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The Freewheel line with a couple of English friends.

It takes a lot of beer to keep the wine business running smoothly. Here in Redwood City, we are very fortunate to have a great English style ale producer right in our backyard: Freewheel Brewing Company. The staff of K&L are fictures at our local pub, and it is a rare moment when one of us isn't there having a pint and a bite of their excellent food. We are also lucky enough to be the first place to offer their bottled beer for sale. If you have never had it, the Freewheel Brewing "FSB" Freewheel Special Bitter, California (500ml) is the benchmark in fresh, balanced, smashable ale. We will do our best to keep some in stock for you, the customer too!

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Tasting with Oliver Krug

Upcoming Events

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

For the complete calendar, including lineups and additional details related to our events, visit our K&L Local Events on KLWines.com or follow us on Facebook.  

 

Visit our events page on Facebook or the K&L Spirits Journal for more information.

>>Upcoming Special Events, Dinners, and Tastings

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Archives
Friday
Aug052016

Veuve Clicquot Rich

Redwood City managers Sarah and Andrew enjoying a goblet of rich while closing the store.

Champagne should be fun. It can be as profound and complex as any of the greatest wines in the world, but it should always be fun. The Veuve Clicquot "Rich" Doux Champagne ($54.99) is definitely a whole lot of fun, and I had to lighten up quite a bit to enjoy it in the spirit that it was intended for.  It is my job to think about the impacts of geology, exposure, grape variety and élevage on Champagne, but it is important not to forget why I need to know all of that stuff- it is simply to understand better the Champagne we all love. If you don’t like it, if it’s not fun, there is no point to all of the other stuff.

Most nights at closing we’ll have a beer or a glass of Champagne after the doors are shut and while we are finishing up the end of day duties. Opening up this bottle turned this routine into quite an event! We had lots of laughs drinking this sweet, yet refreshing Champagne in our goblets loaded with ice and dotted with cucumbers. We were not trying to figure out which villages stared in the blend or parse out the varietal composition. We were having fun.

By the time I finished my glass, I had lightened up a lot!

This Champagne is made to be served on ice, and accompanied by a fresh highlight ingredient. The folks from Veuve Clicquot have imagined many combinations, and you can take a look at all of them here. I had recently been by the Niyija Market in Mountain View and bought some very nice Japanese cucumbers, so I packed up my cutting board and my Nakiri to prep them after closing. I put two thin slices at the bottom of each goblet, loaded the goblets with ice, poured in the Champagne, through another cucumber slice in and decorated the rim with one more. That was all there was to it.

We got a huge laugh of the frivolity of drinking Champagne like this- the opposite of the Lehman Refrence Glass, intellectually engaged studiousness of most of our tasting here at K&L. Best of all, the wine tasted good. This is the sweetest Champagne we carry, and although you have to search the label carefully, it is labeled as Doux, the sweetest designation on the ladder of dosage. This designation applies to all Champagne at 50 grams per liter or greater of sugar, and is historically the original style of sparkling Champagne. The Clicquot Rich is dosed at 60 grams per liter, 10 times the sugar of some of our drier Bruts, and composed of 45% Pinot Noir, 40% Meunier and 15% Chardonnay.

Dominique DeMarville, the chef de cave of Clicquot who I met earlier this year, says “Sugar in Champagne is like spice in a recipe, used correctly it can bring out specific aromas and enhance the taste.” I have only done a dosage trial once, with Mr. Bruno Michel in Pierry, and the complex relationship that Champagne flavors have with sugar surprised and baffled me. This time, with an icy goblet in hand, I wasn’t wondering or taking notes… I was drinking and smiling!

-Gary Westby

Monday
Jun132016

Redwood City Wine Locker Party!

Jim Barr and Heather Gowen consider the merits of solera style Monsant.

Last Sunday, Sarah Covey, our Redwood City store manager invited the team over to her lovely home in Emerald Hills for a barbeque. It was a wine locker party; the idea being that we would all bring a few bottles of those wines from our collections that are hard to find an occasion for. The wines ran the gamut from blue chips that were meant perfect for an all pro-tasting to the truly odd! As always, more of the wines than we hoped showed very well… It is always when one thinks that one is getting rid of a strange wine that it turns out to be wonderful!

The grill was full of good stuff; Jim Barr made his famous burgers and folks brought steaks and many different sausages. Chris, Jim’s wife, baked excellent home-made burger buns and folks brought salads, macaroons, cakes and everything else one could hope to eat. The bottles outnumbered people by at least two to one! The lineup was extensive, varied, wonderful and weird!

Opening all of these bottles was quite a job, luckily, we had many pros like Alex Schroeder on hand to get the job done.

2001 Domaine de Chevalier Blanc, Pessac-Léognan

My wine of the night was the 2001 Chevalier Blanc. I have never had a white wine with that age showing so much vitality and fresh fruit and acidity, yet still presenting incredible depth of flavors and lasting for minutes on my palate! I would love to see how it tastes down the road too.- Heather Gowen

 

This star bright, nearly green colored white wine would have fooled me for current release blind. It had both sweaty Sauvignon character and lanolin-like Semillon flavors. It delivered on the promise of top end white Bordeaux with perfect medium body, and fabulous high toned length. Proof that 100% new oak is not always a bad thing! –Gary Westby

Jim Barr’s favorite dry white of the night.

Jean Josselin "Cuvee des Jean" Brut Champagne

Very fresh, very Pinot, very fun! This bright, refreshing, red cherry fruit style Aube Champagne was great to return to between glasses of big, savory red wine. –Gary Westby

2007 Pyin OO Levin Starwberry Wine, Burma

I don’t know where this bottle came from, or how it ended up in my cellar, but it surprised me by just tasting like good, simple, strawberry wine. Burma- who knew? –Gary Westby

1990 Gaja Barbera d'Alba "Vignarey"

This woodsy, evolved, black fruit style Barbera was outstanding with my hot Italian sausage! Thank you Alex for bringing this 26 year old in its prime to the party!- Gary Westby

1999 Domaine Jean Tardy Nuits-St-Georges 1er Cru "Les Boudots"

I made the mistake of drinking all of my bottles of this too early, and I owe a big thank you to Jim Barr for not only having the appropriate patience but also the generosity to share it with us. At this time, Tardy was share cropping these old Pinot Noir vines for none other than Meo-Camuzet. It had a great beet like, savory NSG nose, which carried through on the pallet impressively. It was sweet and full bodied, with texture that only time can bring. Wow! –Gary Westby

2007 Ridge Vineyards "Monte Bello" Santa Cruz Mountains Cabernet Sauvignon

A baby, but ripe enough to enjoy with grilled fair today, this was the darkest, most powerful wine of the night, yet did not lack grace… Monte Bello truly is a magic site. I think I would have guessed 2005 top class St. Julien blind. All of that new American oak had been absorbed by the power of some of the greatest Cabernet the golden state has planted. This wine had it all, and finished with silky, ripe integrated tannin. –Gary Westby

Jim Barr’s favorite red of the night!

2004 Clos de la Tech "Domaine Docteur Rodgers" Santa Cruz Mountains Pinot Noir

Most disappointing would definitely have to be the 2004 Clos de la Tech PN. Although I can sometimes appreciate juicy, fruit-forward Pinot, this was just showing all the holes and faults with a little age--my take away: if you have to drink ripe, over-extracted Pinot, drink it quite young. –Heather Gowen

 

This thick, sarsaparilla filled Pinot was quite tannic. –Gary Westby

2008 Painted Wolf Pinotage Swartland

Pinotage is always controversial, and this milky, burnt rubber smelling bottle brought out lots of conversation. I found it hot, a little hollow, but not nearly as strange as they come! –Gary Westby

Jim Barr’s least favorite wine of the night.

Etim Ranci Montsant

This blend of Grenache and Carignane was made like Madera in demi-johns exposed to the elements, and blended across time in a solera. I found it very soft for an oxidized style. It was nice enough, but was flabby compared to real Madera or Sherry. –Gary Westby

2004 Vereinigte Hospitien Scharzhofberger Kabinett

This was a huge Kabinett, solidly in the Spatlese zone and had a rich white peach nose, great polish and a blue slate finish. –Gary Westby

1985 Estancia Alexander Valley Cabernet Sauvignon

This was one of the few tired wines of the night. It had a faded tea leaf nose, but still had good texture. It was short finishing, but not terrible.

2004 Edgewood Canyon Alexander Valley Syrah Magnum (Jim Barr- winemaker)

I was NOT surprised that many of the stars of the night were brought by Jim Barr, including his very own 2004 Edgewood Canyon Syrah.  It had rich, concentrated fruit with a bouquet of eucalyptus, black pepper and blackberry.  Its tannins were so smooth and lush, and it grew more and more interesting throughout the night (yeah, I kept going back to it).  It was refreshing to see a wine born not of demographic studies, marketing strategy or graphic design, but out of an unadulterated passion for wine-making.  Well done, Jim. –Alex Schroeder

 

My best experience ever with a domestic Syrah… Too bad none is for sale!!!! This magnum had an amazing, smoky, camphor and meat nose backed up with great medium bodied poise and refreshing acidity. I thought it tasted like a properly aged Alain Graillot and have never had anything like it from California. –Gary Westby

2003 Bonny Doon "Old Telegram" Mourvèdre

This simple, short but tasty Mourvedre had a distinct Betty Crocker cake mix nose, nice enough balance and showed some appropriate development. –Gary Westby

1982 Bully Hill "Love my Goat" Red Wine, New York

We knew there was trouble when the cork offered no resistance to my corkscrew (or oxygen) and we had to push it in.  It poured out a viscous rusty yellow color, smelled of dust and oxidation, and offered my palate NO pleasure.  I hate to generalize, but I might avoid wines that have pictures of goats and New York on the label from now on. - Alex Schroeder

 

2000 Emrich-Schönleber Monzinger Halenberg Riesling Auslese

 

This was a great example of many German wine producers favorite style of sweet wine- a big, non-botrytis auslese! This polished wine had great fresh yellow apricot fruit, rich texture, no petrol notes at all in spite of its 16 years, and a top class slatey, high acid finish. Thanks for opening this Sarah! Leakers from Germany forever!

 

1976 Von Plettenberg  Winzenheimer Rosenheck Riesling Beerenauslese

This was classic, rich, thick 1976 German juice. While not particularly elegant or complex, it had very good dried apricot flavors and a ton of power.

Jim Barr’s favorite dessert white of the night.

1980 JW Morris California Port

This had had a lot of dried fruit character and even a little old zin like rubber to it. In the mouth it had a lot of ripe, sweet, dark fruit- this stuff was more than alive… It has time in hand! I don’t think they are going to put the winemakers of the Douro out of business, but this sure was a great after dinner drink.

1970 Warre's Vintage Port

This was my wine of the night. Sarah generously opened this up- and all though it had leaked and the cork was a horror show, the wine inside was transcendent. This 46 year old was a kaleidoscope of complexity with spice, dried fancy fruit and rooty depth. The finish was near endless and the tannins were completely evolved. I hope I am in such good shape when I turn 46 in a couple of years! –Gary Westby

Jim Barr’s favorite dessert red of the night.

As usual at a K&L staff party, the bottles outnumbered the people!

I was happy to let Uber do the driving after this huge lineup!

Gary Westby

Saturday
Jun112016

Rose, Summer and Tagine

Summer dining is always improved by rosé!

Here in California, we are accused by many of not having any seasons. While it is true that it is very nice around here for almost the entire year, the summer is a special time, and the farmers markets overflow with beautiful corn, peppers and all the bounty of the USA’s vegetable & fruit basket. Cinnamon and I love to get into the spirit and especially enjoy pairing summers produce with rosé. Invariably, one in particular jumps out as special. In 2005, we drank two cases of the great 2004 Rosé de Haut-Bailly, Pessac-Léognan, last year we couldn’t get enough of the 2014 Domaine la Chapelle Saint Victor Coteaux d'Aix en Provence Rosé. This year, we cannot get enough of the 2015 Franck Millet Sancerre Rosé.

On Tuesday, I made one of my favorite dishes to pair with crisp, dry French rosé- merguez tagine. This one pot meal is not only a great way to take advantage of summer vegetables, but also great for leftovers. It is a perfect dish to make early in the week and then pack for lunches. I am not a purist, and I start by buying in-season local vegetables- this version had onion, red pepper, yellow pepper, jalapeño and corn in it.

I start by cooking my merguez sausages until they are brown in olive oil, then I remove them and toast my turmeric, paprika, cumin and dried red pepper in the oil and meat juices. Next I toast the large Israeli style cous-cous in the spice and oil mixture, setting them aside with the sausage once they are brown. After that, I add all the other vegetables except for the corn to the tajine, add a touch more oil and cook until the onions are soft and fragrant. After putting everything back in the tajine, I added my boiling stock to the pot and covered it. I only added the corn for the last five minutes- it is almost sweet enough to eat raw right now!

The Millet Rosé paired perfectly with the dish. While the tajine was layered and complex in flavor, this rosé was forthright. It had the perfect mix of perfect summer rainier cherry and nearly grassy Sancerre minerality. We took it down in gulps, and the bottle did not last long! Cheers to summer!

-Gary Westby