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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
Saturday
Jan212017

Why Bordeaux?

There is always something new to discover in wine. I love to feel the energy of our young staff here as they explore the new trends in the wine world. It is also wonderful to watch other young industry professionals create new trends on the internet and in hip urban wine bars. Sometimes I wonder; is Bordeaux being overlooked by the new generation? It is not being overlooked here- not while we have Clyde pouring fantastic, comprehensive tastings. It is heartening to see younger people coming for our Bordeaux events here at K&L, but I fear that we are an exception. Perhaps it will take a while for the pendulum of fashion to swing back, but I feel like Bordeaux has lost its place to younger wine drinkers, and I rarely see it featured on wine lists when I am out on the town, especially by the glass.

Why do I find Bordeaux so relevant? First of all, it is one of the few categories of wine that allows a beginner (or for that matter and old hand!) to drink a mature bottle at a reasonable price. In red wine, the only other example that I can think of is Rioja. Why does that matter? Because, simply, one cannot cheat time! We might be able to manipulate young Cabernet to make it soft and sweet enough to drink tonight, or serve a cru Beaujolais with immense up front charm, but it will never have the complexity and layers of a wine that has had time to mature. These mature bottles aren’t all expensive, as I type, we have 11 examples in stock that are 10 or more years old under $30, and 4 of them are less than $15!

Another reason I find Bordeaux so relevant is because of how well it works with food. I think it is the world’s greatest steak wine, with great acidity to cut fat and the perfect balance of fruit and savor to both contrast and mirror the flavors in beef. While other wines are good enough with a wide range of food, Bordeaux has a perfect partner, and creates an occasion in itself when put together with it.

If you haven’t had some in a while, give a bottle of Bordeaux a try… I think you’ll be surprised how much you enjoy it.

 

Gary Westby

Friday
Jan132017

2011 Louis Roederer Brut Rosé Champagne

Sushi and Champagne is a favorite treat at the Westby house!

The vintage wines of Champagne Louis Roederer are some of the most consistently fine offerings from any big house. There is a good reason for this. Each of the wines; Cristal, Blanc de Blancs, “regular” vintage and Rose are not only estate, but farmed as separate estates on to themselves. From the selection of site to the training and pruning, everything is done specifically for the cuvee that Roederer intends to make. This is very different than most big houses, which prefer to bring everything in and taste it blind before deciding which cuvee to assign a parcel to.

As many of you have no doubt read, 2011 was a very difficult, some would say plain bad vintage in Champagne. Many producers declassified large amounts of fruit… For instance, Champagne Franck Bonville only made their basic Champagne in this year, declassifying the Belles Voyes, Prestige and Vintage plots down into the basic wine. I was very surprised to see a vintage, especially a rose vintage, from this challenging year being made by Roederer. The main problem was humidity and rain that caused a lot of rot in the summer, with conditions so bad that vignerons could not get into the vineyard to try and stop the harm.

I was even more surprised when I opened this bottle. We had it with sushi last night, and it was very clean and surprisingly soft for such a dreary vintage. This wine is a blend of about 2/3 direct macerated Cumieres Pinot Noir and 1/3 North facing Chouilly Grand Cru Chardonnay. While not as driven and precise as the 2010, this softer style had a ton of easy drinking charm. I love it when a good bottle of wine surprises me!

A toast to you!

 

Gary Westby

Tuesday
Dec062016

Dungeness Crab- the West's Most Wine Friendly Shellfish

Fresh Dungeness Crab at the Fish Market in San Jose

It is Dungeness crab season, and after a year with no crab last year, everyone here at K&L is very excited. My best friend Henry manages The Fish Market in San Jose, and he must get tired of me calling and texting him for crab news in the run up to the season. I am always concerned that there is going to be a strike or another problem that is going to keep me from enjoying my favorite of all seafood.

This year, the news is mostly good- the season is on, the crabs are filled out and meaty like no other year I can remember, and the prices are fair if not low. We have already eaten crab three times, and I can’t wait to get in a bunch more meals before the season ends. If you haven’t had the crab yet this year, you owe it to yourself to get some!

Cinnamon and I have a whole section of our cellar dedicated to Chablis for the crab season. We have had it on about a five year rotation that is now six years thanks to the dumoic acid problem last year. So we are buying 2014’s this year and opening our 2008’s, which are really on song. I think the pairing of Chablis and Dungeness has so much synergy that it is worth going to some trouble to ensure a good supply of aged juice… The only way to accomplish this with Burgundy is to buy it young.

 

Dungeness risotto with white Burgundy... Yum!

Our first crab we ate steamed and paired with 2008 Domaine Gerard Tremblay Chablis 1er Cru "Cote de Lechet" that we bought back in 2010. The wine is still extremely fresh and virile, and the steely edge of acid on the back is sweetened by the rich meat of the crab. With our next crab I made crab cakes and we had it with the same producers’ village Chablis, also 2008. This was getting some lovely hazelnut flavors and showing the complexity of age, but still has great freshness. We made a crab risotto the last time, with stock from the exoskeleton and piled on meat on top. We treated ourselves to a limey, fantastic, 2011 Domaine Olivier Leflaive Puligny-Montrachet "Les Enseignères" that we carried back from Burgundy.

I can’t recommend cellaring a little bit of white Burgundy (especially Chablis!) enough for pairing with crabs, but the fresh stuff is pretty darn good too! Here is what the rest of the K&L crew has to say…

Alex Schroeder, our Champagne specialist in Redwood City reccomends the Franck Bonville "Belles Voyes" Brut Blanc de Blancs Champagne ($69.99):

"The first crab meal of the season is a special affair, and a laborious one if you’re making crab cakes.  By the time you buy the crab from a reputable market, cook it, harvest the meat, turn it into crab cakes and make the sides, you’ve earned an equally decadent beverage.  Luckily, thanks to the wonderful folks at Franck Bonville in Champagne, decadence doesn’t necessarily come at a prohibitive cost.  I could hardly think of a better pairing with my crab cakes than Franck Bonville’s Grand Cru Blanc de Blanc Belles Voyes.  

Belles Voyes is one of the very best values we carry at K&L and in the champagne world in general.  It’s crafted entirely from Grand Cru Chardonnay grapes from a single vineyard of 80-90 year-old vines in Oger and thoughtfully aged in used oak casks.  The label doesn’t say it, but it comes entirely from the 2009 vintage and displays everything you want to see alongside a rich crab meal.  

Beautifully subtle pear, apple and citrus notes danced with the flavors of fresh chives and spices, while the lovely rich toasty notes from long-term aging in oak casks convened perfectly with the toasted breadcrumbs of the cakes.  The Belles Voyes’ texture is so smooth, rich and sumptuous, the richness of the crab was in no way overwhelming, but rather the perfect complement.  Just when you start to feel guilty at the opulence, the delicate, crisp bubbles and vibrant acid round out the experience and bring the entire adventure into focus.  And that’s just one bite.  

So treat yourself this crab season.  You work hard and you deserve a small moment of luxury. You can certainly spend more on your champagne, but I seriously doubt you can score a better companion for your favorite ocean crustacean."

Harry- Jeff Garneau's cat, is always willing to eat some crab, but won't steal your wine!

Muriel Sarik, our newest member of the customer service team reccomends the 2015 Franck Millet Sancerre Rosé with Dungeness Crab: "Most people think of Rosés as a summer wine. But next to Champagne, I found these to be the most versatile wines in the world. Most people wouldn't think of having Rosés in winter because most wine shops run out of them by the Holidays. K&L has lots of rosés.  This Sancerre is my favorite and goes especially well with Dungeness crab. It has enough fruit to compliment the sweetness of the crab. Its dry mineral finish works with so many dishes. I made a salad with celery, cucumber, radishes and parsley on a bed of greens with a simple vinaigrette and topped it with a handful of crab. Delicious! Any crab louie or crab cakes would adore being part of this combination. Try it with crab au gratin instead of a buttery white or light red.”

Clyde Beffa, the big wine boss recommends an older vintage of Domaine Didier Dagueneau "Silex" Pouilly-Fumé… I guess that would be OK if you are all out of old J.-F. Coche-Dury Corton-Charlemagne!

Ryan Woodhouse recommends the 2015 Ata Rangi Sauvignon Blanc Martinborough, New Zealand $19.99: “Whilst Dungeness crab are indigenous to the west coast of the USA the waters around New Zealand are also teaming with sea life. The folks down there eat their weight in fresh seafood each year and I think the wines from these remote pacific isles are the perfect accompaniment for fish and crustaceans alike. The pure flavors, crisp fruit and lively acidity of New Zealand’s white wines make them equally delicious with our own local Dungeness. I’m recommending the 2015 Ata Rangi Sauvignon Blanc to welcome in crab season this year. This wine is from one of the most iconic and historic estates in NZ. The vines are mature, 25-30 years old, and farmed organically (certified BioGro). Hailing from the region of Martinborough this is a slightly more restrained style than one would typically expect. The focus here is on bright citrus fruit, pronounced minerality, subtle white floral notes and great textural presence on the palate. The wine spends a short time on skins to achieve that textural component and is also partially fermented in neutral French oak. It has wonderful poise and focus and is just a fantastic accompaniment to the delicacy of fresh Dungeness. It won’t break the bank either, this cracking (pun intended) bottle comes in at $19.99 thanks to our direct import relationship with Ata Rangi!”

Keith Mabry in LA recommends the 2014 Château de Montfaucon Clairette "Vin de Mme la Comtesse" Côtes du Rhône Vieilles Vignes Blanc ($29.99): “This would be my first choice to go with classic steamed or boiled Dungeness crab.  The wine has the texture of a grand cru Burgundy but a more subtle fragrance of peaches, fennel and wet stones.  It has a fine delicacy that should match well with the sweet meat of the crab that is neither overwhelming nor disappearing.”

Ralph Sands recommends the Launois "Cuvée Reserve" Brut Blanc de Blancs Champagne ($34.99): “Maybe not a normal pairing but for our Anniversary/Birthday dinner this week Kim and I did Fettuccini Alfredo with a mound of Dungeness on top with the Launois Cuvee Reserve and to quote Robert Goulet… “It was marvelous!”

A toast and a nice leg piece for you!

Gary Westby