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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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Thursday
Jan162014

New K&L Burgundy Exclusives

As you all know, this isn't my official department (I buy all the booze), but I have taken a side role as the Burgundy assistant here in the Redwood City store due to my insatiable thirst for it. I figured our buyer Keith could use the help as he's usually answering phones and I'd pick up some pointers along the way. It's exciting to learn about, so I figured I'd share some of those lessons here on the blog for those interesting in learning a bit more as well.

As I mentioned before in the Comp Lit post, there's a finite amount of wine in Burgundy (about 62,000 acres) and the best wines are never brands, but rather vineyards. Due to Napoleonic inheritance laws, the best vineyards can be split between more than 100 different owners--many of whom sell their small lot (sometimes no more than a few vines) to negociants who blend them to make larger batches. For example, if they can get twenty different Gevrey-Chambertin producers to sell them grapes they can dump all the wine into one cuvee and still call it "Gevrey-Chambertin." That way they can sell 400 cases of one wine, rather than twenty different versions of it with different labels. However, much like with whisky today, there's a growing desire among consumers to taste the wine directly from the grower, rather than as part of a greater blend.

Finding small producers with whom we can work directly is our bread and butter here at K&L. Our wine model was the basis for what David and I set out to do in the whiskey department. Finding them in Burgundy, however, with demand already high and supply so very low, isn't easy. Most wines are spoken for long in advance and most producers already have contracts with a larger importer. Keith, however, has managed to find some outstanding growers from whom we can purchase directly and offer outstanding value to our customers. Two of them, Jacques Bavard and Chateau de la Charriere, were featured in today's staff tasting as we just received a huge shipment of new 2011 vintage wines. There was a ton of great wine in that bar this morning. If you're like me--interested in Burgundy, but not quite ready to start investing in $100 bottles you can't drink for ten years--then you might want to check some of these out. 2011 is looking to be one of the better vintages for the money, especially considering that the 2013 vintage--with its hail storms that destroyed a number of vineyards--will likely limit supplies for the future.

Your money always goes farther at K&L when you buy the direct-import stuff (because no one has ever heard of it). Before you start picking off the big guns, start with these more reasonably-priced selections to get more bang for your buck.

2011 Château de la Charrière Bourgogne Chardonnay Domaine Yves Girardin $14.99 - There's a lot of wine for your money in this bottle. It's earthier on the entry, but slowly eases into a rich and mineral-laden palate that finishes cleanly and with finesse. It's much more than a simple drinker. It's a hint of what makes white Burgundy what it is.

2011 Château de la Charrière Savigny-les-Beaune Blanc "Vermots Dessus" Domaine Yves Girardin $23.99 - I'm always a big fan of this wine every vintage. It's so light on its feet and fresh on the finish, but without sacrificing flavor or complexity. There's not nearly as much richness or texture as most fuller-bodied Burgundian whites, but there's a fresh fruit and floral note on the finish, possibly added by the small percentage of pinot blanc in the mix. Lovely stuff.

2011 Château de la Charrière Bourgogne Rouge Domaine Yves Girardin $15.99 - The pinot noir fruit for this wine comes from the village of Marange, which is south of the Cote de Nuits, near Santaney. It's important because it's where the so-called "Golden Slope" comes to an end--meaning the chalky limestone in the soil (part of what makes great Burgundy wines what they are) turns more brown. It's not so much a lesser wine growing area as it is just unknown. That's why you only have to pay $15.99 for this little gem. It's juicy and full of dark berries on the nose with a bit of structure and an earthiness on the palate. I love it for the price.

If you're Google-searching Yves Girardin, don't get him confused with his brother Vincent who is a big negociant in the region. Yves is a grower who and the wines are domaine-bottled.

2011 Château de la Charrière Pommard "Cuvee Tradition" Domaine Yves Girardin $34.99 - This is a combination of wines from four different sites around Pommard, from whom Girardin was able to source fruit. The nose is pure cherry with a meaty and savory note on the palate, along with dark fruit. It's mineral on the finish, almost with a hint of graphite. It's good now. It will be great in a few years and, compared to the $60 price tags we usually see for Pommard, it's a steal.

2011 Jacques Bavard Bourgogne Blanc $21.99 - A complete and utter steal. This is seamless wine. This wine should serve as the definition of what that means. It means it starts with fresh acidity, transitions flawlessly into rich texture and soft fruit, and then morphs into mineral and saline notes on the finish without a hitch. Top notch Chardonnay that left most of the staff buzzing.

2011 Jacques Bavard Monthelie Rouge $29.99 - This is always one of the staff's favorite wines and it's easy to see why. Just a gorgeous nose of fresh cranberry, a vibrant acidity on the mid-palate, and a fresh, fruity finish. Monthelie is a small village that lies between the better-known communes of Volnay and Auxey-Duresses in the Cote de Beaune. There are fifteen premier cru sites in Monthelie, but I've never tasted a wine from them as pretty as this Bavard.

Bavard is an interesting producer because he doesn't own most of the land from which he makes his wine, but he doesn't sharecrop either. Instead, he buys rows or specific plots from vineyards and then manages those sections to his own specific standards. In Burgundy this is called sur piece. It gives Bavard estate-like control without control of the estate. If he wants to pick earlier or later he's not reliant on the decisions of the grower.

2011 Jacques Bavard Meursault $41.99 - Meursault seems to get more expensive every vintage, as Burgundy fans are flocking to its richer mouthfeel and pronounced character. I'm not always a fan of that extra richness, but I found Bavard's version quite striking. It's clean on the entry with fresh fruit flavors and zippy acidity before moving later into richer, nutty flavors of toasted almond and mineral accents. I would be hard pressed to keep my hands off of this one, even though I know it will taste better in a few years. Great wine.

We have many more wines from Charriere and Bavard, so check out the website. These were just some of my personal favorites.

-David Driscoll

Friday
Jan102014

Tuna Timbale- Very Tasty with Champagne

Cinnamon went two fisted- Champagne and Sake!

As many of you who follow Champagne Friday’s know, I am a huge fan of grabbing some sushi to go and pairing it with Champagne. Japanese cuisine and Asian cuisine in general, is not something I feel very qualified to prepare. Traditional French, Italian and American cuisine is much more in my wheel house. Earlier this year, I bought a set of Hon Kasumi Japanese knives which was an extra big splurge since I am left handed. While I use these for mostly Western cooking applications (they don’t mind!) I have started to experiment with some Japanese dishes as well.

One simple recipe that goes very well with Champagne is a tuna, avocado and rice timbale that I found on our Zojurushi rice cookers website. I was very impressed at how much excellent umami flavor from the tuna, creamy richness from the avocado and satisfying filling from the rice this super easy recipe delivered. This dish goes fabulously with Champagne, and works with everything from an austere Extra Brut like the Bruno Michel "Rebelle" Extra Brut Champagne to a rich, all Meunier vintage like the 2006 Michel Loriot "Pinot Meunier Vieilles Vignes" Brut Champagne that we had it with in the picture above. Last night we paired it with the Michel Arnould Verzenay "Brut Reserve" Champagne and the dish made the Pinot element in the wine sing.

I made a couple of changes to the original recipe, and chose to cut the tuna into very thin slices since I was excited to see how close to transparent I could get them with my new sashimi knife. I also fanned the avocado rather than cutting it into chunks since I think that brings out the creaminess in them. I put the tuna on top of the timbale (bottom of the ramekin) since I wanted to show it off. I still have a long way to go with my fish cutting… Knife skills classes are in my future for sure!

The plastic wrap is a little difficult to get into the ramekins, but makes getting the finished timbale out very, very easy. I think cutting the tuna and avocado into chunks would have suited my limited chopstick skills better, but I love the way cutting the tuna thin helps to get the most flavor out of the smallest portion of the most expensive ingredient.

I served the timbale with some cucumber that I had sliced thin and marinated in rice wine vinegar with salt and pepper. Cinnamon made a beet and micro green salad with crispy onions and a mayonnaise based dressing to balance it all out. I hope you’ll try this… It is great with Champagne!

Gary Westby

Thursday
Jan022014

Champagne Friday: Best of 2013

Gary's #4 Champagne Experience of the year- Cepages d'Antan and Caviar!

Happy New Year Champagne lovers! For my first Champagne Friday entry of 2014, I would like to reflect on some of the great experiences that I have been fortunate to have in 2013. Looking back through my notes (three Moleskine’s worth) it is hard not to feel blessed by Bacchus, and I had to leave many great bottles out. In a professional capacity, I do my best to be objective… For my top 10 list I have made no such attempt. These are Champagne experiences, and I have not tried to separate them from the context that made them so enjoyable. Thank you all so much for the support this year, and I hope we will all get the chance to enjoy more deliscious Champagne in 2014! Here is my list.

#10- 2002 Launois "Spécial Club" Brut Blanc de Blancs Champagne: My friend Jeff invited Cinnamon up to his fabulous house in the Santa Cruz Mountains for a pig roast on the fourth of July, and we brought this bottle for the aperitif. Surrounded by more natural beauty than my limited powers could describe in the middle of the forest of the Niscene Marks, with a pig roasting over a wood fire and so many great friends, most wine would taste good. The 2002 Club added a lot to the occasion; it was a giant, rich, decadent blanc des blancs with fresh summer nectarine fruit and pure chalk to snap it into balance. Life does not get better than basting a pig with a freshly cut bay leaf branch and sipping on this Mesnil powerhouse!

 

Vintage Krug and Foie Gras: It works every time.#9- 2000 Krug Brut Champagne: Some have you may have read the post from this summer on this great bottle, and the experience has really stuck in my mind. My favorite pairing with Krug is contraband Foie Gras, and I was able to score a torchon from my connection in New York to go with this bottle. The Champagne showed its crackling Chardonnay side with the liver, and incredible nutty depth on the nose. This wine is still a baby, but very hard to resist right now.

#8 1969 Franck Bonville "Millesime" Brut Blanc de Blancs Champagne: This year, Cinnamon and I were invited to a once in a life time, 20 vintage retrospective tasting going all the way back to 1959 at the Bonville cellars in Avize. While nearly every bottle showed great, the 1969 and the 1964 stood out as some of the best I have ever tasted. Both of these vintages came from a time in Champagne before the new clones were planted and before the wines aged on crown caps during their tirage… A different era! The 1969 had a medium gold color, and a massive nose of drawn butter and ripe pineapple. It was super full and rich and had a double finish- first of great ripe fruit, and then of high class chalk.

#7 1964 Franck Bonville "Millesime" Brut Blanc de Blancs Champagne: This wine, from the same tasting, comes from one of the best vintages of the 20th century. It was still light straw in color, and even had a flash of green! The bouquet was layered with baguette, white flowers and cream. The ’64 still has all of its freshness intact but time has given it beguiling complexity on a medium bodied, perfectly put together frame. The finish was endless and full of chalky detail.

Cinnamon Westby & Olivier Krug#6 1988 Krug Brut Champagne: Drinking 1988 Krug with Olivier Krug turned out to be even better than it sounds. I was incredibly blessed to be invited to a lunch at the Krug House and had a wonderful time tasting the range with Olivier and sharing a great meal. The 1988’s are my favorite vintage for current drinking, and share a classic Champagne drive and energy to go with the complexity that time has given them. The Krug was brassy in color and full of chanterelle and cream on the big bouquet and had plenty of nutty Pinot Noir fruit on the palate. The finish was very focused and long, and the acid was in perfect balance. What a bottle!

Manressa's Sea Bream Sashimi#5 Franck Bonville "Belles Voyes" Brut Blanc de Blancs Champagne: I try and take Cinnamon out to a special dinner every year before I leave for my spring trip to taste the vin clair in Champagne, and this year we went to Manresa restaurant in Los Gatos. We hired a driver since we knew this was going to be a long meal and one bottle was going to cut it. We brought the Belles Voyes and bought an incredible 2006 Comtes Lafon Volnay 1er Cru Santenots du Milieu off their spectacular list. The pairing of the Bonville with the sea bream sashimi was so good that it made both almost take on halos… It was a glowing synergy of wine and food that I won’t ever forget. The Belles Voyes manages to combine big texture, ripeness and richness with chalky minerality on the level of the most austere extra bruts. It has it all.

#4 Ariston Aspasie "Cepages d'Antan" Brut Champagne: I don’t have to strain my memory for this- I drank it on New Years’ Eve with some excellent caviar from K&L favorite Kelly’s Catch. Cinnamon made fresh buckwheat blini, and K&L’s Doug Burress, his charming wife Corey and I all devoured them. The high toned, exotic Cepages d'Antan was the perfect foil for the nutty richness of the caviar and I felt that pairings just don’t get much better. Arbanne, Meslier and Pinot Blanc are as rare as hens teeth in Champagne, and I feel like I impact world supply with the amount that I consume. I’ll have to find a way to get over the guilt!

Birth year wine on my birthday!#3 1973 René Collard "Cuvee Reservee Millesime" Brut Champagne: This was the wine of the night for me on my fortieth birthday, a huge treat from my fathers’ cellar. Cinnamon, my friend Henry (also a 1973!), my dad and I had all gone up to Tomales Bay and we drank this as the aperitif in our little rental on the water. This Champagne was so full of white truffles that it could have been from Piedmont… The nose alone would have put it on my top 10 for the year. Like the other 73’s that I have had from Champagne it was medium to light bodied and very graceful. The Braeburn apple fruit and top notch hazelnut flavors came together on the effortlessly long finish… I couldn’t help but notice that it was far fresher and better preserved than I am!!!!

Jim Westby and 1964 Loriot disgorged that morning!#2 1964 Michel Loriot Vintage Brut Champagne (disgorged circa 1973): As I mentioned in the note on the Bonville, the 1964 vintage is one of the top harvests of the 20th century in Champagne. When my father and I visited Michel Loriot this April, we were dumbstruck when he offered us not one, but two dazzling wines from this vintage to taste and compare. I will never forget this incredibly generous moment… It was one of the highlights of my career in the wine business. Michel had discovered this old disgorgement while cleaning up the cellar, and was curious to compare it to a bottle that he disgorged that morning and he shared the experience with us. This wine was like a great old vintage of Corton, with savory complexity that wine so rarely achieves. It had very intense red cherry fruit and still some matchstick aromas. If this had been served to me flat in a black glass I would have guessed great old Burgundy for sure, but with the bubbles it was even better.

#1 1964 Michel Loriot Vintage Brut Champagne (disgorged 4/2/13 and consumed the same day): When comparing perfectly stored Champagne that has been aged on the cork to fresh disgorgements, I usually prefer the cork aged. This was the exception to the rule, but it was very close… Having two bottles like this side by side was almost too much for me. The color was darker in this freshly disgorged bottle, and the wine had a lot more pressure. The bouquet was toastier, and the wine was fresher on the finish, giving up only a little bit of savory depth to the old disgorgement. This wine had subtlety and integration that put it in the league of the very best drinks to ever pass my lips. It left me speechless.