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Saber Madness at K&L!

We have been chopping off the tops of Champagne bottles as fast as we can drink them- who needs a stopper when you are ready to commit to finishing the bottle! One of our favorites was this magnum ($84.99) of Franck Bonville Brut Rosé that Mellyn expertly decapitated on Christmas Eve. It also comes in regular 750ml ($39.99) and half bottles ($21.99). Olivier Bonville adds 8% Pinot Noir Rouge from Ambonnay superstar Paul Dethune to his top class assembelage of grand cru, estate Chardonnay to create this fabulous rose. This is one of the most elegant, bright, refreshing rose Champagnes that we carry, yet it does not lack red cherry Pinot Noir authority. We can’t get enough- bring another to the block!

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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 or follow us on Facebook.  


Free Spirits Tastings at K&L! Now that we have our license for spirits tastings in Redwood City and San Francisco, we’re excited to host regular free spirits tastings in those locations.  Check the Spirits Journal for an updated tasting schedule.

All tastings will feature different products from the Spirits Department and take place on Wednesdays in Redwood City and San Francisco. 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


Argentina & Chile - Day 1: Reciprocidad

Last month, I spent 10 days travelling in Argentinean and Chilean wine country. It was my maiden voyage to both countries, and I had a lot on the agenda. I'm looking forward to describing the wine scenes in both of these countries. Let's start with a quick PSA: If you're an American travelling to Argentina by way of Santiago, Chile, don't forget to pay the reciprocity tax. BEFORE you touch down in Santiago. Otherwise, you may find yourself in line, expecting to board your connecting flight to Mendoza, without the proof of reciprocity tax payment that every other American (or Australian) seems to have.

Having learned my lesson, I headed to the LAN Airlines desk, hopped on one of their computers and set up my $161 payment to Argentina. As long as we charge them to visit our country, they of course will charge us to visit theirs. Reciprocity! Personally I think a little reciprocity is great in personal relationships, but between two countries, can't we just both agree to allow freedom of movement without the reciprocity tax?

OK, PSA/rant over.

I took advantage of the extra time to read, buy some snacks, and pick up this guide.

Patricio Tapia covers the Argentina and Chile beat, as well as Spain, for Wine & Spirits Magazine . He also puts together this guidebook, Descorchados, for the wines of Chile and Argentina. He resides in Santiago, is a native born Chilean, and in my mind is not only one of the most gifted critics to review wine in the Spanish language (English as well, his work for W&S is in English, of course), but he is simply one of the best reviewers and wine writers working today. Check out Tapia's work, I think there is an iPhone app for Descorchados.

While I did not have a window seat to see the impressive Andes Mountains from the plane, I will cheat and show a photo I took on the flight back from Mendoza to Santiago.

I settled into my spot in Chacras de Coria, a quiet, leafy town south of Mendoza, right near Lujan de Cuyo, an area famous for its older Malbec vines and historic bodegas. Time for dinner!

Yes, that ribeye tasted every bit as delicious as it looks. And with the savory, thyme and bay tinged chimichurri? I think I can hang here for a few days.

Y pa' tomar...2006 Carmelo Patti Cabernet Sauvignon.

Welcome to Mendoza wine country.


1996 Launois- A Bottle Worth Saving

When you save something for a long time it raises expectations- it is nice when they are met!

How did 1996 get to be 19 years ago? It seems like only yesterday that we were flush with Champagne from this great vintage here at K&L. The very first DI orders that arrived from Champagne Aspasie (at the time selling under the family name; Ariston), Bonville and Launois all included the 1996 vintage. I bought cases for myself all those years ago, but not nearly enough. Last night, with Scott Beckerley of the San Francisco K&L coming  to dinner with Cinnamon and I, I had an occasion to dig deep into the cellar and pull one of these out.

We went for dinner at the Fish Market in Palo Alto, a venerable local institution that not only serves Fish, but also operates their own fishing boat and wholesale facility. This isn’t the place for foams and food towers, it is a place for the freshest and highest quality fish served in an unfussy and deliscious way. As usual, the restaurant delivered with excellent food and great service. Scotty and Cinnamon both ordered the scallop special, which came with a nice polenta cake bed and roasted brussels sprouts. I had the sushi sampler, which came with a spicy tuna roll and some of the best hamachi and ahi I have had.

The 1996 Launois was a fabulous shape shifter. It never seemed to be the same wine twice and every shape that it took was excellent; from carmel richness to chalky electricity. Usually Champagne of such depth, richness and tertiary complexity doesn’t agree with raw fish, but this worked perfectly. I think it is the magic high acid of the 1996 vintage that made it work. In Champagne, they refrer to 1996 as the 10/10 vintage, since the ripeness was so high (10% natural potential alcohol on average) and the acid was just as high (10g/l on average). This Champagne still has decades of potential in it, and luckily I still have a few left.

The 2008 vintage has very similar characterisitcs- super high ripeness (for Champagne) and extrodinary acidity. I am planning on laying a case of this vintage down as well, to go with my Bonville and Aspasie 2008’s that I have already snapped up. Time will tell, but judging by this 1996, I have reason to be confident!

A toast to you!

-Gary Westby


Sashimi Bowl- A Perfect Champagne Pairing!

Ready to be eaten!


My New Year’s resolution for 2015 is to add more dishes to my repertoire, and I have started with a straightforward sashimi bowl or Chirashi. Cinnamon and I love the combination of sushi and Champagne, and order take out all the time from the several very good sushi places in Menlo Park and Palo Alto. Making sushi at home is not easy, and usually after buying all the ingredients I don’t feel like I come out ahead. A one bowl sashimi dish, on the other hand, is very straightforward, and while sushi grade fish is never cheap, it can be a good deal compared to take out.

About a year ago, Cinnamon bought us a Zojirushi rice cooker, which at first I thought was just another kitchen gadget, but has turned out to be a great and often used piece of equipment. They have a whole number of very simple recipes on their website, and my first idea came from this one for a tuna and avocado tower. I posted my version of that recipe last year. I love the combination of avocado and raw fish, but felt like I could do something with more flavor in a bowl, so I started to experiment. When the folks at the Mountain View farmers market offered fresh Nameko mushrooms, the bowl came together and turned into something worth sharing with others. For the fish, you can substitute any sushi grade variety that you want. Salmon is a great alternative (and in some of the pictures, it is cold smoked salmon that I used), especially if you are drinking a Pinot Noir based Champagne. 

Ingredients ready for slicing

Sashimi Bowls for two people:

3 cups cooked sushi rice

1 tablespoon cooking oil

1 basket (about six ounces) Nameko or other mushrooms

1 tablespoon soy sauce for mushrooms, more for dipping sashimi

4 ounces sherry for mushrooms

2 spring onions or chives

1 lemon

1 ripe avocado

4 ounces sushi grade Maguro (tuna)

4 ounces sushi grade Hamachi (yellow tail)

2 tablespoons sweet rice cooking wine (mirin)

2 pinches pickled ginger

2 tablespoons crispy onions (we use Lars)
Sherry- essential to traditional Japanese cooking?

Step 1: Get the rice cooking well ahead, as you will want to cool it to just over room temperature before assembling the bowls.

Step 2: Prepare the mushrooms. Preheat a sauté pan to medium heat. Cut so each mushroom is free, discarding any dirty roots, sauté in oil until mushrooms have given off their juices, stirring frequently, about 10 minutes. Add soy and sherry, continuing to stir until liquid is absorbed, about five more minutes.

Step 3: Slice the spring onions into rounds of a little less than dime thickness, stop slicing once you are getting more green than onion, set aside in a bowl

Step 4: Cut lemon in half, squeeze half into a work bowl. Cut the avocado in half, remove the pit, and slice into six lengthwise pieces per half. Add the first half to the lemon juice in the bowl and toss. Add the next half avocado in slices and squeeze the other half lemon over it. This will keep the avocado from turning brown, and add some zip to the dish.

Step 5: Remove the first type of fish from the refrigerator and slice into nickel thickness pieces, cutting against the grain of the fish. Set aside on a plate and return to the refrigerator. Repeat for the second type of fish.

Step 6: Toss the rice with the sweet rice wine. If it is still hot, fan it to cool as you toss it.

Step 7: Assemble the bowls. First add half of the mushrooms to each bowl, then about a cup and a half of rice, next the avocado, top with ginger, crispy onions and spring onions. Arrange the two types of fish in fans on opposite sides of the bowls and serve with some soy for dipping.

All prepped and ready for assembly!
If your rice is to hot, you can always fan it. Since I don't have a fan, I used my Burgundy book!
Bon appétit!

I hope that you enjoy this as much as I have. I would love any tips to improve this… And don’t forget to open plenty of Champagne to wash it down with!


A toast to you!


Gary Westby

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