Staff Favorites - Ralph Sands

Ralph Sands
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Ralph is the senior Bordeaux specialist on the sales staff. In between trying to break into professional baseball, Ralph was picking up hours at a K&L store in Millbrae. Back then it was more about kegs and cheap booze, and both Ralph and K&L have evolved since that time. Since those long ago days in 1978, Ralph has visited his beloved Bordeaux 37 times, evaluated 19 straight vintages and has escorted over 200 customers to Bordeaux on his "Taste and Golf the Greats Tours of Bordeaux". Ralph has also conducted tasting seminars in 9 different states as well as in France, Spain and Hong Kong. Ralph's passion for wine reaches far beyond Bordeaux; to the fine wine regions of Burgundy, Loire, Rhone, Germany, Oregon and of course his home state of California.


Reviews

  
2012 L'Avocat Rouge, Graves
Review Date: 12-12-2015
As is the case with their Blanc, this is serious wine, not for the weak and timid. Textbook Graves wine, strong deep fruit with hints of cherry, cassis and earth. Decant a couple hours to drink young, and it will age very nicely. My house red for years!
Price: $15.99 Add To Cart

2013 l'Avocat Blanc, Graves
Review Date: 12-12-2015
A fantastic value! This wine from Nicola and Sean Allison is made in what I call "serious style" which means it is rich, intense and expressive. If you are like me and love high end Bordeaux whites, like Domaine de Chevalier and Smith Haut Lafite, you will love this at a fraction of the cost! It is my house white year round.
Price: $14.99 Add To Cart

2007 Bodegas Puelles Rioja Reserva
Review Date: 12-02-2015
Wow...this is flat out a lovely bottle of wine which has developed beautifully and is in a delicious place right now after 8 years. Soft, sweet fruit with hints of cherries, black licorice, earth and herbs. The tannins have softened and are now in complete harmony reflecting perfect balance. Very impressive and great tasting wine for $20.00...
Price: $19.99 Add To Cart
RP 90

2014 Domaine de Biéville (Louis Moreau) Chablis
Review Date: 08-14-2015
Wow this is an incredible deal! Touch of tart green apple, lots of minerality , super clean and brisk! Real Chablis at 15 bucks and just fantastic at this price. This will absolutely be added to my "House White" selection at home.
Price: $16.99 Add To Cart

2014 Pétrus, Pomerol
Review Date: 06-26-2015
Good, strong, red apple and black cherry fruit; not heavy or over-extracted in any way. Classic style with racy acidity; a powerful finish with fine tannins. Not a plush Petrus. ** Two stars

2014 Pichon-Lalande, Pauillac
Review Date: 06-02-2015
Lots of lovely, exotic, grapey fruit; elegant and precise. Tasty, with a long finish. Pichon-Lalande is back in a big way after complete reconstruction of the vinification facility and the way the fruit is handled. Two stars. **

2014 Pichon-Lalande, Pauillac (1.5L)
Review Date: 06-02-2015
Lots of lovely, exotic, grapey fruit; elegant and precise. Tasty, with a long finish. Pichon-Lalande is back in a big way after complete reconstruction of the vinification facility and the way the fruit is handled. Two stars. **
Price: $189.99 Add To Cart
VN 93 - 96 RP 93 - 95 WS 92 - 95
JS 93 - 94
Limit of 24 per customer

2014 Lafite Rothschild, Pauillac (1.5L)
Review Date: 06-02-2015
Sweet, saturated red-black fruits on the nose; in the mouth, red fruits and chocolate. Good middle texture and long, polished tannins. Everything in perfect focus and balance—just lovely. Two and a half stars!

2014 Lafite Rothschild, Pauillac
Review Date: 06-02-2015
Sweet, saturated red-black fruits on the nose; in the mouth, red fruits and chocolate. Good middle texture and long, polished tannins.  Everything in perfect focus and balance—just lovely. Two and a half stars!

2014 Alter Ego de Palmer, Margaux(1.5L)
Review Date: 05-07-2015
While the first wine is all power and a bit closed on the nose the opposite is on display here. Incredibly attractive aromas of black fruits and violets, classic claret as it is firm and fresh. Lots to like! 1 Star

2014 Duhart-Milon, Pauillac
Review Date: 05-07-2015
Duhart Milon- Strong dark wine with deep fruit, flavors of blackberry jam and grilled meats, good middle fruit and tannin control. More flesh and lots to like here. Very good and better then Carraudes de Lafite. 1.5/3 Stars

2014 d'Armailhac, Pauillac
Review Date: 05-06-2015
d'Armaillac- Lovely upfront sweet red fruits, very attractive, with nice thick middle fruit and good tannins. The Mouton wine you can drink young and it is a winner! 1 Star

2014 Clerc-Milon, Pauillac
Review Date: 05-06-2015
Clerc Milon- Definitely in the classic style of Mouton but with a touch more forward sweet which is nice, but is still very concentrated. Long serious wine and should be one of the great aging values. 1.5 Stars

2014 Capbern St-Estèphe
Review Date: 05-06-2015
78% Cabernet Sauvignon 100% Delicious! Loaded with deep red fruit, fine balance, serious wine and very tasty. Could be the best value of the entire vintage.

2014 Palmer, Margaux
Review Date: 05-03-2015
A very serious and strong Palmer. Intense dark fruit with boysenberry hints, zesty and spicy. Complex, powerful, linear, and long in the mouth; this baby needs time! ** 2 Stars.

2014 Lynch-Bages, Pauillac (1.5L)
Review Date: 05-03-2015
Bright and floral zesty red fruits greet you, followed by direct and tightly focused spicy Cabernet fruit on the palate. Like the Baron wine, not much flesh here. * 1 Star.

2014 Lynch-Bages, Pauillac
Review Date: 05-03-2015
Bright and floral zesty red fruits greet you, followed by direct and tightly focused spicy Cabernet fruit on the palate. Like the Baron wine, not much flesh here. * 1 Star.

2014 Mouton Rothschild, Pauillac
Review Date: 04-30-2015
Very deep and powerful with underlying sweet fruits of black cherry and herbal notes. This wine is very classic, strong with laser beam focus and brisk acidity. One of the long runners in 2014. 2 stars!

2013 Palmer, Margaux
Review Date: 09-08-2014
Lovely rich entry on the palate followed by strong, firm, masculine, red black fruit with great precision. Built to lay away for 10-20 years.**

2013 Pontet-Canet, Pauillac
Review Date: 05-14-2014
Huge layers of silky, ripe black fruits and the fact that it smells like Zinfandel define this wine! Behind all of this fruit is brisk acidity and a long finish. This wine will be controversial, but it is undeniably super tasty! *½

2013 Pichon-Baron, Pauillac
Review Date: 05-14-2014
Striking aromas of strong Cabernet Sauvignon (82%) jump out of the glass followed by dark, bold, powerful fruit. This wine is classic claret: firm, honest and perfectly balanced. No question, it is one of the top wines of the vintage and one of the best cellar candidates. *½

2013 Malescot-St-Exupéry, Margaux
Review Date: 05-13-2014
Big wine with loads of soft, sweet ripe fruit in layers. Good round tannins and lovely finish. Very impressive, tasty, lush wine that will drink well young.**

2013 Labégorce, Margaux
Review Date: 05-12-2014
Everyone should be aware that Delphine Colasa and winemaker Marjolaine Maurice-de-Coninck have turned this estate (and sister Ch. Marquis D'Alesme) around in just a few years; the wines are so much better now! Hats off! Labegorce has attractive-plump Merlot (53%) fruit with cassis, spice and earth. (Marquis d'Alseme is very bright and has more sparkling blue fruits and distinct minerality.) Both are star wines. *

2013 Rauzan-Ségla, Margaux
Review Date: 05-08-2014
Amazing consistency and what a classy perfectly balanced wine from front to finish. Lovely.**

2013 Margaux, Margaux (1.5L)
Review Date: 05-01-2014
The nose of a great Ch. Margaux is there, followed by medium-bodied sweetness and impeccable balance. A strict selection of 38% of the crop went into the first wine but is a prime example of how difficult this vintage was. *½

2013 Margaux, Margaux
Review Date: 05-01-2014
The nose of a great Ch. Margaux is there, followed by medium-bodied sweetness and impeccable balance. A strict selection of 38% of the crop went into the first wine but is a prime example of how difficult this vintage was. *½

2013 Léoville-Las Cases, St-Julien
Review Date: 05-01-2014
Serious business, a powerful expression of concentrated reds fruits that are fresh and attractive. The key is the long finish. Great vineyard, great wine. (The Petite Lion is the second wine, a bit lighter in body but super clean and has all freshness as well as nice tannins.) **

2013 Léoville-Barton, St-Julien
Review Date: 05-01-2014
This wine, like so many of the best St-Julien estates is just amazingly consistent. Bursting with masculine, deep purple and blue fruits. Sparking acidity and firm tannins are the backbone. *½

2013 Smith-Haut-Lafitte Blanc, Pessac-Léognan
Review Date: 04-28-2014
90% Sauvignon Blanc, 5% Semillon, 5% Sauvignon Gris. Beautiful aromas of white flowers and vanilla on the nose. Persistent green apple fruit on the palate and throughout the long finish. Another outstanding winner for your chicken dinner! **

2013 Giscours, Margaux
Review Date: 04-28-2014
Record 80% Cabernet Sauvignon in the blend, good, powerful firm fruit with sweet tannins. Zesty acid, serious wine. This estate as well as Ch. Du Tertre are on a fine roll under the direction of Alexandre Van Beek. *½

2009 Brown Rouge, Pessac-Léognan
Review Date: 01-15-2014
This is my pick for Bordeaux that is drinking well but won't break the bank! I was in Bordeaux in 2005 for a big blind tasting of 1995 wines from California vs Bordeaux, when a negociant told me the new young director of Ch. Brown Jean-Christophe Mau was going to do great things at Ch. Brown (they've had vines planted there since the 12th century). I agreed to go and meet him at his other estate (Preuillac) located in the far reaches/middle of nowhere of the upper Medoc. I found him perched 15 feet above the ground on a portable sorting table helping to sort out the non perfect fruit. I could tell this guy was passionate and intense. He invited me to visit him at Ch. Brown and I found him doing the same thing there but in the winery. The Brown wine always had a rustic-tough feel to it but Jean-Christophe told me that he was confident that after he analyzed the condition and health of every vine on the property and greatly reduced yields, that he would make wine of great purity without the rustic edge. I've tasted the wine every year since in April and the wine has improved dramatically.
Price: $34.99 Add To Cart
WE 92 WS 92

2010 Lynch-Bages, Pauillac
Review Date: 12-12-2013
A long aging Lynch.

2012 Pontet-Canet, Pauillac
Review Date: 05-03-2013
** Established in 1725! There is just no stopping the fantastic roll of quality here! The perfectly ripe blueberry and blackberry fruit is focused and is amazingly fresh. Firm but round tannins and new oak is the framework for this great tasting PC that is accessible and invigorating. Hats off to Alfred Tesseron for giving the world good reason to be excited about buying the best wines made in 2012 as he drops his price to 1/3 the price of his 2009 and 2010 now in the marketplace.
Top Value!

Canard-Duchêne "Authentic" Brut Champagne
Review Date: 03-27-2013
Lovely Chamapagne! Super clean and elegant with a very nice dry finish; a real crowd pleaser and fine value.
Price: $29.99 Add To Cart

2000 Grand Mayne, St-Emilion
Review Date: 02-05-2013
Really tastes like old vine Merlot! It has deep black fruit with leathery, earthy hints and richbut- a-touch-rustic tannins. A very long wine, and a textbook 2000.

2009 Pape Clément, Pessac-Léognan
Review Date: 10-24-2012
Strong and masculine, with lots of coffee flavors.

2009 Pichon-Baron, Pauillac
Review Date: 10-23-2012
Very serious, deep and lively, with sweet fruit and classic structure. Will be one of the longest lived '09s.

2006 Cantemerle, Haut-Médoc
Review Date: 10-04-2011
*1/2 Wow! Very special wine made here in 2006, surely the best in modern times. Spicy ripe fruit with fine middle richness, sweetness and mouthfeel. Alex Brisoux: Sweet, spicy red fruit, cocao/tobacco undertone, good structure, elegant long finish, the best young Cantemerle I've ever tasted. And on 01/23/09: As good as it gets for the price. Rich and full, lingering finish.
Price: $39.99 Add To Cart
RP 90 ST 89

2005 Coufran, Haut-Médoc
Review Date: 08-31-2011
Deep, firm blackberry and blueberry fruit with good minerality. Direct with very solid structure. Most people will drink wines in this price range young, but this 2005 will age fantastically, so put a few down for the long run. I would decant four hours before drinking now.
Price: $24.99 Add To Cart
WE 91 - 93

2000 Coufran, Haut-Médoc
Review Date: 06-13-2009
Tasting good now at 11 years old, this still enjoys much of the youthful vigor derived from this great and powerful vintage. Stick a few away for another five to 10 years. Decant between two and four hours if you want to drink it now.
Price: $24.99 Add To Cart

More Favorites

Ralph Sands is also a fan of the following items. To become a fan of Ralph Sands, click here to join Ralph Sands's Personal Sommelier Service.
2006 Léoville-Poyferré, St-Julien ($79.99)

2005 Lynch-Bages, Pauillac ($199.99)

2005 Reserve de la Comtesse Lalande, Pauillac ($44.99)

2005 La Fleur de Boüard, Lalande-de-Pomerol ($49.99)