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So why is the 2012 Ladera Cabernet—made from almost entirely from Howell Mountain fruit, from an incredible vintage—sitting pretty at $34.99? I honestly can't tell you. Maybe it's because no one knows how good the Ladera holdings in Howell Mountain are. Or maybe it's the pride that winemaker Jade Barrett takes in making a serious wine for a reasonable price. Or maybe it's because Ladera is an overlooked gem in a sea of Napa alternatives. For whatever the reason, I'm not going to complain. We tasted the 2012 vintage at our staff training yesterday and I was just floored by the quality of this wine. Dark, fleshy fruit cloaked in fine tannins, bits of earth, and in total balance, with enough gusto to go the long haul in your cellar. It's a whole lotta wine for $34.99, and it's made primarily from Howell Mountain grapes, harvested during a great vintage. 

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We host regular weekly and Saturday wine tastings in each K&L location.

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Archives
Wednesday
Jul292015

K&L Abroad

While traveling in Toyko this past year, I went for an early morning walk through the Ginzo district; hoping my to ease my jet-lag with a little window-shopping. While passing a wedding boutique, I noticed a celebratory display featuring a few empty wine bottles. Not just any wine bottles, mind you, but two very specific Bordeaux bottles from two very specific chateaux, from two very specific vintages. Two wines that we practically sold the entire vintage allotment of ourselves: the 1997 Potensac and the 1997 Lanessan. "There is no possibly way in hell that these two bottles didn't come from K&L," I said to myself. It was just too unlikely that these specifc selections were randomly purchased locally, and coincidentally placed together in a Tokyo storefront window. Unfortunately, the store was closed so I couldn't inspect the back labels to check the importer, so I snapped a picture and kept moving.

You can get your bottom dollar, however, that I was back at the store later in the afternoon to follow up on the investigation. Sure enough, the back labels told me exactly what I had suspected. These were our bottles. Someone had purchased them in California, stowed them away in their suitcase, enjoyed them in Japan, and used them as a wedding prop for a Ginzo retail location.

It's a small world.

-David Driscoll

Tuesday
Jul282015

Clean Lines

Sometimes you have to prove that you can handle the basics before taking a few risks. For example, if you're in the fashion industry, you need to show you can make a simple, classic design before moving on to couture. It's for that reason that we initially held back on importing the Te Whare Ra "Toru": a white field blend made mostly from gewürztraminer, riesling, and pinot gris. We needed to first establish TWR among our customers as a producer of world-class chardonnay, pinot noir, and sauvignon blanc before showcasing their incredible range of aromatic whites. And, believe me, they are indeed "incredible."

My wife and I hit the mall yesterday to check out the new Fall fashion releases slowly trickling into the many boutiques, and then returned home to cool out on the couch and search for a little inspiration. I cracked the bottle of "Toru" I had been saving in the fridge, grabbed two glasses, and handed one to my wife. "Wow, that's good," she said, her eyes wide with surprise. She had been expecting something more intense considering the cepage, but despite the heavy dosage of aromatic varietals, the "Toru" is not overly-expressive on the nose. It's not all that floral or perfumy, and there's only a hint of that gingery spice from the gewürz. It's much more mild and round on the palate, with the accents of stonefruit and exotic spice on the finish. It has all the crisp, refreshing acidity you'd expect from a pinot gris, but with a little dash of something on the backend. It's a classically-tailored wine with clean lines, perfect balance, and just a bit of flare. We immediately grabbed the telephone and ordered Chinese food for delivery after taking the first sip. We wanted something savory and delicious to pair along side it.

Now that we've established TWR as one of the premier producers at K&L, it's time to take a few risks. It's time to show you all how deep their talents truly run:

TWR (Te Whare Ra) "Toru" White Blend Marlborough $18.99 - TWR's  "Toru" (meaning three in Maori) is a traditional field blend of Alsatian varietals Gewürztraminer, Riesling and Pinot Gris, as you might find in an Edelzwicker bottling. The fruit is entirely hand-selected from Jason and Anna's BioGro Certified organic vineyard. All the grapes are co-fermented, giving the blend its completely seamless nature and wonderful richness of flavor and texture along with vibrant freshness and minerality. The wine is almost completely dry with very little, if any perceivable sweetness. What certainly is perceivable is the wine's cacophony of floral notes, white peach, honeydew melon, and jasmine. The palate shows similar qualities, with broad, rich flavors and texture. The old vine Riesling (planted in 1979) adds great minerality and a steely, citric cut to balance the richness and exuberance of the other, more exotic varietals. The co-ferment and extended fine lees contact gives the wine incredible length and persistence on the palate. This just might be the ultimate summer sipper. So quaffable that just about anyone will fall for it... but also retaining enough complexity, depth and "nerd factor" that even the most jaded of wine geeks would have to be excited by this wine! (Ryan Woodhouse - K&L New Zealand Wine Buyer)

-David Driscoll

Monday
Jul272015

Santa Cruz Patio Sippin'

I remember last summer when we first got a rosé in from Mount Eden (one of the most revered California producers of cabernet, pinot noir, and chardonnay): it was the darkest and fleshiest rosé I had ever seen, made entirely from cab franc, and it was so powerful you could almost pair it with a steak. I think our Redwood City staff drank about 60% of the available inventory. The wine was so different, so unique, that we couldn't get enough of it. When this year's rosé showed up last week—a lighter, grenache-based wine—we all gathered with glee in the tasting bar. It was a totally different animal: round and robust, with juicier red berry fruit and accents of spice on the finish. I asked our domestic buyer Bryan Brick about the change, and he thought Jeffrey Patterson—the winemaker for Mt. Eden—was probably toying with a few different varietals, looking to create a full-time expression from the same grape. Last year was cabernet franc; this year grenache.

I cracked a bottle yesterday afternoon, friend up some Padrón peppers, and sat out on the patio with my wife to enjoy the warm summer breeze. The Mount Eden rosé holds up beautifully to savory and spicy cuisine. When I learned that the cab franc rosé was a one-off, I have to admit I was a bit bummed out. But now after having dusted a bottle of the new grenache version, it's all I can think about drinking. It's another seasonal offering from one of our nearest local wineries, and it's absolutely delicious.

2014 Mount Eden Santa Cruz Mountains Grenache Rosé $17.99 - A richer mouthfeel along with accents of red berry, peppery spice make up the palate; with clean, vibrant acidity to balance out the weight. The finish is fresh while simultaneously supple. It's a more decadent rosé experience, yet one based purely on texture rather than sweetness or fruitiness. Another intriguing and wholly-satisfying rosé experience from Mount Eden.

-David Driscoll