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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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DI Retrospective: 2009 Jacques Bavard Monthelie Rouge

Never drink out of a beaker- unless it is reserved for Burgundy!

Burgundy lovers often say that five years from vintage is the perfect time to drink a good quality village wine. Since the great 2009’s are now just hitting their 5th birthday, I thought I would check in on the 2009 Jacques Bavard Monthelie Rouge and see if that rule of thumb is correct. Cinnamon and I went deep on this wine- when it was first released in February of 2012; I started out with a case of 750’s, Cinnamon bought another six, then I went back to the well for a case of magnums. Here is my staff review from the release:

“I just bought a case of this for my cellar. Now the problem will be keeping my hands off of it! This Monthelie shows just a little too well right now- last night Cinnamon and I had it with Wind Dancer Farms lamb chops. I decanted the wine an hour and a half ahead, and it was nothing short of spectacular. This is Burgundy with the '09 richness, but it sacrifices nothing in terms of its cut and refreshment. There is no other $25 Pinot that comes close... And very few $50 bottles that could equal it! It is my aspiration to drink my last bottle in 2024. I am confident the wine will be great then- but will I have any left?”

Here are Keith’s notes from the time:

“This exciting Pinot Noir comes from the picturesque village of Monthelie, located next to the more famous village of Volnay.  It is from a tiny negociant in Puligny-Montrachet named Jacques Bavard.  He comes from a long line of wine-growers, and is dedicated to working with organic and biodynamic growers. I found him thanks to a tip from a friend in Chassagne-Montrachet on my June trip, and was most impressed with the purity of his wines.This comes from 30-year-old vines, and underwent a long cold soak to extract more aromatic elements. It has lovely cherry fruit, and that wonderful note of wild strawberries (Fraises des Bois in French). When combined with the sappy opulence of the 2009 vintage, this is an irresistible wine.  It's a fresh, bright and wonderful Pinot Noir, at a modest price, thanks to our direct import.”

In the few years that we have been working directly with Mr. Bavard, it has become a phenomenon in the Burgundy section. The wines, especially the whites, get snapped up very quickly by those who have had past vintages. We are sold out of the 750’s of the 2011 Maison Jacques Bavard Monthelie Rouge already, and just have a few magnums left at $59.95. Luckily, we will be getting a little bit more of the 2011 750ml’s in a week or so, and you can get on the waiting list for those here.

Roast chicken & potatoes- a Westby house favorite with Burgundy!

For this bottle I prepared one of Cinnamon and my favorite dishes for Burgundy, roast chicken and roast potatoes. I also roasted some cauliflower with hot peppers and capers to mix things up. Our chicken, which was so lean and slender that it looked more like a racing breed than a roasting breed came from Bel Campo in Palo Alto. It turned out to be one of the best chickens we have had, and all I did was spatchcock it, rub it down with salt, pepper and olive oil and roast it on a rack above the potatoes! I think they might have given it a little brine, because the breast was very tender and savory and the thigh fully cooked- a trick even after spatchcocking the bird.

The Morsel cat loves chicken. Luckily she leaves our Burgundy alone!

I decanted the Monthelie and hour and a half ahead of time. Lots of Burgundy lovers don’t like the idea of decanting, but I am a believer. In this case, I am very confident that I was right to do it, since the wine started off shy and opened as the meal progressed. The Bavard had more than enough dark fruit and even some dried cherry elements to go with its firm structure.  I loved the catnip and coffee hints I found in the wine as the bottle dwindled, as well as the high acid, focused finish. We needed some zing with the schmaltzy roast potatoes!

I think this wine is still young, and won’t touch another for another year. It gives me a lot of confidence in this producers wine, and I hope to collect many more vintages for my cellar. It amazes me what $25 and a little patience can deliver to the wine lover. All you need is a little faith in your palate and a place to put the bottles.

A toast to you!

Gary Westby

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