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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

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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.

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Bruno Michel comes to California!

From left to right, Catherine, Clement and Bruno Michel, with me in the middle!

Yesterday we were treated to a very nice visit from Bruno Michel and his family here in Redwood City. Bruno makes some of the very best Champagne that we sell and has been certified organic since 1999 by Ecocert. His wines are all very long aged, and being a nurseryman first, entirely produced from his own estates hand selected massal vineyards. Every vine that he has planted he has selected and grafted himself. I think I can speak for the whole staff when I say that these wines impressed deeply… This man is making the real deal grower stuff at the very highest level.

I often tell the story of the first time that I met Mr. Michel at his winery in Pierry, just south of Epernay in 2006. My father was with me on the trip, and we were doing four or five appointments a day. After tasting the wines and being blown away, my dad kicked me under the table when I told Bruno that I would get back to him about ordering… That was the first time I ever bought on the spot, and I am glad that I did since these wines would doubtless have been snapped up by the next importer that walked in the door. Thanks for the good advice dad!

We have just a few bottles left of his super wine, with more on the way, including some stellar single vineyard 2008’s. Here is what we tasted yesterday:

Bruno Michel "Blanche" Brut Champagne $34.99: This blend of 53% Meunier and 47% Chardonnay is aged for five years on the lees. It is creamy, layered, intricate stuff that tastes far more expensive than its small direct-import price. This, like all of the wines he makes are for thoughtful drinkers who prize subtlety and delicacy in their Champagne.

Bruno Michel "Rebelle" Extra Brut Champagne $39.99: Dosed at only 2 grams per liter, this dry, racy blend of half and half Meunier and Chardonnay comes only from vines older than sixty years. It is also aged for five years on the lees. This is a great Champagne to pair with fish, especially sushi, and because of its long ageing, it isn’t as strict as some Extra Bruts.

Bruno Michel "Les Roses" Brut Rosé Champagne $49.99: This earthy, deep rose reminds me of Vosne-Romanee, and is definitely not for people looking for something light and simple! This is all 2004, although not labeled as a vintage, and comes from a plot of vines called “Les Roses” planted in the mid 1960’s. It is entirely barrel fermented in old, small oak. I love this Champagne with grilled salmon, but it will even work with lamb.

I hope that you will try these before they are gone.

A toast to you!


Gary Westby


Laurent-Perrier Rosé and Smoked Salmon

I can't think of a better thing to do with a Sunday afternoon than this!

This past week I met with Laurent-Perrier’s Michelle Defeo and learned about some of the renovations that have been made back in Tours-sur-Marne where LP is located. Apparently a lot has changed since the last time I visited. For one thing, they have an entirely new dedicated facility for making their rose which is so secret even Michele hasn’t visited it. Over the past few years I have noticed a big improvement in what was already a great, iconic rose Champagne, and now I have an explanation. If you haven’t had a chance to taste the Laurent-Perrier "Cuvée Rosé" Brut Rosé Champagne ($67.99) lately, it is worth a look- the quality is spectacular.

This rose is, as it always has been 100% Grand Cru Pinot Noir and it is made with a full maceration of all the skins and all of the juice. Most rose is another way, by blending a small (usually less than 10%) amount of red wine with a base of white wines. The full skin contact of this rose gives it a more robust color and considerably more Pinot Noir aroma and flavor than a blended bottle. This wine is always aged for at least four years on the lees, and has the gravitas, complexity and length of a tete de cuvee.

My wife Cinnamon and I enjoyed our bottle with some Siren Fish Company lox. Siren Fish is a small operation committed to getting great quality fish, mostly from Bodega Bay and Fort Bragg direct to fish lovers as quickly as possible. Their lox were incredible, and I can’t wait to try more of their stuff. The pairing was incredible, and the gently cured, rich salmon showed off the breadth and cut of the LP rose. This was a treat that I want to repeat!

A toast to you!

Gary Westby


New to K&L: Champagne Jean Josselin

Jean-Felix Josselin and I with his tanks in Gye-sur-Siene.

Champagne Jean Josselin tells the story of the terroir of the Aube in every sip of their top class wine. Of all the properties that I have visited in the Cotes de Bar, none have wines as transparent and so clearly of a place as Josselin. I am very excited to offer them, and due to the strength of the dollar and the direct nature of our purchase proud to say that they are and incredible value in fine Champagne.

While the northern, Marne area of Champagne is famous for its chalk, the southern, Aube part of Champagne is famous for having the same sort of soil as Chablis. This soil is called Kimmeridgian clay, and is very rich in limestone. While all of the wines of the Aube have at least subtle hints of Chablis like flavor, none that I have tasted express this characteristic as clearly as Josselin. If you love the clean earth character that one finds in the best Chablis, you will love this range of Champagne.

The rolling country of Gye-Sur-Siene is home to the Josselin family vineyards.

The Josselin family began making wine in the 1950’s, and they now have 30 acres of vineyard in the village of Gye-Sur-Seine. That being said, they have been growers for as long as anyone can remember. They only use estate fruit in their Champagne and have small enough tanks in their modern winery to ferment parcel by parcel. Jean-Felix Josselin makes the wine with his father using a traditional Coquard press, stainless steel tanks and full malolactic fermentation in the winery. 

As a professional, I need to stay objective tasting in many different circumstances, but I have to admit that Champagne tastes a lot better with a cat in my lap!

After tasting with Jean-Felix and Sharona, I bought nearly every wine that they make. Here is what we have:

Jean Josselin "Cuvee des Jean" Brut Champagne $29.99: This all Pinot Noir Champagne is a blend of many small plots on the Josselin estate in Gye-Sur-Seine. It is aged for three years on the lees and contains fruit from a minimum of two harvests. This is pure, clean, driven Champagne that still maintains the signature cool black Pinot Noir fruit. It is balanced in every way, and perfect for a refreshing aperitif. Cinnamon and I enjoyed this bottle with some “duck sushi”- sliced cooked duck breast served over risotto shaped into sushi rice shape this past weekend. While this wine is clean and refreshing enough to have on its own, the clean earth and Pinot power really came on with the food. At this price, I will be drinking a lot of this flexible, delicious Champagne and I will no doubt have more pairing suggestions soon!

Jean Josselin "Alliance" Brut Champagne $39.99: This is composed of 70% Pinot Noir and 30% Chardonnay. This Champagne has pin point bubbles and a seamless, perfect texture, but the real excitement comes with the wine underneath… This has the minerality and clean earth flavors of the very best of Chablis! It is aged for four years on the lees and has fantastic length and effortless balance. If you are looking for an oyster Champagne look no further! This dry, balanced Champagne has the perfect salinity for a trip to the oyster beds. I love it with any kind of shellfish from scallops to crab to lobster.

Jean Josselin "Audace" Brut Rose Champagne $49.99: This big, vinous rose is made entirely from estate grown Pinot Noir and given a full maceration with all of the skins in contact with all of the juice. The maceration is about 18 hours give or take depending on the harvest. This rose is a little darker than most and much more full bodied and full of flavor. That being said, it is still an elegant wine and one glass of it is never enough. The initial strawberry fruit quickly turns to Pinot savor and the finish is dry and refreshing. We don’t have many Champagne’s that have this sort of excitement and complexity. The big red fruit of this rose is an ideal partner for salmon, especially if you like Pinot with it!

A toast to you!


Gary Westby


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