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K&L Staff Recommendations
91 points Wine Spectator: "**100 Top Values of 2016**Broad and generous, open-textured and inviting, offering cherry, currant and red plum flavors that swirl enticingly among fine-grain tannins and creamy oak on the finish. (HS)" (11/2016) 90 points Wine Enthusiast: "*Best Buy* The aromas of milk chocolate, cherry and spice bring immediate appeal. The flavors are silky and polished, showing equal parts fruit and barrel." (12/2016) K&L Notes: From the winery: 80% Cabernet Sauvignon, 18% Merlot, 2% Cabernet Franc. The wine spends 12 months in 65% older and 35% new oak barrels, both French and American.
This has become a go-to favorite for customers and staff alike at K&L. Priced at a level that allows for corks to pop any old time it suits you, the Montechiara phenomenon continues to gain followers by the hour. See for yourself why this value sparkler is getting so much attention.
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 »
This Sauvignon Blanc from Touraine displays an intense, classic nose of cut grass, pepper and, believe it or not, pineapples and lemons, with plenty of minerality. Very crisp and refreshing, like a cross between a classic Touraine and a New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc, at an astonishingly low price! Perfect with seafood. Grown in an area located between the Loire River and the Cher River and sandwiched between the towns of Tours and Blois, the wine shows the classic characteristics of the rich clay soils that are fortified with flint and limestone. Very brig... Read More »
90 points Robert Parker's Wine Advocate: "The 2015 Branco Quinta Da Aveleda is a screwcapped blend of 70% Loureiro and 30% Alvarinho, unoaked and coming in at 11.5% alcohol. There is no added carbonation. This was seen earlier this year, but it was tasted only a few weeks after bottling. It is worth revisiting with some time in the bottle. This is typically a super value, real wine at a bargain-basement price. So, too, this year. It seems even better now. This is bright and crisp, but the wonderful fruit is the reason you buy this. Expressive and exuberant, it tastes great, yet the fruit is perf ...Read More »
95 points Decanter: "Platinum Medal - Trophy for Best In Show: Sauvignon Blanc at DAWA 2016: Fresh and powerful throughout with an enticing nose of fresh citrus garnished by hints of white flowers and white peach. To taste, it's very clean with a broad texture, ending on an intense, zippy finish; delicious!" 90 points Bob Campbell: "Pure, zesty Sauvignon Blanc with guava, lime zest and subtle herbal flavours. Nice purity and an ethereal texture. Refreshing wine with good varietal characters" (11/2015) K&L Notes: Winemaker's Notes: "This wine is zesty and vibrant, with a base of rich tropical fruit, kaffir lime, le... Read More »
95 points Decanter: "Complex and beautiful nose with flinty, floral and guava notes. Clever use of Riesling which highlights Torrontes and works as a perfect partner. Vibrant, fresh and fruity on the palate, with a delicate, mouth-watering salinity. Delicious, fantastic bottle of wine to be served in all Asian restaurants" Vinous: "Very pale, bright yellow. Pure, fresh aromas and flavors of white peach, flowers and mint. Firm and aromatic in the mouth; not complex or fat but offers considerable immediate juicy appeal. Finishes fresh and persistent. I like the crisp, limey citricity bro ...Read More »
This Chardonnay is produced by the three brothers Couillaud at the Château de la Ragotière, a few minutes from the Atlantic near the mouth of the Loire River, where the maritime climate is ideal for producing whites that are refreshing and bright. The Couillauds age most of this wine on its lees until bottling to add weight and texture with around 10% being barrel-fermented in French oak for the faintest touch of toastiness. Saveur magazine wrote about a previous vintage: "This value-priced Chardonnay tastes crisp and bright. It comes from the western Lo... Read More »
In the region of Cariñena, the Garnacha grape variety finds a lovely expression, one which is less high octane and lighter on its feet than in some of the neighboring regions. This easy drinker is a terrific bargain for anyone looking for a house red or a wine for a celebration.
Wine Spectator: "*Best Values* This creamy red takes a modern tack, with mocha and spice accents to the pureed boysenberry fruit. Bright and balanced, with a lightly chewy finish of moderate length. Negroamaro, Primitivo and Cabernet Sauvignon. (AN)" (6/2015)
A blend of 80 percent Grenache and 20 percent Carignan from a family-run winery in Châteauneuf-du-Pape.
Inventory: San Francisco
Sancerre at half the price! The Fournier family, with roots as deep as their vines in this region, seem to be related to just about everyone in some way. They've been farming and producing wines in Sancerre for generations. We are pleased to have been offered this wine, yet again, at such a great price. Soft, subtle mineral notes are wrapped up in aromatics of melon and citrus. Clean, bright and refreshing, this is a perfect little Sauvignon Blanc. Tropical fruit, citrus and spice aromas and flavors, with vibrant acidity and minerality. Perfect for goat ... Read More »
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 »
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.
The Wolftrap is a robust, lively blend of Syrah, Mourvedre, and Viognier. From Neal Martin at erobertparker.com: "Robert Parker recently tasted Mark Kent's (a.k.a. Mr Boekenhoetskloof) Wolftrap red and white and came to the same conclusion as I in recent years: these are just wonderful bang for bucks wines that are thoughtfully crafted at this price point."
This has been the #1 selling Italian wine for more than 2 decades at K&L! You can't get that kind of continued success without a supremely fantastic quality-to-price ratio. The southern Tuscan coast is a breadbasket of winemaking, with stable temperatures and a solid history of quality yet no fame and fortune. Incredibly priced bargains come out of the region, and the proof is in the bottle. This wine is wonderful, soft, forward and easy-to-drink Sangiovese with an enticing mixture of cherry, plum and earth. Eminently drinkable.
One of our most popular rosés, this fresh and balanced wine comes from one of our favorite co-ops in the south of France. It's a blend of Syrah and Grenache grown in volcanic soils in the heart of the Languedoc. With aromas and flavors of ripe strawberries and raspberries, this crisp, medium-bodied rosé is an ideal complement to spring green salads, light cheeses, mac and cheese, mozzarella cheese salads, goat cheese, cheese and crackers with olives and salumi...or enjoy as an evening aperitif, cheese optional.
90 points Vinous: "Opaque ruby. Incisive aromas of peppery red fruits and dried flowers, with subtle vanilla and mineral nuances adding complexity. Juicy redcurrant and bitter cherry flavors become deeper with air while maintaining very good clarity. The bitter cherry note repeats emphatically on the vibrant finish, which is framed by youthfully chewy tannins. Give this youngster some air--or, better yet, stash it in the cellar for another five years. (JR)" (3/2016) 90 points Wine & Spirits: "A dark and savory Cabernet, this wine completely fills its claret-like weight, neither ambitious nor weak in i ...Read More »
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 »
Giovanni Blason and his wife Valentina are young producers who continuously surprise us with the price-to-quality ratio of their wines, earning them tons of kudos in Gambero Rosso and beyond. They come from the Isonzo region of Northern Italy, right up against the Slovenian border. Their Pinot Grigio is really sensational, full in the mouth, rich on the palate and extraordinarily drinkable at this price! Very aromatic, with good complexity, length and that subtle elegance that shows muscle and a long and flowing finish.
91 points James Suckling: "I like the lively and zesty character to this white with green apple and lemon undertones. Full body, loads of fruit, yet firm and focused. Go-to Gavi." (10/2015) Wine & Spirits: "Tart lemon and yellow apple flavors mingle with lightly bitter notes in a round, oily texture. Serve this with a seafood stew." (12/2015) Wine Spectator: "A mix of pear, apple, lemon and earth notes, backed by touches of earth and mineral. Offers a clean, chalky finish." (11/2015)
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 »
Just downriver from Germany's Rheingau region is the Mittelrhein, where the extremely steep slate terroir looks more like what you find in the Mosel than the neighboring Rhine regions. The Jost family has been cultivating vineyards in Bacharach for 180 years, and today Weingut Toni Jost is a 15 hectare estate under sixth-generation proprietor Cecilia. Grapes for this village-designated Riesling come from a plot just above the Grand Cru-classified Hahn vineyard. The wine is fresh and floral with fruit up front and always a mineral and acid-driven structur... 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 »
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. Most of the grapes for his red wines come from his own 20 hectares, which are north-facing and located at 600 meters in altitude, affording the visitor with one of the most dramatically beautiful views of Rioja's main mountain ranges: the Sierra Cantabria mountains immediately to the north and the Sierra de la Demanda mountains to the south. This white win... Read More »
Wine Enthusiast: "The wine, still young, has spice and tannins as well as toasty flavors. Its fruit is still developing but will become ripe and full of red berries. The acidity and crisp aftertaste are balanced and fruity. Drink from 2018. (RV)" (12/2016) K&L Notes: About the winery: "A family business for 3 generations, located in Sauveterre de Guyenne, Vignobles Ballarin produces red wines in Bordeaux and Bordeaux Supérieur appellation, under the names of Château Loyasson and Château Roc Levraut. The vineyard consists of 40 hectares of vines consists of 60% Merlot and 40% Cabernet ... Read More »
James Suckling: "A fresh and simple red with dried cherry and lemon aromas and flavors. Medium body, crisp finish." (11/2015)
From the second label of Sobon estates comes Shenandoah Vineyards' full-bodied, full-fledged Amador-style Zinfandel. Its perfume hints at blackberries, cherries and cocoa while the mild tannins, elegant structure and strong fruit flavors make this a satisfying pairing for meats and cheeses.
We love this co-op, started in 1930 with 30 winemakers and now numbering 200, for their reliably delicious everyday wines. They are located in the foothills of the Languedoc's Cevennes mountains, along the Ceressou volcano, where shale, basalt, and limestone-clay soils meet an ideal Mediterranean climate for grape growing. This voluptuous blend of Syrah and Grenache is ruby red in glass with aromas of cassis and red fruits. It'd be a great accompaniment to a hearty mushroom risotto or a lamb chop.
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 »
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 »
"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.
Winemaker notes: "The pre-eminent growing area for the arneis grape is the Roero, the area of magnificent hills on the left bank of the Tanaro river. Here, the calcareo-siliceous soils encourage the development of perfumed, elegant wines. After a gentle pressing, the must is given a cultured-yeast fermentation for some 10 days at 16-18°C. A final crucial step is a brief maturation in the bottle to further improve the structure of the wine and the complexity of its bouquet. Colour: Deep straw yellow with greenish highlights. Bouquet: Generous, crisp, and... Read More »
92 points James Halliday: "Good hue and depth; the bouquet and palate sing from the same page, bringing black fruits, dried sage, black olive and oak together, and then laying a carpet of fine tannins underneath." (3/2014) 91 points Wine & Spirits: "This gentle cabernet is long on elegance and herbal spice. It offers a rich texture without tannic overload, its foresty fruit ranging from red cherry to boysenberry. A coastal cabernet for venison or other lean meats." (10/2014) 90 points Vinous: "Vivid ruby. Pungent scents of fresh cherry, blackcurrant and pipe tobacco, with a smoky nuance coming up with aeration. On the palate, gen ...Read More »
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.
91 points Wine Enthusiast: "Tart aromas of sour cream, yogurt, candied lime and pressed quince show on the nose of this stylishly structured Chardonnay. The palate carries the theme forward, with pithy pink grapefruit notes, lime ade and brie rinds, showing firm tension on the tongue and bound-up energy that will keep this bottle alive for years. (MK)" (2/2016)
Costières de Nîmes is at the southernmost part of the Rhône Valley, on the opposite bank of Châteauneuf-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 for the f... Read More »
Situated in to the east of the walled city of Carcassonne and in the shadow of the Montagne Noire (Black Mountains) lies Minervois. The village of Laure-Minervois is home to the winery Chateau Saint Jacques d'Albas a 90 hectare estate in the hills above the village. Some 26 hectares of the estate are planted to vines with the rest composed of forests and creeks acting as a natural barrier to their neighbors. At the winery, a small team led by owner Graham Nutter, craft superb reds, whites and rosés, all of which are farmed organically. The "Domaine Ro... Read More »
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 »
Rich, ripe, soft, full bodided, fruit driven Cabernet that is great drinking for the money.
91 points Wine & Spirits: "*Best Buy* Another great value from the Bousquet family, this is made from organic grapes grown in the chalky and stony soils of Gualtallary. The high altitude shows in a subtly herbal scent, while the wine focuses on ripe red fruit and spices. This is a textbook Cabernet, with the firm acidity and a solid structure, but it's also easy to drink and ready for steak." (4/2016)
Wine Spectator: "Bright and juicy, with fresh flavors of red plum, currant and raspberry. Offers a plush, round finish. (KM, Web-2016)" K&L Notes: The Elsa Malbec comes from Valentin Bianchi's Doña Elsa estate in the cool reaches of San Rafael, Mendoza. With just a kiss of French oak, the rich fruit dominates this easy-drinking red, which has barely-there tannins. Invoke your inner-Argentine and drink this alongside grilled flank steak with a garlicky chimichurri. Many previous vintages recommended by Wine Enthusiast as a "Best Buy."
90 points Robert Parker's Wine Advocate: "Juicy and lively, with lots citrus blossom, lychee and a touch of lime, the 2015 Riesling Kung Fu Girl is medium-bodied, vibrant and crisp on the palate, with terrific purity, integrated acidity and a great finish. It's a steal at the price and will drink nicely for a year or more. These latest releases from Charles Smith check in at the top of the pyramid and are flat out incredible wines that I wish every reader could taste. Readers should also check out the new label, Wines of Substance, which are also included in this report. Going forward, the K Vin ...Read More »
Wine Spectator: "Lemon-lime, ruby grapefruit and green apple flavors are crisp and refreshing, with a note of matcha green tea on the finish. Drink now. 28,000 cases made." (2/2017) K&L Notes: This 100% Sauvignon Blanc is sourced from Mason Vineyard in Lake County's Kelsey Bench, where it picks up its signature grapefruit characteristics. A long, cold fermentation in stainless steel showcases the aromatic intensity of the wine with vibrant fruit flavors. Mouth-watering brightness is found in the tropical fruit flavors with plenty of citrus zest.
Wine & Spirits: "Buoyant with lemongrass scents and floral lime flavor, this is summery and refreshing." (6/2016) Wine Enthusiast: "Produced at the largest family-owned vineyard in France, this is a fruity, immediately attractive wine. There are both citrus and more tropical fruit flavors in the wine, alongside a herbal, grassy touch from the Sauvignon Blanc and Colombard in the blend. The wine is ready to drink. (RV)" (6/2016) K&L Notes: A blend of 45% Ugni Blanc, 35% Colombard, 10% Sauvignon Blanc, 10% Gros Manseng, this white wine is juicy yet crisp. Crack open a bottle at the shore, a picnic, on th... Read More »
93 points Bob Campbell: "A blend of Pinot Noir and Malbec. Uncompromisingly dry, flavoursome Rosé with watermelon, summer berries and anise spice. A terrific wine that offers good value at this price." (12/2015) 93 points Sam Kim: "Delightfully fragrant, the bouquet shows rockmelon, citrus and floral characters with a hint of fresh strawberry. It is juicy and brightly flavoured on the palate, and offers silky mouthfeel and a fabulous crisp dry finish. Made from (mostly) pinot noir, this is so refreshing and appealing. At its best: now to 2017." K&L Notes: Winemaker's notes: "Blushing pink watermelon in appearance... Read More »
Wine Spectator: "Ample spicy notes accent the cherry and brambly flavors. Creamy midpalate, with notes of tangerine on the finish." (5/2016)
Côtes de Gascogne is primarily known for the production of Armagnac; it wasn’t until the last 20 years or so that producers began to take table wine production seriously. Traditionally, these wines would have been distilled into Armagnac. Producers found that by fermenting at lower temperatures in stainless steel, they could develop and preserve more powerful aromatics. Though yields are high, costs have stayed low and the wines are consequently some of the best bargain whites in France. Domaine de Millet is first and foremost an Armagnac producer. They ... Read More »
The Elsa Malbec comes from Valentin Bianchi's Doña Elsa estate in the cool reaches of San Rafael, Mendoza. With just a kiss of French oak, the rich fruit dominates this easy-drinking red, which has barely-there tannins. Invoke your inner-Argentine and drink this alongside grilled flank steak with a garlicky chimichurri. Many previous vintages recommended by Wine Enthusiast as a "Best Buy."