It was a cold, rainy, wintry day that December 31st, 1976. Friday we believe. The small store at 209 El Camino Real , Millbrae changed names that day from Ernie’s Wines and Liquors to K&L Liquors (we thank you very much dear friend Ernie VanAsperan). And the rest is history! We started as a “bomber” liquor store (meaning we sold products at prices less than the so-called “Fair Trade” prices of the day, and you had to have a K&L card signed by a staff member to buy alcoholic products). The favored drink of that era was Ancient Age mixed with Lejon Vermouth (i.e. a Manhattan). Now the business is quite a bit different, but we still try to serve our wonderful customers the same way. If it wasn’t for all of you, we would not be here today! And we thank you for that, hope we can go another 30 years. Let’s toast together ... with a Manhattan, of course! —Clyde Beffa Jr and Todd Zucker
We’ve been importing wonderful wines from Maison Champy, the oldest negociant in Burgundy, for several vintages. Since many of us have limited budgets after holiday spending, I’ll focus on some bargains. The 2004 Champy Chardonnay Signature ($14.99) is a favorite of many of our staff. It is made from grapes from Puligny, Meursault and Rully, and is a barrel selection of their best barrels. Its toasty and bright, with richness and toasty oak notes. The 2003 Champy St. Romain ($19.99) is from a little village in the hills, protected from the heat of the summer of 2003, and has lovely minerality. The 2003 Champy Pernand Vergelesses ($20.99) is really a little Corton-Charlemagne, and a great buy! The 2003 Champy Bourgogne Pinot Signature ($14.99) is all from the Cote d’Or, and is rich, with bright black cherry fruit and lots of length. The 2003 Champy Pernand-Vergelesses, “Les Fichots,” 1er Cru ($21.99) is from an east-facing vineyard on the back of the hill of Corton, and is flat out stunning, with blackberry spice notes, an elegant character and nice minerality threading through the wine. Don’t miss this one! Á Santé. —Keith Wollenberg
Denis Barraud’s estate is on the slope of the Roche de Vergisson. The Roche is a giant Basalt outcropping in the Mâcon. What makes this an exceptional place for chardonnay? It is the soil surrounding the Roche, highly folded and well drained limestone. From these slopes, depending on the specific soils, comes Pouilly Fuisse, Saint Veran, or Mâcon Vergisson. After the scorching heat of the 2003 vintage, the 2004 comes across as a refreshing late afternoon breeze, cool and long yet full of life. It was a long harvest, beginning on September 18 and continuing until October 12. Barraud does not like to chapitalize, and he kept his fruit on the vine long enough so that it was not necessary. This year we are proudly offering both the St-Veran and the Pouilly-Fuisse here at K&L. 2004 Denis Barraud St-Veran ($13.99) A mixture of stainless steel and a small percentage of oak; only the oldest vines that are capable of handling the oak go into barrel. The wine exhibits good weight and length. The aromatics and flavors range from bright citrus, soft floral, to lush tropical and pineapple, but always framed with good acidity and minerality. 2004 Denis Barraud Pouilly-Fuisse ($18.99) This wine comes from vines on the lower slopes of his Pouilly-Fuisse parcels and is a serious step up from the previous wine with more oak, battonage and longer aging before bottling, and on the technical side and in the glass, more weight and length. Again the fruit tones are dominantly citrus; with more oak influence and hints of vanilla and spice. On the palate the wine sparkles with good texture crisp acidity and lingering minerality. Both of these will drink beautifully over the next year or so. With crab season in full swing, you will not want to be without a bottle. —Kirk Walker
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