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With the James Bond movie Spectre being released today, no time could be better to drink Bollinger. The most suave spy in the world has been sipping on Bollinger since Moonraker in 1979. While we can’t all drive a fully loaded, customized machine gun having Aston Martin, we certainly can chill down a bottle of Bolli! The 2004 Bollinger "Grande Année" Brut Champagne ($109) is as good as Champagne gets; all barrel fermented and full of masculine, Pinot Noir power and high class elegance. We even have a few bottles of the limited 2009 Bollinger "James Bond 007" Brut Champagne ($195) in stock for the diehard fan of Bond & Champagne!

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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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Domaine Begude – Direct from the Source

Famed wine critic Jancis Robinson wrote recently about her trip to France's Limoux region:

Bargain Pinot Noir is thin on the ground. Indeed, cheap Pinots tend to be either thin or unappetisingly sweet and syrupy. But this Begude is a fine example from the pretty hills north of Limoux, the sparkling wine town in the far south west of the Languedoc described in Limoux's little bargains. James and Catherine Kinglake left Britain to try their hand as Languedoc vignerons in 2003 (see Pursuing a dream – as vignerons) to live in the house pictured above. I have followed their progress with interest over the years. Rather than make fizz, they have been producing varietal still wines, including some fine Chardonnay that is also good value.

Considering that we here at K&L have been importing the certified organic wines from Begude for some time now, you can bet we were thrilled with Jancis's little discovery. James and Catherine's bargain-priced pinot noir, chardonnay, and sauvignon blanc are perennial customer favorites, as well as beloved weeknight warriors for our saucy staff, so we're excited about the expanded bandwidth. Jancis managed to sniff out these values herself and she adds an important note regarding the value of the Begude pinot noir:

These Limoux hills are highly suitable for Pinot Noir, as was proved many years ago at Domaine de l'Aigle at Roquetaillade, now part of the Gérard Bertrand empire. For reasons that make no sense to me, the red wine grapes sanctioned for the Limoux appellation are not Pinot Noir but a mix of Bordeaux and Rhône grapes, which is presumably why red Limoux is a rather minor player on the world wine stage – and why this delicious Pinot Noir has to be sold as an IGP Haute Vallée de l'Aude. And therefore only $12.99!!!

The secret is out! You can get delicious and delicate Limoux pinot noir for less than fifteen bucks. But this information stays between you, Jancis, and us!

2014 Domaine Begude Pinot Noir ($12.99) - Limoux reds are known mostly for Bordeaux and Rhone varietal blends, rather than pinot noir, but don't let esoteric piece of information stand in your way! The Domaine Begude pinot noir is one of the most popular bargain reds we sell here at K&L and the crisp, clean cherry flavors are the perfect complement to the oncoming Fall season.

16 points Jancis Robinson: "Pale cherry red. Pale rim. Obviously a delicate touch in the winemaking. Light vegy spectrum of Pinot scents and very refreshing too. There's a good core of just-ripe fruit underneath. This is already a good drink and has no surplus fat nor sweetness. Appetising dry finish. Very fine tannins. Good stuff! And, even if not a long-term bet, likely to be VGV. This is one of those beautifully balanced, lightweight Pinots that should be drunk young and could certainly be drunk cellar cool.(JR)" (08/2015)

2014 Domaine Begude Chardonnay "Le Bel Ange" ($11.99) - The creamy and rounder flavor profile of the Begude chardonnay makes it the perfect crossover for California drinkers in search of everyday value. While thoroughly French in style, the richness of the aromas and the rounder fruit flavors on the palate should please fans of any style. For the price, it's hard to do much better than this.

16 points Jancis Robinson: "Nutty and creamy nose with baked apple on the palate. Good length, good balance – it’d be hard to find a classic French Chardonnay with a better quality-to-price ratio. GV (RH)" (05/2015)

 2014 Domaine Begude Sauvignon Blanc Pays d'Oc ($11.99) - Domaine Begude is a small, family-owned property located high in the foothills of the Pyrenees in the Limoux region of the Languedoc. The long, cool growing season lends itself perfectly to the production of crisp and delicate wines, and this Sauvignon Blanc is no exception. More in the style of a Loire Valley Sancerre, with its fine, mineral-laden nose and fresh citrus fruits on the palate, this is the perfect accompaniment to grilled fish, oysters, or just by itself. Make this one your house white! Organically certified by Ecocert & NOP.

-David Driscoll


The King of the Off-Vintage

When you look at the biggest selling Bordeaux wines in the history of K&L—the bottles that customers came back to buy again, and again, and again—few of those coveted cuvées came from the most heralded of vintages. While we’ve sold countless bottles from the now legendary 2000 and 2005 harvests, and we continue to find great bargains from the back-to-back home runs of 2009 and 2010, it’s our success in the so-called "off-vintages" that sets K&L apart from other Bordeaux retailers. Any wine buyer can look at a score sheet, pick the best wines off that list, and place an order from a distributor. But only a veteran of the trade can make top selections based on a wine’s inherent quality, especially from vintages that don’t have nearly as much press.

We know K&L co-owner Clyde Beffa around these parts as “the king of Bordeaux”, but he’s known in the Mèdoc as “the king of the off-vintage” because of his reputation for (literally) sniffing out values where others did not. He's like a seasoned stock broker who trades in claret instead of shares. Two of the top-selling wines in the history of the store are the 1997 Langoa-Barton and Potensac—two over-achievers from an underrated year (just ask the 5,000+ K&L customers who are still pulling these gems from their cellar). Lately he's been setting his sights on the 2012 Bordeaux vintage—a harvest that seems to be ripe with classically-styled, under-the-radar gems, if not opulent fruit. If you're a stickler for the Robert Parker vintage report, try these modestly-priced 2012 selections and see what you think. Our staff was completely taken aback by both wines at a recent tasting event.

2012 Clos Saint Emilion Philippe, St-Emilion $12.99 - From the negociant: "A modern, fruity, luscious, fleshy, supple wine, with a vivid, elegant palate and loads of ripe fruit, silky tannins, and a long elegant finish. Taste over grilled steaks, game, or hard cheeses. Located between Libourne and Saint Emilion, not far from Ch. Laroze. The family Philippe has owned it for 4 generations and Jean-Claude and Nicole Philippe now run it. The wine became Grand Cru in 1995."

2012 Bel-Air, Pomerol $24.99 - Bel Air is an estate in the Pomerol region that has long been an insider's favorite for value-oriented quality. The 2012 is a total sleeper of the vintage, one that will be completely overshadowed by the incredible 2009 and 2010 vintages preceeding it. The wine shows delicate blackberry fruit with toasted oak and soft tannins that intregrate beautifully on the finish. This is a great bargain.

-David Driscoll


Back-to-Back Home Runs from Brown

While it’s certainly efficient to get straight to the point (or points in the case of these K&L wine emails), every now and again it’s nice to have a bit of background about what you’re drinking and what exactly makes it special. Take for example the recent vintages of 2009 and 2010 Chateau Brown, two very different wines from the same producer, both with fantastic reviews that are bound to strike a chord with audiences everywhere. Brown has always been an underrated property in the Pessac-Leognan—a region of the Graves known for producing mineral-driven reds—so it’s no surprise that its wines from two incredible back-to-back vintages were well-received.  But when you’re talking about Bordeaux rouge—a wine that often tastes better later than sooner—what exactly does “92 points” mean? Does it mean the wine is so good you should drink it now? Or do those 92 points refer to the wine’s potential for aging? Maybe it’s a great wine for the cellar instead? When you summarize a wine’s inherent quality within a short, succinct series of digits, it’s tough to know exactly what those scores refer to: drink or hold? In the case of these 2009 and 2010 vintages from Chateau Brown, we think you’re in the clear either way. Both wines are so delicious after a few years in the bottle that you can enjoy those 92 points just about whenever you want to.

The red wines of 2009 from Bordeaux are generally characterized by a softness of ripe fruit and velvet texture, the products of a generous growing season. The Brown Rouge is no exception. This is French cabernet sauvignon-based wine that even a Calfornia cab drinker could wrap his or her head around. It’s drinkable right out of the bottle, but the lush fruit never covers the secondary flavors enveloped beneath it. It’s that $35 bottle of delicious steak-and-claret night red you might be looking for this weekend. 

2009 Brown Rouge $32.99 - A fabulous wine for the future, but packed with so much sweet fruit you'll be tempted to drink it now. There's a dark rich color to it, full of minerals and iron notes, but the wine is so soft on the finish that everything glides down almost too easily.

The 2010 Brown Rouge also holds true to the general characterization of the vintage: plenty of ripeness to be had, but with a bit more structure and gusto. While we at K&L might normally throw a wine like this into the cellar and wait for those tannins to soften just a bit, we popped a bottle this past weekend and found the wine utterly approachable now. Check out that serious steak-and-claret action from Champagne buyer Gary Westby’s house this past Sunday! I’m getting thirsty just writing this blog. 

2010 Brown Rouge $34.99 - Fruit-forward aromas turn to spices and warm stones. Full body, with chewy tannins and a juicy finish. Really delicious young wine. Hard not to drink now, but better in 2016.

The conclusion? Five years later, the 2009 and 2010 vintages are truly living up to the hype they originally received. The values we continue to find from Bordeaux week after week, month after month, seem born out of a Cabernet lover’s dream. We’re opening $35 bottles of over-achieving wines with incredible regularity around here—to our delight, of course, and hopefully to yours as well. The only question we’re struggling with now is: how much do we buy?

-David Driscoll

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