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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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Saturday
Nov072015

Domaine Gabriel Billard- Ancient Vine Pinot Noir

Burgundy is the most magical of all wines for the table.

Claudie Jobard, the owner and winemaker of Domaine Gabriel Billard is blessed with ancient Pinot Noir vineyards. Her vines in and around Pommard are almost all ancient massal selected granddaddies, and the wine that she makes out of them have the concentration and depth that one would expect from such a noble source. While she studied oenology, her father was a nurseryman, and her love of her vines is clear from the moment you first speak to her in her cellar.

Claudie Jobard, owner and winemaker at Billard with K&L's own Gary Westby in her cellar.

I bought a bottle of her 2012 Domaine Gabriel Billard Bourgogne Rouge "Cuvée Milliane" ($19.99) first thing when I got back from Burgundy, and served it with homemade chicken-pot-pie. This bottle comes from 60-80 year old vines just below the village of Pommard and has enough mid pallet texture to be confused for village level stuff. I love the crunchy, high energy, red fruit drive of this refreshing bottle, as well as the long finish. If you like your Burgundy for the table, this is one not to miss. It should keep very well, and I can’t wait to check in on the rest of my bottles over the next five or so years.

A great bottle at a fair price!

We were very lucky to be able to get an allocation of some older magnums from this Domaine as well. All of these come from 100+ year old vines in her parcel of Charmots. This parcel is so steep and off camber that everything must be done by hand in it. She makes about three barrels a year of this gem. Here is what we have:

2010 Domaine Gabriel Billard Pommard 1er Cru "Les Charmots" (1.5L) $109.99

2007 Domaine Gabriel Billard Pommard 1er Cru "Les Charmots" (1.5L) $94.99

1996 Domaine Gabriel Billard Pommard 1er Cru "Les Charmots" (1.5L) $149.99

Gary Westby, K&L

Friday
Nov062015

The Complexity and Elegance of Champagne Coutelas

Angelique Coutelas personally hand ties every bottle of the Cuvée 1809.

Damien and Angelique Coutelas are eighth generation growers with seventeen and one half acres spread from Villers-Sous-Chantillon to Trepail in Champagne. While their heritage goes back to 1809 and the family has been making Champagne since the 1920’s, they are not traditionalists at all and each year I see them pushing the boundaries in the cellar further. This year they purchased some amphora, clay vessels used in antiquity to ferment and age wine.  Amphora have been steadily making their way back into the most progressive cellars in the region. They are believers in old wood, and have a fine collection of barriques, foudres and demi-muids in their cellars in Dizy and Villers-Sous-Chantillon.

The new label for the Victor- the picture on our website is old... And I am working on it!

I think the most exciting work they are doing is with fractional blending. They have a 7500 liter Foudre that they first filled in 2007, and every year they pull 2500 bottles (one quarter) for a bottling that they call the Louis Victor. I have been following these blends as vin-clair for many years now, and I have to say that the Krug like richness that they are achieving from this novel method is astounding. This is a Champagne that anyone with enough interest to be reading this should follow… Especially given the very fair price that the Coutelas offer this wine for!

The wine from this foudre is called the Amaury Coutelas "Cuvée Louis Victor" Brut Champagne ($34.99) and I had a bottle of it on Halloween with Cinnamon’s gougers. This bottling is a blend of 2007 through 2011 vintages with three years of ageing on the lees. It is a brassy gold color and has a generous nose of fresh forest aromas and brioche toast. In the mouth it has a round, rich, seamless texture and an amazing array of flavors… It is easily one of the most complex Champagnes that we have on the shelf. The truly amazing thing to me is the focus of the wine. It stays completely refreshing, vibrant and mineral on the long finish, which makes the 750ml format seem to small! With only 2500 bottles being produced a year, this is a very limited item. We only received ten cases on the past shipment, but I am angling to get more for the next one!

Damien and Angelique Coutelas in their tasting room.

Their 2006 Amaury Coutelas Vintage Brut Champagne $34.99 is a blend of even parts Meunier and Pinot Noir from 70 year old vines. This is mostly  stainless steel fermented Champagne and shows the power and ripeness of the vintage. It is a very full-bodied wine, with super power in the middle, yet refreshing on the finish- a characteristic that runs through their range of Champagnes. We only received five cases of this, and it is dosed at just six grams per liter.

If you like dark, nearly red, full powered roses, you have to try the Amaury Coutelas "Elixr" Brut Rosé Champagne ($34.99). This is composed of 67% Pinot Noir and 33% Chardonnay but assembled in a completely unique way. Half of the Pinot Noir, sourced from very old vines is macerated into red wine, giving this Champagne strong vinous power and a tremendous amount of savory black cherry fruit. This is a great choice for game birds or turkey. A real powerhouse!

The solera for the Louis Victor continues!

We have already sold 1/3 of their top of the line wine, the Amaury Coutelas "Cuvée 1809" Brut Champagne ($59.99) from the waiting lists that the last batch generated. This stunning all barrel fermented blend of 80% Chardonnay and 20% Pinot Noir is all 2008 and has the length and finesse to compete with the finest Champagne in the store. Angelique Coutelas ties the top of every one of the 3000 bottles they produce of this with twine- a rewind to the methods of 200 years ago in Champagne. She is one of only three of four people left in the region that knows the technique and has one of the ancient machines for this process! The Champagne is subtle, compelling and loaded with the long mineral driven drive that the great 2008 harvest is famous for.

The Coutelas’ are making great Champagne, and from the vin clair that I have tasted with them it is only getting better. This is a producer that you will want to know if you like richness and complexity in your Champagne.

A toast to you!

 

Gary Westby

Thursday
Oct292015

Loriot Champagne is Back!

Michel Loriot with two of his exquisite 1964's and his current releases.

No one is more serious about Meunier than Michel Loriot. Mr. Loriot farms 17 and ½ acres of vineyard in Festigny, a picturesque village in the Western Valley of the Marne to make his all estate Champagne and the native Meunier is his most planted grape variety. While many of the big houses will talk down the quality of Meunier it is the only one of the big three varieties (the other two being Pinot Noir and Chardonnay) that is indigenous to Champagne and in the right hands it is capable of top quality.

One thing that one hears a lot about Meunier is that it is a nice grape for getting some fruit flavors in a blend, but no good for ageing. This is a myth. Houses like Krug use a lot of Meunier in blends that last for generations, and anyone that has had an old bottle like the ones in the picture above will not need convincing. It is true that Meunier can taste better young than Chardonnay or Pinot Noir in Champagne, but that does not mean that it can’t keep! Tasting the two 1964’s from Loriot, one disgorged in the 1970’s and one disgorged that morning, is an experience I’ll never forget. The old disgorgement was deep gold, and full of dried apricot fruit and fall leaf-pile aromas. It had very full body, sweet fruit in the mouth and great leathery complexity. The freshly disgorged bottle, which received no dosage, was many shades lighter in color and much brighter and lighter in the mouth, but still very complex. Both were among the greatest Champagne’s I have ever tasted- period. Just thinking about them now gives me goose bumps… It was impossible for me to pick a favorite between the two.

While old bottles like this are not available for sale, Mr. Loriot’s top wine in current release leaves very little to be desired. I had the 2007 Michel Loriot "Monodie Meunier" Extra Brut Champagne ($49.99) earlier this week with a parmesan cream risotto that I made at home. Mr. Loriot loves the combination of parmesan with this old vine Champagne for great reason, and the risotto brought the electricity and vibrancy of this big, structured wine to the forefront.  He calls this wine monodie because it comes from one plot, a small south facing, mid slope filet called the l’Arpent. This vineyard was planted back in 1942, and is the only vineyard I have ever heard of that was planted during the 2nd world war in Champagne. These shy baring, old vines give a wine with subtle pear fruit and the 7 years of ageing on the lees give a frame of fresh baguette aromas. This wine is concentrated in the mouth, with plenty of minerality as well as body, but it finishes very dry- it is dosed at just 5g/l. Every fan should try this great wine once.

His normal range is fantastic as well- the Michel Loriot "Authentic" Brut Champagne ($29.99 750ml, $64.99 magnum, $16.99 half bottle) is an extroverted, fresh Meunier style that is aged for three years on the lees and contains 50% reserve wines. I love the pie crust aromas and rich mouthfeel of this Champagne- especially since it is married to a crisp, dry finish. He also makes the best off dry Champagne, that we carry, the Michel Loriot "Marie-Leopold" Sec Champagne ($34.99), which I did a feature on here.

I hope you will join me in drinking some of these great Champagnes!

A toast to you!

 

Gary Westby

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