We here at K&L feel very proud to represent one of the best producers of Blanc de Blancs in all of Champagne, Launois, from the village of Mesnil. Mesnil is the southern most of all the grand cru villages in the Cotes de Blancs, and the chardonnay grown here is perhaps the most sought after in all of Champagne for its finesse and age worthiness. In addition to being blessed with great soil, the Launois family is obsessed with quality on every level. They harvest after most of their neighbors are done in order to get perfect ripeness in the grapes, and this allows them to add less dosage (sugar) while still maintaining perfect balance in the Champagne. Not content to purchase the commercially available clones of chardonnay, Launois has its own nursery were they are propagating their own best cuttings for replantings. It took me a year and a half of begging to get them to export the wine— they were already selling it all and did not see any reason to expand into the U.S. Please taste them if you have not already. Currently in stock we have the Launois “Cuvee Reserve” Brut Blanc de Blancs ($25.99), which is like polished white Burgundy with a touch of pine nut and minerals on the nose. The flavors are broad and rich. This is serious wine, with small bubbles and a refreshing finish. Also we have the 1998 Launois Brut Blanc de Blancs ($29.99). This wine has extraordinary concentration and a wonderful tension between ripe chardonnay fruit and scintillating Mesnil minerality. The bead is wonderful; scores of perfect miniscule bubbles jet from the bottom of the flute when you pour this Champagne. Get out the brown paper bags and compare to Salon, Taittinger Comtes de Champagne, etc. Feel free to contact me at 1-800-247-5987 ex 2728. A toast to you! —Gary Westby
Temporary immortality is my goal. And now it is possible—with the advent of the internet. Key words are the way to go, so I’ll be slipping a few throughout this column in the hopes that I will pop up on the internet when someone types in the word. Thanks for your patience in this matter. Narwahl. Punch drunk. Newsprint. Château Palmer is, for my money, one of the most compelling properties in Bordeaux. This Margaux is ranked as a third growth according to the 1855 classification, but make no mistake: Palmer makes wine of first growth quality, and seems to embody the characteristics of each Bordeaux commune. The wines are powerful, they are supple; they show great aromatics in their youth, yet possess great aging potential. Palmer is the yin/yang property—a melting pot for all that is fine in this wine region, yet maintains a distinctive personality. Sawhorse. Umame. Gymnasium. 1978 was a watershed year for Palmer. The wine seemed to have more “meat on its bones” than many other properties in this vintage, and a flatter aging curve as well. The wine is at the perfect stage of drinkibility, beautifully balanced, all spice, herbs and sweet black fruits. Scripture. Gastronome. Plesiosaur. The 1981 Palmer, on the other hand, is all subtlety and elegance. Herbal and slightly ‘dusty,’ the wine manages to retain a core of sweet fruit and is quite lovely in a more classic style. Perfect with pandemonium, notoriety, monophonic. Which brings us to the 1995 Palmer—plump and ripe, full-bodied and forward—this is a Broadway musical in a bottle. The merlot gives this offering a softness that is so engaging you can’t help but love it. Gorgeous now, and will age gracefully for a number of years. Weathervane. Compensatory. Aluminum. A New Pigeon Flies Into the Coop Welcome to Molly Zucker, our newest employee. She is wonderfully sensitive, incessantly cheery and quite possibly the worst food shopper. We are lucky to have snacks in the break room during the holidays, and thanks to Molly you can make a sandwich from: 100 pounds of processed cheese; eight gallons of mayo, six of mustard (Gulden’s, so it’s not so bad), plenty of hydrogenated peanut butter and Wonder bread and enough whipped butter to service the IHOP chain for at least a year. We shall never go hungry, nor healthy! Welcome to K&L Molly! —Joe Zugelder
Near the ancient city of Trier, once the northern capital of the Roman Empire, the Saar River empties its frigid waters into the swelling Mosel. In this most northerly of wine growing regions, growers are at the mercy of nature, and total ripeness is only achieved in three-four years out of ten. Often the bulk of the production is sold off to sparkling wine cellars as the high-acid base wine needed for making Sekt. Yet it is in this valley that legends are born, for if nature abides and the sun shines well into October and November, we are blessed with wines unparallel anywhere in Germany and the world. Wines of astonishing depth, with slate and honeyed fruit that seems to float on the air like music, yet with a taut backbone like cool steel that cuts and refreshes. As Hugh Johnson puts it: “This is not the country for everyday wine; it is either the successful result of a skillful struggle or it is nothing.” The early bud break and flowering in 2004 gave the riesling a “head start” in the Saar, and harvest was carried out in October of healthy grapes with a ripe acid structure. The estate in Serrig of Christian and Andrea Ebert, Schloss Saarstein, sits like a jewel atop the 24-acre monopole vineyard that is as imposing as it is beautiful. The 2004 Serriger Schloss Saarsteiner Kabinett ($18.99) sings with slate and wafts of flowers. Honey and pineapple jump from the glass. On the palate the steely grip of the cool Saar earth keeps the effusive fruit in check. An icy blade of pure riesling is wielded with exacting precision and focus providing an experience that lightens the heart and brings a smile to your face. The 2002 Serriger Schloss Saarsteiner Spätlese ($23.99) is as explosive as it is long, with more richness and depth, a commanding wine with a silent intensity that seethes beneath its surface of crystalline fruit. The longer hang time adds depth and polishes the already rapier-like acidity to a high sheen, which carries the citrus and juicy apricot flavors that bring this wine to a lilting mineral finish. For a full inventory of German wines check go to www.klwines.com or call me at (650) 364-8544 ex 736. Live in the Light! —Jeff Vierra
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