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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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Entries in Chardonnay (57)

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!

Monday
Jul292013

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

I am very pleased to announce the latest partnership in our direct import program: Dalwhinnie Estate. Situated high in the Pyrenees region of Victoria, Australia, this estate is well know for producing some of the finest Shiraz, Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay in country. I had previously encountered the wines while working in London, but they have suffered a prolonged absence from the US market, until now!

Dalwhinnie has consistently proven to produce wines of majestic power, exquisite depth and profound complexity. Their wines have a very good track record for mid to long term cellaring. All of these attributes have garnered them huge scores and critical acclaim from the world’s top wine writers with multiple 95-97+ point scores. Their production is quite small; especially the single block bottlings, and we have taken our full allocation of these wines so don't miss out.

Dalwhinnie’s estate is a unique parcel of land in the small, remote sub-region of the Pyrenees. Growing at around 2000ft in elevation, Dalwhinnie’s beautiful 18 hectares of vines inhabit an amphitheatre like bowl between mountain peaks. These vines planted back in 1976 grow in very hard and hungry soils with lots of exposed rock and gravel left from alluvial mining in the early 1800’s. The poor soils provide naturally low yields and excellent concentration of flavor and powerful structure. Due to the high elevation, big diurnal swings in temperature helps retain a fantastic brightness and freshness in the wines despite thier richness and intensity.

Most of the estate is planted to Shiraz (Dalwhinnie’s focus), yet exceptional Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay is also produced. After taking over from his father in 1983, winemaker and co-owner, David Jones has brought great consistency and a steady hand to the property. His focus is undeniably in the vineyard believing heavily in the importance of careful pruning, vine management and natural balance. Within the cellar he simply teases out the innate quality of the grapes and their encapsulated terroir. The winemaking is refined and elegant. The resulting wines are pure and gracefully powerful.

2010 provided superlative growing conditions especially for red wines in much of South Australia and Victoria was no exception. It is very fortuitous perhaps that our new relationship with Dalwhinnie just so happened to coincide with such a momentous vintage. The 2011 vintage was very cool and resulted in exceptional white wines for careful producers. Below are some of my notes on each wine as well as some points and tasting notes from James Halliday and Robert Parker's Wine Advocate:

2011 Dalwhinnie “Moonambel” Chardonnay Pyrenees, Victoria* ($32.99) 95JH

From the very cool 2011 vintage this wine has great drive and focus. Delicious crunchy orchard fruit, fresh grains, toast, malt. Good flinty mineral tones. Bright but finely balanced acidity. Exceptional persistence on the palate.

James Halliday: 95 points "David Jones has long been the leader of chardonnay in the Pyrenees, and this rendition is full of energy and life; the bouquet reveals lemon pith, smoky oak and struck quartz; the palate is racy and taut, with the acidity and the strong mineral personality working seamlessly to a long and even conclusion."

2010 Dalwhinnie “Moonambel” Cabernet Sauvignon Pyrenees, Victoria* ($39.99) 95 JH, 92+ RP

This wine has a lifted nose of Black Currant, Cassis, crushed mint and graphite. On the palate it is richly textured, powerful and juicy. Lovely balance between fruit and structure with ample ultra-fine tannins providing good persistence and long cellaring potential. Approachable now or hold until 2022.

James Halliday: 95 points "Classic Dalwhinnie style with abundant aromas, fruit on the fore-palate likewise; tightens up on the finish with tannin grip that will relax as the years go by." 

Robert Parker's Wine Advocate: 92+ points "Deep garnet-purple colored, offers a nose of cassis, wild blueberries, toasty oak and yeast extract with subtle suggestions of pencil lead and chocolate. Full-bodied with a nice backbone of medium to firm, grainy tannins and very crisp acidity, it has a long savory finish. Delicious in this youthful stage, it should develop gracefully and drink to 2022+."

2010 Dalwhinnie “Moonambel” Shiraz Pyrenees, Victoria ($49.99) 96 JH, 94 RP

Combination of many different top parcels across the estate. This Shiraz shows deep, saturated, dark red fruits, baking spice, vanilla and clove. Medium to full bodied, long, structured, elegant yet intense. Great already but will hold until 2020+.

James Halliday: 96 points "Typical deep crimson-purple; intense dark berry fruit aromas join with quality French oak on the bouquet, the svelte palate adding perfectly balanced and integrated tannins; top class finish and aftertaste; purity and power." 

Robert Parker's Wine Advocate: 94 points "Deep garnet-purple colored, scented of blackberries, creme de cassis, cedar and black pepper plus touches of dried herbs, violets and licorice. Medium to full-bodied with plenty of mouth-filling black berry and spice flavors, it has got a solid foundation of medium to firm grainy tannins and enlivening acidity, finishing long with some vanilla and cedar notes coming through. Drink this one now to 2020+."

2010 Dalwhinnie “Southwest Rocks” Shiraz Pyrenees, Victoria*($69.99) 96 JH 95 RP

This is a single block selection from a portion of the vineyard with particularly rocky soil and exposed boulders from old mining exploits. Singled out for it's unique character, this is seriously dark and brooding Shiraz. Medium bodied and concentrated yet pure and fresh; ripe but not the slightest bit jammy. Long silky but considerable tannin structure provides great cellaring potential. Now-2023+

Robert Parker's Wine Advocate: 95 points "Deep garnet-purple colored, an intense, complex nose of ripe black cherries, black raspberries and roses with underlying hints of toast, nuts, baking spices and smoked meat. Medium-bodied with amazing intensity and tension in the mouth, it has a medium to firm level of grainy tannins, very crisp acid and a long finish. Made for the long haul, consider holding onto it for a year or two and drink 2014 to 2024+."

2010 Dalwhinnie “The Pinnacle” Shiraz Pyrenees, Victoria*($69.99) 96 JH, 97+ RP

The highest and steepest parcel on the estate. Immense power and intensity. The most muscular and saturated of the Dalwhinnie wines. Black fruit with some savory meaty elements. Bitter-sweet chocolate and all spice. Mouthcoating but not overextracted or sweet in anyway. Lovely freshness and purity for such a concentrated wine.

Robert Parker's Wine Advocate: 97+ points "Very deep purple-black colored, aromas of creme de cassis, violets, bruchetta, yeast extract and roasted nuts with whiffs of mocha, menthol, potpourri, aniseed and cloves. Medium to full-bodied and packed with taut, muscular black berry and savory flavor layers, it has a firm structure of grainy tannins and lively acid, finishing very long. Consider drinking it 2014 to 2025+."

Cheers!

Ryan Woodhouse, NZ / Aussie Specialist

***

 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!

Friday
Jul192013

Champagne Friday: One Great Bottle - 2000 Krug Brut Champagne

By: Gary Westby | K&L Champagne Buyer

One Great Bottle: 2000 Krug Brut Champagne

A bottle of vintage Krug is a fine centerpiece for a meal, and last Friday Cinnamon, her mother Margaret and my father Jim lived it up with the 2000. In my father’s piece on capsule collecting on the blog he mentioned that he had never tried the 2000, and the team at Krug decided to change that. When I received this great windfall with instructions to drink it with my father, I immediately started thinking about pairings.

For me, very rich Champagne goes best with pate, and the very best of rich Champagne, Krug Vintage, deserves the very best of pate. I got online and ordered a Torchon of Foie Gras from Hudson Valley Farms in New York which they shipped overnight to me. This farm-direct Foie Gras had been cooked in Sauternes and was every bit as good as the best I have had in France. We did almost nothing to it- I sliced it into generous blocks and Cinnamon plated it with fleur de sel, pepper, brioche soldiers and fresh fig. My father poured the Krug and it was time to enjoy Champagne Friday!

Torchon of Foie Gras from Hudson Valley Farms in New York was shipped to me overnight!

Dad and Krug

This batch of 2000 Krug Brut Champagne ($219) is currently in stcck. The bottle of 2000 Krug we enjoyed was from the ID# 210008 batch, the same as what we currently have on the shelf at K&L. Looking this up at www.krug.com, I found that this wine was disgorged in spring 2010 after ten years in the Krug cellar deep beneath Reims. I love the new transparency at the house of Krug, and these ID numbers are great on the vintage wines, but even better for the multi-vintage bottling which had always been a mystery in the past. Now, it is easy to see which harvest these wines are based on and how many reserve vintages went into them.

Our bottle of 2000 showed so well with Foie Gras that I am worried for both my waistline and my bank balance! The liver brought out the scintillating, electric side of the Champagne and highlighted the chalky drive of the top notch Chardonnay in the blend. This refreshing character made it far too easy to take big bites of the duck liver! As the wine opened up, hazelnut depth from the Pinot Noir and savory intrigue from the Meunier developed, and that savor mirrored the flavor of the Foie Gras perfectly. This wine is at the very beginning of its drinking window, and has a huge amount of time in hand. At the end of the evening, after our main course and much conversation, the last drops of this bottle showed even more complexity. This is a great cellar candidate!

A toast to you,

–Gary