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Staff Favorites - Thomas Smith

Thomas Smith
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Tom Smith


Reviews

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2016 Thistledown "Cunning Plan" Shiraz Langhorne Creek
Review Date: 01-13-2020
Thistledown may very well be the most ambitious winemaking project in the Barossa Valley to date. Founded by two Masters of Wine, Thistledown focuses on sourcing fruit from some of the oldest vines in South Australia, and therefore the world. Yet, their results are strikingly modern. The "Cunning Plan" shows off this style beautifully. Rich, supple, full of sweet fruit but balanced by bright acidity that keeps it lightened and fresh. Blackfruited with cassis, black cherry and cocoa powder, this is a whole lot of wine that manages to stay balanced while delivering on fruit. We managed to get an incredible deal on this one, so grab it while you can!
Price: Hidden View Price

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 Losada Mencia Bierzo
Review Date: 01-08-2020
Talk about an absolute wake-up-call. Aromatics here are primarily iron, backed up with wild thyme and hints of strawberry and a hint of black cherry liquor. I love the nose this:-as a total package it is inviting, interesting and compelling all at the same time. The body on this was a little closer to medium bodied than full, but goodness, the dynamics on this wine are crazy. There is a soaring crack of acidity along the back palate, with bright, rigid edges all the way around. Absolutely explosive. Like a slap in the face. I barely even noticed any tannin when all was said and done. Not for the faint of heart, but definitely for anyone who loves bold, head-turning old world wines that are distinctive and exciting.
Price: $19.99 Add To Cart

2017 Moulin de la Gardette "Cuvée Ventabren" Gigondas
Review Date: 01-08-2020
So let’s get one thing clear. There are all the wines of Gigondas, which are great. I love Gigondas. Probably the best value-driven appellation in France. It holds a special place in my heart. So on and so forth. And then... there is Moulin de la Gardette. This is the measuring stick by which I judge all other Gigondas, year after year. Humbly made and incredibly genuine, this wildly expressive Southern Rhone blend of Grenache, Syrah and Cinsault is a jaw-dropper of a wine. The nose here has beautiful, black-fruited expression that especially shows off the Grenache, and highlighted with touches of Garrigue. The real fireworks are on the palate though. There in a viscosity, armed with powerful coffee, chocolate, earth, all awash in ripe black fruits. Despite the power and weight of this wine, the acid brightens the palate. This is absolutely a touchstone of the Southern Rhone. Don’t miss it.

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.
Price: $13.99 Add To Cart

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.

2017 Akitu "A1" Pinot Noir Central Otago (Black Label)
Review Date: 01-02-2020
Andrew Donaldson has been crafting the wines at Akitu since his vineyard was planted in northern Central Otago in 2002. Just down the road from Rippon Winery, Akitu strives to make their best expressions of Pinot Noir, and nothing else. The A1 is the creme de la creme of his estate property, and it shows every bit of its craftsmanship in the glass. This wine pure, clean fruit expression. The nose here is incredibly seductive, with black cherry and wild strawberry built on a richer, tannic structure with intricate layers of aromatic intensity. With a good decant, its shows wonderfully now, but a few more years down the line this will morph into something off-the-charts gorgeous.
Price: $34.99 Add To Cart

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

Jos. A. Magnus & Co. (13 years old) "Joseph Magnus" Barrel #1360 K&L Exclusive Single Barrel Cask Strength Indiana Straight Bourbon Whiskey (750ml)
Review Date: 12-31-2019
As opposed to the 1384, this really leans into the spicy side of things over the fruitier side. But nonetheless, this is transportive. Putting my nose into this glass takes me back to my old Woodshop--like freshly cut wood right off the table saw. A touch of charcoal, allspice, and plenty of vanilla round out the rest, along with a rich and decadent palate. Its rare to find wine, whisky or otherwise that have the rare quality to take you to another place--but this one definitely has it.,
Price: $99.99 Add To Cart

2017 Thistle Ridge Pinot Noir Waipara Valley North Canterbury
Review Date: 12-24-2019
Thistle Ridge is produced by Greystone, which, along with Pegasus Bay, is among the most acclaimed wineries in the North Canterbury region of New Zealand. The Thistle Ridge is produced from vineyards throughout this icy region, and this cool climate Pinot Noir absolutely over-delivers. On the nose, there is black cherry, blackberry preserves, and a touch of cedar. In the palate this has a ton of zippy cranberry fruit. Super bright, this has that characteristic North Canterbury electric acidity, with a hint of round tannin closer to the finish. And weighing in at a 12.5%abv, this is a perfectly balanced Pinot Noir and a versatile pairing for a weeknight dinner.
Price: $14.99 Add To Cart

2012 Château Montus Madiran
Review Date: 12-05-2019
The aromas here are dark, savory, charcoal and smoke. Really compelling and full of complexity, on the palate the wine is super-concentrated. Tons of earth and minerality, that will hit every square millimeter of your palate and then drip off slowly. This is a big, bad wine. I get customers coming in all the time asking for great, under $40 earthy Bordeaux. And honestly? This will do the job so much better.
Price: $29.99 Add To Cart

2015 Château Bouscassé Madiran
Review Date: 12-05-2019
There is so much value in Madiran it's ridiculous. The Bouscasse is a little bloody on the nose, while on the palate there's earth and plum and a tannin profile builds and builds and builds--but stops just short of being too much. It walks right up to the line, maintaining plenty full body and balance while staying pleasant and bold. Totally a great buy. having had these wines going back almost a decade now, they age incredibly well. Throw 12 of these in your cellar and you'll be thrilled a few years down the line.
Price: $19.99 Add To Cart

2016 Les Vignerons de Tautavel Vingrau "Silex" Côtes du Roussillon-Villages Tautavel
Review Date: 12-05-2019
One of the more interesting Roussillons I've come across recently. Lively, spicy and exciting. The higher levels of Syrah really come through in final blend. There's plenty of tannin grip to this, but not over the top. The palate is full of bright, crisp red fruit--I have to borrow a term from Pinot Noir--but this wine is crunchy. I would drink this in a second over any of the ocean of non-descript California red blends out there. It's doing much of the same thing, but is so much more interesting, delicious and fun to drink. Dang, that's a great little wine.

2017 Jeff Carrel "Lilac" Côtes du Roussillon-Villages
Review Date: 12-05-2019
I taste a lot of wines from Roussillon here at K&L, and so, there is a bit of a built-in expectation that they are always big, slick reds that push the envelope on power. Yet, the Jeff Carrel Lilac really made me stop in my tracks. The aromas on this wine are different. Soft, gentle and really expressive. On the palate, it delivers plenty of richly layered, almost rubenesque fruit. There's no mistaking where this wine is from, but its a beautiful take on Roussillon. I love the two different sides of this wine that firmly root it in place, but also has really distinctive, compelling elements.

2016 La Fortuna "Magnus" Sant'Antimo Rosso
Review Date: 12-05-2019
I sincerely love the wines from La Fortuna. From their little Fotunello Toscano all the way up to their Riserva, they make some of the most consistently excellent wines on the Italian shelf. The Magnus was a new one for me that certainly didn't disappoint. Nice Full fruit expression with plenty of soft cherry fruit and tobacco leave. Supple and full, but still bright and racy, for any fans of La Fortuna this is a do-not-miss.
Price: $15.99 Add To Cart

2015 Silla Il Piaggione Chianti Classico Riserva
Review Date: 12-05-2019
Dark and meaty on the nose. This is full of rich, savory elements that say"get ready and hold on tight". Bloody, gamey, touches of something almost like venison. Nice, bright attack that softens through the palate. Black pepper elements. As someone who absolutely loves wines from the Northern Rhone--this is as close as I've ever seen Chianti come to that. Just enough tannin to let you know this is legit Chianti, but doesn't go over the top--man, this wine just checks all my boxes. I would drink this in a second.
Price: $19.99 Add To Cart

2018 Helen's Hill "Ingram Road" Pinot Noir Yarra Valley Victoria
Review Date: 12-02-2019
Australia’s Yarra Valley is one of the best places in the world to find outstanding value in Pinot Noir. This cool climate region just to the east of Melbourne is known as “Australia’s Burgundy” producing exceptional Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. Helen’s Hill is one of the producers's we have found that makes great Pinot Noir that dramatically out-performs its price. The Ingram Road Pinot Noir is a great example: bright, lifted aromas of maraschino cherries and strawberries on the nose follow through to soft, red-fruited palate that is fresh and incredibly smooth, with an acid line that strikes right down the palate. This pristine, beautiful Pinot Noir is one of those incredible $15 bottles that drinks like its $30.
Price: $14.99 Add To Cart

2018 Kloof Street (Mullineux Family Wines) Old Vine Chenin Blanc Swartland
Review Date: 11-18-2019
Awarded “Winemaker of the Year” by Wine Enthusiast in 2017, Andrea Mullineux has been crafting stunning wines since 2007. The Old Vine Chenin is bursting with lemon zest, intertwined with honeysuckle and ripe stone fruit. On the palate, it displays rich texture and powerful acidity, while still keeping a sense of elegance and complexity. This is in large part due to the fact it is produced from older vines ranging 35-40+ years old, which naturally produce grapes with lower yields and higher concentration of flavors.
Price: $19.99 Add To Cart

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.

2017 Oakridge "Henk Vineyard - Block 864" Pinot Noir Yarra Valley Victoria
Review Date: 11-13-2019
Oakridge Winemaker David Bicknell is Australia's master of Pinot Noir. His local vineyard series concentrates on sourcing small parcels of fruit from exceptional family-farmed vineyards. The Oakridge 864 is sourced from a small Pinot Noir block in the Upper Yarra Valley, Australia’s most recognized site for Pinot Noir. The Henk 864 showcases Bicknell’s exceptional hand with Pinot Noir, creating a wine that bridges power and focus with intricacy and detail. Black Cherry, strawberry and cranberry compote with delicate nuances of baking spice and flowers on the nose create a profile that is full of complexity detail and death. But this merely foreplay. This leads to a palate that is a tour de force of richly layered black and red fruit. Velvety and weighted, it manages to stay bright and balanced due to a laser sharp acid line that screams down the palate. The dynamics of this wine are just nuts. This is one of Australia’s very best offerings in Pinot Noir and a testament to the world class wines being crafted by Bicknell.

2017 Oakridge "Original Vineyard" Cabernet Sauvignon Yarra Valley Victoria
Review Date: 11-06-2019
Yarra Valley Cabernet is a rare find on US shelves. In an ultra-cool pocket of Australia more known for its Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, only a handful of producers make Cabernet well, but when they do, it is absolutely stunning. Take a second and try to think of new-world, cool-climate Cabernet. There’s not many of them. Ridge and Mount Eden are the two that come to mind and equally they were the first thing I thought of when I first opened the Oakridge Cab. This is aromatic Cabernet at its best. Elements of mint, dry herbs, mocha and cherry liqueur abound on this. The palate hits you like a missile. Streamlined. Rich fruit. Smooth, softened tannin. An essence of pure Cabernet. Clean and bright, powerful and yet elegant, this is a stunning wine at its price that you absolutely can’t miss.
Price: $29.99 Add To Cart

2014 Baricci Brunello di Montalcino
Review Date: 11-06-2019
I love how classic this wine is. If you’re looking for traditional, handmade wines that absolutely and clearly speak to the place from which they are made, you can’t get any closer than Baricci. On the nose, there is depth like a 100 foot well. You can’t help but be pulled into this glass. Notes of wild, dried herbs, wet stone, and subtle fruit aromas demand attention and showcase the its complexity. The palate is powerful and concentrated, with sizzling tannin and hints of leather on the finish. It already feels well on its way, but a couple more years of age on this, and you’ll have something incredibly special. There are few wines made this honestly, and even fewer that deliver in spades like Baricci.

2016 Podere Donna Nera Rosso di Montalcino
Review Date: 11-06-2019
Rosso di Montalcino continues to be an excellent value for Italian wines drinkers--especially when you consider the strength of the ‘15 and ‘16 vintages. Here, you’ll find soft tones of maraschino cherry and spice on the nose. On the palate this there is rich concentration, and prominent but pleasurable tannin. This punches way over its price and perfect for a weeknight dinner.
Price: $14.99 Add To Cart

2017 Susana Balbo "Brioso" Uco Valley White Blend
Review Date: 11-06-2019
This wine has one of them the most compelling and interesting aroma profiles I’ve come across in a long time. There is an aspect of candied grapefruit peel and toasted honey crisp apple, and I swear, a lemon shaved ice. If my descriptor are a little uncommon, its because the wine itself is exceptional. Linear, svelte, incredibly bright and intensely refreshing.This has everything I like about torrontes, and nothing I don’t. This is a delightful surprise in every way.
Price: $19.99 Add To Cart

2012 Domaine du Haut Bourg "Origine" Muscadet Côtes de Grandlieu
Review Date: 11-06-2019
Yes, this is muscadet, but with the volume turned waaaaaay up. Incredibly aromatic, jasmine and white flowers along with creamier, weightier notes soar from the glass. Bigger and rounder on the palate with touches of mandarine orange, it still possess that biting acidity and beautiful minerality. The lees contact is obvious here, but incredibly well done. Substantive and forward, this is a must-try for fans of muscadet.
Price: $19.99 Add To Cart

2018 Domaine Petroni Corse Blanc (Corsica)
Review Date: 11-06-2019
I absolutely adore this wine, year after year. Offbeat but still beautifully crisp and delicious, Corsican wines always have the ability to surprise and impress. Full of bright nectarine, honeycomb, and lemon zest, this particular vintage shows greater weight and texture than years past--and is all the better for it. This is a hall-of-fame under $15 white for me.
Price: $13.99 Add To Cart

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

2018 Helen's Hill "Ingram Road" Chardonnay Yarra Valley Victoria
Review Date: 10-28-2019
Helen’s Hill continues to be one of our best-value producers. What I love about them is the fact that even their under $20 wines have all the same care and attention to detail that you’d find in some finest wines out there. All the fruit is sourced from their Ingram Road Estate vineyard. Grapes are hand-harvested, and barrel fermented with 100% native yeast. The nose here is soft and supple elements of lemon curd and stone fruits. On the palate, the wine is full and rich with just a hint of soft spice. The acidity has drive all the way to the finish, creating a full bodied, but incredibly balanced chardonnay. This is an impeccably crafted wine that is an absolute steal. With Burgundian inspiration, but new world character, serve this at a party and everyone will be raving.
Price: $14.99 Add To Cart

2017 Domaine des Rémizières Crozes-Hermitage
Review Date: 10-25-2019
One of the areas I focus on collecting is wines of the northern Rhone, and the Remizieres Crozes is a staple of my collection. The '17 is dark and brooding with an earthy profile displaying tar, smoke, and blue fruits. This is everything I like in a Crozes-Hermitage. Fully concentrated on the palate with and tannin that drips down the palate. Look elsewhere for Crozes that is plump and obvious, the 2017 Remizieres is proper Crozes-Hermitage from a perennially awesome producer.
Price: $16.99 Add To Cart

2017 Quartz Reef "Bendigo 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 Moulin de la Gardette "Tradition" Gigondas
Review Date: 10-17-2019
Moulin de la Gardette is always my benchmark for Gigondas. And as for Gigondas itself, it’s a wine I’m drinking a lot more of these days. As prices in Chateauneuf creep higher and higher, I have found myself fleeing to Gigondas. The cepage is typically similar, but the aromatics, structure, and the fact that these are still humble, regional wines that deliver huge on quality are all a big draw for me. As for Gardette, their wines are simply the best of the pack. Black fruited with layers upon layers of blackberry coulis, iron, and depth like the bottom of a well. On the palate more charcoal and smoke intermix with fruit, well-set with structure. A big wine that shows off the excellence of Gigondas.

2016 Castello di Romitorio "Toro"
Review Date: 10-16-2019
The nose comes off a touch spicy, but with a beautiful level of depth. I found elements of Iron, spicebox, blackfruit. But whatI really admire about this wine is the structure. The tannin is softened, but hits every corner of the palate. This shows a tremendous amount of skill, and gives the fruit both presence and power. Really nice wine.
Price: $22.99 Add To Cart

2016 Fratelli Barale "Serraboella" Barbaresco
Review Date: 10-16-2019
Beautifully perfumed. Almost like dried orange peel and clove on the nose, just a nudge of wildness. It’s tough to express how beautiful the nose is on this wine is--its the sort of aromatic profile that has all these little details, but perfectly meld together. But this is Nebbiolo, and it is still heavily built with lots of power and a lot of structure. There are plenty of red fruits: punchy strawberry and bing cherry sing above a lower, earthier drive.

2014 Trinity Hill "The Gimblett" Bordeaux Blend Hawke's Bay (Black Label)
Review Date: 10-13-2019
I continue to shout our the unbelievable quality of Gimblett Gravels Bordeaux blends from the hilltops. I have to. These wines show incredible quality for the price, and a distinctiveness, and refinement, that is unheard of at these price points. I could tell from the first sip that the 2014 Trinity Hills was going to be incredible. It shows all of that characteristic density that is so clearly related to Gimblett. The nose shows blackberry, chocolate, clove, and baking spices. The palate is rich and decadent, with black, black fruits, and piercing acidity that gives the wine balance and fineness. Plenty of tannin gives the wine structure, but it's remarkably accessible. Let’s be honest, at $25 this is an absolutely ridiculous wine. For anyone who is drinking modern-style Bordeaux or Napa Cabernet, you need to check out what’s happening in Hawke’s Bay.
Price: $24.99 Add To Cart

2018 Domaine de la Noblaie "Goutte de Rose" Chinon Rosé
Review Date: 10-02-2019
Soft and beautiful nose with strawberries and cherries over creme fraiche. On the palate there’s plenty of crisp, refreshing acidity, and resonating cherry tones. Airy and soft. I’m tempted to call the texture on this “fluffy.” Perfect for anyone looking to branch out from our perennial Provence rosés.
Price: $16.99 Add To Cart

2018 Domaine de la Noblaie "Le Temps des Cerises" Chinon
Review Date: 10-02-2019
The 2018 Domaine de la Noblaie manages to walk an absolute tightrope between Old World and modern styled Chinon. The nose on this is clean and full, with plenty of dark fruits and touches of bell pepper. On the palate, the fruit definitely delivers, but there are also more interesting elements deeper in the glass. There’s a wet slate component. There’s a touch of earth and forest floor. And just enough tannin and structure to give it some heft. This is a perfect dinner party wine. Interesting and fun, but well enough within the standard wheelhouse, so that everyone will be pleased.
Price: $16.99 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.

2015 Calera "Bien Nacido Vineyard - 40th Anniversary Edition" Santa Maria Valley Chardonnay
Review Date: 10-01-2019
Overheard in the staff tasting room: “This wine shouldn’t say Calera on it. This wine shouldn’t say Bien Nacido on it. But oh my god, is it incredible.” I have to second that. Calera isn’t one of those producers I associate with Bien Nacido, nor is Bien Nacido a vineyard I associate with Calera. But Good lord this one turned my head around backward. Soaring nose with tropical notes that range passion fruit, banana, from wet slate to rich, roasted honeycrisp apple. The acidity is really punchy, probably a touch more than you would expect, but absolutely perfect for my palate. Elements of nuttiness and earth on the finish. What a ridiculously awesome find this is.

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: $26.99 Add To Cart

2016 Sidewood Estate Shiraz Adelaide Hills South Australia
Review Date: 09-11-2019
My first introduction to Sidewood came with their 2016 Pinot Noir, which is jaw-droppingly fantastic: light and ethereal, intensely aromatic with tons of acidity. My response was disbelief: "Wait. This is from South Australia!?" What’s so surprising about Sidewood is the effect of its unique, high-altitude, cool-climate site on the style and quality of their wines. Take for instance, their 2016 Shiraz. The nose has elements of cherry liqueur, charcoal, and savory elements with just a faint touch of mint. Fragrant, pretty, and elegant. When was the last time you heard anyone say that to describe a Shiraz? The palate has plenty of acidity, medium weight, beautiful fruit expression. There’s not an ounce of excessive weight on this--it's lifted and incredibly bright. There’s been a lot of press this year about “New Australian Wine,” i.e. Australian wines that are moving to a style that is more balanced, acid driven, and lower in alcohol. I can’t think of a better example of what’s going on in Australian wine right now than this. Open it up an hour ahead of time, and you'll be gladly rewarded.

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.
Price: $19.99 Add To Cart

2018 J. Bouchon "Canto Sur" Red Blend Maule Valley
Review Date: 09-11-2019
Touches of green bell pepper on the nose, offset with brighter fruitier red cherry and strawberry elements on the palate. Good, crackling structure, and clear clean fruit expression, this is a heck of a lot of full-bodied red wine at its price. I would drink this in a heartbeat.
Price: $12.99 Add To Cart

2017 Viña Zorzal Garnacha Navarra
Review Date: 09-04-2019
Full disclosure: I’ve loved this wine for multiple vintages now. I bought a ton of this a few years ago while I was going through a cool climate syrah phase (still happening). This appeals to me for a lot of the same reasons that I love cool climate syrah. There’s a savoriness, there’s a black pepper note, there’s a rigid but accessible tanic profile, and plenty of acidity. So distinctive. So unique. This is a beautifully crafted, supremely aromatic wine with body and power. Malbec? Argentina? Who cares. This wine is killer and one that I regularly pull out of my cellar.
Price: $13.99 Add To Cart

2018 Bodega Chacra "Sin Azufre" Pinot Noir Rio Negro
Review Date: 09-04-2019
This is always the first red wine of the new vintage in the door, not only because it’s from the Southern Hemisphere, but because this wine is all about freshness and vitality. Floral and bright, this is raspberry and flowers all the way. Slightly savory undertones give it a wild quality, along with just a tug of tannic structure to even out all the fruit. A super unique pinot noir, but one that anyone will gladly appreciate, this is one of the benchmark natural wines in the store, and is a great place for anyone looking to explore these wines.
Price: $35.99 Add To Cart

2017 Quivira "Alder Grove" Dry Creek Sauvignon Blanc
Review Date: 09-03-2019
I’ve made my opinions known in the past that with the exception of a few key producers, Napa Sauvignon Blanc is not really my thing. I think the quality and value in places like Sonoma and Santa Ynez trump Sauvignon Blanc from the Napa Valley nearly every time. Case and point: Quivira from Dry Creek. Explosively aromatic, there’s plenty of bright Meyer lemon, classic grassy notes, and it just hints at Bordeaux blanc character. Bright and citrusy on the palate, this is lean, zippy, and angular. Complex, there’s plenty to explore here--it keeps you coming back to the glass again and again.
Price: $19.99 Add To Cart

2015 Peake Ranch Santa Maria Valley Chardonnay
Review Date: 09-03-2019
The nose on this is just beautiful. Soft, creamy tones. Touches of spice. The fruit on the palate is absolutely penetrating. Lemon curd and zest above touches of marzipan with a texture that is somehow weighted and serious, but lively acidity keeps it light on its feet.
Price: Hidden View Price

2017 BOLD Wine Co. Monterey County Pinot Noir
Review Date: 09-03-2019
What a nose on this. Gorgeous notes of cranberry, cherry, and strawberry come raging out of the glass here, along with great fruity followup on the palate. Incredibly smooth, soft and supple while gushing with red fruit, this is a lot of great Pinot for the price.
Price: $19.95 Add To Cart

2017 Xanadu "Exmoor Drive" Chardonnay Margaret River Western Australia
Review Date: 08-23-2019
Named for the road that borders the vineyard and leads to the village of Margaret River, the Exmoor Drive sees less new oak than the estate Chardonnay (only 5%) yet still has a creamy texture and tons of pear, citrus, and melon, and a bright, crisp finish.
Price: $14.99 Add To Cart

2018 Xanadu "DJL" Sauvignon Blanc-Semillon Margaret River Western Australia
Review Date: 08-23-2019
With a blend consisting of 63% Sauvignon Blanc, 35% Semillon, and 2% Muscadelle, you might expect the 2018 Xanadu “DJL” to have more of an Old World sensibility. But that notion is turned entirely on its head by its sheer vibrancy and brilliance. Clean, bright and focused, this white Bordeaux blend showcases passionfruit, flint, and lime, with stunning length of finish.
Price: $19.99 Add To Cart

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