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Staff Favorites - Jeff Garneau
Jeff Garneau | Send Email | Subscribe to My Sommelier Service
Jeff has been a member of the sales staff in our Redwood City store for the past four years. His first introduction to wine was as a waiter in an upscale Italian restaurant in Hanover, NH more years ago than he likes to admit. He slowly made his way west to wine country, working his way across the US as a graduate student in geography, a public sector researcher in regional economic development, and briefly, in the wake of the Anderson-Enron scandal, a records management coordinator for one of the remaining Big Five accounting firms. Finally, surrendering to the inevitable, he accepted a position in the wine business here at K&L. His goals for the next four years include drinking more wines from Italy and France and trying to limit the number of open bottles on the dinner table on any given night to fewer than six.
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Ariston Aspasie "Carte Blanche" Brut Champagne
Review Date: 9-2-2014
I think the Ariston Aspasie Carte Blanche Brut was one of the first grower-producer Champagnes I ever purchased from K&L. It remains to this day our best value in Champagne, and a superb introduction to the grower producer (RM) Champagnes. If your usual Champagne experience is Veuve Clicquot or Moet & Chandon, you owe it to yourself to try the Carte Blanche from Paul-Vincent Ariston. With roughly equal parts of the three classic Champagne grapes, and a retail price comfortably south of $30, this is a no-brainer. Open a bottle for no reason in the middle of the week. You'll feel like royalty.
2013 Margerum Wine Company "K&L Blend" Happy Canyon Sauvignon Blanc
Review Date: 6-30-2014
You tend to see two main styles of Sauvignon Blanc in California. They are either lighter in style, very dry and crisp with tart citrus notes, or fuller-bodied, with more texture and weight (often due to barrel aging), showing more tropical fruit. The 2013 Margerum "K&L Cuvee" Happy Canyon Sauvignon Blanc somehow seems to combine the best of both. There is real richness here with exotic melon and mango notes. At the same the wine has a taut, linear style with a marked acidity and an admirable tension unusual in a California Sauvignon Blanc. Really superb, and the perfect wine for those who like having their cake and eating it too.
2010 Lambuena Crianza Ribera del Duero
Review Date: 5-30-2014
The extension of our Direct Import program to Spain is one of the most exciting things to happen to our Spanish wine selection in years. For the first time we are able to offer small production wines of extraordinary quality at unbelievable prices. Some of the first wines to arrive from the Ribera del Duero region come from Bodegas Lambuena. The best of these in my opinion is the 2010 Lambuena Crianza, a supremely balanced wine that combines a bright, lively character with ample ripeness of fruit. It is a rich, dark, oak-inflected wine that is sure to please a wide range of palates. The 2010 vintage is of such quality that while the wine can be enjoyed now, it will more than reward another 3 to 5 years in the cellar. Currently one of the best $20 reds we have to offer, irrespective of varietal or region of origin.
2010 Quinta de Arcoso "Padrao dos Povos" Tras-os-Montes
Review Date: 5-1-2014
We field more and more inquiries every day about the availability of red wines from Portugal. These can be tough to find. If you do find one, it is more likely to be international in style and with no true distinctiveness. From the rugged, isolated hill country in the extreme northeast of Portugal, the 2010 Quinta de Arcoso "Padrao dos Povos" is the real deal. Foot-trodden and tank-aged using traditional methods, this blend of Tinta Roriz, Tinta Amarela and Touriga Franca is medium bodied with bright red fruits and a lively minerality that reflects the largely granitic character of the region's (admittedly poor) soils. Superb regional character and typicity for a mere $15.99.
2012 Hanzell "Sebella" Sonoma Valley Chardonnay
Review Date: 5-1-2014
One of the most impressive California Chardonnays I have enjoyed in a very long time. The perfect wine for those seeking an alternative to the popular "oaky/buttery" style which characterizes so much domestic Chardonnay. Aging in neutral oak adds texture but not flavor, perfectly complementing the citrus and mineral-driven character of the fruit. What a joy to drink!
1986 Haut-Bailly, Graves
Review Date: 4-30-2014
The wines of the '86 vintage were forbiddingly tannic in their youth and very slow to evolve. Closing in on 30 years past the vintage they are really coming into their own. The 1986 Haut Bailly, Pessac-Leognan is certainly a strong candidate for one of the most charming wines of the vintage. The wine has all the hallmarks of a nicely aged claret - fully garnet color, bottle notes of cedar and saddle leather, and a fine coating of tannins on the finish that is the legacy of this long-lived vintage. In addition, however, it also offers a remarkable sweetness of fruit - red currant and cherry. The wine is possessed of a lovely ripeness and a suppleness of texture that became even more evident with additional aeration.
2012 Carlos Diaz "Estrela" Ribeira Sacra
Review Date: 3-29-2014
Kudos to the buyer of our Spanish wines, Joe Manekin, for launching a direct import program. So far his hard work has yielded a great lineup of delicious, affordable wines. The 2012 Carlos Diaz "Estrela" Ribeira Sacra is one of the latest. Mostly Mencia, unoaked, and just amazingly good for under $20. A little earthy, a little floral, a little spicy. Bright and lively with good grip. What a find!
2009 Saarloos & Sons "His" Santa Ynez Valley Cabernet Sauvignon
Review Date: 4-25-2013
When I walked into the Saarloos & Sons tasting room in Los Olivos a couple of months ago, I wasn't sure quite what to expect. Which, in hindsight, is just as well, since Keith and Brad Saarloos are pretty good at defying expectations, challenging preconceptions, and gleefully poking with a stick anything that smacks of convention and pretense. We tasted a lot of great wines, most of which I don’t remember well because Keith insisted I stop taking notes. At some point he also insisted I stop spitting, so tasting became drinking. So we drank and we talked. About wine, about grapes, about music, art, and life. It is worth noting at this point that Saarloos & Sons are farmers first and foremost. They grow grapes of exceptional quality, most of which they sell to other winemakers. A small amount they hold back every year to make their own wine. They sell exclusively direct to consumer, not through retail wine shops. But at the end of that evening they paid us the ultimate compliment. They offered us a couple of wines to make available to our K&L customers, the 2009 Saarloos & Sons "His" Santa Ynez Valley Cabernet Sauvignon, and the 2010 Saarloos & Sons "Hers" Santa Ynez Valley Grenache Blanc. I absolutely recommend a visit to their tasting room in Los Olivos to taste their full selection, but until your next trip we are honored to share these two wines with you. I enjoyed the Cabernet Sauvignon at dinner the other night with my nephew. We grilled a 2 lb “Fred Steak” from Schaub’s in Palo Alto, serving it with roasted baby Yukon potatoes and fresh local asparagus. The Cab was a perfect companion to the spicy, smoky meaty deliciousness that is Fred steak. A hint of violets and new wood on the nose. On the palate the wine has a rich, silky texture with notes of blackberry jam and cassis. Imagine the blackberry jam your grandmother used to make, heading out before dawn to her secret spot to pick fresh wild blackberries, then spending the rest of the day canning blackberry preserves. There is a sweetness of fruit, a ripeness perfectly offset by a liveliness and a freshness that keeps the wine in perfect balance. The finish is framed by fine tannins that lie lightly on the tongue, caressing the palate like a finely woven cotton blanket on a cool summer night. If there is a perfect California Cabernet Sauvignon, this is it. Expertly crafted, and a pure joy to drink.
2009 Arnauton, Fronsac
Review Date: 2-25-2013
Fronsac lies alongside Pomerol and Saint Emilion on the Right Bank, producing Merlot-based wines of good quality at good prices. A long, warmer than average autumn meant that much of the Merlot crop got quite ripe in 2009, resulting in some cases in full-bodied wines with a floral, almost exotic character. The 2009 Arnauton is one of these, richly textured with sweet, plummy fruit.
Bruno Michel Premier Cru Brut Blanc de Blancs Champagne
Review Date: 11-30-2012
I recently enjoyed my first Dungeness crab of the season and this was the champagne I chose to drink with it. 100% Chardonnay from Bruno Michel's oldest vines. Crisp, clean and very dry with a very light toast. Bright citrus and tart green apple notes. Focused, precise, with tremendous concentration and length, this is serious wine.
1999 Fugue de Nenin, Pomerol
Review Date: 9-26-2012
The 1999 vintage has always been charming, medium to full-bodied with lovely sweet, upfront fruit. This second wine from Chateau Nenin in Pomerol is very much in step with the vintage as a whole. Elegant and richly textured, it offers sweet, ripe cherry notes combined with soft tannins. Drinking beautifully now, it can be enjoyed for many years to come.
Franck Bonville "Belles Voyes" Brut Blanc de Blancs Champagne
Review Date: 8-17-2012
When most people talk about "value for money" they are thinking of a great $10 red. At $67.99 this is our best "value" in Champagne, easily the equal of wines selling for many hundreds of dollars. This wine was featured in our last staff Champagne tasting and elicited a collective moment of silence in sheer appreciation. If you think you can't appreciate a great Champagne, try tasting this alongside the Franck Bonville "Brut Selection" Blanc de Blancs Champagne at $32.99 - excellent in its own right - and you will see what I mean.
Fleury Blanc de Noirs Brut Champagne
Review Date: 5-18-2012
This extraordinary 100% Pinot Noir sparkling wine comes to us from the Aube, the southernmost part of the Champagne region. In the early 1900s, when the boundaries of the Champagne appellation were being formally drawn, it seemed for a time that producers in the Aube would be excluded by their brother growers to the north. They took to the streets in protest and French troops had to be called in to quell the riots. Because we are buying these wines directly in France you can enjoy them today at a price that won't provoke civil unrest. Why would you drink anything else?
2009 Coufran, Haut-Médoc
Review Date: 4-28-2012
Long time customers of K&L will recognize this producer. We have carried many different vintages over the years. I was privileged to taste the 2009 out of barrel when we visited the chateau a couple of years ago. The proprietor, Eric Miailhe, confided that he considered it the finest wine he had ever made, possibly the finest he would ever make at this property. This is a big wine! Tons of sweet fruit backed by fine tannins. Needs perhaps five years to pull itself together and can then be enjoyed for many years to come. 85% Merlot, 15% Cabernet Sauvignon.
2009 La Lagune, Haut-Médoc
Review Date: 3-6-2012
Deeply colored, aromatic, floral and spicy. Loads of dark, sweet fruit. Unbelievably bright and fresh. A superb effort.
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