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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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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
Sep182012

Sonoma Road Trip Stories Part III: Chasseur & Unti

 Lavender fields at Unti Vineyards.

By: Kyle Kurani | K&L Staff Member

A Walk Through Sonoma: Visiting Chasseur & Unti

Last month I was lucky enough to accompany one of our Domestic Wine Buyer Bryan Brick and a pair of colleagues on a trip through the Sonoma Valley. This was my first professional trip to Wine Country and I couldn’t wait to go and learn more about the wines that we have on the shelf. I was excited for the trip for the obvious reasons...to meet winemakers, taste new wines, learn about the different regions in Sonoma, and get out of the wine shop for a little while to enjoy the country...but I was even more excited when I got back!

I returned brimming with enthusiasm from the walks through the vineyards, from feeling how warm they are in the morning to just how cold they get at night. It was interesting to hear how the different winemakers fared in each vintage depending merely upon what day they decided to pick and to learn what makes each individual winery unique in its little corner of the world. Seeing and experiencing everything that goes into a bottle of wine--the history, the effort, the land--is what truly brings the wine to life.

I hope my words can aptly paint a picture of the wines and the people, who are behind them, but I urge you to try the wines that seem interesting, talk to us about them, but then go and see where they come from - it's a trip you won't forget!

Here are a few of the places we visited with links to learn more about some of the wines we enjoyed:

Unti Vineyards, Dry Creek Valley

2009 Unti Vineyards "Petit Frere" Dry Creek Rhône Blend In the hubbub and glitz of modernized tasting rooms, complete with tasting flights and member exclusives, it is so refreshing to walk into a winery that cares more about talking about their wine than mesmerizing you with shiny objects.  Unti Vineyards is a family-run winery nestled just off of Dry Creek Road. Their tasting bar consists of unvarnished wooden boards on top of wine barrels, in the temperature same controlled room where they store their wine. No frills, just the wine and a cool escape from the midday heat.  The winery is run by Mother, Father, and Son, with a winemaker from France that loved California so much he just stayed.

Unti follows a hands-off winemaking philosophy, in which they seek to let the unique terroir of the vineyards shine through. This gives their wines a sense a place that cannot be duplicated. We tasted many stunning wines, but the 2009 "Petite Frere" Dry Creek Rhone Blend and the 2009 Dry Creek Grenache (both in stock now at K&L) stood out to me. In addition to growing Zinfandel, Syrah, Mourvedre and Grenache, they have also planted some Mediterranean varietals. They believe that the warm climate of Dry Creek offers an environment where  grapes  like Segromigno, Sangiovese, and Montepulciano, can thrive. They have the potential to make some very interesting wines - keep an eye out for these wines when the vines have matured.

Chasseur's tasting "office".Chasseur Wines, Western Sonoma

2008 Chasseur "Blank Vineyard" Russian River Valley Pinot Noir Chasseur is a far cry from the traditional winery, with no vineyards, no  tasting bar, not even the usual winery dog to greet you at the door - just a warehouse that used to process apples. But don’t let the humble surroundings fool you! Bill Hunter, the winemaker at Chasseur, is one of the most talented winemakers we met on the trip. His no-nonsense attitude and up front way of speaking hide neither his passion for the wines he makes nor the quality that is the end product of that passion. Chasseur is such a small winery that K&L is lucky to have any of Bil's wines to sell at all. We are indeed very grateful to have the opportunity to share these wines with you.

Pinot and Chardonnay are the focus at Chassuer (though a Syrah or two sneaks in once in a while) and attention to detail is the order of the day. Fruit is selected from vineyards with the highest pedigree, carefully maintained and farmed to his specs. Pinot is fermented in tiny one ton fermenters so that each block can show off its unique characteristics. All of the Chardonnay is barrel fermented to give the wines depth and texture. These wines are rich and lush, but never overwrought, and always beautifully pure.

For Burgundy and California drinkers alike, there is simply no arguing with good wine. We tasted wines out of barrel that showed great potential, but the 2008 Chasseur "Blank Vineyard" Russian River Pinot Noir and the 2008 Chasseur "Durrell Vineyard" Sonoma Valley Chardonnay impressed me for their immediate drinkability. Luckily, both are in stock now at K&L and available for you to take home and enjoy tonight.

Cheers,

-Kyle

 

Tuesday
Sep112012

Sonoma Road Trip Stories, Part I: Copain Winery

Copain Winery

By: Sarah Covey | K&L Staff Member

A recent trip to Sonoma with Bryan Brick, Jim Boyce, and Kyle Kurani means many fun and educational Road Trip reports! I have a few stories to tell, and you will see my stories interspersed with Jim and Kyle's stories here for a while to come. As I put it in my thank you email to the people within K&L who made our trip possible: "The trip to Sonoma helped me personally to have a true understanding of the passion of the winemakers we visited as they spoke about what they do, to stand on the soil where their grapes are grown and to be able to see what they see in their visions for the future of their businesses. These kind of trips put faces on the bottles on our shelves, and help us develop a holistic understanding about the business we are in." We hope you enjoy reading our stories as much as we enjoyed creating them. Cheers!

Copain Winery, Healdsburg

Copain Winery was founded in the hills of the Russian River Valley in 1999 by Wells Guthrie. Tucked away atop a quiet hillside with a spectacular view, one feels an immediate sense of calm upon entering the property. Sitting on the terrace overlooking the valley on that warm summer morning, we were treated to a lovely tasting of Copain’s full portfolio, accompanied by delicious French and Italian cheeses.

First, some history: Mr. Guthrie worked as the Tastings Coordinator for Wine Spectator magazine for many years, and during his tenure there, he fell deeply in love with the wines of France- most specifically, the wines of the Rhône Valley. He decided to move to France to learn the art of winemaking from the people whose wines had inspired him. He worked as an apprentice to the famed winemaker Michel Chapoutier for two years, and was impressed not only by his experience with Chapoutier, but also by the general European attitude that wine is an essential part of life. He returned to California and apprenticed with other famous winemakers in Napa Valley before starting a winery which would reflect this same philosophy.

Wells Guthrie started his winery with an old friend, naming the winery Copain, which means “friend” in French, in tribute to their friendship. He chose to focus on pinot noir and chardonnay, and with his background in the Rhône, syrah also made perfect sense. Originally, Copain’s wines had much bigger fruit, but as time went on, Guthrie realized that the wines he was drinking at home- older French wines, lower in alcohol and higher in acidity- were the kinds of wines he wanted to produce for his clientele. Through the courageous act of changing his style to reflect this need, Copain has become even more successful than before. Sourcing fruit from a variety of vineyards, he worked with the landowners to plant the vines as he directed, and also dictated specific vineyard practices he wanted them to implement to get the results he was looking for, guaranteeing them that in return he would purchase all of the grapes if they did so. This practice continues today, Guthrie is able to create wines that show a distinct expression of the vineyard sites from which they come.

Tasting at Copain

Our tasting was hosted by Ezra Chomak, Copain’s gracious tasting room manager. We had the good fortune to try the full portfolio of Copain’s current offerings, which was a treat as we have just a few of the wines here at the store. We started with a couple of lovely 2010 Chardonnays, one from Anderson Valley AVA from the Tous Ensemble vineyard and another from the Brousseau vineyard in the Chalone AVA. The “Tous Ensemble” was all stainless steel with 10 months on the lees and no malo. It showed apple, pear, honeysuckle and brioche with a soft sweetness and medium acid. The Brousseau came from a 40 year old parcel with limestone and granite soil. It saw neutral oak for fermentation and ageing; its’ profile was of apple, bright pear, white flowers, butter, vanilla and toast. Combined with the brie on the plate in front of me, I could have been very happy to stop the day right there and just stay on that patio for the rest of our trip! Up next was a wacky, deliciously lip-smacking 2009 wine called “P2” from the Hein vineyard in Anderson Valley. It was 50% pinot noir and 50% pinot gris- a departure for Copain’s traditional Burgundian style. Cherry, smoke, earth, game, mineral, citrus, floral and somewhat ethereal, it was fresh, crisp, and had juicy acid. Incredibly food-friendly, quaffable and would be delicious with a slight chill on it.

Following these wines we tasted of a couple of Copain’s wines that we carry here at K&L, which was great for us to experience sitting on the terrace of the winery. First, the 2009 “Tous Ensemble” Anderson Valley Pinot Noir. This wine, translated from the French as “all together” is a blend from several vineyard sites within the southern part of Anderson Valley. Red cherry, spice, mineral, earth, some game, raspberry, hints of smoke. Medium plus acid and medium plus but fine tannins. Delicious! It appears that the 2009 is sold out, but the 2010 "Tous Ensemble" is here! Next was the 2009 “Les Voisins” Anderson Valley Pinot Noir, a wine which we sell out of almost immediately upon receiving it! “Les Voisins” means “the neighbors”, so logically these 3 vineyards are literally next door neighbors to one another. The vineyards are about 10 miles from the coast, in the Northwest corner of Anderson Valley, and as such, the sites are considerably cooler. Appropriately, the wine showed those cooler climate characteristics- red cherry, mineral, soft smoke, game, spice, strawberry, rose. It had medium plus acid, medium plus tannin, and was well-balanced and elegant.

Up next were a couple of wines from the Kiser vineyard sites. First was the 2009 “En Haut” (meaning above) Anderson Valley Pinot Noir and then the 2009 “En Bas” (meaning below) Anderson Valley Pinot Noir. Differences in the vineyard sites include: 1) the elevation- En Haut is at 800 feet and En Bas is at 650 feet and 2) the soils- En Haut is compressed sandstone, with almost no clay, while En Bas is clay and crumbly sandstone. Both sites produce distinctly different wines, classically styled, and with great potential to age.

2009 Copain "Les Voisins" Yorkville Highlands Syrah ($34.99)It was Syrah time, which I was admittedly very excited about. We started with a wine we carry- the 2009 “Les Voisins” Yorkville Highlands Syrah. Again, the wine is a blend of grapes from 3 neighboring vineyards, which have schist and granite soils, planted on the sloped mountainside of the rocky Yorkville Highlands in Mendocino County, which rise from 600 to 2500 feet in elevation. Guthrie employs whole cluster fermentation for 30% of the wine and does not use new wood for ageing. The wine was full of ripe blackberry, violet, and plum- quite floral for not co-fermenting with viognier, which is traditional in the Rhône for syrah. It also had a savory meaty character classic to Northern Rhône syrah. Amazingly, the wine was only 13.9% alcohol- so well-balanced that it fooled all 4 of us sitting at the table.

We tried two syrahs after that from the Brousseau vineyards in the Chalone AVA- the 2008 Brousseau Chalone Syrah and the 2010 Brousseau Chalone Syrah. The 2008 was blackberry, black plum, licorice, cedar, spice, rose petal, meat and an interesting cherry cola note. Refreshing at only 13.5% abv. The 2010 was much more high-toned, violet, plum, blackberry, black cherry, cassis and white pepper. It surprised us again at 13% abv. I had no idea that syrah could have this much depth and not be ridiculously high in alcohol. Eye-opening!

Ezra poured us a final wine to show us how far Guthrie’s wines had come- the 2009 James Berry Paso Robles Syrah. While loved for the character and expression of syrah from this area, Guthrie is choosing to focus further north in Anderson Valley and the Yorkville Highlands in the future. The James Berry was beautiful. The wine was another 100% syrah, this time from chalky limestone soil, a vineyard which lies 6.7 miles from the coast- so the range of temperatures between day and night is quite great. This means that the fruit gets ripe during the day but holds its acid at night, something very important for syrah. Strawberry, raspberry, cassis, mineral, violet and flowers, it felt much less like a classic syrah, but still very interesting, drinkable and delicious.

It was hard to drag us from the table, as we all wanted to just relax and enjoy a nice lunch, but many appointments beckoned. I have firm resolution to return, next time with a picnic and a loved one.

 ~Until Next Time,

-Sarah

 

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!