Well, folks, it is the dog days of August, and we here at K&L have been looking for some of the best that Burgundy has to offer for your summer parties. Let’s start with a real steal-deal that many of you have enjoyed before. The Plaisir des Princes ($6.99) is a wonderful 2005 Macon Chardonnay that has been declassified to simply Vin de Table. They cannot legally tell you the vintage or the grape on the label. But we know, and will tell you: This is crisp Macon with nice fruit and good length, and it sells for a song. What’s not to like? We have also found a talented young vigneron in Macon. Lionel Rhedon-Marin sells all his younger fruit and lesser vineyards to the negociants, but keeps his best, old-vine fruit to make his 2005 Macon Villages, Domaine des Nialles ($11.99), with lovely apple notes, richness and a crisp finish. In St. Bris-le-Vineux, a tiny town in the Cote d’Auxerre, near Chablis in the north of Burgundy, we work with a small domaine run by a husband and wife. Anne and Arnaud Goisot are dedicated wine growers, making honest, affordable wines with a clear sense of place. The 2004 Goisot St. Bris ($10.99) shows crisp varietal sauvignon blanc character, gooseberries on the nose and a wonderful flinty finish, thanks to the chalky soils. The 2004 Goisot Bourgogne Aligoté ($10.99) is regularly an award winner. Once again they were chosen for the coveted tastevinage label, awarded after a large blind tasting. The wine shows the characteristic spice on the finish but is also very open and generous. Try it as an aperitif, with cassis for a kir, or any old time. Finally, the 2005 Goisot Bourgogne Cotes d’Auxerre Rosé, ($10.99) is made of 100% pinot noir. With a beautiful eye of the swan color and a strawberry nose, this is profound and complex, yet refreshing and charming. Á Santé. —Keith Wollenberg
All Saturday tastings are from noon to 3 p.m. in San Francisco and 1 to 4 p.m. in Redwood City. Look for dinners and other events listed in the “local events” section of our website, www.klwines.com. Please note our new format beginning this month. In order to bring you a wider array of choices, the San Francisco and Redwood City stores will have their own unique tastings. Tasting prices TBA. August 5: California Chardonnay in RWC. Martin will pour wines from top producers in Napa and Sonoma. A rare opportunity to sample some of California’s finest Chardonnays. International Pinot Noir in SF. The staff will pick their favorite Pinot Noir from the U.S., France, New Zealand and other countries. August 12: 2001 Brunello di Montalcino in RWC. Greg will be pouring a selection of Brunellos from the spectacular 2001 vintage. Salute to Women Winemakers in SF. A tasting from top women winemaker’s such as Cathy Corison, Kristin Belair, Susana Balbao and others. August 19: 2003 Bordeaux in RWC & SF. Clyde, Steve and Ralph pick one white, eight reds and one Sauternes for our monthly Bordeaux tasting highlighting the 2003 vintage. August 26: Australia Shiraz in RWC. Jim will focus on the great red wines of Australia. Please join us for this first-class sojourn down under. Sparkling Wine in SF. Sparkling wines from around the world including Champagnes, Cava, domestic bubblies and tasty treats from Alsace, Loire and Burgundy.
As you may know, K&L has developed an informed and passionate staff with wine buyers for the separate categories. As the company and world of wine has grown this has become a necessary evolution to be at the top of our game and bring the customer the most interesting wines at the best value possible. The trips that we take around the world allow us to make relationships and deals for direct import and private labels to help realize that vision. This past January, I spent two weeks in South Australia focusing on two of the major regions in this state, the Barossa Valley and McLaren Vale. Though there are plenty of other regions that offer great character and style and deserve more attention by the press, these regions at present represent the “face” of the majority of Australian wines in the market. Believe me, that’s not a bad thing. Both these areas are home to some of the great vineyards of the world offering incredibly old vine Shiraz (Syrah), Grenache and Mourvdre that produce profound wines from low yielding vines giving great concentration and intensity. Fine Cabernet can be found as well and the Rieslings from Clare Valley and Eden Valley (a sub-region of the Barossa Valley) are absolutely world class. Both regions are unique in style and have their own microclimate within them, and of course the winemakers influence is key. The Barossa Valley typically shows more broad shouldered ripe black fruit and bittersweet chocolate notes with cooler spots in the south end of the valley near Williamstown and the sub-region of Eden Valley driven by the influence of altitude. You can taste the effect of this in some of the wines from Yalumba and Thorn Clarke that even with rich dark fruits will show a lighter feel on the palate and slightly lower alcohol levels. McLaren Vale will tend to show brighter fruit with cassis and blue rather than blackberry fruit and red fruits as well. The chocolate notes here lean to milk instead of dark. The cooler aspect to this region is driven by a maritime influence due to the Gulf of St. Vincent. There is a greater change in the day and night time temperature here and cooler in general. This gives the wines of McLaren Vale a bit more acidity that shows in the juicy, silky mid-palate of these wines. After tasting over 350 wines, I welcomed the cooler vintages of 2004 and 2005. 2003 was a hot vintage that I believe was more consistent in McLaren Vale and a little less focused in Barossa. That being said, we always say…follow the producer, vintage tells you when to drink the wine. The 2004 vintage was a tad cooler than 2005 and the wines are compact, refined and show good definition and balance. 2005 was a very even season with the wines having great purity, varietal character, fine balancing acidity and expressive length. The white wines that are already coming on board have great mid-palate fruit and weight with superb supporting acid. All and all, this looks to be a spectacular vintage that will have wines in the lower priced tier way over delivering and in the upper range have the structure to reward cellaring and evolve into complex wines. Jim Chanteloup K&L Australian Wine Buyer
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