Staff Favorites - Steve Bearden

Steve Bearden
Steve Bearden  | Send Email  |   Subscribe to My Sommelier Service
I’m the Bordeaux liason for the San Francisco store, starting my run there around 2000. Over the years I've gained a great respect for subtlety, finesse, elegance and terroir, or a sense of place, that I believe all great wine should have. I enjoy practically anything and everything but mostly French and Italian with heavy emphasis on Rhône and Bordeaux. Be adventurous. There is tremendous diversity in regions, varieties and styles, so don’t let your palate get pigeon-holed.


Amaury Coutelas "Cuvée Louis Victor" Brut Champagne
Review Date: 04-01-2015
This multivintage blend which includes harvests from 2007 through 2012 is a must try for those who like their bubbly on the rich side but without giving up any complexity. This is chock-full of red fruit and berry flavors and there is an additional layer of maturity provided by the inclusion of the older stocks. This is produced using the solera system (as in sherry) and there is nothing else quite like it.
Price: $39.99 Add To Waiting List

Wine Club


2013 Mount Trio Sauvignon Blanc Great Southern Western Australia
Review Date: 03-31-2015
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 Waiting List
JH 92

2013 Boekenhoutskloof "The Wolftrap" Red Western Cape
Review Date: 03-12-2015
This South African Cotes du Rhone wannabe is a screaming value and an excellent wine to boot. The Syrah component of the blend really shines through giving the wine weight, spice and a slightly meaty texture. The 32% Mourvedre adds brambly dark plums and minerality while the 2% voignier lifts the aromatics beautifully. Bargain hunters should not miss this.
Price: $8.99 Add To Waiting List

2012 Textbook "Mise en Place" Oakville Cabernet Sauvignon
Review Date: 03-12-2015
I hesitate to call this a blockbuster because tasting it is so effortless and all the raw material falls into place so beautifully. This is smooth and velvety with abundant black cherry and blackberry fruit in the satin textured middle building to an intense finish with fine grip. Wines that seem this incredibly well made are usually fashioned more in the vineyard than the wine cellar and I suspect this micro production beauty is no exception. Connoisseurs take note: this is delicious with decanting but will only get better and better.
Price: $64.99 Add To Waiting List
RP 95 CG 91

2012 Penley Estate "Phoenix" Cabernet Sauvignon Coonawarra
Review Date: 03-11-2015
Wow. What a super value in a Cabernet that is fresh, understated and well made. Plums, mint, sage and currants combined with great acid/tannin balance make this super food friendly and easy to sip on its own. This is great winemaking that sells for a song.

2013 Domaine Combier "Purple Label" Crozes-Hermitage
Review Date: 03-11-2015
This bottle with the bright purple label is a great introduction to the wines of the Northern Rhone. Cracked pepper, smoke, bacon and a cool iron finish show off great wine making. This is a great value in Syrah.
Price: $19.99 Add To Waiting List

2012 Grand Bateau Rouge, Bordeaux
Review Date: 03-05-2015
Year after year this screaming value from the folks who produce the great Chateau Beychevelle over-performs and over-delivers in every way. This is always round and elegant with a smooth and creamy texture and surprising purity for this price level. The currant version is done in an easy to drink style showcasing blackberry fruit, spice and a touch of earth.
Price: $12.99 Add To Waiting List

Wine Club


2013 L'Ecole No. 41 " Luminesce" Seven Hills Vineyard Walla Walla White Wine
Review Date: 03-03-2015
Hailing from Walla Walla comes a refreshing white Bordeaux-style sipper with a balanced blend of 60% Semillon and 40% Sauvignon Blanc. The subtle citrus and kiwi fruit notes hit the tongue with just enough tartness to keep the succulent texture and mineral rich taste in line. It’s elegant enough alone or try pairing with basil pesto pasta or goat cheese stuffed chicken.
Price: $18.99 Add To Waiting List
WE 92

2013 Brash Higgins 'NDV' Nero d'Avola - Amphora
Review Date: 03-03-2015
This is one of the most interesting and unusual wines I have tried in some time. Wine geeks will love the flamboyant aromas of beeswax, wild flowers and steeped fruit that seem to meld together effortlessly, yet in the most unusual way. The body of this wine is a bit more restrained in its smooth, sweet and fresh flavors of berry and plum. This is just the thing for jaded palates looking for something exciting and different. This was done 100% in amphorae.
Price: $39.99 Add To Waiting List
JR 17

2008 Pauillac de Latour, Pauillac
Review Date: 02-25-2015
In 2008 the Third wine of Chateau Latour is sleek, sophisticated and classy. The high percentage of Merlot makes this a little more approachable than the Second wine Forts Latour, but all the class and breeding you expect is still there. The crunchy cherry fruit and graphite minerality are poised, polished and open up beautifully with decanting.
Price: $79.99 Add To Waiting List

2013 GRÜNER by Etz Grüner Veltliner Kamptal (1L)
Review Date: 02-25-2015
I've lost track of the number of times I have taken this bargain bottle to a picnic, BBQ or party and had people gush over how delicious it is. Honestly, I usually grab it because $14.00 for a litre of wine with a screw cap is exactly what I need on my days off-easy and cheap. White pepper, crunchy lentil, snappy apple and green pear fruit and a touch of trapped CO2 make this one perfect party sipper.
Price: $13.99 Add To Waiting List

2011 Domaine Maestracci "E Prove" Corse Calvi Rouge
Review Date: 02-25-2015
This is a fantastic bottle of wine for less than 20 bucks. This is earthy and dark with a sleek structure and polished tannins on the long finish, Along with the black and blue fruit there are some animal notes and a funky and savory dig into the Corsican terroir of ocean spray and mineral. Amazing complexity for the money.
Price: $18.99 Add To Waiting List

2012 Robert Craig "Affinity" Napa Valley Bordeaux Blend
Review Date: 02-19-2015
This is exactly what most people have in mind when they think of a classic big, bold Napa Cabernet from a great vintage. Here is a brawny, rich fruit-driven wine with a solid smack of oak, creamy blackberry fruit, spice and enough structure to hold it all together. This in-your-face bottling belongs in every steakhouse in the country.
Price: $49.99 Add To Waiting List
RP 92 AG 91

2012 Yangarra Estate "Old Vine" Grenache McLaren Vale
Review Date: 02-10-2015
I absolutely love this funky, cool, electric version of Grenache from the McLaren Vale region of Australia. This has tightly wound dark fruit, spice, earth and plenty of food friendly fine tannin bound together in a dark and vibrant package. This is wild Aussie wine for lovers of Old School Southern Rhone reds.
Price: $22.99 Add To Waiting List
JH 94

2009 La Fortuna Brunello di Montalcino
Review Date: 02-10-2015
Vintage after vintage this wine over delivers, but the beauty of the 2009 is you won't have to wait 10 years for it to be at its peak. This is delicious now and shows a real softness to the earthy and sweet cherry fruit flavors. The round, broad and rich middle lets you sink your teeth into the terroir and the ripeness and warmth of the vintage makes for early drinking.
Price: $39.99 Add To Waiting List

2013 Domaine Renaud Mâcon-Charnay
Review Date: 02-10-2015
Year after year this little gem remains a best seller and its easy to see why. Aromas of citrus and flowers and flavors of spiced apple combine to hit the sweet spot of what folks are looking for in bargain White Burgundy. This is an intense, un-oaked, rich and warm screaming value not to be missed.
Price: $13.99 Add To Waiting List

2010 Trébiac, Graves
Review Date: 02-07-2015
The latest version of this best seller is a bit deeper and tighter than in the past which is not unexpected given the power of the 2010 Bordeaux vintage. What does surprise is the lushness of the fruit on what is usually a more restrained, old school bottling. At any rate this seems to hit the sweet spot with both dark and red fruits, overt minerality and touches of herb and tobacco combined with enough power that decanting is suggested.
Price: $14.99 Add To Waiting List

2012 Champy Bourgogne Chardonnay
Review Date: 02-06-2015
We love the Champy wines because they practice organic methods with their estate vineyards and because direct pricing makes them affordable. This bottling includes fruit sourced from around Puligny-Montachet, giving it a little more weight and texture than most bottlings at this price. This is elegant yet weighty with crushed apple fruit and fine persistence to the finish. A baby Puligny!
Price: $17.99 Add To Waiting List

2013 Haut-Bergey Blanc, Pessac-Léognan
Review Date: 02-06-2015
Here is a serious white that combines great weight and texture with wonderful, mouthwatering acidity. This is dry and concentrated with exotic citronella, fleshy citrus pith, juicy green melon and palate-cleansing mineral on a clean and powerful structure. This should cellar really well and I might even decant it for enjoying tonight.

2004 Haut-Bergey, Pessac-Léognan
Review Date: 02-05-2015
Many wines from the under appreciated 2004 Bordeaux vintage are finally starting to strut their stuff and this is a prime example. This is restrained and balanced with a lingering sweetness to the crisp finish. The middle is filled with smoky cherry and plum fruit, notes of tobacco and hints of earth that are lively, fresh and textured. Enjoy this tonight or age further.
Price: $29.99 Add To Waiting List
RP 90

2013 Siduri Sonoma County Pinot Noir
Review Date: 02-03-2015
Like all Siduri Pinots this does not skimp on fruit but there was clearly a deft hand guiding the winemaking, allowing for a sense of equilibrium. The balance between the creamy texture and lush fruit lets the savory and spicy components poke through, leaving an impression of complexity and freshness. In today's market for delicious Pinot Noir this is a bargain.
Price: $21.99 Add To Waiting List

2013 Calera Central Coast Chardonnay
Review Date: 01-29-2015
I love this affordable and fresh bottling for its value and consistency. Always juicy and full of character without resorting to the heavy, cloying tactics that push so many chards over the top. In a market of over priced and over manipulated wines this is a sigh of relief for your wallet and your palate.
Price: $17.99 Add To Waiting List
WE 92 AG 90

2001 Corbin Michotte, St-Emilion
Review Date: 01-21-2015
Lots of ripe, red fruits here with a funky dig into the terroir of the St-Emilion/Pomerol border. There are very fine tannins holding the array of cherries and berries together where hints of chalk add persistence to the finish. This is deep, lush and still fresh.
Price: $39.99 Add To Waiting List

2001 Moulin Haut-Laroque, Fronsac
Review Date: 01-21-2015
This is darkly fruited and quite earthy but with a lush core of sweet, clean and fresh fruit. The tannins are well hidden and there is nice length to the lively finish. This is easy and forward even without decanting.
Price: $29.99 Add To Waiting List

2010 Raymond Lafon, Sauternes (375ml)
Review Date: 01-21-2015
Surprisingly viscous, fat and waxy but with great balancing acidity to boot, this seems to hit the sweet spot between flamboyant richness and cool, electric freshness. The pineapple, coconut, honey, citrus and marmalade flavors would be an ideal match for veined cheeses, fruit tarts, pound cake, a plate of butter cookies or my favorite, as an aperitif. The powerful finish here actually leaves an impression of dryness on the palate.
Price: $19.99 Add To Waiting List
RP 93

2009 La Cardonne, Médoc
Review Date: 01-14-2015
Here is yet another fantastic value from the great 2009 Bordeaux vintage. This is quite firm, very smooth and wonderfully warm with a nice chewy texture on the finish. There is great mid-palate sweetness to this substantial and overachieving wine so don't hesitate to decant tonight or cellar for a few years.
Price: $19.99 Add To Waiting List
WS 89 - 92

2001 Tertre Daugay, St-Emilion
Review Date: 01-08-2015
Here is yet another example of how fantastically the wines from the very good 2001 Bordeaux vintage are drinking at 10 years of age. This is a dark plum color with aromas of ripe cherry, savory herb and potting soil. The wine has lively acidity and as it opens up very fresh flavors and aromas of blackberry and dark cherry become even more evident. The smooth, creamy middle is substantial and is supported by dry, fine tannins on the intense, mineral finish. Decant one hour.
Price: $24.99 Add To Waiting List

2012 Elderton "Estate" Shiraz Barossa Valley South Australia
Review Date: 10-22-2014
There is a fine sense of proportion and balance to this big, brash wine which offers a measure of restraint to the bold fruit. The flavors and aromas of blackberry, plum, pepper, mint, spice and smoke are lifted by fine grained tannins, moderate acid and a persistent limestone infused finish. In today's market for world class wines, this is a screaming value.
Price: $19.99 Add To Waiting List
JH 93 RP 92

2012 Pessagno "Central Avenue" Monterey County Pinot Noir
Review Date: 10-16-2014
During a recent visit to the Santa Lucia Highlands appellation we discovered this outstanding value at tiny Pessagno Winery and bought it on the spot. This family-run boutique has a small portfolio of distinctive wines and this refreshing Pinot is one of the most elegant we encountered in the region. This is medium-bodied with aromas of spice, cherry and rhubarb that tingle the senses. The persistent cherry-vanilla fruit is enhanced by hints of tree bark, tea and a surprising minerality that lends a refreshing note to the finish. This is rare quality/price ratio for Pinot Noir.
Price: $17.99 Add To Waiting List
WE 90

2012 Joseph Jewell Russian River Valley Pinot Noir
Review Date: 09-18-2014
This has the weight and texture you expect of Pinot from the Russian River Valley yet remains pure, bright and dry. An array of ripe red fruits, touches of earth and hints of spice evolve and expand as this opens up in the glass and the palate cleansing finish is clean and snappy.
Price: $29.99 Add To Waiting List
W&S 95

2012 Pisa Range Estate "Black Poplar Block" Pinot Noir Central Otago
Review Date: 09-05-2014
This is a seriously good bottle of wine and I would put it up against any $40.00 Pinot Noir we carry. This has earthy aromas of dark fruits and wild berries touched by herb and spice nuances. The complex array of red and black fruit flavors is followed by a schist-like mineral finish showing fine grained tannins and great length. The impressive depth is tempered by balance and proportion.
Price: $39.99 Add To Waiting List
DC 96 JS 94

2010 Scali "Kalkis Vineyard" Pinotage Paarl
Review Date: 08-19-2014
This is hands-down the finest expression of this varietal I have ever tasted. This smells like a clean, classy N. Rhone Syrah with its sweet, dark raspberry fruit, spice and iron minerality on the finish. This is sophisticated, perfectly proportioned and delicious. If you hate Pinotage or love Pinotage or have never tasted Pinotage, do yourself a favor and try this tonight.
Price: $29.99 Add To Waiting List

2013 Kalinda Napa Valley Chardonnay
Review Date: 08-06-2014
If you are tired of soft, blowsy California Chardonnay and have almost given up on the category this will surprise and refresh you. This is firm and toasty with stone fruit and lemon oil flavors, a touch of honey and a complex leesy note on the finish. There is wonderful freshness and vibrancy to this rich and beautifully balanced wine.
Price: $17.99 Add To Waiting List

2013 TWR (Te Whare Ra) Sauvignon Blanc Marlborough
Review Date: 07-16-2014
I am a big fan of the entire TWR portfolio but my favorite is always this vibrant Sauvignon Blanc because of its pure flavors and rich texture. Herb, melon, crushed citrus and just a hint of musk add complexity to this weighty but very refreshing value.
Price: $18.99 Add To Waiting List

2009 Ferrero Brunello di Montalcino
Review Date: 07-15-2014
When we tasted this young wine recently I was surprised at how warm and approachable it was. This is ripe, broad and fleshy with sweet plum and baked earth aromas and flavors and gentle, ripe tannin. Decant this for an hour and enjoy tonight.
Price: $29.99 Add To Waiting List

2009 Nairac, Sauternes
Review Date: 07-14-2014
This sensational wine combines aromas and flavors of clover honey, saffron, pineapple, orange spice tea and sweet scented wildflowers. Full-bodied without being unctuous, an oily sleekness holds the mid-palate and a mineral/acid tension glides along the long finish. This really over-delivers for the price.

2012 Kirkham Peak Santa Lucia Highlands Pinot Noir
Review Date: 04-16-2014
This is a bargain from an appellation known for richer, fuller Pinot Noir, but at prices substantially higher than you see here. Bold and smooth with an array of red fruit flavors and a touch of tannin on the finish, this would stand up to hearty food and even summer BBQ. Although drinking well now, short term ageing should do wonders for this delicious value.
Price: $17.99 Add To Waiting List

1999 Fugue de Nenin, Pomerol
Review Date: 03-20-2014
The Delon family of Leoville-Las-Cases fame has made great strides with Chateau Nenin in Pomerol and this second wine has become a consistant over achiever. This is elegant, clean, classy and sweet, offering an iron tinged mineral edge to the fine finish. Drinking perfectly right now, this offers the sophistication of the first wine at a fraction of the cost.
Price: Hidden View Price

2010 Fombrauge, St-Emilion
Review Date: 02-21-2014
The person responsible for the great wines from Chateau Pape-Clement also brings you this over-achieving St-Emilion bargain. There are plenty of toasty espresso roast aromas and flavors to go with the copious dark fruit buried in the velvety body of this serious wine. The tannins are almost buried under fruit and the dark and brooding nature is lifted by a wonderful sense or elegance and balance.

2012 Sharp Zombie Rioja
Review Date: 02-20-2014
This starts out with flowery aromas of ripe black cherry fruit, oak shadings, spice, a hint of vanilla and a touch of earth. Medium-weight and smooth, this lithe and agile wine has a creamy finish and an easy charm making it perfect for the table or cocktail parties. This versatile and food-friendly value might just become your new favorite bargain Rioja.
Price: $8.99 Add To Waiting List

2001 Guiraud, Sauternes
Review Date: 02-20-2014
This is a great choice for those seeking a rich, flamboyant style of Sauternes coupled with mature flavors and texture. Deep golden color and a viscous texture compliment the mature flavors of Apricot, toasted marshmallow, baking spice and clover honey. A slight hint of paraffin adds aromatic complexity to the thick, smooth finish.

Deligeroy Crémant de Loire Brut Rosé
Review Date: 09-04-2012
This is long and fine with red cherry fruit and a persistant limestone laced finish. There is an amazing amount of elegance and restraint showing here for only 13 bucks.
Price: $12.99 Add To Waiting List

2006 Pauillac de Latour, Pauillac
Review Date: 07-27-2012
The rare third wine from 1st Growth Chateau Latour has the clean, classy lines and aristocratic nature you expect from Latour but at a fraction of the price. This is refined and structured with an array of berries, cherries and subtle mineral in a smooth, seamless package. This is approachable with decanting but should cellar for at least a decade more.
Price: $79.99 Add To Waiting List

Franck Bonville Grand Cru Blanc de Blancs Champagne
Review Date: 07-07-2011
When it comes to Champagne this is probably our all time staff favorite. The fact that it is a direct import and sells for less than half what it would if it went through the same distribution system as the big name brands doesn't hurt either. Fresh and ripe Chardonnay flavors, intense mineral notes and hints of earth leap from this vibrant and full-textured bubbly.
Price: $34.99 Add To Waiting List

2006 Rosenblum "Richard Sauret" Paso Robles Zinfandel
Review Date: 05-28-2011
The fruit here is from the Richard Sauret vineyard in Paso Robles and the structure and intesity of the raw material tempers the lavish fruit that is associated with Rosenblum. Blackberry, cherry, plum, pepper,vanilla and a touch of mineral meld wonderfully in this full-bodied but not heavy wine. This is full throttle Zin for a bargain.
Price: $19.99 Add To Waiting List
CG 90

2007 Langoa-Barton, St-Julien
Review Date: 03-31-2011
At a recent staff tasting in the San Francisco store this wine from the much maligned '07 vintage was fantastic. Not only did it show better than Langoas from much more hyped vintages, but it beat out several highly rated vintages of its big brother Leoville Barton. This is velvety,soft and earthy with very sweet fruit and a mineral edge right down the middle. Decant this and try it tonight.
Price: $59.99 Add To Waiting List
WE 91

Ariston Aspasie Blanc de Blancs Brut Champagne
Review Date: 12-29-2009
Chardonnay from Brouillet makes a richer, creamier style of Blanc de Blanc than other areas of Champagne. This is an easy to like style that is perfect for less formal occasions like New Year's eve toasts and quiet sipping during parties. This generous, rich bubbly is an amazing deal to direct buy pricing.
Price: $34.99 Add To Waiting List

2005 Malescot-St-Exupéry, Margaux
Review Date: 03-11-2009
Barrel tasting the 2005 vintage in Bordeaux two years ago, this was an absolute standout in an ocean of outstanding wines. Re-tasting it the other day confirmed that it has explosive aromas of crushed flowers, blackberry fruit, mocha and violets. The body is thick and powerful, yet elegant, with deep, ripe, dark fruit, tobacco and powerful yet very ripe tannin. Truly an aristocratic wine.

2005 Guiraud, Sauternes
Review Date: 03-11-2009
The #4 wine on Spectator’s Top 100 with good reason. This is rich and complex, showing tropical fruit, spice, honey, citrus oils and more. Creamy, smooth and sweet, but not at all heavy, this maintains a sense of balance and freshness despite huge flavors.