When you look at the biggest selling Bordeaux wines in the history of K&L—the bottles that customers came back to buy again, and again, and again—few of those coveted cuvées came from the most heralded of vintages. While we’ve sold countless bottles from the now legendary 2000 and 2005 harvests, and we continue to find great bargains from the back-to-back home runs of 2009 and 2010, it’s our success in the so-called "off-vintages" that sets K&L apart from other Bordeaux retailers. Any wine buyer can look at a score sheet, pick the best wines off that list, and place an order from a distributor. But only a veteran of the trade can make top selections based on a wine’s inherent quality, especially from vintages that don’t have nearly as much press.
We know K&L co-owner Clyde Beffa around these parts as “the king of Bordeaux”, but he’s known in the Mèdoc as “the king of the off-vintage” because of his reputation for (literally) sniffing out values where others did not. He's like a seasoned stock broker who trades in claret instead of shares. Two of the top-selling wines in the history of the store are the 1997 Langoa-Barton and Potensac—two over-achievers from an underrated year (just ask the 5,000+ K&L customers who are still pulling these gems from their cellar). Lately he's been setting his sights on the 2012 Bordeaux vintage—a harvest that seems to be ripe with classically-styled, under-the-radar gems, if not opulent fruit. If you're a stickler for the Robert Parker vintage report, try these modestly-priced 2012 selections and see what you think. Our staff was completely taken aback by both wines at a recent tasting event.
2012 Clos Saint Emilion Philippe, St-Emilion $12.99 - From the negociant: "A modern, fruity, luscious, fleshy, supple wine, with a vivid, elegant palate and loads of ripe fruit, silky tannins, and a long elegant finish. Taste over grilled steaks, game, or hard cheeses. Located between Libourne and Saint Emilion, not far from Ch. Laroze. The family Philippe has owned it for 4 generations and Jean-Claude and Nicole Philippe now run it. The wine became Grand Cru in 1995."
2012 Bel-Air, Pomerol $24.99 - Bel Air is an estate in the Pomerol region that has long been an insider's favorite for value-oriented quality. The 2012 is a total sleeper of the vintage, one that will be completely overshadowed by the incredible 2009 and 2010 vintages preceeding it. The wine shows delicate blackberry fruit with toasted oak and soft tannins that intregrate beautifully on the finish. This is a great bargain.