As with the last few years, I am once again having a difficult time getting a feel for the quality of this vintage. We had a ton of rain during the winter and spring, and almost into summer, a very long and serious ten-day heat wave (most of the Northern Hemisphere experienced it) during July, and a lower than normal weather conditions since then. We are all watching this with amazement and trying to put a positive face on what we see and keep our fingers cross that Mother Nature will hold off the rains just long enough to get these grapes in, in healthy conditions. As I write this (September 1), the harvest has just begun for the sparkling wine producers, and they are reporting superior quality, of course. Three years ago, Greg St. Clair discovered an incredible gem on one of his buying trips to Italy, the wines of Giovanni Blason. Located in Gradisca d’Inzonzo, just under four miles from the Slovenian border, the wines coming from Blason are genuine, distinctively varietal and inexpensive. The 2005 Blason Pinot Grigio ($8.99) shows a wonderful nose of spice (white pepper) and Chilean jasmine, while in the mouth it explodes with lush, refreshin and balanced fruit that is viscous and bright. As I heard Greg point out to a customer just before he left for our L.A. store, “The 2005 Blason Pinot Grigio is the best Giovanni and Andrea have made to date.” The other wines (Cabernet Franc, Sauvignon, Tocai and Chardonnay) from the Blasons are stunning wines, and Eby says the shouldn’t be missed. She has her claws out for those of you who walk by the Blason floor display without grabbing a few of them. Our Deutschlander wine buyer, Jeff Vierra, keeps finding to-die-for bargains of superb German Rieslings at prices that bring back memories of yesteryear for me. The 2004 August Kesseler Riesling “R” A.P. #6 ($9.99) is the soul of what Riesling is about when it is done in a drier style. Produced from contracted steep-sloped fruit from Lorch, Lorchhausen and Rudesheim, this is an astounding riesling that offers loads of white peach to jade to clover on the nose and in the mouth, while providing firm acidity to offset what meager residual there is, and shows a long, crisp, minerality finish of slate and stone. This is great wine, and for you riesling lovers it would be a moral sin to miss it. For you point-only dupes, the infamous low-acid lawyer from the East Coast gave it 90 points. He got it right this time, for now. It is not a low acid, high in alcohol, overly extracted wine. Vanilla says that you need this in your cellar or else. Okay, Anderson, take your best shot at these cats. Totally vinified for near-term consumption, the 2003 Château Souvenir Bordeaux Superieur ($9.99), a blend of merlot (60%) and equal parts cabernet sauvignon and franc, is a deeply colored beauty. Aged in huge vats after fermentation, this is an upfront wine that is meant to be drunk now. Offering a lovely nose of cassis and blackberries that carry over to the palate, this wine is soft, round and perfect for such meals as pork roast or stews. The house red for the month, according to Anderson, is the 2003 Château Saint Sauveur, Haut-Médoc ($20.99), which the wine-god anointed as a “sleeper of the vintage.” This is an amazing Cru Bourgeois Superieur that should be given serious consideration for a fifth- or even fourth-growth level wine considering this 2003 and some of the previous near-term wines that have come from this property. Deep ruby in color, the nose erupts with cassis, blackberries, spice, roasted coffee bean and cedar that carry through to the palate. Layered, complex flavors with ample structure and integrated tannins lead to a multi-dimensional wine that is merlot driven yet complex and long. If you have any questions about these selections, you can email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Enjoy this month’s wines! —Jim, Anderson, Eby and Vanilla
“More than a job, simply a passion!” This is from Benoit Marguet of Champagne Marguet. Many of you will remember his wines from year’s past. They represent the zenith of quality and affordability. While it has been quite a while since we have obtained his sparkling wines, we are very pleased to announce that they are back in stock. Well, at least the Brut is! Benoit’s passion for Champagne has given him access to the most esteemed growers and quality fruit. Champagne Marguet is located in Ambonnay, in the middle of the Montagne de Reims. Benoit also has his hand in the winemaking at Champagne Launois. He is the son-in-law of Bernard Launois, the son of the founder of Launois, and husband to Severine Launois-Marguet. So, Benoit has a long history of producing high-quality sparkling wines! His latest release of Marguet Pere & Fils “Cuvee Reserve” Brut ($29.99) is his best ever. Composed of all grand cru fruit, it is a blend of 40% chardonnay and 60% pinot noir. Fruit sourcing is from Ambonnay, Bouzy and Mailly. Sixty percent is from the 2000 vintage and 40% comes from a blend of 1998 and 1999 stock. It is richer than the previous blend with a big, doughy nose. Apples, Bing cherries and a hint of lime waft out of the glass. In the mouth, yeast, toast, red cherry and quince fruit. Fleshy and full-bodied. Versatile enough to enjoy on its own or to be paired with food. —Scott Beckerley
Just before the start of the 2006 holiday season, K&L in San Francisco will offer champagne lovers the opportunity to taste dozens of champagnes from boutique producers and meet the proprietors behind some of the finest “grower” champagne houses at a tasting event held Saturday, October 21, in a special tent adjacent to the San Francisco store, 638 Fourth Street (near Brannan). Tickets are $55 per person and can be purchased from www.klwines.com or by calling 1 (877) KLWINES.
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