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K&L Staff Recommendations
Montechiara Prosecco $9.99
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.
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 »
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 »
Inventory: San Francisco
Wine Spectator: "Ripe plum and chocolate flavors have a slightly candied character in this round, supple red, backed by sweet-tart acidity and light tannins that give way to a fresh finish. Drink now. 8,500 cases imported. (TM, Web-2016)" K&L Notes: 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.
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 »
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 »
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.
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)
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.
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 »
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 »
The Verquiere estate has been passed down from father to son for many generations and is now managed by brothers Romain and Thibaut Chamfort. Following age-old traditions and sustainable practices, the estate was recently certified organic. The Cotes du Rhone is a blend of 80% Grenache and 20% Syrah, grown on chalky clay soils with loads of large pebbles in the vineyards. Verquiere recently returned to us after a long hiatus and we are pleased to have them back.
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.
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 »
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 »
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.
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.
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."
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)
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 »
90 points Robert Parker's Wine Advocate: "The 2014 Ercavio Roble is pure Tempranillo that followed a classical vinification, fermentation in stainless steel, malolactic fermentation in cement and a short aging (six months) in used French barriques. The nose is very classic, too, nicely crafted, fine with a nice combination between berry and spice with subtle oak. It has a commercial profile in a very pleasant way. The palate shows very good volume and a fine texture with elegant tannins. It tastes like a much more expensive wine. This is superb value and a faithful representation of Tempranillo ...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 »
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.
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.
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 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 »
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 »
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.
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 »
James Suckling: "A fresh and simple red with dried cherry and lemon aromas and flavors. Medium body, crisp finish." (11/2015)
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 »
"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.
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.
90 points Wine Enthusiast: "This wine delivers just about everything you'd possibly expect from the variety and the region—grassy aromas, a bountiful mix of herb and tropical fruit flavors, ample weight and texture, and a long finish built around a solid core of grapefruit. (JC)" (7/2014) Raymond Chan: "This is an elegant and tightly bound, refreshing Sauvignon Blanc with passionfruit and gooseberry flavours and a minerally finish." Wine Spectator: "*Smart Buys* Tangy Key lime, white grapefruit, mango and bergamot flavors are aromatic, vivid and intensely juicy, with a squirt of fresh lemon juice on a light and refre ...Read More »
Inventory: Main Warehouse
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."
Produced from Loureiro and Pederña grapes grown in the granitic soils of the Vinho Verde region, the Santola (or as we here are calling it, "the crab wine") is a delicious, spritely and refreshing white. It doesn't get much more traditional, thirst-quenching or seasonally perfect then this wine. Delicious, low in alcohol, slightly fizzy and way too easy to drink!
This happens to be the cousin and neighbor of Martin Kerpen of Heibert Kerpen - go figure right? Anyway, we were turned on to these wines by a friend who is now importing them in Berkeley, and we thank him for that. These are old style Mosel wines from vintages that were not shy on acid and they have not moved from the cellar where they were born until making their maiden voyage last month and landing here on our welcoming shelves. Hello acidity!!! Do you pine for the days when a zippy, and I mean zippy, Mosel wine would bring your palate and salivary gl... Read More »
Inventory: San Francisco
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)
Made from Cabernet Franc grapes grown on a clay-limestone hillside, this fruity and aromatic wine drinks wonderfully, even when the wine is very young. The Cabernet France grapes are completely destemmed and vatted for 12-18 days, depending on the year. Fermentation in temperature-controlled stainless steel vats. The result is is an elegant, round and easy-to-drink wine that smells of violets and tastes of heaven!
A lovely nose of apples, citrus, tropical fruits and dusty gravel. This is a bright and energetic wine which also carries good texture and finishing length. Very well balanced from start to finish which makes for a very well focused drink while retaining a higher quality level. Made from 35 year old vines planted in sandy clay soils. After harvest the fruit is allowed to rest on its skins for a bit longer in order to extract a bit more aromatic and palate complexity and then pressed off. Fermentation is low and slow and done in 100% stainless steel tank.... Read More »
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 »
Vinous: "Pale orange. Aromas of fresh red berries, orange and lavender are lifted by a suggestion of chalky minerals. Juicy and tightly focused, offering strawberry, blood orange and succulent herb flavors that deepen on the back half. Finishes dry and nervy, showing good focus and lingering citrus and red fruit qualities. (JR)" (6/2016) K&L Notes: Praise for the producer from Wine Advocate: "I continue to be blown away by the quality coming from Domaine de la Bila Haut, which is run with the Chapoutier team. They’ve continued to grow these Roussillon releases, and even at th... Read More »
89 points Wine Spectator: "This white is precise, showing mango, lemon verbena and lime sherbet flavors that are fragrant and juicy. A hint of honeysuckle lingers on the finish. Drink now." (11/2016)
This is the same delicious Underwood Pinot Noir as the bottle, but in an easy-to-transport pop top can! No, it doesn't affect the taste--it's still packed with strawberry and pomegranate fruit, with the same supple texture, acidity and peppery spice and minerally finish. Perfect for summer sipping, for camping, boating, picnicking, beaching or rocking out at the Hollywood Bowl! From the winery's tasting notes: Cherries, raspberries, and chocolate."
Wine Spectator: "This crackles nicely, with lime, fleur de sel and thyme notes rippling through. Lively finish. (JM, Web-2016)" K&L Notes: This Muscadet is very pure and bright, with an intense floral bouquet with overtones of spice and fruit. The richness, balance and freshness of this wine make it an excellent example of its appellation. It is enjoyable young, but will age well for several years. It is, however, unlikely you'll be able to save some--it's that good. Perfect accompaniment to fish and seafood dishes.
Wine Spectator: "Honeysuckle and Honeycrisp apple flavors are layered with juicy acidity in this zesty, light-bodied white. (AN)" (10/2016)
(last of vintage) Noblaie's rosé is produced from younger Cabernet Franc vines, which are planted in the deeper soils at the base of the hillside vineyard. It has a clear and smooth pink color, deep, rich aromas of watermelon and cranberry and loads of lovely fresh red fruits on the palate.
94 points Bob Campbell: "Soft, subtle and silken Rosé, with flavours of crushed strawberry, watermelon, summer berries and a hint of rose petal. A gentle, charming wine that demonstrates considerable power through its lingering finish." (12/2015) K&L Notes: About the producer from Raymond Chan: "The GeorgeTown Vineyard label shot to fame when the 2007 Pinot Noir was awarded the Champion Exhibition Red Wine Trophy at the 2009 Air New Zealand Wine Awards. However the quantity of wine from the vineyard is tiny, as indicated by the ‘Exhibition' status of the trophy, reserved for limited producti... Read More »