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Bruno Michel "Blanche" Brut Champagne $34.99One of our best non-vintage Champagnes, this organically grown blend of half each Chardonnay and Meunier comes entirely from Bruno Michel's estate. It has been aged for six years on the lees and shows wonderful natural toasty quality as well as incredible vibrance! This was the big hit of our most recent staff Champagne tasting and we think you will love it too.

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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 KLWines.com or follow us on Facebook.  

 

Free Spirits Tastings at K&L! Now that we have our license for spirits tastings in Redwood City and San Francisco, we’re excited to host regular free spirits tastings in those locations.  Check the Spirits Journal for an updated tasting schedule.

All tastings will feature different products from the Spirits Department and take place on Wednesdays in Redwood City and San Francisco. 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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Archives
Tuesday
Sep022014

The New Talbott

Dan Karlsen and Mark Cutino of Talbott Vineyards

Things have changed at the well-known Talbott winery. You have probably tasted their wines and know the label, but the truth is that the most recognizable name in the Santa Lucia Highlands had been in financial decline for a while. Even though the family owned one of the most legendary vineyards in the appellation, their wines had developed a reputation for being over oaked and over done, with confusing labels and no sense of style, appellation, or direction. For years bad bookkeeping and a bad reputation kept this winery from consistently gaining market share.

Enter Dan Karlsen, Talbott's new winemaker, whose job today was to present us the new Talbott: a winery dedicated to the finest estate wines their esteemed "Sleepy Hollow" vineyard could produce.  If it's been a while since you tried a Talbott Chardonnay, you should give them a second glance.  Everything has changed, and their new wines are bright and nuanced--quintessential cool weather wines from the Santa Lucia Highlands.

Karlsen, whose resumé includes winemaking for such legendary brands as Chalone, Joseph Swan, Domaine Carneros and Dehlinger, is dedicated to showcasing the potential of his appellation and revitalizing the Talbott name. As GM and winemaker, he has been given complete authority to take Talbott in a different and better direction. All of their wines are now estate and labeled as such, with the ‘Talbott’ name proudly displayed on every bottle. They no longer sell any fruit from the sought after Sleepy Hollow Vineyard, instead using all of its fruit for their own wines. Staunchly opposed to the problems inherent with cork, he bottles all Talbott wines with screwtops. New and better presses, new and better tanks, new and better vineyard practices, everything at Talbott is new and better! Long time fans of Talbott need not despair: he still believes in the lush and vibrant fruit Talbott has always been known for. These new wines, however, are not afraid of the natural acid and crisp edge of the cooler Santa Lucia Highlands, and he does not want to hide the balance and finesse of these estate wines behind too much new oak.

While we enjoyed the spicy and bright new style of their single vineyard Pinots, I still think it's the Chardonnays that set this winery apart. Their 2012 "Kali Hart" Chardonnay ($15.99), named after the owner's daughter, is now all estate and mostly stainless steel with a little barrel contact. It is refreshingly lean and delicious, with bright pear and lychee flavors and a long lasting finesse that is almost unrivaled in the $15 domestic Chardonnay category. Their 2013 "Logan" Chardonnay ($16.99) is one of the best deals out there: 100% Sleepy Hollow Vineyard fruit for less than $20, with more fig and vanilla spice under its acidic backbone.  The 2012 "Estate" ($32.99) is the king of them all, the best that the vineyard has to offer, with lush apple, white flower, lychee and almond flavors that leave a long impression on the palate. These are serious white wines from a serious vineyard--exactly what this property always deserved.  An allegory for domestic Chardonnay in general--they have moved from a flabby and outdated expression of this popular grape to a style that better expresses the full potential of their vineyard and their AVA.  If you love Chardonnay, you owe it to yourself to give these wines another try and fall in love all over again.

 Mike Barber

Saturday
Aug302014

1990 Lanessan: Classic Claret

Claret at its peak, 24 years after it was harvested.

As promised, I have been working my way through all of the vintages of Lanessan in stock from the 1980’s and 1990’s. We received a shipment direct from the Chateau earlier this month full of old vintages from this estate, and I listed them all last week in the piece I did on the 1989 Lanessan here. Additionally, David Driscoll did a great piece on the history of the property here. This week, Cinnamon and I enjoyed the 1990, a great Bordeaux vintage that is now drinking in its prime.

Bordeaux and steak are a Friday tradition at our home, and I usually buy my steak a few days ahead to give it some dry age in the refrigerator. Food lovers debate the efficacy of using the home refrigerator for this, but I have found that a couple or three days uncovered makes for a much better crust on meat, so I am going to keep doing it. In a future article, I will try a real piece of dry aged steak from Allen Brothers and report on the difference.

 

 

A little home dry ageing helps develop a good crust on a steak.

This week we decided to do something different, and do New York strip steak instead of rib-eyes. Another crazy night in the suburbs! As usual, Cinnamon cooked the steak perfectly rare in grandma’s old Lodge cast iron pan and this week served the meat with oven fries. She also prepared a lovely beet, fig and spinach salad with steakhouse blue cheese dressing. We had everything but the martini!

She decanted the 1990 Lanessan, Haut-Médoc ($69.99) about an hour ahead, and because it was such a warm night, threw the decanter in the refrigerator to make sure it was cool enough for dinner. Her instincts from years of sommelier work were right again, and the wine was perfect when we sat down to eat. Never be afraid to decant or start cold- only the bottles that were bad to begin with die, and it is easy to warm wine up with your hands!

 

 

We may be predictable, but steak and Bordeaux are going to work together every time!

Like most of the Bordeaux from the excellent 1990 vintage, the Lanessan was in peak form and drinking perfectly. It had a classic, generous bouquet with plenty of ripe cassis fruit and earthy, gravelly intrigue. On the nose it was the equal to any wine that we have had this year. This vintage was the second quite warm harvest in a row in Bordeaux, and like many other producers the folks at Lanessan adapted perfectly on the 2nd go around. This wine was ripe, but did not go over the top. The claret was medium, or even light bodied, with no seems at all. The tannins were completely integrated, the acid still fresh, and the finish lively, long and moreish.

With the New Yorks, it was hard not to drink it fast. I have a bad reputation with my wife for claret hogging, and I had to control myself, especially on the first glass. Classics get to be classics for a reason, and this combination is unbeatable. I am already looking forward to next Friday!

A toast to you!

Gary Westby

 

 

Friday
Aug292014

DI Retrospective: 2009 Jacques Bavard Monthelie Rouge

Never drink out of a beaker- unless it is reserved for Burgundy!

Burgundy lovers often say that five years from vintage is the perfect time to drink a good quality village wine. Since the great 2009’s are now just hitting their 5th birthday, I thought I would check in on the 2009 Jacques Bavard Monthelie Rouge and see if that rule of thumb is correct. Cinnamon and I went deep on this wine- when it was first released in February of 2012; I started out with a case of 750’s, Cinnamon bought another six, then I went back to the well for a case of magnums. Here is my staff review from the release:

“I just bought a case of this for my cellar. Now the problem will be keeping my hands off of it! This Monthelie shows just a little too well right now- last night Cinnamon and I had it with Wind Dancer Farms lamb chops. I decanted the wine an hour and a half ahead, and it was nothing short of spectacular. This is Burgundy with the '09 richness, but it sacrifices nothing in terms of its cut and refreshment. There is no other $25 Pinot that comes close... And very few $50 bottles that could equal it! It is my aspiration to drink my last bottle in 2024. I am confident the wine will be great then- but will I have any left?”

Here are Keith’s notes from the time:

“This exciting Pinot Noir comes from the picturesque village of Monthelie, located next to the more famous village of Volnay.  It is from a tiny negociant in Puligny-Montrachet named Jacques Bavard.  He comes from a long line of wine-growers, and is dedicated to working with organic and biodynamic growers. I found him thanks to a tip from a friend in Chassagne-Montrachet on my June trip, and was most impressed with the purity of his wines.This comes from 30-year-old vines, and underwent a long cold soak to extract more aromatic elements. It has lovely cherry fruit, and that wonderful note of wild strawberries (Fraises des Bois in French). When combined with the sappy opulence of the 2009 vintage, this is an irresistible wine.  It's a fresh, bright and wonderful Pinot Noir, at a modest price, thanks to our direct import.”

In the few years that we have been working directly with Mr. Bavard, it has become a phenomenon in the Burgundy section. The wines, especially the whites, get snapped up very quickly by those who have had past vintages. We are sold out of the 750’s of the 2011 Maison Jacques Bavard Monthelie Rouge already, and just have a few magnums left at $59.95. Luckily, we will be getting a little bit more of the 2011 750ml’s in a week or so, and you can get on the waiting list for those here.


Roast chicken & potatoes- a Westby house favorite with Burgundy!

For this bottle I prepared one of Cinnamon and my favorite dishes for Burgundy, roast chicken and roast potatoes. I also roasted some cauliflower with hot peppers and capers to mix things up. Our chicken, which was so lean and slender that it looked more like a racing breed than a roasting breed came from Bel Campo in Palo Alto. It turned out to be one of the best chickens we have had, and all I did was spatchcock it, rub it down with salt, pepper and olive oil and roast it on a rack above the potatoes! I think they might have given it a little brine, because the breast was very tender and savory and the thigh fully cooked- a trick even after spatchcocking the bird.

The Morsel cat loves chicken. Luckily she leaves our Burgundy alone!

I decanted the Monthelie and hour and a half ahead of time. Lots of Burgundy lovers don’t like the idea of decanting, but I am a believer. In this case, I am very confident that I was right to do it, since the wine started off shy and opened as the meal progressed. The Bavard had more than enough dark fruit and even some dried cherry elements to go with its firm structure.  I loved the catnip and coffee hints I found in the wine as the bottle dwindled, as well as the high acid, focused finish. We needed some zing with the schmaltzy roast potatoes!

I think this wine is still young, and won’t touch another for another year. It gives me a lot of confidence in this producers wine, and I hope to collect many more vintages for my cellar. It amazes me what $25 and a little patience can deliver to the wine lover. All you need is a little faith in your palate and a place to put the bottles.

A toast to you!

Gary Westby

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