Ballantrae Wine Merchants

Kalinda

Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2011

David T
8.9

This is K&L Wine Merchants private label wine. Named after family, Kay & Linda.

It is always a mystery who’s juice they bottled or who they bought fruit to and made the wine. Regardless, it always over delivers at $21.99.

Might have waited a couple years too long to get its best. Need to let it settle on palate before sharing more thoughts. Starting a little lean on the palate but, what a floral nose. We’ll see what a longer decant and palate coating brings.

As I mentioned, the nose is singing with ruby, candied florals that are; dark, red, purple & blue. The fruits are a little stewed; blackberries, black raspberries, plum, dark cherries, poached strawberries and blueberries that hover. Mid, soft, dark spice, light baking spices of; clove, nutmeg, cinnamon & vanillin, mid berry cola, black & red licorice, caramel, dark chocolate, mocha, steeped fruit tea, dark, rich, moist soil with dry leaves, older tobacco, soft leather, saddle-wood, dry crushed rocks, limestone minerals, dry, river stones, shades of dry herbs, ambers, touch of savory meats & black pepper, & tomatoes with leaf.

The nose is more captivating than the body. It’s complex but at the same time flatter. The palate shows; ripe, stewed & candied fruits of; blackberries, black raspberries, plum, dark cherries, poached strawberries, pomegranate and blueberries on the backend. Mid, soft, dark spice with just the right amount of heat, cherry kirsch, light baking spices of; clove, nutmeg, cinnamon & vanillin, mid berry cola, black & red licorice, caramel, dark chocolate, mocha, steeped fruit tea, dark, rich, moist soil with dry leaves, older tobacco, soft leather, saddle-wood, dry crushed rocks, limestone minerals, dry, river stones, moist to dry clay, shades of dry herbs, ambers, touch of savory meats & black pepper, & tomatoes with leaf. The acidity is a cool Colorado stream. The finish is; well knitted, balanced fruit & earth elegant, lush, despite its complexity, a little hallow yet persisting minutes, falling onto dry soils & spice.

As I stated, still enjoyable but, at its peak two years ago from my secondary storage. However, the longer I sip it, it pushes 9.0 on the long set. Time to start drinking a number of wines I’ve stepped over for bigger experiences & more notable producers.

Photos of, the K&L store in SF, tasting bar & two different photos of K&L Bordeaux Dinners we’ve attended with Owner Clyde Beffa Jr.
— 3 days ago

Shay, Julie and 24 others liked this

El Enemigo

Gran Enemigo Gualtallary Cabernet Franc 2014

From Wine Merchants El Enemigo class 9/11/20. Cab Franc from Adrianna Catena and Catena winemaker. Deep purple in color. Blackberry on nose. Fruit with lots of vegetal undertones (bell pepper, jalapeño). Big bodied, with medium/high acid and soft tannins. Paired well with pizza, not as well with more tomato heavy lamb moussaka. — 4 months ago

Andrew and Lars liked this

Launois Père et Fils

Veuve Clemence Mesnil-Sur Oger Blanc Blancs

David T
9.4

Been awhile. I love this cuvée. Certainly one of my favorite blancs and favorite for its quality & Its price point.

If you can receive shipments from CA retailers, you need to order the widow (translated) from K&L Wine Merchants. For $45, it seriously over delivers.

Reposting this so the guy that hacked into Delectable via one of their other entities can give me a false like on it. 🤣

Happy Friday! Cheers! 🍾🥂

Previous notes will stand.

Photos of; one of their Grand Cru vineyards, House of Launois and two views of their enormous Champagne museum.
— 7 months ago

Severn, Eric and 21 others liked this
Eric

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Thanks for the tip!
Eric

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About the wine and the hack 😂
Sharon B

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@David T I’ve had a ton of false likes. Delectable called them “spam bots” and that they were working on it.

Taittinger

Comtes de Champagne Brut Blanc de Blancs Champagne Chardonnay 2007

David T
9.5

Well...this was one hell of a week. There is only one way to wind it down. Reach for an excellent bottle of vintage Champagne.

My first thoughts are how delicate this is on the palate. Further, how unbelievable it will be with another 8-10 years in bottle.

The nose shows; slightly sour lemon, the good parts of lemon Pledge, lemon meringue, white stone fruits, pineapple fresh with lots of juice, grapefruit, lime pulp, honeysuckle, soft, haunting caramel, brioche, limestone & slightly, dirty, grey volcanics, saline, sea fossils, sea spray, bread dough, vanilla, white spices-light ginger with spring flowers, mixed floral greens & lilies.

The body is light on its feet and dances on the palate. Delicacy abounds. Its soft, gorgeous mousse right there with the best money can buy. Slightly sour lemon, lemon meringue, green & with more bruised golden apple, white stone fruits, pineapple fresh with lots of juice, grapefruit, lime pulp, touch of apple cider, honeysuckle, soft, haunting caramel, ginger ale into cream soda, brioche, nougat, toffee notes, lighter nuts without skin, limestone & slightly, dirty, grey volcanics, saline, sea fossils, sea spray, bread dough, vanillin, marzipan, white spices-light ginger with spring flowers, mixed floral greens & lilies. The acidity is mellow yet lively, gorgeous and as good as it gets. The finish is all luxury. So well knitted & balanced, elegant, rich but not overpowering and gently persisting several minutes.

Photos of; The House of Taittinger, their caves so chalky white and built on the famous Crayères Cellars of Reims: 2.5 miles of tunnels (they own 1/4 to 1/3 of it) cut out of chalk by the Romans, the portrait of Thibaud IV who was a king, lord, manager, singer, conqueror, explorer & 11th century Crusader all rolled into one from which, this Cuvée was the catalyst creation and part of the 600 plus hectares they own in Champange.

Some producer notes; Taittinger's history can be traced back to 1734, when it was originally known as Forest-Fourneaux, founded by Jacques Fourneaux who worked closely with local Benedictine monks to learn how to produce wine. They were just the 3rd Champange house.

The estate was bought by the Taittingers – a family of wine merchants – in 1932, and thanks to the great depression and subsequent low land prices, the family also picked up huge swathes of vineyard. From 1945-1960, Francois Taittinger established the cellars in the Abbey of Saint-Nicaise, and after his death in 1960 his brother Claude took over, pushing the estate into a Champagne house of world renown. Such was the status of the label that the Taittinger family soon expanded its business into other luxury goods. However, this eventually led to financial difficulties, and in 2005 the Taittinger brand – including the Champagne house – was sold to the American owned Starwood Hotel Group. The sale was badly received by the Champagne industry, with many fearing the new owners – unfamiliar with the culture of Champagne – would put profit ahead of quality.

Just one year later, Claude’s nephew, Pierre-Emmanuel Taittinger, who had always been opposed to the sale, negotiated a €660m deal with the Starwood Group, and the Taittinger family resumed ownership of the company.

In 2017, Taittinger planted its first vines in England, near a village in Kent, for its venture into English sparkling wine. The first bottle will be ready in 2023.

1/8/21
— 13 days ago

Eric, Juan and 32 others liked this
Sean Smith

Sean Smith

@David T I have a feeling we’re close by. I shop at the Costco in Novato. Tough to leave with less than a case of wine sometimes.
David T

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@Sean Smith Novato is a good Costco zip code for wine. Costco definitely pushes the higher quality wines & therefore more expensive wines into well to do income zip codes. I’ve seen Petrus a few times in Scottsdale.
Eric

Eric Premium Badge

They had a pretty cool Latour combo when we were there last week.

Luna Hart Wines

Hinnrich's Vineyard Syrah 2018

Wow - what a great little $30 surprise. Really concentrated & silky smooth. They are keeping Luna Hart offerings pretty small, but the winemaker seems to put a ton of care into all of her varietals. Cool find thru Tasting Merchants. — 8 months ago

Château Verdignan

Haut-Médoc Red Bordeaux Blend 2003

David T
9.4

I have mentally thought about doing this post for quite awhile. Opening this 2003 Verdignan brought on the appropriate moment. I am a believer in paying respects and it’s the basis of this post.

We learn to drink certain wines from the regions we live near or from the people we learn & enjoy wine with as we walk the road to understanding what we really enjoy. I started as an exclusive CA Chardonnay drinker for many years before moving on to nearly every varietal and regions offer. Next was Napa Cabernets which, led me to my true love, red Bordeaux. It was a bit of curve getting there but, once I had them with proper aging, I was hooked for life.

While my curiosity got me to Bordeaux wines, there one person that helped shape my Bordeaux palate and I agreed with more than anyone else’s, including every well known wine critics at that time and even today after spending 10 weeks learning from several Master Sommeliers on my way to passing the Court of Master Sommeliers exam and becoming a Sommelier myself. This person is Clyde Beffa Jr., Owner of K&L Wine Merchants.

Clyde has been traveling to Bordeaux for over 40 years and sometimes multiple times in a year. His palate and experience are second to none. Especially, when it comes to Bordeaux.

I owe him a lot. He taught me the importance of letting good Bordeaux’s age 20 years plus. What were the jewel value producers. Brought in Bordeaux wines direct from the Chateaus that had 10 years of bottle age and older. Bordeaux’s that critics did not like young but, he knew something special had taken place over time as he was tasting them much later in their lives and often. I bought and drank a lot of these wines. They also kept temptation at bay in me reaching for my too young and more expensive wines.

He is very kind and kind enough to allow me to travel with him & key staffers to the 2014 En Premier to taste what was a very difficult 2013 Bordeaux vintage. You can go to En Premier and then there is going with Clyde. You have all the key appointments, Chateau accommodations/dinners and taste somewhere around 1500 plus wines in 6 days. He is loved by the Bordelais and for good reason.

So, I dedicate this post to him. He is the one who told me to buy this little known 2003 Verdignan at the same “Affordable Bordeaux Tasting” I mentioned in my Chateau de Candale post on Friday. As of Friday, that was the wine of the tasting. Well…until I coravined this slowly over the weekend. This 2003 was under $25 and it is one of the very best Bordeaux’s I had in some time. As well, perhaps the best QPR in my over 20 years collecting wine. Clyde knew that day just how good it would become. He said, forget about this for 20 years. So, I am a little early here.

Clyde has recommended more great Bordeaux’s to me that most people don’t hear about, let alone try. He told me to buy the poorly reviewed 91 Pichon Lalande when he brought more into the store seven years ago Chateau direct. It was a very difficult vintage with spring frost, hail storm and a difficult growing season. He described as “Heaven in a Bottle” and It most certainly the case. To this day, Pichon Lalande is my favorite steak wine and the 91 is still my favorite vintage. I purchased a 3L from him recently that he brought in direct from the Chateau for my 60th next year. Can’t wait to open that with our good friends and celebrate.

As for the Verignan, the nose reveals; dark brooding & slightly bake fruits of; blackberries, black raspberries, dark cherries, black plum, some poached strawberries & haunting blue fruits. Black tea, forest floor with leaves, anise, limestone, moist clay, dry crushed rocks, dry stones, beautiful, mid intensity dark spice, dry tobacco, graphite, mixed dark berry cola, understated, well layered baking spices; clove, nutmeg, cinnamon & vanilla, dry herbs, mint with candied; dark, red, blue and purple florals.

The body is full, rich, lush, satiny with plenty of well rounded, soften tannins. The tension, structure, length and balance are excellent and will continue to improve. This will last another 15 years and beyond with proper storage. This is a very classic Bordeaux well balance in fruit and earth. It is sheer elegance on the palate. It’s why I love Bordeaux more than Napa and I love Napa Valley Cabernet. Dark brooding & slightly bake, ripe fruits of; blackberries, black raspberries, dark cherries, black plum, boysenberries, some poached strawberries & haunting blue fruits. Black tea, dark chocolate bar, touch of mocha powder, light caramel notes, Expresso notes, forest floor with leaves, anise, limestone, moist clay, dry crushed rocks, dry stones, beautiful, mid intensity dark Asian & Indian spices with just right amount of palate heat, dry tobacco, graphite, dry twigs with a little sap, mixed dark berry cola, understated, well layered baking spices; clove, nutmeg, cinnamon & vanilla, dry herbs/sage, mint with candied; dark, red, blue and purple florals. The acidity is round and nearly perfect. The long finish is, classic, elegant, well balance fruit and earthy Bordeaux that persists softly on the palate for minutes with just the right amount of spice.
This is a heady wine that you really think about as you slowly sip and it affects your whole body. Can’t wait to have another in five years.

Photos of; Chateau Vergignan in Medoc near St. Estephe, their vineyard that reveals where Bordeaux gets its earthiness, Owner Jean Miaihle who acquired the property in 1972 and a wide shot of their vines.
— 9 months ago

Shay, Severn and 38 others liked this
Peter van den Besselaar

Peter van den Besselaar Influencer Badge

👌 Unfortunately younger people hardly learn to appreciate aged wines nowadays...
Dawn E.

Dawn E.

@David T great post!
David T

David T Influencer Badge

@Dawn E. Thank you very much. Cheers & stay well. 🍷 @Peter van den Besselaar Yes, it seems to be more of an old school thing more & more. There are guidelines for many things in life that are followed, just not so much wine guidelines anymore. You can’t understand what you miss until you are exposed to a steady stream of it. Cheers & stay well! 🍷

Esk Valley

Pinot Noir 2018

Purchased from Cambridge Wine Merchants. Absolutely delicious — 3 months ago

Massaya

Terrasses de Baalbeck Bekaa Valley Cinsault Blend 2018

If there is a reason to pop to your local wine merchants this is it. This morning I explained the flavours I enjoyed and he produced this! Super Smooth and full of dark juicy hmmm. The most exciting glass of wine I’ve enjoyed since using this app. I am looking forward to trying out more wines from this region. — 3 months ago

El Enemigo

Gran Enemigo Mendoza Red Blend 2014

From Wine Merchants El Enemigo class 9/11/20. Cab Franc from Adrianna Catena and Catena winemaker. Raspberry and black currant lead into refined pyrazines (bittersweet chocolate). Medium acid and medium plus tannins. Full bodied. Had with skirt steak and pesto grain salad. Cab franc blends are growing on me. — 4 months ago

Lars and Andrew liked this

Il Censo

Njuro Terre Siciliane IGT Perricone 2015

Brought this over to my parent’s place for dinner the other night; the first time since before the pandemic started reaching the middle of the US so, late February. My father spent his career as a Supply Officer in the United States Navy and we lived in Bahrain during the early 90’s, shortly after the Gulf War. My family would routinely host large gatherings at our house when the Italian merchants would visit my dad. They would bring all of the ingredients including, but not limited to, tomatoes, pasta, mozzarella di bufala, and wine from the family vineyards in Sicily. As kids, we would play fooseball with Mario and Mario (not making this up) while they waited for the sauce to be ready. Anyway, my dad says this wine reminds him exactly of what they used to bring. In an instant, my parents were transported back 30 years to some their fondest memories. Ahhhh...the power of food and wine. Okay, so what’s this taste like? Rustic. Dark cherry fruit with earth and a fairly pronounced barnyard funk. It’s not overrun with brett but it’s there. The tannin is assertive but fair and plenty of acid for non-fussy meals like pizza and pasta. An utterly charming wine that nods to everything you expect from the old world. — 5 months ago

Ceccherini, Ira and 9 others liked this