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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!

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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

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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

Monday
Nov232015

The History of Bubbles

You may be suprised to learn the first sparkling wine was not found in Champagne, but rather discovered in Limoux, France. Limoux is the sparkling wine hub of southern France and home to our direct import producer Antech. To tell us about both the history and legend of sparkling wines we have the charming Francoise Antech-Gazeau, the 6th generation winemaker at Antech. 

 

Discover Cremant de Limoux and Blanquette de Limoux this holiday season. 

You can find all of her beautiful sparkling wines at our stores and online.

-Olivia Ragni

 

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