Staff Favorites - Brian Fogarty

Brian Fogarty

Reviews

2016 Jules Taylor Chardonnay Marlborough
Review Date: 02-06-2018
It’s not often you can watch a rising star on their ascension, but purchasing modestly priced Jules Taylor’s wines will soon be part of the “good old days” conversation. Remember when you could buy her Chard for under $16? With the recent press (Feb ’17 Decanter Magazine feature) and her strong resume as Kim Crawford’s assistant winemaker many years ago, the Marlborough native is surely destined for loftier price points in the years to come; at least she deserves it! So I am putting 2 bottles in my fridge and 4 in the closet for a “summer of last hoo-rah” with her 2016 Marlborough Chard. The wine has a rich, penetrating bouquet immediately out of the glass with yellow flowers, ripe white peaches and field herbs partnered with balanced oak and malo. On the palate the wine is alive and energetic with lime-lemon citrus and a firm acidity that allows only a light kiss of oak to echo into the finish. Already an artisan, Jules Taylor has truly delivered a beautifully balanced wine that leaves you guessing and contemplating as you return for more and more.
Price: $15.99 Add To Cart
DC 93

2014 Moss Wood "Wilyabrup" Cabernet Sauvignon Margaret River Western Australia
Review Date: 01-31-2018
Margret River continues to build its status in and among the most famous Cabernet producing regions in the wine world, and it is easy to see why if we compare their geography with the big boys (Napa, Sonoma and Bordeaux): all on the west coast of a continent with a distinct oceanic influence, undulating terrain with depleted soils, and historically dry summers. Margret River may have only passed its 50th birthday last year, but be sure we will continue to hear about the burgeoning rivalry for greatest Cab region well past their centennial. The Mugford family has been key to that rising status of Margret River from their perch in the northern region of Wilyabrup (willy-ab-RUP) since 1979. Situated perfectly on the Indian Ocean and benefiting from the gravel-strewn loamy soils, their property (and of course their efforts) perennially turns out world class Bordeaux varietals. The 2014 “Wilyabrup” is composed of 92% Cabernet Sauvignon, 4% Cabernet Franc and 4% Petit Verdot. The nose is an intense array of black cherry, blackberry, baking spice and a mintiness that leans toward a crushed eucalyptus seed dried in the sun; dusty, brambly and minty all in one. Cassis and vanilla bean develop with time in the glass. On the palate the fruit and spice elements persist as the tannins reveal structure that does not mask the flavor but embraces and prop it up. Surprisingly balanced at its young age, there is no surprise why the critics are already swooning.

2016 Bernhard Ott "Am Berg" Grüner Veltliner Niederösterreich (Biodynamic)
Review Date: 01-12-2018
Bernhard Ott was already a favorite Gruner producer here at K&L before I started so I cannot take credit for the introduction, but we can all bask in the beauty of the current offerings! 2015 was a lovely wine and a staff pick last year, but in 2016 Bernhard was able to add even more depth and complexity to this biodynamic wine. On the nose I found a variety of grapefruit notes (white and pink) intertwined with mineral water and white pepper. The weight on the nose was impressive for a Gruner and seemed to have a heavier yellow plum base propping up the citrus we are so accustomed too. On the palate the body is lush with grapefruit again and now key lime joins. There is a green leafy herb element that tries to conjure echoes parsley or cilantro. A very expressive wine by a master winemaker and a perennial K&L staple!
Price: $18.99 Add To Cart
WE 92 JS 91

2016 TWR (Te Whare Ra) "Toru" White Field Blend Marlborough
Review Date: 01-03-2018
As I am also the new German and Alsatian buyer at K&L I may have geeked-out a little while trying this wine for the first time, but the wine certainly delivered with a clean, refined, yet uniquely expressive voice that I was hoping to find. This wine is a true field blend (harvested and fermented together; rare in the modern era) with three Alsatian varietals: 80% Gewurztraminer, 10% Riesling, and 10% Pinot Gris; thus the name TORU or “three” in the Maori language. Initially I told myself I would hunt for all three varietals on the nose but what I found was much more. In the glass it started with white and yellow honeysuckle flowers, lime blossom, honeycomb and a briny essence that leaned toward Mediterranean sea salt. The quartz minerality that developed was a welcome surprise after a few swirls in the glass. The wine has real “tension” and precision; high praise if used to describe German wines to a German! On the palate I found a gripping wine that is beautifully confounding and amazingly harmonious. Trying to pull the tree varietals apart was a fool’s errand and I was better served understanding the precision and style intended by a master winemaker. Fresh not sweet, and at 13.5% alcohol most would probably define the wine as dry – I would. This wine came home with me and Thai was its happy partner!
Price: Hidden View Price
RC 93 SK 92

2015 The Opportunist Shiraz Langhorne Creek South Australia
Review Date: 01-03-2018
Deep and brooding with dried plumb, cranberries, hits of sun baked, fresh raisins and a nice toasty essence that pulls it all together. On the palate the wine is lush and fruit driven with additional notes of baker’s spice, and a distant camp fire in a woodsy setting echoing in the distance. The tannins are gentle but the outside label is certainly anything but…
Price: $10.99 Add To Cart
W&S 91

2014 Clairault Cabernet Sauvignon Margaret River (White Label)
Review Date: 01-03-2018
Margret River Cabernet is the gold standard on the continent for refined expressions and Clairault is a champion of that superior style. The white label wines are a good entry point into the Clairault lineup of wines and the 2014 cab delivers on their promise. Blackberries and spice pour out of the glass and the bouquet develops clarity with each inviting sniff: dried cherry, bay leaf, potpourri, hints of tar and a dusty earthiness all jockey for attention. On the palate the wine continues its bold features with a round yet balanced presence that includes medium weight tannins and the introduction of cassis in the fruit profile.

2012 Clairault "Estate" Cabernet Sauvignon Margaret River (Black Label)
Review Date: 01-03-2018
A pretty, well structured wine that showcases both the perfection of the 2012 vintage and the oldest vines on the Clairault Estate. The bouquet opens first as warm cherry and raspberry pie and then quickly builds in darker secondary aromas of blackberry and black cherry. Tertiary notes abound with herbaceous spearmint, fresh bay leaf, vanilla bean and white pepper. The complexity of the bouquet and continuous evolution were playful and brilliant in the glass. On the palate the wine is round and full bodied. Dark chocolate and cassis now enter the picture with vanilla playing a bigger role and the herbs certainly persist. There is a clear harmony from the winemaker’s skill to balance fruit richness and acidity, expose medium ripe tannins and leave you with a persistent finish. Side note: the wine is under a new modern style screw cap that is heftier than those I’ve seen is the past; a more serious closure for a refined wine.
Price: $29.99 Add To Cart
DC 95 JH 95

2016 Raised By Wolves "Newlands" Meunier Stellenbosch
Review Date: 12-22-2017
Wine professionals and those who are working really hard to improve their wine knowledge would love to find bottles like this. For those with a little less serious and determined intentions, you will be pleasantly surprised at the quality and precision in a Raised by Wolves wine. So why is it such a special bottle? Pinot Meunier (famously the 3rd grape used in Champagne and also red), pressed whole cluster so a little skin contact happens between the pressed juice and the red colored pigment under the grape’s skin turning the wine just the palest, copper-salmon color, and last we introduce the terroir of South Africa; amazing combination wine nerds! The nose starts out with ripe melon, roses, and yellow pear. The finer, secondary notes start to build on the second sniff with hints of herb (thyme and sage), a chalky, dusty minerality and some carmel tones can be found. The first sip on the palate exposes a viscous body with a small amount of tannin to add structure to this delicate frame. Rosewater, cantaloupe and watermelon work in concert with thyme and jasmine as the caramel from the nose moves to echoes of butterscotch on the palate. Fun stuff and well made; I can’t wait to see it again in 2017.
Price: $29.99 Add To Cart

2014 Oakridge "Over the Shoulder" Cabernet Sauvignon Yarra Valley Victoria
Review Date: 12-21-2017
Pioneers in the upper Yarra Valley, Oakridge Winey built an oasis of food and wine for the locals of Melbourne to enjoy a beautiful atmosphere paired with locally sourced food and wine (much like Napa is to San Francisco and Sacramento). The balance they struck follows through in the wine we are able to enjoy from them stateside. The “Over the Shoulder” wines are pleasant, well structured wines focused first on the quality of the fruit harvested from the cool ridges of Yarra. This Cab-Merlot blend is expressive right away with blackberry pie and muddled wild raspberries in the glass and is complemented by cypress and bay forest notes. On the palate the berry tones are partnered with cassis and mulberry. The soft tannins give a structural platform for smoky bramble and the piney herbs you found on the nose drifting into a persistent finish.
Price: $14.99 Add To Cart

2014 Kumeu River "Coddington Vineyard" Chardonnay Kumeu
Review Date: 12-14-2017
Situated between the Tasman Sea to the west (12 miles away) and the Pacific Ocean to the east (19 miles away) the Coddington vineyard stays moderate to very cool all season long, and it rarely ever gets past the mid eighties. This long, slow ripening of the grapes combined with deep rooted vineyards that see no irrigation is the real secret behind Kumeu’s clean, elegant, and famously precise wine style. In the glass you’ll find freshly baked lime tart, breakfast toast, citrus blossom, and an undercurrent of mineral water packaged together harmoniously. On the palate the balanced acidity carries a clean translation of bouquet’s notes with some white peach and bolder citrus blossom. This bright, elegant wine has a lasting finish that you may never see the end of as you regularly return for follow up sips…

2015 Alheit Vineyards "Cartology" Chenin Blanc Western Cape
Review Date: 12-14-2017
Cartology “maps” out the most significant and favored old vines this dynamic husband and wife winemaking team (Chris and Suzaan Alheit) own or have access to from their neighbors. This bottling brings those plots together in a meaningful cuvee that is the picture of South African’s finest expressions. A full dense nose alerts you immediately that this will be a full bodied wine ready for deep thoughts and lots of return sips to watch the wine graduate through many beautiful cycles. Lemon curd and mineral tones start the procession as yellow plumb and a variety of dry field herbs start to file into place. The first viscous sip confirms the nose’s intuition as the palate fills with briny lemon, ripe plum that is carried by the acid balance you hoped would structure the wine. The finish is long and almost unending…

Jansz "Premium" Brut Rosé Tasmania
Review Date: 12-14-2017
Personally I cannot wait to show up to my next party with friends and bring a bottle Tasmanian Sparkling Rose; conversation starter in a bottle (and only $20!) Champagne is grown at the far northern reaches of where grapes can ripen due to cold temperatures and a short growing window. The same is true at the far southern reaches of our planet where Tasmania takes wine growing to the extreme producing a strikingly similar tart, small berried production of extraordinary grape juice. Jansz’s Brut Rose is a soft pale pink (not over extracted) and greets you in the glass with the chalky, bready nose you hoped for with raspberries and rosewater adding to the bouquet. As you sip the wine you find tight bubbles and the fruit broadens to introduce white satellite peach to the persistent red berries. Cheers Mate!

2015 Domaine Eugène Meyer Pinot Blanc Alsace
Review Date: 12-14-2017
The Meyer family has been making wine since 1620 in Bergholtz in southern Alsace on approximately 22 acres of land bought by the family after the French Revolution. Today the family continues farming their land with the next 350 years in mind for future generations; cultivated biodynamic and organic certified since 1991. The 2016 Pinot Blanc is bright in the glass with a dense aroma of yellow plumb and honeydew accented with gooseberry citrus notes and some wet granite like minerality. On the palate the wine is viscous and round with the melon building around secondary notes of white pepper, honeycomb and wild flowers.
Price: $15.99 Add To Cart

Launois "Veuve Clemence" Brut Blanc de Blancs Champagne
Review Date: 12-12-2017
Champagne is always a welcome choice and not just for special occasions, but when you open a bottle of single village Grand Cru Champagne that is an occasion all unto itself. Mesnil sur Oger is a quant hamlet in southern half of the Cote du Blanc with many famous parcels, and the Launois family captures that specific essence perfectly. The toasty, brioche nose opens up quickly to reveal yellow fig, Golden Delicious apple, fields of jasmine, a walnut nuttiness and then you find the hints of chalk you were looking for. On the palate the apple gets firmer and a little more Granny Smith, pear and white pepper can be found, and the chalk is easily detected. The wine has firm acidity but leaves plenty of room to experience the softer elements.
Price: $44.99 Add To Cart

2015 Capbern, St-Estèphe
Review Date: 12-08-2017
A good, go-to Bordeaux keeps us all happy. Chateau Capbern of St Estephe delivers in a bright, energetic profile bursting with fresh cherries, violets, spicy notes and a skosh of mineral in the background echoes. On the palate the cherries remain dominate, filling your mouth with a juicy, savory charisma accented with blackberry, bramble and dark toast on a well structured frame.

2015 Vasse Felix Chardonnay Margaret River Western Australia
Review Date: 12-07-2017
Vasse Felix’s Premier class of wines are known for their harmony and precision. The 2015 chardonnay is a reminder of how the cold influence of an ocean on the hilly coast of a western shore can provide consistently beautiful, balanced and refined wines. The vibrant lemon blossom and ripe white peach notes in the glass start a parade of an ever evolving nose that moves to jasmine and hints tight grained French oak. On the palate the summer peach holds on tight with a racy acidity refreshing the palate and revealing the citrus notes and savory finish.

2013 Vasse Felix Cabernet Sauvignon Margaret River Western Australia
Review Date: 12-07-2017
A well proportioned, serious wine from the far western edge of Australia, Vasse Felix's Premier Cab has been hand crafted to reflect their unique terroir for more than 35 years. On the nose you notice the harmony first; a balance in the sum of the parts that make up the bouquet. As you did deeper you find gentle blackberry and cassis fruit paired perfectly with herbs like mint, bay leaf and a loose pipe tobacco. On the palate a solid structure takes shape with ripe tannins holding a brambly blackberry pie that has a dried citrus twist and wafts of a tobacco and tea. Clearly 35 years of experience has allowed them to dial in a precision Margret River should be proud of.

2014 Escarpment "Kupe" Pinot Noir Martinborough
Review Date: 12-04-2017
“Complexity”, “texture”, and “structure” are stated goals of famed winemaker Larry McKenna for his Escarpment wines and “Kupe” is where he reached perfection on all three. Immediately out of the glass the wine draws you in with bold, dark cherry fruit notes that have an added depth of toasted quince zest which leave your eyebrows raised as you go back in for more. Blackberries and limestone greet you for round two and compel you for a confirming first sip. Balanced and mouth filling, the complexity of the nose is completed on the palate as the wine adds spicy echoes into the finish.

2014 Escarpment "Kiwa" Pinot Noir Martinborough
Review Date: 12-04-2017
Sitting on terraced land above the banks of the Huangarua River, the Cleland Vineyard is the rocky, well drained birthplace of the “Kiwa” Pinot Noir. The 2014 bottling is strikingly balanced starting with ripe black cherries, streaks of raspberry and an earthy, composted leaf terroir folded into the background. A long savory finish gives you pause as you anticipate the next sip.

2014 Escarpment "Estate" Pinot Noir Martinborough
Review Date: 12-04-2017
Escarpment pours every ounce of passion they have into making wines at every level: hand plunging in open topped ferment followed by a gentle pressing ensures striking wines that compel you to dive deeper into the glass. A final kiss of French oak (25% new) for only 11 months finishes the wine to a master’s perfection. Dark rich fruit from the long hang time in 2014 is augmented by an earthy collage of mineral tones driven by the alluvial soils that speak clearly in this bottling. Ripe tannins define the structure in the long finish as you anticipate your next sip.

2015 Fiorenzo Nada Dolcetto d'Alba
Review Date: 11-30-2017
The true heights that the poor, overlooked Dolcetto grape can reach are found in this bottling. Black cherries, tar, leather, peppery spice box and an earth dried leaf quality are all found here in perfect balance. So many other Dolcettos are limp, watery strawberry juice with no soul. Fiorenzo Nada has redefined the benchmark for Piedmont’s 4th red grape; look out Barbera, Dolcetto is coming for you…
Price: $14.99 Add To Cart

2016 Di Giovanna Grillo Sicilia
Review Date: 11-30-2017
With 150 years of history producing many indigenous grapes of Sicily the Di Giovanna family excels in depicting the true local essence of Grillo. Organically farmed to pay respect to the culture and hardy island spirit, the wine remains bright and fresh with lemon drop highlights and a clean mineral note. Rich when it hits the palate, a full viscous mouth feel conjures lime zest on a chalky structure. This local style has been perfected over time and we are sure through many family dinners.
Price: $15.99 Add To Cart

2015 Laubarit Rouge, Bordeaux
Review Date: 11-29-2017
Warm blackberry pie with a thick crust rushes out of the glass to greet you and you smile. Strawberry high tones accent the nose as you go in for the first sip and are reminded of the beauty that good Merlot can offer. On the pallet the blackberries start a crescendo of fresh fruit, but the earthy notes of dusty bramble and forest floor bring you back to the sophistication of Bordeaux. The wine finishes clean with good structure and build a mean thirst for a second glass.
Price: $10.99 Add To Cart

2015 Erik Banti "Carato" Toscana
Review Date: 11-28-2017
Deep, brooding and intense this is a powerful wine packed in to a modest price. Cherries and strawberries muddled with cranberry compote and dried plumb partner with baking spice and green tea to keep you thinking about this wine with every sniff. On the first sip you see the talent is not just in the fields growing expressive grapes, but the winemaker also knows how to corral all this flavor into a balanced package. This is certainly a bold wine but refined in its expression. Polished tannins bring it all together and you still have money in your wallet; well done!
Price: $8.99 Add To Cart

2016 Au Bon Climat/K&L Wine Merchants "Bien Nacido Vineyard" Santa Maria Valley Pinot Noir
Review Date: 11-28-2017
As bold and expressive as Jim Clendenen’s haircut (or lack thereof), this single vineyard bottling of the Bien Nacido plots in Santa Maria Valley leapt of the glass to tell an intricate story. Immediate expressions of ripe berry pie which started with clearly defines summer blueberry and warm blackberries soon developed streaks of bright raspberries and a sense of terroir with dusty loam accents. The legendary experience of the winemaker is apparent in the elegant mouth feel of your first sip which builds with good acidity as the blackberries takes center stage. A fresh, mixed berry taste replaces the darker notes that showed on the nose delivering a brighter, round glass that finishes long. White and black pepper hide in the corners but step into the light the longer you ruminate on this wine.
Price: $19.99 Add To Cart

2016 Franck Millet "Insolite" Sancerre
Review Date: 11-28-2017
Located just 2 hours south of Paris in the village of Bué, 3rd generation vigneron Franck Millet and his wife Betty cultivate 22 hectares of beautiful, rolling vineyards together with a focus on Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Noir. Their premium Sancerre bottling “Insolite” (translated unusual or uncommon) brings together the most expressive old vines Sauvignon Blanc from the Domaine growing on clay-limestone soil. In the glass the wine’s bouquet develops with yellow flowers and a bold expression of citrus cream. A firm vein of wet stone minerality is accented by notes of fresh field herbs like thyme, bee-balm and dried grasses. A refreshing wine on its own, yet not delicate at all and would love being paired with seafood, white meats or of course local goat cheese is classic; Chevre.
Price: $24.99 Add To Cart