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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.

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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

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Entries in Champagne (74)

Friday
Jul262013

Champagne Friday: Special Coutelas Tastings with Angelique and Damien Coutelas at K&L

Angelique and Damien Coutelas of Champagne Amaury Coutelas.

By: Gary Westby | K&L Champagne Buyer

We will have some very special guests visiting K&L over the next couple weeks, Angelique and Damien Coutelas of Champagne Amaury Coutelas from Villers-Sous-Chatillon in the Western Valley of the Marne. We will be hosting tastings with them in all three K&L locations. Many of you are familiar with them from their excellent 2005 Amaury Coutelas Vintage Brut Champagne ($39.99) that we featured last year in the Champagne club. This young couple are making top class Champagne, and this is a rare opportunity to taste with and ask questions directly of the wine-maker owners of this great estate.

The Coutelas family has been growing grapes in Champagne since 1809, and making their own wines since the 1920’s. They own seventeen and one half acres, mostly in Villers, but they also have property in Ambonnay, Bouzy, Vitry la Francois and Troissy. All of their vineyard is farmed sustainably. These are Champagnes of power and depth, with plenty of dark fruit power and honest toast from long ageing. They use a lot of old oak, and also some new, custom made large foudres. If you have enjoyed the Champagne’s of Tarlant, this is a producer you will want to know!

They will pour the following wines:

2005 Amaury Coutelas Vintage Brut Champagne ($39.99) This half and half blend of Meunier and Pinot Noir come from estate vines that average over 70 years old- among the oldest I have ever heard of in Champagne. The wine is vinified in stainless steel and finished with only six grams per liter of dosage. It is a very full bodied wine, with super power in the middle, yet refreshing on the finish. This great new (but only new to the US!) producer is one to notice!

Amaury Coutelas "Cuvée Louis Victor" Brut Champagne ($39.99)

Amaury Coutelas "Cuvee 1809" Brut Champagne ($59.99) The Cuvee 1809 from Coutelas is  spectacular Champagne composed of 80% Chardonnay and 20% Pinot Noir from vines of over 40 years old. It is vinified in oak without malolactic fermentation and is aged for over eight years on the lees, on a cork, not a crown cap. It is very dry Champagne, with only six grams per liter of dosage. It has flavors of white truffles and intriguing earth- this is Champagne for connoisseurs. It has a very chalky, powerful, fresh finish. This is serious Champagne, and a great thing to try when you feel like you've had it all!

Amaury Coutelas "Elixr" Brut Rose Champagne ($34.99)

Here are the dates, times and places. All tastings will be $5 and walk in only, with no advance tickets.

K&L Redwood City: Monday July 29th, 5pm-6:30pm

K&L San Francisco: Tuesday July 30th, 5pm-6:30pm

K&L Hollywood: Thursday August 8th, 5pm-7pm 

View listings on K&L Local Events

If you can’t make it, I strongly recommend that you pick up a few bottles to try- this is a serious producer!

A toast to you,

-Gary

 

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
Jul052013

Champagne Friday: To the Winner Goes the Spoils

 

By: Chiara Shannon| Champagne Lover and Director of the K&L Personal Sommelier Service

K&L staff members have great fortune to taste a lot of wine and compare notes with leading experts in the the business on a routine basis. We participate in weekly staff tastings hosted by our respective buyers, and rare is the day when assorted wines aren't opened in the tasting room for the purpose of staff education. Seriously! Listen in on a conversation between two K&L staff members discussing a wine, beer, or spirit at any given time, and you will come away reaffirmed that you are shopping at the right place, assisted by folks who know their stuff. I am constantly humbled by the depths of knowledge and experience of the collective K&L palate.

Which is why I am inspired to write this week's Champagne Friday. You see, in the latest round of the K&L Staff Blind Tasting Competition (although tasting roulette is more like it), I miraculously won. The prize? My all time favorite Champagne, Amaury Coutelas "Cuvee 1809" Brut Champagne ($59.99) Here are my notes from my first tasting of this marvelous Champagne:

This is incredible Champagne, and very unique. Drawing on winemaking techniques of the 19th century, it was fermented in barrel (no malo), aged for 8+ years on the lees in bottles sealed with corks, manually disgorged, and finished with a cork and twine closure. Stylistically, you could say it's to Champagne what Lopez de Heredia is to white Rioja, but unlike 19thcentury Champagne, this modern revival is dry, with a very low dosage. It offers a stunning array of complex earthy and nutty aromas and flavors with biscuit, mineral, mushroom, and honey accents. The texture is luxuriously rich and layered, but naturally high acidity and the low dosage keep this Champagne fresh and invigorating, with a dry, crisp finish that goes on and on. If you like white wines from the Jura, traditional white Rioja, or are a Champagne fiend looking for something to blow your mind, here you go. Highly recommended.

In late January this year, I brought this Champagne with me to dinner at a well-known restaurant in Napa. I was stunned at the way it revealed layer upon layer of complexity throughout the evening, complementing each course from start to finish in different yet profound ways. It is hard to imagine having the patience to allow a Champagne to last through multiple courses, but this one has so much substance and depth that every sip is a new experience worth savoring for as long as possible. The standout pairing was the duck liver mousse course, but this Champagne held its own with both lamb and steak entrees as well!

As if that isn't praise enough, it is worth mentioning that this Champagne was also K&L Senior Bordeaux Specialist (and HUGE Giants fan) Ralph Sands' choice for toasting when the Giants won the World Series. Now that says something. 

The Challenge

This past Tuesday, the Redwood City managers generously offered to man the store and phones while the rest of the staff members enjoyed a prolonged, catered lunch together. Lawn (well, parking lot) games like ping pong were set up, hip-hop was blasting on the stereo, delicious food was abundant, and so were the wines, which is why when I learned that a ten wine blind tasting had been organized with a prize going to the winner, my first reaction was to mentally decline. Blind tasting is hard! It requires a lot of focus and can be intensely frustrating. Enjoying my ice cream doused with caramel after a huge lunch, I figured my palate was not in the best condition for such a challenge. The potential for embarrassment was high.  

My curiosity got the better of me, however, and eventually I wandered over to the tasting table. There were ten wines, brown bagged; eight in 750ml bottles and two in large format. The tasting sheet demanded five sets of criteria per wine: Vintage, Varietal Composition, Country, Region, and Producer. The rules were simple--No Peeking!--and one point would be awarded per correct answer for each criteria, leading to a total of five points per wine.

My strategy in casual blind tasting is to run through the lineup first, jotting down very short notes on aroma and flavor, but making no conclusions. Then I go through and consider each wine again, with the intention of making a swift decision with minimal mind-changing based on a combination of first and second impressions. I am a big believer in going with the gut; over-thinking a wine has only pushed me farther from accuracy in past tastings.

It was a doozy! In this case 'winning' meant a total of 19 points out of a possible 50 - nowhere near a perfect score (technically an F!) but a respectable effort nonetheless, considering the challenge we were up against. I will spare you the details of the tasting and my notes (including those parts that I got embarrassingly wrong) but in case you are curious, here is the 'answer' key to the challenge:  

Wine #1

Vintage: NV

Varietal: Pinot Meunier   

Country: France

Region: Champagne

Producer: Loriot

 

Wine #2

Vintage: 2009

Varietal: Gruner Veltliner

Country: Austria

Region: Kamptal

Producer: Allram

 

Wine #3

Vintage: 2011

Varietal: Grenache Blanc/Roussanne/Viognier

Country: France

Region: Costiere de Nimes

Producer: Gassier

 

Wine #4

Vintage: 2009

Varietal: Barbera

Country: Italy

Region: Asti

Producer: Chiarlo

 

Wine #5

Vintage: 1998

Varietal: 50% Cabernet Sauvignon, 40% Merlot, 10% Cabernet Franc

Country: France

Region: Bordeaux

Producer: Grandis

 

 

Wine #6

Vintage: 2007

Varietal: Graciano

Country: Spain

Region: Rioja

Producer: Vina Ijalba

 

Wine #7

Vintage: 2001

Varietal: Cabernet

Country: US

Region: Yountville/Napa

Producer: Grgich Hills

 

Wine #8

Vintage: 2005

Varietal: CS

Country: US

Region: Napa/Rutherford

Producer: Nickel & Nickel

 

Wine #9

Vintage: 1971 Mouton Cadet

Varietal: Merlot/Cab

Country: France    

Region: Bordeaux

Producer: Mouton Cadet

 

Wine #10

Vintage: 1972

Varietal:Cabernet Sauv

Country: US

Region: Napa Valley

Producer: Inglenook

 

The next challenge? Choosing the perfect occasion in which to open this gorgeous Champagne!

When will I open this? What will I pair it with? Who do I invite to share it with me? So many things to consider...

I would like to thank Champagne Buyer Gary Westby for donating this bottle for the prize, and our fearless managers for organizing a great event and tasting. Your efforts are appreciated!

A toast to you,

Chiara