Returning for its third D-I engagement of the last twelve months is the Aimery Sieur d’Arques “1531” Cremant de Limoux ($9.99) and with its six months of further bottle development, it is even better than before. It offers up layers of green apple, pear and citrus fruit with a fine bead and an oh so delicate hint of hazelnut. If you loved the 1531 the first time around we suggest you stock up. More lushness, more viscosity and an even finer bead. Eby has told me that this is our everyday house sparkler for the year. The 2005 Kalinda Dry Creek Sauvignon Blanc ($9.99) offers a lovely nose of fig, red clover, and melon lead immediately into a viscous, lush sauvignon blanc that is not only a lovely wine to have as a cocktail, but one that would be well-suited for an ahi tuna or salmon dinner. Vanilla has informed me that this little gem is our other house white for the month. The 2005 Domaine de Chevalier Rosé, Pessac-Leognan ($10.99) is here just in time for the holidays. With its bright strawberry to raspberry fruit characteristics underscored by that typical Graves minerality, this dry, clean, crisp cabernet-based wine will work wonders at your table. And I do believe this is our first offering of rosé from Domaine de Chevalier, which is one of my favorite Graves producers. From a 40-year-old property, the 2003 Château Serilhan, St-Estèphe ($19.99) is a stunner, loaded with cassis, currants and other black fruits both on the nose and in the mouth. It is complex, layered and long, and is vinified to be drunk near-term and over the next several years. This will be one of our house reds for the month. Finally, returning for its third DI engagement this year is one of my favorite wines, the 2003 Château de Montfaucon, Cotes du Rhone ($9.99). It is rich, broad, ready to drink, worth a case or two in your cellar for day-to-day consumption (especially for such meals as stews and ragout), and enough written… buy it and thank me later. Anderson has for the third time informed me that this is our house red for the month. If you have any questions about these selections, you can email us at email@example.com. Enjoy this month’s wines! —Jim, Anderson, Eby and Vanilla
Thanksgiving is a time for reflection, football and the smell of a broom closet. Oops, I meant to say the smell of turkey. Thanksgiving turkey… an endless loop of Jim Barr jokes that beg to see the light of day. But Thanksgiving is about history, invasion and Sterling Vineyards wine. Let me take you back to the beginning… The Santa Maria was the first of the ships to set anchor in the Bay of Pigs. The New World. America. But it looked a LOT like Norway. Captain Ishmael James Barr (“call me Ishmael”) and his crew reached the rocky shores of Plymouth, Duster on the third Thursday of November. They bore glad tidings. They bore gifts of Sterling wine. Truth to tell, they bore everyone. The native people greeted the seafaring contingent warily; they’d already coughed up Manhattan for peanuts, and they weren’t about to get shafted again. The usual beads and pleasantries were exchanged (“How about those Yankees?” “You look great! New headdress?”). By and by the discussion turned to the evening meal. “We’ll bring the wine,” said Captain Barr. And so they did. The table was set for fifty. Not a moveable feast. An amazing array of comestibles assaulted the senses of the contingent: A maze of maize and ferries of cranberries. Haystacks of stuffing. Dams full of yams. Green eggs and hams. And the bird... my word! More wings than an airport runway. More breasts than a Russ Meyer movie. And the Patriots were playing the Chiefs on T.V. Captain Ishmael’s crew presented the wines: Sterling Vineyards library wines of such breadth, the ’76, ’77 and ’78. ’82, ’84 and ’86. ’87, ’90, ’91 and ’92. Napa bottlings, priced to buy and ready to drink; Reserves, full and rich and concentrated. Diamond Mountain Ranch selections, crafted in the style of the great wines of Bordeaux. There were larger bottles too: magnums and double magnums, six liters and nine (A whole case in a bottle!). An amazing selection, direct from the winery. Captain Ishmael flushed with pride and the change of life. The Patriots-Chiefs contest began. The meal was a great success. Until dessert. Giant pies made from pumpkins were brought out, scirocco warm and as aromatic as a French subway. What followed may have been the swiftest unraveling of diplomatic relations since the barf in the Japanese Prime Ministers lap thing. The native people brought out bowls of cream that had obviously been whipped mercilessly. Whipped and whipped, until it flowed no more. The cream lay motionless. Captain Ishmael was appalled. This blatant violation of the world torture ban would not be tolerated. He and his crew rowed back to the Santa Maria and set sail. As Captain Ishmael J. Barr peered through his telescope, he asked his first mate what part of the cargo hold he had put the Sterling wines that were brought back to the ship. “I thought you brought them,” said the mate. Reverse gear. Running up the beach. But the table... and the wines... were gone. Game over. Chiefs won. —Joe Zegulder
As we launch into the month of Thanksgiving I am pleased to have the return of two marvelous Champagnes from producer Michel Arnould. The first of these is the Michel Arnould Verzenay Brut Reserve ($25.99) . The blend is 65% pinot noir and 35% chardonnay. The nose is nutty and clean. This is a dry style with low dosage (10 grams per liter). All of the fruit used is from the 2000 and 2001 vintage. In the mouth, an initial zippy, lemony characteristic followed by flavors of Bing cherries, apples and a light bit of honey on the back of the palate. All of this combines with the hazelnut aspect of the pinot noir fruit to produce a memorable Champagne. Why drink copycats from other countries when you can have the real thing for less than $26? The “big sister” wine to the Brut Reserve is the Michel Arnould Grand Cuvee Brut ($29.99) . Drier than the Brut Reserve (only 9 grams of dosage per liter), the Grand Cuvee comes off creamier and richer. This is probably due to the fruit being entirely from the 1998 harvest (though it is not labeled as such). Identical blend to the Brut Reserve. Freshly roasted hazelnuts on the nose with lush ripe cherries and tart apple scents. On the palate, tart cherries mingle with cream and toast. Cocoa flavors on the finish. Both of these Champagnes have an elegance and delicacy and both are bold Champagnes unparalleled in value! A perfect way to start your Thanksgiving, or to enjoy with pumpkin pie at the finish. Happy Thanksgiving! —Scott Beckerley
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