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Staff Favorites - John Downing

John Downing

Reviews

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2018 Gulfi Cerasuolo di Vittoria
Review Date: 12-03-2019
When it comes to wine, Gulfi remains one of the jewels of the island of Sicily. We recently added their Cerasuolo di Vittoria to our cellar selections as it's one of the finest produced. Cersuolo is primarily made from the richer, darker Nero d'Avola and combined with a lesser amount of the more elegant and high toned Frappato. Gulfi's is a seamless red with loads of up-front fruit, wonderful acidity and a pleasant hint of saltiness characteristic of its Mediterranean locale. Especially good with pizza, red sauced dishes, meats and cheeses.
Price: $19.99 Add To Cart

2015 Sportoletti "Villa Fidelia" Umbria Rosso
Review Date: 12-03-2019
This is one of our favorite valued-priced Cabernet blends from Italy and the current release is as satisfying as ever. It's a ripe and full-flavored red that remains surprisingly fresh and lengthy on the palate. The previous vintage was a big customer favorite and we expect this one to be met with the same enthusiasm.
Price: $17.99 Add To Cart

2017 Tenuta di Sesta Camponovo
Review Date: 12-03-2019
We love the wines of Tenuta di Sesta and they are some of our best values from Montalcino. Although we're quite familiar with their Brunello and Rosso we hadn't tasted this wine in recent days. That being said, it's a steal! Fermented and aged entirely in stainless steel, this stunning Sangiovese is combined with ten percent Colorino and possesses a true sense of its Tuscan origins. There's surprising concentration for a wine of this price and it's silky smooth and flavor-packed as well. This is the ideal everyday red that certainly exceeds its cost.
Price: $9.99 Add To Cart

2017 Domaine de Verquière Rasteau
Review Date: 12-03-2019
This wine truly impressed me. It offers so much depth and richness at the price and remains fresh throughout. It's the ideal combination of perfectly ripe fruit from a warm vintage and just the right balance of tannins and acidity. There's a good percentage of Syrah blended with Grenache which adds some delicious spiced dark fruit notes and additional weight on the palate. Impressive.

2018 Paolo Caciorgna "Ciauria" Etna Rosso
Review Date: 12-03-2019
Owner Paolo Caciorgna is quite fond of this wine as well as the 2018 vintage as we can attest having had the pleasure of tasting his latest arrivals during his recent visit to Los Angeles. This wonderful expression of Nerello Mascalese is sourced from select vineyards on the North side of Mt Etna and is a very fine example of the better red wines now produced on the volcano. It's bright and aromatic with highlights of spiced red fruits with subtle notes of volcanic minerals and dried florals. A very fine Etna red.
Price: $24.99 Add To Cart

2016 Fratelli Barale "Serraboella" Barbaresco
Review Date: 12-03-2019
The Barale 2016 Barbaresco seems to have been overlooked by many as it arrived at the same time as the always outstanding Barolo, Dolcetto and Nebbiolo offerings yet it is a true find. This elegant and compact wine is deceptively complex and comes alive with a bit of aeration. It's brimming with bright red fruits accented by notes of licorice, florals and minerals. Impeccably balanced, this wonderful Barbaresco will pair nicely with pastas, roasted meats, cheeses and game.

2017 La Monacesca Verdicchio di Matelica
Review Date: 12-02-2019
Owner Aldo Cifola produces some of the very finest Verdicchio that possesses impressive concentration and depth. This serious wine has developed quite a following of late and the 2017 is really delicious. Subtle flavors of citrus, yellow fruit, anise and mineral make this especially good with seafood, mild cheese and lighter fare. It will continue to evolve over the next few years.
Price: $17.99 Add To Cart

2014 La Fortuna Brunello di Montalcino
Review Date: 12-02-2019
We're fortunate to have a number of solid Brunello offerings from the very challenging 2014 vintage. This one from La Fortuna offers a medium weight Sangiovese with a solid core bright spiced red fruit and a lengthy finish. It's especially appealing with food and is delicious now.
Price: $34.99 Add To Cart

2016 La Fortuna "Magnus" Sant'Antimo Rosso
Review Date: 10-29-2019
While "Magnus" weds vibrant Sangiovese with Bordeaux varietals, it's unmistakably Tuscan. This charming blend highlights delicious earthy cassis, berry fruits and hints of chocolate and spicy oak. I think it's an ideal introduction to Italian reds for those who enjoy California Cabernet (and blends) and are looking to venture out to other regions. It's also a great everyday drinker.
Price: $19.99 Add To Cart

2016 Il Valentiano Rosso di Montalcino
Review Date: 10-29-2019
The owners of this estate warned us in advance of how great this wine was and how much we would love it. In our business that could be a positive spin on a mediocre wine or an authentic accolade. Fortunately the producers we import directly are not only outstanding but also honest about their work and our friends at Il Valentiano were 100 percent correct on this wine. It's packed with flavor and personality and offers a depth of fruit we don't expect at $15. Outstanding.
Price: $16.99 Add To Cart

2016 Podere Donna Nera Rosso di Montalcino
Review Date: 10-29-2019
We continue to discover extraordinary Italian wine values and this 2016 Rosso di Montalcino really impresses. It offers a full palate of concentrated spicy black fruit that's amplified by ripe tannins and solid acidity. As much as we love our domestic wines, the old world continues to over-deliver.
Price: $14.99 Add To Cart

2015 Einaudi "Ludo" Barolo
Review Date: 10-28-2019
This Barolo continues to improve in depth and complexity as the fruit comes from the younger vines within Einaudi's vineyard holdings in the zones of Barolo, Monforte and Verduno. It's full-bodied and wonderful to drink now yet has the structure to age nicely for many years. It's also a great introduction to Barolo for anyone looking to try one for the first time as well as an excellent value for the experienced.
Price: $39.99 Add To Cart

2015 Guido Rivella "Fausoni" Barbaresco
Review Date: 10-28-2019
The Fausoni vineyard is located just outside the town of Neive and Rivella's Barbaresco reflects the elegance and spiciness this area is known for. His 2015 is subtle and spicy yet full with rich fruit and a substantial tannic frame. It's delicious now but will improve with a couple years in the cellar.
Price: Hidden View Price

2014 Fuligni Brunello di Montalcino
Review Date: 10-28-2019
In my opinion Fuligni ranks among the top tier of Brunello properties and their 2014 definitely exceeds expectation in what was a very challenging vintage. It's a bit more streamline than most years but has plenty of intensity of fruit and good length in contrast. Perfect to open in the near future with a juicy steak or meat sauced pasta dish.

2015 Rizzi "Nervo" Barbaresco
Review Date: 10-21-2019
While the Rizzi "Pajore" highlights spiced red fruits, the "Nervo" features a darker fruit profile that combines both power and elegance. Aromas of dark berries, raspberries, roses and licorice meet a full palate with ripe tannins and loads of persistent flavor and length. There's plenty of depth to this wonderful Barbaresco that benefits from a bit of aeration upon opening. Great with meats, firm cheeses and heartier casseroles.

2014 Tenuta di Sesta Brunello di Montalcino
Review Date: 10-21-2019
While the majority of 2014 Brunelli are on the lighter side, Tenuta di Sesta has produced a fuller, richer wine by comparison. This is one of our favorites of the vintage and takes a well deserved place among the best. It's definitely reflective of a lighter vintage but offers good concentration and length with delicious berry fruit flavors and fine acidity. At this price, what's not to like?

2015 La Lecciaia Sassarello Toscana
Review Date: 10-21-2019
"Sassarello" weds wonderful Sangiovese from Montalcino with Cabernet and Merlot and is among the best value Super Tuscan style blends we're offering of late. It's the ideal everyday red that can be enjoyed on its own or with a wide variety of dishes at the table.
Price: $16.99 Add To Cart

2017 Marco Carpineti Moro Lazio Bianco
Review Date: 10-21-2019
The Moro white wine is made from an ancient varietal that comes from the Greco family of grapes. It originally faded from production but has recently been loving cultivated by Marco Carpineti. This here-to-fore unknown wine is full-bodied with subtle notes of peach, almond and mineral with excellent acidity and overall freshness. It's a serious wine to be enjoyed with seafood, white meats and complex white sauced pastas.
Price: $29.99 Add To Cart

2017 Ferraton Père et Fils Côtes du Rhône-Villages Plan de Dieu
Review Date: 10-21-2019
The Ferraton Cotes du Rhone is yet another outstanding addition to an increasing number of value priced Southern French wines currently available at K&L. It opens to heady aromas of spiced dark berry fruits, dark plum, licorice and pepper and delivers a rounded palate of delicious black fruit. While the Grenache shines through the Syrah truly harmonizes this terrific new release.
Price: $14.99 Add To Cart

2015 Rizzi "Pajore" Barbaresco
Review Date: 09-30-2019
The Rizzi family captured the best attributes of the 2015 vintage as their Barbarescos offer expressive fruit in combination with freshness and balance. Their "Pajore' combines red fruits with hints of florals and licorice and weds them with just the right touch of acidity and ripe tannins. This is a very well-priced Nebbiolo and a wonderful introduction to Barbaresco.

2018 Antonelli "Trebium" Trebbiano Spoletino
Review Date: 09-30-2019
Although the first bottle of this wine we opened was unfortunately corked, the second was awesome. Antonelli brings out the best of this ancient varietal with an aromatic array of tropical and citrus fruits with hints of almond and hawthorn blossom and a rounded palate that matches perfectly with appetizers, cured meats, fish, pasta carbonara and mild cheeses. A very impressive white wine.
Price: $17.99 Add To Cart

2016 Antonelli Montefalco Rosso
Review Date: 09-30-2019
Filippo Antonelli was kind enough to drop in on us during a recent visit to LA and share his impressive new releases with us. We've been fans for many years and were reminded why. His Montefalco Rosso was definitely one of the highlights. It's a blend of 70% Sangiovese, 15% Sagrantino and 15% Montepulciano that ages for 12 months in large casks followed by an additional 6 months in stainless steel vats. It's medium bodied with lush berry fruit and perfectly ripe tannins and ideal with red meats, meat pastas and mature cheeses.
Price: $16.99 Add To Cart

2018 Casa d'Ambra Ischia Bianco
Review Date: 09-30-2019
The island of Ischia is just off the coast of Naples and produces a number of outstanding wines including this Biancolella from Casa d'Ambra. Subtle fruit and floral notes open to a crisp palate with hints of saline and almond on the finish. It's wonderful with seafood, tomatoes, mild cheeses and lighter fare.
Price: $17.99 Add To Cart

2016 Cantina Terlan "Porphyr" Lagrein Riserva
Review Date: 09-09-2019
Cantina Terlano's "Porphyr" is one of the finest examples of Lagrein produced. Its name refers to the local alpine bedrock the vineyards reside upon and the grapes for this wine are carefully selected from three sites with vines nearly one hundred years in age. It's a deeply colored red with aromas of smoky black fruits, violets, earth and dark chocolate. Rich, luxurious black fruit melds with rustic tannins and fresh acidity and forms a long-lasting impression.
Price: $64.99 Add To Cart

2015 Schiavenza "Prapò" Barolo
Review Date: 09-09-2019
This is a magnificent offering from Schiavenza and among the more impressive 2015 Barolos I've tasted to-date. It not only captures the rich, concentrated fruit of a warm vintage but also retains substantial acidity and vibrant ripe tannins. This will need a couple of years in the cellar to soften and evolve.

2015 Ambra "Elzana" Carmignano Riserva
Review Date: 09-09-2019
Carmignano is a tiny appellation in Northwest Tuscany near Chianti Classico. The wines of this zone are required to have a minimum of fifty percent Sangiovese along with ten to twenty percent of either Cabernet or Cabernet Franc. Here, Sangiovese is a bit darker in color than in Chianti and the resulting wines are generally a bit fuller in texture as well. Ambra's "Elzana" is a Riserva aged fro three years in wood prior to bottling. While it showcases Sangiovese, Cabernet adds delicious chocolate nuances to this medium-to-full bodied classic. This outstanding wine will especially appeal to fans of red blends.
Price: $29.99 Add To Cart

Wine Club

$24.99

2018 Rocca di Montegrossi Rosato
Review Date: 09-09-2019
This is our best selling Italian rose and it continues to impress as well as gain new fans. The winery makes this from 100 percent Sangiovese that's held briefly in stainless steel and then bottled. It's crisp and light on its feet yet has just the right balance of flavor and texture. One of Italy's best Rosatos.
Price: $17.99 Add To Cart

2015 Elio Grasso "Ginestra Casa Matè" Barolo
Review Date: 08-12-2019
Gianluca Grasso's 2015 single vineyard Barolos are certainly must-buys for Nebbiolo fans and his Casa Mate is sensational. It's a stunning combination of dense, perfectly ripe fruit, integrated tannins and bountiful acidity throughout. Although it's very showy today, it deserves time in the cellar to fully integrate.

2015 Elio Grasso "Gavarini Chiniera" Barolo
Review Date: 08-10-2019
Gianluca Grasso's Gavarini Chinieri is generally the more elegant and approachable of his single vineyard Barolo offerings, especially in warm vintages like 2015 (as there is more sand at this site which allows for more drainage and riper, more elegant fruit). It's impressive and accessible now yet will reward with some time in the cellar. Gianluca eschews travel whenever possible as he favors tending his vineyards and the results are more than evident.

2015 Massolino Barolo
Review Date: 08-10-2019
There are multiple generations of the Massolino family working together at the winery and they manage to maintain an impressive consistency from vintage to vintage. Their 2014 Barolo exceeded expectation in a very difficult vintage and was one of our very favorites. That being said, their 2015 is sublime. It melds rich, ripe fruit from a warm year with fresh acidity and tannins which makes it not only ideal for drinking now but also a candidate for the cellar. Another classic from Massolino.

2016 La Massa "La Massa" Toscana
Review Date: 08-10-2019
While the 2015 showcased the resulting ripeness and weightiness of the vintage, the 2016 has a more classic frame that highlights the Sangiovese (that is deftly integrated with Cabernet and Merlot) in a medium-to-full-bodied blend with a touch more acidity and liveliness. This may be my favorite of the recent vintages of La Massa and I'm confident that super Tuscan fans will love it as well.

2016 Cantina Terlano "Vorberg" Pinot Bianco Riserva Alto Adige
Review Date: 07-30-2019
Some of the finest examples of Pinot Blanc come from Italy's Alto Adige zone and Terlano's Vorberg has been my favorite for many years. Even in the toughest of vintages, this wine manages to exceed expectation. The 2016 offers an aromatic array of orchard fruit with jasmine and mineral and a full, round palate with a long, mineral-driven finish. In my opinion this ranks among Italy's finest white wines and is worth every cent.
Price: $39.99 Add To Cart

2017 La Capranera Aglianico Campania
Review Date: 07-22-2019
One of our latest Italian arrivals is this impressive un-oaked Aglianico that delivers far more than it's price might suggest. It's a substantial red that offers up concentrated, classic blackberry and black cherry fruit intertwined with ample tannins and solid acidity. Perfect for a wide variety of meats, pastas and cheeses and great with pizza.
Price: $12.99 Add To Cart

2017 Ferrero Rosso di Montalcino
Review Date: 07-08-2019
Ferrero's Rosso di Montalcino offers some really delicious Sangiovese at a very affordable price. It's bright, juicy, loaded with fresh cherry fruit flavors and represents one of the best values in our current Italian line-up.
Price: $16.99 Add To Cart

2016 Graci "Arcuria" Etna Bianco
Review Date: 07-08-2019
Graci's Etna Bianco "Arcuria" is a very special white wine that often displays Chablis-like characteristics. Their 2016 is a bit broader and rounder than the previous vintage with moderate acidity and subtle notes of orchard fruits, saline and volcanic minerals. It's an exciting wine that is wonderful with fish, seafood pastas and white meats.
Price: $49.99 Add To Cart

2016 Domaine Grand Veneur "Champauvins" Côtes du Rhône-Villages
Review Date: 07-08-2019
Those who love Chateauneuf-du-Pape will definitely want to purchase this tremendous new release from Grand Veneur. It's brimming with deftly integrated flavors of raspberries, black fruit, garrigue and spice and is seamless across the palate. At $20 this offers the richness and complexity of pricier Rhone reds. A steal.
Price: $19.99 Add To Cart

2017 Domaine de Verquière Côtes-du-Rhône
Review Date: 07-08-2019
This outstanding Rhone red just seems to improve with each successive vintage and the 2017 is my favorite to-date. It offers up plenty of spicy red Grenache fruit flavors enveloped by am ample dollop of Syrah that broadens the palate and weight and delicious dark fruit. It's a lot of wine at a very modest price and one of our finest Rhone values.
Price: $10.99 Add To Cart

2018 Graci Etna Rosato
Review Date: 07-08-2019
This is one of the very best Italian roses we feature every year and the 2018 does not disappoint. It's vibrant and flavorful with just the right balance of palate weight and crisp acidity. Delicious red fruits with a pleasant touch of mineral make this a very compelling wine. Great alone or with food.
Price: $21.99 Add To Cart

2016 Mothia "Mosaikon" Nero d'Avola
Review Date: 06-24-2019
While there is a lot of demand for Nero d'Avola, we're decidedly selective as so many of them are average at best. This, however, is an impressive expression and a welcome addition to our cellar. The vineyards of Mothia abut the Western Sicilian coastline which adds savory notes of saline to an already delicious palate of concentrated plum and red fruit with a bright finish. This is a very versatile red that will pair nicely with bbq, grilled meats, burgers and Mexican food.
Price: $19.99 Add To Cart

Rosset "Trasor" 750 Valle d'Aosta
Review Date: 06-24-2019
The red wines of Valle d'Aosta have been a bit hit and miss for us over the years but this one is certainly a find. It's smooth and round with plenty of richly flavored and slightly smoky red and black fruit and seamless on the palate. Don't miss this unique and delicious alpine red.
Price: $19.99 Add To Cart

2018 Ciu Ciu "Merlettaie" Pecorino
Review Date: 06-24-2019
While Verdicchio garners most of the attention when it comes to white wines of Le Marche, Pecorino is all to often overlooked or even forgotten. We've been fortunate to have offered several excellent ones over the years but this is the best I've tasted in recent memory. It combines substantial mouth weight with ample acidity that shines through along with delicious tree fruit flavors and a pleasant hint of sea salt. This is an outstanding bottle of white wine that showcases the uniqueness and versatility found among Italian white wines.
Price: $19.99 Add To Cart

2015 Filodivino "Filotto" Verdicchio Castello di Jesi Superiore
Review Date: 06-24-2019
Verdicchio is known as one of the longer aging white wines of Italy and this latest arrival affirms that reputation. With some time in the bottle, the 2015 Filodivino has developed attractive brioche and golden fruit aromas and a layered palate with a pleasant hint of saltiness on the finish. It's an outstanding, ready-to-open white that's ideal with seafood, white meats, vegetables, soups and mild cheeses.
Price: $19.99 Add To Cart

2017 d'Antiche Terre Fiano d'Avellino
Review Date: 06-24-2019
This is a wonderful expression of Fiano from Italy's Campania region. The winery manages to coax the best characteristics of this ancient white varietal such as mineral, dried honey, saline and hints of beeswax. Some texture and moderate acidity make this especially good with fish and light pastas.
Price: $19.99 Add To Cart

Bisol "Jeio" Prosecco
Review Date: 06-24-2019
Bisol is one of the best of the larger producers of Prosecco and has a long track record of excellence. This current release is crisp and lively with bright green apple and pear flavors, zippy acidity and a pleasant creamy finish. It's an ideal sipper for our Southern California climate and perfect for Aperol spritzs as well.
Price: $14.99 Add To Cart

2015 Castello di Verduno Barbaresco
Review Date: 05-13-2019
This historic estate makes wines in the traditional style, meaning they receive long maceration times and extended aging in large barrels. Castello di Verduno's Barbaresco is produced from Nebbiolo selected from the Faset and Rabaja vineyards and this one is quite open and approachable young thanks to the warmth of the 2015 vintage. Wonderful aromatics of red fruits, dried florals, camphor and mineral and juicy, rich fruit make this wine irresistible now.

2015 Gianfranco Alessandria Barolo
Review Date: 05-13-2019
I've tasted many vintages of Barolo from this estate but this may be their best yet. Although Alessandria takes a more modern approach in the winery with shorter fermentation time and aging in small French barrels, the oak remains in the background and the fruit truly shines. His 2015 Barolo combines elegant, refined Nebbiolo fruit with a substantial tannic backbone and fine acidity. The wines of this estate are known for their longevity and we recommend cellaring this one for at least 2-3 years prior to opening.

2015 Fratelli Barale Barolo
Review Date: 05-13-2019
All of the offerings from the Barale winery offer high quality at exceptional prices and the demand for their wines continues to increase. We recently received their 2015 Barolo and it's tough to beat. As good as the 2014 was, this even more impressive latest arrival is a pure expression of Nebbiolo with expressive red fruit, ripe tannins and just the right touch of acidity to round it out. It's definitely worth picking up several bottles of this one.
Price: $34.99 Add To Cart

2017 Ermacora Pinot Grigio Colli Orientali del Friuli
Review Date: 04-29-2019
The Friulians may be far more interested in their native Tocai Friulano and Ribolla Gialla and reluctant to promote their Pinot Grigio but we love it here in the US for its versatility and wonderful flavors and Ermacora's is outstanding. This very affordable white is full and layered with no shortage of subtle tree fruit flavors and length. Perfect on its own and especially good with white meats.
Price: $15.99 Add To Cart

2015 Tenuta Roveglia "Vigne di Catullo" Lugana Riserva
Review Date: 04-29-2019
Roveglia's "Vigne di Catullo" is one of the most intriguing and impressive Italian white wines on our sales floor. The grapes come from 55 (plus) year old vines late harvested in early October, a couple of weeks post normal harvest. It's round and creamy with rich fruit and a core of persistent acidity and mineral that make it outstanding alone and wonderful when paired with seafood pastas, fish and risotto. Although it's more than suitable to drink now, it will continue to develop in the cellar over the next couple of years.
Price: $17.99 Add To Cart

2017 Domaine Lafage "Novellum" Chardonnay
Review Date: 04-23-2019
This well-priced Chardonnay is beloved by a wide cross-section of customers as it sees only a kiss of new oak and delivers a round, creamy texture, sumptuous fruit and perfectly integrated acidity. It's great on its own or with food and the flavors and freshness keep you coming back for more. An impressive and affordable white that exceeds expectation.
Price: $10.99 Add To Cart

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