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K&L Staff Recommendations
91 points Wine & Spirits: "(Best buy) Another great value from the Bousquet family, this is made from organic grapes grown in the chalky and stony soils of Gualtallary. The high altitude shows in a subtly herbal scent, while the wine focuses on ripe red fruit and spices. This is a textbook cabernet, with the firm acidity and a solid structure, but it's also easy to dirnk and ready for steak." (4/2016)
Wine Spectator: "This creamy red takes a modern tack, with mocha and spice accents to the pureed boysenberry fruit. Bright and balanced, with a lightly chewy finish of moderate length. Negroamaro, Primitivo and Cabernet Sauvignon. Drink now through 2018. 1,400 cases imported." (6/2015)
The Verquiere estate has been passed down from father to son for many generations and is now managed by brothers Romain and Thibaut Chamfort. Following age-old traditions and sustainable practices, the estate was recently certified organic. The Cotes du Rhone is a blend of 80% Grenache and 20% Syrah, grown on chalky clay soils with loads of large pebbles in the vineyards. Verquiere recently returned to us after a long hiatus and we are pleased to have them back.
A blend of 80 percent Grenache and 20 percent Carignane from a family-run winery in Châteauneuf-du-Pape.
In the region of Cariñena, the Garnacha grape variety finds a lovely expression, one which is less high octane and lighter on its feet than in some of the neighboring regions. This easy drinker is a terrific bargain for anyone looking for a house red or a wine for a celebration.
Just to the north of Cobieres and to the east of the walled city of Carcassonne, lies Minervois. The appellation has equally diverse soils like Corbieres but limestone and clay are its primary ones. This is a warm region with a very Mediterranean climate. The hills are covered with the local scrub, known as garrigue, forests and vineyards. Our newest producer from the region is Domaine Tour Boisée. The domaine dates back to 1826 and is still run by its descendants. Now farming about 200 hectares of vines, the winery was recently certified organic. This ... Read More »
Coming from a single, small tank of press wine from their Casablanca Valley vineyards, located close to the cooling influence of the Pacific, this is delicious Pinot Noir! Brightly fruited, and bolstered by firm tannins that provide structure without distraction, I would be hard pressed to think of a tastier, more honest expression of Pinot, especially if what you are after is a highly drinkable wine that does not aim to be the biggest, the most fruity or the most highly awarded. This is a great deal in everyday Pinot! (Joe Manekin, K&L Chilean wine buye... Read More »
The Wolftrap is a robust, lively blend of Syrah, Mourvedre, and Viognier. From Neal Martin at erobertparker.com: "Robert Parker recently tasted Mark Kent's (a.k.a. Mr Boekenhoetskloof) Wolftrap red and white and came to the same conclusion as I in recent years: these are just wonderful bang for bucks wines that are thoughtfully crafted at this price point."
This has been the #1 selling Italian wine for more than a decade at K&L! You can't get that kind of continued success without a supremely fantastic quality-to-price ratio. The southern Tuscan coast is a breadbasket of winemaking, with stable temperatures and a solid history of quality yet no fame and fortune. Incredibly priced bargains come out of the region, and the proof is in the bottle. This wine is wonderful, soft, forward and easy-to-drink Sangiovese with an enticing mixture of cherry, plum and earth. Eminently drinkable.
90 points James Suckling: "Lots of nice fresh fruit with strawberry and lemon aromas and flavors. Medium to light body. Clean finish. Drink now" (7/2016) K&L Notes: This blend of Sangiovese and Merlot is concentrated and sexy, with intense notes of forest berries, baking spice, and vanilla. It's deep and round, a perfect match for aged cheeses and roasted meats.
90 points Robert Parker's Wine Advocate: "A softer, more lush and voluptuous texture can be found in the 2013 7 Deadly Zins, which is also 100% Zinfandel from Lodi. The production here is 280,000 cases! To produce such a high-volume wine of this quality is pretty remarkable winemaking. Loads of ripeness, fruit, glycerin and medium to full-bodied silky mouthfeel make for a delicious effort.... Year in year out, this is one of the best value wineries in the entire world. Working from grape sources in Lodi, they offer an assortment of wines, but their top cuvées are always the rather solid, full-fl ...Read More »
91 points Wine Spectator: "***Best Values*** This ripe red is filled with plenty of dark chocolate and Asian spice notes up front, wrapped around flavors of roasted plum, dark currant and wild herb. Features a luscious mouthfeel, with a finish supported by medium-grained tannins. Drink now through 2020. 30,000 cases imported. (KM)" (5/2016)
"The best Cabernet Sauvignon under $10 that I have tasted in nearly 9 years of working here." - Joe Manekin (K&L Spanish Wine Buyer) This was produced from a 30-year-old Cabernet Sauvignon vineyard in the Vino de la Tierra de Castilla appellation (a large swath of land in the region of La Mancha), this Cab has delicious, balanced dark currant fruit, and a subtle influence from a six-month stint in American oak barrels. This nicely-priced Spanish Cabernet has been a staff favorite for two vintages running.
Costières de Nîmes is at the southernmost part of the Rhône Valley, sitting on the opposite bank of Chateauneuf du Pape. One of our best new finds is Château de l'Ermitage which produces three terrific values with imminent drinkability. The estate's history traces back to the 12th century when the winery produced wine for the pilgrims of St-Jacques de Compostelle who were traveling the Santiago de Compostela. The property is now owned by the Castillon family, and today Michel and his son Jerome manage the vineyards and winemaking. The "Victor" is named f... Read More »
90 points Vinous: "Brilliant ruby. Smoke-accented dark berries and cherry on the fragrant nose. Smooth, sweet and open-knit, offering pliant blackberry and violet pastille flavors that tighten up and gain focus on the back half. Nicely plays richness off vivacity and finishes with very good persistence and supple tannins, leaving a juicy berry note behind. This wine was fermented in stainless steel tanks, with the malo taking place in clay amphoras, followed by eight months of aging in used French and American oak. (JR)" (12/2015)
93-94 points Raymond Chan: "Approx. 35% clone 5, 15% Abel, 7% 10/5, the remainder Dijon clones, the fruit from 45% Southern Valley hillside and 50% Southern Valleys flat sites, and 5% from the company’s ‘Conders Bend’ vineyard, vines around 10 y.o., partially indigenous yeast fermented to 13.5% alc. with 5% whole bunch, the wine spending 25 days on skins and aged 10 months in 20% new French oak barriques. Full and even, purple-hued ruby-red colour, lighter on edge, youthful in appearance. The nose is fresh and softly voluminous with primary aromas of ripe black cherries, along with ...Read More »
92 points Bob Campbell: "Bright, fresh and reasonably concentrated Pinot Noir with strongly varietal plum and cherry flavours. Nice purity and a fine-grained texture. The wine has an honesty and vinosity (as opposed to "fruitiness") that I like. Excellent value at this price. SRP $17.99" K&L Notes: Exceptional value in Pinot Noir. This wine from Mt. Hector is truly one of the best value reds we have in store. Given that it's Pinot Noir (a notoriously difficult / expensive grape variety to cultivate) the quality for price ratio is even more astounding! Master of Wine Bob Campbell (NZ's most p... Read More »
91 points Stephen Tanzer's International Wine Cellar: "(raised entirely in concrete): Brilliant ruby. Pure, high-pitched aromas of redcurrant, strawberry, blood orange and fresh rose, plus a bright mineral overtone. Vibrant and precise on the palate, offering sappy red fruit and floral pastille flavors lifted by spice and mineral nuances. Closes spicy, nervy and long, with silky tannins making a late appearance. Finding a wine with this much clarity and precision is a tough job at double and even triple the price of this one. (JR)" (9/2014) 90 points Robert Parker's Wine Advocate: "Made from vines planted in 1915, the 2013 Garnacha Negra comes from th ...Read More »
"Year in and year out one of our best values is Pinot Noir. If you don't believe me, just ask any K&L customer." (Illya Haase, K&L Staff Member) This wine comes to us from Sonoma County's Martin Ray Winery, owned by Courtney Benham (creator of the Blackstone brand). This multi-county blend of Pinot Noir has been well-received in recent years, maybe not tipping the point-scales over 90, but earning consistent praise for the solid varietal character it delivers for a modest price.
91 points Wine & Spirits: "Mencía at its best can be sweetly ripe while still tasting as vibrant and juicy as this wine does. It's full of crisp red fruit and nuanced spice-eminently drinkable. In fact, there's little better to accompany charcuterie." (10/2014) 90 points Vinous: "Bright violet color. Lively and focused on the nose, displaying scents of red berries, cherry pit, licorice and fresh flowers. Tangy redcurrant and bitter cherry flavors show very good depth and put on weight with aeration. Clean, minerally and precise, with strong closing thrust and lingering spiciness. (JR)" (9/2014) Robert Parker's Wine Advocate: "The entr ...Read More »
Inventory: Redwood City
Vinous: "Pale orange. Aromas of fresh red berries, orange and lavender are lifted by a suggestion of chalky minerals. Juicy and tightly focused, offering strawberry, blood orange and succulent herb flavors that deepen on the back half. Finishes dry and nervy, showing good focus and lingering citrus and red fruit qualities. (JR)" (6/2016) K&L Notes: Praise for the producer from Wine Advocate: "I continue to be blown away by the quality coming from Domaine de la Bila Haut, which is run with the Chapoutier team. They’ve continued to grow these Roussillon releases, and even at th... Read More »
Based in the Rioja Alta village of Badarán, Martínez Alesanco is a truly original bodega producing tasty, characterful wine for laughably low prices. They are entirely self reliant in grapes, all of which are grown in their home village of Badarán, one of the coldest zones of Rioja Alta. The vineyards are closer to the Sierra de la Demanda mountains, a range whose elevation and visible snow covered peaks are even more dramatic than the Sierra Cantabria range to the north. This is made from Tempranillo grown in iron rich clay soils. In fact, this red tin... Read More »
The Elsa Malbec comes from Valentin Bianchi's Doña Elsa estate in the cool reaches of San Rafael, Mendoza. With just a kiss of French oak, the rich fruit dominates this easy-drinking red, which has barely-there tannins. Invoke your inner-Argentine and drink this alongside grilled flank steak with a garlicky chimichurri. Many previous vintages recommended by Wine Enthusiast as a "Best Buy."
90 points Robert Parker's Wine Advocate: "Made from 100% Grenache planted in decomposed granitic soils, and aged four months in new and used French oak, this deep ruby/purple-colored 2012 Garnacha Old Vines demonstrates what high quality can be found in obscure Spanish appellations. Aromas of kirsch, lavender and strawberries emerge from this medium-bodied, dense, rich 2012. (RP)" (11/2013) 90 points Stephen Tanzer's International Wine Cellar: "Inky ruby. Deeply scented bouquet of dark berries, bitter chocolate and black pepper, with a smoky quality gaining strength with air. Juicy and sweet, showing a chewy texture to its pungent blackberry and blueb ...Read More »
From the importer: "Chateau Cap de Merle is a delicious St-Emilion that represents excellent value. The owners and winemakers — brothers Alain and Jean-Marie Bel — use no wood in vinifying Cap de Merle so its pure, rich and savory Merlot fruit comes through directly upon tasting. The winery’s excellent plateau vineyard on sandstone soil assures optimal ripeness of fruit and supple tannins...2012 is a superb vintage at Cap de Merle. It saw the continuation of the advances in the Bel’s winemaking, aimed at making Cap de Merle even more deeply colored, fres... Read More »
From the second label of Sobon estates comes Shenandoah Vineyards' full-bodied, full-fledged Amador-style Zinfandel. Its perfume hints at blackberries, cherries and cocoa while the mild tannins, elegant structure and strong fruit flavors make this a satisfying pairing for meats and cheeses.
Rich, ripe, soft, full bodided, fruit driven Cabernet that is great drinking for the money.
Wine Enthusiast: "*Best Buy* This wine has a strong layer of spicy oak from the first sniff through the lingering finish. Deep, ripe black cherry and blackberry flavors fill in the palate, and the full body of moderate tannins creates a mouthfeel that’s plush." (7/2016) K&L Notes: Producer notes: "Dark garnet in color with a bouquet that is full of dark berry fruit, such as Blueberry, Blackberry and Black Cherry. Oak aging has contributed just a hint of smoke to the nose. The round, creamy wine delivers an abundance of the fruit flavors promised by the olfactory. The fruit and oak are... Read More »
If you love the liter bottles of Allram's Grüner, then you have to try the 2012 Zweigelt--it's the red wine equivalent: fresh, uncompromising, juicy wine for everyday drinking. Can be served slightly chilled, and make sure you have a good sized glass, you'll save yourself the initial trip of having to get up and get more. Lighter bodied red with a touch of spice and cool blue and red fruits. A fun time red, for sure.
Inventory: San Francisco
90 points Robert Parker's Wine Advocate: "The grapes of the 2014 Malbec were harvested very early and 70% of them fermented using carbonic maceration. The freshness is so impressive that I had to look at the alcohol level, which is half a degree lower than in the fresher 2013 vintage! There are some herbal aromas (think raspberry leaf), bright cherries and flowers, even lilies. The palate is very tasty, with some subtle bitter flavors, fine tannins and very good acidity. This is a triumph over the vintage. Bravo! This should be readily available, as they produced 500,000 bottles of it. And it's ...Read More »
Wine Enthusiast: "Bright purple in color, this dwells on the natural dark fruitiness of Malbec, without any wood aging. Black currants and berries dominate this bright wine with its attractive acidity. It's a wine to drink now for its vigorous fruitiness. (RV)" (6/2016) Wine Spectator: "Currant and underripe blackberry flavors are matched with dried herb, peppercorn and mineral notes in this crisp, medium-bodied red. Moderate tannins and a tangy acidity persist through the finish. Drink now through 2018. (GS)" (9/2016)
95 points Decanter: "Gorgeous nose exhibiting an array of aromas such as peppery mulberry, sour and black cherry, violet and a subtle touch of wild strawberry jam. The palate is full, complex, with a fantastic energy and bursting with ripe dark plums; tannins are impressively silky and freshness is amazing. An exceptional nectar from the Agrelo terroir." K&L Notes: Michael Schachner of Wine Enthusiast writes: "As recently as the 1990s, many Argentine wineries produced crude, inconsistent wines that were heavy and lacked balance. Today, following in the footsteps of quality-minded pionee... Read More »
This is the same delicious Underwood Pinot Noir as the bottle, but in an easy-to-transport pop top can! No, it doesn't affect the taste--it's still packed with strawberry and pomegranate fruit, with the same supple texture, acidity and peppery spice and minerally finish. Perfect for summer sipping, for camping, boating, picnicking, beaching or rocking out at the Hollywood Bowl! From the winery's tasting notes: Cherries, raspberries, and chocolate."
Bob Campbell: "Reasonably concentrated, vibrant Pinot Noir with raspberry, cherry and spice flavours. Slightly rustic tannins balance sweet fruit to give a moderately drying finish. Offers good value at this price." (8/2014) Robert Parker's Wine Advocate: "Medium to deep ruby-purple in color, the 2013 Pinot Noir has ripe cherry and raspberry notes on the nose with nuances of dried herbs, lavender and fallen leaves. Light to medium-bodied, fresh and lively in the mouth with just enough fruit and rounded tannins, it finishes medium to long. (LPB)" (12/2014) Wine Spectator: "Marked by plenty of vegetal details of herbs and ...Read More »
Sourced from across the broad Western Cape region of South Africa, Radley & Finch offers this Cabernet Sauvignon at an attractive entry-level price. The 2014 vintage saw a high quality crop with an appropriate amount of rainfall, especially for unirrigated vineyards. From winemaker Thinus Kruger: "Balanced entry reflects classical Cabernet Sauvignon flavours, dark berries, country herbs and a hint of fresh red cherries. Medium weight palate displays an elegant and very approachable tannin."
Aged in 100% stainless steel. Even though it's named after Alexander the Great, this Pinot Noir is bright, refreshing and just fun to drink. A fantastic everyday Pinot for less than $15!
Wine Spectator: "A modest core of singed vanilla, plum and licorice notes is backed by a slightly firm thread of cedar on the finish. (Web-2015)"
Inventory: San Francisco
Wine Spectator: "An easygoing, fruity style, on the light side, with candied cherry, cranberry and earth flavors. (BS, Web-2015)" K&L Notes: Cetamura is Coltibuono's well-made trattoria-style Chianti that's perfect for everyday meals and gatherings. It's produced entirely in steel tanks and offers delicious Sangiovese fruit from start to finish.
Qupé owner Bob Lindquist has been working in the Central Coast vineyards since 1975, while the winemaking trade in the area was still in its infancy. He worked for Jim Clendenen (who would later found Au Bon Climat) at Zaca Mesa Winery and founded Qupé in 1982. From the winery: "This full bodied red is made from grapes sourced from cool and warm climate vineyards. The cool climate components bring spice, freshness, acidity and lower alcohol, and warm climate components provide the deep, forward fruit. Because the wine is nicely balanced it is very enjoya... Read More »
Wine Spectator: "Bright and expressive, this is a light-footed, fruity style, with blackberry and spice flavors on an easygoing frame. Drink now. (Web Only-2016) (HS)" K&L Notes: Steak House Cabernet Sauvignon delivers an excellent value as an unusual cross region blend. It includes roughly 1/3 parts of the blend from each the Snake River Valley (ID), Columbia Valley (WA), and Lodi (CA).
Dark fruits highlighted with spicy notes of cinnamon and cedar lead into a medium bodied wine with flavors of cassis and licorice. Because of the bright acidity, this wine goes with a variety of foods.
Inventory: San Francisco
El Libre is a private label featuring tasty versions of Argentina's most famous grape varieties. Bonarda is often overlooked, but can produce a wine of real originality and freshness. In this example, savory dark fruited aromas lead to a meaty palate, with some of Bonarda's trademark raspy fruit and rusticity. A great wine for your BBQ's! (Joe Manekin, K&L Argentinean wine buyer)
90 points Robert Parker's Wine Advocate: "Made from 45% Syrah, 40% Grenache, 8% Counoise and the rest Mourvedre, the 2013 Cuvee le Bec is a smokin’ value and savvy readers should buy a case. Giving up lots of ripe dark fruits, ground herbs, licorice and wood smoke, it’s ripe, mouthfilling and loaded with charm. Drink bottles over the coming 4-5 years. (JD)" (8/2016) Wine Spectator: "A red blend that's loaded with pepper, plus zesty flavors of black raspberry, toffee and smoky herb. Syrah, Grenache, Counoise and Mourvèdre. Drink now through 2022. 5,000 cases made." (3/2016)
This wonderful value Chilean Cabernet Sauvignon is as old school and traditional as the burlap covered bottle itself! Red fruits combine with subtle leafy and earthy notes and balanced acidity in this well made, traditional Chilean Cab from the Maipo Valley. Terrific value. (Joe Manekin, K&L Chilean and Argentinean wine buyer)
Beach wine alert — Pinot in a can! For everyday drinking, JackHammer is your go-to Pinot Noir. Founded by California wine industry veterans Stephen Dooley and Sandy Garber with the express purpose of making delicious wine that won't break the bank. Juicy, fruity, and not to be missed!
This rich South African red blend is the perfect party wine. Gaining depth and spice from Syrah, verve from Mourvèdre, and perfume from Viognier, it is easy to love--and easy to drink by the gallon! Fortunately, its price tag is friendly, too. From the winery: "Ripe blackberries and spicy pepper flavours from the Syrah driving this blend are met with a soft and supple palate. Good density with lingering flavours and a hint of oak. Soft, supple tannins makes for early, easy drinking."
Inventory: Redwood City