as both those vintages and if you're looking for one of the last real values in Bordeaux, this is it (another reason why I grab bottles when I can afford to). With delicate aromas of red berries along with fine tannins and the classic acidity of Pessac-Leognan, this is a wine that should develop beautifully for decades. It's a wine that allows everyday guys like me to drink the good stuff every now and again; and, believe me, this is the good stuff. If you only buy one Bordeaux from 2014, I would say it's this.

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