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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2013 Chateau Ste. Michelle "Cold Creek Vineyard" Columbia Valley Cabernet Sauvignon
Review Date: 08-14-2018
A big, old vine driven Cab at a modest $20 price, the Cold Creek Vineyard shows layers of rich dark fruit and savory, scruffy sage brush flavors. While the nose show bright top notes of blue fruit and baking spice from the oak, flavors are definitely dark, chewy, and a faithful representation of Washington's Columbia Valley. I think I can see both long time and newer Cab drinkers getting really into this wine.

Tequila Montejima Blanco (750ml)
Review Date: 08-14-2018
Montejima opens with a clean, salty and straightforward agave driven profile. On the palate, it feels expensive, with a weighty mouth feel that reminds me of several other more famous labels which go for $40 and up. Level up that 'rita or sipping tequila!
Price: $26.99 Add To Cart

2016 Carlisle "Palisades Vineyard" Napa Valley Petite Sirah
Review Date: 08-14-2018
There is no doubt about the pedigree of Palisades Petite Sirah, and boy does it show in this bottle of wine. Loads of dark and blue skinned fruit aromas, with additional notes of graphite and dried tangerine peel , lead to a palate that is broadly structured, vertical, mineral and stacked. It's a real mouthful of wine that does not lack detail or drinkability - now, later, and many, many years later. Strongly recommended heirloom Napa vineyard based wine for your cellar!

2016 Substance "Sunset Vineyard" Columbia Valley Sauvignon Blanc
Review Date: 08-14-2018
From the parched mesa of the interior Columbia Valley, this is ripe and structured Sauvignon Blanc. Do not expect gooseberries, grassiness or for that matter anything on the tropical side of the fruit spectrum. There are rich yellow and citrus fruits, along with an underlying lightly toasted oak note which seems to become less prominent in the glass as the wine opens up and continues to reveal this grape's fresh and refreshing attributes. Tasty, original Sauvignon Blanc!

2011 Roda I Reserva Rioja
Review Date: 08-14-2018
Roda, located one winery up the bend in the road from Lopez de Heredia, has long been at the vanguard of tradition - particularly with their old vine, en vaso trained Tempranillo - and innovation. Theirs are always intensely flavored, aromatic, spicy, densely structured wines. For me, their evolution of late has been to dial back the new barrels and extraction techniques, while not abandoning the focused yet lushly fruited style which continues to make them some of our favorite Riojas. Particularly for those who are used to top quality wines from Napa and the right bank of Bordeaux - where rich, structured fruit bolstered by top quality oak are stylistic hallmarks -Roda's wines will not disappoint. That said, they also have Rioja's thread of chalky minerality and age quite nicely. Roda I is not their most expensive wine, but when well executed as with this delicious 2011, it is my favorite.
Price: $79.99 Add To Cart
JS 98 DC 95

2016 Altovinum Evodia Garnacha Calatayud
Review Date: 08-14-2018
Garnacha is often times cited by winemakers and other industry professionals for its similarity to Pinot Noir, for its ability to take on a variety of flavor profiles depending upon where it is planted, when it is picked, how it is vinified and aged, and so on. At its core, though, Garnacha tends to make fresh, light to medium bodied reds that are incredibly food friendly. At the high end, you have something transcendent like Chateau Rayas - by many accounts a top quality Grand Cru Burg like experience (and often better). At the value end, though Garnacha wins over PN, hands down, 6-0 6-0. If it were little league baseball we would need the slaughter rule. Juicy, fresh, generously fruited wine like Evodia is a perfect example of how good it gets, for very little money spent, with this grape variety.
Price: $9.99 Add To Cart
JD 91

2015 Celler de Capçanes "Mas Donis" Old Vines Montsant
Review Date: 08-14-2018
Let me tell it to you straight: Montant is not poor man's Priorat. Rather, it is the millionaire next door's house red! This is because she (our millionaire next door) recognizes quality and value. Perhaps, as well, given her level of savvy, she knows that Montsant generally is not quite as hot as Priorat, has a wider variety of soil types, including lots of sand, clay, and calcareous sections, lending more possibilities for blending as well as fresher wines with healthy levels of acidity. As you have read, Mas Donis has indeed been re-jiggered for the 2018 and it is a very fine value, better than ever. I strongly recommend it.
Price: $11.99 Add To Cart
JD 92 RP 90

2015 Casarena "Owen's Vineyard" Cabernet Sauvignon Mendoza
Review Date: 08-13-2018
Here's a little known secret, even amongst Cab lovers: Argentina has some really good stuff. While we have talked up the $10-$15 values, there are some fantastic overachieving examples in the $20-$40 range. Take the Owen's Vineyard, for example, whose Lujan de Cuyo (old vine capital of Mendoza) fruit yields this supple, elegantly fruited Cabernet. Perusing my colleagues' reviews, there are no shortage of mentions of "old school Sonoma valley,"old school Napa," and the like. While it makes for delicious drinking, now, this should age well over a 6-8 year window.
Price: $24.99 Add To Cart
RP 94 W&S 93

2013 Negretti Barolo
Review Date: 08-01-2018
I cannot, will not, tire of good Barolo. And given the bounty of 2013 Barolo that has been loaded from winery to port, to Oakland and eventually to us, I am counting myself lucky as a fan of these wines. This latest Barolo arrival from Negretti leads with lovely scents of fennel, turning a bit darker towards licorice, then continuing to open up with scents of blackberries, cherries, almond liqueur, marzipan and top end floral notes. On the palate, the flavors are authoritative, purely and intensely fruity while maintaining great freshness that invites perhaps a slightly larger sip than you might suspect of such a young Barolo. Fantastic stuff.
Price: $34.99 Add To Cart
JS 94

2005 Tullibardine "The Murray" Single Malt Scotch Whisky (750ml)
Review Date: 07-31-2018
At a full cask strength of 56% abv, this beauty manages to be aromatically compelling as well as exquisitely balanced - even before a drop of water is added. Aromas of dried apples, apricots and vanilla pastry cream lead to intense, delicious flavors, featuring plenty of ripe stone fruit that really grip the palate. Without a doubt, this is as original and tasty a highland single malt as I have had in quite a long while. Really good.
Price: $74.99 Add To Cart

Cutty Sark "Prohibition Edition" Blended Scotch Whisky (750ml)
Review Date: 07-31-2018
This venerable, BBR (Berry Bros. & Rudd) created brand is back, and at $15 the price for a go to every day bottle of Scotch does not get any better. The quality is good, really good. As I was joking earlier today, I'd like to think of this as the Scotch equivalent of a Werther's original that grandpa grabs out of his pocket: old school, reliably tasty, not necessarily the latest and greatest but absolutely classic and delicious.
Price: $14.99 Add To Cart
WA 90 WE 90

2008 Nicolas Feuillatte Vintage Brut Champagne
Review Date: 07-31-2018
Like many others out there, we have long extolled the virtues of grower Champagnes. The quality of the vineyard work, transparency of great terroir, and individual stories behind these small, multi-generational houses not only make for easy to tell stories, they often times produce superior wine. That said, I have to hand it to Nicolas Feuillatte, a very large CM (cooperative manipulant) house which produced this delicious 2008 vintage Champagne. All the hallmarks of the 2008 vintage are on full display: intensity of flavor, dry extract, and lively acidity. Coupled with a judicious dosage and appealing underlying yeasty qualities, it makes for a solid value bottle of Champagne. Great vintage bubbles under $45? I'm in!

2015 Felsina "Fontalloro" Toscana
Review Date: 07-31-2018
Shortly after pouring the 2015 Felsina Fontalloro for colleagues and then myself, I nosed the contents of my glass and half listened to the shop talk dispensed around the tasting room. A few minutes later, I was still lost in the aromatics of this beautfiul Fontalloro, and reminded myself that I ought to actually taste it! Macerated wild berries and kirsch flirt together on the nose, which leads to a dense and structured, intensely fruited palate; it's as if Fontalloro and Rancia traded places this year in that the Fontalloro seems like the relative heavyweight whereas I had thought it's typically the other way around? I'm no Felsina expert, but with wines as consistently delicious and rewarding as theirs, I'm happy to continue the work of figuring it all out by tasting. And buying (and drinking).

2016 Villa Poggio Salvi Rosso di Montalcino
Review Date: 07-31-2018
A nicely structured, appealingly firm Rosso di Montalcino, Villa Poggio's 2016 leads with bright red fruits and hints of graphite, opening a bit to retain a rather taut, linear style, with appealing tension. Very good value and style on display here.
Price: $14.99 Add To Cart

2017 Villa Poggio Salvi "Caspagnolo" Chianti Colli Senesi
Review Date: 07-31-2018
A sturdy, mixed berry fruited and slightly foresty Chianti from the Siena Hills, Villa Poggio Salvi brings solid value for the price point. Sure, you can pair with any of your favorite Tuscan inspired dishes, but feel free to mix it up with a marinated skirt steak, grilled sausage or pork burger.
Price: $11.99 Add To Cart

2017 Torti Pinot Noir Pavia
Review Date: 07-31-2018
While some Pinot Noirs are light, floral, subtle, others richer, flashier and more fruit forward, this Torti is neither, with a simple, nearly candied red fruit quality that makes it just about right for drinking on its own or with small bites prior to a meal. Light, fruit forward, easy going Pinot for the summertime.
Price: $14.99 Add To Cart

2015 Domaine de Bila Haut "Occultum Lapidem" Côtes de Roussillon-Villages Latour de France
Review Date: 07-24-2018
This is one big boy, with an impressive display of dark fruits, spice and licorice. It's not fruit only, though, as there is a meaty, almost salty mineral quality to this Roussillon wine. Always popular with our customers, and I can absolutely see why as it's well made, packed with flavor and should cellar well in the short to mid-term.
Price: $23.99 Add To Cart
RP 94

2014 Varner "Upper Picnic Block - Spring Ridge Vineyard" Santa Cruz Mountains Pinot Noir
Review Date: 07-24-2018
A big and ripe Varner PN from this warmer vintage, I was impressed by the flavor intensity in this bottling, though it does not come at the expense of overall balance or interesting savory development. On the nose, ripe fruit contrasts well with foresty notes, leading to a brawny and structured palate of perfectly ripe Santa Cruz mountain fruit. While I'd prefer to cellar this a bit longer, there will undoubtedly be many folks who love the way this wine tastes now for its impressive heft and richness. One more note: while I suspect one of my colleagues and/or a professional reviewer also mentioned it, this is our last chance to enjoy a new release of Varner wine from this special vineyard as they will no longer have access to the fruit, so don't miss out..
Price: $44.95 Add To Cart
RP 95 VN 95

2014 Cristom "Estate" Eola-Amity Hills Pinot Noir
Review Date: 07-24-2018
I visited Willamette Valley in June 2014. We walked the famous Bethel Heights to Cristom walk in the Eola Amity Hills AVA. It was hot and the season was off to a strong but early start, with locals claiming you could nearly see the vines' growth in a single day. Given the conditions, I was surprised how much grace, poise, and Willamette spicy typicity was on display with this bottle of Cristom, a selection of their estate vineyards in a cuvee that is a step up from their Mt. Jefferson bottling. Must be a combination of great vineyards, stem inclusion, skillful blending and time in bottle, but this is a Pinot Noir that is delicious now and will absolutely continue to develop nicely for a while yet.

2009 La Rioja Alta "904" Gran Reserva Rioja
Review Date: 07-24-2018
LRA's 904 bottling is one of, if not the foremost, traditionally styled Rioja Gran Reserva bottling intended for drinking on release, cellaring for the mid, long, or very long term. 2009 was a very good vintage in Rioja, one that benefitted from winter as well as September rains which enabled balanced yet intensely flavored, aromatic wines following a nicely warm and dry summer growing season. If drinking now, please decant or allow this to briefly open up in the glass: the initially strong barrel notes will give way to more layered and subtle fragrance on the nose, and impeccably pure, effortlessly graceful fruit on the palate. A Rioja you cannot be without!
Price: $59.99 Add To Cart
JS 97 RP 95

2015 Felsina "Rancia" Chianti Classico Riserva
Review Date: 07-24-2018
This is an incredibly lively, energetic Rancia, certainly the freshest and most high toned I have tasted of the past few releases we have featured. Bright red fruited aromas also show well balanced spice notes, leading to a fresh palate that -while it is tempting now for your bisteca fiorentina or tagliatelle, sauasage and pecorino -will reward mid to long-term cellaring. A must have.

2016 Mas Codina Xarel-lo Penedes
Review Date: 07-24-2018
As much as we love their cava and rosé cava, Mas Codina has really raised the bar with their table wines of late: their 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. Bright fruits 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

2012 Louis Brochet "Alain" Millesime Brut Champagne
Review Date: 07-24-2018
A terrific bottle of Champagne at any price, let alone for under $35, this 2012 vintage bottle of Louis Brochet is as delicious, convincing and all purpose/crowd pleasing as they come. The intensity, chalkiness and palate presence reminds me of Michel Arnould Champagnes, though as this is "merely" 1er and not Grand Cru rated vineyards, you're getting a vintage Champagne here for very little money. All of us who tasted this could not get over the overall deliciousness and incredible persistence of this wine. Highly recommended.
Price: $34.99 Add To Cart

2015 Domaine du Somail "Vin de Plume" Minervois
Review Date: 07-17-2018
Dark fruited berry aromas show a marked pungency as well. Lots of rich fruit on the front palate is balanced out by a savory, rustic quality and abundant tannins, towards the finish. A countrified, southern French throwback with loads of character!
Price: $12.99 Add To Cart
RP 91

2011 Foundi "Estate" Xinomavro Naoussa Greece
Review Date: 07-17-2018
It's good fun to check out an example of Greece's famous Naoussa wine with a bit of bottle age, as these are wines that lend themselves well to ageing. Here we have aromas and flavors of fresh and dried strawberries, thyme, sun dried tomato and an earthy quality emerging as well. The acidity is well defined and the tannins, appropriate for the grape variety, provide plenty of grip. Think Barbaresco, with a slightly more wild and rustic streak, but also a friendlier price tag! Recommended.
Price: $19.99 Add To Cart
RP 95 DC 91

2016 Arboleda Pinot Noir Aconcagua Costa
Review Date: 07-17-2018
Next level Pinot Noir need not: a.) come from CA b.) come from Burgundy or c.) cost $30 or more. In this case, we have a beautiful, high toned, red fruited, varietally true example from coastal Chile (12 km from the Pacific). I love this wine for its freshness, its linear quality and surprising length on the finish. Professional critics seem to be on the same page with this wine, though unfortunately we only received about one-third of the amount we attempted to order, so this Pinot deal is not likely to be long for this world. That said, we still wanted to spread the news about this delicious, highly recommended sub $20 Pinot from Arboleda.

2017 Domaine des Côtes Blanches Sancerre
Review Date: 07-17-2018
Always a bit juicier and rounder than other comparably priced Sancerre, I feel like in the 2017 vintage these style points are all the more apparent at this domaine. The fruit is rather tropical, nearly heading in a guava like direction, though it still retains good acidity and the overall balance we all hope for in a Sancerre. This is an easy pick to enjoy well chilled on its own, or with a large green salad, a nice loaf of Tartine bread and your favorite Sonoma or Loire Valley goat cheese.
Price: $18.99 Add To Cart
WE 90

2015 Jospeh Faiveley Bourgogne Rouge
Review Date: 07-17-2018
Looking for an attractively priced, everyday red Burgundy? This should be on the list. It's supple and generously fruited, the product of a very good, warm and sunny vintage, and at the same time it is plenty fresh and well framed by tannins, both a given as this is from a consistently solid, historical negociant house in Burgundy. Tasty, textbook red Burg, with a little added 2015 mojo for good measure!
Price: $19.99 Add To Cart
JS 91

2016 Baracchi "O'Lillo!" Toscana
Review Date: 07-17-2018
The beauty of this Sangiovese blend, what really defines it, is the bright, tangy, snappy red cherry fruit, the marked acidity, the pleasant bitterness, the subtle earthiness, in other words...the Sangiovese! While that may seem self evident, too often Toscana blends are overly marked by international grape varieties that do not portray a sense of place. With the O Lillo, we are unmistakably in Toscana, with Sangiovese leading the way.
Price: $16.99 Add To Cart
JS 91

2015 Montes Alpha Pinot Noir Aconcagua Valley
Review Date: 07-17-2018
Chile continues to make great strides with their Pinot Noirs. Having tasted them for over a decade, it's enlightening to see all the progress that has been made, involving everything from vineyard sites, to ideal harvest times, cooperage choices and other winemaking decisions. The 2015 Montes Pinot, sourced from the coastal portion of Aconcagua not too far from the twin coastal cities of Valparaiso and Viña del Mar, shows tasty dark cherry fruits, nicely weighted, with a clean, foresty and subtly savory side. Very well made PN for under $17!
Price: $14.99 Add To Cart
JS 91

2016 Oakridge Estate "Willowlake Vineyard" Chardonnay Yarra Valley
Review Date: 07-17-2018
This one is for hip-hop fans: if Burgundy keeps on making it and California keeps on taking it, then Australia is creating it. In other words, if Burgundy is the origin, and California the sales and marketing muscle, then Australia is the present and the future in terms of what's exciting right now in Chardonnay (for fans of BDP, I will not call anyone out as "faking it," at least not in this forum..) We were all stoked on this bright, focused Chardonnay from nearly 40 year old vines, the oldest in Yarra Valley. Expressive fruit and perfectly balanced acidity are the hallmarks of this bottling from Oakridge. Recommended!
Price: $19.99 Add To Cart
JH 97

2016 Olivier Leflaive Bourgogne Blanc "Les Sétilles"
Review Date: 07-17-2018
While we can wax on cool new stuff for days and days, there is something to be said for the tried and true, branded, consistently delicious wine we sell vintage after vintage. This is one of those wines, a white Burgundy which year after year delivers the goods. Focused, brightly citric and with surprising length, the Olivier Leflaive Les Setilles works as aperitive, accompaniment to pan seared fish, cheese course wine...you name it, it just works, really well. Recommended and likely in short supply in the short 2016 vintage, so grab what you need now....
Price: $19.99 Add To Cart
JS 91

2015 Ritual Chardonnay Casablanca Valley
Review Date: 07-12-2018
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 $18 which I have tasted this year. 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 county and Burgundy, for example) and prepare to be very pleasantly surprised!
Price: $17.99 Add To Cart
JS 93

2015 Fontesteau, Haut-Medoc
Review Date: 07-10-2018
A nose of savory forest underfloor and chewy oak and cedar leads to a dry palate of bistro ready Haut-Medoc. This is not showy, though it will absolutely show well at the dinner table, with fruit, tannins and savory notes all well represented and in fine balance. C'est bon.
Price: $19.99 Add To Cart
RP 91

2013 Villa Poggio Salvi Brunello di Montalcino
Review Date: 07-10-2018
An attractively priced Brunello, this tangy, relatively lighter yet structured Brunello shows tasty fruit, savory mediterranean herbs and good style. It's not a fruit bomb or stacked mid-palate wine (that is not the 2013 vintage in Brunello) but rather a wine that finishes nicely and has suprising, sneaky length as well.
Price: $32.99 Add To Cart
JS 93 WE 91

2015 Domaine de l'Enchantoir "Le Pied à L'Étrier" Saumur Puy-Notre-Dame Rouge
Review Date: 07-10-2018
A fresh and gutsy Saumur, this Cabernet Franc has that combination of refreshing, crispy dark fruits, seeds, pits or pips (take your pick), bright acid driven mid palate and grippy tannins which makes these wines such a natural at table. Slightly meatyand structured, yet ultimately fresh, I'd like this with a burger, steak frites, even a pan seared coho salmon would work nicely, I think.
Price: $16.99 Add To Cart
WS 90

2014 Helen's Hill "First Light" Pinot Noir Yarra Valley Victoria
Review Date: 07-10-2018
This single clone (MV6, also known as the 'mother vine'!) PN bottling from Helen's Hill is delicious and very different from their other single clone, single parcel expressions. Relatively light on its feet, with bright red fruit and clean, foresty aromatics, this is very impressive stuff, transparent, true to varietal and 12.8% ABV.
Price: $24.99 Add To Cart
JH 95

2014 Helen's Hill "Range View Reserve" Pinot Noir Yarra Valley Victoria
Review Date: 07-10-2018
Few and far between are the opportunities to try commercially available, single clone Pinot Noirs, from anywhere. That said, the chance to do so from a top producer and at well under $30 is something you should not pass up. This is the Pommard clone, higher elevation vineyard site, and it is beautifully structured, with savory darker fruit tones and balanced barrel notes that are very well integrated. Dry finishing, 12.8% ABV, super impressive!
Price: $24.99 Add To Cart
JH 96

2016 Kalinda Bourgogne Blanc
Review Date: 07-10-2018
A lovely nose of yellow fruits, accented by erxtremely subtle hints of spearmint and a rounded, leesy quality, leads to a palate where the real magic begins to happen. Brightly fruited, with excellent acidity aligned with a mouth filling, satiny texture, this should be your new house white, as our own Jim Barr's oenophile dogs used to enthusiastically exclaim. As the back label states, this wine is produced and blended specifically for us by one of the more talented, super tiny, ex Paris restaurateurs currently working in the biz in Burgundy. Highly recommended.
Price: $19.99 Add To Cart

2017 Bodegas Colomé Torrontes Valle Calchaquí Salta
Review Date: 07-10-2018
While torrontes will always have a distinctive, pronounced floral quality, it is the Colomé to me which is always the most balanced, focused and interesting expression, with a nose of yellow plums and tarragon, just a hint of a rose water quality as well, which then leads to a fresh and refreshing palate, dry as it always is, but with a well defined mineral aspect as well. This is just a beautiful summer aperitive - for fans of aromatic whites it does not get any better for the price!
Price: $9.99 Add To Cart
DC 93 JS 91

Mortlach 25 Year Old Gordon & Macphail Single Malt Scotch Whisky (750ml)
Review Date: 07-03-2018
This 25 year old expression is nothing flashy or fancy, but rather is the type of perfectly aged Speyside single malt that harkens back to another era of whiskey consumption, before limited releases were promoted on makeshift rocket ships and the like. It's soft, nicely malty and gently honeyed, with just a whisper of peat smoke on the palate. Sort of a wool army blanket of a Scotch, utilitarian but comforting, reliable, and aging really well. Delicious and worthy of a few extra drams.
Price: $199.99 Add To Cart

Jim Beam Bonded 100 Proof Bottled in Bond Straight Kentucky Bourbon Whiskey (750ml)
Review Date: 07-03-2018
Spicy, complete and delicious, this bottle of Beam absolutely hits the spot. With all respect to the craft distilleries who are doing things well, I must say that for everyday value it is nearly impossible to compete with experience and craft, done at scale. For proof in the bottle, might I suggest this bottle of Jim Beam Bonded 100 Proof? Keep it one hunned with this one!
Price: $18.99 Add To Cart

2016 Conreria d'Scala Dei "Les Brugueres" Blanco Priorat
Review Date: 07-03-2018
I remember first tasting this wine about 15 years ago, and thinking that it was cool to be enjoying a white wine from a region where I had heard that it was really all about the reds. While whites are still relatively rare in Priorat, this bottling has made a name for itself. It features old vine Garnatxa Blanca, showing the sort of crisp anjou pear flavors I associate with Spanish renditions of this grape, as well as a persistence and freshness that marks the variety. For anyone inclined to age a few of these, this is a wine that does improve and put on some weight in bottle over the course of several years, sometimes longer. A rare and original white for anyone who wants to learn more about the fascinating Priorat region.
Price: $29.99 Add To Cart
RP 91

2016 Black Slate "Escala Dei" Vi de la Vila Priorat
Review Date: 07-03-2018
Of the several Black Slate bottlings, this one is typically my favorite, as it comes from higher elevation, relatively cooler climate sites in the village of Escala Dei, home to two wineries, one of which also happens to be the site of the original Carthusian monastery in Priorat. Fresh red fruits and black cherry aromas and flavors predominate, with an underlying minerality to the wine which is often tough to come by at this price point in Priorat, but does occasionally show up in the better wines. A great intro for anyone new to the Priorat, and at under $20 an affordable case purchase for those who are already well acquainted and fans of this region's excellent wines.
Price: $19.99 Add To Cart
JD 95 RP 92

2012 Louise Brison Brut Champagne
Review Date: 07-03-2018
I'm not sure if it's the Kimmeridgian soils, the organic viticulture or the barrel ageing, but as long as we have carried their wines, I have been a big Louise Brison fan. This 2012 vintage is undoubtedly their best yet, as I think it has the drive, minerality and freshness of past cuvees but is arguably more elegant and complete. For anyone looking for a relatively dry style and great value, this is your Champagne!
Price: $34.99 Add To Cart

2016 Penley Estate "Phoenix" Cabernet Sauvignon Coonawarra South Australia
Review Date: 07-03-2018
This is typically amongst my favorite Aussie Cabs, showing off plenty of ripe fruits but never sacrificing classic Cabernet style and structure. Aromas of red fruit and eucalyptus trees lead to a fresh, fruit forward palate, with moderate tannins that provide just a bit of welcome grip at the mid palate and towards the finish.
Price: $16.99 Add To Cart
WS 93

2015 Robert Oatley Chardonnay Margaret River Western Australia
Review Date: 07-03-2018
We were all floored by the quality of this Chard. Perhaps more to the point, we all wanted to drink it! The bright and focused citrus fruit also has the impeccably balanced, slightly nutty and savory barrel notes of very good quality Chardonnay that typically goes for at least $5-10 more. For under $15, you are not likely to find a better tasting Chardonnay than this.
Price: $14.99 Add To Cart
JH 95 WE 91

2016 Pence Ranch Estate Sta. Rita Hills Pinot Noir
Review Date: 06-26-2018
While this is a new label for many of us, the overall consensus in the tough room that is our northern California weekly buyer tastings, was that this is delicious, balanced Pinot Noir. The fruit is juicy but also slightly savory, with flavors of plum and a slightly wild side that is nicely balanced with the fruit. A tasty new entrant for us in the crowded - but when well chosen, rewarding - world of California Pinot.
Price: $19.99 Add To Cart
RP 93 WE 92

2015 Nozzole Chianti Classico Riserva
Review Date: 06-26-2018
This is the real stuff, the bright, focused, linear and slightly dusty Chianti Classico that you could not mistake for any other region. Whether your summer dinner involves grilled skirt steaks, wild king salmon, a simple pasta dish or charcuterie, cheese and a salad, this is the type of red which deftly covers all this ground. Delicious, well priced and drinking incredibly well right now.
Price: $19.99 Add To Cart

2015 Savage "White" Western Cape
Review Date: 06-26-2018
A serious white wine, I love the Savage for its combination of its fruit, textural weight and acid propelled structure. Rich yellow fruits on the nose also show a very subtle SB smoked capsicum quality. Flavors are both rich and racy, with pink grapefruit, yellow plums and star fruit on the mid palate, and a very long finish that sort of reminds me of a top quality Spanish Godello. Interesting, top quality white from the Western Cape!

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