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Staff Favorites - William Beare

William Beare
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Reviews

Tom's Foolery Cask Strength Single Barrel #121 Ohio Straight Bourbon Whiskey (750ml)
Review Date: 02-25-2019
Lift up a glass, inhale deeply, and first enter the wood-shop. Cedar and sandalwood come tumbling out, chased away by candied sugar, puff pastry and apricot jam. Now we're in the kitchen, foraging for treats, and as the whiskey hits the palate-- said treats are found. Some bitter candied citrus, and a dark chocolatey semi-sweetness give the whole thing a tangy-mole vibe (would likely pair well with a mole chicken burrito). Finishes long, and leaves the mouth fully coated. This is a unique, well-crafted Bourbon that should not be missed.
Price: $54.99 Add To Cart

Aberlour "Casg Annamh Batch #1" Speyside Single Malt Scotch Whisky (750ml)
Review Date: 02-25-2019
Such a great example of integrating different types of oak into one glorious whiskey. The sweetness of the Oloroso and the spicier, more savory elements from the American Oak marry well here. Sherry, candied nuts and winter spices on the nose, and on the palate lots of bracing wood kicks things into a higher gear. It certainly does not lack intensity, but has a gentle finish that brings you back in for more.
Price: $59.99 Add To Cart

Bapt & Clem 12 Year Old "Savanna Distillery" Réunion Rum (750ml)
Review Date: 02-08-2019
It's painful learning about this historic distillery and the many transcendent products they put out as I drink through my first and likely my last little sample of Savanna's inimitable talent. This is some magical rum-- more like a sugarcane-based bourbon than any rum I have ever tasted. It is by pure coincidence though that the island used to be called "Île Bourbon--" for its integral role in the early Vanilla trade (the island is a bit south of Madagascar). There is serious complexity on display here, and phenomenal integration of the natural sweetness of the spirit and the savory influences of the barrel. The marriage of exotic agricole rum and ex-cognac barrels creates a spirit that embodies a hot summer night-- energetic, wild, perfumed with richly grassy notes, sweet on the front with a wonderfully dry finish.
Price: Hidden View Price

A.D. Coutelas "Cuvée Louis Victor" Brut Champagne
Review Date: 02-08-2019
This is such an interesting champagne. I don't know of a single other like it. The entire production comes out of one giant barrel. Each year, the best selections are added to it to replace what comes out-- so production is limited to 2,000 liters per year. How it manages to be one of our most affordable options in the store boggles my mind. It has a deep, sourdough bread richness, with notes of fresh green olive and white roses. The "Louis Victor" provides a refined, aged champagne-drinking experience (there is wine in the barrel as old as 2007), and it will only continue to evolve in the coming releases. This is a good NV to hold on to, carefully marking which year the bottles were released to taste them against the new.
Price: $34.99 Add To Cart

Laurent-Perrier "Cuvée Rosé" Brut Rosé Champagne
Review Date: 02-08-2019
I try to resist the big houses of champagne. I don't succeed very often. Products like this have me inevitably circling back. This is a phenomenal blend of sourced grapes from many different villages (though all grapes used are grand cru). 100% Pinot Noir, this champagne is like a fruit salad on a summers day. Refreshing and crisp, with heaps of strawberries, bing cherries and raspberries mid-palate and a drying finish.

Billecart-Salmon Brut Rosé Champagne
Review Date: 02-08-2019
A wine shop's best friend-- the Billecart Salmon Rose consistently defends its title as one of the best-selling products (not just within champagne) in any wine store. It is composed of all premier cru grapes-- 40% Pinot Noir, 40 Chardonnay and 20 Pinot Meunier, but the pretty light red hue comes not from controlled skin contact with the red grapes, but rather by blending Pinot Noir fully vinified red with the rest of the blend that sees zero skin contact. This Pinot Noir comes exclusively from one very old plot, meaning that the overall production of this wine is strictly capped. The result is a wonderfully complex nose with some earth as well as very elegant red fruit.

2011 Egrot (formerly Elisabeth Goutorbe) Grand Cru Brut Champagne
Review Date: 02-08-2019
I love tasting so-called "off vintages" from producers so tuned in to their craft and to their vineyards that they are seemingly immune to these "off years." It confirms the soft voice in the back of my head that likes to doubt the major critics. "Trust your instincts and your palate," the voice says. And I encourage you to do the same. This is an awesome example of a more subdued champagne. Delicate fruit notes are teased out from a vintage that did not achieve high ripeness, the result is subtle cherry blossom and loquat fruit with a current of bright acid running underneath.
Price: $39.99 Add To Cart

Egrot (formerly Elisabeth Goutorbe) Brut Champagne
Review Date: 02-08-2019
The "brut" from Egrot could not be more different than the "extra brut," but for the fact that they are both very well-made champagnes. while the later sees long lees contact, the former is aged "sur lie" for even longer (over five years), expanding the toastiness and adding dark fruit character-- sweet cherry and black raspberry. A perfect party champagne-- this has clean and refreshing elements as well as a wonderful brioche richness that will suit any tastes.
Price: $34.99 Add To Cart

Egrot (formerly Elisabeth Goutorbe) Extra Brut Champagne
Review Date: 02-08-2019
This is another producer whose pedigree for grape growing goes far beyond their own label. Egrot sells most of what they grow to larger producers, keeping a small amount for their own production. As is often the case in situations such as these (think Alexander Le Brun), the resulting wines are smashing values with true wine-making mastery behind them. The extra-brut is an excellent food-champagne. Dosed at two grams of sugar per liter, it is an honest-to-god extra brut-- no sweetness whatsoever, but a toasty richness from patient contact with the lees that rounds out the racey qualities. Loads of minerality. Begging for shellfish!
Price: $39.99 Add To Cart

Bollinger "Special Cuvée" Brut Champagne
Review Date: 02-08-2019
Oh, how I love Bollinger. It's like an old friend that I don't see often enough, and every time we reconnect all these wonderful memories come rushing back. A champagne for the lovers of the toasty, rich bubbles-- packed with honeyed brioche, warm nuttiness (hazelnut and almond), and a long, refreshing finish. All of Bollinger's champagnes (regardless of format) are aged in magnum-- a pricey undertaking-- all in service of providing a truly luxurious drinking experience. As our champagne buyer is fond of saying-- this is "crazy craft!" 60% Pinot Noir, 25% Chardonnay & 15% Pinot Meunier.

Billecart-Salmon "Brut Réserve" Champagne
Review Date: 02-08-2019
A powerful champagne from a powerhouse producer! The Brut Reserve is incredibly consistent-- which makes a lot of sense given that they commit to using as much reserve wine as necessary (at times up to 50%) to create a steadily delicious product. It has incredible structure, a gorgeous nose of rich honey and fragrant white flowers, and a soft, elegant finish.

2012 Franck Bonville "Pur Oger" Brut Blanc de Blancs Champagne
Review Date: 02-08-2019
These three single-village champagnes from Franck Bonville are such fabulous examples of how expressive terroir can be. The nose of the "Oger" takes me back to Grandma's lessons on peach cobbler. Crushed stone fruit and baking spices, citrus zest and sweet cream waft out in tantalizing fashion. This seems to be the richest of the three, but is not unbalanced in any way. This is a sultry champagne, it feels like it sashays across the palate before you quite have a chance to take it all in. There is a flash of grapefruit blossom on the finish.
Price: $64.99 Add To Cart

2012 Franck Bonville "Pur Mesnil" Brut Blanc de Blancs Champagne
Review Date: 02-08-2019
These three single-village champagnes from Franck Bonville are such fabulous examples of how expressive terroir can be. The "Mesnil" is a very impressive and unique cuvee-- unsurprising given that Mesnil-sur-Oger is inarguably one of the greatest chardonnay growing regions in all of champagne. The nose on this one is more restrained, with a very clean freshness, like the crisp smell of a snowy alpine morning. Then the fruit explodes onto the palate, expanding out to every corner-- powerful and direct. This shares the same lightly saline qualities as the "Avize" but here it comes across a bit more spicy, creating an exhilarating and long-lasting finish.
Price: $64.99 Add To Cart

2012 Franck Bonville "Pur Avize" Brut Blanc de Blancs Champagne
Review Date: 02-08-2019
These three single-village champagnes from Franck Bonville are such fabulous examples of how expressive terroir can be. The "Avize" bottling is one of the most elegant champagnes I have ever tasted. The nose is pure floral aromatics-- inhaling deeply feels like awakening springtime. Six years aging on cork gives it a richness that belies the extra brut classification. Sweet brine, nectar, and flower petals on the front end, and a beautifully mineral-laden finish. You'll want to buy these three as a set, but I think the "Avize" might be my favorite in a close race of phenomenal wines for texture alone-- it is one of the most lusciously creamy champagnes I've had the pleasure of tasting.
Price: $64.99 Add To Cart

Michel Arnould "Reserve" Brut Verzenay Champagne
Review Date: 02-05-2019
Pinot Noir grown on slopes that don't face south? How could it be? Maybe because an ancient meteor crashed into the hillside years ago, forever changing the soil composition to create ideal growing conditions. Probably because of a strange warm air current that winds around Arnould's slope and breathes life back in to fragile vines of Pinot Noir. The result is a very delicate blanc de noirs that doesn't feel as muscular as others, but still has all the elements that I love from red grape champagne. It retains brightness, while having wonderfully concentrated fruit and a rich nuttiness, and a core of strong acid that make it a great contender for a NV to put away for a bit of time.
Price: $32.99 Add To Cart

Baron-Fuenté "Esprit" Brut Champagne
Review Date: 02-05-2019
Another absolutely smashing value from Baron Fuente- the undisputed king of the K&L direct import program. This champagne sees a full seven years on the lees- he honest and true way to obtain that ultra-classy texture most champagne drinkers associate with a very high price tag. The nose is wonderfully toasty, and reminds me of baked apple pastry in whole wheat pie crust. There is a soft beaded minerality to the finish, clean and creamy crushed rock balance out that rich fruit and dough beautifully.

Baron-Fuenté "Grande Réserve" Brut Champagne
Review Date: 02-05-2019
Enough good things simply cannot be said about Baron Fuente. I first took home a bottle not long after starting with K&L to experiment with champagne cocktails. It seemed an easy choice-- being the most affordable champagne on a price/quality scale. I found a small panel of friends compassionate enough to sit down and accept free booze, and we began by tasting the champagne on its own before mixing. Not much was accomplished in the way of mixology that night-- because we all sat, gob-smacked, discussing the sheer elegance and drinkability of this top value bubbly. Candy apples, golden delicious cider, and a touch of wild sour-cane fill the nose and palate. And if this is a deal-- the magnum offering (priced with no large-format premium) is an absolute steal, and the clear choice for your next large gathering.

2010 Caol Ila 8 Year Old "Old Particular" K&L Exclusive Islay Single Barrel Cask Strength Single Malt Scotch Whisky (750ml)
Review Date: 01-29-2019
This Caol Ila bottling from Douglas Laing is a fun and refreshing change of pace from what I've come to expect from Caol Ila-- namely, the monstrously peaty reputation that precedes it. The nose is full of savory vegetal characteristics that follow on to the palate-- bell pepper both green and yellow spring to mind, along with some spicy sweet notes that remind me of a pepper-jelly. Very light traces of pear and smoke mingle on the finish.
Price: $69.99 Add To Cart

Dérot-Delugny "Cuvée Fondateurs" Brut
Review Date: 01-12-2019
I refer to this champagne as "liquid silk." It is a texturally magnificent (and not to mention wildly unique) champagne, and the only of its kind that I have ever been able to get my hands on. And when it comes to champagne...I'm handsy. But even if you are not a hardcore collector of bubbles, this is not a bottle you want to miss. The nose is restrained and subtle, but take a moment to let it wash over you and you will be rewarded with vibrant waves of chalky mineral, tropical melon and tangerine. This wonderful panoply of flavors and smells carries through to the palate (joined by pineapple and papaya), earning the liquid silk nickname with an effortless mousse that slips across the tongue with cat-like grace. If you're quick enough to beat me to the punch-- I highly recommend stocking up.
Price: $49.99 Add To Cart

2016 Domaine des Escaravailles "La Ponce" Rasteau
Review Date: 01-12-2019
One whiff and this wine clamors for your attention-- and deservedly so. Tapenade, pepper, and wild berry fruit tumble forth, with that fruit taking the lead onto the palate with a wonderful silky texture. Graphite and earth on the close, with some herbal qualities (sweet anise) that linger through the finish. Fantastically well-balanced for a sub $30 red!

2015 Domaine de la Janasse Côtes-du-Rhône Reserve
Review Date: 12-07-2018
This is another absolutely smashing Rhone value! One of the most immediately engaging and pleasing Cotes-du-Rhones I have tried from the 2015 vintage (and if you've been drinking along with me-- you know this is saying A LOT). Right from the opening, this wine welcomes you with arms wide open. Creamy and silky-smooth on the palate, with an awesome bundle of sweet herbs on the finish. The fruit is dominated by fleshy, not-too-sweet strawberry (and a bit of tart cherry) with very light traces of that classic pepper. When that vibrant fruit and soft spice meet, it gives the impression of aerosolized strawberry-pepper preserve-- a beautiful mist you want to live and drink in forever. Grapes are all sourced from a single plot just East of Chateauneuf-du-Pape.
Price: $15.99 Add To Cart

2016 Château de L'Ou "Secret de Schistes" Côtes Catalanes
Review Date: 12-04-2018
My original draft of this review was simply the word "wow" jotted down on a piece of paper surrounded by telltale wine stains. I thought it might be prudent to add more specificity, but I maintain that "wow" is a very apt reaction. This is some seriously tasty old-world Syrah with a bit of new-world flair. The name literally translates to "Shale's Secret," an homage to the mineral-laden terroir. Vines grown on shale (or "schist") must work long and hard to dig through layers of the metamorphic rock, providing the structure and elegance on display here. Dusty and spicy in the nose with traces of leather and dark chocolate. On the palate the wine has incredible dimension, and has a long finish full of fragrant pepper and earth.
Price: $29.99 Add To Cart

Kilchoman "Machir Bay" K&L Exclusive Vatting Batch #2 Islay Single Malt Scotch Whisky (750ml)
Review Date: 11-27-2018
It amazes me how such a slight edit to the cask influence can create such a different scotch!! I have long been a fan of the Machir Bay, and did not expect this exclusive bottling to have so much unique personality. The slight shift towards sherry influence in an otherwise bourbon-dominated finish brings so many exotic notes back to the table, while retaining the rich backbone of fruity & vanillin bourbon influence. Here the nutty, buttery texture shines much brighter, and the salty Islay sea-breeze wafts in to the picture. When I close my eyes I feel as though I'm in a Scottish barn with a peat fire burning outside. Still not for the faint of heart, this is a must-have for the serious peated whiskey aficionados who have come to share our love for Kilchoman. Slainte!
Price: $54.99 Add To Cart

2017 Château Saint Jacques d'Albas "Domaine d'Albas" Coteaux de Peyriac Blanc
Review Date: 11-24-2018
What a fabulous blend! I was immediately curious to try this as the blend is atypical (though promising), and oh boy did it deliver! The blend is 45% Vermentino, 45% Viognier, and 10% Roussanne. The Vermentino gives the whole package a light, fresh and crisp demeanor, and definitely takes first chair. But the presence of Viognier is what most impresses me-- and what elevates this into more serious wine. It adds a spice and textural richness that is incredibly well-integrated (Viognier can be a tricky collaborator). The Roussanne brings up the rear bringing creamy qualities that tone down the acidity. A multi-faceted wine at a stunning value.
Price: $11.99 Add To Cart

Wine Club

$9.99

Savage & Cooke "Second Glance" K&L Exclusive Cask Strength American Whiskey
Review Date: 11-23-2018
​The nose on this whiskey is absolutely intoxicating, rich, sweet elements from the Zinfandel, light fruity and aromatic notes from the Grenache, and a zesty, vibrant core to keep things bright and in harmony. On the palate-- the first bundle of flavor lands with a shot of smokiness and a viscous texture, that then bursts open with sweet cream accents and a silky finish. This is high energy stuff, lively and fun. This is however a cask-strength expression, so a dash of water greatly aides the accessibility.
Price: $49.99 Add To Cart

Ground Breaker Brewing (Gluten Free) "IPA No. 5" Dry Hopped IPA, Oregon (16oz) cans
Review Date: 11-19-2018
​I was excited to try this new truly gluten free addition to the beer lineup, but I had my doubts. It's a difficult (and expensive) proposition to create such a product, which is why the category is largely underserved. On top of that, several beers geared towards the gluten free crowd offer "gluten removed--" which is different than truly gluten free, and leaves the Celiac afflicted still at risk for exposure to the gluten molecule. The Ground Breaker line is crafted in a dedicated gluten free facility with a creative mix of substitutions, and oh boy does it deliver! Rich copper color, pleasant malt sweetness that doesn't overpower the dry, light-hopped finish. A full bodied IPA that offers a genuine beer experience for the strictly gluten free.
Price: $4.49 Add To Cart

McKenzie Bottled-in-Bond Wheated Bourbon Whiskey (750ml)
Review Date: 11-18-2018
"Why don't I drink more wheated Bourbon?" I ask myself, as I sit gleefully tasting this delicious spirit. The answer is complicated by brands like Pappy lending an unreasonable premium on anything in the category, but it does mean that talented distillers are doing fascinating things in the wheated style. The absence of rye in the mash leaves the corn a lot more room to shine through. Aromas of ground and roasted maize come tumbling forth, softened by creamy, almost butter-scotch like tones-- like moist cornbread and honey butter. The higher proof is perfect here-- it keeps the sweetness from overwhelming the panoply of complex cereal flavors.
Price: $44.99 Add To Cart

2016 Domaine la Garrigue "Cuvée Romaine" Côtes du Rhône
Review Date: 11-13-2018
I first tasted this awesome little Rhone moments after the bottle was opened, and was immediately impressed. Over the following hour, it only gained more depth and character. The nose is an intensely herbal experience, brambley, with notes of black tea and wild mountain fruit. I smell breeze wafting through a dew-covered Southern Rhone countryside-- wet earth, fragrant sage and lavender. The finish is long and pleasing, with silky, well-integrated tannin. This is an absolute stunner for under 15, and a far more serious wine than your average entry-level Rhone blend.
Top Value!
Price: $13.99 Add To Cart

Louis Roederer "Brut Premier" Champagne
Review Date: 11-06-2018
A beautiful, textural, classic champagne for all audiences. Plenty of crisp refreshment, balanced by a rich, yeasty undercurrent from long, patient time spent aging on the lees. Organic and biodynamically farmed-- always good to see the big houses set precedent for such trends. Creamy and broad on the palate, with notes of lemon curd, and a pleasant mineral finish.

Laurent-Perrier "La Cuvée" Brut Champagne
Review Date: 11-06-2018
Founded in 1812, the Laurent Perrier house has been a pioneer of the use of stainless steel in champagne production. For those who remember an era before the "La Cuvee" brand-- the differences in their entry-level release are subtle, but important. Six months was added to the lees time (for a glorious total of 42 months), in addition to moving the cepage towards Chardonnay (50 Chard, 30 Pinot Noir, and 20 Pinot Meunier). The final product has 9 grams per liter of residual sugar, and is phenomenally well-balanced, delightfully racy champagne. Traces of white peach, citrus blossoms, and sweet grapefruit peel.

2015 Domaine L'Ostal "Grand Vin" Minervois La Livinière
Review Date: 11-06-2018
This is a wonderfully bold Minervois-- the Syrah certainly steals the show with big doses of pepper, dark, richly tart fruit and mild hints of candied orange (blossom aromatics with a hint of bitter peel on the finish). The rest of the blend is Grenache, with Carignane and Mourvedre bringing up the rear. Tanins are strong but smooth, lasting well through the finish. A textural Languedoc blend that stand out from the pack. Try with pot roast and hearty root vegetables!
Price: Hidden View Price

2016 Mas de Sainte Croix "Douceur de Fruit" Côtes-du-Rhône
Review Date: 10-14-2018
60% Grenache, 20% Cinsault, 20% Carignane. The 2016 "Douceur de Fruit" is a beautifully light, delicate and aromatic offering. "Douceur" in french translates to "sweetness" or "pleasantness" and it certainly offers that in spades-- the wine is pure fruit, notes of strawberry, raspberry and hibiscus. It is a refreshing change of pace to have a Rhone blend that omits Syrah. Don't get me wrong-- I absolutely love Syrah, but it's peppery, vanilla qualities can overwhelm more floral grapes such as Cinsault. Excellent value, perfect as a cocktail wine or with light appetizers.
Top Value!
Price: $11.99 Add To Cart

Wine Club

$9.99

2012 Louis Roederer Brut Champagne
Review Date: 10-12-2018
As much as I love an underdog, classics are classics for a reason. Roederer delivers so consistently, and this is not an exception to that well-earned reputation. This is a supple champagne, delectably creamy, full of honeyed-brioche, and an elegant, saline, earthy tone that brings it all together for a long, memorable finish. This is luxury champagne, at an exceptionally reasonable price.

2009 Alexandre Le Brun "Cuvée Dilection" Brut Rosé Champagne
Review Date: 10-12-2018
A rose champagne with zero dosage? Sign me up. The total lack of added sugar in the "Dilection" lets the richness of the fruit shine without sacrificing a dry pointedness. This wine is focused, with beautiful strawberry-rhubarb quality on the palate, well-balanced by softer, savory tones, perhaps due to the use of french oak for the entire fermentation.
Price: $58.99 Add To Cart

2012 Alexandre Le Brun "Cuvée Revelation" Brut Champagne
Review Date: 10-12-2018
This wine is exotic, and intriguing. Like other purely meunier-based champagnes, it's flavor is concentrated, with a rich intensity, but the "Revelation" retains a refreshing quality. A pleasant, lemon-peel-like bitterness shows through, along with candied apricot, and a stony minerality indicative of the colder climate of the vintage.
Price: $79.99 Add To Cart

2007 Alexandre Le Brun "Cuvée Fascination" Brut Blanc de Blancs Champagne
Review Date: 10-12-2018
If, like me, you are big fan of Bollinger, this should be on your short list. In fact, this should just be on your short list. No qualifier. It's just that good. It's nutty, creamy, yeasty, and has a seductively savory edge to the nose (almost like a fine cheese). This is small-production, lovingly produced vintage champagne that stands up in every way to the big name brands. Oh how I'd love to find a bottle of this in my stocking this holiday season.
Price: $69.99 Add To Cart