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Staff Favorites - David Driscoll

David Driscoll
David Driscoll  | Send Email  |   Subscribe to My Sommelier Service
David Driscoll likes to drink alcohol when he is not working at K&L. His main interests include wine, beer, and distilled spirits. Before he worked here he went to college at a decent school, got a masters degree from an OK school, worked as a waiter and taught elementary school in Chinatown. He decided to get into the wine business after reading a few books about wine and realizing that one cannot seriously learn about wine solely through reading. His career goals include: trying to convince K&L customers that he does know something despite his youthful appearance, and learning everything about everything about every single wine ever made.


Reviews

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Petit & Bajan Nuit Blanche Grand Cru Blanc de Blancs Brut Champagne
Review Date: 04-12-2018
The nuttiness on the palate of this graceful and elegant "Nuit Blanche" is the stuff of pure magic. I was immediately taken aback by this new arrival when Gary poured me a glass. It's fresh, lively, and simply gorgeous on the palate with plenty of depth, but that note of toasted almond brioche on the finish is simply to die for. I'd buy as much of this as you can afford.
Price: $42.99 Add To Cart

El Tesoro "K&L Exclusive" Single Barrel #110 Reposado Tequila (750ml)
Review Date: 02-28-2018
Carlos said two things to me when talking about distillation that stood out: 1) smaller copper pots are better, in his opinion; and 2) every distillation is itself a blend. Tequila is double distilled in copper pot stills much like single malt whisky, but whereas a number of Scotch producers will talk about the importance of the height of the still, Carlos believes a more concentrated and flavorful Tequila results from a smaller still due to the increased contact with the copper. As many of you already know, copper creates a number of reactions that result in various flavor profiles and it also eliminates any of the sulphurous components released by the fermenting yeast. There are a number of different sized stills at La Alteña, but not one of them is all that large. When we asked him about blending the spirits after distillation, he said: "Every distillate is itself a blend because the spirit tastes different every minute it comes off the still." I thought that was fantastic. In essence, you could cut each minute of every singular run into its own batch and each would taste slightly different from the next. To categorize a spirit as singular because it's from one single distillation is to ignore the fact that it's still a collection of liquids with various flavor profiles. So while this is a "single barrel" of Tequila, it's much more a product of a very specific time and place than it is the product of a single wood vessel.
Price: $49.99 Add To Cart

2014 Amapola Creek "Monte Rosso Vineyard" Sonoma Valley Zinfandel
Review Date: 02-09-2018
What we need to realize about Zinfandel as California citizens is that this wine IS OUR HERITAGE! This is what we do; it's what makes our wines unique in the world. We have old vines around the state that are more than a century old, as is the case with Monte Rosso Vineyard, a site in Sonoma that was originally planted in the 1880s. It's an incredibly historic source of fruit and the grapes have been used in expressions from Ravenswood, Biale, Ridge, Rosenblum, and Martini over the decades. This specific 2014 edition from Amapola Creek is like a mouthful of California history in your glass, running the gambit of flavors from sweet blackberry to savory spice and everything in between. This is a wine I'd like to sit outside with on a warm California evening while grilling up a few burgers. These are the wines that make me proud to be a Californian.
Price: $34.95 Add To Cart
RP 94 JD 90

2016 Talley/K&L Wine Merchants Edna Valley Chardonnay
Review Date: 02-05-2018
Our latest collaboration with Talley, the 2016 K&L Edna Valley Chardonnay, displays the winery's textbook Burgundian character beautifully, weaving lemon zest and apple notes between toastier elements and the richness that they impart. Put together for us by Brian Talley, the wine is indicative of everything we love right now about the wines from Edna Valley and the Central Coast: quality, value, volume, and drinkability. At $22 a bottle, the wine delivers supreme complexity for the money, but it doesn't skimp on charm either. In tasting the wine again this morning, I'm imagining everything I love about the San Luis Obispo area with each sip: the setting, the relaxed environment, the down-to-earth mentality, and the commitment to enjoying life's simple pleasures.
Price: $19.99 Add To Cart

Baron-Fuenté "7" Brut Champagne
Review Date: 01-11-2018
This is beautiful, majestic, and transformative Champagne, the kind that combines all of the regions most characteristic elements into one perfect package. You get the freshness of that laser-like acidity, mineral, oyster shell notes from the chalky Champagne soils, a leesy brioche creaminess from the seven years of lees aging. Champagne is both famous and expensive because only wine from Champagne can taste this way. Anyone can make sparkling wine, but nowhere else do you get such a combination of these distinct elements: they are what make a great Champagne stand out from the pack. In this Baron Fuente "7" edition, you get everything I describe in clear, delineated flavor profiles, easy to pick out, yet seamless in their integration.
Price: $49.99 Add To Cart
WE 93

2009 Baron-Fuenté "Grand Millesime" Brut Champagne
Review Date: 01-11-2018
First and foremost, it's always good to mention that vintage Champagnes are only produced when the harvest warrants it, which usually means you can add an extra $10 -$30 to the bottle cost. Hence, when I see vintage Champagne from a grower who actually owns and farms his own grapes selling for $29.99, my ears perk up. Getting real Champagne of any level of quality for less than $30 today is a rarity as is, let alone vintage Champagne from a grower/producer. So let's talk about the quality: the nose is lively, fresh, and enticing. Citrus notes dance along side brioche and bready notes, and everything about the aromas screams out FUN! When you taste the 2009 Baron Fuente, however, and the clean flavors give way to a nutty, almond skin finish with leesy richness and texture, you begin to wonder just how the Baron family managed to pack this much incredible quality into such an affordable and accessible package. I'm still scratching my head seven bottles later.
Price: $29.99 Add To Cart

Wine Club

$24.99
WE 91

Real McCoy 10 Year Old Limited Edition Virgin Oak Rum (750ml)
Review Date: 01-11-2018
Now that I'm deep into my late thirties, I'm having a bit more trouble finishing off a number of my cask strength, high alcohol whiskies. I'm developing a huge appreciation for distillers and bottlers who can hit the ABV sweet spot inside the bottle, and that's most definitely the case in this new Foursquare edition of Real McCoy, a limited blend of rums aged in both ex-Bourbon and virgin oak casks. If you're becoming a fan of the new unadulterated, unsweetened rum market, this is a must have bottle. It's loaded with the same sweet spices, vanilla, and dry-finishing richness that will remind you of your favorite bottle of Bourbon, yet the hints of molasses and tropical splendor underneath tell your mouth this is clearly rum. This my favorite edition yet from the Real McCoy's Foursquare series and I'm going to think long and hard about bunkering a few extra bottles for the cellar.
Price: $59.99 Add To Cart

2015 Buehler Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon
Review Date: 01-08-2018
For as long as I’ve worked at K&L, I’ve been consistently wowed by how much Cabernet these wines deliver for the dollar and I was reminded again of that qualitative bargain this past week while tasting the recent 2015 vintage: yet another example, loaded with dark fruit, fine tannins, and real California grit, yet without all the fancy marketing and exaggerated hype. Simply put, it’s a Cabernet for people who like to drink real Cabernet. Made with 30% estate-grown fruit near St. Helena, it’s a blend of 90% Cabernet with 10% Merlot just to soften the edges a bit and bolster some of that fruit character. The best part about the Buehler Cabernets (on top of the quality and the price) is the fact that you can age them for another decade or drink them now with some decanting. Buehler is one of the true family-owned gems of the Napa Valley, a winery that for almost three decades has been producing honest expressions from its 300 acre hillside estate just above Conn Valley. The prices remain reasonable from vintage to vintage because producing value-oriented wines is part of Buehler's philosophy. In an era where getting the most money for your bottle has become commonplace in Napa, it's refreshing to find a bit of that throwback mentality.
Price: Hidden View Price
VN 91 JS 90

Còdigo 1530 K&L Exclusive Single Barrel Anejo Tequila (750ml)
Review Date: 12-21-2017
I reached out to Codigo for a single cask of anejo because I knew if I could find the right barrel and negotiate the right price, we could introduce our customers to the NEXT GREAT $100 TEQUILA. The Codigo is an updated and better version of Don Julio 1942, a bellwether Tequila that has for over a decade been the go-to gift bottle for those looking to present a loved one or friend with Mexico's finest distillate. This single cask of Codigo smashes that paradigm wide open, bringing all the smooth-textured, rich oak of a classic anejo, but with none of the sticky-sweet viscosity. It's loaded with decadent flavors, notes of chocolate, citrus peel, and exotic spice, but it's still clean and spicy on the finish. Simply put, it's a 100% pure expression of Tequila that tastes luxurious while maintaining its roots in classic production. I'm just sad we don't have more of it. It's going to be a HUGE hit.
Price: $99.99 Add To Cart

Real McCoy 12 Year Old Single Blended Barbados Rum (750ml)
Review Date: 12-07-2017
Four years when I first went to Barbados on a rum expedition, no one was even talking about Foursquare in the U.S. (hence I didn't visit the distillery). When you thought of Barbados, you thought of Mount Gay. Today, however, Foursquare is all anyone wants to talk about in the rum world because it's one of the few distilleries that has taken a stand against added sugar and caramel color in its spirits. That purity has struck a chord with today's modern and more conscientious drinker because there's never been a point in history when people cared more about what they're drinking than right now. Because rum is one of the most adulterated spirits there is, often darkened and sweetened with a number of various devices, Foursquare has decided to separate itself from the pack, pumping out incredibly supple, rounded, almost Bourbon-like rums with real (natural) flavor and concentration. The Real McCoy 12 year is a stunning value considering everything that went into it. It's the Weller 12 of the rum world -- the rum that we'll all be missing five years from now when the rest of the industry catches on and buys every last drop. For the meantime, take advantage of the fact that there's plenty available and for a great price.
Price: $39.99 Add To Cart

2015 Capbern, St-Estèphe
Review Date: 12-07-2017
The K&L team (myself included) tasted this back at the chateau in 2016 when the wine was still being finished and about fell over ourselves, gushing about the superb quality of the 2015 Capbern (and the vintage as a whole). Now that the wine is in bottle and on our shelves, it's even better. It may seem like a shame to drink a Bordeaux this young in its youth (and the Capbern will definitely reward patience), but the wine tastes SOOOO GOOD right now. The pretty, fleshy, concentrated fruit is lush and supple on the palate and the tannins are fine, almost chewy. Not only should you buy a bottle of the 2015 Capbern because it's a great wine for a great price from a great producer, you should use it as a bellweather for the vintage. 2015 is the best Bordeaux vintage since 2009 in my opinion and the wines are fruit-forward, yet never over the top; they're approachable yet nuanced and complex. Example number one is the 2015 Capbern: the best bang for your buck Bordeaux thus far at K&L from this fantastic harvest.

2011 Viña Real Gran Reserva Rioja
Review Date: 12-06-2017
The 2011 Vina Real Gran Reserva is everything I love about both older Rioja and older wine in general. It's really in a great spot for those who still like supple fruit and a fleshy mouthfeel, but want a bit of evolution and earth in their reds. There's a lovely dark fruit note that blends in seamlessly with the oak, but the wine seems more decadent than it is. It tastes expensive. It's an effortless expression and the price is great.

Golden Devil "K&L Exclusive" Dark Navy Strength Rum (750ml)
Review Date: 12-06-2017
After watching rum interested at K&L begin picking up again this past year, I reached out to one of our partners in the UK to see if we could come up with an exclusive blend that would give rum enthusiasts a serious run for their money. Tiki cocktail fans are always on the hunt for a new dark overproof option and this baby uses flavorful and expressive Jamaican pot still as the base, fleshed out by the column still rums from DDL in Guyana. Everyone I've given it to thus far has freaked out and I've got bartenders begging me to let them buy it wholesale. I'm hoping it's a big hit because we can definitely keep this going should rum drinkers want us to!
Price: $19.99 Add To Cart

2016 Ata Rangi "Crimson" Pinot Noir Martinborough
Review Date: 11-29-2017
The 2016 "Crimson" marks the first time we've carried the Ata Rangi mark here at K&L and I couldn't be more impressed with it as a side companion to the grand cuvee. In no way is this wine superfluous or simply a lesser version of its legendary mainstay. The Crimson is a darker, fleshier, and more supple Pinot Noir on every level, more like a Pommard or Volnay to the classic Ata Rangi's Richebourg. It's a juicy Pinot Noir that's almost daring you to put lay it down in your cellar, as if to say: "You really think you can resist?" It's that good already!

2016 Au Bon Climat/K&L Wine Merchants "Bien Nacido Vineyard" Santa Maria Valley Pinot Noir
Review Date: 11-20-2017
Au Bon Climat has always been one of my favorite California wineries, so I was excited when we started working on our own private label expressions. While I've enjoyed the previous two Pinot Noirs we bottled under the K&L label, the 2016 edition of the single vineyard "Bien Nacido" is by far the best of the bunch. We just need to give it 20 -30 minutes in the decanter before trying. Bien Nacido is one of our state's coveted sites for cool climate fruit, meaning the Pinot Noirs have more structure and acidity as a result. I can tell you from two empty bottles of experience that the difference a bit of air makes with this wine is night and day. After 20 minutes or so, you get everything you expect from a Burgundian-inspired Pinot Noir: crunchy red fruits, raspberry and hints of earth with lots of spice. I could easily be fooled into thinking this was a bottle of 1er Cru Burgundy (perhaps Pommard or Volnay) if poured blind. The best part is that Au Bon Climat's Bien Nacido release has historically been listed for $40 and over-delivers at that price. At half that price...how can you pass this up?
Price: $19.99 Add To Cart

2014 Mindego Ridge "Estate" Santa Cruz Mountains Chardonnay
Review Date: 11-16-2017
Tasting this next to the Domaine Eden Santa Cruz Mountains Chardonnay was a real eye-opener because while the Eden had the richness and the weight, the Mindego Ridge had all that creaminess, but with vibrant acidity, accents of savory herbs, and minerality in one helluva complex ride from start to finish. It's everything I wish more California Chardonnays could be: full-boded and lush, but without ever sacrificing freshness or secondary flavor. This is a home run of a wine and I'm definitely putting Mindego Ridge on my shortlist of wineries to watch.
Price: $44.99 Add To Cart
VN 94 RP 93

2014 Mindego Ridge "Estate" Santa Cruz Mountains Pinot Noir
Review Date: 11-16-2017
There's delicious, juicy, easy drinking Pinot Noir and then there's serious Pinot Noir like the 2014 Mindego Ridge. What does "serious" mean? It means balance and beauty with layers of flavor that slowly develop and unveil themselves after time in the glass. The dark and brooding fruit of the Santa Cruz Mountains is the star, of course, but under that there are hints of herbs and spice that begin on the nose and continue unwind as your swirl and sip your way through the glass. It's everything I love about Santa Cruz Mountain wines: mystery and intrigue with fresh acidity. The Mindego Ridge wines are from a tiny family-owned estate property, making this all the more fun to drink. It's rare that I find new Pinots from Santa Cruz these days that wow me, but this is another great find.
Price: $44.99 Add To Cart
VN 95 RP 92

Macallan Classic Cut "2018 Limited Edition" Speyside Single Malt Scotch Whisky (750ml)
Review Date: 11-14-2017
Let's see...heavily sherried Macallan, at 58% ABV, with saturated flavors of toffee and Oloroso sherry, chewy and mouthcoating on the finish, in a limited edition package, for $79.99. How many can we buy? Less than 200 bottles? That means buy one, or three, or six. ASAP.
Price: $99.99 Add To Cart
Limit of 12 per customer

2015 Valravn "Old Vine" Sonoma County Zinfandel
Review Date: 11-10-2017
"Old vine" is one of those terms you see on wine bottles that I'm not sure everyone understands, but nevertheless is used as a marketing tool by wineries to tout the quality of their hooch. It's kind of like "small batch" for Bourbon in that it implies something special or unique, but there's no real regulation regarding either term; it's really up to the integrity of the producer when it comes to the usage. What's so special about old vines then? It depends on which winemaker you talk to (as it can be a controversial subject), but old vines often give more concentrated fruit and a better sense of place when it comes to terroir, as the root networks extend deep into the soil, criss-crossing like veins through the heart of their terrain. Some winemakers say that old vines have a better ability to cope with diverse weather conditions because of their life experience—they have wisdom, so to speak. With every vintage, they gain a better understanding of their environment; plus, there's a reason they're still around after decades and decades, right? Someone must think they're pretty special to have left them in place for so long, while other vineyards get ripped up, replaced, and replanted. 2015 Valravn Old Vine Zinfandel: a wine that really impresses. It's made by the same team behind the Banshee project, focusing on 50 to 105 year old bush-pruned vines in Sonoma County that are all hand-harvested to preserve the varietal's full glory. What you get is concentrated red berry flavors, rich and juicy on the palate, but accented with savory spices, brush, and licorice-like peppery notes.
Price: Hidden View Price

2015 Jax "Y3 Taureau" Napa Valley Red Blend
Review Date: 11-06-2017
If I owned my own California bistro, I know what my table wine would be year in and year out: the Jax Y3 Taureau. It's been one of the work horse reds of the domestic department here for the last three years and I've yet to have a bottle that didn't get the job done. A blend of 50% Merlot, 25% Cabernet Sauvignon, with the rest being Zin and Syrah, this is the PERFECT California red table wine that offers down-to-earth drinkability with a boutique level of detail and attention to care. It's a fleshy, fruit-forward wine, but it has acidity and character. It's balanced and it tastes like a more sophisticated wine than the price point would have you believe. It tastes good with everything, but is particularly suited to meats and heartier dishes, and it's so darn affordable. I love the Jackson family as well, a local member of our community, so like I said earlier: if I had my own restaurant, this would be the backbone of my menu.
Price: $19.99 Add To Cart
RP 90

Kaiyo Mizunara Oak Cask Strength Japanese Whisky (750ml)
Review Date: 10-25-2017
If you're a fan of gentle, smooth, and restrained malt whiskies, then I think the standard Kaiyo is the way to go. However, if you like bold flavors, assertive spice, and lots of potency, then it's definitely worth the extra thirty bucks to bump up to the cask strength version because the Mizunara-influenced flavors explode on the palate with the extra proof. You get bursts of candied orange, coconut, and sweet malt, highlighted by sweet oak notes on the finish with lots of power. This is for the real whisky geeks.
Price: $99.99 Add To Cart

Kaiyo Mizunara Oak Japanese Whisky (750ml)
Review Date: 10-25-2017
Those looking to get a taste of real Japanese Mizunara oak-aged whisky will finally get a somewhat affordable option here with the new Kaiyo expressions. Made with whisky from an unnamed distiller (although there aren't many major players in Japan so you can begin to whittle down the options when you taste it) the Mizunara is the real star here. You get exotic spices and a sweetly-scented nose that leads into incense and toasted oak flavors on the palate. Kaiyo isn't some new microdistiller or craft project. It's taking malt whiskies from some of Japan's established players and using Japan's most treasured barrels to make something dynamic and new for the market. Get it while the gettin's good because this could be the next Yamazaki.
Price: $69.99 Add To Cart

Ardbeg "An Oa" Islay Single Malt Scotch Whisky (750ml)
Review Date: 09-30-2017
The An Oa is the best new Ardbeg I’ve tasted in more than five years and it’s the roundest and easiest to drink of the regularly available editions. While it doesn’t pack the power that both the Uigeadail and Corryvreckan offer with their bold proofs, it makes up for it with richness and a rounded sweetness on the finish. You get all the peat, brine, smoke, and salt that you could ever want, but with more texture and perhaps finesse—not something we normally associate with the beastly Islay profile. In any case, this is the first bottle of Ardbeg in some time that I’ve been adamant about buying for my own personal daily enjoyment, not just my collection.
Price: $59.99 Add To Cart
WA 93

2005 Lynch-Bages, Pauillac
Review Date: 09-08-2017
I started a penpal relationship with Lynch-Bages owner Jean-Michel Cazes earlier this summer as a way to practice my French and in doing so ended up educating myself about the history of Lynch-Bages in the process. I brought a bottle of the 2005 Lynch-Bages to dinner and the other night and watched my friends swoon, after reading an email from Jean-Michel about the harvest and wanting to experience the wine for myself. He reminisced about the ease of the 2005 growing season, and about how the long summer thankfully never resembled the heatwave of 2003. It was "textbook" vintage, he told me, and the agreeable September weather allowed the Cabernet grapes to reach their maximum maturity. You can taste the perfection of that Cabernet in every sip of the 2005 at this point with its power and drive still fully intact. This wine has a long life ahead of it still as the tannins are still showing their might even twelve years after the vintage, but man oh man does this wine taste good right now. Brooding dark fruits, a bit of iron and graphite, and a core of concentrated Cabernet splendor.

2014 Taken Napa Valley Bordeaux Blend
Review Date: 08-25-2017
It's the ever-present question at K&L: what's a $20-ish California Cabernet (or Cab blend) that our customers can drink right now? As in tonight for dinner! Those who like their red juicy, full-bodied, with light oak influence, and plenty of soft fruit will definitely be "taken" by this wine. It has a particular set of skills...to quote Liam Neeson. If you're looking for a dependable CA table red that's a step up from the $10-$15 crowd, the Taken is a crowd pleasing choice. Meant for modern drinking in the modern age!
Price: $24.99 Add To Cart
JS 93

2014 Mount Peak "Rattlesnake" Sonoma County Zinfandel
Review Date: 08-18-2017
Having been the spirits buyer at K&L for almost a decade, I'm quite familiar with the idea of reopening "lost" distilleries, as well as the return of old brands that has been quite the fad over the last few years. However, I had yet to hear about an ancient California wine producer coming back to life until tasting the new releases from Mount Peak, a "ghost" winery that has been resurrected by Gallo (who have been busy in the boutique world, nabbing historic brandy CA producer Germain-Robin as well). While I was surprised by the history behind Mount Peak, I have to admit I was more surprised by the combination of power, potency, and finesse in all of the wines. Normally 15+% ABV wines are not my cup of tea, but these babies had gusto. The Rattlesnake zinfandel is bursting with berries, vibrant spice, and a silky, softly-textured body that coats the palate with massive concentration.
Price: Hidden View Price
RP 92

2009 Coufran, Haut-Médoc
Review Date: 08-18-2017
It's great to see how this wine has come around over the years. We've been getting shipments of the 2009 Coufran since the vintage was released in 2012 and I've been slowly tasting bottles throughout the years, watching what was once a merlot-driven and supple wine from a ripe vintage mature into a savory, complex, and serious bottle of mature Bordeaux. Tasting it today, it's at its most profound position yet. The wine is much leaner than it was a few years back and has shed some of that baby fat, now resembling something with age from St. Emilion or Pomerol. For the price its tough to beat, especially when stacked up against some of the other $20 bargains we have in the store. Few, however, show as much evolution as the Coufran. This is a Wednesday night steak frites wine at its finest.

2009 Branas Grand Poujeaux, Moulis
Review Date: 08-04-2017
I've come to expect nothing but bang for my buck when I drink Poujeaux, whether it's Chateau Poujeaux proper, or Gressier Grand Poujeaux, or Haut de Poujeaux, or in this case Chateau Branas Grand Poujeaux. There are six chateaux in Moulis that use the name Poujeaux and I've found that just about all of them over-deliver for my Bordeaux dollar. Branas is planted to 50% Merlot and you can taste that plumpness in the wine immediately, especially given the ripeness of the 2009 vintage. What the bottle age has done, however, is dial back the sweetness of the fruit, allowing some of the more complex secondary flavors come to the forefront. There's a bit of herbaceousness, but it's integrated beautifully into the supple tannins and lush blackberry flavors. The oak is still there on the nose, but now it's become intertwined with aromas of roasted earth. The wine is like silk on the palate throughout all that complexity, which makes this an easy pick for newcomers to aged Bordeaux. Yet, as someone who has consumed quite a bit of old claret over the years, I'm wowed by the value proposition here. This is a lot of Bordeaux for thirty bucks. A big wine with gusto!

Paranubes Oaxacan Aguardiente de Caña Agricole Rum (1L)
Review Date: 07-14-2017
The Paranubes Oaxacan aguardiente de caña is one of, if not the, best agricole rhums I've ever tasted and it beautifully balances a smooth and fruity character with the grassiness and the intense cane flavor of something like Neisson. What it removes is the funk, the earth, and the sometimes bitter notes that send some people running for the hills. The aromatics are absolutely stunning—there is a pure and unflinching note of raw cane that absolutely explodes from the bottle. At 54%, the rum is no slouch. But it's clearly distilled with a master hand because it's incredibly polished despite all that intensity. I could drink this straight out of the bottle, neat in a glass, on the rocks, in a cocktail, or simply with soda. I can't get enough of it—it's that good.
Price: $39.99 Add To Cart

2008 Le Brun de Neuville "Grand Vintage" Brut Champagne
Review Date: 06-30-2017
This is absolutely DELICIOUS Champagne, a stunning specimen of the 2008 vintage. It's the total package. A vibrant nose of honeyed fruit and rich brioche, backed up by more richness on the palate, with a firm mineral note ballasted by a backbone of zippy acidity all the way through. The bubbles are fine and graceful across the palate with oxidized nuttiness on the finish. This is one helluva deal. Buy it for a special occasion and wow your friends. It tastes much more expensive than it is.
Price: $44.99 Add To Cart
WE 94 WS 91

2015 Domaine Jean-Michel Giboulot Savigny-lès-Beaune
Review Date: 06-17-2017
The standard Savigny les Beaune from Giboulot is the most traditional of the 2015 bunch, with grittier tannins and more meaty flavors of earth and licorice. The ripeness of the vintage is still there, but it's much more restrained which allows the secondary flavors to shine through. Great for a simple dinner or roasted chicken.
Price: $29.99 Add To Cart

Thierry Thibault Brut Champagne
Review Date: 06-15-2017
Crisp, clean, and refreshing from the first sip, the Thibault Brut came as a shocker when Gary poured me a glass and said "What do you think?" Simply put: I thought it was fantastic! As we're always on the hunt for new grower/producer labels at K&L, the Thibault is another weapon in our sub-$30 Champagne arsenal, alongside wines like Aspasie and Baron Fuente. In comparison, the Thibault is more delicate and light on its feet with nuanced flavors of brioche and citrus.
Price: $29.99 Add To Cart

Highland Park "Valkyrie" Isle of Orkney Single Malt Scotch Whisky (750ml)
Review Date: 06-09-2017
Highland Park's new Valkyrie edition, much like its previous releases, is long on viking mythology and short on specifics, but that doesn't mean it doesn't taste good. I did a side by side comparison with the 12 and 18 year this week and felt that—as a middle ground between the two—the whisky holds up quite well for the $70 price. More importantly, it tastes like the best parts of both. While the 12 year is light and fruity, the classic 18 year is remarkedly more sherried. With the Valkyrie, you get the malty, lightly-peated texture of the 12 with some of the rancio, cakebread, and richness of the 18. From what I understand, about half of the barley used in the Valkyrie was peated, which is higher than what's used in the 12 and 18. That extra kick helps to mask any rawness from the whisky's younger components and was clearly a good move. What I appreciate most here is that the Valkyrie delivers its finest work on the nose and the finish, rather than on the mid-palate. These are two elements of whisky appreciation I appreciate more as I get older: how it teases my nostrils and how it comes together as a unit on the back end. There's a robust sherry aroma right out of the bottle, and sweet, concentrated hit of Oloroso richness on the finish that dries out a bit with the smoke, but clearly makes itself known. While Highland Park went heavier on Orkney's viking heritage this time around, they didn't do so at the expense of the whisky.
Price: $69.99 Add To Cart

2005 Bodegas Puelles Gran Reserva Rioja
Review Date: 05-31-2017
I must have sold over 300 bottles of the 1999 Puelles Gran Reserva Rioja myself, back in the day. At twenty bucks, that was one of the best crossover "mature" red wines we've ever carried as a company. The flavors had evolved into a rich and earthy character I usually associate with the finest Bordeaux wines, so I made sure to send all of my best Bordeaux drinkers in that direction. Enter the 2005 Puelles: the same wine from a more recent vintage, at the same price, that I think might even be BETTER than that legendary 1999. Tasting this with Joe Manekin, our Spanish buyer, I was practically jumping up and down. The wine pours over the palate with a soft and silky core of fruit, but not the ripe and juicy red berry fruit you see in a young Rioja. After 12 years in the bottle, there's a rancio character and a fineness to the tannins that one can only experience with older wine. The problem with recommending old wine to the general populace is that it's usually expensive! Not in this case, however. Here with this 2005 Puelles you're getting serious, serious quality and a fine look at how great red wine matures for a price that's almost too good to be true. Load up. Load up big.
Price: $19.99 Add To Cart

Wine Club

$16.99
RP 90

2015 Jax Vineyard "Y3" Napa Valley Chardonnay
Review Date: 05-17-2017
Jax is our local winemaker of choice here at K&L with the owners living nearby our Redwood City store and the tasting bar just down the street from our SF store. The wines have always represented top quality for the money, and the Y3 Chardonnay is another example of how Jax is sourcing serious fruit, making serious wine, and turning up the heat on other California producers in this price point with knock-out expressions. The 2015 is a perfect balance between classic CA richness and the fresher, cleaner style foodies tend to look for today. There's a ripeness of fruit, but a clean and refreshing finish. I'm so happy to see these guys taking off because no one deserves it more.
Price: $19.99 Add To Cart
WE 93

Suntory Hakushu 12 Year Old Japanese Peated Single Malt Whisky (limit 1) (750ml)
Review Date: 05-08-2017
Personally, I’ve always been surprised how much more popular the Yamazaki 12 is compared to its sibling the Hakushu 12. To me, the Yamazaki has always been a fine whiskey, but the more dynamic malt is easily the Hakushu, which as pretty much the same delicate and light-drinking flavor profile as the Yamazaki, but with just the faintest touch of smoke. It's so ethereal straight out of the glass, but I feel like it tastes even better with ice (I know that's tough for some people to handle). The subtle peat is like a ghost that moves slowly around every part of my palate, brushing it with hints of earth and phenolic goodness after coating it with sweet grains. With our new pricing, this is a can't miss deal. It's nice to have some real quantity again!
Price: $99.99 Add To Waiting List
WE 91
Limit of 1 per customer

Suntory Toki Japanese Whisky (750ml)
Review Date: 05-08-2017
When the Suntory Toki first launched at $45, it was a bit of a stretch because of how hot the market was for Japanese whisky. I'm much more comfortable selling this in the mid-thirties, however, and with our new pricing we can do that. While you sip on your bottle of Yamazaki or Hakushu, you pour this one on the rocks, add some soda water, and make yourself a real mizuwari--the great whisky soda that dominates Japan's drinking culture. The fruitiness on the nose really blossoms with the addition of bubbles, so don't be shy here. Do Japanese whisky right and drink it how it's intended!
Price: $34.99 Add To Cart

Lagavulin 8 Year Old Islay Single Malt Scotch Whisky (750ml)
Review Date: 04-06-2017
This 8 year version of Lagavulin is even more quintessentially Islay than the 16. It's fresher, livelier, peatier, and simply more dynamic on the palate. I also love that Lagavulin paid homage to the classic whisky travel book "The Whisky Distilleries of Scotland" by Alfred Barnard, a writer who visited all 150 active distilleries in the UK back in the late 19th century. He specifically mentions an "exceptionally fine" Lagavulin 8 year expression, and it's clear from tasting the modern rendition why he felt so strongly. It's a lovely whisky and it very much speaks to the strength of what may be Scotland's top producer.
Price: $49.99 Add To Cart

2015 Helen's Hill "Ingram Road" Pinot Noir Yarra Valley Victoria
Review Date: 02-27-2017
I've seen great pinots from the southern hemisphere for under twenty bucks over the last year, but not estate-grown pinot noirs. The fruit at Helen's Hill is meticulously cared for by Allan Halder, a guy who is as passionate about viticulture as anyone I've ever met. The Ingram pinot is not only full of pure pinot flavor, it's fresh and lively on the palate in a way that I wish more Bourgogne rouge value options were. If you're looking for that great bottle of village level Burgundy but don't feel like spending $20+ for an unknown, this is as close to a sure thing as I've ever seen at K&L. I'm thrilled to be working directly with Helen's Hill and I think were on the verge of something very big with this initial release.
Price: Hidden View Price
BC 90

2013 Fuenteseca Huerta Singular "El Maguey" Blanco Tequila (750ml)
Review Date: 02-03-2017
I'm not sure what I'll need to do to communicate the importance of this tequila in my staff review. SHOULD I WRITE IN ALL CAPS? Should I gush in a never ending river of superlatives and praise? There's never been a tequila like this before at K&L. Never has one producer made dozens of different distillates from various agave fields on various properties, in search of the ultimate single-site (or huerta) blue tequila expression, but that's what this blanco edition of Fuenteseca represents. Enrique Fonseca's quest to find singularity and terroir in tequila, but for the purpose of heightened quality, not some silly modern marketing gimmick to capitalize on locavore fashion. It's what the monks did a thousand years ago in Burgundy. It's what Champagne growers and Cognac distillers have done for centuries. For all this time, producers of fine wine and spirits in Europe have located their top sites and made individual expressions to showcase the heightened quality of those particular parcels. Why is it that no one in Jalisco has thought of doing this? You'll see single vintage tequila, or single estate tequila every now and again, but the reality is that these producers aren't actually choosing between agave fields. They only have one field at their disposal, so there's nothing really special about it. But Enrique Fonseca is the largest single landowner of agave in all of Jalisco! He has more agave fields than any other tequila producer in the business, so it means all the more coming from his vast holdings. The result is nothing short of spectacular. It ranks among the best tequilas I've ever tasted, and it's probably the best blanco expression I've ever had. This is the future of tequila, folks. It's not about extra anejo, or cask strength, or various types of cooperage. This isn't whisky. Enrique has clearly shown here that a tequila's quality can be heightened simply by carefully selecting special harvests of agave. This 2013 edition of Fuenteseca is all the proof you need (and it's proofed at a higher than normal 45.7%, which adds lift). It's been resting in stainless steel for years, waiting for the right moment to unleash its beauty. Now it's finally here and you simply, positively, absolutely must buy a bottle.
Price: $79.99 Add To Cart

Old Forester "1920 Prohibition Style" Kentucky Bourbon Whisky (750ml)
Review Date: 02-03-2017
This was my favorite single Bourbon release of 2016 and I'm thrilled we were able to get another large allocation of it. Regardless of whether you want to get wrapped up in the story about how this was based on the Prohibition era recipe, there's no doubt about it: this is a delicious bottle of American whiskey and it easily stands out from the crowd of currently available options. There's a weight and a richness that coats the palate and the 115 proof brings plenty of punch with a flurry of baking spices. I love the graham crackery goodness as well. I don't taste a lot of Bourbons these days that really have a deeply concentrated flavor of dark grains. This has it in spades. Add this to your short list of new and exciting Bourbons right now.
Price: $54.99 Add To Cart
WE 91

2014 David & Nadia "Aristargos" White Blend Swartland
Review Date: 02-02-2017
For fans of the Sadie wines (like myself), consider this blend of white varietals a similar pleasure at a very reasonable price. The textural richness from the South African chenin blanc is on full display here with flinty, rocky, and stony flavors permeating that core from the terroir of the heavy granite soils. There's still plenty of lift from the acidity on the finish, which is simply wonderful. White wine enthusiasts like myself need to be drinking more white blends from South Africa--period. This wine is exhibit A.
Price: $29.99 Add To Cart
RP 92 VN 91

2004 Barde-Haut, St-Emilion
Review Date: 12-28-2016
This is currently my favorite Bordeaux in the store. We rarely get aged Right Bank wines this good for this good of a price, but the 2004 Barde Haut is a great example of a merlot-based wine in its absolute prime. The fleshiness of the fruit is still apparent on the palate, but it's bolstered by potent flavors of mushroom and soy sauce; so much so that I can't imagine drinking this again with a giant portobello or a steak covered in sauteed mushrooms with a soy glaze. It's rich and layered through the mid-palate with soft tannins and plenty of body, and the finish is complex with accents of earth and dark plum. This is simply an outstanding bottled of mature St. Emilion and it's something I'd like to see more of around here. We bought these directly from Helene Garcin at the Barde Haut estate this past April. I hope there's more.
Price: $29.99 Add To Cart
WS 91

Taittinger "La Francaise" Brut Champagne Jeroboam (3L)
Review Date: 11-27-2016
I was quite taken aback by the quality of wine in this major brand-labeled bottle. The Taittinger "La Francaise" is a wonderful combination of leesy richness with firm acidity, that glides effortlessly over the palate, hitting all the right notes. The finish is full of citrus and rich, bready flavors. It tastes like it should cost twice as much. It tastes way better than 2003 Dom, which does cost twice as much. (9/2013)
Price: $229.00 Add To Cart
RP 90 WS 90

Siembra Valles "Ancestral" Blanco Tequila (750ml)
Review Date: 11-22-2016
For serious agave nuts, this is as close as Tequila will ever get to mezcal in that David Suro's team used many Oaxacan production methods to make this spectacular expression. In fact, in order to help consult on the project Suro brought up a number of Oaxacan distillers to help explain the process to the Tequileros. He said to me, "It brought a tear to my eye; seeing mezcaleros and Tequileros working side by side." This is a historic Tequila, but it's also an unbelievably delicious one. Huge notes of roasted agave, citrus, and spice coat the palate. At 50.1% there's a little kick on the finish as well. This isn't for people who want smooth. It's for people who want maximum flavors at all costs. In this case, David Suro paid the costs for that flavor. He spared no expense.
Price: $119.99 Add To Cart

2014 Domaine Lafage "Tessellae" Carignan Côtes Catalanes Vieilles Vignes
Review Date: 11-09-2016
This is the $10-$15 red that you drink cases of each winter and ends up being your favorite wine of the season. After reading the reviews, I thought this vintage of Tessallae would be too over the top for me, but the fruit is incredibly balanced and restrained compared to what I expected. There's a lovely plushness to the red berries and the acidity helps preserve that union of fruit and refreshment. Carignan isn't a grape most drinkers are familiar with, but if you like standard Cotes du Rhone wines or French bistro-style drinkers, this is a can't miss bottle. You buy this by the case.
Price: Hidden View Price
RP 92

2011 Can Mayol Loxarel "MM" Blanc de Noir Gran Reserva Brut Nature Penedes
Review Date: 08-10-2016
This wine really surprised me with its Champagne like richness and depth of flavor. The wine is clean and refreshing, but there's more beyond that. There's a kiss of almond skin and a nuanced note of nutty richness that just dances on the finish. Top notch bubbly, no doubt!
Price: $29.99 Add To Cart
RP 91 - 92

Four Pillars Navy Strength Gin 750ml
Review Date: 05-28-2016
The Navy Strength gin is not simply a higher proofed version of the Rare Dry from Four Pillars, but rather an entirely different formula. This one uses finger limes for a different citrus tone, but the balance of spice and botanicals is what ties both gins together. This is a bolder, brighter, more intense experience, but it's obviously made by the same team because the same attention to detail is prevalent. This is a world class gin of the highest quality, pure and simple.
Price: $44.99 Add To Cart

Four Pillars Rare Dry Gin (750ml)
Review Date: 05-28-2016
Bow down to the new king of gin: Four Pillars. A group of gin crazy Aussies put together one of the most focused and high-quality gin distilleries in the world in the Yarra Yarra Valley and now we're fortunate to get a taste of that goodness here in the U.S. The Rare Dry gin simply explodes with citrus, a burst of fresh orange, but it still packs a lovely balance of juniper and spice with the most delicate and graceful of mouthfeels. This is high quality gin, pure and simple. It tastes like it was fussed over, formulated and retooled until it was perfect. I can't stop talking about it nor drinking it. I'm just so happy we have it.
Price: $34.99 Add To Cart
WE 92

Launois "Quartz" Blanc de Blancs Brut Champagne
Review Date: 05-17-2016
The Quartz is the leaner, more focused entry level wine from Launois and it might be my favorite. Underneath the fruit you get down into the minerality and the oyster shell notes that you expect from a fine Chablis. It's just that this wine has bubbles and it makes you feel like you're floating on air. Stunning.
Price: $39.99 Add To Cart

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