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K&L Staff Recommendations
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 »
93 points James Suckling: "Aromas of flowers, lemon rind and dried cherries follow through to a full body, soft tannins and a savory finish. Really delicious. Drink or hold." (9/2015)
91 points James Halliday: "Traditional style. Little sign of oak, sweet core of fruit, deceptively assertive tannin but an overall impression of softness. It doesn't look to be an ageworthy style but it will be. Blackberry, iodine and raspberry notes. Ferrous tannin. Good length." (3/2014) 91 points Stephen Tanzer's International Wine Cellar: "Vivid ruby. Intense red and dark berry aromas complicated by notes of rose, white pepper and licorice. Explosive black raspberry and cherry compote flavors are firmed by a touch of bitter chocolate and show very good depth. Dusty tannins give grip to a long, focused finish. This wine acts like a ...Read More »
Wine Enthusiast: "*Best Buy* This bright blend of 75% Sangiovese, 15% Merlot and 10% Ciliegiolo discloses aromas of ripe berry and cooking spice. The soft, easy-drinking palate offers black cherry, white pepper and grilled sage alongside round tannins." (7/2015) K&L Notes: This Carato is a blend of 75% Sangiovese, 15% Merlot, and 10% Ciliegiolo and is just delicious: full, fleshy, voluptuous, sumptuous, truly hedonistic. We think at this price you too will be saying wow!
"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.
In the region of Cariñena, the Garnacha grape variety seems to find a lovely expression, one which is less high octane and lighter on its feet than in some of the neighboring regions. And, as ever, this is a terrific red wine bargain for anyone looking for an inexpensive house red or wine for any party, wedding, or other event.
A blend of 80 percent Grenache and 20 percent Carignane from a family-run winery in Châteauneuf-du-Pape. From the winery: "Ruby red colour with purplish reflections. On the nose, red fruits, raspberry, typical of young Grenache noir. On the palate, very aromatic and fresh supported by discreet, soft tannins. Smooth, quaffing."
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 »
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."
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 as well as 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.
On a high plateau in the heart of Chianti Classico, the team at Villa Trasqua lives by the "wine is made in the vineyard" ethos. They harvest grapes at their peak, and practice minimal interferance so the aromas of the terroir can shine through. Their "Traluna"—mostly Sangiovese with a touch of Alicante Buchet—is ample and generous, with deep cherry and baking spice notes.
"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 only a modest fee.
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."
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." (9/2014) 90 points Robert Parker's Wine Advocate: "Made from vines planted in 1915, the 2013 Garnacha Negra comes from the vil ...Read More »
92 points Wine & Spirits: "There are very few Carignans like this in Chile. Made from old vines planted in the 1960s, this takes a light, fresh approach, focused on fruit rather than pushing for superconcentration. With its pure, juicy ripe cherry flavor, it could bolster a plate of grilled sausages or develop for a few years in the cellar." (6/2014) 90 points James Suckling: "A spicy and balanced red with blueberries, blackberries and hints of slate. Full to medium body, fresh acidity and a clean finish. A stylish red. Drink now." (8/2014) Stephen Tanzer's International Wine Cellar: "Dark purple. Ripe plum and blueberry on the deeply scented nose. Plush ...Read More »
Wine Enthusiast: "Rich and dense, the wine has the fruitiness of the vintage along with a core of firmer tannins. Its black currant and berry flavors are right up front adding perfume to the acidity. Drink from 2016." (12/2013) Wine Spectator: "Light, with modest grip framing the dark cherry, tomato and tobacco notes." (12/2013)
Wine & Spirits: "Fragrant with bright scents of strawberries, this offers layers of smoky black tannins and notes of saddle leather. Round but not thick, it’s distinctly southern refreshment with anything off the grill." (6/2015) Wine Enthusiast: "Firm and savory, this opens with aromas of ripe berry, clove and graphite. On the palate, notes of clove and black pepper add depth to ripe Morello cherry and crushed raspberry flavors. Supple tannins offer support." (3/2015) Wine Spectator: "*Best Value* Juicy flavors of ripe wild strawberry and red licorice mark the start to this light- to medium-bodied red, with ...Read More »
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 south Tuscan coast is a breadbasket of winemaking, with stable temperatures and a solid history of quality yet no fame and fortune. Incredible price 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.
Inventory: San Francisco
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!
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 »
Composed of primarily Tempranillo grapes and made at Covila's facility, this is dark cherry fruited Tempranillo that is unoaked and delicious. The particularly cool conditions of the 2014 growing season produced fresh, crunchy, joven style Rioja this year. Enjoy this with a slight chill to highlight the freshness of the fruit. (Joe Manekin, K&L Spanish & Portuguese wine buyer)
Wine Advocate said of the producer, "The team at Delas Frere continues to make outstanding wines from just about everywhere in the Rhône Valley." (10/2015)
On the border of Tuscany, Lazio, and Umbria--the area that also happens to be the birthplace of the ancient Etruscan civilization--Paolo and Noemia d'Amico have built a winery deeply embedded in tradition. The landscape is a result of a long period of volcanic erosion, and is full of deep valleys of cliffs and rock walls. Their cellar is modeled after the Etruscans, and was built underneath the vines, ensuring that temps are always ideal. This Merlot-Sangiovese blend is full-bodied and bright-toned, with notes of violets and fresh cherries.
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 »
91 points Robert Parker's Wine Advocate: "Yields for the 2013 Monastrell (100% Monastrell aged six months in neutral French oak barrels, concrete and foudres) were 16 to 25 hectoliters per hectare, which is about half of that permitted in Burgundy. An amazing value, this wine boasts a dense blue/purple color as well as a sumptuous nose of blueberries, blackberries, scorched earth, licorice and forest floor. Stunningly pure and medium to full-bodied with oodles of fruit, this is a remarkable value to drink until the cows come home. Consume it over the next 2-3 years. Considered by many observers ...Read More »
Inventory: Main Warehouse
De La Terre is a fascinating project from prolific winemaker Tony Pritchard. The wines are very much a labor of love and I am delighted to be working with De La Terre in this direct import relationship. After a career at some of NZ's top commercial wineries and as a consultant winemaker, Tony has gone back to his roots and set up his own boutique operation making crafting tiny amounts of these delicious wines. The fruit for the wines is largely from a patchwork of unique vineyard blocks on the slopes of Te Mata Peak in Hawke's Bay. The soils here are ver... Read More »
Lora is a blend of certified organic Tempranillo and Syrah from one of the cooler parts of La Mancha (high up on the plateau not too far from the UNESCO heritage city of Cuenca). This is a delicious red - full of fresh fruited drinkability, but surprising structure from the minerality and balanced acidity. The winemaker and person who carefully sources this great organic fruit is none other than our friend Miguel Merino Navajas, son of Miguel Merino of Rioja fame! (Joe Manekin, K&L Spanish wine buyer)
Wine Spectator: "Cherry, leafy, orange peel and light smoky flavors show a traditional character in this savory red. Features light, firm tannins and a clean, slightly bitter finish. Drink now through 2017. (Web-2015)" K&L Notes: Bodegas Campo Viejo was born when two small, historic Rioja estates merged in 1959. The unusual name comes from the block of vineyard next to the original cellar, very old vines that the winemakers called "Old Friend" - Campo Viejo. This wine consists of 100% Tempranillo, aged for four months in oak barrels. While the fruit is red plum and dark cherry, the o... Read More »
There is a wonderful element of whimsy and joy at this tiny, family bodega located in Laguardia. The elephant logo, the onsite African art museum, as well as the name (there is no Señor de Lesmos, as it turns out) all speak to the family's joie de vivre and sense of humor. There is nothing funny about the quality of these wines, though. All estate fruit, hand harvested and carefully vinified with native yeasts, this is a hand-sewn wine with the purity, texture and elegance to prove it. Cuarteto is a classic, Alavesa style "maceración carbonica" wine whe... Read More »
90 points James Suckling: "A Malbec with sense and structure that is more refined and balanced than many. Medium body, fine tannins and a fresh finish. Drink now." (6/2015) 90 points Wine Enthusiast: "*Best Buy* Cassis and blackberry aromas are bold and show a feral side as this breathes. Fresh and charged up on the palate, this hits with cassis and blackberry flavors in front of a fruity, not oaky finish. Drink this pleasurable, well-made Malbec now through 2017." (10/2015) Wine & Spirits: "Filled with floral aromas, close to the scent of violets, this wine’s ripe cherry flavors flesh out its firm tannins and acidity. Perfect ...Read More »
Wine Spectator: "Smooth and compact, this red offers cherry, vanilla and light smoky notes, with accents of herb and licorice. A bit candied in character, but has lively acidity." (8/2014) K&L Notes: This delicious, 100% Garnacha from the Aragon "Garnacha Belt" D.O. of Campo de Borja, shows all the bright red cherry fruit you'd expect form this grape variety, with the added richness, texture and length which old vines deliver in this portion of Spain. A whole lot of value for the money.
Inventory: San Francisco
91 points Robert Parker's Wine Advocate: "The basic offering from proprietor Ramon Castano Santa, who owns a whopping 1,000 acres in Yecla, is the 2012 Hecula, which is sourced from a non-irrigated, single vineyard planted with 100% Monastrell. Aged in both tank and French oak, it comes from 60-80-year-old vines planted in limestone soils at a relatively high elevation of over 1,600 feet. Its opaque purple color is followed by copious aromas of blueberries, black raspberries, camphor, licorice, white flowers and a chalky limestone/dusty character. Full-bodied, rich and well-balanced, it is an in ...Read More »
92 points Wine & Spirits: "First produced by the Wetzel family in 1978, Sin Zin now comes from vineyards throughout Alexander Valley, from the valley floor to the benchlands and hills. While this wine’s name might suggest excess, it’s not an excessive Zinfandel at all. In fact, it’s quite clean and balanced, its mouthwatering acidity carrying refreshing black raspberry and bay laurel aromas through a cool, granular structure that feels earthy yet polished." (3/2015) Robert Parker's Wine Advocate: "Slightly less concentrated and savory, but still meritorious is the 2012 Sin Zin, a broad, round, juicy Zinfandel reve ...Read More »
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 well integrated and the complexity of the wine plays on the tongue long after the wine has been ingested."
Wine Spectator: "Bright, with cherry and berry fruit in a straightforward style. Balanced and ready to drink. (Web Only—2014)" 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. Winery notes: "Intense bright ruby red, cherry and blackberry nose with cinnamon and clove nuances. Full and well-balanced, soft but tasty, with good structure. Pleasant acidity, clean and persistent aftertaste."
Robert Parker's Wine Advocate: "The regular 2011 Crianza has plenty of lactic notes intermixed with roasted aromas, coffee, toast and hints of banana skin and ripe dark plums, The palate is medium-bodied, with polished, fine-grained tannins. It's easy to drink, approachable and an easy to understand Crianza. (LG)" (5/2015) Wine Spectator: "Herbal and smoke notes frame tart black cherry fruit and licorice flavors in this lively red. Crisp acidity leads the light, grippy tannins, giving way to the briary finish. This is a good food wine." (6/2015)
Wine Enthusiast: "*Best Buy* Welcoming and easy to drink, this full-bodied wine has mellow, ripe fruit flavors, light oaky accents and a warm sense of ripeness that doesn’t go over the top. Subtle tannins support the texture while keeping it smooth. The blend includes Zinfandel, Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon and Petite Sirah." (11/2015) Wine Spectator: "Soft and straightforward, with modest notes of raspberry and spicy herb. Zinfandel, Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Petite Sirah. (Web Only—2015)" K&L Notes: A juicy blend of California’s of Old Vine Zinfandel, Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Petite Sirah, thi... 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.
A perennial value-based favorite, Ravenswood's Vintners Blend Shiraz packs big punches full of mulberry, dark chocolate and roasted meats. Made by one of California's iconic producers.
Proprietor Jean-Marc Autran is the fourth generation in his family to grow grapes in the Rhone village of Sablet. He produced his first wine in 1985. With his family, he cultivates 30 hectares of vines with 3.5 in Gigondas, 12.5 in Sablet and 14 in Côtes du Rhône. The domaine has a variety of soil types for the vineyards including: sandy decalcified red clay, flint, clay, silt, chalk and gravel. The vine age ranges between 20 and 45 years old and everything is hand harvested. All the reds, with the exception of the Cotes du Rhone, are bottled unfined and... Read More »
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)"
From the winery: "Dark purple in color, this 2012 Mambo Red Blend showcases some earthy mushroom and sweet leather aromatics that take a turn to sweet plum and dark blackberry fruit with hints of Herbs De Provence and toasted cedar. In the mouth, the wine has a rich and wonderful depth showcasing flavors of black currants, molasses, tart black cherry, plum sauce, and hints of preserved orange rind, toasted dill, and blackened marshmallow. Our 2012 Hey Mambo red blend brings wonderful rich color and a layered decadent wine to your table. You can see eleme... Read More »
Composed of primarily Tempranillo grapes and made at Covila's facility, this is dark cherry fruited Tempranillo that is unoaked and delicious. Enjoy this with a slight chill to highlight the freshness of the fruit.