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|If you’re going to have Robert Parker or Stephen Tanzer over for dinner, selecting a wine they’ve rated highly will be a nice choice. However, when you’re buying wines for yourself, we’d love to see you find wines that match up your unique palate and pocketbook. We have a large staff of friendly and knowledgeable wine professionals that taste hundreds of wines each week. They can put you in touch with bottles that you are likely to love, often at a much lower cost than the highly-rated gems that often see a run-up in price and frequent availability issues. Like any great group of opinionated professionals, our staff has varied tastes themselves. Often our customers will find a particular staff member with a style that corresponds to their own. That concept works extremely well in our retail stores, and this section is our effort to bring you the same online. Don’t get us wrong, we love the highly rated wines from the press and will continue to offer them, but we think you’re missing out if you’re not augmenting those selections with picks from our excellent staff. Here are their favorites. (Click on a name to see their other selections - or to drop them a line.) Cheers!|
2013 Algueira Brancellao Ribeira Sacra
This might just be the prettiest wine I have tasted yet from Spain. Some in Ribeira Sacra believe that the blending grape Brancellao may be the future of the region, and I can see why! To invoke a wine cliche, this is the closest thing to Burgundy that you will ever taste in Spain. This perfumed red offers up plenty of bright red fruit, spice, and structure. The wild, herbaceous characteristics continue to reveal themselves with air. Buy this wine now and impress your wine enthusiast friends this Holiday season, or lay it down for 5 years easily.
2012 Primus "The Blend" Colchagua Valley
Primus offers up gobs of dark berries laced with pepper and licorice. Fans of smoky, dark Chilean reds will love the price tag on this blend. This wine would love some smoked brisket as a pairing.
2014 Benvenuto de la Serna "Mil Piedras" Malbec Vista Flores
Another great value Malbec! If you like riper Malbec with some structure, but don't want to pay big bucks, you're in luck. This wine brings plenty of weight and dark fruit flavor, while remaining balanced and drinkable. A steal for under $10!
2008 Domaine Dugois Vin Jaune Arbois (620ml)
Vin Jaune, in and of itself is rare, but to have one for under $50 and at this quality is unheard of!! Dugois ages half there Vin Jaune in the cellar and half in the attic. This creates more diversity of flavors in their casks which leads to a winningly complex wine. Deep rich notes of caramelized apple, grilled bread and curry spices make for an intense palate. Vin Jaune is no subtle wine, it is meant for the heartiest of cream and mushroom driven dishes or Comte cheeses, but a another suggestion. I recently drank one at a Japanese Izikaya and nothing goes better with mackerel dishes and uni than a Vin Jaune. Trust me!
2013 Domaine Dugois Trousseau Arbois Rouge
The Trousseau is a medium bodied wine with loads of cherry and raspberry fruit. Lots of baking spices to be found here too with notes of nutmeg, clove and allspice. This has a touch more body than the sibling Ploussard from Dugois and even more rusticity which make this Trousseau one of my favorite wines for pairing with gamy meats. Serve with duck, lamb, rabbit and mushrooms.
2011 Domaine Dugois Savagnin Arbois Blanc (Sous Voile)
This is classic Savagnin made Sous Voile, or "under the veil" style. The wine is aged for a few years without topping up, allowing a thin veil of yeast to develop on the surface of the wine. This imparts wonderful Fino Sherry-like characteristics. Loads of lemony, citrus fruit with notes of roasted walnuts make this a lovely aperitif with some Spanish tapas or an even better foil for Japanese foods.
2013 Domaine Dugois Chardonnay Arbois Blanc
Clean and precise, this is the non-oxidative style, or Ouille style that is becoming more prevalent in the Jura region. Golden delicious apples, fenugreek, nutmeg and allspice, this is a contender for entry premier cru level white Burgundy. Oh, but much more reasonable.
2013 Jean-Louis Denois "Les Garrigues" Vin d'Pays D'Oc
This mélange of various grape varietals reminds me of the great wines of Sean Thackrey. His rugged individualism is mirrored in the wines of Jean-Louis Denois. Both men hesitate to follow conventional rules and both feel their way through their wines rather than follow the standard playbook. The "Les Garrigue" reminds me of the Thackrey's kitchen sink blend - Pleiades. "Les Garrigue" is a blend of Merlot, Grenache, Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc that feels like it could only be produced in the wine region Limoux, which is better known for its sparkling wines. And that's how Jean-Louis rolls. Lovely aromas of red and black fruit, spice from the syrah comes through, crushed herbs from the cabernet franc permeate the wine. Black cherry, currants and blackberries. There's a lot going on here. One major difference between the "Les Garrigues" and the "Pleiades" - this is only $11.
2013 Château de Montfaucon Lirac
This new wine from our friends at Montfaucon is such a treat. They added this to their lineup this past year and offered us a small allocation of the wine. A notch up in weight and richness from the Cotes du Rhone, this drinks more like a baby Chateauneuf du Pape. As the property is right across the river, you get some of those similar qualities, with the rich baked fruit and the spicy minerality, earthy garrigue and light floral tones. This lovely little Lirac goes beyond the norm of Cotes du Rhone, though, with its purity and balance. For under $15 at this quality level, we think you'll be glad you got on board before it all sells out!
2013 Château de Montfaucon Côtes du Rhône
I am consistently wowed by the quality of the wines coming from Montfaucon. From the Baron Louis Lirac rouge to the Madelaine Cotes du Rhone Blanc, they are always delicious and offer great quality. But the humble little Cotes du Rhone is really where it's all at. For under $12, you can drink classic wonderful Rhone wine that is balanced, expressive and inviting. It's no wonder we go through hundreds of cases of this every year.
2013 Yves Duport "Origin'L Reserve" Bugey Brut
Bugey is a little known region to the east of Burgundy and the west of Savoie (near Switzerland). What the region is known for is Bugey Cerdon, a slightly sweet but delightfully tangy sparkling wine. This is NOT that kind of wine. There is actually a great culture of dry sparkling wine production in this region and Yves Duport is right at the top of the heap. The Origin'L is a blend of Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Aligote coming from Yves' certified organic vineyards which are planted on primarily limestone soils. Not quite Champagne but real close, the wine has a wonderful mousse with a decisive mid-palate. Golden apples and Anjou pears, a touch of ginger and some nutmeggy spices emerge on the nose. The wine finishes clean and crisp with a hint of chalk. When I'm looking to up my game from a basic sparkler but still don't want to spend Champagne money, this is my go-to wine.
2015 Lake Chalice "The Nest" Sauvignon Blanc Marlborough
A classic Marlborough Sauvingon Blanc. Lots of grapefruit and citrus with a whiff of grassyness and a touch of minerality.
2014 Jeff Carrel "Les Darons" Languedoc
Jeff Carrel has been a winemaker in importer Dan Kravitz's stable for years and has made some pretty excellent values. This may very well be his best to date. The "Les Darons" is loaded with copious rich red fruit and gobs of spices. Fleshy on the palate but still balanced, this is one of the great bargains of the season.
2010 D'Archambeau, Graves
This starts out gravely and supple but with air puts on additional richness and weight. Aromas and flavors of dark cherry, smoke and earth give way to a huge mineral gush on the flavorful finish of this amazing value. Don't be fooled by the price-this needs at least 20 minutes in a decanter to blossom.
2013 Cécile Chassagne Gigondas
Cecile's wines are always a great old school take on Gigondas. So many producers have skewed towards ultra-ripe and jammy but the wines that last and resonate are the ones with perfume and elegance. This has that and more. Crushed flowers, garrigue, cherry fruit, tilled earth and leather permeate the nose. Fine tannins and a supple finish make this great right now but the acidity will give it many years of life in the cellar.
2014 Domaine Begude Pinot Noir
James Kinglake, owner of Begude, was so insistent that this was his best Pinot to date, I had to try the wine. I am excited to say he is correct. I have tried the last few vintages and I always thought they offered great value for their humble price point but this Pinot reaches a new level. As the vines have aged, the fruit has developed more complexity and less and less are being used for his rosé program. Which is actually a good thing since there will be more red available. For under $15, you get real complexity of red fruits, roasted earth, potpourri and spice. With its silky tannins and bright acidity and you might thing you're drinking a top quality Marsannay (but it's not $30!). All around terrific wine and really putting Limoux on the map as serious Pinot country.
2014 Domaine du Tariquet "Classic" Cotes de Gascogne Blanc
Cotes de Gascognes is one of my favorite regions for everyday whites. They are inviting, easy to drink and CHEAP!!! The Tariquet has notes of crushed rock and kaffir lime with a hint of flint on the nose. Think Sancerre without the overt grassy tones. This is vibrant, delicious and will make the perfect white for entertaining.
2014 Domaine Begude Chardonnay "Le Bel Ange"
Purity of fruit and clarity of terroir best describe this exceptional Chardonnay value from Domaine Begude. The Le Bel Ange is crisp and, with aromas of golden delicious apples, Anjou pears and white peaches. No wood here as it is all about the fruit expression. Lovely, light and clean.
2013 Hahn Estates Santa Lucia Highlands Pinot Noir
Vibrant red fruit, wild strawberry, rose-hip, and baking spice. This is a very serious Pinot at a very approachable price point. The Santa Lucia Highlands AVA is nestled on the western edge of the Salinas valley and planted primarily to Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Syrah. This tasty wine is the perfect pairing for your holiday ham. Stop in and pick up a few while they are still in stock!
2014 Morgadío Albariño Rias Baixas
Morgadio makes a wonderful Albariño, always delicious, full of crunchy fruit flavors, lip smacking acidity and lovely minerality. 2014 is another fine vintage, and fortunately for all of us at a very friendly price due to the strong dollar. A fine choice for dungeness crab and oysters!
2004 Miguel Merino Gran Reserva (1.5L)
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.
2005 Langoa-Barton, St-Julien (6L)
Barrel tasting notes: Absolutely stunning wine. Deep color. Sweet red licorice and cranberry nose. Very, very elegant. A lot of Merlot. More feminine style. Tasted four times with consistent notes.
2008 Miguel Merino "Vitola" Reserva Rioja
Modern style meets Rioja heritage: fruit-driven without being overbearing, 2008 Vitola shows plummy elegance and lush, almost Parker-esque sensibilities but retains balance. Miguel Merino delivers a delicious crossover Tempranillo that retains all the best qualities of the classic DO.
2013 Olema Sonoma County Pinot Noir
From our friends at Amici Cellars comes this impressive Pinot Noir offering. Coming in at $20 and showing beautiful fresh picked wild cherry, raspberry, cola, spices and a bit of oak, this wine is hard to beat. Perfect crowd pleasing wine from a fantastic vintage!
2014 Michel Delhommeau "Harmonie" Muscadet Sèvre et Maine Sur Lie
Crisp, clean, and minerally, with an almost saline quality from the incredibly special soil, Muscadet is a natural for shellfish but also pairs beautifully with your holiday feast. Refreshing, crowd pleasing, and well-priced - even the bottle is interesting! - Harmonie proves that a citrusy summer favorite can perfectly transition into fall.
2014 Allram Grüner Veltliner Kamptal (1L)
Quaffable is a wine term that sometimes make me cringe, but there is no better way to describe how refreshingly satisfying this lovely Austrian quencher is. Bright but balanced with clean fruit and a crowd-pleasing liter size, this is picnic (or holiday party) perfection.
2011 Ugo Lequio "Gallina" Barbaresco
I will echo my fellow colleagues reviews below as well as the professional reviews above: this is incredible Nebbiolo that is surprisingly approachable now! Cherry fruit, new leather, earth, tar, violet, rose, and tobacco and all present in this complex offering. Decant now, or lay down for years to come.
2014 Franck Millet "Insolite" Sancerre
So minerally that Millet literally ships hunks of Sancerre’s rocky limestone in the box (along with the bottles) as evidence, Insolite is a staff favorite that continues to win over all styles of Sauvignon Blanc drinkers. Chalky but soft, with gorgeous, subtle notes of stone fruit and a clean finish, this is high-quality, terroir-driven Sancerre at its racy best.
2012 Crater Rim Pinot Noir Banks Peninsula Canterbury
This is a no brainer $20 Pinot Noir, which isn't always easy to find! Darker red cherry, cola, forrest floor, and just the right amount of tanin round this wine out. Perfect for the holidays!
2010 Bodegas Casa Juan Señor de Lesmos Crianza Rioja
Crunchy bright fruit on the nose – this is true cherry Tempranillo right up front, with medium body, some lively acid and an oaky but easygoing finish. We’ve all been anxiously awaiting more Lesmos on our shelves and this value-driven Direct Import over delivers.
2010 Baricci Brunello di Montalcino
Almost lemon rind on the nose, with nimble red fruit worthy of Montalcino’s heralded “Vintage of a Lifetime,” this is a chameleon of a Sangiovese, shifting effortlessly between elegant, shockingly easy-drinking and lush to earthy, with layers of spice and mushroom, plus the balanced tannic structure we’ve come to expect from Brunello. But perhaps the most impressive quality here is the price: barely $40 for 2010 from Baricci! Incredible with food, it needs air and will benefit from cellaring but I’ll admit to already downing a bottle or two.
Deligeroy Crémant de Loire Brut Rosé
A holiday pairing that sparkles, this favorite is back in stock just in time for celebrating - and works surprisingly well with the main event. Softly herbal with notes of strawberry plus delicate, teeny but exuberant bubbles, this Cabernet Franc Crémant is festive, and delicious with turkey: Deligeroy is glamour that the pilgrims only dreamed of, and still drinks beautifully year round.
2014 Domaine Renaud Mâcon-Solutré
Busting with minerality, this more subdued of the Macons, delivers a lot of tipicity. Very focused and clean. A perfection with oysters.
2013 Fossil Point Edna Valley Pinot Noir
If you're hoping to settle the holiday dilemma of which crowd-pleasing Pinot to pour for both fruit-forward California fans and higher acid Burgundy lovers, look no further than Fossil Point. The 2014 presents subtle cherry but balances with beautiful minerality thanks to the cooler climate near the ocean. A perfect turkey pairing, it's a sophisticated choice for any time of year: high quality, drinking beautifully now, and easy on the wallet. Try a bottle (or really, a case) today and have one less decision on your plate.
2012 Ronan by Clinet, Bordeaux Supérieur
The Ronan is one of those wines that is made for pleasure, and it delivers it! Nice plums, and a touch of spices. It just plain seduces you. Nice and simple.
2014 Allram Grüner Veltliner Kamptal (1L)
One doesn’t immediately think of grapevines as victims of crime, but in 2011 the single surviving 500 year old vine of an ancient Austrian variety, St. Georgener Rebe, almost became extinct when an unknown attacker hacked into it. Fortunately it was saved and recently discovered to be the parent species, along with Savagnin, of Gruner Veltliner, the remarkable grape so favored by anyone seeking a dry, lightly fruity white suitable as both an aperitif or in any number of cuisines. We’ve carried the excellent Allram range of wines for several years, and the bargain-priced liter bottling is so deliciously buoyant, zesty, clean and quenchable that it deserves a prominent place in your festive parties throughout the year.
2014 Franck Millet "Insolite" Sancerre
This brilliant bottle of Sancerre Sauvignon Blanc should be listed on the ‘Most Wanted Wall’ in the Bivalveville Post office, as it has been responsible for contributing to the (gulp) demise of more oysters than I can count. And the exceptional 2014 vintage is the crowning touch of all that these remarkable chalky, limestone soils combined with select fruit and extended maceration can deliver— pleasantly pungent saline and mineral aromas, added vibrancy and roundness through the mid-palate, with intermingled flavors of lemon-zest, tart apple, boxwood and melon, finishing with attractive acidity and a surprising degree of suppleness. A beauty! Bring on the bivalves!
2013 Rickshaw California Pinot Noir
The winemaking magicians at Banshee pull rare bits out of their various AVAs once again, stirring it up with a fresh batch of highly affordable, deliciously fruitful, always satisfying Pinot Noir. Pitched flavors of plum, raspberry, cranberry and cherry play off the nose and permeate the palate, finishing with a slight spicy tinge and touch of earth. Perfect for informal gatherings and holiday parties, this wine is, in a word, bottled spontaneity.
2013 Castillo de Monseran Garnacha Cariñena
Dried herb and spice notes segue into low-key, juicy berry fruit on this easygoing red. Less ripe than some Garnachas, the acidity contributes more towards giving the wine its overall shape than the gentle tannins, and it finishes with a tart cherry note.
2014 TWR (Te Whare Ra) Sauvignon Blanc Marlborough
This Sauvignon Blanc represents everything we love about the grape when grown in this region: it's bright and focused, with plenty of citrus and grassy notes. There is some mid-palate weight and texture, while the finish brings long, thirst-quenching acidity. A great wine from a fantastic producer! Drink up!
2010 La Lecciaia Brunello di Montalcino
With an overflowing cornucopia of superb Brunellos to choose from in this most treasured vintage, finding a truly memorable one for under $40 may not be that easy, but this classic, well-delineated version delivers an array of savory, spicy dark fruit, magnificent depth and effortless elegance. Ripe plums, black cherries, leather, roasted coffee, tinges of asphalt and smoked jerky enliven the palate, followed by smoothly-structured tannins and pinpoint acidity. A delicious wine now in its ‘got game’ youth, it will evolve gracefully for another decade. Buy a case or two and treat yourself to this fantastic wine as it goes through its paces....
2011 Coutet, Sauternes (375ml)
Lovely balance and a super long finish.
2011 Coutet, Sauternes (375ml)
Bright and lemony, very concentrated, intense and crisp, with laser beam focus and lots of acidity. One for the cellar.
2014 Domaine du Tariquet "Classic" Cotes de Gascogne Blanc
The Côtes de Gascogne is heralded for creating magnificent and enduring Armagnacs, but what do smart growers do with all the extra high-yielding fruit after creating it? Well, they artfully gather the usual suspects (Ugni Blanc, Gros Manseng, Colombard and Sauvignon Blanc) and blend them into a crisp, vibrant white wine, bright with acidity and vivacious aromas of citrus fruits, apples, Bosc pears and sage. Perfect as an aperitif for parties and drop-in affairs, and for under ten dollars, a must have on hand for the holidays!
2010 Solaria Brunello di Montalcino
Another great 2010 Brunello di Montalcino to add to our long list! Strong aromas of dark fruit, plum and earth on the nose. On the palate, a very smooth mouthfeel, with much more subtle fruit flavors, spice and cola. A good decanting really opens up the flavors!
2014 Domaine Renaud Mâcon-Charnay
Looking for a good, value priced, balanced Chardonnay? Then you've found the right wine! The vintage has delivered a more taut wine than Macon Charnay typically produces. Lemon verbena, wet gravel, and lime notes show on the nose of this cool and refreshing, medium bodied wine, with the minerality subtly carrying through to the palate. Quite the deal, this.
2013 Antech "Emotion" Cremant de Limoux Brut Rosé
The only thing better than a bottle of bubbles is a bottle of rosé bubbles! Antech continues to deliver the goods with this 2013 Emotion Brut Rosé. The palate offers gobs of strawberry and other bright red fruits. The smooth finish is what sets this wine apart from others at this price point. Cheers to holiday bubbles!
2010 Craggy Range Syrah "Gimblett Gravels Vineyard" Hawke's Bay
An incredible bottle of Syrah! A screaming "Cyber Monday" price...well, actually it's the "as long as it lasts" K&L price at 50% off the winery's SRP! Thanks to our great relationship with Craggy Range we are able to offer this exclusive deal. The wine is classic Syrah--dark, floral, earthy tones; spice, black pepper; deep and brooding. Lots of concentrated berry fruits, whiffs of smoke, bacon fat and stony minerals. Exceptional wine that has just started to develop some beautiful complexity from a few years in the bottle. This is WAY too good for this price.
2012 La Massa "La Massa" Toscana
Here's a very cool Super Tuscan at a fantastic price. Rich and mouthfilling dark cherry fruit with a bit of spice lingering throughout and a great but not heavy handed structure. Pull a cork and you'll quickly be hooked too.
2012 La Massa "La Massa" Toscana
This wine is so popular we just can't keep it in stock. The warm richness of the wine coupled with its stellar balance and length seem to make it a universal translator, everyone seems to love this wine. The core of this wine is 60% Sangiovese but it's from one of the Premier vineyard sites in Chianti Classico the Conca d'Oro. Here Sangiovese is at its best showing long, elegant lines with supple wild cherry character that enliven the Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot that add a little international swagger to the austere Sangiovese. A tremendous wine, you'll love it.
Drink from 2015 to 2015