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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 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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A Year In The Trenches: Getting to Know the Vintage

Taking the first sip of the newly-arrived 2006 Bordeaux offerings today, I felt like I actually knew something about the wines. Having begun my wine education with a tasting of 2005 Bordeaux almost a year ago, there were obviously distinct differences, and those differences all of a sudden made perfect sense. The term “classic vintage” gets thrown around a lot on the sales floor here, and to someone like me, that doesn’t mean a whole lot unless you can clarify it with an example—more specifically two glasses, side by side, with both specimens ready to be compared and contrasted. Now that the new blood was beginning to trickle in, I was going to be able to take some time and do just that. The 2006 Seigneurs d’ Aiguille ($15.99) was tight and with structure, but underneath all that it showed great fruit. However, compared with the 2005, it was a completely different style of wine. The 2006 Caronne Ste-Gemme ($15.99) showed gentle red fruit aromas with lots of earth and grit, but it needed some serious time before I would consider pairing it with a steak. On the brighter side, the 2006 Malmaison ($17.99) gave off nice ripe fruit, but saying such a thing about a bottle from 2006 meant something completely different. While tasting with K&L owner Clyde Beffa, nearly every statement had to be qualified with something like, “Obviously not the same as ’05, but…” Now the distinctions were clear and all the “classic” references were understood. The new 2006 samples were graceful, elegant, and more importantly, reserved. They needed time in the cellar or in the decanter and they would definitely not be out-of-the-bottle drinkers like many of the ‘05s were. Being able to distinguish between vintages is an important skill to the wine professional, but if you haven’t tasted through them extensively, your depth of knowledge is going to be slim. There is a huge difference between having tasted a few bottles from each vintage and having tasted numerous bottles, from every region, over-and-over again over the course of a year. I say that not because I am an expert, but because I am far from one. However, even though I rarely drink Bordeaux at home, I can easily say that I know more about the ’05 vintage there than any other wine region in the world, mainly because we taste it at least once a month. Sometimes I think to myself, “This is all starting to taste the same to me,” but today was a wake-up call. All of a sudden, I could pick out distinct differences between the ’06 Clarke and its predecessor. Not merely matters of taste, but obvious characteristics that were due to weather and harvesting. The ’06 Clarke ($21.99) had magnificent structure, lots of grip, and it was obvious that it would develop slowly and gracefully. This all may seem far less than revelatory, but for me, the fact that I could make pin-point assessments between vintages was a major accomplishment made even more satisfying by the fact that I did it easily. The only way that this type of task is possible is through practice. Like speaking a foreign language, or playing a sport, the more you do it, the more it sticks. I’m not sure that this type of skill is necessary to enjoy a wine, but when helping a customer make a decision on an older bottle, it’s an essential one; the main reason being that not everyone wants the same type of Bordeaux. Even though 2005 is being hailed as the best vintage in decades, that doesn’t mean that everyone believes so. Ask around here at the store and you’ll find that many people prefer the 2004 vintage because of its more “classic” taste (again that word classic comes into play). Usually when I get called over into the old and rare section to discuss a possible gift purchase, I grab one of my more experienced colleagues because they are more familiar with the various vintages. Now, more than ever, this particular hands-on-knowledge appears so much more effective than just the run-of-the-mill vintage scoring chart. Just because some publications give a particular year in Bordeaux an 85 or a 92 seems irrelevant when talking about taste and expectations. If someone were to ask me for a recommendation about a nice bottle of Bordeaux for the cellar, I wouldn’t necessarily automatically go with the ’05 at this point, as I maybe would have done previously. Having tasted the ‘04s again, as well as a few ‘06s, and even a few more from the comparable 2000 vintage, I am more aware of what will happen inside these bottles and how they will develop. It seems so much more important to me now to be specific when recommending a certain vintage, rather than just obliging with the old “that’s a fantastic year” phrase. What does “a fantastic year” really imply about a wine? What does “a fantastic year” taste like? Do Pauillacs from “a fantastic year” taste like St-Emilions? I can answer any of those questions pertaining to 2005, but I become less sure of myself the farther back we go. What I am sure of, however, is that I will never again ask, “was 19— a good year?” Instead, I will inquire, “What kind of a year was it?” —David Driscoll

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