Stay Connected
What We're Drinking

 

Bruno Michel "Blanche" Brut Champagne $34.99One of our best non-vintage Champagnes, this organically grown blend of half each Chardonnay and Meunier comes entirely from Bruno Michel's estate. It has been aged for six years on the lees and shows wonderful natural toasty quality as well as incredible vibrance! This was the big hit of our most recent staff Champagne tasting and we think you will love it too.

Recent Videos

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 KLWines.com 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

Archives

Entries in Blanc de Blancs (11)

Friday
Jul122013

Champagne Friday: Bonville Vertical Tasting

  

Bonville vertical notes, page 1.

By: Gary Westby | K&L Champagne Buyer

Ever since K&L received the first shipment of Champagne Franck Bonville in 2003, I have been recommending their vintage wines as the most vertical-worthy bottles that we carry. Not only do the wines develop evenly and beautifully over time, they are capable of incredible longevity and are priced fairly enough to purchase in a quantity that allows for enjoyment at many different points in their evolution. One June 25th of this year, Cinnamon and I were invited to Avize to do an incredible vertical tasting of Bonville, in the cellar where the wines were born. The wines did not disappoint, and although I have been treated to many great old bottles by Olivier in the past, the incredible context that tasting side by side allowed and the strength of even the obscure vintages surpassed all of my lofty expectations.

Tasting in the Bonville cellar.

When I wrote to thank Olivier, I dug up my first order with Bonville and sent it to him again.  That order arrived at K&L on January 23rd 2003, and the included 15 cases of the 1996 vintage, retail price $24.99 and 8 ½ cases of the last of the 1992 vintage at $29.99. The euro bank note had just passed its one year birthday and my contract for the currency for that order was 1:1 with the dollar. Since then we have carried every vintage release from Bonville, and some of readers have bottles in your cellar: 1998, 2000, 2002, 2004, 2005, 2006, and 2007. The Bonville family does their best to make vintage wines every year, sometimes very little (like in 1992), sometimes quite a lot (like in 1996).

When Cinnamon and I went down to the cellar at Bonville to taste, we were surrounded by an international cast of characters- Bonville’s importers from as far away as Australia, Brazil and Japan and as close as Belgium, Germany and the UK. We tasted 21 vintages from the 2012 vin clair all the way back to 1959. Olivier had picked out a representative sample, from vintage-of-the-century candidate 1964 to the obscure 1977; wines made by his father, grandfather and himself.

My first note is at the top of the page and the rest follow:

Bonville vertical notes, page 2.

Bonville vertical notes, page 3.

Bonville vertical notes page 4. This tasting could not be better timed with the release of the 2008 Franck Bonville "Millesime" Brut Blanc de Blancs Champagne ($39.99), which we did not have in the vertical, but rather at lunch afterwards. This is the greatest current release Bonville that I have ever had, and eclipses even the 1996 and 2002 in their youth. This wine has much in common with their very great 1996; electric acidity married to concentrated richness and a sense of place that few wines ever achieve. It is shocking how good the wine tastes now, but its potential will not be reached for many years to come. This will gain complexity and effortlessly improve for a couple of decades, and I am sure I will be enjoying it on its The 2007 Franck Bonville "Millesime" Brut Blanc de Blancs Champagne magnums are still available! 40th birthday if I can stay fit and healthy. I think this could be another 1964 in the making.

The 2007 Franck Bonville "Millesime" Brut Blanc de Blancs Champagne 1.5L ($84.99) is also available, although the 750’s are all sold out. This direct, fresh vintage is in the perfect hands with Olivier Bonville who has coaxed out some wonderful counterbalancing richness. In this format, the wine should last as long as any of us will and evolve positively for more than a decade. The 2008ss will be out in magnum next year.

I hope that you put down some of Bonville’s great vintage wine. Your patience will be rewarded.

A toast to you!

-Gary

Friday
Jun212013

Champagne Friday: Brouillet: One of a Kind Terroir in Champagne

Gouttes d'Or Vineyard (Brouillet)

By: Gary Westby | K&L Champagne Buyer

Brouillet: One of a Kind Terroir in Champagne

Since I first met Caroline and Paul Vincent Ariston of Champagne Aspasie in Brouillet, I have never gone to France without visiting them. The Ariston’s make top class Champagne at very reasonable prices, and were the very first that we brought in direct here at K&L. When I first met them, they just had their daughter Bertille- now she is 14… Time goes by much too quickly! Cinnamon and I just returned from a short (only four nights!) trip to Champagne, and we spend the day with the Ariston’s. As usual, we had a great time and also learned many new things about what makes their wines so special.

Brouillet, circled on the Larmat Atlas of Champagne.

Brouillet is in the far Northwest corner of Champagne, between Reims and Soissons. This area could not be more different than the intensively planted mono-culture of the Cote-des-Blancs and Mountain of Reims. Here, polyculture is still the rule, with wheat and canola making a patchwork with the vineyards. Only hillside sites with the right soil are granted the appellation here and abundant chalk is found here alongside sand and clay. This area is one of the last in Champagne to be harvested, and Paul Vincent likes to pick ripe, so he often harvests 10 days after most of the appellation.

On this trip I learned something that I did not know about the Aspasie wines. They are in fact an RM, and sell their wines as such within France. Because of the complexities of exporting, and in order to fairly compensate the members of his family, Paul Vincent set up a negociant business for export. The only wine sold under this negociant label is their estate grown Champagne.

The Ariston Aspasie "Carte Blanche" Brut Champagne ($27.99, $15.99 375ml) has always been our number one selling direct import Champagne. This is for great reason- no producer is as patient with their entry level wine, ageing it for five years before selling it. The value for money is off the charts. This wine has plenty of richness and weight, but keeps its balance with excellent refreshing qualities as well. The toastiness of this wine is all natural and arrived at by long ageing.

For me, one of the most special wines from this estate is the Ariston Aspasie Blanc de Blancs Brut Champagne ($34.99, $79.99 magnum) which is almost all from the old vine Chardonnay in the Gouttes d’Or parcel. This is the second steepest vineyard that I have walked in Champagne- only the Clos des Goisses was steeper. Unlike most Chardonnay in Champagne, the Gouttes d’Or faces West, and on this trip it was a furnace. When we got back to the car, the thermometer read 41 Centigrade- 105 in old money!

Returning back to the house, Paul Vincent treated us to a comparison of the 2008 based Blanc de Blancs and the recently disgorged 2009. The last of the 2008 just docked here in California, and it is simply spectacular. Looking back at my notes from tasting the wine as vin clair on May 25th of 2009, I found it to be both racy and rich at once. On June 17th of this year, that had not changed- it had snap and refreshment that cannot be beat while also filling the mouth with rich, creamy texture. This bottle reminded me of the quote “A bottle between four of us, thank God there aren’t more of us” and went down very quickly! Later on, just before dinner, we had the Blanc de Blancs from magnum, and this batch is still based on 2007, with a full extra year on the lees. The magnum gained a lot in complexity without losing any of the freshness of the 2008. If you have more than two people, this is the way to go!

Aspasie: a new plantation.

 

Grillmaster Caroline Aspasie.

It is hard for me to say more about the Ariston Aspasie "Cepages d'Antan" Brut Champagne ($99) than I have already said- it is simply one of the best Champagnes that money can buy. Not only does it offer the kind of incisive cut that one finds in Salon, but it is nearly exotic enough to be Condrieu. The Viognier like fruit expression on the nose also has flinty, bready elements and the palate is a kaleidoscope of complexity. The finish, which lasts and lasts has the brightness of the best of the appellation. Paul Vincent calls it “a wine for squirrels” as the high acidity raises his cheekbones! It is based on 2006 and composed of 40% Meslier, 40% Arbanne and 20% Pinot Blanc.

A toast of Aspasie to you!

–Gary

Tuesday
Jun042013

Champagne Tastings this Saturday June 8th in all K&L stores!

 

By: Gary Westby | K&L Champagne Buyer

Hello Champagne Fans,

This Saturday, June 8th, we will be pouring Champagne in all three stores. I will pour in Redwood City (from 1-4pm), Scotty will pour in SF (from noon to 3pm) and Mari will pour in LA (from 3 to 5:30pm) and we hope you can come. It is a casual walk-in event and no reservations are necessary. The cost is $20.

To give you a sneak peek of what to In Redwood City, I will pour:

Bruno Michel "Rebelle" Extra Brut Champagne $39.99

Michel Loriot "Cuvée Reserve" Brut Champagne $29.99 ($65.99 mag/ $16.99 half)

2004 Michel Loriot Brut Blanc de Blancs Champagne $49.99

Michel Loriot "Marie-Leopold" Sec Champagne $34.99

Fleury "Cuveé Robert Fleury" Brut Champagne $49.99

2002 Fleury "Cuveé Robert Fleury" Brut Champagne $59.99

Fleury Brut Rosé Champagne $49.99

Scotty is doing the same list, but he will have the 1998 Fleury Vintage rather than the 2002 Robert Fleury. You can reach out to Mari at the Hollywood for details on the Hollywood lis: marikeilman@klwines.com

For more information about these tastings including links to maps and directions as well as listings of other upcoming events, please visit our Local Events page on KLWines.com.

You can invite friends to join and share this event on facebook, too.

I hope to see you on Saturday!

Best,

Gary