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K&L Staff Recommendations
91 points Wine Spectator: "**100 Top Values of 2016**Broad and generous, open-textured and inviting, offering cherry, currant and red plum flavors that swirl enticingly among fine-grain tannins and creamy oak on the finish. (HS)" (11/2016) 90 points Wine Enthusiast: "*Best Buy* The aromas of milk chocolate, cherry and spice bring immediate appeal. The flavors are silky and polished, showing equal parts fruit and barrel." (12/2016) K&L Notes: From the winery: 80% Cabernet Sauvignon, 18% Merlot, 2% Cabernet Franc. The wine spends 12 months in 65% older and 35% new oak barrels, both French and American.
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 »
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.
Wine Spectator: "*Best Values* 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. (AN)" (6/2015)
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 2 decades 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.
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.
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 »
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 Chateau 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 pilgirms of Saint Jacques de Compostelle who were traveling the Santiago de Compostela. The property is now owned by Castillon family and today Michel and his son Jerome manage the vineyards and winemaking. The "Victor" is named for ... 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.
90 points Vinous: "Opaque ruby. Incisive aromas of peppery red fruits and dried flowers, with subtle vanilla and mineral nuances adding complexity. Juicy redcurrant and bitter cherry flavors become deeper with air while maintaining very good clarity. The bitter cherry note repeats emphatically on the vibrant finish, which is framed by youthfully chewy tannins. Give this youngster some air--or, better yet, stash it in the cellar for another five years. (JR)" (3/2016) 90 points Wine & Spirits: "A dark and savory Cabernet, this wine completely fills its claret-like weight, neither ambitious nor weak in i ...Read More »
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.
Just to the north of Corbieres 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 »
Located in the town of Roa, which is part of the Burgos district, Lambuena is a producer of D.O. Ribera del Duero wines and is one of our newest Spanish direct imports. Ideally situated in the central growing region of the Ribera del Duero, in an area known for the very high quality of its chalky clay soils and its extreme continental climate, Lambuena makes big, generously fruited, yet structured and ultimately classic Ribera del Duero wines, very difficult to find these days in this D.O. A careful hand harvest and native yeast fermentation in tank fo... Read More »
91 points Stephen Tanzer's International Wine Cellar: "Deep red. Sexy, expressive aromas of red fruits, lead pencil, licorice and flowers. Silky-sweet, broad and mouthfilling, with concentrated dark fruit and aromatic herb flavors. Finishes long and serious, with ripe, broad tannins and lingering, very intense floral notes. Very drinkable already but still young at six years of age, this Riserva is one of the best wines (Graticciaia excepted) from Agricole Vallone in years. (ID)" (3/2014) Robert Parker's Wine Advocate: "The 2008 Salice Salentino Riserva Vereto is a pure expression of Negroamaro that is aged in botte grande for up to eight mo ...Read More »
James Suckling: "A fresh and simple red with dried cherry and lemon aromas and flavors. Medium body, crisp finish." (11/2015)
"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.
Does Jean-Louis Denois ever fail to impress us? So far, this talented winemaker has an exceptional track record with K&L customers and staff alike. Denois' latest offering is this nifty little red that seriously over-delivers in the price-quality ratio department. The 2014 "Les Garrigues" is composed of Syrah, Grenache, Merlot, Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon. It exhibits a gorgeous pomegranate color, with fresh aromas of small red berry fruit and delicate hints of spice box. Subtle notes of tobacco leaf and licorice provide extra dimension that be... 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."
Made from Cabernet Franc grapes grown on a clay-limestone hillside, this fruity and aromatic wine drinks wonderfully, even when the wine is very young. The Cabernet France grapes are completely destemmed and vatted for 12-18 days, depending on the year. Fermentation in temperature-controlled stainless steel vats. The result is is an elegant, round and easy-to-drink wine that smells of violets and tastes of heaven!
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)
Inventory: San Francisco
Wine Enthusiast: "The wine, still young, has spice and tannins as well as toasty flavors. Its fruit is still developing but will become ripe and full of red berries. The acidity and crisp aftertaste are balanced and fruity. Drink from 2018. (RV)" (12/2016) K&L Notes: About the winery: "A family business for 3 generations, located in Sauveterre de Guyenne, Vignobles Ballarin produces red wines in Bordeaux and Bordeaux Supérieur appellation, under the names of Château Loyasson and Château Roc Levraut. The vineyard consists of 40 hectares of vines consists of 60% Merlot and 40% Cabernet ... Read More »
Rich, ripe, soft, full bodided, fruit driven Cabernet that is great drinking for the money.
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 »
We love this co-op, started in 1930 with 30 winemakers and now numbering 200, for their reliably delicious everyday wines. They are located in the foothills of the Languedoc's Cevennes mountains, along the Ceressou volcano, where shale, basalt, and limestone-clay soils meet an ideal Mediterranean climate for grape growing. This voluptuous blend of Syrah and Grenache is ruby red in glass with aromas of cassis and red fruits. It'd be a great accompaniment to a hearty mushroom risotto or a lamb chop.
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 drink and ready for steak." (4/2016)
Wine Spectator: "Ample spicy notes accent the cherry and brambly flavors. Creamy midpalate, with notes of tangerine on the finish." (5/2016)
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 »
92 points James Halliday: "Good hue and depth; the bouquet and palate sing from the same page, bringing black fruits, dried sage, black olive and oak together, and then laying a carpet of fine tannins underneath." (3/2014) 91 points Wine & Spirits: "This gentle cabernet is long on elegance and herbal spice. It offers a rich texture without tannic overload, its foresty fruit ranging from red cherry to boysenberry. A coastal cabernet for venison or other lean meats." (10/2014) 90 points Vinous: "Vivid ruby. Pungent scents of fresh cherry, blackcurrant and pipe tobacco, with a smoky nuance coming up with aeration. On the palate, gen ...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."
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 »
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)
Inventory: San Francisco
90 points James Suckling: "A fine and silky red with plum and chocolate character, medium body and a fresh finish. Real Chianti." (8/2016)
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 »
Wine Spectator: "Bright and juicy, with fresh flavors of red plum, currant and raspberry. Offers a plush, round finish. (KM, Web-2016)" K&L Notes: 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: "The 2014 Ercavio Roble is pure Tempranillo that followed a classical vinification, fermentation in stainless steel, malolactic fermentation in cement and a short aging (six months) in used French barriques. The nose is very classic, too, nicely crafted, fine with a nice combination between berry and spice with subtle oak. It has a commercial profile in a very pleasant way. The palate shows very good volume and a fine texture with elegant tannins. It tastes like a much more expensive wine. This is superb value and a faithful representation of Tempranillo ...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."
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).
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: A cleanly made Cab priced for everyday drinking. McManis's strategy of 100% stainles- steel fermentation followed by aging in a combination of new and used French and American oak enables them to produce a consistently tasty value Cabernet that continues to stand out in the under $10 category.
Like a southern Rhône wine, this blend of Grenache and Syrah has loads of black-fruited flavors with spices and a supple, loamy earthiness. Unlike many of the ultra-ripe baked qualities we expect in Côtes du Rhône, this wine leads with more freshness and brighter flavors. Coteaux Varois en Provence is in the west center of the appellation and is ringed by hills and mountains to the south, north and west. The soils are mostly limestone and clay with the two main distinctions being altitude (most vineyards average 350 meters) and a continental climate inf... Read More »
From the winemaker: "Deep ruby in color, the 2015 Cabernet Sauvignon from McManis Family Vineyards has aromas of bright blackberry. The medium body is accompanied by flavors of black cherry and black currant. The well rounded, creamy tannin structure is followed by hints of mocha and a smokey finish."
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 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)
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)
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.