Staff Favorites - David Driscoll

David Driscoll
David Driscoll  | Send Email  |   Subscribe to My Sommelier Service
David Driscoll likes to drink alcohol when he is not working at K&L. His main interests include wine, beer, and distilled spirits. Before he worked here he went to college at a decent school, got a masters degree from an OK school, worked as a waiter and taught elementary school in Chinatown. He decided to get into the wine business after reading a few books about wine and realizing that one cannot seriously learn about wine solely through reading. His career goals include: trying to convince K&L customers that he does know something despite his youthful appearance, and learning everything about everything about every single wine ever made.


Reviews

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Bellevue 19 Year Old "Golden Devil" K&L Exclusive Single Barrel Cask Strength Guadeloupe Rum (750ml)
Review Date: 02-15-2018
The first rum I ever had from Bellevue was bottled by Berry Bros & Rudd and it was both incredibly delicious and obscenely expensive. I was definitely on the hunt for Guadeloupe's amazingly refined spirit from that point on, but I was convinced we could find a more cost effective way to bring it to K&L. After a few years of searching, I found my opening. Our friends at Golden Devil secured a 19 year old cask from Europe and got it bottled for us this past Fall. Those expecting Neisson or La Favorite flavor, don't be put off. This is not a super grassy, herbaceous, intensely aromatic rum. Those elements are there, but they've been softened by 19 years in wood and are integrated with flavors of cola, fruit, and spice. This is a complex sipper from a distillery we rarely see stateside. I'd recommend it to anyone remotely interested in rum, but especially to those on the hunt for something rare and interesting.
Price: $99.99 Add To Cart

1997 Highland Park 20 "Old Particular" K&L Exclusive Single Barrel Cask Strength Single Malt Scotch Whisky (750ml)
Review Date: 02-15-2018
If you look at the label of the new Highland Park 20 exclusive K&L cask, all it tells you about the barrel is it was a "refill hogshead." That being said, all you need to do is look at the color and take a small sip to know that hogshead was most definitely re-coopered from a sherry butt. I've been sipping on a sample all morning long, letting the sweet, raisiny flavor coat my palate, while chewing on the subtle smoke that permeates the finish. I was thinking about how one of Scotland's most famous distillers (one that I won't name since he works for a rival company) once told me: "Highland Park is the king of all malts." There are numerous single malt fanatics who consider Highland Park the world's best whisky, right along side Macallan at the top of the food chain (both are owned by Edrington as well, if you didn't know). This 20 year single cask, full proof expression should help to bolster that case. It's rich, textural, utterly complex, and runs the gambit from sweet to peat with incredible nuance. While $200 isn't exactly what I'd call a "value," let me contrast this price with the 12 year old distillery-direct sherry hogshead I purchased from Highland Park this past January (due in later this year). That full proof edition should come in somewhere between $150 -$170 per bottle. That's the added premium that a distillery-bottled expression carries. Nevertheless, I bought it because it was one of the best sherry-aged whiskies I'd tasted in months. That being said, for an extra $40 or so in this case, you can get a 20 year old version of the same make and provenance.
Price: $199.99 Add To Cart

1988 Cambus 29 Year Old "Old Particular" K&L Exclusive Single Barrel Cask Strength Single Grain Scotch Whisky (750ml)
Review Date: 02-09-2018
After years of trying to explain to our customers what exactly grain whisky is and why they should care about rarities like Cambus in addition to Brora and Port Ellen, we're now at the point where our customers ask us: WHEN ARE YOU GETTING MORE? Because ultimately who doesn't want nearly 30 year old Scotch at full proof for a hundred bucks? Who actually gets tired of drinking delicious grain goodness of this quality for this price? Not me. You get lots of mellow Scotch maturity for your dollar here and you get the rarity of the lost Cambus name to add just a bit of lore to that experience.
Price: $99.99 Add To Cart

2014 Amapola Creek "Monte Rosso Vineyard" Sonoma Valley Zinfandel
Review Date: 02-09-2018
What we need to realize about Zinfandel as California citizens is that this wine IS OUR HERITAGE! This is what we do; it's what makes our wines unique in the world. We have old vines around the state that are more than a century old, as is the case with Monte Rosso Vineyard, a site in Sonoma that was originally planted in the 1880s. It's an incredibly historic source of fruit and the grapes have been used in expressions from Ravenswood, Biale, Ridge, Rosenblum, and Martini over the decades. This specific 2014 edition from Amapola Creek is like a mouthful of California history in your glass, running the gambit of flavors from sweet blackberry to savory spice and everything in between. This is a wine I'd like to sit outside with on a warm California evening while grilling up a few burgers. These are the wines that make me proud to be a Californian.
Price: $29.99 Add To Cart
RP 94

Whistle Pig 10 Year Old "K&L Exclusive" 117.1 Proof Single Barrel Cask Strength Straight Rye Whiskey (750ml)
Review Date: 02-05-2018
These Whistle Pig cask strength barrels do it for me every single time, no matter how often I taste them or how many bottles I've already consumed. When you taste this recent 117.1 proof barrel that we just brought in, what will grab you the same way it grabbed me is the initial sweetness right off the bat, bolstered by the higher than normal ABV%. It lights up your tongue and primes it for the peppery rye spice that follows, giving you the vanilla and sweet oak before hammering home the herbaceous essence of the grain. I don't think I'll ever tire of buying these casks for K&L because I just about never tire of drinking them. There's no limit for how much cask strength 10 year old WP my mind can handle, only my liver can decide when enough is enough.
Price: $89.99 Add To Cart

2016 Talley/K&L Wine Merchants Edna Valley Chardonnay
Review Date: 02-05-2018
Our latest collaboration with Talley, the 2016 K&L Edna Valley Chardonnay, displays the winery's textbook Burgundian character beautifully, weaving lemon zest and apple notes between toastier elements and the richness that they impart. Put together for us by Brian Talley, the wine is indicative of everything we love right now about the wines from Edna Valley and the Central Coast: quality, value, volume, and drinkability. At $22 a bottle, the wine delivers supreme complexity for the money, but it doesn't skimp on charm either. In tasting the wine again this morning, I'm imagining everything I love about the San Luis Obispo area with each sip: the setting, the relaxed environment, the down-to-earth mentality, and the commitment to enjoying life's simple pleasures.
Price: $21.99 Add To Cart

Domaine Hubert "K&L Exclusive" Pays d'Auge Vieux Calvados (750ml)
Review Date: 02-04-2018
If you're buying your bottle of Hubert in 2018, then you're getting the domaine's new blend based primarily on the 2008 vintage with bits of 2006 and 2010 blended in. It's textbook Astrid—friendly, feminine, but with a bit of a spicy kick. At thirty bucks, to think we can offer an apple brandy of this quality that's mostly 9 years old with 11-year and 7-year added for good measure is astounding. There's a reason this is the top selling Calvados in our store's history. 2000 bottles and counting!!
Price: $29.99 Add To Cart

1995 Tobermory 22 Year Old K&L Exclusive "Sovereign" Single Barrel Cask Strength Single Malt Whisky (750ml)
Review Date: 02-02-2018
Peaches and cream, that's what they should call this whisky. It's loaded with fresh stone fruit and a rich creamy texture, to the point that I think even my wife is going to enjoy this one. Tobermory is on the Isle of Mull just across from Oban and it makes a similarly light and vanilla-laden malt. This particular single barrel edition is right on point: a very delicious expression of a textbook Scotch malt character, nothing weird or out of the ordinary, just damn good whisky, with age, at full proof, at a hot price. This will not be the bottle that you drink a tablespoon from every few weeks. You're going to pour fingers of this stuff and it's going to be empty before you know it. Dangerously drinkable stuff.
Price: $89.99 Add To Cart

George Dickel "K&L Exclusive" 9 Year Old Single Barrel #L7233K1007 Tennessee Whiskey (750ml)
Review Date: 02-02-2018
With the lockdown on Kentucky's single barrel programs hindering our procurement of interesting new Bourbon casks, we've switched our focus over to neighboring Tennessee, a state that has always made plenty of outstanding Bourbon they just happen to call Tennessee whiskey. Jack Daniels and George Dickel have been opening up their stocks to us over the last year, and we've been getting to know their barrels quite intimately. This particular Dickel cask clocks in at 9 years of age and with plenty of punch at over 100 proof. The creaminess of the high corn recipe means plenty of sweetness and the finish is all toasted vanilla and crème brulee. We've been paying similar prices for 5-7 year barrels from Kentucky, so getting a 9 year old Tennessee whiskey for sub-$50 is definitely a deal we're going to continue moving on.
Price: $44.99 Add To Cart

Compass Box "No Name" Blended Malt Scotch Whisky (750ml)
Review Date: 01-31-2018
If you're an Ardbeg fan, you're going to want a bottle of this. Same goes for any fan of John Glaser's outstanding Compass Box expressions. However, if like me you're a super fan of both Ardbeg and Compass Box, then this is the type of whisky you go ga-ga for. In essence, it's a malt that exudes the bold peated character of Islay's most famous whisky distillery, tempered by the finesse and the keen palate of Mr. Glaser. You get loads of smoke, brine, salt, and sweet barley flavors right off the bat, but the finish rounds out with more oak and weight than you usually find in any of the official Ardbeg editions. In short, the "No Name" is a perfect example of how an already fantastic single malt like Ardbeg can be heightened and improved with the addition of other whiskies, a feat unachievable in an official brand capacity. It's a beautiful expression of Islay, presented in an entirely different way than we're used to. It's the definitely the iron fist in a velvet glove. You're gonna want one.
Price: $139.99 Add To Cart

Russell's Reserve K&L Single Barrel #998 Kentucky Bourbon (750ml)
Review Date: 01-11-2018
Eddy, Jimmy, and I dug through about ten barrels to reach this cask, #998, located in the heart of the H warehouse at Wild Turkey. When it comes to the Kickin' Chicken, I'm not looking to reinvent the wheel. I'm not searching for the anomaly or the unique gem that stands in contrast to what made Russell's Reserve famous. I wanted classic, true to form Bourbon that tastes like vintage Wild Turkey and that's exactly what I got from this 9 year old single cask. Everything in harmony, just dialed up in proof. Vanilla, oak, creamy corn, and that youthful vigor that pops on your palate like a bag full of cinnamon candy. Jimmy Russell doesn't like any Bourbon older than 10 years old, which I think is awesome. I'm trying to be more like him, so with this cask I relied completely on his guidance.
Price: $59.99 Add To Cart

Baron-Fuenté "7" Brut Champagne
Review Date: 01-11-2018
This is beautiful, majestic, and transformative Champagne, the kind that combines all of the regions most characteristic elements into one perfect package. You get the freshness of that laser-like acidity, mineral, oyster shell notes from the chalky Champagne soils, a leesy brioche creaminess from the seven years of lees aging. Champagne is both famous and expensive because only wine from Champagne can taste this way. Anyone can make sparkling wine, but nowhere else do you get such a combination of these distinct elements: they are what make a great Champagne stand out from the pack. In this Baron Fuente "7" edition, you get everything I describe in clear, delineated flavor profiles, easy to pick out, yet seamless in their integration.
Price: $49.99 Add To Cart

2009 Baron-Fuenté "Grand Millesime" Brut Champagne
Review Date: 01-11-2018
First and foremost, it's always good to mention that vintage Champagnes are only produced when the harvest warrants it, which usually means you can add an extra $10 -$30 to the bottle cost. Hence, when I see vintage Champagne from a grower who actually owns and farms his own grapes selling for $29.99, my ears perk up. Getting real Champagne of any level of quality for less than $30 today is a rarity as is, let alone vintage Champagne from a grower/producer. So let's talk about the quality: the nose is lively, fresh, and enticing. Citrus notes dance along side brioche and bready notes, and everything about the aromas screams out FUN! When you taste the 2009 Baron Fuente, however, and the clean flavors give way to a nutty, almond skin finish with leesy richness and texture, you begin to wonder just how the Baron family managed to pack this much incredible quality into such an affordable and accessible package. I'm still scratching my head seven bottles later.
Price: $29.99 Add To Cart

2015 Domaine La Loyane Lirac
Review Date: 01-11-2018
If you've enjoyed the Baron Louis from Chateau Montfaucon (a K&L classic) over the years, then I'd take a serious look at this similarly-structured Lirac from Domaine La Loyane. Lirac is just across the river from Chateauneuf du Pape, so the wines have a similar make up and flavor profile—dark fruits, structure, weight. However, while the Parker review describes this wine as "modern," there's nothing flashy or overtly fruity about this wine out of the bottle. It's more of an old school bistro wine when you first pop and pour, so make sure to give it time in a decanter and get some air into it. After a good twenty minutes the rusticity blows off and the berries become more pronounced on the nose. A half hour later, you're drinking the wine you were meant to drink: cherries, chocolate, and chewy tannins. It's a pretty serious wine for the sub-$20 price point. There are no training wheels here; there's a lot going on once you begin to unlock all those delicious layers.
Price: $17.99 Add To Cart
RP 92

Real McCoy 10 Year Old Limited Edition Virgin Oak Rum (750ml)
Review Date: 01-11-2018
Now that I'm deep into my late thirties, I'm having a bit more trouble finishing off a number of my cask strength, high alcohol whiskies. I'm developing a huge appreciation for distillers and bottlers who can hit the ABV sweet spot inside the bottle, and that's most definitely the case in this new Foursquare edition of Real McCoy, a limited blend of rums aged in both ex-Bourbon and virgin oak casks. If you're becoming a fan of the new unadulterated, unsweetened rum market, this is a must have bottle. It's loaded with the same sweet spices, vanilla, and dry-finishing richness that will remind you of your favorite bottle of Bourbon, yet the hints of molasses and tropical splendor underneath tell your mouth this is clearly rum. This my favorite edition yet from the Real McCoy's Foursquare series and I'm going to think long and hard about bunkering a few extra bottles for the cellar.
Price: $59.99 Add To Cart

2008 Aultmore 9 Year Old K&L Exclusive "Sovereign" Single Sherry Barrel Cask Strength Single Malt Whisky (750ml)
Review Date: 01-11-2018
I remember sitting in the office in Scotland, tasting through these Sovereign samples, and looking up information on Aultmore distillery as I approached this 9 year old cask sample. It was a bit of an odd duck, but I appreciated it because it was so different in its character: dry and herbal rather than sweet and supple, the opposite of what I expected from such a dark and saturated sherry-matured whisky. The Single Malt Whisky Yearbook had tasting notes from other expressions of Aultmore that they described as having the flavor or coffee or even "milky coffee" and then I went back and tasted the 9 year old cask sample again.....there it was. Coffee. Not only in its color, but in its aromas and flavors! While the price is indeed incredible, this is a one trick sherry pony for sure. It's big and spicy right off the bat, but that initial sweetness quickly fades and turns into herbaceous notes of dried herbs, pepper, toasted nuts, with a very dry finish. It's a whisky meant purely as a bang-for-your-buck bargain and I couldn't pass it up. It's so different from anything else on the shelf and I get a kick out of that coffee note! Those of you who enjoyed some of our older Glenfarclas Family Casks of yesteryear may get a bit of nostalgic bliss from this earthier sherry expression. It's definitely of the same ilk as that robust 1970 vintage barrel we did a while back.
Price: $49.99 Add To Cart

2014 Tormaresca "Neprica" Super Puglia
Review Date: 01-10-2018
When you get into the various micro-niches of wine styles and situations, beyond the great twenty dollar bottle of red or the best pairing for a burger, I have to believe there is a such a thing as the perfect inexpensive bottle of Italian red wine to drink both while you’re cooking and while you’re eating a simple pasta on the average weeknight. Not only do I believe that’s a thing, I think it’s a style of wine that must be in pretty high demand given the fact that everyone loves pasta and there’s nothing better than standing there in your kitchen after a long day at work, popping that bottle open, and pouring yourself that first glass while you wait for the water to boil. There are a number of great inexpensive red wines from all over the world that pair well with pasta, but for me it always feels better to keep things in the family. I like French reds with French bistro food. I like California Zinfandel with my burgers. I like an ice cold bottle of Modelo with my tacos. There's something right about the slightly-tannic, robust, and spiciness of a classic Italian red coupled with the smell of a simmering sauce. The Neprica is from Puglia, the heel in Italy's boot and an expanse of old farmlands that date back centuries. Negroamaro, the principle varietal in the Tomaresca blend, is the region's most important grape, one that adds weight and structure to the wine in this case. The blend is balanced by a healthy dose of Primitivo (think Zinfandel from Italy) and Cabernet Sauvignon that add fruit and additional richness to that tannic frame. At $10 a bottle, this wine covers all the bases for what I'm looking for on a Tuesday night.
Price: $9.99 Add To Cart

2015 Buehler Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon
Review Date: 01-08-2018
For as long as I’ve worked at K&L, I’ve been consistently wowed by how much Cabernet these wines deliver for the dollar and I was reminded again of that qualitative bargain this past week while tasting the recent 2015 vintage: yet another example, loaded with dark fruit, fine tannins, and real California grit, yet without all the fancy marketing and exaggerated hype. Simply put, it’s a Cabernet for people who like to drink real Cabernet. Made with 30% estate-grown fruit near St. Helena, it’s a blend of 90% Cabernet with 10% Merlot just to soften the edges a bit and bolster some of that fruit character. The best part about the Buehler Cabernets (on top of the quality and the price) is the fact that you can age them for another decade or drink them now with some decanting. Buehler is one of the true family-owned gems of the Napa Valley, a winery that for almost three decades has been producing honest expressions from its 300 acre hillside estate just above Conn Valley. The prices remain reasonable from vintage to vintage because producing value-oriented wines is part of Buehler's philosophy. In an era where getting the most money for your bottle has become commonplace in Napa, it's refreshing to find a bit of that throwback mentality.
Price: $24.99 Add To Cart

Wine Club

$14.99
JS 90

2007 Hampden 9 Year Old "Golden Devil" K&L Exclusive Single Barrel Cask Strength Jamaican Rum (750ml)
Review Date: 01-08-2018
The masses have demanded more Hampden from our spirits team at K&L and so we went out and found another cask of the rum world's most notoriously ester-laden pot still rum. Hampden is to esters, the chemical compounds that form when alcohol molecules merge with acids during distillation, what Ardbeg or Laphroaig are to peat: high octane and unbridled. This 9 year old edition is full of candied pineapple mixed with petrol, along with crazy combinations of brine, bitter, and sweet. Olives and mango? Banana and scorched earth? Call them crazy, but these potent and in your face flavors are exactly what the rum world is geeking out about at the moment. Do not expect an easy ride from this 62% ABV beast of a rum. Expect to have your horizons expanded and your mind blown.
Price: $69.99 Add To Cart

2015 Chateau Los Boldos "Grande Reserve" Cachapoal Valley Cabernet Sauvignon
Review Date: 01-03-2018
I've been advising as many Cabernet drinkers as possible to start seriously exploring the expressions emanating from South America, particularly Argentina and Chile. The quality has gone way, way up over the last decade, but the prices have remained way, way low. Case in point is this new Reserve Cabernet from Chateau Los Boldos, a property established in 1991, but working with vines planted in the late 1940s. The reinvestment in those vineyards is realized today in the 2015 edition, one that offers classic Cabernet flavors with an eye towards the Bordeaux style. There's plenty of fruit, but also tobacco and earth, herbaceous notes, and a mineral streak on the finish that speaks to the complexity of the grape, rather than just ripeness and new oak. You get all that for well under $20. Hence, keep your eyes on South America.

2016 Ribbonwood (Framingham) Sauvignon Blanc Marlborough
Review Date: 01-02-2018
Fans of Sancerre or any other crisp, mineral-driven white wines: LOAD UP. This one of the most ridiculous deals I've come across yet from my esteemed colleague Mr. Woodhouse, the man who's been bringing us K&L drinkers stupendous values from the Southern Hemisphere since his arrival. Made by Andrew Framingham, a man whose white wines have become household staples among our sales staff, the 2016 Ribbonwood might be the best Sauvignon Blanc deal I've ever tasted in my career now entering its eleventh year. It's saline and citric in its character, yet the wine has texture. There's an herbaceous note underneath all of that, but it plays second fiddle to the minerality and the hints of orange blossom on the finish. This is not your grapefruit-laden, super green Kiwi Sauv Blanc. It's not anywhere near that now ubiquitous profile. This is much more Loire Valley in its flavor, but with even more fruit and complexity. For the price, all I can say is WOW, WOW, WOW. Do not miss this one. Buy as much as you can afford.
Price: $9.99 Add To Cart
W&S 91

2015 Gagliole "Rubiolo" Chianti Classico
Review Date: 01-02-2018
We do so much work with the Sangiovese wines of Montalcino here at K&L (thanks to our buyer Greg's deep connections there) that I often forget about some of our best, old fashioned Chianti expressions, the backbone of Tuscany and often what are everyday Italian enthusiasts are looking for on a Wednesday night. The 2015 Gagliole is the best tasting and best priced Chianti I've found in some time, showcasing a textbook combination of fruit, acidity, and tannic structure with power and depth. There's a lot of wine here for less than twenty bucks. While you can pop and pour, I'd give the Gagliole a good hour to open up before drinking as the cherry fruit unlocks itself after time in the decanter. This is a slam dunk deal for classic Italian lovers. It's approachable, but in no way flashy or modern. It's managed to maintain its traditional appeal.
Price: $14.99 Add To Cart
JS 92 RP 90

2016 Pala "I Fiori" Cannonau di Sardegna
Review Date: 01-02-2018
Cannonau is the Grenache of Sardinia, so if you're a fan of Cote du Rhone style French wines and food-friendly bistro fare, this is the Italian version. Plush on the palate and loaded with flavors of fresh berries, herbs, and exotic spices, the 2016 Pala is the perfect wine to get you out of your Dolcetto/Barbera rut. I'm generally on the hunt for lower tannin levels in my Italian red wine because I eat a lot of pasta and vegetarian dishes, so Chianti, Brunello, and Barolo are too heavy and overpowering without the meat. The Pala did just the trick over the holidays, offering up classic Italian flavor with an elegant and easily approachable profile.
Price: $14.99 Add To Cart
JS 93

Ariston Aspasie "Carte Blanche" Brut Champagne
Review Date: 12-22-2017
I know what you might be thinking: "I've had the Ariston Aspasie Carte Blanche dozens of times at this point." I've consumed at least 100 bottles of this in my 10 years at K&L, but unless you've bought a bottle post-November 2017 then you haven't had the new and improved Carte Blanche. You can look at my colleague Gary Westby's review for the technical details, but the short version is that the technological advancements put into place six years ago at Aspasie are just now showing up in the bottle, after five years of lees aging. If you thought you were getting a bargain for a sub-$30 Champagne before, you're getting a better version today. The control that the Aspasies have over the fermentation and pressing now results in a much fresher wine. More dynamic on the palate, cleaner on the finish, and livelier in every way, my most recent experience with the Carte Blanche was like drinking it again for the first time. If it's been a while since your last bottle of Aspasie Carte Blanche, you may want to consider revisiting this soon.
Price: $27.99 Add To Cart

Còdigo 1530 K&L Exclusive Single Barrel Anejo Tequila (750ml)
Review Date: 12-21-2017
I reached out to Codigo for a single cask of anejo because I knew if I could find the right barrel and negotiate the right price, we could introduce our customers to the NEXT GREAT $100 TEQUILA. The Codigo is an updated and better version of Don Julio 1942, a bellwether Tequila that has for over a decade been the go-to gift bottle for those looking to present a loved one or friend with Mexico's finest distillate. This single cask of Codigo smashes that paradigm wide open, bringing all the smooth-textured, rich oak of a classic anejo, but with none of the sticky-sweet viscosity. It's loaded with decadent flavors, notes of chocolate, citrus peel, and exotic spice, but it's still clean and spicy on the finish. Simply put, it's a 100% pure expression of Tequila that tastes luxurious while maintaining its roots in classic production. I'm just sad we don't have more of it. It's going to be a HUGE hit.
Price: $99.99 Add To Cart

1997 Hector Macbeth 20 Year Old "K&L Exclusive - Sovereign" Single Barrel Cask Strength Blended Malt Scotch Whisky (750ml)
Review Date: 12-12-2017
Of the three Sovereign teaspooned casks we have to offer this December, the Hector MacBeth is the darkest, oakiest, and most concentrated of the bunch and when you taste it there's really no doubt about where it was made. You've seen the ubiquitous green tins for the 12 year lining the major liquor stores and airport duty free shelves all over the world, the mark of the deer above the distillery name. This is a 20 year old, single barrel cask strength edition of that classic Highland profile for a cool $99.99. Why the deal? Because of the small teaspoon of a second whisky added into it. I'll take that deal every time, however. I'm guessing at least 200 other fans of the Glen will take the plunge with me.
Price: $99.99 Add To Cart

1995 John McCrae 22 Year Old "K&L Exclusive - Sovereign" Single Barrel Cask Strength Blended Malt Scotch Whisky (750ml)
Review Date: 12-12-2017
We have to be very careful revealing the source of this particular barrel as we got in trouble last time around from the distillery who wanted to know where we had tracked it down and how it made its way into our hands! All I can tell you for right now is that it was made by one of the most famous producers in the Speyside and that it tastes every bit as soft, creamy, succulent, and refined as all of the official distillery releases. If you're a classic Highland fan who loves the purity of single malt that tastes like fruit, barley, oak, and spice, then you're going to treasure this bottle. It's simply Scotch whisky perfection without gimmicks, barrel enhancements, or any other unnecessary additions.
Price: $99.99 Add To Waiting List

2013 Louis M. Martini Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon
Review Date: 12-08-2017
It's the bread and butter of our business here at K&L: Napa Cabernet that tastes like classic Napa Cabernet for a price that represents quality without breaking the bank. Sound familiar? We get asked for recommendations like this more than 50 times a day, so personally it's always exciting when we find a great answer to that never-ending request. 2013 was a magical vintage for Napa and the proof is in the pudding here with this Louis Martini release, one that offers all the hallmarks of textbook California Cab: dark plummy fruit, dusty tannins, a full-bodied mouthfeel, and just enough oak on the finish. It's nothing new or revolutionary, mind you, it's just a workhorse of a wine that brings the bang for the buck. This is the type of wine that restaurants kill for because it's dependable, well-priced, and crowd-pleasing. If you're looking for a new house bottle, this is easily worth a case or two. True-to-form Cabernet of this quality (from this good of a vintage) rarely goes for less than $40 anymore.

Real McCoy 12 Year Old Single Blended Barbados Rum (750ml)
Review Date: 12-07-2017
Four years when I first went to Barbados on a rum expedition, no one was even talking about Foursquare in the U.S. (hence I didn't visit the distillery). When you thought of Barbados, you thought of Mount Gay. Today, however, Foursquare is all anyone wants to talk about in the rum world because it's one of the few distilleries that has taken a stand against added sugar and caramel color in its spirits. That purity has struck a chord with today's modern and more conscientious drinker because there's never been a point in history when people cared more about what they're drinking than right now. Because rum is one of the most adulterated spirits there is, often darkened and sweetened with a number of various devices, Foursquare has decided to separate itself from the pack, pumping out incredibly supple, rounded, almost Bourbon-like rums with real (natural) flavor and concentration. The Real McCoy 12 year is a stunning value considering everything that went into it. It's the Weller 12 of the rum world -- the rum that we'll all be missing five years from now when the rest of the industry catches on and buys every last drop. For the meantime, take advantage of the fact that there's plenty available and for a great price.
Price: $39.99 Add To Cart

2015 Capbern, St-Estèphe
Review Date: 12-07-2017
The K&L team (myself included) tasted this back at the chateau in 2016 when the wine was still being finished and about fell over ourselves, gushing about the superb quality of the 2015 Capbern (and the vintage as a whole). Now that the wine is in bottle and on our shelves, it's even better. It may seem like a shame to drink a Bordeaux this young in its youth (and the Capbern will definitely reward patience), but the wine tastes SOOOO GOOD right now. The pretty, fleshy, concentrated fruit is lush and supple on the palate and the tannins are fine, almost chewy. Not only should you buy a bottle of the 2015 Capbern because it's a great wine for a great price from a great producer, you should use it as a bellweather for the vintage. 2015 is the best Bordeaux vintage since 2009 in my opinion and the wines are fruit-forward, yet never over the top; they're approachable yet nuanced and complex. Example number one is the 2015 Capbern: the best bang for your buck Bordeaux thus far at K&L from this fantastic harvest.

2013 Famille Perrin "Les Cornuds" Vinsobres
Review Date: 12-06-2017
I adore the peppery notes in this juicy and easy-to-love 2013 Vinsobres. It's fleshy, but restrained and balanced against that classic Rhone profile of violets and spice. This is the best Rhone value I've tasted in this price range all year. It's everything you expect and everything you want for the price. In a world where Rhone values have become fruit bombs, over-the-top extracts in search of Parker points, the Perrin is a breath of fresh air.
Price: $12.99 Add To Cart
VN 90 W&S 90

2011 Viña Real Gran Reserva Rioja
Review Date: 12-06-2017
The 2011 Vina Real Gran Reserva is everything I love about both older Rioja and older wine in general. It's really in a great spot for those who still like supple fruit and a fleshy mouthfeel, but want a bit of evolution and earth in their reds. There's a lovely dark fruit note that blends in seamlessly with the oak, but the wine seems more decadent than it is. It tastes expensive. It's an effortless expression and the price is great.
Price: $34.99 Add To Cart
JS 95 W&S 92

Enmore 25 Year Old "Golden Devil" K&L Exclusive Single Barrel Cask Strength Guyana Rum (750ml)
Review Date: 12-06-2017
What's crazier than the fact that we were able to secure a single cask of rum from Guyana's former Enmore distillery, is the fact that we were able to do so for the same price as last time; despite the huge differences in today's market. This is not only from Enmore, mind you, it's from Enmore's old pot still rather than the wooden column, so the flavors are more intense, loaded with earth, molasses, coffee, and richness. I've had people emailing me about this cask for over five months, asking if they could pre-order or secure a bottle in advance. I'm not expecting it to hang around for long.
Price: $199.99 Add To Cart

Golden Devil "K&L Exclusive" Dark Overproof Rum (750ml)
Review Date: 12-06-2017
After watching rum interested at K&L begin picking up again this past year, I reached out to one of our partners in the UK to see if we could come up with an exclusive blend that would give rum enthusiasts a serious run for their money. Tiki cocktail fans are always on the hunt for a new dark overproof option and this baby uses flavorful and expressive Jamaican pot still as the base, fleshed out by the column still rums from DDL in Guyana. Everyone I've given it to thus far has freaked out and I've got bartenders begging me to let them buy it wholesale. I'm hoping it's a big hit because we can definitely keep this going should rum drinkers want us to!
Price: $19.99 Add To Cart

Wine Club

$16.99

1986 La Conseillante, Pomerol
Review Date: 12-02-2017
The first thing to know about La Conseillante is that a number of its vineyards lie between Vieux Chateau Certan, Cheval Blanc, and Petrus, three of the absolute best Right Bank sites for Merlot. The second thing to know is that the wine has always been expensive because of its stellar reputation, even back in the mid-1700s when the wines of Pomerol weren't anywhere near as prestigious as they are today. My favorite Bordeaux writer Stephen Brook once wrote that La Conseillante is "quintessential Pomerol, offering vinous hedonism while rarely straying into overripeness or lack of finesse." He also describes older vintages as truffle-y in their aroma and flavor. All of those things are on display in the 1986: finesse, truffles, and hedonistic splendor. Along with iron, and a savory meatiness that pairs exquisitely with a steak, this is luxury Bordeaux drinking at its finest.
Price: $229.99 Add To Cart
WS 93

2016 Torbreck "Woodcutter's" Shiraz Barossa Valley South Australia
Review Date: 12-01-2017
I remember when I thought all Aussie Shiraz was just jammy, herbaceous, high alcohol fruit juice. Then my colleague Ryan Woodhouse began tracking down some of the best Shiraz specimen on the planet and turned my world completely upside down (under). Torbreck has long been a standout in the realm of "serious" Shiraz and the wine has only gotten better since winemaker Dave Powell moved on. There is SO MUCH going on here besides gorgeous fruit and bursting acidity. There are meaty notes, spicy undertones, hints of minerality, and flurries of floral elements. This wine is complexity defined. Northern Rhone fans should seriously consider casing up. It's rare to find a Syrah with this much panache for this price. The real shocker is that, despite all that gusto, the wine has finesse and restraint in the face of its brethren. It's never over the top or dialed up too high. I can't say enough good things about it.
Price: $18.95 Add To Cart
JS 95

Ardbeg "Twenty Something" 23 Year Old Islay Single Malt Scotch Whisky (750ml)
Review Date: 11-30-2017
Here's what I will tell you about the new Ardbeg 23 year old committee release that just landed in our warehouse today: I was lucky enough to try it a few months back when Ardbeg's distiller Dr. Bill Lumsden was in town for a promotional tour and we got the chance to eat lunch together. He pulled out a small flask and poured me a glass, asking me what I thought about the whisky without telling me what it was. I was utterly entranced by it. It was so soft and silky compared to the powerful and high proof Ardbegs like the Uigeadail and Corryvreckan. The smoke was heavy, but it was muted by rounded vanilla and creamy malt flavors. I knew it had to be old. The finish went on forever and I just sat there grinning as I licked my lips and asked him what I had just experienced. Bill smiled and said it was the upcoming Ardbeg "Twentysomething," a new committee bottling from the distillery planned for a winter release in the states. It's by the far the most luxurious Ardbeg I've tasted since the 1977 and Lord of the Isles releases of long ago and it's a legit, top shelf single malt.
Price: $549.99 Add To Cart

2016 Ata Rangi "Crimson" Pinot Noir Martinborough
Review Date: 11-29-2017
The 2016 "Crimson" marks the first time we've carried the Ata Rangi mark here at K&L and I couldn't be more impressed with it as a side companion to the grand cuvee. In no way is this wine superfluous or simply a lesser version of its legendary mainstay. The Crimson is a darker, fleshier, and more supple Pinot Noir on every level, more like a Pommard or Volnay to the classic Ata Rangi's Richebourg. It's a juicy Pinot Noir that's almost daring you to put lay it down in your cellar, as if to say: "You really think you can resist?" It's that good already!

2008 La Rioja Alta "Viña Ardanza" Reserva Rioja
Review Date: 11-28-2017
The La Rioja Alta wines have been one of the most overlooked values in the entire wine industry since I can remember, and this 2008 Vina Ardanza is yet another example in a long history of great deals. Not only are you getting a serious Rioja for the money, you're also getting a wine with serious bottle evolution and secondary flavors like iron with savory, meaty undertones. This is a lamb or steak wine without question, and it drinks like some of the $100 - $200 bottles of great older Bordeaux vintages I've had in my lifetime, yet for a fraction of the price. We've sold wines like this from La Rioja Alta before, and we'll continue to sell them in the future. I just hope that each time we bring in a wine this good we continue to initiate more drinkers into the fold. It's not your fruit-laden, silk smooth, California Cabernet. This is old world wine with bottle age and complexity. It's exactly the flavor that makes great wine expensive, even though in this case it's shockingly affordable.
Price: $29.99 Add To Cart
DC 95 RP 93

2016 Au Bon Climat/K&L Wine Merchants "Bien Nacido Vineyard" Santa Maria Valley Pinot Noir
Review Date: 11-20-2017
Au Bon Climat has always been one of my favorite California wineries, so I was excited when we started working on our own private label expressions. While I've enjoyed the previous two Pinot Noirs we bottled under the K&L label, the 2016 edition of the single vineyard "Bien Nacido" is by far the best of the bunch. We just need to give it 20 -30 minutes in the decanter before trying. Bien Nacido is one of our state's coveted sites for cool climate fruit, meaning the Pinot Noirs have more structure and acidity as a result. I can tell you from two empty bottles of experience that the difference a bit of air makes with this wine is night and day. After 20 minutes or so, you get everything you expect from a Burgundian-inspired Pinot Noir: crunchy red fruits, raspberry and hints of earth with lots of spice. I could easily be fooled into thinking this was a bottle of 1er Cru Burgundy (perhaps Pommard or Volnay) if poured blind. The best part is that Au Bon Climat's Bien Nacido release has historically been listed for $40 and over-delivers at that price. At half that price...how can you pass this up?
Price: $19.99 Add To Cart

2014 Mindego Ridge "Estate" Santa Cruz Mountains Chardonnay
Review Date: 11-16-2017
Tasting this next to the Domaine Eden Santa Cruz Mountains Chardonnay was a real eye-opener because while the Eden had the richness and the weight, the Mindego Ridge had all that creaminess, but with vibrant acidity, accents of savory herbs, and minerality in one helluva complex ride from start to finish. It's everything I wish more California Chardonnays could be: full-boded and lush, but without ever sacrificing freshness or secondary flavor. This is a home run of a wine and I'm definitely putting Mindego Ridge on my shortlist of wineries to watch.
Price: $44.99 Add To Cart
VN 94 RP 93

2014 Mindego Ridge "Estate" Santa Cruz Mountains Pinot Noir
Review Date: 11-16-2017
There's delicious, juicy, easy drinking Pinot Noir and then there's serious Pinot Noir like the 2014 Mindego Ridge. What does "serious" mean? It means balance and beauty with layers of flavor that slowly develop and unveil themselves after time in the glass. The dark and brooding fruit of the Santa Cruz Mountains is the star, of course, but under that there are hints of herbs and spice that begin on the nose and continue unwind as your swirl and sip your way through the glass. It's everything I love about Santa Cruz Mountain wines: mystery and intrigue with fresh acidity. The Mindego Ridge wines are from a tiny family-owned estate property, making this all the more fun to drink. It's rare that I find new Pinots from Santa Cruz these days that wow me, but this is another great find.
Price: $44.99 Add To Cart
VN 95 RP 92

2015 Valravn "Old Vine" Sonoma County Zinfandel
Review Date: 11-10-2017
"Old vine" is one of those terms you see on wine bottles that I'm not sure everyone understands, but nevertheless is used as a marketing tool by wineries to tout the quality of their hooch. It's kind of like "small batch" for Bourbon in that it implies something special or unique, but there's no real regulation regarding either term; it's really up to the integrity of the producer when it comes to the usage. What's so special about old vines then? It depends on which winemaker you talk to (as it can be a controversial subject), but old vines often give more concentrated fruit and a better sense of place when it comes to terroir, as the root networks extend deep into the soil, criss-crossing like veins through the heart of their terrain. Some winemakers say that old vines have a better ability to cope with diverse weather conditions because of their life experience—they have wisdom, so to speak. With every vintage, they gain a better understanding of their environment; plus, there's a reason they're still around after decades and decades, right? Someone must think they're pretty special to have left them in place for so long, while other vineyards get ripped up, replaced, and replanted. 2015 Valravn Old Vine Zinfandel: a wine that really impresses. It's made by the same team behind the Banshee project, focusing on 50 to 105 year old bush-pruned vines in Sonoma County that are all hand-harvested to preserve the varietal's full glory. What you get is concentrated red berry flavors, rich and juicy on the palate, but accented with savory spices, brush, and licorice-like peppery notes.
Price: $19.99 Add To Cart

2015 Jax "Y3 Taureau" Napa Valley Red Blend
Review Date: 11-06-2017
If I owned my own California bistro, I know what my table wine would be year in and year out: the Jax Y3 Taureau. It's been one of the work horse reds of the domestic department here for the last three years and I've yet to have a bottle that didn't get the job done. A blend of 50% Merlot, 25% Cabernet Sauvignon, with the rest being Zin and Syrah, this is the PERFECT California red table wine that offers down-to-earth drinkability with a boutique level of detail and attention to care. It's a fleshy, fruit-forward wine, but it has acidity and character. It's balanced and it tastes like a more sophisticated wine than the price point would have you believe. It tastes good with everything, but is particularly suited to meats and heartier dishes, and it's so darn affordable. I love the Jackson family as well, a local member of our community, so like I said earlier: if I had my own restaurant, this would be the backbone of my menu.
Price: $19.99 Add To Cart
RP 90

2016 Prisoner Wine Co. "The Prisoner" Napa Valley Red Blend
Review Date: 11-06-2017
One of the biggest sensations to hit Bordeaux over the last decade has been the dry white movement, the lettered expressions from Yquem and Guiraud that have the weight and richness of a classic Sauternes, but without all the sugar. I've always felt that the Prisoner succeeded in providing Port customers with a similar red wine option. Everyone loves Port, but they don't always want that much alcohol and sugar in their table wine. The Prisoner has always been the happy medium for lovers of big, decadent wines. The 2016 has so much juicy red cherry fruit, bolstered by dessert notes like mocha and oak, but it comes with more approachable levels of alcohol and sweetness. It's everything it's always been: smooth, silky, and bursting with decadence. Back for another run with a new vintage.
Price: $39.99 Add To Cart

2015 Columbia Crest "Grand Estates" Columbia Valley Syrah
Review Date: 11-06-2017
Don't let the $9.99 price fool you: Columbia Crest has been pumping out deals like this since I was a teenager, consistently and continually providing some of the nation's best bargain bottles with no-frills, straight-forward wines like this Columbia Valley Syrah. What will wow you about the 2015 expression is how much it tastes like real, classic American Syrah. It has dark-fruited concentration, hints of pepper and spice, with blueberries and bramble on the finish. It's clean, well-made, and should provide you and 20 of your friends with plenty of good juice for NFL Sunday afternoons or holiday parties where volume and efficiency hold more weight than complexity. I can't say I'm surprised the wine tastes this good, but I can that I'm stoked we have plenty of it.
Price: $9.99 Add To Cart
WE 91

2014 St Estephe de Calon-Ségur, St-Estèphe
Review Date: 11-03-2017
My favorite Bordeaux writer Steven Brooks recently named Calon Ségur as one of the ten most improved châteaux in Bordeaux after finally transitioning out from under the Capbern-Gasqueton ownership. He notes that much of that progress can be attributed to a man named Dr. Vincent Millet, who came over from Château Margaux as technical director of the property and did a complete investigation into the vineyards on site, retooling the layout of the varietals, eventually resulting in a prettier, more finessed grand vin. Not having an extensive tasting history of Calon Ségur under my belt, I have to take Steven's word for it, but I've tasted every vintage since 2009 and I have indeed noticed that 14/15/16 are remarkable wines in how approachable they are in their youth. Normally you get power and structure in a St. Estèphe claret, but the Calon Ségur expressions have been much more feminine over the years (2015 in particular). Where I have really noticed the improvement, however, is with the property's second and third wines, especially after retasting the 2014 Saint-Estèphe de Calon Ségur again yesterday. At a quarter of the price of the 2014 grand vin, the wine is simply breathtaking in its approachability already. In general, 2014 is a classic vintage. The wines have ample fruit, but ample structure simultaneously. Yet, somehow the tannins seem to melt away in this wine, allowing the gorgeous flavors of cherry and blackberry to take center stage. It's exactly what Brooks describes in his summary of Calon Ségur's improvements: "seamless fruit and a light touch in terms of extraction, although it’s far from a light wine." He's talking about the $100 version of Calon Ségur, however. What I'm telling you is that you can enjoy the fruits of the château's advancements for $25, as well. The Saint-Estèphe de Calon Ségur is the best second or third wine value I've yet tasted in 2014 in terms of a wow-factor and a level of complexity. It appears the improvements at Calon Ségur are far reaching.
Price: $24.99 Add To Cart

2014 Barde-Haut, St-Emilion
Review Date: 10-31-2017
Barde-Haut is usually one of my top five value picks in any vintage, but in 2014 where pretty much the entire harvest itself is a value compared to the higher-priced 15/16 duo, Barde-Haut stands out as a supreme deal: a "MUST BUY," if you ask me. I won't bore you with additional tasting notes about how delicious the wine tastes, rather I'll get straight to the bullet points: 1) You can drink this tonight, or a decade from now, or anytime in between. The suppleness of the fruit is enticing right now, but the wine has both the acidity and the tannic structure for long-term maturation and evolution. Few wines in this price point and with this pedigree offer that type of versatility. 2) The scores here don't lie, and there are few 94 pointers in the sub-$30 category. The Barde-Haut is true-to-form St-Emilion with chalky, mineral typicity underneath all that fruit, for a slam dunk price. 3) This is the ultimate Bordeaux gateway bottle for California drinkers who want to expand their horizons. You get ample fruit from the Merlot, but it's very much a classic Bordeaux claret in style. If you're intrigued by Bordeaux and want to venture into its waters without emptying your wallet, the 2014 Barde-Haut is a great place to start. I bought a case when it landed, and now that I've emptied that case I'm going back in for more.

Kaiyo Mizunara Oak Japanese Whisky (750ml)
Review Date: 10-25-2017
Those looking to get a taste of real Japanese Mizunara oak-aged whisky will finally get a somewhat affordable option here with the new Kaiyo expressions. Made with whisky from an unnamed distiller (although there aren't many major players in Japan so you can begin to whittle down the options when you taste it) the Mizunara is the real star here. You get exotic spices and a sweetly-scented nose that leads into incense and toasted oak flavors on the palate. Kaiyo isn't some new microdistiller or craft project. It's taking malt whiskies from some of Japan's established players and using Japan's most treasured barrels to make something dynamic and new for the market. Get it while the gettin's good because this could be the next Yamazaki.
Price: $69.99 Add To Cart

2014 Trinity Hill "The Trinity" Red Blend Hawke's Bay
Review Date: 10-18-2017
Our buyer Ryan Woodhouse long converted me over to Southern Hemisphere values years ago because the dollar for dollar value that he's finding from Australia and New Zealand is unparalleled in any of our other departments. Case in point? This Trinity Hill Red Blend from Hawkes Bay for $9.99. Cab/Merlot blends of this quality, complexity, and elegance don't exist in California anymore for this price. You not only get dark, expansive, palate-coating fruit from the Trinity Hill, but also secondary flavors of minerality and spice that are generally present in wines double and triple the price point. Compare this to the last domestic wine you bought for $9.99 and do a comparison. I promise you you'll be on the Ryan Woodhouse express after doing so.

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