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Staff Favorites - Ralph Sands

Ralph Sands
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Ralph is the senior Bordeaux specialist on the sales staff. In between trying to break into professional baseball, Ralph was picking up hours at a K&L store in Millbrae. Back then it was more about kegs and cheap booze, and both Ralph and K&L have evolved since that time. Since those long ago days in 1978, Ralph has visited his beloved Bordeaux 37 times, evaluated 19 straight vintages and has escorted over 200 customers to Bordeaux on his "Taste and Golf the Greats Tours of Bordeaux". Ralph has also conducted tasting seminars in 9 different states as well as in France, Spain and Hong Kong. Ralph's passion for wine reaches far beyond Bordeaux; to the fine wine regions of Burgundy, Loire, Rhone, Germany, Oregon and of course his home state of California.


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2018 Matt Connell "Rendition" Pinot Noir Central Otago
Review Date: 10-30-2019
Very pretty Pinot!I love the wines brightness,freshness and purity,as well as the immediate enjoyment! Ralph Sands
Price: $29.99 Add To Cart

2018 Lafite Rothschild, Pauillac
Review Date: 05-03-2019
2018 Ch. Lafite Rothschild is an amazing wine of 91% Cab Sav 8.5% Merlot and .5% PV. This wine blows me away because in my 28 vintages evaluated I've never had a young Lafite that tasted this good young from such a powerful vintage! Perfectly ripe, red-black fruit with a persistent silky texture and exquisite balance thru the entire wine all the way to the rounded tannins. Sweet, rich and seamless. Perfection? Wine of the vintage? Could be both! 3 Stars Ralph Sands

2018 Duhart-Milon, Pauillac
Review Date: 05-03-2019
The fantastic roll Duhart Milon has been on continues in 2018. 65% Cab Sav 35% Merlot is the blend on this big, rich wine that is full of attractive-grapy fruit. Not as hard as most, and has more tasty fruit to grab on to than most wines in this vintage. 2 Stars and GREAT value! Ralph Sands

2018 Léoville-Las Cases, St-Julien
Review Date: 05-03-2019
Pure, powerful red fruits of deep raspberry and cassis, perfect extraction, no hints of over ripeness, and a touch of sweet middle flesh. Very strong wine with sparking acidity and freshness, this wine will live a very long life! 2 Stars Ralph Sands

2018 Potensac, Médoc
Review Date: 05-03-2019
2018 Potensac is loaded with racy black fruits. Sleek and stern but really good flavors. Wow! What a Value this serious wine is! 1 Star and another star for top value. Ralph Sands

2018 Pichon-Lalande, Pauillac
Review Date: 05-03-2019
2018 Pichon Lalande is 71% Cab Sav 23% Merlot 5% CF an 1% PV Strong, direct and spicy, hints of black olive with fine definition. Strong, elegant and super fresh. Just superb! 2 Stars! Ralph Sands

2018 Lafon-Rochet, St-Estèphe
Review Date: 05-02-2019
No question in my mind one of the vintages greatest values. Big wine, grapey fruit, long on the palate with sweet fleshy texture all in good balance. Complete wine! 2 Stars! Ralph Sands

2018 Pontet-Canet, Pauillac
Review Date: 05-02-2019
2018 Pontet Canet is composed of 70% CS 22% Merlot 5% CF and 3% PV. The big buzz in this vintage is the low yields from the organic vineyards here at Pontet and at Ch. Palmer; and that both estates made wonderful wines with great sweetness of fruit that is not in the style of most 2018's. Pontet lost 2/3 of the crop to mildew. 2018 has huge sweet,dark purple fruit with flavors of blueberry and blackberry. Silky and delicious, almost liquor-ish. Reminds me of the fantastic 2009. 2 Stars Ralph Sands

2018 Montrose, St-Estèphe
Review Date: 05-02-2019
Wow, this is about as intense a young Ch. Montrose as I have ever tasted. Super bright, strong and direct, spicy red fruits and minerals. Classic as they come! Needs serious time in the cellar. 2 Stars! Ralph Sands

2018 Mouton Rothschild, Pauillac
Review Date: 05-02-2019
This is a great and powerful Mouton loaded with deep, concentrated, blood red fruit. Intensely focused wine with perfect balance. Certainly a candidate for wine of the vintage and will have a long life in the cellar. 3 Stars! Ralph Sands

2018 Clerc-Milon, Pauillac
Review Date: 05-02-2019
Firm concentrated black-red fruit with lots of spice, freshness and nice, firm tannins. Classic claret that will require 10-20 years and will become a beauty. It should also be a great value. 2 Stars Ralph Sands

2018 d'Armailhac, Pauillac
Review Date: 05-02-2019
Focused dark fruit with a serious edge, lots of freshness and perfectly balanced. Very nice. 1.5 Stars Ralph Sands

2018 Siran, Margaux
Review Date: 05-02-2019
Ch. Siran is on a fantastic roll of quality these days and I'm sure consulting oenologist Hubert De Bouard has a lot to do with that roll. Deep, plump, sweet fruit upfront and the Margaux elegance on the palate. May very well be the Margaux appelations greatest value. 1 Star Ralph Sands

2018 Clinet, Pomerol
Review Date: 05-02-2019
As usual, Clinet features racy, exotic black fruit with freshness and grip. Very tasty! No question one of the few great buys from the commune of Pomerol. 1.5 Stars Ralph Sands

2018 Pichon-Baron, Pauillac
Review Date: 05-02-2019
2018 Pichon Longueville Baron is composed of 78% Cabernet and 22% Merlot and represents 50%of the crop. A big heady Cabernet with good ripeness, lot of dark chocolate fruit, no harshness, round but strong tannins. This is a classic Pauillac and a long runner. 2 Stars! Winemaker Jean Rene Matagon calls 2018 is a combination of 2009 by the weather and 2010 on the palate.

2018 Canon, St-Émilion
Review Date: 05-02-2019
Deep old vine Merlot flavors, but not a hint of over ripeness and lifted up by great freshness! Flavorful tasty wine with great finesse and elegance. Just Superb 2.5 Stars. Ralph Sands

2018 Cheval Blanc, St-Émilion
Review Date: 05-02-2019
Bright aromas of just ripe red fruits on the nose, broad and silky on the palate with good power. Wonderful rounded tannins finish off this lovely wine. A wine of great harmony and taste! 2.5 Stars Ralph Sands

2018 Léoville-Poyferré, St-Julien
Review Date: 05-01-2019
In my opinion Saint-Julien is the sweet spot in 2018. Leoville Poyferre is composed of 64% CS 30% Merlot 3% CF and 3% PV. This is a candidate for the best tasting wine of the vintage at the top level. Big wine, loaded with freshness and layers of silky blood red fruit. The layers, along with the middle fruit texture and the rounded tannins are the key here, leading to a very long aftertaste. Outstanding! 3 Stars Ralph Sands

2018 Figeac, St-Émilion
Review Date: 05-01-2019
No question in the running for wine of the vintage!3 Stars. Deep, sweet, masculine fruit with great texture and mouth feel, the perfectly rounded tannins finish off this fantastic wine! 40 different parcels in the blend. 20-30% of the Cabernet Sauvignon was lost due to wind, all the merlot was picked before the wind event. Ralph Sands

2018 Branaire-Ducru, St-Julien
Review Date: 05-01-2019
In my opinion Saint-Julien is definitely a sweet spot in the 2018 vintage. Branaire is an absolute beauty! Prue, plump red fruit with great freshness, elegance and most importantly great tasting and a complete wine. This wine hits all the marks of greatness and is a 3 Star wine and one of the best wines of the vintage. It will drink a bit earlier and give more pleasure than most wines in 2018. Ralph Sands

2018 Labégorce, Margaux
Review Date: 04-25-2019
2018 Ch. Labegorce is composed of 50% Cabernet Sauvignon 44% Merlot and 3% Petite Verdot. Big juice here, deeply flavored wine with an old vine character and lots of spice and oak. Winemaker Marjolaine de Coninck has Labegorce and Marquis d'Alesme on a great roll of quality! Tasted 3 times with consistent notes. Ralph Sands

2018 La Conseillante, Pomerol
Review Date: 04-24-2019
2018 La Conseillante is a blend of 83% Merlot and 17% Cabernet Franc aged in 70% new oak. Wow this is really lovely wine! Beautiful freshness and lift, tasty blue fruits, strongly elegant. Mouthwatering wine and what a pleasure! This very elegant and attractive style plays very well in this vintage and will give good pleasure even young while many will not. 2 Stars at least for now! Ralph Sands

2018 La Mondotte, St-Emilion
Review Date: 04-24-2019
Very big dark black fruits, powerful and chalky with a long thick finish. Surprisingly the wine retains its balance and not quite over the top! Quite a statement and a long runner. Ralph Sands

2018 Canon-la-Gaffelière, St-Emilion
Review Date: 04-24-2019
Very high toned strike of Cabernet Franc on the nose, very pure as well strong and elegant at the same time. Very good. 2 Stars! Ralph Sands

2018 Haut-Brisson, St-Émilion
Review Date: 04-11-2019
What is the greatest value in all of St. Emilion wine? It's a tough call in my opinion as my top 2 choices are owned and made by the same team. The Peter Kwok estates of Ch. Tour Saint Christophe and Ch. Haut Brisson are made by the talented team of J.C Meyrou and Jerome Aquirre. Both are very different wines but both feature beautiful pure fruit. Ch. Haut Brisson is big juice! Featuring deep red (Boysenberry/raspberry)fruit, very good middle fruit texture and deep gravel finish. Super value! The sales stats and the taste don't lie!

2015 Domaine de la Janasse Côtes-du-Rhône Reserve
Review Date: 12-07-2018
Year in and year out one of the greatest values in the wine business and I'm always on the lookout for the arrival of their Cotes du Rhone. This wine along with Ch. Montfaucon are my go to Rhone's for the middle of the weeks warm meals in cold weather. Dark, red-black fruit, perfectly ripe and lively with some nice spice. Lovely wine and fantastic value! Ralph Sands
Price: $15.99 Add To Cart

2010 Launois "Spécial Club" Brut Blanc de Blancs Champagne (750ml - ships as 1.5L)
Review Date: 12-04-2018
Wow! Just Fantastic! Deep, strong old vine fruit on the nose that lead to an explosive entry of mouthwatering Chardonnay fruit on the palate. Champagne like this will spoil you forever! Ralph Sands
Price: $59.99 Add To Cart

2017 Beychevelle, St-Julien (1.5L)
Review Date: 06-21-2018
Once one of Bordeaux greatest names, the wine here had slipped badly, but the new wines and winemaking facility at Beychevelle has everyone buzzing about Beychevelle. The 2017 features perfectly extracted, elegant blue fruit that floats seamlessly across the palate in perfect harmony and a nice mineral finish. Beychevelle is definitely BACK!

2017 Lafite Rothschild, Pauillac
Review Date: 06-14-2018
A great nose of high toned, spicy Cabernet Sauvignon with a lovely touch of flesh in the mid-palate. Finished off by rounded tannins and seamless, effortless balance and a smooth finish for a Lafite. While not the most powerful Lafite there is no doubting the great taste and the fact that the 2017 will offer pleasure in a bit earlier drinking window. Ralph Sands

2017 Figeac, St-Émilion
Review Date: 06-14-2018
The 2017 Ch. Figeac is a blend of 47% CS 43% Merlot 10%CF. Amazingly, even with a loss of 55% of the crop due to frost and a wind chill of -4 to -5 Figeac managed to make a very fine wine. Framed by firm, lazar beam black fruit with lots of spice and impeccable balance. Absolutely classic Figeac. Ralph Sands

2017 Haut-Bailly, Pessac-Léognan
Review Date: 06-13-2018
2017 Ch. Haut Bailly is a blend of 60% CS 32% Merlot 4% PV + CF. This wine is driven by intense, mouth coating black fruits. Absolutely classic HB, linear and precise. Very nice price compared to 2015 and 2016. Ralph Sands

2017 Clerc-Milon, Pauillac
Review Date: 06-13-2018
2017 Clerc Milon shows a touch of fresh oak on the nose with plenty of strong red fruit, good middle texture and a powerful, persistent finish. this is a very good wine that we always taste right before Mouton. My notes say "this is the Buy!". As a collector of Bordeaux myself and Mouton priced at $499.99 versus Clerc at $69.99 I remain a big Clerc Milon fan and have been since the 1989 vintage. Ralph Sands

2017 Canon, St-Émilion
Review Date: 06-08-2018
Classic Canon! Perfectly ripe and pure without a hint of over ripeness, dry, persistently long finish and as always, incredibly elegant. Love it! Ralph Sands

2017 Rauzan-Ségla, Margaux
Review Date: 06-08-2018
Another beautiful Rauzan! High toned, lovely sweet and silky black fruits from first sip to finish. Framed by gentle tannins and outstanding balance. Ralph Sands

2017 Larcis Ducasse, St-Emilion
Review Date: 06-08-2018
The fruit here is classic; deep, and sweet, with firm structure and the textbook chalky element. Very focused, precise and very good! Ralph Sands

2017 Pavie Macquin, St-Emilion
Review Date: 06-08-2018
Absolutely delicious wine! Expansive, exotic aromas of sweet, jammy red fruits (raspberry and cassis) on the nose and all the way across the palate. Strong lively and fresh on the finish. Classy, flashy wine and without a doubt one of the right banks values. Ralph Sands

2017 Pichon-Baron, Pauillac
Review Date: 06-08-2018
2017 is a classic Pichon Longueville that features layers of powerful, dense Cabernet fruit with nice sweetness and hints of black olive and earth. A very tasty Baron! Ralph Sands

2017 Calon-Ségur, St-Estèphe
Review Date: 06-07-2018
76% Cabernet Sauvignon 30% Merlot 9% Cab Franc 2% PV 2017 Calon is a very friendly Calon with round red fruits, soft and lush on the palate. This is a nice, easy mid-term Calon and very tasty. Ralph Sands

2017 Pichon-Lalande, Pauillac
Review Date: 06-07-2018
Outside of the first growths candidate for wine of the vintage. Tasted twice and outstanding both times. A serious wine with layers of deep, sweet grapey fruit. Lovely mid palate texture and length. This wine is a fantastic combination of power, concentration and elegance. Ralph Sands

2017 Brane-Cantenac, Margaux
Review Date: 06-07-2018
2017 Brane is 55% CS 40% Merlot 5CF, if you are looking for the epitome of elegance from Margaux, Brane is always your wine! Brane never wavers from its extremely pure red fruit driven style. Always so fresh and vibrant, and it is indeed again in 2017. Ralph Sands

2017 Beau-Séjour Bécot, St-Emilion
Review Date: 05-25-2018
This estate has been on a great roll of quality in the last few years. The wines flashy black fruit and silky texture is hard not to love and is highlighted by lovely balance! Fantastic tasting wine, especially for the price! Ralph Sands

2017 Lynch-Bages, Pauillac
Review Date: 05-25-2018
Tasted twice with consistent notes. Lots of brisk and zippy, crunchy red fruits on display here. A tasty mid-weight Lynch and a classic claret that will round out with time. Reminds me of 2001.

2017 Capbern, St-Estèphe
Review Date: 05-18-2018
The new team at Calon Segur is doing an outstanding job and we love to taste there, but it seems in the last few years the first thing we all say to each other as we leave is...DAM that Capbern is good!! Really nice, attractive fruit that is spicy and fresh, tough to beat for the price and for drinking young. Ralph Sands

2017 Branaire-Ducru, St-Julien
Review Date: 05-18-2018
We tasted Branaire 3 times and it was delicious all 3 times. Brilliantly fresh, pure and extremely elegant with red fruits of cherries, cranberry and cassis, fantastic balance and finish. This is one of the stars of the vintage and the epitome of elegance. Ralph Sands

2017 Pape Clément, Pessac-Léognan
Review Date: 05-18-2018
2017 Ch. Pape Clement is a blend of 49%CS 48M 2PV 1CF. Lots of dark, concentrated black fruit on display here with plenty of structure and oak. This wine will need cellaring. Ralph Sands

2017 Cantemerle, Haut-Médoc
Review Date: 05-18-2018
A solid and classic Ch. Cantemerle. Strong and fresh fruit, showing some toasty oak and structure.

2017 Malescot-St-Exupéry, Margaux
Review Date: 05-18-2018
If you have been buying Jean Luc Zugar's Ch Malescot in the last 10 years you are very smart. He continues to make outstanding wine that rival's the best wines in Margaux at nowhere near the price. The 2017 has a lovely nose of fresh grapes, on the palate it is sweet and supple, with a little grip on the finish and great tasting. Ralph Sands

2017 Clinet, Pomerol
Review Date: 05-18-2018
Again in 2017 Ch. Clinet makes a delicious wine that is never hard and that always exhibits plenty of exotic black fruit. There is no question that Clinet is the best buy in all of Pomerol wine. For a comparable wine you, I believe you have to look at the great wine of Ch. L'Evangile and it's sky high price. Ralph Sands

2017 Domaine de Chevalier Rouge, Pessac-Léognan
Review Date: 05-18-2018
2017 Domiane de Chevalier Rouge is a blend of 63%CS 30M 5PV 2CF. Another textbook DDC, attractive and elegant, round and plump, sweet red fruit all in perfect balance with no hard edges. Another delicious wine from the Bernard family. Ralph Sands

2017 Beychevelle, St-Julien
Review Date: 05-17-2018
Once one of Bordeaux greatest names, the wine here had slipped badly, but the new wines and winemaking facility at Beychevelle has everyone buzzing about Beychevelle. The 2017 features perfectly extracted, elegant blue fruit that floats seamlessly across the palate in perfect harmony and a nice mineral finish. Beychevelle is definitely BACK!

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Ralph Sands is also a fan of the following items. To become a fan of Ralph Sands, click here to join Ralph Sands's Personal Sommelier Service.
1999 Lynch-Bages, Pauillac ($199.99)

2005 Pichon-Baron, Pauillac ($199.99)