Staff Favorites - David Driscoll

David Driscoll
David Driscoll  | Send Email  |   Subscribe to My Sommelier Service
David Driscoll likes to drink alcohol when he is not working at K&L. His main interests include wine, beer, and distilled spirits. Before he worked here he went to college at a decent school, got a masters degree from an OK school, worked as a waiter and taught elementary school in Chinatown. He decided to get into the wine business after reading a few books about wine and realizing that one cannot seriously learn about wine solely through reading. His career goals include: trying to convince K&L customers that he does know something despite his youthful appearance, and learning everything about everything about every single wine ever made.


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2015 Jax Vineyard "Y3" Napa Valley Chardonnay
Review Date: 05-17-2017
Jax is our local winemaker of choice here at K&L with the owners living nearby our Redwood City store and the tasting bar just down the street from our SF store. The wines have always represented top quality for the money, and the Y3 Chardonnay is another example of how Jax is sourcing serious fruit, making serious wine, and turning up the heat on other California producers in this price point with knock-out expressions. The 2015 is a perfect balance between classic CA richness and the fresher, cleaner style foodies tend to look for today. There's a ripeness of fruit, but a clean and refreshing finish. I'm so happy to see these guys taking off because no one deserves it more.
Price: $19.99 Add To Cart
WE 93

2014 Le St-Estephe de Montrose, St-Estèphe
Review Date: 05-16-2017
Since the "Dame" is the official second label of Montrose, I guess that makes "Le St. Estephe" the the third wine, but pound for pound I think it's right there with the great lady. Considering most properties generally use their youngest vines for their second and third label expressions, you can really see just how much effort Montrose put into revitalizing their vineyards with this release. The "Le St. Estephe" is a gorgeous and precise claret, one that seamlessly weaves delicate fruit, dry earth, and soft tannins into a medium-bodied, old school style. Far from a fruit bomb, the wine never lacks ripeness or roundness, but it's beautifully integrated into the other elements here. 2014 is not only a great vintage for the grand vin, it's a great vintage to demonstrate just how deep the quality runs at Montrose today since the new owners took over in 2006.
Price: $26.99 Add To Cart

1996 Longmorn 20 Year Old "Old Malt Cask" Single Barrel Single Malt Whisky (750ml)
Review Date: 05-15-2017
Longmorn is such a dependable whisky that I would probably buy a cask untasted and unseen if pressed. Luckily, I don't have to, but it's rare that I taste an example that disappoints. This 20 year old is a carbon copy of some of the Signatory 20 year casks we did a few years back, but the Brexit pricing of the Pound nets us a serious discount here. This is honeyed, butterscotch-laden, creamy Highland malt at 100 proof that drinks beautifully both neat and on the rocks. As long as I can keep getting barrels like this for sub-$100 a bottle, expect the good times to continue rolling. This is a hot deal.
Price: $79.99 Add To Cart

1997 Benrinnes 19 Year Old "Old Malt Cask" Single Barrel Single Malt Whisky (750ml)
Review Date: 05-15-2017
I'd say not only is Benrinnes my favorite Highland distillery in Scotland, I'd say it's also one of the most consistently wonderful. Not only is the malt deliciously sweet, so are the people who work there. Because Benrinnes isn't sold as a single malt brand, the distillery isn't open to the public, but when we popped by a few years ago to visit they were so welcoming to us and gave us the full tour. The whisky is used almost entirely for Johnnie Walker, but we've been lucky to sneak a few casks over the years. The tall pot stills allow for a round and rich spirit that stands completely on its own, without the need for sherry maturation or peat. This is a supple, round, and dangerously drinkable whisky that we will buy every single time we get the chance. This new OMC expression drinks very much like our 20 year Signatory selection from Benrinnes, but for about 30% less the price.
Price: $69.99 Add To Cart

2005 Larmande, St-Emilion
Review Date: 05-11-2017
When we can go back to the sweet-drinking wells of 2005 and 2009 and pull out deals like this, it's always a wonderful thing! Chateau Larmande is an overlooked property in St. Emilion, despite being one of the oldest producers in the region. In fact, some of their vines are more than 100 years old, giving the chateau some of the oldest and deepest roots on the Right Bank. After more than a decade in the bottle, this wine is in a beautiful spot and if you're looking for a great dinner wine that will show well straight out of the bottle, this is your guy. If you're headed to the steakhouse, and you need a slam dunk Bordeaux for $50 or less, this is what I'm putting in your hand. The Merlot fruit is still soft and supple despite the wine's age, and there's an integrated silkiness that glides over the palate with subtle secondary notes like earth and tobacco.
Price: $39.99 Add To Cart
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Suntory 12 Year Old "Hakushu" Japanese Peated Single Malt Whisky (750ml)
Review Date: 05-08-2017
Personally, I’ve always been surprised how much more popular the Yamazaki 12 is compared to its sibling the Hakushu 12. To me, the Yamazaki has always been a fine whiskey, but the more dynamic malt is easily the Hakushu, which as pretty much the same delicate and light-drinking flavor profile as the Yamazaki, but with just the faintest touch of smoke. It's so ethereal straight out of the glass, but I feel like it tastes even better with ice (I know that's tough for some people to handle). The subtle peat is like a ghost that moves slowly around every part of my palate, brushing it with hints of earth and phenolic goodness after coating it with sweet grains. With our new pricing, this is a can't miss deal. It's nice to have some real quantity again!
Price: $68.99 Add To Cart

Suntory Toki Japanese Whisky (750ml)
Review Date: 05-08-2017
When the Suntory Toki first launched at $45, it was a bit of a stretch because of how hot the market was for Japanese whisky. I'm much more comfortable selling this in the mid-thirties, however, and with our new pricing we can do that. While you sip on your bottle of Yamazaki or Hakushu, you pour this one on the rocks, add some soda water, and make yourself a real mizuwari--the great whisky soda that dominates Japan's drinking culture. The fruitiness on the nose really blossoms with the addition of bubbles, so don't be shy here. Do Japanese whisky right and drink it how it's intended!
Price: $36.99 Add To Cart

2014 HdV "Hyde de Villaine" Hyde Vineyard Carneros Chardonnay
Review Date: 05-08-2017
We have a high demand for high end California chardonnay. I get asked for recommendations all the time for bottles in the $60-$100 range, for which I'm of course grateful! Yet, the problem for me is that there are few CA chards that I feel fit the bill at that price point. Burgundy? No problem. I've got dozens of favorites, but in California it's tough for me to justify spending above $50. When I do taste something truly great in that elevated range I make a serious note of it, and that's what happened with the 2014 Hyde de Villaine. The DRC connection has put together a seriously stunning chardonnay, mainly because of the vibrant acidity this baby displays. It's like a laser beam of acid running directly through subtle notes of oak, pear, and orchard fruit. It's definitely a middle of the road style, meant to cater to both sides of the white wine spectrum, and in my case I got pulled right into that appeal. This is a slam dunk bottle of California white wine that easily justifies its price point.
Price: $64.99 Add To Cart
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Kilchoman "K&L Exclusive" Single Red Wine Barrel Cask Strength Single Malt Whisky (750ml)
Review Date: 05-02-2017
Tasting this as a barrel sample, I had to call the distillery and tell them I needed the whisky at cask strength! They told me: "David, it's at full proof: 60.3%." I couldn't believe it. I've tasted sherry barrels where the sweetness from the Oloroso wine masked the power of the alcohol, but never have I seen that happen with a red wine barrel. Simply put, this is one of the most delicious and dangerously drinkable Kilchoman's I've had the pleasure to taste. Islay's smallest distillery has long been releasing beautifully concentrated and polished single malt expressions, but few have had the richness and the balance exhibited by this single barrel release. The red fruits from the wine barrel never taste like a gimmick or some odd attempt at creating something new. Everything about this whisky is integrated, just in a way I can't say I've ever experienced. Simply put, you should buy this whisky because it's absolutely delicious. But if you're an explorer and an experimenter of Scotch whisky, this is also one of the most unique offerings I've tasted in some time.
Price: $99.99 Add To Cart

Casa Dragones Blanco Tequila (750ml)
Review Date: 05-01-2017
While the Casa Dragones sipping tequila has long represented the ultimate in smooth and supple, what I love about the much more affordable blanco is that it maintains that same characteristic softness and purity while adding in more traditional tequila flavors of pepper, spice, and even a savory herbaceousness. The result is a refined and elegant style of blanco tequila that should please modernists and traditionalists alike. The beautiful blue box only seals the deal!
Price: $58.99 Add To Cart

2014 Jacques Bavard Monthelie Blanc
Review Date: 04-27-2017
We call this "baby Montrachet" at K&L because it has both the richness and the elegance you might expect from a fine $40-$60 white from the Cote d'Beaune, but for much less. While we get a number of different commune whites from Bavard each year, the Monthelie is the gold standard. It's equal parts crisp, mineral-driven, racy acidity and ripe, round, subtly-oaked richness. 2014 is the best I've tasted from this wine since I've worked here, so add that an incredible vintage into the mix.
Price: $29.99 Add To Cart

2014 Jacques Bavard Bourgogne Blanc
Review Date: 04-27-2017
This is the great twenty dollar bottle of white Burgundy in the store and for a standard Bourgogne blanc we're talking about much smaller quantities. Whereas other producers may make ten thousand cases of bulk wine from fruit sourced from wherever it can be found throughout the region, Bavard uses his relationships to secure small parcels of high quality chardonnay near Puligny for this expression. It's one of the best Burgundy values we carry and it's of a quality beyond what $20 usually nets you in this genre.
Price: $19.99 Add To Cart

2015 Jean-Michel Dupre "1935" Morgon
Review Date: 04-27-2017
Of all the Beaujolais wines we tasted from the fantastic 2015 vintage, the Dupre 1935 was the best, boldest, and most delicious. It's like magic in a bottle for a price that makes volume purchasing an attractive option. The deep and concentrated fruit flavors come from the ancient vines, upon which only small quantities of gamay grapes continue to grow. The juiciness and pureness of that red and blackberry fruit explodes on the palate and the wine is balanced by buoyant acidity. If you've never had real "cru level" Beaujolais before, make this your first and see what the fuss was about. If you're already a fan of the style, then go deep on this. This is as good as Beaujolais gets, in my opinion.

2015 Pierre-Yves Colin-Morey St. Aubin "Le Banc"
Review Date: 04-23-2017
A wine that showcases the talents of perhaps the region's most popular winemaker (the descendent of the aforementioned Marc Colin). Pierre-Yves has become renowned for his snappy and focused flavors, choosing not to stir up the lees for added richness so as to let the terroir's true character shine through. The "Le Banc" has a bit more oak, but it's still carrying that limey and lemony acidity right to the finish; there's almost a mineral residue on your palate minutes later. Again, you'll pay double for Colin's Montrachet expressions, but you won't necessarily get more out of them. Considering Pierre-Yves's hipster street cred, I'm surprised the wine wasn't more expensive.
Price: $44.99 Add To Cart

2014 Jim Barry "Cover Drive" Cabernet Sauvignon Coonawarra South Australia
Review Date: 04-20-2017
Yeeesssssss.......pure-fruited, elegant, low alcohol (13.5%) cabernet from Coonawarra for fifteen bucks! As a passionate Bordeaux drinker, I have to say I've become a bit smitten with the cabs of Australia over the last year, mainly because they offer many of the subtle nuances and earthy undertones that I enjoy from the Medoc wines. The Barry "Cover Drive" is a great example of that crossover potential. There's fruit, but it's layered with spice and notes of brush, so it's never overtly ripe or too supple. The finish is lean and mean--none of that new oak nonsense and clean with elegant tannins. It's a whole 'lotta wine for the money. Grab a few for the mid-week and save your Pichon-Baron for a fancier weekend dinner.
Price: $14.95 Add To Cart
W&S 91 WE 91

2014 Tapiz "Alta Collection" Cabernet Sauvignon Mendoza
Review Date: 04-15-2017
I think the shocking part for me about the Tapiz Alta Cabernet is how subdued and Bordeaux-like it is. Normally when we see highly-pointed, bargain-priced Cabernet from the Southern Hemisphere it's in a fruit bomb style or it's oaked to holy hell. This wine is neither. At 13.9%, this is a lower alcohol, cooler climate style of Cab that drinks like something in between St. Estephe and Napa. Rarely do I say to customers "you should buy that fourteen dollar Cabernet to lay down in your cellar," but in the case of the Tapiz this is honestly a sub-$20 bottle that should only get better. Right out of the bottle you can feel the structure on your gums, the hints of earth and tobacco that penetrate through the soft and supple texture of the wine. Fans of both the old and new world styles should be pleased. Fans of inexpensive Tuesday night meatloaf Cab will want to load up big.
Price: $14.99 Add To Cart
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2014 Lilian Ladouys, St-Estèphe
Review Date: 04-07-2017
The secret of the 47 hectare Lilian Ladouys property is its bevy of high-density old vines, roughly forty to sixty years of age, that form concentrated berries full of intensity. The result is a supple and sweet-fruited palate full of blackberries and spice, plump from the merlot, but balanced by the 40% of cabernet sauvignon that adds just enough grip to all that ripeness. This is one of my new favorite mid-week Bordeaux options. Personally, I've been allocating all my extra cash to 2014 Bordeaux as the prices are going to look even better once the big 2016 numbers start coming out in the near future. Load up while you can!

2014 Tour St-Christophe, St-Émilion
Review Date: 04-07-2017
The first thing that impressed me about Tour St. Christophe was the vineyards. We first saw the site after having lunch at Barde-Haut and noticed these gorgeously terraced rows of vines cascading down the rolling hills of St. Emilion. After we figured out who owned the property, we decided to try the wines. That's when the second impressive thing about Tour St. Christophe emerged: the price to quality ratio. I'm a big fan of the Right Bank wines and I think it's about time the general American public got over its longstanding (and misguided) merlot phobia. The 2014 vintage from Bordeaux is exploding with values right now and this is one of the best. This is a full-bodied, rich, and mouthcoating St. Emilion with more gusto than much of what I've tasted from the vintage. For the price, it could be your next gateway bottle. 2014, 15, and 16 are looking to be serious Right Bank harvests, so this is a great little homework assignment for the future.

Lagavulin 8 Year Old Limited Edition Islay Single Malt Scotch Whisky (750ml)
Review Date: 04-06-2017
This 8 year version of Lagavulin is even more quintessentially Islay than the 16. It's fresher, livelier, peatier, and simply more dynamic on the palate. I also love that Lagavulin paid homage to the classic whisky travel book "The Whisky Distilleries of Scotland" by Alfred Barnard, a writer who visited all 150 active distilleries in the UK back in the late 19th century. He specifically mentions an "exceptionally fine" Lagavulin 8 year expression, and it's clear from tasting the modern rendition why he felt so strongly. It's a lovely whisky and it very much speaks to the strength of what may be Scotland's top producer.
Price: $59.99 Add To Cart

2015 Ridge "Estate" Santa Cruz Mountains Chardonnay
Review Date: 04-05-2017
I was completely shocked by this wine, but in a good way! They've really scaled back the oak this year at Ridge and allowed the crisp and clean acidity of quality Santa Cruz Mountain fruit to shine through. There's still richness there, but it's more akin to something like Chassagne-Montrachet rather than Napa. It's an elegant wine from front to back and that vibrant acidity makes me want more, and more, and more with each sip I take. Top notch stuff.
Price: $52.99 Add To Cart
WS 92

2014 Ridge "Estate" Santa Cruz Mountains Cabernet Sauvignon
Review Date: 04-05-2017
I've been buying this wine every year since I first started working at K&L and this 2014 edition might be my favorite edition thus far. It's absolutely lovely. There's plenty of plush plum and dark berry fruit, but with that acidity and earthy spice that make Santa Cruz Mountain cabernet what it is. It's full and supple on the palate, but again that weight doesn't overwhelm or throw off the balance in any way. This is a great mid-range bottle of serious CA cabernet.
Price: $54.99 Add To Cart

2013 Pied á Terre Sonoma County Cabernet Sauvignon
Review Date: 04-05-2017
This is an outstanding California cabernet for people like myself who love the dustier and mineral-driven flavors of French Bordeaux. The Pied a Terre is a cooler climate style of cabernet. It has structure and grit with flavors of graphite and pepper underneath the robust and dark-fruited core. There's plenty of fruit, it's just that it doesn't come at the expense of complexity. The price is the real kicker. It tastes a lot more expensive than $25. I could bring this to a steakhouse and really do some damage.
Price: $24.99 Add To Cart

2015 Les Freres Perroud Bourgogne Blanc
Review Date: 04-05-2017
As much as I've fallen for the Perroud reds this year, I was actually quite taken by their quaint little Bourgogne blanc, a wine that offers much more richness than what we normally see in the Macon or in Chablis. 2015 was a warmer vintage and their hillside vineyards got plenty of sun (when they weren't getting pounded with hail), so the chardonnay has plenty of creamy texture. It's not all hedonistic, however, as if there's one thing the Perrouds do well it's balance. There's a fresh and fruity backbone to those richer notes of baked apple and spice. It's utterly charming stuff.
Price: $14.99 Add To Cart

2015 Les Freres Perroud Bourgogne Pinot Noir (organic)
Review Date: 04-05-2017
While the Perroud brothers are Beaujolais winemakers, they're so good at what don't overlook their absolutely charming 2015 Bourgogne Rouge, a wine that honestly may be the best sub-$20 Bourgogne rouge we've ever carried. Farmed entirely organically as well and seductive on the palate, the soft red fruits almost melt in your mouth: raspberries, strawberries, cherries, and hints of baking spice on the finish. It's so simple to drink and even easier to fall in love with!
Price: $16.99 Add To Cart

2015 Les Freres Perroud "Vieilles Vignes" Brouilly
Review Date: 04-05-2017
This wine just explodes in your mouth with dark cassis fruit, anise, mineral notes, and a juiciness that speaks to the careful vineyard management by the Perroud brothers. For the price, I would put the VV along side the best red wine deals in the store from anywhere. There's a freshness underneath all that fruit and secondary complexity that accents and highlights the acidity. If you still think Beaujolais is just that supermarket fruit juice you see every November, this bottle should be mandatory in your education. There's a very serious world of "cru" Beaujolais beyond the limitations of the carbonic "nouveau". And we're offering a great example of that seriousness for a very serious price.
Price: $14.99 Add To Cart
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2015 Les Frères Perroud "Amethyste" Brouilly
Review Date: 04-05-2017
Of all the Beaujolais producers we've begun working with directly over the last year, I'm most smitten with the Perroud bothers. Not only is their portfolio a dynamic and diverse one, all of their wines seem to simply burst with freshness, concentration, and simple charm. The "Amethyste" is a plump and dark fruited Beaujolais that really speaks to the quality of the Perroud family's Brouilly hillside vineyards and the organic and sustainable viticulture they practice. Put this side by side with any other "cru" Beaujolais in the same price point and I think the difference is pretty clear. The "Amethyste" is deeper, darker, denser, and more complex than just about any of its peers. This is quite the find for our Burgundy department.
Price: $16.99 Add To Cart

2013 Xanadu Estate Cabernet Sauvignon Margaret River Western Australia
Review Date: 04-04-2017
I strongly and passionately feel like Australia is the future of cabernet sauvignon, mainly because it has all the youthful drinkability that California wine lovers appreciate, but with the complexity and depth that we have generally have to wait for with Bordeaux. Because of that dichotomy, the best wines from Margaret River are often compared to the top growths of the Medoc, but as you can see with the Xanadu Estate cabernet here the prices are much, much more affordable (like a fraction of what fine Pauillac would run you). I've tasted this wine about five separate times now and each time I've been taken aback by the concentration of fruit and the subtle accents of earth, spice, and leather. The wine is silky, yet nuanced. It's polished, but in no way sweet or overtly airbrushed. It's just a slam dunk bottle of cab with style and gusto, from a serious plot of land, for a reasonable price, and with a screw cap to boot. It's everything I love about Australian wine right now: panache without pretense.

2013 Hacienda Monasterio Ribera del Duero Crianza
Review Date: 03-29-2017
This is the type of bottle you bring to a party where it absolutely destroys every other wine on the table. California fans who appreciate milder Cabs, heavier Pinot Noirs, balanced Zinfandels, and silky tannins from front to back will likely fall head over heels for this lovely little Ribero del Duero. There's a reason the experts have been predicting a Spanish renaissance for years at this point: the quality-to-dollar ratio is absolutely insane (just like partying in Barcelona, you end up getting a carafe of wine, a cheese plate, and endless snacks for like nine dollars). The Monasterio is a seamless wave of absolutely gorgeous red berry fruit that creeps slowly over the palate with precision. I have to imagine the fruit will reside over time and secondary flavors will emerge, but when it tastes this good right now you'd be hard-pressed to lay off. This is beautiful stuff. It's accessible, yet complex. Easy to like, but nuanced and layered. Like I said at the beginning, bring this to a dinner party and set your watch; they'll be oohing and ahhing in a matter of minutes.

2010 Cune Gran Reserva Rioja
Review Date: 03-10-2017
The Cune is a far more restrained and serious Rioja than the price gives it credit for. This isn't that soft and sultry little Tempranillo that loads up the fruit and oak up front for a short finish on the back. No, no, no! This is a structural, brooding, mouthful of everything we love about Rioja's rustic roots. There's a lovely amount of dried cherry fruit to bolster the wine, but it's accented with firm, but chewy tannins and secondary flavors of earth and spice. I keep telling Bordeaux drinkers that Rioja is their next great adventure (and it's a helluva a lot cheaper). Wines like the Cune show you can still find serious selections with age and depth that are cellar-worthy and will only get better with time. The 2010 Reserva has a lot in common with some of the medium-bodied Bordeaux blends at twice the price.

2014 Argyle "Reserve" Willamette Valley Pinot Noir
Review Date: 03-08-2017
This wine is absolutely stunning just to look at in the glass! It's a gorgeous crimson and violet color that hypnotizes you instantly while you pour it. That's a good thing, however, because the 2014 Argyle Reserve needs about 15 minutes to open up before it really starts to show you what it's got. It's a good idea to just stare at your glass for a bit. When the air opens it up, the wine is textbook Willamette through and through: raspberry notes with hints of forest floor that are fortified by the bright acidity and somewhat firm tannins. It's the whole package for those curious as to what Oregon offers. Don't let the screw cap fool you either - this is a wine that can easily lay down in the cellar for a few years. Oregon pinot fans should be thrilled either way. This is a serious pinot noir that can be decanted for dinner tonight or stored away for a celebration down the line.
Price: $28.99 Add To Cart
WS 93 JS 92

2014 Dassault, St-Emilion
Review Date: 03-07-2017
I read an old review from Robert Parker once where he claimed that while Dassault wines were primarily made to drink in their youth, you would rarely come across a bad bottle. Simple, but damn tasty was his summary. That was exactly the experience I had tasting the 2014 vintage from Dassault, my first from the property as we rarely carry the wine here at K&L. This is one tasty bottle of Bordeaux, full of everything I love about St. Emilion: rich and robust fruit, a supple mouthfeel, and plenty of stuffing on the finish. It's a total sleeper on a shelf full of more expensive options. Along with the 2014 Fonplegade, I think it's the value hit of the 2014 Right Bank offerings.

2011 Bodegas Muga "Selección Especial" Reserva Rioja
Review Date: 03-06-2017
When I think back to the first great red wines I tasted in my early twenties - the wines that would ultimately shape my palate and send me into the wine business - the reserva Riojas from Muga might have been the most influential. Not only were the flavors rich, robust, textural, and complex, they were within reach of my limit budget back then. There was no way I could ever splurge on a $150 bottle with my elementary school teacher salary at the time, but I did find a way to scrape together thirty bucks or so for the Muga, a wine that I think represents the essence of what makes Spanish reds so attractive: their quality-to-value ratio. The 2011 Especial Reserve is the best of two worlds, in my opinion. It has fine tannins, a bit of earth, and a rusticity that should please Bordeaux lovers, but it has lush fruit, hints of oak, and a fleshiness that should appeal to those who like riper California reds. More importantly, it's a wine that extends over the party lines and unites all drinkers under one umbrella. I'd be hard-pressed to find a cab or merlot lover who didn't enjoy immensely the character of the tempranillo-dominated Muga. It's so versatile and friendly in so many ways. The point, however, is that I think Muga is a gateway wine. It's a wine that expands horizons and opens doors to exciting new worlds. Without Muga, I never would have found my way to K&L, that's for sure.

2014 Fonplégade, St-Émilion
Review Date: 03-06-2017
I was immediately taken in by this wine, both by the deep-fruited aromatics on the nose and the concentrated palate of rich fruit that lasted for over a minute on the finish. The price, however, doesn't seem to match up with the quality when it comes to Chateau Fonplegade, and when you learn about the location of the vineyards the discrepancy becomes even more compelling. All the fruit from Fonplegade comes from the south slope of St. Emilion and it backs up into Belair-Monage and Ausone, whose wines sell for a helluva a lot more than $34.99, let me tell you. Personally, I haven't had many experiences with Fonplegade, but this is a wine that instantly grabbed my attention at our last tasting with its depth and beauty. It's the kind of wine that makes you want to dig deeper into the storied wines of St. Emilion, which is exactly what I've been doing since tasting it.

2014 Barde-Haut, St-Emilion
Review Date: 03-02-2017
With Helene Garcin behind the wheel, this is a property that I've started to buy each vintage regardless of the press. It's a hot value in St. Emilion where I often taste wines at triple the price that don't pack nearly the punch. The soft and supple fruit of the 2014 is more restrained than in riper vintages like 2009 and 2015, but that's actually quite a nice thing. The berries are dark and concentrated and the wine finishes with elegance, much like Helene herself.

2014 Malartic-Lagravière, Pessac-Léognan
Review Date: 03-02-2017
Malartic Lagraviere is one of about ten Bordeaux producers I would say is undervalued and underpriced given the quality of the wine over the last few years. They've been quietly making some of the best wines in Pessac Leognan and the quality in my opinion has been up there with Smith Haut Lafitte, but the price is about half. The 2014 is another example of that winemaking prowess. It's a beautifully balanced wine with equal parts fruit, minerality, and fine tannins. 2014 is going to be a vintage we look back on and wish we had bought more of for the cellar. This is going to be one of the wines I miss the most when it's gone.

2009 Talisker 6 Year Old "Old Malt Cask" Single Sherry Barrel Single Malt Whisky (750ml)
Review Date: 03-01-2017
Talisker isn't an easy whisky to track down in the private cask market, because Johnnie Walker covets every single drop of it. It's only been the last few years that we've seen that tight grasp loosen just a bit, allowing us to snag a few single casks for the store. This OMC version is by far the best we've ever located. It's absolutely brimming with flavors of the sea, all accented and made richer by the sherry influence from the cask. The fruit is chewy on the finish and the salty sea character turns the whole thing into salted caramel and subtle smoke. I could drink this all day long, over and over, and never get tired of it. This one's going to be a real fan favorite, especially for fans of Talisker who rarely get to try something new.
Price: $49.99 Add To Cart

2009 Caol Ila 6 Year Old "Old Malt Cask" Single Sherry Barrel Single Malt Whisky (750ml)
Review Date: 03-01-2017
The nose on this young Caol Ila is absolutely haunting, eminating with seaweed, smoke, and freshly-cut peat, all bolstered by the fruit-forward malty character that I typically associate with the Island distillery. For those of you who swear by Johnnie Walker Black, this is the flavor that binds that whisky together. Caol Ila is the backbone to that whisky's core. Here, however, it's allowed to shine in an expression that's just old enough to showcase complexity, but also young enough to shine a spotlight on the best parts of youth. The smoke is bright, high-toned, and sultry. The sherry turns the sweet malt into a toasted almond note on the finish. The peat is clean and fragrant, rather than tired or marred by oak. This is a lovely whisky and it's one that's just as appropriate for spring as it is winter, in my opinion.
Price: $49.99 Add To Cart

1996 Allt-a-Bhainne 19 Year Old "Old Malt Cask" Single Sherry Barrel Single Malt Whisky (750ml)
Review Date: 03-01-2017
As the spirits guy here at K&L, I get a lot of emails from consumers (both who shop with K&L and abroad) asking about the availability of classic sherry aged whiskies like Macallan 18 and Glendronach 18; two rich and delightful whiskies that we used to sell in large quantities before the price hikes went into effect. While the new reality of Scotch pricing is old news to most of us at this point, there are still people out there suffering from sticker shock. It was only about six years ago that we were selling Macallan 18 for under $100 and getting single barrel cask strength selections from Glendronach for just above that price. Today, however, those whiskies (and similar options from other distilleries) are in the $160-$250 range due to the lack of mature, sherry-aged selections on the market. It's for that reason that I've spent the last two years digging deep into some of Scotland's oldest cellars, pulling out casks from distilleries that don't have the prestige or the pull, but do have the quality and the value. The Allt-a-Bhainne is another example of that hard work. Normally used as a component for Chivas, this is rich, spicy, and smooth sipping sherry aged single malt for a price that reminds me more of 2007 than 2017. I've been having a lot of fun with this Brexit pricing. I'm hoping you guys are enjoying it too!
Price: $79.99 Add To Cart

2016 Kalinda Reserve North Coast Sauvignon Blanc
Review Date: 03-01-2017
I've tasted a lot of Kalinda wines over the years (there have been many memorable vintages), but I've never been personally more excited to drink this year's North Coast sauv blanc. While the wine was produced in Napa (and some of the fruit hails from there), over 50% of the crop is from Lake County where it didn't get nearly as hot, so the wine is fresh, crisp, and clean on the palate. Rather than the grassy notes of New Zealand, the minerality of Sancerre, or the richness of white Bordeaux, the Kalinda brings something uniquely Californian to the mix: a perfect palate of fresh stonefruit. This nose is bursting with nectarines. Everything about it makes me yearn for summer and the warm months ahead. There's a ripeness of fruit, but there's plenty of acidity and the wine finishes clean and dry. My colleague Ralph Sands and I were trying this together in the tasting bar, looking at one another in delight, and envisioning Giants baseball on a Sunday afternoon with a few bottles of this in the ice bucket. This is a home run for our Kalinda label.
Price: $17.99 Add To Cart

Wine Club


2014 Powell & Son Shiraz Barossa Valley South Australia
Review Date: 02-24-2017
As an advocate for all alcoholic specialties, I'm a big believer in understanding the essence of any particular style before criticizing it. I have to admit that I thought I understood the nature of all Barossa Valley shiraz years ago after getting hit over the head with high alcohol, big jammy fruit, and loads of sweetness. "This wine just isn't for me," I remember thinking. My colleague Ryan Woodhouse, our buyer for Australia, has enlightened me over the last few years however and forced me to rethink some of my former prejudices. The Powell & Son Barossa shiraz is definitely big and powerful, but at no point is it out of balance of heavy-handed. In fact, it's deeply-concentrated, explosive, and lush on the palate with gorgeous aromatics and plenty of meaty undertones. "This is what REAL Barossa shiraz should taste like," Ryan would go on to say. Now I've changed my tune completely. The Powell & Son wines offer bold flavors and incredible complexity to any wine drinker. Fans of zinfandel or smoky syrahs will want to grab a few of these. They're at the apex of the category in my humble opinion.
Price: $24.99 Add To Cart
RP 91

2014 Domaine de Chevalier Rouge, Pessac-Léognan
Review Date: 02-03-2017
Domaine de Chevalier is one of my all-time favorite properties in Bordeaux, and that sentiment only intensified after visiting the property this past Spring. Not only were Olivier and his wife humble and charming hosts, their wines were just as enchanting. I like buying wine from people who I respect and admire. It always tastes better that way. To say that the 2014 Chevalier Rouge is subsequently better than any of the other vintages I've tasted would be difficult. I've never had a bad vintage from the property and it's one of the few wines from Bordeaux that I'd say I actually "collect." What is abundantly obvious is that the 2014 is significantly cheaper than its 2015 counterpart (at $65) and the 2012 we have in stock now ($55). The wine is easily as good as both those vintages and if you're looking for one of the last real values in Bordeaux, this is it (another reason why I grab bottles when I can afford to). With delicate aromas of red berries along with fine tannins and the classic acidity of Pessac-Leognan, this is a wine that should develop beautifully for decades. It's a wine that allows everyday guys like me to drink the good stuff every now and again; and, believe me, this is the good stuff. If you only buy one Bordeaux from 2014, I would say it's this.

2013 Fuenteseca Huerta Singular "El Maguey" Blanco Tequila (750ml)
Review Date: 02-03-2017
I'm not sure what I'll need to do to communicate the importance of this tequila in my staff review. SHOULD I WRITE IN ALL CAPS? Should I gush in a never ending river of superlatives and praise? There's never been a tequila like this before at K&L. Never has one producer made dozens of different distillates from various agave fields on various properties, in search of the ultimate single-site (or huerta) blue tequila expression, but that's what this blanco edition of Fuenteseca represents. Enrique Fonseca's quest to find singularity and terroir in tequila, but for the purpose of heightened quality, not some silly modern marketing gimmick to capitalize on locavore fashion. It's what the monks did a thousand years ago in Burgundy. It's what Champagne growers and Cognac distillers have done for centuries. For all this time, producers of fine wine and spirits in Europe have located their top sites and made individual expressions to showcase the heightened quality of those particular parcels. Why is it that no one in Jalisco has thought of doing this? You'll see single vintage tequila, or single estate tequila every now and again, but the reality is that these producers aren't actually choosing between agave fields. They only have one field at their disposal, so there's nothing really special about it. But Enrique Fonseca is the largest single landowner of agave in all of Jalisco! He has more agave fields than any other tequila producer in the business, so it means all the more coming from his vast holdings. The result is nothing short of spectacular. It ranks among the best tequilas I've ever tasted, and it's probably the best blanco expression I've ever had. This is the future of tequila, folks. It's not about extra anejo, or cask strength, or various types of cooperage. This isn't whisky. Enrique has clearly shown here that a tequila's quality can be heightened simply by carefully selecting special harvests of agave. This 2013 edition of Fuenteseca is all the proof you need (and it's proofed at a higher than normal 45.7%, which adds lift). It's been resting in stainless steel for years, waiting for the right moment to unleash its beauty. Now it's finally here and you simply, positively, absolutely must buy a bottle.
Price: $79.99 Add To Cart

Old Forester "1920 Prohibition Style" Kentucky Bourbon Whisky (750ml)
Review Date: 02-03-2017
This was my favorite single Bourbon release of 2016 and I'm thrilled we were able to get another large allocation of it. Regardless of whether you want to get wrapped up in the story about how this was based on the Prohibition era recipe, there's no doubt about it: this is a delicious bottle of American whiskey and it easily stands out from the crowd of currently available options. There's a weight and a richness that coats the palate and the 115 proof brings plenty of punch with a flurry of baking spices. I love the graham crackery goodness as well. I don't taste a lot of Bourbons these days that really have a deeply concentrated flavor of dark grains. This has it in spades. Add this to your short list of new and exciting Bourbons right now.
Price: $59.99 Add To Cart
WE 91

2010 Domaine A "petit a" Cabernet Sauvignon Tasmania
Review Date: 02-02-2017
This is Tazmanian cabernet, but--I promise you--submit this into a Bordeaux line-up and you'll have people guessing Phelan Segur or Pontet Canet. Bring it to a California tasting and they'll say Katheryn Kennedy. This is a serious, serious wine with dark and brooding mountain fruit flavors, a slight earthy and herbaceous underbelly, and plenty of guts for the long haul. I was stunned, to be honest. I went back it again and again, but the result was always the same. For the price, this is a steal. It's a lot cheaper than it should be.

2014 David & Nadia "Aristargos" White Blend Swartland
Review Date: 02-02-2017
For fans of the Sadie wines (like myself), consider this blend of white varietals a similar pleasure at a very reasonable price. The textural richness from the South African chenin blanc is on full display here with flinty, rocky, and stony flavors permeating that core from the terroir of the heavy granite soils. There's still plenty of lift from the acidity on the finish, which is simply wonderful. White wine enthusiasts like myself need to be drinking more white blends from South Africa--period. This wine is exhibit A.
Price: $29.99 Add To Cart
RP 92 VN 91

2014 Pencarrow Pinot Noir (Palliser) Martinborough
Review Date: 02-02-2017
As pinot noir continues to cut into cabernet's red wine market dominance, the competition is getting fierce and the result is a larger selection of value-priced options with real pinot noir character. I can remember ten years ago when any pinot noir under twenty bucks likely tasted more like fruit juice than fresh cherries and forest floor. Today, however, you can get serious pinot noir for fifteen dollars and the best possible example of this new reality is the Pencarrow, a direct import gem discovered by our buyer Ryan Woodhouse. It's packed with juicy black cherry flavors and a lush mouthfeel with foresty and earthy elements that remind me more of Beaune or Marsannay than California. Those looking for easy drinking Bourgogne Rouge might want to look here. Those looking for value will definitely want to load up.

2015 Pencarrow Sauvignon Blanc (Palliser) Martinborough
Review Date: 02-02-2017
When I first started working at K&L, the Patient Cottat was the great $10 sauvignon blanc; a Sancerre-like bargain bottle from the Loire. While I still think it's a great deal, it's no match for the Pencarrow. At $10.99, this lovely little find by our buyer Ryan Woodhouse has firmly cemented itself as the clean, crisp, and overachieving white wine bargain of the future. While it's from New Zealand, the fruit is from a stony flood plain in Marlborough and the result is a Sancerre-like minerality in the wine (even more so than the Patient Cottat). For those who like zippy, fresh, and lip-smacking sauvignon blanc, this is your new bottle. All hail the new king of Tuesday night: Pencarrow.

1990 Montrose, St-Estèphe
Review Date: 02-01-2017
The 1990 Montrose isn't just a 100 point wine, it's a 100 point wine from an era when Bordeaux was still in its old school phase. There was less pressure back then to make a modern and consumable product, one with ripe fruit and silky tannins that that masses could easily embrace. When you drink the 1990 Montrose, you get a level of secondary depth and complexity that I rarely taste in modern era Bordeaux. There are delicate herbal nuances, hints of violets, and an essence of cassis so pure and fragile that it almost dances across the palate. We had a bottle at dinner after the UGC tasting this past January, and even having tasted a number of great Bordeaux that afternoon, the 1990 Montrose still stood head and shoulders above the rest. It's a supreme wine from a supreme vintage, and it's a wine that truly merits both the price and the reputation. More importantly, it's a wine with a long, long future ahead of it. That's what any 100 point wine should offer.

2014 Jax "Estate" Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon
Review Date: 01-31-2017
If I had to pick my number one California winery to watch in 2017, it would be Jax. Kimberly Jackson-Wickam's work ethic and commitment to both quality and drinkability is unmatched right now in the local game. She's running circles around other people with her ground game. She and her family have worked tirelessly to create a modern iteration of Napa that speaks to the quality and integrity of the last four decades while keeping prices reasonable and offering something a little more flashy to today's younger generation. The Jax Napa Estate Cab is the ultimate crossover wine, made in an almost post-modern style (which I would call modernity with restraint). I left a bottle at my parents' house one time and they called me back later in the week asking me if I could get more. Around the same time, I brought my wife's 23 year old cousin to their winery and he thought the cabernet was the most delicious thing he had ever tasted. It doesn't matter who you pour this wine for, the result is always the same: people love it. It's structured, but smooth. It's powerful, yet there's finesse. It's fleshy and dark fruited, but there's more than just fruit underneath. It's everything Napa has to be if it wants to continue connecting with a new generation of California wine drinkers. Most importantly, it's accessible. Bravo!
Price: $49.99 Add To Cart
RP 93 WE 90

2014 Clos Bellane Côtes du Rhône-Villages Valréas
Review Date: 01-22-2017
Both of the Clos Bellane wines we have right now drink well beyond their standard "Cotes du Rhone" classification. The Valreas in particular tastes much more like a Crozes-Hermitage or Chateauneuf du Pape with concentrated dark fruit flavors, plenty of spice, leather, and pepper from the syrah. Personally, I've been at the point where the standard 90 point CdR have all started blurring together. In a sea of quaffable value wines the Bellane stands out big time. It offers depth and pureness of flavor of a kind we rarely see for less than twenty bucks.
Price: $15.99 Add To Cart
RP 90 - 92

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