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Bruno Michel "Blanche" Brut Champagne $34.99One of our best non-vintage Champagnes, this organically grown blend of half each Chardonnay and Meunier comes entirely from Bruno Michel's estate. It has been aged for six years on the lees and shows wonderful natural toasty quality as well as incredible vibrance! This was the big hit of our most recent staff Champagne tasting and we think you will love it 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.  

 

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

See all K&L Local Events

Archives
Friday
Sep192014

Cheese and Champagne

 

I took a break from sherry this week to drink Champagne! Thanks to our very own Gary Westby, I got my hands on a very special bottle of Champagne.  Earlier this week, with temperatures reaching into the 100’s in LA, I decided there could be nothing better to pass the time than to stay indoors, drink champagne, and eat some artisanal cheese.  The plan was to taste this champagne alongside three different styles of cheese and see which interacted best with each other.   As I popped my very special bottle of 2005 Launois "Spécial Club" Brut Blanc de Blancs Champagne $59.99, aromas of crème brûlée and caramel exploded out of the bottle making it evident that this Champagne is rich and decadent. The nose continued with toasty brioche, apple pie crust, figs, freshly roasted chestnuts and some slight chalky minerality. The palate is rich, yet there is more precision and minerality than on the nose. It shows hints of caramelized pears and apples, lemon peel and high acid, coupled with a frothy effervescence and a satisfying length.  Launois is one of very few champagne makers that still use old-vine massal-selected plants rather than the more commonly planted clones.  This 2005 “Special Club” comes from 100% Grand Cru Chardonnay, a very special Champagne at an incredible price.

 

For my tasting I picked up three cheese from The Cheese Store of Silver Lake; Délice de Bourgogne, St. Agur, and Livarot.  With three incredibly different cheeses, I began my delicious breakfast cheese and Champagne tasting.  

 

Délice de BourgogneDélice de Bourgogne is a bloomy rind, triple-creme cheese made in Burgundy, that has been well-known and loved by cheese connoisseurs for years.  My only reluctance in this purchase was the fact that I’d enjoyed this cheese countless times before but the cheesemonger informed me that the wheels they’ve been recently getting are more complex; with more mushroom and tertiary notes than usual.  A triple creme is at least 75% butter fat by law, so it’s extremely rich, buttery, and creamy.  A decadent pairing for a decadent wine.  Paired with the Launois, this combination was clean, and citrus driven; the acid in the cheese and the acid and frothy bubbles in the wine worked together to cut through the butter fat in the cheese.  The caramel flavors in the wine softened and sweetened the cheese, imparting a sweet mushroom and caramelized onion flavor to the cheese, while the cheese helped bring out the citrus and minerality in the wine.  Overall, I would say this was, classically, the best pairing.

  

Livarot, Normandy Next, I tried the Livarot  a stinky, washed-rind cheese made from cow’s milk that hails from Normandy and has been protected under an AOC since 1975.  It’s trademark is its orange rind wrapped in 3 or 4 raffia strips. It’s exceptionally pungent, with flavors of onions, crimini mushrooms, and barnyard.  I should warn you, eating the rind is not for the faint of heart, its ammonia characteristics could knock you out.   While I absolutely adore this cheese, the pair was disastrous.  This cheese was just too strong for a soft, rich Champagne.  It overpowered the wine and brought out some unwanted astringent flavors in the wine. It might pair better with something like the Caves Jean Bourdy Cremant du Jura Brut, which has more meaty, barnyard notes. With that said, pairing is very subjective (which is what makes it so fun), and my boyfriend thought this pairing was awesome. Try it for yourself and decide.


Saint Agur, BeauzacSaint Agur is easily one of my favorite cheeses in the world, hands down. It’s a double-creme blue, requiring at least 60 - 74% butterfat, and is almost as decadent as its triple-creme friend while still retaining a slightly strong and spicy characteristic from its blue veins. Even those who tend to avoid blue cheeses can get down with St. Agur.  It’s made in the region of Auvergne, where their economy has long been dependent on dairy farming but may now have some help from winemakers due to their recent gain of AOC status for Cotes d’Auvergne in 2011.  St. Agur’s double-creme status went well with the Launois for the same reasons the Délice de Bourgogne did, the butterfat complements the rich wine and the wine’s frothy bubbles cut through the fat nicely.  But the flavors that came out in both the wine and the cheese were of a fruity quality.  The pairing enhanced the notes of fig and dried fruits in both the wine and the cheese and drew out a chocolatey note from the cheese. This was a superb pairing and easily tied the Délice as my favorite cheese/Champagne pairing.  But, at the end of the day, the Délice wins the gold in classical cheese/Champagne pairings.

-Olivia Ragni

Wednesday
Sep172014

Spending Time with the Garys

"Buy the ticket, take the ride." --Hunter S. Thompson We didn't know what we were getting into at the end of our day with the Garys. Gary Pisoni invited us for a quick ride in his 1969 Jeep. What we thought was going to be a nice liesurly cruise became a record-setting ring around the vineyard. Hats flying off, phones flung in the air and three guys in the back seat wondering what they had got themselves into. It was an experience that none of us will ever forget, and I guess that 's the point. The hat and phone were found in the end and we went safely onto our next appointment.

Gary Franscioni's Roar wines were a real treat. Grown in SLH, made on Potrero Hill in San Francisco. The wines are very limited. New wines in March.

An amazing lunch at Pisoni Vineyards. Thank you Margarette Pisoni.

Many say that wine is best consumed with good food and good people. Both were in abundance at our lunch at Pisoni Vineyard. Margarette had sat out a wonderful spread for us all. Homemade lamb and pork sausages, a wonderful salad and one of the best pasta with red sauce most of us had tasted in a long time. Locally grown lamb chops and a nice selection of cheese was a perfect ending to a great meal. The foods went great with all the wines served.

Our hosts checking the wines before serving.

Once meant to be a winery, the caves are now the Pisoni party pad. What a table!

We were sorry not to be able to break bread on this amazing table inside what would have been the Pisoni winery if local officials would have approved it. It was such a beautiful day so we enjoyed our meal outside.

 

Lucia and Pisoni wines.

2012 Pisoni Vineyard 'Lucia', Santa Lucia Highlands Pinot Noir $ 74.99

2012 Lucia Santa Lucia Highlands Pinot Noir ($42.99)

2012 Lucia "Soberanes Vineyard" Santa Lucia Highlands Chardonnay ($49.99)

2012 Lucia Santa Lucia Highlands Chardonnay ($44.99)

2013 Lucia "Lucy" Santa Lucia Highlands Rosé of Pinot Noir ($16.99)


2013 Luli Santa Lucia Highlands Pinot Noir ($19.99)

2013 Luli Santa Lucia Highlands Chardonnay ($19.99)

2012 Luli Santa Lucia Highlands Syrah ($19.99)

 

The next generation at Pisoni. Mark Pisoni (left), Vineyard Manager for all Pisoni and Franchioni properties and Jeff Pisoni(right), winemaker for Pisoni, Lucia and Luli labels.

Monday
Sep152014

Big Basin Vineyard

Most of the K&L crew tasting with our host, Matt Ryan

It is difficult to hop from winery to winery e in the Santa Cruz Mountains, but those willing to brave steep dirt roads, 2,500 foot elevation climbs and winding mountainous terrain will find themselves in a fascinating appellation filled with high quality wines. The soil types here are some of the most diverse in California, with the San Andreas fault cutting right through the middle of the mountain appellation (you can see the fault rift right below Ridge’s Monte Bello Vineyard). The grinding of the tectonic plates is what created this area and gives Santa Cruz’s steep mountain vineyard slopes a rocky soil diversity filled with decomposed granite, limestone, schist and shale. The soil produces grapes of unique spice and intensity, and the vineyards’ high elevation keeps the grapes cool. It's the perfect recipe for world class viticulture, and this AVA has some of the most renowned Cabernet, Chardonnay and Pinot Noir around.  Thanks to Big Basin vineyards, Santa Cruz is also home to some of California's best Syrah.

As we were driving through this AVA (our cars covered in dust, our tires squeeling around tight turns and on large rocks, our traction slipping as we climbed steep mountain roads) I couldn't help but think about the insanity/tenacity of the people who first planted vines here about 150 years ago. Lincoln's homestead act of 1862 gave settlers the ability to own land in the west if they cultivated it for use. This inspired French pioneers to haul everything they needed up to the tops of these mountains, painstakingly clear away sloped fields of ancient trees, and plant the first vines of Santa Cruz.  Big Basin’s vineyard is a six-acre lot surrounded by redwoods and thick forest right next to Big Basin State Park.  First cleared and planted in the late 1800s, it was purchased by owner Bradley Brown in 1998 and planted entirely to Rhone varietals. 

A fantastic lineup of wines from Big Basin Vineyards

Thankfully, we didn't have to drive all the way down into Big Basin to taste these wines. They have a great tasting room in downtown Saratoga, along with several other wineries, and I suggest stopping by their room as a great start to your Santa Cruz Mountains tasting experience. While the Pinots they make from various vineyards are bright and delicious, including the Big Basin Vineyards "Alfaro Family Vineyard" Santa Cruz Mountains Pinot Noir ($44.99),  their real success is their Syrahs. Brad learned winemaking from Alban, and he took budwood from Alban to plant his vineyard: the only one in Santa Cruz planted 100% to Rhone varietals.  Their 2010 "Old Corral Block" Estate Syrah ($49.99) is dark and brooding, dominating the palate with dark earth and pepper.  This is real deal, big, structured Syrah with loads of tobacco, blackberry and beef stew flavors. The 2010 "Rattlesnake Ridge Block" Estate Syrah  is my personal favorite and a little more user friendly: with those gamey and peppery flavors softened by lush flavors of cassis and cherry.  Their 2009 "Frenchie's Ranch" Syrah is probably one of the best Syrahs in the country: a four barrel vineyard selection packed with dense cassis, strawberry, cedar, pepper and leather, with a big finish of mole and chili. Sadly, you can't get it from us; this wine is tasting room only!

The 2011 Big Basin Santa Cruz Mountains Cabernet Sauvignon ($38.99) is a one-time bottling and worth a taste.

Michael Barber