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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.


Reviews

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 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-Emilion
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 Marquis d'Alesme, Margaux
Review Date: 04-25-2019
Winemaker Marjolaine de Coninck is making fantastic wine at this stunning newly renovated winery. 2018 Ch. Marquis d'Alesme is a blend of 63% Cabernet Sauvignon 30% Merlot 5% PV and 2% Cab Franc. Loaded with brilliantly fresh, juicy blue fruits, zesty clean with a long elegant finish. A very tasty and exciting wine! 2 Stars! 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

2010 Launois "Special Club" Brut Blanc de Blancs Champagne (Ships as a 1.5L Due to Bottle Size/Shape)
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 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 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 Léoville-Barton, St-Julien
Review Date: 05-25-2018
Absolutely one of the top wines of the vintage regardless of price. Loaded with strong, powerful purple and blue fruits, great freshness and mid-palate flesh make this wine a no brainer as the price is always fair. 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 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 Alter Ego de Palmer, Margaux
Review Date: 05-17-2018
I tell customers all the time that the very best tasting wine in all of Bordeaux in the last 10 years for the money is without question Alter Ego de Palmer. The 2017 is 53% Merlot 41% CS and 6%PV Really lovely, grapey black fruit and very zesty and lively all across the palate to the finish. The 17's at Palmer like so many wines in 2017 are precise, forward and lower in alcohol. 9,000 cases produced. Very nice wine! Ralph Sands

Ariston Aspasie "Réserve" (formerly Carte Blanche) Brut Champagne
Review Date: 12-23-2017
This is absolutely incredible Champagne for the money! Deeply flavored, intense and powerful it is in the style of Bollinger and Krug at nowhere near the price and I love that!
Price: $29.99 Add To Cart

2005 Lynch-Bages, Pauillac
Review Date: 09-08-2017
First note, tasted at the estate 4-4-2006 8:45am. 72%CS 13%M 15% CF 80% New Oak. Very attractive, juicy sweet almost tropical, round red/black fruit with hints of pomegranate, fleshy and supple mid-palate, fine tannin integration, not a blockbuster in style but superb tasting. New Note...9-8-2017 at my desk. At 12 years old this wine is just a beauty, the fruit has mellowed and the wine has fully integrated into a balanced and beautiful wine. Showing soft spice, sweet black current and touch of the famous Lynch Bages cigar box character. 2005 Lynch is in a sweet spot now and will hold easily 15-20 more years but many of my friends and customers will love the way the wine now tastes now! It reminds me of a young 1989!

Canard-Duchêne Brut Champagne
Review Date: 03-27-2013
Lovely Chamapagne! Super clean and elegant with a very nice dry finish; a real crowd pleaser and fine value.
Price: $29.99 Add To Cart

2009 Clos Fourtet, St-Emilion
Review Date: 03-11-2013
Loved it every time we tasted it. Sweet, silky dark purple fruit.

2009 Pontet-Canet, Pauillac (1.5L)
Review Date: 02-14-2013
Dark blue fruit. Very fragrant.

2010 Smith Haut Lafitte, Pessac-Léognan
Review Date: 02-05-2013
The high-toned dark fruit and tight zippy structure really stand out. At UGC: Round, tasty, but serious. Best ever to me. **

2010 Cos d'Estournel, St-Estèphe
Review Date: 05-16-2011
Great concentration. Hints of orange peel on the strong finish.

2010 La Mission Haut-Brion Rouge, Pessac-Léognan
Review Date: 05-13-2011
Deep, but bright. Naturally a powerful wine that will last a long time.

2009 Trotanoy, Pomerol
Review Date: 05-19-2010
A perfectly balanced wine, with delicious deep raspberry fruit and long finish. Outstanding.

More Favorites

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.
2005 Pontet-Canet, Pauillac ($239.99)

1999 Lynch-Bages, Pauillac ($199.99)