Staff Favorites - Ivan Diaz

Ivan Diaz


2013 Paul Hobbs Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon
Review Date: 04-28-2017
Big, brambly red fruit takes center stage here, along with a creamy ribbon of cocoa that tracks from the nose to the finish. Rounding out the edges are warm spices (cinnamon, clove) and a hint of savory eucalyptus in the background, all wrapped in sweet, velvety tannins that make this one go down way too easily. Perfect pairing with herb-crusted short ribs either off the grill or sous vide.

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

2013 Bernard Levet "Les Journaries" Côte-Rôtie
Review Date: 04-27-2017
This is the type of Syrah that reminds me why I love the varietal so much, what with its super-traditional nose of black and blue berries, ground coffee bean, cracked peppercorn, cedar, and even a little smoky bacon. This Rotie is round and powerful, but there is finesse and softness to the velvety fruit, along with comfortably integrated acidity. Top notch Syrah meant for a top notch meal.
Price: $54.99 Add To Cart
VN 94

2015 Ridge Vineyards "Geyserville 50th Anniversary" Alexander Valley Zinfandel
Review Date: 04-20-2017
In Ridge's 50th year, they are still proving why they are considered some of the best Zin producers in California. The Geyserville (70% Zinfandel, 15% Carignane, 12% Petite Sirah, and 3% Alicante Bouschet) is a gorgeously dark and balanced example of what they do so well, showing warm baking spice, black and white pepper, and melted licorice on the nose, while the velvety strawberry and blackberry flavors coat the palate. The tannins are sweet but not without grip, and there is a vein of mouth-watering acidity that keeps things lifted. Incredible value.
Price: $37.99 Add To Cart

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

2010 E. Guigal Châteauneuf-du-Pape
Review Date: 04-06-2017
For such a large, famous winery, Guigal still surprises with its refusal to conform to trends. Eschewing the steroidal fruit and extraction common in this category these days, Guigal is producing well-balanced, deeply complex old-world style Chateauneuf. Classic aromas and flavors of cassis, figs, black raspberry, minty herbs and anise, sandalwood, black pepper, and a swirl of warm spices close out the finish. Still a baby, this bottle could use another 5-7 years in the cellar. Pair with a rack of lamb with mint chimichurri.

1996 Glen Moray 19 Year Old "John Milroy" K&L Exclusive Single Barrel Cask Strength Single Malt Scotch Whisky (750ml)
Review Date: 03-30-2017
For cask strength Scotch, this is exceptionally smooth and caramely on the palate. Fully-realized after 19 years, it balances sweeter flavors of vanilla and orange peel with warm spices (coriander, allspice) and compelling brininess. While soft and creamy on the palate, this finishes with savory saltiness and woodsy spice for a complete Speyside experience.
Price: $79.99 Add To Cart

2015 Don Rodolfo Malbec Mendoza
Review Date: 03-26-2017
We've been utterly spoiled lately by the influx of flavorful Malbecs for under $10 a bottle with qualities way beyond what their price-points suggest. Don Rodolfo continues this trend with aplomb, offering a bottle with richness, structure, and integrity for only $9, and over-delivering on each count. A waft of fresh herbs meets the nose first, along with a spicy Worcestershire note. On the palate, sweet tannins wrap the bold, ripened red berries and spice notes together on the mid-palate while subtle cocoa lingers on the finish.
Price: $8.99 Add To Cart
JS 90

2015 Amalaya Malbec Salta
Review Date: 03-26-2017
Malbecs from the northern Argentine region of Salta are a little rarer than those from Mendoza, and it's therefore a real treat when we get our hands on it. This offering from Amalaya shows a wonderfully complex profile of restrained black fruits: cassis, plum, and black cherry, all tempered by spicy, zesty herbs, bitter cocoa, and savory meatiness. Less fruit-driven and more structured than its Mendoza cousin, Salta Malbec will pair beautifully with your next rib eye or a rustic Bolognese.

2014 Montes "Classic" Cabernet Sauvignon Colchagua Valley
Review Date: 03-23-2017
Montes' "Classic" label is one of the most reliable sources for big, flavorful, and super inexpensive reds. The 2014 vintage of Cabernet is seriously built, offering structure and flavor quite rare for Cab in this price-point. Big berries like cherry and black currants pour forth immediately, followed by spicy bell peppers and cedar. The peppery qualities offer some savory characteristics but its the ripe, forward fruit and sweet, velvety tannins that take center stage and make this a true crowd-pleaser. This is bound to become a staple back porch red as grilling season kicks off.
Price: $9.99 Add To Cart
WS 90

2014 Les Chancelieres Vouvray
Review Date: 03-09-2017
This is a thoroughly pleasing, dry-style Chenin Blanc for just about any occasion. The subtle chalkiness of the minerality holds up the ripe pear and peach flavors, along with some refreshing acidity and a kick of lemon zest on the finish. This is super-versatile as an appetizer wine with cheese and honey, or as the main event paired with fish or a glazed pork loin.
Price: $11.99 Add To Cart

2014 Clos de l'Anhel "Lolo de l'Anhel" Corbieres
Review Date: 02-09-2017
One of the best deals in the store for under $15 is the entry level "Lolo" from Clos de l'Anhel. There is power, structure, and balance here to rival bottles twice the price. This blend of Carignan, Grenache, and Syrah shows plenty of black raspberry fruit wrapped up in floral and lightly earthy flavors, including a salty, faintly funky bleu cheese note. If that sounds strange, it works beautifully here, and makes it a great pairing option with just about any roasted meat.
Price: $12.99 Add To Cart

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

2014 Pike Road Willamette Valley Pinot Noir
Review Date: 02-02-2017
One of my favorite Oregon producers, Elk Cove, makes the Pike Road Pinot Noir as a second, super affordable label, and it happens to be one of the best values in the store. In a world where good Pinot is almost impossible to find under $20, the Pike Road is here to provide all the elegant red fruits, tea leaves, fresh herbs, and round, integrated acidity typically found in bottles twice the price. Pair with your next herb-crusted pork loin or salmon.
Price: $17.99 Add To Cart
WE 90

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

2014 Castillo de Monseran Garnacha Cariñena
Review Date: 02-02-2017
This ridiculously affordable little Garnacha (Grenache) is loaded with vivid red berries. Sily soft tannins coat the palate, supported by refreshing acidity and a subtle anise-y kick on the finish. This is an impressive bottle to pair with lighter tapas, but it has the right profile (and its inexpensive enough) to serve as the perfect Sangria starter.
Price: $7.99 Add To Cart

Honorío Rubio "Añadas" Blanco Rioja
Review Date: 01-26-2017
A blend of several vintages aged for about five years in barrel, Anadas is a rare example of classically made white Rioja that belongs among the ranks of Lopez de Heredia. Sporting a darker, more traditionally coppery color than most Rioja Blanco found today, it shows equally traditional on the palate. The rich, waxy texture is apparent up front, and the flavors of orange, honey, tea leaves, and salty nuts remind one of the best Viuras this region has to offer. If you miss the Rioja Blancos of old, Honorio Rubio is here to restore your faith in the category.
Price: $39.99 Add To Cart
RP 93

2015 Michel Delhommeau "Harmonie" Muscadet Sèvre et Maine Sur Lie
Review Date: 01-05-2017
The newest vintage of the Harmonie will make fast friends with anyone looking for crisp, clean, mineral-driven wine to quench the palate. Always a good next step for Sauvignon Blanc drinkers, Muscadet (not to be confused with Muscat) sets itself apart by effortlessly balancing fruit, acidity, and terroir into an elegant and refreshing flavor profile featuring green apple, Meyer lemon, stony minerality, and a hint of seashell. Perfect pairing with seafood or a rich, piping-hot chowder.
Price: $12.99 Add To Cart
RP 90

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

2015 Schmelz Steinriegl Riesling Smaragd Wachau
Review Date: 11-27-2016
Smaragd Riesling from Austria is some of my favorite wine in the world. The "Smaragd" designate implies a late harvest, about the same as a German "Spatlese" but without the residual sugar. This is dry but rich, opening up with a whiff of petrol followed by apricots, pears, candied apples, salty corn nuts, and refreshing seashell minerality. The acidity is cleansing and well-proportioned, and will help it age for longer than you'd expect. Try it with some sushi and be amazed!
Price: $28.99 Add To Cart

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

2015 Chateau Vitallis Macon-Fuissé
Review Date: 11-03-2016
The southern Burgundian region of Macon is making some of my favorite Chardonnay in the world right now. It probably has to do with the tremendous balance of which these wines are capable. This one shows ideal harmony between creaminess and acidity, seashell minerality and orchard fruits, salinity and richness. Medium bodied with pristine concentration, I would look no further for pairing with a light cream sauce pasta or shellfish.
Price: $16.99 Add To Cart

2015 Kalinda Willamette Valley Pinot Noir
Review Date: 10-28-2016
Possibly the best Pinot I've tasted from our own Kalinda label, this bottling was crafted for us by Chehalem, one of our favorite Willamette Valley producers, to reflect the beautiful fruit of the 2015 growing season. Bright, vivid strawberry and cherry burst forth on the nose along with a pretty floral note and slightly spicy accents. The fruit wraps the palate with help from the creamy texture, and baking spices develop toward the end, lingering with the zesty acidity that rounds out the finish. Ridiculously good for the price.
Price: $24.99 Add To Cart

2014 Thistle Ridge Pinot Noir Waipara Valley North Canterbury
Review Date: 10-14-2016
Hailing from North Canterbury, one of the best regions in New Zealand for Pinot Noir, this gem is flying right under the radar and into our hearts. For an uncommonly low price, this organically produced wine is fresh and easy-going without sacrificing concentration or character. Tea leaves and flowers lend complexity to the cherry and raspberry flavors that greet the palate. It finishes with grace, letting the floral note provide a smooth coda leading to the next sip. At $15 a bottle this is an easy choice and a phenomenal pairing with herbed chicken or pork loin.

2015 Quinta da Aveleda Loureiro-Alvarinho Vinho Verde
Review Date: 08-04-2016
Vinho Verde is the rising star of Portuguese winemaking and for good reason. This impossibly refreshing white is light on its feet, tastes like melons and citrus, and sports a cleansing effervescence that is immediately and addictively quenching. Drink this one poolside or pair with appetizers.

2014 Oakridge Estate "Willowlake Vineyard" Pinot Noir Yarra Valley
Review Date: 07-30-2016
Oakridge releases one of the best Pinots I've tasted from Australia with the Willowlake Vineyard bottling. Too much Pinot from this region lacks true varietal character, but Oakridge manages to submit an exceedingly pretty, detailed wine that is light on its feet and compellingly restrained on the palate. Gorgeous red berries are prominent up front and give way to subtle herbs, tea leaves, and minerality on the mid-palate. Balanced but bracing acidity holds everything together with delicacy and grace. Too good to ignore!
Price: $19.99 Add To Cart
JH 96

2014 Corofin "Cowley Vineyard - Main Slopes" Pinot Noir Marlborough
Review Date: 07-22-2016
One of the tinier producers working in the Marlborough region of NZ, Corofin carves out its distinctive personality by going old school. The estate is run by a native Kiwi couple who have been working this land for most their lives, and who adhere to strict sustainable practices. The fruit in this bottling comes from a single vineyard farmed both organically and biodynamically from north-facing slopes perfect for Pinot Noir. This is a light, pretty style that represents the earthiness of the terroir beautifully while delivering a linear, elegant fruit profile. Tasted blind you'd think this was Burgundy worth twice the price.

2013 Bodegas Caro "Caro" Malbec-Cabernet Sauvignon Mendoza
Review Date: 07-17-2016
This is an extremely impressive offering from two titans in winemaking. When the Lafite-Rothschilds of Bordeaux and the Catenas of Argentina get together, they produce one of the best bottles from the Southern hemisphere. The nose has Bordeaux written all over it - plums, black currants, tobacco, graphite, and coffee bean swirl from the glass. There is plenty of backbone on the palate but it drinks with surprising softness and clarity. Here it shows a bit more of its Argentine roots; the Malbec comes to the fore with a meaty, richly fruited flavor profile incorporating hints of cocoa and raspberry, followed by a pleasantly spicy finish. This is the rare bottling that will pair beautifully with both a ribeye off the grill and a gently seared filet mignon.
Price: $49.99 Add To Cart
JS 96 WE 91

2014 Fromm "La Strada" Pinot Noir Marlborough
Review Date: 06-30-2016
The Fromm "La Strada" comes to us directly from NZ with a crazy low price point for a Pinot this ridiculously good. Made entirely with de-stemmed fruit from organic vineyards in Marlborough, it drinks like a high-class Burgundy without the price point. Overtly pretty aromatics of flowers and tea leaves dance from the glass while the palate brings vivid red berries, fresh minerality, subtle mushrooms and loam, finishing with a wave of cleansing acidity and pleasing length. At $25 a bottle, you're unlikely to find a better Pinot in the store!

2013 Dierberg "Dierberg Vineyard" Santa Maria Valley Chardonnay
Review Date: 06-10-2016
This super-reliable producer of Santa Maria delivers another winner with this single-vineyard Chardonnay. It strikes a hard-won balance between the juicy pineapple, apricot, and lemon flavors, and the creamy, vanillin accents developed from careful malolactic conversion and gentle oak aging. This Chardonnay has enough acidity to enjoy on its own or with a flaky, buttery fish this summer.

2014 Hunt & Harvest Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon
Review Date: 06-03-2016
For fans of the previous vintage of this little known Napa winery, prepare yourselves for the newer, better vintage. This is a more rustic Cabernet that demonstrates complexity and depth, while still delivering rich, decadent appeal to fans of both Bordeaux and Napa Cab who are looking for something a little different. Blackberry, black currant, cocoa, graphite, roasted herbs, and chewy but sweet tannins cohere for a perfect pairing with a marbled steak and herbed potatoes.
Price: $24.99 Add To Cart

2011 Viña Quebrada "Domus Aurea" Cabernet Sauvignon Maipo Valley
Review Date: 05-13-2016
Dense, dark Cabernet with impressive weight and viscocity, yet tannins that are velvety soft, making for a rich, vivid bottle of wine uninhibited by excessive chewiness or grit. Ripe plum, cassis, herbs, bell pepper, tobacco, and subtle florals contribute to the complex flavor profile and make this a serious wine for serious food. Perfect pairing with leaner cuts of beef; think filet mignon with herb butter.
Price: $49.99 Add To Cart
W&S 96 RP 94

2005 Bodegas Casa Juan Señor de Lesmos Reserva Especial Rioja
Review Date: 05-07-2016
Where else besides Rioja can you get a top producer's special bottling from 11 years ago and only pay $30? Easily one of the best values in the store, this aged beauty is soft, supple, and generous on the palate with bright cherry and raspberry fruits, balsamic, subtle tobacco, tomato leaf, and a hint of roasted coffee bean from its extended stay in American oak. Most importantly, though, the structural components of this bottle offer significant texture and mean that even though it's in a great drinking window now, it will continue to age in a cellar for a good 10 more years. Enjoy with pork loin medallions or paella.
Price: $29.99 Add To Cart

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

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

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

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

2007 Bodegas Puelles Rioja Reserva
Review Date: 01-17-2015
This is one of the world’s only regions that ages wine FOR you, ensuring its quality upon release. This traditional technique means current releases can sometimes be 7-8 years old (such as this one) or more, and it shows in the vivid flavors. Dried red fruit, tea leaves, licorice, tobacco, soft acidity and persistent tannin make this ideal with lamb shank, Spanish sausages, or pork medallions!
Price: $17.99 Add To Cart
RP 90