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Staff Favorites - Thomas Smith

Thomas Smith


2015 Avennia "Gravura" Columbia Valley Bordeaux Blend
Review Date: 12-11-2018
I was so impressed by this wine. Avennia has been on my radar for a while, but this really affirms that Washington State is one of the most exciting regions in the country for quality-driven wines. The Gravura hits all those perfect notes for me. Well-structured with an excellent balance of tannin, fruit and and acid. On the nose I found spice notes with candied cherry and plum, leading to a palate, that is broad and textured, hitting every single corner of the palate. Summing up the taste is a beautiful, slow finish with resonating red fruit tones. A level of quality that is absolutely worth checking out.

2015 Avennia "Valery" Columbia Valley Bordeaux Blend
Review Date: 12-11-2018
A touch more focused and concentrated than the Gravura, and the nose here is definitely St. Emilion-inspired. On the palate this wine is incredibly balanced with tons of graphite and cassis. There is an abundant minerality to this wine that I absolutely love. For me, this wine neatly fits into the category of exceptional Bordeaux blends from unexpected places--not unlike the Rustenberg from South Africa. There is a touch more fruit than you would otherwise find in most Bordeaux, but the level of quality is stunning. You can’t find Bordeaux this well made at this price point. This is well worth the effort of buying a case to stow away in the cellar.

2016 Passopisciaro "Passorosso" Etna Rosso Sicilia
Review Date: 12-10-2018
One word for this wine: wow. Just when I thought I had a hand on Etna wines, this wine came along and blew what I thought I knew out of the water. This is beautiful expression of layered strawberry and cranberry red-fruit notes, accented by crushed black pepper and garrigue. Textured with full, bright acidity and the faintest touches of crackly tannin it can feel like dark, earthy Pinot Noir at one moment and brilliant, cool-climate Syrah at the next. Totally accessible and utterly delicious I can’t even tell you how much I loved this wine. It’s seriously unbelievable.
Price: $31.99 Add To Cart
WE 91

2012 Roederer Estate "L'Ermitage" Anderson Valley Brut Sparkling Wine
Review Date: 12-05-2018
Here’s the problem with iconic wines: you know they’re great, you recommend them to friends, and then over time they tend to get overlooked as trendier wines comes and go. Then you taste them again, and are shocked by how good it is. It was far better than you recalled, and suddenly you remember why this wine is the best in its class. Take, for instance, the 2012 Roederer Estate l’Ermitage. I recommend this domestic sparkling wine to customers all the time. Why? Because in my opinion, it is the most superior sparkling wine produced in California. Yet, when our buyer opened a bottle of this the other day, I had forgotten how stunning this bottle really is. Intense, focused it is a case-study in precision and power. Plenty of crisp citrus tones, fading to crystallized cherry on the finish. Impeccably balanced with bright and clear flavors.Unbelievable. A perfect reminder right before the holidays that domestic sparkling wines can stand up to some of the best wines out there, and a classic wine should never, never be taken for granted.
Price: $39.99 Add To Cart
WS 95 CG 93

2015 Domaine Gourt de Mautens Vaucluse Rouge
Review Date: 07-23-2018
Wow. This wine totally lives up to the hype. The nose is full of garrigue, violets, and gamey fruit--there must be plenty of Mourvedre in the blend. On the palate, the tannin structure was tuned perfectly, present and complimentary, not nearly as rough and extracted as other Southern Rhones I've tasted recently. The fruit expression is totally gorgeous. Medium weight with plenty of acid, this wine is spicy and focused with intense, pure fruit. Hell of a wine.
Price: $54.99 Add To Cart
JD 97

2015 Nozzole Chianti Classico Riserva
Review Date: 07-17-2018
I felt like I had to take a bottle for this home for dinner with all of my colleagues commenting on how great a food wine this was. I'm happy to report that not only did the wine show beautifully with dinner, I was really surprised by the quality from a wine at this price. The moment I pulled the cork, you could easily tell the wine was Chianti. Earthy and black-fruited with nuances of tobacco and dried herbs, it beautifully complimented the sausage and fennel Ragu my wife and I were having for dinner. Full and fruity without being juicy or soft, it will certainly enter my roster regular take-homes. I think that at $20, this is a tremendous value.
Price: $19.99 Add To Cart
JS 94 WS 93

2015 Graci "Arcuria" Etna Bianco
Review Date: 06-17-2018
In a recent tasting of wines from Etna, this wine was a total stunner. I don't think I've ever had an Etna Bianco like this, much less an Italian wine. Despite the fact that it still showcased all the gorgeous elements of minerality and focus you tend to associate with Etna Bianco, the Graci Arcuria has the added element of flintiness--in the glass it was reminiscent of white Burgundy. Agile, light, intensely powerful with an almost vicious acidity, this wine absolutely blew me away. It's time for me to move the needle on what I thought these wines are capable of.

2015 Xavier Vignon Vacqueyras
Review Date: 06-04-2018
The 2015 Xavier Vignon Vacqueyras is just another reason why you should be drinking 2015 Southern Rhones. The nose is full of smoke and earth, above a floor of dark fruit. Nice and rich, it leans toward a more opulent style. It is mouthcoating with dark fruits and raspberries with a spicy finish. The best thing about this wine is it goes to this perfect place with plenty of fruit, without becoming a jammy fruit bomb. This is wine is an absolute killer value.

2015 Xavier Vignon Cairanne
Review Date: 06-04-2018
I was pleasantly surprised by the entire 2015 line-up from Xavier Vignon. The Cairanne has a striking aromatic profile, with blackberry fruit aromas beneath a slightly perfumed note of lavender and garrigue. Nice, light, and fresh with poppy acidity this is Southern Rhone easy-drinking at its best. If you have loved wines like the Delas Cotes-du-Rhone in the past, you should definitely check this out. It is a big step up that is still at a great, everyday price.
Price: $16.99 Add To Cart
RP 91 - 93

2015 Château Saint-Roch "Chimères" Côtes du Roussillon-Villages
Review Date: 05-19-2018
Sourced from just outside the village of Maury, I was struck by the gorgeous nose on this wine. Highly aromatic with blackberry, wet stone, and gamey notes. I love that the wine strikes a more balanced medium body, with such a dark fruit profile. It makes for a more balanced wine. The palate has elements of blackberry compote, minerality and a slight garrigue/tobacco note, with a unsweetened chocolate component at the finish. Not an ounce of tannin on this wine, it will show perfectly right out of the bottle. A tick darker and more concentrated than the Bastide Miraflors, this is another brilliant wine from Lafage.
Price: $14.99 Add To Cart
RP 93

2016 Moulin de la Gardette "Tradition" Gigondas
Review Date: 05-14-2018
I am so excited to see that the 2016 Moulin de la Gardette “Tradition” back at K&L. This is a legendary customer and staff favorite around here, and coming right off the back of exceptionally good 2015 vintage, I am thrilled to report that the 2016 is even better. I have a soft spot for the “Tradition”. Of the two wines of Moulin de la Gardette, it is a little more wild, rustic, and true to place. This is exactly what Gigondas should taste like. And it is delicious. The nose in unbelievably aromatic: earthy as all get-out with perfumed elements of garrigue and broody dark fruit tones. On the palate, the richness of this wine is absolutely full-throttle. Densely structured with plenty of tannin, the quality of the 2016 vintage has really pushed what is normally a charming and rustic wine to become a serious wine of extraordinary high quality, and I have no doubt will be even better in the years to come.

2016 Moulin de la Gardette "Cuvée Ventabren" Gigondas
Review Date: 05-14-2018
This is the perfect example of why I love the wines of Gigondas. The 2016 “Ventabren” is a stunning display of power, focus and balance. Every tiny corner of this wine seems pristinely polished, and nearly every component of this wine works beautifully with one another. In the aromas you will find dark fruits, garrigue and black pepper while on the palate generous fruit flavors of blackberry coulis accented with spice. I really love how this wine is structured--you can feel the energy and potential in this wine like a coiled spring. Yet, the tannins are fine enough to be accessible with a little bit of decanting. Of the dozen or so vintages of Moulin de la Gardette I have tasted, the 2016 “Ventabren” strikes a new chord for balance and quality from one of my all-time favorite producers. It may be awhile before we see another Gigondas like this.

2016 Clos de la Bonnette Collines Rhodannienes Syrah Vieilles Vignes
Review Date: 05-14-2018
The 2016 Clos de la Bonnette is a stunning example of cool climate Syrah. Even in an extraordinarily high-quality site like Cote-Rotie, it definitely stands out from the pack. The aromatics are incredibly powerful: tons of black peppercorn spice and red fruits soar out of the glass. But what I love about this wine is the weight and body. It’s almost ethereal-light, yet doesn’t sacrifice intensity or concentration. Likewise, there is an incredibly bright acidity that is perfect for a wide variety of food pairings. This is a fresh and brilliant take on Syrah. A must have for anyone who loves the variety.
Price: $29.99 Add To Cart

2015 Guy Farge "Harmonie" Cornas
Review Date: 05-14-2018
The Guy Farge “Harmonie” is a perfect example of how extraordinary vineyard sites, when treated with care and thoughtfulness, always produce superior wine. The “Harmonie:” is sourced from one of the great vineyards in Cornas, La Reynarde. Sandwiched in between the plots of Allemand and Clape, the two of the most sought-after and hard-to-find wines in the region. In the glass, the Farge is classic Cornas. There arerich, densely layered, dark fruits with elements of bacon fat and leather. Structured and well-defined, there is plenty of tannin, yet it is finely-textured, making the wine totally approachable. I was really shocked out how well the wine showed right out of the bottle. This has definitely secured the spot as my go-to Cornas.
Price: $39.99 Add To Cart
JD 94 RP 91

2014 Château de Montfaucon "Baron Louis" Lirac
Review Date: 05-11-2018
I love the deep, black color of this wine. Hailing from the older vines on the property, the “Baron Louis” is classic Lirac. Brawny, and powerful with hints of smoke, depth and richness. Fruit on fruit, but with tons of earthy and herbal components to accompany, this is a wine for anyone who loves big Chateauneuf. This is dead-serious Southern Rhone, expressing all the hallmarks of some of the greatest wines in the region. It is absolutely nuts this wine costs $20.
Price: $19.99 Add To Cart
WS 91 RP 90

2015 Château de Montfaucon Lirac
Review Date: 05-11-2018
You can definitely taste the slightly elevated level of Syrah in the Montfaucon Lirac. There’s a burst of black pepper on the nose, and on the palate it leans towards black-fruited over red. The wine has a great acid line, that seems to run parallel to the fruit, giving the wine energy and verve without taking over the show. The tannins are just rustic enough to be charming, but soft enough to be accessible. This delivers just a touch more oomph than the Cotes-du-Rhone.
Price: $15.99 Add To Cart

2015 Château de Montfaucon Côtes du Rhône
Review Date: 05-11-2018
I’ve tasted and reviewed a lot of Cotes-du-Rhone, far too many to count. Yet, the Montfaucon, without doubt, is my year-in-year-out winner without any question. Super-dependable and always delicious, it over-delivers every single time I pop a bottle. Beautifully aromatic with notes of strawberry and a hint of garrigue. Bright on the palate with warm fruit and just a hint of tannin texture on the tail end. There is no question you will love this wine. It is really just that charming. I’ve never taken home a mixed case of reds without it.
Price: $12.99 Add To Cart
RP 90

2014 Domaine de la Begude Bandol Rouge
Review Date: 05-08-2018
This is one of those wines that I knew I would fall head over heels for within moments of pouring a glass. Unbelievably explosive aromas of red fruits, black fruits with meaty undertones and an abundance of raw power. On the palate, the acidity and the fruit interplay beautifully with structure creating a seamless character on the wine. After tasting, I was surprised how well this walks the line between upfront fruit and old world style and character. It checks all the boxes for me: fruit, character, balance and sense of place. Anyone who feels like they are in a rut with their same old wine choices needs to try one of these bottles. It is absolutely outstanding.
Price: $29.99 Add To Cart
WE 94

2016 Domaine Cabirau "Serge & Nicolas" Maury Sec
Review Date: 04-06-2018
This is one of the most distinct wines I’ve had from Domaine Cabirau. Normally I associate their wines with the bigger, juicier styles of Grenache, Syrah and Mourvedre blends found throughout Maury. Yet this wine has utterly captivating floral aromas, bright acidity, and a lifted style. Don’t get me wrong, this is still a very fruit-forward wine, that is modern and polished. But, I love the tangy acidity, the hint of sweetness, and the abundance of strawberry, raspberry, and bing cherry notes. This is hands-down my favorite Cabirau to date.
Price: Hidden View Price
JD 93 RP 91

2016 Domaine Cabirau Côtes du Roussillon
Review Date: 04-06-2018
I thought that this was an incredible value, it goes on the list of fantastic under $15 reds along with the Bastide Miraflors and the Tessellae old-vine GSM. But what's great about it is that it expresses its own regionality and character. I found it to be full of ripe plum and blackberry coulis, with a tannin profile that adds build and structure to the wine yet is still smooth and accessible. Spicy, juicy, and perfect for a glass of wine after a long day of work.

2015 Yves Cuilleron "Cavanos" Saint-Joseph Vieilles Vignes
Review Date: 03-12-2018
I’ve been obsessive about St. Joseph recently. It’s one of the largest appellations in the Northern Rhone with 26 different villages and a plurality of different climates, soils, and sites. There’s plenty of good St. Joseph out there, but also plenty that isn’t good—so it’s important to make your selections judiciously. The ‘Cavanos’ uses the ancient name for the commune of Charvanay, the most Northern in St. Joseph and one of top sites within the St. Joseph AOC. It has gorgeous aromas of black pepper spice. On the palate there is dark fruit with a hint of oak as well as lighter red fruits. Stunning acidity really brightens the fruit, and all the elements hit you exactly where you want them to. This is St. Joseph does Cote-Rotie. One of my favorite wines on the shelf right now.

2013 Site Wines "Larner Vineyard" Grenache Ballard Canyon Santa Barbara
Review Date: 03-05-2018
This is a wine that Grenache drinkers absolutely need to check out. Actually, this is a wine for anyone that loves dark, rich, fruit-forward wines. At times, with its thin skins, Grenache can turn out light and flimsy, but with enough extraction and great fruit sources, it can be deftly powerful while still maintaining balance. The Site Wines Grenache is definitely in the later category, with rich, black berry and black cherry fruits delivered on silky tannins. This is definitely closer kin to Priorat than the Southern Rhone and is easily the best California Grenache I've had in the last year.
Price: $39.99 Add To Cart
RP 94 VN 91

2014 Domaine de Montbourgeau "En Banode" l'Etoile
Review Date: 03-02-2018
This is the perfect entry-point for those of you who are interested in wines from the Jura. A blend of Chardonnay and Savanign, this wine is lean, and backed by powerful acidity that would make it an incredible food wine. There is a ton of lime and floral notes, neatly framed by just the slightest notes of nutty, oxidative character. Light and breathy, but focused and powerful this is exactly the type of wine I'm drawn to from the region. This is a crowd-pleasing Jura wine that anyone would find delicious.
Price: $31.99 Add To Cart
RP 93

2015 Danjean-Berthoux Bourgogne Rouge "Chaume Ronde"
Review Date: 02-26-2018
Where have you been all my life? Super aromatic with spice, cranberry, and a gorgeous purity of fruit. Big acid. Wild, fresh, and fruity. I'm always a bit skeptical of recommending wines at the price range for cellaring, but I'm confident that the structural elements on this wine will actually improve if you want to case-down and forget it for a few years. But with that said, it's totally delicious now.
Price: $16.99 Add To Cart

2015 Chante Cigale "l'Extrait" Châteauneuf-du-Pape Blanc
Review Date: 02-25-2018
The Chante Cigale "l'Extrait" is a blend 60% Roussanne, 40% Grenache blanc, and a step up from the classic Chante Cigale Chateauneuf-du-pape Blanc that is a year-in-year-out staff and customer favorite. Fermented in concrete eggs with nine months of sur-lees aging, the l'Extrait is a gorgeous new take from a classic producer. The roussanne expression really punches through on the nose, full of pears, citrus apricot and floral notes. On the palate, there's that Southern Rhone big weight, and thick texture. But what I love most about this wine is the zippy acid profile, which surges through the wine, accentuating the fruit, and leading to a resonating finish.
Price: $44.99 Add To Cart
VN 93 WS 92

2016 Domaine des Rémizières Crozes-Hermitage
Review Date: 01-26-2018
This is a tremendous follow-up to the epic Remizieres 2015 Crozes-Hermitage we offered last year. If what we as the staff buy at K&L is any indication of quality, I bought more of Remizieres Crozes-Hermitage than any other wine, ever. Currently, I’m on track to beat that with the 2016. For lovers of Syrah, this is an absolute must-buy. Where you going to find a $16 Syrah anywhere that has the focus on quality and the hand-made production you find here? It’s upfront and fruity with all of that black pepper and spice goodness that you’re looking for, along with zesty acid and black fruits. It’s broad and full without going over the top, and retains that balance you’re only going to find in the northern Rhone. I can’t say enough about the staggering quality for the price of this wine.
Price: $15.99 Add To Cart
WS 90

2014 Château Haut-Monplaisir "Prestige" Cahors
Review Date: 01-07-2018
I love this producer so much. I have a thing for savory wines, and the Haut Monplaisir has that in spades. Meaty, gamey, almost a touch bloody aromatics with dark, dark, black fruits and earthiness on the palate. It's has some serious weight and concentration, but still displays a silky texture with rustic tannins and exceptional balance. My all-time favorite cahors.
Price: $19.99 Add To Cart
WE 93

2014 Les Tourelles de Longueville, Pauillac
Review Date: 11-13-2017
I was blown about by the 2014 Tourelles De Longueville. I tasted in a line-up with other '14s that were over twice the price and it outperformed all of them. Gorgeous nose with earth and savory notes. Dark fruited with powerful acidity that I've found totally characteristic of the '14 vintage. Structured, yet accessible, this is one of the clear standouts of the '14 vintage at its price point.

2014 Domaine Niellon Chassagne-Montrachet 1er Cru "Clos de la Maltroie"
Review Date: 07-07-2017
Not the most aromatic nose, but just a hint of cedar on the outset. There'a a toasted wood element that is so slight. On the palate, finesse gives way to more forward elements. The acid is power packed. It is the star of the show here, driving a leaner, more elegant fruit component. Medium weight, totally agile. Exactly the kind of wine I love.