Staff Favorites - Chiara Shannon

Chiara Shannon
Chiara Shannon  | Send Email  |   Subscribe to My Sommelier Service
Chiara moved north from her hometown of La Canada Flintridge in the foothills of Los Angeles to attend college at UC Berkeley. Not knowing what to do with her Bachelor’s degree in English and Spanish literature, Chiara pursued several careers, from education to marketing to fashion, before she realized her destiny lay in the wine business. She started out as a marketing assistant at Schramsberg Vineyards. After a year in wine country, she relocated to Los Angeles to try out the retail side of wine at a specialized wine shop near her family’s home, Mission Wines. Working under the tutelage of a seasoned veteran sommelier-turned-retailer, Chiara was inducted into the world of fine wine. She has since returned to the Bay Area joined the team at K&L, received her WSET Advanced certification, now manages the K&L Personal Sommelier Service. In her free time, Chiara is passionate about dance and travel, loves her husband and their life of food, wine, and music in San Francisco, practices yoga and reads in her leisure time, and is eternally grateful to her friends and family.


Reviews

Batiste Rhum Silver(750ml)
Review Date: 08-16-2013
The latest release of this spectacular rum is the best yet. It still has all the power and complexity that characterizes Rhum Agricole (a rum tradition and style distinctive of the French West Indies) but in the latest release they've used a special vacuum still (the kind used in Sake production) and the results are astounding. This rum initially impressed me with its polish, vibrancy, and smooth mouthfeel, but now with amplified aromatics and layers of flavor on the palate it is not only one very distinctive rum, but mouth-wateringly delicious too. Lychee nut and rich tropical fruits leap out in the nose, with subtle hints of cane grass and flowering herbs. The palate fans out like a peacock's tail, intense yet never overwhelming as it winds down towards a smooth, glassy finish. The superiority of Batiste's sustainable grown, hand-cut, organic cane and natural processing methods is evident in the fine quality of this Agricole. Sip neat, on the rocks, or in a classic Ti’ Punch: 2 oz. Rhum Agricole, squeeze of half a lime, cane syrup to taste, 1-2 ice cubes (optional).Combine and serve in an old-fashioned glass or tumbler garnished with a lime twist.
Price: $24.99 Add To Cart

Cocchi Aperitivo Americano Rosa (750ml)
Review Date: 02-12-2013
Lovely stuff! A brand new offering from Cocchi, this is a fresher, lighter in body, and a fruitier version of their Vermouth de Torino with subtle aromatic suggestions of Chinato. Red and blackberries, earth flowers, and woodsy, spiced herbs meld for a similarly fruity yet sweetly bitter style of Vermouth. Serve on the rocks (with or without soda) with a lemon or lime twist or top with Champagne for a sparkling aperitif. Not to heavy, not too sweet, there is a lot of potential for creative cocktail-making here...from martinis to Sangria! Served chilled after dinner, this would also make a delicious pairing with a strong spicy blue cheese (like cabrales, gorgonzola, or roquefort) accompanied by a side of spiced chutney, candied citrus peel, or quince paste.
Price: $18.99 Add To Cart

St. George "Terroir" Mt. Tam Gin (750ml)
Review Date: 11-01-2012
This is wild and crazy Gin, for folks who like intensity, bold herbal flavors, and a lot of local Bay Area flare in their Gin. Macerated with native pine and herbs from Mt Tam, among many other botanicals, this smells and tastes like a Christmas trees, cut with fresh sage and ground peppercorn. For Negronis.
Price: $27.99 Add To Cart

Martin Miller's Westbourne Strength London Dry Gin (750ml)
Review Date: 11-01-2012
A very dry, aromatic Gin, this is all Juniper and lemony citrus, with pretty floral, cedar, and ginger root accents. Light and ethereal, just gorgeous stuff! Takes the Gin & Tonic to a whole new level.
Price: $29.99 Add To Cart
WE 94

Pig's Nose Blended Whisky (750ml)
Review Date: 10-30-2012
For an everyday whisky, the Pig's Nose blended Scotch number is affordably priced and offers a suave creamy profile with notes of caramel and toffee. It's balanced, smooth, and pleasing, with just the right amount of warming spice on the finish. This is a whisky of honest quality that won't burn a hole in the palate or wallet, and a smart staple in any home bar. Give it a try!
Price: $25.99 Add To Cart

Michel Arnould Verzenay "Reserve" Brut Champagne (1.5L)
Review Date: 10-30-2012
Wow, out of magnum this Champagne is even more of a powerhouse. Extended time on the lees has imbued this Champagne with layers of richness and complexity that are intensified out of the magnum format, leaving a sensational palate impression. Rich, creamy aromas and flavors wrap around a solid structure of fruit, coating the mouth with toasty goodness. Showing impressive volume and cut, this is a truly regal Champagne with the structure and complexity to complement a variety of foods.
Price: $69.99 Add To Cart
DC 90

Louis Roederer "Brut Premier" Champagne
Review Date: 10-25-2012
Made from half estate and half purchased fruit, all 1er and Grand Cru sources, Louis Roederer's Brut Premiere is a sophisticated, elegant Champagne that has minerality, flavor, acidity, and length of the sort you might expect to find in a bottle from one of our small grower-producer DIs as opposed to a "big" house. This can be attributed to the fact that even at this entry level, the wine originates as a vineyard or fruit selection, not a tank selection like other large production houses. This is a superb Champagne and great value. Whether you are a Champagne novice or connoisseur, shopping for a gift or a bottle to open and enjoy yourself, don't overlook this because you recognize the label - this seriously good Champagne is sure to impress.

A.D. Coutelas "Cuvée 1809" Brut Champagne
Review Date: 10-25-2012
This is incredible Champagne, and very unique. Drawing on winemaking techniques of the 19th century, it was fermented in barrel (no malo), aged for 8+ years on the lees in bottles sealed with corks, manually disgorged, and finished with a cork and twine closure. Stylistically, you could say it's to Champagne what Lopez de Heredia is to white Rioja, but unlike 19th century Champagne, this modern revival is dry, with a very low dosage. It offers a stunning array of complex earthy and nutty aromas and flavors with biscuit, mineral, mushroom, and honey accents. The texture is luxuriously rich and layered, but naturally high acidity and the low dosage keep this Champagne fresh and invigorating, with a dry, crisp finish that goes on and on. If you like white wines from the Jura, traditional white Rioja, or are a Champagne fiend looking for something to blow your mind, here you go. Highly recommended.
Price: $59.99 Add To Cart
BH 92

2010 Château de la Charrière Bourgogne Haute Cote de Beaune Rouge Domaine Yves Girardin
Review Date: 10-23-2012
A bright strawberry and cherry nose that sings of pure Pinot fruits and earthy minerals, this comes from vineyards at a higher elevation and with higher limestone content than their regular Cote de Beaune. The result is a step up in complexity and structure for a small step up in price. Vibrant acidity, a solid core of fruit, and considerable grip on the back end make this an exceptional buy in red burg for under $20. Serve with food!
Price: $19.99 Add To Cart

Cocchi Aperitivo Americano (750ml)
Review Date: 06-06-2012
The Cocchi Americano has been produced according to an all-natural recipe in the Piedmontese town of Asti since 1891. It is a lightly fortified, orange and herb-flavored bitter infusion that not only works wonders in reviving appetite, but will protect against malaria, too. A blend of Moscato d'Asti wine, cinchona bark (which contains the anti-malarial quinine), the roots of gentian flowers and a secret combination of other botanicals, this is a must for anyone interested in a real deal aperitivo. It is considered to be the Italian version of Kina Lillet, the key ingredient in the "Vesper" cocktail James Bond orders in the novel 'Casino Royale'.
Price: $18.99 Add To Cart

Jean-Louis Denois Pinot Noir Brut Rosé
Review Date: 05-04-2012
Composed of 100% Pinot Noir, Denois' sparkling rose is made in the traditional method with the same care and attention given his other bruts. Also a direct import, this new rose is a real treat, with juicy strawberry and fresh watermelon aromas and flavors adding a whole new layer of fun to its creamy mousse and delicate honeyed toast foundation. A kiss of framboise adds impact to finish. A delicious and refreshing sparkler, this will complement many foods and bring an inspiring burst of color and flavor to any occasion!
Price: $15.99 Add To Cart

Pierre Paillard "Les Terres Roses" Grand Cru Extra Brut Rosé Champagne
Review Date: 04-24-2012
Composed of 70% Chardonnay, 23% Pinot Noir vinified white, and 7% Pinot Noir vinified red, this Grand Cru Rose Champagne is pretty special stuff. It starts out enigmatic, offering floral and dandelion aromas, followed by a suggestion of raspberry and bitter citrus. These kick up a notch on the palate, where currant and red berry notes mix with citrus and creamy lees for a deep, mouthfilling impression that is clearly defined by racy acidity and clean mineral high notes. Contrasting yet complimentary flavors of berry and mineral linger on the finish. This is a food Champagne with endless possibilities.

Franck Bonville Grand Cru Brut Blanc de Blancs Champagne
Review Date: 04-24-2012
I was reminded at today's Champagne staff tasting of what a fabulous bottle of bubbles this is for the money. Based mostly on the 2007 vintage, with the rest older reserve wines, this Champagne offers an expressive nose of golden apple, creamy lees, chalky minerals, and the subtlest of baking spices. It is full on the palate, with a creamy mousse lended structure and power by vibrant acidity. The chalky mineral component adds edge and focus to the long finish. Its richness and fruit offers broad appeal, but its complexity and depth promise to intrigue even the most discerning of palates. This is a superb Champagne to enjoy now and over the course of the next five years, for any occasion!
Price: $34.99 Add To Cart
WE 91 WS 90

Launois "Cuvée Reserve" Brut Blanc de Blancs Champagne
Review Date: 12-30-2011
This Blanc de Blancs, made from 100% Grand Cru Chardonnay, enjoys cult status in France. The vintage-inspired bottle shape is eye-catching, but what’s inside the bottle is truly brilliant. From Mesnil, the southernmost Grand Cru in Champagne (home to Salon and Krug’s Clos de Mesnil), it has a crisp, mineral-driven nose, with subtle lees and butter undertones and a hint of fennel. The flavors deepen on the palate, expanding to coat the mouth, ending with a long, refreshing finish. It steals the show as an apéritif, accompanied by light, salty snacks, but possesses the depth and complexity to pair with richer foods as well.
Price: $34.99 Add To Cart

ArteNOM "Seleccion 1146" Añejo Tequila (750ml)
Review Date: 11-03-2011
It's official: I am a tequilophile. While everyone has run to jump on the Single Malt and crazy cocktail bandwagon, myself included to a certain extent, I have also quietly cultivated a growing interest in Tequila, not exactly sure where it would take me. Tequila as a spirits category suffers from domination of "big name" fashion brands, and it's a real challenge to find the good stuff in the market that hasn't been gussied up some. However, Tequila turns a corner with Seleccion ArteNom, and I'm on board. This negociant finds the REAL STUFF - grower-produced, unadulterated, terrroir-driven Tequilas - and the experience is revelatory on all counts. While I"m generally more of a Blanco/Reposado gal, this Anejo, with its super light golden color and warm, sweetly spicy perfume, won my heart instantly. There are so many layers to this Tequila, it does not whop you on the head with heavy oak and caramel flavors, but rather seduces you with waves of smoke and spice aromas over creamy, buttery intervals. There's tremendous viscosity here, and pepper notes brighten the finish, which seems to go on forever. Wow.
Price: $69.99 Add To Cart

ArteNOM "Seleccion 1414" Reposado Tequila (750ml)
Review Date: 11-03-2011
It's official: I am a tequilophile. While everyone has run to jump on the Single Malt and crazy cocktail bandwagon, myself included to a certain extent, I have also quietly cultivated a growing interest in Tequila, not exactly sure where it would take me. Tequila as a spirits category suffers from domination of "big name" fashion brands, and it's a real challenge to find the good stuff in the market that hasn't been gussied up some. However, Tequila turns a corner with Seleccion ArteNom, and I'm on board. This negociant finds the REAL STUFF - grower-produced, unadulterated, terrroir-driven Tequilas - and the experience is revelatory on all counts. Uncharacteristically light in color for a Reposado, 1414 appears almost like a Blanco. It's got a really unique aroma - like baking banana nut bread - and incredible viscosity, with no hard edges whatsoever on the finish. I love the 1079 Blanco for its purity and this 1414 Repo for its character.
Price: $49.99 Add To Cart

Ariston Aspasie "Cepages d'Antan" Brut Champagne
Review Date: 10-27-2011
The "Cepages d'Antan" from Ariston is a truly special Champagne. True, it is a one-of-a-kind in terms of its rare varietal makeup - 40% Meslier, 40% Arbanne and 20% Pinot Blanc - but there's way more to it than novelty. Aromas of delicate citrus, wet hay, and blossom lift above biscuity undertones. The palate is rich and creamy, with a full mousse, which builds toward a chrystaline finish that is Chablis-like in its chalky persistence. Its power is understated and unexpected; its elegance refined. Though especially awesome with caviar, it has the profile to complement both light and rich foods ranging from delicate to intense flavors. This Champagne will inspire and delight if saved for a special occasion, and will impress any connoisseur if given as a gift this holiday season.
Price: $99.00 Add To Cart

Bruno Michel "Blanche" Brut Champagne
Review Date: 02-28-2011
Whether you are looking for a special bottle to pop open to toast an occasion, or to give as a gift to a Champagne-loving friend, few options rival the Bruno Michel Blanche Brut in balance, sophictication and class for the price. Lemon curd and subtle toasty notes on the nose lead to a layered palate held together by mouthwatering acidity and layers of leesy flavors. Dry and incredibly balanced.
Price: $49.99 Add To Cart

Wine Club

$34.99

Deligeroy "La Petite Marquise" Cremant de Loire Brut
Review Date: 12-16-2010
It's finally back in stock after months of waiting! My favorite Champagne look-alike, the Deligeroy Cremant de Loire, is a must for entertaining. However, it is also sophisticated enough to stand on its own as an apertif, gift for a sparkling wine lover, or simply as a bottle to share with someone special. The blend of Chenin and Chardonnay provide floral and mineral aromatics as well as weight and a backbone of refreshing acidity; Cabernet Franc adds complexity and fruit notes. A no-brainer this holiday season, but with this sparkler on hand, any reason is an excuse to celebrate!
Price: $12.99 Add To Cart

Quartz Reef "Methode Traditionelle" Brut Central Otago (Biodynamic)
Review Date: 03-03-2010
Wow! Here we have a classy, traditional method sparkling from cool-climate Central Otago that can give some competitors in Champagne a run for the money. With a complx nose of minerals and creamy lees, lemon and leesey flavors and creamy texture on the palate, and clean, refreshing acid on the finish, there is a lot to love in this bubbly. For the price, it is simply outstanding. If you are looking for an elegant sparkler to serve at a wedding reception or other large party, I highly recommend giving this a try.

Jean-Louis Denois "Tradition" Extra Brut Reserve
Review Date: 02-19-2010
If you are looking for quality sparkling wine that is produced in the image and style of Champagne but more budget-friendly, try this brut from the Languedoc. Made from classic Champagne grapes Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, harvested at low yeilds to preserve quality, this French sparkler is crisp, dry and refreshing, with green apple and citrus flavors backed by a leesey texture, creamy mouthfeel, and delicate mousse. The finish is long and clean. Perfect for a wedding or other celebratory occasion! Your guests will thank you.
Price: $17.99 Add To Cart

2006 Hanzell Sonoma Valley Chardonnay
Review Date: 11-24-2009
In a recent tasting of 20 different California Chardonnays in this price range, the 2006 Hanzell Sonoma Valley was in a league of its own in terms of quality and class. This is a big wine, but exhibits structure, richness, complexity and length where others in this category are lacking. The nose is clean, showing more pear, melon, and citrus flavors (as opposed to caramel-soaked pineapple) and the palate is broad and rich, but supported by levels of minerality and acidity that keep the overall impression fresh and lively (as opposed to cloying). The finish is long and dry. A Chardonnay worth its weight in dollars.

2002 Bruno Michel "Cuvee Millésime" Brut Champagne
Review Date: 11-06-2009
When tasting this enchanting Champagne at our last staff tasting, the conclusions were, "definitely a 'geek' wine." In wine-land, this is a high compliment. It means that the wine possesses qualities that are uniquely and fascinatingly its own, and that you will be hard-pressed to find something similar. I love the tangy nose of yeast and fennel, the crisp, focused palate, and the finish full of surprises - mandarin orange? lemon zest? Encountering wines like this - that enhance one's taste experience, are the reason why I love this business (and this Champagne).
Price: $89.99 Add To Cart

Noah's Mill Kentucky Bourbon Whiskey (750ml)
Review Date: 11-06-2009
This Bourbon is distilled to proof, which means that no water is added to bring the proof down after distillation. The benefit (and joy) of this is that when you drink it on the rocks, it changes dramatically with each sip as layers of flavor are unleashed by the melting ice. It starts out with intense, earthy aromas of peppercorn and chocolate, which are echoed in the mouth at first sip. What struck me about tasting this Bourbon for the first time was how the flavors exploded with intensity in the mouth without the sensation being hot or burning, as can happen with such a high proof spirit. Each sip thereafter was a surprise, as chocolate and vanilla became toffee, became hazelnut, became sweet soy and even some stone fruits made an appearance. What fun!
Price: $54.99 Add To Cart

2007 Château de Montfaucon "Baron Louis" Côtes du Rhône
Review Date: 10-05-2009
To me, the 07 Baron Louis is tight and restrained now, not really showing its full potential, and that's on purpose. I recently openened a bottle of the the '98 and it was simply beautiful. Mature and developing aromas and flavors were seamlessy woven together and framed with lively acidity, the '98 was a dead-ringer for aged Chateauneuf-du-Pape. I expect the 07, considered to be another great, if not superior vintage, to be another one for the cellar. Drink the regular Cotes du Rhone from this producer today and over the next couple years; lay a case of the Baron Louis away to have on hand 5-10 years from now. Trust me.
Price: $29.99 Add To Cart
JD 91

2006 Kirwan, Margaux
Review Date: 09-22-2009
This wine showed wonderfully at our recent Bordeaux tasting - a big nose of red and black fruit, with creamy notes and toast, followed by a very smooth, velvety palate with a deep core of fruit, well integrated tannins, and balanced acidity. Minerals and smokey notes accent the long finish. If you drink a lot of California Cabernet but are seeking to branch out a little and explore the wines of Bordeaux, the 06 Kirwan is an excellent place to start.
Price: $64.99 Add To Cart
WS 90

Jacky Blot Domaine de la Taille Aux Loups "Triple Zero" Montlouis Pétillant Brut
Review Date: 08-18-2009
100% Chenin Blanc is the reason behind this honeyed, leesey, subtle citrusy nose. The palate shows lots of richness, with flavors of creme fraiche just ripe stone fruit and limes, as well as something unexpected...mint? A beautiful, intriguing sparkler that can stand on its own but would also be a nice complement to spiced Indian or Vietnamese dishes where the go-to beverage of choice would be beer.
Price: $29.99 Add To Cart

Kanbara "Bride of the Fox" Junmai Ginjo Sake (720ml)
Review Date: 07-28-2009
For an accessible sake that has a forward nose of bananas and tropical fruits, with creamy, nutty undertones, the Kanbara "Bride of the Fox" certainly promises to please a crowd. Don't let the fruit-driven aromas fool you, however - this sake is structured and very well balanced. The smooth finish hints at sweetness, which is ideal for pairing with a variety of sushi rolls, especially the more complex ones featuring spicey and umami flavors.
Price: $32.99 Add To Cart

Ginga Shizuku "Divine Droplets" Junmai Daiginjo Sake (720ml)
Review Date: 07-28-2009
A very elegant sake, driven by delicate aromas of almond, sweet cream and lychee fruit. The palate is tangy, and shows more of a white pear flavor. Overall, this is a dry sake with mineral structure and acidity, that hints at saltwater taffy on the long, dry finish, and would be ideal with sashimi.
Price: $64.99 Add To Cart
ST 94

Tozai "Snow Maiden" Tokubetso Junmai Nigori Sake 720ml (Unfiltered)
Review Date: 07-28-2009
This unfiltered sake is a beautiful, porcelain color and smells of sweet oatmeal and almonds. Passion fruit and lychee are the dominant flavors. Though this sake appears creamy, it is actually more fruit-driven on the palate and finishes drier than expected. A thicker texture make this enjoyable sipping on its own or with nigiri sushi.
Price: $15.99 Add To Cart

Sorelle Bronca Prosecco di Valdobbiadene Extra Dry
Review Date: 05-19-2009
I am impressed by this prosecco's delicate, fresh mousse, lively minerality, and mouth-watering green apple flavors. Can you smell sunshine? It's in there too. Perfect bubbles for summer. Or in the middle of winter, when you want to be transported to summer. Makes a wonderful, lighter alternative to Champagne, too.
Drink from 2007 to 2007
Price: $19.99 Add To Cart
VN 90 W&S 90

J. Laurens Brut Cremant de Limoux
Review Date: 04-10-2009
Cremant de Limoux, the AOC for budget-friendly Champagne-esque sparkling wines, is in itself cause for a toast. The NV Cremant de Limoux, J. Laurens Brut is one of our most popular party bubblies. It looks like Champagne with sparkly light gold and a lovely bead. Creamy mousse and delightful yeasty/toasty flavors on the palate. Bone dry, and at only 12% abv,this is a no-brainer for a big event, but can make Monday night special too!
Drink from 2009 to 2009
Price: $13.99 Add To Cart

More Favorites

Chiara Shannon is also a fan of the following items. To become a fan of Chiara Shannon, click here to join Chiara Shannon's Personal Sommelier Service.
2009 Léoville-Barton, St-Julien ($149.99)

2010 Domaine Saint Siffrein Châteauneuf-du-Pape ($39.99)

2010 Brewer-Clifton Sta. Rita Hills Pinot Noir ($39.99)

2010 Bosquet des Papes "Chante le Merle Vieilles Vignes" Châteauneuf-du-Pape ($139.99)

2009 Lucien & Andre Brunel "Les Cailloux" Châteauneuf-du-Pape ($49.99)

Egrot (formerly Elisabeth Goutorbe) Brut Champagne ($34.99)

2007 Remelluri Riserva Rioja ($44.99)

Billecart-Salmon "Brut Réserve" Champagne ($44.99)

2006 Ridge Vineyards "Monte Bello" Santa Cruz Mountains Cabernet Sauvignon ($169.99)

2005 Saint Jacques de Siran, Bordeaux Supérieur ($14.99)

2007 Domaine de la Vieille Julienne Châteauneuf-du-Pape ($69.99)

2005 La Tour Blanche, Sauternes (375ml) ($29.99)