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K&L Staff Recommendations
92 points Robert Parker's Wine Advocate: "The 2014 Hazana Vinas Viejas is simply one of the greatest values in Rioja that money can buy. A blend of 85% Tempranillo and 15% Graciano, this collaboration between importer Eric Solomon and the owner and winemaker has produced an absolutely amazing Rioja from 45- to 70-year-old unirrigated, head-pruned vines. Loads of lead pencil shavings, black and red currants, licorice and tobacco leaf all jump from the glass of this dense, ruby/purple wine. Soft tannins, medium to full body and fabulous intensity, make for a sensational Rioja to drink over the nex ...Read More »
As is the case with so many other great spots in Spain, Bodega Casa Juan is located opposite the village church, in the beautiful walled pueblo of Laguardia. The winery is a converted flour mill, featuring concrete tanks for fermenting and blending the wine, and for ageing, barrels that are used for up to seven years. These are traditional Riojas in elaboration and spirit, though the site specificity of their Laguardia and Villabuena vineyards confers a fruit character all its own to these wines. And what fruit!This crianza is a potpouri of mixed berries... 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.
*A K&L direct import! This is our latest arrival from Miguel Merino, whom we like to call "the hardest working man in Rioja." Having begun his humble "retirement project" in the early 1990s by restoring an older bodega just down the hill from the historic town of Briones, Miguel either owns or rents to own a total of around 8 hectares of vines, all of which are located in Briones; not only is this village specific Rioja, but it happens to come from one of the most sought after villages in all of Rioja Alta, where many top bodegas have some of their most ... Read More »
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 James Suckling: "This has a beautiful depth of fruit with spice and dark fruits. Hints of parsley and cilantro. Full and super silky with a long and beautiful finish." (5/2013) K&L Notes: Composed of the same grapes in the same percentages as the Crianza, the Reserva is a barrel selection of wines that Angel feels can undergo longer aging in barrel and then in bottle. Aged a total of 27 months in barrels, then into concrete for more than a year, the Reserva also sees bottle aging until Angel deems it ready for release. This wine ramps up the intensity of the Crianza, with more pungen... Read More »
Robert Parker's Wine Advocate: "The 2004 Gran Reserva leans more towards the black fruit, with some notes of leather, ink and spices. It is a full-bodied wine, with perfumed flavors, meaty, whose tannins are still there and will require some powerful food. A young and powerful Gran Reserva. (LG)" (12/2013)
93 points Wine Spectator: "*Smart Buys* This rich red shows a deep core of plum, bramble and mineral, with notes of loam and game that impart a savory character. Solid tannins support a thick texture, while balsamic acidity keeps this balanced. Austere but harmonious. Drink now through 2024." (5/2016) K&L Notes: Alejandro Fernandez' Condado de Haza may be less famous than its sister winery, Pesquera, but it also produces terrific wines that are classically built Ribera del Dueros. These wines are made not to coat the palate with sweet oak and glycerine, but rather to age gracefully and accompa... 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 »
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)
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 »
91 points Robert Parker's Wine Advocate: "I had two vintages to taste of the same wine, which always makes for an interesting comparison. The 2011 Rioja Reserva, their volume red, is a blend of 89% Tempranillo, 5% Mazuelo, 4% Graciano and 2% Garnacha Tinta from a diversity of plots in the Ygay Estate. The different varieties fermented separately in stainless steel vats. It matured in 225-liter American oak barrels for some 20 months, at least during eight months in new oak. The wine very clearly shows much riper fruit than the 2012; it is great to see the wine reflecting the much warmer conditio ...Read More »
93 points Robert Parker's Wine Advocate: "I’ve loved this wine in the past and the 2013, a blend of 90% Tempranillo and 10% Cabernet Sauvignon aged 12 months in French oak, is stunning, simply over-delivering in so many different ways. This wine, which offers up copious quantities, of blueberry, black raspberry and black currant fruit, licorice, graphite and meaty notes, offers fabulous aromatics, medium to full-bodied mouthfeel, beautiful, pure texture and a long, heady finish with subtle oak. What’s amazing is the French oak is all two-year-old, super-expensive Darnajou barrels. For $20 this i ...Read More »
A K&L Direct Import! Jesús Puelles is one of the most talented vignerons in Rioja. Hailing from a long line of vineyard worker/owners, Puelles knows the terruño in his little slice of land in the Rioja Alta town of Abalos. All of the grapes for his red wines come from his own 26 hectares, which are generally north facing and located between 300 and 600 meters in altitude, all within the village of Abalos, very rare in a region where sourcing from various villages and even sub-zones is more the norm. Produced from primarily estate fruit (Tempranillo, with... Read More »
93 points Robert Parker's Wine Advocate: "A new kid on the block, the pure Garnacha 2013 El Molar carries the name of the vineyards where the vines were planted in 2006 on sand and chalk soils covered with gravel. It was foot trodden and fermented in cement vats and aged for nine months in used 500-liter oak barrels. In 2013 the vines worked until the very end as it was a year where there was more rain than average and a relatively cool summer (sometimes ripening occurs because of dehydration rather than true ripening) resulting in a perfect ripeness but quite contained. It is light ruby color, ...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 »
An elegant blend of Grenache and Carignane from vines up to 100 years old, grown in the foothills of the Montsant mountains. Wine Advocate on this exciting project from importer Eric Solomon: "Black Slate is a project from US importer Eric Solomon who works with different producers across Priorat to create a range of wines that show the character of the different Priorat villages at affordable prices. Each wine belongs to the winery that produces it and they are all village wines that carry the name of the village.... La Conreria de Scala Dei produces a ... Read More »
"Costers" is Catalan for slopes, and this single-vineyard wine from the folks at Celler de Capçanes in Montsant comes from vines planted on old terraces carved into granitic slopes. The wine is made from Cabernet Sauvignon plus two clones of Garnacha - Garnacha del Pais (an indigenous Catalan clone) and Garnacha Peluda from the south of France - and a dash Cariñena. It boasts lots of ripe red and blue fruit, with a smoky undercurrent, soft tannins and fresh acidity. Delicious!
Wine Spectator: "Cherry, kirsch and candied orange flavors have a hard-candy character in this juicy red. Sweet-tart acidity and light tannins provide focus. Drink now through 2018. (TM, Web-2016)"
91 points Stephen Tanzer's International Wine Cellar: "Vivid purple. Fresh cherry, blackberry and incense on the highly perfumed nose. Lush, sweet and broad on the palate, offering fleshy blueberry and floral pastille flavors that turn spicier with air. Closes on a sweet note of spicy oak, with supple tannins, very good tenacity and a touch of fruitcake. (JR)" (9/2014) 90 points Robert Parker's Wine Advocate: "The 2013 Tres Picos is the bodegas top cuvée of 100% Grenache from older, head-pruned vines planted on the hillsides of the Moncayo Mountains. Yields were less than two tons of fruit per acre. This was the first of the Grenaches to spend some ti ...Read More »
93 points Wine Spectator: "*Highly Recommended* Plum, blood orange, black olive, toast and mineral notes mingle in this tight, bright red. Juicy acidity keeps this lively, while firm tannins impart focus. Graceful, with good intensity." (12/2015) 91 points Vinous: "Deep ruby. Deeply perfumed aromas of ripe dark berries, vanilla and mocha. Smooth, broad and sweet, displaying intense blackberry and boysenberry flavors and a repeating vanilla note. Juicy acidity provides focus and lift to the long, sweet, gently tannic finish, with a sexy floral pastille quality lingering. (JR)" (11/2015) 90 points Wine & Spirits: "Red-fruited and f ...Read More »
90 points Wine Spectator: "Dried cherry, licorice, tobacco and tea flavors mingle in this maturing red. The texture is round and polished, with a light grip and bright, orange peel acidity. Harmonious and still vibrant." (2/2015) Wine & Spirits: "A mature gran reserva, this has fragrant cedar and cigar box notes when first poured, bright and sunny, ready to light up a lamb chop. It turns smooth and Porty with air..." (12/2014) K&L Notes: Bodegas Muriel is located in the town of Elciego in Rioja Alavesa. The vineyards are situated in both Alavesa and Rioja Alta and are planted on clay and limestone soils. Their 2... Read More »
Inventory: Redwood City
A longtime participant in the wine business, Miguel decided that rather than retire, he wanted to fulfill his dream of owning vines and making wine. Based in the Rioja Alta town of Briones, Miguel Merino makes, as he likes to put it, an "updated classic" style of Rioja, all from his own 2 hectares of vines and several hectares of vineyards owned by a close friend. All the fruit is from sloped, primarily chalky clay vineyards (Miguel is a fan of his slopes) within the cooler climate Rioja Alta town of Briones, which makes these wine a terrific showcase o... Read More »
Here is a Priorat that is not at all shy or trying to hide its Mediterranean origins, a richer, fuller bodied style especially considering its modest price. This is on the darker-fruited side, generous and slightly savory, a well-balanced, tasty blend of Garnacha, Carignane, and just a tiny amount of Cabernet Sauvignon. Try this with your favorite recipe for braised or stewed lamb. (Joe Manekin, K&L Spanish & Portuguese wine buyer)
93 points James Suckling: "Opened and beautiful nose of pure blackberries and blackcurrants with hints of white truffles and wet slate. Full body and supple and concentrated tannins. So polished and refined. A beauty. Drink now." (12/2016) 91 points Robert Parker's Wine Advocate: "The red 2012 Reserva is sold as Crianza or Reserva depending on the market, but it's always a blend of Tempranillo with some 20% Garnacha, 10% Graciano and 5% Mazuelo from the lower part of the valley of the Oja-Tirón river. The varieties are fermented and aged separately until most of it (around 80%) is blended the summer after. Even when they do ...Read More »
94 points Decanter: "This wine could also be in my 12 greatest Riberas. Delicious, complex, finely sewn, open. Top quality, and at a bargain price. (PBT)" (1/2016) 92 points Vinous: "Opaque purple. Exotic aromas of black and blue fruit preserves, cherry-vanilla, licorice and peppery spices. Plush and open-knit, offering deeply concentrated dark fruit flavors and hints of candied flowers and spicecake. Supple tannins build with air and add shape to a very long, supple finish that leaves cassis and mocha notes behind. This suave wine has the depth to age but drinks very easily now; it was aged for ...Read More »
As is the case with so many other great spots in Spain, Bodega Casa Juan is located opposite the village church, in the beautiful walled pueblo of Laguardia. The winery is a converted flour mill, featuring concrete tanks for fermenting and blending the wine; and for ageing, barrels that are used for up to seven years. These are traditional Riojas in elaboration and spirit, though the site specificity of their Laguardia and Villabuena vineyards confers a fruit character all its own to these wines. And what fruit! This crianza is a potpouri of mixed berrie... Read More »
Wine Spectator: "This juicy red offers bright cherry and strawberry flavors, with accents of licorice and vanilla. Citrusy acidity and gentle tannins lend support. Balanced and lively. (Web Only-2016)"
90 points Robert Parker's Wine Advocate: "There must be some 10% Garnacha (from Tudelilla on stony soils) and some 5% Mazuelo in the second vintage of the red, so they decided to label the wine 2014 Laventura, as it was not really a varietal Tempranillo. The Tempranillo comes from Laguardia and Mazuelo from San Vicente, the old 'traditional' Rioja blend of the three subzones. It started fermenting with some full clusters in open bins and finished in 600-liter barrels, where it matured until bottling. As I saw with the whites, 2014 seems to be riper, rounder and more approachable, very tasty and ...Read More »
90 points Robert Parker's Wine Advocate: "The 2007 Reserva showed a strong reduction when uncorked and should benefit from decanting in advance. Pure Tempranillo, it matured in barrels for 20 months. The nose, after the reduction has blown off, is quite classical but clean showing roasted aromas and hints of dark spices, balsam and perhaps leather. The palate is quite lively, with good, refreshing acidity and fully resolved tannins. (LG)" (4/2015) K&L Notes: Jesús Puelles is one of the most talented vignerons in Rioja. Hailing from a long line of vineyard worker/owners, Puelles knows the terruño in his littl... Read More »
94 points Tim Atkin: "Combining fruit from two vineyards planted in the 1960s, this is a Tempranillo-based blend with a splash of Graciano and Mazuelo for extra acidity. Deeply coloured, with savoury black fruits, some dried herbs, attractive oak and a chalky, mineral flourish." (June 2015) A longtime participant in the wine business, Miguel sold wine for wine distributors in the States as well as worked as an export manager. Miguel found success every step of the way, and then decided that rather than retire, he wanted to fulfill his dream of owning vin... Read More »
91 points Vinous: "Bright purple. An exotically perfumed bouquet displays scents of fresh black and blue fruits, licorice, vanilla and peppery spices. Juicy and incisive on the palate, offering sweet boysenberry and cassis flavors that flesh out on the back half. Sappy and concentrated, yet quite lively, finishing with smooth, shaping tannins and a strong punch. This sexy wine went through malolactic fermentation and was aged in French oak barrels for 20 months. (JR)" (1/2016) Robert Parker's Wine Advocate: "The best is the 2013 Tarima Hill, which is 100% Monastrell from vines planted between 1935-1970 in ...Read More »
90 points James Suckling: "A fresh nose of currants, black cherries and plums. Some cedary notes, too. Full body, concentrated, polished and juicy tannins a long, fresh and bloody-orange-like finish. Drink now." (12/2016) Robert Parker's Wine Advocate: "The 2012 Crianza, pure Tempranillo, fermented in oak vats and matured in barrique for 16 months, feels unusually classic in its profile of aromas, nicely developed and with contained ripeness. The medium-bodied palate felt like a great improvement over the 2011 that I tasted last time, with fine tannins and very good balance. (LG)" (8/2016)
93 points James Suckling: "This shows asphalt-like aromas with some red fruit to boot. White pepper, too. Cool wine on the palate with spice and subtle berry flavors brought to the fore with high acidity. A blend of vijariego negro, tintilla, baboso negro listran negro (mission) and malvasia rosada. Drink now." (12/2016) 92 points Robert Parker's Wine Advocate: "The regular 2014 7 Fuentes is a village blend of some 35 separate plots, situated from 300 to 700 meters altitude on a diversity of volcanic soils and expositions; the wine wants to represent the Orotava. 2014 was an easy, healthy harvest without rains or excessive ...Read More »
91 points Robert Parker's Wine Advocate: "There is a new 'village' red, the 2013 Villa de San Lorenzo, which is sourced from the existing vineyards Chano Villar and Lombano, plus a third one planted some 75 years ago that they purchased next to the new Villarín called Fontairo. It was part fermented in cement vats and part in French barrique with indigenous yeasts. Only 30% of the volume matured in third-use French barriques while the rest was kept in the tanks until blending and bottling. The nose screams 'cool climate red' with some hints of acid berries, something earthy and a vegetal twist; ...Read More »
Wine Spectator: "Blackberry, pomegranate and orange peel flavors mingle in this lively red. Sweet-tart acidity imparts a slightly candied character, while chewy tannins keep this grounded. (TM, Web-2016)"
La Cartuja is produced from 70% Garnacha and 30% Cariñena. Spicy black fruits on the nose show hints of earth and graphite as well – expressive yet surprisingly discreet aromas for this Mediterranean wine region. I would guess that this is due to a gentler, slightly cooler vintage than normal in 2012. On the palate, there are mixed berries and black fruits on the attack, which show very good presence on the mid-palate and give way to lovely minerality as well. If truly representative, delicious Priorat for under $15 is at all intriguing to you, then this... Read More »
92 points Vinous: "(aged in used French oak barrels for ten months): Youthful purple. Potent, mineral-accented dark berry and violet scents, with suggestions of woodsmoke and spicecake emerging slowly. The sweet and penetrating palate offers juicy blueberry and cherry pie flavors, along with an enlivening, zesty acidity. Rich yet vibrant in style, finishing with excellent thrust and smooth, slow tannins that contribute shape and grip. (JR)" (1/2016) K&L Notes: Located way up in the village of Poboleda, on of the last villages before one reaches the Sierra Natural de Montsant, Mas Doix ... Read More »
Wine Spectator: "This supple red has good energy, with vibrant acidity fueling the bright berry and cherry fruit. Fresh herb and vanilla accents add interest. Graceful and alluring." (10/2016) K&L Notes: Alvaro Palacios is undoubtedly one of the architects and primary reasons for Priorat's elevation to premier fine wine region over the past 20 years. While it has certainly not always been a smooth ride for the region, Palacios' wines have garnered a following in Spain and abroad, amongst critics and collectors, for their generous fruit, polished tannin structure, and minerality. Cami... Read More »
91 points Vinous: "Deep red. Spicy, smoke-tinged cherry and red berry scents are complemented by suggestions of incense and vanilla. Smoky black raspberry and cherry liqueur flavors are lifted and energized by a mineral element. Sappy, incisive and fresh on the finish, firmed by supple, well-knit tannins. (JR)" (11/2015) K&L Notes: Few traditionally styled Rioja's (read: delicately fruity and spicy, medium weight, used American oak barrels, longer ageing, minimal to no filtering) get it as consistently right as these folks do. Their wines come exclusively from grapes grown in their pri... Read More »
Algueira proves with this wine that they not only excel at making first rate, oak aged wine from their Riberia Sacra holdings, but a delicious unoaked example as well. This bottling typically shows spicy dark cherry and plum fruit, and a delightfully fresh and crisp palate. Nuanced, layered flavors for a mere unoaked young Mencia based wine. Very highly recommended!
94 points Robert Parker's Wine Advocate: "A cuvée that has been changing over the years (and getting more focused and Mediterranean, I'd say) the 2012 Las Gravas is a blend of Monastrell with 15% Syrah and 15% Garnacha; the Garnacha vineyards in the state come into production so the winery has more grapes to use. This wine saw a big change with the 2008 vintage, when Cabernet Sauvignon disappeared from the blend and got more focused and true to its birthplace. 2012 could be the finest vintage to date, as there was no 2012 Pie Franco, as quantities were really short and those grapes are in this b ...Read More »
This micro-production Galician red hails from the northernmost region for growing grapes not only in Galicia but in all Spain. It is fascinating: slightly rustic, with flavors of dark cherries showing dusty tannins and a decidedly old-fashioned flair (think top quality, traditional Dolcetto d'Alba). Pair with all types of hearty stews (vegetarian or Spanish style: brimming with lacon and chorizo) or a charcuterie plate. 11.5% ABV. (Joe Manekin, K&L Spanish Wine Buyer)
92 points Robert Parker's Wine Advocate: "Even better, more balanced, classical and elegant was the 2010 Reserva, with good balance between fruit freshness and élevage notes. It's mostly Tempranillo with 10% Graciano matured in barrel for two years. There are notes of incense and cigar ash, baking spices and ripe berries. The palate is medium to full-bodied with sleek tannins and a silky texture. It has very good freshness and balance. Superb Reserva at a very sensible price. (LG)" (8/2016) 92 points Wine Spectator: "This dense red delivers a mouthful of flavor, with rich notes of plum pudding, baking spices, coffee and toa ...Read More »
Luis Gutierrez had this to say about Scala Dei: "Scala Dei keeps improving their wines...I had a revealing visit to the Sant Antoni and Mas Deu vineyards at 600 and 650 meters altitude, above the Scala Dei Monastery overlooking the whole of Priorat. Both are on clay and chalk soils, very different for the predominant slate soils of Priorat."
Wine Spectator: "*Smart Buy* A sleek texture carries lively flavors of cherry, mint, licorice and smoke in this fresh red. Light, firm tannins and juicy acidity give this backbone. (TM)" (6/2016) K&L Notes: 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 fruite... Read More »
Robert Parker's Wine Advocate: "The 2014 Monastrell Altos de la Hoya is produced from the fruit of dry-farmed, ungrafted, old Monastrell vines and some 5% Garnacha. It fermented with indigenous yeasts in 10,000-liter stainless steel tanks and matured for six to eight months in used barriques and larger oak vats. The nose is clean and textbook Mediterranean with aromas of esparto grass, tree bark, blackberries and thyme, with perfectly integrated oak. The palate feels compact and balanced, with fine tannins and good acidity. I think this shows very well for such a challenging vintage in ...Read More »
This is as elegant an example of Garnacha (a.k.a. Grenache) as you are likely to find. Catalan winemaker Marc Isart Pinos is taking old vines, applying excellent viticultural work, fermenting in foudre (with some whole clusters used, as well as long maceration on the skins for further complexity/elegance), and bottling with a minimum of sulphur to create this beautiful, expressive wine. A good bit more tangy, racy and serious than most Grenache at this price, the Camino de Navaherreros is sure to please those who prefer layered nuance and energetic flavo... Read More »
Finca Sobreño has long been a leading producer of great value reds from Toro, and we are excited to have it back in stock. As with other wines from this D.O., tinto del pais (the region's local clone of Tempranillo) is the grape variety, and it shows lots of brooding dark fruit, a typically Castillian, scorched earth, meaty savor, and robust tannin from both grapes and wood. This is not a timid wine! Serve with braised ox tail and fries, or perhaps with a platter of nicely aged, firm sheep's milk cheese and chorizo, the smokier the better! (Joe Manekin, ... Read More »
Juan Antonio Ponce is known for his excellent work in Manchuela, where he has brought wines made from the indigenous Bobal grapes, vinified separately by parcel and then given a very thoughtful elevage following gentle pressing by foot, to new heights. The best of those wines rival anything else in the world of red wines for their respective price points. More recently, Juan Antonio started making Monastrell from Jumilla, in a style that also emphasizes harmony between intense fruit and acidity, with minimal intervention in order to highlight the delicio... Read More »