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.


Reviews

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2017 Capbern, St-Estèphe
Review Date: 05-18-2018
The new team at Calon Segur is doing an outstanding job and we love to taste there, but it seems in the last few years the first thing we all say to each other as we leave is...DAM that Capbern is good!! Really nice, attractive fruit that is spicy and fresh, tough to beat for the price and for drinking young. Ralph Sands

2017 Branaire-Ducru, St-Julien
Review Date: 05-18-2018
We tasted Branaire 3 times and it was delicious all 3 times. Brilliantly fresh, pure and extremely elegant with red fruits of cherries, cranberry and cassis, fantastic balance and finish. This is one of the stars of the vintage and the epitome of elegance. Ralph Sands

2017 Pape Clément, Pessac-Léognan
Review Date: 05-18-2018
2017 Ch. Pape Clement is a blend of 49%CS 48M 2PV 1CF. Lots of dark, concentrated black fruit on display here with plenty of structure and oak. This wine will need cellaring. Ralph Sands

2017 Cantemerle, Haut-Médoc
Review Date: 05-18-2018
A solid and classic Ch. Cantemerle. Strong and fresh fruit, showing some toasty oak and structure.

2017 Malescot-St-Exupéry, Margaux
Review Date: 05-18-2018
If you have been buying Jean Luc Zugar's Ch Malescot in the last 10 years you are very smart. He continues to make outstanding wine that rival's the best wines in Margaux at nowhere near the price. The 2017 has a lovely nose of fresh grapes, on the palate it is sweet and supple, with a little grip on the finish and great tasting. Ralph Sands

2017 Clinet, Pomerol
Review Date: 05-18-2018
Again in 2017 Ch. Clinet makes a delicious wine that is never hard and that always exhibits plenty of exotic black fruit. There is no question that Clinet is the best buy in all of Pomerol wine. For a comparable wine you, I believe you have to look at the great wine of Ch. L'Evangile and it's sky high price. Ralph Sands

2017 Domaine de Chevalier Rouge, Pessac-Léognan
Review Date: 05-18-2018
2017 Domiane de Chevalier Rouge is a blend of 63%CS 30M 5PV 2CF. Another textbook DDC, attractive and elegant, round and plump, sweet red fruit all in perfect balance with no hard edges. Another delicious wine from the Bernard family. Ralph Sands

2017 Beychevelle, St-Julien
Review Date: 05-17-2018
Once one of Bordeaux greatest names, the wine here had slipped badly, but the new wines and winemaking facility at Beychevelle has everyone buzzing about Beychevelle. The 2017 features perfectly extracted, elegant blue fruit that floats seamlessly across the palate in perfect harmony and a nice mineral finish. Beychevelle is definitely BACK!

2017 Barde-Haut, St-Emilion
Review Date: 05-17-2018
If you are under the impression that you cannot get great wine and great value from St-Emilion you need to know about two ancient estates that are making great wines in completely renovated wine making facilities with exceptional winemakers, Ch. Barde Haut and Tour St-Christophe. Amazingly these estates look directly at each other. Director Helene and winemaker Patrice Leveque are firmly on top of their game quality wise; there 2017 is 80% Merlot 20% Cab Franc and is extremely fresh with ripeness that borders on the exotic and a nice hint of chalk on the finish. Delicious wine and fine value!

2017 Alter Ego de Palmer, Margaux
Review Date: 05-17-2018
I tell customers all the time that the very best tasting wine in all of Bordeaux in the last 10 years for the money is without question Alter Ego de Palmer. The 2017 is 53% Merlot 41% CS and 6%PV Really lovely, grapey black fruit and very zesty and lively all across the palate to the finish. The 17's at Palmer like so many wines in 2017 are precise, forward and lower in alcohol. 9,000 cases produced. Very nice wine! Ralph Sands

2015 de Chantegrive Rouge, Graves
Review Date: 04-25-2018
A great value as well as an outstanding example of the fine 2015 vintage that will arrive all year long here at K&L. Firm, fresh fruit with hints of cherries and chocolate, serious and tasty little wine for under $20.Ralph Sands
Price: $17.99 Add To Cart
JS 92 JD 91

2015 Domaine Thomas Morey Bourgogne Blanc
Review Date: 02-14-2018
Absolutely fantastic quality for the price from the great vintage of 2015. Lovely, fresh aromas of ripe Chardonnay with hints of green apple all in perfect balance. It exhibits fine middle fruit richness and texture reminiscent of far more expensive White burgundies. If you love expensive white Burgundy, this is a great weekday white Burg; if you are not sure if you like good white Burgundy here is a chance to taste a beauty and only for $20.00 ! My highest recommendation. Ralph Sands
Price: $19.99 Add To Cart

Ariston Aspasie "Carte Blanche" Brut Champagne
Review Date: 12-23-2017
This is absolutely incredible Champagne for the money! Deeply flavored, intense and powerful it is in the style of Bollinger and Krug at nowhere near the price and I love that!
Price: $27.99 Add To Cart

2015 Capbern, St-Estèphe
Review Date: 12-05-2017
Within seconds of tasting Ch. Capbern at Calon Segur on April 2nd 2016 the entire K&L team was in full agreement to buy all we could get our hands on! This is a wine of great freshness and fruit, and will be joy to drink young. A Fantastic Value! Ralph Sands

2014 Domaine de Chevalier Rouge, Pessac-Léognan
Review Date: 09-01-2017
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.

2016 Malescot-St-Exupéry, Margaux 12-pack in OWC
Review Date: 08-05-2017
Noon at Ch. Malescot. One wine to taste with Jean Luc Zugar. 55% CS, 37% M, 6% C,F 2% PV. The 2015 was a 3 Star beauty and the 2016 is again a fabulous 3 Star wine. Perfectly extracted ripe grapes and great tasting, fine blance, tannins and long finishing. 3 Stars and also by FAR the greatest value for great Margaux wine.

2016 Malescot-St-Exupéry, Margaux (1.5L)
Review Date: 08-05-2017
Noon at Ch. Malescot. One wine to taste with Jean Luc Zugar. 55% CS, 37% M, 6% C,F 2% PV. The 2015 was a 3 Star beauty and the 2016 is again a fabulous 3 Star wine. Perfectly extracted ripe grapes and great tasting, fine blance, tannins and long finishing. 3 Stars and also by FAR the greatest value for great Margaux wine.

2012 Pauillac de Latour, Pauillac
Review Date: 06-16-2017
The 2012 Pauillac de Latour exhibits the sweet, forward fruit that is the hallmark character of the extremely underrated vintage. Nice and round with no hard tannins so it can enjoyed young with an hour decanting. Very tasty for young Latour! Ralph Sands
Price: $79.99 Add To Cart
JS 90
Limit of 24 per customer

2016 l'Evangile, Pomerol
Review Date: 06-10-2017
2016 L' Evangile is just loaded with big, sweet dark fruit with great purity. Silky smooth texture on the palate with a super-long finish! This is fabulous wine and right there with Petrus, which is a bit firmer. 3 stars!

2016 Phélan-Ségur, St-Estèphe
Review Date: 05-31-2017
2016 Ch. Phelan Segur- Tasted twice and delicious both times. Phelan is a lovely early drinking 2016 which is always its forte. Beautifully fresh wine with elegant sweet fruit, perfectly balanced. Great value, 1 Star. Ralph Sands

2016 Malescot-St-Exupéry, Margaux
Review Date: 05-31-2017
Noon at Ch. Malescot One wine to taste with Jean Luc Zugar. 55%CS 37M 6CF 2PV “The 2015 was a 3 Star beauty and the 2016 is again a fabulous 3 Star wine. Perfectly extracted ripe grapes and great tasting, fine blance, tannins and long finishing. 3 Stars and also by FAR the greatest value for great Margaux wine.”

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 Lynch-Bages, Pauillac
Review Date: 05-24-2017
2016 Lynch Bages 75 CS 19M 4CF “Sweet ripe red and black fruit, raspberry, cassis with glossy oak. Great freshness as well as concentration, a classic strong claret with great fruit. Jean Michel compares it to his legendary 1989; my first vintage in Bordeaux (killer wine says CB), a 3 Star wine and vintage! Ralph Sands

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 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 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 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 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

2012 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.
Price: $17.99 Add To Cart

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 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!

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 Canon, St-Émilion
Review Date: 05-31-2016
Canon- 72%M 28CF You have to go all the way back to 1982 to find a Ch. Canon that rivals this wine. In 2015 Canon takes its place alongside VCC, and La Consiellante as the greatest wines of elegance in 2015. Beautiful red fruit with spice, rich middle fruit in perfect harmony and a super clean dry finish. This is a complete wine with great freshness, perfect extraction and by no means sweet. This is a great dry wine, without huge opulent fruit that is all the rage theses days, it is all about perfect balance; a mirror image of the legendary 1982. 3 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 Angélus, St-Emilion
Review Date: 05-20-2016
Angelus- This wine shows you exactly why Angelus was elevated to Premier Grand Cru Classe A. This is a great wine that is just loaded with deep, round exotic fruit that screams of raspberries! A big wine with lovely rounded tannins you can barely feel! While the wine is big it features great freshness from the superb Cabernet Franc in 2015 and the exquisite balance that will insure a long life. 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 Giscours, Margaux
Review Date: 05-20-2016
Giscours- 60% CS 32M 5CF 3PV The two estates under the direction of Alexander Van Beek continue to improve and have really hit the sweet spot in 2015. Giscours is one of the strongest wines in terms of power and aging potential while still keeping its Margaux elegance. The strong, sweet, and deep masculine fruit is pretty flashy and has nice plush middle fruit texture that is not always present in this wine. Serious wine, along the same lines as Ch. Palmer and my guess is that it will $200 less money per bottle. No question, one of Bordeaux greatest values! 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

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