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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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Entries in Bordeaux blends (6)

Wednesday
Jun052013

{Terra Ignota} K&L Exclusive Direct Import of Spectacular Te Mata Estate Wines

During my travels around New Zealand in 2011 I visited over 50 wineries. In general I was amazed by the quality and diversity of the wine I encountered. Marlborough was great, Central Otago too, but I think it was Hawke’s Bay on the east coast of New Zealand’s north island that really blew me away. The cornerstone of that revelation was most definitely the wines of Te Mata Estate. 

The famous landmark of Te Mata Peak that towers over the winery

I was so impressed that on my return to K&L I worked hard to develop a relationship with them and am pleased to say that we are now the exclusive importer of the Te Mata wines to the USA. Te Mata Estate is New Zealand’s oldest family owned winery. Founded in 1892 by an English immigrant, the winery still uses the original plots nestled into the lower slopes of Te Mata Peak, a dramatic rocky out crop that towers above the flat plains of Hawke’s Bay. The vines grow only a couple miles from the ocean and are perfectly tempered by cool sea breezes. These rocky free draining soils are perfect for balanced, finessed wines but with the concentration and power I have come to expect from Hawke’s Bay.

The orignal Coleraine Vineyard first established in 1892

Te Mata’s wines are held in very high regard and many immediately sell out upon release from the winery. Their four most iconic wines have long been regarded as the most prestigious and awarded wines in New Zealand. The long lived, Bordeaux like Coleraine. The undeniably rich and delicious Awatea. The complex, layered, very Burgundian Elston Chardonnay and perhaps the most sought after all, the stunning Bullnose Syrah. We have also brought some of their other estate wines to the US as part of a K&L exclusive direct import. These wines are truly the pinnacle of what New Zealand can produce.

2009 Te Mata Estate “Coleraine” Bordeaux Blend, Hawke’s Bay, NZ $49.99

This is a stunningly complex and delicious Bordeaux style blend that takes its name from the tiny vineyard directly adjacent to the winery. The Coleraine has been produced since 1982 and is regarded as one of New Zealand's finest and most age worthy wines. Quite compellingly the wine is made each year using a blind tasting and blending of the estates fine parcels of Bordeaux varietals.

The winemaker describes it as “saturated magenta in color with concentrated aromas of blackcurrants, spice and dark old fashioned roses. The palate opens with the dense sweet, dark berry fruits indicative of a great year. The focus quickly turns to rich fine tannins that fill the mouth, leaving a lasting impression of a wine of significant ageing ability. Coleraine '09 [is] considered amongst the greatest Coleraines. A blend of 52% cabernet sauvignon, 43% merlot, and 5% cabernet franc, it will continue to develop in bottle and provide great enjoyment up to 15 years from harvest.” My personal notes echoed these, being particularly impressed with the balance between rich dark fruits and a firm structure. This is clearly a wine for the long haul but with just enough extraction to please the bigger cab drinkers and those who enjoy riper Bordeaux vintages such as 2000, 2005, 2009.

Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate also gave great reviews to this wine awarding 95 points and writing:

“Blackberry, dark chocolate, a touch of sloe and liquorice. The finesse is there on the long, languid finish. A masculine Coleraine with great intensity and promise for the future.”

James Suckling writes: “94 points, this is an awesome Bordeaux blend with light mint, flowers and dark fruits. Currants and slightly dried fruit. Full-bodied, with layers of ripe tannins and long, long finish. Still slightly chewy. Needs another three to four years to come around.”

2010 Te Mata Estate “Awatea” Cabernet Blend, Hawke’s Bay NZ $29.99 

This is the 2nd wine to the Coleraine, made in a slightly more plush, drink earlier style and represents an excellent value for a remarkable bottle of wine. Te Mata Estate believes this to be one of the finest Awatea’s it has produced to date. Winemaker’s notes: “2010 Awatea is a dark magenta colour with aromas of fresh blackberry and raspberry infused with rosemary and sandalwood. The palate is pure, powerful, and well balanced, with mineral freshness and fine powdery tannin warmth contributing to its length. Awatea ’10 is a blend of 42% cabernet sauvignon, 40% merlot, 12% cabernet franc and 6% petit verdot. It will continue to evolve in bottle, providing great enjoyment up to 10 years from harvest. It is a natural partner for savoury red meat dishes and hard cheeses.”

I found this wine to be very expressive right now with a touch more generosity. Dark lush fruit and spice box with wonderful energy and brightness on the palate. A dynamic wine that evolves beautifully in the glass. The perfect steak wine! Truly over achieving against any other $30 Cab blend I would put in it’s category.

The 2010 Awatea has not been professionally reviewed yet, however the 2009 garnered 92 from Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate.

2009 Te Mata Estate “Bullnose” Syrah, Hawke’s Bay, NZ $31.99 

This wine sells out immediately upon release in New Zealand, it’s almost a national treasure! Made from a tiny, steep single vineyard, the winemaker writes: “An impressive deep magenta colour, with aromas and flavours of raspberry and sweet cherry, baking spices and lavender. The rich palate displays velvety tannins underpinning plum and cream notes, leading to a long, elegant finish. It will continue to evolve in bottle for eight years from harvest.” This is a stunningly elegant and perfumed Syrah again playing a perfect balance between old world structure and beautifully pure new world fruit.

Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate awards 94 points and writes: “Produced since 1992, the vines for the Bullnose Syrah are now 20 years old. Purple-black in color, the 2009 Bullnose Syrah gives up a pronounced nose of blueberry compote and blackberry pie filling with hints of cloves, moss covered bark, allspice, toast and aniseed with a whiff of white pepper. Medium bodied and concentrated in the mouth, it gives a good structure of crisp acid and firm, ripe, rounded tannins, finishing long and peppery. Drink it now to 2018+.

2011 Te Mata Estate “Elston” Chardonnay, Hawke’s Bay, NZ $29.99

Once more finding a perfect balance between the restraint and mineral intrigue of great white Burgundy and the slightly more exotic fruit expression of New Zealand. This wine is fascinating as it tip toes across the palate and goes on and on in the finish. The winemaker describes it beautifully: “Elston ‘11 has a brilliant, green gold colour, and lovely aromas of nectarine and white peach, with a background of oatmeal and cedar. It is elegant and intense, with a mineral tension in the extended palate that suggests considerable cellaring potential. Elston ‘11 will continue to evolve in bottle for five years + from harvest and matches well with full flavoured dishes based on seafood, poultry and white meats, as well as soft ripened cheeses."

The 2011 vintage has not yet been professionally reviewed, but the 2010 garnered 95 points from James Suckling with him writing “This is really fabulous with insane density like grand cru Burgundy. Full and layered with great concentration and structure. Lemon rind, apple pie and mineral undertones. It's all about tension and structure here. Needs time to come around. Better in 2015.”

I think the 2010 is a better wine than the 2009 with more brightness and minerality. This wine is considered one of New Zealand’s most prestigious Chardonnays and I urge you to try it.

2011 Te Mata Estate “Cape Crest” Sauvignon Blanc, Hawke’s Bay, NZ $19.99

 

One of New Zealand's top Barrel Fermented Sauvignon Blancs. The Winemaker describes it as “fermented and aged in a combination of new and used French oak barrels. Eight months aging on the lees lends this Bordeaux-style blend (85% Sauvignon Blanc, 11% Semillon, and 4% Sauvignon Gris) incredible mid-palate richness and length on the finish. It reveals intense aromas of tropical fruit, citrus, pear, and blossom in the nose, with accents of buttered toast and vanilla. The palate is layered and creamy, with fine acid structure and a very long lingering nutty finish.” Very classy stuff and a gives a whole new meaning to most peoples understanding of Kiwi Sauv Blanc.

James Suckling writes: 92 points “This is like top white Bordeaux with lemon / lime, green apple and mineral character. Great intensity. Full body with lovely balance of fruit and oak. Excellent finish. Drink now.

Jancis Robinson writes: 17/20 Brilliantly forthright oak, like all-butter shortbread. Lemon citrus and vegetal notes present on the palate, good restraint despite the potent nose. This could be Graves or Pessac-Léognan.

Last but not least is the wonderful if not slightly quirky 2012 Te Mata Estate Gamay Noir, Hawke’s Bay, NZ $16.99.

Made in a very convincing Beaujolais style with partial carbonic fermentation, this is such a fun and delicious wine. Spicy, crunchy red berries with silky, supple tannins and just a whiff of cracked black pepper to distinguish it as a Hawke’s Bay wine. Perfect for summer BBQ with chicken and fish. Once you try one this will be a new favorite I’m sure!

James Suckling agrees saying: “90 points, amazing Beaujolais style to this wine with grapy, wet earth character. It's medium-bodied, with fresh acidity and a long finish. So much going on here. One of the only producers in New Zealand of Gamay. It was started in 1995. Cuttings came from Beaujolais. Lovely texture to it. Drink now 

Please check out these wines. They are all truly remarkable. Any feedback will be truly appreciated.

 Cheers

 -Ryan Woodhouse, Aussie/NZ Specialist

 ***

Terra Ignota is Latin for "Unknown Land". It was the name for the South Pacific region during intial mapping and exploration of Australia and New Zealand. As we are going to be exploring new and exciting wines from this region, we think this is a fitting title for our blog series on wines from this part of the world. Stay tuned for more!

Tuesday
Mar262013

K&L Blind Tasting Challenge: Bordeaux Blends,The Results!

Last weekend we hosted the latest in our Blind Tasting Challenge series. This time we took a lineup of traditional Bordeaux Blends from around the world and pitted them against one another. The voting was very tight this time around but eventually a winner emerged: (drum roll please) The De Toren "Z" Stellenbosch, South Africa, $31.99! 

This wine is crafted to be softer and more approachable in it's youth than De Toren's Fusion V bottling that is a more structured cellaring candidate. I think the "Z" charmed our tasters with its rich fruit, depth, concentration and silky tannin structure. The wine also only displays subtle smoky characteristics that so often define South African reds. There is real quality here and a long tradition focused on producing world class Bordeaux style reds. For those of you that have drunk wine from Stellenbosch before, it should come as no surprise that this wine bested the rest of the field and is considerably less expensive than some of its competitors.

Here is the complete lineup:

1: 2009 La Fleur Calon, Montagne St Emilion, Bordeaux, France, $14.99

2:2010 Kathryn Kennedy Lateral, Napa Valley, California, $34.99

3: 2010 Viña Von Siebenthal "Parcela #7" Gran Reserva, Aconcagua Valley, Chile, $16.99

4: 2009Te Mata Estate “Coleraine” Hawke’s Bay, New Zealand, $49.99

5 2010 De Torien “Z” Stellenbosch, South Africa, $31.99

6:2010 Sapaio "Volpolo" Bolgheri, Italy, $34.99

7: 2009 Ch. Poujeaux, Moulis en Medoc, Bordeaux, France, $44.99

8: 2008 L'Ecole No. 41 "Perigee" Seven Hills Vineyard, Walla Walla Valley, Washington $44.99

9: 2010 Amelia Park Cabernet-Merlot, Margaret River, Western Australia $19.99

10: 2009 Sacred Hill "Helmsman" Cabernet-Merlot, Gimblett Gravels, Hawke’s Bay, New Zealand, $39.99

Until next time,

Cheers

Ryan

Monday
Feb182013

Behind the Wine: A Q&A with Bill Blatch, Leading Sauternes Expert

Bill Blatch (center) with K&L Founder Clyde Beffa (left) and Redwood City Bordeaux liaison Jeff Garneau (right).

"Incredibly, companies specialising in Sauternes alone are virtually non existant. Luckily there is one man who has made it his mission for the last 30 years to know everything there is to know about Sauternes – and that’s Bill Blatch." (bordeauxgold.com)

Meet Bill Blatch

By: Ralph Sands, K&L Senior Bordeaux Specialist

Bill Blatch is a good friend and has been an instrumental influence at K&L Wine Merchants since 1985, when Clyde Beffa was first introduced to him in Bordeaux. Bill and his partners started a negociant firm called Vintex in the early 80s that quickly became famous for representing all the Cru Bourgeois and hundreds of other Petite Chateaux in the region along with the classified growths. Bill’s prime focus was his passion for Sauternes and the small non-famous producers with whom he worked hands-on to improve quality in the cellar and in the vineyard.

A visit to the Vintex offices to taste is truly a rite of passage into the Bordeaux business. The barometer of any vintage is the quality of wine made from top to bottom, and anyone who is anyone in Bordeaux shows up at the Vintex office to taste. It was there where I met the great Edmund Penning Roswell and the famous Robert Parker on the same day in April of 1990, my first day ever in Bordeaux. Starting with the most recent barrel samples and the past two vintages of each estate, you taste your way through hundreds of wines. This is real work and far beyond what most people can comprehend. 

For decades during the April 'en primeur' week, Bill has lead a band of professional tasters from all over the world to each of the great classified growths to evaluate the new vintage. Bill's in-depth study of each year's weather pattern and his annual vintage report are legendary. He is surely one of the most knowledgeable people on the wines of Bordeaux--and especially the wines of Sauternes--in the world. Now semi-retired, Bill has just been commissioned by Berry Bros. in the UK to write a book on Bordeaux wine...a very smart move indeed!

For a video summary of Bill's recent tasting and report on the best values in 2009 Sauternes, a vintage he describes as one in which "everyone had a chance to create top quality wines," follow this link.

Q&A with Bill Blatch

By: Steve Greer | K&L LA Bordeaux Liaison

SG: Which is better for botrytis, Barsac or Sauternes?

BB: That depends. Generally Barsac is earlier to botrytise than Sauternes, sometimes just a few days, sometimes a week. So it all depends when the rainy/sunny days come; it's a lottery, it can go either way.

What are your favorite vintages?

For me, 01 is the best post-war vintage. It has that magic "lift" from the acidity, the botrytis complexity is oustanding and yet the weight and sweetness are very high. We had the Climens from magnum the other night. It was quite simply fabulous.

Are there differences in boytritis?

A cleaner boytritis? Very complex one this. Botrytis is a complicated thing. Very generally, the best comes quick and doesn't stay on the grapes for too long (as in 01, 03, 05 and 09). When the conditions are too dry and it gets blocked, it tends to give finesse (88, 02) and when too wet, if it doesn't deteriorate, usually provides heavier styled wines (86, 96, 12) but can get washed out (94, 00). As you know, there are various stages in its development: from golden grapes which develop botrytis blotches, then usually quite quickly to "pourri plein" (total botrytis) and finally, if this concentrates up nicely to "rôti" phase. This is the one that they look for, but sometimes have to settle for a bit of the rest. Recently (especially in 11), there has been a trend to temper the too concentrated "rôti" grapes with non-botrytis golden ones, with the advantage of providing freshness as well as sugar balance. In the old days, many picked a large proportion at "pourri
plein", another reason for the lighter wines of yore.

How is fermentation stopped?

Fermentation used to be stopped by just adding sulphur. Nowadays, it is usually racked off into refrigerated receptacles then put back in barrel, albeit with sulphur but as little as possible to keep the free sulphur level at its correct level.

How does residual sugar relate to/impact balance?

Since the late 90s, the big difference [now] is greater concentration, of course helped by warmer temperatures, but more than that by much better selection at harvest. Before the 90s, it was an effort to get up to 120g/l and it rarely happened outside of the great vintages. Since then, most are at 120 - 150 g/l. Since about 2003, when there were a couple as high as 190g, there has been a collective realisation that great Sauternes is a question of balance rather than opulence (hence the ridiculing of Parker and the Wine Spec at the time) and they now make efforts to restrain the sugar levels, either by wider picking at certain times, or by blending lighter lots with sweeter ones.

Photo from Bill Blatch's visit to K&L in March of 2011.

SG: What makes d'Yquem so special? Is it the yields and quality control (one glass of wine per vine) ...or the higher elevation the estate sits on?

BB: I think it's a whole combination of things that make Yquem so special. First, the vineyard is in a unique position dominating the valley from that big mound. Rieussec and Rayne Vigneau have similar commanding positions but not to that extent. From years of observing the botrytis's evolution in the fall, Yquem clearly benefits from the best air circulation dring the crucial final concentration process. Also, because of its very varied soil structure, and because the domain is so big, they can favor whatever class of soil is best for each vintage (eg + clay in the dry years, more gravel in the wet ones etc). Then of course, it's a question of having the luxury (because of the price of the stuff!) to select drastically, to have twice as many pickers, to have the best technical staff, and do whatever they like with low yields, then to have the best vertical presses (which cost a fortune), the best new barrels and just to have everything perfect. At vintage time, when everyone is scurrying around against the clock elsewhere, I have never seen anyone in a hurry at Yquem.

My very old Parker book doesn't seem to have the right yields on sweet wine producers. What is the maximum yield allowed in the AOCs and what is the average?

The maximum yield by law is 25 ho/ha, but most crus classés never get near that, except in very prolific easy vintages. Yquem rarely goes over 10. Most crus classés average at about 12-15.

How long can you leave a bottle open in the fridge?

Leaving bottles in the fridge depends a lot on the resistance of the wine. An off vintage, made from rain-sodden botrytis, with low acidity and lots of sulphur is a different proposition from a top vintage, totally healthy and clean from the start. The bottle I left that summer was a Doisy Daene, who has one of the brightest and cleanest-flavored wine I know, and he never has to use much sulphur. I think the message is, if you can't finish the bottle, never to worry about corking it up and leaving it for a week or two, whatever the quality. Sauternes simply doesn't oxidise or go flat like dry wines do. And if it's a great vintage from a fine estate, leave it for much longer...

For more information and videos about Bill Blatch and Sauternes, visit bordeauxgold.com.