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

  
2013 Wines Of Substance Columbia Valley Cabernet Sauvignon
Review Date: 04-11-2015
One of the best values I've tasted this year! This wine is not simple and soft but has some good fruit and real Cabernet Sauvignon strike that even Bordeaux palates will love. Ralph Sands
Top Value!
Price: $14.99 Add To Waiting List
RP 90 - 93

2010 Torbreck "The Steading" Grenache-Shiraz-Mataro Barossa Valley
Review Date: 03-16-2015
This is a very interesting, complex and tasty blend. The old vine fruit is deep and sweet, but not fruity. Round in the mouth and nicely developed with flavors of kirsch and cassis, interacting with hints of black licorice, smoke and earth all leading to a strong Grenache finish. Like it, and good to go now!

2010 Ostler "Caroline's" Pinot Noir Waitaki Valley North Otago
Review Date: 11-14-2014
A lovely, expressive nose with a nice hint of development. A stylish and elegant Pinot drinking beautifully right now!

2005 Valandraud, St-Emilion
Review Date: 11-06-2014
A great vintage of Valandraud at this price; I am all in! As always, this wine exhibits deep, saturated purple fruit, sweet blackberry fruit on nose with toasty oak. On the palate exotic flavors of chocolate and blackcherry lead to a dry finish. This wine features the hallmark qualities of the outstanding 2005 vintage; purity of fruit, with great acidity and fantastic freshness! Ralph Sands
Drink from 2015 to 2015

2012 Cantemerle, Haut-Médoc
Review Date: 06-24-2014
**V One of the hottest wines in Bordeaux today and for good reason: Cantemerle is a lovely blend.

2012 Cantemerle, Haut-Médoc (3L)
Review Date: 06-24-2014
**V One of the hottest wines in Bordeaux today and for good reason: Cantemerle is a lovely blend.

2012 Cantemerle, Haut-Médoc (1.5L)
Review Date: 06-24-2014
**V One of the hottest wines in Bordeaux today and for good reason: Cantemerle is a lovely blend.

2012 Léoville-Poyferré, St-Julien
Review Date: 06-13-2014
* Another winner! Rich wine with good, long tannins.

2013 Pontet-Canet, Pauillac
Review Date: 05-14-2014
Huge layers of silky, ripe black fruits and the fact that it smells like Zinfandel define this wine! Behind all of this fruit is brisk acidity and a long finish. This wine will be controversial, but it is undeniably super tasty! *½

2013 Pichon-Baron, Pauillac
Review Date: 05-14-2014
Striking aromas of strong Cabernet Sauvignon (82%) jump out of the glass followed by dark, bold, powerful fruit. This wine is classic claret: firm, honest and perfectly balanced. No question, it is one of the top wines of the vintage and one of the best cellar candidates. *½

2013 Branaire-Ducru, St-Julien
Review Date: 05-13-2014
Braniare Durcu- Honest as they come! Bright, fresh, elegant wine with tart cherry fruit. This tasty wine will be a lovely early drink.*

2013 Malescot-St-Exupéry, Margaux
Review Date: 05-13-2014
Big wine with loads of soft, sweet ripe fruit in layers. Good round tannins and lovely finish. Very impressive, tasty, lush wine that will drink well young.**

2013 Labégorce, Margaux
Review Date: 05-12-2014
Everyone should be aware that Delphine Colasa and winemaker Marjolaine Maurice-de-Coninck have turned this estate (and sister Ch. Marquis D'Alesme) around in just a few years; the wines are so much better now! Hats off! Labegorce has attractive-plump Merlot (53%) fruit with cassis, spice and earth. (Marquis d'Alseme is very bright and has more sparkling blue fruits and distinct minerality.) Both are star wines. *

2013 Langoa-Barton, St-Julien
Review Date: 05-08-2014
* Nice freshness, firm elegant wine with hints of cranberry and black cherry fruits. Consistent, tasted three times, classic claret at every tasting.

2013 Rauzan-Ségla, Margaux
Review Date: 05-08-2014
Amazing consistency and what a classy perfectly balanced wine from front to finish. Lovely.**

2011 Cantemerle, Haut-Médoc
Review Date: 05-02-2014
Sweet raspberries and black fruits, very floral, with herbal notes and earth all pulled together by round, firm tannins and a very long finish. Tasted twice. I'm 56 years old and Cantemerle is now my #1 favorite château, and I seriously doubt that will ever change. The reason is simple: great, complex wine, consistent quality and a fair price. A winner every time! **

2012 Pavie, St-Emilion
Review Date: 05-01-2014
* The other St-Emilion estate to elevate to PGC Category A. The terrior here is phenomenal. This has a fine nose of expressive Merlot; it is dark, super sleek and not a fruit bomb. Always a tough wine to taste young, so I will reserve final judgment.

2012 Margaux, Margaux (1.5L)
Review Date: 05-01-2014
** 87% Cabernet Sauvignon, 10% Merlot, 2% Cabernet Franc and 1% Petit Verdot. Lovely aromas of red roses and warm spices. Much rounder and deeper than the Pavillon. May not possess the weight and length of a great vintage, but does have the velvety texture the château is famous for. Lovely, charming and will drink well young.

2012 Margaux, Margaux
Review Date: 05-01-2014
** 87% Cabernet Sauvignon, 10% Merlot, 2% Cabernet Franc and 1% Petit Verdot. Lovely aromas of red roses and warm spices. Much rounder and deeper than the Pavillon. May not possess the weight and length of a great vintage, but does have the velvety texture the château is famous for. Lovely, charming and will drink well young.

2013 Margaux, Margaux (1.5L)
Review Date: 05-01-2014
The nose of a great Ch. Margaux is there, followed by medium-bodied sweetness and impeccable balance. A strict selection of 38% of the crop went into the first wine but is a prime example of how difficult this vintage was. *½

2013 Margaux, Margaux
Review Date: 05-01-2014
The nose of a great Ch. Margaux is there, followed by medium-bodied sweetness and impeccable balance. A strict selection of 38% of the crop went into the first wine but is a prime example of how difficult this vintage was. *½

2013 Léoville-Las Cases, St-Julien
Review Date: 05-01-2014
Serious business, a powerful expression of concentrated reds fruits that are fresh and attractive. The key is the long finish. Great vineyard, great wine. (The Petite Lion is the second wine, a bit lighter in body but super clean and has all freshness as well as nice tannins.) **

2013 Léoville-Barton, St-Julien
Review Date: 05-01-2014
This wine, like so many of the best St-Julien estates is just amazingly consistent. Bursting with masculine, deep purple and blue fruits. Sparking acidity and firm tannins are the backbone. *½

2011 Domaine de Chevalier Rouge, Pessac-Léognan
Review Date: 04-29-2014
Round, sweet and pure red fruits, fine overall balance. A nice, elegant wine. *

2013 Smith Haut Lafitte Blanc, Pessac-Léognan
Review Date: 04-28-2014
90% Sauvignon Blanc, 5% Semillon, 5% Sauvignon Gris. Beautiful aromas of white flowers and vanilla on the nose. Persistent green apple fruit on the palate and throughout the long finish. Another outstanding winner for your chicken dinner! **

2013 Giscours, Margaux
Review Date: 04-28-2014
Record 80% Cabernet Sauvignon in the blend, good, powerful firm fruit with sweet tannins. Zesty acid, serious wine. This estate as well as Ch. Du Tertre are on a fine roll under the direction of Alexandre Van Beek. *½

2013 Smith Haut Lafitte Rouge, Pessac-Léognan
Review Date: 04-28-2014
Smith stays true to their international style by making a deliciously rich and round wine with lots of red-blue fruits and a warm, soft mouth feel. A touch of spice, minerality and tannin on the finish. Lovely mid-term drinker. *

2011 Poujeaux, Moulis (1.5L)
Review Date: 04-23-2014
** It is mind-blowing to me how good this wine always seems to be, especially in difficult vintages, and the 2011 is no exception. Sweet, deep black licorice fruit, with no angles or edges. Everything in fine balance. A complete wine.

2011 Lanessan, Haut-Médoc
Review Date: 04-14-2014
Dark fruit and a touch of pepper. Attractive front to back, with good grip and tannin control.
Price: $14.99 Add To Waiting List

2010 Lynch-Bages, Pauillac
Review Date: 12-12-2013
A long aging Lynch.

2012 Haut-Brion, Pessac-Léognan
Review Date: 05-03-2013
** Established in 1525! The 64% Merlot in the blend pretty much tells the story of 2012. They started to pick the Merlot on Sept 17th and in good conditions. This wine is so delicious, rich but not heavy and seriously grapey. This wine is perfectly extracted with a lovely long finish. I love it.

2012 Pontet-Canet, Pauillac (3L)
Review Date: 05-03-2013
** Established in 1725!There is just no stopping the fantastic roll of quality here! The perfectly ripe blueberry and blackberry fruit is focused and is amazingly fresh! Firm but round tannins and new oak is the framework for this great tasting PC that is accessible and invigorating. Hats off to Alfred Tesseron for giving the world good reason to be excited about buying the best wines made in 2012 as he drops his price to 1/3 the price of his 2009 and 2010 now in the marketplace.
Top Value!

2012 Pontet-Canet, Pauillac (1.5L)
Review Date: 05-03-2013
** Established in 1725!There is just no stopping the fantastic roll of quality here! The perfectly ripe blueberry and blackberry fruit is focused and is amazingly fresh! Firm but round tannins and new oak is the framework for this great tasting PC that is accessible and invigorating. Hats off to Alfred Tesseron for giving the world good reason to be excited about buying the best wines made in 2012 as he drops his price to 1/3 the price of his 2009 and 2010 now in the marketplace.
Top Value!

2012 Pontet-Canet, Pauillac
Review Date: 05-03-2013
** Established in 1725! There is just no stopping the fantastic roll of quality here! The perfectly ripe blueberry and blackberry fruit is focused and is amazingly fresh. Firm but round tannins and new oak is the framework for this great tasting PC that is accessible and invigorating. Hats off to Alfred Tesseron for giving the world good reason to be excited about buying the best wines made in 2012 as he drops his price to 1/3 the price of his 2009 and 2010 now in the marketplace.
Top Value!

2012 Troplong Mondot, St-Emilion
Review Date: 05-03-2013
** This has been one of the Right Banks finest wines for a long time, but was just elevated to one of the 14 Premier Grand Cru Class B estates last year. Vineyards were planted here before the Chateau was built in 1745. An absolute success! The wine is very ripe but not over extracted, it is soft with silky smooth red fruits and round tannins. This is a tasty wine that people will love and give great pleasure young. 2012 at its best, and a great value at a reduced price from 2011 even though the 2012 is a much better wine!

Canard-Duchêne "Authentic" Brut Champagne
Review Date: 03-27-2013
Lovely Chamapagne! Super clean and elegant with a very nice dry finish; a real crowd pleaser and fine value.
Price: $29.99 Add To Waiting List

2009 d'Issan, Margaux
Review Date: 03-11-2013
Soft, elegant, easy-drinking wine.

2009 Branaire-Ducru, St-Julien
Review Date: 02-05-2013
Full of bright, just-ripe raspberries and cranberries, with great freshness, elegance and lovely balance.

2009 Malartic-Lagravière Pessac-Léognan
Review Date: 10-29-2012
Fresh, bright, natural mouthfeel. Tasty. I loved it!

2009 Pape Clément, Pessac-Léognan
Review Date: 10-24-2012
Strong and masculine, with lots of coffee flavors.

2009 Poujeaux, Moulis
Review Date: 10-24-2012
Good, firm, sweet fruit, with fine balance. A great value!

2009 Smith-Haut-Lafitte Rouge, Pessac-Léognan
Review Date: 09-26-2012
Ripe and earthy, sweet and natural.

2005 Coufran, Haut-Médoc
Review Date: 08-31-2011
Deep, firm blackberry and blueberry fruit with good minerality. Direct with very solid structure. Most people will drink wines in this price range young, but this 2005 will age fantastically, so put a few down for the long run. I would decant four hours before drinking now.
Price: $28.99 Add To Waiting List
WE 91 - 93

2007 Latour, Pauillac
Review Date: 08-16-2010
Strong and crisp at front end. Elegant cranberry on palate. Spicy and fresh finish.

2006 Léoville-Barton, St-Julien
Review Date: 06-13-2009
At our tasting bar last month, the topic of the powerful Ch. Léoville-Barton, the great second growth from St-Julien, was in the air even though the wine wasn’t being poured. Many agreed it was one of, if not the, most popular Bordeaux at K&L. Last month we poured their second wine, the 2006 Reserve de Léoville ($29.99) and the grand vin, the 2006 Léoville-Barton ($69.99). Both wines exhibited the classic qualities of the 2006 vintage in general—lots of brisk, high-toned fruit with zesty acidity and firm tannins. The ’06s offer great freshness and most will turn out to be classic clarets, and the 2006 Bartons are, without a doubt, the very best examples of this vintage, as the wines just have flat out more dark purple fruit and depth than almost any other wine. People adore them. I overheard comments like, “these wines are both great,” and, “this is why I buy this wine every year!” The grand vin ages until at least its 15th birthday; I drink the best vintages at 15- to 30-years-old.

2000 Coufran, Haut-Médoc
Review Date: 06-13-2009
Tasting good now at 11 years old, this still enjoys much of the youthful vigor derived from this great and powerful vintage. Stick a few away for another five to 10 years. Decant between two and four hours if you want to drink it now.
Price: $29.99 Add To Waiting List

More Favorites

Ralph Sands is also a fan of the following items. To become a fan of Ralph Sands, click here to join Ralph Sands's Personal Sommelier Service.
2005 Pontet-Canet, Pauillac ($199.99)

2003 Lynch-Bages, Pauillac (stained labels) ($174.99)

2005 Lynch-Bages, Pauillac ($229.99)

1999 Lynch-Bages, Pauillac ($169.99)

2005 Ducru-Beaucaillou, St-Julien ($229.99)