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Staff Favorites - Ralph Sands

Ralph Sands
Ralph Sands  | Send Email  |   Subscribe to My Sommelier Service
Ralph is the senior Bordeaux specialist on the sales staff. In between trying to break into professional baseball, Ralph was picking up hours at a K&L store in Millbrae. Back then it was more about kegs and cheap booze, and both Ralph and K&L have evolved since that time. Since those long ago days in 1978, Ralph has visited his beloved Bordeaux 37 times, evaluated 19 straight vintages and has escorted over 200 customers to Bordeaux on his "Taste and Golf the Greats Tours of Bordeaux". Ralph has also conducted tasting seminars in 9 different states as well as in France, Spain and Hong Kong. Ralph's passion for wine reaches far beyond Bordeaux; to the fine wine regions of Burgundy, Loire, Rhone, Germany, Oregon and of course his home state of California.


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2015 Capbern, St-Estèphe
Review Date: 12-05-2017
Within seconds of tasting Ch. Capbern at Calon Segur on April 2nd 2016 the entire K&L team was in full agreement to buy all we could get our hands on! This is a wine of great freshness and fruit, and will be joy to drink young. A Fantastic Value! Ralph Sands

2005 Lynch-Bages, Pauillac
Review Date: 09-08-2017
First note, tasted at the estate 4-4-2006 8:45am. 72%CS 13%M 15% CF 80% New Oak. Very attractive, juicy sweet almost tropical, round red/black fruit with hints of pomegranate, fleshy and supple mid-palate, fine tannin integration, not a blockbuster in style but superb tasting. New Note...9-8-2017 at my desk. At 12 years old this wine is just a beauty, the fruit has mellowed and the wine has fully integrated into a balanced and beautiful wine. Showing soft spice, sweet black current and touch of the famous Lynch Bages cigar box character. 2005 Lynch is in a sweet spot now and will hold easily 15-20 more years but many of my friends and customers will love the way the wine now tastes now! It reminds me of a young 1989!

2014 Domaine de Chevalier Rouge, Pessac-Léognan
Review Date: 09-01-2017
Textbook Dom de Chev! Pure, upfront fruit red fruit with hints of minerals and earth, elegant and as usual perfectly balanced. Lovely wine. Tasted 4-3-15 and again last week in San Francisco 2 Stars from Ralph.

2016 Malescot-St-Exupéry, Margaux 12-pack in OWC
Review Date: 08-05-2017
Noon at Ch. Malescot. One wine to taste with Jean Luc Zugar. 55% CS, 37% M, 6% C,F 2% PV. The 2015 was a 3 Star beauty and the 2016 is again a fabulous 3 Star wine. Perfectly extracted ripe grapes and great tasting, fine blance, tannins and long finishing. 3 Stars and also by FAR the greatest value for great Margaux wine.

2016 Malescot-St-Exupéry, Margaux (1.5L)
Review Date: 08-05-2017
Noon at Ch. Malescot. One wine to taste with Jean Luc Zugar. 55% CS, 37% M, 6% C,F 2% PV. The 2015 was a 3 Star beauty and the 2016 is again a fabulous 3 Star wine. Perfectly extracted ripe grapes and great tasting, fine blance, tannins and long finishing. 3 Stars and also by FAR the greatest value for great Margaux wine.

2012 Pauillac de Latour, Pauillac
Review Date: 06-16-2017
The 2012 Pauillac de Latour exhibits the sweet, forward fruit that is the hallmark character of the extremely underrated vintage. Nice and round with no hard tannins so it can enjoyed young with an hour decanting. Very tasty for young Latour! Ralph Sands
Price: $69.99 Add To Cart
JS 90
Limit of 24 per customer

2016 l'Evangile, Pomerol
Review Date: 06-10-2017
2016 L' Evangile is just loaded with big, sweet dark fruit with great purity. Silky smooth texture on the palate with a super-long finish! This is fabulous wine and right there with Petrus, which is a bit firmer. 3 stars!

2016 Haut-Bailly, Pessac-Léognan
Review Date: 06-10-2017
2016 Haut Bailly represents 55% of the crop and is 53% CS 40 M 4PV and 3CF “A deep attack of dark raspberry fruit, very, very strong and concentrated, full of structure and drive, serious wine. Firm tannins and loaded with minerals. Reminds me a lot of the great 2010, 3 stars” Ralph Sands

2016 Pichon-Lalande, Pauillac
Review Date: 06-10-2017
The Grand Vin Pichon Comtesse 75%CS 21M 4CF is a delicious wine full of bright, sweet and super fresh, very elegant seamless fruit with rounded tannins. Delicious and polished with hints of toasty oak. 3 Stars!

2016 Pontet-Canet, Pauillac
Review Date: 06-10-2017
“Huge ripeness on the nose. Perfect, sweet deep purple fruit of blueberry and blackberry, silky and plush. Impossible not to love as it is fantastic tasting wine with a long, dry finish full of fruit and minerals." Delicious and 3 Stars! Ralph Sands

2016 Senejac, Haut-Médoc
Review Date: 06-01-2017
2016 Ch. Senejac is a blend of 48% Cabernet Sauvignon 37 Merlot 11 Cabernet Franc and 4 Petite Verdot. I have owned many vintages of Senejac over the years and I always age them 7-10 years out and they always taste great. 2016 is dead on consistent Senejac, fresh, firm red-black fruit, elegant Medoc wine with good acid in an absolutely classic style, which means no fruitball! 1 star.

2016 Mouton Rothschild, Pauillac
Review Date: 06-01-2017
Mouton Rothschild reveals an incredible nose that screams greatness! Sweet, pure and persistent old vine fruit with strong structure, a lovely touch of middle fruit richness but still very bold and long finishing. A great tasting wine and a Mouton for the ages! 3 Stars! Ralph Sands

2016 Phélan-Ségur, St-Estèphe
Review Date: 05-31-2017
2016 Ch. Phelan Segur- Tasted twice and delicious both times. Phelan is a lovely early drinking 2016 which is always its forte. Beautifully fresh wine with elegant sweet fruit, perfectly balanced. Great value, 1 Star. Ralph Sands

2016 Malescot-St-Exupéry, Margaux
Review Date: 05-31-2017
Noon at Ch. Malescot One wine to taste with Jean Luc Zugar. 55%CS 37M 6CF 2PV “The 2015 was a 3 Star beauty and the 2016 is again a fabulous 3 Star wine. Perfectly extracted ripe grapes and great tasting, fine blance, tannins and long finishing. 3 Stars and also by FAR the greatest value for great Margaux wine.”

2016 Latour-Martillac Blanc, Pessac-Léognan
Review Date: 05-24-2017
Ch. Latour-Martillac ...Tasted twice and impressive both times. “Good, deep, broad, old vine fruit from front to back. Great texture, rounded tannins and long finish. The best wine I have ever had from L-M, surpasses the impressive 2000! 2 Stars! I really love it, and when you look at the prices of the finest wines from this area like Smith and Haut Bailly, this wine offers phenomenal value for the money!

2016 Lynch-Bages, Pauillac
Review Date: 05-24-2017
2016 Lynch Bages 75 CS 19M 4CF “Sweet ripe red and black fruit, raspberry, cassis with glossy oak. Great freshness as well as concentration, a classic strong claret with great fruit. Jean Michel compares it to his legendary 1989; my first vintage in Bordeaux (killer wine says CB), a 3 Star wine and vintage! Ralph Sands

2016 Angélus, St-Emilion
Review Date: 05-23-2017
”Pure nose of deep, old vine Merlot, strong sweetness and structure, deep raspberry fruit, powerful and lush with great concentration and persistence throughout the long finish. Great, great, wine! 3 Stars." Ralph Sands

2016 Croix de Beaucaillou, St-Julien
Review Date: 05-23-2017
Criox de Beaucaillou has great freshness on the nose, high toned silky textured fruit all in perfect balance. This is a WOW 2nd wine and I will be a buyer! 2 Stars. Believe me it is very hard to find a better tasting wine than Les Croix!

2016 Langoa-Barton, St-Julien
Review Date: 05-23-2017
Ch. Langoa Barton…$49.99 Mags $99.99 Langoa Barton has beautifully fresh, spicy raspberry fruit, nice texture, very pretty with all parts perfectly balanced. 2 Stars! Ralph

2016 Palmer, Margaux
Review Date: 05-19-2017
Grand Vin is 47% Cabernet Sauvignon 47%M 12%CF with 65% new oak. The wine starts with sweet, delicious black-red fruits with great viscosity, a bit firmer and stronger than Alter Ego but the tannins are finer and rounder, literally seamless. In my opinion it blows away Ch. Margaux. 3 Stars!

2016 Marquis d'Alesme, Margaux
Review Date: 05-18-2017
2016 Marquis d’Alseme is 70% CS, 30% M, 10% PV. Framed by a super bright, effusive nose of sweet blackberry and blueberry that floats briskly across the palate, this is firm, pure and fresh, linear and so attractive! 2 Stars for the first time!

2016 d'Aiguilhe, Côtes de Castillon
Review Date: 05-17-2017
If you love rich, exotic Merlot and don't want to wait, d'Aiguilhe is your wine, as it is one of Bordeaux's great Right Bankers to drink young. The 2016 is loaded with sweet round fruit and soft textured. Really delicious wine that reminds me of the fantastic 2005. 1.5 Stars

2016 Ormes de Pez, St-Estèphe
Review Date: 05-17-2017
Les Ormes de Pez is a wine that is always one of Bordeaux greatest values from the Lynch-Bages team, especially in a great vintage like 2016: Nice fruity, forward and zesty black fruits, great freshness and bright acidity, really nice tasting Ormes! 1 Star.

2016 Clos du Marquis, St-Julien
Review Date: 05-17-2017
Clos du Marquis was the 2nd wine of Las Cases for 105 years and this single parcel across the D-2 is now bottled on its own. I have collected this great wine since the 1989 vintage as it is always very close in quality to Las Cases. Impressive levels of silky red fruit, freshness and strike, good acid and power. 2 Stars! Outstanding and outstanding value.

2016 Poujeaux, Moulis
Review Date: 05-17-2017
Another 2 Star/Outstanding wine from Ch. Poujeaux! Great nose! Strong, deep, round fruit that displays both the strength of the Cabernet and the great fruit of the Merlot. Great silky texture on the palate and a long strong finish. Serious wine that I will buy again for my collection. Among the greatest buys in all of Bordeaux wine in 2016 that include Cantemerle, Ormes de Pez, Meyney, Goulee and Maucaillou. Ralph Sands

2016 Meyney, St-Estèphe
Review Date: 05-16-2017
2016 much like 2014 is outstanding in St-Estephe and Ch. Meyney is again a fabulous value. Deep, sweet, tasty fruit with hints of chocolate and cherries, lively on the palate. Just superb, 2 Stars!

2016 Pape Clément, Pessac-Léognan
Review Date: 05-16-2017
Love it! 2 stars for now and possibly 3 for Pape Clement Rouge (Very impressive all 3 times tasted. Layers of dark grapey fruit all in good focus and with nice freshness, fine tannins,lenght and great taste!).

2008 Fallet-Dart Vintage Brut Champagne
Review Date: 05-05-2017
This vintage 2008 Champagne is an absolute steal! The wine is so bright and tightly focused. To me it has the intensity of fruit found in the finest 2014 white burgundies and a lovely chalky finish. I could certainly love it right now with a slice of country pate but this wine will really reward time in the cellar and at this price that is where I'm putting it.
Price: $39.99 Add To Cart

2011 Fonseca Late Bottled Vintage Port
Review Date: 05-05-2017
Wow, the greatest port value I have tasted in many years! Super sweet with flavors of chocolate covered cherries and cassis. Beautifully, soft and delicious. Far better than many VINTAGE ports produced in the 70's and 80's. If you have never tried a good port, this is on heck of a great way to start. I will be buying a few to keep me away from my vintage ports.

2016 Labégorce, Margaux
Review Date: 05-03-2017
There is absolutely no doubt that the dynamic ownership of Natalie Perrodo and her team of winemaker Marjolaine de Coninck and director Delphine Kolosa have turned Ch. Labegorce and sister estate Ch. Marquis d'Alesme into the hottest values in all of Margaux wine. We tasted this wine 3 times and showed great each time. 2016 Ch. Labegorce is 52% Merlot 38CS 6CF 4PV a big wine with deep juicy fruit with nice richness, good zesty mineral finish. Super Value, 1 Star.

2016 d'Armailhac, Pauillac
Review Date: 05-03-2017
” Ch. d’Armaillac features lively black cherry fruit, racy acidity in a tight, elegant but strong package. 1 Star”.

2016 Capbern, St-Estèphe
Review Date: 05-03-2017
Ch. Capbern is 90%CS Pretty intense, lovely deep red fruit, nice fresh and firm claret. Very nice baby Calon, Superb value. 1 Star.

2016 Cos d'Estournel, St-Estèphe
Review Date: 04-25-2017
2016 Cos d'Estournel is a great wine! Loaded with exotic black fruits, powerful but in perfect focus. Lovely middle fruit texture and style, super long finishing wine. Better than Mouton and Lafite! 3 Star Wine and candidate for wine of the vintage.

2014 Tapiz "Alta Collection" Cabernet Sauvignon Mendoza
Review Date: 04-14-2017
Mr. Suckling's note is right on the money, but I think the wine drinks beautifully right now with just a bit of air. Very tasty!

2016 Kalinda Reserve North Coast Sauvignon Blanc
Review Date: 03-01-2017
The K&L owners started our house brand Kalinda in the mid-1980s so there have been at least 35 Kalinda Sav Blancs since then with many great successes from top notch estates. This new release may be my all-time favorite. Super clean and shining SB with striking aromatics of light apricot, lime and white flowers. Fresh, crisp and delicious; a fantastic warm weather sipper! Buy it early and heavy.
Price: $17.99 Add To Cart

Wine Club


2009 Tronquoy-Lalande, St-Estèphe
Review Date: 01-15-2017
We at K&L certainly respect the great second growth Château Montrose, the masculine, stoic pillar of a wine that never wavers. But the huge buzz coming from Montrose these days is all about the other wine they make there, located about 100 yards away: Château Tronquoy-Lalande. Very few wines in my 38 years here have had such a meteoric rise in popularity— and it’s all about great taste! The 2009 Tronquoy-Lalande is just loaded with delicious, deep, purple-blue fruit—I wish I could have this wine in stock forever! Hundreds of cases already sold and it’s our last shot at this beauty.

2012 L'Evangile, Pomerol
Review Date: 07-27-2016
This is one of the greatest wines of the vintage! The rich, black fruit is sexy, polished and persistent; like a Ferrari. L'Evangile is just a fabulous-tasting wine in any vintage, and this tastes like a great one. 93% Merlot and 7% Cabernet Franc.

2000 Sarget de Gruaud-Larose, St-Julien
Review Date: 07-08-2016
Finding perfectly stored older Bordeaux at a decent price from a good producer is extremely tough and one of the reasons we deal with so many different negociants in Bordeaux. The 1999 vintage was not one of power and concentration like 2000, it was far softer and easier to drink with nice soft-ripe fruit. My notes reflect exactly that as I told Clyde on the way home on the plane from the 1999 evaluation..."I don't think I have ever written down, tastes good so many times for young wines". The second wine of Gruaud Larose from 1999 is drinking beautifully now showing soft, warm, developed herbal fruit flavors with hints of earth and leather. The 2000 is a few years away from the perfect drinking window and is a much tighter, stronger and fresher expression with some nice red current fruit underneath the wood. Both wines are a steal for mature Bordeaux.
Price: $49.99 Add To Cart
WS 91

2015 Smith-Haut-Lafitte, Pessac-Léognan
Review Date: 06-03-2016
Smith Haut Lafitte- 63%CS 33M Round and broad with loads of grapey ripe-sweet fruit that coat the entire mouth with hints of licorice and spice. Long finishing and very tasty. Another delicious SHL! 2 Stars!

2015 Malartic-Lagravière, Pessac-Léognan
Review Date: 06-03-2016
Malartic Lagraviere- Absolutely pure sweet red fruit, a wine of freshness and elegance. Not a hint of heaviness, perfect balance and focus. 2 Stars!

2015 Canon-la-Gaffelière, St-Émilion
Review Date: 06-02-2016
Canon La Gaffiliere- 55%M 40CF 5% CS This is a strong CLG with elegance!. Penetrating red fruit, very precise and focused with firm structure. Needs at least 10 years. 2 Stars!

2015 Canon, St-Émilion
Review Date: 05-31-2016
Canon- 72%M 28CF You have to go all the way back to 1982 to find a Ch. Canon that rivals this wine. In 2015 Canon takes its place alongside VCC, and La Consiellante as the greatest wines of elegance in 2015. Beautiful red fruit with spice, rich middle fruit in perfect harmony and a super clean dry finish. This is a complete wine with great freshness, perfect extraction and by no means sweet. This is a great dry wine, without huge opulent fruit that is all the rage theses days, it is all about perfect balance; a mirror image of the legendary 1982. 3 Stars

2015 Cheval Blanc, St-Émilion
Review Date: 05-20-2016
Cheval Blanc- 45%CF 55M Elegant, pure red fruit, just superb! Not a hint of over extraction or heaviness; a wine in perfect balance and long finishing. Just delicious! Perfect wine??? Just might be! 3 Stars

2015 Pétrus, Pomerol
Review Date: 05-20-2016
Petrus- Fantastic, effusive aromas of bright red fruits jump out of the glass! Petrus has great purity of fruit followed by good solid tannins with no hard edges. Not heavy in any way, fine freshness and great natural acidity. I wrote down that some great wines are soft and plush, some are powerful and strong, some are a combination of all the great elements; like this one! 3 Stars

2015 Croix de Beaucaillou, St-Julien
Review Date: 05-20-2016
Le Croix de Beaucaillou- The first wine, Ducru Beaucaillou may well be the wine of the vintage and the second wine Le Criox shows you exactly why as it is also fantastic wine! Sleek, racy wine with plenty of black fruits and cassis that explode in the mid palate, it possesses wonderful sweet tannins and texture throughout the finish. Impressive and delicious! For the first time for me…2 Stars!

2015 Branaire-Ducru, St-Julien
Review Date: 05-20-2016
Branaire Ducru- 65% CS 26M Some estates in Bordeaux fit the style of the vintage better than others and in the case of 2015 Branaire fits like a glove. Branaire is always first and foremost about elegance and great taste, and owner Patrick Maroteaux had a big smile on his face when he said that elegance is the calling card of 2015 and I wholeheartedly agree. I tasted it 3 times, with almost exact notes. Beautiful, sweet red fruits of cherry and cranberry, lovely balance, drive and elegance. The whole package and I love it! 2 Stars!

2015 Langoa-Barton, St-Julien
Review Date: 05-20-2016
Langoa Barton- Beautiful, fresh red fruits on the nose and on the palate. This crisp claret styled Langoa is one of the best I’ve ever tasted! 2 Stars

2015 Léoville-Barton, St-Julien
Review Date: 05-20-2016
Leoville Barton- 86% Cabernet 14M Very strong and linear Cabernet fruit for Leoville Barton on display here. Good freshness and purity and feels like lower alcohol. Good wine and an elegant Leoville Barton. 2 Stars

2015 Pontet-Canet, Pauillac
Review Date: 05-20-2016
Pontet Canet- The lively bright purple fruit is so very pure and tasty! Lots of blueberry and black currant fruit with great freshness and delicious taste. Nice elegance, no hard tannins, perfect extraction. Claret style; which means crisp and fresh! 2 Stars

2015 Valandraud, St-Émilion
Review Date: 05-13-2016
Valendraud- Wow! Super ripe, exotic, big juice with very impressive tannins under control. 2 Stars! Ralph Sands

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More Favorites

Ralph Sands is also a fan of the following items. To become a fan of Ralph Sands, click here to join Ralph Sands's Personal Sommelier Service.
1994 Léoville-Barton, St-Julien ($109.99)

2005 Pichon-Baron, Pauillac ($189.99)

2005 La Fleur de Boüard, Lalande-de-Pomerol ($49.99)