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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.  

 

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Wednesday
Oct282015

Arthur Marc- A new discovery in Champagne!

Gregory and Patrice Marc in the heart of their Fleury-la-Riviere vineyards.

I just returned from my two week long trip to Champagne and Burgundy where I visited 38 properties and tasted over 536 different wines. It was a great trip, and both the 2014 & 2015 vintages are showing a lot of promise in both regions. One of the properties I visited was brand new to me; Champagne Arthur Marc in Fleury-La-Riviere.

Gregory and Patrice Marc are a father and son team with a tiny ten acre property in Fleury-La-Riviere. They represent the 11th and 12th generation of a family that has been working these vineyards since 1683. The village of Fleurie-La-Riviere might be the most beautiful village in all of Champagne, it is part of the valley of Brunay, which descends the hill from Hautvillers and goes down to Damery where it meets the Marne. In October, it looked like a river of green, red and yellow vines flowing into the mighty Marne.

In the winery the Marc family uses a traditional Coquard basket press and a combination of stainless steel and barrique. They never allow the wine to go through malolactic fermentation and sell no wine before it ages a minimum of three years. They have five years of stocks in their cellar and make approximately 40,000 bottles a year. They sell off everything except for the cuvee or first press as juice and their vineyards average 30 years old.

We are very proud to be working with this small, top quality property. The wines have excellent texture and poise and are made in an effortless, transparent style. Because of the incredible strength of the dollar and our direct purchase, we are able to offer the wines at great prices. I hope you will try them. Here is what we have:

Arthur Marc "Initiale Noir & Blanc" Brut Champagne $29.99: This Champagne is composed of even parts Chardonnay and Pinot Noir from the Marc estate in Fleury-la-Riviere in the heart of the Marne valley. The wine does not go through malolactic fermentation and is aged a minimum of three years on the lees. This elegant, restrained Champagne is dry and has the pin-point streamer of bubbles that fans of the expensive stuff love. The nose has the honest baguette toast of long ageing and the finish is citric and bracing. At the price, it is a no-brainer to try at least once! I served this as the aperitif to my Champagne team when we had our annual meeting.

Arthur Marc Grand Cuvee Brut Champagne $39.99: This is also half and half Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, but this bottling is aged for a minimum of five years on the lees. The Grand Cuvee has the texture and complexity of a big house tete de cuvee and surprisingly also the restraint. I love the elegance of this wine- it manages to balance brioche richness with chalky raciness and do it effortlessly. If you like long finishing, subtle Champagne on the drier side, you will love this.

2014 Arthur Marc Fleury Rouge Coteaux Champenois $34.99: Still red wine made from Meunier in Champagne? Sadly, not all of you will get to taste this… I was only able to talk them out of three cases this time! This is the best red wine that I have had from Champagne. It is light bodied, but has impressive wild fruit and leather flavors and a long finish from the crackling acid that a cold climate like this brings. Unlike Pinot Noir from Champagne, this Meunier is ripe enough to avoid the strained tea like flavors I often find in reds from the region. This is a walk on the wild side!

A toast to you!

 

Gary Westby

Wednesday
Oct212015

Domaine Begude – Direct from the Source

Famed wine critic Jancis Robinson wrote recently about her trip to France's Limoux region:

Bargain Pinot Noir is thin on the ground. Indeed, cheap Pinots tend to be either thin or unappetisingly sweet and syrupy. But this Begude is a fine example from the pretty hills north of Limoux, the sparkling wine town in the far south west of the Languedoc described in Limoux's little bargains. James and Catherine Kinglake left Britain to try their hand as Languedoc vignerons in 2003 (see Pursuing a dream – as vignerons) to live in the house pictured above. I have followed their progress with interest over the years. Rather than make fizz, they have been producing varietal still wines, including some fine Chardonnay that is also good value.

Considering that we here at K&L have been importing the certified organic wines from Begude for some time now, you can bet we were thrilled with Jancis's little discovery. James and Catherine's bargain-priced pinot noir, chardonnay, and sauvignon blanc are perennial customer favorites, as well as beloved weeknight warriors for our saucy staff, so we're excited about the expanded bandwidth. Jancis managed to sniff out these values herself and she adds an important note regarding the value of the Begude pinot noir:

These Limoux hills are highly suitable for Pinot Noir, as was proved many years ago at Domaine de l'Aigle at Roquetaillade, now part of the Gérard Bertrand empire. For reasons that make no sense to me, the red wine grapes sanctioned for the Limoux appellation are not Pinot Noir but a mix of Bordeaux and Rhône grapes, which is presumably why red Limoux is a rather minor player on the world wine stage – and why this delicious Pinot Noir has to be sold as an IGP Haute Vallée de l'Aude. And therefore only $12.99!!!

The secret is out! You can get delicious and delicate Limoux pinot noir for less than fifteen bucks. But this information stays between you, Jancis, and us!

2014 Domaine Begude Pinot Noir ($12.99) - Limoux reds are known mostly for Bordeaux and Rhone varietal blends, rather than pinot noir, but don't let esoteric piece of information stand in your way! The Domaine Begude pinot noir is one of the most popular bargain reds we sell here at K&L and the crisp, clean cherry flavors are the perfect complement to the oncoming Fall season.

16 points Jancis Robinson: "Pale cherry red. Pale rim. Obviously a delicate touch in the winemaking. Light vegy spectrum of Pinot scents and very refreshing too. There's a good core of just-ripe fruit underneath. This is already a good drink and has no surplus fat nor sweetness. Appetising dry finish. Very fine tannins. Good stuff! And, even if not a long-term bet, likely to be VGV. This is one of those beautifully balanced, lightweight Pinots that should be drunk young and could certainly be drunk cellar cool.(JR)" (08/2015)

2014 Domaine Begude Chardonnay "Le Bel Ange" ($11.99) - The creamy and rounder flavor profile of the Begude chardonnay makes it the perfect crossover for California drinkers in search of everyday value. While thoroughly French in style, the richness of the aromas and the rounder fruit flavors on the palate should please fans of any style. For the price, it's hard to do much better than this.

16 points Jancis Robinson: "Nutty and creamy nose with baked apple on the palate. Good length, good balance – it’d be hard to find a classic French Chardonnay with a better quality-to-price ratio. GV (RH)" (05/2015)

 2014 Domaine Begude Sauvignon Blanc Pays d'Oc ($11.99) - Domaine Begude is a small, family-owned property located high in the foothills of the Pyrenees in the Limoux region of the Languedoc. The long, cool growing season lends itself perfectly to the production of crisp and delicate wines, and this Sauvignon Blanc is no exception. More in the style of a Loire Valley Sancerre, with its fine, mineral-laden nose and fresh citrus fruits on the palate, this is the perfect accompaniment to grilled fish, oysters, or just by itself. Make this one your house white! Organically certified by Ecocert & NOP.

-David Driscoll

Thursday
Oct152015

The King of the Off-Vintage

When you look at the biggest selling Bordeaux wines in the history of K&L—the bottles that customers came back to buy again, and again, and again—few of those coveted cuvées came from the most heralded of vintages. While we’ve sold countless bottles from the now legendary 2000 and 2005 harvests, and we continue to find great bargains from the back-to-back home runs of 2009 and 2010, it’s our success in the so-called "off-vintages" that sets K&L apart from other Bordeaux retailers. Any wine buyer can look at a score sheet, pick the best wines off that list, and place an order from a distributor. But only a veteran of the trade can make top selections based on a wine’s inherent quality, especially from vintages that don’t have nearly as much press.

We know K&L co-owner Clyde Beffa around these parts as “the king of Bordeaux”, but he’s known in the Mèdoc as “the king of the off-vintage” because of his reputation for (literally) sniffing out values where others did not. He's like a seasoned stock broker who trades in claret instead of shares. Two of the top-selling wines in the history of the store are the 1997 Langoa-Barton and Potensac—two over-achievers from an underrated year (just ask the 5,000+ K&L customers who are still pulling these gems from their cellar). Lately he's been setting his sights on the 2012 Bordeaux vintage—a harvest that seems to be ripe with classically-styled, under-the-radar gems, if not opulent fruit. If you're a stickler for the Robert Parker vintage report, try these modestly-priced 2012 selections and see what you think. Our staff was completely taken aback by both wines at a recent tasting event.

2012 Clos Saint Emilion Philippe, St-Emilion $12.99 - From the negociant: "A modern, fruity, luscious, fleshy, supple wine, with a vivid, elegant palate and loads of ripe fruit, silky tannins, and a long elegant finish. Taste over grilled steaks, game, or hard cheeses. Located between Libourne and Saint Emilion, not far from Ch. Laroze. The family Philippe has owned it for 4 generations and Jean-Claude and Nicole Philippe now run it. The wine became Grand Cru in 1995."

2012 Bel-Air, Pomerol $24.99 - Bel Air is an estate in the Pomerol region that has long been an insider's favorite for value-oriented quality. The 2012 is a total sleeper of the vintage, one that will be completely overshadowed by the incredible 2009 and 2010 vintages preceeding it. The wine shows delicate blackberry fruit with toasted oak and soft tannins that intregrate beautifully on the finish. This is a great bargain.

-David Driscoll

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