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K&L Staff Recommendations
2013 Tenuta Luisa Friulano $16.99
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.
Remo Farina's Bianco di Custoza is a blend of aromatic white grapes from the Moreniche hills, southeast of Lake Garda in Veneto. The blend of 40% Garganega, 25% Trebbiano, 15% Fernanda, 20% Malvasia are grown in calcareous clay soils. The wine is vinified entirely in stainless steel to maintain its fresh, bright, and aromatic profile. Notes of peach and white flowers reverberate on an easy-going palate that is perfect as an aperitif or with light dishes and fish.
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
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)
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.
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.
90 points Antonio Galloni: "The 2013 Chardonnay Pomino Bianco is a gorgeous, bright wine from Frescobaldi's Castello di Pomino. Lemon, jasmine, and sweet white peaches are some of the notes that emerge from an effortless, impeccably balanced wine. A dollop of aromatic varieties adds texture and attractive floral overtones. This is a fabulous value from Frescobaldi. (Antonio Galloni)" (1/2015)90 points Stephen Tanzer's International Wine Cellar: "Bright pale straw. Lemon, white peach and jasmine on the knockout nose, with an enticing spicy nuance emerging at the back. Fresh and pure in the mouth, offering a lovely fruit/acid balance and ...Read More »
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)
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.
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 »
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.
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.
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."
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!
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.
92 points James Suckling: "A crystal-clear chardonnay with chalk, lavender and floral character plus sliced apples and pears. Full to medium body, bright acidity and a clean and exciting finish. A stylish wine from the Marche. Drink now." (5/2015) K&L Notes: La Monacesca’s idea for this wine is for a crisp white, fresh and vibrant and the perfect accompaniment to the Marche’s seafood bounty, especially shellfish. The grapes are harvested in the early part of September and then aged for a year in stainless before the wine is bottled. The wine has a super focus, bright and clean with an underlyi... Read More »
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)
91 points James Suckling: "A rich and fruit Chardonnay with apple pie and milk aromas and flavors. Full and fruity, with lots going on. Always excellent." (12/2011)90 points Stephen Tanzer's International Wine Cellar: "Good, medium yellow color with gold highlights. Bright, pure aromas of tropical fruit, lime and white pepper. Dense, supple and fresh, offering bright orchard fruit, butter and pineapple flavors that gain depth and spiciness with air. In an exuberant, in-your-face, fruit-filled New World style, but avoids coming across as an over-the-top caricature. Serious unoaked chardonnay with impressive purity." (10/2011) Robert Parker's Wine Advocate: "The 2009 Cha ...Read More »
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.
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
93 points James Suckling: "Fabulously dense and flavorful. Aromas of sliced green pears and lemons follow through to a full body with a rich and tangy aftertaste. I like the lemon grass and herb undertones. Flinty too. A blend of pinot blanc, chardonnay and sauvignon banc. Drink now." (7/2014) Wine Enthusiast: "A blend of 60% Pinot Bianco, 30% Chardonnay and 10% Sauvignon, this reveals a fragrance of white flowers and tree fruit. The juicy palate delivers white peach, yellow apple and a mineral note alongside fresh acidity." (6/2014)
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)
The Castelcerino vineyard is planted on predominantly volcanic soil, giving a distinct minerality to the 100% Garganega fruit.
The 2012 Abtei Muri Sudtirol "Weiss" is a blend of 70% Pinot Bianco and 30% Pinot Grigio grown in the village of Appiano/Eppan in a southeast facing vineyard with predominantly gravelly limestone soils at elevations from 1500 to over 2000 feet, with vines aged 20-30 years. The wines from this area exhibit a persistent saltiness to go along with the excellent acidic balance. Winemaker Christian Werth ferments in stainless steel and then ages it for 15 months in large wooden casks with a weekly lees stirring. This wine can age easily for another 5-8 year... 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."
Inventory: San Francisco
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.
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 »
Inventory: San Francisco
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!
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 »
Edi Keber, viticulturalist of Zegla in the area of Collio, a few meters from Brda, Slovenia, is one of the mavericks of this territory. The excellent quality of his wines runs parallel with the volcanic character of this farmer. The year 2008 marked a momentous milestone for Keber as the azienda decided to commit to the production of a single white grape wine, the Collio, a blend of three varieties: Friulano for structure, Malvasia Istriana for its aromatic qualities, and Ribolla Gialla for acidity, lending to the production of a wine with remarkable wei... Read More »
From the Collio DOC on Italy's border with Slovenia, Venica is one of the region's most well-known and respected estates. Jesera actually means "little lake" in Slovenian, named for where the vineyard sits at the bottom of a cool valley. From the winey: "The natural copper color extracted with maceration is the signature of this wine and its richness reminiscent of williams pear, banana, and acacia flowers wrapped in a slight scent of fresh apricot. Intriguing taste with pleasant flavors of pear syrup and quince peels. Good acid/alcohol balance with a lo... Read More »
90 points Robert Parker's Wine Advocate: "The pretty 2012 Fiano di Avellino represents the single wine made by Tenuta Sarno 1860. This is a fresh and clean expression of the grape with bright notes of citrus, peach, pear, white flower and honey. Sur lie aging gives the wine good tension and density in the mouth. It wraps smoothly over the palate with layers of yellow fruit and crushed mineral. Mauro and Adele Sarno run the boutique Tenuta Sarno 1860 estate in Avellino. They make a single wine, a Fiano di Avellino, that sees fruit harvested from a high density vineyard planted 630 meters above se ...Read More »
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 »
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 »
Inventory: Redwood City
93 points James Suckling: "The nose on this is phenomenal, with intense sliced peaches. Full body and loads of fruit with a long flavorful finish. Drink now." (12/2011)91 points Robert Parker's Wine Advocate: "The 2009 Sauvignon Blanc Piere Sauvignon literally explodes with tons of energy and focus. Pears, green apples, white peaches, mint and sage are some of the notes that flow from this mid-weight, nicely delineated Sauvignon. Smoke, ash and slate develop later, adding further complexity to the generous, inviting finish. Anticipated maturity: 2012-2019." (2/2012)90 points Stephen Tanzer's International Wine Cellar: "Good, medium-dark straw-yellow. Pungent aromas of gooseberr ...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.
Inventory: Redwood City
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."
93 points Robert Parker's Wine Advocate: "The 2013 Ischia Tenuta Frassitelli is an absolutely exceptional expression of Biancolella. Fruit is sourced from a four-hectare vineyard on a steep cliff overlooking the Mediterranean at 600 meters above sea level. This is an example of so-called "extreme viticulture" given the hardships of harvesting in these difficult conditions. We are lucky Casa d'Ambra pursues these radical efforts. The bouquet shows honey, yellow fruit, rose and saline notes of sea salt and marine breeze. The wine is as unique as it is beautiful. Casa d'Ambra is one of the great e ...Read More »
100% Cortese, floral and fruity, but crisp on dry on the palate.
90 points Stephen Tanzer's International Wine Cellar: "Bright, light yellow-green. Deep aromas of tangerine, lime peel, quinine and white pepper. A densely packed, mineral-driven Vernaccia with spicy, floral, citrus flavors enlivened by harmonious acidity. Supple in the middle but distinctly firm-edged and tannic on the long back end, which is absolutely typical of Vernaccia di San Gimignano, a rare tannic white grape variety." (9/2014)
Inventory: Redwood City
92 points Robert Parker's Wine Advocate: "The 2010 Etna Bianco Superiore Pietra Marina is one of the founding fathers behind Etna wine excellence. When I first tasted Pietra Marina more than a decade ago, I fell in love with wines from this stunning volcanic territory. Those super sharp and focused mineral notes are what initially sparked my adoration, as well as the surprising complexity of aromas. Flint and brimstone are wrapped around citrus and white peach. It ages sur lie for 24 months. Pietra Marina can safely age up to a decade. Drink 2014-2024. Benanti has led efforts to raise Etna to th ...Read More »
Inventory: Redwood City