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Staff Favorites - Thomas Smith

Thomas Smith
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2018 Kumeu River "Kumeu Village" Chardonnay Kumeu
Review Date: 08-03-2020
There are few wines in New Zealand that shatter expectations like Kumeu River. This three-generation winemaking led by Michael Brackjovich has been crafting jaw-dropping Chardonnay that competes with the best Chardonnay anywhere. Although their single-vineyard Chardonnay’s like “Mate’s Vineyard” and “Hunting Hunting Hill” Vineyard often steal the show, their 2018 Kumeu River “Village” is the best rendition of their entry-level wine to date. With the core of this wine comes from Kumeu’s top-tier estate vineyards along with a touch of fruit from their Hawke’s Bay property, Michael asserts this is the best rendition of their “Village” they have every produced. Bright, and mineral driven on the palate with fresh lemon, citrus zest, and touches of white peach, what I love about this wine is its clean, and acid-driven palate that shows off Chardonnay as its most pure and transparent self. Vinous’s Neal Martin says it best when looking at Chardonnay prices elsewhere “you are left scratching your head as to why Kumeu River is not uttered in the same breath as Leflaive, Ramonet or Marcassin.”

Nicolas Maillart "Platine" Brut Champagne
Review Date: 07-21-2020
An absolutely stunner of a Champagne. Full fruited, pure, clean citrus with hints of white cherry. On the palate, this is full of energy and vigor and clear fruit expression. Another unbelievable value in the line-up of gorgeous grower producer Champagnes. This is going into my regular rotation of Friday night Champagne

2018 First Drop "Mother's Milk" Shiraz Barossa Valley South Australia
Review Date: 07-13-2020
First Drop wines had been on my radar for a while. They’re hard to miss, their quirky and eclectic labels stop you dead in your tracks when browsing across a wine shelf. But First Drop is about more than just packaging and the proof is in this bottle, this vintage. I was totally blown away by the 2018 Mother’s Milk. There’s so much about this wine I love. The aromas are meaty, with black plum, black cassis and a hint of rosemary and spice. On the palate, you’ll find richness countered by bright and fresh acidity with a beautiful black raspberry note and tannins that trail from the mid-palate to the finish. This is absurdly great value. One of the best Shiraz to hit my desk this year.
Price: $19.99 Add To Cart

2016 Byrne Vineyards "Calcannia" Cabernet Sauvignon Clare Valley South Australia
Review Date: 07-07-2020
If you happen to be looking for a great example of what Clare Valley wines taste like, this one hits the nail on the head. Honestly, if you're looking dark, concentrated and delicious Cab that punches well above it's price point, same answer. I have a love affair with wines from the Clare Valley. Altitude from the northern reaches of the Mount Lofty Ranges along with a cooler, maritime climate produce wines that starkly contrast what you find in the rest of Australia. Think of it this way--is there any where else on earth that Riesling and Syrah are grown successfully, side by side? That tells you a lot. The cool climate here gives the wines depth, darkness and concentration. The Calcannia Cabernet skews towards dark fruit, black cassis, black raspberry, plum and black cherry with the fruit set nicely against a medium acid profile. The tannins here take center stage, forward, but not so bitter or astringent as to need excessive aging. Charismatic and yet bold, I thought this was a great example of one of my favorite wine regions.
Price: $19.99 Add To Cart

2018 Kumeu River "Kumeu Village" Pinot Noir Hawkes Bay
Review Date: 07-07-2020
I should have never tasted this bottle. The importer originally intended to send me their Chardonnay, on which Kumeu River has built their reputation for some of the best Chardonnay produced anywhere across the globe. This three-generation family producer has earned accolades as New Zealand's best Chardonnay producer, crafting their wines with a keen eye towards Burgundy, and being damn successful at it. But this wasn't their Chardonnay, this was their Pinot. Furthermore, because Auckland is one of the few wine growing regions on New Zealand's East Coast, it is subject to extreme weather conditions, and a typhoon brought rains right at harvest in 2018, so most critics ultimately wrote this wine off. But let me tell you, do not make the same mistake. This wine is astoundingly beautiful. Nearly rose colored in the glass, with 12.5 ABV, this is elegant, graceful, and stunning Pinot Noir. Falling somewhere between Oregon's Arteberry Maresh and Giboulet Savigny Les Beaune, there is tons of aromatic complexity, along with a earthy, yet clean palate with just a tug of tannin and a beautiful finish. Kumeu declassified their entire Pinot Noir program into this one wine in 2018, and this absolutely reaffirms my belief that Kumeu River is one of the best producers out there. Period.
Price: $19.99 Add To Cart

2019 Giant Steps Chardonnay Yarra Valley Victoria
Review Date: 06-28-2020
Australia's Yarra Valley is one of the most exciting places for Pinot Noir and Chardonnay on the planet. And despite its growing reputation for producing top-notch Pinot Noir, I'm even more excited by their gorgeous, bright and mineral-driven Chardonnays. Giant Steps is one of the foremost producers in the Yarra. The winemaking duo of Phil Sexton and Steve Flamsteed have focused themselves on a handful of the best single-vineyards in Yarra. The 2019 Giant Steps Chardonnay is one of the best Chardonnays I've ever tasted from Giant Steps, if not the Yarra altogether. There's an incredible purity to this wine, with plenty of lime zest, wet stones along with melon and brioche. A stunning Chardonnay that's true to its place and easily over-delivering on price.

2015 Greywacke Chardonnay Marlborough
Review Date: 05-28-2020
There is something absolutely magical about Kevin Judd’s Greywacke Chardonnay. What I love about this wine is the fact it has so many distinctive elements that come together fabulously in the glass. It’s definitely full bodied, rich chardonnay with exquisitely fine-tuned oak profile and malo--this will please any lover of Napa Valley Chard. And yet, there’s a brilliant layer of flinty minerality that brings to mind the wines of Meursault, Burgundy. Aromas flint, brioche, poached pear and marzipan, all come waift from the glass. Concentrated and powerful on the palate, this shows exceptional lees contact with creamy and buttery notes, all framed by brilliant acidity, bring the wine into balance. Incredibly distinctive and utterly delicious, this is not only the best rendition of this wine ever made by Greywacke, but a top contender for one of the Southern Hemisphere’s best Chardonnays period.

2013 Kilikanoon "Covenant" Shiraz Clare Valley South Australia
Review Date: 05-27-2020
Of all the regions for cool-climate Shiraz in Australia, Clare Valley might be my favorite. Like the Adelaide Hills, it is located in the Mount Lofty Ranges, but to the far North. Characterized by frigid nights, with massive temperature swings during the day, this is absolutely a continental climate. And with its altitude and slate soils the Clare Valley seems closer to Germany than it would to the Barossa Valley, and sure enough you’ll find plenty of outstanding Riesling here. But a handful of producers make exceptionally dark, structured, and ageable Shiraz, including Jim Barry’s Iconic “Armagh” as well as the impossible-to-find Shiraz of cult producer Wendouree. I particularly love the 2013 Kilikanoon "Covenant" Shiraz. It’s black-fruited with charcoal, graphite, and hints of Earl Grey Tea, with stunning complexity and tannins that have just begun to resolve.

2017 Best's "Bin No.1" Shiraz Great Western Victoria
Review Date: 05-27-2020
The tiny sub-region of Great Western was established as a subzone of Grampians in 2007, but wine production here dates back over a century and a half when Best’s was founded in 1865. The limestone soils and chilly climate convinced early winegrowers that they could make sparkling wine in the style of Champagne, but today nearly 90% of this subregion is dedicated to Shiraz. The 2017 Best's "Bin No.1" Shiraz puts that cool-climate fruit on display with powerful acidity and focused fruit. But the limestone soils give this a darker edge with more concentrated black fruit flavors of plum, black tea, and black cherry notes. For a winery that has been established for over 150 years, this is strikingly modern, clean, and full of distinctive edges. The tuxedo of Shiraz.
Price: $22.99 Add To Cart

2019 Craggy Range "Te Muna Road" Sauvignon Blanc Martinborough
Review Date: 05-27-2020
Martinborough may lay claim to some of the best Pinot Noir producers in New Zealand, it also boasts remarkably austere and delicious Sauvignon Blanc as well. Owned by the Peabody family, Craggy Range focuses exclusively on unique, high-quality, distinctive sites throughout New Zealand. In Martinborough, their vineyards sit on the Te Muna Terrace. Sheltered from the otherwise harsh winds that bring icy temperatures to the Martinborough Terrace, Te Muna lies behind a small range of hills that protect the wine from winds, and allows Sauvignon Blanc that develops a fuller, richer style of wine. The 2019 Craggy Range Te Muna Road Sauvignon Blanc is minerality in a glass. Wet stones predominate, with ripened honey crisp apple, kaffir lime, and a creamy lees quality, this is Sauvignon Blan from New Zealand made at its best, by the best.
Price: $18.99 Add To Cart

2019 Matahiwi Estate Sauvignon Blanc Wairarapa
Review Date: 05-27-2020
Wairarapa is the name given to the south east corner of the north island. It is the home of Martinborough, one of the world's great destinations for Pinot Noir in the Southern Hemisphere, but extends northward into the wide, windswept valleys along the Wairarapa rivershed. I hadn’t given much thought to the wines from this dry, frigid area of New Zealand until I tried the 2019 Matahiwi Sauvignon Blanc. This is exquisitely crafted for its price. Cooler temperatures lead to softer aromas of green apple, elderflower and wet stone. A healthy dollop of residual sugar, puts this just shy of off-dry, and makes this wine totally effortless to drink.

2018 Boekenhoutskloof "The Wolftrap" Red Blend Western Cape
Review Date: 05-27-2020
South Africa has always been a great place to find wines that deliver big on value, and always impress in the glass. Boekenhoutskloof is named for the local variety of beech tree that populates the Franschhoek Valley where the winery and estate vineyards are located. The 2018 Boekenhoutskloof "The Wolftrap" Red Blend Western Cape is a blend co-fermented Syrah and Viognier from their estate vineyards with Mourvedre from Stellenbosch. Together Syrah and Viognier bring savory and floral components to the wine, while Mourvedre adds structure and complexity. A bold, spicy, and versatile red that continues to be one of our South African best-sellers.
Price: $9.99 Add To Cart

2019 Middle-Earth Sauvignon Blanc Nelson
Review Date: 05-27-2020
To the not-so-distant Northwest of Marlborough, is the small winegrowing community of Nelson. Home to only a few dozen wine growers, Nelson has been producing wine for almost two decades. A Medeterranian climate provides Sauvignon Blanc the opportunity to slowly and evenly ripen here, and it’s distance from Marlborough has made it a home for small upstart producers like Neudorf, Greenhough, and Middle-Earth to make small, estate grown wines that are handcrafted with the attention to detail and fineness that you’d find among the most expensive Sauvignon Blancs across the globe. But I sincerely urge you that the 2019 MIddle Earth Sauvignon Blanc Nelson is a deal not to be missed. Elsewhere this wine is sold for $18.99, but we were able to secure this at unbelievable pricing. This wine showcases two hallmarks of New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc. A bright, acid-driven core of citrusy lemon sorbet, lime, and grapefruit balanced by a softer aromatic quality of fresh-cut green grass. A touch more elegant than what you’ll find in Marlborough, but a deal that you cannot miss.
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2019 Nautilus Sauvignon Blanc Marlborough
Review Date: 05-27-2020
A fantastic example of what I would consider a “classic” Marlborough profile is the 2019 Nautilus Sauvignon Blanc. Nautilus is one of the rising stars in Marlborough whose wines have been getting better and better with each vintage, and with the exceptional 2019 vintage, this is certainly their best wine they've ever produced. Full of round passionfruit and ripe pineapple notes, there is a crisp green snap to this and an overall expression that captures everything you’d want from a Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc and more.

2019 Allan Scott Family Sauvignon Blanc Marlborough
Review Date: 05-27-2020
This one of the absolute break-out stars from the incredible 2019 vintage. Wine Spectator gave this the 2nd highest score for a New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc--ever. In fact, the only wine scored above it was Cloudy Bay’s Sauvignon Blanc which is more than twice the price. This is exactly what I expect from Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc. Full of bright tropical notes, green pea, lively acidity and laser focus. This wine hits the nail on the head for typicity, balance, and thrist-quenching delicious Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc.
Price: $13.99 Add To Cart

2019 Fromm Riesling Spätlese Marlborough
Review Date: 05-09-2020
I’ve already said plenty regarding the terrific 2019 vintage in Marlborough for Sauvignon Blanc. But I can’t resist also calling attention to the 2019 Fromm Spätlese Riesling. I absolutely adore this wine. Incredibly versatile, unreasonably delicious— I personally drank four six-packs of the 2018. It’s that good. Don’t be turned away by the term spätlese. Yes, this has a little residual sugar and a touch sweetness on the palate, but it’s incredibly well balanced by the acidity. Think of biting into a fresh green apple, complemented by elderflower and wet stones. A gorgeous wine from one of Marlborough’s best boutique producers.
Price: $19.99 Add To Cart

2019 Brokenwood Sémillon Hunter Valley New South Wales
Review Date: 05-09-2020
Not shying away from power, this is a beautifully crafted Sémillon with lemon sorbet, finger lime and just a little bit of heft in its body. I’ve had these wines going back to the 1990’s and they age immaculately. So throw one in your cellar and forget about it. It could end up being one of the best surprises you’ll ever have.
Price: $19.99 Add To Cart

2018 De Iuliis Sémillon Hunter Valley New South Wales
Review Date: 05-09-2020
The De Iuliis family originally sold the fruit from their 50 acres vineyard to Tyrrell’s throughout the ’90s, until they decided to craft their own wines, beginning in 2001. The 2018 De Iuliis Sémillon is the boldest of our Hunter Valley selections. With a texture like mineral water and an acidity like lightning, this is no-holds-barred Sémillon that captures the spirit of Hunter Valley.
Price: $19.99 Add To Cart

2018 Tyrrell's Sémillon Hunter Valley New South Wales
Review Date: 05-09-2020
This marks the 160th vintage from this historic property. Bright and balanced, this is a perfect entrée for anyone curious about Sémillon. With a little more upfront fruit and lean mineral edge this would be a perfect complement to halibut steamed with lemon.

2019 Fromm Sauvignon Blanc Marlborough
Review Date: 05-08-2020
Fromm typically earns more headlines as the premier producer of Pinot Noir in Marlborough, but one of the best-kept secrets in New Zealand is that the Fromm Sauvignon Blanc is every bit as good as their Pinot Noir. This 100% organic Sauvignon Blanc shows a leaner, more focused intensity than many of its vintage counterparts. Fuji apple, grapefruit, lime, and brilliant minerality make this an incredibly refreshing wine, perfect for sipping on a summer day.

2019 Greywacke Sauvignon Blanc Marlborough
Review Date: 05-08-2020
Kevin Judd’s boutique winery in Marlborough has been creating some of the region’s best Sauvignon Blancs. Judd knows a thing or two about Marlborough, having spent nearly two decades at the helm of Cloudy Bay before starting his passion project focusing on incredibly high-quality Sauvignon Blanc from a handful of the best vineyards in the Wairau Plain. Tropical and vibrant, the 2019 Greywacke Sauvignon Blanc does an fine job of walking the tightrope between compelling, aromatic intensity with rich, powerful fruit. It’s full of classic bright notes of kiwi, stone fruit, citrus, and tropical fruit, while the palate has the rich, almost creamy texture from Judd’s exceptional skill with sur lie aging. The acidity adds a razor-like cut that counterpoints the texture of the palate, bringing the wine perfectly into balance.

2018 John Duval "Entity" Shiraz Barossa Valley South Australia
Review Date: 05-08-2020
John Duval is an Australian winemaking legend. Entity is his flagship wine, sourced from the best sites in the Barossa and Eden Valleys that only someone with his pedigree can secure. Treated with minimal oak, this Shiraz perfectly balances fruit with acidity, while black plum, charcoal, and dark cherry liqueur abound. This is what the best of Australian Shiraz tastes like. An incredible value.
Price: $29.99 Add To Cart

2015 TWR (Te Whare Ra) "SV5182 - Single Vineyard" Pinot Noir Marlborough
Review Date: 05-08-2020
A breathtakingly delicious Pinot Noir from one of Marlborough’s greatest vineyards that has wine critics raving? Yes, please. Brimming with red cherry fruit along with earthy undertones, this is aged to perfection with plenty of weight and power. This marks a stunning achievement for Marlborough Pinot Noir that you don’t want to miss.
Price: $39.99 Add To Cart

2019 TWR (Te Whare Ra) Sauvignon Blanc Marlborough
Review Date: 04-07-2020
I have been talking a lot about how strong I think the 2019 vintage for Sauvignon Blanc is for Marlborough, NZ. The long, dry hot spell that occurred over the summer leading up to harvest is showing fruit and ripeness that exceeds anything in recent memory. Smaller producers who could get their grapes off the vine early managed to get plenty of bold, ripe flavors while keeping bright acidity intact. Te Whare Ra executed this perfectly. They picked on March 1st of 2019, which was the earliest they have ever harvested. It absolutely shows in the glass. Never has there been such a pure, clean note of green apple, lime, and grapefruit, with beautiful aromatic bouquet on display. The lees contact is evident, and incredibly well-executed with substantial weight and hints of creme fraiche. A touch more forward for this producer, this has tons of vintage character and is representative of the best of Marlborough.
Price: $19.99 Add To Cart

2017 Mount Langi Ghiran "Cliff Edge" Shiraz Grampains
Review Date: 03-26-2020
This is cool-climate Shiraz at its best. Grampians one of only a handful of cool-climate grape growing regions in Australia, where higher elevations along with cool onshore flow from Prince Phillip Bay helps Shiraz keep vibrant acidity and balanced alcohol. The result is a condensed, structured red with silky tannin and stunning aromatics. The nose displays rosemary, charcoal, cassis, and red plum. At a first sip, there is a bright, persistent acid line that carries through the palate, bringing with it elevating notes of red cherry, blackberry, and cranberry on the palate. This Shiraz is delightfully fresh, high-toned, and focused. An exceptional example of cool-climate Shiraz and a perfect example of the new-wave of wines that are shaking up Australia.
Price: $19.99 Add To Cart

2019 Savee Sea Sauvignon Blanc Marlborough
Review Date: 03-12-2020
This is a great example of Awatere Sauvignon blanc--for me, they tend to always show a little peach and apricot stone fruit on the nose. On the palate, this is totally hedonistic. Huge flavor. Plenty of ripe tropical fruits, and leaning towards medium bodied on the palate this wine totally gives up the goods. This is what you want with your fruit & cheese plate on a warm summer evening.
Price: $12.99 Add To Cart

2018 Torbreck "Woodcutter's" Shiraz Barossa Valley South Australia
Review Date: 03-12-2020
The Torbreck Woodcutter’s is year-in-year out one of my absolute favorite Australian Shiraz. Far from sweet or jammy, this is all about power, fruit and drive. There’s a deep nose here with black current, plum, and just the barest hint of oak character in support. There’s charcoal, a touch of tar, and graphite giving an interesting mineral dimension to the palate. The fruit on this is dark, concentrated black berry and black cherry, with excellent weight and good snap of acid. With a lingering finish that has savory notes, as well as black tea. This is everything I like about what is happening with Shiraz in Australia right now. Agile, totally dry red wines that deliver on power and concentration, but with plenty of acid and wildly complex. A touchstone wine in our Australian program.
Price: $19.99 Add To Cart

2017 Penfolds "Bin 407" Cabernet Sauvignon South Australia
Review Date: 03-12-2020
Weighing in a touch lighter than the 389, Penfolds Bin 407 is sourced almost entirely from the Limestone Coast. And indeed there are aspects of this wine that definitely call to mind Coonawarra Cabernet, but with so much more grace and power. This is such a hidden deal within the Penfolds program--especially considering that Penfolds decided not to make their flagship Cabernet (the Bin 707) during the 2017 vintage, and instead declassified most of it back into the 407. Man does it show. Almost blue-fruited, with tons of ripe black current and black cherry flavors. It is incredibly focused, and has plenty of sweet fruit, but not the least bit jammy or syrupy. The blend of seasoned American and French oak really let the fruit shine through on this wine.

2016 Bodegas Muga Reserva Rioja
Review Date: 03-12-2020
There’s a common joke around the K&L Redwood City staff whenever we open a killer bottle of Rioja. We tend to look at each other and say, “Why aren’t we drinking more of this?”. The answer, obviously, is that we should be. The quality is astronomical and the value is most definitely there. Take for instance the 2016 Muga Rioja Reserva. Aromas of black currant, blackberry, leather, and forest floor with just a slight edge of oak has your mouth watering. The palate is concentrated and delivers a deeper fruit expression with an astounding sense of balance. It’s been open a few hours and the tannins are beautifully softened. All together, this is such a perfectly composed wine that should have heads turning from anyone who loves full bodied reds.
Price: $24.99 Add To Cart

2016 Tenuta Roveglia "Vigne di Catullo" Lugana Riserva
Review Date: 02-13-2020
Tenuta Roveglia is my go-to producer for Italian whites. There’s a depth here that I haven’t seen with this intensity in other vintages. Mineral water. Incredibly concentrated. A subtle aromatic start leads to fireworks on the palate. Plenty of crisp, fuji apple. Round and full, but still seemingly light on its feet. The fruit here is front and center. Lively acid lights up the palate. In past years, this has been a wine of great elements that come together well, this is in a class all its own.
Price: $18.99 Add To Cart

2017 Akitu "A2" Pinot Noir Central Otago (White Label)
Review Date: 02-12-2020
Spend 30 seconds with Andrew Donaldson--Akitu’s winemaker & owner--and you’ll see what passion for Pinot Noir is really all about. He’s a tour-de-force of brillant, crazy winemaking prowess, and also happens to make some of the best Pinot Noir coming out of New Zealand to date. His estate is entirely composed of Pinot Noir, and centered just down the road from Rippon--one of the New Zealand's most iconic wineries. But his meticulous attention to detail is what makes his wines truly special. From the extremes of is Pinot Noir clonal selection in the vineyard, to his attentive light touch in the winery, his wines profoundly speak of place: Central Otago. His “A2” white label was the only Pinot Noir I had on my Thanksgiving table this year, and that is because it is effortlessly joyful and incredibly delicious. Styled as his wine that is perfect now, it rushes you with red fruits: cranberry, strawberry and bright cherry, but the complex aromas yield subtle undercurrents of flowers and spice . It displays all the focus and power that you expect from Central Otago, but with a soft, and accessible weight and texture. For anyone who wants an exposition of Central Otago--I can’t think of a better Pinot Noir than this.
Price: $24.99 Add To Cart

2015 John Duval "Plexus" GSM Barossa Valley South Australia
Review Date: 01-30-2020
John Duval is an Australian winemaking legend. John lead the winemaking efforts behind Australia's most iconic wine, Penfolds Grange, for nearly 30 years. In 2003 he set out on his own to build a small family winery and John Duval wines was born. Incredibly crafted, the 2015 Plexus is composed of co-fermented 52% Shiraz 32% Grenache 16% Mourvedre. Brilliant and flashy, the wine is incredibly balanced, with almost neon flavors of black cherry, plum and hoisin and a hint of spice. Brilliant acidity perfectly balances the powerful fruit, making this an absolute joy to drink. Sourced from some of the best vineyards in Barossa, John has access to the best-of-the-best fruit sources available. Only a Barossa winemaking legend could produce a wine like this.

2017 Ferraton Père et Fils "Lieu-Dit Patou" Cornas
Review Date: 01-22-2020
Has a hint of that sour plum, among more savory tones. There’s a clear polish to this wine, with a silky texture and tannins that creep towards the finish. I am totally impressed by this wine. There’s a handful of producers in Cornas these days who are doing flashy, drink-sooner-rather than later styles that are charming, sure, but lack the profound character of Cornas. This is the real deal. This is Cornas done right.

2017 Ferraton Père et Fils "Lieu Dit Bonneveau" Saint-Joseph
Review Date: 01-22-2020
This is why I drink St. Joseph. This is one of those appellations, where if you know where to look you can find incredible values and remarkable wines. Take for instance this wine from Bonneveau, just outside the town of Tournon. It’s from one of the original sites for Saint Joseph (nearly 20 other villages were added in 1971). Sitting direct opposite of the great hill of Hermitage, planted on hard granite soils above the village. The aroma on this is blue-fruited and seductive. Deeper I found blackberries, spice and even a touch of violets. Weighted and contoured on the palate with black pepper spice biting through the middle of the palate. There’s plenty of structure to be sure, but this wine’s been open an hour and it’s really started to soften up and give way to a core of black fruit in the center of this wine. Great wine. Will be a stunner in 5-6 years. I’m definitely going to pick up a few for the cellar.

2017 Ferraton Père et Fils "Lieu Dit Les Picheres" Crozes-Hermitage Rouge
Review Date: 01-22-2020
First thing I noticed when the wine hit the glass, is that it is black. Jet Black. Midnight black. Almost startling as it comes out of the bottle. As for the taste, its all blue fruited and savory. Just like Syrah from this part of the world should be. But what I found really exciting was the level of concentration and power to this wine. Mount-coating, the tannins wrap around the palate. This is not your Grandmother’s Crozes. This strives to be something remarkably more serious. Big, building, and powerful there’s not an ounce of babyfat on this wine.

2017 Artadi Viñas de Gain
Review Date: 01-22-2020
There’s massive depth here--when you lift a glass to your nose it’s almost like staring down into the blackness of a well. There’s a ton of minerality complemented by soft, incredibly balanced fruit. Lots of black raspberry, and ripened strawberry tones, but it feels almost darker than that. There is a Structure that builds towards the finish with tobacco notes and leather. This is an incredibly serious wine that checks all my boxes.
Price: $19.99 Add To Cart

2018 Te Mata "Bullnose" Syrah Hawke's Bay
Review Date: 01-21-2020
Hawke’s Bay Syrah continues to be a source of extraordinary wines for people in the know. Wines with tiny production like Trinity Hill’s Homage and Bilancia La Colline Syrahs have been nailing down massive scores over the last few years and making a name for themselves as worthy of world class respect. Enter Te Mata’s Bullnose Syrah. Made from the oldest Syrah vines in Hawke’s Bay, Te Mata’s Syrah vines had an excellent growing season that has resulted in a powerful, concentrated wine that may be the finest Syrah I’ve ever had from New Zealand. The aromas show classic varietal character with savory notes, earth, black pepper and lavender. This gives way to a beautifully decadent palate with black cherry, sour plum, followed up with exotic spices over resonating tannin. Focused and powerful, this is remarkably accessible right now, but sure to be even better in the coming years. And with identical scores to last year’s Trinity Hill Homage, this wine is a steal at half the price.
Price: $34.99 Add To Cart

2016 Pedro Martinez Alesanco Garnacha Rioja
Review Date: 01-08-2020
There’s a real purity of fruit on the nose of this wine. Elements of cranberries and tart strawberry. On the palate it reads bright and juicy. What is really interesting about this wine in particular is the combination of 100% Grenache, along with the edge of American oak. That is what I find to be really compelling about this wine. That vanilla, clove, baking spicy goodness, with ripe, fresh, juicy Grenache. Big rich fruit with accents of baking spices? Almost like boysenberry pie. Mouth-watering delicious.
Price: $34.99 Add To Cart

2017 Mas de Sainte Croix "Passion d'Une Terre" Côtes du Rhône-Villages Valreas
Review Date: 01-08-2020
It’s easy to get lost in the wines of the Southern Rhone. They’re all some mix of Grenache, Mourvedre, and Syrah, there is an ocean of different villages, each with different names and slight peculiarities. Yet within this vast wine region, Valreas has always stood out to me like a shiny, little gem. You don’t see it very often, but wines like Mas Sainte Croix are dramatically different from other villages in the Southern Rhone. Most of this is due to sheer altitude, as it is one of the most northern villages in the Cotes-du-Rhone appellation, backed way up into the mountains. The altitude creates a cooler climate, which gives these wines a more concentrated, black-fruited expression along with a brilliant aromatic profile. The Passion is a great example. Pretty and floral, you’ll find touches of violet, and dried thyme above a palate that is dense, full, and brimming with concentration. There is so much weight and richness here. This is a bright, beautiful wine that’s seductively fragrant, and yet built like a mack truck. For anyone who has any interest in wines from this part of the world, definitely check out the distinctive, and delicious wines of Valreas.

2017 Nor'Wester by Greystone Pinot Noir North Canterbury
Review Date: 01-05-2020
The Nor Wester is back with a bang. Despite the 2016 being one of our best-selling New Zealand Pinot Noirs of 2019, the 2017 is even better. I’ve spilt a lot of ink shouting the praises of New Zealand 2017 Pinot, and the 2017 Nor Wester is another perfect example of how against all odds, New Zealand ended up with one of its best vintages in a decade. The Nor Wester is dark and concentrated; there is a remarkable amount of depth to this Pinot Noir. The touchstone here is without a doubt Cote de Nuits in Burgundy--but with a quality-to-price ratio that is absolutely off the charts. In fact, you just don’t see Pinot Noir this good at $20 anywhere else. Full and round on the palate, there is a ton of minerality to this wine, with brooding, earthy components. Plenty of tannin gives this wine excellent grip along with bright, focused acid. This wine is an unstoppable value, and one of my absolute top picks in the store.

2016 Ann Albert "Bien Nacido Vineyard" Santa Maria Valley Chardonnay
Review Date: 12-31-2019
There is something that is so dang classy about this Chardonnay. It has textured, rich aromas that seem to spill right out of the glass. Beeswax, marzipan, lemon curd. On the palate it follows up with weight, but not so much that is weighed down, or pushes the line. This is just right. There's purity, there's balance, it has everything that I like about bigger luxurious-styled Chardonnays, but with a more refreshing, balanced weight on the palate. Gorgeous wine.
Price: $29.99 Add To Cart

2016 Solomon Hills "Estate" Santa Maria Valley Chardonnay
Review Date: 12-31-2019
Uncut lemonade, keffir lime, ripping acidity. This is Mosel Riesling does California Chardonnay. There's a beauty in the austerity of this wine and a singularity in the amount of power it puts on. This one is a head-turner for sure. For me, California Chardonnay is one of the most exciting wine categories out there--it goes beyond the question of oak or stainless steel. Wine like this are an incredible example of a unique Chardonnay that expresses site, variety, and perspective--all in a package that is almost crystalline in structure and clarity.
Price: Hidden View Price

2016 Leeuwin Estate "Art Series" Chardonnay Margaret River Western Australia
Review Date: 11-18-2019
The Leeuwin Art Series Chardonnay is one of the global benchmarks for top of the line Chardonnay. Year after year this is one of the best Chardonnays available anywhere, but every so often vintage conditions in Margaret River take this wine from exceptional to incredible. 2016 was absolutely one of those vintages. It balances a luxurious element of weight, detailed oak, and depth of flavor. I found notes of scorched pear, pie crust and Meyer lemon among nuances of vanilla and fresh pineapple. Its cool climate drive is apparent from the powerful, focused acidity that drives through the palate, and testifying to its quality is a long, resonating finish. It may be some time before we see another Art Series with this level of breadth, grace, and exposition of place.

2018 Matt Connell "Rendition" Pinot Noir Central Otago
Review Date: 11-04-2019
If you were to ask me what wine I am most excited about at K&L right now, it would be this. Hands down. Matt Connell is an incredibly talented winemaker who has dedicated his career to crafting transcendent Pinot Noir. Having honed his skills winemaking at Elk Cove in Oregon and Akarua in New Zealand, Matt struck out on his own under his eponymous label, which has been seeing big scores and is quickly gaining recognition as the next big thing in New Zealand Pinot. His 2018 Rendition Pinot Noir is a perfect example of what I love about his wines. Beautiful and crafted from 100% destemmed fruit, the nose is intensely perfumed and complex with Bing cherry, subtle spice and fresh cranberries, while the palate has incredibly softened tannins and bright, crackling acidity. What I really appreciate about this wine is that despite having all the necessary elements to age--this is drinking perfectly right now. If you want a head-turning, stunner of a Pinot Noir that will impress everyone at the table, this it.
Price: $29.99 Add To Cart

2017 Quartz Reef "Bendigo Estate Single Vineyard" Pinot Noir Central Otago (Biodynamic)
Review Date: 10-21-2019
Rudi Bauer is one of the original five winemakers in Central Otago, and his Quartz Reef wines represent some of the best in New Zealand Pinot Noir. Entirely biodynamic, these wines have had a cult following among our customers for years, and I’m so excited by the 2017 in particular. When I talked to Rudi over the summer, he explained that it was a difficult vintage that gave them a ton of challenges, but ended with a small crop with incredible intensity. It shows in the glass. Dark fruited with elements of blackberry and black cherry, it is muscular and powerful. Its almost impossible not to draw comparisons to Cote-de-Nuits, but truly this is its own wine. Bright acidity along with a quiet tannin profile that gracefully rests along the palate, this is seamless pinot noir at its perfection.

2017 Bodegas Aleanna "El Enemigo" Chardonnay Mendoza
Review Date: 10-17-2019
Wow. This is so rich and powerful it’s startling. Big, rich and weighted. Elements of candied lemon peel. .Dried pineapple, pie crust, and exceptional purity. The weight here is totally off the charts. OMG that’s a wild wine. Incredibly distinctive. I find myself thinking, there’s just nothing else like this. A head turner for sure.
Price: $23.99 Add To Cart

Alvear "1927" Pedro Ximenez Solera Montilla-Moriles (375ml)
Review Date: 10-02-2019
One whiff of the nose on this wine, and I’ve got butterflies in my stomach. You can call it what you want: golden raisins, molasses, candied fruit--but that’s not what’s important. It’s that moment where you tip the glass and just hold on tight. Man, this wine is so good. There’s a purity to this that I don’t often see, along with tons of complex moments: everything from tobacco leaf, to truffle, and concentrated honey. There’s a surprising lightness and agility here that only serve to enhance the pleasure of this. It’s rare that I find a fortified wine, much less a dessert wine, that I could drink through dinner well until the early hours of the next morning--but there you have it.

2016 La Monacesca "Mirum" Verdicchio di Matelica Riserva
Review Date: 10-01-2019
For years we’ve been selling the wines of Monacesca as an alternative to Chardonnay. It’s a full bodied, broad shouldered white that checks many of the same boxes that customers are looking for. And if you’re into that---great. But honestly, having worked my way through four vintages of Monacesca at this point, I really think its so much more. It really deserves its place as one of the absolute best verdicchios in the store. Rich and creamy, with a viscous center, candied lemon and pineapple notes along with poached pears. It continues to amaze me how dense and rich this wine can be, but still has an acidity that brings levity and lightness. An absolutely wonderful wine.
Price: $29.99 Add To Cart

2017 Susana Balbo "Signature" Malbec Mendoza
Review Date: 09-11-2019
Incredibly elegant nose with black fruits, spice and sour plum. The palate on this is full and rich, soft and plush with just a hint of sweetness. Clean, powerful and velvety smooth this is a totally sexy glass of wine.

2014 Leeuwin "Art Series" Cabernet Sauvignon Margaret River Western Australia
Review Date: 08-20-2019
Leeuwin continues to produce one of the best Australian Cabernets year after year. The 2014 Leeuwin Art Series Cab is the most elegant rendition of this wine I have had to date. Filled with soft aromas of subtle mint, faint touches of nutmeg, along with whifs of cinnamon, and vanilla. On the palate, the wine is broad and full. Bright acid pushes cassis, blackberry, and black cherry elements to the forefront. In the background there is plenty of minerality that gives the flavor palate definition. This is so well balanced and nuanced. Every minute this wine is in my glass it is getting better. So many complex elements of when you look at it closely, but an equally delicious drinking experience that anyone will love.

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