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The Freewheel line with a couple of English friends.

It takes a lot of beer to keep the wine business running smoothly. Here in Redwood City, we are very fortunate to have a great English style ale producer right in our backyard: Freewheel Brewing Company. The staff of K&L are fictures at our local pub, and it is a rare moment when one of us isn't there having a pint and a bite of their excellent food. We are also lucky enough to be the first place to offer their bottled beer for sale. If you have never had it, the Freewheel Brewing "FSB" Freewheel Special Bitter, California (500ml) is the benchmark in fresh, balanced, smashable ale. We will do our best to keep some in stock for you, the customer too!

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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.  

 

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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Friday
May132016

Champagne Charles Ellner- The Other Side of Epernay

Jean Pierre Ellner pours his 1973 in Epernay.

On the opposite side of Epernay from the glitzy Avenue de Champagne is one of the best kept secrets in the region. Champagne Charles Ellner is a small scale negociant, but everything in this offering is estate grown. They are lucky to own 120 acres across five sub regions of Champagne, with a very important proportion of old vines. They are one of the biggest land holders in the Côtes d’Epernay, the vineyard inside the city limits. They also have a very large holding in the grand cru of Chouilly, five premier crus on the mountain of Reims, two crus in the western valley of the marne and plots in the Sezanne and the Aube. They have almost no plants of less than 25 years old, and a full third of their vineyard is true old vines- planted to old massal selected material. This does a lot to explain the striking quality of their wines.

The third generation is now in charge and they do not cut corners or rush the wines. They never allow the wines to go through malolactic, and the youngest wine in this offering was kept for over six years on the lees. Luckily they have more than two kilometers of cellars to store all of the bottles! As a group, the wines have wonderful toasty flavors, richness, and the kind of depth and complexity that can only come from age. The wines are very age worthy if you decide to keep them longer- we tasted a spectacular 1973, my birth year, when I visited last October.

Charles Ellner "Carte d'Or" Brut Champagne $34.99: This all estate-grown blend of 75% Chardonnay and 25% Pinot Noir is an outstanding value in top-class Champagne. This wine has been aged for over five years on the lees and has a wonderful lemon curd and brioche nose. They never do malolactic at Charles Ellner, and because of that decision they must age the wines longer... The results are spectacular. This has incredible texture and finesse, but also fantastic mineral-laden length!

Charles Ellner "Premier Cru" Brut Champagne $39.99: This Champagne comes entirely from the 1er cru vineyards of Dizy, Rilly-la-Montagne, Sermieres and Champillon. It is composed of 75% Chardonnay and 25% Pinot Noir with over six years of ageing on the lees. The current batch is based on 2006. This has the personality of a Champagne with much more Pinot Noir than the composition suggests. I love the black cherry on toast aromas and the incredible hazelnut depth on the palate. This is very concentrated, serious Champagne.

2004 Charles Ellner "Prestige" Brut Champagne $49.99: If you like Champagne that combines both chalky, high acid drive with a nearly silky, creamy texture, this is for you. I was also struck by the extraordinary, tiny bead. I imagine this will age for as long as you care to keep it- take note if you were married in 2004 like I was! It is composed of 70% Chouilly Grand Cru Chardonnay and a combination of Tauxieres and Epernay Pinot Noir for the remainder.  I have another bottle in the fridge for tonight!

2002 Charles Ellner "Séduction" Brut Champagne $49.99: Do you have enough 2002 Champagne left in your cellar? I don't think anyone (except for the Ellner's in Epernay!) could ever answer yes to that question. The Seduction Brut is the most exciting older vintage Champagne that we have brought in direct in a long time, and I can't believe the value for money that it offers. The nutty, brioche filled nose gives way to a lively, chalky, bright and dry finish. This wine is so loaded and complex I just about filled up my notebook when tasting it, I found everything from cherry preserves to nougat in it. The finish has the rare peacock tail effect that usually only old great Burgundy brings to me, but with all of the refreshment of Champagne... Yum!

 

A toast to you!

Gary Westby

Friday
Mar252016

Olivier Krug unveils "Krug Editions"

Sharing Krug with Olivier Krug yesterday in SF- what fun!

Yesterday I had the pleasure of meeting with Olivier Krug to discuss the launch of the new “Krug Editions”. I also had the opportunity to show him and his team our new San Francisco store. It was a great afternoon, and as usual I learned a lot from Olivier.

Late this year, the US will receive its first Krug Grand Cuvee with the batch number, or edition, on the front label. They are starting with edition 163- the 163rd blend of Krug Grand Cuvee to be released since 1843. They call each batch a “re-creation” of Grand Cuvee, since their goal has always been the same with this wine for all of these years- to recreate the dream of Joseph Krug. I am super happy that they are putting these batch numbers on the front, as well as the Krug ID on the back to reference details on their website and phone app. They have gone from the most secretive big house to the most transparent in ten short years, and I am proud to be able to offer their great wines.

Why does it always taste so good when it is sold out!

I just received a few cases of older Krug Grand Cuvee; batch 211021. This batch is based on 2003 and has reserves from 9 vintages, going all the way back to 1988. It was disgorged in spring of 2011. Cellar master Eric Lebel used a large amount of 1996 reserves in this batch to freshen and lift the 2003 base wine. It is composed of 51% Pinot Noir, 30% Chardonnay and 19% Meunier. I can offer this at the same price as the current batch of Krug Grand Cuve, $149.99. The current batch is 214035, and is based on 2007 with reserves going back to 1990. Olivier Krug and I tasted this together, and it is in an absolutely perfect place right now. This beguiling Champagne has fresh brioche, white truffle intrigue, spectacular texture and body and a long, driven finish that might have made me guess 1996 vintage! If you have never had an older Gran Cuvee, you should treat yourself, they are every bit as good as aged vintage in my mind.

We also have a great deal on the 2003 Krug vintage- it was selling for $229, now it is $189.99.

Please let me know ASAP if you would like some. It is impossible for us to offer the different batches online until the new editions come out, so email me your requests. The last time we had older Krug like this it lasted less than two days!

Also, Olivier and I tasted the beguiling 2002 Krug (sold out for now) and I am convinced it is the best vintage that they have made since at least 1996, and maybe 1988! Click on the link to add yourself to the waiting list, we should get more at the end of spring, beginning of summer, but it will never touch the shelf!

A toast to you!

Gary Westby

Friday
Feb262016

Bruno Michel comes to California!

From left to right, Catherine, Clement and Bruno Michel, with me in the middle!

Yesterday we were treated to a very nice visit from Bruno Michel and his family here in Redwood City. Bruno makes some of the very best Champagne that we sell and has been certified organic since 1999 by Ecocert. His wines are all very long aged, and being a nurseryman first, entirely produced from his own estates hand selected massal vineyards. Every vine that he has planted he has selected and grafted himself. I think I can speak for the whole staff when I say that these wines impressed deeply… This man is making the real deal grower stuff at the very highest level.

I often tell the story of the first time that I met Mr. Michel at his winery in Pierry, just south of Epernay in 2006. My father was with me on the trip, and we were doing four or five appointments a day. After tasting the wines and being blown away, my dad kicked me under the table when I told Bruno that I would get back to him about ordering… That was the first time I ever bought on the spot, and I am glad that I did since these wines would doubtless have been snapped up by the next importer that walked in the door. Thanks for the good advice dad!

We have just a few bottles left of his super wine, with more on the way, including some stellar single vineyard 2008’s. Here is what we tasted yesterday:

Bruno Michel "Blanche" Brut Champagne $34.99: This blend of 53% Meunier and 47% Chardonnay is aged for five years on the lees. It is creamy, layered, intricate stuff that tastes far more expensive than its small direct-import price. This, like all of the wines he makes are for thoughtful drinkers who prize subtlety and delicacy in their Champagne.

Bruno Michel "Rebelle" Extra Brut Champagne $39.99: Dosed at only 2 grams per liter, this dry, racy blend of half and half Meunier and Chardonnay comes only from vines older than sixty years. It is also aged for five years on the lees. This is a great Champagne to pair with fish, especially sushi, and because of its long ageing, it isn’t as strict as some Extra Bruts.

Bruno Michel "Les Roses" Brut Rosé Champagne $49.99: This earthy, deep rose reminds me of Vosne-Romanee, and is definitely not for people looking for something light and simple! This is all 2004, although not labeled as a vintage, and comes from a plot of vines called “Les Roses” planted in the mid 1960’s. It is entirely barrel fermented in old, small oak. I love this Champagne with grilled salmon, but it will even work with lamb.

I hope that you will try these before they are gone.

A toast to you!

 

Gary Westby