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K&L Staff Recommendations
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 »
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 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: "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 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.
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 »
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.
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 »
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.
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: "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)
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 »
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 »
Inventory: San Francisco
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)
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.
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!"
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 »
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 »
Wine Spectator: "Honeysuckle and Honeycrisp apple flavors are layered with juicy acidity in this zesty, light-bodied white. (AN)" (10/2016)
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)
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 »
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 »
"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.
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!
90 points Robert Parker's Wine Advocate: "The straight up fabulous 2015 Tavel Les Lauzeraies is a layered, medium-bodied, beautifully textured Tavel that offers lots of flowers, lavender, spice and both cherry and raspberry fruit. Showing a touch of saltiness on the finish, drink this beauty with food over the coming year or so. (JD)" (5/2016) Wine Spectator: "A ripe rosé, with cherry and anise notes that stay focused and fresh, showing a flash of warm stone accents through the finish. Offers a juicy feel overall. Drink now. (JM)" (8/2016) K&L Notes: Rejoice Tavel! In a time when very high quality rosés line our shelves, when ... Read More »
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 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.
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 »
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!
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 »
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 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.
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 »
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)
Inventory: Redwood City
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 »
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 »
Wine Enthusiast: "Cigar-box aromas and a perfumed, fruity character give this wine a typical Cabernet Franc character. It is structured, with some firm tannins at the core, surrounded by ripe red fruits and fresh acidity. The wine is ready to drink. (RV)" (2/2016)
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.
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 »
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 »
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 »
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)
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 »
(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.
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."
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 »
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."
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)
Wine Enthusiast: "Fresh orange blossoms and jasmine spring from a chalky backbone on the nose of this clean and crisp semisweet bottling that also shows tangerine pith, lemon-lime soda and a touch of quinine. Though a bit sweet on the sip, it is far from cloying and remains refreshing throughout. (MK)" (12/2016) K&L Notes: 85% Riesling with 15% Gewürztraminer blended in. It has a low alcohol level--12.5%. This juicy, tasty white has aromas of jasmine and honey with flavors of citrus, peach, mandarin orange and wet stone. Zippy and bright with an ever-so-slight tinge of sweetness, it's... Read More »