Staff Favorites - Thomas Smith

Thomas Smith

Reviews

2012 Château Bouscassé Madiran
Review Date: 10-20-2017
An absolute stunner of a wine that reveals an incredibly concentrated, dark-fruited character with a polished tannic structure. Plum preserves, blackberries and bitter chocolate notes jump out of the glass along with more refined touches of allspice and vanilla. The tannins on this wine are so dialed-in for a wine at this price--you can see exactly where this wine is going with a little age. After I tasted the wine, I went back a few hours later, and the tannins had softened considerably. This is a inky, concentrated wine that shows impressive winemaking skill, and showcases the regional character of Madiran.
Price: $19.99 Add To Cart
WE 94

2014 La Chablisienne Chablis 1er Cru "Beauroy"
Review Date: 10-20-2017
This is my favorite of the Chablisienne offerings, bar none. I was really shocked by the powerful punch of acidity that really controls the wine and sizzles down the palate, yet still maintains some of those slightly rounded out edges that you see across the board from Chablisienne. Tons of aromatics, restrained fruit, and biting acid this is a classic Chablis that would pair beautifully with cheese, fish, or even sushi. Really impressed by this.
Price: $24.99 Add To Cart
DC 93 RP 90

2014 La Massa "La Massa" Toscana
Review Date: 10-16-2017
This wine is an absolute bullseye, every single time. The level of concentration, richness and power is totally unheard of at this price range. It makes a perfect bottle to bring over to a friends for dinner, or as an everyday house red--either way its going to impress. I found it to be beautifully aromatic, with flavors of black pepper, cherries, dark fruits and dry herbs. Totally polished, sleek and effortlessly smooth, there is plenty of acidity, making it an exceptional pairing wine, and it is also jam-packed with fruit flavors, resulting in a wine that is undeniably delicious.
Price: $19.99 Add To Cart
JS 91 WS 90

2015 Domaine Viticole "Malmont" Côtes du Rhône Villages Séguret
Review Date: 09-19-2017
Tucked into a small hillside to protect its vines, the village of Séguret is situated between the more recognized villages of Rasteau to the north and Gigondas to the south. The wines of Séguret may be less powerful than those of its neighbors, but they possess both freshness and structure. The 2015 Domaine Viticole “Malmont” is an excellent example of this high-value village, which offers exceptional quality in vintages like 2015. The Séguret is a blend of 55% Grenache and 45% Syrah. This wine has aromas of violets and peppery notes, with dark cherries and blackberries on the palate, all while maintaining vibrant acidity and impeccable balance.
Price: $19.99 Add To Cart
WS 90

2014 La Source du Ruault "La Coulee d'Aunis" Saumur Blanc
Review Date: 09-12-2017
Seriously, why am I not drinking more Chennin Blanc? Especially when there are wines like this that have unbelievable complexity and totally reasonable prices. I swear there is something wrong with me. I am way into the La Coulee from La Source du Ruault. It's from a 1 hectare parcel, barrel fermented and aged. There is so much to get into here: a nose with mandarin oranges, candied lemon peel, navel oranges, honey and guava. A palate that is big, rich, heavy and intense. It may sound sweet, but is totally dry and beautifully crisp. If you ever come into Redwood City yell at me, tell me to buy a bottle of Chenin; you should probably pick one up too.
Price: $24.99 Add To Cart

2015 Domaine de Marcoux Châteauneuf-du-Pape
Review Date: 09-12-2017
Totally unique. Exceptionally elegant. Beautifully perfumed. These were the impressions of the staff when we tasted the Marcoux CdP at our last Southern Rhone tasting. Never overly dark, but packed with soaring red fruit, aromas of lavender, and layers of strawberry and cherry notes. This is a Chateauneuf that moves towards a slightly lighter style and executes it with stunning success.

2015 Chateau de L'Ou "Infiniment" Côtes Catalanes Rouge
Review Date: 09-12-2017
I looked at my K&L purchases the other day and no big surprise--it's almost all Syrah. Needless to say, when the L'Ou wines arrived, I was extraordinarily excited. The Infiniment, Velours Noir, and Secret de Schistes are all focused on specific terroirs, each one showcasing a different site and soil type. The Infiniment is 100% Syrah grown entirely on Alluvial Marl, and the wine shows much more accessible fruit than its counterparts. Rich without being syrupy, and aromatic without lacking concentration I was surprised that this was my favorite of the L'Ou Syrahs and better yet, it has the best price of the three. This is the kind of Syrah that I am always looking to buy and comes along so rarely: it has an expression of place, exceptional value, and is downright delicious Syrah.
Price: $19.99 Add To Cart
RP 94 RR 94

2015 Kalinda Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir
Review Date: 09-09-2017
Bar-none my favorite Kalinda offering to date. This is true Sonoma Coast pinot noir through and through. There's that agile, driving acid, a razor sharp focus, and an absolutely purity of fruit. This pinot noir holds its own against top shelf Sonoma Coast pinots and blows most of them out of the water--an unheard of feat for a wine at this price. Pinot noir fans take note: you need to try a bottle of this to believe it.
Price: $24.99 Add To Cart

2014 Woodlands "Margaret Reserve" Cabernet Sauvignon Margaret River Western Australia
Review Date: 09-07-2017
Nicely aromatic. There's blackberries, brambles, and spice. Excellent concentration, good fruit intensity. A nice band of ripe, red fruit on the palate and a great finish. Very clean, very approachable. This is a good, upfront, easy drinking wine that is absolutely new-world classic Cabernet.

2015 Domaine de la Ganse Vacqueyras
Review Date: 09-03-2017
The 2015 Ganse does an exquisite job of walking the fine line between power of fruit and elegance of balance. The blend is 70% Grenache and 30% Syrah and its nose leans towards perfume and nuanced spice. The palate shows gracefully restrained ripe plums and figs, managing to keep the wine in balance and expressive. Concentrated and full of latent energy this is a wine I would easily drink tonight, but would only expect to improve in the next 5-10 years.
Price: $17.99 Add To Cart
VN 89 - 91

2015 Domaine du Petit Clocher Coteaux du Layon
Review Date: 09-01-2017
I was totally blown away by this wine when we tasted it recently at a staff tasting event. I was utterly shocked when I found out the price. Sweet, but not too sweet, bright and vivid with gorgeous acidity, it's a stunning wine that is totally unique. Yes, this may be a dessert wine, but for those seeking more adventurous pairings, this wine would absolutely kill with spicy Indian or Thai cuisine. This chenin blanc is such an unbelievable value--I totally recommend it.
Price: $14.99 Add To Cart

2014 Domaine L'Ostal Cazes "Grand Vin" Minervois La Livinière
Review Date: 08-25-2017
It seems like everyday we're just getting in hit after hit from Southwest France. The L'Ostal is no exception. Having a soft-spot for Syrah, I particularly this love Syrah-based blend, rounded it out with Carignan as well as a touch of Grenache and Mouvedre. The Syrah gives the back bone of dark fruit, while the Carignan brings a light rustic touch that you won't find in Southern Rhone Blends. Original and delicious. It's definitely going in my mixed case of under $20 reds I take home every month.
Price: $19.99 Add To Cart
DC 95

2016 Friedrich Becker Rosé Pfalz
Review Date: 08-22-2017
This is kind of a guilty pleasure for me. The whole White Zinfandel phenomenon of lush, sweet, and poor quality rose that was, and is still, so widely available has scared most rose lovers away from anything with even a hint of sweetness. Shoppers still continue ask whether any of our Provence roses are sweet as a rough gauge for quality. But this off-dry rose from Germany is delicious. It's not overly sweet, just enough to round out the palate and work against the zippy acidity. There's even a little fizz this wine too. Tons of watermelon and cherry notes with great weight and texture. I'm totally a sucker for this wine.
Price: $18.99 Add To Cart

2016 Domaine de la Réserve d'O "La Reserve d'O" Saint Guilhem le Desert Blanc
Review Date: 08-21-2017
When was the last time you've had Chenin Blanc from the Languedoc? I'd venture to guess never. There's almost none grown in this region, but I'm surprised there isn't more after tasting this Chenin-based blend. It has an incredibly distinct aromatic profile with citrus, floral, and herbal notes. Big and round on the palate with a nice zap of acidity, and totally distinct from its counterparts in the Loire or South Africa. A seriously distinct and tasty wine.
Price: $21.99 Add To Cart

2015 Domaine Cabirau "Serge & Nicolas" Maury Sec
Review Date: 08-21-2017
For those of you who loved power-wines like the Saint Roch Kerbuccio and the Bila-Haut Roussillon this year, take note of the Domaine Cabriau. Holy smokes, I thought I had topped out on big wines until this one came along. The nose here is black pepper and meat. Stone cold. The palate is well-structured with a deep, dark blast of black fruit that totally consumes the palate. This is a wine that pushes big fruit to the brink while managing to keep the rest of its elements intact. Elegant wines go home. This one doesn't pull punches.
Price: $19.99 Add To Cart
RP 94

2013 Felsina "Rancia" Chianti Classico Riserva
Review Date: 08-21-2017
Unbelievable depth on the nose here. Tobacco, Tar, Anise. Great concentration, great intensity. Just a touch of juiciness. I thought the tannins would be more abrasive, but it really just perfect. It sits in pockets of your mouth and glow through the finish. What a dark, delicious wine.
Price: $39.99 Add To Cart
VN 96 RP 95

2013 Rudi Pichler Riesling Federspiel Wachau
Review Date: 08-21-2017
As much as we like to triumph German Rieslings, I've had plenty of Austrian Rieslings that go toe-to-toe with just about anything coming out of the Mosel. The aromatics on this wine are a bit of a show-stealer. There are tons of white flowers and citrus bursting from the glass. On the palate, the wine comes off razor thin and super intense. The acid is off the charts here, but in a way that isn't overpowering or too extreme. An absolutely killer wine that I would happily drink anytime.
Price: $29.99 Add To Cart

2015 Bois-Malot Blanc, Bordeaux
Review Date: 08-21-2017
It's official: the ballots are in, the arguments over, the tears have dried. We have a winner. The Bois-Malot blanc is officially the best $10 white in the store. This is a wine that is simply delicious. It is aromatic with mellow tones of white flowers, green apples and vervy acidity. It has style, complexity, and a sense of place. It is totally bonkers that this is a $10 wine. If you're unexpectedly coming over for dinner, this is what I'm serving--and you're going to be delighted.
Price: $9.99 Add To Cart

2015 Domaine de la Réserve d'O "La Réserve d'O" Terrasses du Larzac
Review Date: 08-15-2017
The 2014 was one of the first wines I took home when I first starting working at K&L. Its still an absolute knock-out of a wine. The 2015 is highly aromatic and intensely expressive. I found notes of tar, plum, vanilla and cherry with just a hint of bacon fat. Sweet and spicy, but clean and polished this wine is big on decadent fruit, and makes for delicious drinking. One of my go-to wines for customers because it never fails to show spectacularly.
Price: $21.99 Add To Cart

2014 Château Saint Jacques d'Albas "Le Chateau d'Albas" Minervois
Review Date: 08-08-2017
I've had the good fortune to try 2014 on a number of occasions now and I continue to find myself totally stunned by the quality. Beautiful aromatics of black pepper and spice with just a hint of beautifully integrated oak, finishing with garrigue--the kind you only get from Languedoc wines. Looking at the varieties, I'm so surprised by the weight and body on the palate. It's light, fresh, and acid-driven in a way will kill with a good meal. Fresher and more acidic than blends from the Southern Rhone, and more interesting and complex than new-world blends, its a consummate reminder that Minervois produces exceptional wines that deserve a place at the table.
Price: $13.99 Add To Cart
DC 90

2015 Domaine de Viranel "Trilogie" Cessenon Rouge
Review Date: 08-04-2017
OK wine geeks--here we go. This Viranel is 1/3 Syrah, 1/3 Cabernet Franc and 1/3 old vine Alicante Bouschet planted in 1939. This is a totally unique blend that I doubt exists anywhere else on earth... and it's only $10... and it's actually really good, too. There's spice, dark cherry liqueur, and a touch sweet fruit. Acid is there right off the get-go, and the tannins are soft and easy on the palate. This is an epic take-it-home-for-dinner-tonight bottle that's totally unique and really delicious.
Price: $9.99 Add To Cart

2015 Domaine de Viranel Alicante Bouschet "Arome Sauvage" Cessenon Rouge
Review Date: 08-04-2017
In California, there's a bit of variety fever going on. Hip winemakers continue making more and more obscure varieties, searching for something different and exciting. Recently, I've been hearing a lot of buzz about Alicante Bouschet--a variety traditionally blended into wine for color and tannin. Typically, you can only get these if you're on the wineries mailing list or in a few select restaurants. But for those of use who are still interested in these unique wines I'm really excited to have this Alicante Bouschet from French producer Viranel. It's hyper-dark, full of smoky plum tones and earthiness. I expected it to be darker, but in fact was agile and energetic--inherently drinkable, and exceptionally tasty. And where those hip California Alicantes will set you back $40, the price on Viranel makes it a no-brainer.
Price: $13.99 Add To Cart

2016 Les Vignerons de Fontès "Prieuré Saint-Hippolyte" Languedoc Rosé
Review Date: 07-21-2017
When you taste a lot of rosés, you start to discover that many end up being forgettable. It's clean, it's dry, it's fresh--end of story. Not this one. It goes out of its way to be bigger and fruitier than every other rosé on the block. With the roaring aromatics coming out of this glass I totally would have expected a dull, flabby wine. But instead there's this beautiful acid profile that is refreshing and invigorates the fruit profile. At $10 this is a total standout on the rosé shelf.
Price: $9.99 Add To Cart

2015 Moulin de la Gardette "Tradition" Gigondas
Review Date: 07-21-2017
Moulin De La Gardette has been one of my most reliable "you have to try this bottle" wines. It's always shockingly good , beautifully expressive, and totally delicious. The vintage really takes this wine to a whole new level. The nearly perfect conditions in 2015 have pushed one of our most reliable producers to new heights. Gorgeous fruit, excellent concentration, and intensely structure make this a totally serious wine for both the dinner table and the cellar.

2013 Smith-Haut-Lafitte Blanc, Pessac-Léognan
Review Date: 07-11-2017
There are some grassy, maybe slightly musky aromas on the nose, but a nice clear, floral aroma that is able to punch through. Yet the real exciting part of this wine is what happens on the palate. I was totally blown away by this wine. It has the beautiful, refreshing body and texture. The acidity is totally dialed in and exactly where it needs to be. The fruitiness is scaled back--this wine exudes sheer elegance. The lemon notes are there, as well as some quiet tropical tones, but the texture, weight, and balance of this wine really does all the talking.

2013 Freemark Abbey Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon
Review Date: 07-07-2017
This is my pick for entry-level Napa Cab any day of the week--precisely because it doesn't drink like entry-level Napa Cab. The Freemark Abbey performs as well or better than other producer's single vineyard and prestige cuvees. It's dark and smoky with an underlying dark, sweet cherry component that just hits all the right nerves. It's structured for aging, but smooth enough for tonight, with a light touch of oak, and beautiful fruit expression. Anybody who wants a $30 Napa Cab should really consider jumping to the Freemark Abbey, it's a huge step up from anything else on the shelves at its price point.

2015 Chappellet "Mountain Cuvée" Napa Valley Red Blend
Review Date: 07-07-2017
I get a lot of customers who come into the store looking for a bottle of Napa Cab for a dinner they are on their way to. At $30 Napa Cab can be really hit and miss, but this Bordeaux blend is an absolute home run. This wine has tons of intensive fruit, is totally upfront an accessible, and an exceptionally balanced bottle that will wow the table from the moment it is opened. I can't stress enough the quality here, but anyone who loves full-bodied reds from Napa should really consider this a house wine whenever having guests for dinner. If you're looking to wow someone with a bottle, this is a total bullseye.
Price: $32.99 Add To Cart

2015 Hundred Suns "Old Eight Cut" Willamette Valley Pinot Noir
Review Date: 07-07-2017
This wine is really one of the best Pinot Noirs in its class. 50% Whole cluster. Dark, chocolaty nose. Brambles. The sensation of slow, building acid. Some sweetness and scaled-back fruit. Not your typically, earthy Oregon Pinot. So much to love about this wine at the under-$30 mark.
Price: $27.99 Add To Cart

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

2015 Jean-Michel Dupre "1935" Morgon
Review Date: 07-07-2017
I absolutely love this producer. The 1935 is super aromatic and totally gamey. Lots of big fruit driving acid, and every-so-slightly structured tannin. Clean, delicious and at a price point that I can never say "no" to. An incredibly awesome value.

2009 Château de Chambert Cahors
Review Date: 06-13-2017
Wow. Talk about intensity--this wine is on the next level. I rarely stumble into wines that have this level of power and structure to them--and never at this price range. Whiplash acid, densely focused fruit, and a structure that will hold for years to come make this solid value.
Price: $18.99 Add To Cart
WE 91 WS 90

2016 Domaine de Rimauresq Côtes de Provence Cru Classé Rosé
Review Date: 06-13-2017
Totally loving this wine right now. There are beautiful floral aroma drifting from the glass, but on the palate--all strawberries and cream. This wine fits neatly into the Provence rose category but with a an interesting twist. The acid is forward and refreshing, but the real star here is the texture. There is a beautiful richness to this wine that makes it absolutely stand out among its peers. Crisp, balanced, and beautifully textured this is flat-out one of the best roses I've had this season.
Price: $16.99 Add To Cart
DC 97 VN 90

2010 Famille Perrin "Domaine du Clos des Tourelles" Gigondas
Review Date: 05-19-2017
I'm starting to get more and more used to 2010 Southern Rhones. In unbelievable vintage conditions, a serious wine like this gets kicked up a notch into totally different territory. The aroma has a huge amount of depth. On the palate, the structure really takes over. Tannin is hitting every corner of your palate, with acid jumping around the spots in between. This is a proper wine. A tightly coiled spring, packed with flavor that will go, and go, and go. An great example of what is capable in the Southern Rhone with ideal growing conditions. A total powerhouse of a wine that is sure to impress seasoned drinkers.

2015 Mas Karolina Côtes Catalanes
Review Date: 05-08-2017
Not as powerful as many of its Southwest France counterparts, the wine has a weight that skews much more towards medium rather than heavy. Super-smooth and very fruity, this is a nice little wine that’ll definitely be a dinner party crowd-pleaser.
Price: $12.99 Add To Cart
RP 90

2015 Delas "Saint Esprit" Côtes du Rhône
Review Date: 05-08-2017
Black fruit and liquorice are the first thing to hit the nose, and give way to a strong core of black pepper. A nice savory note a little further down. At 14% ABV, I’m really surprised by the balance in this wine. It leans a bit towards big and fruity, but then takes a step back. A vivacious acid element helps put the fruit in place, with just a touch of heat at the end. Tannins are restrained, and not overpowering—present, but accessible. Seriously, why would anyone ever spend $10 on a grocery store wine when you can drink a delicious wine like this with quality, history, and sense of place?
Price: $9.99 Add To Cart
DC 90

2015 Domaine Lafage "Arqueta" Collioure
Review Date: 05-05-2017
Just smacks you in the face with garrigue. Get into it a little a further and there’s an intriguing Cherry Pepsi thing going on. Not Cherry Coke--Cherry Pepsi--just to make that clear. A quiet savory note also fights its way into the glass. Definitely a powerful wine, yet it steps off the weight a little bit, it feels oddly restrained for 15% Abv. Not overly velvety or incredibly oaked, it really showcases the fruit, and puts it at the center of the tasting experience. For those of you who love the Narassa from Lafage, this is less rich and powerful, instead coming from the perspective of showcasing purity and fruitiness. It definitely showcases classic elements of wines from Southwest France.
Price: $24.99 Add To Cart
RP 93 - 95

2015 E. Guigal Côtes du Rhône Blanc
Review Date: 05-05-2017
Viognier lovers take note--this is an exceptional blend that has all of those stone fruit flavors and a surprising elegance. The aromatics of this wine really took me by surprise: tons of peach, apricot and pear come singing out of the glass. There is definitely some weight here along with a rich texture. The acid is medium-low, but not atypical for viognier, which makes up 60% of the blend. I hadn't had this wine in years and have forgotten what a stellar value it is. This one’s definitely going on my regular take-home list.
Price: $12.99 Add To Cart
RP 91

2010 E. Guigal Châteauneuf-du-Pape
Review Date: 04-11-2017
One of the truly exceptional vintages of the last twenty years. Rich and fragrant nose, full of blackberry and ripe, red fruit with sligh notes of cedar and black pepper. A touch of bacon fat and raucous acdity give way to tighly focused fruit. Nicely structured, young to be sure, but still accessible after a bit of decanting. A well built power-house of a wine with a resonating finish.

2014 Château Saint Roch "Kerbuccio" Maury Sec
Review Date: 03-10-2017
I had certain expectations for the 2014 Chateau Saint Roch before I tasted it. I've had plenty of Syrah/Grenache/Carignan blends in the past--but this one really surprised me. I got a ton of lighter red fruits: small red cherries, and strawberries on the nose, complemented by a graceful floral note that I wasn't expecting at all. Topping it all off there was a clear note of brown sugar emanating from the glass. Great body and texture, there was a touch of heat on the finish. The clean fruitiness of the Mourvedre and Carignan really shines in this wine and ultimately leads to a drinking experience that is distinctive, sleek and modern. That's a whole lot of wine for $16.
Price: $15.99 Add To Cart
RP 90 - 93