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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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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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Saturday
Nov212015

Chateau Cantemerle

If we were to make a list of our five favorite wines here at K&L, Chateau Cantemerle would certainly be on it. This top quality estate makes claret that always delivers, and at a price that normal people can afford. It is a wine that I purchase nearly every year for my own cellar, and I know that I can say the same for Clyde, Jeff and Ralph. Taking a look through the K&L records, I found 124 references for Cantemerle of all sizes and vintages over the years, with 12 in stock right now. A favorite for sure!

Chateau Cantemerle is one of the first properties that you come to when driving up the Haut Medoc from the city of Bordeaux. The Chateau’s 91 hectares of vines sit on gravel soil close to the parish of Margaux in Macau. The vineyard is planted to 60% Cabernet Sauvignon, 30% Merlot, 6% Cabernet Franc and 4% Petite Verdot with an average vine age of 30 years. From this vineyard, they make an average of ½ million bottles a year, but never all Chateau Cantemerle- even in great years, they declassify a lot and make a 2nd wine called Les Allees De Cantemerle.

The lords of Cantmerle have history going back to 1147, and have been involved in winemaking for over 500 years. It was only at the end of the 1500’s that the prime agricultural activity at the property switched over to wine; for many years the Medoc was primarily producing cereal grains. The owners of the property have always been at the front of improvements in the vineyard, and they were the first to introduce the Bordeaux mixture against mildew in the mid 1800's.

My inspiration for writing this piece came from the bottle of 1999 Cantemerle, Haut-Médoc ($44.99) that Cinnamon and I had last night with an excellent New York Steak from Five Mary’s Farm. As most readers of these pages know, Cinnamon and I celebrate every Friday with steak & claret night, and this was a special one. Cinnamon prepared russet potato squares and the New York in the cast iron pan, and steamed some excellent French green beans. We decanted the wine a little over an hour ahead.

I was over the moon for the 1999, and I might have enjoyed a little more than my half of the bottle, but at 12.5% the wine was as mild as mother’s milk. I found the wine lively and full of verve at 16 years old and yet silky and integrated. In 1999 they made 300,000 bottles of the first wine, declassifying the other third of the production. The composition is 55% Cabernet Sauvignon, 35% Merlot, 8% Petite Verdot and 2% Cabernet Franc. Cinnamon and I both found the wine plumy from the high percentage of Merlot and I loved the minty focus on the back end. This is long finishing stuff and the good acid on the back cut the richness of the meat while the expressive fruit played excellent counterpoint to it. What a treat!

 

This is what we have currently in stock and on prearrival from Cantemerle:

2014 Cantemerle, Haut-Médoc 1.5L (Prearrival) $53.99

2013 Cantemerle, Haut-Médoc (Prearrival) $29.99

2012 Cantemerle, Haut-Médoc $29.99

2011 Cantemerle, Haut-Médoc $29.99

2010 Cantemerle, Haut-Médoc $42.99 94 points Parker, who writes: The wine needs a good 7-10 years of cellaring and should keep for 30 more years, but this is the finest Cantemerle I have encountered in my professional career of tasting young vintages (dating back 34 years now). Stunningly deep ruby/purple, with a beautiful nose of spring flowers intermixed with perfumed raspberry and blueberry notes, it exhibits a sort of cool-climate character. Broad, rich and intense on the palate, the wine has plenty of tannins, but they are sweet and well-integrated. Everything is delicately entwined into this beautiful, medium to full-bodied, dense purple wine, which shows stunning character and a prodigious potential for development. This is definitely a major sleeper of the vintage and even better than I thought from barrel. With its 2010, this classified growth located in the southern end of the Medoc may well have made a modern-day version of their legendary 1949. (RP)

2012 Cantemerle, Haut-Médoc 1.5L $64.99

2006 Cantemerle, Haut-Médoc $39.99

2005 Cantemerle, Haut-Médoc 3L $269.99

2001 Cantemerle, Haut-Médoc $49.99

2000 Cantemerle, Haut-Médoc $59.99

1999 Cantemerle, Haut-Médoc $44.99

1999 Cantemerle, Haut-Médoc 1.5L $99.99

1949 Cantemerle, Haut-Médoc $899.99 From Mahler-Besse, the best cellar in Bordeaux. Parker calls this “one of Bordeaux’s greatest efforts” and Clyde agrees.

A toast to you!

Gary Westby

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

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