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Staff Favorites - John Downing

John Downing


2017 Schiavenza Nebbiolo delle Langhe
Review Date: 04-04-2020
Schiavenza is one of the finest producers in the Barolo commune of Serralunga that few consumers seem familiar with. They own vineyards within prestigeous Crus and produce very fine traditional style red wines. We recently tasted their 2017 Nebbiolo which is a blend of younger vines fruit made in an elegant, ready-to-drink style. It's fresh and lively with crisp acidity along with the earthy and floral qualities of youthful Nebbiolo from this zone. Pair with meats, firm cheeses and stews.
Price: $29.99 Add To Cart

2015 Stefania Barbot "Ion" Aglianico Irpina
Review Date: 04-03-2020
This up-and-coming estate is making classicly styled Aglianicos that wed ripe fruit with approachable muscular tannins and result in a substantial red ideal with meats and heartier dishes now and perfect as a candidate for the cellar for those who prefer a bit less youthful exuberence. There's an abundance of concentrated, slightly smoky black fruit that is excellent with lamb, meats,bbq and firmer cheeses.
Price: $26.99 Add To Cart

2017 Edi Keber Bianco Collio
Review Date: 04-03-2020
The Keber family makes one white wine that they believe defines the Collio region and best showcases their winemaking philosophy. Rather than producing single varietal whites, they combine Friulano, Malvasia and Ribolla Gialla which results in a full-bodied wine with rich aromatics and flavors along with wonderful acidity and a true expression of terrior. It remains one of our favorite Fruilian white wines.
Price: $29.99 Add To Cart

2017 Castello di Ama Chianti Classico
Review Date: 04-03-2020
We're bullish on 2017 Chiantis as the better producers have captured the richness of fruit and density of flavors characteristic of this warmer year yet maintained impressive freshness and acidity. Castello di Ama has released a supurb wine that is already stunning when opened today yet will benefit from a bit more time in the cellar, which will allow it to better integrate and round out. Definitely a top 2017 from one of Tuscany's finest houses.

2015 Carus Gaudio Chianti Classico Gran Selezione
Review Date: 03-24-2020
While the Carus "Baldero" Chianti Classico is aged mostly in stainless steel, the "Gaudio" is produced from their finest grapes and finished in French oak barrels. The addition of 10 percent Cabernet adds heft, complexity and an dimension to this outstanding Chianti. Although it will round out a bit more with time in the cellar, it's certainly delicious now with aeration.
Price: $29.99 Add To Cart

2017 La Sibilla Campi Flegrei Piedirosso
Review Date: 03-24-2020
While Aglianico seems to be the most heralded and best known red grape varietal of Campania, Piedirosso is far lesser known and usually blended with Aglianico to produce local wines. This particular Piedirosso comes from a very sandy zone north of Naples known as Campi Flegrei, where ungrafted (pre-phylloxera)vines result in wines with excellent natural acidity and lower alcohol levels. Remarkably inspite of the lower alcohol, this rare red offers up plenty of ripe berry fruit, ample palate weight and good length. It's a versatile red and a special treat that brings a nearly extinct past to the present.
Price: $18.99 Add To Cart

2017 Sarno 1860 Fiano di Avellino
Review Date: 03-24-2020
This is consistently one of the finest Fianos produced. While many battled the warmth of 2017, this storied estate benefitted from it's higher elevation locale and produced a crisp and fresh white loaded with aromatics and flavor. It opens with lovely aromas of orchard fruits and white flowers and delivers a rich and flavorful palate with lingering notes of ginger and hazelnut. Open this with white meats, fish and vegetable dishes.
Price: $25.99 Add To Cart

2014 Villa Poggio Salvi Brunello di Montalcino
Review Date: 03-22-2020
Poggio Salvi makes consistently good wines and their 2014 is quite successful considering the challenges of the vintage. We had the pleasure of tasting this wine recently and it evoked the more rustic side of Brunello combined with elegant fruit and bright acidity. This definitely wakes up with food and is certainly best enjoyed at the table. Consideing the more than reasonable price, it's a terrific value Brunello.
Price: $29.99 Add To Cart

2015 E. Pira Chiara Boschis "Via Nuova" Barolo
Review Date: 03-22-2020
The Via Nuova vines were more recently (2010) incorporated into a larger vineyard site called Terlo. As a tribute to the former site and to the older generation who blended Barolo from many vineyards in contrast to the more recent trend of single site wines, Chiara Boschis craftes this exquisite Barolo The grapes are sourced from sites in Barolo, Serralunga and Monforte and the blend ages in a combination large and small barrels. The blend assures rich fruit, excellent structure and overall complexity. Although it's approachable today, it's sure to improve in the cellar.

2016 Casino di Sala "Rosso dei Tatanni" Toscano
Review Date: 03-21-2020
Thanks to our esteemed colleague Greg St Clair and our subsequent relationship with Giampaolo Motta of La Massa, we were able to import this wonderful Sangiovese from one of his neighbors. It's a substantial wine that is on the more full-bodied side of Sangiovese and it continues to broaden with time in the bottle. Open this with meats and cheese dishes.
Price: $14.99 Add To Cart

2017 Mas de Sainte Croix "Passion d'Une Terre" Côtes du Rhône-Villages Valreas
Review Date: 03-21-2020
This is one of my favorite southern Rhone values of late as the quality and depth far exceed the price. Rich Grenache fruit is blended with a substantial amount of Mourvedre that adds delicious black fruit flavors along with substantial weight texture. This is the ideal wine with lamb, meat casseroles and hearty stews.

2017 Domaine de la Réserve d'O "La Réserve d'O" Terrasses du Larzac
Review Date: 03-09-2020
Although the 2016 "Terrasses" was quite good, the 2017 is definitely next level and reminds us a lot of the outstanding 2015. Layers of spiced red and black fruits coat the palate and remind of the incredible value and quality to be had with Southern French reds. Domaine De La Reserve D'O is one of our favorite direct French imports that not only farms organically but also continues to over-deliver.
Price: $24.99 Add To Cart

2017 Fèlsina Chianti Classico
Review Date: 02-17-2020
The Felsina 2017 Chianti is a real showstopper. While it drinks perfectly now there's plenty of underlying structure and depth should you decide to cellar a few bottles. Chianti fans will certainly love this one and it's become one of our favorite releases from this esteemed producer.

2017 Paitin di Pasquero "Serra" Barbera d'Alba
Review Date: 01-13-2020
After the success of the previous two vintages of this Barbera, we've had a lot of requests for this latest arrival. It hails from the renowned Serraboella vineyard in Barbaresco and the result is a very special wine. Although the warmth of the vintage shines through the wine's ample fruit, there's more than enough acidity that freshens and livens it. It's bright, juicy and bursting with wonderful cherry fruit and pairs nicely with a wide array of dishes. Especially good with pizza, pastas, meats and cheeses.
Price: $19.99 Add To Cart

2013 Albatreti Brunello di Montalcino
Review Date: 01-06-2020
Salvioni's 2013 is singing at the moment and delivering a captivating aromatic array of spiced red fruit, dried florals and herbs and boasting a lengthy palate of savory red fruits and a lasting finish. This elegant Brunello is one of the true sleepers within our Italian selections and is not to be missed. Give this a bit of aeration and pair with roasts, cheeses and heartier pasta dishes.
Price: $39.99 Add To Cart

2017 Mas de Sainte Croix "Tendresse d'un Climat" Côtes-du-Rhône Villages
Review Date: 12-29-2019
Putting aside my own love of Rhone reds, I think this latest from Mas de Sainte Croix is one of the best values going. It's rich and complex without being "over-the-top" or excessively ripe in style and delivers a level of complexity and satisfaction tough to find at this price. This outstanding Grenache Syrah blend hits all the right notes.
Price: $12.99 Add To Waiting List

2018 Gulfi Cerasuolo di Vittoria
Review Date: 12-03-2019
When it comes to wine, Gulfi remains one of the jewels of the island of Sicily. We recently added their Cerasuolo di Vittoria to our cellar selections as it's one of the finest produced. Cersuolo is primarily made from the richer, darker Nero d'Avola and combined with a lesser amount of the more elegant and high toned Frappato. Gulfi's is a seamless red with loads of up-front fruit, wonderful acidity and a pleasant hint of saltiness characteristic of its Mediterranean locale. Especially good with pizza, red sauced dishes, meats and cheeses.
Price: $19.99 Add To Cart

2018 Paolo Caciorgna "Ciauria" Etna Rosso
Review Date: 12-03-2019
Owner Paolo Caciorgna is quite fond of this wine as well as the 2018 vintage as we can attest having had the pleasure of tasting his latest arrivals during his recent visit to Los Angeles. This wonderful expression of Nerello Mascalese is sourced from select vineyards on the North side of Mt Etna and is a very fine example of the better red wines now produced on the volcano. It's bright and aromatic with highlights of spiced red fruits with subtle notes of volcanic minerals and dried florals. A very fine Etna red.
Price: $24.99 Add To Cart

2017 La Monacesca Verdicchio di Matelica
Review Date: 12-02-2019
Owner Aldo Cifola produces some of the very finest Verdicchio that possesses impressive concentration and depth. This serious wine has developed quite a following of late and the 2017 is really delicious. Subtle flavors of citrus, yellow fruit, anise and mineral make this especially good with seafood, mild cheese and lighter fare. It will continue to evolve over the next few years.
Price: $19.99 Add To Cart

2014 La Fortuna Brunello di Montalcino
Review Date: 12-02-2019
We're fortunate to have a number of solid Brunello offerings from the very challenging 2014 vintage. This one from La Fortuna offers a medium weight Sangiovese with a solid core bright spiced red fruit and a lengthy finish. It's especially appealing with food and is delicious now.
Price: Hidden View Price

2015 Guido Rivella "Fausoni" Barbaresco
Review Date: 10-28-2019
The Fausoni vineyard is located just outside the town of Neive and Rivella's Barbaresco reflects the elegance and spiciness this area is known for. His 2015 is subtle and spicy yet full with rich fruit and a substantial tannic frame. It's delicious now but will improve with a couple years in the cellar.
Price: Hidden View Price

2014 Fuligni Brunello di Montalcino
Review Date: 10-28-2019
In my opinion Fuligni ranks among the top tier of Brunello properties and their 2014 definitely exceeds expectation in what was a very challenging vintage. It's a bit more streamline than most years but has plenty of intensity of fruit and good length in contrast. Perfect to open in the near future with a juicy steak or meat sauced pasta dish.

2017 Marco Carpineti Moro Lazio Bianco
Review Date: 10-21-2019
The Moro white wine is made from an ancient varietal that comes from the Greco family of grapes. It originally faded from production but has recently been loving cultivated by Marco Carpineti. This here-to-fore unknown wine is full-bodied with subtle notes of peach, almond and mineral with excellent acidity and overall freshness. It's a serious wine to be enjoyed with seafood, white meats and complex white sauced pastas.
Price: $29.99 Add To Cart

2017 Ferraton Père et Fils Côtes du Rhône-Villages Plan de Dieu
Review Date: 10-21-2019
The Ferraton Cotes du Rhone is yet another outstanding addition to an increasing number of value priced Southern French wines currently available at K&L. It opens to heady aromas of spiced dark berry fruits, dark plum, licorice and pepper and delivers a rounded palate of delicious black fruit. While the Grenache shines through the Syrah truly harmonizes this terrific new release.
Price: $14.99 Add To Cart

2015 Schiavenza "Prapò" Barolo
Review Date: 09-09-2019
This is a magnificent offering from Schiavenza and among the more impressive 2015 Barolos I've tasted to-date. It not only captures the rich, concentrated fruit of a warm vintage but also retains substantial acidity and vibrant ripe tannins. This will need a couple of years in the cellar to soften and evolve.

2016 Graci "Arcuria" Etna Bianco
Review Date: 07-08-2019
Graci's Etna Bianco "Arcuria" is a very special white wine that often displays Chablis-like characteristics. Their 2016 is a bit broader and rounder than the previous vintage with moderate acidity and subtle notes of orchard fruits, saline and volcanic minerals. It's an exciting wine that is wonderful with fish, seafood pastas and white meats.

2016 Mothia "Mosaikon" Nero d'Avola
Review Date: 06-24-2019
While there is a lot of demand for Nero d'Avola, we're decidedly selective as so many of them are average at best. This, however, is an impressive expression and a welcome addition to our cellar. The vineyards of Mothia abut the Western Sicilian coastline which adds savory notes of saline to an already delicious palate of concentrated plum and red fruit with a bright finish. This is a very versatile red that will pair nicely with bbq, grilled meats, burgers and Mexican food.
Price: $19.99 Add To Cart

2018 Ciu Ciu "Merlettaie" Pecorino
Review Date: 06-24-2019
While Verdicchio garners most of the attention when it comes to white wines of Le Marche, Pecorino is all to often overlooked or even forgotten. We've been fortunate to have offered several excellent ones over the years but this is the best I've tasted in recent memory. It combines substantial mouth weight with ample acidity that shines through along with delicious tree fruit flavors and a pleasant hint of sea salt. This is an outstanding bottle of white wine that showcases the uniqueness and versatility found among Italian white wines.
Price: $19.99 Add To Cart

San Venanzio Valdobbiadene Prosecco Superiore Brut
Review Date: 04-16-2018
San Venanzio Brut certainly stands out amongst its peers and remains one of the finest quality Proseccos we've come across at this tremendous price. Known for its vibrant fruit, bright florals, minerality and exceptional balance, this creamy, fresh sparkler continues to impress.
Price: $13.99 Add To Cart

Wine Club


2012 La Massa "Giorgio Primo" Toscana
Review Date: 08-29-2017
The "Giorgio" 2012 is a step up from the excellent 2011 and it's so good in fact, that it took us by surprise. It's impeccably balanced with a velvety and luxurious mouthful of chocolaty black fruit and fine ingrained tannins. The depth of fruit, ample structure and overall integration make this an ideal cellar candidate. Otherwise, open and give it a good amount of aeration or decant. Ribeye time for sure.