Staff Favorites - Joe Manekin

Joe Manekin
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Joe arrived at our doors in February 2007 from far away, Washington, DC to be exact. Just so no one gets the wrong idea, though, he was merely earning a living in DC; Joe’s cultural identity, as well as his professional sports allegiances and, when he has a few drinks in him, his accent, are all Baltimore through and through. After working on the wholesale side of the business for nearly 4 years, Joe decided that he wanted to work wine retail with the best, so he emailed Cindy Westby at K&L and the rest is history. While Joe is well versed in a number of wine regions, he most enjoys the wines of Europe, though he is growing increasingly interested in the great wines of the Santa Cruz mountains. When he is not at K&L, Joe enjoys cooking, traveling, catching up on The Wire, doing occasional PR, booking and recording work for reggae band JohnStone (www.johnstonemusic.com), and writing for his wine, food and music blog, Old world Old School (www.oldworldoldschool.blogspot.com)


Reviews

  
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2007 York Creek "Horseshoe Block" Spring Mountain District Cabernet Sauvignon
Review Date: 04-26-2017
We've emailed many York Creek wines, featuring multiple vintages and various cuvées over the past several years. Given the across-the-board consistency and deliciousness, I think our customers have reached the same conclusion as we have about these: you need to act fast and buy them before they disappear. There are no $30 California Cabernet that sell as quickly, and the reason is because these were in fact originally destined to sell for $50 (and at this price would be better wine than much of the $50 Napa Cab competition). The Horseshoe Block bottling is a bit broader on the palate, with darker tasting, comparably riper fruit when tasted next to the Track. There's always room in the cellar for Cabs as drinkable as this one.
Price: $29.99 Add To Cart

2007 York Creek "Track" Spring Mountain District Cabernet Sauvignon
Review Date: 04-24-2017
We have been encouraging Bryan Brick to keep the York Creek coming, and fortunately for all of us who appreciate real deal, mountain grown Cab, he has done just that. Of the two 2007 York Creek's, this is the one with a bit of a sterner structure; it's delicious now, but probably best served with a grilled steak to best showcase the poised, pitch perfect Cabernet fruit. This is not a Cab that you want to miss.
Price: $29.99 Add To Cart

2014 Tapiz "Alta Collection" Cabernet Sauvignon Mendoza
Review Date: 04-20-2017
Sub $15 Cab is plentiful. In fact, Cabernet at any price point is the most common request we here at K&L get. Cult cab, value cab, cab with bottle age...these are all questions we are well equipped to handle. That said, if you were to ask us for 96 point, pure varietal Cabernet for under $20, prior to this year, we would have had nothing for you. Of course this year, that all changed. So what does the Tapiz taste like? It''s good. Plenty of red fruits and hints of eucalyptus, coastal forest aromas on the nose (those who love hiking on the Marin and Sonoma Coasts will feel right at home) lead to a juicy palate which suggests younger vine fruit, but with a poise and structure lacking in most other $15 Cabs that I've had. That's it. Is it life changing? World beating? We'll let you decide. But is it fairly priced, tasty and varietally true Cab? Absolutely.
Price: $14.99 Add To Cart
JS 96

2011 Bodegas Muriel Reserva Rioja
Review Date: 04-19-2017
This is a fantastic value in Rioja. Supple fruit, with ample body, juicy acidity, and gently spicy flavors just scream Rioja. This is the kind of red you can drink with or without a meal, pour for your guests who drink California reds or those who tend to prefer other stuff, and it will just work out and make everyone happy. Tasty and strongly recommended.

1976 LAN "Viña Lanciano" Reserva Rioja
Review Date: 04-05-2017
As I prefer to do with collections of older wines, I had the opportunity to taste this immediately after delivery, and then to track its evolution over several hours. Needless to say, I was not disappointed! This single vineyard wine, from a vineyard first planted by Lan in a meander of the Ebro River, just northeast of Fuenmayor, it has aged spectacularly well. Aromas of red fruits, damp earth, celery seeds and cocoa lead to an edgy palate, with pomegranates, bright acidity, and a surprisingly youthful, linear quality to it While not the most complex of older Riojas, it delivers a taste of the complexity and vitality inherent in the best examples of fully mature Rioja.
Price: $89.99 Add To Cart

1973 Berberana Reserva Rioja
Review Date: 04-05-2017
We first had this wine in 2013, with a dollar that was not nearly as strong as it continues to be in 2017! On top of that, we were offered an incredible price this go 'round, so what was $150 (and pretty damn good for that price) is now under $100. Having tasted a bottle from this new shipment, I can attest to the fact that it still stands out as one of the freshest, most delicious and complete 1973 Rioja I have yet to taste. A steal for the price.
Price: $99.99 Add To Cart

1970 La Rioja Alta "Viña Ardanza" Rioja
Review Date: 04-05-2017
As I prefer to do with collections of older wines, I had the opportunity to taste this immediately after delivery, and then to track its evolution over several hours. While I went back and forth between this and the highly underrated (and terrifically priced) '73 Berberana, ultimately the pedigree of the Ardanza coupled with the greatness of the 1970 vintage won out. This is a mature red hitting on all cylinders, particularly once I allowed this recently arrived, slightly shook up bottle to open up in the glass. Pungent, spicy red fruit aromas lead to a crisp, lively energetic palate, one that is full of chalky minerality and acid driven freshness. As with any fully mature red wine, it challenged my perceptions; was there enough fruit left to balance the acidity and tannins, still lightly clinging to the roof of the mouth? I would say so, but needless to say each bottle will present somewhat differently. Having had this wine on a few occasions over the past 7 years, this particular bottle really hit the spot.
Price: $129.99 Add To Cart

2014 Montes "Classic" Cabernet Sauvignon Colchagua Valley
Review Date: 03-21-2017
Let's give credit where credit is due: Aurelio Montes created loads of interest in his so-called "icon" wines - Montes Folly, Purple Angel, Alpha M - at a time when most wines from Chile were selling for much less. The investment in the high end ultimately paid off, not just for those wines but also for their value oriented wines like this Cabernet. At under $10, it slays most any other sub $10 Cab out there, with aromatic complexity (roasted coffee bean, eucalypt, red fruits), fruit intensity (coupled with a lovely mineral edge, thanks to Colchagua's granite soils) and balance (13.5% ABV sound good?) Yes, while you may have seen this wine around, and we certainly did not discover it, we did re-discover its world beating value.
Price: $9.99 Add To Cart
WS 90

2015 Don Rodolfo Malbec Mendoza
Review Date: 03-21-2017
It's not often that we have sub $9 wine we are so excited about that it merits an email, but this Malbec is undoubtedly an exception. Juicy, plummy fruit with just a hint of cracked pepper and underlying wood smoke makes for one gulpable weeknight red. Quite a tasty red on its own, but also this is perhaps the perfect burger wine!
Price: $8.99 Add To Cart
JS 90

2012 Castillo de Viñas Reserva Rioja
Review Date: 03-21-2017
Our newest Direct Import Rioja, this 2012 Reserva shows the richer, darker fruit quality of this warm vintage. The wine also has underlying toasty and subtly smoky barrel notes combining with balanced acidity for a plump, richer expression of Reserva Rioja done right. A great wine to check out for those curious about Spanish reds. There is a whole lot of material and a lot to like here....
Price: $17.99 Add To Cart

2014 Castillo de Viñas Crianza Rioja
Review Date: 03-21-2017
A blend of Tempranillo and Graciano, this 2014 Crianza shows loads of delicious red fruit character and intensity for under $10. Our newest Rioja DI, Castillo de Vinas has Tempranillo and Graciano situated on prime, stony higher elevation terroir in the Rioja Baja, the result being a wine with loads of richness and character. Highly recommended.
Price: $9.99 Add To Cart

2005 Bodegas Casa Juan Señor de Lesmos Reserva Rioja
Review Date: 03-21-2017
So, so, good, this 2005 Lesmos Reserva! Having recently re-tasted the wine, I can say that it still shows intense, bright fruit, all the while with great aged nuances as well. Piercing dark cherry fruits and dark chocolate aromas on the nose lead to some terrific flavors on the palate. Adding to the strong attack and mid-palate intensity is a lengthy finish, tinged with salinity and a subtle woodsy,/littoral quality. Rich, layered, and begging another sip, this tastes like it should be, conservatively 2-2.5x more expensive than it is. Drink now or cellar with confidence for another decade.
Price: $19.99 Add To Cart
JS 92

2015 Amalaya Malbec Salta
Review Date: 03-21-2017
There is something about Colome's Malbecs...they are not standard fare Malbecs. They almost seem to suggest the northern Rhone as much as Argentina. It surely has a bit to do with their elevation and intense sun exposure (for this wine, vineyards lie at 5,900 feet above sea level). The stony, calcareous soil is also part of the picture, as is winemaking. Regardless, however, the important take away here is that this wine has no business selling for under $15, let alone under $12. There is way too much savory, meaty, purple fruited complexity on the nose, too much presence, intensity and length on the palate. A good amount of calcareous driven salinity as well on the finish. This is fantastic wine, one to load up on for sure if you are a fan of Malbec, the Rhone valley, or just great value in full-bodied reds.

2010 Cune Gran Reserva Rioja
Review Date: 03-06-2017
It's tough to get an authentic Gran Reserva Rioja for this price for a simple reason: Gran reservas cost! A minimum of two years' barrel ageing and three years in the bottle means that a winery must taste and manage the wine in barrel, then sit on inventory for a total of at least five years before selling it. With this release, Cune is cementing their reputation as a winery that can produce delicious, yet authentic and convincing, entry level Gran Reserva for a value price. As you've often heard us say, 2010 was amazing in Rioja and this wine shows it: expressive aromas of dark and red fruits on the nose, with subtle hints of cedar and vanilla, lead to an open knit, precise palate of fresh, lively fruits. The bright, intense quality to this wine speaks to the vintage and Cune's know how. This is nearly pitch perfect for drinking now, though it will improve mid-term if you would like to cellar. Delicious!

2010 Vega Sicilia "Valbuena" Ribera del Duero
Review Date: 02-25-2017
If Vega Sicilia, THE original Spanish collectible wine, can be compared to Latour for its power, elegance, and ability to age with the world's best wines, then Valbuena would be Les Forts de Latour. At less than half the cost, though, and with a similar track record for ageing, Valbuena is a bargain. To further illustrate this, we lucked across some 1987 Valbuena several years ago that was showing phenomenally well at 25 years of age. 2010, a terrific Ribera del Duero vintage, lent its power, acid structure, and delicious dark fruit to Valbuena. It should be one for the ages, and definitely something worthy of representation in any fine wine collection.
Price: $119.99 Add To Cart
RP 96 VN 95

2013 Bodegas Colomé "Altura Máxima" Malbec Calchaquí Salta
Review Date: 02-17-2017
This Malbec, grown in calcareous granite soils at incredibly high altitude, is the real deal. Brawny, savory, and violet tinged dark fruit aromas on the nose, coupled with a generous melange of fruit (think purple skinned fruits, lush yet fresh and mineral as well), bring to mind Hermitage. Two years in well seasoned oak barrels seems to have given this wine the perfect amount of time and development needed. Intense, persistent, and long, this is quite possibly as close to perfection as I've ever had in a young Malbec. Impressive now, I suspect this will age very nicely as well. With only a few barrels produced, this is top quality, collectible Malbec.
Price: $99.99 Add To Cart
RP 97

2014 Fredi Torres "Classic" Priorat
Review Date: 02-08-2017
Fredi Torres was a DJ before hearing the siren call of the Priorat. Now he is one of the people often recognized as breathing new life into this famed, resurgent Catalan wine region. This bottling is as delicious an introduction to Priorat as I have tasted in quite some time. Savory thyme and Mediterranean scents lead to a palate full of dark fruits, sauvage, meaty qualities, and a persistent minerality which leaves a wonderfully fresh impression on the mid palate through to the finish. This reminds me of what I first loved about Chateaunneuf du Pape when I first tasted those wines. Pair with braised lamb or short ribs for a real treat, and toast to the future of Priorat!
Price: $24.99 Add To Cart
JS 94

2015 Domaine Jean-Claude Lapalu Cote de Brouilly
Review Date: 01-18-2017
There is a forward, juicy, mixed berry and wild plum ripeness in Lapalu's Cote de Brouilly. While I'm not familiar enough with the producer to know if this is his expression of Cote De Brouilly or the result of a very good quality, warm and dry vintage, I think I know enough to know for sure that I dig this wine. A lot. Some other details include that it is certified organic, utilizing 60 year old vines, fermented using only partial carbonic maceration, and aged in 5-10 year old used barrels. Drink now or age 5-6 years.
Price: $24.99 Add To Cart
RP 93

2014 Benmarco "Expresivo" Red Blend Valle de Uco
Review Date: 01-18-2017
Benmarco head winemaker and viticultorist Edy del Popolo is a rare talent, someone who not only knows his region (the Uco Valley, Argentina) and its great terroirs, but viticulture, winemaking, and the increasingly diverse world of fine wines as well. What makes this Malbec and Cabernet Franc blend so special is the calcareous terroir in Gualtallary, the juicy, rich mixed berry fruited mid palate, and the sense of freshness towards the finish. Richness with a sense of balance. If you're a fan of California's higher end, mixed red blends, you should absolutely try this wine and see what you've been missing in Argentina's Valle de Uco. And if you're already keen on Malbec, then this is a must try.

2015 Domaine Jean-Claude Lapalu "Tentation" Beaujolais-Villages
Review Date: 01-18-2017
Go on and get this wine, it's delicious! Lapalu is a producer whose wines represent good Beaujolais at their best: freshly fruited, impeccably balanced, carefree and delicious. For those who are paying attention, though, there is an endearing freshness, lovely spice and surprising length for a $20 red. If serving this at dinner (ideally with a nice big roaster and crispy roasted potatoes) be sure to have plenty of wine on hand because this goes down real easy - I'm thirsty just thinking about the Lapalu Tentation! Seriously though this is likely to be one of my favorite French wines of the year.
Price: $19.99 Add To Cart
RP 91

2014 Domaine Foillard Morgon Cru Beaujolais "Côte du Py"
Review Date: 01-18-2017
I would suggest this wine perhaps not for the completely uninitiated to Beaujolais, but rather to someone who has seen the light with a few well made, structured Cru Beaujolais and would like to taste, drink and cellar one of the best. Foillard's Cote Du Py is very spicy, mineral, and yet generously, intensely fruited as well. It is the perfect example of why I will always opt for a top name producer in a less fancy region, over a merely decent producer in a more established region (perhaps, for example, somewhere to the north in the Côte d'Or?)

2016 Gen del Alma "Ji Ji Ji" Malbec Pinot Noir Gualtallary
Review Date: 01-18-2017
This is the prettiest, freshest, finest, crispiest, most crunchy, most refreshing, and [insert superlative] red I have yet to taste from Argentina. It is simply that freakin' delicious. Place in a brown bag, and a wine professional would likely guess this to be a very good quality, cooler climate French red. The lively berry fruit, subtle violet floral aspects and firm, poised tannin structure all point to a French effort, perhaps in the Loire or one of the villages in Beaujolais. That said, this Malbec and Pinot Noir blend is impressive. Do not expect loads of fruit but do expect a crisp, balanced, low 12% ABV red for your next whole roasted chicken and oven crisped yukon gold potato dinner. Fun stuff!
Price: $17.99 Add To Cart
RP 92

2012 Marqués de Murrieta Reserva Rioja
Review Date: 01-18-2017
While we certainly have come to expect increasingly great wines from the venerable Marqués de Murrieta (their 2010 Reserva was one of our best selling wines of 2016) this 2012 maybe even tops that great wine. On the nose, rich cherry compote, red fruits, saddle leather, sweet spices and hints of new oak and cedar, combine for a classic Murrieta profile. Flavors of fresh and firm, bright fruits are more poised and bright than even the beautiful nose suggests - this must be the Mazuelo and Garnacha talking! Fantastic Rioja to buy/hold, buy and drink, or ideally, to buy/drink/hold! I would load up on this one. Despite the production volume this one never lasts us nearly as long as we would like.
Price: $19.99 Add To Cart
JS 95 RP 92

2014 Mas Que Vinos "Ercavio" Tempranillo Roble Tierra de Castilla
Review Date: 01-10-2017
This is the most serious Tempranillo I've seen from La Mancha. It is generously dark fruited, with hints of savory, wet tobacco underlying in the background and an impressive mineral thread running through the wine. Under $10 wines are occasionally tasty, even delicious, but rarely are they delicious and as seriously put together as this wine. I was impressed by the 2013, but this 2014 ratchets up the intensity while maintaining even more balance between the fruit, tannins and wood. The Wine Advocate review states "It tastes like a much more expensive wine," I wouldn't fault someone for finding that cliché, but if Luis Gutierrez says it then this praise is truly earned. I'm very impressed.
Price: $9.99 Add To Cart
RP 90

2013 Bodegas Palacios Remondo "La Montesa" Crianza Rioja
Review Date: 01-10-2017
La Montesa is poised to become one of the consistently great (read: best under $20) red wines available from anywhere. Thanks to Alvaro Palacios' years of experience in Rioja and Priorat, as well as his insistence on re-invention, we can continue to look forward to the wines he's producing at his family winery in Alfaro, Rioja. This is pure Garnacha driven Rioja (70% Garnacha, 25% Tempranillo, 5% Mazuelo) from a vineyard covered in large stones . The freshness from Garnacha, as shown in flavors ranging from red fruits to orange peels, combined with marked minerality and subtle earthy savor, makes for a delicious example of Rioja. An entirely original red that is a pleasure to drink.
Price: $14.99 Add To Cart
WS 91

2010 La Rioja Alta "Viña Alberdi" Reserva Rioja
Review Date: 12-14-2016
Upon first whiff, the 2010 Viña Alberdi is spicy, with the cedary oak notes nearly stealing the show. There are of course baking spices and pretty fruits as well, which both become more evident on the palate, where they combine with the oak for a nicely balanced, "bien clasico" expression of Rioja. This level of quality and traditional craftsmanship at under $18 makes this a must in your regular rotation!
Price: $17.99 Add To Cart
JS 95 RP 91

2014 Borsao "Tres Picos" Garnacha Campo de Borja
Review Date: 12-13-2016
There is no Spanish red I can think of that has more consistently offered as easy and tasty an introduction to the world of Spanish wines over the past 15 or so years as Borsao Tres Picos. Full of ripe dark and red fruits, hints of licorice, a smoky/sweet veneer of brief oak ageing and all with more interesting minerality than most any other $15 commercial red has any business showing!

2014 Errazuriz Chardonnay Aconcagua Costa
Review Date: 11-30-2016
We have had some terrific finds of late for serious value Chardonnay in Chile's Aconcagua Costa DO. Here, in addition to the coastal influence, you have interesting and complex soil types, loaded with schist, which appear to give the wines a certain drive and freshness. This 2014 from Errazuriz is no exception. A nose of Yellow Delicious apples gives way to a palate full of crunchy, appley, lemony fruit, with an overall linear and lean quality that almost seem to suggest Burgundy more so than New World. In fact, I tasted this an hour ago next to Paul Pernot Bourgogne (yes, Paul Pernot of Puligny-Montrachet fame) and it more than held its own. If you love Chardonnay, this ought to be in your glass.

2012 Matetic "Corralillo" Pinot Noir San Antonio Valley
Review Date: 11-30-2016
I was impressed by this tasty bottle of cool climate Pinot, particularly at how well it is showing after a couple years of aging in bottle. The aromas have taken on a combination of fresh and dried fruit qualities to them. On the palate the flavors are developing nicely, with dark plum, fruit leather, balanced freshness and a solid presence on the mid-palate. It's tough to beat this Pinot Noir for tastiness and overall balance at under $13.
Price: $12.99 Add To Cart
W&S 90 WE 90

2012 Bodegas Castaño "Hécula" Monastrell Yecla
Review Date: 11-30-2016
This perennial best buy is on its "A" game in 2012, a vintage that was especially successful in southeastern Spain for its climatically even nature, not quite as hot as usual. After nearly a year in bottle, I'm coming back to this Monastrell and still finding licorice and black pepper aromas, with fruits that are more red than dark, in particular think cranberry or pomegranate. On the palate the slightly toasty elements are integrating nicely, and there is still a clear underpinning of calcareous driven minerality. Still a terrific value at under $10. and one to buy in quantity.
Price: $9.99 Add To Cart
RP 91

2013 Bodegas Colomé "Estate" Malbec Valle Calchaquí Salta
Review Date: 11-30-2016
This is another very strong showing from the kings of Salta Malbec at Colomé. Bolstered by a small amount of tannat blended in, Colomé's 2013 is loaded with dark fruited, mineral and tannin driven structure. There is a lot of material in this wine. Normally a very good deal at $25, at under $20 this is a must have for any fan of Malbec, and for that matter anyone who appreciates full-bodied, richer Cabernet made from mountain fruit.
Price: $19.99 Add To Cart
JS 93 RP 90

2009 Bodegas Muga "Prado Enea" Gran Reserva Rioja
Review Date: 11-30-2016
Now I love Prado Enea in most any vintage (of course they do not make it every year, only in the best years), but even given that context, the 2009 is truly fantastic. A wonderful year in Rioja Alta, you can truly appreciate the intensity, fruit purity, precision and outright deliciousness in this wine. Spicy/sweet aromas of blue fruits and wild mixed berry compote, a touch of cassis as well, lead to a palate of perfectly ripe fruit that also gains in freshness and minerality as it sits in the glass and you take another sip. Great wines as balanced as Prado Enea, particularly in perfectly ripe years, are really tempting and enjoyable to drink young, but certainly will repay mid to long term cellaring, so ideally you can enjoy a bottle or two now and stash away many more. Muga's Prado Enea is one of the most consistent, cellar worthy values remaining amongst the word's great wines.

2013 Love & Squalor Willamette Valley Pinot Noir
Review Date: 11-29-2016
My kind of Pinot Noir, Love & Squalor opens on the nose with delicately floral, fragrant red fruits. The palate has such a lovely light touch, with lifted aromatics and a complete lack of imposed fruitiness, overt oak flavors or heavy tannins. Pinot Noir for Pinot Noir drinkers! Provided that you like 'em light and pretty, I'm quite confident you will love this beautiful Williamette Valley Pinot Noir.

Cossart Gordon 5 Year Old Bual Madeira
Review Date: 11-09-2016
Cossart Gordon, founded in 1759, is a Bual specialist, only bottling Madeiras from this noble grape variety known for producing slightly spicy and medium sweet styles of Madeira. This example shows lovely candied fruits and a rich buttery toffee quality, with refreshing acidity and even some saline notes as well. Great value.
Price: $21.99 Add To Cart

2012 Honorío Rubio "Lías Finas" Blanco Rioja
Review Date: 11-09-2016
I love this traditional tasting, tasty white Rioja from Honorio Rubio. Given the incredible terroir in his old vine yards, as well as the wine's careful elaboration, you are not going to find a more soulful, traditional white Rioja than this. High toned citrus fruits combine with a creamy, lees driven roundness and gentle oak notes on this classic, stylish white.
Price: $27.99 Add To Cart

Honorío Rubio "Añadas" Blanco Rioja
Review Date: 11-09-2016
This is the big boy, the solera aged Viura which in style and spirit is amongst the most reminiscent of LdH Tondonia Blanco of any white Riojas I have ever tasted. This wine is fantastic, cutting a broad swath across the palate with intense yellow skinned fruit flavors, fresh acidity, and an old time, traditional flavor profile. Like Honorio's other white wines, this is clearly not for everyone but I suspect it will have some seriously loyal fans who quickly gobble up the few bottles we bring in.
Price: $39.99 Add To Cart
RP 93

2014 Laventura Malvasia Rioja
Review Date: 11-09-2016
As juicy, clean and delicious an "orange" wine (so called for its extended maceration of the skins) as I've tasted in a while, Laventura's Malvasia manages to combined the fresh stone fruit of Malvasia with lovely, discreet floral aromatics in this original Rioja white. Delicious and versatile at table, this is absolutely worth a try.
Price: $24.99 Add To Cart

2014 Laventura Rioja
Review Date: 11-09-2016
A blend of Tempranillo with 5% Mazuelo and Garnacha, this is a red Rioja unlike any other I have tried. Grippy cherry fruit flavors are precise, taut, and linear. Winemaker Bryan MacDonald likes to play with stem inclusion, which shows on the structure of this wine. There is not an ounce of fat here, no spicy oak notes (the winemaker prefers thicker stave, larger wooden barrels which are more subtle) and low alcohol (under 13% ABV). A refreshing, original Rioja that is a terrific value and should cellar well in the mid-term. A must try both for Rioja collectors and fans of old world wines.
Price: $19.99 Add To Cart
RP 90

2012 Miguel Merino "Viñas Jovenes" Crianza Rioja
Review Date: 11-09-2016
I'm very excited to have Viñas Jovenes back in stock! Miguel does not make much of this Crianza, and it always sells out quickly, particularly in Logroño where it seemed as though all of my favorite, higher end tapas spots were pouring it by the glass! Dark fruits combine with structured, ripe tannins, and lovely minerality to create this under $15 value. For those who appreciate a bit more weight and richness in their Riojas, I don't think you will find better value than this.
Price: $14.99 Add To Cart

2009 Miguel Merino "Vitola" Reserva Rioja
Review Date: 11-09-2016
This is a great, young Vitola! 2009 was a fantastic vintage in Rioja Alta, and it shows with this wine's rich fruits, full volume in the mouth, and elegant balance of density and freshness. For fans of Napa reds, there is a lot to like here and this would make for a great intro to Rioja. That said, Given the quality of Miguel's vineyards and winemaking, Rioja fans should also jump on this wine. Hint: it will age very well....
Price: $19.99 Add To Cart

2012 Au Bon Climat "Historic Vineyards Collection-Bien Nacido Vineyard" Santa Maria Valley Chardonnay
Review Date: 11-09-2016
Plain and simple, this is California Chardonnay done right! For fans of oak, you do have some satisfyingly toasty, buttered popcorn qualities combining with the fruit on the nose. On the palate, though, is where the wine really delivers, with rich flavors of lemon curd and delicious, tangy apricot, framed perfectly by the oak. Along with Qupe, when an Au Bon Climat Chardonnay is on its 'A' game it is quite a serious white wine, with powerful flavors and mouth watering acidity. Delicious and highly recommended.

2013 Clos de los Siete Red Blend Mendoza
Review Date: 11-02-2016
A blend of Malbec, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah and Petit Verdot, this is a very friendly style of red from one of the masters of blending, Michel Rolland, along with his Bordelaise chateaux owner partners. The wine's rich, intense mixed berry fruit speaks to the vineyard location in the Valle de Uco, while its finesse, supple tannins and red fruits suggest the skill of blending and a modern, Bordelaise approach to winemaking. Enjoy with any of your favorite foods--even though the wine is from Argentina, drinking it with a grilled steak is not compulsory!
Price: $17.99 Add To Cart
JS 92 VN 90

2010 Vivanco Reserva Rioja
Review Date: 10-14-2016
A great Rioja from the excellent 2010 harvest, Vivanco is an example of a winery making carefully crafted Rioja which combines the richer, more succulent fruit of a modernly styled wine, with the experience and know-how of an estate that has been at it for quite some time. A hefty chunk of Graciano (10%) seems to contribute to the darker fruit profile and overall sense of fruit purity and balance. For someone whose experience with wine is largely based on California wines and is looking to branch out into Rioja, this would be a terrific place to start. In addition to Dinastia Vivanco's winery, there is a HUGE museum of wine on the premises; you could easily spend a few hours admiring the collection of wine related exhibits, explanation of production methods, and amazing collection of pieces which the Vivanco family has acquired. The Vivanco property is located in the town of Briones, just a stone's throw away from our own direct-import producer, Miguel Merino.
Price: $24.99 Add To Cart
RP 92 WS 92

2015 Kingston Family Vineyards "Alazan" Pinot Noir Casablanca Valley
Review Date: 10-07-2016
This Chilean-by-way-of-Portola Valley, California family winery continues to make some of our favorite vinos Chilenos. According to Courtney Kingston, her wines show a "gout de Casablanca," a distinctly smoky and mineral tinged quality which she believes mark her red wines. We tend to agree with that description. "Alazan" is their more serious Pinot Noir, one that relies upon some whole cluster inclusion and a good amount of massale selection Valdivieso vines for its balanced, slightly savory and complex profile. If you're looking for Chilean Pinot with a wonderful balance between fruit, mineral and floral flavors, then look no further.
Price: $29.99 Add To Cart
JS 95 VN 92

2015 Montsecano Pinot Noir Casablanca Valley
Review Date: 09-08-2016
After several years of hard work and lots of progress, we can see the incredible results in Montsecano's 2015 Pinot Noir. It has all the effusive, bright, energetic notes of coastal Pinot Noir, with the added density and richness of texture which many believe is inferred by such "neutral" vessels as concrete eggs. It also has the unmistakable, subtle, coastal range-influenced herbal savor of Casablanca Valley in the background as well. All of this adds up to a delicious expression of top notch Pinot Noir. Highly recommended.
Price: $39.99 Add To Cart
JS 96

2014 Zorzal "Terroir Unico" Pinot Noir Tupungato Valley
Review Date: 08-31-2016
Zorzal continues to offer the goods for fans of balanced, delicious wines showing great typicity and terroir. Take their most recent Pinot Noir, for example: a wine that shows fresh, lively fruit with a subtle underpinning of structure that comes from stem inclusion as well as picking grapes just at the point of ripeness. For the price, I don't think we have any PN better than (or even close to as good as) this!
Price: $14.99 Add To Cart
RP 90

2013 Tapiz "Alta Collection" Malbec Mendoza
Review Date: 08-30-2016
The Tapiz hits the spot for a juicy, fruit forward Malbec that still does not lack for structure and overall balance. Most importantly, though, with its red and dark fruits and hints of spice and licorice, it is a delicous, easy to drink red for a budget friendly price.
Price: $13.99 Add To Cart
JS 95

2012 Joan d'Anguera "Finca L'Argata" Montsant
Review Date: 08-30-2016
Joan and Joseph d'Anguera have been making some serious changes at their family-owned winery over the past decade or so. Starting with a focus on organic farming, the brothers soon reaped the rewards of healthier vineyards and fruit, but felt that they were still looking for brighter, lighter, fresher wines. To achieve this they began picking a bit earlier and including some whole clusters in the fermentation, going for what Joseph calls more an "infusion" rather than extraction, of color and flavor. This 2012 consists primarily of Garnacha, with 15% Syrah added in. This is an intense wine, but also a taut one, rather linear, with fresh aromas and flavors of wild berries and fennel. Serious, but very drinkable wine.
Price: $29.99 Add To Cart
VN 91 WE 90

2007 La Rioja Alta "Viña Ardanza" Reserva Rioja
Review Date: 08-23-2016
The 2007 Viña Ardanza is showing very well right now. While not necessarily a departure from the house style (if you've liked it in the past, I suspect you will continue to with this vintage), I will say that it shows a bit more development than normal, perhaps with a more dark fruited and savory profile. It seems like the Rioja Alta Tempranillo is more dominant in the 07. Vintage characteristics aside, Viña Ardanza is one of the true bargains in the wine world, a wine which spends three years in barrel, another three in bottle, and is produced from fruit which hails from time tested vineyard sources (many owned by the winery). When it comes to Rioja, this is the one that, perhaps more than any other, I can depend upon to be delicious in California, satisfying in Spain, wonderful now or fantastic after aging. A must-have for me.

2004 Lopez de Heredia "Viña Tondonia" Reserva Rioja
Review Date: 08-23-2016
This is a fantastic Tondonia, one of my favorites at this relatively early stage. What I love about the 04 is it tension, it's taut fruit and acid forward personality. Starting from the top with the aromatics, there are some interesting notes of tar, bitter licorice and a slight suggestion of cumin as well. On the palate is where things become really interesting, as the fruit is fresh, incredibly so for having spent so long in barrel. Keep in mind these are used barrels, and not merely 2nd, 3rd or 4th year, but perhaps 16th or 20th year. This is the sort of wine I invariably want to drink, and cellar, in quantity. Don't miss it.

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