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K&L Staff Recommendations
95-97 points Wine Enthusiast: "Barrel Sample. This wine has spice and fresh fruit aromas, which translate on the palate into intense blackberry and wood tastes. It is firmly structured, with a dry core and medium-plus concentration. It promises a long life ahead." (3/2015) 92-95 points Wine Spectator: "Mouthfilling from the start, with lovely plum sauce, steeped fig and blackberry coulis flavors, lined with warm ganache notes and carried by ample but polished tannins. Features a tarry edge at the end, but maintains a rather polished feel overall. A lovely wine, once again. (Web-2015)" 91-94 points Antonio Galloni: "A fabulous wine from this venerab ...Read More »
The Sequillo Red is made from Syrah, Cinsault and Tinta Barocca. It is selected from multiple parcels of Eben's vines throughout the Swartland region. The fruit is carefully hand-picked and naturally fermented in 1300-gallon cement tanks. The wine spends about 6 weeks on the skins for slow, gentle extraction and is then pressed off with a small basket press. This wine hearkens back to the Châteauneuf-du-Pape of old with a perfect combination of purple flowers, exotic dark red fruits, stoney earth tones, leather, warm spices and smoked meat. The 2012 vint... 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 »
93-96 points Wine Spectator: "Rock-solid, with a gutsy core of plum, black currant, steeped fig and melted licorice snap, all carried by a gorgeous, charcoal-edged spine. Long, and loaded with fruit and grip. As solid as they come." (4/2015) 92-95 points Antonio Galloni: "Vibrant and pulsating in the glass, the 2014 Grand Puy Lacoste impresses for its superb overall balance. The flavors are bright and beautifully expressive, with sweet floral notes woven throughout that give the wine much of its nuance, while the seamless, silky tannins speak to finesse. Even with all of its explosive energy, the 2014 is not an obvi ...Read More »
Inventory: Special Order
93-96 points Antonio Galloni: "The 2014 Pichon-Longueville Comtesse de Lalande is a huge wine. Rich, powerful and dense, yet remarkably precise, the 2014 boasts extraordinary density and fabulous balance. Scents of black fruits, graphite, smoke, tobacco, grilled herbs and incense meld into a huge core of fruit. Hints of black cherry jam, wild flowers and mint add an attractive aromatic top register on the close. Explosive and virile in style, the 2014 appears to have the pedigree to age well for several decades. It is without question one of the wines of the year. The blend is 65% Cab ...Read More »
Inventory: Main Warehouse
The West Cork distillery started as a pet project by John O’ Connell, Denis McCarthy and Ger McCarthy in 2003 in Union Hall, West Cork. In 2013 after much expansion WCD moved to a larger distillery in Skibbereen, West Cork where it now resides. It now operates as only one of two independent distilleries in Ireland. They actually have their own ten year old single malt whisky (currently married with whisky from another distillery) that somehow, someway costs about the same as a bottle of ten year old Bushmills, despite the fact that they're an independent... Read More »
90 points Wine Enthusiast: "Ripe, almost sweet, fruit is full of delicious black plum and berry flavors. The wine is rounded, opulent and generous to a fault. A solid core of darker tannins hold all this richness together. Drink from 2015." (3/2015) K&L Notes: These days, when you think of Malbec you often think of Argentina. But Southwestern France's Cahors appellation is the ancestral home of this black grape, situated in the high country (Haut Pays), equidistant from the Atlantic, the Pyrenees, and the Mediterranean. It is drier than Bordeaux or the Languedoc in fall and distinguished by its... Read More »
93 points Wine Enthusiast: "*Editors' Choice* Berry fruit leather, raspberry iced tea and dark spices weave together on the intriguing nose of this wine, which is as good if not better than similar wines from the appellation charging twice the price. Roasted figs and black cardamom rise on the palate, yet the wine remains light on its feet." (12/2014)91 points Robert Parker's Wine Advocate: "Kicking off the Pinot Noirs and coming all from sandy soils, the 2012 Pinot Noir Santa Maria Valley is another rocking value from this estate. Exhibiting classy cassis, toasted bread, creamy licorice and loads of spice, this medium to f ...Read More »
Kentucky's most popular wheated bourbon that isn't called "Pappy," Maker's Mark has long been famous for using winter wheat as the flavor grain (along with the majority of corn) instead of the ubiquitous rye. The only thing that ever kept Maker's Mark from capturing the hearts of serious bourbon aficionados everywhere was the low proof. In 2014, however, they released a tiny amount of cask strength whiskey to Kentucky residents and people went bananas. Seeing that landing a bottle of Pappy today is like winning the lottery, the Maker's Mark Cask Strength... Read More »
93-95 points Wine Enthusiast: "Barrel Sample. With fresh acidity over the delicious black currant fruits, this is a fine wine. It has enough weight and structure in its strongly tannic background to give great promise for the future, though it is so balanced now." (4/2015) 93-94 points James Suckling: "A firm and austere young red now but there's serious fruit and mineral character underneath. Full body, chewy tannins and a long finish." (3/2015) 91-94 points Wine Spectator: "Well-packed, with plum cake, bramble, blueberry patch and anise notes, all allied to a graphite edge on the finish. Racy acidity underscores everything. Rock-solid." (4/2015) 90-93 points Antonio Galloni: "A ...Read More »
Inventory: Special Order
If you try to find the exact cepage on this always-fantastic red blend, you might find yourself gazing up at the heavens for an answer, since you won't get one from the winemaker. The Pleiades might be the only super-allocated, cult California wine for under $25, and it's sure to sell out quickly, as previous vintages have. From "One of California's most iconic and mystical winemakers," says Robert Parker: "Sean Thackrey has logged in 20 or more vintages of consistently stunning wines that perhaps say it all with the simple quote on his label: -Sean A. T... Read More »
Inventory: San Francisco
93-96 points Antonio Galloni: "The 2014 Smith Haut Lafitte is quite supple and textured in the glass, with lovely understated richness and impeccable overall balance. The least expressive of the 2014s I tasted at the estate, the Grand Vin is all finesse. Silky tannins and distinctly red-hued fruit are two of the signatures in an exceptionally polished wine endowed with fabulous overall balance. Sweet floral and mint notes add striking aromatic lift. Quite simply, although the 2014 is magnificent, it is also far from obvious in style. This is about as refined a 2014 as I came across du ...Read More »
96-98 points Wine Enthusiast: "Barrel Sample. This is a perfumed, refined wine, with a beautiful structure. There is intense acidity and fine, dusty tannins that are balanced by red fruit tones and elegance at the end." (4/2015) 95-97 points Robert Parker's Wine Advocate: "The Vieux Château Certan 2014 is a blend of 80% Merlot, 19% Cabernet Franc and 1% Cabernet Franc, picked in three stages: 19-20 September, 29 September to 2 October and 7 and 8 October. The yields came in at 38.7 hectoliters per hectare with 13.4% alcohol. Noticeably deep and clear in color, the nose takes time to “rev up” but stick with it because it eventually ...Read More »
94-95 points James Suckling: "Wow. This really kick in here with lots of subtle yet fresh fruit and a chewy and long finish. Muscular and long with a wonderful elegance. The winemaker says the cabernet franc gives the style and structure here. And he’s right." (3/2015) 92-94 points Robert Parker's Wine Advocate: "The Château La Conseillante 2014 is a blend of 78% Merlot and 22% Cabernet Franc, picked from 23 September to 2 October and 29 September until 6 October respectively at 35 hectoliters per hectare. There was just 2.5% vin de presse and the Grand Vin represents 88% of the total production this year. As you would expect, th ...Read More »
93-96 points Antonio Galloni: "Exuberant and explosive, the 2014 Canon La Gaffelière is quite forward in style, yet all the elements seem to come together. An open, exotic bouquet melds into sweet red cherries, plums, spices and dried rose petals. The high percentage of Cabernet Franc gives the wine considerable aromatic lift and tons of personality. Floral and savory Franc notes abound on the super, long finish. The 2014 is 55% Merlot, 37% Cabernet Franc and 8% Cabernet Sauvignon. (AG)" (4/2015) 93-96 points Wine Spectator: "A strong ganache element flows along with the dark currant and blackberry flavors. A charco ...Read More »
91 points Antonio Galloni: "Vivid ruby. Deeply pitched dark berry, licorice and violet scents show very good clarity and complicating notes of smoky minerals and botanical herbs. Fleshy and broad in the mouth, with juicy blackberry and bitter cherry flavors gaining sweetness with air. Rich yet lively Beaujolais with excellent finishing clarity and cling and smooth tannins that come in late. (JR)" (2/2015) K&L Notes: This comes from 75-year-old vines on the Haute Ronze hill at 320 meters of elevation in sandy and granitic soils, with favorable south and south-east exposures. Aged 9 months in co... Read More »
92-95 points Antonio Galloni: "The 2014 Pape Clément is dark, sensual and alluring, with wonderful contrasts from riper and more savory elements that take shape in the glass. Super-ripe dark cherries, smoke, graphite, incense, tobacco and crushed rocks are pushed forward in a decidedly ripe, voluptuous Pessac endowed with notable personality. A second sample, tasted a day later, was much more mineral-driven and focused, with the fruit pushed to the background. Either way, the 2014 Pape Clément is one of the most overly modern, lush wines being made today in Pessac-Léognan. As such, it ...Read More »
92-95 points Antonio Galloni: "The 2014 Domaine de Chevalier is stunningly beautiful. Dark red cherry, plum, smoke, spice and leather are all supported by veins of underlying acidity and minerality. Sweet floral and spice notes continue to open up over time, but it is the wine's imposing structure that stands out most. Readers will need to be especially patient here, as the domaine's wines are typically very slow to mature. That is especially like to be the case with the 2014, as the tannins are quite imposing at this stage. The 2014 is going to need a considerable amount of time. The ...Read More »
Inventory: Redwood City
This affordable, semi-dry white comes from Domaine Sylvain Gaudron, a family-owned domaine in Vouvray. Made entirely from Chenin Blanc grown in the region's famed clay and limestone soils, this version is fresh and elegant, with delicious quince and apple aromas and flavors and is an ideal partner for spicy Morroccan tagines and Southeast Asian curries.
Jancis Robinson: "Very pale gold. Real focus and lightly honeyed. Well mannered and relatively broad and mainstream but with an exciting coffee-bean note. Very long and rich. Lots to get your teeth into. Some sweetness. Flattering." (1/2015) Robert Parker's Wine Advocate: "The 2013 Mary Delany Collection Chenin Blanc, which comes from 50-year-old vines picked at 1 ton per acre and sees half the crop matured in fourth-fill barrels for 12 months, has a light bouquet with citrus lemon and faint peony scents. The palate is nicely balanced, quite rounded in the mouth with good weight. The oak is deftly integra ...Read More »
Whisky Advocate: "A new addition to the permanent Balvenie range. Lovely bright gold color. Layers of sweetness (the characteristic Balvenie honey, along with vanilla fudge, nougat, and rich toffee) peppered with dried spice and a hint of tropical fruit (papaya, guava, tangerine). Nice viscosity with good grip on the finish. I really like the balance and complexity of this whisky. A very solid effort and the price is right." K&L Notes: This exciting new expression follows the acclaim of 2008's limited edition Balvenie 17 Year Old Rum Cask, and the subsequent popularity of rum cask-fin... Read More »
92-95 points Antonio Galloni: "The 2014 Léoville Poyferré is impressive. A big, broad-shouldered St. Julien, the 2014 blossoms in the glass with superb depth and richness. Dark red cherry, plum, spice, menthol, crushed flowers, herbs and leather are some of the notes that burst onto the palate in an energetic, tightly wound Poyferré. The 2014 finishes with notable depth and huge, explosive intensity, all of which suggest it will require considerable cellaring. This is without question one of the stars of the vintage. (AG)" (4/2015) 93-95 points Wine Enthusiast: "Barrel Sample. While the wine does have an austere side ...Read More »
Whisky Advocate: "43% abv. When compared to the 10 year old, this one's richer, with darker fruit and more caramelized sweet notes, paired with accentuated dried wood spice, while the 10 year old is more vibrant and floral. Like the 10 year old, there's good balance here. (Vol. 17, #2)" K&L Notes: If I had to pick my favorite whisky from the LVMH line up, including all the Ardbeg expressions, I'd easily choose the 18 year old from Glenmorangie. It's the best whisky they make for the price and everybody likes it: beginners, casual sippers, experts, whisky geeks. It's so gentle, suppl... Read More »
Chateau Pellehaut has been one of our top direct imports for the past year here at K&L. We've visited the Tenereze producer twice over the past few years, always finding something new to bring home for our brandy fans. What really excited us this year, however, was a new project they were working on called L'Age de Glace: a young brandy meant to drink on the rocks (hence the name "Ice Age"). The fruit of the Armagnac takes center stage here, melding wonderfully with the small hint of vanilla from the wood. It's all distilled from Folle Blanche fruit and ... Read More »
One of the most vibrant and affordable new mezcales to hit our shelf in years, the Tosba Espadin has the tangy character of the agave on the palate and a healthy dollup of smoke to balance it all out. Tosba is imported by Elisandro Gonzalez-Molina and his cousin Edgar Gonzalez-Ramirez; both who are from the small village of San Cristóbal Lachirioag in Oaxaca. It was their hope to bring the wonderful spirits of their pueblo to the U.S. market and we're very happy they've done so. For under $45, this might be the best agave spirit in the store.
93-96 points Antonio Galloni: "The 2014 Clos Fourtet is one of the highlights of the vintage. Super-finessed and gracious to the core, the 2014 presents a super-intriguing array of lavender, mint, violet, herb and blue stone fruits. Veins of cool, saline-infused minerals give the wine its energy and length. At its essence, the 2014 is a deceptively mid-weight, refined St.-Emilion built on weightless energy, tension and class. Hints of lavender, cloves, white pepper and savory herbs reappear on the finish, adding lift and precision. In 2014, Clos Fourtet is a true stand out, as well as ...Read More »
Antonio Galloni: "The 2013 Pinot Noir Tous Ensemble is a gorgeous entry-level offering from Copain. Crushed flowers, sweet tobacco and red stone fruits are all laced together in a pretty, silky Pinot that over delivers for its very modest price tag. The Tous Ensemble is now made from 100% estate vineyards in Anderson Valley, which is quite remarkable at this level. (AG)" (1/2015) K&L Notes: From fruit grown on several sites in Anderson Valley, Tous Ensemble is an immediately appealing Pinot Noir and a great introduction to the style of winemaker Wells Guthrie, who delivers cool climat... Read More »
Inventory: San Francisco
94-97 points Antonio Galloni: "The 2014 Ducru-Beaucaillou is one of the richest, most explosive wines of the year. Scents of blackberry jam, crème de cassis, graphite, pencil shavings, exotic spices and lavender meld into a plush core of super-ripe fruit in a decidedly opulent, full-throttle Ducru that is strikingly beautiful today. The 2014 is likely to require many years to drop some of its baby fat, but it is unquestionably stunning. Veins of saline-inflected minerality add a measure of freshness to the unctuous yet brooding finish. Readers who can find the 2014 should not hesitate ...Read More »
Inventory: Special Order
While Bas-Armagnac gets all the press, and the Haut-Armagnac gets completely ignored, the Tenareze region of Armagnac is quietly producing some of the best brandies in the world. Much like the Borderies region in Cognac, the Tenareze brandies seem to have more fruit and a bit more life than the more classic Armagnac style. We visited Chateau Pellehaut on our first day in Armagnac last January and were completely overwelmed by the quality of spirit. Using only new or first fill barrels for the beginning years of maturation, the Armagnacs have richness, ... Read More »
96-99 points Wine Spectator: "Reserved aromatically for now, but this has a lot at its clutch, with remarkably silky plum, currant and raspberry fruit inlaid seamlessly with alder, rooibos tea and bergamot notes. There's a fine minerality that stretches out the finish, with remarkable cut, delineation and finesse. This is gorgeous. Tasted non-blind.—" (4/2015) 96-98 points Wine Enthusiast: "Barrel Sample. This wine has great tension, with an almost mineral character. The ripe black fruits are complemented by ample acidity, with a stylish structure and enormous aging potential." (4/2015) 95-97 points Robert Parker's Wine Advocate: "The Château Cheval Blanc 2014 i ...Read More »
Inventory: Special Order
100 points Robert Parker's Wine Advocate: "The 2010 Brunello di Montalcino Tenuta Nuova is a protagonist of the vintage. The fruit is deep and dark with rich levels of extract, intensity and flavor. It goes far beyond your standard cherry and blackberry to include plum cake, spice bread and bacon-wrapped prune. Nothing is obvious or monochromatic about this wine. Everything is nuanced and ethereal. Tenuta Nuova is also distinguished by the linear mineral notes that are characteristic of this single-vineyard site. In 2010, those traits are especially well-defined and pronounced. The tannins reach ...Read More »
95-97 points Wine Enthusiast: "Barrel Sample. This wine has spice and fresh fruit aromas, which translate on the palate into intense blackberry and wood tastes. It is firmly structured, with a dry core and medium-plus concentration. It promises a long life ahead." (4/2015) 92-95 points Wine Spectator: "Mouthfilling from the start, with lovely plum sauce, steeped fig and blackberry coulis flavors, lined with warm ganache notes and carried by ample but polished tannins. Features a tarry edge at the end, but maintains a rather polished feel overall. A love" (4/2015) 91-94 points Antonio Galloni: "A fabulous wine from this venerable estate, the 2014 Lé ...Read More »
Chateau Pellehaut has been one of our top direct imports for the past year here at K&L. We've visited the Tenereze producer twice over the past few years, always finding something new to bring home for our brandy fans. Big, spicy, woody flavor explodes right off the bat from this 17 year old, 50.4% brandy. This is another crossover Armagnac, the one you'll want to buy if you like Bourbon and think Armagnac might be something you want to try. The raisiny fruit aspect of the Folle Blanche comes in on the finish, but this is all about the concentration of t... Read More »
The 2014 rosé is a blend of 40% Grenache and 60% Cinsault. From the winery: "Powerful nose, white peach with spicy notes, evolving towards candied apricots, guava, exotic fruit. Great fullness in the mouth, a rich wine with great character, excellent aromatic length typical to the unique terroir of Château Saint Pierre. Its innate character is a perfect match for Mediterranean-style cuisine.'
95-96 points James Suckling: "A solid and muscular Domaine de Chevalier with layers of fruit. Very dense, loads of flavor. Full body, bright acidity and a long, long finish. Tangy acidity. It lasts for minutes." (3/2015) 94-96 points Wine Enthusiast: "Barrel Sample. This is a deliciously fruity wine that has fine poise between richness and ripe peach and red apple flavors. The tangy texture gives the wine extra complexity. It should age well, although it will also be attractive soon." (4/2015) 93-95 points Robert Parker's Wine Advocate: "The Domaine de Chevalier Blanc is a blend of 75% Sauvignon Blanc and 25% Sémillon matured in around 40% new oak, with a low pH ...Read More »
From the brewery: "We’ve built this delicious unfiltered IPA around our favorite hops to bring the dank, mango hop goodness that only Mosaic, Simcoe, and Cascade hops can deliver. We believe an IPA should be balanced like great music. Our award winning harmony of malts and hops is what makes this IPA stand out from the crowd. Put it in your mouth. You can thank us later."
Inventory: Redwood City
This is one of the best deals in rum--period! A select group of barrels is chosen for the Clement Agricole Barrel Select and whoever is doing the selection is doing a great job. The richness is off the charts, but while its supple and round in the mouth, the flavors are never overly sweet. The hint of agricole earthiness comes in at the end, reinforcing the special agricole flavor from Martinique. This is a great segway into the agricole category and a must-have for any serious rum fan.
Jancis Robinson: "Intense primary lemon aroma and flavour, with enough lees character to add the texture that softens the whole into harmony. Tight and bright and straightforward, as you might expect for a simple Bourgogne Chardonnay." (1/2015) K&L Notes: As written in SF Gate: "Chardonnay-wise, the Matrots dabble in rarefied ground - the Burgundy commune of Meursault. That village is also the source for their Bourgogne Blanc, from 30+-year-old vines and fermented with indigenous yeast. Which is to say: They're treating their basic juice with class; its apple flesh, mustard seed and ... Read More »
94 points Robert Parker's Wine Advocate: "The 2012 Chassagne-Montrachet 1er Cru Caillerets has a precise, mineral-driven, slightly fume bouquet that unfolds in the glass to great effect. The palate has a gras entry loaded with spicy citrus fruit that crescendo towards an impressive, vibrant finish that leaves touches of walnut and litchi on the long finish. This is very impressive. (NM)" (12/2013) Jancis Robinson: "More flinty and smoky than their Puligny-Montrachet, perhaps counter-intuitively. Lovely leesy texture and good density. Good length too. (RH)" (1/2014)
Jancis Robinson: "They do three bottlings; this is the second and therefore a bit richer than the first. Fermented in concrete and old vats." (1/2015)
Sweet but never cloying Sherry from one of the better known brands. This is great to have on hand for cooking, or just for warming up with in front of the fire on cold nights.
Inventory: Redwood City
Paul Mathew's Russian River Vineyard blend consists of three different vineyards; TnT, Ruxton and Horseshoe Bend, all of which are located just west of Sebastopol, California.The qualities of each vineyard shows through in the wine, making it complex and appealing--a fabulous Pinot Noir offering from the Russian River Valley.
Inventory: San Francisco
Smooth Amblers handmade, limited release double-pot distilled bourbon comes from a unique mash of corn, wheat, and barley. Rich and remarkably smooth taste is assured with small cask aging in their own West Virginia rickhouse.
93 points Wine & Spirits: "Sometimes less is more. This is the least ambitious wine in the Prats & Symington stable and, in 2011, it’s the most beautifully Portuguese. It starts out with spice, a slightly muddled schist scent that clarifies with air. Underneath, the wine is lithe, its flavors muscular and powerful without showing any excess alcohol, its dark and supple fruit drawing juice from the schist tannins. Buy it by the case to drink over the next several years." (4/2015) Jancis Robinson: "This is a wine made up of the offcuts from Quinta de Roriz, from grapes Prats and the team consider are n ...Read More »