Staff Favorites - Joe Manekin

Joe Manekin
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Joe arrived at our doors in February 2007 from far away, Washington, DC to be exact. Just so no one gets the wrong idea, though, he was merely earning a living in DC; Joe’s cultural identity, as well as his professional sports allegiances and, when he has a few drinks in him, his accent, are all Baltimore through and through. After working on the wholesale side of the business for nearly 4 years, Joe decided that he wanted to work wine retail with the best, so he emailed Cindy Westby at K&L and the rest is history. While Joe is well versed in a number of wine regions, he most enjoys the wines of Europe, though he is growing increasingly interested in the great wines of the Santa Cruz mountains. When he is not at K&L, Joe enjoys cooking, traveling, catching up on The Wire, doing occasional PR, booking and recording work for reggae band JohnStone (www.johnstonemusic.com), and writing for his wine, food and music blog, Old world Old School (www.oldworldoldschool.blogspot.com)


Reviews

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2017 Château Léoube Côtes de Provence Rosé
Review Date: 06-19-2018
Juicy, refreshing Provençal rosé is plentiful around these parts this time of year. That said, you need to remember that popular styles of wine represent opportunities for new entrants, and there will always be a range of quality out there. Chateau Leoube is very well made, everything you would hope for in a crisp, light red fruited rosé from the south of France. Hints of fennel pollen and herbs add complexity to this easy to drink rosé.
Price: $21.99 Add To Cart
DC 95

2016 Kaiken "Ultra" Malbec Mendoza Las Rocas
Review Date: 06-19-2018
Kaiken's wines have long been on our radar, and over the past few years have been getting better and better. This 2016 vintage shows the ripe, juicy quality of Vista Flores fruit: huckleberries with sweet florals and gentle, rounded tannins. The 12 months of French oak barrels contributes hints of grilled bread and vanilla, but does not overwhelm the fruit here. A very approachable, fruit forward Malbec to drink now and over the next several years.
Price: $17.99 Add To Cart
JS 94

2012 La Fortuna Brunello di Montalcino
Review Date: 06-19-2018
The La Fortuna style is on full display here: nicely expressed red fruits, some savory/sweet earth, and well integrated tannins. In the 2012 vintage, these elements are all well balanced. Whether you are looking for a tasty, well priced Brunello, or you are looking to dip your feet into this DOCG for the first time, La Fortuna is a solid choice.

2015 Mount Langi Ghiran "Cliff Edge" Shiraz Victoria
Review Date: 06-19-2018
According to many, this is one of the top five Shiraz producers in all Australia. Judging by the quality of this sub $25 bottling, I can see why. Pure blue fruit shows intensity and freshness, with a subtle underlying littoral forest aspect - not full on eucalyptus but definitely a little bit. The tannins are incredibly supple, and as delicious as this wine is now, it has both the balance and the stuffing for improvement in bottle.
Price: $22.99 Add To Cart
JH 96 VN 92

2015 Calera "40th Anniversary Vintage" Central Coast Pinot Noir
Review Date: 06-19-2018
I really like the style of this Pinot Noir: bright fruit, generous but texturally light, refreshing, delicious. while it does not include fruit from the Calera estate, it does include some serious central coast vineyard site, including Bien Nacido, amongst others. For under $25, you won't do much better for Pinot Noir from anywhere. Great stuff!

2015 Ritual Chardonnay Casablanca Valley
Review Date: 06-18-2018
I was seriously smitten by this humble, sub $18 Chardonnay, so much so that I thought we should probably email you about it; it might be the best Chardonnay for under $20 which I have ever tasted here. This delicious Chardonnay is the result of a beautiful, coastal terroir, featuring lots of decomposed granite, some heirloom Wente clones originally planted 25+ years ago, and a winemaker in Rodrigo Soto who studied how to make Chardonnay with none other than David Ramey. There is a bright, rich, mouth filling, palate of citrus and stone fruit, with explosive acidity, along with the perfect combination of texture and freshness, which I associate with Wente clone Chard. Compare this Chardonnay to pricier ones from more expensive real estate (Sonoma Coast, Russian River, St. Aubin) and prepare to be very pleasantly surprised!
Price: $17.99 Add To Cart
JS 93

2015 Bodegas Abanico Hazaña Viñas Viejas Rioja
Review Date: 06-18-2018
A crisp, brightly fruited, well delineated and surprisingly lively Rioja for this warm and dry vintage, the Hazana surprised me with its structure, tastiness and overall balance, particularly for a Rioja at this price. The nose brings together spicy notes with plummy fruit, leading to a palate with tasty dark fruits and plum skins, and an underlying, subtly earthy/savory quality, perhaps owing to the 15% portion of Graciano blended in. It seems as though the fruit was picked for acidity first and foremost, with good flavor development and no overripe qualities. This is easy to drink and priced to drink in quantity. Me gusta, me gusta mucho!
Price: $10.99 Add To Cart
JD 91

2006 Bodegas Casa Juan Señor de Lesmos Reserva Rioja
Review Date: 06-13-2018
Faithful as ever, this latest release of Señor de Lesmos Reserva is dee-licious: spicy on the nose, it is also more high toned aromatically and on the palate, with fresh and dried red fruits taking the lead. Non fruit notes of sandalwood and subtle wood smoke combine with the fruit on the palate, though at 12 years young this wine shows a bright and vivacious quality which I absolutely love. While it´s not the blockbuster Reserva that they produced in 2001, or the structured, slightly rustic and wild ride of 2005, I quite like this 2006, perhaps the most refined and fresh reserva I have tasted from Casa Juan. Finally, I´ve mentioned it before but it bears repeating here: if it´s value and ageability you´re after, Señor de Lesmos produces my picks for the best value ageworthy red wines in all Spain.
Price: $19.99 Add To Cart

Woodinville Straight Bourbon Whiskey (750ml)
Review Date: 06-13-2018
The Woodinville label proudly states "real craft whisky" and I would encourage you to buy a bottle and taste the bourbon inside it; you will likely agree that it is indeed real, and craft, and delicious! I'm not sure whether it is the fact that they grow their own grain, include an important portion of rye in the mash bill, or simply that they just know what they're doing with distillation and ageing, but this has to be one of the most exciting new Bourbons I have tried in a while. The nose suggests vanilla pastry cream and roasted peanut shells, leading to a Bourbon that is sufficiently sweet, but also well framed by spicy barrel notes. Highly recommended.
Price: $36.99 Add To Cart

2014 Mount Eden "Estate" Santa Cruz Mountains Chardonnay
Review Date: 06-13-2018
There are those who believe that this is one of the top three Chardonnays in California--and I'm inclined to agree with them. This is a beautiful Chardonnay, a wine that for a long time has been so dialed in, consistent, structured and faithfully delicious, that it's entirely possible to take it for granted. Aromas initially show a buttery, kettle corn quality, with fruits that after time, begin to emerge. On the palate, the focus, drive and acidity of the fruit really shines, and more than holds up to the discreet barrel notes. This wine has length for days, and though it is delicious now, I'd love to check back in on it six years from now. Kudos to Jeffrey Patterson and crew for continuing to make one of the world's great Chardonnays!

Domaine Pacory 15 Year Old "K&L Exclusive" Domfrontais Calvados (750ml)
Review Date: 06-12-2018
Seriously delicious Calvados, the Pacory combines intense butterscotch on the nose with wonderful fruit and some captivating, pungent, long barrel aged volatile notes as well. The flavors are so powerful, and my notes - likely for lack of the appropriate descriptors - simply read, "long, long, long!" Great stuff.
Price: $79.99 Add To Cart

2013 Mount Eden "Estate" Santa Cruz Mountains Cabernet Sauvignon
Review Date: 06-12-2018
Serious wine! The 2013 Mount Eden SCM Cabernet is yet another example of the seriousness, freshness and structure of the best 2013 vintage Cabernet Sauvignon. Lovely savory and green components add interest to the fruit on the nose, leading to a spicy palate of bright black cherry, cranberry, kirsch and American oak spices. It is all tied together with balanced tannins and succulent acidity, which should assure this wine of a nice long life ahead in bottle. This is fantastic Cabernet, one of my favorites year to date.

2014 Mount Eden "Estate" Santa Cruz Mountains Pinot Noir
Review Date: 06-12-2018
A perennial top quality California Pinot, Mount Eden's 2014 PN shows quite forward and intense red fruits on the palate. I found the wine to be direct and straightforward, not yet unfurling layers of complexity but clearly possessing the usual good stuff for this bottling. While I'm sure many people will love it now, I would love to see it shed some of its baby fat and gain some more poise and complexity, which I'm sure it will in due time.

2015 Beaumont, Haut-Médoc
Review Date: 06-12-2018
Always a generous and fruit forward bottling, very popular with our customers, Beaumont continues to deliver the goods in the highly regarded 2015 vintage. Scruffy dark cherry fruits show a level of richness and extraction that is perhaps punching above its weight class at this price point.

2015 Lanessan, Haut-Médoc
Review Date: 06-12-2018
Got to love Lanessan! While this Haut Medoc property has invested and made some notable improvements in the winery over the past 8 or so years, I think it's important to note that whether it's the earthier 99's or 01s, or perhaps the slightly funkier back vintages of the mid 90's and earlier, these wines are amongst some of our absolute favorite Bordeaux values and have been for years. There is a snappy, slightly brushy, red currant quality to the fruit in this 2015, in an elegant, fresh frame that brings to mind the type of Bordeaux I would love to be served by the glass at a neighborhood bistro. Delicious young, and as I noted earlier, this has a fine track record of improving in bottle for many years. A must have Bordeaux for your table and your cellar.
Price: $19.99 Add To Cart
JS 93

2014 Castello di Volpaia Chianti Classico Riserva
Review Date: 06-12-2018
Produced from some of the highest elevation vineyards in the Chianti Classico zone, Castello di Volpaia is solid in 2014, with a profile that is authentically of the region, while bringing a softened, savory roundness which should appeal to folks who are new to Chianti. Aromas are spicy/sweet and savory, with gently warmed dark cherries in the lead, which carry over to the palate, picking up some plum flavors as well. Less acid, a little less earthy and astringent than many other Chianti Classico wines, this Riserva bottling is a nice taste of Toscana from a venerable Chianti producer.

2015 John Duval "Entity" Shiraz Barossa Valley South Australia
Review Date: 06-12-2018
This Barossa Shiraz surprised and impressed me. I was impressed by the intensity of flavor while still retaining great balance, and surpirsed by the focused, juicy and lively quality to the mixed berry and blue fruit flavors. Introduced by lovely cassis notes on the nose and buoyed by a hint of eucalyptus on the palate, this is a Shiraz with admirable freshness and fruit purity, a wine that should please plenty of palates to be sure.
Top Value!

2014 Oakridge "Over the Shoulder" Cabernet Sauvignon Yarra Valley Victoria
Review Date: 06-12-2018
As with the others in the series of Oakridge "Over the Shoulder" rugby inspired bottlings, this wine is varietally spot on, well balanced, built to go extraordinarily well with food. Unlike its stable mates, however, this Cabernet is not only reasonably priced but practically being given away at $10. Red fruited, with a spicy, slightly herbaceous quality on the palate, this is honest Cab from a very good producer we import directly ourselves. Recommended.
Price: Hidden View Price

2017 Frenzy Sauvignon Blanc Marlborough New Zealand
Review Date: 06-12-2018
Sauvignon drinkers, take note: this is a solid value in an everyday priced bottling from Marlborough, New Zealand. Aromas are relatively reserved for kiwi SB, with savory and green components. On the palate the fruit is juicy, clean and gulpable. One sip shows a citrus character, with sharp, appley malic acid on the next. For under $11, this crispy and refreshing Sauvignon Blanc should do the trick!
Price: $10.99 Add To Cart
W&S 91 WS 90

2016 Taylor Fladgate Vintage Port 6-pack in OWC
Review Date: 06-06-2018
Oh man, he's 100 on it! While I'm generally a more conservative scorer than Mr. S, I must admit that I too find the 2016 Taylor Fladgate Vintage Port to be flirting with perfection. There is a certain reserve, structure, and elegance to this wine that not only speaks to the house, but also to a vintage which saw plenty of precipitation in the winter, a late bud break and ultimately, a relatively late harvest under ideal, cooler conditions. While the wine is initially quiet on the nose, it does open up on the palate to delicious, bright dark fruits, with the intensity, poise, persistence and seriousness of a classic Taylor. Exquisite. The only thing better than laying down a few bottles would be laying down a few OWC's..
Price: $540.00 Add To Cart
JS 100 VN 97

2016 Cockburn's Vintage Port
Review Date: 05-29-2018
I'm excited that this lesser known house received such high marks. Not simply because we will sell more (we will), but because more port drinkers will realize what a treasure Cockburn is. John Symington (the Symington family recently acquired Cockburn's 3 years ago, adding yet another house to their portfolio) mentions that for a while, up until the second world war, Cockburn's commanded the highest price of all the port houses. Featuring three south facing parcels in the rugged, Douro Superior, this wine is quite aromatic, with ripe damson, mixed berry and candied violet aromas leading to a fresh, relatively drier palate. Fans of Dow's should quite like this style. I think we have a bonafide "sleeper of the vintage" wine in 2016 Cockburn's!
Price: $79.99 Add To Cart
JS 99 VN 95

2016 Graham's Vintage Port (375ml)
Review Date: 05-29-2018
I love the 2016 Graham's. It has a lovely, bright, blue and red fruited aromatic profile, with hints of herbs and mint (a hallmark of the house according to Dominic Symington). On the palate, the generous sweetness is deftly balanced by bright fruit and pitch perfect acidity, perhaps due to the fresh harvest conditions. Graham's also has a tiny bit of 19th century old vine fruit which finds its way into their vintage ports, as well as a notable amount of Sousao blended in, a grape known for its acidity. In short, this is a fantastic Graham's which is surprisingly precocious now, but of course will age beautifully for decades. Half bottles are great formats for vintage ports, where a little wine goes a long way and you sometimes just want to share something delicious and sweet between a couple or amongst a small group.
Price: $49.99 Add To Cart
JS 99 VN 96

2016 Graham´s Vintage Port 6-pack in OWC
Review Date: 05-29-2018
I love the 2016 Graham's. It has a lovely, bright, blue and red fruited aromatic profile, with hints of herbs and mint (a hallmark of the house according to Dominic Symington). On the palate, the generous sweetness is deftly balanced by bright fruit and pitch perfect acidity, perhaps due to the fresh harvest conditions. Graham's also has a tiny bit of 19th century old vine fruit which finds its way into their vintage ports, as well as a notable amount of Sousao blended in, a grape known for its acidity. In short, this is a fantastic Graham's which is surprisingly precocious now, but of course will age beautifully for decades. For anyone who was lucky enough (as my wife and I were) to have a child born in 2016, you should absolutely case up on this.
Price: $540.00 Add To Cart
JS 99 VN 96

2016 Graham's Vintage Port
Review Date: 05-29-2018
I love the 2016 Graham's. It has a lovely, bright, blue and red fruited aromatic profile, with hints of herbs and mint (a hallmark of the house according to Dominic Symington). On the palate, the generous sweetness is deftly balanced by bright fruit and pitch perfect acidity, perhaps due to the fresh harvest conditions. Graham's also has a tiny bit of 19th century old vine fruit which finds its way into their vintage ports, as well as a notable amount of Sousao blended in, a grape known for its acidity. In short, this is a fantastic Graham's which is surprisingly precocious now, but of course will age beautifully for decades.
Price: $89.99 Add To Cart
JS 99 VN 96

2016 Taylor Fladgate Vintage Port (375ml)
Review Date: 05-29-2018
Oh man, he's 100 on it! While I'm generally a more conservative scorer than Mr. S, I must admit that I too find the 2016 Taylor Fladgate Vintage Port to be flirting with perfection. There is a certain reserve, structure, and elegance to this wine that not only speaks to the house, but also to a vintage which saw plenty of precipitation in the winter, a late bud break and ultimately, a relatively late harvest under ideal, cooler conditions. While the wine is initially quite on the nose, it does open up on the palate to delicious, bright dark fruits, with the intensity, poise, persistence and seriousness of a classic Taylor. Exquisite. We went long on 375's as well - perfect for a two people to enjoy a few generous pours each after a meal or with some Neal's Yard Stilton.
Price: $49.99 Add To Cart
JS 100 VN 97

2016 Taylor Fladgate Vintage Port 12-pack in OWC
Review Date: 05-29-2018
Oh man, he's 100 on it! While I'm generally a more conservative scorer than Mr. S, I must admit that I too find the 2016 Taylor Fladgate Vintage Port to be flirting with perfection. There is a certain reserve, structure, and elegance to this wine that not only speaks to the house, but also to a vintage which saw plenty of precipitation in the winter, a late bud break and ultimately, a relatively late harvest under ideal, cooler conditions. While the wine is initially quite on the nose, it does open up on the palate to delicious, bright dark fruits, with the intensity, poise, persistence and seriousness of a classic Taylor. Exquisite. The only thing better than laying down a few bottles would be laying down a few OWC's..
Price: $1,080.00 Add To Cart
JS 100 VN 97

2016 Taylor Fladgate Vintage Port
Review Date: 05-29-2018
Oh man, he's 100 on it! While I'm generally a more conservative scorer than Mr. S, I must admit that I too find the 2016 Taylor Fladgate Vintage Port to be flirting with perfection. There is a certain reserve, structure, and elegance to this wine that not only speaks to the house, but also to a vintage which saw plenty of precipitation in the winter, a late bud break and ultimately, a relatively late harvest under ideal, cooler conditions. While the wine is initially quite on the nose, it does open up on the palate to delicious, bright dark fruits, with the intensity, poise, persistence and seriousness of a classic Taylor. Exquisite.
Price: $89.99 Add To Cart
JS 100 VN 97

2017 Bodegas Chacra "Sin Azufre" Pinot Noir Rio Negro (Natural Wine)
Review Date: 05-24-2018
What an original take on the grape that perhaps more than any other, is so coveted, and whose wines are more passionately debated than any other. I do not anticipate this wine will be any different: a lighter styled Pinot Noir, with 13% abv stated on the label (though I suspect it is a bit less), without added sulphites (as the name clearly states in Spanish). And it's from Patagonia! Anyhow, I love the wine. It smells of fresh fruit, with a European sensibility; we could in fact be in the Loire, perhaps, given the aromatic profile. On the palate, there are wild mixed berries, plums, and less florals than I recall in the 2016 vintage we offered last year. Still, it is a wonderfully original, successfully made wine in the "natural wine" style. If you like more subtle Pinot Noir and/or French wines, simply give this wine a try. For two years running, it's one of the most surprising, delicious wines I have tasted here.
Price: $34.99 Add To Cart
JS 97

2013 Casa Lapostolle "Cuvee Alexandre" Cabernet Sauvignon Apalta Vineyard
Review Date: 05-24-2018
Casa Lapostolle is most famous for their Clos Apalta, a wine which has been selected #1 wine of the year in Wine Spectator and is a rich, dark fruited collectible that sells for over $100 per bottle. While this varietal Cabernet is not the same Cab that goes into that blend, it is from the same neck of the woods, on the Apalta Vineyard, in Chile's Colchagua Valley. Spicy cherry confiture, sweet oak spices and dark chocolate aromas are all well balanced. Given the cooler vintage, the palate profile is nicely ripe, with a stylish, , spicy profile, well framed by the tannins. For a few bucks under $20, this is an impeccably well produced Cabernet that deservedly has a number of loyal fans.

2015 Telmo Rodriguez "Dehesa Gago" Toro
Review Date: 05-06-2018
Toro, the Spanish D.O. region which also means "bull," is known for its local thicker skinned clone of Tempranillo, whose tannins can indeed be fierce. This is one of the examples from the region that gets the balance between fruit, tannin and oak just right - no surprise as the winery is under the Telmo Rodriguez umbrella (we have recently featured Telmo's delicious LZ Rioja, amongst others). Aromas and flavors of sweet red fruits combine with licorice, dried figs and candied citrus peels in the background, with balanced acidity and tannins leaving an overall dry, balanced impression. There is fruit - and plenty of it - but not at the expense of typical regional character or overall balance. This is my early pick for the summer grilling season.
Price: $13.99 Add To Cart
JD 92

2016 Brezo Mencía Bierzo
Review Date: 05-06-2018
If there is an inexpensive red wine more laden with delicious fruit, savory complexity and layered subtlety, I would appreciate if someone would let me know, because I have to say that Gregory Perez' Brezo is tough to beat. Produced primarily from Mencía, a grape variety that thrives in and around the province of Leon, there are also other grape varieties which add spice, complexity and lovely floral notes in this red blend. What Brezo manages to do here is combine the iron, beefy savory quality of a Castillian red, and temper it with the freshness and immediacy of a Galician one; this the essence of great Bierzo. Yours for under $15.
Price: $14.99 Add To Cart
RP 91

2013 Marqués de Murrieta Reserva Rioja
Review Date: 04-23-2018
While 2013 was not easy, for those in Rioja who have serious acreage, an experienced team and the ability to select, there were some incredibly solid wines that were made. Indeed, I have had some great Rioja´s from this vintage. True to the year, this bottling has a a slightly darker pitch to the fruit and a slightly firmer overall feel, without any hard edges. The flavor development is impressive considering its age, with all of the sweetly spicy and savory notes we love in Rioja unfurling in this delicious Reserva bottling. For the price, Marqués de Murrieta continues to be one of our best Rioja´s in stock, and from one of the most consistent leaders in quality and value from the region. Highly recommended!
Price: $17.99 Add To Cart
RP 92

2014 Schlumberger Saering Riesling Grand Cru Alsace
Review Date: 04-22-2018
Please allow me to quickly recap the obvious selling points (Grand Cru under $30! Strong vintage! Riesling, the last world class value white!) before focusing on this particular wine. For starters...damn, does this smell terrific and taste good! In an acid forward vintage like 2014, 'Saering' could very well be an anagram for 'searing, 'as in, 'My, this acidity is searing.' Thing is, great vineyards yield fruit that produces wine which has acidity, fruit intensity, volume and terroir magic, all in perfect balance. All of which are present in this bottle of classically styled Alsatian Riesling. Aromas and flavors remind me of a most delicious fruit salad, one that is particularly heavy on perfectly ripe mandarins. Enjoy with a simple dish of pan fried petrale sole, or something richer like a potato and onion, gruyere and parmesan gratin.

2014 Charles Joguet "Les Varennes du Grand Clos" Chinon
Review Date: 04-16-2018
There are few wines that deliver value as consistently and as convincingly as a well made Loire valley Cab Franc. Joguet is a reference producer of Chinon, one of those benchmarks that not only ought to be tasted by anyone studying for their advanced WSET levels (i.e., taste this and remember it, this is Chinon), but also demands to be cellared by anyone with even a small collection of French wines. To the latter point, the fact that such a delicious - and serious - wine can be purchased for so little money is solely a function of the region and grape variety. The only wine I can think of to demand top quality Bordeaux or Burgundy pricing made from Cabernet Franc is Clos Rougeard, and though Joguet is not as trendy or highly sought after, having recently tasted this particular cuvee, I can't help but think that the quality is certainly right up there. A lovely, deeply foresty and elegantly savory nose (don't worry, there is fruit too) leads to a tense, high toned, chiseled, and well built palate. Decant a while if drinking now and you will not be disappointed, but...the real magic begins 5+ years from now.
Price: $32.99 Add To Cart
W&S 94 WS 92

2014 Tapiz "Alta Collection" Cabernet Sauvignon Mendoza
Review Date: 04-12-2018
*UPDATED 4/12/18. Once I heard that there was one last chunk of this vintage of Tapiz Cab, I was curious to see where the wine would be one year afterwards. Happily, it's developing beautifully, with all the surprising elegance, fruit purity and structure that impressed us so much a year ago. This is your last chance to load up on one of our most popular Cabernet deals of all time, so best to lock down what you'd like before it's gone. Here is my original review from a year ago: Sub $15 Cab is plentiful. In fact, Cabernet at any price point is the most common request we here at K&L get. Cult cab, value cab, cab with bottle age...these are all questions we are well equipped to handle. That said, if you were to ask us for 96 point, pure varietal Cabernet for under $20, prior to this year, we would have had nothing for you. Of course this year, that all changed. So what does the Tapiz taste like? It''s good. Plenty of red fruits and hints of eucalyptus, coastal forest aromas on the nose (those who love hiking on the Marin and Sonoma Coasts will feel right at home) lead to a juicy palate which suggests younger vine fruit, but with a poise and structure lacking in most other $15 Cabs that I've had. That's it. Is it life changing? World beating? We'll let you decide. But is it fairly priced, tasty and varietally true Cab? Absolutely.

2016 Pascual Toso Malbec Maipú
Review Date: 04-11-2018
Ever since the 2006 vintage of Pascual Toso gave our internet servers everything they could handle, we have consistently carried this Malbec and have liked what we have tasted, perhaps a bit more so in some years than in others. That said, we feel strongly that a decade later, this wine has regained some of its mojo. It is every bit as delicious, but updated for the times: fresher, less heavy feeling, not as obviously flavored by oak. As always, this is wonderfully representative malbec, with fresh and plummy fruit aromas, taking a deeper whiff, perhaps a hint of licorice as well. On the palate, it is silky smooth, with fine tannins and a juicy core of fruit. For fans of fruit forward, easy to drink reds, you would be hard pressed to find something tastier at under $10.
Price: $9.99 Add To Cart
JS 92

2013 Fratelli Barale "Castellero" Barolo
Review Date: 03-27-2018
We have loved the past two vintages of Fratelli Barale, though, not surprisingly with these 2013's, I think it's safe to say I will be consummating this relationship with a purchase for the cellar. The Castellero opens with aromas of dark cherries, licorice and cocoa powder, opening up with air to show dried orange peel as well. Bright cherry and almond flavors show greater intensity and persistence than on the normale, and leads me to believe that this will easily age 20 years past the vintage date. Though it is not a waste to enjoy this Barolo young, even at this early stage the wine is well integrated and is already bringing a whole lot to the table.
Price: $39.99 Add To Cart
WE 93 JS 92

2013 Fratelli Barale Barolo
Review Date: 03-27-2018
We all knew we had something special when St. Clair first introduced the Fratelli Barale wines (in the 2011 vintage, I think?) These are classic, softly textured, expressive wines which not only faithfully represent the region, but do so in a comfortable, old school style --without any of the flaws of being overly old school, or the sticker tag shock of being "old masters" old school. This fact combined with the great 2013 vintage, makes this a wine to load up on -- for Piemonte afficionados as well as those who perhaps are just beginning to explore the region.
Price: $29.99 Add To Cart

2013 Giacomo Ascheri Barolo
Review Date: 03-27-2018
For under $25, one could purchase: a bottle of cheap Pinot Grigio at a local Italian restaurant, a commercially made, mass market California Cabernet or Pinot Noir, a fancy bottle of craft brewed beer, or... a bottle of well made Barolo from one of the region's best vintages in modern history. I know where I would allocate my resources! This is delicious, direct, brightly fruited Barolo, with plenty of poise and great cut, something to sink your teeth into now or to cellar mid-term if you are so inclined. To be able to find such a representative bottling from one of the world's great wine regions, in a vintage as successful as 2013, for this low a price, is one of the more compelling buys in the wide world of European imported wines..

2014 Ritual Sauvignon Blanc Casablanca Valley
Review Date: 03-27-2018
A fantastic SB for the money, the Ritual drinks more like a $20 white (and a good one at that) than one that sells for less than $13. One of the things about new world Sauvignon Blanc, is that while the aromatics leap out of the glass, sometimes the palate lacks nuance, volume and subtlety. Given Veramonte's prolonged study of their varying soil types, the careful elevage (this is not your simple ferment in stainless and bottle it quickly job) and few years in bottle, there is no lack of complexity and volume on this wine. Flavors suggest tart kiwi, loquat, and fruits that I don't typically associate with Chilean Sauvignon Blanc. Treat this Sauvignon Blanc as you would a Sancerre and enjoy with your favorite goat cheese and a brightly dressed salad, or on its own while you unwind before dinner. Given its quality and value, Ritual will be a go to, inexpensive white for many of our customers.
Price: $12.99 Add To Cart
JS 93 RP 90

2015 Bodegas Volver "Tarima Hill - Old Vines" Monastrell Alicante
Review Date: 03-19-2018
This is an especially fruit forward, rich and lush Tarima Hill vintage. Whereas past vintages show a bit more of an exotic and spicy oak imprint, the 2015 in my mind is all about the fruit. Just a bit of smoky French oak is quickly overtaken by dense, thickly textured blackberry and black cherry confit. This is a wine that always over delivers for the price, generates tons of repeat orders, and anecdotally, is enthusiastically received by critics, customers, staff, and friends and family alike.

2016 Bodegas Lanzaga (Telmo Rodriguez) "LZ" Rioja
Review Date: 03-12-2018
Immediately after opening one of our recently arrived bottles of LZ , I quickly nosed the bottle and was absolutely floored by the aromatics: juicy peaches, macerated red fruits, almost like a berry and peach cobbler before it goes into the oven. There is a delicately candied quality as well, which leads to a palate that delivers on all the freshness and brightness promised on the nose, with a finish that shows a chalky and tannic quality that you might expect from unoaked Tempranillo grown in a prime Rioja Alavesa village. This is the type of Tempranillo driven field blend, fermented with a portion of whole clusters (which are de-stemmed prior to pressing) that I imagine would be similar to the wine made in the region prior to the large scale introduction of small barrels in the mid to late 19th century. Rioja is in the midst of a renaissance, and fortunately for wine lovers, this time around it's not points, toasty new barrels and triple digit pricing, but brightly fruited, humbly priced yet delicious bottles of wine which are leading the way.
Price: $14.99 Add To Cart
RP 91

2015 Clos Erasmus "Laurel" Priorat
Review Date: 02-27-2018
If we were tell you that you could get a wine with a nearly identical varietal make-up, from similar terroir and made by the same winemaker as a recently awarded 100 pointer - let a lone a 100 pointer with an extensive track record of high 90s to 100 point ratings - at roughly 25% the retail, would you be interested? Moving on from that rhetorical question, I must say that Laurel is a special bottle of wine. It is a dense, richly fruited and mineral accented embodiment of the Priorat, made from biodynamically farmed grapes, carefully fermented with indigenous yeasts and aged in used barrels with a few amphoras thrown in for good measure. Real Priorat from one of the region's founding pioneers in Daphne Glorian, who is still humble even as she continues to makes some of the world's most highly coveted wines. This wine is as delicious an introduction into the Priorat as you are likely to find anywhere.
Price: $49.99 Add To Cart
JD 95

2013 Bodegas Aleanna "Gran Enemigo" Cabernet Franc Gualtallary Argentina
Review Date: 02-27-2018
Several of us were tasting this wine yesterday, when suddenly Kirk exclaims, "I get it, it's the Cab Franc!" What he meant was the importance of the impact of Cabernet Franc in the famous 1st growth amongst St. Emilion estates, Cheval Blanc (we were lucky enough to taste through some of their wines last year). While I don't have a cellar full of Cheval Blanc, I do see the similarity in the floral, intensely fruited, yet impeccably balanced and refined qualities of both wines. Whether it's the grape variety well adapted to its site, the limestone, the deft barrel ageing and winemaking, or some combination thereof, it is clear that this is top quality red wine which should age quite nicely for some years. This is a superlative red wine that has many of us digging deep for the appropriate words to describe it!

2016 Mas Codina Xarel-lo Penedes
Review Date: 02-20-2018
As much as we love their cava and rosé cava, Mas Codina has really raised the bar with their table wines of late: their 2015 Cab is perhaps our most underrated Cab under $15, and this Xarel-lo is fantastic! Xarel-lo is an important component in the cava blend, and while it is increasingly popular when done as a still wine, there are not many versions that show the grape as beautifully as Mas Codina's. Stone fruits, particularly peach, combine with salty minerality and a subtle almond note in this refreshing, easy to drink yet far from simple white. As much as I enjoyed this wine when I first tasted it last year with winemaker Toni Garriga, I have to say that it is absolutely singing right now. Very highly recommended!
Price: $14.99 Add To Cart

2014 Honorío Rubio "Lías Finas" Blanco Rioja
Review Date: 02-20-2018
Our second vintage of the lias finas, the 2014 is similarly driven by an old fashioned aesthetic towards white wine making in Rioja. That and lees, lots of lees. No stirring, simply a large amount acccumulated in a concrete tank. There is barrel ageing too of course, though the oak is nicely integrated and will continue to meld into the background as Lias Finas continues to age in bottle. Aromas and flavors of quince, apricot, and gentle oak spices present themselves over a broad, rich textural frame, which makes this wine complex, delicious, and very food friendly. While this isn't quite as much of a throwback style as his multi-vintage Añadas blend, it certainly is a nod to the old days when patiently barrel aged white Riojas were more the rule rather than the exception. Highly recommended.
Price: $29.99 Add To Cart

2015 Capçanes "Mas Picosa" Montsant
Review Date: 02-19-2018
Capcanes is an excellent co-op, one whose top value Garnacha based wines have always been good, but continue to improve by leaps and bounds. Take for instance this humble bottle of Mas Picosa. For under $14, we have an honest expression of primarily Grenache, with delicious fruit and savory notes of thyme and fresh Mediterranean countryside air. Any fan of reliable old world value reds, from Cotes du Rhone to Tuscany or elsewhere, should love this delicious red.
Price: $13.99 Add To Cart

2014 Benmarco Malbec Uco Valley
Review Date: 02-06-2018
I can see why this earned the trifecta of solid reviews: there is simply a lot to like in this vintage of Benmarco. While the wine does not disappoint fans of Malbec and fans of fruit-forward wines with its rich, forward and plummy fruit, there is more going on than initially meets the palate. Iron-like minerality, pleasant spice, and very well integrated oak round out the palate with complexity and appealing style. A tasty value Malbec that's ready to drink!

2016 Amalaya Malbec Salta
Review Date: 02-06-2018
Every now and then, I come across wines that are not merely tasty, well made, or solid values, but are consistently best in class. Given its back-to-back showing in 2015 and 2016, I'm tempted to place Amalaya in this category. We have spread the word on both the Torrontes and Malbec blends for two consecutive vintages, and I can tell by the enthusiastic hand-selling of my colleagues, as well as your orders/re-orders, that the message has been sent and received! The 2016 Amalaya Malbec has dark fruit, showing a savory and mineral quality, along with a balanced, slightly smoky aspect. The savoriness of this wine seems to be a stylistic hallmark. While we have plenty of year to go, I'm tempted to place Amalaya among our top red wine values going for those who like a medium to full-bodied wine with plenty of fruit, but not at the expense of structure or character.
Price: $11.99 Add To Cart
DC 90 WS 90

2015 Aquitania Cabernet Sauvignon Maipo Valley
Review Date: 02-06-2018
Alto Maipo, the highly coveted portion of Chile's most important Cabernet growing region, is generally a source of fruit for Cabs that retail for upwards of $30, often times going for multiples of that price point. There is definitely something to be said for the alluvial, gravelly soil and relatively higher elevation that this sub-zone is famous for; it makes wonderful Cabernet. The Aquitania has delicious fruit expression, though what stands out most for me are actually the aromatics, red fruited and rather subtly leafy, with hints of black currant as well. Coupled with an elegant and persistent palate, this is what well made Cabernet based wine is all about.
Price: $14.99 Add To Cart
JS 91 RP 90

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