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2000 Labégorce, Margaux $39.99

A great value in Bordeaux! This bottle is mature enough to drink now, but has time in hand if you want to keep it in the cellar for the future. We love it for its laid back elegance and classic balance. A must try for your next nice steak dinner.

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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.

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Entries in Blind Tasting (10)

Monday
Oct152012

Introducing the Champions of the Blind Chardonnay & Cabernet Tasting Challenge!

The candidates were chosen, running mates too. Opinion polls are silent, votes are in and counted. Two unlikely winners have emerged...


By: Ryan Woodhouse | K&L NZ & Aussie Wine Specialist

In the world of wine, if Cab is King, Chardonnay must be his Queen. When putting together the recent flights of blind tastings we tried to include a variety of styles and price points from all over the globe to represent the truly international dominance of these grapes. We had some obscure dark horses and some out and out favorites. But when the old brown bag comes into the picture the playing field is leveled and reputations dashed.

We started with ten Chardonnays the Blind Chardonnay Tasting last Friday night in Redwood City, followed by eleven Cabernets on Saturday afternoon. Attendants to each tasting were asked to taste through the blind lineup and cast a single vote for their favorite wine. After voting, they received the wine legend.  

Queue a lot of swirling, slurping and head scratching! Some people confidently scribbled down notes, country, region even producer, while others professed themselves completely baffled, taking only random stabs at price point and nation.

When all was said and done I was pleasantly surprised by the results, as were many of the participants.

Your 2012 blind Chardonnay Tasting Champion (drum roll please….)

2010 Craggy Range “Kidnapper's Vineyard” Chardonnay, Hawkes Bay, New Zealand $16.99

And your King of Cabernet :

2009 Vasse Felix Cabernet Sauvignon, Margaret River, Western Australia $29.99

Back to back wins for NZ and Oz!

 

These two wines triumphed over some prestigious Napa wines, Premier Cru Burgundy and everything the rest of the world could muster, with some challengers at three times the price! Scroll down to check out the complete lineups for both tastings at the end of this article and you will see that the competition was serious.

Here is some info on our winners:

 

2011 Craggy Range "Kidnapper's Vineyard Chardonnay, Hawke's Bay, New Zealand ($16.99)

Craggy Range is one of New Zealand's leading producers that focuses on highly prestigious single vineyard wines that illustrate remarkble micro-climates around these spectacular islands. The Kidnapper's Vineyard is situated in Hawkes Bay, right up against the pacific ocean, on the east coast of New Zealand’s north island. The vineyard is named after the nearby Cape Kidnapper's, a headland that takes it's name from a dramatic abduction of one of Captain Cook's crew by indigenous Māori in 1792.

The vines grow literally a stones throw from the surf. This situe has a notable impact on the wines aromatics and flavor as this coastal proximity has imparted a distinct saline quality upon the wine. Most importantly the vineyard is cooled by brisk sea breezes keeping this wine bright and crisp with a nice zippy acidity. The grapes have a long hang time and this slow ripening allows excellent flavor develoment.

 
View Larger Map

In the winemaking process the Kidnapper's Chardonnay is lightly whole bunch pressed into neutral oak tanks for fermentation. 10% goes to new French Oak Puncheons (double size barrels that impart much less flavor). This chablis-like style of production compliments the vineyards cool, crisp, mineral and saline flavor profile. The restraint, balance and complexity of this wine really surpasses it's very modest price point. Here is a link to Craggy Range’s website for more info about this spectacular vineyard site and the winemaking process. Craggy Range's Kidnapper's Vineyard.

 

King of Cabs: 2009 Vasse Felix Cabernet Sauvignon, Margaret River, Western Australia $29.99

 The Vasse Felix Cabernet Sauvignon is a truly historic wine. Vasse Felix was the first winery established in the now renowned Margaret River region of Western Australia. Planting vines in 1967 Vasse Felix has made this estate Cabernet every vintage since 1972 and continues as a leading family owned estate today. The fruit for this wine comes from the Wilyabrup sub-region known for producing world class cabernet. Vasse's neighbors include Cullen Estate and Moss Wood who make prolific Cab based wines themselves. You can see from the map below again the ocean plays a huge role in tempering the climate in Margaret River. This region gets pretty warm during the summer months but the frigid southern ocean is a constant factor cooling the winds and allowing greater flavor development and acid retention in the grapes.

 

 

View Larger Map

The 2009 Vasse Felix Cab shows archetypal Margaret River Cabernet characters. Concentrated black and blue fruits (think fresh blackberries and blueberries combined) with aromatic minty and subtle eucalyptus hints. With air the wine shows some thyme and cedar notes with dusty soil qualities. The wine is concentrated and powerful but without being over saturated or extracted. It has impeccable balance and a fine but persistent tannin structure.

Vasse Felix's Wilyabrup Vineyard

We hope you get a chance to try some of these winning wines, available now in our stores and on KLWines.com. Our blind tasting series has been a great success with lots of positive feedback from our customers, which means you can look forward to more blind tastings in the future! We invite you to come on down and attend the next one, or perhaps be inspired to stage a blind tasting of your own at home! You can follow us on Uncorked for updates and on Facebook and K&L Local Events for future listings and details.  

Cheers,

-Ryan

Blind Chardonnay Line Up:

1: 2010 Château de la Charrière Bourgogne Blanc Dom. Yves Girardin, Burgundy, France $14.99

2: 2010 Craggy Range “Kidnappers Vineyard” Chardonnay, Hawkes bay, New Zealand $16.99

3: 2011 “Heggies” Chardonnay, Eden Valley, Australia $19.99

4: 2009 Dom. Paul Pillot Chassagne-Montrachet 1er Cru "Champs Gain" Burgundy, France $59.99

5: 2010 Clos Pepe “Barrel Fermented” Chardonnay, Santa Rita Hills, California $22.99

6: 2009 Brick House "Cascadia" Ribbon Ridge Chardonnay, Ribbon Ridge AVA, Oregon $32.99

7: 2010 Te Whare Ra Chardonnay, Marlborough, New Zealand $24.99

8: 2010 Cakebread Chardonnay, Napa Valley, California $34.99

9: 2008 Monteviejo "Lindaflor" Chardonnay Valle de Uco Mendoza $19.99 (was $30)

10: 2010 Daniel De Wet "Limestone Hill" Chardonnay Robertson, South Africa $15.99

 

Blind Cabernet Line Up:

1: 2009 Sapaio "Volpolo"Bolgheri, Italy $32.99

2: 2009 La Croix de Beaucaillou, St-Julien, Bordeaux, France $49.99

3: 2009 Fabre Montmayou Cabernet Sauvignon Reserva, Mendoza, Argentina  $15.99

4: 2009 Vasse Felix Cabernet Sauvignon, Margaret River, Western Australia $29.99

5: 2010 Reyneke "Capstone" Red Bordeaux Blend, Stellenbosch, South Africa   $24.99

6: 2008 Attila Gere Cabernet Sauvignon, Villany, Hungary $21.99

7: 2001 Jean Leon Cabernet Sauvignon Gran Reserva, Penedes, Spain $39.99

8: 2008 Seven Hills Columbia Valley Cabernet Sauvignon, Washington, USA $21.99

9: 2009 Kathryn Kennedy "Small Lot Cabernet", Santa Cruz Mountains, CA, USA $32.99

10: 2010 Caymus Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa, CA, USA $69.99

11: 2009 Amici Cellars Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa, CA, USA $37.99 

 

 

 

Thursday
Oct112012

Take the K&L Blind Tasting Challenge This Weekend! 

Put your Palate to the Test!

Join us for our first-ever 2-day Blind Tasting Challenge, hosted by the expert staff at K&L in Redwood City. The Challenge includes the Blind Chardonnay Tasting on Friday 10/12 (5pm-6:30pm) and the Blind Cabernet Tasting on Saturday 10/13 (1pm-4pm). Attend both tastings and vote on your favorites! The lineups will be revealed after the tasting, and the most popular duo of Chardonnay and Cabernet will be featured the following week on Uncorked.

This is a great opportunity to gain a deeper understanding of these two important varietals and their potential for incredible diversity in expression based on factors of terroir, climate, viticulture, and winemaking technique as you sharpen your blind tasting skills and learn from the pros. If you think you know Chard and Cab, think again...

All palates welcome! The main goal is to learn, taste, and have fun, and anyone is welcome to attend and share in these tastings, voting is optional. No RSVP required. Come on down!

 
K&L Redwood City Blind Chardonnay Tasting Friday October 12th (5pm-6:30pm) | $10  Details

K&L Redwood City Blind Cabernet Tasting Saturday October 13th (1pm-4pm) | $20  Details

May the best wine win!

Friday
May042012

CA vs. OR Pinot Noir Blind Tasting Challenge: The Results Are In! 

CALIFORNIA BEATS OREGON BY A LANDSLIDE WITH A TIE FOR FIRST PLACE!
 

It was a packed house last Saturday, as 50+ K&L customers put their palates to the test in the Redwood City tasting bar. The annual CA vs OR Pinot Noir Blind Tasting Challenge is one of our most fun and popular customer tastings, drawing an enthusiast crowd of eager and open-minded Pinot aficionados.

In the end, California won by a landslide. Three wines were head and shoulders above the rest in terms of customer's votes. There was a tie for first place, each wine with 12 votes. Those wines were the 2009 Au Bon Climat Santa Barbara County Pinot Noir ($19.99) and the 2009 Calera "Mills Vineyard" Mt. Harlan Pinot Noir ($44.99) with the 2008 Holdredge Russian River Valley Pinot Noir ($32.99) coming in second with 11 votes.

Out of the Oregon entries, the 2009 Soléna "Grand Cuvée" Oregon Pinot Noir ($22.99) was the most popular, with 5 votes.

The Winners  (both with 12 votes):

 

Known as one of the “god-fathers” of Central Coast Pinot Noir Jim Clendenen began Au Bon Climat in 1982. Since then he has made some of the best wines in the area. This Santa Barbara County bottling in Jim’s Words is, “Just easy to drink…There is nothing pretentious here, just well balanced, nicely textured, brightly fruity wine that seems to go with everything.” We couldn't agree more, but the wine speaks for itself.

 

 

In 1975, Josh planted his first 24 acres of Pinot Noir in three separate parcels. Since then Calera has been widely recognized as one of the leading producers of Pinot Noir in the United States. The Mills Vineyard was originally planted in 1984 at an average elevation of 2,200 feet on pure limestone soils. The wine saw 16 months of 30% new French Oak. 1,599 cases were made from certified organically grown grapes as are all the grapes that are grown at Calera. 

 

K&L's Domestic Wine Buyer Bryan Brick assembled a lineup of 10 Pinot Noirs, 5 from Oregon and 5 from California, in the $19.99 to $49.99 price range and from vintages ranging from 2008 - 2010. The wines were brown-bagged and noted with a number. Tasting patrons received a blank piece of paper, with the numbers 1-10. The point of the challenge was not to guess all the wines correctly, but rather to thoughtfully evaluate the wines based on merit without letting preconceived notions obscure judgment and - most importantly - pick a personal favorite!

Tasters' "best-of" votes were submitted at the end of the tasting and tallied. The results reveal that the majority of tasting attendees showed a clear preference for fruit-forward and lush Pinots over lighter, brighter styles at this tasting.

What didn't seem to tip the scale much was price, with one of the least expensive wines ($19.99) tying with one of the most expensive  ($49.99) for first place.

Looks like CA Pinot producers don't have to worry about losing their loyal K&L Redwood City customers anytime soon! 

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The Complete Lineup: CA vs. OR Pinot Noir Blind Tasting Challenge 4/28/12

For more information about the Pinot Noirs featured in the tasting, click on the links below:

Wine #1: 2010 Patricia Green Cellars “K&L Cuvée” Willamette Valley Pinot Noir ($27.99)  We work with Patty Green directly to bring in this exclusive bottling for K&L. The fruit in this bottling comes mostly from her Estate vineyard. Aged in less than 20% new oak we think this is a fantastic value.

Wine #2: 2008 Holdredge Russian River Valley Pinot Noir ($32.99)  John Holdredge produces less than 700 cases of this Russian River Pinot Noir. Using numerous vineyards throughout the appellation brings added complexity and depth. John is a “hands-off” guy letting the wine make itself, he likes to intervene as little as possible to let his raw materials shine through.

Wine #3: 2008 Easton “Durate-Georgetown Vineyard” Sierra Foothills Pinot Noir ($21.99) Bill Easton has been making wonderful wines under the Easton and Terre Rouge labels for years from his high elevation estate located in the Shenandoah Valley. This Pinot Noir was grown at 2,500 feet elevation and planted in 2007. 50% of the fruit was whole cluster fermented. The wine spent 11 months in 25% new French Oak.

Wine #4: 2009 Londer Anderson Valley Pinot Noir ($24.99) Shirley and Larry Londer began looking for a vineyard site in 1997 and settled in Anderson Valley a few years later. Focusing on Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Gewurztraminer mainly from the valley they have created some beautiful wines over the last decade. This Pinot comes from four vineyards including their Estate Vineyard and Ferrington Vineyard and is aged in 30% new French oak. 1532 cases were produced.

Wine #5: 2010 St. Innocent “Villages Cuvée” Willamette Valley Pinot Noir ($21.99) St. Innocent Winery was founded in 1988 by Mark Vlossak who continues to be the winemaker and President. Originally produced in 2002 the Villages Cuvee was an outlet for fruit from newly planted vineyards. Currently the vineyard blend is 65% Vitae Springs Vineyard, 15% Momtazi Vineyard, 17% Zenith Vineyard and  3% Freedom Hill Vineyard. The wine spent 12 months in 23% new French Oak before bottling.

Wine #6: Cristom “Mt. Jefferson Cuvée” Willamette Valley Pinot Noir ($25.99) Cristom may be the K&L staff’s favorite winery in Oregon currently. Steve Doerner has been the winemaker since the wineries inception in 1992, previous to that he made over 15 vintages at Calera Vineyards. Coming from both estate (38%) and purchased fruit this Pinot comes from 12 different vineyards throughout Willamette Valley. 37% of the wine was fermented Whole Clusters and wild yeast was exclusively used. Just short of 6000 cases were produced.

Wine #7: Arterberry Maresh “Maresh Vineyard” Dundee Hills Pinot Noir ($49.99) Jim Maresh maybe the most talented young winemaker in the Willamette Valley right now. Maybe that comes from his intensive knowledge of the Dundee Hills where he has lived his entire life and where 100% of his fruit originates from. It also doesn’t hurt that his family planted what is now the 3rd oldest Pinot Noir Vineyard in Willamette Valley and the oldest in the Dundee Hills sub-appellation. Jim’s wines are all about finesse and grace which we think this wine personifies.

Wine #8: 2009 Au Bon Climat Santa Barbara County Pinot Noir ($19.99) Known as one of the “god-fathers” of Central Coast Pinot Noir Jim Clendenen began Au Bon Climat in 1982. Since then he has made some of the best wines in the area. This Santa Barbara County bottling in Jim’s Words is, “Just easy to drink…There is nothing pretentious here, just well balanced, nicely textured, brightly fruity wine that seems to go with everything.” We couldn’t agree more.

Wine #9: 2009 Soléna “Grand Cuvée” Oregon Pinot Noir ($22.99) Laurent Montalieu (Mumm, Willakenzie) and Danielle Andrus Montalieu (Archery Summit) purchased an 80-acre estate to commemorate their marriage. In May 2002, they launched Soléna by releasing their first bottling and, shortly thereafter, opening a tasting room in Carlton. This 3,500 case cuvee comes from 5 vineyards located throughout Willamette Valley and is aged for 10months in 25% new French Oak.

Wine #10: 2009 Calera “Mills Vineyard” Mt. Harlan Pinot Noir ($49.99) In 1975, Josh planted his first 24 acres of pinot noir in three separate parcels. Since then Calera has been widely recognized as one of the leading producers of Pinot Noir in the United States. The Mills Vineyard was originally planted in 1984 at an average elevation of 2,200 feet on pure limestone soils. The wine saw 16 months of 30% new French Oak. 1,599 cases were made from certified organically grown grapes as are all the grapes that are grown at Calera.

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Shop our wide selection of Pinot Noir and stage your own Pinot Noir Blind Tasting Challenge with friends at home!