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So why is the 2012 Ladera Cabernet—made from almost entirely from Howell Mountain fruit, from an incredible vintage—sitting pretty at $34.99? I honestly can't tell you. Maybe it's because no one knows how good the Ladera holdings in Howell Mountain are. Or maybe it's the pride that winemaker Jade Barrett takes in making a serious wine for a reasonable price. Or maybe it's because Ladera is an overlooked gem in a sea of Napa alternatives. For whatever the reason, I'm not going to complain. We tasted the 2012 vintage at our staff training yesterday and I was just floored by the quality of this wine. Dark, fleshy fruit cloaked in fine tannins, bits of earth, and in total balance, with enough gusto to go the long haul in your cellar. It's a whole lotta wine for $34.99, and it's made primarily from Howell Mountain grapes, harvested during a great vintage. 

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Entries in Central Otago (4)

Thursday
Mar052015

Akitu's Remarkable Pinot Noirs

I recently read about a new producer in New Zealand’s Central Otago region named Akitu. They are 100% dedicated to producing Pinot Noir off one tiny vineyard site high on the slopes of Mt. Barker close to the bucolic town of Wanaka. I immediately reached out to owner Andrew Donaldson to taste and explore the possibilities of working with his wines. The samples soon arrived and before I could even open them I was already quite taken by the slick package and label design…now I am not one for judging a book (or a bottle of wine for that matter) by it’s cover, but credit where credit is due…these look smart.

Thankfully once opened things only got better. The 2013 Akitu “A1” Pinot Noir is one of the most profound bottles I have tasted in quite some time. The wine is defined by precision, tension, coiled power and subtle intensity. It speaks very strongly of its schist soil origins. The wine is incredibly pure and dynamic on the palate. It is not overly fleshy or extracted but linear and perfectly poised. You can feel the terroir as much as taste it. This wine is about energy and vibrancy. Sure it delivers fantastic Pinot Noir varietal fruit flavors, ripe berries, exotic spice, earth…but this wine is so much more than that, it’s hard to describe, it’s something that needs to be experienced. I also believe we are only seeing the tip of the iceberg with this wine and that the best is yet to come as the tight, compact layers of flavor and texture unfold. 

“Akitu” (meaning “summit” in Māori) comes from a unique site. The vines are planted on a perfect north facing slope, 1600ft up on the on the north west aspect Mt. Barker. In a place like Central Otago that is inherently quite remote…these vines are further defined by their loneliness.  This is not an area bustling with vineyards like the hillsides of Bannockburn or along the shores of Lake Dunstan…these are a few acres of vines perched on lone mountain within a windswept alpine valley over shadowed by the snowcapped mountains of the Southern Alps. When I see someone toiling over a site like this, a tricky, labor intensive, on the edge of grape growing site...I am drawn to the wines, because there must be some reason why that person is persisting, they must truly believe they have something special. Founder Andrew Donaldson only started labeling his own wine in 2012 after selling off fruit for 10 years while he waited for his vines to mature and truly speak of their terroir (something we rarely see in this day and age). 

When Andrew was ready to start putting his own name to these wines he recruited heralded wine maker and kiwi native PJ Charteris to help tease the best expression from his land. PJ has a very serious resume of former winemaking positions including time with Adelsheim, Flowers Estate, Penfolds and most recently served as icon Brokenwood’s Head Winemaker in Australia’s Hunter Valley for 12 years, during which time he was awarded Winemaker of the Year!  This combination of special site and talented winemaker is working wonders for Akitu. The wines are really shining.

Beyond the black label “tête de cuvée” A1 Pinot, we also have Akitu’s white label “A2” bottling. The 2013 Akitu "A2" Pinot Noir offers exceptional value and quality for money. Most Pinot lovers will know that due to the fickle nature of this seductive varietal it is very difficult to find great Pinot Noir for close to $20...it is also almost unheard of to produce noteworthy Central Otago Pinot Noir for this price. The yields are painfully low, farming is very labor intensive…thankfully our direct relationship with Hawkesbury Estate / Atiku has allowed K&L to bring you this wine for a seriously economical price point. This wine is deliberately styled in a more forward, open style bursting with ripe berry fruits, hard ground spices like nutmeg and clove from the whole bunch inclusion, crushed rocks and wild Thyme. The palate has plenty of soft accessible fruit up front, but it is also very long and drawn out on the palate by the wines lovely fresh acidity and fine powdery tannins. A delicate kiss of oak helps polish this gem but does not detract from its purity. All the fruit is still hand-picked from the estate and crafted in the same way and the premier label. Whilst this wine does not provide the lucid insight into this incredible terroir that is afforded by Akitu's "A1" Pinot Noir...it does provide the imbiber instant gratification and a fantastically expressive bottle of classy Pinot Noir at an incredibly reasonable price. This fantastic into in to Akitu’s wines was recently awarded a Pure Elite Gold Medal at the Air New Zealand Wine Awards (NZ’s biggest and most prestigious wine competition).

I entreat you to check out these new additions to our selection and I hope you find them as compelling as I do.

Cheers, 

Ryan Woodhouse - K&L New Zealand Wine Buyer

Thursday
Sep132012

{Terra Ignota} New Zealand Pinot Noir Showcase Tasting this Friday 9/14!

The Majestic Rippon Vineyard, Lake Wanaka, Central Otago.                 Join K&L's Kiwi & Aussie Wine Specialist Ryan Woodhouse in our Redwood City store for a special tasting of New Zealand Pinot Noir! We will be showcasing wines from the many different and diverse regions of New Zealand including wines from Marlborough, Central Otago, Nelson and Canterbury. We will taste releases from some of the very best producers in an effort to show how truly world class NZ Pinot can be.

 New Zealand Pinot Noir often represents a perfect balance between big, rich, ripe modern Pinot common in California and a more classic style of restrained, balanced, earthy, more terroir driven, even "Burgundian" style. If you haven't had Pinot from NZ before this will be a revelation. For those of you who have experienced how good these wines can be, we hope to introduce you to some new favorites. 

*UPDATE* 9.00am 9/14/12 WE WILL ALSO BE HOSTING A SURPRISE VISIT FROM WILLIAM HOARE, WINEMAKER AT NEWZEALAND'S FAMED FROMM VINEYARDS WHOSE WINES WE WILL BE CARRYING IN THE NEAR FUTURE. WILLIAM IS ONE OF NZ'S LEADING PINOT EXPERTS AND THE FROMM WINES WILL BE AN EXCELLENT ADDITION TO THE TASTING.

New Zealand Pinot Noir Showcase Tasting

Friday September 14th, 5pm-6:30pm @ K&L Redwood City

Quartz Reef Methode Traditional (it's 61% Pinot!) $21.99
2009 State Landt "Paladin" Pinot Noir, Marlborough $22.99
2010 Mt. Beautiful Pinot, Cheviot Hills, North Canterbury $21.99
2010 Momo (Seresin) Pinot, Marlborough $16.99
2007 Craggy Range "Zebra Vineyard", Central Otago $24.99
2010 Neudorf "Moutere Hills" Pinot, Nelson $36.99
2008 Rippon "Mature Vines" Pinot Noir Central Otago (Biodynamic) $49.99

Cost to taste: $10
Walk in only. Final lineup and cost subject to change.

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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!

Thursday
Aug022012

{Terra Ignota} Pyramid Valley Vineyard Wines In Stock!

We now have a large range of these spectacular wines in stock

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

On very rare occasions do we find wines that truly inspire—the magic moment we all chase in a simple beverage made from crushed grapes. For this to happen I believe three things have to be in harmony: fruit, structure and terroir. I found these things intricately aligned in the wines of Pyramid Valley. Based in North Canterbury on the east coast of New Zealand’s South Island, the wines made by Mike and Claudia Weersing are truly world class.

Pyramid Valley's Home Vineyard in North Canterbury under a blanket of snowTheir “Home Vineyard” is one of the most carefully cultivated sites anywhere, farmed using biodynamic principles and a whole lot of Claudia’s “blood, sweat and tears.” Beyond their estate they have also forged relationships with growers and small vineyards all over New Zealand. They choose sites of distinction and convert everything to the same stringent biodynamic principles they apply at home. The resulting wines are nothing short of spectacular, perfectly illustrating New Zealand’s plethora of microclimates and diverse terroirs. The winemaking at Pyramid Valley parallels the profound attention to detail in the field: They work with all wild yeasts, tread the grapes by foot and ferment in tiny clay vessels, with an unwavering focus on quality and authenticity.

We have just received a huge range of their spectacular wines into stock, in stores and online:

2009 Pyramid Valley Vineyard “Angel Flower” Pinot Noir, North Canterbury ($59.99)

Opulently aromatic: soft berry fruits, exotic spice, hints of warm earth. On the palate: supple, elegant andenergetic. Fine polished tannins and relatively light extraction. The exuberance and depth of this wine suggests its longevity will belie its attractive, graceful structure.

2009 Pyramid Valley Vineyards “Earth Smoke” Pinot Noir, North Canterbury ($59.99)

A powerful and brooding Pinot with darker black cherry, bramble fruit and charcoal, plus ground nutmeg and
clove and an intense, earthy or leaf-litter component. The tannins are more prominent, which perfectly matches the heavier palate weight. Cellaring will no doubt bring reward.

2009 Pyramid Valley Vineyards Growers Collection “Cowley Vineyard” Pinot Noir, Marlborough ($29.99)

The Cowley Vineyard is in the hills and has a more complex soil composition than much of Marlborough, including clay, glacial deposits and granitic stone. This Pinot is dramatically floral, with crushed red berries and hints of anise. The palate is vibrant and concentrated, with spice and rich depth. A touch more forward in style.

2009 Pyramid Valley Vineyards Growers Collection “Calvert Vineyard” Pinot Noir, Central Otago ($39.99)

From a Vineyard shared between some giants of NZ Pinot Noir. (Craggy Range, Felton Road and Pyramid Valley) All farmed Biodynamically. This is the warmest region PV work with and it is reflected in this wines powerful fruit core of Blackberries and dark cherry. Rich and unctuous on the palate, yet retaining freshness and drive. Some dark earthiness and ripe silky tannin. Probably the best cross-over wine for California Pinot drinkers interested in trying Pyramid Valleys offerings.

2007 Pyramid Valley Vineyards Growers Collection “Howell Family” Cabernet Franc, Hawkes Bay ($35.99)

From the Bridge Pa district of Hawkes Bay, known for its iron- and mineral-rich red loam soils that impart a distinctive complexity into the wines. The winemaker’s notes are perfect here, “hugely perfumed fruit, violets and a tapenade-like mix of olive, black pepper and herbs, especially thyme. Black fruits turn redder with air: blackberry morphing to raspberry.”

2009 Pyramid Valley Vineyards Growers Collection "Rose Vineyard" Riesling, Marlborough ($21.99)

Intense mineral and lime zest aromatics with a hint of dry grass or straw. A really vivacious palate with tons of citrus notes, some mulling spice, bright floral notes of orange blossom. A lovely weight in the mouth, rich and persistent on the finish.

2007 Pyramid Valley Vineyards Growers Collection "Kerner Estate" Pinot Blanc, Marlborough ($21.99)

Rich citrus preserve, sweet orange marmalade. Some roasted grains and lees character on the nose give an interesting savory component to an other wise fruit laden bouquet. On the palate this wine is beautifully viscous and mouth filling. A very fleshed out wine that has evolved fantastically in the bottle. All this richness is perfectly balanced by a brisk acidity and long lingering savory minerality on the finish. Very food friendly.

2009 Pyramid Valley Vineyard "Field Of Fire" Chardonnay, North Canterbury

A beautiful bright Chardonnay dominated by perfectly ripe orchard fruits and again those toasted grain notes I get from so many of the PV wines, I think it must be from the good healthy lees contact. A rich and engaging multidimensional wine with excellent fruit, a subtle touch of oak and limestone character running throughout the tail. Excellent depth and persistence.

Cheers!

-Ryan

Ryan Woodhouse

NZ & Aussie Wine Specialist

K&L Wine Merchants - Redwood City

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 ***

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!