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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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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

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Friday
Nov202015

Fleury: The Best Organic Champagne

Jean-Sebastien Fleury: The man behind the bottles.

This year is our tenth anniversary importing the great Champagne of the Fleury family. They were the very first estate in Champagne to return to organics, converting fully by 1989 and obtaining all of their certifications by 1992. They have 20 acres of estate vineyards planted to 85% Pinot Noir, 10% Chardonnay, 3% Pinot Blanc and 2% Pinot Gris. They also contract with a few biodynamic neighbors and all of the fruit comes from the village of Courteron in the very far south of the Aube department. Jean-Sebastien Fleury runs the operation now, but his father, Jean-Pierre Fleury is still very involved with the production.

Every organic producer in Champagne has had help from the Fleury family getting started, and they are the source for the organic certified yeast that completes the secondary fermentation in the bottle for nearly everyone working this way in the region. The Fleury Champagne’s stand apart from all the other organic producers in one critical way- they are not extreme in style. While many producers working organically prize strange, oxidative, funky flavors in their Champagne, Fleury, especially with their two biggest production cuvees, prize purity, clarity and freshness. These are great wines to consider even if you are not interested in organics. The wine in the bottle justifies the slightly higher prices than the rest of our direct imports, natural methods aside.

Here is what we have:

Fleury Blanc de Noirs Brut Champagne $39.99: This 100% Pinot Noir Champagne is based on 2010 and has 30% old reserves added. These reserves come from a fractional blend started in 2006 in giant foudres, and in this bottle consist of 2006-2009. The Champagne is dosed at 8g/l. This bottle has the best texture of any non-vintage wine in this price range, with perfect streamers and elegant creaminess. The brioche, custard and meyer lemon aromatics carry through on the palate, yet the finish is all about freshness. If you haven’t tried this in a while, you should. It is one of the most impressive wines they make, and a great flagship… This is not “entry level” stuff! We also have half bottles also available at $21.99 and a very few magnums at $79.99.

Fleury Brut Rosé Champagne $49.99: This is 100% Pinot Noir, made by the maceration method. All of the skins are kept in contact with all of the juice, yielding a rose not just of great color, but of aromatic generosity and flavor. The current batch is all 2009, but they do not vintage date their rose. This is an absolute must try for any fan of rose with its salmon/ Valentines Rose color, savory black cherry nose, poised, elegant texture and dry, mineral laden finish. A wow bottle! We have a very few magnums available at $109.

Cuvee Robert Fleury and cold foie gras terrine with a little fleur de sel is impossible to beat!

Fleury "Cuveé Robert Fleury" Brut Champagne $44.99: Only three cases available. This all 2001 Champagne was meant to be vintage, but they decided to sell it as non-vintage, after hanging onto it for more than three years longer on the lees than the 2004. It is all fermented in small oak barrels, and composed of 53% Pinot Noir, 31% Chardonnay and 16% Pinot Blanc. This is rich, porcini and truffle scented brioche Champagne, and the ultimate pairing with foie gras or charcuterie. After 13 years on the lees, it only needed 6g/l of dosage to arrive at the perfect balance. For all of the weight and intense savory character, it is still snappy and focused on the back end. Too bad there is so little…

2004 Fleury "Cuveé Robert Fleury" Brut Champagne $54.99: Only three cases available. This all barrel fermented Champagne is composed of 45% Pinot Noir, 35% Pinot Blanc and 20% Chardonnay. The autumnal nose is full of brioche and cream which carries through on seamless palate. The best part of this Champagne is the finish, the richness on the mid palate carries on and on- I found it kaleidoscopic! Complexity like this is rarely married to refreshment!

Fleury Sonata 9 Opus One Extra Brut Champagne $89.99: Only 11 bottles available- sorry I had to check one to make sure that it made the trip OK! This is the only no-sulfur-added Champagne that we stock at K&L. I would not have trusted anyone else to make a bottle stable enough to pull off the trip half way around the world… And my trust in Fleury was well placed. This is the exception in their range, and definitely a totally different style than anything else that we stock. It is all 2010 harvest, and composed of 75% Pinot Noir and 25% Chardonnay. There is no dosage, but the Champagne does have 2.5g/l of natural residual sugar. This is razor blade pure in the mouth, but has some brie like cream on the nose. It has a different energy and feel from anything else I have had before!

A toast to you!

 

Gary Westby

 

Thursday
Nov192015

Domaine Renaud: Great Value from the South of Burgundy

Mireille Renaud in front of her giant German foudres.

Last month Trey, Alex and I had the opportunity to visit Mireille Renaud at her property in the Macon. She runs this 50 acre property with her husband Pascal making very high quality Chardonnay. Since we buy these wines direct from the property, they are also a spectacular value. If you like clean, expressive, easy to drink white Burgundy, these wines are bound to impress.

The fastest selling wine from this property is the 2014 Domaine Renaud Mâcon-Solutré ($13.99) which matches fine peachy richness to excellent, near Chablis like minerality. I love the bright back end cut of this high class Chardonnay. Your guests will never guess this is a sub $20 wine… It has fantastic balance and poise!

The 2014 Domaine Renaud Mâcon-Charnay ($13.99) is the best crossover wine from California to Burgundy in the whole store. It has all of the plump richness that people love in California wine, but without the oak, residual sugar or excessive alcohol. This is our number one recommendation for party Chardonnay, as it will be plenty refreshing while still having the breadth and richness that people love. It is great for a mixed group and inexpensive enough for Tuesday night!

While not marked as such on the label, the 2014 Domaine Renaud St-Véran ($18.99) is a single vineyard wine. All of the fruit comes from the Champs de Perdrix site in St. Veran. This is very luscious for white Burgundy, with plenty of ripe, round rich white fruit and plenty of body. Fans of bigger wines will be very pleased with this big style St. Veran. Don’t worry, it still finishes dry!

The jewel in the crown of our Renaud selection is the 2014 Domaine Renaud Pouilly-Fuissé "Cuvée Vieilles Vignes" ($19.99) which comes from vineyards that are 50-80 years old. This ripe, perfumed, exotic beauty of a Chardonnay has a soft feel in the mouth, but stays marvelously light bodied. If you are looking for a classy white Burgundy experience that doesn’t cost a mint, this is it!

A toast to you!

Gary Westby

Sunday
Nov152015

A Great Burgundy Dinner at Piperade

A great line up of Burgundy!

By Heather Vander Wall, K&L Redwood City

The Wall Street Journal recently published an article about millennials and wine. It is a well-crafted piece with plenty of statistics about how different generations approach wine consumption and purchasing, but the main point was simple. Millennials could care less about point systems and classifications in wine. The new wave of wine drinkers is interested in two things: story and experience (The Wall Street Journal “How Millennials are Changing Wine” Nov 5, 2015).

I think this is a very refreshing perspective. After all, what is a good bottle for but to experience, and what lends true enjoyment to the experience but the story of the bottle? Recently several of us at K&L had the pleasure of dining with Terry Owyang and some friends from Pacific Wines at Piperade restaurant in San Francisco. The dinner was centered around the Chateau & Estates portfolio of Burgundy—wines with incredible point ratings, but ultimately wines with a story, and wines to be enjoyed.

Some of the highlights of the evening were the following wines:

With the first course, basquaise salad frisée with serrano, ossau-iraty, apples, pine nuts, and sherry vinaigrette, the standout wine was Pierre Matrot’s 2012 Meursault “Charmes”. Pierre Matrot’s wines are marked by incredible richness and texture without losing a stony, mineral character. The Meursault “Charmes” was no exception. The aromas were of toasted hazelnut and that peculiar flint and gun smoke note so singular in good white burgundy. On the palate there was a great richness, showing the ripe fruit of the 2012 vintage and some battonage, together with very subtle oak influence.

In rather stark contrast, but showing equally well was the 2011 Blain-Gagnard Chassagne-Montrachet “Morgeot”.  The 2011 white Burgundies are currently showing higher-toned acidity, with lighter body, and much tighter, more restrained characteristics, and this wine was no exception. However, Blain-Gagnard is exactly the producer to take a cooler, nervier vintage like 2011 and produce an extremely elegant wine. The Morgeot has an incredible tension running through it, with stony, mineral notes, softened just slightly on the finish with some baking spice from its time in oak. All told, a beautifully expressive wine, and a perfect match for the second course of shellfish medley and gigante beans. 

As we moved into the second half of the meal with braised pork cheek, prune, Cipollini onion and parsnip, we were met with a barrage of equally expressive red burgundies. The most unexpected wine of the lot, which surprised all of us with its purity, complexity and depth of flavor, was Blain Gagnard’s 2012 Volnay “Pitures”.

Certainly Volnay has a name for elegance in the Cote de Beaune, but the small vineyard of “Pitures” is not particularly well known. As Terry explained to us, however, it is sandwiched between two very important sites in Volnay: the Clos de Ducs, and Fremiets. What I love about premier crus such as Pitures, is the complexity they can achieve without all the richeness, weight and fat of a grand cru. This wine was incredibly aromatic, showing red and black fruit as well as game, mushroom, and savory spices, yet the body was certainly on the light side. In addition, because of Blain-Gagnard’s commitment to using very little new oak, the wine was quite clean and very expressive of its terroir.

And finally, this post wouldn’t be complete without a mention of Jean Grivot’s 2012 Clos de Vougeot. A deeper colored, more masculine wine, this paired beautifully with the braised pork cheeks, and provided a strong but pleasant contrast to the aforementioned Volnay. The Grivot wines are always marked with power, richness, and dark, savory characteristics. Somehow this wine displayed a perfect marriage of wild bramble and earthy notes with polished, velvety fruit, and a stronger, yet refined tannin structure.

These are just brief snapshots of four very different wines, highlighting the incredible diversity within the small, yet intricately classified wine region that is Burgundy. They may be bottles with high ratings and a particular place within the class structure, but they were bottles destined for enjoyment, and what better way to experience the story of these Burgundies than with great company, in the context of an incredible meal?

Don’t worry! All the above wines are in stock at K&L, and we are all too happy to recommend other favorites as well.

-Heather Vander Wall

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