This winter was a rainy one in California, and now that summer is here I want to spend as much time as possible outdoors with friends. Opening Champagne always makes me feel special and a magnum even more so. I try and pop one at every oppurtunity! Because of the increased volume of liquid to air in a magnum, the Champagne always tastes fresher and more exciting from these double bottles. A magnum is a generous format, both in quantity and quality. The Bonville Brut Selection Blanc de Blancs 1.5L ($49.99) is a perfect apertif, racy, elegant and long finishing. For fans of the blanc de noir style the 100% pinot noir, organicly grown Fleury “Carte Rouge” Brut 1.5L ($64.99) is a rich, satisfying Champagne that still finishes completely dry. For caviar in the garden the Ariston Aspasie Brut Prestige 1.5L ($74.99) is spectacular with its old vine power and seven years on the lees. A whole wild salmon and the Tarlant Cuvee Louis Brut Prestige 1.5L ($99.00) is a complete party. One of our best Champagnes at any price, this even blend of chardonnay and pinot noir from the Tarlants oldest plot of vines is often compared to Krug. Please feel free to contact me at 1-800-247-5987 ex 728, or by email firstname.lastname@example.org with any of your champagne (or sherry!) needs. Please also drop me a line if you would like to be on my list of Champagne customers. A toast to you! —Gary Westby
Many years ago in our little old shipping department, the manager then and now, Brian Keating an ex-wide receiver himself, had a poster of our favorite quarterback, Joe Montana, ready to fire a pass downfield. When I asked Joe to autograph it he wrote the words GO DEEP! While we spin the tale as well as our wheels waiting for the most famous Bordeaux to be priced, this phrase keeps coming up. Customers going deep into their wine collections and selling precious older bottles to afford the new young wines. I do not recommend this. What I do recommend is that you do go deep, but back to the simple philosophy that in a great vintage there are tremendous amounts of great wines made and that you go very deep into the wide range of selections and values that abound in a vintage like 2005. As is the case with myself, I am not married to certain estates any longer. When wines I’ve collected for many years go from $30 to $100, I look for other wines. If you are laying the foundation of a wine collection it is a great time for buying Bordeaux. You have a great vintage in 2005, a very good vintage in 2004 that is classic in style and offers fantastic value for some of the world’s most famous wines, and the fine vintage of 2003 arriving this year that features front-loaded fruit and ripeness rarely ever found from the wines of Bordeaux. Of the early releases so far there is without question something for everyone and in everyone’s comfort zone price wise. Under $20: Our customers are savvy and like to drink exceptional wine during the week, and they are buying quite a bit of the great values on futures. That is the exact reason we spend so much time working and tasting in Bordeaux, even when people think were nuts. The 2005 Caronne Ste. Gemme ($13.99), located just behind Ch. Lanessan, makes the cut with us for the first time as it has improved every year, gained purity of fruit and lost its rustic edge. Where can you buy a 6L of really good Bordeaux for $139.99? The same exact situation exists at Lanessan, where the wine just keeps getting better and cost $15.99! Under $30: Three of the greatest buys in this vintage, bar none, are here. The amazing “sweet raspberry fruit and wood, fine integration, the whole package” of Ch. Poujeaux ($26.99) and the “firm structure, fresh nose of cherry and ripe grapes continue across the palate with chalky tannins” of Ch. Chasse Spleen ($26.99). Ch. Meyney ($25.99) has elevated to another world of quality, deep raspberry nose, lovely, silky middle fruit that just continues endlessly on the finish. Wow, what a change, the best I’ve ever tasted! Haut Bergey ($29.99) from Pessac, with its “big, glossy red fruit and earth with structure” is also spectacular. Under $40: Best winemaker in Bordeaux? Hubert de Bouard of Angelus fame, he may just be the best as his Lalande de Pomerol, La Fleur de Bouard ($33.99) powerfully suggests. “Very dark and sweet Merlot, powerful and fresh all at the same, amazing!” The right bank red from the pistol, Helene Garcin Cathiard’s Ch. Barde Haut ($36.99) is right on the target. “Big red fruit-driven Merlot with a good backbone of tannin, serious and well balanced.” The best deal in all of Pomerol since 1998 is without question Ch. Rouget ($37.99). “Elegant, lovely aromas of spice box and clove in this Merlot, naturally extracted, tasty and refreshing.” The price is also refreshing. Please feel free to contact me anytime for questions/advise on the wines of Bordeaux or a copy of my personal tasting notes from 2005 at ex 2723 or Ralph@klwines.com. Cheers, Toujours Bordeaux and Go Giants! —Ralph Sands
For the more sophisticated palate, the 1989 Château Siran, Margaux (1.5L $139.99) is your wine. Starting to show the elegance of a well aged wine but still very youthful, you’ll find good berry notes, tobacco leaf, orange peel, as well as a leather character on the finish. I think it still has cellaring potential, but don’t be afraid to open it tonight. Decant! Another way to go for this festive month is with the very lively 2003 vintage. Starting the line up is the 2003 St. Paul, Haut-Médoc ($10.99), a value-packed cru bourgeois. This well structured wine offers notes of berry and vanilla. Enjoy today and for next few years. The 2003 La Gatte, Bordeaux ($10.99) is an other bargain wine from 2003. Great cherry fruit, just a bit of spice from the oak and a beautiful texture makes this a great pick for any BBQ this summer. Back in stock! Don’t miss it this time! The 2003 Château Saransot-Dupre, Listrac ($18.99) offers an explosion of cassis on the nose with a hints of spice. On the palate this wine has supple tannins that make it approachable today. Enjoy now with grilled meat or cellar. 56% merlot, 24% cabernet sauvignon, 15% cabernet franc, 3% petit verdot and 2% carmenere. This last selection this month is a personal favorite and one of the best second wines: the 2003 Bahans de Haut-Brion, Pessac-Leognan ($41.99). It has very elegant fruit, raspberry, blackberry, cassis, sweet cherry, tabacco leaf and chocolate on the nose. It’s still restrained but opens with decanting and has a clean mineral finish that lasts forever. —Alexandre Brisoux
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