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K&L Staff Recommendations
1977 Graham's Vintage Port $149.99
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 »
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)
95 points Robert Parker's Wine Advocate: "The 2010 Taurasi Riserva Piano di Montevergine is a standout wine that excels on all fronts. The bouquet delivers an enormous level of harmony and intensity with well-articulated tones of spice, dark fruit, pressed blackberry, clove, cola and balsam herb. Nuanced mineral notes stand out very nicely and render a great sense of definition and focus. Equally impressive is the mouthfeel that moves over the palate with determination and elegance. The tannins are finessed, silky but extra firm. Thanks to the balanced acidity and its natural structure, this win ...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.
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 »
90 points Robert Parker's Wine Advocate: "The Cantele 2013 Salice Salentino Riserva shows a greater level of depth and finesse compared to many of its peers. The wine is packed tight with blackberry fruit, with Maraschino cherry, plum and prune in abundance. The wine is chewy and rich for sure, but it also provides an authentic and generous portrait of a red wine from Puglia. A spicy beef or lamb dish would make the perfect pairing partner. (ML)" (8/2016)
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 »
Wine Spectator: "Stony and brisk, with integrated acidity carrying the white cherry, white peach and bergamot notes. The lovely, unadorned finish leaves a mouthwatering feel." (6/2016) K&L Notes: Corsica is one of the great off-the-radar regions for wine production. The vineyards for Petroni date back to 1885 and are surrounded by the Corsican mountains to the west and the Mediterranean to the east. The winery is now in the hands of brothers Jacques and Francois Ramazotti. Like most classic rosés of this region, it is a blend of 50% Niellucciu, 35% Sciaccarellu, and 15% Grenache. How... Read More »
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 »
91 points Robert Parker's Wine Advocate: "The light pink colored 2015 Cotes de Provence Rose Cuvee Marie Christine is fabulous. Silky, layered and seamless, with notes of orange blossom, caramelized cherries, salty seawater and distinct minerality, it's impeccably balanced, has perfectly integrated acidity and a great finish. Impressive and Bravo! (JD)" (5/2016) 90 points Wine Enthusiast: "From a 1,350-acre family estate divided among five chateaus, this crisp wine is packed with red fruits cut with citrus acidity. Refreshing and mineral textured, it will make a fine apéritif. (RV)" (7/2016) Vinous: "Light, bright pink. Musky red berri ...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 »
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 Vinous: "The 2014 Frappato Vittoria opens up with an irresistible fresh red fruit cocktail quality on the nose, followed by very spicy and floral notes, with juicy red berry and cherry. Finishes long and clean with a bright floral echo. A stellar Frappato that makes it impossible to put the glass down. (ID)" (11/2015) 91 points James Suckling: "This shows aromas of blueberry, forest fruit and salt. Medium to full body, bright acidity and a mineral finish. Goes on for minutes. Tangy and savory." (10/2014) 91 points Wine Enthusiast: "Fragrant and fresh, this luminous wine opens with aromas of red berry, blueberry, violet, ...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!
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 »
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. The NV Old Vine Red ...Read More »
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)
90-92 points Robert Parker's Wine Advocate: "The 2015 Pessimist is one of the more forward, ready to go and sexy releases in the lineup. Made from 37% Syrah, 27% Zinfandel, 31% Petite Sirah and the rest Tannat and Grenache, it gives up tons of sweet dark fruits, spice box, vanilla bean and sweet oak in its full-bodied, nicely balanced, mouth-filling style. It will be ready to go on release.. (JD)" (8/2016)
91 points James Suckling: "This is very aromatic with dried-berry, mineral and floral character. Full body with firm tannins and a juicy finish. Lots of tannins but polished and chewy." (3/2015) Wine Enthusiast: "Blue flower, ripe black fruit, black pepper and cedar are just some of the aromas offered by this blend of Sangiovese, Merlot and Sagrantino. The palate features ripe black cherry, coffee, espresso, vanilla and grilled sage alongside bracing tannins. Drink after 2016." (2/2015) Wine Spectator: "A fresh red, offering fragrant herb and smoke notes, with flavors of tangy raspberry, wild strawberry, salumi and spi ...Read More »
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."
90 points Wine Enthusiast: "Fresh and fruity on the nose, this bottling by Joey Tensley and Alex Guarachi shows strawberries and olallieberries as well as crushed black rocks, wet slate and char aromas. Those same fruits power a zesty palate enhanced by lavender and black-tea flavors." (9/2016) Wine Spectator: "A bit like a Rhône-blend nouveau, this is supple and flamboyant, with touches of ripe sweetness. Aromas of blackberry cobbler and pepper combine with jammy black cherry and licorice flavors. Syrah, Grenache, Petite Sirah and Merlot. Drink now through 2022. 5,000 cases made." (3/2016)
90 points Wine Enthusiast: "*Best Buy* This ripe wine with open fruits has 40% Cabernet Franc in the blend, which lends an attractive perfumed character and gives the wine rich character and fruitiness. It will age for a few more years and be ready to drink from 2017. (RV)" (2/2016)
Robert Parker's Wine Advocate: "The 2013 Paestum Aglianico Donnaluna is an easy-going wine with earthy aromas of crushed mineral and wet terra-cotta. The bouquet shows wild and untamed layers of red fruit, forest floor, pressed rose and cola. Donnaluna delivers a medium dark color and consistency with sweet cherry flavors on the close. The tannins are solid but round and there's a good dose of freshness on the close. (ML)" (4/2015)
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)
Robert Parker's Wine Advocate: "Their great value pick, which has essentially underwritten the winery’s success for many years, is their non-vintage Old Vine, and in this case, the NV Old Vine Red Lot 63, the sixty-third rendition of this lovely blend. Dominated by Zinfandel, but also containing Syrah and Petite Sirah, it’s always meant as a boisterous, exuberant Mediterranean-style red, the likes of which are easy to find in parts of Spain, Southern Italy and Southern France. The oak is pushed back to a minimum, and the NV Lot 63 includes wine from four vintages: 2011, 2012, 2013 and ...Read More »
A blend of black Pallagrello and Casavecchia grapes. Notes from the winery: "The wine is a beautiful bright pink color, with delicate scents with notes ranging from floral eglantine roses with hints of cherry and sour black cherry. Its flavor is characterized by a remarkable freshness supported by good acidity that nicely extends the persistence."
Inventory: San Francisco
92 points Vinous: "Limpid ruby-red. Lively aromas of red fruit liqueur, Asian spices, potpourri and smoky minerals pick up a subtle touch of game with air. Juicy, penetrating and sweet, offering lively black raspberry, cherry and candied lavender flavors and a touch of black cardamom. Zesty acidity adds definition and cut to the gently tannic finish, which lingers with excellent tenacity and a repeating, insistent floral note." (10/2016) 90 points Wine Enthusiast: "Vivid, tangy cherry and raspberry flavors practically light up this medium-bodied, polished and complex wine. It pours out red cherry, cran ...Read More »
Pelaverga (often known as Pelaverga Piccolo) is a rare red grape from the hills of Piedmont in northwestern Italy. It is also known by many other names, including Carola, Cari, Fra Germano and Taddone. The village of Verduno, just west of Alba on the banks of the Tanaro River, is right at the northern edge of the Barolo DOCG catchment area. Verduno's growers have resisted the temptation to eradicate Pelaverga entirely from their vineyards, even though the Nebbiolo vines that produce the grapes for Barolo's prestigious cuvées are much more valuable. But e... Read More »
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." (9/2015)
Pineau d'Aunis is a dark-skinned wine grape variety whose story began in the Loire Valley in the Middle Ages. Despite once being popular with royalty on both sides of the English Channel, the variety is now increasingly rare, and is limited to a role in the rosés and light reds of the central Loire. It is valued for the gently peppery spiciness it brings to the area's rosé wines, a role mirrored by the Carignan and Tibouren used to make the famous rosé wines of Provence. When the elements grant the Loire a vintage with warm weather more akin to that foun... Read More »
90 points Wine & Spirits: "Blended from estate vineyards spread across Colchagua, this cuvée offers a clear picture of the region’s carmenère. It’s an enchanting red, with subtle herbal notes woven through round, rich red fruit. While the sweetness of the fruit makes it easy to drink now, it has the potential to become more complex over the next couple of years. Then open it for roast pork." (2/2016)
Our newest Corsica producer is Domaine Santamaria. Run by Jean-Louis and Thomas Santamaria, this certified organic producer is based in the Patrimonio region, located on the northern end of the island. They specialize in Niellucciu, Vermentinu and Muscat.
91 points Wine Enthusiast: "The wine is rich, ripe and fruity with good acidity as well as a bite of spirit and old-wood aging. It is well balanced, keeping the freshness of a 10-Year-Old while also showing good signs of its wood aging. Just what a 10-Year-Old should be. (RV)" (12/2014) 90 points Wine Spectator: "This has a zesty, sweet floral aroma, with delicate, well-spiced flavors of apple tart, flan and cocoa powder. The plush, mouthfilling finish of cream, vanilla and raspberry is fresh and balanced. (KM)" (12/2010) Robert Parker's Wine Advocate: "Tasted at John E. Fells portfolio tasting. This 10-Year Old tawny has a vibrant, citrus nos ...Read More »
Indicative blend: 33% Cabernet Franc, 33% Cot, 33% Pinot d'Aunis
90 points Wine Spectator: "*Smart Buys* Very suave, with rich minerality and luscious flavors of plum tart and cherry compote. Cedary notes are accented by lots of white pepper and spice on the zesty finish. Touriga Nacional, Touriga Franca, Tinta Roriz and Tinta Barroca. Drink now through 2020. (KM)" (6/2016) Robert Parker's Wine Advocate: "The 2014 Papa Figos (Casa Ferreirinha) is a blend of 30% Touriga Franca, 15% Touriga Nacional, 25% Tinta Roriz and 30% Tinta Barroca, all sourced from Douro Superior. About 20% of the juice was aged in used French oak for six months. Clean and fruity, this lower priced red ha ...Read More »
Wine Enthusiast: "A Zinfandel-based blend, with Cabernet Sauvignon, Sangiovese, Syrah, Merlot and Malbec, this wine is hearty, thick and dense. It traffics in smoky char, leathery tannins and a strong taste of tobacco, finishing with a flash of red plum." (12/2015)
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 wine, going from 1,800 bottles in 2005 to 5,000 in 2009."
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)"
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 it... Read More »
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 af?nity towards collecting European wines and hosting dorm room wine tastings. Post-college, each pursued a career in the wine industry, ranging from importing wines, to winemaking, to distribution and sales. When their paths ultimately converged in San Francisco, they s... Read More »
93 points Robert Parker's Wine Advocate: "The NV 20 Year Old Tawny Port was bottled in 2015 and comes in at 111 grams per liter of residual sugar. On first taste, this was simply Taylor: big, concentrated and serious. It was all that and a bag of chips, but over a couple of day it also demonstrated far more elegance. It seemed arguably better balanced than the 10 year old Tawny this issue. Simply filling the mouth on first taste, this shows fine complexity for its age and it does everything else rather brilliantly. Succulent and inviting, it finishes with waves of concentrated flavors. The fruit ...Read More »
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 »
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)
90 points Robert Parker's Wine Advocate: "The 2010 Late Bottled Vintage Port is an unfiltered blend of 55% Touriga Franca, 25% Touriga Nacional, 10% Tinta Roriz, 5% Sousão and 5% Tinto Cão bottled in April, 2014. It comes in at 106 grams per liter of residual sugar. This opens sweet and luscious, with the considerable power lurking underneath. There are only hints of what is going to happen. Hold this puppy open for a couple of hours--or, better yet, try it the next day--and you'll see the lurking structure. It doesn't stint on intensity of flavor, though. The next day it is just beautiful, show ...Read More »
100 points James Suckling: "I found a bottle of 1977 Fonseca in my cellar - probably my last. It was absolutely gorgeous. I gave this fortified wine a perfect score in its youth and I think it has finally evolved into its perfection as a mature vintage Port. Here is the tasting note. 1977 Fonseca Vintage Port: This is in total balance now with such harmony. What amazing aromas of berry and flowers. Full and sweet, the tannins are complete dissolved. The fruit is perfect. This goes on for minutes. Drink now. But it will go forever." (8/2013) 100 points Wine Spectator: "What a Vintage Port. Dark ruby center, with ...Read More »
Though the 2014 has yet to be professionally reviewed, the 2013 earned 91 points and praise from Antonio Galloni: "Cascina Ca' Rossa's 2013 Birbèt (Brachetto) is beautifully perfumed and aromatic, with plenty of spice, crushed rose petal and stone fruit overtones. A dash of mint and white flowers add freshness on the finish. I especially admire the purity of the flavors here." (05/2015)
Randy and Debbie Lewis established their small family winery in Napa back in 1992. Lewis Cellars makes some of K&L's favorite Napa wines--they're always delicious, polished and fundamentally drinkable. This is a powerful yet balanced blend of Syrah 60%, Merlot 34% and Cabernet 6%. The winemaker compares this year's cuvée to a first-year college student, saying, "Asserting his independence through explosively ripe blackberry and huckleberry fruits, there's also kirsch-like cherry cola, spicy oak, supple tannin and a trace of s'mores that's closer to home.... Read More »