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Château de Brézé has a long and storied history, first being mentioned in texts in 1068, lauded by King René of Anjou in the 15th century and served at all the royal courts. In 1957, when the AOC of Saumur Champigny was established, the owner of Château de Brézé refused to be part of the appellation, saying that his estate's vineyards were the best and deserved an appellation all their own. And he was probably right. Unfortunately, the wines from those exceptional vineyards were terrible. Lucky for us, the winery sold in 2009 to Le Comte de Colbert, who recruited Arnaud Lambert from nearby Domaine de Saint Just to make the wine. He changed the vineyards over to organic farming and began producing truly stellar wines worthy of their source. The 2012 Château de Brézé Clos David is all estate-grown Chenin Blanc raised in stainless steel to preserve freshness. It has the slightly-oxidized note of a great White Burgundy and a lovely richness that allows it to pair with a variety of foods.

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Entries in direct imports (31)

Thursday
Mar052015

Akitu's Remarkable Pinot Noirs

I recently read about a new producer in New Zealand’s Central Otago region named Akitu. They are 100% dedicated to producing Pinot Noir off one tiny vineyard site high on the slopes of Mt. Barker close to the bucolic town of Wanaka. I immediately reached out to owner Andrew Donaldson to taste and explore the possibilities of working with his wines. The samples soon arrived and before I could even open them I was already quite taken by the slick package and label design…now I am not one for judging a book (or a bottle of wine for that matter) by it’s cover, but credit where credit is due…these look smart.

Thankfully once opened things only got better. The 2013 Akitu “A1” Pinot Noir is one of the most profound bottles I have tasted in quite some time. The wine is defined by precision, tension, coiled power and subtle intensity. It speaks very strongly of its schist soil origins. The wine is incredibly pure and dynamic on the palate. It is not overly fleshy or extracted but linear and perfectly poised. You can feel the terroir as much as taste it. This wine is about energy and vibrancy. Sure it delivers fantastic Pinot Noir varietal fruit flavors, ripe berries, exotic spice, earth…but this wine is so much more than that, it’s hard to describe, it’s something that needs to be experienced. I also believe we are only seeing the tip of the iceberg with this wine and that the best is yet to come as the tight, compact layers of flavor and texture unfold. 

“Akitu” (meaning “summit” in Māori) comes from a unique site. The vines are planted on a perfect north facing slope, 1600ft up on the on the north west aspect Mt. Barker. In a place like Central Otago that is inherently quite remote…these vines are further defined by their loneliness.  This is not an area bustling with vineyards like the hillsides of Bannockburn or along the shores of Lake Dunstan…these are a few acres of vines perched on lone mountain within a windswept alpine valley over shadowed by the snowcapped mountains of the Southern Alps. When I see someone toiling over a site like this, a tricky, labor intensive, on the edge of grape growing site...I am drawn to the wines, because there must be some reason why that person is persisting, they must truly believe they have something special. Founder Andrew Donaldson only started labeling his own wine in 2012 after selling off fruit for 10 years while he waited for his vines to mature and truly speak of their terroir (something we rarely see in this day and age). 

When Andrew was ready to start putting his own name to these wines he recruited heralded wine maker and kiwi native PJ Charteris to help tease the best expression from his land. PJ has a very serious resume of former winemaking positions including time with Adelsheim, Flowers Estate, Penfolds and most recently served as icon Brokenwood’s Head Winemaker in Australia’s Hunter Valley for 12 years, during which time he was awarded Winemaker of the Year!  This combination of special site and talented winemaker is working wonders for Akitu. The wines are really shining.

Beyond the black label “tête de cuvée” A1 Pinot, we also have Akitu’s white label “A2” bottling. The 2013 Akitu "A2" Pinot Noir offers exceptional value and quality for money. Most Pinot lovers will know that due to the fickle nature of this seductive varietal it is very difficult to find great Pinot Noir for close to $20...it is also almost unheard of to produce noteworthy Central Otago Pinot Noir for this price. The yields are painfully low, farming is very labor intensive…thankfully our direct relationship with Hawkesbury Estate / Atiku has allowed K&L to bring you this wine for a seriously economical price point. This wine is deliberately styled in a more forward, open style bursting with ripe berry fruits, hard ground spices like nutmeg and clove from the whole bunch inclusion, crushed rocks and wild Thyme. The palate has plenty of soft accessible fruit up front, but it is also very long and drawn out on the palate by the wines lovely fresh acidity and fine powdery tannins. A delicate kiss of oak helps polish this gem but does not detract from its purity. All the fruit is still hand-picked from the estate and crafted in the same way and the premier label. Whilst this wine does not provide the lucid insight into this incredible terroir that is afforded by Akitu's "A1" Pinot Noir...it does provide the imbiber instant gratification and a fantastically expressive bottle of classy Pinot Noir at an incredibly reasonable price. This fantastic into in to Akitu’s wines was recently awarded a Pure Elite Gold Medal at the Air New Zealand Wine Awards (NZ’s biggest and most prestigious wine competition).

I entreat you to check out these new additions to our selection and I hope you find them as compelling as I do.

Cheers, 

Ryan Woodhouse - K&L New Zealand Wine Buyer

Monday
Oct062014

TWR Tasting with Winemaker Anna Flowerday from NZ! All Stores!

This week we will be hosting a series of tastings in ALL of our stores with Winemaker Anna Flowerday from the AMAZING Te Whare Ra (TWR) vineyard in New Zealand.

 

Together with her husband Jason, this young couple farm every square inch of their fantastic vineyard by hand. The wines are small production often just a few hundred cases. They have become absolute Staff and Customer favorites here at K&L and they have quite the cult following among those who have tasted these delicious wines. Anna is super energetic and passionate about her wines and it is a pleasure to taste with her in the house. The tasting is just $5 and will be one of the best value tastings you ever attend!

Los Angeles / Hollywood: Wed Oct 8th 5-7pm

San Francisco: Thurs Oct 9th 5-6:30pm

Redwood City: Friday Oct 10th 5-6:30pm 

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 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. We are incredibly lucky to be working with these folks and I really hope people will come and 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!

Tasting Lineup:

2013 TWR (Te Whare Ra) Sauvignon Blanc Marlborough $18.99
2013 TWR (Te Whare Ra) Riesling “D” Marlborough $19.99
2013 TWR (Te Whare Ra) Riesling “M” Marlborough $19.99
2013 TWR (Te Whare Ra) Chardonnay Marlborough $24.99
2013 TWR (Te Whare Ra) Pinot Noir Marlborough $26.99
2011 TWR (Te Whare Ra) Syrah Marlborough $26.99

Hope to see you all there! 

Cheers!

Ryan Woodhouse (K&L New Zealand, Australia & S. Africa Wine Buyer)

 

Tuesday
Feb252014

“Méthode Champenoise” or “English Method”?

Many people believe that a monk called Dom Perignon invented the method of producing sparkling wines in Champagne. However historical evidence shows the technique was actually invented in England. Some 30+ years before sparkling wine even appears in French history, English scholar Christopher Merret presented a paper on the topic to the Royal Society in 1662. That was 8 years before Dom Perignon travelled to Champagne, 20 years before the French made their first Sparkling wine and 60+ years before the first Champagne House was created.

In fact English playwrights of the era were including references about the popularity of these wines in London decades before the word for sparkling wines (Mousseux) was even used in the French language.  The English also possessed the skills to create superior strength glass than the French thanks to their coal-fired kilns. This allowed them to contain the high pressures created during bottle fermentation. Another factor essential to the deliberate bottling of sparkling wines is that the English re-discovered the cork earlier than the French after the Romans use of cork was lost in the Dark Ages. 

Wiston wines resting on thier lees

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