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K&L Staff Recommendations
2015 Gabaron, Bordeaux $9.99
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.
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.
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 »
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 »
This is a fresh, snappy berry-driven rosé with delicate floral notes. It's bright and crisp, delicious with or without food. Domaine les Pins has been family run for five generations. They are a small artisanal producer that oversees every stage of the production from start to finish. They have roughly 30 hectares of Cabernet Franc spread out through the Bourgueil and St-Nicolas de Bourgueil regions. They practice sustainable farming, and each and every vine gets singular attention throughout the year. Vines of an average age of 25 years are planted in s... 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 »
Connoisseurs Guide: "*One Star, Good Value* No matter that this unoaked bottling treds a direct, green apple line with few complex adjuncts in its makeup, such is the way of Chardonnays of its ilk, and this one makes a pretty good stab at capturing lively, somewhat juicy fruit. There is a not unexpected bit of fresh, slightly candied fruit here and little in the way of the rich, buttery side of the variety to be sure. Yet, all in all, this wine is both easy to take and easy on the wallet." (7/2015) Wine Enthusiast: "This stainless-steel take shows lime juice, golden apples and white pepper on t ...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 »
Inventory: Redwood City
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.
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.
Wine Spectator: "*** Best Value *** Ripe and focused, with dark plum and boysenberry fruit lined with licorice snap notes. Shows modest toast through the juicy finish. Syrah, Mourvèdre and Viognier. Drink now. (JM)" (9/2016) K&L Notes: 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 po... Read More »
Our newest DI Rioja comes from Rioja Baja, where the climate is a bit warmer and more Mediterranean, but where the Garnacha is arguably the best in all Rioja, the Graciano ripens more easily and shows great promise, and Tempranillo, planted on choice parcels like they are here, is also quite good. Castillo de Viñas was a label put together for us by one of our contacts in Rioja, and is made by the Burgo Viejo winery, a group of growers who have some great quality vineyards in the area. 90% Tempranillo, 10% Graciano. Juicy red and mixed berry fruit, with... 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 »
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 »
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.
Erik Banti’s Carato is back! This mini Super Tuscan has a great following at K&L and the new vintage is even better than the last! It’s a Sangiovese-based blend from the Tuscan coast that tastes like it should cost much more because of its full, smooth, flavorful palate presence and excellent balance. A K&L Direct Import that offers you extraordinary value, and at this price you will be saying, "I should buy two!"
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.
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.
Inventory: Redwood City
91 points James Suckling: "What a pretty young Chianti giving you all the cherry and strawberry character you could hope for. Medium body, light tannins and a fresh and bright finish. Drink now" (11/2016)
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 »
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 »
Wine Spectator: "Honeysuckle and Honeycrisp apple flavors are layered with juicy acidity in this zesty, light-bodied white. (AN)" (10/2016)
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.
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)
90 points Wine Spectator: "*#42 on the Top 100 wines of 2016, and a 'Best Values' designation* There's minerally freshness to the ripe dark plum, blackberry and cherry flavors, with peppery hints. Well-structured and crisp mid palate, featuring Asian spice and black fig notes on the finish. Drink now through 2020. (KM)" Robert Parker's Wine Advocate: "I got exactly what I expected from the 2014 Cabernet Sauvignon Classic Series, a soft, polished, and easy to drink Cabernet that is both straightforward and pleasant. (LG)" (12/2015) K&L Notes: Having placed in the top 50 of Wine Spectator's 2016 Top 100 list, the Montes Cabernet... Read More »
"Year in and year out one of our best values in 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, earning consistent praise for the solid varietal character it delivers at a modest price.
A lovely nose of apples, citrus, tropical fruits and dusty gravel. This is a bright and energetic wine that also carries good texture and finishing length. Very well balanced from start to finish, making for a 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. Fermentation is low and slow and done in 100% stainless-steel tank. The wine is then allowed to re... Read More »
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 »
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.
From the leading producer of "cru" wines in Northern Rhône, this deep and supple wine displays seductive aromas of blackberry, currant and baking spice, with a hint of licorice. Wine Advocate praised the producer: "I continue to consider Cave de Tain to be one of the best co-ops in the world, and they make a bevy of truly outstanding wines. This is in part, I’m sure, due to their incredible, state of the art cellar/winery that is located on the outskirts of Tain l’Hermitage. In addition, they have a terrific vineyard management and winemaking team." (11/... Read More »
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 »
At all levels, the Perrin family delivers quality wines from their Cheateau de Beaucastel to the classic Côtes du Rhône. Fruity and fleshy with beautiful tannins, it’s a great everyday wine made almost exclusively from the Grand Prébois vineyards (for the Grenache) and theirVinsobres vineyards (for the Syrah). A beautiful everyday wine that should always be on hand!
90 points James Suckling: "A fresh Malbec with blackberries and dried herbs on the nose. Clean, fun and fruity." (5/2016) K&L Notes: Grown in the sand, clay and rock of Lujan de Cuyo with fresh water from the snow melt of the Andes Mountains, this plush wine is a deliciously pure expression of Argentinian Malbec.
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!
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!
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.
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 »
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 »
Domaine Begude is a small, family-owned property located high in the foothills of the Pyrenees in the Limoux region of the Languedoc. The long, cool growing season lends itself perfectly to the production of crisp and delicate wines, all organically certified by Ecocert & NOP. The "Exotique" is 100% Grüner Veltliner, a grape not authorized for cultivation in France. James Kinglake, owner of Begude, wanted to experiment so he sought out cuttings from his friend Markus Huber of Huber winery located in the Traisental region of Austria. The experiment succee... Read More »
Rich, ripe, soft, full bodided, fruit driven Cabernet that is great drinking for the money.
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)
90 points Decanter: "An elegant, floral wine, with dark fruit, spice and pepper notes on nose and palate, and firm, ripe tannins lending poise." Robert Parker's Wine Advocate: "The 2015 Côtes du Rhône St Esprit is a medium-bodied, peppery and garrigue-scented effort that has medium-bodied richness, plenty of charm and a delicious, refreshing quality. It’s another example of the terrific quality of the Côtes du Rhônes in 2015. (JD)" (12/2016)
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 »
Château Bois-Malot is located in St-Loubes and situated on the shoreline of the Dordogne River. The soils are clay and light limestone with a subsoil of red pebbles and clay. The Blanc is a blend of Sauvignon Blanc, Sauvignon Gris and Semillon, grown in the Entre-Deux-Mers appellation. It shows complex notes of lychee and grapefruit with beautiful body.
From Monterey and Santa Barbara vineyards, the fruit is fermented in stainless steel to preserve freshness, then aged in neutral, air-dried French oak to add an element of texture. Tasting notes from the winemaker: "The nose is reminiscent of preserved Meyer lemons, wet stones and a hint of lime blossoms. The rich body and texture builds as it envelops your mouth, while layers of Kaffir lime, guava, and pineapple tantalize; followed by light, creamy texture of whipped lemon curd. The lingering finish is clean and crisp, preparing your palate for 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 »
A perennial staff and customer favorite, this Vinho Verde continues to deliver the goods, the fizzy, citrus-drenched, delicious goods. If you're looking for a poolside, picnic, or patio sipper, this wine never disappoints.
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: "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."