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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2015 Kalinda Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir
Review Date: 09-07-2017
In an age where customers want to know every detail about what they're drinking, it's our job with the Kalinda label to find wines so delicious and well-priced that customers forget all about the specs and dive right into the bottle based on flavor alone. This 2015 Sonoma Coast pinot noir offers the essence of a true California expression with black cherry, spice, and balanced acidity thanks to the coastal breeze. We can't reveal our sources, but I can reveal to you that this wine is utterly delicious.
Price: $24.99 Add To Cart

2016 Kalinda Anderson Valley Pinot Noir
Review Date: 09-07-2017
I can't tell you how nice it is every once and a while to taste a classic cool climate California pinot noir with a nice little zip of acidity. With bramble fruit rather than soft cherry. With savory herbs rather than sweet baking spices. The latest installment in the Kalinda series is a quintessential Anderson Valley pinot noir that should serve as a reminder to domestic drinkers than California pinot extends far beyond Sonoma, Santa Cruz, and the Central Coast. Those who want something in between Oregon and Burgundy need not look outside the state. We've got it all here in the Golden republic and this wine has it all going on as well. Black fruits with real tartness, earth and subtle forest floor. This is a terroir-driven cuvee for a great price thanks to our Kalinda label.
Price: $27.99 Add To Cart

Wine Club

$24.99

2015 Jax Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon
Review Date: 09-01-2017
I've been drinking the Jax wines for years now and I think I can safely say that the 2015 Napa Cabernet is the best wine I've ever tasted from the local producer. Their winemaker Kirk Venge continues to fine-tune this expression with every vintage and each time he seems to get better at doing it. The 2015 is his masterwork thus far. I've tasted it on five separate occasions now and the wine is simply perfect from front to back. It's also the perfect mid-range bottle for those of you who enjoy your Napa Cab on the younger and richer side, but I can foresee plenty of cellar life on the horizon. The dark red fruits pop with juiciness, but are buoyed by velvet tannins and plenty of acidity. It's never cloying or bloated with sweetness, but rather expansive and mouthcoating with just a bit of chewiness on the finish. The Jax Cabernet has always been my go-to fifty dollar Napa red. We've been tremendously successful with the brand for some time. But the 2015 goes beyond simple dependability. This is a masterpiece of modern Napa winemaking. Bravo.
Price: $49.99 Add To Cart
RP 92 - 94

2014 Malartic-Lagravière, Pessac-Léognan
Review Date: 09-01-2017
Every Bordeaux producer I've spoken with thinks 2014 will be looked back upon as one of the best value vintages of the last two decades. Currently sitting in the shadow of 2015/16, two harvests with HUGE scores, it's a vintage that's getting lost in the crowd, which is a good thing for those of you who hunt for value. 2014 is classic Bordeaux through and through, and it was an especially good year in Pessac-Leognan, a region from which I've tasted dozens of incredible cuvees for less than $50. The 2014 Malartic Lagraviere was right there with the Domaine de Chevalier in my book for value of the vintage. This wine has equal amounts of dark cassis, herbaceous character, and fine tannic structure, but it still needs time to congeal. Buy six of these, throw them in your cellar, and forget about them for a decade. Then call us back in 2027 and tell us how happy you are.

2014 Domaine de Chevalier Rouge, Pessac-Léognan
Review Date: 09-01-2017
Domaine de Chevalier is one of my all-time favorite properties in Bordeaux, and that sentiment only intensified after visiting the property this past Spring. Not only were Olivier and his wife humble and charming hosts, their wines were just as enchanting. I like buying wine from people who I respect and admire. It always tastes better that way. To say that the 2014 Chevalier Rouge is subsequently better than any of the other vintages I've tasted would be difficult. I've never had a bad vintage from the property and it's one of the few wines from Bordeaux that I'd say I actually "collect." What is abundantly obvious is that the 2014 is significantly cheaper than its 2015 counterpart (at $65) and the 2012 we have in stock now ($55). The wine is easily as good as both those vintages and if you're looking for one of the last real values in Bordeaux, this is it (another reason why I grab bottles when I can afford to). With delicate aromas of red berries along with fine tannins and the classic acidity of Pessac-Leognan, this is a wine that should develop beautifully for decades. It's a wine that allows everyday guys like me to drink the good stuff every now and again; and, believe me, this is the good stuff. If you only buy one Bordeaux from 2014, I would say it's this.

2012 Spring Mountain Vineyard Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon
Review Date: 08-29-2017
On the outskirts of St. Helena, rising behind the town on the west side of the Napa Valley, is Spring Mountain — one of the most coveted sources of Cabernet fruit in the state and a site that has produced a number of my favorite California wines over the years. Upon that hillside sits the Spring Mountain Vineyard Winery with a 226 acre vineyard on the eastern slopes that's broken up into 135 blocks, each with its own unique terroir. As you can imagine, this gives the winery a vast set of tools with which to construct their annual Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon release. I'm always preaching the gospel of "mountain fruit" to our customers, whether it's Spring, Howell, or Diamond, because of its concentration and complexity compared to what's grown on the valley floor. Mountain wines also tend to have more power and drive with the potential to age decades in the cellar. When fruit is grown on a hillside, it tends to ripen more slowly due to less direct sunlight (think of simmering your stew versus boiling it), plus the drainage is better during rainy months as the water will flow downhill rather than bog down the vineyard soils. The best Cabernet wines from California come from the mountains, no matter which mountains you're referring to. Spring Mountain, however, happens to be one of the best locales and the appellation has become world-renowned for wines with pureness of fruit and elegant, balanced tannins. What's fascinating about the 2012 release from Spring Mountain, however, is how soft and silky it is on the palate and how precocious the flavors are at such a young age. Its rich and plush at first sip, but it unwinds slowly into classic Cabernet flavors of earth and spice with hints of brush on the finish. All around this is a grade A Napa mountain fruit specimen, but the value really comes with the new discounted price. You could grab a case of this and drink well on birthdays and anniversaries for the next decade.
Price: Hidden View Price
JS 95

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 Gainey Sta. Rita Hills Pinot Noir
Review Date: 08-25-2017
The Gainey pinot noir is immaculately soft on the palate even though it's a wine with enough acidity and tannic structure to age for a few years in the cellar. It's lush and dark fruited up front, but soon that gives way into a earthier note that finishes with a bit of violet and dried herbs. The estate at Gainey has been in the family since 1962 when current winemaker Dan Gainey's grandfather first purchased 1800 acres in the Santa Ynez Valley for farming. They've been making wine on the property since 1984, but expanded their reach into new parcels under Dan's stewardship, all while continuing the family tradition of serious Central Coast pinot noir. The 2014 Santa Rita Hills is just another great example of that heritage of quality winemaking.
Price: $24.99 Add To Cart
VN 93 WE 91

2014 Mount Peak "Sentinel" Sonoma County Cabernet Sauvignon
Review Date: 08-18-2017
The fine and rather dusty tannins of the Mount Peak Cabernet should soften up rather quickly, giving short-term cellar fans something they can pop and pour before the end of the decade. Made primarily with fruit sourced from the Sentinel block of Monte Rosso vineyard, a shield-shaped section that marks the entrance to the property, the wine is dark and decadent, but never overtly oak or extracted. I think the big surprise of all three Mount Peak wines is how balanced they taste in the face of their huge alcohol levels. While I know most drinkers will gravitate to the highly-pointed red blend, the Cab is definitely the sleeper here. This could really open up down the line into something quite generous.
Price: $59.99 Add To Cart
RP 92

2014 Mount Peak "Gravity" Sonoma County Red Blend
Review Date: 08-18-2017
When a wine gets 95 points and a massive applause from Mr. Robert Parker himself, there's generally not much need to say anything more, but for the sake of context I'll add in a few more notes here. I was shocked by the restraint of this wine, which sounds ridiculous when talking about a massive 15+% CA red wine. The palate was fleshy, textural, brimming with black fruit, and full of concentration, but it was never too sweet, too oaky, or too much for me to handle. The blend was aged for 14 months in both French and American oak barrels, but only 30% of them were new and that's important because the fruit is what's on full display here, not the wood. For those who like big California flavor without sickeningly saturated or extracted profiles, this is great find. It's a more serious wine than something like Orin Swift's Prisoner and it's definitely going to make quite a few friends with its huge press and reasonable mid-range price.
Price: $44.99 Add To Cart
RP 95

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: $39.99 Add To Cart
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.

1989 l'Arrosée, St-Emilion
Review Date: 08-17-2017
I really enjoyed getting the chance to taste older vintages from the Right Bank, especially from properties that no longer exist! L'Arrosee was purchased in 2013 by Haut Brion who merged the vineyards with Tetre-Daugay and called the new estate Quintus. Those who like their old school Bordeaux, both in historical and flavorful sense of the word, will really dig this. The flavors are savory with plenty of secondary development and soft tannins that flesh out on the finish.
Price: $99.99 Add To Cart
WS 93

1989 Lacoste-Borie, Pauillac
Review Date: 08-17-2017
The 1989 Chateau Grand-Puy-Lacoste has a reputation for superb quality, so in typical K&L fashion we went right after the property's second wine: the Lacoste Borie. Named for the Borie family, of Ducru Beaucaillou fame as well, the second wine lives up to the hype of the vintage. Still showing fruit after almost three decades, the tannins are soft, integrated, and the palate is like pure silk. Those looking for underrated value from Bordeaux should take note.
Price: $69.99 Add To Cart

2014 Léoville-Barton, St-Julien
Review Date: 08-14-2017
If a bottle of Léoville Las Cases represents first growth quality at half the price, I’d like to add that Château Léoville-Barton offers a chance to taste the Léoville estate quality for half the price of Las Cases. Let’s look at the 2014 vintage offerings as an example. A first growth bottle of 2014 Margaux will run you about $450, and a bottle of the 2014 Las Case originally sold for $150; however, the outstanding 2014 Léoville-Barton will only cost you $70 in comparison and if you look at the reviews from the industry’s most renowned critics, I think you’ll see raves across the board. It's because of this understanding of the Léoville property's history that insiders gravitate to the Barton expression. To use a whiskey comparison, the so-called “first growth” of Bourbon at the moment is Pappy Van Winkle, but since it’s either prohibitively expensive or hard to find, customers have gravitated over to the Weller 12 year—a whiskey made from the same stocks, but at a much lower price. In my opinion, a bottle of Léoville-Barton represents the same sort of secret value for true Bordeaux lovers who can’t afford Latour, appreciate Las Cases, but want to stretch their money as far as it can go. When putting together my shortlist for 2014 cellar contenders, the Léoville-Barton was right at the top of the list with Haut-Bailly and Domaine de Chevalier. The other endearing fact about Léoville-Barton is that it still remains in the Barton family’s hands, run today by Anthony Barton while his sister Lilian handles the Langoa estate. According to Peppercorn, both properties have been in the ownership of a single family for longer than any classified growth in the Médoc. In an age where a number of prestigious properties are being snapped up by foreign investment groups and corporate luxury conglomerates, it’s nice to know that some producers are continuing a family tradition put into place hundreds of years ago. I was thinking about this legacy when tasting the 2014 Léoville-Barton again earlier this week, the dark color brooding in the glass, representing the lifeblood of one of Bordeaux’s most historic dynasties. The wine is absolutely brilliant on the palate with dusty tannins, understated minerality, and a lush layer of hoisin, dark cherry, and grippy graphite. There’s a lot to wrap your head around in every bottle of Léoville-Barton, from the history of the terroir to the heritage of the Barton family's stewardship. For those looking to expand their understanding of Bordeaux, you get a lot of wine and wisdom for your hard-earned money.

2007 Clos du Marquis, St-Julien
Review Date: 08-09-2017
This wine seems to contradict everything I've experienced thus far from the 2007 Bordeaux vintage. It's expansive, palate coating, and supple with dark fruit and extreme elegance. It has all the textbook Clos du Marquis qualities, namely grace and subtlety. It's an overachieving wine from an underrated vintage that absolutely delivers for the price. Drink it now while you wait for the also underrated 2014 to age.
Price: $59.99 Add To Cart
WE 91

2014 Haut de Poujeaux, Haut-Médoc
Review Date: 08-04-2017
If I were to summarize my tastes as a booze professional, I'd say I like "classic" flavors. I like Bourbon that tastes like Bourbon, Scotch that tastes like Scotch, Chablis that tastes like Chablis, and most importantly Bordeaux that tastes like Bordeaux. While 2009, 10, 15, and 16 get all the hype due to their fleshy fruit flavors and supple mouthfeels, 2014 is a "classic" Bordeaux vintage and what's great for people who like "classic" flavor is that "classic" is considered less exciting these days. Everything has to be the "vintage of a lifetime" or no one cares. Fine by me!!!!! I'll gladly take 2014 Haut de Poujeaux for sub-$20 pricing if "classic" claret is no longer desirable. This is an absolutely delicious Bordeaux (that tastes like Bordeaux!) with a complex and aromatic nose of oak, earth, and spice. After ten minutes in the glass there's a hint of red currant, but it's modest. The wine's strength is in its simple typicity - it's a Wednesday night claret that I would be happy to bring to dinner on Saturday evening. There's an old story about how Baron Rothschild mistook the 1953 Poujeaux for Lafite. If I would have tasted this blind, I would have easily mistaken the 2014 Haut de Poujeaux for a much more serious Bordeaux. For fans of classic, true-to-form Bordeaux with texture and nuance, this is a fantastic deal.
Price: $18.99 Add To Cart

2015 Chateau de la Charriere Beaune 1er Cru "Clos des Vignes Franches"
Review Date: 07-16-2017
When we visited Chateau de la Charriere this past Spring to taste the 2015 vintage, we said to ourselves: "This could be the most exciting tasting of the trip." We thought that because the Charriere wines have always been well-made, but old school in style. We hoped the extra ripeness from the warmer harvest might do wonders for these bargain bottles and to our immense happiness, it did! The 2015 1er cru "Clos des Vignes Franches" is the best wine I've ever tasted from the property and now that they're destemming entirely, the fruit shines well beyond the structure. This is a dark, unctuous, and robust with gobs of blackberry and black cherry flushing out the palate. The tannins and acidity still provide a foundation, but whereas former vintages were a bit tough up front, this one is incredibly inviting. Make no mistake: the Charriere wines are the biggest Burgundy secrets in the store right now. The 2015 editions are tremendous values, offering old school rusticity with modern ripeness. Bravo!
Price: $36.99 Add To Cart

Paranubes Oaxacan 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

2015 Rustenberg Chardonnay Stellenbosch South Africa
Review Date: 07-13-2017
There are two wines from South Africa that I swear by, both for myself and for all customer recommendations. One is the Rustenberg John X Merriman cabernet. one of the best thirty dollar wines in the world, and the other is the Rustenberg Stellenbosch chardonnay, which tastes like high-end, balanced, and well-made California chardonnay or white Burgundy for a fraction of the price. In the 2015, you get the whole package: ample fruit, subtle vanilla from the oak, and plenty of acidity to balance out the two aforementioned elements. Not only is this chardonnay absolutely mouthwatering, it's versatile. You can drink it now, put it away until next year, or cellar it for an additional five. It's got the stuffing for the long haul, but it's approachable now. All that for less than twenty bucks. If you only drink one South African wine this year, the Rustenberg chardonnay is a great pick and its indicative of the great quality we've come to expect from the region as a whole.
Price: $17.99 Add To Cart
DC 95 VN 91

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: $39.99 Add To Cart

2014 La Chablisienne Chablis "La Sereine"
Review Date: 06-30-2017
Our trip to La Chablisienne this past Spring was one of the most eye-opening visits I've ever spent at a winery. We spent an absolutely spectacular morning with Fabrice Roelandt, during which we tasted more than a dozen chardonnays, each from a different vineyard location, and each with its own unique flavor profile. I was honestly overwhelmed by the variety and the depth on display. When we commented about a wine's richness, he had an answer: "This vineyard is on the right bank of the river where there is more sun, therefore it's riper." When we remarked about a wine's clean acidity and freshness, he would say: "This vineyard is located in an valley inlet where it's cooler, that's why the acidity is higher." His simple and supportive approach to Chablis eduction was as refreshing as the wines themselves; it also spoke volumes about the philosophy at the facility. "La Chablisienne doesn't have a house style," he mentioned to us as we discussed the production methods; "We do simple winemaking that reflects the character of the vineyard, nothing more." You get all that purity right away in this mineral-driven, clean, and focused La Sereine expression from 2014. It embodies everything I love about the Chablisienne wines: fresh, true-to-style, complex, drinkable now, and affordable! With the incredible quality of the vintage, and our direct pricing, you can't afford NOT to buy this.
Price: $19.99 Add To Cart

2013 Yalumba "Triangle Block" Shiraz-Viognier Eden Valley South Australia
Review Date: 06-26-2017
Yum! All the juicy flavor of real syrah/shiraz with none of the cloying, overly-sweet, ridiculous ripeness that made most of the genre impossible for me to drink for nearly a decade. This is balanced, savory, perfectly-finessed Northern Rhone style wine with smoked meat aromas and a peppery finish, all for a price that allows daily drinking. I'd recommend anyone with a bias against Aussie shiraz to try a bottle and free their mind. The secret is Eden Valley's higher elevation and cooler climate versus the hotbox that is Barossa. Go deep on this one if you like value and true Rhone style syrah.
Price: Hidden View Price
W&S 93 VN 90

2015 Chateau de la Charriere Santenay Blanc 1er Cru "Beauregard"
Review Date: 06-22-2017
This is once of the better white wines I've ever tasted from Cherriere, one that is richer and rounder than any of their Chassagne Montrachet wines I've had in the past, despite the fact it's from Santenay. There's a gorgeous bouquet of stonefruit and plenty of ripeness on the palate, but the acidity is balanced and lip-smacking on the finish. This is top notch chardonnay, folks!
Price: $34.99 Add To Cart

2015 Domaine Pernot-Belicard Meursault Ier Cru "Perrieres"
Review Date: 06-17-2017
While the standard Belicard Meursault is fantastic, the premier cru Perrieres expression dials it up a notch. This has all the richness and balance of the standard village release, but with more fruit, more nuance, more delicacy of acidity and fineness of flavor. It's a more polished version of an already great wine. This is for special occasions because man does it taste fancy.
Price: $74.99 Add To Cart

2015 Domaine Pernot-Belicard Bourgogne Blanc
Review Date: 06-17-2017
The freshness of the 15 Burgundy whites is the most surprising part of the ripe vintage. Exhibit A is this lovely Bourgogne blanc from Pernot Belicard, brimming with fresh stonefruits on the nose, and a soft acidity that accents the medium bodied weight and fleshiness. Give this to someone who loves central coast wines from California and watch their eyes light up!
Price: $19.99 Add To Cart

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

2015 Domaine Jean-Michel Giboulot Bourgogne Pinot Noir
Review Date: 06-17-2017
All of the wines from Giboulot's 2015 crop have a juiciness and a concentrated core of dark ripe fruit, beginning with the simple Bourgogne rouge - a wine that combines supple notes of blackberry and cassis with tangy acidity and fine tannins. This is one of the best entry level wines we've carried from Burgundy in years.
Price: $18.99 Add To Cart

Copper & Kings American Dry Gin (750ml)
Review Date: 06-13-2017
One thing to know about the C&K American dry gin is that it's made on the smallest pot still in the facility, which according to Joe only yields about 120 bottles worth of gin per batch—exactly the amount we ordered in our initial ten case purchase. Smelling my first glass of the newly arrived hooch, I can already sense the differences from the bottle I originally brought back from the distillery this past Spring. There's a bit more apple must on the nose and the finish is creamier and tangier in profile. My point in mentioning that is: this is real small batch gin, in that it will taste a little bit different each time we order it. Joe is making it especially for us each time, so while the recipe will remain the same, the subtle nuances of the apple brandy base will vary from batch to batch. Other than the wildcard of a base material, the C&K American dry gin drinks much like a classic London dry style. Bright juniper notes, lifted by the coriander, with a fresh and spicy finish. In a gin and tonic, it's absolute heaven. It's also my new favorite gin in the store. I highly, highly recommend getting one.
Price: $34.99 Add To Cart

1991 Villa Zarri 24 Year Old "K&L Exclusive" Single Barrel Cask Strength Italian Brandy (750ml)
Review Date: 06-09-2017
This most recent batch of Villa Zarri represents the remnant of our previous cask, of which we only bottled a portion. Rather than change the label, however, we left it at "24 years" even though it's older than 25 at this point. Why should you buy this brandy? Simple: rarely has a grape distillate ever come this close in my mind to mimicking the best parts of Scotch, Bourbon, and Cognac all in one tidy, cask strength, single barrel package. You get the richness of of the Brandy on the nose; oodles of caramel and creme brulee. You get the power and oak dominance of a Bourbon on the entry, with big spice and bold strength. You get the nuance and complexity of a Scotch on the finish with candied fruit, hints of earth, and rancio notes for minutes after swallowing. There's a reason we went crazy for this bottle last time around. It's the same reason we're crazy about it this time: it's a dynamic, delicious, and dangerously drinkable spirit.
Price: $99.99 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 Reichsrat von Buhl "Bone Dry" Riesling Pfalz
Review Date: 05-26-2017
While I'm fine with sweet riesling, I'm well aware that we're living in the new age of bone dry everything. Sugar is the enemy to a lot of modern drinkers, so why not see what real German riesling tastes like when it's "bone dry"? This is a total winner of a wine from front to back. The first sip lights up the taste buds with tingly and tangy acidity and the finish is a laser beam of fresh acidity and more tangy fruit, accented with spice and zip. I could drink this all day long (and I plan to at some point this weekend).
Price: $16.99 Add To Cart

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 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: $39.99 Add To Cart

2014 Tapiz "Alta Collection" Cabernet Sauvignon Mendoza
Review Date: 04-15-2017
I think the shocking part for me about the Tapiz Alta Cabernet is how subdued and Bordeaux-like it is. Normally when we see highly-pointed, bargain-priced Cabernet from the Southern Hemisphere it's in a fruit bomb style or it's oaked to holy hell. This wine is neither. At 13.9%, this is a lower alcohol, cooler climate style of Cab that drinks like something in between St. Estephe and Napa. Rarely do I say to customers "you should buy that fourteen dollar Cabernet to lay down in your cellar," but in the case of the Tapiz this is honestly a sub-$20 bottle that should only get better. Right out of the bottle you can feel the structure on your gums, the hints of earth and tobacco that penetrate through the soft and supple texture of the wine. Fans of both the old and new world styles should be pleased. Fans of inexpensive Tuesday night meatloaf Cab will want to load up big.

Lagavulin 8 Year Old Limited Edition 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: $59.99 Add To Cart

2015 Ridge Vineyards "Estate" Santa Cruz Mountains Chardonnay
Review Date: 04-05-2017
I was completely shocked by this wine, but in a good way! They've really scaled back the oak this year at Ridge and allowed the crisp and clean acidity of quality Santa Cruz Mountain fruit to shine through. There's still richness there, but it's more akin to something like Chassagne-Montrachet rather than Napa. It's an elegant wine from front to back and that vibrant acidity makes me want more, and more, and more with each sip I take. Top notch stuff.

2015 Les Frères Perroud "Amethyste" Brouilly
Review Date: 04-05-2017
Of all the Beaujolais producers we've begun working with directly over the last year, I'm most smitten with the Perroud bothers. Not only is their portfolio a dynamic and diverse one, all of their wines seem to simply burst with freshness, concentration, and simple charm. The "Amethyste" is a plump and dark fruited Beaujolais that really speaks to the quality of the Perroud family's Brouilly hillside vineyards and the organic and sustainable viticulture they practice. Put this side by side with any other "cru" Beaujolais in the same price point and I think the difference is pretty clear. The "Amethyste" is deeper, darker, denser, and more complex than just about any of its peers. This is quite the find for our Burgundy department.
Price: $17.99 Add To Cart
WE 91 VN 90

2013 Xanadu Estate Cabernet Sauvignon Margaret River Western Australia
Review Date: 04-04-2017
I strongly and passionately feel like Australia is the future of cabernet sauvignon, mainly because it has all the youthful drinkability that California wine lovers appreciate, but with the complexity and depth that we have generally have to wait for with Bordeaux. Because of that dichotomy, the best wines from Margaret River are often compared to the top growths of the Medoc, but as you can see with the Xanadu Estate cabernet here the prices are much, much more affordable (like a fraction of what fine Pauillac would run you). I've tasted this wine about five separate times now and each time I've been taken aback by the concentration of fruit and the subtle accents of earth, spice, and leather. The wine is silky, yet nuanced. It's polished, but in no way sweet or overtly airbrushed. It's just a slam dunk bottle of cab with style and gusto, from a serious plot of land, for a reasonable price, and with a screw cap to boot. It's everything I love about Australian wine right now: panache without pretense.

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: $14.99 Add To Cart
JH 94 BC 90

Le Brun de Neuville "Authentique Assemblage" Brut Champagne
Review Date: 02-23-2017
This a fantastic new entry to our DI Champagne program that offers fresh and clean flavors balanced and buoyed by riper apple notes. It's both refreshing as an aperitif and satisfyingly full on the palate like I would expect from a fine cuvee. What's most important to note, however, is that the Neuville "Authentique" stands out from the pack of K&L selections I've grown accustomed to drinking over the years. It's snappier than the Aspasie Carte Blanche, fruitier than the Bonville Blanc de Blanc, and more complex than the Baron Fuente Grand Reserve; generally my three go-to bottles. I'm now adding the Neuville into that line-up as the fourth horseman as it's just so versatile. Also intriguing is the wine's origin from Sezanne; a part of Champagne I know nothing about, so it scratches an intellectual itch as well. A great find by Gary.
Price: $34.99 Add To Cart
WE 92 WS 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

2013 John Duval "Plexus" SGM Barossa Valley South Australia
Review Date: 01-20-2017
This is not the jammy Shiraz from Barossa you had from that bottle of Yellowtail back in 2002. Far from it. This is a dark, brooding, dense, and intriguing expression from John Duval that showcases the intensity and the vigor of what the best parcels in the Barossa Valley can bring to a wine, but without any of the sweetness or the overpowering alcohol. The black and blue fruits are pronounced, yet restrained. There's a meatiness there, but it's merely an undercurrent. The finish is ripe, but simultaneously earthy with soft tannins. I love it when we offer wines that break from the mass market expectations. This is Barossa like you've never tasted it. It's a wine that makes you stand up and take notice.

2015 D'Arce, Côtes de Castillon
Review Date: 01-20-2017
I love this wine from the Garcin family, the folks behind Barde-Haut and L'Eglise on Bordeaux's Right Bank. It's a perfect expression of everything I enjoy about the 2015 vintage in Bordeaux. The flavors are delicate and fruit-driven, but they're pretty rather than punchy. The red fruits are pure, accented with mineral notes and a core of clean acidity, and the tannins are elegantly structured. We tasted this with Helene Garcin at the property this past Spring and I loved it then, but the wine is really showing its splendor right now. Not only is it delicious, it's also versatile. It's rich enough to pair with beef, but juicy enough for chicken and pork as well. It's a wine I could drink everyday for the price, yet also one that tastes serious enough to bring to a dinner party. It's the type of Bordeaux I never want to be without and it's a fantastic preview of what's to come from 2015. For those of you who want to get your feet wet in the genre, this is a classically-styled wine that delivers serious bang for the buck.

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 Ancient Peaks/K&L Wine Merchants Paso Robles Zinfandel
Review Date: 11-08-2016
Every now and again I ask myself: why don't I drink more zinfandel? Then I buy a bottle of something that's too ripe, too sweet, and too high in alcohol and I remember. But tasting this beautifully balanced offering from Ancient Peaks, I'm reminded of all the things I really love about zin: the juicy, mouthwatering fruit, the fleshy berries that coat my palate, the supple and soft mouthfeel that washes down the finish. It's all happening here in this K&L cuvee, but all the elements are harmonic. It's a zinfandel you drink again and again.
Price: $24.99 Add To Cart

Wine Club

$19.99

2015 Siran, Margaux
Review Date: 08-31-2016
2015 will not only be remembered as the vintage that brought sanity back to Bordeaux pricing, it will be remembered by enthusiasts as the year Margaux dominated the communes. Just about every wine we tasted from the region was balanced, beautiful, and elegant. When the combination of great pricing and great quality comes together, it only adds to our initial excitement. Just like the Malescot before (a Margaux wine we sold TONS of), the Siran showcases everything we loved about the vintage but at an even lower price. The difference here is the Merlot dominance, but the grace is still there under all that dark fruit. The wine is alive and kicking, plush on the palate, and loaded with drive and panache. It's also less than thirty bucks. I'd say: go for it.

2015 Fromm "La Strada" Sauvignon Blanc Marlborough
Review Date: 08-05-2016
It's pretty clear that our NZ buyer Ryan Woodhouse is trying to put Sancerre out of business. The K&L staff loves the mineral-rich, crisp and clean flavors of French sauvignon blanc, but it's tough to justify spending $25-$30 when Ryan brings something incredible like the Fromm La Strada SB for $16.99 and it scratches that same itch. This wine is absolutely delicious, piercing with acidity and food-friendly flavor. It's a sauvignon blanc I would put in a top tier category, but our direct import pricing makes it seem like an every day deal. Don't be fooled, however. Serve this at an upscale dinner or a special occasion, but save some serious cash.

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