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Just add duck crepinettes!

Buying ready to drink 1er cru Burgundy is not easy. For a couple of years I did the Old and Rare wine buying here at K&L and found it easy to find California Cabernet and even Bordeaux from collectors. But Burgundy… Forget it. They had to die, get a divorce or have doctors orders to part with the king of all Pinot Noir! This bottle of 2007 Domaine Mongeard-Mugneret Nuits St-Georges 1er cru Les Boudots ($99) comes direct from the property from our friends at Atherton, and like most of the 2007’s, drinks fabulously right now. This wine showed excellent sweet beet fruit, savory depth, and incredible finesse and length. The tannins are completely resolved, and went perfectly with duck crepinettes from the fatted calf in San Francisco. This is the kind of Burgundy that gets people hooked- you have been warned!!!! –Gary Westby

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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.  


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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Rey Fernando de Castilla: A Palo Cortado to Remember


Palo Cortado pairs with a variety of foods; in this case it happened to pair great with Italian food.

Rey Fernando de Castilla is a sherry bodega with passion for providing wines of the highest quality. Started by an important family in Jerez, the Andrada-Vanderwilde family, that has been involved in the wine industry here for over 200 years.  This family took over some very old sherry and brandy cellars to focus on Brandy production in the 1960s.  It wasn’t until 1999 that a Norwegian who had fallen in love with Sherry, Jan Pettersen, purchased the bodega, and shifted the company's focus to Sherry. He expanded the bodega’s sherry production with the purchase of many old soleras from the neighboring and esteemed almacenista Jose Bustamante, turning Rey Fernando de Castilla into one of the best independent sherry houses. While most of Pettersen’s wines qualify for the age dated VOS or VORS status, he does not believe in this system. Instead, his line of high-end sherry is called the “Antique Collection.”  He has an Antique Fino (a bottling I highly recommend trying) that’s an average of 8-9 years old and resembles the traditional style richer finos that existed back in the early 1980’s when Petterson first came to the Sherry triangle.  The Antique collection is always bottled unfined and often minimally filtered and see extended aging in the cellar showing incredible maturity, expression and skill.

I recently had the pleasure of drinking a bottle of the Antique Palo Cortado that my boyfriend bought me for my birthday...he knows me so well!  Palo Cortado, the unicorn of Sherry styles, is always a mystery.  Maybe that is why it is the rarest of Sherry styles, and perhaps the most celebrated. There are a couple of things we can surmise about a Palo Cortado, it was once aged biologically, like a fino, and for some reason or another refortified and sent to spend the rest of it life aging oxidatively. For what reason, why or how this decision is made, is often unknown and unregulated.  In fact the Consejo Regulador says it only to be “the existence of certain very specific characteristic,” but that characteristic is never mentioned.  Another commonly offered definition is that it has the aromas of an Amontillado and the palate of an Oloroso.  However it has come about, I’m happy it did, especially this one. The Rey Fernando de Castilla Palo Cortado $59.99 is over 30 years of average age with both tremendous aromatics and flavors.  Aromas of cocoa, roasted chestnuts, tiramisu, and nutmeg beam from the glass. The palate is bright at first, showing it’s years aged under flor with a beautifully tangy acidity, lemon rind and burnt orange peel.  The palate turns to flavors of almonds, mocha and espresso on the finish.  Potentially, the finest example of Palo Cortado that exists. Sherry lovers, if you haven't tried this bottle yet, what are you waiting for?


Single Vineyard Bouzy Blanc de Blancs

Great single vineyard grower Champagne is not cheap, but I believe that these wines offer some of the best value in top drinking in the market today. I drank a bottle of the new Pierre Paillard "Acte 1" Grand Cru Brut Blanc de Blancs Champagne (2009) ($66.99) this week, and couldn’t think of a wine that delivered more for the money. Last year, we had the 2008 version of this wine, which was tight as a tick, and built purely for the cellar. This 2009 version has the virtue of drinkability today and the structure to keep 20 years if you care to cellar it.

This Champagne comes from a plot of vines called “Les Motellettes” planted in 1961, the old fashioned way with a massal selection. The vineyard is only 0.8 acres and is located in the grand cru of Bouzy on the Mountain of Reims. Most of this village is planted to Pinot Noir; in fact it is one of the best places in Champagne for making the red wine that goes into rose. The Paillard family planted quite a bit of Chardonnay here, with the idea to blend it with their excellent Pinot. This plot stands out so much in both excellence and individuality that they started to bottle a tiny amount separately starting in 2007. This is only the third offering of this wine. Most of the production of this vineyard is needed for the Paillard vintage, so we only managed to get five cases on this last shipment of the 2009!

Cinnamon and I paired the Acte 1 with the sashimi bowl recipe that I have been working on and shared on the blog back in February. The synergy between clean, simple, high quality raw fish and blanc de blancs Champagne is very strong usually, but this combination was a particularly good one. This plot gives a wine of extraordinary minerality, and high acid vintages like the 2007 and 2008 can come off as lean without food, but this 2009 has that extra touch of “gras” that carries the flavors of the site all the more readily. With the sashimi, the ample back end cut of this high voltage wine really came out. The Champagne has subtle Meursault like pineapple, warm baguette aromas from the four years on the lees and a pronounced chalky, long finish. It has it all- except for quantity… It will be gone soon.

A toast to you!


Gary Westby



One of Montalcino's Greatest Producers makes great Rosso as well!

I’ve known Caroline Pobitzer and Jan Erbach since 2003 when their tiny winery was more of a Garage than anything else. I remember Jan climbing through an impossibly arranged stack of barrels in an incredibly small cellar under their house and just being stunned at how anyone could work like this and still create really good wine. Much has changed over the years and they now have an incredible winery building that Jan designed and they’ve added vineyards as well, they’re still tiny, just shy of 15 acres.  Pian dell’Orino, is perched on a little plateau just above Biondi Santi just 2.5 kilometers from the town of Montalcino while the other 3 vineyards they have are another few kilometers away but still in the south-eastern corner of Montalcino near the Abbey of Sant’Antimo.


Jan would be upset if I portrayed him as a “winemaker” because the major portion of his work is in the vineyards, nature is his true passion (other than Champagne and Vinyl) he’s an ardent certified Organic (certified by ICEA) and Bio-Dynamic (certified by Demeter) farmer, if you’d like the whole story check out their website The wines are all 100% Sangiovese, all natural yeasts and unfiltered while the Brunello are all aged in 15-25hl barrels, the Rosso is aged in barrique (.25hl) and tonneaux (.5hl).


Mike “Guido” Parres and I tasted the 2012 Pian dell’Orino Rosso di Montalcino $39.99

in February while Guido and I were hanging in Jan’s “Man Cave” listening to his vinyl recordings of Frank Zappa, OK, that may not been what you thought our “work” was about, but one has to be flexible.  We were struck by how incredibly delicious the 2012 Pian dell’Orino Rosso di Montalcino is, but it wasn’t the incredible “deliciousness” that makes this wine so special is its’ purity. Sangiovese when grown in the right soil and best methods is truly an eye into the soil, and Jan’s wines truly speak of their origins, the dirt, the yeast, the air, slope so many things that make each little vineyard site so different. The nose is full of a complex blend of earth, spice, plum, wild cherry, wild herbs, smoke, and shows a particularly savory side to it. On the palate the wine is true to its Sangiovese core with a long, central structure that stretches out the plum and wild cherry and intertwines the two with a mix of depth and tannic structure and then the spice shows up. So complex, building slowly, not jumping out, just a long, ever growing flavor…Stupendous. This wine will age easily for a decade but it is so good to drink now it’s OK to pop one tonight! I would decant the wine for 1-2 hours; Sangiovese always does better with air. This is a profound wine, and really a jewel only 441 cases were made, we’ve sewed up almost all that came to California, but don’t wait it will go in a hurry!

 Ciao, Greg St.Clair K&L Italian Wine Buyer