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K&L Staff Recommendations
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 »
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.
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 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."
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 »
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.
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 »
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.
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.
"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.
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.
Inventory: San Francisco
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 »
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)
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."
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 »
Rich, ripe, soft, full bodided, fruit driven Cabernet that is great drinking for the money.
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 »
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 »
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."
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 »
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 »
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 »
Inventory: Redwood City
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 »
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 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)
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!
Inventory: Main Warehouse
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 »
Inventory: Main Warehouse
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.
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).
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 »
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)
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 »
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)
According to 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 on clay and limestone. Rémi Ballarin, 3rd generation of winemakers, manages the operation since 2001. Passionate about terroir of Bordeaux, he cultivates his vineyards in ways that preserves nature and the environment. The Château... 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."
Inventory: Main Warehouse
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!
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