Stay Connected
What We're Drinking

 

 

The Freewheel line with a couple of English friends.

It takes a lot of beer to keep the wine business running smoothly. Here in Redwood City, we are very fortunate to have a great English style ale producer right in our backyard: Freewheel Brewing Company. The staff of K&L are fictures at our local pub, and it is a rare moment when one of us isn't there having a pint and a bite of their excellent food. We are also lucky enough to be the first place to offer their bottled beer for sale. If you have never had it, the Freewheel Brewing "FSB" Freewheel Special Bitter, California (500ml) is the benchmark in fresh, balanced, smashable ale. We will do our best to keep some in stock for you, the customer too!

Recent Videos

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 KLWines.com 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

See all K&L Local Events

Archives
Friday
Dec182015

Baron Fuente- Great Champagne from the Aisne!

Sophie Baron and I in the Chantemanche Chardonnay vineyard.

The Champagne’s of Baron Fuente come from the Western edge of the Champagne region, mostly from the Aisne department, but some even from the Ile-de-France- the same district as Paris. The vineyards here are on more varied soil than in the Marne, and are usually steeper. Because of the proximity to the big city, much of the production is snapped up in France, and we are one of the lucky few to be able to import some Champagne from this important sub-region.

Baron Fuente is a negociant, but most of their needs are met from their estate. In fact, less than half of the wines that we import from them use purchased fruit at all. All of the grapes they buy are bought on the vine, they handle all of the picking themselves. This is a stark contrast to large negociants who deal in everything from juice to ready to-be disgorged bottles. The wines all go through malolactic fermentation and everything is vinified in stainless steel.

We only received 4 cases of the Baron Fuente "Cepages Meunier" Brut Champagne ($44.99) which is a wine with quite a following from the folks who have visited the property. This all estate grown Meunier gets four years of ageing on the lees and is full of the rich pear and apple fruit that this grape is known for, but also great cut from the cool Aisne vineyards. This wine took the staff by storm at our Baron Fuente dinner when paired with garlic prawns!

The most astounding value in the Baron line has to be the Baron Fuente "Esprit" Brut Champagne ($34.99) which gets an astoundingly luxurious seven years of aging on the lees. It is composed of even parts Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Meunier from the estate. The Esprit has a very high-quality sourdough toastiness arrived at honestly from the long aging on the lees. It is round and easy to drink, with flavors of hazelnuts contrasting its nice citrus zip. Sixty bottles are available.

Eric de Brissis of Baron Fuente with a bottle of the excellent Esprit Blanc de Blancs

We also received sixty bottles of the Baron Fuente "Esprit" Blanc de Blancs Brut Champagne ($39.99). This unique, all Chardonnay Champagne comes from a nine-and-a-half acre single vineyard in Saacy-sur-Marne called the Chantemanche. It might be the most western vineyard site in all of Champagne, and is actually so far west that it is in the Paris district, on the very edge of Champagne. It is aged for three years on the lees with reserve wines from three previous harvests. This creamy, nutty Blanc de Blancs is seamless, integrated and has good, refreshing lift on the finish. I promise you will be the only person on your block drinking Champagne from the Paris district!

If you are interested in organic, you should try the Baron Fuente "Galipettes" Brut Champagne ($34.99). Farmed entirely organically, this is both Ecocert and Demeter certified. Like the rest of the Baron Fuente Champagnes, this wine gets plenty of time on the lees: four years. It is composed of 20% Chardonnay, 10% Pinot Noir and 70% Meunier, entirely from a friend of the family who grows grapes in Crouttes-sur-Marne. The nose reminds me of pain-au-chocolate, lots of buttery croissant and just a hint of cocoa. It is rich and fairly full-bodied; with a great high quality, savory cherry flavor from the top-notch Meunier in the blend.

For pink Champagne lovers we also received five cases each of the two roses made at the property, the blended Baron-Fuenté "Dolores" Brut Rosé Champagne ($34.99) and the 100% maceration Baron Fuente "Esprit" Brut Rosé Champagne ($34.99). Tasting these two roses side by side is an education on the two different methods of production and a lot of fun! They are both great quality for money.

On this shipment we also received our last slug of the 2006 Baron Fuente "Grand Millésimé" Brut Champagne ($29.99). This Champagne is composed of 45% Chardonnay, 40% Meunier and 15% Pinot Noir and spent more than seven years on the lees. While this nutty, well balanced, open knit Champagne drinks great right now, don’t count it out for ageing! This will be a lot of fun to drink even in 2026, and at this price you can afford to save a few.

Our biggest seller is the Baron Fuente "Grande Réserve" Brut Champagne ($23.99) which is also available in magnum ($49.99) and half bottle ($14.99). This is a giant slayer of a bottle, with more than half estate fruit composed of 10% Pinot Noir, 30% Chardonnay and 60% Meunier. This wine is lavished with three years of ageing on the lees and 40% reserve wines and has none of the rawness associated with this price point. On the contrary, this is toasty, round, pleasure giving Champagne with a ton of personality without going out of balance. Don’t let the low price scare you away on this one. It is very good Champagne.

A toast to you!

 

Gary Westby

 

Friday
Dec112015

Michel Arnould Is Back!

Rare as hens teeth, the Memoire de Vigne is a definitive Blanc de Noirs from the Grand Cru of Verzenay.

We just received in a small amount of Champagne Arnould in time for the holidays, including a small allocation of his incomparable, old vine, vintages. Here is some background on him from an article I wrote last year:

 

Champagne Michel Arnould is our top producers of dry, powerful Pinot based Champagnes. Located on the Mountain of Reims, Verzenay is one of the most exciting and unique terroirs in all of Champagne; the furthest north of all of the Grand Crus, it faces north away from the sun and still manages to produce some of the most powerful Pinot Noir in the region. Some of the locals say that a mysterious warm air current is the explanation for this ripening anomaly; others will say that it is impossible to explain, like the flight of the bumblebee. I love the distinct, hazelnut quality that this special village stamps on its wines, and I feel very lucky to have convinced Mr. Patrick Arnould to sell us some of his great wines.

 

Patrick is the fifth generation of Champagne Michel Arnould. They own 27 acres in the village of Verzenay, a quite sizable holding in this high rent area. It is planted to 80% Pinot Noir and 20% Chardonnay, which reflects the average plantation for the village. The black Pinot is king here. The Arnould’s have quite a few plots of vines that are very old and positioned in the golden band of the mid slope, where the sun exposure is best. They have a high proportion of old vines (40 to 50 years old) and all of the wines undergo complete malolactic fermentation in stainless steel and enamel vats.

 

This is what we received:

 

2008 Michel Arnould "Memoire de Vignes" Brut Champagne $69.99: We only received seven and a half cases of this 2008. This is exclusively old vine Pinot Noir (over 60 years) from the best parcel in Patrick's holdings and he only makes one press load. This is vinous, powerful, black fruited Champagne in the mold of the Vieilles Vignes Francaises from Bollinger. Because of the north-facing exposure, the wine retains its finesse even at the very high level of concentration that it has. Even the fullest cellar should be rearranged for a little of this. Again, patience is needed, but will be greatly rewarded!

 

2009 Michel Arnould Vintage "Carte d'Or" Brut Champagne $49.99: This wine is a blend of very old vine (50+ years) Verzenay Pinot Noir and Oger Chardonnay in equal proportions. The Chardonnay comes from Delphine Cazals, Olivier Bonville's wife, who trades Patrick for red wine so she can make rose. This is wine exclusively for the patient, as the two terroirs that have come together in this bottle need a lot of time to marry. But when they have had the time, it is a spectacular example of what the care of two growers coupled with the variety of two great terroirs can do, I can't really think of anything to compare the wine to, but it is an experience not to be missed.

 

2005 Michel Arnould Vintage "Carte d'Or" Brut Champagne (1.5L) $99: Only 36 magnums available. That’s right- Patrick Arnould ages his vintage magnums four extra years on the lees over the 750’s, and then charges you NOTHING for the extra time. Like many Champagne producers, he passionately believes this is the format to drink Champagne out of!

 

Michel Arnould Carte d'Or Brut Champagne Jeroboam (3L) $225: Only six Jero’s available. These Jero’s missed there vintage labels at the winery… So you will have to guess! The juice is mind blowing!

 

Michel Arnould "Grand Cuvée" Brut Champagne $39.99: Exclusively from the 2009 harvest, although not labeled as such, this Champagne is composed of two-thirds Pinot Noir and one-third Chardonnay. The Champagne has a graceful, delicate balance that Verzenay wines sometimes lack but with the signature hazelnut Pinot core. I found it to have creaminess to complement its racy cherry fruit on the palate, and an extraordinarily long, dry finish. It is dosed at 9 grams per liter: very dry! It will age very well… I had the 1990 when it was over 20 years old and it was great!

 

Michel Arnould Verzenay Brut Rosé Champagne $34.99 Magnums available ($74.99): This rosé bottling is 100% Grand Cru Pinot Noir. The wine is made by assembling multiple vintages and red Coteaux Champenoises sourced from old vines. This lovely Rosé Champagne offers hints of raspberry, strawberry and red currant. It is refined on the palate where the berry notes unfurl into subtle notes of grenadine.

 

Michel Arnould Verzenay "Reserve" Brut Champagne ($32.99) Magnums ($69.99) and Half bottles ($16.99): This is a blend of 75% Pinot Noir and 25% Chardonnay, entirely from estate vineyards in the Grand Cru of Verzenay. This is a great party Champagne, since it is full of flavor yet refreshing and moreish. The hazelnut Pinot character so unique to the village of Verzenay is pronounced in this wine, and many good tasters have mistaken it for barrel fermented (it is actually all stainless and enamel fermented) when presented the wine blind. The texture is full and the bead is refined.  In short, this is a Champagne that you will be proud to serve to your guests, or perhaps not too proud to save for yourself!

 

A toast to you!

 

Gary Westby

Friday
Dec042015

Bonville is Back!

Olivier Bonville in front of his new press, presenting the vin-clair.

Few Champagne’s that we carry are as well loved as the wines from Champagne Franck Bonville. We have been working with Olivier Bonville and his wines for more than a dozen years now, and many of you have been to Avize to visit him, or met him at our tent events. Olivier’s property is an enviable one; over 50 acres, all planted to Chardonnay and exclusively Grand Cru in the villages of Oger, Mesnil and Avize. His wines sell faster than any other producer that we carry, big or small, and for good reason. They are pure class.

We have been getting a great allocation of the Franck Bonville "Belles Voyes" Brut Blanc de Blancs Champagne ($69.99 750ml, $139 magnum) since the beginning- we were the first customer for this wine. It is Olivier Bonville’s baby, and he makes it the same way that his grandfather made Champagne. It is all ancient vine, massal selected juice from a 1 and ¾ acre parcel in the grand cru of Oger called the Belles Voyes. All of the wine is matured in 225 liter Burgundy barrels before being bottled. For those of you who have not tried it, the Belles Voyes is simply one of our best Champagnes at any price. It has the power, breadth and richness that reminds me of top white Burgundy and the near infinite chalk drive that can only come from the best sites in Champagne. It is a must try for any true fan of Champagne. The current shipment is the last of the 2008 base in 750’s, and the last of the 2004 in magnum.

The smallest production Champagne at Bonville is the Franck Bonville Extra Brut Blanc de Blancs Champagne ($39.99). It is exactly the same wine as the vintage, in this case the 2009, but the very last disgorgement run and dosed at only 2.5g/l. All of the fruit comes from Avize, and mostly from older parcels. This is the ultimate shellfish Champagne with its strict, linear, bone dry profile. It is embarrassing how much of our allocation of this I drink myself… I love it with sushi! The wine gains the Grand Cru richness with a bit of food, and is as clean as whistle!

The Franck Bonville "Prestige" Brut Blanc de Blancs Champagne ($44.99) is the “insiders” bottling in his range. He gives this all Avize Chardonnay four years of ageing on the lees, and it is his creamiest, most open knit offering. We only get a small amount; most of it goes to restaurants in the Champagne region. This is a great aperitif as it is loaded with the bracing minerality that we love the Cote de Blancs for, but also enough richness to drink on its own.

Olivier has nothing but Chardonnay on his estate, so he trades to get a little red wine to make his Franck Bonville Brut Rosé Champagne ($39.99). This Champagne is 92% Chardonnay from the estate with 8% Ambonnay rouge from super star grower Paul Dethune added for rose flavor and color. The intensity of the Pinot Noir is such that it seems like much more than just 8%! If it wasn’t for the blanc de blanc base, this wine would only be suitable for pairing with duck or pigeon, but the fresh Chardonnay brings everything into perfect balance.

All Champagne producers should be judged on their entry level wine, and Olivier’s is as good as they get. We have the Franck Bonville Grand Cru Blanc de Blancs Champagne in 750ml ($34.99), half bottle ($18.99) and magnum ($69.99). The current batch is based on 2012 and has 50% reserve wines from 2010 and 2009. The entire 2011 production was used as base wine for the last batch, and they didn’t save any as reserves. This is always the fastest non-vintage Champagne to sell out… So get it while we have it! The nose is effusive, with baguette, white flowers and a nice salinity, while the flavors have a fine balance of white fruit, cream and precise Avize chalk. It is dosed at 8.3 grams per liter and is very, very long finishing. Don't miss this.

A toast to you!

Gary Westby

Page 1 ... 3 4 5 6 7 ... 476 Next 3 Entries »