Staff Favorites - David Driscoll

David Driscoll
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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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1997 Bowmore 20 Year Old "Old Particular" K&L Exclusive Single Barrel Cask Strength Single Malt Scotch Whisky (750ml)
Review Date: 04-12-2018
This 20 year old Bowmore is more like an edition of the Compass Box Flaming Heart than a concentrated single cask expression. It's so balanced with mild peatiness and plenty of sweet vanilla to add richness on the finish. Fans of more gentle Islay flavors will go gaga for this as everything is in perfect harmony here, even at 52.7%. Add this to your bar at your own peril: it's too delicious to sip slowly.
Price: $149.99 Add To Cart

1991 Cameronbridge 25 Year Old "Old Particular" K&L Exclusive Single Barrel Cask Strength Single Grain Scotch Whisky (750ml)
Review Date: 03-04-2018
25 year old full proof Scotch for eighty bucks. Yes, it's all grain. Yes, we've been blowing through grain whisky like water here at K&L because the pricing is so ridiculous. No, this will not last forever. Eventually, this well of affordable grain Scotch whisky will run dry, but I'm going to buy every last barrel I can before it does. The 25 year Cameronbridge is a rich and easy to drink whisky that tastes like it's two and a half decades old with plenty of texture and weight. Those looking for something fancy at well under $100 should seriously think about committing here.
Price: $79.99 Add To Cart

El Tesoro "K&L Exclusive" Single Barrel #110 Reposado Tequila (750ml)
Review Date: 02-28-2018
Carlos said two things to me when talking about distillation that stood out: 1) smaller copper pots are better, in his opinion; and 2) every distillation is itself a blend. Tequila is double distilled in copper pot stills much like single malt whisky, but whereas a number of Scotch producers will talk about the importance of the height of the still, Carlos believes a more concentrated and flavorful Tequila results from a smaller still due to the increased contact with the copper. As many of you already know, copper creates a number of reactions that result in various flavor profiles and it also eliminates any of the sulphurous components released by the fermenting yeast. There are a number of different sized stills at La Alteña, but not one of them is all that large. When we asked him about blending the spirits after distillation, he said: "Every distillate is itself a blend because the spirit tastes different every minute it comes off the still." I thought that was fantastic. In essence, you could cut each minute of every singular run into its own batch and each would taste slightly different from the next. To categorize a spirit as singular because it's from one single distillation is to ignore the fact that it's still a collection of liquids with various flavor profiles. So while this is a "single barrel" of Tequila, it's much more a product of a very specific time and place than it is the product of a single wood vessel.
Price: $49.99 Add To Cart

El Tesoro "K&L Exclusive" Single Barrel #117 Reposado Tequila (750ml)
Review Date: 02-28-2018
Any great wine's reputation will (and should) always begin with the quality and the location of its vineyards. In the case of La Alteña, the agave is planted in the vibrant red soils of the Jalisco Highlands, which create a much different flavor profile than those planted in the Lowlands. Whereas Lowland agave produces a greener, more vegetal and herbaceous style of Tequila, Highland agave piñas tend to be larger, fruitier, and sweeter in flavor due to the difference in both soil types and climate. I've heard people compare Highland Tequilas to Highland single malts, but I've never liked that analogy. The classic Highland single malt profile has much more to do with stylistic choice than terroir. The difference between Highland and Lowland Tequila is more like the different between Napa mountain and valley-grown Cabernet. Due to the recent shortage of agave, many large producers (especially those using diffusers) don't distinguish between the geographical origins of their piñas, but that's no different than buying a bottle of red wine that says "California" on the label and one that very specifically indicates "Howell Mountain." When you buy a bottle of El Tesoro, you know you're getting Tequila made from Camarena family estate Highland agave.
Price: $49.99 Add To Cart

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

2014 Mt. Brave Mt. Veeder Cabernet Sauvignon
Review Date: 02-09-2018
If you've read any of my staff reviews on California Cabernet selections at K&L, you'll notice a constant theme: the supremacy of mountain fruit. There's a big difference between what's grown on the hot valley floor and what's allowed to ripen more slowly on the slopes of the various ranges. This 2014 Mt. Brave expression comes from the hillsides of Mount Veeder and --MAN OH MAN-- can you taste the difference in this baby! This is a gritty, chewy, mouthful of thick mountain fruit, absolutely brimming with blackberry, smoke, savory herbs, and concentrated Cabernet goodness. This is a showstopper wine, pure and simple. It tastes far more expensive than it actually is, but you don't have to tell anyone what you really paid.

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

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

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

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

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: $19.95 Add To Cart
VN 91 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.

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

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

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.

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

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 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

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 Cask Strength Japanese Whisky (750ml)
Review Date: 10-25-2017
If you're a fan of gentle, smooth, and restrained malt whiskies, then I think the standard Kaiyo is the way to go. However, if you like bold flavors, assertive spice, and lots of potency, then it's definitely worth the extra thirty bucks to bump up to the cask strength version because the Mizunara-influenced flavors explode on the palate with the extra proof. You get bursts of candied orange, coconut, and sweet malt, highlighted by sweet oak notes on the finish with lots of power. This is for the real whisky geeks.
Price: $99.99 Add To Cart

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

2015 Penley Estate "Phoenix" Cabernet Sauvignon Coonawarra South Australia
Review Date: 10-18-2017
This is such a great value and a real chance for newcomers to Australia to jump into one of the country's most interesting Cabernet regions: Connewara along the Limestone Coast of South Australia. The red soil along with the maritime climate creates expressive and characterful Cabernets that have much more than just ripe fruit and an ample mouthfeel. The Penley "Phoenix" is exhibit A, brimming with herbaceous flavors, hints of tobacco, but also a savory black olive note and a dark, decadent finish. There's A LOT of wine here for the money, but also a great learning opportunity. I've found my exploration into the wines of Australia to be incredibly rewarding, especially since visiting earlier this year. It's wines like this that keep me coming back for more.

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.

2014 Star Lane Santa Ynez Cabernet Sauvignon
Review Date: 10-17-2017
I don't think I could have named you one producer in the Santa Barbara region making Cabernet until I tasted the Star Lane this past week, but I was surprised by much more than the anomaly of such a thing. This is real deal Cabernet with structure and secondary flavors of earth and tobacco, not just some fruit-forward or simple bottle of California red. Star Lane vineyard, as I would later learn, is planted to 200 acres of Bordeaux varieties and the vineyard differentiates itself from other parts of Santa Barbara County by sustaining warmth. In a region dedicated to cooler climate varieties like Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, that's important. The vineyard also has elevations ranging from 750 to 1550 feet above sea level throughout Happy Canyon, meaning that different grapes grow in different microclimates, creating a diverse crop of fruit. You can taste that character in the wine as the flavors range from dark fruited and powerful, to herbaceous and savory. It's a California wine with the heart and soul of a Bordeaux. Give it time in a decanter and cook up a nice meal. You won't be sorry.
Price: Hidden View Price
VN 95

Four Pillars "Faultline" K&L Exclusive Gin (750ml)
Review Date: 10-03-2017
I've been obsessed with Four Pillars gin since the very first moment I tasted it in January of 2015 when the distillery gang flew out from Melbourne for the Superbowl that year in SF. They dropped by the store unannounced, put a bottle of the Rare Dry in my hand, and the rest is history. I'd never had a gin that good before and I've still yet to have one since—and I drink a LOT of gin. But beyond the flavor, what I respected most about Four Pillars was that they were ONLY making gin; not single malt, or vodka, or whiskey, or some other spirit to help pay the bills, but just gin. They're like gin specialists, concocting incredible flavors on their copper stills in the Yarra Valley. After two years of huge customer support, monstrous sales, and positive feedback like you wouldn't believe, I decided to head Down Under and create a special gin with distiller Cameron MacKenzie for K&L using our Faultline label. My goal was simple: make something distinct, exciting, new, but also characteristic of everything I already love about Four Pillars. I won't rehash the specs as they're all listed above, but Cam knocked this baby out of the park. Listing me on the label as the "co-distiller" is a bit misleading because I didn't do anything but taste and edit, however, I appreciate the acknowledgement. In the end, this gin is all about Four Pillars and their incredible talent. Our job is simply to put fantastic new spirits in your hands and I think we're living up to our end of the bargain there.
Price: $34.99 Add To Cart

Ardbeg "An Oa" Islay Single Malt Scotch Whisky (750ml)
Review Date: 09-30-2017
The An Oa is the best new Ardbeg I’ve tasted in more than five years and it’s the roundest and easiest to drink of the regularly available editions. While it doesn’t pack the power that both the Uigeadail and Corryvreckan offer with their bold proofs, it makes up for it with richness and a rounded sweetness on the finish. You get all the peat, brine, smoke, and salt that you could ever want, but with more texture and perhaps finesse—not something we normally associate with the beastly Islay profile. In any case, this is the first bottle of Ardbeg in some time that I’ve been adamant about buying for my own personal daily enjoyment, not just my collection.
Price: $59.99 Add To Cart
WA 93

2014 Hyot, Côtes de Castillon
Review Date: 09-30-2017
When we're out visiting Bordeaux to taste the most recent vintage (like 2016), we're usually taking notes for the eventual pre-order campaign that follows. But sometimes we head out to visit producers and negociants and taste older vintages that are usually in bottle and ready to go. One such example is the recently arrived 2014 Château Hyot, a property located in Saint-Magne-de-Castillon that provided us with one helluva sub-$15 option. With its forty year old vines, the concentration of the Merlot (which makes of 70% of the blend) is stunning, adding a plummy lushness to the coffee notes imparted by the oak, and bolstered by the structure from the remaining 20% Cabernet Franc and 10% Cabernet Sauvignon. The wine is made by the Aubert family, one that has been living in the region for almost three hundred years. Amélie Aubert, who took over from her parents, is a seventh-generation winemaker with a special sense of how to tend the vines planted in both clay and gravel soils; she's made her mark with the 2014 expression, for sure. I've not made any secret of my affinity for 2014 with its classic, yet approachable flavors and even more attractive price points (especially when compared to the higher costs of '15/'16), and personally I'm always on the hunt for the next great Tuesday night Bordeaux—for those nights when I just want to pop something delicious, warm up my leftovers, and put my feet up in front of the TV. I love how the wine evolved over time, showing more than just oak and fruit with nuances of minerality like graphite and iron once it got some air into it. We kept going back to the wine later in the day to see how it evolved and we all agreed it tasted better after it had been open a few hours, so if you can decant it you'll be doing yourself a favor.

Bardstown Bourbon Company "Collabor&tion - Brandy Barrel Finish" Cask Strength Bourbon Whiskey (750ml)
Review Date: 09-29-2017
Who ISN'T in the market for an 11+ year old 57% ABV bottle of bourbon today? Especially when it's been finished in American brandy barrels for extra richness, sweetness, and viscosity! This little project between Kentucky's newest whiskey distillery and Kentucky's best brandy producer gives fans of both rare and unique bourbon a new bottle to obsess over and it's only available at K&L in the state of California. The nose blurs the line between brandy and bourbon as heavy fruit comes through right off the bat, but the palate is dominated by big oak, heavy spice, and soft, sweet fruit, accenting the best parts of the whiskey and intensifying the very aspects that most Stagg and Weller fans go crazy for. We've only got 200 bottles, so when they're gone, that's it!
Price: $124.99 Add To Cart

Bardstown Bourbon Company "Collabor&tion - Mistelle Barrel Finish" Cask Strength Bourbon Whiskey (750ml)(in store pickup only, cannot ship)
Review Date: 09-29-2017
I LOVE the Mistelle finish on this and it's funny because I thought my co-workers and customers would prefer the classic profile of the American brandy expression, but I was wrong. The sweetness and the texture provided by the liqueur finish is simply sensational here and the orange peel notes from the Mistelle really blend well into the baking spices of the bourbon. It's done with a balanced hand all the way through and the flavor of the whiskey never gets lost in the mix. Don't miss out on this one.
Price: $124.99 Add To Cart

2016 Dunham Cellars/MacLachlan "Pursued by Bear" Blushing Bear Columbia Valley Rosé
Review Date: 09-29-2017
This is far and away the best domestic rosé I've tasted this year, and the most nuanced domestic rosé I may have tasted--ever. I'm a Provence fan when it comes to pink wine because I like crisp, clean acidity and just the slightest touch of red fruit. If I'm going to spend more than 20 bucks on something I'll likely drink within 20 minutes, then it had better "wow" me, and that's exactly what the Blushing Bear did when I first tasted it. Kyle meant for it to be a Domaine Tempier substitute and that's exactly what he created, albeit by way of Washington's Columbia Valley. Gentle accents of red berries and notes of brush lightly dance across the palate here with an enticing balanced of weight and acidity. Have this with a piece of grilled salmon and treat it like a main course wine rather than a refreshing aperitif. It's worthy of the spotlight.
Price: Hidden View Price

2014 Neyers "Neyers Ranch - Conn Valley" Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon
Review Date: 09-27-2017
I was really taken aback by both how approachable the 2014 Neyers was right out of the bottle and how it seemed to embody everything today's modern wine drinker is looking for with their California Cabernet: typicity, complexity, terroir, and deliciousness. The Neyers Conn Valley Ranch has Cabernet growing at elevations from as low as 400 feet up to 1200 feet, mostly south-facing so the grapes get a nice dose of consistent, but manageable sun. They've cut out a lot of their pesticide and fertilizers over the last decade and instead now use cover crops and a ring of pest-attracting plants outside the vineyard instead. The effect these changes have had on the quality of the wine is tremendous and you can taste all that fruit because there's a very judicious use of oak with the 2014. It's there in spirit, but the fruit still takes center stage. However, there's more than just fruit here. You get hints of earth, licorice, a bit of a dusty note from the tannins, and a nice variety of textures from front to back. At fifty bucks, the price is right and the wine tastes more expensive than some of the $100 options I've run across recently. In summary, it's a wine I'd be happy to give to just about anyone interested in a serious bottle of Napa Cabernet. It's all estate fruit and it speaks to a well-maintained vineyard site by Neyers.
Price: Hidden View Price
WE 94 WS 90

2010 Louise Brison Brut Champagne
Review Date: 09-26-2017
If you liked the 2009 Louise Brison, you'll probably enjoy the 2010 as well, albeit for completely different reasons. 2009 was a ripe vintage for Champagne and that richness of fruit came through immediately in the Brison expression, but 2010 was back to traditional temperature levels so the 2010 has a laser beam of acidity that was definitely not there in the 2009 and for me that was a welcome addition. What is consistent between the wines is the brown apple flavors and the texture from the barrel fermentation that adds weight. However, whereas I would have recommended drinking the 2009's immediately, the 10's can age forever. That note of citrus and minerality is a total palate cleanser if you choose to drink the 2010 as an aperitif wine now, but it's also what will help the wine maintain its composure as it continues to evolve in your cellar. It's a can't lose proposition: you can drink it tomorrow, or twenty years from now! And you get a wine of that quality for just under thirty bucks. Hard to beat, right?
Price: $29.99 Add To Cart
WE 91

2015 Domaine Parent Pommard 1er Cru "Argillieres"
Review Date: 09-08-2017
This was one of the best wines I tasted on our trip to Burgundy this past Spring and it was my first foray into the Parent sisters' portfolio, one that I've come to swear by since. Anne and Catherine have pooled their inheritance together and forged ahead under the family's domaine name, making wines with real character and grace. The 2015 "Les Argillieres" showcases the dark and fleshy fruit of Pommard, but with restraint and balance. It's never too tannic, earthy, or intense, peaking in the just the right places and exhilarating the taste buds with fresh acidity in addition to all that ripe 2015 fruit. This is a wine built for the distance, however, so no matter how good it tastes now, just know that it's going to taste even better down the line.

2013 Inglenook Rutherford Cabernet Sauvignon
Review Date: 09-08-2017
Previously known as Cask Cabernet and made from the same estate fruit as the Rubicon, the big difference between the Rubcon and what is now known as simply the Inglenook Rutherford Cabernet is the barrel selection and the use of both American and French oak. While it doesn't have the sweet spices or the exotic scents from that heavier French oak influence, what you get from the standard Inglenook is a wine that has every bit the quality of the Rubicon in terms of fruit, structure, and concentration, but for a price that's about 70% less. The Rubicon typically sells for $170 - $200, but in no way are you settling here taking the Inglenook at $59.99. This wine has an incredible bouquet of dark, juicy Cabernet fruit as well as ripe tannins that reflect the impeccable quality of the 2013 growing season in Napa. However, whereas many of the $50 -$75 wines I taste from Napa today are meant to drink now, the Inglenook is a wine with loads of potential beyond 2017. It has the guts for a serious ten to twenty year run in your cellar, but with some decanting and a nice rib eye you can definitely coax all that gorgeous fruit out of the bottle and into your glass tonight. While my professional opinion would be to wait as long as you possibly can, I'm fully aware that wines this tasty tend to get opened in the short term. Either way, you're going to be very, very happy with the Inglenook.

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