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Saber Madness at K&L!

We have been chopping off the tops of Champagne bottles as fast as we can drink them- who needs a stopper when you are ready to commit to finishing the bottle! One of our favorites was this magnum ($84.99) of Franck Bonville Brut Rosé that Mellyn expertly decapitated on Christmas Eve. It also comes in regular 750ml ($39.99) and half bottles ($21.99). Olivier Bonville adds 8% Pinot Noir Rouge from Ambonnay superstar Paul Dethune to his top class assembelage of grand cru, estate Chardonnay to create this fabulous rose. This is one of the most elegant, bright, refreshing rose Champagnes that we carry, yet it does not lack red cherry Pinot Noir authority. We can’t get enough- bring another to the block!

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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

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Friday
Mar062015

A Tale of Two Amantillados

 

Herederos de Argüeso was established in 1822 by León de Argüeso in Sanlucar de Barrameda only two years after his move to the city. He quickly prospered as a grocer and used his money to purchase the cellar of San Jose in the barrio bajo containing some very old soleras. Today, a team of bodegas belonging to Argüeso are situated in the same area, on the same street and have some stunning buildings that hold soleras with the original coffered ceilings from the 16th century convent that used to lie there. The barrio bajo is said to be unique due to its position that traps the humidity and salty sea air into the neighborhood thanks to the barrier created by the higher barrio alto. All of the Argüeso wines have a beautiful salinic and tangy character to them which can be attributed to the barrio bajo and proximity to the sea. León de Argüeso did not marry or have children, so he left his fortunes to his niece and nephew, thus the names Herederos (heirs) de Argüeso. The coolest part of it all.. the original solera systems León purchased (which were already fairly old) are still in production today, and said to be up to 250 years old. The wines of Argüeso are difficult to get on the export markets.


I know what you’re thinking, 'why would you tell me that story about this fantastic producer if I can’t even get their sherry?'.....That’s exactly how Joe Manekin, our sherry buyer, and Alexander Russan of Alexander Jules felt, so they sought out to remedy this problem.


K&L and Alexander Jules (a local Sherry importer and bottler) teamed up to get Argüeso to California. Together they went to Sanlucar and were tasked with the difficult, and simply agonizing chore of tasting 27 barrels of very old and rare (VORS) Argüeso Amontillado in order to determine which bota was their favorite. Very old and rare indeed, this 27 barrel solera is an average of 50-60 years old!! Ultimately Joe and Alex chose two bota (barrels), bottling each as single barrel Amontillados. There is a very limited amount of this stuff considering you are only legally allowed to remove a bit less than 10% of the wine from each bota. After days and days of tasting and eating copious amounts of jamon, they finally returned with two gorgeous and rare Amontillados:


The Alexander Jules Amontillado "Singular" K&L Single Barrel 4/27 Sanlucar de Barrameda, which is the more feminine expression of the two with notes of fresh ground espresso, cocoa and dark chocolate, white flowers and old books. The palate certainly shows its fino roots with fresh, high-toned brightness, apple skins and tons of salinity. Finishing with roasted hazelnuts, toffee, apricots and a full yet elegant round body. On the other hand, the Alexander Jules Amontillado "Singular" K&L Single Barrel 19/27 Sanlucar de Barrameda is more masculine with an intense nose of smoked almonds, deep dark roasted coffee, salted caramel, dried figs and prunes. The palate is bit chubbier and meatier with even more intense notes of salinity, espresso beans, toffee and caramel.


There were only about 65 bottlings of each the 4/27 and the 19/17 and there are very few bottles left to be had. A rare chance to taste not only Argüeso but single barrel bottlings of a very old solera.


For more information on the collaboration visit Joe’s original post about his trip.

-Olivia Ragni

 

 

 

 

 

Friday
Mar062015

Charles & Piper Greats at Tamarine

Offering a 20 year old tete de cuvee as current release... That is a statement!

The Champagne buying job at K&L is a good one and I am so happy to being back to fit enough to do it properly. Cinnamon and I were invited to a great dinner at Tamarine Restaurant in Palo Alto by Romain Pianet who manages the US market for Charles and Piper Heidsieck last week, and once again I was blown away by the wines. Romain was in town for the Oscars, as Piper Heidsieck was selected as the official Champagne this year, and made it up North to check on the San Francisco market with brand ambassador Kyle Kaplan and salesman extraordinaire Mr. Scott Winkler.

The high end Vietnamese cuisine of Tamarine is magic with Champagne, and I have been lucky enough to be invited to several dinners there including a very memorable meal with Moet winemaker Elise Losfelt. We started off the evening with the Charles Heidsieck "Rosé Reserve" Brut Champagne ($69.99) and got caught up. One of the best pieces of news that I heard from Romain is that prices will not be going up on Piper and Charles. The rose reserve was in a round and charming style, but had the chalky spine to balance out the extra richness. The Champagne had ripe dark cherry flavors and a supple texture… I need to drink this more often.

For appetizers we had the Tamarine Taste and some of the crab and garlic noodles and Romain poured the 2002 Piper-Heidsieck "Cuvée Rare" Brut Champagne ($144.99) to go with them. This wine showed even fresher than the last time I had it in August, and this new disgorgement must be at a lower dosage than past releases. It went very well with the variety of flavors on the table, showing as well with the spring rolls as it did with the beef and papaya salad. I found it graceful, bright and airy with more vivacious youth than one would expect for a 13 year old wine, but still filled with complexity when studied.

I had a very good pork dish (it was its last night on the menu!) for my main course, while everyone else went with fish. Romain served up the 1995 Charles Heidsieck "Blanc des Millénaires" Brut Champagne ($169.99) which is still in current release at 20 years old. This bottle had it all- it would be impossible to ask for more out of Champagne. It is a blend of special plots in the Grand Crus of the Cote des Blancs, but also has some of the top 1er cru of Vertus in the blend. It was a creamy, integrated, round, nutty tour de force that has arrived at a point of beautiful mellow maturity. I think this has the balance to go for many years to come, but they won’t have it forever. Although he has been sworn to secrecy on the vintage that will be released next, he said that it will be a very big jump- more than 10 years- so get this 1995 while you can!

A toast to you!

Thursday
Mar052015

Akitu's Remarkable Pinot Noirs

I recently read about a new producer in New Zealand’s Central Otago region named Akitu. They are 100% dedicated to producing Pinot Noir off one tiny vineyard site high on the slopes of Mt. Barker close to the bucolic town of Wanaka. I immediately reached out to owner Andrew Donaldson to taste and explore the possibilities of working with his wines. The samples soon arrived and before I could even open them I was already quite taken by the slick package and label design…now I am not one for judging a book (or a bottle of wine for that matter) by it’s cover, but credit where credit is due…these look smart.

Thankfully once opened things only got better. The 2013 Akitu “A1” Pinot Noir is one of the most profound bottles I have tasted in quite some time. The wine is defined by precision, tension, coiled power and subtle intensity. It speaks very strongly of its schist soil origins. The wine is incredibly pure and dynamic on the palate. It is not overly fleshy or extracted but linear and perfectly poised. You can feel the terroir as much as taste it. This wine is about energy and vibrancy. Sure it delivers fantastic Pinot Noir varietal fruit flavors, ripe berries, exotic spice, earth…but this wine is so much more than that, it’s hard to describe, it’s something that needs to be experienced. I also believe we are only seeing the tip of the iceberg with this wine and that the best is yet to come as the tight, compact layers of flavor and texture unfold. 

“Akitu” (meaning “summit” in Māori) comes from a unique site. The vines are planted on a perfect north facing slope, 1600ft up on the on the north west aspect Mt. Barker. In a place like Central Otago that is inherently quite remote…these vines are further defined by their loneliness.  This is not an area bustling with vineyards like the hillsides of Bannockburn or along the shores of Lake Dunstan…these are a few acres of vines perched on lone mountain within a windswept alpine valley over shadowed by the snowcapped mountains of the Southern Alps. When I see someone toiling over a site like this, a tricky, labor intensive, on the edge of grape growing site...I am drawn to the wines, because there must be some reason why that person is persisting, they must truly believe they have something special. Founder Andrew Donaldson only started labeling his own wine in 2012 after selling off fruit for 10 years while he waited for his vines to mature and truly speak of their terroir (something we rarely see in this day and age). 

When Andrew was ready to start putting his own name to these wines he recruited heralded wine maker and kiwi native PJ Charteris to help tease the best expression from his land. PJ has a very serious resume of former winemaking positions including time with Adelsheim, Flowers Estate, Penfolds and most recently served as icon Brokenwood’s Head Winemaker in Australia’s Hunter Valley for 12 years, during which time he was awarded Winemaker of the Year!  This combination of special site and talented winemaker is working wonders for Akitu. The wines are really shining.

Beyond the black label “tête de cuvée” A1 Pinot, we also have Akitu’s white label “A2” bottling. The 2013 Akitu "A2" Pinot Noir offers exceptional value and quality for money. Most Pinot lovers will know that due to the fickle nature of this seductive varietal it is very difficult to find great Pinot Noir for close to $20...it is also almost unheard of to produce noteworthy Central Otago Pinot Noir for this price. The yields are painfully low, farming is very labor intensive…thankfully our direct relationship with Hawkesbury Estate / Atiku has allowed K&L to bring you this wine for a seriously economical price point. This wine is deliberately styled in a more forward, open style bursting with ripe berry fruits, hard ground spices like nutmeg and clove from the whole bunch inclusion, crushed rocks and wild Thyme. The palate has plenty of soft accessible fruit up front, but it is also very long and drawn out on the palate by the wines lovely fresh acidity and fine powdery tannins. A delicate kiss of oak helps polish this gem but does not detract from its purity. All the fruit is still hand-picked from the estate and crafted in the same way and the premier label. Whilst this wine does not provide the lucid insight into this incredible terroir that is afforded by Akitu's "A1" Pinot Noir...it does provide the imbiber instant gratification and a fantastically expressive bottle of classy Pinot Noir at an incredibly reasonable price. This fantastic into in to Akitu’s wines was recently awarded a Pure Elite Gold Medal at the Air New Zealand Wine Awards (NZ’s biggest and most prestigious wine competition).

I entreat you to check out these new additions to our selection and I hope you find them as compelling as I do.

Cheers, 

Ryan Woodhouse - K&L New Zealand Wine Buyer