Staff Favorites - Melissa Smith

Melissa Smith
Growing from a Redwood City sales position in 2009, to the company sake buyer in 2011, and then to the Head Sommelier in 2013 my love of wine spreads the gamut from mineral laden Sancerres to California Zinfandels aged over 20 years, Urban wines to classic Bordeaux, and 99% of the spirits that we carry. As a CIA trained chef I spent 15 years in some of the top kitchens in the country until my love of wine won out and I transitioned to the wine industry in 2004 where I began utilizing my skills as an instructor, a writer, and a restaurant consultant after passing the introductory level exam of The Court of Master Sommeliers. In 2010, I developed the first iPhone app for wine pronunciation, the Enotria Guide. In 2011, I became one of the few certified Sake Sommeliers in the country through the Sake Education Council. Outside of K&L I run private and corporate wine and spirits events around the Bay Area, consult on private cellars, and attempt to write professionally.

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2008 Launois Brut Blanc de Blancs Champagne  
Review Date: 4-1-2015
A so called "east wind" vintage, or a year where both ripeness and natural acidity are very high, this 2008 Launois belongs on your table and in your cellar. Bright yellow skinned and citrus fruit flavors are lively and engaging, and the wine's persistence is what we have come to expect and love in the great 2008 vintage. Best to hurry up on this one; it will not last long on our shelves....
Price: $49.99 Add To Cart BC 0

2009 Marguet Père et Fils "Amboniacus" Brut Rosé Champagne  
Review Date: 4-1-2015
A pretty, pale "partridge eye" color rosé, this is delicious, balanced, on the dry and serious side. It's structured yet not austere, no doubt a reflection of the direction Benoit has been taking Marguet over the past several years. One of my favorite rosés, this is for those who like 'em dry and tense. It's a great food Champagne and should also age well.
Price: $59.99 Add To Cart BC 0

2000 Miguel Merino Gran Reserva (1.5L)  
Review Date: 4-1-2015
A longtime participant in the wine business, having sold wine for wine distributors in the States as well as working as an export manager, Miguel has found success along every step of the way, and then decided that rather than retire, he wanted to fulfill his dream of owning vines and making wine. Based in the Rioja Alta town of Briones, Miguel Merino makes, as he likes to put it, an "updated classic" style of Rioja, all from his own 2 hectares of vines and several hectares of vineyards owned by a close friend. All the fruit is from sloped vineyards (Miguel is a fan of his slopes) within the cooler climate Rioja Alta town of Briones, which makes these wine a terrific showcase of the terroir (especially in a region where wines blended from various villages are more often the norm). This Gran Reserva is from some of their oldest Tempranillo and Graciano vines, planted in 1931 and 1946. We had the opportunity to enjoy this at our company party, and it went down quickly! Too quickly as I did not get much more than a tiny sip from a colleague's glass. Needless to say it's a great wine to enjoy now, with softer tannins, succulent dark cherry fruit and an underlying subtly meaty savor. This bottle is an encouraging sign of the ageing potential of Merino's current release '04 gran reserva.
Price: $79.99 Add To Cart BC 0

Macallan 18 year old Single Malt Whisky 750ml  
Review Date: 3-31-2015
Here is the Rolls-Royce of single malt. Not everybody needs a Rolls-Royce -some people dream of one others detest the idea of Luxury for luxury's sake. Nonetheless, Macallan has built a reputation over the last half century for producing the finest sherried malts on the planet. Geek will argue about whether that's still the case, but no one can deny that this is top notch stuff. That's why I call it a "message malt". It sends a strong message no matter what you're trying to say.

2012 Center of Effort Edna Valley Chardonnay  
Review Date: 3-31-2015
Rare is the case that a new Chardonnay comes across my desk that really has something to say but that is exactly what the 2012 Center of Effort did. It spoke, and it did so clearly and efficiently. From estate fruit that is planted to rockier/sandier soils than what’s found in the majority of Edna Valley this is from one Heritage clone of Chardonnay that was planted in 1997. Furthermore the wine making team of Mike Sinor (Ancient Peaks, Sinor-LaVallee) and Nathan Carlson (EOS, Tolosa) select only the best block on the estate property to make this wine. A very rich nose full of brioche, custard and orange oil comes together nicely without being overbearing or over “made” here. Slightly tropical and nicely weighted this is a full throttle Chardonnay that is still balanced and energetic. Its backbone of solid calcareous minerality is a wonderful foil to the creamier notes of oak toast, white pineapple and apricot on the palate. Simply put this is one of the best new $30 Chardonnays I’ve seen this year and a wine that is sure to please fans of the larger side of the varietal while still being intriguing to the folks that are looking for balance above all else.

Faultline Straight Bourbon Whiskey 750ml   | Approved
Review Date: 3-31-2015
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This bourbon has it all...It has the aromas, the richness, length and the spice. This well rounded bourbon is the third round of this amazing joint project we have going on with Smooth Ambler, and it looks like the quality is only getting better. At 50% ABV, what's not to love?! Mix it in cocktails, drink it straight, you can prepare this gem in whichever fashion suits you. Bourbon lovers- a must try for sure!
Top Value!
Price: $39.99 Add To Cart BC 0

Amaury Coutelas "Cuvée Louis Victor" Brut Champagne   | Public Pending Approval
Review Date: 3-31-2015
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A very interesting concept in Champagne and one that delivers quality and flavor wise beyond the unique approach. This wine is basically a single vessel "solera" where each year 100cs worth of wine are removed from the large oak barrel and then an equal amount of vin clair is added back. Current disgorgement is 2007-2012 base. The wine has tons of pure, juicy fruit, lovely floral high notes and great richness on the palate. The finish is defined by taught acidity and good chalky structure. A wine with real presence and persistence on the palate.
Price: $39.99 Add To Cart

Wine Club

Club Price: $29.99
BC 0

Laurent-Perrier "Cuvée Rosé" Brut Rosé Champagne  
Review Date: 3-31-2015
Stylistically, Laurent Perrier is one of my favorite Grand Marques. I gravitate towards their bright, vibrant house style and that's exactly what you get in the Laurent Perrier "Cuvee Rose" Brut Rose Champagne?. While the rose is 100% pinot noir and macerated with full skin contact, this rose is surprisingly lifted and understated for receiving such a heavy handed treatment. The nose and palate are loaded with copious amounts of red berry fruit with ripe strawberries taking center stage supported by a backdrop of clean minerality. The refreshingly tart finish of cranberries and pomegranate make this rose the perfect accompaniment to any special occasion.

2006 Launois "Spécial Club" Brut Blanc de Blancs Champagne (ships as 1.5L)   | Public Pending Approval
Review Date: 3-31-2015
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Another great Special Club bottle from Launois. Quite unusually for Champagne this bottling is becoming a perennial stalwart! Rich, decadent...ripe for Chardonnay standards in Champagne but certainly no lack of freshness and vibrancy. A powerful wine with the mouthfeel you might associate with a bigger more Pinot based wine...but the flavor says this is all Chardonnay! Toasty orchard fruit, savory Croissant, chalk and spiced pear with more air. Lots of depth from these 60+ year old vines.
Price: $59.99 Add To Cart BC 0

Ariston Aspasie "Cepages d'Antan" Brut Champagne  
Review Date: 3-31-2015
How can you put a price on tasting rare, almost extinct varietals from champagne like Petit Meslier, Arbanne and Pinot Blanc? Especially when they taste as amazing as the Ariston Aspasie Cepages d'Antan! When first popped the nose is quite subtle and delicate. After a little time in the glass, the Pinot Blanc begins to dominate with aromas of white nectarine, star fruit and orange blossoms. With even more time in the glass, the native varietals begin to express themselves with strong notes of chalky minerality and a hint of savory herb. Top this off with a strikingly long finish of limestone chalk and you have a champagne that is unlike anything you'll find on most wine store shelves.
Price: $99.00 Add To Cart BC 0

2004 Fleury "Cuveé Robert Fleury" Extra Brut Champagne   | Public Pending Approval
Review Date: 3-31-2015
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One of the most intriguing Champagnes we have in stock (and that's saying something!) I love this wine's counterbalance of broad, nutty, toasty richness balanced by it's racy acidity and mineral core. The Pinot Blanc adds great palate weight while the roasted orchard fruit and stony, flinty mineral flavors linger long on the finish. Great food wine.
Price: $54.99 Add To Cart BC 0

Krug "Grande Cuvée" Brut Champagne  
Review Date: 3-31-2015
Customers constantly ask me what my favorite champagnes are and I always tell people that each bottle is like a child to me and you can't possibily ask a mom to pick a favorite. But its a pretty well-known secret that Krug has always been a special little "baby" for me. Krug is hands down my go to tête de cuvée. While priced for those extra special occasions or a moment when you want to splurge, the Grand Cuvee over delivers and never disappoints. The grandeur of this cuvee is apparent immediately. Aromas of marzipan, asian spice, white flowers and meyer lemon are a mere tease of of what this cuvee possesses. The complexity on the nose is followed by a harmonious balance on the palate between the maturity of the oak-fermented reserve wines in juxtaposition with the focused, delineated acidity that comes from suppressing malolactic fermentation. Gorgeous now, even better with age, the Grand Cuvee is a must!

2013 Domaine du Tariquet "Classic" Cotes de Gascogne Blanc  
Review Date: 3-31-2015
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Distinctive aromas of lime-zest and dandelion greens, which carry over in the mouth to a really crisp, clean, mouthwatering set of flavors. From the Southwestern French regional area, this Gem is comprised of Ugni Blanc [hey, Wente Brothers use to call this varietal Grey Riesling back when I first started in this business many, many, many years ago and they even allocated it], Colombard, Sauvignon Blanc, and Cros Manseng [native grape to that area] and provides a wonderful bright, flashy finish with a slate-like mineral note. This Gem is a go-to wine when you want to serve shellfish or lighter seafood dishes. The Bean has informed me that I need to bring home this delicious wine in case lots. Don’t miss it! ....... 10.5% ABV
Price: $8.99 Add To Cart BC 0

2013 Mount Trio Sauvignon Blanc Great Southern Western Australia  
Review Date: 3-31-2015
This juicy and fresh bargain falls into the no-brainer category when grabbing something while on the way to a party or picnic. Although this is from Australia it will remind you more of New Zealand with its snappy and crisp flavors of citrus, passionfruit and kiwi. The savory aromas of herb, white flowers and lime invite you to dive right in.
Price: $11.99 Add To Cart JH 92 BC 0

2013 Rickshaw California Pinot Noir  
Review Date: 3-31-2015
Another winner from the boys at Banshee. Light medium body with red fruit dominated flavors with hints of plum, cola, cinnamon and forest floor. As usual, not much better in this price point for California Pinot Noir.
Price: $14.99 Add To Cart BC 0

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