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Staff Favorites - Joe Manekin

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


Reviews

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2010 Los Autores "El Brujo" Gran Reserva Rioja
Review Date: 02-05-2019
Los Autores is of course Spanish for "The Auteurs," and the idea behind this series of limited, top quality Riojas is to pay homage to some of the most talented creative minds in the region, in this case to none other than the legendary Ezequiel "El Brujo" Garcia. This is a selection of Tempranillo, Garnacha, Mazuelo, and even a tiny portion of white Viura grapes (as was common back in the day), allowed to age in Ezequiel's hand picked barrels (which were almost always some of the oldest still in use at the winery, typically 8-10 years old) for over three years prior to additional ageing in bottle. The structured dark fruit, quiet intensity, balanced acidity and fine tannins speak to a wonderful 2010 vintage and to time tested practices in the cellar. Whether this classic will endure for as long as the Tondonias, Imperiales and 904's of the world is almost besides the point - though I suspect that it will - and the really cool thing about this collectible is the legacy and insider Rioja history that the wine conveys. Our "El Brujo" gran reserva Rioja bottling is undoubtedly one of the most special wines we have picked up as a direct import from Spain.
Price: $29.99 Add To Cart

2011 Cune "Imperial" Gran Reserva Rioja
Review Date: 01-31-2019
Cune's Imperial is always one of the Gran Reserva releases that I most look forward to. The profile, one might say over in Rioja, is "alta, alta" - meaning, it comes from vineyards in the coldest part of Rioja Alta. This is the epitome of structured, nicely chiseled, high-toned Rioja that is built for the long haul. I would concede that 2011 was a particularly warm and dry year, which from my experience really benefited Rioja Alta wineries that have the ability to select and blend from many excellent sites. Drinking beautifully now, this will continue to blossom in bottle and develop complexity over the next decade, while it will drink well and last well beyond that. A gran reserva that is not to be missed!

2012 Pinna Fidelis Vendimia Seleccionada Ribera del Duero
Review Date: 01-30-2019
Full bodied, generously fruited and perfectly balanced with meaty, savory notes, this is a wonderful Ribera del Duero that has entered its prime drinking window. It is grown in 30-year-old vineyards, primarily those at altitude on the south side of the Duero river, in clay and stony soils that contain large amounts of limestone. This produces later ripening fruit, with balanced levels of acidity that enable improvement with bottle age. Pair this with grilled lamb chops and some crisp, Hasselback potatoes topped with chopped rosemary for a delicious meal and memorable food and wine match.
Price: $39.99 Add To Cart
DC 97 JS 91

2016 Eric Kent "1 KM West" Sonoma Coast Chardonnay
Review Date: 01-24-2019
We blew through the last vintage of this Chardonnay - no surprise given the quality for the price and the generous yet balanced flavor profile. A nose that shows toast and pineapple leads to flavors that show a lovely pull between ripe citrus, acidity and nicely integrated barrel notes.
Price: $19.99 Add To Cart

2017 Domaine de la Bila Haut "Les Vignes de Bila Haut" Côtes du Roussillon Blanc
Review Date: 01-24-2019
This typical blend of Roussillon white grapes is bright and briny, with a crisp and slightly phenolic finish which adds interest and balance. In the current line-up of Bila Haut wines we carry, this delicious Grenache Blanc based white is my favorite!
Price: $11.99 Add To Cart
JD 90 RP 90

Dérot-Delugny "Cuvée Fondateurs" Brut
Review Date: 01-22-2019
I was incredibly excited to try this 100% Fromenteau, but as so often happens with great wines, the terroir and style overrides the grape variety. While I didn't get much of an indication of Pinot Gris, the wine is a joy to drink, the Derot Delugny is classy, with golden fruits, a fine bead, and a nicely dry palate impression. There is something old fashioned and timeless about the flavors, texture and overall impression of this wonderful Champagne.
Price: $49.99 Add To Cart

2017 Domaine de la Bila Haut "Les Vignes de Bila Haut" Côtes du Roussillon Rouge
Review Date: 01-21-2019
This Chapoutier produced bottling has a consistent, slighly spicy, sweetly fruited profile year to year. On the nose, some slightly reductive notes also show sweet dark fruits, licorice and a subtly grainy, breakfast cereal quality. Red and dark fruit flavors on the palate, with hints of candied violets in the background, combine to make this a decent, inexpensive, fairly priced weeknight wine.

2014 Marqués de Murrieta "Finca Ygay" Reserva Rioja
Review Date: 01-15-2019
This is as solid, consistent and tasty a bottle of old world, sub $20 red wine as you are likely to find. While we are clearly towards the top of the class for Rioja, the quality of Marqués de Murrieta's reserva bottling consistently places it favorably amongst other category leading, similarly priced reds. 2014 was a successful vintage, one that borrows a bit of the structure and reserve of the excellent 2010 vintage, while showing a trace of the precocious, savory flavor development of 2013. The freshness of this wine becomes particularly apparent on the mid palate, where red fruits join the dark skinned ones, and even more so on the poised and limestone marked finish.

1995 Loch Lomond ("All Malt") 22 Year Old "Old Particular" K&L Exclusive Single Barrel Cask Strength Single Grain Scotch Whisky (750ml)
Review Date: 12-05-2018
This has got to be one of the most supple, easy to drink, and dare I say it, single *malt* like single grain scotch whiskies I have ever tasted. I admit that single grain whiskies - with their individualistic, spicy, armagnac meets rye like qualities - are not often my favorites. That said, I love this Loch Lomond for its creaminess and light, drinkable, yet far from simple, qualities. It delivers the goods, and over delivers on price. Highly recommended.
Price: Hidden View Price

2004 Fettercairn 14 Year Old "Old Particular" K&L Exclusive Single Barrel Cask Strength Single Malt Scotch Whisky (750ml)
Review Date: 12-05-2018
Have a soft spot for unadorned, ex bourbon, workhorse single malt? Not at all candied, just a bit grainy and deliciously balanced, old timey stuff? Then I would suggest ye olde Fettercairn. I first encountered this whisky my first year working at K&L, and ever since then whenever we have scored a cask I have yet to be disappointed. Fettercairn is great scotch whisky. It's not showy, it's just impeccably made and always hits the spot.
Price: $59.99 Add To Cart

2006 Isle of Jura 12 Year Old "Old Particular" K&L Exclusive Single Refill Sherry Butt Cask Strength Single Malt Scotch Whisky (750ml)
Review Date: 12-05-2018
I have fond memories of Isla of Jura's distillery bottled 12 year old single malt, from about 5 or so years ago now. I remember the nicely burnished color, the intense but not over the top sweetness balanced by a subtly savory chewy quality. Our Old Particular bottling delivered on my expectations for this distillery, and then some. Showing a honeyed quality with more persistence and depth of flavor than many other 10-12 year old single malts, there is also an appealing saline quality towards the finish that sets Isle of Jura apart. Tasty and likely to become a go to for many folks. Anticipate what you need now, it won't likely stick around our inventory much longer.
Price: $64.99 Add To Cart

1996 Auchroisk 21 Year Old "Hepburn's Choice" K&L Exclusive Single Barrel Cask Strength Single Malt Scotch Whisky (750ml)
Review Date: 12-05-2018
This is an example of a cask strength whisky that is surprisingly supple, balanced, rich and showy, just a complete tasting single malt, before any water is added. In fact, I don't think you need to play around with water on this one, it simply tastes great and gives so much right out of the gate. Soft and a hint tropical, with suggestions of manila mango on the nose, this is an easy to drink, delicious single malt for under $90.
Price: $89.99 Add To Cart

1996 Tobermory 22 Year Old "Old Malt Cask" K&L Exclusive Single Refill Sherry Butt Cask Strength Single Malt Scotch Whisky (750ml)
Review Date: 12-05-2018
This is a phenomenal value in aged single malt. It has an original, nearly tropical fruit profile on the nose, with a supple and very easy to drink quality on the palate. 22 year old single malt for well under $100? Yes, and good single malt at that. Recommended.
Price: $89.99 Add To Cart

2016 Chateau de L'Ou "Infiniment" Côtes Catalanes Rouge
Review Date: 12-04-2018
Loaded with red fruit flavors and spice, this is an easy drinking, expressive, crowd pleasing Syrah from the Cotes Catalanes in the south of France. Wonderfully fragrant, the wine's fruit and structure seems to lean predominantly towards the front palate, with supple and carefully built tannins on the back end. So this is a wine to enjoy now and for the next 5-6 years, no need to stash these away for years in your cellar!

2012 Miguel Merino Reserva Rioja
Review Date: 11-28-2018
A terrific vintage of the reserva bottling, this shows a deeper, more brooding quality, with more savory nuances than the entry level Vitola reserva. Flavors show dark cherry, with the savory meatiness following the nose, and a decidedly chalky minerality which is so typical of good Reserva level Rioja in general and Miguel's top quality, Briones sourced reservas in particular. A fine example of the quality you can find amongst the small grower, single village producers of Rioja.
Price: $29.99 Add To Cart

Wine Club

$24.99
JS 91

2016 Domaine Petroni Corse Rouge (Corsica)
Review Date: 11-28-2018
Though they produce one of our most popular rosés, Domaine Petroni also makes tasty, expressive Corsican red. Red and dark fruits on the nose combine with something spicy, nearly cola like but without the sweet notes. Medium bodied on the palate, the flavors are fresh and the tannins provide just enough grip to keep it all balanced. Terrific value for the money in an authentic Corsican red.
Price: $13.99 Add To Cart

Wine Club

$9.99
JD 94

2017 Gentilini Robola of Cephalonia Greece
Review Date: 11-14-2018
Greece - so well known for its numerous diverse, beautiful islands - is also a prolific producer of a variety of island wines. Cephalonia is one of the islands and Robola a very rare white variety which grows on it, producing a wine with delicious fruit, crispy acidity and a mouth watering, tingly, salty aspect as well. Roasted sardines, grilled calamari, or even your favorite poke bowl recipe would all be fantastic with this one of a kind island Greek isle white.
Price: $17.99 Add To Cart
RP 91

2010 Domaine de la Jaufrette Châteauneuf-du-Pape
Review Date: 11-14-2018
This is arguably the most serious in the line-up of honestly crafted, staunchly old school Grenache based wines from Domaine de la Jaufrette. Here, there are no grapes picked at 16% potential alcohol, there are no consultants, no steady influx of wine critics and journalists lavishing praise and perfect scores for wines from perfect vintages, no mentions of any "tour de force in winemaking." Got it? This is simply a rustic, earthy, salt of the earth type CdP, well made, made for food, and destined for greatness, as long as your definition of "greatness" doesn't involve perfection.
Price: $49.99 Add To Cart

2010 Domaine de la Jaufrette Vacqueyras
Review Date: 11-14-2018
I had to chuckle when reading our product description for Jaufrette's wines, comparing them to the unapologetically traditional Riojas of Lopez de Heredia. There used to be a time where I had to compare those wines to similarly old school Italian and French producers to attract interest. These days, however, the old school and its emphasis on transparency, quality, and time tested techniques (and terroir) is back, and back with a vengeance. This Vacqueyras steps up the intensity, structure and black fruit when compared with the Cotes du Rhone. It's two years older, but tastes more than two years younger, due to the quality of the vintage and terroir. Intense black fruit and a pleasing salt licorice quality combine with structured tannins and a savory complexity that are beginning to show so much interest now, but will reward patient cellaring as well. A true original from the southern Rhone valley.
Price: $34.99 Add To Cart

2012 Domaine de la Jaufrette Côtes-du-Rhone
Review Date: 11-14-2018
Fans of old school southern Rhone wines, rejoice! Your prayers for a delicious, authentic, traditionally styled Grenache based wine - the likes of which are so rarely made these days - have been answered. In addition to the appealing bottle age of Jaufrette's CDR, we have the opportunity here to taste the dusty, earthy, savory qualities of old school Grenache, to perceive the grip of the grape's tannins, and enjoy a truly delicious food wine, ideally with a simply prepared, tasty meal (try stewed beef or lamb and a root vege/potato mash with the meat's natural juices as gravy). Add a green salad and cheese plate, et voila. Instant gratification - old school French bistro style.
Price: Hidden View Price

2015 Bodegas Palacios Remondo "La Montesa" Crianza Rioja
Review Date: 11-14-2018
There is a depth and complexity of fruit on the nose that not only places this Rioja as best in class, but probably in the running for best in show at under $15. Mixed berry and red fruit aromas show the warmth of the zone and the Mediterranean qualities of the vintage, but also the sparkle of good quality, clean grapes, carefully harvested, skillfully vinified and aged by one of the Spanish masters. Fresh, plump, spicy and downright delicious on the palate, this is undoubtedly the best vintage of La Montesa ever made - drink it up!

2016 MWC (McPherson Wine Co.) Shiraz-Mourvèdre Victoria
Review Date: 11-07-2018
MWC focuses on value wines, and judging by this Shiraz Mourvedre blend ,the effort has more than paid off. Mixed berries, creosote and menthol notes on the nose lead to a supple, forward and brightly fruited palate in this easy to drink red. Subtly spicy barrel notes and hints of dark chocolate present themselves as well, but are secondary to the delicious fruit on full display.

2017 Clos Henri "Petit Clos" Marlborough Pinot Noir
Review Date: 11-07-2018
Showing off bright plum and cherry fruits, balanced acidity and a round, juicy quality, it's nearly impossible to find fault with this well produced Pinot. For a Thanksgiving or seasonal Pinot Noir pick, the Clos Henri fits the bill nicely, and should please a wide range of palates heading into the holidays.
Price: $17.99 Add To Cart
JS 93 WE 92

2015 Miguel Merino "La Loma" Rioja
Review Date: 11-01-2018
As Miguel Merino continues his quest to produce some of the finest single village Riojas around, he has entrusted his son (also Miguel) with the winemaking for their first single vineyard bottling, La Loma. First planted in 1946, La Loma is a vineyard that yields spectacular quality fruit, on full display in this beautiful wine. There is a layered, focused intensity of flavor in this wine, without some of the more typical spicy notes of oak which frame the rest of the Miguel Merino range, and with an added tension from higher acidity. Delicious now, but capable of longer term ageing, this is a tremendous first effort in producing what is likely to become their most highly coveted bottling. A delicious expression and a current take on the great wines of Rioja.
Price: Hidden View Price
JS 92 RP 92

2005 Bodegas Casa Juan Señor de Lesmos Gran Reserva Rioja
Review Date: 11-01-2018
I remember how delicious the 2005 vintage Crianza and Reserva wines were from Casa Juan (that said, if I were to forget I can remind myself because I have some in the cellar..) Nevertheless, when I first tasted the 2005 Gran Reserva with Angel in his Laguardia tasting room, I had a little moment. I tasted the wine and found it to be spectacular, one of the finest "young" Gran Reserva Riojas I have ever tasted. We are fortunate to be working with someone as kind, genuine, hard working and serious as Angel from Casa Juan, whose wines continue to surprise and delight anyone lucky enough to drink them. I cannot recommend this special bottle of Gran Reserva highly enough.
Price: $29.99 Add To Cart
JS 92

2017 Stolpman "Para Maria" Santa Barbara County Red Blend
Review Date: 11-01-2018
This primarily Syrah driven blend is fantastic - I strongly suggest trying a bottle. Aromas suggest freshly cracked black pepper and licorice, as well as a forward, juicy "carbonic" aspect which, without getting too much in the weeds, simply refers to how the wine is made and the fact that it is more fresh and refreshing than most California Syrahs out there. To that point, this wine seems to take the forward quality of California fruit and balance it out with some old world, refreshing refinement. Dare I say it reminds me of a well made Bierzo (Spanish) red? Kudos to the Stolpmans for this cool project and for producing another delicious red wine.
Price: $19.99 Add To Cart
VN 92 - 95

2015 Xanadu Chardonnay Margaret River Western Australia
Review Date: 11-01-2018
Serious Chardonnay! Opening with scents of beautiful winter citrus - tangerine and meyer lemon in particular leap out of the glass- this is a wine that is bright, energetic, expansive, and under $20! Chardonnays that taste this good usually cost at least 30, maybe even $40. Great stuff.

2016 Casa Castillo Monastrell Jumilla
Review Date: 10-09-2018
There is no producer in Spain that has a track record with Mourvedre (Monastrell) that even approaches that of Casa Castillo. Imagine if Domaine Tempier made sub $15 wine from just outside of the Bandol region; that is the quality and pedigree here. While there is plenty of peppery fruit on the nose, the palate shows great balance and leaves an overall dry impression, with a combination of bright, dark skinned and just a hint of red fruits as well. Terrific value.
Price: $12.99 Add To Cart
RP 91

2009 La Rioja Alta "Viña Ardanza" Reserva Rioja
Review Date: 09-17-2018
I surely would have fell out of my chair, had I been sitting while first nosing and tasting the new release of La Rioja Alta's iconic "Viña Ardanza." Fortunately, I was standing, though the experience of tasting this new release of one of my favorite red wines on the planet is always a memorable one. This is one of those wines that I love every bit as much now as when I first became acquainted with it 15 years ago. It's such a great value, unique in that it tastes great upon release and, if you are one to patiently your wines, will go for two decades, easily. That said, there are lovely, typical, vintages of Ardanza, and then there are the heavies - 2001, 2004 and I would add 2009 to that list - lip smackingly delicious and in perfect balance, even on release. In fact, I do not recall the other vintages mentioned tasting quite as good as this one does. Highly recommended, for now and for the cellar.

2014 John Duval "Plexus" GSM Barossa Valley South Australia
Review Date: 09-12-2018
There is something about catching a wine right as it's beginning to hit its stride. This is absolutely the case with the 2014 John Duval Plexus, which is juicy, supple and delicious. The brightness of Grenache is a perfect counterpoint to the weight and deeper pitch of Syrah and Mourvedre. A perfect example of the kind ripe yet balanced deliciousness which first put the Barossa Valley on the map.

2016 Hentley Farm Shiraz Barossa Valley
Review Date: 09-12-2018
Textbook to a tee, this is Shiraz that shows dark fruits and melted tar aromas, leading to a wonderful palate with loads of blue and purple skinned fruit flavors. I agree with all the critics' assessments of this wine; it's representative of a top quality Barossa Shiraz, but at a much more affordable price.

2015 Hacienda Monasterio Ribera del Duero
Review Date: 09-11-2018
For Peter Sisseck, famous producer of Dominio del Pingus (yes, the $800+ dollar a bottle Pingus), Hacienda Monasterio is actually the winery which first brought him to Spain some 25 years ago. "El Pingus" himself still makes the wines here. This fact combined with the vines' prime location in Pesquers de Duero usually results in very good wines, but in 2014 and now 2015, we have a couple of back to back heavy hitters. The fruit profile, while rich, has the requisite amount of freshness, and a clean chalky quality towards the finish. I'm with the critics on this one: Hacienda Monasterio is definitely one of the Ribera del Duero region's best and most reliable names. Fantastic stuff for Spanish wine fans and, given the richness and polish of this wine, for Napa cab drinkers as well.

2015 Tapiz "Alta Collection" Cabernet Sauvignon Mendoza
Review Date: 09-09-2018
In terms of winemaking pedigree, you cannot do much better than to have someone who was responsible for making a $2,500 bottling of wine perfect, year in year out, for 44 years. That is exactly what Jean Claude Berrouet did at Petrus, and what he now does as well at Tapiz. The popularity of Tapiz Cabernet cannot be overstated: last year we sold many hundred of bottles of the 2014, and even in dollar terms it represented our best selling wine of 2017. We feel strongly about the 2015 vintage as well. It has all of the structure of 2014, perhaps with even more depth of flavor and savory Cab complexity. It is very hard to find a better bang for your buck Cabernet Sauvignon out there; this wine is just tough to beat!
Price: $14.99 Add To Cart
JS 93 RP 90

2017 Don Rodolfo "Art of the Andes" Pinot Noir Mendoza
Review Date: 09-05-2018
This is tasty Pinot Noir! Crisply styled, with red fruit flavors, lower alcohol and no suggestion of spicy/sweet barrel notes, this is that rare sub $15 Pinot Noir that is true to the variety, nicely dry and well made. As long as you are not expecting pitch perfect Pinot Noir character in this everyday drinker, I think you'll find plenty to like here!
Price: $10.99 Add To Cart
JS 90

2013 Leeuwin "Art Series" Cabernet Sauvignon Margaret River Western Australia
Review Date: 08-29-2018
A lion of the Aussie Cabernet world, Leeuwin's Art Series Cab absolutely shines in 2013, with an immediate hit of currant confit and cherry fruits that seem to combine intensity of flavor with freshness, purity and acidity that suggests fruit from a very well adapted, nicely mature site. Great Cab for your cellar (if you can resist drinking these bottles in the near term...)

2016 The Crusher California Pinot Noir
Review Date: 08-21-2018
California Pinot at under $20 has increasingly become something of a rara avis these days. Under $15 rarer still, but under $10?? You may be wondering how, what, and -- is that a typo or something? While I cannot speak to the how, I can tell you that this is juicy, crowd pleasing Pinot framed with some underlying toasty goodness, and no, there is no mistake in the sub $10 price. If it sounds too good to be true, it only is if you're looking for the next Rhys. Otherwise, check this one out!
Price: $9.99 Add To Cart
WE 91

2015 Roserock (Drouhin Oregon) Eola-Amity Hills Pinot Noir
Review Date: 08-21-2018
Drouhin's second Williamette Valley label is notable not only for doubling down on their investment in making great Chardonnay and Pinot Noir in Oregon, but also in showing how distinctive the wines are in Dundee vs the Eola Amity Hills further south in the valley. Their 2015 Pinot Noir shows the warmth of the vintage, along with a bright and high toned quality all its own. Plum and berry confit blend with freshly picked wild berry flavors on this delicious Pinot - drink now or over the next 5-7 years.

2013 Felsina "Colonia" Gran Selezione Chianti Classico
Review Date: 08-21-2018
The big boy in the Felsina stable, this newest entrant is like their famous Rancia bottling, but stacked with more intensity, structure and extract. Lots of fruit, but plenty of savory notes as well. The vineyard used for this bottling is in fact located up above Rancia, and apparently delivers a powerful bottle of wine that demands some time in the cellar -I'd love to see how it is drinking a decade from now.

San Venanzio Prosecco Valdobbiadene Superiore Brut
Review Date: 08-21-2018
This is fun, easy drinking prosecco, with an effortless balance between ripe appley fruit and fizz. It finishes dry, not bone dry, and is just really easy to drink! Wildly popular bubbles, and with good reason.
Price: $13.99 Add To Cart
DC 91

2016 Substance "Sunset Vineyard" Columbia Valley Sauvignon Blanc
Review Date: 08-14-2018
From the parched mesa of the interior Columbia Valley, this is ripe and structured Sauvignon Blanc. Do not expect gooseberries, grassiness or for that matter anything on the tropical side of the fruit spectrum. There are rich yellow and citrus fruits, along with an underlying lightly toasted oak note which seems to become less prominent in the glass as the wine opens up and continues to reveal this grape's fresh and refreshing attributes. Tasty, original Sauvignon Blanc!

Cutty Sark "Prohibition Edition" Blended Scotch Whisky (750ml)
Review Date: 07-31-2018
This venerable, BBR (Berry Bros. & Rudd) created brand is back, and at $15 the price for a go to every day bottle of Scotch does not get any better. The quality is good, really good. As I was joking earlier today, I'd like to think of this as the Scotch equivalent of a Werther's original that grandpa grabs out of his pocket: old school, reliably tasty, not necessarily the latest and greatest but absolutely classic and delicious.
Price: $14.99 Add To Cart
WA 90 WE 90

2017 Torti Pinot Noir Pavia
Review Date: 07-31-2018
While some Pinot Noirs are light, floral, subtle, others richer, flashier and more fruit forward, this Torti is neither, with a simple, nearly candied red fruit quality that makes it just about right for drinking on its own or with small bites prior to a meal. Light, fruit forward, easy going Pinot for the summertime.
Price: $17.99 Add To Cart
JS 90

2014 Cristom "Estate" Eola-Amity Hills Pinot Noir
Review Date: 07-24-2018
I visited Willamette Valley in June 2014. We walked the famous Bethel Heights to Cristom walk in the Eola Amity Hills AVA. It was hot and the season was off to a strong but early start, with locals claiming you could nearly see the vines' growth in a single day. Given the conditions, I was surprised how much grace, poise, and Willamette spicy typicity was on display with this bottle of Cristom, a selection of their estate vineyards in a cuvee that is a step up from their Mt. Jefferson bottling. Must be a combination of great vineyards, stem inclusion, skillful blending and time in bottle, but this is a Pinot Noir that is delicious now and will absolutely continue to develop nicely for a while yet.

2015 Ritual Chardonnay Casablanca Valley
Review Date: 07-12-2018
I was seriously smitten by this humble, sub $18 Chardonnay, so much so that I thought we should probably email you about it; it might be the best Chardonnay for under $18 which I have tasted this year. This delicious Chardonnay is the result of a beautiful, coastal terroir, featuring lots of decomposed granite, some heirloom Wente clones originally planted 25+ years ago, and a winemaker in Rodrigo Soto who studied how to make Chardonnay with none other than David Ramey. There is a bright, rich, mouth filling, palate of citrus and stone fruit, with explosive acidity, along with the perfect combination of texture and freshness, which I associate with Wente clone Chard. Compare this Chardonnay to pricier ones from more expensive real estate (Sonoma county and Burgundy, for example) and prepare to be very pleasantly surprised!
Price: $17.99 Add To Cart
JS 93

2016 Conreria d'Scala Dei "Les Brugueres" Blanco Priorat
Review Date: 07-03-2018
I remember first tasting this wine about 15 years ago, and thinking that it was cool to be enjoying a white wine from a region where I had heard that it was really all about the reds. While whites are still relatively rare in Priorat, this bottling has made a name for itself. It features old vine Garnatxa Blanca, showing the sort of crisp anjou pear flavors I associate with Spanish renditions of this grape, as well as a persistence and freshness that marks the variety. For anyone inclined to age a few of these, this is a wine that does improve and put on some weight in bottle over the course of several years, sometimes longer. A rare and original white for anyone who wants to learn more about the fascinating Priorat region.
Price: $29.99 Add To Cart
RP 91

2012 Louise Brison Brut Champagne
Review Date: 07-03-2018
I'm not sure if it's the Kimmeridgian soils, the organic viticulture or the barrel ageing, but as long as we have carried their wines, I have been a big Louise Brison fan. This 2012 vintage is undoubtedly their best yet, as I think it has the drive, minerality and freshness of past cuvees but is arguably more elegant and complete. For anyone looking for a relatively dry style and great value, this is your Champagne!
Price: $34.99 Add To Cart
RP 92

2015 Mount Langi Ghiran "Cliff Edge" Shiraz Victoria
Review Date: 06-19-2018
According to many, this is one of the top five Shiraz producers in all Australia. Judging by the quality of this sub $25 bottling, I can see why. Pure blue fruit shows intensity and freshness, with a subtle underlying littoral forest aspect - not full on eucalyptus but definitely a little bit. The tannins are incredibly supple, and as delicious as this wine is now, it has both the balance and the stuffing for improvement in bottle.

Woodinville Straight Bourbon Whiskey (750ml)
Review Date: 06-13-2018
The Woodinville label proudly states "real craft whisky" and I would encourage you to buy a bottle and taste the bourbon inside it; you will likely agree that it is indeed real, and craft, and delicious! I'm not sure whether it is the fact that they grow their own grain, include an important portion of rye in the mash bill, or simply that they just know what they're doing with distillation and ageing, but this has to be one of the most exciting new Bourbons I have tried in a while. The nose suggests vanilla pastry cream and roasted peanut shells, leading to a Bourbon that is sufficiently sweet, but also well framed by spicy barrel notes. Highly recommended.
Price: $36.99 Add To Cart

2017 Bodega Chacra "Sin Azufre" Pinot Noir Rio Negro
Review Date: 05-24-2018
What an original take on the grape that perhaps more than any other, is so coveted, and whose wines are more passionately debated than any other. I do not anticipate this wine will be any different: a lighter styled Pinot Noir, with 13% abv stated on the label (though I suspect it is a bit less), without added sulphites (as the name clearly states in Spanish). And it's from Patagonia! Anyhow, I love the wine. It smells of fresh fruit, with a European sensibility; we could in fact be in the Loire, perhaps, given the aromatic profile. On the palate, there are wild mixed berries, plums, and less florals than I recall in the 2016 vintage we offered last year. Still, it is a wonderfully original, successfully made wine in the "natural wine" style. If you like more subtle Pinot Noir and/or French wines, simply give this wine a try. For two years running, it's one of the most surprising, delicious wines I have tasted here.
Price: $34.99 Add To Cart
JS 97 RP 93

2016 Brezo Mencía Bierzo
Review Date: 05-06-2018
If there is an inexpensive red wine more laden with delicious fruit, savory complexity and layered subtlety, I would appreciate if someone would let me know, because I have to say that Gregory Perez' Brezo is tough to beat. Produced primarily from Mencía, a grape variety that thrives in and around the province of Leon, there are also other grape varieties which add spice, complexity and lovely floral notes in this red blend. What Brezo manages to do here is combine the iron, beefy savory quality of a Castillian red, and temper it with the freshness and immediacy of a Galician one; this the essence of great Bierzo. Yours for under $15.
Price: $14.99 Add To Cart
RP 91

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