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One of the most serious English Sparkling producers. This historic estate has been in the Goring family since 1743. The tiny 16-acre vineyard is close-planted on a steep south-facing chalk escarpment described as 'similar to the Côte des Blancs' in Champagne. The fruit is picked very selectively with quality being the absolute focus. The grapes are pressed gently using a traditional Coquard press. After three years on the lees this wine, composed of 45% Pinot Noir, 33% Chardonnay & 22% Pinot Meunier, is hand disgorged and balanced with a minimal dosage of just 4g/L. It has a fine counterbalance between toasty richness and power from the wines élevage in Burgundian French Oak barrels, with racy acidity, tension and a focused chalky minerality.

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Entries in Chardonnay (56)

Friday
Dec272013

{Terra Ignota}: Te Whare Ra (TWR) Back in Stock!

I am super excited to announce that Te Whare Ra (TWR) one of our favorite direct import properties is now back in stock after much too long of an absence (thank you government shut down).

Te Whare Ra is a real family winery, Jason and Anna have two sets of twin girls!

For those of you that have not seen any of TWR’s wines before here is the scoop: Te Whare Ra is a small organic certified and Biodynamic practicing estate in Marlborough’s Wairau Valley. The owners / winemakers Jason and Anna Flowerday bought a section of old vines (planted in 1979) in 2003. After converting the estate over to their strict viticultural practices they have been focusing their efforts on making wines with a powerful sense of place, excellent textural presence and wonderful elegant poise. All of their wines are small production and are lovingly hand-crafted. The 2012 Pinot noir is a 300 case production, the Chardonnay for 2012, just 90 cases! We are incredibly lucky to be working with these folks and I really hope people will try out their remarkable range of wines. They have all become true staff favorites at K&L and when you taste the wines you will know why!

Jason and Anna showcasing their organic vineyard with Buckwheat cover crop

Here are the latest offerings that we now have in stock:

2012 Te Whare Ra (TWR) Sauvignon Blanc, Marlborough, $18.99

The 2012 vintage in New Zealand produced very high quality wines from low yields in a long, cool growing season. This sauvignon blanc is sourced from the Trelawne Farm Vineyard in the Upper Awatere Valley and TWR's home block in the Wairau Valley. The fruit was very gently pressed and is a large proportion of free-run juice. A slow cool ferment was used to preserve this wines bright aromatics and flavors while a small proportion of the juice was fermented in old Demi-muids (large neutral oak barrels) to give added texture and complexity on the palate. Jason and Anna’s notes read: “White currant and passion fruit coupled with ripe tropical and citrus notes from the Wairau components. These follow through to the palate -- which is fine and soft with vibrant, fleshy fruit balanced by ripe, juicy acidity and lingering minerality." This is a fresh zesty SB with great acidity and very exotic aromatics. The wines racy qualities are beautifully balanced by a rich textural mid palate from the extra lees contact and barrel fermented proportion.

2012 Te Whare Ra (TWR) Pinot Noir, Marlborough, $26.99

The fruit for this Pinot Noir comes from TWR’s home vineyard in the Renwick sub-region of Marlborough. The fruit is farmed organically and biodynamically. After careful handpicking, gentle de-stemming (without crushing) the fruit is then sorted by the individual berry! The ferment takes place in tiny one ton open fermenters where it is gently punched down by hand four times per day. The wine then spends 12 months in top quality French oak with 35% being new wood. According to the winemaker this wine “exhibits fragrant notes of ripe strawberry, and cherry with hints of mocha, violets, spice and some complex savory undertones. The finely textured, silky tannins combine with vibrant flavors of ripe strawberries and omega plums. The palate carries onto more savory and complex flavors and finishes with a lingering persistence of fruit, fine tannin and well integrated oak. Bottled unfined and with mineral filtration”. I love this wines balance of exuberance with its juicy accesible fruit along with more complex layers of exotic spice, agar wood, floral tones and deep forest floor notes. A easy wine to enjoy on so many levels.

Jason hand plunging the Pinot Noir

2012 Te Whare Ra (TWR) Chardonnay, Marlborough, $26.99

This 2012 Chardonnay is selected from their 32 year old home block in Renwick. The vines are Mendoza clone famous for its small berries and intense flavor concentration. The fruit it all handpicked and fermented in French oak Puncheon barrels that are 50% new. The Chardonnay then spends 11 months on its full lees adding layers of complexity and enhancing textural components. The total production of this wine was 90 cases. The wine shows good concentration with beautiful rich baked orchard fruits, balanced toasty oak and lovely lees quality punctuated by subtle mineral accents. Really exotic aromatics lead the way onto a complete palate that finishes fresh and lifted.

2012 Te Whare Ra (TWR) Riesling "D" Marlborough, $18.99

Showcasing the winery's old vine fruit which is sourced from thier 30+ year old vineyard. All fruit was hand-picked and hand-sorted before being gently pressed and fermented at cool temperatures to retain the wine's floral aromatics. From the winery: "Lifted aromas of jasmine, fresh lemon, kaffir lime leaf and mardarin follow on to the palate. These flavors of fresh lime juice, lemon sorbet and ripe grapefruit with hints of floral spice are balanced by a fine backbone of ripe acidity. This Riesling is a dry style which has excellent fruit weight and concentration to balance the lingering mineral acid structure. This wine is finely structured with great length of flavor." This is dry Riesling at its finest. Not austere and pithy like some incarnations. This wine has classic Riesling pronounced aromatics and soft texture on the palate but with driving acidity and persistence. Delicate yet powerful, good fleshy fruit but excellent focus. Lovely wine, a real staff favorite.

2013 Te Whare Ra (TWR) Riesling "M" Marlborough, $18.99

TWR takes inspiration from the great wines of the Mosel in this energetic and off-dry Riesling. The long hours of sunshine and cool overnight temperatures in Marlborough lend themselves perfectly to retain the natural acidity ( 9.5g/L) for this food-friendly and dynamic style. Jason and Anna describe it having "lifted aromas of orange blossom, mandarin, lime and white peach follow onto vibrant, ripe flavors of pink grapefruit, peach and lime with underlying slatey mineral notes. This wine is fine and soft with excellent fruit weight and concentration to counterbalance the mouth-watering acidity." I am amazed by this wines balance. It's hard to imagine that this wine has 30g/l of residual sugar but the remarkable 9.5g/l of acidity balances it perfectly. This wine gives the best German Kabinett / Spätlese offerings a serious run for their money!

2011 Te Whare Ra (TWR) Syrah, Marlborough, $29.99

The fruit is entirely hand picked, sorted by the cluster, gently de-stemmed and then re-sorted by the individual berry! A small portion is fermented whole cluster to enhance structure. The ferment is conducted in tiny one ton open top fermenters. A seven day cold soak is followed by 7-9 day ferment and another week post ferment maceration. The Syrah is matured for 12 months in French oak (35% new). This wine is quintessential ultra-cool climate Syrah. Treat this like a northern Rhone Syrah as regards to food pairing and you will not be disappointed. A tiny production wine that we are delighted to put on the shelf. The nose is full of violets and flowers with more serious undertones of cured meat and ground spice. The palate is mid weight with great acidity and silky fine grained tannins. Long and focused on the palate. 

Truly Hand-crafted winesAll of these wines are worthy of your attention. I believe they are as good of a line up as you will find anywhere. Jason and Anna's passion and dedication to quality shines through in all these wines and we are excited to have them back in our stores and online.

Cheers!

Ryan Woodhouse, New Zealand / Australia / South Africa Wine Buyer

***

 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!

Monday
Aug052013

K&L Trip Reports: This One Time, at Pinot Camp...

Soil types at Penner Ash.

By: Jim Boyce | K&L Staff Member

Oregon Pinot Camp 2013 kicked off with a reception at Sokol Blosser winery with fifty producers in attendance. With temperatures in the mid '80s, the weather could not have been any better for soaking up the beautiful wine country view, enjoying great food and wine, and meeting great people. We were informed that Oregon summers do not typically start until July 4th, so (this being early - June 22nd) we best enjoy the sun while it lasted. Sure enough, the next three days had us dodging raindrops and using the graciously provided umbrellas!

The goal of attendees at Pinot Camp is to get the vineyard-to-bottle rundown of what it takes to make wine in the crazy climate of Oregon. We were brought to Penner-Ash, where they had dug two pits - the first of marine sedimentary origin; the second of volcanic basalt only 200 feet away -  to demonstrate the vast difference in terroir characteristics of the Willamette Valley. While there, we were presented with a small group Pinot Noir tasting to highlight how wines grown in each distinct soil type differ. (For example, Pinot Noir grown in marine sedimentary soils usually has a darker fruit profile, with prevalent baking spice notes and “spikey” tannins.)

After that, we were brought to Elk Cove Vineyards for the farming presentation. Here we were educated on vineyard and clonal selections, canopy and water management techniques, and farming decisions for the future. They really emphasized the fact that finding the right sites to plant is paramount, farming in the Oregon climate requires constantly adapting in the vineyard and trying new, innovative technology on all scales. 

Moving on to Lemelson, we learned about (and tasted) the impact that winemaking decisions have on the wines. Decisions that relate to timing of harvest, reception, pre/fermentation, aging, and finishing all have a perceptible effect. Each producer has their own definition of the 'best' strategies, and what works for one producer can differ greatly from the next guy. Steve Doerner illustrates this point very well at Cristom, where he will use different percentages of whole clusters depending on the vintage in his winemaking.

The camaraderie of Oregon winemakers stood out as they told stories of how it is not usual to call around to see how a neighbor is dealing with early frost or migratory birds decimating the crop. Or how they dealt with the 2010 vintage, the coldest on record in the past 30 years of Oregon winemaking. (Only to be outdone by 2011, which had the latest latest bud break in history!) As the winemakers talked about all these tough vintages, they always paid homage to Oregon's pioneer winemakers who,  in the late 1960s and early 1970s, decided against popular opinion that great Pinot Noir could be made here, and dove in head first.

We tasted many Pinot Noirs from the 2010 and 2011 vintages, which offered a refreshing look at how these two difficult vintages are coming along now. (They are coming along beautifully, in case you were wondering).

But what's a Pinot Camp without whites? Pinot Gris and Pinot Blanc, the faces of Oregon whites, took center stage, but from the very beginning we also saw many other white varietals including Chardonnay, Riesling, Grenache Blanc, Roussanne, Viognier, Gruner Veltliner, Gewurztraminer, Moscato, and Tocai Fruilano! While a few of these newcomers have yet to find their footing, the majority were serious winners. 2011 - a cold, wet, and very late vintage - produced some of the finest white wines I've had from Oregon to date.  

Overall, we experienced a nice balance of old favorites and new arrivals, and it was great to see some long lost old faces to make grand returns. The perennial offerings from Bethel Heights, Chehalem, Cristom, Domaine Drouhin, Elk Cove, Eyrie, Ponzi, St. Innocent, and Willakenzie continue to impress, along with new personal favorites like Anne Amie, Stoller, and Trisaetum.

We lingered at the Trisaetum tent more than once to 'cleanse our palates' with some of their insanely good Rieslings. The 2012 Coast Range Dry Riesling (24.99) is full of nervy, racy acid, great weight, and mouthwatering minerality. The 2012 “Estates Reserve” Riesling (a 50/50 blend of Coast Range and Ribbon Ridge fruit - $34.99) is a Spatlese style Riesling with plenty of stone fruit and mouthwatering acidity. The 2010 Trisaetum "Coast Range Estate" Yamhill-Carlton Pinot Noir ($49.99), made from a blend of four barrels, has huge aromatics, juicy berry fruit, cola notes, and baking spice nuances. Keep an eye out for a K&L/Trisaetum Pinot Noir coming in the near future!

While the summer is still here, make sure to try a bottle of 2012 Patton Valley Willamette Valley Pinot Noir Rosé ($16.99), easily one of the favorites of the trip. Full of fresh strawberry and watermelon fruit, light spice, and impeccable balance, this is a refreshing warm weather winner. The 2010 Stoller "Reserve" Dundee Hills Chardonnay ($25.99) and 2011 Domaine Drouhin "Arthur" Dundee Hills Chardonnay ($29.99) are both shining examples of what Oregon can accomplish on the Chardonnay front, with both showing a combination of new world fruit and old world acidity and balance.

The last night of OPC was a traditional salmon bake at Stoller Winery. This is where the big guns are pulled out, with magnums and jerobaoms of older vintage wines as far as the eye could see! My notes (and memory) became a little fuzzy that night, but I do remember trying some older Argyle sparkling, '05 Willakenzie and '08 Penner Ash “Shea Vineyard” Pinot Noirs, in addition to another 20-30 more wines.

Salmon bake at Stoller.

My last day finished up with some important stops in Portland: breakfast at Voodoo Doughnuts, a tour at Clear Creek Distillery, and a house smoked pulled pork sandwich and beer at Cascade Barrel House, all of which are must visits for anyone in the Portland area! OPC really reinforced my adoration of Oregon wine. With the beautiful countryside, great people, and delicious food, wine, and beer, Oregon should be near the top of everyone's travel list!

-Jim

 

Monday
Aug052013

{Terra Ignota}: Introducing New Direct Import - Oakridge Estate

Oakridge Estate winemaker and CEO David Bicknell is a 20+ year veteran of his craft in the Yarra Valley and one of the most highly regarded Chardonnay producers in Australia. His Chardonnays transcend all that you think you might know about Australian Chardonnay. They are the definition of precision, focus, tension and complex minerality. White Burgundy lovers will be amazed by these wines as they have the drive and focus of great Puligny-Montrachet. Oakridge also makes some fantastic Shiraz, subtle, bright and elegant Pinot Noir, and a very textural, complex Fumé Blanc. The scores all speak for themselves, but these wines are not to be missed. They were all instant staff favorites!

Oakridge has many estate vineyards across Yarra Valley, just outside of Melbourne in Victoria. The vineyards highlight the different micro-climates of Yarra and the region's diverse soil types. Yarra has numerous undulations and some pretty dramatic geographical features that effect airflow and temperatures throughout the valley. Many of Oakridge’s sites are elevated and on sloping terrain all adding more nuances to the terroir. 2011 was the coldest vintage on record for much of Victoria and Yarra Valley (that is already a very cool region) was no exception. The season had it's ups and downs with some untimely rains and limited sunshine. However, the white wines that have emerged are some of the most remarkable I have ever tasted. Indeed Mr. Bicknell believes the Chardonnays that have come from this extreme vintage are the best of his long career! 

Oakridge's style, that is deliberatly focused and linear, was exaggerated even further by the high natural acidity and lower ripeness levels of 2011. All the fruit is hand picked and meticulously selected. Whole bunch pressing to top quality Burgundian cooperage, mostly 500L (Puncheon) barrels, where the wine is fermented slowly using all wild yeast. After the ferment is complete the wine is sulphured to prevent Malo. This is distinctive and gives the wines their intense brightness and snappy acidity. I think it also allows the beautiful flinty, stoney minerality to shine through. All of the Local Vineyard Series (LVS) Chards are made in exactly the same way, thus allowing the individual sense of place to come through in the wines. These are precise studies of each vineyard and it's very particular flavor profile.

2011 Oakridge Local Vineyard Series "Barkala Ridge Vineyard" Chardonnay, Yarra Valley $24.99

95 Points James Halliday

Intensely flinty and mineral driven. Intriguing aromas of matchstick and spicy white oak. Bright quince and crunchy Anjou pears are highlighted on the long, linear and chiseled palate. Quite Chablis like. Very much for Burgundian Chardonnay drinkers rather than big butter bomb lovers.

2011 Oakridge Local Vineyard Series "Denton Vineyard" Chardonnay, Yarra Valley $24.99

95 Points James Halliday

The softest and most rounded of the Local Vineyard Series wine from Oakridge. Ripe orchard fruit, yellow peach and fresh apricots. Broader and less linear than the other vineyard expressions. Very charming and immediately expressive. Silky texture, elegant. A true expression of place as the wines are all made identically.

 

From their many single vineyards, each year Oakridge picks a few select parcels to release as part of their 864 Single Block program. These are simply the best of the best from all of their estate. Treated with the utmost care and attention. The best hand selected clusters, finest barrels, daily hand monitoring. These are designed as wines to rival the best of what the rest of the world can offer and I can attest that they do exactly that. The two single block wines we have are quite simply two of the best Chards I have ever tasted. My time here at K&L is split between Australia, NZ, South Africa and working with Burgundy buyer Keith Wollenburg. With absolutely no disrespect to the stunning Burgundies I have tasted in the last few years, I would quite happily run these wines against anything that I have tasted from the Burgundy, in any price point. I also believe they will be as long lived in the cellar as many of their French counterparts.

2011 Oakridge 864 Single Block Selection "Charlie's Block: J&J D'Aloisio Vineyard" Chardonnay, Yarra Valley $49.99


96 Points James Halliday

Best young Chard I have ever tasted, period. I am simply amazed by this wine. Drive, texture, complex layers of flavor so dynamic they defy description. Exotic spices, Agarwood, endless mineral tones. Simply amazing.

2011 Oakridge 864 Single Block Selection "Drive Block: Funder and Diamond Vineyard" Chardonnay, Yarra Valley $49.99

95 Points James Halliday

A very worthy if not slightly leaner single block selection. Matchstick wood, oak spices, ginger snap, quince and lime blossom. Crisp acidity drawing out the palate into a linear force. Spectacular wine that I imagine will age for a decade plus.

Beyond Chardonnay...

2012 Oakridge Limited Release Fume Blanc "Fumare", Yarra Valley, $24.99

93 Points James Halliday

Another standout wine! A fascinating blend of Sauvignon Blanc (70%), Semillon (20%) and Gris (10%). The fruit is from three of Oakridge's estate properties and is fermented and matured in neutral french oak puncheons. The wine is a distinct mix of Sancerre like minerality and bright zesty, floral aromatics, with more of the weight, texture and savory lees character of white Bordeaux (without the new oak flavors). Really long on the finish, snappy and racy. Awesome shellfish wine, move over Muscadet, this is what I'm drinking with my next Oysters!

2011 Oakridge Local Vineyard Series "Denton Vineyard" Pinot Noir, Yarra Valley $24.99

93 Points James Halliday

The Denton Vineyard Pinot is similarly reflective of the cool 2011 vintage. The wine is very elegant, light in color and bodied. However, when it comes to flavor and complexity it is anything but light! Showing lovely aromas of dusty red berries, leaf litter, dry bark and spicy wood notes. The palate echoes the aromatics with nice purity and savory undertones. Not a big blockbuster style, but one that uses subtlety, balance and poise to communicate the true beauty of Pinot Noir. Once again Burgundy lovers should really check this out. If you are studying for your Master Somm exam, this would be a very scary wine to get blind as it might just be 1er Cru Savigny-les Beaune!? Perfect for roast chicken, light game or grilled fish.

Last but not least...

2010 Oakridge Local Vineyard Series "Whitsend & Oakridge Vineyard" Shiraz, Yarra Valley $24.99

95 Points James Halliday

2010 has been hailed as a superlative red wine vintage in Victoria. Good warm growing conditions, but without any too intense heat spikes, provided long even ripening and very little disease pressure. This wine is intense, concentrated and structured Shiraz. This is not a big, over-ripe, fat wine but one of focus, balance and purity. Rich, but not overly extracted, dark red fruits with touches of spice and dried herbs and smoked meat. Food orientated. Quite accessible now but I think it will only get better with time.

Cheers!

Ryan Woodhouse, New Zealand / Australia / South Africa Wine Buyer

***

 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!