Staff Favorites - Ralph Sands

Ralph Sands
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Ralph is the senior Bordeaux specialist on the sales staff. In between trying to break into professional baseball, Ralph was picking up hours at a K&L store in Millbrae. Back then it was more about kegs and cheap booze, and both Ralph and K&L have evolved since that time. Since those long ago days in 1978, Ralph has visited his beloved Bordeaux 37 times, evaluated 19 straight vintages and has escorted over 200 customers to Bordeaux on his "Taste and Golf the Greats Tours of Bordeaux". Ralph has also conducted tasting seminars in 9 different states as well as in France, Spain and Hong Kong. Ralph's passion for wine reaches far beyond Bordeaux; to the fine wine regions of Burgundy, Loire, Rhone, Germany, Oregon and of course his home state of California.


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2016 Latour-Martillac Blanc, Pessac-Léognan
Review Date: 05-24-2017
Ch. Latour-Martillac ...Tasted twice and impressive both times. “Good, deep, broad, old vine fruit from front to back. Great texture, rounded tannins and long finish. The best wine I have ever had from L-M, surpasses the impressive 2000! 2 Stars! I really love it, and when you look at the prices of the finest wines from this area like Smith and Haut Bailly, this wine offers phenomenal value for the money!

2016 Angélus, St-Emilion
Review Date: 05-23-2017
”Pure nose of deep, old vine Merlot, strong sweetness and structure, deep raspberry fruit, powerful and lush with great concentration and persistence throughout the long finish. Great, great, wine! 3 Stars." Ralph Sands

2016 Beychevelle, St-Julien
Review Date: 05-23-2017
In my opinion the best Beychevelle I have ever tasted! Fresh and effusive, pure blue fruits literally float across the palate with hints of minerals. Beautifully elegant, perfectly balanced and tasty. The comeback wine and 2 Stars!

2016 Croix de Beaucaillou, St-Julien
Review Date: 05-23-2017
Criox de Beaucaillou has great freshness on the nose, high toned silky textured fruit all in perfect balance. This is a WOW 2nd wine and I will be a buyer! 2 Stars. Believe me it is very hard to find a better tasting wine than Les Croix!

2016 Langoa-Barton, St-Julien
Review Date: 05-23-2017
Ch. Langoa Barton…$49.99 Mags $99.99 Langoa Barton has beautifully fresh, spicy raspberry fruit, nice texture, very pretty with all parts perfectly balanced. 2 Stars! Ralph

2016 Palmer, Margaux
Review Date: 05-19-2017
Grand Vin is 47% Cabernet Sauvignon 47%M 12%CF with 65% new oak. The wine starts with sweet, delicious black-red fruits with great viscosity, a bit firmer and stronger than Alter Ego but the tannins are finer and rounder, literally seamless. In my opinion it blows away Ch. Margaux. 3 Stars!

2016 Marquis d'Alesme, Margaux
Review Date: 05-18-2017
2016 Marquis d’Alseme is 70% CS, 30% M, 10% PV. Framed by a super bright, effusive nose of sweet blackberry and blueberry that floats briskly across the palate, this is firm, pure and fresh, linear and so attractive! 2 Stars for the first time!

2016 d'Aiguilhe, Côtes de Castillon
Review Date: 05-17-2017
If you love rich, exotic Merlot and don't want to wait, d'Aiguilhe is your wine, as it is one of Bordeaux's great Right Bankers to drink young. The 2016 is loaded with sweet round fruit and soft textured. Really delicious wine that reminds me of the fantastic 2005. 1.5 Stars

2016 Ormes de Pez, St-Estèphe
Review Date: 05-17-2017
Les Ormes de Pez is a wine that is always one of Bordeaux greatest values from the Lynch-Bages team, especially in a great vintage like 2016: Nice fruity, forward and zesty black fruits, great freshness and bright acidity, really nice tasting Ormes! 1 Star.

2016 Clos du Marquis, St-Julien
Review Date: 05-17-2017
Clos du Marquis was the 2nd wine of Las Cases for 105 years and this single parcel across the D-2 is now bottled on its own. I have collected this great wine since the 1989 vintage as it is always very close in quality to Las Cases. Impressive levels of silky red fruit, freshness and strike, good acid and power. 2 Stars! Outstanding and outstanding value.

2016 Poujeaux, Moulis
Review Date: 05-17-2017
Another 2 Star/Outstanding wine from Ch. Poujeaux! Great nose! Strong, deep, round fruit that displays both the strength of the Cabernet and the great fruit of the Merlot. Great silky texture on the palate and a long strong finish. Serious wine that I will buy again for my collection. Among the greatest buys in all of Bordeaux wine in 2016 that include Cantemerle, Ormes de Pez, Meyney, Goulee and Maucaillou. Ralph Sands

2016 Meyney, St-Estèphe
Review Date: 05-16-2017
2016 much like 2014 is outstanding in St-Estephe and Ch. Meyney is again a fabulous value. Deep, sweet, tasty fruit with hints of chocolate and cherries, lively on the palate. Just superb, 2 Stars!

2016 Pape Clément, Pessac-Léognan
Review Date: 05-16-2017
Love it! 2 stars for now and possibly 3 for Pape Clement Rouge (Very impressive all 3 times tasted. Layers of dark grapey fruit all in good focus and with nice freshness, fine tannins,lenght and great taste!).

2008 Fallet-Dart Vintage Brut Champagne
Review Date: 05-05-2017
This vintage 2008 Champagne is an absolute steal! The wine is so bright and tightly focused. To me it has the intensity of fruit found in the finest 2014 white burgundies and a lovely chalky finish. I could certainly love it right now with a slice of country pate but this wine will really reward time in the cellar and at this price that is where I'm putting it.
Price: $39.99 Add To Cart

2011 Fonseca Late Bottled Vintage Port
Review Date: 05-05-2017
Wow, the greatest port value I have tasted in many years! Super sweet with flavors of chocolate covered cherries and cassis. Beautifully, soft and delicious. Far better than many VINTAGE ports produced in the 70's and 80's. If you have never tried a good port, this is on heck of a great way to start. I will be buying a few to keep me away from my vintage ports.

2015 Bedrock Wine Company "Old Vine" California Zinfandel
Review Date: 05-04-2017
Zinfandel is the wine that hooked me in 1978 and I'm still here! Thank goodness Bedrock is preserving all these great old Zinfandel vineyards. I love the wines and I always have a bottle of old vine sent to my hotel in Hong Kong every November to have with my spicy duck!
Price: $23.99 Add To Cart
WS 93 RP 90

2016 Labégorce, Margaux
Review Date: 05-03-2017
There is absolutely no doubt that the dynamic ownership of Natalie Perrodo and her team of winemaker Marjolaine de Coninck and director Delphine Kolosa have turned Ch. Labegorce and sister estate Ch. Marquis d'Alesme into the hottest values in all of Margaux wine. We tasted this wine 3 times and showed great each time. 2016 Ch. Labegorce is 52% Merlot 38CS 6CF 4PV a big wine with deep juicy fruit with nice richness, good zesty mineral finish. Super Value, 1 Star.

2016 d'Armailhac, Pauillac
Review Date: 05-03-2017
” Ch. d’Armaillac features lively black cherry fruit, racy acidity in a tight, elegant but strong package. 1 Star”.

2016 Capbern, St-Estèphe
Review Date: 05-03-2017
Ch. Capbern is 90%CS Pretty intense, lovely deep red fruit, nice fresh and firm claret. Very nice baby Calon, Superb value. 1 Star.

2014 Tapiz "Alta Collection" Cabernet Sauvignon Mendoza
Review Date: 04-14-2017
Mr. Suckling's note is right on the money, but I think the wine drinks beautifully right now with just a bit of air. Very tasty!
Price: $14.99 Add To Cart
JS 96

2016 Kalinda Reserve North Coast Sauvignon Blanc
Review Date: 03-01-2017
The K&L owners started our house brand Kalinda in the mid-1980s so there have been at least 35 Kalinda Sav Blancs since then with many great successes from top notch estates. This new release may be my all-time favorite. Super clean and shining SB with striking aromatics of light apricot, lime and white flowers. Fresh, crisp and delicious; a fantastic warm weather sipper! Buy it early and heavy.
Price: $17.99 Add To Cart

Wine Club


2015 l'Avocat Blanc, Graves
Review Date: 02-14-2017
Fans of high end Bordeaux Blanc take notice! If you love the likes of Ch. Smith Haut Lafitte, Domaine de Chevalier and Ch. Carbonnieux you will love this at a fraction of the cost. Nicola Allison is a talented winemaker and uses about 30% new oak to round out this delicious blanc that features brisk flavors of lime and green apple and white flowers. This wine has been my house Bordeaux Blanc for years and gives some of the most famous Bordeaux Blancs a huge run for the money!
Price: $14.99 Add To Cart

2014 Domaine de Chevalier Rouge, Pessac-Léognan
Review Date: 02-03-2017
Textbook Dom de Chev! Pure, upfront fruit red fruit with hints of minerals and earth, elegant and as usual perfectly balanced. Lovely wine. Tasted 4-3-15 and again last week in San Francisco 2 Stars from Ralph.

1990 Montrose, St-Estèphe
Review Date: 01-31-2017
Fantastic wine just entering the drinking window, ripe fruit with hints of cheese rind on the nose that tells you its a great one. Good acidity and searing mineral qualities with a hint of iron keep the wine fresh at 25 plus years.
Drink from 2015 to 2015

2009 Tronquoy-Lalande, St-Estèphe
Review Date: 01-15-2017
We at K&L certainly respect the great second growth Château Montrose, the masculine, stoic pillar of a wine that never wavers. But the huge buzz coming from Montrose these days is all about the other wine they make there, located about 100 yards away: Château Tronquoy-Lalande. Very few wines in my 38 years here have had such a meteoric rise in popularity— and it’s all about great taste! The 2009 Tronquoy-Lalande is just loaded with delicious, deep, purple-blue fruit—I wish I could have this wine in stock forever! Hundreds of cases already sold and it’s our last shot at this beauty.

2012 L'Evangile, Pomerol
Review Date: 07-27-2016
This is one of the greatest wines of the vintage! The rich, black fruit is sexy, polished and persistent; like a Ferrari. L'Evangile is just a fabulous-tasting wine in any vintage, and this tastes like a great one. 93% Merlot and 7% Cabernet Franc.

2000 Sarget de Gruaud-Larose, St-Julien
Review Date: 07-08-2016
Finding perfectly stored older Bordeaux at a decent price from a good producer is extremely tough and one of the reasons we deal with so many different negociants in Bordeaux. The 1999 vintage was not one of power and concentration like 2000, it was far softer and easier to drink with nice soft-ripe fruit. My notes reflect exactly that as I told Clyde on the way home on the plane from the 1999 evaluation..."I don't think I have ever written down, tastes good so many times for young wines". The second wine of Gruaud Larose from 1999 is drinking beautifully now showing soft, warm, developed herbal fruit flavors with hints of earth and leather. The 2000 is a few years away from the perfect drinking window and is a much tighter, stronger and fresher expression with some nice red current fruit underneath the wood. Both wines are a steal for mature Bordeaux.
Price: $49.99 Add To Cart
WS 91

2015 Smith-Haut-Lafitte, Pessac-Léognan
Review Date: 06-03-2016
Smith Haut Lafitte- 63%CS 33M Round and broad with loads of grapey ripe-sweet fruit that coat the entire mouth with hints of licorice and spice. Long finishing and very tasty. Another delicious SHL! 2 Stars!

2015 Malartic-Lagravière, Pessac-Léognan
Review Date: 06-03-2016
Malartic Lagraviere- Absolutely pure sweet red fruit, a wine of freshness and elegance. Not a hint of heaviness, perfect balance and focus. 2 Stars!

2015 Canon-la-Gaffelière, St-Émilion
Review Date: 06-02-2016
Canon La Gaffiliere- 55%M 40CF 5% CS This is a strong CLG with elegance!. Penetrating red fruit, very precise and focused with firm structure. Needs at least 10 years. 2 Stars!

2015 Palmer, Margaux
Review Date: 05-31-2016
Palmer- 50%CS 44M 6PV One of the most important elements of Bordeaux greatest wines is longevity. The 2nd wine of Palmer is so delicious young it’s amazing; the first wine has all the great fruit but is much more powerful. Strong attack of spicy black-red grapes yields to a deep long wine with masculine tannins. Super serious, classy and regal. 3 Stars

2015 Cheval Blanc, St-Émilion
Review Date: 05-20-2016
Cheval Blanc- 45%CF 55M Elegant, pure red fruit, just superb! Not a hint of over extraction or heaviness; a wine in perfect balance and long finishing. Just delicious! Perfect wine??? Just might be! 3 Stars

2015 Pétrus, Pomerol
Review Date: 05-20-2016
Petrus- Fantastic, effusive aromas of bright red fruits jump out of the glass! Petrus has great purity of fruit followed by good solid tannins with no hard edges. Not heavy in any way, fine freshness and great natural acidity. I wrote down that some great wines are soft and plush, some are powerful and strong, some are a combination of all the great elements; like this one! 3 Stars

2015 Croix de Beaucaillou, St-Julien
Review Date: 05-20-2016
Le Croix de Beaucaillou- The first wine, Ducru Beaucaillou may well be the wine of the vintage and the second wine Le Criox shows you exactly why as it is also fantastic wine! Sleek, racy wine with plenty of black fruits and cassis that explode in the mid palate, it possesses wonderful sweet tannins and texture throughout the finish. Impressive and delicious! For the first time for me…2 Stars!

2015 Branaire-Ducru, St-Julien
Review Date: 05-20-2016
Branaire Ducru- 65% CS 26M Some estates in Bordeaux fit the style of the vintage better than others and in the case of 2015 Branaire fits like a glove. Branaire is always first and foremost about elegance and great taste, and owner Patrick Maroteaux had a big smile on his face when he said that elegance is the calling card of 2015 and I wholeheartedly agree. I tasted it 3 times, with almost exact notes. Beautiful, sweet red fruits of cherry and cranberry, lovely balance, drive and elegance. The whole package and I love it! 2 Stars!

2015 Langoa-Barton, St-Julien
Review Date: 05-20-2016
Langoa Barton- Beautiful, fresh red fruits on the nose and on the palate. This crisp claret styled Langoa is one of the best I’ve ever tasted! 2 Stars

2015 Léoville-Barton, St-Julien
Review Date: 05-20-2016
Leoville Barton- 86% Cabernet 14M Very strong and linear Cabernet fruit for Leoville Barton on display here. Good freshness and purity and feels like lower alcohol. Good wine and an elegant Leoville Barton. 2 Stars

2015 Pontet-Canet, Pauillac
Review Date: 05-20-2016
Pontet Canet- The lively bright purple fruit is so very pure and tasty! Lots of blueberry and black currant fruit with great freshness and delicious taste. Nice elegance, no hard tannins, perfect extraction. Claret style; which means crisp and fresh! 2 Stars

2015 Valandraud, St-Émilion
Review Date: 05-13-2016
Valendraud- Wow! Super ripe, exotic, big juice with very impressive tannins under control. 2 Stars! Ralph Sands

2015 Pichon-Lalande, Pauillac
Review Date: 05-13-2016
Pichon Comtesse de Lalande- 68CS 29M 2CF 1PV…A far deeper expression here of attractive, elegant blackberry fruit, complex aromas of roses-violets, orange rind and citrus which is always a nice touch. The Comtesse is truly back on top of its game! 2 Stars Ralph Sands

2015 d'Armailhac, Pauillac
Review Date: 05-13-2016
D’Armaillac- Lovely fruit of lively raspberry, very pure, delicious wine with great freshness and energy! I really like it. 1.5 Stars Ralph Sands

2015 Clerc-Milon, Pauillac
Review Date: 05-13-2016
Clerc Milon- Big wine, very dark and deep, closed up Cabernet with good grip. Definitely in the style of Mouton and will require 10 year in the cellar. 1.5 Stars...Ralph Sands

2015 Barde-Haut, St-Emilion
Review Date: 05-13-2016
Barde Haut- Great nose, dark red fruit with some toasty oak and dark chocolate tones. Very Nice! 1 Star

2015 Pape Clément, Pessac-Léognan
Review Date: 05-11-2016
Pape Clement- 56%CS 40M 4CF- As always this wine has very deep, sweet , black- red fruit with an exotic touch and lots of oak. The key here is that the fruit is very pure, the wine is perfectly balanced and the finish goes on and on. Clearly one of the stars of the vintage! 2 Stars from me!

2015 La Tour de Mons, Margaux
Review Date: 05-11-2016
La Tour de Mons- 47%CS 56M 6PV The Margaux appellation excelled in 2015 and when this estate gets it right as they did in 2005, 2009, 2010 and again here in 2015 it is truly a textbook Margaux and an amazing value. Bright, elegant, red-blue fruit all in absolutely perfect balance float across the palate as a great wine from Margaux should. This will be a delicious young drink! 2 Stars for Value!

2015 Alter Ego de Palmer, Margaux
Review Date: 05-11-2016
Alter Ego de Palmer- This wine has just killed me in the last few years; I just love it! 52% M 42%CS 6% PV. This wine just may be the best tasting wine in Bordeaux over the last 10 years running. The old vine Merlot here at Palmer makes a spectacular wine with such delicious sweet fruit it is hard to believe it does not go into the first wine. Rich, black-red fruits with a little grip; so tasty, attractive and regal! The only problem with Alter Ego is that it tastes so good it’s hard to stay away from and not drink it all young! 2 stars from me.

2015 Malescot-St-Exupéry, Margaux
Review Date: 05-11-2016
Malescot Saint Exupery- I am 100% agreement with K&L Vice President Trey Beffa when he says that Malescot is a candidate for Wine of the Vintage! 70% CS Tasted twice and outstanding both times, at the Chateaux… Deep, silky and sexy! Loaded with fruit… Cherries-Kirsch and Cassis! More accessible than Palmer, sweeter, rounder fruit than Ch. Margaux, just outstanding! 3 Stars! At the Joanne tasting of 170 wines…sweet, round and lovely! 3 Stars again. Bravo to my golf partner and owner Jean Luc Zuger who gets 3 Stars for making a great wine and for having the sense to price the wine where wine lovers can afford to drink it!

2015 Fleur Cardinale, St-Emilion
Review Date: 05-04-2016
This wine shows you all the flashy, attractive merlot fruit and oak you could ever want without spending hundreds of dollars! Definitely new world-international in style and just flat-out delicious!

2015 Berliquet, St-Emilion
Review Date: 05-04-2016
Very attractive fruit, not overdone in any way, very pure with nice balance. This wine is from the talented team of Nicolas Thienpont and Stephane Derenoncourt and may well end up being one of the right bank's best values.

2015 Poujeaux, Moulis
Review Date: 05-04-2016
2015 Poujeaux is a perfect example why this wine has been a top selling wine here for decades. Beautifully polished, ripe sweet fruit with classic structure. The kicker here is the exquisite balance this wine always possesses. A serious wine of great taste; along with Cantemerle a candidate for the best value in left bank Bordeaux wine!

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