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K&L Staff Recommendations
Robert Parker's Wine Advocate: "For many years I have been touting the old-vine red put together by Marietta cellars as one of the great values in all of winedom. I got to taste two of the old-vine reds, Lot 64 and Lot 65, and there is no reason to change my opinion. This is a blend of Zinfandel, Petite Sirah, Syrah and mixed Italian blacks. It usually hits about 13.5% alcohol, which is modest, and aged largely in neutral oak and stainless steel. Production is about 30,000 cases and, of course, they sell it like they are giving away free hotcakes it is so delicious. As for the NV Old V ...Read More »
This delightful salmon-pink wine is produced using the traditional saignée process. After macerating on the skins for approximately 10 hours, the juice is then pumped off and fermented in temperature-controlled, stainless steel tanks. Aromatics of strawberries and crushed red fruit leap from the glass. In the mouth, it is fresh with excellent acidity, some mineral components and good length. Very food friendly, it is a great companion to just about anything you want to throw at it.
If you try to find the exact cepage on this always-fantastic red blend, you might find yourself gazing up at the heavens for an answer, since you won't get one from the winemaker. The Pleiades might be the only super-allocated, cult California wine for under $25, and it's sure to sell out quickly, as previous vintages have. From "one of California's most iconic and mystical winemakers," says Robert Parker: "Sean Thackrey has logged in 20 or more vintages of consistently stunning wines that perhaps say it all with the simple quote on his label: -Sean A. T... Read More »
92 points Wine Spectator: "*Smart Buys* Broad and distinctive, with orange peel and exotic spice notes surrounding black cherry and licorice flavors, gliding easily against polished tannins on the long, expressive finish. Merlot, Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon, Sangiovese and Petit Verdot. Drink now through 2021." (3/2016) Wine Enthusiast: "Merlot and Syrah make up the majority of this blend. Aromas of cherry, coffee, pencil lead and barrel spices are initially light and elusive while the plum and vanilla and flavors are much more generous." (3/2016)
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)
An organically farmed, naturally made Grenache-Cabernet blend from Aubais, a small medieval village south of Nîmes. Winemaker Mark Haynes may be many things: entrepreneur, winemaker, tango dancer; but there is one thing that he is not--conventional. Mark is a spirited man who came to winemaking late in life when he realized that so many producers in the Gard region were turning their backs on winemaking and farming. The region is in the south of France about 30 minutes from Nîmes. It was his summer home in his childhood and he always had a fondness for i... Read More »
93 points James Suckling: "Lots of blackcurrants, grapes and lemon zest character. Full body, firm and silky tannins and a long and flavorful finish. It's firm and very tight. Compact structure. Delicious blend of cabernet sauvignon, merlot, syrah and sangiovese. Better in 2018." (8/2015) 90 points Wine Spectator: "Pure and fresh, boasting black currant and black cherry flavors, with tar and earth details. Lean, almost racy, with vivid acidity driving the long, mineral-tinged finish. Sangiovese, Merlot, Syrah and Cabernet Sauvignon. Best from 2017 through 2023. (BS)" (10/2015)
The folks at Banshee take their rosé production very seriously. They employ hand harvesting and whole cluster pressing of grapes (in 2016, the blend is Pinot Noir, Syrah, Grenache, Barbera and Grenache Gris) designated for rosé from the beginning, rather than bleeding some runoff juice of a wine destined to be a red. The primary new vineyard source for this aromatic and bright rose is biodynamically farmed, and the attention to detail from start to finish shows through in the bottle. From Banshee: "The wine is a pale rose and peach combination in color a... Read More »
94 points Wine Enthusiast: "***Editors' Choice*** Made with 85% Nerello Mascalese and 15% Nerello Cappuccio, this radiant red boasts a beautiful fragrance of blue and red flower, ripe berry, cake spice and aromatic herb. The radiant, delicious palate doles out layers of juicy black cherry, raspberry compote, cinnamon, white pepper and clove while a mineral note backs up the lingering finish. It's young but balanced, with bright acidity and tightly wound but refined tannins. (KO)" (6/2016) K&L Notes: #3 Wine Enthusiast's Top 100 Wines for 2016: Nerello Cappuccio – Nerello Mascalese is a blend ... Read More »
Robert Parker's Wine Advocate: "The 2014 Languedoc-La Clape la Cote is a medium-bodied, juicy effort that gives up lots of darker fruits, damp underbrush, violets and pepper in a pretty, nicely balanced style. Made from 30% each of Carignan, Syrah and Grenache, with 10% Mourvèdre that was aged in equal parts tank and concrete, it has plenty of fruit, good freshness and a lovable, easy-drinking character. Drink it over the coming 4-5 years. (JD)" (4/2016) K&L Notes: Negly's La Cote is a "CGSM," or 30% Carignane, carbonically macerated, with Grenache, Syrah and Mourvedre. Aged in 50% oak and 50% conc... Read More »
Amicone is made from predominantly Corvina grapes (same grapes that go into Amarone) but are dried for a shorter period and on the vine not on mats like Amarone. The wine is fermented in stainless steel and then aged in French oak tonneaux for 8 months. The result is an easy drinking full-bodied red that has lots of rich soft, smooth texture.
A perennial, the 2015 Prisoner is a Zinfandel-based blend with the balance in Cabernet Sauvignon, Petite Sirah, Syrah and just a splash of Charbono. It was sourced from well-known vineyards such as Somerston, Solari, York Creek and Hudson. The wine was aged in a combination of French and American oak before bottling. This eclectic crowd pleaser has found a following from lovers of fruit-forward and jammy wines, but it has enough substance to please those who prefer their California reds a bit more structured. Not just a cocktail wine, this hefty red pair... Read More »
95 points Wine Enthusiast: "*Ranked #9 in Wine Enthusiast's Top 100 Cellar Selections of 2016, Cellar Selection* The home vineyard of Madiran's star, Alain Brumont, has yielded a superb wine that is full of dark tannins and with a considerable ability to age. It is balanced, concentrated and touched by spice and toastiness from the wood aging. In tandem with that are generous fruits within a dense structure that is just beginning to smooth out. Drink from 2018-2038. (RV)" (6/2016) K&L Notes: Alain Brumont is one of the stars of Madiran. In 1979 he inherited his father's estate, Chateau Bouscass... Read More »
Wine Enthusiast: "This is an attractively ripe blend of Niellucciu, Syrah and Grenache. Softly textured with a warm backdrop of blackberry fruit, the wine is spicy and has a distinctly southern-France feel. Its softness means it is ready to drink now. (RV)" (12/2016) K&L Notes: Domaine Petroni is an estate on the eastern side of Corsica near Lake Diane. Lake Diane is a famous lagoon, where the local aquaculture produces gorgeous oysters and mussels. Now run by the Ramazotti brothers, this idyllic location overlooks the Mediterranean with its vineyards composed of sandy and clay soil... Read More »
91 points Robert Parker's Wine Advocate: "Ramitello has enjoyed its own cult following over the years. The 2012 Molise Rosso Ramitello (a blend of Montepulciano and Aglianico) is a delicious expression with a balanced approach that puts just as much emphasis on intensity as it does elegance. The bouquet reveals dark fruit tones with spice and lingering leather at the back. The mouthfeel is reinforced by firm tannic structure and bright acidity. Of all the wineries in Molise, none stands taller than Di Majo Norante in terms of international visibility. Celebrated enologist Riccardo Cotarella help ...Read More »
In 1973, Daniel Dugois bought 2 hectares of vineyards and a house equipped with wine cellars in a village called Les Arsures, where he was born. He cultivated the vineyard and sold his production primarily to Henri Maire, one of the most prominent producers in Jura at that time. In 1982, Daniel made his first harvest in his own cellars and began to sell his wines to consumers. His first ever harvest earned him his first Gold Medal for his Chardonnay at the Jura Wine Contest. Daniel and his wife Monique have continued to work on the quality of their wine... Read More »
Every year, Heitz produces a limited amount of their Grignolino rosé. With its vibrant pink hue, vibrant wild strawberry and orange zest flavors, this wine isn't just refreshing, it's a pleasure.
94 points James Suckling: "Beautiful and aromatic with red cherries and cranberries plus slate undertones. Medium to full body, a super-soft texture, silky fine-grained tannins and a long, savory finish. A wonderful and elegant wine. Drink now or hold." (12/2016) K&L Notes: Fredi Torres has been steadily making a name for himself in the Montsant and Priorat regions. A leader of the new school in Priorat, Fredi prefers to let the fruit in the vineyard do the talking, playing around with some whole clusters and preferring that the oak imprint be dialed back in his wines. In this case, 85% of th... Read More »
Made from the same set of recipes since 1821, Dolin Vermouth de Chambéry has long been the benchmark for fine French Vermouth. Botanicals found in the Alpine meadows above Chambéry are added to a base wine made from regional grapes to aromatize it, imparting fresh, herbal qualities to the nose and complex flavors to palate. It is then fortified. The Rouge is ideal as an aperitif or in for a wide range of uses in cocktails. In the late 19th century, Dolin Vermouth de Chambéry won medals in Paris, London, St. Louis and Philadelphia and in 1932 earned Chamb... Read More »
92 points James Suckling: "Aromas of dried berries, dried flowers and shaved chocolate open to a full body, firm and silky tannins and a polished, textured mouthfeel. So very pretty and harmonious. Drink now." (11/2016) K&L Notes: Monica Larner writes: "In 2005, Paolo Caciorgna visited with Marco De Grazia on Etna and fell in love with a half-hectare vineyard planted to ancient pre-phylloxera vines in the Contrada Marchesa near Passopisciaro. After that initial purchase, he acquired more tiny plots of land. He started a tiny production (n’anticchia means “a tiny bit” in Sicilian dialect) of wi... Read More »
What happens when a winery is able to secure small lots of fruit from some of the best vineyards in California, but not in large enough quanties to make affordable wine? Banshee's Mordecai is one winery's delicious solution. About the producer: "Banshee Wines was founded by three friends from the Midwest and East Coast who shared a passion for wine and a lifelong dream of owning their own winery. Their fascination with wine started early in life. While their peers were drinking Milwaukee's Best, they had an affinity towards collecting European wines and... Read More »
Robert Parker's Wine Advocate: "A north-facing vineyard in the Catalan area of Spain, this 2014 Cara Nord red blend of 42% Grenache, 38% Syrah and 20% Garrut (an indigenous grape of Conca de Barbera, which is northeast of Priorat and Montsant) has produced a very fragrant Pinot Noir-style of wine, with notes of earth, forest floor, black and red currants, in a medium-bodied, easygoing, savory, lush style. Drink it over the next several years. (RP)" (7/2015)
Winemaker Morgan Twain-Peterson says, “This wine is made from grapes sourced from the beautiful and diverse state of California. Grapes are hand picked, native yeast fermented, aged in French Oak barrels (a small fraction of which are new) and assembled into this wine with the same care and love as all of our wines. The hope is to make a delicious, perfumed and satisfying wine from top quality grapes without too much pretension, marketing BS nor excessive budgetary duress on your part."
Wine Enthusiast: "Fresh and fruity, this straightforward red offers aromas of ripe dark-skinned berry, licorice and leather. The soft, juicy palate doles out dried blackberry and spiced blueberry alongside round, smooth tannins. (KO)" (3/2016)
Herdade do Rocim is located in the lower Alentejo region (southern Portugal). This property got its start in 2000 focusing primarily on local grapes like Aragonez, Touriga Nacional and Alicante Bouschet. They also work with several international grapes like Cabernet and Syrah, which is becoming more common in the Alentejo region. Catarina Viera and her team strive to create wines that are elegant, complex and strong. She is inspired by her love and respect for her grandparents, her father and her family, her connection with nature, and a true and unwaver... Read More »
Inventory: San Francisco
Eric Story and Alison Smith-Story have a love story for the ages: they met and fell in love while working for K&L! This blend of Zinfandel and Syrah from Dry Creek Valley is named after their beloved dog Lord Sandwich, made in their classic style: fresh and lively and full of heart.
Old-vine, hillside vineyard Lambrusco = serious fun! This is a magnificent wine: dry, slightly fizzy with just a mess of purple froth. We are pretty confident it will be among the most exciting wines you've tried in a while! A perfect match for simple BBQ chicken and burgers or slices of Mortadella and Parmigiano. Some would even venture to suggest a batch of lasagna!
92 points Wine Enthusiast: "This full-bodied wine packs a lot of punch in terms of mouthfeel and flavor. The color is extremely dark, and the flavors resemble dark chocolate, black cherries and baking spices. It is dry in style, with lip-smacking, nicely astringent tannins that counterbalance all that richness. (JG)" (11/2016) Robert Parker's Wine Advocate: "The best red is the 2013 Proprietary Red Eruption, another intriguing blend of Malbec, Syrah, Petite Sirah and Mourvèdre. The good news is there are 23,000 cases of this excellent value, which exhibits dark berry fruit along with some plums, Asian spice, and to ...Read More »
One of the lesser known grape varietals from Piemonte - home, of course, to Barolo, Barbaresco, Barbera and Dolcetto - it's unfortunate that this traditional indigenous grape so often gets overlooked. But leave it to importer Oliver McCrum to find one, and to find a great one at that. Made by Pino Pavia from Agostino Pavia, a 50-year-old, small, family-run estate. McCrum describes it like this: "Misleadingly pale color, but a very distinctive and flavorful wine; wild strawberries, rhubarb, a touch of herbs, the perfect wine with salumi or pizza. I put it... Read More »
Inventory: San Francisco
90 points Vinous: "90+: Bright red. Aromas of red cherry, tar and violet on the enticing nose. Dense but fresh, delivering crunchy red cherry fruit flavors that linger long on the bright floral finish. (ID)" (8/2016) 90 points Wine Spectator: "A vibrant, finely knit red, with a minerally underpinning and rippling notes of crushed raspberry and black cherry fruit. This is medium-bodied, with sleek tannins and a lasting finish that echoes the aromatic herb and spice accents." (10/2016) K&L Notes: About the producer: "The tradition of Illuminati Wines has been going on for over one hundred and twenty years. Innovatio... Read More »
91 points James Suckling: "A soft and velvety texture red with orange peel, chocolate and plum aromas and flavors. Medium to full body, fresh acidity and a flavorful finish. Subtle at the same time. This is always one of Italy's excellent value reds. Drink or hold." (7/2016)
90 points Wine Spectator: "*#39 on the Top 100 Wines of 2015, and a Best Value* A taut, sinewy style, with notes of slate and white pepper to the roasted plum and dried red berry flavors. Medium-grained tannins emerge on the snappy finish, showing ferrous accents. Drink now through 2020. (KM)" K&L Notes: Relatively speaking for this region, 2013 was a cooler, fresher vintage in the Douro. This WS Top 100 wine shows these vintage traits in the wine, with gently extracted dark fruits and subtle hints of licorice. It's a great example of a Douro red for a value price. (Joe Manekin, K&L Portugues... Read More »
90 points Robert Parker's Wine Advocate: "I'm not sure how you could possibly beat a deal this good. A 90/10 blend of Negroamaro and Malvasia Nera di Lecce, the 2013 Salice Salentino Riserva 50 Vendemmia is given Riserva status because the wine is released two years after the harvest. The wine presents a bold and shapely body of fruit with ripe berry and black cherry on prime view. There are thicker accents of dried prune and plum at the back. The wine reveals a bold and determined style that is in line with the wine style of Puglia. 90+ (ML)" (8/2016) Wine Spectator: "Savory accents of forest floor and game meet ...Read More »
93 points James Suckling: "There is a brightness and freshness to this with so much aroma. Yet it is austere and lively with tannin tension and focus. Medium body. Berry, stone and chocolate. Single vineyard. Deluxe wine." (11/2016) 92 points Decanter: "Sweet tobacco and dusty books on the nose with candied fruit and vibrancy. There is a really great sense of terroir and variety here; extremely charming, accessible but smart." (12/2016) 92 points Wine Enthusiast: "Aromas that recall red berry, dark baking spice and grilled Mediterranean herb lift out of the glass. The elegantly structured palate shows black cherry, wild strawberry, ...Read More »
Wine Spectator: "This easy-drinking red is light- to medium-bodied and balanced, offering a creamy mix of crushed cherry, mocha and cream notes. (AN)" (2/2017)
This Aglianico pours a shade of deep ruby red and opens with aromas of morello cherry and cracked black pepper that lead to harmony and freshness on the palate.
This is another terrific bottling of Armas de Guerra, a rosé based from Mencía grapes grown in stony, clay terroir in the D.O. of Bierzo. It should be delicious when paired with all the usual rosé inspired fare, as well as perhaps some more substantial foods given this wine's excellent fruit intensity and palate presence. Delicious!
91 points James Suckling: "A rich and beautiful red with lots of berry fruit plus hints of chocolate and vanilla, yet there's a freshness and edge to this wine that keeps it lively and delicious. One of the best Italian wines for the money." (11/2016)
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 »
90 points Wine Enthusiast: "Aromas of scorched earth, underbrush, chopped herb and dark spice lead the way on this full-boded wine. The firm, hearty palate offers dried dark cherry, raisin, clove, anise and tobacco framed in solid, fine-grained tannins. (KO)" (12/2016) 90 points Wine Spectator: "This harmonious red features ripe and juicy black cherry fruit and tarry mineral character, accented by delicate spice and grilled herb notes. Fresh and appealing, with a lightly chewy finish. Drink now through 2021. (AN)" (10/2016)
Algueira proves with this wine that they not only excel at making first rate, oak aged wine from their Ribeira 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!
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)
92 points Robert Parker's Wine Advocate: "The joint venture between Jordi Vidal and US importer Eric Solomon also produced a custom red, which is the 2014 Black Slate Scala Dei. It is a blend of 90% Garnacha with 8% Cabernet Sauvignon and a 2% pinch of Cariñena. The grapes were harvested at different times and fermented separately in stainless steel and oak vats. The Garnacha matured in 5,000-liter oak vats and the rest in barrique for some 18 months. It's floral and portrays a chalky soil character from the higher altitude parts of the hamlet of Scala Dei, a feature that makes the wines very di ...Read More »
91 points Wine & Spirits: "Nero d’Avola and Frappato grown in red, sandy soils coexist harmoniously in this smooth and polished wine, with notes of spice and licorice accenting its red cherry fruit. The flavors are rich and concentrated, lifted by light floral scents. This would make a delicious companion for roasted leg of lamb." (6/2016) 90 points Vinous: "Deep ruby-red. Spicy and leafy nuances complicate aromas and flavors of ripe red and black cherry, coffee and cocoa. Polished on the palate, with bright, harmonious acidity and smooth tannins providing solid supporting backbone. The long finish sh ...Read More »
90 points James Suckling: "A fresh and zesty valpo with dried-watermelon and lemon character. Light body and a pretty linear backbone of acidity." (11/2016) Wine Spectator: "Hints of incense and star anise perfume this creamy red, which shows plumped cherry and singed orange peel notes underscored by loamy earth accents. Bright finish. (AN, Web-2016)" K&L Notes: Musella, one of my favorite Amarone producers, is now back in stock. They’d been out of the market for some time but now they are back! Musella’s wines have an elegance, a supple grace to them and don’t carry that "heavy" connotation that most would tag ... Read More »
94 points Robert Parker's Wine Advocate: "The 2013 Reserva Old Vines is a fine success. Granting that I don't have this side-by-side with the 2011, the difference doesn't seem to be as great as you might think on paper. Winemaker Manuel Lobo said Crasto maintained quality here by deleting three typically-used vineyards that underperformed in the vintage. It seems to have worked nicely so far. Hopefully, it will reward cellaring, too. This opens very elegantly. It is beautifully balanced, with a feel of sophistication and refinement--which is pretty much how most of Crasto's wines show these days ...Read More »
Wine Spectator: "Well-spiced and fruit-forward, with candied black cherry and crème de cassis notes, backed by lively acidity. Graphite, spice and orange zest details show on the finish." (12/2015)
91 points James Suckling: "A fresh and fruity red with dried cherry and strawberry. Hints of lemon rind. Medium body. Fruity finish. A delicate and fruity Etna red." (11/2015) 91 points Robert Parker's Wine Advocate: "The entry-level 2013 Etna Rosso unfolds to beautiful notes of wild berry, sour cherry, spice, grilled herb and volcanic ash. It shows elegant simplicity and a balanced level of intensity that is both genuine and bright. There are no rough edges to this Nerello Mascalese. The mouthfeel is silky and long with more fruit flavors to come. This is a well-made expression born in volcanic soils. (ML)" (9/2015) 91 points Vinous: "Bright r ...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!