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One of the most serious English Sparkling producers. This historic estate has been in the Goring family since 1743. The tiny 16-acre vineyard is close-planted on a steep south-facing chalk escarpment described as 'similar to the Côte des Blancs' in Champagne. The fruit is picked very selectively with quality being the absolute focus. The grapes are pressed gently using a traditional Coquard press. After three years on the lees this wine, composed of 45% Pinot Noir, 33% Chardonnay & 22% Pinot Meunier, is hand disgorged and balanced with a minimal dosage of just 4g/L. It has a fine counterbalance between toasty richness and power from the wines élevage in Burgundian French Oak barrels, with racy acidity, tension and a focused chalky minerality.

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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.  

 

Free Spirits Tastings at K&L! Now that we have our license for spirits tastings in Redwood City and San Francisco, we’re excited to host regular free spirits tastings in those locations.  Check the Spirits Journal for an updated tasting schedule.

All tastings will feature different products from the Spirits Department and take place on Wednesdays in Redwood City and San Francisco. 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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Friday
Mar282014

Pinot Power Champagne Friday

This evening's tasting lineup- all Pinot Noir Champagne!

Happy Champagne Friday! I hope that you will be able to join me this evening in Redwood City for the third in my series of Friday Champagne tastings, this month focusing on Pinot Noir. I will be pouring from 5:00 PM until 6:30 PM and the cost to taste is only $10.

Pinot Noir makes up a little less than a third of the grapes grown in the Champagne region. It is the last of the big three (Chardonnay and Meunier being the other two) to ripen, and needs a warm micro-climate in order to produce good results. Champagne has the opposite problem with Pinot Noir than we do in California; while we are always looking for cool places to plant, they struggle to ripen this most difficult of varieties. In general you find it planted on south facing slopes in the Champagne region, although the north facing slopes of Grand Cru’s Verzy, Verzenay and Mailly are the exceptions that prove the rule.

It is thought of as bringing structure and power to blends, and on its own can be quite formidable. In today’s tasting we will experience five pure Pinot Noir Champagne’s, and take in the diversity of styles that this, one of the world’s great grape varieties, has to offer in one of the coldest places that it is capable of making great wine. Here is the lineup:

Fleury "Carte Rouge" Blanc de Noirs Brut Champagne $39.99 (the Aube)

Fleury Brut Rosé Champagne $109 magnum, $49.99 750ml (the Aube)

Daniel Ginsburg "Cuvee Prestige Louis XVII" Brut Champagne $49.99 (Ay)

Pierre Paillard "Acte 1" Grand Cru Blanc de Noirs Brut Champagne (2008) $49.99 (Bouzy)

Michel Arnould Verzenay Brut Rosé Champagne $74.99 magnum, $34.99 750ml (Verzenay)

As usual, I will be cheating by pouring from magnum the two wines that I have available in that format, the Fleury and Arnould roses. These two will provide a great contrast, as the Fleury comes from the very southernmost part of Champagne and the Arnould the northernmost, with the Fleury using all skin contact and the Arnould an addition of red wine. The contrast between the old vine Paillard from Mountain of Reims and the long aged Ginsburg from the precipitously steep pure chalk of Ay will also be interesting. I hope you can join me!

A toast to you- and hopefully with you!

Gary Westby

PS: I fly for Champagne tomorrow- so look back at this page for lots of updates from my fully booked trip to the region.

Friday
Mar282014

Marathon Day of Cognac

More stories of the road from Kyle Kurani....

I've been drinking Cognac all day. Real Cognac though, no big brands, just small producers spanning all over the region. We had a marathon of a day visiting five different distillers spanning four of the six regions of Cognac. Yeehaw! Why the epic trek across the country? Context. In order to know a region, you have to have context for the different nuances of each specific place. We tasted in well known regions like Grande Champagne and Petit Champagne, but also hauled on out the Bons Bois, as well as the Borderies. There were some gems, and some duds, but there is no stone left unturned in Cognac.

We started the day by driving out to the Bon Boise (think staying in beautiful Healdsburg) then motoring over to Sebastapool; it's very rural, and very far flung from the rest of Cognac; not known for very fine brandy, but we had to check it out. It was a bit of a mediocre appointment, however we got a sense for what was coming out of the region.  In the category of we never saw this coming: we did get to taste a bottle that was distilled pre 1900 ( Sharon Stone apparently bought one, who knew), that I thought was going to be the oldest Cognac that we tasted today. Amazing what turns up in the middle of nowhere. 


This is completely a side note, but hilarious. For those of you who don't know me, I have long hair. Normally kept neat and tidy and put up, much to the chagrin of one of our owners ("When are you getting a hair cut Kyle?") WELL...the grandmother of the producer we were visiting was puttering around the house and feeling salty. On her first pass while we were tasting, taking notes, and generally taking things seriously, she said: "You talk less than a bunch of women!" Zinger from grandma, we all laughed. The next time she buzzed the tower, I happened to be standing at the bottom of the stairs and she muttered something in French that I couldn't pick up, but David who speaks it started cracking up. What she said? " I just want to pull on his hair!" Granny got game! 

Ok, back to work.  Off to Grande Champagne. 


The outlaw of Cognac is the master blender Stephane at Michel Forgeron. He is doing it his way in Grand Champagne. This is the big region for Cognac. It has the most chalk in the soils and makes the longest lived, fanciest stuff you can find. Common practice dictates Cognac is blended down to 40%, Stephane is not so common, however.  He thinks adding that much water kills the spirit, it tastes better at higher proof, so thats what he does. Cask strength whisky drinkers rejoice: "I blend to what tastes good to me. My taste changes, my Cognac changes, thats how it goes," he told us. Lucky for us he has good taste. 


Off to the Borderies to meet Francois Giboin and his Cognac house that has been in the family since 1830. The Borderies are know for fruit driven, rich but softer Cognac.. Apple pie and spice cake find themselves in my notes fairly often. Very accessible, pretty yummy stuff that doesn't break the bank. A dose of history and a good dollop of appreciation for just how much time it takes to make Cognac properly. I was beginning to flag down the home stretch though…needed a second wind.

As the sun sets on Cognac, we drag into the last appointment of our journey in Petit Champagne. A little bit less chalk in the soils, but some argue the quality of Cognac produced here is closer to Grand Champagne than the price difference indicates. I must agree, because little did I know, I was about to make that 1914 Cognac look silly. 


To be honest, it had been a long, brandy filled day, but all the tiredness evaporates as Jacques Esteve introduced himself. If there was such a thing as grandson adoption, I want Jacques to be my French Grande Pere. Vest, suit jacket, loafers, and 150 years of family Cognac production make him at least the first cousin to The Most Interesting Man in the World. Forget Dos Equis, drink Cognac! We got to taste his family's oldest brandy, the Plentitude.  The oldest brandy in the blend being from 1850, with a little 1920 and 40 for good measure. Unbelievably lush and rich, the most complex and nuanced Cognac I've had.  Such a beautiful way to end a day…best part is we have some of this amazing stuff on the way to K&L as we speak.

I can't feel very much of my mouth at the moment after nearly 60 samples or so, but I do have a much better idea of where the heck to look for good Cognac. We found everything we'd hoped for today. Fancy, sit in your recliner with your slippers and read a leather bound book stuff. As well as affordable, everyday, make a Side Car or drink on the rocks while you're on the patio stuff.  Cognac has something for everybody, and I am glad we endeavored to find it. 

-Kyle Kurani

Tuesday
Mar252014

Scotch in the Strangest Place

We're in Burgundy, home to arguably some of the finest wines made in the world. Maybe you've heard of it. However, we don't buy the wine for K&L, so we're here for the single malt. Oh yeah – Scotch takes a road trip. Michel Couvreur is a company that has been aging single malt purchased from Scotland and shipped over to France to be aged in their limestone cellars that are unlike anything we have ever seen.  An exquisite blend of two cultures that creates some mighty fine whisky.

Mr. Couvreur passed away last year, but his legacy and practices live on with the new cellar master and blender Jean-Arnaud Frantzen. He has taken over the reigns without missing a step. Walking through their doors is like taking a step back in time a few decades, to a time when quality new make single malt was available for independent people to age as they saw fit. Thanks to long-term filling contracts from four different distilleries, they're able to age the spirit in their own sherry barrels, then taking those unique single malts and blending the barrels together to create something larger than the whole. "Each blend is like a recipe, you need to add just the right ingredients to create balance," Jean-Arnaud told us.

Since up to 70% of the flavor of a whisky comes from the wood, sourcing the best barrels possible to age whisky in is essential. Being fresh off the plane from Scotland and hearing about how finding quality wood was getting near impossible, this was on the forefront of our minds. The wood shortage is so bad these days, folks are using  3 year old barrels filled with inexpensive sweet sherry just to have something to put their Scotch in. There is so much of a demand for wood that producers are (I will not say scraping the bottom of the barrel) really desperate to find enough to meet their needs.

Jean-Arnaud is the rockstar of getting barrels.  It really doesn't get better than the cooperage in their cellar.

"What sort of cooperage do you age your barrels in?" 

"I have some good friends in Jerez who send me some good barrels."

That answered what was the understatement of the trip. His "friends" are the folks at Equipo Navasos, which for people who don't drink Sherry, are the absolute top of the top for the region. His latest barrel to arrive was a 40 freakin year old PX cask. 40, not barely turned three and emptied just as a vessel for the over burdened Scotch market. This is the big leagues of whisky aging.  


Now to what makes Michel Courveur so unique: the cellars. Think of Gollum's cave tucked away in a quaint little town in the Côte de Beaune. They have two separate cellars for the aging process; one dry cellar and one very murky, drippy and damp cellar that looks like it is should have the Count of Monte Cristo's gold hidden inside. Far and away the most unique cellar I have ever seen for storing whiskey. 

Dual climate control is not just for your fancy BWM any longer. The difference in humidity gives you some options when aging whisky. The dry area creates a whisky that is spicy and intense and that retains its alcohol level (which can be at high as 60%, hang on to your hats). The humid side of life has the opposite effect on the whisky, it lowers the alcohol percentage and allows the whisky to mellow out and soften its harsh corners. They have become masters of this delicate dance and have created whiskies that are both incredibly flavorful, intense, and soft all at the same time. 

There is simply nothing else like this we have ever come across. A unique blend of terroir's spanning the English Channel, that capture two words in perfect harmony. The expertise of the Scotch distilling prowess, and the ingenious blending and aging skills that have been fostered by the French for hundreds of years. We walked out of Michel Couvreur's cellars with a brand new appreciation for how masters at their craft can create something completely unique. 

-Kyle Kurani