Staff Favorites - Chiara Shannon

Chiara Shannon
Chiara Shannon  | Send Email  |   Subscribe to My Sommelier Service
Chiara moved north from her hometown of La Canada Flintridge in the foothills of Los Angeles to attend college at UC Berkeley. Not knowing what to do with her Bachelor’s degree in English and Spanish literature, Chiara pursued several careers, from education to marketing to fashion, before she realized her destiny lay in the wine business. She started out as a marketing assistant at Schramsberg Vineyards. After a year in wine country, she relocated to Los Angeles to try out the retail side of wine at a specialized wine shop near her family’s home, Mission Wines. Working under the tutelage of a seasoned veteran sommelier-turned-retailer, Chiara was inducted into the world of fine wine. She has since returned to the Bay Area joined the team at K&L, received her WSET Advanced certification, now manages the K&L Personal Sommelier Service. In her free time, Chiara is passionate about dance and travel, loves her husband and their life of food, wine, and music in San Francisco, practices yoga and reads in her leisure time, and is eternally grateful to her friends and family.


Reviews

  
Batiste Rhum Agricole (750ml)
Review Date: 08-16-2013
The latest release of this spectacular rum is the best yet. It still has all the power and complexity that characterizes Rhum Agricole (a rum tradition and style distinctive of the French West Indies) but in the latest release they've used a special vacuum still (the kind used in Sake production) and the results are astounding. This rum initially impressed me with its polish, vibrancy, and smooth mouthfeel, but now with amplified aromatics and layers of flavor on the palate it is not only one very distinctive rum, but mouth-wateringly delicious too. Lychee nut and rich tropical fruits leap out in the nose, with subtle hints of cane grass and flowering herbs. The palate fans out like a peacock's tail, intense yet never overwhelming as it winds down towards a smooth, glassy finish. The superiority of Batiste's sustainable grown, hand-cut, organic cane and natural processing methods is evident in the fine quality of this Agricole. Sip neat, on the rocks, or in a classic Ti’ Punch: 2 oz. Rhum Agricole, squeeze of half a lime, cane syrup to taste, 1-2 ice cubes (optional).Combine and serve in an old-fashioned glass or tumbler garnished with a lime twist.
Price: $36.99 Add To Cart

Cocchi Aperitivo Americano Rosa (750ml)
Review Date: 02-12-2013
Lovely stuff! A brand new offering from Cocchi, this is a fresher, lighter in body, and a fruitier version of their Vermouth de Torino with subtle aromatic suggestions of Chinato. Red and blackberries, earth flowers, and woodsy, spiced herbs meld for a similarly fruity yet sweetly bitter style of Vermouth. Serve on the rocks (with or without soda) with a lemon or lime twist or top with Champagne for a sparkling aperitif. Not to heavy, not too sweet, there is a lot of potential for creative cocktail-making here...from martinis to Sangria! Served chilled after dinner, this would also make a delicious pairing with a strong spicy blue cheese (like cabrales, gorgonzola, or roquefort) accompanied by a side of spiced chutney, candied citrus peel, or quince paste.
Price: $18.99 Add To Cart

St. George "Terroir" Mt. Tam Gin (750ml)
Review Date: 11-01-2012
This is wild and crazy Gin, for folks who like intensity, bold herbal flavors, and a lot of local Bay Area flare in their Gin. Macerated with native pine and herbs from Mt Tam, among many other botanicals, this smells and tastes like a Christmas trees, cut with fresh sage and ground peppercorn. For Negronis.
Price: $30.99 Add To Cart

Martin Miller's Westbourne Strength London Dry Gin (750ml)
Review Date: 11-01-2012
A very dry, aromatic Gin, this is all Juniper and lemony citrus, with pretty floral, cedar, and ginger root accents. Light and ethereal, just gorgeous stuff! Takes the Gin & Tonic to a whole new level.
Price: $29.99 Add To Cart

Michel Arnould "Reserve" Brut Champagne (1.5L)
Review Date: 10-30-2012
Wow, out of magnum this Champagne is even more of a powerhouse. Extended time on the lees has imbued this Champagne with layers of richness and complexity that are intensified out of the magnum format, leaving a sensational palate impression. Rich, creamy aromas and flavors wrap around a solid structure of fruit, coating the mouth with toasty goodness. Showing impressive volume and cut, this is a truly regal Champagne with the structure and complexity to complement a variety of foods.
Price: $69.99 Add To Cart

Louis Roederer "Brut Premier" Champagne
Review Date: 10-25-2012
Made from half estate and half purchased fruit, all 1er and Grand Cru sources, Louis Roederer's Brut Premiere is a sophisticated, elegant Champagne that has minerality, flavor, acidity, and length of the sort you might expect to find in a bottle from one of our small grower-producer DIs as opposed to a "big" house. This can be attributed to the fact that even at this entry level, the wine originates as a vineyard or fruit selection, not a tank selection like other large production houses. This is a superb Champagne and great value. Whether you are a Champagne novice or connoisseur, shopping for a gift or a bottle to open and enjoy yourself, don't overlook this because you recognize the label - this seriously good Champagne is sure to impress.

Campo de Encanto Pisco de Peru (750ml)
Review Date: 06-28-2012
From Peru’s Ica Valley, this truly is one of the best Piscos on the market today. It is an elegant, creamy and textured ‘Acholado’ style, made from sustainably grown traditional Pisco grape varietals and distilled only once, with absolutely nothing added. Bottled at proof, this Pisco is good enough to enjoy on its own, but its intent is for use in cocktails like the legendary Pisco Sour. My husband and I love this delicious Peruvian cocktail so much, it was the signature drink served at our wedding! Pisco Sour : 2 oz. Pisco, 1 oz. fresh lime juice, .75 oz. simple syrup, 1 egg white. Shake with very little ice or blend. Top with cinnamon or bitters as preferred.
Price: $35.99 Add To Cart

Cocchi Aperitivo Americano (750ml)
Review Date: 06-06-2012
The Cocchi Americano has been produced according to an all-natural recipe in the Piedmontese town of Asti since 1891. It is a lightly fortified, orange and herb-flavored bitter infusion that not only works wonders in reviving appetite, but will protect against malaria, too. A blend of Moscato d'Asti wine, cinchona bark (which contains the anti-malarial quinine), the roots of gentian flowers and a secret combination of other botanicals, this is a must for anyone interested in a real deal aperitivo. It is considered to be the Italian version of Kina Lillet, the key ingredient in the "Vesper" cocktail James Bond orders in the novel 'Casino Royale'.
Price: $18.99 Add To Cart

Pierre Paillard Grand Cru Brut Rosé Champagne
Review Date: 04-24-2012
Composed of 70% Chardonnay, 23% Pinot Noir vinified white, and 7% Pinot Noir vinified red, this Grand Cru Rose Champagne is pretty special stuff. It starts out enigmatic, offering floral and dandelion aromas, followed by a suggestion of raspberry and bitter citrus. These kick up a notch on the palate, where currant and red berry notes mix with citrus and creamy lees for a deep, mouthfilling impression that is clearly defined by racy acidity and clean mineral high notes. Contrasting yet complimentary flavors of berry and mineral linger on the finish. This is a food Champagne with endless possibilities.
Price: $57.99 Add To Cart
ST 92 WS 90

2009 Roc de Cambes, Côtes de Bourg
Review Date: 04-04-2012
Here's one for the cellar. An intense nose of rich dark fruits with sweet tobacco smoke, graphite, and bakers chocolate accents leads to a concentrated, complex palate layered with flavors of rich, dark fruits, savory herbs, and Asian spice. The toasted hazelnut, spicy vanilla, and nutty caramel calling cards of new French oak are present but superbly integrated, and will continue to fold in with time. Solid tannins and acidity balance everything out, for a wine of exceptional beauty built to go the long haul in the cellar.
Price: $64.99 Add To Cart
ST 91

Blason Isonzo Bianco (3L Bag-in-a-Box) (cannot ship)
Review Date: 03-27-2012
A K&L direct-import, Blason's Isonzo Bianco (3L Bag-in-aBox!) maintains a permanent residency in my fridge whenever it is available, and has done since it first hit our shelves in 2008. Crisp, fruity, and refreshing, the latest release is great. It's the perfect quaffer to enjoy while cooking, as an aperitif, and it's vacuum-sealed packaging makes it great for all kinds of outdoor activities, from camping to picnics to boating. Cheers!
Price: $19.99 Add To Cart

Launois "Cuvée Reserve" Brut Blanc de Blancs Champagne
Review Date: 12-30-2011
This Blanc de Blancs, made from 100% Grand Cru Chardonnay, enjoys cult status in France. The vintage-inspired bottle shape is eye-catching, but what’s inside the bottle is truly brilliant. From Mesnil, the southernmost Grand Cru in Champagne (home to Salon and Krug’s Clos de Mesnil), it has a crisp, mineral-driven nose, with subtle lees and butter undertones and a hint of fennel. The flavors deepen on the palate, expanding to coat the mouth, ending with a long, refreshing finish. It steals the show as an apéritif, accompanied by light, salty snacks, but possesses the depth and complexity to pair with richer foods as well.
Price: $34.99 Add To Cart

ArteNOM "Seleccion 1146" Anejo Tequila (750ml)
Review Date: 11-03-2011
It's official: I am a tequilophile. While everyone has run to jump on the Single Malt and crazy cocktail bandwagon, myself included to a certain extent, I have also quietly cultivated a growing interest in Tequila, not exactly sure where it would take me. Tequila as a spirits category suffers from domination of "big name" fashion brands, and it's a real challenge to find the good stuff in the market that hasn't been gussied up some. However, Tequila turns a corner with Seleccion ArteNom, and I'm on board. This negociant finds the REAL STUFF - grower-produced, unadulterated, terrroir-driven Tequilas - and the experience is revelatory on all counts. While I"m generally more of a Blanco/Reposado gal, this Anejo, with its super light golden color and warm, sweetly spicy perfume, won my heart instantly. There are so many layers to this Tequila, it does not whop you on the head with heavy oak and caramel flavors, but rather seduces you with waves of smoke and spice aromas over creamy, buttery intervals. There's tremendous viscosity here, and pepper notes brighten the finish, which seems to go on forever. Wow.
Price: $54.99 Add To Cart

ArteNOM Seleccion 1414 Reposado Tequila (750ml)
Review Date: 11-03-2011
It's official: I am a tequilophile. While everyone has run to jump on the Single Malt and crazy cocktail bandwagon, myself included to a certain extent, I have also quietly cultivated a growing interest in Tequila, not exactly sure where it would take me. Tequila as a spirits category suffers from domination of "big name" fashion brands, and it's a real challenge to find the good stuff in the market that hasn't been gussied up some. However, Tequila turns a corner with Seleccion ArteNom, and I'm on board. This negociant finds the REAL STUFF - grower-produced, unadulterated, terrroir-driven Tequilas - and the experience is revelatory on all counts. Uncharacteristically light in color for a Reposado, 1414 appears almost like a Blanco. It's got a really unique aroma - like baking banana nut bread - and incredible viscosity, with no hard edges whatsoever on the finish. I love the 1079 Blanco for its purity and this 1414 Repo for its character.
Price: $44.99 Add To Cart

Fluteau Brut Rosé Champagne
Review Date: 10-24-2011
Made from 100% estate-grown Pinot Noir from Gye-Sur-Seine, this rosé Champagne behaves almost like a red wine with its deep magenta color, medium body and subtle tannin. Grilling salmon? Smoking a duck breast? Lively acidity and a full mousse lend this wine especially well to pairings with oily fish and savory meat dishes. Served chilled, the tannin in this flavorful and textured rosé also makes it a charming partner to chocolate cake.
Price: $34.99 Add To Cart

Michel Loriot "Marie-Leopold" Sec Champagne
Review Date: 10-24-2011
While most Champagne producers prefer to use the best fruit for the more popular drier styles, Michel Loriot bucks the trend with his off-dry cuvée. This special Champagne is composed of 80% Pinot Meunier and 20% Chardonnay. It presents a nose of fresh-baked pastry, sweet cream, honey and orchard fruit, which broadens to include buttercream-frosted white cake on the palate. The dosage is a home-made liqueur based on pure sugar cane, which contributes to the pure and delicate quality of the sweetness. Though off-dry, full and rich, the high acidity keeps everything fresh and balanced, leaving a stunningly clean finish. If after a full meal you crave something sweet but not too sweet, consider winding down with a glass of this off-dry Champagne. Or, offer it at brunch or an afternoon gathering to accompany cake or cupcakes (especially if buttercream frosting is featured) or other similar baked delights!
Price: $34.99 Add To Cart

Michel Loriot "Authentic" Brut Champagne
Review Date: 10-24-2011
I love this Champagne! It is distinctive and crowd-pleasing all at once. Made from 100% Pinot Meunier, this Champagne opens with a nose of pear and apple, which leads to a leesy palate and creamy, mouth-filling mousse and long, mineral-driven finish accented by a pleasing nutty spice. I have been a fan of this Champagne since it first arrived a year ago and it continues to impress me. It was a pleasure to meet the Loriots at our recent Champagne Tent event in Redwood City; I echo my colleages in my praise of this Champagne. It is a stunning bottle for the price.
Price: $29.99 Add To Cart
ST 90

2009 Aubin Cellars "Verve-Stuhlmuller Vineyard" Alexander Valley Chardonnay
Review Date: 09-07-2011
This balanced, well-made Chardonnay shows green apple and spice in the nose, with underlying creaminess. The palate is medium-bodied, with spice and brioche notes adding complexity to the fruit. Medium + acidity awakens the senses and leads to a refreshing, clean finish. If you have more of a Burgundian palate, but appreciate a little roundness and drinkability, give this new effort from Aubin Cellars a chance. They are off great start here, and we're excited to see where they take it!
Price: $16.99 Add To Cart

Latitude 50 N Sekt Trocken Rosé Rheingau
Review Date: 05-06-2011
I was pleasantly surprised by this dry sparkling rose from Germany, made from Portugeiser, dDornfelder and Pinot Noir. It has delicate and and high-toned red fruit aromatics, and the palate is textured, fruity, and broad but framed with great acid structure. I enjoyed this immensely with a charcuterie and Spanish cheeses, where the acidity, fruit, and subtle earthy notes of the wine complemented the savory, salty, and earthy flavors of the food, and the acidity cut through the fat. An excellent food wine!
Price: $15.99 Add To Cart

Bruno Michel "Blanche" Brut Champagne
Review Date: 02-28-2011
Whether you are looking for a special bottle to pop open to toast an occasion, or to give as a gift to a Champagne-loving friend, few options rival the Bruno Michel Blanche Brut in balance, sophictication and class for the price. Lemon curd and subtle toasty notes on the nose lead to a layered palate held together by mouthwatering acidity and layers of leesy flavors. Dry and incredibly balanced.
Price: $49.99 Add To Cart

Deligeroy Cremant de Loire Brut
Review Date: 12-16-2010
It's finally back in stock after months of waiting! My favorite Champagne look-alike, the Deligeroy Cremant de Loire, is a must for entertaining. However, it is also sophisticated enough to stand on its own as an apertif, gift for a sparkling wine lover, or simply as a bottle to share with someone special. The blend of Chenin and Chardonnay provide floral and mineral aromatics as well as weight and a backbone of refreshing acidity; Cabernet Franc adds complexity and fruit notes. A no-brainer this holiday season, but with this sparkler on hand, any reason is an excuse to celebrate!
Price: $11.99 Add To Cart

Fleury Blanc de Noirs Brut Champagne (1.5L)
Review Date: 09-22-2010
This is one of my all-time favorite Champagnes, suitable for any occasion. The nose offers a medley of berries and baked puff pastry. The palate is full and round, with ample fruit supported by balanced acidity. The finish is very dry and long, with lingering berry and mineral notes. Even longer-lived out of magnum!
Price: $79.99 Add To Cart
BH 90

1996 Pichon-Baron, Pauillac
Review Date: 09-21-2010
Right now the 96 is dark and brooding, very leathery and still pretty wound up. There is a lot of good stuff here- savory, meaty notes, dark fruit, minerals galore - but the wine still has a way to go before revealing its full potential. Resist opening this now - but it you must, plan for a half day (at least!) of breathing time.

Fleury Blanc de Noirs Brut Champagne
Review Date: 08-27-2010
This is one of my all-time favorite Champagnes, suitable for any occasion. The nose offers a medley of berries and baked puff pastry. The palate is full and round, with ample fruit supported by balanced acidity. The finish is very dry and long, with lingering berry and mineral notes. Divine!
Price: $39.99 Add To Cart

1999 Lanessan, Haut-Médoc
Review Date: 06-16-2010
The 99 Lanessan is a beautifully mature Bordeaux. It is silky on the palate, with well-developed fruit flavors, accented by notes of leather and earth. At $20, it might be one of the best values in the store today - a must-try for any wine lover.
Price: $19.99 Add To Cart

Quartz Reef "Methode Traditionelle" Brut Central Otago (Biodynamic)
Review Date: 03-03-2010
Wow! Here we have a classy, traditional method sparkling from cool-climate Central Otago that can give some competitors in Champagne a run for the money. With a complx nose of minerals and creamy lees, lemon and leesey flavors and creamy texture on the palate, and clean, refreshing acid on the finish, there is a lot to love in this bubbly. For the price, it is simply outstanding. If you are looking for an elegant sparkler to serve at a wedding reception or other large party, I highly recommend giving this a try.

Jean-Louis Denois "Tradition" Extra Brut Reserve
Review Date: 02-19-2010
If you are looking for quality sparkling wine that is produced in the image and style of Champagne but more budget-friendly, try this brut from the Languedoc. Made from classic Champagne grapes Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, harvested at low yeilds to preserve quality, this French sparkler is crisp, dry and refreshing, with green apple and citrus flavors backed by a leesey texture, creamy mouthfeel, and delicate mousse. The finish is long and clean. Perfect for a wedding or other celebratory occasion! Your guests will thank you.
Price: $14.99 Add To Cart

Noah's Mill Kentucky Bourbon Whiskey (750ml)
Review Date: 11-06-2009
This Bourbon is distilled to proof, which means that no water is added to bring the proof down after distillation. The benefit (and joy) of this is that when you drink it on the rocks, it changes dramatically with each sip as layers of flavor are unleashed by the melting ice. It starts out with intense, earthy aromas of peppercorn and chocolate, which are echoed in the mouth at first sip. What struck me about tasting this Bourbon for the first time was how the flavors exploded with intensity in the mouth without the sensation being hot or burning, as can happen with such a high proof spirit. Each sip thereafter was a surprise, as chocolate and vanilla became toffee, became hazelnut, became sweet soy and even some stone fruits made an appearance. What fun!
Price: $54.99 Add To Cart

Kanbara "Bride of the Fox" Junmai Ginjo Sake (720ml)
Review Date: 07-28-2009
For an accessible sake that has a forward nose of bananas and tropical fruits, with creamy, nutty undertones, the Kanbara "Bride of the Fox" certainly promises to please a crowd. Don't let the fruit-driven aromas fool you, however - this sake is structured and very well balanced. The smooth finish hints at sweetness, which is ideal for pairing with a variety of sushi rolls, especially the more complex ones featuring spicey and umami flavors.
Price: $32.99 Add To Cart

Ginga Shizuku "Divine Droplets" Junmai Daiginjo Sake (720ml)
Review Date: 07-28-2009
A very elegant sake, driven by delicate aromas of almond, sweet cream and lychee fruit. The palate is tangy, and shows more of a white pear flavor. Overall, this is a dry sake with mineral structure and acidity, that hints at saltwater taffy on the long, dry finish, and would be ideal with sashimi.
Price: $64.99 Add To Cart
ST 94

Sorelle Bronca Prosecco di Valdobbiadene Extra Dry
Review Date: 05-19-2009
I am impressed by this prosecco's delicate, fresh mousse, lively minerality, and mouth-watering green apple flavors. Can you smell sunshine? It's in there too. Perfect bubbles for summer. Or in the middle of winter, when you want to be transported to summer. Makes a wonderful, lighter alternative to Champagne, too.
Drink from 2007 to 2007
Price: $17.99 Add To Cart
W&S 90

J. Laurens Brut Cremant de Limoux
Review Date: 04-10-2009
Cremant de Limoux, the AOC for budget-friendly Champagne-esque sparkling wines, is in itself cause for a toast. The NV Cremant de Limoux, J. Laurens Brut is one of our most popular party bubblies. It looks like Champagne with sparkly light gold and a lovely bead. Creamy mousse and delightful yeasty/toasty flavors on the palate. Bone dry, and at only 12% abv,this is a no-brainer for a big event, but can make Monday night special too!
Drink from 2009 to 2009
Price: $13.99 Add To Cart

Schramsberg "Mirabelle" California Brut Rosé Sparkling Wine
Review Date: 02-15-2009
Schramsberg has a special place in my heart as it was the place where I started my career in the wine business. If you haven't visited Schramsberg, I strongly recommend you do - tucked up in the hills just south of Calistoga, it is a historical landmark with some of the oldest caves in the Napa Valley, and it is one of the only places where you can see the traditional (and highly labor-intensive) methode champenoise process of making sparkling wine without going all the way to Champagne. Mirabelle is Schramsberg's non-vintage label. Composed of 64% Chardonnay and 34% Pinot Noir, this June '08 release of the rosé might be the best yet: clean and crisp, it exhibits a nose of fresh strawberries and very very subtle vanilla notes. The palate is vibrant, amplified by a fine mousse and delicate flavors of red berries and sweet-cream that I want to describe as...flirty? Try one and see for yourself.
Drink from 2009 to 2009
Price: $20.99 Add To Cart
RP 90

Caveau du Mont July Bugey Cerdon Rosé
Review Date: 12-09-2008
I really love this wine! I can't drink beer (it is very sad, I know - allergies) but this Bugey Cerdon makes up for it by being a wonderful, low alcohol, just off-dry, refreshing, food-friendly, frothy sparkler. Yes, it has it all. Lower in alocohol, it is perfect for brunch or luncheons, as well as complicated mid-day meals like Thanksgiving or Christmas, where it simply works with everything. You will be the hit of the potluck if you bring this baby, but (as I learned the hard way) bring more than one...it disappears very fast.
Drink from 2008 to 2008
Price: $15.99 Add To Cart

More Favorites

Chiara Shannon is also a fan of the following items. To become a fan of Chiara Shannon, click here to join Chiara Shannon's Personal Sommelier Service.
2009 Léoville-Barton, St-Julien ($129.99)

2009 Clos du Marquis, St-Julien ($64.99)

2010 Malmaison, Moulis ($19.99)

2009 Capbern Gasqueton, St-Estèphe ($24.99)

2000 Terrey-Gros-Cailloux, St-Julien ($29.99)

Egrot (formerly Elisabeth Goutorbe) Brut Champagne ($34.99)

Billecart-Salmon "Brut Reserve" Champagne ($44.99)

2004 Pichon-Lalande, Pauillac ($129.99)

1989 Chasse-Spleen, Moulis ($89.99)

2005 Verdignan, Haut-Médoc ($24.99)

2008 Bruno Michel "Les Roses" Brut Rosé Champagne ($59.99)