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K&L Staff Recommendations
2013 Tenuta Luisa Friulano $16.99
Montechiara Prosecco DOC $9.99
This Prosecco offers delicate flavors of pear and hints of nutmeg, all in a well balanced sparkling wine. Montechiara is an Extra Dry bubbly, like most Prosecco, which gives it a more determined palate presence, good acidity and a bright freshness that make it seem more like a Brut while lengthening the finish. Try it for your holiday parties or just knocking the dust off a long day at work! (Greg St. Clair, K&L Italian wine buyer)
Ravello, carved into the hillsides overlooking the Mediterranean on Italy's Amalfi Coast, is one of my favorite places on earth. Maybe it's because it is where my husband and I honeymooned, but honestly I was in love with Ravello before I ever set foot there, and that goes back to this wine. Made from 60% Falanghina and 40% Biancolella grown in the rocky, calcareous soils of both Ravello and Scala, this slightly floral, wonderfully mineral, fresh white wine tastes like the crystalline blue sea and sunshine captured in a bottle. It is particularly delicio... Read More »
94 points James Suckling: "Pale, watery color with a slightly green tinge. Cherry blossom with stony green apple peel on nose. Crisp, dry but elegant tropical-fruit character, saltiness and tannins offer focused structure. Fresh, elegant finish. An amazing Friulano." (9/2014)
The Bronca sisters grow their own fruit in steep hillside vineyards, then make base wine and perform the secondary (sparkling) fermentation on non-vintage batches three or four times a year, to ensure freshness. Low yields and hillside-grown fruit ensures that the wine has good concentration and acidity. This one's a clean, crisp and ultimately refreshing sparkler that is one of our favorites.
94 points James Suckling: "This is a phenomenal white with sliced pear, apple and cream. Wonderful richness. It's full bodied, very layered and stylish. A petrol, candle-wax and dried-apricot character. Savory finish. Drink now." (12/2014)
Giovanni Blason and his consulting enologist Andrea Rossi have turned this 37-acre property into a juggernaut of affordable quality wines. Giovanni and his wife Valentina own this winery in Gradisca d’Inzonzo, 3.75 miles from the Slovenian border and about 20 miles north of Trieste. This white offers such intense floral aromatics, with, jasmine, elderflowers, and lime blossoms, you'd guess that there would be some correlating sweetness on the palate, but this one from Blason is absolutely dry. Great with cheese!
Wine Spectator: "Light-bodied, with a zesty base driving modest notes of green melon, salted almond and pink grapefruit. (Web-2014)" K&L Notes: Pure crystaline fruit with a tautness and elegance that reminds me of great Gruner Veltliner from the Wachau, this is a lot of wine for the price tag. If there was every a region to gauge the incredible transformation of Italian wine from plonk to among the world's best, Soave would be right up near the top, and the Soave of Ca Rugate is a stellar example of why.
Impressive for its purity and refreshing mineral qualities, Valle dell'Acate takes the Inzolia varietal to a whole new level of quality. As a second label, the Case Ibidini range (pronounced 'bidini) consists of varietally labeled wines from the estate intended for more casual consumption. The local name of the area where the estate is situated, Bidini, is drawn from the ancient root Bidis. This in turn referred to the name of a group of early Hellenic settlers who populated the area nearly 20 centuries ago. These wines provide a purity and authenticity ... Read More »
Inventory: San Francisco
This 100% Falanghina is wonderful, it's fermented in stainless steel, and then kept on its lees for two months before being bottled. The nose is a complex perfume of elderflowers and white peach, with a bit of crushed stone that is couched in a med-full body, and it has a long and decidedly refreshing finish. (Greg St.Clair, K&L's Italian buyer)
Allura is a peninsula on the northeast corner of the island of Sardinia that specializes in Vermentino (the grape is also grown on the coast of mainland Italy, on Corsica and in the south of France under the name Rolle). Mancini's version of the grape is very fresh and forward, with no oak or malolactic fermentation aromas, just grape juice fermented at low temperature in stainless steel. Enjoy this delicious, lively and aromatic white as an aperitif or with seafood (prawns with pasta?). A hint of citrus peel on the finish adds food-friendly complexity.
This is always one of the most popular Italian whites at K&L. Made entirely from Vermentino from the Gallura Highlands on the island of Sardenia. The granitic soils force the vines to struggle to survive, but that struggle (like so many) gives the wine its character. The 2013 is dry and full, with lots of white fruit, a touch of green pepper and a salty minerality that makes this a natural pairing with seafood. Don't miss.
90 points Robert Parker's Wine Advocate: "The non-vintage Prosecco del Valdobiaddene Particella 68 comes from a hillside vineyard planted with 40-60-year-old Glera vines in rocky soils. It reveals more minerality along with honeyed grapefruit and apple-like fruit. Crisp and light-bodied with more intensity and flavor than its sibling, it is a dry sparkler to enjoy over the next 1-2 years." (6/2014)90 points Stephen Tanzer's International Wine Cellar: "Bright straw-green. Sexy, clean aromas of floral white peach, apricot and tangerine. On the palate, soft citrus and pineapple flavors are enlivened by vibrant acidity and nicely extended on the creamy, ...Read More »
Frascati doesn't have the best reputation--it's often the innocuous white wine served as "house wine" across Rome--but this one from Casale Marchese transcends any preconceived notions. Made from Malvasia del Lazio, Trebbiano Toscano, Malvasia di Candia, Bonvino and Bellone grown on family farms in the Tusculo hills and brought to us by one of our favorite Italian importers, Oliver McCrum (it's how you KNOW it's going to be good), this is fresh and delightful. Notes of basil complement peach and nectarine with a slight almond underpinning. It's fresh, ea... Read More »
Inventory: San Francisco
This batch of the Blason Brut sparkling wine is made from 100% Ribolla Gialla grapes and is produced in a "long Charmat" method, meaning that it spend six months in tanks. Blason is from Isonzo in Italy's north easternmost region, called Friuli, which borders Slovenia.
The Tralivio is made in a clean crisp style from some of Sartarelli's oldest vines. Antonio Galloni says, "When the mood strikes for Verdicchio, Sartarelli is often one of my go-to houses. The wines are loaded with varietal character, while the different bottlings are usually nicely differentiated and articulated."
Robert Parker's Wine Advocate: "Spicy and super zesty in the mouth, the 2013 Vermentino di Gallura Superiore Sciala is redolent of white flower, peach jasmine and dried ginger. Vermentino sometimes has a sage-like edginess and this wine delivers that quality in spades. If you like crisp whites to pair with fried fish, this is a perfect choice. The wine rests on its lees for five months with battonage and this process helps to add dimension and thickness on the finish. (ML)" (12/2014)
This 2014 release is too new to have already been professionally reviewed, but the 2013 bottling garnered 90 points from Antonio Galloni. In the context of another previous vintage, Galloni writes: ""Paolo Saracco remains the reference point producer for Moscato d’Asti, with perhaps one or two close peers, and that is it. I have seen Saracco’s vineyards, and they are great sites, but they aren’t the only top Moscato vineyards, so I am perplexed why no one else can make wines at this level. But the truth remains that very few can, or are willing to make t... Read More »
Bricco della Ciliegie is a70-year-old vineyard in Piedmont that used to be dedicated to cherry cultivation. Its sandy soils are dotted with calcareous strips, which combines with the altitude and unceasing wind, makes it the perfect place for growing Arneis. Unsurprisingly, the wine that comes from here is stunning. Floral, with notes of apple and pear and intense minerality.
We started importing the wines of this small family-owned winery in Colli Orientali de Friuli (not far from the Slovenian border) with the 2001 vintage. Back then they were far better known in Italy, where they have continuously garnered accolades from Gambero Rosso, but these days they have quite a following here at K&L, too. Vintage after vintage the wines from the brothers Ermacora (Dario and Luciano) sell out very quickly. And they still adhere to the motto: Do little, in order to do better. Their 2013 Friulano is no exception. The 2012 scored 90 poi... Read More »
A pretty green-gold color, this refreshing white combines crisp acidity with a full, rich floral nose. A lovely Gavi di Gavi perfect for sipping with scallops.
The Castelcerino vineyard is planted on predominantly volcanic soil, giving a distinct minerality to the 100% Garganega fruit.
Vietti's Roero Arneis is one of the most delicious and consistent versions of this varietal we carry every vintage. The grapes for this wine come from 25-year-old vines in Santo Stefano Roero. Fermented in stainless, they suppress malo to preserve the crisp acidity and freshness. And it is fresh, with mineral accents that complement its floral, citrus and melon aromas and flavors. Delightful with food.
100% Cortese, floral and fruity, but crisp on dry on the palate.
Inventory: San Francisco
Always a bargain from one of K&L's favorite direct imports. The 37-acre Blason property in Gradisca d'Inzonzo, owned by Giovanni and Valentina Blason, is just a few miles from the Slovenian border. Their Friulano is always rich and complex, but balanced, with round frut, minerality and hints of savory herbs.
I remember when my salesman approached me on this wine, "Mate, have I got a wine for you and your Club!" he's English so he throws in the occasional Mate or Chap for us Colonials… He explained what he was pitching me, a Bone Dry, Italian sparkling wine that is 15 years old…..needless to say I was a bit circumspect. He continued saying that the wine was 70% Chardonnay, 25% Pinot Noir and 5% Pinot Bianco and had remained on the lees for 12 years. He's actually quite a serious fellow so I said let's pop the cork and see for ourselves, I was actually stunned... Read More »
93 points James Suckling: "Beautiful aromas of peaches and apples that follow through to a full body with layers of dried pineapple and peaches. A velvety texture from the phenolics in this. Long and flavorful. Layered, rich white that shows wonderful fruit." (12/2014) K&L Notes: Truly one of Italy's best white wines, Verdicchio is one of Italy's great white grapes and in this isolated Apennine Valley at 1200 feet magic happens. Not harvested until the first week of October this wine achieves complete physiological ripeness, that allows the flavors to deepen, allows the wine to show this uniqu... Read More »
95 points James Suckling: "Incredible richness of dried papaya and mango with lemon undertones. Peach stone too. Fabulous character of dried fruits and citrus as well as sea salt and oyster shell. Amazing finish. Drink now." (11/2014)90 points Stephen Tanzer's International Wine Cellar: "Green-tinged gold. Musky, lees-accented aromas of yellow apple, melon and cinnamon, with a suggestion of buttered toast. Supple and expansive, offering fresh lime and richer baked apple and guava flavors. Finishes with very good energy and focus, along with a note of vanillin oak. This is an impressively rich white wine, but terroir lovers may find ...Read More »
The wines of Ermacora are absolute steals for their price to quality ratios, which is why we continue to bring them in direct, vintage after vintage. Ribolla Gialla is a local selection of the ancient white grape variety Ribola that dates back at least as far as the 11th century, and the variety also has Slavic roots. This straw-yellow white wine is recommended as an aperitif or with delicate, fresh water fish. It also pairs well with hors d'oeuvres and vegetable-based appetizers--but caution on the cheese, advises our Italian wine buyer, Greg St. Clair.
Wine Enthusiast: "This is a creamy and very well-executed blend of Chardonnay and Ribolla Gialla that opens with exciting aromas of stone fruit, citrus and honey, plus tiny touches of candy and butterscotch (a common aromatic characteristic of Ribolla Gialla)." (12/2012) Wine Spectator: "A crisp white, with a smoky base and hints of yellow apple, star fruit and almond. Tangy finish. Chardonnay and Ribolla Gialla. (Web-2013)" K&L Notes: This blend of 65% Chardonnay and 35% Ribolla Gialla is light, crisp, and citrusy with great minerality. An outstanding value!
Robert Parker's Wine Advocate: "Moscato 100% Intense grape, floral and honey aromas. Spicy. Sweet with crisp acid to balance. Moderately fine bubbles. Light body and alcohol (7%). Long finish, straightforward, some minerality." (3/2010) K&L Notes: Muscat grapes, being particularly aromatic, require a special winemaking technique in order to preserve the fruit's potent fragrance and to create a wine that is light on its feet and a fine accompaniment to fruit and nut-based desserts. The gently pressed grape juice is kept in refrigerated tanks until it is processed into the autoclave to obtain a spark... Read More »
90 points Wine Enthusiast: "Opening aromas include white flower, exotic fruit and flint. The juicy palate offers grapefruit and lime accented with aromatic herbs and mineral. The succulent finish closes on a note of white almond." (4/2014) Stephen Tanzer's International Wine Cellar: "Bright golden yellow. Aromas of apple, orange peel, herbs and smoke. Big, rich, thick fiano but a little foursquare in its simple apple, herb and licorice flavors, though it develops more nuance with aeration. The powerful finish offers strong soil tones but could use more definition and lift. Yet another estate that is considered in ascendance ...Read More »
Ciro Picariello is a producer of outstanding white wines from Campania. While his emphasis is on Fiano, "a few years ago he started making Greco from a rented vineyard, a vineyard that he is now intending to buy," writes importer Oliver McCrum. The soil is a sandy clay of volcanic origin called tuff, or 'tufo' in Italian (but the name of the appellation refers not to the soil, but to the village of Tufo, which is not far from Avellino). Picariello's Greco is made similarly to his Fiano...Ciro tells me that Greco can age like Fiano; given that he started ... Read More »
For four generations, the Gangemi family has been devoting itself to viticulture and to the improvement of autochthonous Sicilian vines. Meticulous winemaking and oak aging for 12 months has resulted in this classic Sicilian white made from indigenous grapes Carricante and Catarratto, planted to sandy volcanic soils, hand picked and fermented at a controlled temperature to preserve freshness and typicity. This smells like the Mediterranean itself, with scents of white flowers. There's real vivacity in the mouth, with unique mineral character. It's made f... Read More »
Inventory: Redwood City
Organically farmed without the use of pesticides or herbicides, all hand-harvested, and soft-pressed, this crisp, refreshing Prosecco (100% glera) stands out for a number of reasons. It was aged on its lees for three months in stainless steel with secondary fermentation occurring in bottle (unique for Prosecco), produced sustainably and according to traditional methods (also unique for the vast majority of soul-less, mass-produced Prosecco out there) and it is unfiltered (lees have not been removed), which means you may have to be a little extra careful ... Read More »
From Robert Parker: "The Fiorduva is a rare coastal white that has tropical fruit inflections, but at the same time, there is more than enough acidity to balance things out...The Fiorduva is 40% Ripoli, 30% Fenile and 30% Ginestra. If you haven’t heard about these indigenous white varieties before, don’t worry about it, neither have most people!...Marisa Cuomo is another Campanian producer making drop-dead gorgeous wines. This small estate is located on the Amalfi Coast, which lends its inimitable ocean influence to the wines."
From an "agriculturally self-sufficient" wine farm that include orchards and pasture, just a few miles outside of Roma along the Appian Way. The winery's note: "This has a straw-yellow color with golden reflections. The aromas are intense and elegant and range from floral scents to those of tropical fruit, together with notes of golden delicious apple and banana. The flavor is balanced, piquant and very elegant."
91 points Wine Enthusiast: "Delicious and linear, this full-bodied, elegant wine has a subtle nose of white flower, grapefruit and flint. The fresh palate delivers nectarine, lemon zest, rosemary, sage and mineral. This will develop more complexity; drink through 2017." (7/2014) Robert Parker's Wine Advocate: "Made from a white grape indigenous to southern Italy, this 2012 Fiano di Avellino was aged on its lees for 12 months prior to being bottled without fining or filtration – a rarity. Coming from high elevation vineyards (between 1,600 and 2,100 feet), the wine shows crisp, honeyed currant notes intermixed with ...Read More »
Not many people have heard of the Italian wine Pigato, but you'll certainly be happy you did once you try it! Supple and minerally, with a unique earthiness that plays against a vibrant acidity and subtle sweetness, this charming white wine from Liguria has personality. La Ginestraia is a new venture for Marco Brangero of Brangero in Diano d'Alba in Piedmont; he sourced the grapes from an ancient vineyard in Ortovero, seven miles inland from the Mediterranean.
Arneis is the historical grape from the Roero district. It is typically pleasing on the palate with slightly lower acidity than typical Italian whites. This wine from the Luèt ("small wolf" in the Piedmontese dialect) vineyard is fermented 40% in French oak and 60% in stainless steel. It spends 4 months in stainless steel tanks. Straw yellow color with greenish hues introduce a floral nose with tropical fruit. A long and soft finish characterize the wine. A rare breed of Arneis, this complex and extremely rich white has enough acidity to keep everything ... Read More »
"I am fascinated by Italian sparkling wines made of indigenous Italian varieties," writes importer Oliver McCrum, "and the Zanussis make a really good one. It's not made by either of the normal methods used to make dry sparkling wine, but rather by the method used to make Moscato d'Asti, which involves putting must into the special fermentation tank, and fermenting all the way from grape-juice to sparkling wine in one step. The wine is then aged in the tank on the lees until judged to be done, then decanted off the lees and bottled. (Some top-end Prosecc... Read More »
Inventory: San Francisco
Known for small berries and "spontaneous abortion" of the flower, Picolit fashions one of the rarest Italian passito wines. Golden hued with sumptuous honey, tropical and citrus notes, this complex white successsfully rivals Vin Santo for its ability to stand up to hearty cheeses or in a glass all by itself.
Wine Enthusiast: "*Best Buy* The sweet interpretation of Marsala offers a more dynamic and intense bouquet with aromas of marron glacé, honey-covered almonds, candied fruit and dried prune. Drink it alone after dinner or pair it with a very aged Pecorino cheese." K&L Notes: Utterly integral to the sumptuously simple dessert Zabaglione, Florio's sweet Marsala is too tasty to be relegated to the back of the pantry. Macerate oranges or really any old fruit in a mixture of this with some added sugar and you'll have an authentic sweet sauce for any kind of cake or pudding. It is also delic... Read More »
Inventory: Redwood City
From a "mischievous" vintage, according to Erste e Neue, a first-rate producer in the Mediterranean alpine region of Trentino-Alto Adige. The winery's vintage note: "he young wines are distinguished by their considerable clear fruit; their fresher, livelier and their fine, elegant structure...Greenish to straw yellow. Soft bouquet with hints of nuts and muscat. Very fresh wine, mild acidity and a pleasant fruitiness. An excellent wine for oysters and other fish dishes." Acidity is 5 grams/liter, with a touch of residual sugar, 3.8 grams/liter.
Inventory: San Francisco
The Mirum is a big league wine. The level of flavor saturation, power, density and age-ability is remarkable. Mirum is harvested the third or fourth week in October, assuring the maximum amount of flavor, focus and richness on the palate, all coming together in a focused, textured, seamless experience. The wine is fermented in stainless steel for 20 days and then remains there for 18 months sur lie. (Greg St. Clair, K&L Italian wine buyer)
Inventory: Redwood City