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Château de Brézé has a long and storied history, first being mentioned in texts in 1068, lauded by King René of Anjou in the 15th century and served at all the royal courts. In 1957, when the AOC of Saumur Champigny was established, the owner of Château de Brézé refused to be part of the appellation, saying that his estate's vineyards were the best and deserved an appellation all their own. And he was probably right. Unfortunately, the wines from those exceptional vineyards were terrible. Lucky for us, the winery sold in 2009 to Le Comte de Colbert, who recruited Arnaud Lambert from nearby Domaine de Saint Just to make the wine. He changed the vineyards over to organic farming and began producing truly stellar wines worthy of their source. The 2012 Château de Brézé Clos David is all estate-grown Chenin Blanc raised in stainless steel to preserve freshness. It has the slightly-oxidized note of a great White Burgundy and a lovely richness that allows it to pair with a variety of foods.

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Archives
Saturday
Jul252015

Slow, Subtle Change

Drastic change often scares people, or at the very least grabs their attention. When your favorite pizza place alters its crust, or begins using a new tomato sauce, it can be a jarring experience; especially when you like it exactly the way it is. That's why most companies looking to switch up their game do so slowly and carefully. Like DuMOL Winery for example: an iconic California producer that is ever-so-carefully scaling back its rich, full-bodied flavor into a style that showcases elegance and restraint. What's more amazing, is that they're winning new customers (like me) who like acidity and fruit in their white wine, without losing any of their old ones, who appreciate a rounder, creamier California Chardonnay. By subtly reducing the amount of oak, the beauty of the DuMOL fruit becomes more and more the star, but without detracting from the softness and smoothness of the style. It's really an amazing transition to behold when you witness the skillful application of it.

We tried the 2013 DuMOL Russian River Chardonnay at our staff tasting earlier this week and many of us were taken aback. Rather than a toasty, full-bodied blast of vanilla, we were treated to something in between Chassagne-Montrachet and Chateau Montelena—integrated oak that melds together seamlessly with the fruit and acidity. I even bought a bottle to take home later that evening (and I don't usually spend $60 on California Chardonnay). It's exciting to me that a revered producer like DuMOL is making crossover wines that can appeal to both sides of the spectrum. It's even more exciting to be able to put these wines into the hands of our Burgundy customers; those who normally don't look towards California Chardonnay when shopping for restraint. By using less new wood and picking the grapes earlier, at reduced sugar levels, the quality of the fruit in the 2013 Russian River Chardonnay is on full display. 

2013 DuMOL Russian River Chardonnay $54.99 - DuMol was established in 1996 by Kerry Murphy and Michael Verlander. Andy Smith joined as winemaker in 2000 and partner in 2005. Most of the grapes are sourced from the Green Valley appellation where DuMOL has a 25-acre Estate Vineyard, with other grape sources originating in the Russian River Valley, Sonoma Coast and Carneros. Since the beginning, DuMol has striven to make well balanced wines. Known for their Pinot Noir and Chardonnays, they also do small amounts of Syrah and Viognier. For much of the winery's existence, the wines have generally been sold direct or to restaurants. With the growth of production, we are finally seeing the wines available to retail. We are lucky enough to get a generous allocation of the wines and hope you enjoy them as much as we do.

-David Driscoll

Wednesday
Jul222015

New Kid On The Block in Jerez

Bodega Faustino González - Image from Faustino González website

Hold up, there’s a new Sherry producer coming out of Jerez? Well, they’re not exactly new, but they are new to us, considering they just began bottling and distributing their own label very recently. The sheer fact that almacenistas are willing to take the risk to bottle and distribute helps prove that there indeed is a sherry renaissance upon us! We are ecstatic to welcome this small artisanal producer to our stores and customers! 

A little history:

Bodega Faustino González may be the newest Sherry producer to come out of Jerez but their history is older than you may think.  They began bottling sherry under their own label called Cruz Vieja in 2014, but in reality this bodega has been producing Sherry for 45 years. In 1971 Dr. Faustino González Aparicio founded the bodega when he bought some very,very old soleras dating back to 1789 form the Alcazar and moved them to his wife's cellar in the Cruz Vieja area of Jerez. Like many others, they had been operating as an Almacenista for years, selling their sherry to bigger producers like the now defunct Domecq.  Faustino González is one of very few producers who still ferment their must in barrels, like Valdespino’s Inocente, and bottle everything ‘en rama’ or unfiltered. The bodega sources their grapes from their own 7 hectares of vines thus having the ability to control the process from start to finish. They are only able to bottle their Sherry in small 1,000 bottle batches, so snatch it up quick because when it’s gone, it’s gone.  The bodega bottles a Fino, Amontillado, Palo Cortado and Oloroso.  We carry all but the fino for the time being.  

Tasting notes: 

Cruz Vieja Viña Roble Amontillado Jerez $32.99

With my first sip of the Amontillado, I knew these wines were extraordinary. The Amontillado goes above and beyond, spending 5 years under flor and 7 years aging oxidatively in a solera that dates back to 1926.  It has beautiful notes of white flowers, bitter almonds, and honey, while the palate is salty and ethereal showing all its ‘flor’ power.  This wine exudes elegance.

 

Cruz Vieja Viña Roble Palo Cortado Jerez $39.99

I think the bodega must be trying to keep the mystery and elusiveness of Palo Cortado alive because they do not specify on their website what the average age is, luckily I have sources (you guessed it my source is our Sherry buyer, Joe Manekin).  The Palo Cortado spends less time under flor, biologically aged for one year and refortified to be aged oxidatively for 10 more years. While only aged biologically for one year, the bright tangy notes of biological aging really shine through providing a lighter style Palo Cortado.  Aromas of candied orange rind and salted caramel shine through while the palate still provides good weight and flavors of dried hazelnuts, coffee and cocoa.

Cruz Vieja Viña Roble Oloroso Jerez $32.99

The Oloroso of course spends no time biologically aged, instead ages for an average of 10 years in a solera system that dates back to 1900. I love Joe Manekin’s description of the Oloroso having aromas and flavors of walnuts, dark toffee, and mixed nuts roasted and brushed with butter, he’s spot on.

We are absolutely thrilled to welcome Bodega Faustino González and thier Cruz Vieja line to our Sherry line-up here at K&L.

Wednesday
Jul222015

Big Wine, Small Price

One of the most important lessons I ever learned concerning Napa wine had to do with the difference between mountain and valley floor fruit. We were visiting some of the Mayacamas range producers back in 2010, and were told: whereas the low-lying valley floor fruit gets scorched all day long by the hot California sun, the hillside grapes get shade either in the morning, or the afternoon; allowing for a slower, and more gradual ripening process. It's like simmering a pot of soup for hours, versus boiling it for fifteen minutes; obviously the lengthier cook will result in the more flavorful broth. Of all the AVAs in Napa, perhaps none is more heralded for its incredible terroir than Howell Mountain; the home of Dunn, La Jota, and Robert Craig. Of course, with serious, long-aged wines made from pristine mountain fruit, come high prices. You're going to pay $60 or more for even the most entry-level wines from Howell Mountain, and for good reason.

So why is the 2012 Ladera Cabernet—made from almost entirely from Howell Mountain fruit, from an incredible vintage—sitting pretty at $34.99?

I honestly can't tell you. Maybe it's because no one knows how good the Ladera holdings in Howell Mountain are.

Or maybe it's the pride that winemaker Jade Barrett takes in making a serious wine for a reasonable price. Or maybe it's because Ladera is an overlooked gem in a sea of Napa alternatives. For whatever the reason, I'm not going to complain. We tasted the 2012 vintage at our staff training yesterday and I was just floored by the quality of this wine. Dark, fleshy fruit cloaked in fine tannins, bits of earth, and in total balance, with enough gusto to go the long haul in your cellar. It's a whole lotta wine for $34.99, and it's made primarily from Howell Mountain grapes, harvested during a great vintage. (HOT TIP: Pacific Catch in San Mateo has this on their wine list and they do 50% off all bottles on Tuesday nights)

2012 Ladera Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon $34.99 - The 2012 is 94% Cabernet Sauvignon with the other four Bordeaux varietals all represented in the blend, which was aged in 40% new oak for twenty months. Spice notes complement the intense dark fruit and well-integrated tannins give this wine structure and an elegant mouthfeel. Intense and complex, this Cabernet truly delivers.

-David Driscoll

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