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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2014 Patz & Hall "Dutton Ranch" Russian River Valley Chardonnay
Review Date: 07-27-2016
Great Chardonnay from a great source! This is not a big, fat, buttery and clumsy wine. This wine has beautiful fresh Chardonnay aromas; precise and perfectly ripe fruit, without a trace of over ripeness. A shining wine in perfect balance. The nose says California but the brightness, freshness and dry finish remind me of fine Puligny Montrachet. A lovely combination and top quality California Chardonnay for more than fair price. Bravo!
Price: $37.99 Add To Cart
WE 95 RP 93

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 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
Price: $2,799.99 Add To Cart
JS 100 RP 98 - 100 WE 98 - 100
VN 95 - 97
Limit of 6 per customer

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

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 Siran, Margaux
Review Date: 05-04-2016
The commune of Margaux was without the a doubt the “Star Commune” in 2015 because damn near every wine we tasted was very good. But if you ask me for the greatest overall wine for the money it is Ch. Siran. We visited owner Edouard Mialhe here a few years ago and have been watching his wine continue to improve; I think his 2015 will be the wine that brings Ch. Siran back to the forefront of the marketplace. The wine has beautiful sweetness in its ripe fruit, good richness and weight, fine mid palate texture and a lovely finish! By far the best wine from Ch. Siran I’ve ever had. This is a marvelous bottle of Margaux at a great price!

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!

2015 La Tour Carnet, Haut-Médoc
Review Date: 05-04-2016
Tasted it twice, same note: black as night, huge wine with deep extraction, serious fruit and tannin. A wine that lovers of big California Cabernets will enjoy

2015 Ormes de Pez, St-Estèphe
Review Date: 05-04-2016
The very pure black-red fruits are indeed very tasty and the tannins are nicely rounded. Tasted twice and it showed like the great value it is both times.

2012 L'Avocat Rouge, Graves
Review Date: 12-12-2015
As is the case with their Blanc, this is serious wine, not for the weak and timid. Textbook Graves wine, strong deep fruit with hints of cherry, cassis and earth. Decant a couple hours to drink young, and it will age very nicely. My house red for years!
Price: $14.99 Add To Cart

2013 l'Avocat Blanc, Graves
Review Date: 12-12-2015
A fantastic value! This wine from Nicola and Sean Allison is made in what I call "serious style" which means it is rich, intense and expressive. If you are like me and love high end Bordeaux whites, like Domaine de Chevalier and Smith Haut Lafite, you will love this at a fraction of the cost! It is my house white year round.
Price: $14.99 Add To Cart

2007 Bodegas Puelles Rioja Reserva
Review Date: 12-02-2015
Wow...this is flat out a lovely bottle of wine which has developed beautifully and is in a delicious place right now after 8 years. Soft, sweet fruit with hints of cherries, black licorice, earth and herbs. The tannins have softened and are now in complete harmony reflecting perfect balance. Very impressive and great tasting wine for $20.00...
Price: $19.99 Add To Cart
RP 90

2014 Domaine de Biéville (Louis Moreau) Chablis
Review Date: 08-14-2015
Wow this is an incredible deal! Touch of tart green apple, lots of minerality , super clean and brisk! Real Chablis at 15 bucks and just fantastic at this price. This will absolutely be added to my "House White" selection at home.
Price: $16.99 Add To Cart

2014 Pétrus, Pomerol
Review Date: 06-26-2015
Good, strong, red apple and black cherry fruit; not heavy or over-extracted in any way. Classic style with racy acidity; a powerful finish with fine tannins. Not a plush Petrus. ** Two stars

2014 Pichon-Lalande, Pauillac
Review Date: 06-02-2015
Lots of lovely, exotic, grapey fruit; elegant and precise. Tasty, with a long finish. Pichon-Lalande is back in a big way after complete reconstruction of the vinification facility and the way the fruit is handled. Two stars. **

2014 Lafite Rothschild, Pauillac
Review Date: 06-02-2015
Sweet, saturated red-black fruits on the nose; in the mouth, red fruits and chocolate. Good middle texture and long, polished tannins.  Everything in perfect focus and balance—just lovely. Two and a half stars!

2014 Alter Ego de Palmer, Margaux (1.5L)
Review Date: 05-07-2015
While the first wine is all power and a bit closed on the nose the opposite is on display here. Incredibly attractive aromas of black fruits and violets, classic claret as it is firm and fresh. Lots to like! 1 Star

2014 Duhart-Milon, Pauillac
Review Date: 05-07-2015
Duhart Milon- Strong dark wine with deep fruit, flavors of blackberry jam and grilled meats, good middle fruit and tannin control. More flesh and lots to like here. Very good and better then Carraudes de Lafite. 1.5/3 Stars

2014 d'Armailhac, Pauillac
Review Date: 05-06-2015
d'Armaillac- Lovely upfront sweet red fruits, very attractive, with nice thick middle fruit and good tannins. The Mouton wine you can drink young and it is a winner! 1 Star

2014 Clerc-Milon, Pauillac
Review Date: 05-06-2015
Clerc Milon- Definitely in the classic style of Mouton but with a touch more forward sweet which is nice, but is still very concentrated. Long serious wine and should be one of the great aging values. 1.5 Stars

2014 Capbern, St-Estèphe
Review Date: 05-06-2015
78% Cabernet Sauvignon 100% Delicious! Loaded with deep red fruit, fine balance, serious wine and very tasty. Could be the best value of the entire vintage.

2014 Palmer, Margaux
Review Date: 05-03-2015
A very serious and strong Palmer. Intense dark fruit with boysenberry hints, zesty and spicy. Complex, powerful, linear, and long in the mouth; this baby needs time! ** 2 Stars.

2014 Lynch-Bages, Pauillac (1.5L)
Review Date: 05-03-2015
Bright and floral zesty red fruits greet you, followed by direct and tightly focused spicy Cabernet fruit on the palate. Like the Baron wine, not much flesh here. * 1 Star.

2014 Lynch-Bages, Pauillac
Review Date: 05-03-2015
Bright and floral zesty red fruits greet you, followed by direct and tightly focused spicy Cabernet fruit on the palate. Like the Baron wine, not much flesh here. * 1 Star.

2013 Palmer, Margaux
Review Date: 09-08-2014
Lovely rich entry on the palate followed by strong, firm, masculine, red black fruit with great precision. Built to lay away for 10-20 years.**

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 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

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2005 Pontet-Canet, Pauillac ($179.99)

1999 Lynch-Bages, Pauillac ($149.99)

2005 Pichon-Baron, Pauillac ($179.99)