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Staff Favorites - Ivan Diaz

Ivan Diaz

Reviews

2015 Mas Codina Cabernet Sauvignon Penedes
Review Date: 02-15-2018
What a treat! A producer more known for the production of excellent Cava (Spanish sparkling wine) now brings us their foray into the world of Penedes red wine with a deceptively delicious, and super affordable Cabernet Sauvignon. Black cherry, blueberry compote, raisins, eucalyptus, and spicy bell pepper are present and vivid in this extremely crowd-friendly bottling.
Price: $9.99 Add To Cart

2009 Miguel Merino Gran Reserva Rioja
Review Date: 02-15-2018
The Gran Reserva from Miguel Merino is in a class of its own on the spectrum of wines from Miguel Merino. Supremely well-integrated earthiness that never detracts from the vivid fruit profile, this vintage is showing red and black currants, cocoa, loam, crunchy autumn leaves, roasted herbs, and a soft, creamy texture. The finish is a touch short today, but with a few extra years in the bottle, or even a few extra hours in the decanter, this will develop beautifully. Rioja enthusiasts ought not to miss.
Price: $39.99 Add To Cart

2011 Miguel Merino Reserva Rioja
Review Date: 02-15-2018
Though still a bit young, the new vintage of the more classically-styled Reserva bottling is already showing a breadth of inviting flavors. Juicy black cherries and currants, baking spices (clove, anise), vanilla, and tree bark give this bottling dimension, while fresh acidity drives the long, lingering finish.
Price: $29.99 Add To Cart

2011 Miguel Merino "Unnum" Rioja
Review Date: 02-15-2018
The new vintage of Unnum comes to us bigger, livelier, and more delectable than ever. Made from all old vine selected fruit, it shows darker and toastier than the Vitola. Juicy black cherry, cassis, plums, anise, tree bark, coffee bean, and it keeps going as it breathes. The fullest, richest offering from Miguel Merino should be enjoyed with steak or morcilla (blood sausage).
Price: $34.99 Add To Cart

2011 Miguel Merino "Vitola" Reserva Rioja
Review Date: 02-15-2018
The Vitola is consistently one of the best values in Rioja around. A balance of traditional and modern winemaking techniques manifest in the bottle perfectly and create a wine of extraordinary depth and flavor. Almost Bordeaux-like in its presence on the palate, it shows cherries and red currants, woodsy spice, herbs, roasty coffee, leather, and finishes with flecks of pepper. Streamlined acidity and soft tannic structure make this really easy-going on its own, and an ideal pairing with filet mignon.
Price: $19.99 Add To Cart

2014 Miguel Merino Mazuelo de Quinta Cruz Rioja
Review Date: 02-15-2018
Of the new releases from Miguel Merino, this bottling made from 100% Mazuelo (a blending grape typically used in much smaller amounts) is the most complex and rewarding of the bunch. With its berry fruit notes, cedar, and dusting of black pepper, it's almost Rhone-esque, though a bit lighter on its feet. It's also complicated by the very identifiable Rioja aromas and flavors of autumn leaves, mushrooms, and sweet balsamic. This is easily the best vintage of this release yet.
Price: $21.99 Add To Cart

2015 Antech "Cuvée Eugenie" Cremant de Limoux
Review Date: 02-08-2018
From our favorite direct import producer of French sparkling wine comes the newest vintage of the exquisite Cuvee Eugenie. A unique blend of 50% Chardonnay, 40% Chenin Blanc and 10% Mauzac, this exceedingly well-balanced bottling shows characteristic chalky minerality, ripe pear, fresh lemon and orange zest, subtle floral aromatics, and hints of toasty brioche. There is real prestige and beauty here, which makes the low price point hard to believe. Extremely fresh and refined, this will pair beautifully with fish in buttercream, but is inexpensive enough (and perfectly suited) for your favorite fried chicken.
Price: $13.99 Add To Cart

2016 GRÜNER by Etz Grüner Veltliner Kamptal (1L)
Review Date: 02-08-2018
There is no better crowd-pleasing party white than this gem of a Gruner Veltliner. Over the last ten years, Gruner has been gaining a loyal following here in the U.S., enticing palates with its harmonizing citrus and tropical fruit notes with compelling nuances of white pepper and clean minerality. It's a perfectly summery porch-pounder that comes in a liter bottle for that little bit of extra enjoyment.
Price: $13.99 Add To Cart

2016 Domaine des Remizières Crozes-Hermitage
Review Date: 01-25-2018
The newest vintage of this direct import was decidedly young upon its arrival at K&L. But with a couple months to rest in the bottle, it has relaxed into a wine perfectly representative of everything that makes me such a nerd for Northern Rhone Syrah. The woodsy cedar and sawdust on the nose, accompanied by a dusting of white and black pepper, are folded into the layers of brambly raspberry, blueberry, red currants, roasted herbs, violets, and subtle dark cocoa. Medium-bodied with extremely comfortable, seamless acidity, this is versatile, food-friendly, and remarkably affordable for Crozes-Hermitage.
Price: $15.99 Add To Cart
WS 90

2015 Pike Road Willamette Valley Pinot Noir
Review Date: 01-04-2018
The new vintage of Pike Road is a compellingly subtle, rather Burgundian Pinot Noir that showcases a level of nuance and restraint too rare in this price point. Balanced red currant and cherry, aromatic tea leaves, light hints of baking spice, and comfortably integrated acidity elevate this offering above so many others for a similar price. Perhaps the best Pinot in the shop under $20.
Price: $17.99 Add To Cart

2011 Can Mayol Loxarel "Reserva Familiar" Brut Nature Penedes
Review Date: 12-07-2017
The 2011 is creamier and a bit richer than the 2010, though maintaining the dry, linear features that give this wine its unique character. Flavors of apple, lemon, and stony/chalky minerals gain extra roundness from the extended time (six-plus years) on the lees. Instead of crunchy green apples, the profile here shows more ripened, baked golden apples, hints of baking spice, and moussey bubbles. This profound and versatile wine will pair perfectly with the same foods you might pair with Champagne, from creamy Mahon cheese to fresh yellowtail crudo, or even buttermilk fried chicken. Enjoy!
Price: $19.99 Add To Cart

2014 Can Mayol Loxarel "999" Brut Nature Rosat Penedes
Review Date: 12-07-2017
This wine gains its gorgeous ruby color by blending 60% Xarel-lo Vermell and 40% Pinot Noir. While it shows more fruity richness than the Refugi, this is still a Brut Nature and is utterly, refreshingly dry. Restrained strawberry, dried cranberry, tart citrus and orange peel all wash across the palate with a bracing acidity and tickling bubbles.
Price: $13.99 Add To Cart

2011 Viña Real Gran Reserva Rioja
Review Date: 11-30-2017
Defined primarily by its ripe, luscious fruit profile, this Gran Reserva deserves a decadent meal for accompaniment (perhaps duck breast with a cherry compote). Medium to fuller bodied and rather voluptuous on the palate, it reveals raspberries and cherries, buttery pie crust, cinnamon, cocoa, and a hint of leathery earth, all without ever veering to closely to sweetness.
Price: $34.99 Add To Cart
JS 95 W&S 92

2008 La Rioja Alta "Viña Ardanza" Reserva Rioja
Review Date: 11-30-2017
The 2008 Ardanza (one of my favorite bottlings from one of my favorite producers) is brighter and leaner than the riper, juicier 2007, and is all the better for it. Dried, sour cherries waft from the glass, mingling with clove-y spices, cedar, tobacco, and that dried, autumn leaf quality I always get from the best Rioja. The medium-bodied palate continues to showcase the lifted, almost tart cherry while revealing more rustic, earthy tones. After almost ten years of ageing before release this is a great wine today, but has potential to age another ten.
Price: $29.99 Add To Cart
DC 95 RP 93

Le Brun de Neuville "Authentique Assemblage" Brut Champagne
Review Date: 11-09-2017
The wine in this bottle is aged on the cork, a rather uncommon method of aging Champagne that imparts unique flavors otherwise absent from other bottles that don't incorporate this technique. What comes through is round, baked apple hugged by salted, honeyed nuts, graham cracker, and shades of briny minerality that vaguely resembles dry sherry. At this price point, this grower bottling is one of the best and most unique Champagne values in the shop... or anywhere.
Price: $34.99 Add To Cart
WE 92 WS 90

Mezcal de Leyenda "Reserva de la Biósfera" Tehuacán Mezcal (750ml)
Review Date: 10-18-2017
This is a super funky, utterly different mezcal with a flavor profile unlike anything else out there. Definitely smokier and spicier than the Montana, the Reserva de la Biosfera shows lots of spicy herbs, tree bark, foresty woods, black pepper, and an unexpectedly pretty floral note. This ridiculously small batch is a blend of Marmorata and Macrocantha agaves, ultra-rare varietals that present a flavor profile which, like the Montana, is difficult to summarize. I have a feeling I'll be spending lots of time with these exceedingly complex mezcales simply to acclimate my palate and gain deeper understanding of the magic happening in these bottles.
Price: $299.99 Add To Cart

Mezcal de Leyenda Unicos "Montana" Tamaulipas Mezcal (750ml)
Review Date: 10-18-2017
Perhaps my favorite of the Leyendas, the Montana Tamaulipas is an extremely layered, complex mezcal unlike anything I've ever tasted before. There is a loamy earthiness that confronts the nose upon introduction. Further investigation uncovers chalky minerality, black pepper, roasted herbs, subtle banana, flowers, tree bark, a smooth, creamy mouthfeel, and a spicy kick of a finish. The smoke here is admittedly rather restrained, allowing the flavors of this particularly esoteric agave varietal to show through. There's something hard to place about this one, something very compellingly bizarre and utterly unique, and I spent a long time trying to articulate it before simply succumbing to the intense expressiveness and gorgeous rusticity. If you're a collector of mezcal and can stomach the price point, do not let this one slip by.
Price: $499.99 Add To Cart

2015 DuMol Russian River Valley Pinot Noir
Review Date: 09-28-2017
There's a reason Dumol is considered one of the best producers of Russian River Pinot, and this bottling is a perfect example. First, it is strikingly "of its place," showing richness and density without becoming too full or heavy, maintaining an effortlessly light touch - a defining trait of the best RRV Pinot. Second, the deep red and blue berries are ripe and vivid, but never too center-stage, allowing the layers of complexity underneath to rise to the surface. Some chamomile tea leaf, warm baking spice, and a hint of coriander round out the palate while the full malolactic fermentation renders a mouthwatering note of buttery pie crust. The acidity is streamlined and tannins are fine, making for a beautifully delineated, elegant Pinot Noir.
Price: $68.99 Add To Cart

2015 DuMol Russian River Valley Syrah
Review Date: 09-28-2017
Dumol produces very little Syrah, but their offering in the category is an exceedingly vital contribution to the category. This bottling has more in common with Cote-Rotie than it does with other California Syrah, showing rather restrained at the moment, with loads of promise in the cellar. Dark, brambly blackberries and blueberries, a dusting of finely ground black pepper, savory roasted herbs and an earthy, clay-like minerality all contribute to the stunningly classic flavor profile. It is exceptionally well-structured; the tannins and acidity strike an interwoven harmony that deftly binds everything together without coming off as too "grippy" or "tight". This is enjoyable now with a few hours of airtime, or in 5-7 years with some lamb sausage.
Price: $58.99 Add To Cart
WS 91 CG 90

Jefferson's "K&L Exclusive" Very Small Batch Bourbon (750ml)
Review Date: 09-21-2017
A real treat from Jefferson, purveyor exceptionally velvety bourbon, is the newly exclusive K&L Very Small Batch bottling. A little lower in alcohol and a bit lighter-bodied on the palate, this one offers up vanilla bean, sweet oak spice, caramel, and sea salt, finishing with a subtly tart, briny citrus note. Silky smooth from front to back.
Price: $29.99 Add To Cart

Krug "Grande Cuvée" 164 Ème Édition Brut Champagne
Review Date: 09-07-2017
What a treat it is to work in the wine industry and taste new bottles of Krug on a random Thursday. After tasting at work where it showed crisp, clean flavors of crunchy red apples and fresh minerality, I was lucky enough to take the bottle home where it continued to reveal all the depth and complexity expected of this legendary producer (and then some). With some air time, this wine offers ripe pears and white peaches, honeyed almonds, toasted brioche, subtly funky beeswax, and a pretty floral tone giving the impression of lithe elegance for such a full-bodied, voluptuous Champagne.

2004 Haut-Bergey, Pessac-Léognan
Review Date: 09-07-2017
While the 2004 vintage in Bordeaux receives little in the way of recognition, there are several gems to be found at the value level that drink with quality well beyond whatever the vintage and price point might suggest. Such is the 2004 Haut Bergey, a softer Pessac-Leognan with classic flavors of plum, black cherry, cedar, coffee bean, bell pepper, and sweet tobacco. Plenty of minerality follows through from the nose to the palate and the acidity helps glide us through to the long finish.
Price: $24.99 Add To Cart
RP 90

2014 Domaine L'Ostal Cazes "Grand Vin" Minervois La Livinière
Review Date: 09-01-2017
Minervois is perhaps my favorite up and coming southern French region. Traditional Rhone varietals (70% Syrah, 15% Carignan, 10% Grenache, 5% Mourvedre) are the building blocks here, providing a juicy core of red and blue berries. The cedar and black pepper of the Syrah stands forward, while the high-tone acidity of the Grenache provides a mouth-watering texture that finishes with a touch of spicy tannin. Excellent value.
Price: $19.99 Add To Cart
DC 95

2016 Bodegas Chacra "Sin Azufre" Pinot Noir Rio Negro
Review Date: 07-06-2017
Light to medium bodied, this Patagonian Pinot Noir is an exceedingly graceful package. Fresh, crunchy red berries with subtle blueberry, purple flowers, black pepper, and vein of savory salinity. This continues to open in the glass, revealing subtle baking spices and deeper, earthy complexities. From top to bottom this is incredibly earnest Pinot, striking that rare balance between simply pretty and deceptively complex.
Price: $34.99 Add To Cart
JS 97 RP 92

2014 Antech "Emotion" Cremant de Limoux Brut Rosé
Review Date: 06-15-2017
At a measly $15 a bottle, this gorgeous blend from Limoux (a region with an older sparkling wine tradition than even Champagne) is more compelling than countless over-priced bottles from the more famous region. The fineness of the bubbles lend a mousy texture and the flavor profile offers crunchy strawberry, orange rind, watermelon, a pretty floral nuance, and terroir-driven minerality that reveals why this unsung region for bubbles is actually one of the best kept secrets of France's wine industry. Perfect with turkey, no matter how you prepare it on Thanksgiving; roasted, fried, or smoked, this will be a refreshing and perfectly-calibrated companion.
Price: $14.99 Add To Cart

2005 Bodegas Puelles Gran Reserva Rioja
Review Date: 06-01-2017
Puelles continues to release traditionally aged, beautifully crafted and developed wine with their Gran Reserva 2005, a classic Rioja with simultaneous depth and lift. Classic, if slightly darker, almost Bordeaux-like flavors abound: cherries, plums, crushed flowers, anise, olive tapenade, tea leaves, woodsy spice, tree bark, and graphite all kept afloat by the weightless acidity and wrapped in soft, dusty tannins. I'm hard-pressed to think of another $20 wine in the shop that comes close.
Price: $19.99 Add To Cart
RP 90

2015 Banshee Sonoma County Pinot Noir
Review Date: 06-01-2017
Banshee consistently makes impressively concentrated Pinots at disproportionately low price points. For under $25, the entry-level 2015 is a seriously focused Pinot with the power, complexity, and simultaneous finesse that defines excellent California Pinot. Showing great complexity at the entry level, it delivers a vivid core of tart cherries and black raspberry, pie crust, subtle herbs, dried flowers, warm spice, and subtle pepperiness. Acidity is integrated and bracing while silky tannins keep the finish persistent. Deeply enjoyable, especially for the price!
Price: $23.99 Add To Cart
VN 90

2014 Marietta "Angeli Cuvee" Sonoma County Red Blend
Review Date: 04-27-2017
Almost never has such an unexpected blend delivered such a classic flavor profile. The components are Zinfandel, Petite Sirah, and Carignan, but it drinks like young Bordeaux, despite the absence of all Bordeaux varietals. This guy is big and rich, but never over-the-top, showing raisins, cassis, fig, toast, and rounded out by dried flowers and savory herbals that linger on through the finish. A great, off-the-beaten-path candidate for your cellar (5-7 more years ought to do it).
Price: $24.99 Add To Cart
RP 90

2014 Seabold Monterey Pinot Noir
Review Date: 04-20-2017
A beautifully delineated bottle that exhibits all the ripe but focused qualities of Monterey Pinot, this one manages to show velvety black raspberry and blueberry, warm spices, chamomile, and buttery pie crust. The flavors here, while rich, are not over-the-top, nor are they uncharacteristic of Pinot. Fresh acidity and minerals cut the richness beautifully, finishing this wine with grace and elegance. Pair with a slightly nicer-than-average cedar-plank salmon or duck breast.
Price: $49.99 Add To Cart

2015 Don Rodolfo Malbec Mendoza
Review Date: 03-26-2017
We've been utterly spoiled lately by the influx of flavorful Malbecs for under $10 a bottle with qualities way beyond what their price-points suggest. Don Rodolfo continues this trend with aplomb, offering a bottle with richness, structure, and integrity for only $9, and over-delivering on each count. A waft of fresh herbs meets the nose first, along with a spicy Worcestershire note. On the palate, sweet tannins wrap the bold, ripened red berries and spice notes together on the mid-palate while subtle cocoa lingers on the finish.
Price: Hidden View Price
JS 90

2014 Clos Saint-Jean "Vieilles Vignes" Châteauneuf-du-Pape
Review Date: 02-09-2017
The new vintage of a classic producer's Old Vine bottling is a vibrant example of Chateauneuf-du_Pape that is at once traditionally structured, and more modern in its plush, fruit-forward character. This is surprisingly open-knit right now; brambly red and black raspberries coat the palate with the help of some chewy but surprisingly sweet tannins. Melted licorice, roasted herbs, and warm spices round out the robust palate, finishing long and rich. Pair with all things slow-cooked or pepper-crusted.

Mas Codina Cava Brut Reserva Penedès
Review Date: 02-02-2017
For my money, Cava like Mas Codina stands head-and-shoulders above more popular, expensive, but less polished sparkling wines. The bubbles are finer, creating a mousse-y texture on the palate, while the flavors of nectarine, baked apple, and subtle flowers are balanced and restrained in a way that avoids any cloyingness. At only $12.99, this is an incredible value with truly romantic expression perfect for any intimate occasion.
Price: $12.99 Add To Cart

Writer's Tears Pure Pot Still Irish Whiskey (750ml)
Review Date: 01-26-2017
My first ever review on a spirit is for this beautiful, round, exceedingly smooth Irish whiskey that captivated me from the moment my nose met the aroma. This lovely, "Prohibition" style whiskey is soft and caramely with slightly briny accents and a woodsy finish that goes down warm and easy. Do not miss while this is still available.
Price: $39.99 Add To Cart

2015 Michel Delhommeau "Harmonie" Muscadet Sèvre et Maine Sur Lie
Review Date: 01-05-2017
The newest vintage of the Harmonie will make fast friends with anyone looking for crisp, clean, mineral-driven wine to quench the palate. Always a good next step for Sauvignon Blanc drinkers, Muscadet (not to be confused with Muscat) sets itself apart by effortlessly balancing fruit, acidity, and terroir into an elegant and refreshing flavor profile featuring green apple, Meyer lemon, stony minerality, and a hint of seashell. Perfect pairing with seafood or a rich, piping-hot chowder.
Price: $9.99 Add To Cart
RP 90

2013 Holus Bolus Sta. Rita Hills Syrah
Review Date: 12-09-2016
With a creamy texture and rich, vibrant flavors, Holus Bolus produces some of the most delectable Syrah of Sta. Rita Hills. Mocha, cedar, brambleberries, black pepper, and vanilla fill out an impressive flavor profile and silky, but powerful texture. Pair this with roasted lamb for a perfectly hedonistic dinner.
Price: $29.99 Add To Cart
WE 95

2014 Ancient Peaks/K&L Wine Merchants Paso Robles Zinfandel
Review Date: 11-17-2016
These guys are always impressing me with their restrained touch and cohesive structure. Whereas most Zinfandel from Central Coast exhibits jammy, over-ripe, and alcoholic inconsistencies, this one walks the line deftly and ends up sporting flavors of raisin, raspberry, licorice, and warm spices. The tannins are pronounced but velvety while a ribbon of fresh acidity threads from start to finish.
Price: $24.99 Add To Cart

Wine Club

$19.99

2006 Taittinger "Comtes de Champagne" Brut Blanc de Blancs Champagne
Review Date: 03-11-2016
The 2006 vintage of Taittinger's flagship "Comtes de Champagne" is a fabulous wine coming from a top-notch vintage. It has all the rich, creamy character that has come to define this bottling, showing ripe, white peach, raw honey, hazelnut, and buttercream on the nose. But this vintage yielded quite a lot of mineral flavor across the region, helping to provide focus among some of the more decadent flavors. Chalky minerals and laser-like acidity incorporate to give the impression of a gravity-defying tight-rope walk between acid and fruit, mineral and oak, complexity and purity. The length is surprising with its lingering notes of fig and apricot, providing an extremely pleasurable finish. Excellent.

2009 Egrot (formerly Elisabeth Goutorbe) Brut Grand Cru Champagne
Review Date: 02-04-2016
Quick! Before the masses find out about this fine, grower producer and send the price point soaring, make sure to pick up a bottle (or twelve) so you can say you owned it back when it was only $40 a bottle. Made from a vintage blend of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, this handcrafted bottling is bright but silky on the palate, showing ripe citrus and white peach flavors alongside compelling minerality and buttery, brioche-y richness.
Price: $39.99 Add To Cart

Pierre Paillard "Les Parcelles" Grand Cru Extra Brut Bouzy Champagne
Review Date: 10-15-2015
Simultaneously delicate and well-structured, this Grand Cru Brut stands head and shoulders above a mountain of clumsy, overly sweet non-vintage Champagne. Balancing pears, lemon curd, gentle minerality, creamy texture, and saline acidity, this certified organic bottling is the roundest, cleanest entry level Champagne to impress my palate in a while. A perfect pairing with almost anything, from duck liver mousse to fried chicken.
Price: $48.99 Add To Cart
ST 91 RP 90

2005 Bodegas Casa Juan Señor de Lesmos Reserva Rioja
Review Date: 08-10-2015
With a decade of age, it is remarkable how much complexity and depth has developed in this decidedly underpriced bottling from Rioja. Maybe it's the excellent vintage, or maybe it's the traditional winemaking technique of the producer, but either way, this is a phenomenal effort that continues to reveal its layers of flavor (red currants, dried cherry, fennel, mushroom, and thyme to name a few) by the minute. While this could easily age another 5-7 years, it is in a superb window right now for pairing with lamb or Spanish morcilla. The price point is just stupid - it might be the best $20 wine in the store right now.
Price: $19.99 Add To Waiting List
JS 92

Antech "Brut Nature" Blanquette de Limoux
Review Date: 04-02-2015
Almost Chablis-like in its austerity and crispness, the Blanquette shows flavors of Granny Smith apples, seashell minerality, and Meyer lemon. The Brut Nature designation assures us that there is no additional sugar dosage in this wine's production. Perfect warm-weather quaffing, and a perfect pairing with oysters, ceviche, or whatever fresh seafood tickles your fancy.
Price: $12.99 Add To Cart

2011 Araujo "Altagracia" Napa Valley Bordeaux Blend
Review Date: 03-05-2015
Velvety and rich, the 2011 Altagracia is surprisingly approachable. Though it packs plenty of muscle, the edges are refined and the texture is creamy with sweet tannins, for an extremely satisfying drink. Loads of red and dark berries greet the nose up front, wrapped in vanilla and mocha, finishing with some baking spice and comfortable acidity. While it's expressing itself very nicely right now, this is also a great candidate for your cellar, 10-15 years.