In Bierzo, unlike most of the famous regions in Spain, tempranillo is not the big grape. Rather it’s the unique indigenous varietal, Mencia that matters. While it is planted elsewhere in this corner of the Iberian Pennisula, this grape seems to do best here. Located between the cool region of Galacia and the hot uplands of the Duero, this relatively cool climate allows the grapes to fully mature while still retaining their acidity. Mencia and Bierzo are cameleons; you never know what you’re going to get. Sometimes they’re like Loire Valley Cabernet Franc other times Northern Rhone Syrah. Confusing? Yes. Boring? Never. Their unique flavor profiles make them a delicious accompaniment to many dishes. Right now we have several in stock: 2005 Bodegas Y Vinedos Luna Beberide Luna ($12.99) This is in that Northern Rhone vein: meaty. Don’t let you inner vegetarian be scared away, there is also plenty of rich dark fruits on the nose and palate. Elegant and pleasantly structured, this wine really opens up and shows more spice and minerals with some decanting. 2004 Dominio de Tares, Baltos ($13.99) Less extreme than the above but no less enchanting. Brighter red fruits with a floral hint and a touch of earth on the nose. On the palate this wine offers lots of red fruits, minerality and spice. It sees several months in both American and French oak. 2004 Pucho, Bierzo ($12.99) Here is a Loire Valley expression of Mencia. Bright and snappy with red fruit, herbs and spice. Medium bodied, with good intensity and persistence, the palate has plenty of juicy red fruit supported by moderate tannins, leather and spice. This was instantly a staff favorite. —Kirk Walker
I have just returned from a fall time trip to South America and have had some awesome wines from Argentina and Chile. Here are a few suggestions for your casa this summer or for any season! 2005 De Martino Organic Sauvignon Blanc, Chile ($12.99) The South American wine press always ranks the wines from De Martino at the top of the heap. Their latest offering is this organic Sauvignon. Fresh and full of citrus flavors, the perfect aperitif or poolside sipper. 2003 Santa Ema Reserve Carmenere, Chile ($12.99) This offering from Santa Ema shows of all of the charming qualities this often maligned varietal. Full of soft plummy fruit, this red has aromas of tobacco, currants and vanillin oak. Enjoy this Carmenere with grilled pork chops! 2004 Pascual Toso Reserve Malbec, Argentina ($14.99) The folks at Pascual Toso have been making wine in Maipu since 1890. Recently, they hired to Paul Hobbs as consulting winemaker. The combination of Italian tradition and California flash results in a Malbec with style and grace. Packed with ripe blueberry/blackberry fruit, this inky red has a suave palate feel and a long finish. Fantastic with ribs! 2003 Kaiken Ultra Malbec, Argentina ($17.99) A blend of 92% malbec and 8% cabernet, this red wine is a broad shoulder bruiser with aromas of roasted coffee, oak and blackberry. The burst of ripe fruit really packs a punch on the palate. Enjoy with grilled sausage! 2004 Viña Montes Syrah Colchagua Valley, Chile ($15.99) A wine so good that it will make the angels sing, the Montes Alpha Syrah is packed with blackberry/raspberry fruit and a long peppery finish. This red has more style and substance than wines at twice the price. Perfect for steak! Buen Provecho! —Anne Pickett
San Franciscans are a kooky bunch. A free thinking, free wheeling crowd. Diverse, unpredictable and oftentimes just plain goofy. Well, the largely anarchical San Franciscans have reached a consensus on one thing: According to the real reviews by real residents on yelp.com, K&L Wine Merchants is the Top Shopping Destination in the City! (that’s top shopping, period…not just for wine) Read K&L reviews on yelp.com.
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