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So why is the 2012 Ladera Cabernet—made from almost entirely from Howell Mountain fruit, from an incredible vintage—sitting pretty at $34.99? I honestly can't tell you. Maybe it's because no one knows how good the Ladera holdings in Howell Mountain are. Or maybe it's the pride that winemaker Jade Barrett takes in making a serious wine for a reasonable price. Or maybe it's because Ladera is an overlooked gem in a sea of Napa alternatives. For whatever the reason, I'm not going to complain. We tasted the 2012 vintage at our staff training yesterday and I was just floored by the quality of this wine. Dark, fleshy fruit cloaked in fine tannins, bits of earth, and in total balance, with enough gusto to go the long haul in your cellar. It's a whole lotta wine for $34.99, and it's made primarily from Howell Mountain grapes, harvested during a great vintage. 

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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 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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Charles Rose and Ginger Chicken

Can you spot the tabby photo bomber? Morsel is rarely in evidence right after Champagne sabering!

Rose Champagne is one of the world’s most flexible food wines, and doesn’t get the credit it deserves for how well it works with cuisine. I love how it interacts with the complex flavors of Asian food, and it has been a staple on our Thanksgiving table for years. It is too bad that it has taken me so long to pair rose with Cinnamon’s ginger garlic chicken thighs as this dish has both the rich poultry and layered sweet and savory elements of both.

We enjoyed the Charles Heidsieck "Rosé Reserve" Brut Champagne ($59.99) immensely with our dinner. This Champagne is composed of 1/3 each Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Meunier and treated to 20% of the famously old and complex reserves that this house is well known for. It gets 5-6% red wine Pinot Noir added for the color and flavor and is aged for at least three years on the lees. Cecile Bonnefand, the CEO of Charles Heidieck, released the revamped Charles Reserve wines in 2012. This was not just a packaged change- she had cut the vineyard sources in half, keeping only the best, and increased the age of the reserves significantly. I interviewed her when these wines were first released, and you can check that interview out here

We usually drink Pinot Noir with this dish- this time it had bubbles!

The Charles rose has the honest toast that comes from extended lees contact and very high quality, subtle dark cherry fruit from the still red wine added to the blend. The best thing about the wine is that this rich toasty character is balanced perfectly with top class chalky drive on the back end. Pairing it with ginger garlic chicken, the Champagne had the vinous power to match the assertive flavors of the dish, and the cut to refresh the palate after each rich bite. I love rose Champagne that can provide both richness, dark fruit flavor and top class refreshment- this Rosé Reserve from Charles Heidsieck delivers it all!

A toast to you!


Gary Westby


Champagne Staff Tasting

Tuesday is always our training day here at K&L; the day when one of our many buyers takes over the tasting bar and educates the rest of the staff on a particular wine region of the world. This past Tuesday we focused on Champagne with Mr. Bubbly himself: Gary Westby. The big news, of course, was the return of the Baron Fuente Champagnes—some of the best bang-for-your-buck deals in the history of our sparkling selection. Check out all the new stuff we just sampled:

Baron Fuente "Grande Réserve" Brut $23.99 - Three years on the lees ("on the lees" means the wine ages with the retired yeast cells in the bottle) and blended with 40% reserve wines for extra richness. It's hard to imagine something better for less than $30. I think that's why we always sell through this so quickly.

Baron Fuente "Galipettes" Brut $34.99 - The Galipettes is made from Baron Fuente's own estate vineyard, which is all certified bio-dynamic. Four years on the lees adds weight, but there's a steely, mineral note that penetrates all that richness and balances it out. A spectacular wine with a truly unique Champagne character.

2006 Baron Fuente "Grand Millésimé" Brut $29.99 - Five years on the lees for this clean and zippy vintage Champagne. This could age for another twenty years according to Westby, so put this one down in the cellar.

Baron Fuente "Espirit" Brut $34.99 - Eight years on the lees with 30% reserve wines mixed in to create the richest and toastiest of the Baron Fuente line-up. Veuve Cliquot fans should hit this up and save $12 per bottle.

The other big arrival was the return of Michel Arnould—one of our most popular direct-imports from the Champagne region. Remember, when we directly import a wine we can cut down the distribution and import tariffs, passing that savings directly to you, the customer.

Michel Arnould Verzenay "Reserve" Brut $32.99 - Made with 75% pinot noir, the nutty character of the grape really comes through. Gary attributes that flavor to pinot noir grown in the village of Verzenay, so this wine is truly about terroir. 

Michel Arnould Verzenay Brut Rosé $34.99 - Made with 100% Grand Cru pinot noir, the rosé is made from an assemblage of multiple vintages and 10% actual red wine. Delish.

2008 Michel Arnould Carte d'Or $49.99 - This is the richer, toastier version of Michel Arnould, a wine that can stand with some of the best brands in the business like Bollinger or Krug. Breadcrumbs and apricots all the way through.

2007 Michel Arnould "Memoire de Vignes" Brut $69.99 - The staff knows each year to purchase as much Memoire de Vignes as each of them can afford. Simply put: this is one of the most elegant and exclusive products we carry as a retailer. Made with grapes harvested from 60 year old pinor noir vines, from the best parcel on the Arnould property. Incredible delicacy and grace. We don't get much, so grab it while you still can.

-David Driscoll


Greetings from Portugal!

Picture this: you arrive into the beautiful city of Porto, Portugal, a world heritage city along the meandering Douro River. It doesn't matter that you flew SFO to Philadelphia, Philly to Lisbon, Lisbon to Porto, that it took 17 hours of travel time, and that you have strung together 22 consecutive hours, perhaps with 35-40 minutes of light airplane sleep. You're groggy and you want to sleep, but that's not an option. Sleep is the cousin of death. Or at least, it will fuck up your schedule. Time to get on the local time.

There is only one one thing to do: drop your bags at the hotel, go for a stroll, and sit down to lunch.

 Did you know that Spain's famed jamon iberico is often made from pigs on the Portuguese side of the border?This Portuguese jamon is every bit as good as it looks.

 Wait is that an Outback Steak House style bloomin' onion? Yes, it is, with black garlic mayo!

 And of course you are in Portugal so fried bacalao is a must.

Time to walk off that lunch. Good call, as there is a lot to see:


And finally, the funky, Les Claypool meets doom/stoner bass and drums combo on the street. A bit unusual, noodlin', and incongruous. In short, a classic Iberian live music experience! The video file was too massive, the music too mind blowingly wacky to properly download. You'll have to settle for a simple photo.

This all took place in the first two hours of the trip. 


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