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K&L Staff Recommendations
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. Grapes in this wine typically include Trajadura, Alvarinho, and Arinto.
Cotes 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 »
Wine & Spirits: "Tariquet’s flagship, this is classic Gascogne white, lemony-bright and shot through with crisp acidity. It’s simple and palate whetting, especially with a platter of plump, briny clams." (6/2014) Wine Spectator: "Dried golden raisin and baked apple flavors are accented by sage honey and spice. Hints of dried quince emerge on the finish. Ugni Blanc, Colombard, Sauvignon Blanc and Gros Manseng." (10/2014)
Inventory: San Francisco
91 points Wine Spectator: "Intense golden raisin, tarragon and grapefruit flavors give this white good cut. Very minerally in the mid palate, with a luscious finish that combines candied mint and dried mango flavor. Exotic and richly spiced. Drink now through 2020." (11/2014) Robert Parker's Wine Advocate: "The 2013 Assyrtiko is rather impressive on opening, tightly wound and showing fine grip and tension on the finish, together with earthy, minerally nuances that I liked. The acidity gives it a bright and sunny feel to it. This is a nice performance here, balanced but persistent, relatively complex yet tasty. It ...Read More »
An rich Swartland blend of Chenin Blanc, Clairette, Verdelho, Viognier and Palomino. Then fruit for this wine comes from multiple parcels of Eben's vineyards throughout the region. Many vines are very old, own-rooted, all are dry-farmed bushvines toiling against the elements in this rugged yet inspiring place. 2013 was a cooler vintage so freshness and brightness of fruit was preserved throughout. The other important aspect of this wine is that Eben co-fermented all of the different components together, creating a more integrated and harmonious blend. Th... Read More »
Robert Parker's Wine Advocate: "Crisp, tart, melon, tangerine and bubble gum-like aromas jump from the glass of this 2013 Chenin Blanc/Viognier (80% and 20% respectively). Aged totally in stainless steel, it no doubt has much of its malolactic fermentation blocked given its crisp acid profile." (11/2014) K&L Notes: Vintage after vintage, Pine Ridge's Chenin Blanc-Viognier blend has impressed drinkers and critics alike. And now, what started as an experiment in the early-1990s, has become one of the winery's most sought after wines. From the winery: "Brilliant and refreshing, this bottling of our re... Read More »
In the southeast of Spain sandwiched between Jumilla and Alicante, wines from Yecla have most prolifically come from what happens to be the largest co-op in Spain. However the Castaño family stands as the most important and ambitious privately owned winery in the D.O., and they have gone to great lengths to push the quality from the often coarse wines for which this region was previously known. Their four prime estate vineyards now comprise 10% of the vine acreage in Yecla, and their ambition is only matched by their commitment to quality. Their organica... Read More »
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)
The Château de Ripaille is located in the far northeastern part of the Savoie appellation, along Lac Léman (Lake Geneva), just four kilometers from Evian-les-Bains, where the famed bottled water comes from. The Château dates back to the 14th century, and today it is surrounded by 21 hectares of vines. The soils are mostly limestone, sun-baked glacial deposits and the vines are all Chasselas, the oldest known grape variety (its history dates back at least 5,000 years). The resulting wines are creamy, mineral and a touch bitter, in a pleasant way, with hi... Read More »
From limestone soils of the Languedoc, Picpoul (which translates as "lip-stinger") delivers a reliably invigorating and affordable white. Picpoul de Pinet is the grape's spiritual home and varietally named AOC, where the Mediterranean breezes moderate the daytime temperature and slow the ripening. From the producer: "Crystal clear color with green highlights. A soft, delicate nose, with pleasant hints of acacia and hawthorn blossom. Delicate and fresh in the palate with and excellent acidity and structure balance."
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.
Amats is both the brand name of the txakoli as well as one of Zudugarai's vineyards. It's a beautiful vineyard, a sandy substrate covered in naturally growing green cover between the rows, with the Cantabrian Sea in full view to the north. Produced from Hondarribi Zuri grapes, this is classic Txakoli: zippy, crisp, tart green apple flavors are enlivened by a lovely sparkle from the CO2 retained in tank during fermentation. Try this refreshing, vibrant, low in alcohol white wine with a wide range of foods, from obvious choices such as seafood (grilled sar... 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)
Domaine de Millet was first an Armagnac producer, now in the winemaking game. They are a fifth generation winemaking and spirit producing family with the reins now in the hands of daughter Laurence. They make incredible values for everyday white wine drinking. The Moelleux is made from 100% Gros Manseng, a variety famous in Jurancon for making richly textured whites and a small component of their dessert wines. On its own here it provides a mellow sweetness similar to a Kabinett level Riesling or demi-sec Vouvray. Exotic fruits on the nose and pala... Read More »
Lora is a blend of certified organic Verdejo and Sauvignon Blanc grapes from one of the cooler parts of La Mancha (high up on the plateau not too far from the UNESCO heritage city of Cuenca). Bright citrus fruits combine with stone fruits and hints of melon, with crisp mineral tones and loads of personality. The winemaker and person who carefully sources this great organic fruit is none other than our friend Miguel Merino Navajas, son of Miguel Merino of Rioja fame! (Joe Manekin, K&L Spanish wine buyer)
From the winery: "This white wine is made in the same spirit as Baron Louis and with a lot of delicacy. All the grapes (Marsanne, Viognier, Clairette, Grenache Blanc and Picpoul) are picked by hand in 20 kg cases and pressed directly. I let the juice settle naturally for ten to twenty hours before racking it into oak barrels where the wine ferments naturally without temperature control. The idea is to respect the natural expression of the vineyard with minimum intervention. The wine ages eight months in barrels before bottling."
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 »
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.
Crisp, appley, and very refreshing, Raza Vinho Verde combines Arinto with Azal, Trajadura and Loureiro to create a lightly fizzy, delicious white that is surprisingly persistent and serious for this inexpensive a white. Quinta de Raza is located in the eastern portion of the Vinho Verde D.O., an area that has soils rich in quartz and other minerals that put their imprint on the wine. It's the perfect post work, pre-dinner wine, though it's also great at table, where it should handle grilled vegetables, seafood, and quick stir fries equally well. A refres... 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.
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!
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."
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.
From the importer: "A certified organically farmed vineyard on the island of Santorini, Sigalas is producing some of the most sought after white wines in Greece. These intensely aromatic whites, based on the indigenous Asirtiko grape, are grown in the volcanic soils of Santorini, consisting of cinders, rust, lava and pumice stone. These wines have excellent structure, good acidity and a long, full flavored finish. With a unique growing method, whereby the vines are trained into a cylindrical shape, the fruit ripens gently within the basket to protect it ... Read More »
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!
90 points Stephen Tanzer's International Wine Cellar: "Bright straw. Musky, mineral-accented aromas of pear and nectarine, with a floral nuance gaining power with air. Taut and nervy on entry, then fleshier in the middle, offering juicy orchard and citrus fruit flavors and a hint of bitter quinine. Closes on a spicy note, with lively mineral cut and an echo of white flowers." (9/2014) K&L Notes: Produced by a 25-grower cooperative located in the Condado do Tea sub-zone of Rias Baixas, this is crisp, citrus and yellow fruited Albariño from a challenging, but ultimately rewarding, cooler and damper vintage. The results are... Read More »
Jancis Robinson: "Grenache Blanc, Muscat and Viognier. Fragrant and aromatic – shows the Muscat influence strongly. Broad texture and dry, light finish. (RH)" (2/2014) K&L Notes: The "Champ du Roy," or field of the kin, takes its name from Coupe Rose's 3.7 acre parcel of Viognier. This wine is a blend of Grenache Blanc and Marsanne for body and richness; Viognier for acid and perfume; and a touch of Muscat for exotic aromatics. These grapes were harvested by hand from very low-yielding mountain vineyards, making for a deliciously full yet fresh wine. Cotes du Brian is a zone named aft... Read More »
Inventory: Main Warehouse
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 Stephen Tanzer's International Wine Cellar: "Green-tinged yellow. Nectarine, pear skin, lemon pith, anise and white flowers on the perfumed nose. Concentrated and energetic, offering fresh orchard and pit fruit flavors and hints of ginger, honeysuckle and musky herbs. A nervy citrus zest note adds definition and lift to the long, sappy finish, with the floral note repeating." (9/2014) Robert Parker's Wine Advocate: "The range opens with the 2013 Montenovo, fresh and approachable, cold-fermented in stainless steel where it matured for four months before bottling. It's very young, very representative of Godello in need of blowing off ...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.
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)
Based in the Rioja Alta village of Badarán, Martínez Alesanco is a truly original bodega producing tasty, characterful wine for laughably low prices. They are entirely self reliant in grapes, all of which are grown in their home village of Badarán, one of the coldest zones of Rioja Alta. The vineyards are closer to the Sierra de la Demanda mountains, a range whose elevation and visible snow covered peaks are even more dramatic than the Sierra Cantabria range to the north. Martínez Alesanco's Blanco is made entirely from Viura in iron rich clay soils. In ... Read More »
89 points Robert Parker's Wine Advocate: "Composed of 80% Grenache Blanc and 20% Marsanne, the 2012 Vieilles Vignes Blanc comes from 50-year-old vines planted in limestone and clay soils. A delightful bouquet of caramelized honeyed grapefruit, white currants and other assorted citrus jumps from the glass of this crisp, dry, medium-bodied white. With surprising length and power, it reminded me of a restrained, more laid-back top white Hermitage at a fraction of the price. Consume it over the next several years. One of the top wine values I have ever tasted is from one of the newest appellation ...Read More »
Say bonjour to your summertime white! Picpoul de Pinet is considered the "Muscadet of the South." Grown just meters from the oyster beds of the Bassin de Thau, the wine marries perfectly with fish and shellfish. Picpoul (also known as Folle Blanche or Gros Plant) means "lip stinger," which refers to the high acidity of its must. Great with oysters, assorted fruit de mer or grilled seafood. This wine is crisp and bright, with subtle floral and mineral notes on the nose. Bracing acidity backs up a wine with surprising breed for this price point. Château F... 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
Maybe they should rename this wine 'Simply Yum,' since it's hardly a conundrum anymore. Once again a blend of popular and esoteric white grapes (including in no special order: Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Semillon, Viognier and Muscat), this a quintessential sipper offering copious amounts of ripe, silky fruit, tropical in nature, along with vanilla notes, honeysuckle and melon.
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.
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.
Do Ferreiro is a benchmark Albariño. Every year, it delivers the goods, showing a degree of aromatic complexity, nervy minerality, and pure intensity of flavor that always makes it stand out from the rest. Delicious upon release, it is also one of the few Albariños to improve in bottle for up to a decade (maybe longer?) beyond the vintage year. There is bright fruit intermingling with the classic Do Ferreiro salty/smoky mineral bite. Enjoy this wine on its own or with all types of seafood. This would even be terrific with a hearty bean soup. (Joe Manekin... Read More »
This Picpoul is made by a collaboration of growers from the village of Florensac, with fruit from the best terroirs in the appellation. Bright and citrusy, with a hint of briny fresh-from-the-sea succulence, this refreshing white is a summertime VIP.
Gorrondona, based in the Bakio Valley within the Basque province of Bizkaia, produces one of this sub-regions most delicious txakoli. This wine is full of juicy citric and nectarine flavor, with more ripeness and a hint less fizziness than txakoli from the most established sub-zone of Getaria. There is a lot of richness coupled with intensity on this delicious txak o' txak (my nickname, feel free to borrow), as well as a lovely salty minerality and lots of length. Delicious! (Joe Manekin, K&L Spanish 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 »
Inventory: San Francisco
94 points Robert Parker's Wine Advocate: "The 2012 Turbine Proprietary White is a Rhône Ranger blend of 27% Grenache Blanc, 27% Viognier, 26% Marsanne and 20% Picpoul Blanc. This may be the first California white I have tasted with Picpoul Blanc in it, so old dogs can learn new tricks. With 13.9% alcohol, it displays lots of quince, white currant and white flower characteristics, gorgeous fruit, medium body, and no evidence of oak. With a luscious texture, as well as terrific purity, this is an example of why California is now the epicenter for great wines. A revelation, it can be consumed over ...Read More »
This very small production wine comes from an equally small, 100-plus year old vineyard planting of Chasselas Doré at Pagani Ranch in Sonoma Valley. Made by winemaker Mike Berthoud (pronounced bear-two), formerly winemaker at Arrowood and currently the winemaker at Mayo Family Wines. An homage to Berthoud's Swiss roots, this unique white is made from the same varietal as the famed Swiss wine Fendent du Valais, and can also be found in small amounts in Pouilly-Fumé (named Pouilly-sur-Loire) and the Savoie's Crépy. Low in acidity and alcohol, the wine is a... Read More »
Inventory: San Francisco
90 points Wine & Spirits: "Hatzidakis has his own style, one that combines richness and rusticity in a beguiling way. This 2013 is so ripe it’s golden, with roundness to its lemony fruit and a slight floral note that’s unusual for Santorini. Then the minerality comes on, dark and earthy in its deep savor. It has the structure to age well for another decade." (8/2014) Wine Spectator: "Pastry notes balance the ripe apple, baked peach and lemon curd flavors. Features zesty acidity, with honeydew melon and roasted almond accents. Offers a rich, cream-filled finish. Assyrtiko, Aidani and Athiri. Drink no ...Read More »
Made to the same set of recipes since 1821, Dolin Vermouth de Chambéry has long been the benchmark for fine French Vermouth. Made with fine wines of the region and botanicals found in the Alpine meadows above Chambéry, together they impart a fresh and elegant nose, with a subtle and complex palate. Ideal as an aperitif or in cocktails. In the late 19th century, Dolin Vermouth de Chambéry won medals in Paris, London, St. Louis and Philadelphia and in 1932 earned Chambéry France's only Appellation d' Origine for Vermouth.
94 points Robert Parker's Wine Advocate: "The NV Fino Inocente must be one of the few wines in Jerez that is still fermented in 600-liter American oak botas, which is an incredible amount of work compared with fermenting tens of thousands of kilos of grapes (or even more) in a big stainless steel tank. This method was the norm of yesteryear, but is so labor intense that it was discontinued in most wineries, and gives a big diversity of wines, as each barrel has its own character, which contributes to the complexity of the blend. Furthermore, the bottled wine is on average 8 to 10 years old. One ...Read More »