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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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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.  


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>>Upcoming Special Events, Dinners, and Tastings

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Domaine Renaud: Great Value from the South of Burgundy

Mireille Renaud in front of her giant German foudres.

Last month Trey, Alex and I had the opportunity to visit Mireille Renaud at her property in the Macon. She runs this 50 acre property with her husband Pascal making very high quality Chardonnay. Since we buy these wines direct from the property, they are also a spectacular value. If you like clean, expressive, easy to drink white Burgundy, these wines are bound to impress.

The fastest selling wine from this property is the 2014 Domaine Renaud Mâcon-Solutré ($13.99) which matches fine peachy richness to excellent, near Chablis like minerality. I love the bright back end cut of this high class Chardonnay. Your guests will never guess this is a sub $20 wine… It has fantastic balance and poise!

The 2014 Domaine Renaud Mâcon-Charnay ($13.99) is the best crossover wine from California to Burgundy in the whole store. It has all of the plump richness that people love in California wine, but without the oak, residual sugar or excessive alcohol. This is our number one recommendation for party Chardonnay, as it will be plenty refreshing while still having the breadth and richness that people love. It is great for a mixed group and inexpensive enough for Tuesday night!

While not marked as such on the label, the 2014 Domaine Renaud St-Véran ($18.99) is a single vineyard wine. All of the fruit comes from the Champs de Perdrix site in St. Veran. This is very luscious for white Burgundy, with plenty of ripe, round rich white fruit and plenty of body. Fans of bigger wines will be very pleased with this big style St. Veran. Don’t worry, it still finishes dry!

The jewel in the crown of our Renaud selection is the 2014 Domaine Renaud Pouilly-Fuissé "Cuvée Vieilles Vignes" ($19.99) which comes from vineyards that are 50-80 years old. This ripe, perfumed, exotic beauty of a Chardonnay has a soft feel in the mouth, but stays marvelously light bodied. If you are looking for a classy white Burgundy experience that doesn’t cost a mint, this is it!

A toast to you!

Gary Westby


A Great Burgundy Dinner at Piperade

A great line up of Burgundy!

By Heather Vander Wall, K&L Redwood City

The Wall Street Journal recently published an article about millennials and wine. It is a well-crafted piece with plenty of statistics about how different generations approach wine consumption and purchasing, but the main point was simple. Millennials could care less about point systems and classifications in wine. The new wave of wine drinkers is interested in two things: story and experience (The Wall Street Journal “How Millennials are Changing Wine” Nov 5, 2015).

I think this is a very refreshing perspective. After all, what is a good bottle for but to experience, and what lends true enjoyment to the experience but the story of the bottle? Recently several of us at K&L had the pleasure of dining with Terry Owyang and some friends from Pacific Wines at Piperade restaurant in San Francisco. The dinner was centered around the Chateau & Estates portfolio of Burgundy—wines with incredible point ratings, but ultimately wines with a story, and wines to be enjoyed.

Some of the highlights of the evening were the following wines:

With the first course, basquaise salad frisée with serrano, ossau-iraty, apples, pine nuts, and sherry vinaigrette, the standout wine was Pierre Matrot’s 2012 Meursault “Charmes”. Pierre Matrot’s wines are marked by incredible richness and texture without losing a stony, mineral character. The Meursault “Charmes” was no exception. The aromas were of toasted hazelnut and that peculiar flint and gun smoke note so singular in good white burgundy. On the palate there was a great richness, showing the ripe fruit of the 2012 vintage and some battonage, together with very subtle oak influence.

In rather stark contrast, but showing equally well was the 2011 Blain-Gagnard Chassagne-Montrachet “Morgeot”.  The 2011 white Burgundies are currently showing higher-toned acidity, with lighter body, and much tighter, more restrained characteristics, and this wine was no exception. However, Blain-Gagnard is exactly the producer to take a cooler, nervier vintage like 2011 and produce an extremely elegant wine. The Morgeot has an incredible tension running through it, with stony, mineral notes, softened just slightly on the finish with some baking spice from its time in oak. All told, a beautifully expressive wine, and a perfect match for the second course of shellfish medley and gigante beans. 

As we moved into the second half of the meal with braised pork cheek, prune, Cipollini onion and parsnip, we were met with a barrage of equally expressive red burgundies. The most unexpected wine of the lot, which surprised all of us with its purity, complexity and depth of flavor, was Blain Gagnard’s 2012 Volnay “Pitures”.

Certainly Volnay has a name for elegance in the Cote de Beaune, but the small vineyard of “Pitures” is not particularly well known. As Terry explained to us, however, it is sandwiched between two very important sites in Volnay: the Clos de Ducs, and Fremiets. What I love about premier crus such as Pitures, is the complexity they can achieve without all the richeness, weight and fat of a grand cru. This wine was incredibly aromatic, showing red and black fruit as well as game, mushroom, and savory spices, yet the body was certainly on the light side. In addition, because of Blain-Gagnard’s commitment to using very little new oak, the wine was quite clean and very expressive of its terroir.

And finally, this post wouldn’t be complete without a mention of Jean Grivot’s 2012 Clos de Vougeot. A deeper colored, more masculine wine, this paired beautifully with the braised pork cheeks, and provided a strong but pleasant contrast to the aforementioned Volnay. The Grivot wines are always marked with power, richness, and dark, savory characteristics. Somehow this wine displayed a perfect marriage of wild bramble and earthy notes with polished, velvety fruit, and a stronger, yet refined tannin structure.

These are just brief snapshots of four very different wines, highlighting the incredible diversity within the small, yet intricately classified wine region that is Burgundy. They may be bottles with high ratings and a particular place within the class structure, but they were bottles destined for enjoyment, and what better way to experience the story of these Burgundies than with great company, in the context of an incredible meal?

Don’t worry! All the above wines are in stock at K&L, and we are all too happy to recommend other favorites as well.

-Heather Vander Wall


Champagne Itinerary #4: The Aube

The "Cadole" is an ancient stone hut that Aube vignerons used in the past for shelter when working in the vineyards. Vivien Lamoureux showed me several on our tour of Les Riceys.

Taking a trip down to the Aube is a worthwhile adventure, and for any wine loving traveler who is visiting both Champagne and Burgundy it is a must. From Epernay, it is about 1 & 1/2 hours trip on the A26 & A5 motorways, from Dijon in Burgundy it is the same time on the A5 & A31. On the way down from Epernay you will pass through miles and miles of France’s cow town- the production area for brie, and the hilly farms between Dijon and the Aube are equally gorgeous.

Most of the producers here feel closer to the vignerons of Burugndy than the marketing masters of Reims, and there is a tremendous amount of creative energy in the region. In the past, this was the poor part of Champagne. In fact, the harvest party in the Aube is called the “Chien”, the French word for dog, while in the Marne it is the “Cochelet”, or pig. Apparently, a pig was too valuable, even when the harvest was done, to slaughter for the party. In 1911 the producers from the Aube staged a demonstration to keep the right to grow Champagne that turned into a famous riot. Nobody has questioned them since!

The soil is very different here to the chalk of the Marne area. The Aube is mostly kimmeridgian clay, and very similar to Chablis which is just south of here. This soil lends Chablis like character to the base wines, and also makes for shallower, higher caves… This stuff is not easy to excavate! The weather is also decidedly more continental here, with colder winters and warmer summers than in the Marne. With spring frost always a threat, very little Chardonnay is grown in the area, but the warm weather in summer makes Pinot Noir reliably ripe and it is by far the most planted grape in the region. This was not always the case in the area, and lately many visionary producers have returned to planting Champagnes ancient grapes. The Aube is the place you will find the most plantations of the native Arbanne and Meslier, as well as the Champagne selections of Pinot Gris and Pinot Blanc.

The most central base for a Champagne adventure in the town Aube is Bar-sur-Seine. I stayed four nights at a hotel just outside of that town and right next to the motorway. I found this to be a great location for getting to appointments around the Aube, and I recommend it strongly. Here is my list of places to visit in the Aube:

The fish course from one of several good meals at the Val Moret.

Le Val Moret, Rue du Maréchal Leclerc, 10110 Magnant, France Phone:+33 3 25 29 85 12, This hotel and restaurant is a great base in the Aube, and could not be more centrally located. It is under 10 minutes away from Bar-sur-Seine, one of the few towns in the area big enough to have a laundry, a couple of bakeries, restaurants and a couple super markets. It also has a quite good restaurant, with a solid list of local producers at very fair prices, as well as a reasonable selection of Burgundies. I love the “Terroir” menu of local specialties, and tried most everything on it with great pleasure. It is listed on the English website as the Local Selection menu. The rooms are simple, but very clean, spacious and comfortable. Unfortunately, internet connectivity is a problem in the whole region, and the wifi here is not much good beyond email. On vacation, I would see the lack of connectivity as a bonus! They also have a heated, indoor pool here, which unfortunately I did not have the time to enjoy, but looked fantastic! Light sleepers will rejoice in the quiet here- although the motorway is close, I heard nothing in the room.

If Champagne is a small world- the Aube is a tiny one! Here I am with Jeremy Fluteau, Vivien Lamoureux and Jean-Pierre Fleury... All out to dinner at the Val Moret!

The first wineries are in the south Aube, and if you are planning a day out tasting, would be good to group together. I think two appointments a day are plenty for fun trips… One in the late morning and one in the afternoon.

Jean-Sebastian Fleury and his excellent range of Champagne.

Champagne Fleury: Address: 43 Grande-Rue, 10250 Courteron, France Phone:+33 3 25 38 20 28 : The granddaddy of biodynamics in Champagne, Fleury converted fully to organics in 1989 and has been Demeter certified since 1992. The wines here are the best of their kind, always lively, pure and full of the complexity of long lees ageing. It is worth the trip to see the giant Fouderes used for the Blanc de Noirs alone.

The Fluteau's grandmothers notebook with harvest dates, and harvest party menus going back decades!

Champagne Fluteau: Address: 5 Rue de la Nation, 10250 Gyé-sur-Seine, France Phone:+33 3 25 38 20 02, : The Fluteau’s make great Aube Champagne and have been blessed with a very large proportion of Chardonnay for the region. Thierry and Jeremy Fluteau speak perfect English- no surprise as Thierry’s wife (Jeremy’s mom) Jennifer is from Chicago!

Les Riceys is the largest of the Champagne villages with 866 hectares. Vivien Lamoureux stands in front of one of his small parts of it.

Champagne Jean-Jacques Lamoureux: Address: 27 Rue du Général de Gaulle, 10340 Les Riceys, France Phone:+33 3 25 29 11 55 : Any trip to the Aube would be incomplete without a visit to Les Riceys, just 3 miles from the boarder of Burgundy. The edge of Champagne is not just famous for bubbles, but also for a still wine called Rose des Riceys, certainly the most ageable and complex of all still roses. Vivien Lamoureux makes great, fruit driven, Pinot Noir dominated Champagne primarily, along with some great specialties like his wood fermented trilogie.

Jean-Felix Josselin and I in his clean, modern cellar in Gye.

Champagne Jean Josselin: 14 Rue des Vannes, 10250 Gyé-sur-Seine, France, +33 3 25 38 21 48, Jean-Felix Josselin is making the most transparent, terroir driven, kimmeridgian flavored wines in the area. They have finesse and texture that is all Champagne, but a range of flavors that are startlingly Chablis like. There brand new reception area was still under construction when I visited, but it will be gorgeous when it is done. The best part of the visit is the friendly old winery cat… He jumped right in my lap when I sat down to taste and take my notes!


The following wineries are in the north-eastern part of the Aube, and once again would be good to group together. Be mindful of how long the appointments last in France and don’t overbook yourself!

Delphine and Francis Brulez in the middle of their excellent, organic vineyards.

Champagne Louise Brison: Hameau du Grand Mallet, 10360 Noé-les-Mallets, France +33 3 25 29 62 58 The all organic, mostly wood fermented Champagne’s of Francis and Delphine Brulez have almost broken our website on a couple of occasions due to the overwhelming demand. These are sleek, complex Champagnes of great finesse and worth driving to the middle of nowhere to taste at the source. The trip to Noe-les-Mallets can be disorienting- you will past a giant wind farm and seemingly endless wheat fields before dropping into a valley of gorgeous vineyards. They also have oaks on their property with truffles… But they don’t sell them! They are all to eat!

Michel Drappier next to one of his Fromenteau vineyards- the Champagne selection of Pinot Gris.

Champagne Drappier: Rue des Vignes 10200 Urville – France +33 (0)3 25 27 40 15 - +33 (0)3 25 27 41 Drappier is one of the very few grand marque houses in the Aube, but is run more like a great Burgundy domain than a Reims Champagne selling factory. The house is loaded with history, and the family has been making wine for eight generations. Drappier is at the cutting edge of Champagne in so many ways- low sulphur counts, the largest plantations of all the old varieties, plowing with horses, barrel fermentation, the list goes on and on. This is one of the great visits in the Aube… Don’t miss it!

Inside the Clos du Bligny with Champagne natives Arbane and Meunier.

Chateau de Bligny: Address: Rue du Château, 10200 Bligny, France Phone:+33 3 25 27 40 11 The only Chateau bottled Champagne is located just one village over from Drappier. This gorgeous castle has 30 hectares of vineyards, and produces one of the very few Clos bottlings in Champagne. The Chateau de Bligny Cuvee Six Cepages Brut Champagne is a field blend of Pinot Noir, Meunier, Chardonnay, Arbanne, Meslier and Pinot Blanc and comes from a walled vineyard just behind the castle.

I hope this encourages you to explore the Aube on your next trip!

A toast to you!


Gary Westby