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Staff Favorites - Joe Manekin

Joe Manekin
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Joe arrived at our doors in February 2007 from far away, Washington, DC to be exact. Just so no one gets the wrong idea, though, he was merely earning a living in DC; Joe’s cultural identity, as well as his professional sports allegiances and, when he has a few drinks in him, his accent, are all Baltimore through and through. After working on the wholesale side of the business for nearly 4 years, Joe decided that he wanted to work wine retail with the best, so he emailed Cindy Westby at K&L and the rest is history. While Joe is well versed in a number of wine regions, he most enjoys the wines of Europe, though he is growing increasingly interested in the great wines of the Santa Cruz mountains. When he is not at K&L, Joe enjoys cooking, traveling, catching up on The Wire, doing occasional PR, booking and recording work for reggae band JohnStone (www.johnstonemusic.com), and writing for his wine, food and music blog, Old world Old School (www.oldworldoldschool.blogspot.com)


Reviews

2005 Bodegas Casa Juan Señor de Lesmos Gran Reserva Rioja
Review Date: 11-01-2018
I remember how delicious the 2005 vintage Crianza and Reserva wines were from Casa Juan (that said, if I were to forget I can remind myself because I have some in the cellar..) Nevertheless, when I first tasted the 2005 Gran Reserva with Angel in his Laguardia tasting room, I had a little moment. I tasted the wine and found it to be spectacular, one of the finest "young" Gran Reserva Riojas I have ever tasted. We are fortunate to be working with someone as kind, genuine, hard working and serious as Angel from Casa Juan, whose wines continue to surprise and delight anyone lucky enough to drink them. I cannot recommend this special bottle of Gran Reserva highly enough.
Price: $29.99 Add To Cart

2017 Stolpman "Para Maria" Santa Barbara County Red Blend
Review Date: 11-01-2018
This primarily Syrah driven blend is fantastic - I strongly suggest trying a bottle. Aromas suggest freshly cracked black pepper and licorice, as well as a forward, juicy "carbonic" aspect which, without getting too much in the weeds, simply refers to how the wine is made and the fact that it is more fresh and refreshing than most California Syrahs out there. To that point, this wine seems to take the forward quality of California fruit and balance it out with some old world, refreshing refinement. Dare I say it reminds me of a well made Bierzo (Spanish) red? Kudos to the Stolpmans for this cool project and for producing another delicious red wine.
Price: $19.99 Add To Cart

2012 Louis Roederer Brut Champagne
Review Date: 10-09-2018
Amongst the grande marques, there is no other house bottling vintage Champagnes that are as delicious, affordable, as Louis Roederer. Whether it is their vintage rosé or this 2012, the quality is simply self evident. I think that the Chardonnay here, while not the majority of the cuvee, really marks the wine, with savory and salty fruit. A fantastic, wonderfully expressive vintage Champagne from Louis Roederer.

San Venanzio Valdobbiadene Prosecco Superiore Brut
Review Date: 08-21-2018
This is fun, easy drinking prosecco, with an effortless balance between ripe appley fruit and fizz. It finishes dry, not bone dry, and is just really easy to drink! Wildly popular bubbles, and with good reason.
Price: $13.99 Add To Cart

Wine Club

$11.99

2015 Fontesteau, Haut-Médoc
Review Date: 07-10-2018
A nose of savory forest underfloor and chewy oak and cedar leads to a dry palate of bistro ready Haut-Medoc. This is not showy, though it will absolutely show well at the dinner table, with fruit, tannins and savory notes all well represented and in fine balance. C'est bon.
Price: $21.99 Add To Cart

Jim Beam Bonded 100 Proof Bottled in Bond Straight Kentucky Bourbon Whiskey (750ml)
Review Date: 07-03-2018
Spicy, complete and delicious, this bottle of Beam absolutely hits the spot. With all respect to the craft distilleries who are doing things well, I must say that for everyday value it is nearly impossible to compete with experience and craft, done at scale. For proof in the bottle, might I suggest this bottle of Jim Beam Bonded 100 Proof? Keep it one hunned with this one!
Price: Hidden View Price

Woodinville Straight Bourbon Whiskey (750ml)
Review Date: 06-13-2018
The Woodinville label proudly states "real craft whisky" and I would encourage you to buy a bottle and taste the bourbon inside it; you will likely agree that it is indeed real, and craft, and delicious! I'm not sure whether it is the fact that they grow their own grain, include an important portion of rye in the mash bill, or simply that they just know what they're doing with distillation and ageing, but this has to be one of the most exciting new Bourbons I have tried in a while. The nose suggests vanilla pastry cream and roasted peanut shells, leading to a Bourbon that is sufficiently sweet, but also well framed by spicy barrel notes. Highly recommended.
Price: $36.99 Add To Cart

1977 Graham's Vintage Port
Review Date: 11-06-2017
Graham's Vintage Port from a vintage as strong as 1977 is truly one of the greatest and most long lived wines around. This '77 shows all the trademark richness and generosity on the palate, with a lovely herbal and almost amaro-like complexity which certain fine vintage Ports begin to acquire after 40 years of bottle age. A great bottle of wine and ideal gift for 40th birthdays or anniversaries.
Price: $189.99 Add To Cart

Billecart-Salmon "Sous Bois" Brut Champagne
Review Date: 10-23-2017
Containing base wine that is barrel fermented, and then given a generously long ageing on its lees, this cuvée is rich, elegant and expensive tasting. That said, given the quality of the base wine and the blocking of malolactic, there is a fine line of acidity marking this rich barrel aged Champagne, as well as a soft bead as well. A great Champagne for a meal, though for my taste I would be just as happy sipping on this and simple hors d'oeuvres as I would be enjoying it with a sumptuous meal.

Bollinger "Special Cuvée" Brut Champagne
Review Date: 06-07-2017
Oh man, is this good, soooo good! We have to be careful around here about picking favorites in the Champagne category, because the fact is that we all love Champagne and our current favorite may be bested by yet another delicious bottling before long. That said, for many of us, Bollinger is a long-time favorite amongst the grande marques, a true original and - without going into detail - a process that is ridiculously labor intensive, manual and expensive even for their Special Cuvee. With aromas of loquat, and a slightly savory, Beurre Blanc like note, the current bottling immediately drew me in in. It may be the 1/3 barrel fermented aspect of the base wine, the presence of 10-20 year old reserve wine, or my experience with the other great chalky soil based wine region of Europe, but I detected just a passing resemblance to Manzanilla here! A bright, delicious, complete and complex palate seals the deal and Bollinger continues to be one of my absolute faves.

Laurent-Perrier "La Cuvée" Brut Champagne
Review Date: 06-07-2017
Laurent Perrier will soon be releasing a new bottling of their NV Brut, which will go by the name of "La Cuvee." It is not simply a re-launch with a neat new package (well it's that too, of course), but a wine that sees 5% more chardonnay - reflecting their recent purchase of another house with prime Chardonnay holding - as well as an additional 6 months ageing on the lees for a total of 3.5 years lees ageing. And how is the wine? Well, tasted side by side with a bottle of LP's former cuvee, there is a notable difference. Yellow and white fruits on the nose lead to a nicely rich palate, with great presence and autolytic, yeasty qualities. It's saline, intense, and dry, seemingly with a lower dosage than in the past. I like them both, though for my money this new release is definitely a step up!
Price: $36.99 Add To Cart

Fallet-Dart "Grande Sélection" Brut Champagne
Review Date: 06-07-2017
The mere fact that this cuvee from Fallet Dart has a whopping seven years on the lees should immediately grab your attention. That said, it's not all about the lees, you need to start with great base wine. This is absolutely the case for this delicious bottle of Pinot Noir based bubbles made an hour west of Epernay. A bright nose loaded with citric fruits leads to a focused, lively, fresh and engaging palate. Compared to their also tasty Grande Reserve, this wine comes across as drier and slightly lower dosage. Fantastic value for money, and a likely selection for house Champagne at our place. If you are inclined to do the same, it will be super affordable at under $35!
Top Value!
Price: $36.99 Add To Cart

Le Brun de Neuville "Authentique Assemblage" Brut Champagne
Review Date: 03-06-2017
Located in the Seazanne, an area that apparently is geologically similar to the much more expensive Cote de Blancs, I suppose I am not surprised at how serious and convincing a Champagne this is! Unique aromas, with tangerines and a bracing, salty quality to them, lead to a dry and laser focused palate. Seriously delicious or deliciously serious, take your pick! Either way, this is one of my favorite new direct import Champagnes - I will certainly be buying some.
Price: $34.99 Add To Cart

Caves Messias Santola "Crab Wine" Vinho Verde
Review Date: 06-12-2015
Beware the crab! This inexpensive summer sipper is a delicious, sweet-tart apple, slightly fizzy vinho verde and amongst our most popular wummer whites. Refreshing and so easy to drink!
Price: $8.99 Add To Cart

Mas Codina Cava Brut Reserva Penedès
Review Date: 05-20-2015
Mas Codina is a humble family operation, and man do they make delicious sparkling wine! They have been slowly ramping up the amount of Pinot Noir in their otherwise traditional cava blend, in order to gain a bit more in color and mid-palate presence. These are very drinkable cavas, wines that strike a great balance between ripe, bright, snappy fruit, weight, and texture. For under $14, the detail and value of this wine is undeniable.
Price: $12.99 Add To Cart

Alexandre Le Brun "Tradition" Brut Champagne
Review Date: 04-01-2015
A finely balanced Champagne, this is all Challah dough on the nose, which leads to a dry, elegant, tasty palate. We like to joke about the recent trendiness of the Aube, or Cotes des Bar, the warmer, southern zone that is closer to Chablis than to Epernay and the rest of Champagne. That said, wines as good as Le Brun's provide serious competition to the established names up north!
Price: $34.99 Add To Cart

Cut Spike Nebraska Single Malt Whiskey (750ml)
Review Date: 08-15-2014
Here is our latest entrant in American craft whiskey, a very tasty, skillfully made whiskey from Nebraska. Nebraska? Yes, Nebraska! As mentioned earlier, this is stylistically a Bourbon-meets Sherry-barrel-aged Single Malt. Lovely richness, lots of sweetness and spice from new American oak barrels, but most importantly, the balance, drinkability and elegance of a well made single malt Scotch. These folks clearly studied how things are done in Scotland, and it shows. Very cool new whiskey that is well worth a try!
Price: $39.99 Add To Cart

Bruno Michel "Assemblée" Brut Champagne
Review Date: 08-06-2014
UPDATE... This recent batch, based on the 2006 vintage, with an incredible 6 years of time on the lees (good luck finding another Champagne for this price with as much lees ageing and overall balance), is damn good. As always the nose is bright, pure and friendly, inviting. On the palate there fruit is bigger and spicier than I recall, but still balanced by fresh acidity due to Bruno Michel's cooler vineyard sites. I have a review from a previous disgorgement below for some context: This is arguably, pound for pound, dollar for dollar, the most versatile and satisfying Champagne in the store. So bright tasting, with good minerality and delicious, juicy fruit. A colleague put it well when she called this champagne "friendly." I completely agree. It is indeed friendly, without sacrificing originality or wine geek appeal. One to always have on hand around the house (especially if you're inviting me over!)
Price: $34.99 Add To Cart

Pierre Paillard "Les Parcelles" Grand Cru Extra Brut Bouzy Champagne
Review Date: 05-07-2014
Phenomenal. I love these Champagnes. Very pure flavors, with clear Pinot Noir red fruit, and a juicy quality that belies how serious this wine is, and how seriously the Paillards take their vineyards (all massale selections) and their production. One of our favorites, and needless to say, very highly recommended.

Ariston Aspasie "Réserve" (formerly Carte Blanche) Brut Champagne
Review Date: 05-07-2014
Carte Blanche is always tasty, a Champagne with a soft bead, nice toast, crowd appeal and great value. This current batch, though, based on the very strong 2008 vintage, is impressive. Brighter than usual, with great purity and tasty fruit, easily the most impressive batch we have received. I'd be happy with this at $40, but for $28 it's one of our great values right now.
Price: $29.99 Add To Cart

La Guita Manzanilla Sanlucar de Barrameda
Review Date: 07-04-2013
This is not white wine. It's as refreshing, more complex, and has a far more storied past than nearly any white wine I can think of. The wine is Manzanilla, the lightly fortified white wine aged for several years in old oak casks in the seaside town of Sanlucar de Barrameda. Bright, appley, with notes of sea spray and subtle suggestions of almonds, Manzanilla offers quintessential summer drinking, whether it is as an aperitive with snacks, to accompany cheese and charcuterie, or to pair with your favorite grilled, fried or cured seafoods. Give this a try and see what all the renewed interest in Manzanilla and Fino Sherry is all about!

Ariston Aspasie "Brut Prestige" Champagne
Review Date: 03-31-2010
This shows the power and intensity of the great 2002 vintage in Champagne. Rich, yeasty, stone fruit inflected nose leads to a ripe, yet balanced palate - a fun wine for drinking.
Price: $39.99 Add To Cart

Wine Club

$34.99

Michel Arnould "Réserve" Grand Cru Brut Verzenay Champagne
Review Date: 07-06-2009
Very, very good for the money. MIxed wild berry fruit show good richness with terrific cut and focus as well. Did I mention that this is a lot of wine for the money??
Price: $34.99 Add To Cart

Hidalgo La Gitana Manzanilla Sanlucar de Barrameda (500ml)
Review Date: 07-14-2008
Hey you - I'm talkin' to you. You're probably not a sherry drinker. It would not be at all uncommon, since sherry has been woefully out of fashion for years now. What you should know, however, is that some of the best values in the wine world continue to be sherry, and amongst the best of the best is this humble little manzanilla from La Gitana. Salty, appley and with a pleasant finishing note of walnuts, this is an amazing accompaniment to dry-cured hams, cheeses, olives, or any other number of dishes, Spanish or otherwise. If you don't like dry sherry (and yes, there was a time when I didn't) then I recommend you take the approach of repetition: try this manzanilla every so often, perhaps several times a year, until you like it. Force yourself to like it, it's that simple! In all seriousness, you should try this and I do hope that you like it the first time.
Top Value!
Price: $12.99 Add To Cart

Hidalgo Pastrana Manzanilla Pasada Sanlucar de Barrameda
Review Date: 07-14-2008
The difference between this and Hidalgo's other bottling of manzanilla (La Gitana) besides the fact that it is in a 750ml (not a 500ml) bottle, is that the Pastrana comes from Hidalgo's best vineyard. It is also aged longer before bottling and retains a greater degree of richness and fuller mouthfeel. An amazing wine, especially for food pairing. For those who are adventurous/geeky enough to try this wine then surely you can come up with some creative pairings.