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Staff Favorites - John Downing

John Downing

Reviews

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2016 Cà Viola "Brichet" Barbera d'Alba
Review Date: 01-21-2020
Beppe Caviola made his name as a top tier consulting winemaker but has more recently put the majority of his focus on crafting his own wines from his winery in the Dogliani zone of Piemonte. This classy Barbera is sourced from old vine plots in Montelupo Albese(a small hillside town outside of Alba)and really delivers at the price. It's aged in large barrels and offers a fresh, silky palate of blackberry and black cherry fruit with ample acidity and length on the finish. A versatile red that pairs with a wide range of foods.
Price: $19.99 Add To Cart

2017 Damilano Barbera d'Asti
Review Date: 01-21-2020
The Damilano Family is one of the oldest wine producers in the Langhe and they remain steadfastly committed to the region. More recently they rented an outstanding parcel in the Asti zone where the grapes for this delicious Barbera are harvested. The 2017 is quite rich and concentrated thanks to the warmth of the vintage and showcases delicious currant and red berry flavors and finishes with loads of fruit and solid acidity that adds freshness and length. This drinks nicely now and is a wonderful daily red that can be enjoyed on its own but is best with food.
Price: $19.99 Add To Cart

2017 Moulin de la Gardette "Tradition" Gigondas
Review Date: 01-20-2020
This wine reminded my why I love Rhone reds so much. It strikes the ideal balance of opulence and structure and delivers exceptional complexity. This classic blend weds delicious red and black fruit flavors with additional subtle notes of pepper, olive, smoke and dried herbs. The warmth and personality of the 2017 vintage shine through and make this one of the finer Gigondas we've had of late.

2018 Ca' del Baio Langhe Nebbiolo
Review Date: 01-20-2020
Ca del Baio seems to remain a bit under the radar as Barbaresco producers go yet the winery is certainly top tier and continues to produce outstanding wines. We love their latest release of Langhe Nebbiolo as it's fragrant, flavor-packed, classically styled and immediately drinkable. It's an ideal introduction to Nebbiolo that will also please fans of this varietal looking for serious value. Open and pair with cheeses, meat pastas, burgers and everyday fare.
Price: $21.99 Add To Cart

2018 Gulfi Nero d'Avola Rossojbleo Sicilia
Review Date: 01-13-2020
Gulfi produces some of the very finest Nero d'Avola on the island of Sicily and the Rossojbleo is their entry level offering. It's aged entirely in stainless steel and exudes a lively mélange of elegant red fruit that's perfect with appetizers, pizza and everyday meals.
Price: $16.99 Add To Cart

2016 Château de Montfaucon Côtes du Rhône
Review Date: 01-13-2020
This is one of the best Cotes-du-Rhone values we offer and the 2016 is stunning. It has the stuffing of a pricier wine along with the depth of the vintage while retaining balance and freshness. I especially love the wonderful red fruits and exotic spicing of this perennial favorite.
Price: $12.99 Add To Cart

2017 Fratelli Alessandria "Prinsiot" Langhe Nebbiolo
Review Date: 01-13-2020
Fratelli Alessandria has never made better wines and this most recent young vines Nebbiolo offering is a wonderful addition to the cellar. It's aged in large neutral oak casks and is both fragrant and elegant with enticing scents of dried florals and red fruits and an impressive palate bolstered by the addition of Barolo juice. We've already received a lot of positive customer feedback and highly recommend this one.
Price: $24.99 Add To Cart

2017 Paitin di Pasquero "Serra" Barbera d'Alba
Review Date: 01-13-2020
After the success of the previous two vintages of this Barbera, we've had a lot of requests for this latest arrival. It hails from the renowned Serraboella vineyard in Barbaresco and the result is a very special wine. Although the warmth of the vintage shines through the wine's ample fruit, there's more than enough acidity that freshens and livens it. It's bright, juicy and bursting with wonderful cherry fruit and pairs nicely with a wide array of dishes. Especially good with pizza, pastas, meats and cheeses.
Price: $19.99 Add To Cart

2016 Isole e Olena Chianti Classico
Review Date: 01-06-2020
Paolo De Marchi continues to produce one of the most elegant and impressive Chianti Classicos within the region. His 2016 is so fresh and mouthwatering with lively and savory red fruit that is seamless throughout. One of my favorite Chiantis for sure.

2013 Albatreti Brunello di Montalcino
Review Date: 01-06-2020
Salvioni's 2013 is singing at the moment and delivering a captivating aromatic array of spiced red fruit, dried florals and herbs and boasting a lengthy palate of savory red fruits and a lasting finish. This elegant Brunello is one of the true sleepers within our Italian selections and is not to be missed. Give this a bit of aeration and pair with roasts, cheeses and heartier pasta dishes.
Price: $39.99 Add To Cart

2016 Paolo Caciorgna "Guardoilvento" Etna Rosso
Review Date: 01-06-2020
Paolo Caciorgnia is not only one of the nicest people I've met in the wine world but also he's an extremely talented winemaker as reflected by his 2016 Etna Rosso "Guardoilvento" that arrived on our sales floor recently. The afore named vineyard yields grapes from very old/pre-phylloxera vines planted at 2500 feet. This 100% Nerello Mascalese is pure and fragrant with waves of spiced red fruits, rose petals, licorice and volcanic minerals. It's certainly one of the most pristine examples of Etna Rosso I've come across not to mention one of the finest.
Price: $29.99 Add To Cart

2016 La Monacesca "Mirum" Verdicchio di Matelica Riserva
Review Date: 12-29-2019
I've long found this to be one of the most special and unique of Italian white wines as proprietor Aldo Cifola allows the grapes an additional two weeks of hang time on the vines prior to harvesting. The result is a wine with complex aromas and flavors that retains its natural acidity and gains complexity in the bottle with age. It ferments and rests entirely in stainless steel and delivers wonderful richness especially when paired with aged cheeses, pastas, white meats and antipasti.
Price: $26.99 Add To Cart

2016 La Ca' Nova Barbaresco
Review Date: 12-29-2019
While the 2015 of this wine was soft, round and concentrated due to the warmth of vintage, 2016 offers a layer of complexity and bright acidity t the mix making this one a classic. Although wonderful and expressive today, it will certainly benefit from a couple years of cellaring. It's ideal for those interested in trying Barbaresco for the first time as well as an outstanding value-priced gem for those familiar with the category.
Price: $29.99 Add To Cart

2017 Mas de Sainte Croix "Tendresse d'un Climat" Côtes-du-Rhône Villages
Review Date: 12-29-2019
Putting aside my own love of Rhone reds, I think this latest from Mas de Sainte Croix is one of the best values going. It's rich and complex without being "over-the-top" or excessively ripe in style and delivers a level of complexity and satisfaction tough to find at this price. This outstanding Grenache Syrah blend hits all the right notes.
Price: $12.99 Add To Cart

2017 Jeff Carrel "Lilac" Côtes du Roussillon-Villages
Review Date: 12-29-2019
We've featured Jeff Carrel's "Les Darons" the past few vintages with great response from customers and staff so we're not surprised that his latest arrival, "Lilac", is just as impressive. While the name evokes an expressive floral array, the wine delivers not only that but also layers of pepper, red and black fruits and spice in an elegant and smooth frame. A very fine Rousillon red that's not to be missed.

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: $15.99 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?

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

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.

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

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

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

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

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