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With the James Bond movie Spectre being released today, no time could be better to drink Bollinger. The most suave spy in the world has been sipping on Bollinger since Moonraker in 1979. While we can’t all drive a fully loaded, customized machine gun having Aston Martin, we certainly can chill down a bottle of Bolli! The 2004 Bollinger "Grande Année" Brut Champagne ($109) is as good as Champagne gets; all barrel fermented and full of masculine, Pinot Noir power and high class elegance. We even have a few bottles of the limited 2009 Bollinger "James Bond 007" Brut Champagne ($195) in stock for the diehard fan of Bond & Champagne!

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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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Petit Lion!

The Petit Lion of Las Cases, with Morsel, the Petit Lion of Menlo Park

I have no problem admitting that I am a cat person. That being said, I never thought that I would be compelled to buy a wine because of a well executed critter label. The Petit Lion on the 2009 Petit Lion Marquis de Las Cases, Saint-Julien ($59.99) was just too darn adorable to resist and I bought it and brought it home.

I can rationalize the purchase easily; Las Cases is the undeniable super 2nd of super 2nd’s and routinely beats out the 1st growths in any vintage that they don’t bring their A game. Even the 1993 Las Cases is a wine of tremendous majesty and balance- these folks have the midas touch. It is a 245 acre property at the north end of St. Julien that shares a long border with Chateau Latour to the north and surrounded on the other sides by Barton and Poyferre. A good address!

The Petit Lion Marquis de Las Cases is the 2nd wine of the property while the Clos du Marquis has been a single vineyard wine (made from a walled vineyard within the greater estate) for many years now. It is composed of about one third Cabernet Sauvignon and two thirds Merlot, with a smattering of Cabernet Franc. It sees the same expensive oak treatment and lavish care as the first wine, as the selection is made just before bottling for this and the grand vin.

Cinnamon and I don’t usually drink our claret this young, but the purity and balance of this big, powerful wine won us over. This is clean, pure, dark fruited, decadently vanilla kissed Bordeaux that had an exceptional seamless texture. We had it with a prime, bone in, dry aged rib-eye steak, potatoes and padron peppers, all done in the cast iron pan. As usual, the combination of top class beef and top class Bordeaux did not disappoint. If I had more of this big St. Julien I would wait until its 10th birthday to open it, but I am glad that cute little lion drew me in!

Gary Westby


Champagne Summit 2015

Previewing the 2007 Cristal is all in a days work.

This Tuesday, K&L’s Champagne team gathered in our Redwood City headquarters for our 4th annual staff summit. Scott Beckerley came down from San Francisco and Mari flew in from Hollywood to join Kyle and I for an epic day of tasting and information gathering on most of the grand marque Champagne that we sell. By the end of the day we had met with the representatives of 13 houses, tasted 48 Champagnes worth a total of $5148.65. It was a good day in the wine business, and I would like to share a few highlights with you.

Champagne Louis Roederer’s Cristal is legendary and it was a huge treat for the team to taste the sun kissed, open knit 2006 to a preview bottle of the precise 2007 vintage. Before we got to the Cristal, we tasted the show stealing Louis Roederer "Brut Premier" Champagne ($39.99). If you haven’t tasted this lately, make it a priority. Roederer uses their extraordinary advantage of being the largest independent vineyard holder in Champagne (590 acres!) to craft a wine of spectacular complexity and finesse. This is one of the best values in the store, not just out of the grand marque Champagnes, but out of ANY WINE.

Cristal, as many of the readers of these pages know is made from an estate within the Roederer estate, from the chalkiest, mid slope sites populated by old vines, mostly farmed organically. The 2006 Louis Roederer "Cristal" Brut Champagne ($199) is a blend of 55% Pinot Noir and 45% Chardonnay with 20% of the wine fermented in large wood foudres. The warm, ripe vintage shows through in the wine, which is the most precocious and ready to drink young Cristal that I have had. I found it very creamy and layered, but the quality of the chalky terroir still defines this wine. It is as intricate and polished as they come.

By contrast the 2007 Louis Roederer "Cristal" Brut Champagne (coming soon) is the most electric vintage of this great wine since the 1996. It is composed of 58% Pinot Noir and 42% Chardonnay with 15% fermented in large wood foudres. The 2007 vintage was marked by an almost unprecedented early budding of the vines, and although the rest of the growing season wasn’t particularly hot, the grapes were mature in August! 2007 is the only high acid August harvest in the history of Champagne, but given the march of climate change, certainly not the last. I found this Cristal crackling, vibrant and concentrated, and think it will prove great after another five or so years in the cellar. This is a wine that is all about chalk and precision right now, so if you open one soon, have the oysters ready!

A big basket of corks, and lots of notes for one day!

Web Bond showing the amazing 2002 Pol Roger Winston Churchill

One of the very few 2002 vintage wines in current release from Champagne is the fabulous 2002 Pol Roger "Cuvée Sir Winston Churchill" Brut Champagne ($225). This is the ultimate in masculine style Champagne; stuffed, broad, dense and serious. Pol Roger does not use any wood whatsoever in their cellar, yet the scale of these seems greater than even the 100% wood producers. They won’t reveal the exact composition of the Winston, but call it “Pinot dominant” which would qualify as a great understatement. This wine is loaded with savory black cherry Pinot fruit and chalky acidity for the ages. Too bad they only make 10 press loads, and only in the greatest vintages!

The 2004 Bollinger showed off all the virtues of this classic vintage!

Another famous producer of “masculine” style Champagne is Bollinger in Ay, and we got a chance to check in on the range. The 2004 Bollinger "Grande Année" Brut Champagne ($109) is a wine of great balance, and stood out in a great field of bottles. It is composed of 66% Pinot Noir and 44% Chardonnay from 88% Grand Cru and 22% Premier cru vineyards, and aged on its lees on a cork instead of a crown cap. This wine is full of the toasty, autolytic character that vintage Champagne fans love and focused by the classic drive and acidity of the 2004 harvest. If you like Champagne that is long, dry and powerful and demand something that can drink tonight or for many years to come, this is a great bottle.

750's and magnums- an illuminating comparison!

The most educational moment of the entire day was a classic Champagne comparison. We had a chance to pit a truly excellent 750ml bottle of Krug "Grande Cuvée" Brut Champagne ($149.99) to the transcendent magnum ($399). The 750 (Krug ID 114010) showed the way one would expect from Krug and was close to perfection. It was based on 2006 with 11 vintages going back to 1990 and had  very nutty, nougat like deep and vinous personality that was rich and complex without having any trace of sweetness. The magnum (Krug ID 412049) didn’t seem to have any room to be better, but it was. This wine was based on 2005 and composed of 12 vintages also going back to 1990. My notebook is filled with a stream of adjectives; brioche, savory, saline, almonds etc. etc… The conclusion is simple: A big step up in richness and in transparency- more of the good stuff from long ageing and a huge step up in freshness. Find a friend or two and drink one. You’ll be glad you did!

A toast to you!

Gary Westby


Champagne Standards Back In Stock

It's that time of year again! The big players of K&L's direct import Champagne program are back in stock and ready for your Fall celebratory needs. The labels we've spent the last decade building into recognizable names—Bonville and Launois—are in the store, stacked at the ends of the aisle, just waiting to be tossed into your basket. I didn't waste any time this week. I grabbed a bottle of the Launois Grand Cuvee and the Bonville Blanc de Blanc, threw them into the ice bucket, and camped out on the couch this weekend. It was time to get my bubble action on.

If you're new to K&L and you've never heard of Launois or Bonville, I'll give you the ten second spiel. Big house Champagnes like Veuve Cliquot or Dom Perignon are made by blending together many different wines; purchased from growers small and large throughout the Champagne region. Some growers don't even make their own namesake cuvee, foresaking the actual winemaking for the ease of selling their precious grapes in one fell swoop. Many producers sell part of their harvest, but keep some of it back to make their own Champagne. We call these folks grower/producers. Bonville and Launois are two of our most popular grower/producers here at K&L and in both cases we are able to purchase the Champagne directly; meaning we cut down on middleman fees (and that means cheaper prices for you!). You won't find two better Champagnes for the money at our stores:

Franck Bonville Grand Cru Blanc de Blancs Champagne $34.99 - Perhaps the most exciting value in the store right now! This wine is based on the 2011 harvest, which was a difficult one for Olivier Bonville. He took extreme measures to ensure the quality of his entry-level wine, and made the best non-vintage that he has ever released. His entire 2011 high-end production was declassified into this wine; he will make no Belles Voyes, Vintage, or Prestige and has instead put all of his top-class, mid-slope, old-vine production into the regular bottling and the base for the rosé. It is composed of entirely estate-grown, grand cru Chardonnay including 50% reserve wines from 2010 and 2009. The nose is effusive, with baguette, white flowers and a nice salinity, while the flavors have a fine balance of white fruit, cream and precise Avize chalk. It is dosed at 8.3 grams per liter and is very, very long finishing. Don't miss this. The Underground Wine Letter also rates this wine Outstanding Plus: "This is a terrific Champagne with great balance, flavor and style and it is a real value. Pale yellow in color the wine has a lovely perfume with hints of peach and citrus and faint floral nuances accented by a kiss of vanilla. Creamy and very flavorful, this is a Champagne that is very harmonious showing subtle hints of peach, citrus, and spice. Elegant and long on the finish this is gorgeous to drink now or keep for many years."

Launois "Cuvée Reserve" Brut Blanc de Blancs Champagne $34.99 - This spectacular Champagne is one of the most sought-after in France, and Launois' cult status made it very difficult for us to make a purchase. We lucked out, and now we buy it directly, passing massive savings on to you. This house is from Mesnil, the southernmost Grand Cru in Champagne and home to Salon and Krug's Clos de Mesnil. This Champagne is all Chardonnay and all Grand Cru from the villages of Mesnil, Oger, Cramant and Avize--a roll call of the finest crus for Chardonnay in all of Champagne and all Veritas-certified for sustainable agriculture. It is aged for more than three years on the lees after an iron vat vinification. The aromatics of this Champagne are like polished white Burgundy with a touch of pine nut and minerals. The flavors are broad and rich. This is serious wine, with small bubbles and a refreshing finish.

-David Driscoll