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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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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

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Archives
Saturday
Aug302014

1990 Lanessan: Classic Claret

Claret at its peak, 24 years after it was harvested.

As promised, I have been working my way through all of the vintages of Lanessan in stock from the 1980’s and 1990’s. We received a shipment direct from the Chateau earlier this month full of old vintages from this estate, and I listed them all last week in the piece I did on the 1989 Lanessan here. Additionally, David Driscoll did a great piece on the history of the property here. This week, Cinnamon and I enjoyed the 1990, a great Bordeaux vintage that is now drinking in its prime.

Bordeaux and steak are a Friday tradition at our home, and I usually buy my steak a few days ahead to give it some dry age in the refrigerator. Food lovers debate the efficacy of using the home refrigerator for this, but I have found that a couple or three days uncovered makes for a much better crust on meat, so I am going to keep doing it. In a future article, I will try a real piece of dry aged steak from Allen Brothers and report on the difference.

 

 

A little home dry ageing helps develop a good crust on a steak.

This week we decided to do something different, and do New York strip steak instead of rib-eyes. Another crazy night in the suburbs! As usual, Cinnamon cooked the steak perfectly rare in grandma’s old Lodge cast iron pan and this week served the meat with oven fries. She also prepared a lovely beet, fig and spinach salad with steakhouse blue cheese dressing. We had everything but the martini!

She decanted the 1990 Lanessan, Haut-Médoc ($69.99) about an hour ahead, and because it was such a warm night, threw the decanter in the refrigerator to make sure it was cool enough for dinner. Her instincts from years of sommelier work were right again, and the wine was perfect when we sat down to eat. Never be afraid to decant or start cold- only the bottles that were bad to begin with die, and it is easy to warm wine up with your hands!

 

 

We may be predictable, but steak and Bordeaux are going to work together every time!

Like most of the Bordeaux from the excellent 1990 vintage, the Lanessan was in peak form and drinking perfectly. It had a classic, generous bouquet with plenty of ripe cassis fruit and earthy, gravelly intrigue. On the nose it was the equal to any wine that we have had this year. This vintage was the second quite warm harvest in a row in Bordeaux, and like many other producers the folks at Lanessan adapted perfectly on the 2nd go around. This wine was ripe, but did not go over the top. The claret was medium, or even light bodied, with no seems at all. The tannins were completely integrated, the acid still fresh, and the finish lively, long and moreish.

With the New Yorks, it was hard not to drink it fast. I have a bad reputation with my wife for claret hogging, and I had to control myself, especially on the first glass. Classics get to be classics for a reason, and this combination is unbeatable. I am already looking forward to next Friday!

A toast to you!

Gary Westby

 

 

Friday
Aug292014

DI Retrospective: 2009 Jacques Bavard Monthelie Rouge

Never drink out of a beaker- unless it is reserved for Burgundy!

Burgundy lovers often say that five years from vintage is the perfect time to drink a good quality village wine. Since the great 2009’s are now just hitting their 5th birthday, I thought I would check in on the 2009 Jacques Bavard Monthelie Rouge and see if that rule of thumb is correct. Cinnamon and I went deep on this wine- when it was first released in February of 2012; I started out with a case of 750’s, Cinnamon bought another six, then I went back to the well for a case of magnums. Here is my staff review from the release:

“I just bought a case of this for my cellar. Now the problem will be keeping my hands off of it! This Monthelie shows just a little too well right now- last night Cinnamon and I had it with Wind Dancer Farms lamb chops. I decanted the wine an hour and a half ahead, and it was nothing short of spectacular. This is Burgundy with the '09 richness, but it sacrifices nothing in terms of its cut and refreshment. There is no other $25 Pinot that comes close... And very few $50 bottles that could equal it! It is my aspiration to drink my last bottle in 2024. I am confident the wine will be great then- but will I have any left?”

Here are Keith’s notes from the time:

“This exciting Pinot Noir comes from the picturesque village of Monthelie, located next to the more famous village of Volnay.  It is from a tiny negociant in Puligny-Montrachet named Jacques Bavard.  He comes from a long line of wine-growers, and is dedicated to working with organic and biodynamic growers. I found him thanks to a tip from a friend in Chassagne-Montrachet on my June trip, and was most impressed with the purity of his wines.This comes from 30-year-old vines, and underwent a long cold soak to extract more aromatic elements. It has lovely cherry fruit, and that wonderful note of wild strawberries (Fraises des Bois in French). When combined with the sappy opulence of the 2009 vintage, this is an irresistible wine.  It's a fresh, bright and wonderful Pinot Noir, at a modest price, thanks to our direct import.”

In the few years that we have been working directly with Mr. Bavard, it has become a phenomenon in the Burgundy section. The wines, especially the whites, get snapped up very quickly by those who have had past vintages. We are sold out of the 750’s of the 2011 Maison Jacques Bavard Monthelie Rouge already, and just have a few magnums left at $59.95. Luckily, we will be getting a little bit more of the 2011 750ml’s in a week or so, and you can get on the waiting list for those here.


Roast chicken & potatoes- a Westby house favorite with Burgundy!

For this bottle I prepared one of Cinnamon and my favorite dishes for Burgundy, roast chicken and roast potatoes. I also roasted some cauliflower with hot peppers and capers to mix things up. Our chicken, which was so lean and slender that it looked more like a racing breed than a roasting breed came from Bel Campo in Palo Alto. It turned out to be one of the best chickens we have had, and all I did was spatchcock it, rub it down with salt, pepper and olive oil and roast it on a rack above the potatoes! I think they might have given it a little brine, because the breast was very tender and savory and the thigh fully cooked- a trick even after spatchcocking the bird.

The Morsel cat loves chicken. Luckily she leaves our Burgundy alone!

I decanted the Monthelie and hour and a half ahead of time. Lots of Burgundy lovers don’t like the idea of decanting, but I am a believer. In this case, I am very confident that I was right to do it, since the wine started off shy and opened as the meal progressed. The Bavard had more than enough dark fruit and even some dried cherry elements to go with its firm structure.  I loved the catnip and coffee hints I found in the wine as the bottle dwindled, as well as the high acid, focused finish. We needed some zing with the schmaltzy roast potatoes!

I think this wine is still young, and won’t touch another for another year. It gives me a lot of confidence in this producers wine, and I hope to collect many more vintages for my cellar. It amazes me what $25 and a little patience can deliver to the wine lover. All you need is a little faith in your palate and a place to put the bottles.

A toast to you!

Gary Westby

Thursday
Aug282014

2002 Ruinart "Dom Ruinart" Brut Rosé Champagne

There are only 198- strike that- 197- bottles of this rose for the entire US market.

The Dom Ruinart Rose might be the best tete de cuvee that American connoisseurs don’t know about. While no brand is more famous in France, it is only recently that Ruinart has had good distribution in the USA. Steadily, their non-vintage blanc de blancs and rose have gained more appreciation from Champagne lovers here, and even their excellent Ruinart "Dom Ruinart" Brut Blanc de Blancs is getting good traction. It is doubtful that the Dom Ruinart rose will be a household word anytime soon- the entire US only received 198 bottles, and I just drank one of them.

This Champagne is composed of 80% Chardonnay and 20% Pinot Noir, all from Grand Cru sites. The Chardonnay is sourced both from the Cote des Blancs and the Mountain or Reims, and it is this Mountain of Reims Chardonnay that gives the subtle exoticism that is the signature of the house style. The Pinot Noir in the blend is vinified red, and sourced from north facing vineyards in Sillery and Verzenay, giving the Champagne plenty of authority without sacrificing its energy. Ruinart is a proponent of stainless steel fermentation, and in the case of this rose, very long sur-lee ageing, perhaps the longest in the category of tete de cuvee roses. The 2002 was just released.

We enjoyed the 2002 Ruinart "Dom Ruinart" Brut Rosé Champagne ($299) with banh mi sandwiches and pork buns. We used door dash for the first time, and it was very luxurious for us to drink tete de cuvee and not even have to pick up our take-out! The food was from Spice Kit in Palo Alto, and very good. The steamed pork buns were the biggest hit with the Champagne- it is something special to have rich Kurobuta pork with top quality rose from Champagne! 

My first Jamesse glasses were a gift from Fred Panaiotis, chef de cave of Ruinart.

The Dom Ruinart Rose is beautiful to look at in the Lehmann "Jamesse Reference" Grand Champagne glass, and has a pale pink color and the kind of streamers that you only get with very long ageing on the lees. When we first opened the bottle it was very yeasty and leesy, so much so that it put me off. The bouquet developed really nicely over the course of the meal, offering up chalk and Rainier cherry fruit as well as toast. In the mouth, this wine is so elegant and subtle that it wouldn’t be hard to miss its depth in a quick tasting. Like Cristal and Salon, it is a treat for the jaded palate, with lots of depth to offer, but no obvious, showy flash. It is ethereal, weightless and haunting stuff- and I would guess that the Sillery rouge has a lot to do with its delicacy. The Dom Ruinart Rose is the most elegant Champagne that I have drunk this year, and will no doubt prove to be one of my top Champagne experiences this year.

If you have an occasion to spoil yourself with a very special bottle, this would be a great choice.

A toast to you!

Gary Westby