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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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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.

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Entries in Chardonnay (56)

Tuesday
Nov062012

Sonoma Road Trip Stories, Part V: Dehlinger

 

Quad Lyre Trained Vines

By: Sarah Covey | K&L Staff Member

Dehlinger Winery, founded in 1975 by UC Davis trained oenologist Tom Dehlinger and his wife Carole, is located in the heart of 90 acres on a ridge of red gravelly soil in Sonoma County's cool Russian River Valley.  Dehlinger planted the initial 14 acres of the vineyard himself, continuing the planting through 1989; the first vintages were made from purchased Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Zinfandel grapes from other Sonoma County vineyards.

The Altamont and Gold Ridge soils here are very special. From the start, Dehlinger has focused on producing small amounts of hand-worked, barrel-aged wines in a manner that extracts, develops, and preserves the maximum flavor from the grapes in order to best express these unique soils. Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Syrah, and Cabernet Sauvignon are the primary grapes planted on 45 acres today; Eva Dehlinger, one of the two Dehlinger daughters involved in the family business who works alongside her father in winery operations, would like to see their own Zinfandel planted in the near future.

We had a lovely tour with Eva Dehlinger at the end of a long day. She took us out into the red soil of the vineyards and talked with us about how she became involved in the family business. Eva told us that she joined the family business in part because of her deep love of Sonoma County and also because of her appreciation for the winemaking heritage of her family. The work she does suits her, she says, as it requires diverse skills, working with a broad range of people, and gives her constant puzzles to solve. Dehlinger is a family-operated business, and it has been an honor for her to take part in a project that spans almost four decades. Tom has been a great inspiration for Eva in his unending commitment to the quality of their wine, his insatiable curiosity, his attention to detail, and his ability to have a personal relationship with each and every small lot of wine they make. Eva has tried to incorporate those values into all aspects of her own work at the winery and in the vineyard.

When asked what Eva sees as the future for the business and her role in shaping that future, she shared that even in an established company with the advantages of experience and reputation that Dehlinger has, there is always more to do. She and her sister Carmen have many dreams for leading the company into the future. They are in the process of replanting their vineyard, improving services for the many people who have followed their wines over the years, and making important infrastructural improvements to the property. Her hope for now and for the future is that people appreciate the amount of thought and care that goes into the entire process of making their wines; she assures us their work is truly a labor of love.

                                 Dehlinger Pinot Noir grapes.    Eva tasted us on several vintages from barrel, as well as an interesting recent project- a brandy made in conjunction with distiller Germain Robin! After one harvest where there was plentiful Pinot Noir, they decided to make the wine, and then experiment and see what distillation would do to their Pinot Noir- a one-time bottling of Dehlinger-Germain Robin Brandy. Fun! 

There will be a test on this later... We tasted the upcoming 2011 Chardonnay vintage from barrel, and we were delighted by it! It went through 100% malolactic fermentation, and has an apple, butter, pretty citrus, almost botrytised nose. Gorgeous! Try the 2009 Dehlinger Estate Russian River Chardonnay which we have in stock now to get an idea of how much attention is paid to small lots of wine they produce. Keep your eyes out, too for some of our Old & Rare single bottles that come into stock with us, as well as Auction Lots of Dehlinger wines.

As Eva Dehlinger expressed so passionately, the care they take to hand-craft each wine is apparent in every bottle.

Cheers!

-Sarah 

 

Sarah C. Covey, WSET Certified

Wine Sales Professional

Monday
Oct152012

Introducing the Champions of the Blind Chardonnay & Cabernet Tasting Challenge!

The candidates were chosen, running mates too. Opinion polls are silent, votes are in and counted. Two unlikely winners have emerged...


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

In the world of wine, if Cab is King, Chardonnay must be his Queen. When putting together the recent flights of blind tastings we tried to include a variety of styles and price points from all over the globe to represent the truly international dominance of these grapes. We had some obscure dark horses and some out and out favorites. But when the old brown bag comes into the picture the playing field is leveled and reputations dashed.

We started with ten Chardonnays the Blind Chardonnay Tasting last Friday night in Redwood City, followed by eleven Cabernets on Saturday afternoon. Attendants to each tasting were asked to taste through the blind lineup and cast a single vote for their favorite wine. After voting, they received the wine legend.  

Queue a lot of swirling, slurping and head scratching! Some people confidently scribbled down notes, country, region even producer, while others professed themselves completely baffled, taking only random stabs at price point and nation.

When all was said and done I was pleasantly surprised by the results, as were many of the participants.

Your 2012 blind Chardonnay Tasting Champion (drum roll please….)

2010 Craggy Range “Kidnapper's Vineyard” Chardonnay, Hawkes Bay, New Zealand $16.99

And your King of Cabernet :

2009 Vasse Felix Cabernet Sauvignon, Margaret River, Western Australia $29.99

Back to back wins for NZ and Oz!

 

These two wines triumphed over some prestigious Napa wines, Premier Cru Burgundy and everything the rest of the world could muster, with some challengers at three times the price! Scroll down to check out the complete lineups for both tastings at the end of this article and you will see that the competition was serious.

Here is some info on our winners:

 

2011 Craggy Range "Kidnapper's Vineyard Chardonnay, Hawke's Bay, New Zealand ($16.99)

Craggy Range is one of New Zealand's leading producers that focuses on highly prestigious single vineyard wines that illustrate remarkble micro-climates around these spectacular islands. The Kidnapper's Vineyard is situated in Hawkes Bay, right up against the pacific ocean, on the east coast of New Zealand’s north island. The vineyard is named after the nearby Cape Kidnapper's, a headland that takes it's name from a dramatic abduction of one of Captain Cook's crew by indigenous Māori in 1792.

The vines grow literally a stones throw from the surf. This situe has a notable impact on the wines aromatics and flavor as this coastal proximity has imparted a distinct saline quality upon the wine. Most importantly the vineyard is cooled by brisk sea breezes keeping this wine bright and crisp with a nice zippy acidity. The grapes have a long hang time and this slow ripening allows excellent flavor develoment.

 
View Larger Map

In the winemaking process the Kidnapper's Chardonnay is lightly whole bunch pressed into neutral oak tanks for fermentation. 10% goes to new French Oak Puncheons (double size barrels that impart much less flavor). This chablis-like style of production compliments the vineyards cool, crisp, mineral and saline flavor profile. The restraint, balance and complexity of this wine really surpasses it's very modest price point. Here is a link to Craggy Range’s website for more info about this spectacular vineyard site and the winemaking process. Craggy Range's Kidnapper's Vineyard.

 

King of Cabs: 2009 Vasse Felix Cabernet Sauvignon, Margaret River, Western Australia $29.99

 The Vasse Felix Cabernet Sauvignon is a truly historic wine. Vasse Felix was the first winery established in the now renowned Margaret River region of Western Australia. Planting vines in 1967 Vasse Felix has made this estate Cabernet every vintage since 1972 and continues as a leading family owned estate today. The fruit for this wine comes from the Wilyabrup sub-region known for producing world class cabernet. Vasse's neighbors include Cullen Estate and Moss Wood who make prolific Cab based wines themselves. You can see from the map below again the ocean plays a huge role in tempering the climate in Margaret River. This region gets pretty warm during the summer months but the frigid southern ocean is a constant factor cooling the winds and allowing greater flavor development and acid retention in the grapes.

 

 

View Larger Map

The 2009 Vasse Felix Cab shows archetypal Margaret River Cabernet characters. Concentrated black and blue fruits (think fresh blackberries and blueberries combined) with aromatic minty and subtle eucalyptus hints. With air the wine shows some thyme and cedar notes with dusty soil qualities. The wine is concentrated and powerful but without being over saturated or extracted. It has impeccable balance and a fine but persistent tannin structure.

Vasse Felix's Wilyabrup Vineyard

We hope you get a chance to try some of these winning wines, available now in our stores and on KLWines.com. Our blind tasting series has been a great success with lots of positive feedback from our customers, which means you can look forward to more blind tastings in the future! We invite you to come on down and attend the next one, or perhaps be inspired to stage a blind tasting of your own at home! You can follow us on Uncorked for updates and on Facebook and K&L Local Events for future listings and details.  

Cheers,

-Ryan

Blind Chardonnay Line Up:

1: 2010 Château de la Charrière Bourgogne Blanc Dom. Yves Girardin, Burgundy, France $14.99

2: 2010 Craggy Range “Kidnappers Vineyard” Chardonnay, Hawkes bay, New Zealand $16.99

3: 2011 “Heggies” Chardonnay, Eden Valley, Australia $19.99

4: 2009 Dom. Paul Pillot Chassagne-Montrachet 1er Cru "Champs Gain" Burgundy, France $59.99

5: 2010 Clos Pepe “Barrel Fermented” Chardonnay, Santa Rita Hills, California $22.99

6: 2009 Brick House "Cascadia" Ribbon Ridge Chardonnay, Ribbon Ridge AVA, Oregon $32.99

7: 2010 Te Whare Ra Chardonnay, Marlborough, New Zealand $24.99

8: 2010 Cakebread Chardonnay, Napa Valley, California $34.99

9: 2008 Monteviejo "Lindaflor" Chardonnay Valle de Uco Mendoza $19.99 (was $30)

10: 2010 Daniel De Wet "Limestone Hill" Chardonnay Robertson, South Africa $15.99

 

Blind Cabernet Line Up:

1: 2009 Sapaio "Volpolo"Bolgheri, Italy $32.99

2: 2009 La Croix de Beaucaillou, St-Julien, Bordeaux, France $49.99

3: 2009 Fabre Montmayou Cabernet Sauvignon Reserva, Mendoza, Argentina  $15.99

4: 2009 Vasse Felix Cabernet Sauvignon, Margaret River, Western Australia $29.99

5: 2010 Reyneke "Capstone" Red Bordeaux Blend, Stellenbosch, South Africa   $24.99

6: 2008 Attila Gere Cabernet Sauvignon, Villany, Hungary $21.99

7: 2001 Jean Leon Cabernet Sauvignon Gran Reserva, Penedes, Spain $39.99

8: 2008 Seven Hills Columbia Valley Cabernet Sauvignon, Washington, USA $21.99

9: 2009 Kathryn Kennedy "Small Lot Cabernet", Santa Cruz Mountains, CA, USA $32.99

10: 2010 Caymus Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa, CA, USA $69.99

11: 2009 Amici Cellars Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa, CA, USA $37.99 

 

 

 

Friday
Oct122012

Champagne Friday: The “New” Charles Reserve

By: Gary Westby | K&L Champagne Buyer

The “New” Charles Reserve

It is not often that I get as excited as this by "big house" Champagne. Comparing the "new" Charles Heidsieck Reserve (which premiers today) to the "old" Charles Heidsieck Reserve made a huge impression on me. These are great wines- both of them- and the new Charles is the most exciting new release from a big house in many years. The new Charles is a must try, and it is a great opportunity to compare the new to the old while we still have the last batch in stock.

On August 27th I had the pleasure of meeting with and interviewing Cecile Bonnefond, the CEO of Charles and Piper Heidsick. Cecile is not new to running Champagne houses- she ran Veuve Clicquot for eight years before moving over to Charles and Piper Heidsieck. Her first great piece of work is the release of a new Charles Heidsieck "Brut Reserve" Champagne. It has gone up in price, but instead of citing “increased global demand” or “increasing grape prices from greedy growers” or “a weak dollar” this Champagne has costly improvements to the wine itself. First of all, the number of vineyard sites for the Reserve has been cut in half, leaving only what they feel is the very best going into the blend. Also, the average age of the reserve wines has gone up significantly. You can hear Cecile explain it in her own words here in this clip from the interview.

The old label Charles Heidsieck has always been great, and we still have some in stock at the "old" price of $34.99! The old label Charles Heidsieck has always been great, and we still have some left. This is a fantastic opportunity for any Champagne lover to compare the two cuvee’s side by side and see the difference that this great house has made. Once the old cuvee that we have is gone, it is gone for good.

Charles Heidsieck NEW "Brut Reserve" Champagne ($44.99) It is funny to call this the “new” Charles when it actually has more old wine in it! The first difference between this wine and the old label is that is made from just 60 vineyard sites in Champagne rather than the previous 120. It is still composed of a third each Chardonnay, Meunier and Pinot Noir and includes 40% reserve wines that average 10 years of age, up from the 8 year average previously. This Charles has more of the depth and power that fans of the Charles have come to love, but also much more freshness and elegance- a coup for a wine that is actually older. This is a great bottle multi-vintage Champagne for the price and a testament to the blenders art.

Charles Heidsieck "Brut Reserve" Champagne ($34.99) Warning- this is the last of the old cuvee of Charles Heidsieck "Brut Reserve" Champagne . This bottle is made 40% of reserve wine and these reserve wines are what really sets Charles Heidsieck apart, they average 8 years old and have elements going back as far as 15 years. The patience to curate this solera of old wines gives the wine texture and complexity rarely encountered in grand marque Champagne, especially at this price. The wine is composed of 1/3 each Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Meunier and is all vinified in stainless steel tanks with full malolactic fermentation. When I visited we tasted vin clair from all over Champagne- they own 150 acres and contract many more. If you love a toasty, rich style of Champagne with lots of complexity this is a very good choice. I expect it will sell for just under $50 when this batch runs out.

A toast to you,

Gary 

 To watch the rest of the interview click here.