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In December, we drink Champagne at closing at K&L- and we prefer to drink it out of magnum when possible. The highlight this year was the Ariston Aspasie Blanc de Blancs Brut Champagne (1.5L) magnum ($74.99) that we had on Christmas eve. This single vineyard beauty comes from the Gouttes d’Or, a very steep east facing parcel in the little village of Brouillet. It was creamy, delicate and perfectly refreshing! We all say to cheers to you, and hope your holiday is filled with fun and friends!

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We host regular weekly and Saturday wine tastings in each K&L location.

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Friday
Dec042015

Bonville is Back!

Olivier Bonville in front of his new press, presenting the vin-clair.

Few Champagne’s that we carry are as well loved as the wines from Champagne Franck Bonville. We have been working with Olivier Bonville and his wines for more than a dozen years now, and many of you have been to Avize to visit him, or met him at our tent events. Olivier’s property is an enviable one; over 50 acres, all planted to Chardonnay and exclusively Grand Cru in the villages of Oger, Mesnil and Avize. His wines sell faster than any other producer that we carry, big or small, and for good reason. They are pure class.

We have been getting a great allocation of the Franck Bonville "Belles Voyes" Brut Blanc de Blancs Champagne ($69.99 750ml, $139 magnum) since the beginning- we were the first customer for this wine. It is Olivier Bonville’s baby, and he makes it the same way that his grandfather made Champagne. It is all ancient vine, massal selected juice from a 1 and ¾ acre parcel in the grand cru of Oger called the Belles Voyes. All of the wine is matured in 225 liter Burgundy barrels before being bottled. For those of you who have not tried it, the Belles Voyes is simply one of our best Champagnes at any price. It has the power, breadth and richness that reminds me of top white Burgundy and the near infinite chalk drive that can only come from the best sites in Champagne. It is a must try for any true fan of Champagne. The current shipment is the last of the 2008 base in 750’s, and the last of the 2004 in magnum.

The smallest production Champagne at Bonville is the Franck Bonville Extra Brut Blanc de Blancs Champagne ($39.99). It is exactly the same wine as the vintage, in this case the 2009, but the very last disgorgement run and dosed at only 2.5g/l. All of the fruit comes from Avize, and mostly from older parcels. This is the ultimate shellfish Champagne with its strict, linear, bone dry profile. It is embarrassing how much of our allocation of this I drink myself… I love it with sushi! The wine gains the Grand Cru richness with a bit of food, and is as clean as whistle!

The Franck Bonville "Prestige" Brut Blanc de Blancs Champagne ($44.99) is the “insiders” bottling in his range. He gives this all Avize Chardonnay four years of ageing on the lees, and it is his creamiest, most open knit offering. We only get a small amount; most of it goes to restaurants in the Champagne region. This is a great aperitif as it is loaded with the bracing minerality that we love the Cote de Blancs for, but also enough richness to drink on its own.

Olivier has nothing but Chardonnay on his estate, so he trades to get a little red wine to make his Franck Bonville Brut Rosé Champagne ($39.99). This Champagne is 92% Chardonnay from the estate with 8% Ambonnay rouge from super star grower Paul Dethune added for rose flavor and color. The intensity of the Pinot Noir is such that it seems like much more than just 8%! If it wasn’t for the blanc de blanc base, this wine would only be suitable for pairing with duck or pigeon, but the fresh Chardonnay brings everything into perfect balance.

All Champagne producers should be judged on their entry level wine, and Olivier’s is as good as they get. We have the Franck Bonville Grand Cru Blanc de Blancs Champagne in 750ml ($34.99), half bottle ($18.99) and magnum ($69.99). The current batch is based on 2012 and has 50% reserve wines from 2010 and 2009. The entire 2011 production was used as base wine for the last batch, and they didn’t save any as reserves. This is always the fastest non-vintage Champagne to sell out… So get it while we have it! 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.

A toast to you!

Gary Westby

Monday
Nov232015

The History of Bubbles

You may be suprised to learn the first sparkling wine was not found in Champagne, but rather discovered in Limoux, France. Limoux is the sparkling wine hub of southern France and home to our direct import producer Antech. To tell us about both the history and legend of sparkling wines we have the charming Francoise Antech-Gazeau, the 6th generation winemaker at Antech. 

 

Discover Cremant de Limoux and Blanquette de Limoux this holiday season. 

You can find all of her beautiful sparkling wines at our stores and online.

-Olivia Ragni

 

Saturday
Nov212015

Chateau Cantemerle

If we were to make a list of our five favorite wines here at K&L, Chateau Cantemerle would certainly be on it. This top quality estate makes claret that always delivers, and at a price that normal people can afford. It is a wine that I purchase nearly every year for my own cellar, and I know that I can say the same for Clyde, Jeff and Ralph. Taking a look through the K&L records, I found 124 references for Cantemerle of all sizes and vintages over the years, with 12 in stock right now. A favorite for sure!

Chateau Cantemerle is one of the first properties that you come to when driving up the Haut Medoc from the city of Bordeaux. The Chateau’s 91 hectares of vines sit on gravel soil close to the parish of Margaux in Macau. The vineyard is planted to 60% Cabernet Sauvignon, 30% Merlot, 6% Cabernet Franc and 4% Petite Verdot with an average vine age of 30 years. From this vineyard, they make an average of ½ million bottles a year, but never all Chateau Cantemerle- even in great years, they declassify a lot and make a 2nd wine called Les Allees De Cantemerle.

The lords of Cantmerle have history going back to 1147, and have been involved in winemaking for over 500 years. It was only at the end of the 1500’s that the prime agricultural activity at the property switched over to wine; for many years the Medoc was primarily producing cereal grains. The owners of the property have always been at the front of improvements in the vineyard, and they were the first to introduce the Bordeaux mixture against mildew in the mid 1800's.

My inspiration for writing this piece came from the bottle of 1999 Cantemerle, Haut-Médoc ($44.99) that Cinnamon and I had last night with an excellent New York Steak from Five Mary’s Farm. As most readers of these pages know, Cinnamon and I celebrate every Friday with steak & claret night, and this was a special one. Cinnamon prepared russet potato squares and the New York in the cast iron pan, and steamed some excellent French green beans. We decanted the wine a little over an hour ahead.

I was over the moon for the 1999, and I might have enjoyed a little more than my half of the bottle, but at 12.5% the wine was as mild as mother’s milk. I found the wine lively and full of verve at 16 years old and yet silky and integrated. In 1999 they made 300,000 bottles of the first wine, declassifying the other third of the production. The composition is 55% Cabernet Sauvignon, 35% Merlot, 8% Petite Verdot and 2% Cabernet Franc. Cinnamon and I both found the wine plumy from the high percentage of Merlot and I loved the minty focus on the back end. This is long finishing stuff and the good acid on the back cut the richness of the meat while the expressive fruit played excellent counterpoint to it. What a treat!

 

This is what we have currently in stock and on prearrival from Cantemerle:

2014 Cantemerle, Haut-Médoc 1.5L (Prearrival) $53.99

2013 Cantemerle, Haut-Médoc (Prearrival) $29.99

2012 Cantemerle, Haut-Médoc $29.99

2011 Cantemerle, Haut-Médoc $29.99

2010 Cantemerle, Haut-Médoc $42.99 94 points Parker, who writes: The wine needs a good 7-10 years of cellaring and should keep for 30 more years, but this is the finest Cantemerle I have encountered in my professional career of tasting young vintages (dating back 34 years now). Stunningly deep ruby/purple, with a beautiful nose of spring flowers intermixed with perfumed raspberry and blueberry notes, it exhibits a sort of cool-climate character. Broad, rich and intense on the palate, the wine has plenty of tannins, but they are sweet and well-integrated. Everything is delicately entwined into this beautiful, medium to full-bodied, dense purple wine, which shows stunning character and a prodigious potential for development. This is definitely a major sleeper of the vintage and even better than I thought from barrel. With its 2010, this classified growth located in the southern end of the Medoc may well have made a modern-day version of their legendary 1949. (RP)

2012 Cantemerle, Haut-Médoc 1.5L $64.99

2006 Cantemerle, Haut-Médoc $39.99

2005 Cantemerle, Haut-Médoc 3L $269.99

2001 Cantemerle, Haut-Médoc $49.99

2000 Cantemerle, Haut-Médoc $59.99

1999 Cantemerle, Haut-Médoc $44.99

1999 Cantemerle, Haut-Médoc 1.5L $99.99

1949 Cantemerle, Haut-Médoc $899.99 From Mahler-Besse, the best cellar in Bordeaux. Parker calls this “one of Bordeaux’s greatest efforts” and Clyde agrees.

A toast to you!

Gary Westby