Staff Favorites - Bryan Brick

Bryan Brick

Reviews

2014 Black Kite "Soberanes Vineyard" Santa Lucia Highlands Chardonnay
Review Date: 08-03-2017
The Black Kite Soberanes Vineyard is just that. A big wine, for big Chard fans but there is a twist. While most “big” Chards come more from winemaking in the cellar than anything else this wine gets its largesse from the vineyard itself. The Soberanes Vineyard is a superstar in the making, after all it is jointly owned and farmed by the two biggest names in the area-The Pisoni and Franscioni families-and still is growing out of its youthful power. With about 40% new oak and full malolactic fermentation this certainly has a frame of a certain ilk but the fruit, the raw materials, of this wine override it with splendid fig, baked apple, pistachio ice cream and hints of lavender. Never losing its granitic minerality this wine has a counterbalance to all that size and that is really what keeps this from going too overboard.

2013 Thomas Fogarty Santa Cruz Mountains Pinot Noir
Review Date: 08-03-2017
Do not let the fact that this is the “entry level” Fogarty Pinot Noir fool you. This is outrageous wine, entirely under-valued and full of Pinot greatness. From numerous estate and non-estate sites Tom Jr. and Nathan Kandler have quilted together a wildly expressive wine that speaks of the Santa Cruz Mountains. From numerous sub-regions of the appellation this includes fruit that was grown from 400-2,600 feet elevation and that mountainside structure pulls this wine along seamlessly. Light, tangy and full of crunchy, red fruited snap it is worth the price of admission just to experience the playful tension between ripe pomegranates, plum and white cherry fruit and the zesty acid that Pinot Noir is known for from the area. But then comes the loaded finish that has chaparral, white floral and sage components that will leave you wanting glass after glass. In the world of crazy priced Pinot Noir these days this wine strikes out as something incredibly special.

2014 Quintessa Rutherford Bordeaux Blend
Review Date: 08-03-2017
The folks at Quintessa have been on quite a roll lately. For the last few vintages their iconic Cabernet bottling has been one of the best in the valley and after a recent visit I better understand why. Not only do they have a tremendous estate in Rutherford that they farm organically but they spare no expense and are dedicated down to the smallest detail to make the best wine they possibly can year after year. Aged in 80% new French oak this wine is labeled as Cabernet but also has small amounts of Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot and Carmenere in the final blend and to me it speaks more of the great Left Bank Bordeaux of the last two decades than of the sometimes excessive Napa Cabs over the same time frame.
Bursting with floral intensity and with a underlying core of amaro, and black fruited concentration this vintage seems a bit more lifted and spiced aromatically than either the ’12 or ’13 vintages at this stage. “Pretty” was the word that I kept coming back to in my notes as this wine has a lithe and giving frame full of open, airy berry fruit, crushed flowers, a subtle meaty spice and layered plum and cassis tones. This was like breath of fresh air not only for Napa Cab but also for the warm 2014 vintage for me as the vigor and energy of this wine is going to be hard to beat. I wouldn’t doubt this wine would be great in 20 years but it is also darn good right now too!

2013 Freemark Abbey Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon
Review Date: 06-20-2017
Another massive value—in a land where those are about as common as free tastings! I was blown away at how much this wine has already formed up and eased into its body and power. Dark, black-fruited notes dominate the nose, with pitchy dried meat, wet blacktop and driving concentration. The palate becomes more plush and juicy, with a pleasing core of both red and black currants, sweet oak, tangy olive and laurel notes. Large-scaled and full of umami savor, this is what the 2013 vintage is all about in Napa.

2015 Flowers Sonoma Coast Chardonnay
Review Date: 06-19-2017
With how popular the Chardonnay from Flowers already is it still boggles my mind that it isn’t even more popular. I’ve used this wine for a few years now as one of the quintessential Chardonnays of the US. It rides a lovely middle line without sacrificing flavor, complexity or quality and is never “dumbed down” to be so likeable across so many different palates. The 2015 shows the intensity and concentration of the vintage while never losing the house style of framing pure varietal Chardonnay flavors of honeyed pear and nectarine under a nose of raw cashews and shelled pecans and the sea foam/briny highlights of the far Sonoma Coast. This wine is truly a standard bearer in the world of Chardonnay.

2014 Provenance Rutherford Cabernet Sauvignon
Review Date: 04-06-2017
One of the top selling wines of 2016 at K&L was the 2013 Provenance Rutherford Cabernet. It was a wine that perfectly nailed the mix of value, quality, drinkability and label recognition. That combination led us to sell out of hundreds of cases in a matter of days. Needless to say we were very excited about the release of the 2014 vintage from Provenance, we bugged our distributor relentlessly to get the wine in front of us as soon as it was released, and we love what is in the bottle! Where the 2013 vintage of this wine really pushed the boundaries of ripeness, weight and polish the 2014 takes a much more classic approach. In fact this reminded me much more of some of the great wines of historic Napa producers like Heitz, Freemark Abbey or Duckhorn, which makes sense being that long term and founding Duckhorn winemaker Tom Rinaldi founded Provenance back in 1999.
With a pretty brick-ish ruby color and aromatic hues of red currant, chaparral, sage brush and sweet tobacco this is more an exercise in subtlety without sacrificing concentration. With a sappy and round entry and smoothly sanded edges this has all the texture of the 2013 just none of the glycerin driven bombast. Add fully formed flavors of sandalwood, Rainier cherry, hallmark “Rutherford Dust” and pipe tobacco and this is one classic Napa Cabernet that will not break the bank.
Price: $34.99 Add To Cart
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2013 Thomas Fogarty "Estate" Santa Cruz Mountains Chardonnay
Review Date: 03-22-2017
The 2013 Thomas Fogarty Santa Cruz Mountains Chardonnay is 99% Estate fruit and 100% delicious. From all five Estate blocks this emanates from the glass with blanched almond meat, husked wheat, whole hazelnuts and fried polenta. Bright and energetic with a plush core of golden fruits and Shitake mushroom this shows both the power and savory intensity so often though of from SCM Chardonnay. Add Macadamia nut flesh, some forest floor flavors and fresh green herbs to the long and resonating finish and you really have a special Chardonnay that is not just built on texture and wine making but on the amazing raw material that Fogarty has to pull from. This really reminded me of a top flight St. Aubin at its very best but with Corton structure. Wouldn’t that be something?

2014 Maison L'Envoyé "The Attaché" Willamette Valley Pinot Noir
Review Date: 03-22-2017
Made from some of the best vineyards throughout the Willamette Valley: Croft, Hyland, Eola Springs, Bishop Creek, amongst others this Pinot is about as close to a “can’t miss” for not only Oregon Pinot Noir lovers but for any pinotfile out there. It probably doesn’t hurt that Louis-Michel Liger-Belair is the consulting winemaker here either. Blue fruited and with a pretty this has the aromas reminiscent of the forests of the Valley in the morning, wet/warm earth, evergreen and wild mushrooms with blackberry and fresh fennel. The complexity here is off the charts and is only rivaled by the equally interesting and irresistible palate. Slick and high toned, plush and sexy this wine has it all with flavors of fresh blueberry, loganberry, Chanterelles mushroom and a subtle but lasting oak spice. The best thing about this wine is that it is so drinkable, so approachable that it will be equally loved by your wine snob friends as it will be by your, well let’s just call them your less discerning friends.

2014 Martinelli "Bella Vigna" Sonoma Coast Chardonnay
Review Date: 03-16-2017
One of the biggest surprises on our recent trip to Sonoma was just how fresh and lovely the wines of Martinelli are. Gone are the days of super-extracted, high-alcohol Pinot and Chardonnay (don’t worry, the Zins are still as monstrous as ever), as we found there to be a lot more restraint and overall balance to the wines. A perfect example is the 2014 Martinelli “Bella Vigna” Chardonnay. Pretty, integrated oak plays nicely with milled corn and peach flesh on the nose with good lifting notes of lemon curd at its edges. Weighty but far from dull, this has just the right amounts of butterscotch, orange marmalade and dry honey that snowball and dovetail nicely into the soaring finish.
Price: $39.99 Add To Cart

2013 Brassfield "Eruption - Volcano Ridge Vineyard" High Valley Red Blend
Review Date: 10-21-2016
Big, loamy and full of massive and bursting flavors, this wine is packed to the brim with aromas of India ink, pastilles, blackberry candy and a slight bloody character. Entering juicy and broad, the name Eruption is a bit literal—this impresses with black cherry, anisette, wild berry preserves and has quite a bit of umami savor. Ramey’s touch on the finish shows with a classical dryness and spice rather than what so many wines of this ilk do, which is pack in the sugar. This is certainly not a classic claret, or Cabernet -styled blend, but it could certainly take the place of one on a dinner table without much argument from most.
Price: $15.99 Add To Cart
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2013 Dierberg "Dierberg Vineyard" Santa Maria Valley Chardonnay
Review Date: 06-08-2016
Dierberg has long been on our radar as a tremendous vineyard site where other producers made great wines from. After the success of their 2012 Estate Chardonnay I think they have finally transcended from an up and coming grower to a full fledged winery to watch out for. The 2013 is even better and more fully integrated and formed than the 2012 vintage was at this point. Persimmon, pie crust and apricot fill the nose that has substantial heft with out excessive oak. Those rich, almost oily, tones that fill the nose are instantly counterbalanced by the Bosc pear flesh, lemon curd and orange marmalade that are found on the entry. Gaining polenta-like richness and a pretty honeysuckle lace as it rolls over the palate this is a pretty and balanced Chard rather than one that hits you over your head with its intensity. I found this way too easy to drink and full of friendly accessible character.

2013 Turnbull "Oakville" Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon
Review Date: 03-04-2016
Big, powerful and extracted, this new vintage of Turnbull Oakville is just a blockbuster of a wine. Dripping with rich, gooey liquored cassis and kirsch fruit, this has all the forward intensity that one could want. With softness at the edges of the dense, tarry, olive, mocha and fresh mint found on the mid-palate, this is a huge mouthful of wine. Enjoyable in its baby fat now and fully formed to last well over a decade, this is deftly done and rare in its simultaneous richness and balance. Turnbull has been on a great run lately and this wine continues to push them into rarefied air in Napa.