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Staff Favorites - Steve Bearden

Steve Bearden
Steve Bearden  | Send Email  |   Subscribe to My Sommelier Service
I’m the Bordeaux liason for the San Francisco store, starting my run there around 2000. Over the years I've gained a great respect for subtlety, finesse, elegance and terroir, or a sense of place, that I believe all great wine should have. I enjoy practically anything and everything but mostly French and Italian with heavy emphasis on Rhône and Bordeaux. Be adventurous. There is tremendous diversity in regions, varieties and styles, so don’t let your palate get pigeon-holed.


Reviews

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2017 Inizi "Saini Vineyard" Dry Creek Valley Tocai Friulano
Review Date: 04-16-2019
Finally, a domestic version of this varietal that can go head to head against its N. Italian counterparts. This is from a vineyard planted in 1930 and the fruit is selected vine-by-vine from a mixed field block. Beautifully textured and aromatic , this shows gardenia, citrus blossom, wet stone and lemon and lime zest along with a bracing and dry finish. Only 75 cases produced and well worth a try.
Price: Hidden View Price

2016 Madson Wines "P.M. Staiger Vineyard" Santa Cruz Mountains Chardonnay
Review Date: 04-16-2019
This vineyard planted in 1967 produced a wine with honeyed aromatics and ripe flavors of Golden Delicious apples. There is a whisper of chalk on the fine, clean finish. This is not a brawny monster but rather a beverage of quiet contemplation to match to delicate fare.
Price: $34.95 Add To Cart

2017 Rippon "Rippon" Mature Vine Riesling Lake Wanaka Central Otago (Biodynamic)
Review Date: 04-16-2019
This is a biodynamic wine of great transparency showing petrol, slate, wet stone and citrus fruit in a clean, steely style. The electric acidity completely tamps down the 8 grams of residual sugar and this finishes with a long, dry tongue tingling austerity, Palate cleansing and delicious.
Price: $29.99 Add To Cart
JS 96

2017 Kumeu River "Maté's Vineyard" Chardonnay New Zealand
Review Date: 04-16-2019
Aromas of toast, vanilla shadings, apple blossom and a touch of caramel stay clean and focused when this is poured and sniffed. The mid-palate is full of yellow apple and peach fruit and finishes with vibrant mineral intensity. This is clean, classy and sophisticated.

2000 Joël Taluau Saint-Nicolas-de-Bourgueil Vieilles Vignes
Review Date: 04-11-2019
Here is an amazing deal in well aged and ready to drink Cabernet Franc direct from the cool cellars of the Chateau. This is filled with earthy black cherry fruit, tapenade and savory tobacco in a sweet and husky style that remains fresh and fruity. This is deep, hearty, beautifully mature and drinking perfectly right now.
Price: $34.99 Add To Cart

2015 J. Wilkes Santa Maria Valley Pinot Noir
Review Date: 04-11-2019
This is savory, light and clean with spiced berry flavors and an interesting untamed quality. It reminds me of an unfined, unfiltered Village level Burgundy from a classic vintage like 2016. Tasty and affordable.
Price: $19.95 Add To Cart
W&S 90

2017 Lúuma (AKA Wine Co.) Sonoma Coast Chardonnay
Review Date: 04-11-2019
A fun easygoing and fresh style that has plenty of weight and texture but stays clean and steely on the finish. I love these bright, palate cleansing styles of white for parties, picnics and sipping on the patio.
Price: $19.95 Add To Cart

2016 Hanzell "Sebella" Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir
Review Date: 04-11-2019
There is plenty of weight and texture to this earthy wine filled with clean and crunchy flavors of cranberry, rhubarb and black cherry. Another winner from Hanzel's bargain line.
Price: $29.95 Add To Cart
WE 90

2016 Schiavenza Nebbiolo delle Langhe
Review Date: 03-29-2019
This Old School bottling from a classic producer is basically a working man's Barolo. The brick color gives way to aromas of dried flowers, tarry earth and cherry. The cherry flavors persist through the elegant, balanced middle and into the long, dry finish of firm, ripe tannins. A classic and affordable food wine for sure.
Price: $29.99 Add To Cart

2015 La Ca' Nova "Montefico Vigna Bric Mentina" Barbaresco
Review Date: 03-29-2019
I love this big, bold ruby colored wine for its sweet core of chewy fruit that is tamped down by the thick, ripe tannins on the finish. The hearty structure has an almost plush overlay of warm fruit that adds real depth to the mid-palate.This is a perfect match for Bolognese, risotto, polenta or anything in a rich cream sauce.
Price: $34.99 Add To Cart
VN 93

2017 Fratelli Barale "Le Rose" Dolcetto d'Alba
Review Date: 03-29-2019
This starts with huge aromas of raspberry syrup that will fool you into thinking the wine is sweet. The body is round and filled with sweet black cherries and ripe dark plums and a note of bitter chocolate, This easy to like and food friendly deep purple wine finishes fruity and dry. A super delicious bargain that doesn't take itself too seriously.
Price: $14.99 Add To Cart

2014 Giovi "Akraton" Etna Rosso
Review Date: 03-29-2019
This starts out with alluring aromas of light smoke and chimney ash which lead to subtle cherry, banana and apricot notes. The wine is delicate, complex and dry with very fine tannins that lengthen the finish. This should work equally well with both sophisticated and rustic fare but is great for swirling and sipping on its own as it evolves in the glass.
Price: $28.99 Add To Cart

Wine Club

$23.99

1998 Clos de Sarpe, St-Emilion
Review Date: 03-27-2019
There is still a bit of toasty oak poking through all the dark plum and ripe boysenberry fruit that is nicely shaded by cedar and palate tugging mineral. 1998 was a great vintage in St-Emilion and at 20 years old this is silky, seamless, plush and drinking beautifully right now.
Price: $109.99 Add To Cart
RP 94

2015 Domaine l'Oiselet Vacqueyras
Review Date: 03-21-2019
This is delicious and affordable in an easy-drinking and forward style. Earth, berries, red and dark fruits and licorice blend in a rich, warm and inviting manner. The finish is fresh and clean and has a gravely, pebbly character.
Price: $17.99 Add To Cart

Wine Club

$14.99
RP 88 - 90

2016 Domaine Petroni Corse Rouge Corsica
Review Date: 03-20-2019
This amazing value shows aromas of earth, garrigue, savory berries and dried flowers that accents the plump,dark fruit in the spicy middle. The finish is bone dry and the wine is lively, complex, food friendly and super easy to drink.
Price: $13.99 Add To Cart
JD 94

2016 Colombaio di Santa Chiara "Campo Pieve" Vernaccia di San Gimignano
Review Date: 02-26-2019
Here is a rich and textured white supported by an amazing beam of acidity that keeps the many layers focused, clean and refreshing. Honeyed aromas of crushed flowers lead to a substantial middle of ripe orchard fruit, sweet citrus and palate clearing mineral. This big, mouth-filling wine is pure pleasure in a bottle.
Price: $27.99 Add To Cart

2017 Laventura Viura Rioja
Review Date: 02-26-2019
Stone fruit aromas jump from this wine along with wonderfully textured flavors of white peach and almond. The wine is fresh, clear and fruity showcasing fine minerality on the saline finish. This is delicious and pure.
Price: $19.99 Add To Cart
RP 92 JS 90

2016 Cap St-George, St-Georges-St-Emilion
Review Date: 02-23-2019
This opulent and easy-to-like wine is filled with creamy raspberry, cherry and vanilla flavors in a rich, flavorful style. The wine is round, juicy and modern in the best sense of the word and already screams "drink me." The limestone-laced finish is long and shows just the right fine, tannic tug to keep things in balance. Another delicious over-achiever from this amazing vintage.

2015 Pike Road Willamette Valley Pinot Noir
Review Date: 02-21-2019
The 2nd wine of Elk Cove has the abundance of red and dark fruit you expect from this property but is a bit more high toned and forward. Although not as deep and chewy as the First wine has enough structure to carry the fruit and finishes long and dry. There is lots of pedigree showing in this fruity, complex yet restrained bargain.
Price: $17.99 Add To Cart

Dérot-Delugny "Cuvée Fondateurs" Brut
Review Date: 02-07-2019
Lovers of Pinot Gris will like this for the bright pit fruit and crushed melon flavors but the body is pure Champagne through and through. This is bold, aristocratic and classically dry with a long austere finish of mineral and talc. A touch exotic but filled with power and grace.
Price: $49.99 Add To Cart

Dérot-Delugny "Coiffe Blanche" Brut
Review Date: 02-07-2019
This Blanc de Noirs is round, fleshy, figgy and dry to the taste. The 100% Meunier results in a classically structured wine with a plump middle and a long, clean palate cleansing finish. This is both fruity and refreshing.
Price: $29.99 Add To Cart

1996 Lynch-Moussas, Pauillac
Review Date: 02-06-2019
Quite fruity for the vintage but with the telltale cedar and leather beginning to poke through the ripe tannins on the lingering finish. There is a nice sense of proportion to the cherry and cassis loaded middle of smoky fruit that ends very gently with subtle herb and wet mineral. This is easing very gracefully into middle age.
Price: $69.99 Add To Cart

2016 Haut-Vigneau, Pessac-Léognan
Review Date: 01-24-2019
This wine gushes raspberry, cherry and cocoa flavors and aromas. The body is lifted, lively and balanced between fruit and structure. The mineral filled finish shows plenty of fine, ripe tannin that match beautifully to the refreshing acidity.

2016 Domaine des Carlines Chardonnay/Savagnin "La Vouivre" Côtes du Jura Blanc
Review Date: 01-17-2019
This smells just a touch leesy before the flavors of sweet pear take over and mingle with a sparkling minerality. A whisper of clarified butter shows up on the cleansing finish of this interesting and tasty wine.
Price: $24.99 Add To Cart

2015 Branaire-Ducru, St-Julien
Review Date: 01-05-2019
This property next to Chateau Beycheville produced a smooth, rich and somewhat sexy wine with plenty of underlying structure and tension. For now lush black raspberries and sweet cherries take center stage along with flowery aromas, but there are touches of smoke, spice and earth poking through the creamy middle.

2015 Moulin du Cadet, St-Èmilion
Review Date: 01-05-2019
This is a sweet and delicious wine filled with toasty aromas, chocolate cherry cordial flavors and hints of coffee and red licorice. The middle gushes with ripe and bright red fruits and melds into a rich, heady glycerin textured finish. This really shows the quality of the vintage at the more modest price points.
Price: $24.99 Add To Cart
JS 91 RP 90

2016 Seventy Five Wine Company California Cabernet Sauvignon
Review Date: 12-29-2018
This ORGANIC wine is filled with dark fruit flavors and firm, balanced structure. A touch of spice rounds out this deep but approachable beauty. Already delicious.
Price: Hidden View Price

2012 Miguel Merino Reserva Rioja
Review Date: 11-29-2018
At six years of age this is already starting to show touches of leather, ceder and steeped tea poking through the macerated plum and dried black cherry fruit. The mid-palate is soft and silky and the tannins on the long, gentle finish are barely noticeable. An amazing wine for under $30.00.
Price: $29.99 Add To Cart

Wine Club

$24.99
JS 91

2009 Verdignan, Haut-Médoc
Review Date: 08-24-2018
This is a firm and chewy wine that proudly shows off the caressing warmth of the flawless 2009 growing season. Dark plums, baked blackberry and warm cobbler flavors are roasted into the dark, brooding but delicious middle and almost hide the strong, ripe tannins on the powerful finish.
Price: $23.99 Add To Cart
JS 92

2015 Château de Bellet "Baron G" Bellet Blanc
Review Date: 08-01-2018
This starts out with rather earthy aromas of honeyed stone fruit and citrus. The middle is layered and textured with an almost oxidative quality to the crushed melon and apricot fruit flavors that are fresh and complex. A fine and lingering mineral expression helps this bold wine finish clean and long. 95% Vermentino quirky, geeky and perfect for jaded palates.
Price: Hidden View Price

2015 Turley "Estate" Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon
Review Date: 04-04-2018
This is concentrated with layers of blackberry jam in the deep middle. There is a touch of spice and a racy quality to the texture with lots of lively structure to balance all that richness. Fans of Turley Zin should love this.
Price: $49.99 Add To Cart

2014 Amapola Creek "Monte Rosso Vineyard" Sonoma Valley Zinfandel
Review Date: 03-31-2018
This is ripe, sweet and spicy with great acidity to temper the old vine density. The wine is not done in a jammy style, rather it is lithe, lively and surprisingly complex for the price. Drink now or age a few years.
Price: $29.95 Add To Cart
RP 94 JD 90

Gilbert Jacquesson "Cuvée Eugénie" Brut Rosé Champagne
Review Date: 02-14-2018
This 100% Pinot Meunier wine sees some skin contact resulting in a vivid pink color and even a touch of structure on the back end. Dried cherry and ripe raspberry aromas and flavors jump from this bracing wine and there is a savory note on the long, dry finish. There is the faintest tannic tug on the end allowing this to stand up to hearty fare. Surf and turf anyone?
Price: $29.99 Add To Cart

2013 Bersano "Mantico" Barbaresco
Review Date: 01-31-2018
This easy to like super value is a wonderful introduction to the great wines of the Barbaresco region in Northern Italy. This is gentle and fruity with rose petal aromas to go with the liberal dusting of dried cherry fruit. Very fine tannins on the elegant finish add precise grip for matching to a wide variety of food.
Price: $19.99 Add To Cart
WE 91 JS 90

2009 Valentons-Canteloup "Cuvée Excentrique" Bordeaux Supérieur
Review Date: 12-08-2017
Here is an unusual blend of 70% Petit Verdot and 30% Merlot that is a delicious wine in its own right. The middle of baked cherry compote eases into a fine lingering finish of great restraint. This is smooth, plush and ready for tonight.
Price: $14.99 Add To Cart

2016 La Conseillante, Pomerol
Review Date: 06-17-2017
Crushed flowers and potpourri jump from the glass when this is inhaled. Black slate, baking chocolate, sweet mixed berries and cream are all embedded in the glycerin textured middle. The finish is thick and long with the ripe tannin barely poking through all that richness and texture.

2016 Vieux-Château-Certan, Pomerol
Review Date: 06-17-2017
This starts with effusive aromas of wild flowers and raspberries. The body is clean, tight, classy and effortless with precise layers of black cherry fruit and fine, tightly grained tannin on the graceful finish. This was beautifully balanced and easy to taste.

Laurent-Perrier "La Cuvée" Brut Champagne
Review Date: 06-15-2017
To draw attention to the fact that they have greatly improved the already amazing quality of their standard Brut bottling Laurent Perrier has renamed it "La Cuvee". The bright "Wedding cake" aromas and flavors remain but the "La Cuvee" is toastier and has a much broader palate impression and a more layered texture. There is now a rich array of stone fruit flavors that add complexity which combined with the extra weight and length make this a more profound wine and one of the great values in Champagne.

2016 La Mission Haut-Brion Rouge, Pessac-Léognan
Review Date: 06-14-2017
Dark chocolate, cherry, smoke, char and tons of mineral characterize this precise, fine powerhouse. This has everything in harmony from the beguiling aromatics, to the fresh and sweet middle and the finish of polished tannin. Exact and weightless.

2016 Gloria, St-Julien
Review Date: 06-08-2017
Gloria is filled with possibility and should blossom into a beautiful super value for the appellation. Right now the wine is round, juicy and very fresh but solidly tannic on the finish.

Laurent-Perrier "Grand Siècle" Brut Champagne
Review Date: 06-08-2017
The Grand Siecle is a blend of 3 older vintages done in stainless to preserve freshness but with the older reserve wines adding great richness and complexity. This has mature but vibrant flavors of Brioche, baked apple, roasted nuts and a slight whiff of honey. The fine pin point bubbles are a result of the extended ageing before release. This is always one of the best wines in Champagne.

Bollinger "Special Cuvée" Brut Champagne
Review Date: 06-08-2017
This family owned and independent House still makes one of the best and most reliable oak aged Champagnes on the market. 3 to 4 years ageing on the lees has filled this with notes of caramel, toast, ripe apricot and touches of oak in a bold and chalky style. This is big, full bodied bubbly that is filled with richness and tension.

2016 Troplong Mondot, St-Emilion
Review Date: 06-01-2017
The freshness and integrated acidity of the 2016 vintage keeps this huge wine from being over the top but there is nothing shy about the levels of fruit, extract and alcohol. This is a hugely rich and heady wine with mouth-filling volumes of buoyant fruit, a lavish texture and intense limestone minerality on the finish.

2016 Haut-Brion, Pessac-Léognan
Review Date: 05-30-2017
This is the picture of grace yet with plenty of power behind the smoke, gravel, menthol and dark fruit that packs the mid-palate. This seems brawnier than La Mission and exudes potential with the strength held in check by balance and equilibrium.

2016 Enclos Tourmaline, Pomerol
Review Date: 05-20-2017
Here is a fantastic wine that shows the quality, freshness and precision of the vintage. This big wine is almost black in color with a deep chiseled nose of granite and endless red and black fruit. The middle is thick, full and completely effortless and fine, integrated tannins sneak in on the finish. This is a roaring success.

2016 Léoville-Barton, St-Julien
Review Date: 05-19-2017
All the brooding potential and massive power you expect from this wine but tempered by a roundness of the edges and a fresh lift to the middle. This is dark and dense looking with a chewy blackberry middle of surprising finesse and a super sweet finish of grainy tannin showing ample tug. This will need time but it screams potential.

2016 Alter Ego de Palmer, Margaux
Review Date: 05-10-2017
With many of the attributes of Chateau Palmer but in a more approachable style this is a fabulous 2nd wine for the vintage. There are flavors and aromas of black cherry, cocoa, spice and crushed flowers in the deep, sweet but elegant mid-palate. 12% Petit Verdot impart strong tannin to the finish but this fresh, fine wine is balanced and easy to taste.

2016 Pontet-Canet, Pauillac
Review Date: 04-26-2017
Pontet Canet, Mouton and Pichon-Lalande were the 3 most voluptuous Pauillacs we tasted the first week of April and the Pontet comes in as #1. This is ripe, dark and concentrated with huckleberry jam, raspberry fruit, vanilla, spice oak and more on a powerful and creamy yet classy frame. The tannins are sweet, ripe and rounded on this ultra rich wine of almost exotic proportion that still manages to come off as bone dry. I suspect someone will score this 100 points.

2016 Tour St-Christophe, St-Emilion
Review Date: 04-20-2017
Another success for this bargain priced property that is pushing quality to new levels vintage after vintage. There is wonderful purity to the vanilla laced blueberry fruited middle that is layered and expressive. Tons of mineral character here with just the right amount of tannin. This barrel sample was ready to take home and drink.

2014 La Fleur Peyrabon, Pauillac
Review Date: 04-13-2017
Pauillac for 25 bucks has become almost non existent but this stays true to the appellation at a great entry level price. This is surprisingly red fruited with berries, plums and good mid-palate density and a creamy mouth feel. The smooth, mineral laced finish makes this very easy to drink young.
Price: $24.99 Add To Cart
WE 92 VN 90

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