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Staff Favorites - John Majeski
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2012 Joseph Jewell Russian River Valley Pinot Noir
Review Date: 9-21-2014
Nothing exists in isolation. I was just listening to Tom Waits' hilarious cryptic dirge from Mule Variations, "What's He Building In There?" about a strange guy hammering "what the hell?" in his garage when I flashed on not just Jobs and Wozniak but a few of the famed California winemakers—think Burt Williams and Ed Selyem—who started out finicking, blending and canoodling with stuff in their garage. It comes as no surprise that two young "garagistes," Micah Joseph Wirth and Adrian Jewell Manspeaker, also finessed their first Pinot from such economies of scale, by realizing that measured growth, savvy inspiration and the right fruit go a long way in the creation of a well-crafted wine. Their latest cuveé, gathering fruit from three primarily cooler sites in the Russian River Valley, is a deft expression— nothing overstated or overblown— just pure, delicate aromas of black cherry, gentle spice, a kiss of rose petals and oolong tea leaves, sleekly stylish yet savory, touched by sultry tannins and warm earth. Now put down that hammer, turn up the music, sit back and enjoy a glass of great Pinot!
2012 Eyrie Vineyards "Estate Grown" Willamette Valley Pinot Noir
Review Date: 9-8-2014
David Lett was barely twenty-five in 1965, fresh out of UC Davis, with a smart detour in Burgundy under his boots and a strong, irrepressible passion to make great wine. So the next year he and his wife Diana transported a few thousand Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and other varietal cuttings up to northern Oregon and christened them on a few acres of pristine, southern-exposed slopes in the Red Hills of Dundee, thirty miles south of Portland. These were the very first Pinot vineyards in the Willamette Valley, and David Lett remained an outspoken, influential and wise presence in the region until his untimely death in 2008, affectionately nicknamed "Papa Pinot" by those who knew, respected and treasured him. I visited Eyrie this spring with several K&L staffers, and was met by David Lett's son Jason, who took over the winery in 2005 and was shepherding it through yet another growing season. Having grown up in the vineyards, he spoke with gentle ease about the sense of bestowed responsibility and challenges—always small production, a distinctive sense of place, uncompromising ethics—that faced the winery as it entered its fifth decade, and of the importance of maintaining the Eyrie style of natural, lithely-textured, aromatically pure, age-worthy wines. A superb example that expressed the magnificent 2012 vintage, the Eyrie "Estate" Pinot was both rounder and riper than in 2011, with more lavish spice, silky red and black cherries and raspberry on the palate, pleasant acidity and a touch of iron earth and bramble on the fine, flavorful finish. A marriage of suave and sensual, and although age-worthy, this promises considerable charm now, as the tannins are well-integrated and impressively smooth. Lett it be!
2012 Eyrie Vineyards "Estate Grown" Dundee Hills Chardonnay
Review Date: 9-8-2014
Please note that our inventory of Eyrie wines is always rather scarce, as they just don't make very much wine, but what they do make, well… this latest Chardonnay reflects what has been described by many as an epic vintage—the warmest summer in years, a long growing season allowing for perfectly balanced ripeness and acidity levels. But as with everything Eyrie, it's in the raw material—the Burgundian clonal varieties scrupulously hand-chosen by David Lett over forty years ago that sets this delicately straw-colored Chardonnay apart, imbuing it with refined elegance and lingering aromatic complexity. Liminal notes of poached pear, quince, lees, apple and spice play upon the palate in a stunning wine that will continue to evolve for at least a decade, probably two.
2013 Michel Delhommeau "Symbiose" Muscadet Sčvre et Maine Sur Lie
Review Date: 9-3-2014
Every time I taste these magnificent Muscadets from Michel Delhommeau I cannot but reflect upon the manifest destiny of the wondrous grape- Melon de Bourgogne, from which they're created. Although it originated in Burgundy, it eventually managed to migrate, swim or magically rediscover its true and lasting home beside the rapturous sea in Muscadet. Imbued with sublime, effortlessly clean, lime pith and minerally-precise flavors, the Symbiose is a slightly weightier, glycerin-textured, richer companion to the excellent Harmonie. Remember, don't be shellfish, and share it with special friends!
2013 Eric Cottat Sancerre
Review Date: 9-3-2014
Once knew a very fine fisherman who generously invited us over for fresh-caught salmon, so fresh in fact that it tasted like it leapt from the cold Pacific waters right onto the hot coals. Looking back, I wish I'd had of bottle or two of this beautifully-delineated, expressively-textured, citrus and mineral-enhanced Sancerre at the time to complement the astronomically-gastronomic flavors of the grilled salmon. What a feast!
2012 Vińa Robles "Estate" Paso Robles Sauvignon Blanc
Review Date: 7-23-2014
With its alluvial sandy loam soil, good drainage and excellent exposure, the Jardine Vineyard possesses ideal conditions for growing crisp and flavorful Sauvignon Blanc, and this affordably tasty version reveals why Paso Robles has become the new California hotspot for fine wine cultivation. Tropical fruits from guava to passionfruit, highlighted by lemon and grapefruit "citricality" and a touch of minerality perform a lively dance number upon the palate. A lovely, versatile wine for parties and summer picnics with family and friends. Cheers!
2011 Fossil Point Edna Valley Chardonnay
Review Date: 6-23-2014
Because of its proximity to the ocean, Edna Valley has always been an excellent showcase for reliable, deliciously well-made Central Coast Chardonnays, often promising luscious, full-flavored fruit and balanced acidity. Fossil Point has fulfilled this tradition in an expressive wine brimming with flavors of orange rind, dried pineapple, and comice pear, complemented by a delicate creme brulee note and welcome acidity. A good match for slow-roasted chicken, baked fennel casserole or picnic ham.
Ariston Aspasie "Carte Blanche" Brut Champagne
Review Date: 8-2-2013
Vines have been cultivated on this tiny property in the hamlet of Brouillet for five generations, and it has remained a customer and staff favorite here for several years. Yeasty, full and complex, the Carte Blanche exhibits a fine intensely-focused bead with lively notes of tart apples, dried hazelnuts, vanilla and toast, all in all a remarkably well-built Brut that will compare well to cuvées at double the price. It is perfect for entertaining.
1999 Fugue de Nenin, Pomerol
Review Date: 11-30-2012
Attractive, classic, well-aged Bordeaux is always a welcome addition to the holiday table, and this second label Pomerol from Chateaux Nenin still delivers considerable charm and elegance. Imbued with smooth, round Merlot flavors of sweet plum, ripe cherry and cedar highlights, it invites a rosemary-roasted Cornish hen or two to join it for dinner.
Berry Bros & Rudd No. 3 London Dry Gin 750ml
Review Date: 10-30-2012
As Britain's oldest wine and spirit merchant (1698), Berry Bros. and Rudd should know a thing or three about the traditional making of gin. Their No. 3 English Dry Gin is an unabashedly pure blending of fruits and spices selected and distilled in traditional copper pots in Schiedam, Holland. Made from Italian Juniper, Spanish oranges and grapefruit peel, with added spices including angelica root, Moroccan coriander and cardamon pods, this exquisitely crafted yet assertive gin remains, with its distinctively aromatic nose and prolonged finish, a highly-recommended personal favorite. The ideal suitor for a dry Martini or classic Gin and Tonic.
Fleury "Cuveé Robert Fleury" Brut Champagne
Review Date: 6-1-2012
If you're searching for a non-vintage Champagne with generous texture, abundant freshness, depth of character and a distinctive aromatic profile, search no further! This stunning barrel-fermented assemblage of Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Blanc....yes, I said Pinot Blanc, an odd wine out in most of Champagne, is a triumphant display of everything one can discover in a fine bottle of bubbly- sparkle, effervescence, layers of brioche, chalk, herbs, toast and lemon, ever-evolving complexity, with a lengthy, lingering finish.
Einstök Icelandic White Ale, Iceland 12oz
Review Date: 4-30-2012
With summer fast approaching we're all in need of a super thirst-quenching beer to alleviate the effects of absorbing too much solar energy on our bodies while we flare up the grill for a swirling smoke-athon (ok, admittedly I'm not Mr. Weber, more like one of the guys who stands around getting hot smoke in his face while acting like it doesn't matter).... anyway, just discovered a fantastic antidote to insurmountable thirst in the Icelandic Einstok White Ale, like melting an iceberg slathered in freshly-ground coriander and orange peel. Well, to be truthful, it's a witbier brewed with the same ingredients and tastes absolutely awesome. Beer here now. And in honor of the 100th anniversary of the sinking of the ill-fated Titanic, pouring an iceberg down your throat might be a good tribute.
Fleury Blanc de Noirs Brut Champagne
Review Date: 12-3-2011
In his unwavering maxim that "we leave the earth to our children," Jean-Pierre Fleury was the very first winegrower in Champagne to adapt strict biodynamic principles and techniques in his steeply-sloping, calcareous vineyards near the northern village of Courteron. His exquisite Blanc de Noirs is an homage to the perfectability of Pinot Noir under his meticulous stewardship, and certainly one of the finest, long-lasting champagnes we carry at any price. Hand-crafted from select vintages, the Carte Rouge is emblematic, dry and complex, with a well-developed gamut of flavors from brioche and beeswax to cherry and acacia. Hard to say what 'not' to drink this with, but I guarantee you will be reaching for another glass after tasting this redolent, rewarding sparkler.
2008 Pontet-Canet, Pauillac
Review Date: 6-28-2011
My advice? If you have a few extra Benjamins lining your well-oiled wallet and are of the mind to buy a beautiful bottle or two of Bordeaux that will, when it eventually reaches full maturity around the time your same vintage 2008 son/daughter celebrate their 21st birthday (and will generously share it with you), then this is the wine for you! A superbly structured, absolutely pitch-perfect Pauillac, reflecting the august gravel and limestone terroir from which it was born.
Drink from 2020 to 2035
Dudognon Reserve Cognac 750ml
Review Date: 11-30-2010
A voter santé! Raymond Dudognon first distilled his own cognac in 1946, following the venerable traditions laid down by his great grandfather in 1776. The heart of the Charente region, located about 100 miles northeast of Bordeaux, is called Grande Champagne, and consists of deep chalk-rich soils, perfect for creating fragrant, long-lived cognacs. Made from 100% natural Ugni Blanc, this singular spirit is blended and distilled in the traditional alambic Charentais pot and eventually aged in 350 liter barrels. The Dudognon homage to tradition stresses minimal intervention, using only pure water as an additive to create a stunning cognac that charms and caresses the palate, displaying a weightlessness and delicacy of fruit found less commonly in cognacs at twice the price. Highly recommended!
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