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Staff Favorites - Ralph Sands

Ralph Sands
Ralph Sands  | Send Email  |   Subscribe to My Sommelier Service
Ralph is the senior Bordeaux specialist on the sales staff. In between trying to break into professional baseball, Ralph was picking up hours at a K&L store in Millbrae. Back then it was more about kegs and cheap booze, and both Ralph and K&L have evolved since that time. Since those long ago days in 1978, Ralph has visited his beloved Bordeaux 37 times, evaluated 19 straight vintages and has escorted over 200 customers to Bordeaux on his "Taste and Golf the Greats Tours of Bordeaux". Ralph has also conducted tasting seminars in 9 different states as well as in France, Spain and Hong Kong. Ralph's passion for wine reaches far beyond Bordeaux; to the fine wine regions of Burgundy, Loire, Rhone, Germany, Oregon and of course his home state of California.


Reviews

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2015 Domaine de la Janasse Cotes du Rhone Reserve
Review Date: 12-07-2018
Year in and year out one of the greatest values in the wine business and I'm always on the lookout for the arrival of their Cotes du Rhone. This wine along with Ch. Montfaucon are my go to Rhone's for the middle of the weeks warm meals in cold weather. Dark, red-black fruit, perfectly ripe and lively with some nice spice. Lovely wine and fantastic value! Ralph Sands
Price: $15.99 Add To Cart
JD 92 JS 90

2013 Wild Horse "Cheval Sauvage" Santa Maria Valley Pinot Noir
Review Date: 08-30-2018
I first tasted at Wild Horse in 1988 with the founder and winemaker Ken Volk. We must have tasted 30 barrels that morning and I brought the wine in direct to K&L at that time. His passion for Pinot and the quality of his early wines solidified the reputation of the Central Coasts as a source for fine Pinot Noir. The 2013 Cheval Sauvage is a pure expression of PN and true to the Wild Horse style; never overdone or over extracted and always tasty! The wine has an expansive nose of lovely, fresh Pinot fruit, with a touch of earth and soft spice. On the palate it features a silky, elegant touch of black fruit with hints of development. The wine is in a perfect spot to drink over the holiday season and is an absolute steal at this price. Bravo Wild Horse!
Drink from 2018 to 2018
Price: $24.99 Add To Cart
WE 93 WS 92

2017 Beychevelle, St-Julien (1.5L)
Review Date: 06-21-2018
Once one of Bordeaux greatest names, the wine here had slipped badly, but the new wines and winemaking facility at Beychevelle has everyone buzzing about Beychevelle. The 2017 features perfectly extracted, elegant blue fruit that floats seamlessly across the palate in perfect harmony and a nice mineral finish. Beychevelle is definitely BACK!

2017 Lafite Rothschild, Pauillac
Review Date: 06-14-2018
A great nose of high toned, spicy Cabernet Sauvignon with a lovely touch of flesh in the mid-palate. Finished off by rounded tannins and seamless, effortless balance and a smooth finish for a Lafite. While not the most powerful Lafite there is no doubting the great taste and the fact that the 2017 will offer pleasure in a bit earlier drinking window. Ralph Sands

2017 Figeac, St-Émilion
Review Date: 06-14-2018
The 2017 Ch. Figeac is a blend of 47% CS 43% Merlot 10%CF. Amazingly, even with a loss of 55% of the crop due to frost and a wind chill of -4 to -5 Figeac managed to make a very fine wine. Framed by firm, lazar beam black fruit with lots of spice and impeccable balance. Absolutely classic Figeac. Ralph Sands

2017 Haut-Bailly, Pessac-Léognan
Review Date: 06-13-2018
2017 Ch. Haut Bailly is a blend of 60% CS 32% Merlot 4% PV + CF. This wine is driven by intense, mouth coating black fruits. Absolutely classic HB, linear and precise. Very nice price compared to 2015 and 2016. Ralph Sands

2017 Clerc-Milon, Pauillac
Review Date: 06-13-2018
2017 Clerc Milon shows a touch of fresh oak on the nose with plenty of strong red fruit, good middle texture and a powerful, persistent finish. this is a very good wine that we always taste right before Mouton. My notes say "this is the Buy!". As a collector of Bordeaux myself and Mouton priced at $499.99 versus Clerc at $69.99 I remain a big Clerc Milon fan and have been since the 1989 vintage. Ralph Sands

2017 Mouton Rothschild, Pauillac
Review Date: 06-13-2018
2017 Ch. Mouton Rothschild is an outstanding wine. Loaded with deep red-black fruit that is full, round and fleshy. Delicious wine with perfect ripeness and round tannins all in perfect harmony. 2.5/3 Stars which is my highest mark in the 2017 vintage. Ralph Sands

2017 Léoville-Las Cases, St-Julien
Review Date: 06-12-2018
Ch. Leoville Las Cases never waivers from its always from its firm and focused, deep red fruit personality. Lots of just ripe raspberry and black cherry fruit that will integrate nicely with the deep and rounded tannins. Always masculine and always excels in the tough weather vintages. Ralph Sands

2017 Canon, St-Émilion
Review Date: 06-08-2018
Classic Canon! Perfectly ripe and pure without a hint of over ripeness, dry, persistently long finish and as always, incredibly elegant. Love it! Ralph Sands

2017 Rauzan-Ségla, Margaux
Review Date: 06-08-2018
Another beautiful Rauzan! High toned, lovely sweet and silky black fruits from first sip to finish. Framed by gentle tannins and outstanding balance. Ralph Sands

2017 Larcis Ducasse, St-Emilion
Review Date: 06-08-2018
The fruit here is classic; deep, and sweet, with firm structure and the textbook chalky element. Very focused, precise and very good! Ralph Sands

2017 Pavie Macquin, St-Emilion
Review Date: 06-08-2018
Absolutely delicious wine! Expansive, exotic aromas of sweet, jammy red fruits (raspberry and cassis) on the nose and all the way across the palate. Strong lively and fresh on the finish. Classy, flashy wine and without a doubt one of the right banks values. Ralph Sands

2017 Pichon-Baron, Pauillac
Review Date: 06-08-2018
2017 is a classic Pichon Longueville that features layers of powerful, dense Cabernet fruit with nice sweetness and hints of black olive and earth. A very tasty Baron! Ralph Sands

2017 Cos d'Estournel, St-Estèphe
Review Date: 06-07-2018
2017 Cos is 66% Cabernet Sauvignon 32% Merlot 1% PV & CF. 2017 Cos is loaded with strong, toasty black fruits, good sleek tannins and perfectly balanced. A racy, elegant restrained Cos insures a nice life ahead in the cellar. Ralph Sands

2017 Calon-Ségur, St-Estèphe
Review Date: 06-07-2018
76% Cabernet Sauvignon 30% Merlot 9% Cab Franc 2% PV 2017 Calon is a very friendly Calon with round red fruits, soft and lush on the palate. This is a nice, easy mid-term Calon and very tasty. Ralph Sands

2017 Pichon-Lalande, Pauillac
Review Date: 06-07-2018
Outside of the first growths candidate for wine of the vintage. Tasted twice and outstanding both times. A serious wine with layers of deep, sweet grapey fruit. Lovely mid palate texture and length. This wine is a fantastic combination of power, concentration and elegance. Ralph Sands

2017 Brane-Cantenac, Margaux
Review Date: 06-07-2018
2017 Brane is 55% CS 40% Merlot 5CF, if you are looking for the epitome of elegance from Margaux, Brane is always your wine! Brane never wavers from its extremely pure red fruit driven style. Always so fresh and vibrant, and it is indeed again in 2017. Ralph Sands

2017 Léoville-Barton, St-Julien
Review Date: 05-25-2018
Absolutely one of the top wines of the vintage regardless of price. Loaded with strong, powerful purple and blue fruits, great freshness and mid-palate flesh make this wine a no brainer as the price is always fair. Ralph Sands

2017 Beau-Séjour Bécot, St-Emilion
Review Date: 05-25-2018
This estate has been on a great roll of quality in the last few years. The wines flashy black fruit and silky texture is hard not to love and is highlighted by lovely balance! Fantastic tasting wine, especially for the price! Ralph Sands

2017 Lynch-Bages, Pauillac
Review Date: 05-25-2018
Tasted twice with consistent notes. Lots of brisk and zippy, crunchy red fruits on display here. A tasty mid-weight Lynch and a classic claret that will round out with time. Reminds me of 2001.

2017 Capbern, St-Estèphe
Review Date: 05-18-2018
The new team at Calon Segur is doing an outstanding job and we love to taste there, but it seems in the last few years the first thing we all say to each other as we leave is...DAM that Capbern is good!! Really nice, attractive fruit that is spicy and fresh, tough to beat for the price and for drinking young. Ralph Sands

2017 Branaire-Ducru, St-Julien
Review Date: 05-18-2018
We tasted Branaire 3 times and it was delicious all 3 times. Brilliantly fresh, pure and extremely elegant with red fruits of cherries, cranberry and cassis, fantastic balance and finish. This is one of the stars of the vintage and the epitome of elegance. Ralph Sands

2017 Pape Clément, Pessac-Léognan
Review Date: 05-18-2018
2017 Ch. Pape Clement is a blend of 49%CS 48M 2PV 1CF. Lots of dark, concentrated black fruit on display here with plenty of structure and oak. This wine will need cellaring. Ralph Sands

2017 Cantemerle, Haut-Médoc
Review Date: 05-18-2018
A solid and classic Ch. Cantemerle. Strong and fresh fruit, showing some toasty oak and structure.

2017 Malescot-St-Exupéry, Margaux
Review Date: 05-18-2018
If you have been buying Jean Luc Zugar's Ch Malescot in the last 10 years you are very smart. He continues to make outstanding wine that rival's the best wines in Margaux at nowhere near the price. The 2017 has a lovely nose of fresh grapes, on the palate it is sweet and supple, with a little grip on the finish and great tasting. Ralph Sands

2017 Clinet, Pomerol
Review Date: 05-18-2018
Again in 2017 Ch. Clinet makes a delicious wine that is never hard and that always exhibits plenty of exotic black fruit. There is no question that Clinet is the best buy in all of Pomerol wine. For a comparable wine you, I believe you have to look at the great wine of Ch. L'Evangile and it's sky high price. Ralph Sands

2017 Domaine de Chevalier Rouge, Pessac-Léognan
Review Date: 05-18-2018
2017 Domiane de Chevalier Rouge is a blend of 63%CS 30M 5PV 2CF. Another textbook DDC, attractive and elegant, round and plump, sweet red fruit all in perfect balance with no hard edges. Another delicious wine from the Bernard family. Ralph Sands

2017 Beychevelle, St-Julien
Review Date: 05-17-2018
Once one of Bordeaux greatest names, the wine here had slipped badly, but the new wines and winemaking facility at Beychevelle has everyone buzzing about Beychevelle. The 2017 features perfectly extracted, elegant blue fruit that floats seamlessly across the palate in perfect harmony and a nice mineral finish. Beychevelle is definitely BACK!

2017 Barde-Haut, St-Emilion
Review Date: 05-17-2018
If you are under the impression that you cannot get great wine and great value from St-Emilion you need to know about two ancient estates that are making great wines in completely renovated wine making facilities with exceptional winemakers, Ch. Barde Haut and Tour St-Christophe. Amazingly these estates look directly at each other. Director Helene and winemaker Patrice Leveque are firmly on top of their game quality wise; there 2017 is 80% Merlot 20% Cab Franc and is extremely fresh with ripeness that borders on the exotic and a nice hint of chalk on the finish. Delicious wine and fine value!

2017 Alter Ego de Palmer, Margaux
Review Date: 05-17-2018
I tell customers all the time that the very best tasting wine in all of Bordeaux in the last 10 years for the money is without question Alter Ego de Palmer. The 2017 is 53% Merlot 41% CS and 6%PV Really lovely, grapey black fruit and very zesty and lively all across the palate to the finish. The 17's at Palmer like so many wines in 2017 are precise, forward and lower in alcohol. 9,000 cases produced. Very nice wine! Ralph Sands

Ariston Aspasie "Carte Blanche" Brut Champagne
Review Date: 12-23-2017
This is absolutely incredible Champagne for the money! Deeply flavored, intense and powerful it is in the style of Bollinger and Krug at nowhere near the price and I love that!
Price: $29.99 Add To Cart

2015 Capbern, St-Estèphe
Review Date: 12-05-2017
Within seconds of tasting Ch. Capbern at Calon Segur on April 2nd 2016 the entire K&L team was in full agreement to buy all we could get our hands on! This is a wine of great freshness and fruit, and will be joy to drink young. A Fantastic Value! Ralph Sands

2005 Lynch-Bages, Pauillac
Review Date: 09-08-2017
First note, tasted at the estate 4-4-2006 8:45am. 72%CS 13%M 15% CF 80% New Oak. Very attractive, juicy sweet almost tropical, round red/black fruit with hints of pomegranate, fleshy and supple mid-palate, fine tannin integration, not a blockbuster in style but superb tasting. New Note...9-8-2017 at my desk. At 12 years old this wine is just a beauty, the fruit has mellowed and the wine has fully integrated into a balanced and beautiful wine. Showing soft spice, sweet black current and touch of the famous Lynch Bages cigar box character. 2005 Lynch is in a sweet spot now and will hold easily 15-20 more years but many of my friends and customers will love the way the wine now tastes now! It reminds me of a young 1989!

2016 Malescot-St-Exupéry, Margaux 12-pack in OWC
Review Date: 08-05-2017
Noon at Ch. Malescot. One wine to taste with Jean Luc Zugar. 55% CS, 37% M, 6% C,F 2% PV. The 2015 was a 3 Star beauty and the 2016 is again a fabulous 3 Star wine. Perfectly extracted ripe grapes and great tasting, fine blance, tannins and long finishing. 3 Stars and also by FAR the greatest value for great Margaux wine.

2016 Malescot-St-Exupéry, Margaux (1.5L)
Review Date: 08-05-2017
Noon at Ch. Malescot. One wine to taste with Jean Luc Zugar. 55% CS, 37% M, 6% C,F 2% PV. The 2015 was a 3 Star beauty and the 2016 is again a fabulous 3 Star wine. Perfectly extracted ripe grapes and great tasting, fine blance, tannins and long finishing. 3 Stars and also by FAR the greatest value for great Margaux wine.

2016 l'Evangile, Pomerol
Review Date: 06-10-2017
2016 L' Evangile is just loaded with big, sweet dark fruit with great purity. Silky smooth texture on the palate with a super-long finish! This is fabulous wine and right there with Petrus, which is a bit firmer. 3 stars!

2016 Haut-Bailly, Pessac-Léognan
Review Date: 06-10-2017
2016 Haut Bailly represents 55% of the crop and is 53% CS 40 M 4PV and 3CF “A deep attack of dark raspberry fruit, very, very strong and concentrated, full of structure and drive, serious wine. Firm tannins and loaded with minerals. Reminds me a lot of the great 2010, 3 stars” Ralph Sands

2016 Pichon-Lalande, Pauillac
Review Date: 06-10-2017
The Grand Vin Pichon Comtesse 75%CS 21M 4CF is a delicious wine full of bright, sweet and super fresh, very elegant seamless fruit with rounded tannins. Delicious and polished with hints of toasty oak. 3 Stars!

2016 Pontet-Canet, Pauillac
Review Date: 06-10-2017
“Huge ripeness on the nose. Perfect, sweet deep purple fruit of blueberry and blackberry, silky and plush. Impossible not to love as it is fantastic tasting wine with a long, dry finish full of fruit and minerals." Delicious and 3 Stars! Ralph Sands

2016 Phélan-Ségur, St-Estèphe
Review Date: 05-31-2017
2016 Ch. Phelan Segur- Tasted twice and delicious both times. Phelan is a lovely early drinking 2016 which is always its forte. Beautifully fresh wine with elegant sweet fruit, perfectly balanced. Great value, 1 Star. Ralph Sands

2016 Malescot-St-Exupéry, Margaux
Review Date: 05-31-2017
Noon at Ch. Malescot One wine to taste with Jean Luc Zugar. 55%CS 37M 6CF 2PV “The 2015 was a 3 Star beauty and the 2016 is again a fabulous 3 Star wine. Perfectly extracted ripe grapes and great tasting, fine blance, tannins and long finishing. 3 Stars and also by FAR the greatest value for great Margaux wine.”

2016 Calon-Ségur, St-Estèphe
Review Date: 05-31-2017
2016 Ch. Calon Segur 60% CS 20M 18CF and 2PV is full of strong zesty red-black fruit with hints of black licorice and tart bing cherries. Firm, pure, classic claret that will reward time in the cellar. 2 Stars! 2016 is another 2014 in St-Estephe producing outstanding wines. Ralph Sands

2016 Angélus, St-Emilion
Review Date: 05-23-2017
”Pure nose of deep, old vine Merlot, strong sweetness and structure, deep raspberry fruit, powerful and lush with great concentration and persistence throughout the long finish. Great, great, wine! 3 Stars." Ralph Sands

2016 Beychevelle, St-Julien
Review Date: 05-23-2017
In my opinion the best Beychevelle I have ever tasted! Fresh and effusive, pure blue fruits literally float across the palate with hints of minerals. Beautifully elegant, perfectly balanced and tasty. The comeback wine and 2 Stars!

2016 Croix de Beaucaillou, St-Julien
Review Date: 05-23-2017
Criox de Beaucaillou has great freshness on the nose, high toned silky textured fruit all in perfect balance. This is a WOW 2nd wine and I will be a buyer! 2 Stars. Believe me it is very hard to find a better tasting wine than Les Croix!

2016 Langoa-Barton, St-Julien
Review Date: 05-23-2017
Ch. Langoa Barton…$49.99 Mags $99.99 Langoa Barton has beautifully fresh, spicy raspberry fruit, nice texture, very pretty with all parts perfectly balanced. 2 Stars! Ralph

2016 Palmer, Margaux
Review Date: 05-19-2017
Grand Vin is 47% Cabernet Sauvignon 47%M 12%CF with 65% new oak. The wine starts with sweet, delicious black-red fruits with great viscosity, a bit firmer and stronger than Alter Ego but the tannins are finer and rounder, literally seamless. In my opinion it blows away Ch. Margaux. 3 Stars!

2016 Marquis d'Alesme, Margaux
Review Date: 05-18-2017
2016 Marquis d’Alseme is 70% CS, 30% M, 10% PV. Framed by a super bright, effusive nose of sweet blackberry and blueberry that floats briskly across the palate, this is firm, pure and fresh, linear and so attractive! 2 Stars for the first time!

2016 Clos du Marquis, St-Julien
Review Date: 05-17-2017
Clos du Marquis was the 2nd wine of Las Cases for 105 years and this single parcel across the D-2 is now bottled on its own. I have collected this great wine since the 1989 vintage as it is always very close in quality to Las Cases. Impressive levels of silky red fruit, freshness and strike, good acid and power. 2 Stars! Outstanding and outstanding value.

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More Favorites

Ralph Sands is also a fan of the following items. To become a fan of Ralph Sands, click here to join Ralph Sands's Personal Sommelier Service.
2005 Grand Pontet, St-Emilion ($69.99)

2005 Pontet-Canet, Pauillac ($179.99)

2005 Clos du Marquis, St-Julien ($69.99)

1994 Léoville-Barton, St-Julien ($119.99)

2005 La Fleur de Boüard, Lalande-de-Pomerol ($49.99)