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 Champagne (75)

Friday
Jan252013

Champagne Friday: Epernay and the Cote des Blancs

Cinnamon Westby explores the Launois museum.

By: Gary Westby | K&L Champagne Buyer

Champagne Itinerary #1, Epernay and the Cote des Blancs

Travelling to Champagne is a lot of fun. Last week I started off a mini-series of posts on destinations in the area at the top with Chateau Les Crayeres. This week I have set up an itinerary that could be covered in one or two days, depending on how ambitious (one) or leisurely (two) you want to be: Epernay and the Cote des Blancs. The Hotel Ibis in the center of Epernay will be our home base; this is where I always stay when on business in Champagne. All of the recommended wineries will require an appointment well in advance, and only Moet is open on the weekends. Note: trips to Champagne are best done mid-week - quite the opposite of Napa!

Hôtel Ibis, Epernay

This is a great hotel for folks who have come to Champagne as travelers to taste and learn about the wines instead of hanging out in your hotel room. The rooms are clean, simple and comfortable, the friendly, professional, accommodating staff is there around the clock and many of them I count as personal friends. The wifi always works, so it is easy to get back in touch with home, and the location could not be more central for visiting the vineyards. Epernay is a small city, and everything is in walking distance. Given how good the food and wine is, walking to and from dinner is a must!

19 rue Chocatelle :: 51200 Epernay:: 03 26 51 14 51 website

La Cloche à Fromage, Epernay

Start your day out by picking up some cheese from La Cloche à Fromage for your lunch. Lunch takes a lot of time in France, so if you want to visit a lot of producers it is impossible to fit a 'real' French lunch in the schedule. And frankly, two sit-down meals a day in France are simply too much for my delicate Californian constitution! La Cloche is the best cheese shop in the whole Champagne region and the envy of many Parisians. Conveniently, it is located on the same square as the Hotel Ibis! Ask the cheese monger for a piece to eat today, they will be happy to cut it to the right size for the number of people you have. 

19 rue St Thibault :: 51200 Epernay :: 03 26 55 30 18

Au Pain Délice

On the same street, three doors down from La Cloche, is the best baker in Epernay, Au Pain Delice. Here you can grab a sandwich for later (remember, in France the bakers sell the sandwiches, but they are CLOSED at lunch!!!!) and some bread to go with your cheese. You are now set for lunch in the vineyard later on in the day! You will find a little spot with a bench just at the entrance of about every one of the villages that you visit. While the producers are often horrified at my jambon (French ham sandwich) lunches,  your palate will thank you. This regular French food is not to be missed- it is every bit as good as the high end, especially when you visit the best baker in town.

3 rue St Thibault :: 51200 Epernay :: 03 26 55 25 75

Champagne Bruno Michel, Pierry

Try: Bruno Michel "Les Roses" Brut Rosé Champagne ($49.99) Just south of Epernay, the suburb of Pierry is where the town gives way to vines. It is home to one of the most careful producers that K&L has every carried: Champagne Bruno Michel. Bruno is obsessed with every detail of his wines, making every vine selection and grafting every rootstock himself. He is completely organic and Ecocert and Demeter certified in the vineyard, and works with small barrels for his vintage dated wines. His microclimate in Pierry and Moussy (the neighboring village, where he also has vines) is known as sud-Epernay, and is one of the coolest in all of Champagne. As such, Pinot Noir does not ripen well here, and he has almost all Chardonnay and Meunier vines. A visit and tasting here will teach you more about Champagne than visiting every single big house!

It will take less than 10 minutes to get to Bruno Michel, but allow a half hour- the parking garage in Epernay takes some getting used to and the city is definitely not on a grid!

4 de la Vieille Ferme, 51530 Pierry :: 03 26 55 10 54 :: champagnebrunomuchel@orange.fr 

Olivier Bonville pulls a sample of vin clair before it is bottled and transformed into Champagne.

Champagne Franck Bonville, Avize

Try: Franck Bonville "Belles Voyes" Brut Blanc de Blancs Champagne - only a few left in Magnum! ($139)No Champagne that we carry sells as fast as the all-estate, all grand cru Franck Bonville. If you are reading this right now, you have probably already tried their electric yet still rich all chardonnay Champagne. This is a great visit, and you can see here the difference between the stainless steel elevage of that majority of their wines and the oak aged elevage of their single vineyard Belles Voyes, which is handled in a different cellar across the street. Olivier, Isabelle and the whole crew here could not be nicer, and they all speak excellent English.

9 Rue Pasteur, 51190 Avize :: 03 26 57 52 30 :: franck-bonville@wanadoo.fr :: website 

 

Champagne Launois Pere et Fils, Mesnil

Try: 2004 Launois "Spécial Club" Brut Blanc de Blancs Champagne ($59.99) No trip to Champagne would be complete without a stop in Mesnil, the most famous and sought after terroir for the most sought after varietal in Champagne: Chardonnay. In this village you have Salon, Krug’s Clos du Mesnil, and Launois' incomparable wine museum (see picture at top). Bernard Launois does things differently, harvesting 10 days after everyone else in the village and choosing old enamel lined tanks (think Le Creuset) instead of wood or stainless for his elevage. He is also a collector of everything Champagne, and a trip down to his cellar museum is a must for any trip to the region. Here you will find fantastic exhibits on everything from growing and making cork to the glass making process for the bottles, complete with historical shapes. He has pumps from every century, and an incredible collection of old presses and stills. Don’t miss this!

2 Avenue Eugène Guillaume, 51190 Les Mesnil-Sur-Oger :: 03 26 57 50 15 :: info@champagne-launois.fr  website 

Champagne Moet & Chandon, Epernay

After visiting a few small houses, one should also so see the biggest: Moet & Chandon. Located right on the Avenue of Champagne, this is the Disneyland of the region, and spectacular in its scale. They will show you the cellars, where you will see more Dom Perignon bottles than you can shake a stick at!

20 Avenue de Champagne, 51200 :: only for visit +33 (0)3 2651 2020 :: visites@moet.fr :: website

La Grillade, Epernay

La Grillade is one of my favorite places to eat in France, and definitely the best value in the entire Champagne region. Chef Christophe Bernard is a dropout of the Michelin system, and is now feeding people delicious food in his simple restaurant in Epernay. Hopefully, you took my advice for lunch and went for a light picnic among the vines, because you won’t make it to the second course here if you didn’t bring an appetite. Since you are walking from the Ibis, feel free to order plenty of wine off of his very reasonable wine list. Why not start with Bonville and drink something from your visit earlier in the day? My favorite option here is the Traditional Champagne Menu, which includes a big slab of foie gras and the Champagne Pigeon en Croutte, a dish that I can’t leave Champagne without eating. He has a nice selection of well priced Burgundy that goes very well with this rich dish. You will waddle back to the hotel, but you’ll never forget the meal!

16 rue Reims, 51200 Epernay :: 03 26 55 44 22 :: website

 

A toast to you!

-Gary

Friday
Jan182013

Champagne Friday: Les Crayeres

Chateau Les Crayeres

By: Gary Westby | K&L Champagne Buyer

Top Destinations in Champagne #1: Chateau Les Crayeres

For more than a decade, I have been helping K&L's Champagne loving customers visit the region of Champagne with advice on restaurants, hotels and producers to visit. One place that I always recommend is Chateau Les Crayeres in Reims- it is the pinnacle of luxury in the region. The property consists of the Relais and Chateau hotel, “Le Parc” which is the high end restaurant, and “Le Jardin” which is the brasserie. Les Crayeres is an immediate neighbor of Veuve Clicquot, Pommery, Demoissele and Ruinart and sits on top of a network of underground galleries which contain all of those houses stocks- millions and millions of bottles of Champagne!

I have been lucky enough to visit this property many times and each experience has been unforgettable. The first time was on business with Trey Beffa, the night before we left Champagne and headed to Bordeaux. It was Sunday, and we had a four hour lunch with the Aristons before checking in, so we ran around Reims until my foot bled trying to make room for our dinner at Le Parc. It worked, and we had a great meal and a very memorable bottle of 1993 Domaine Marquis d'Angerville Volnay that evening. My best experiences have been staying there with Cinnamon, drinking Laurent-Perrier "Grand Siècle" Champagne in the room and old Rene Collard and Chateau Phélan-Ségur, St-Estèphe in the dining room. The service and the food are top notch, the Champagne list is perhaps the best in the world and the hotel has been called by many the best in the whole world.

Gary pouring Laurent-Perrier "Grand Siècle" in the room at Les Crayeres.

My favorite bite that I have eaten at any restaurant in France I ate here, it was a deep fried foie gras ball that you had to take down in one mouthful. The pairing with 1990 Rene Collard was simply off of the charts.  Great pate and foie gras in particular are fantastic partners with old vintage Meunier. If you can’t find any (it is not easy to come by outside of Le Parc) you can settle for old Krug! The cheese cart is like no other, and while it is very difficult to save room, you won’t want to miss the excellent selections which are all ripened to perfection. They are even open minded enough to offer some English Stilton, and if it is there it will blow your mind. I thought it was even better than the piece that I bought from Neal's Yard Dairy under London Bridge!

As wonderful as Le Parc is, the brasserie Le Jardin is not to be missed, and if you had time for only one meal, I would recommend going here. It is the hottest table in Reims, and always filled with producers. The ballotine of foie gras is fantastic as is the rest of the menu. The casual atmosphere is great after a day of appointments. Cinnamon and I had a wonderful time with the Aristons here the last time she came to Champagne with me.

As for the hotel, you have to see it to believe it. While it is expensive, it is no more so than a very good hotel in San Francisco and a lot less than a nice hotel in Paris or New York. The rooms are decorated in classic French style. The place was entirely redesigned by interior architect Pierre-Yves Rochon and has every comfort you could imagine.

Gary and Cinnamon dining at Le Parc

You can check out more about Les Crayeres here: http://www.lescrayeres.com/#/index/

If you ever plan to visit the region, please drop me a line at garywestby@klwines.com and I will send you a list of other recommendations in the region.

A toast to you!

-Gary

Friday
Jan112013

Champagne Friday: Glassware

By: Gary Westby | K&L Champagne Buyer

Champagne Friday: Glassware

Glassware for Champagne is a controversial subject and there are almost as many favorite choices as there are Champagne lovers. In the video segment I go through my own collection of Champagne glasses and talk about the differences and add my own opinions to the subject.

My strongest opinion is to keep your Champagne glasses, no matter what they are in rotation and use. Some of my worst Champagne experiences have come from drinking out of folks' “special occasion” flutes, only to find that they hadn’t been used in years and were full of hard-to-see dust that ruined the flavor of the wines. 

One of the glasses in the video segment is available at K&L, the Riedel Vinum Prestige Champagne flute, but you’ll have to log in to your account on our website to see the price…it is to low and they asked us not to publicize it!

A toast to you,

Gary