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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 direct imports (29)

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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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
Nov042013

{Terra Ignota} Purity and Class from Direct Import: Amelia Park

We have had the Amelia Park wines in our portfolio for almost a year now but a recent re-visit of them inspired me once again to write a post on this exceptional producer that offers such beautifully polished wines at an exceptional value.

Amelia Park is a husband and wife team with Jeremy making the wines and his wife Daniela guiding the rest of the business. After much acclaim and winning Australia’s most prestigious winemaking award (The Jimmy Watson Trophy) at his last winery, Jeremy struck out alone to create his own wines.

The defining factor of these wines for me is exceptional purity and concentration of lush fruit. All the varietals they work with and absolutely correct in their expression of fruit and sense of place. The winemaking is precise and polished like one would expect form much more expensive wines. The fruit is all sourced from top vineyards in the heart of the Margaret and Frankland River regions. This is ultra premium fruit at entry level pricing! Their neighbors wines are selling for a great deal more, but thanks to some savvy decision making and our Direct Import relationship we can offer these wines for a song.

They are only available from K&L and I highly recommend you try some of them. These are the perfect to illustrate how the wines of Australia should taste; powerful, pure and expertly hand-crafted.

The wines have excellent reviews from James Halliday (Australia’s preeminent and most experienced wine critic) and I truly believe them to be some of the best values in the store on a quality to cost ratio.

Check them out and let me know what you think…

 

2010 Amelia Park Shiraz Frankland River, Western Australia, $19.99

A single vineyard in the Frankland River appelation is the source for this wine. The result of this cooler growing region is a more moderately ripe wine with elegant form and structure. From the winery: "This wine has great richness of flavor, aromas of spicy cherry and plum and a soft fruit-driven palate delivering dark berries, liquorice and subtle tannins. The wine is soft and approachable but will continue to develop and improve with cellaring

92 points James Halliday: “Medium purple-red, a fragrant and lively wine, showing its cool climate breeding with its spicy, peppery black cherry and plum fruit; the fine tannins have a gently savoury twist, and French oak contributes its part.”

2010 Amelia Park Cabernet / Merlot, Margaret River, Western Australia, $19.99

The 2010 Amelia Park Cabernet-Merlot (75% Cab / 25% Merlot) is made from fruit sourced from vineyards in Wilyabrup and Karridale in order to combine the characteristics of richness and power of the former with the elegance and finesse of the latter to yield a wine that balances the best of both. The nose offers a lovely perfume of blackcurrants and violets, followed by a velvety palate offering layers of ripe cherry and plum fruit flavors, accented by vanilla and spices. Aged for one year in French oak, this is will improve over the next 3-5 years in bottle and drink well through the decade.

94 points James Halliday: “Good color; a serious yet elegant, medium-bodied (75%) Cabernet / (25%) Merlot, perfectly framed and balanced, the blend wholly synergistic and seamless. After a year in French oak, it will loosen up nicely over the next few years, and go on from there.

2010 Amelia Park “Mishmash” Cabernet Sauvignon, Margaret River, Western Australia $14.99

The 2010 Amelia Park "Mishmash" Red is classic Margaret River Cabernet Sauvignon, with upfront ripe berry, currant, and plum aromas and flavors accented by subtle oak spice. It is medium-full bodied with nice core of fruit, suave mouth-feel and smooth tannins. Made from fruit sourced in the Wilyabrup and Wallcliffe sub-regions, this was fermented in stainless steel and aged in French oak. Fruit-driven, balanced, and full of finesse, drink this tonight or over the next five years.

93 points James Halliday: “Light, bright red-purple; a silky and seductive fruit-driven wine from start to finish, with red and black berry fruits, and an airbrush of oak and tannins. In a remarkable double, both this wine and the '10 Cabernet Merlot won gold medals in class 25 at the National Wine Show '11.”

2011 Amelia Park Sauvignon Blanc-Semillon, Margaret River, Western Australia, $16.99

Three exceptional vineyards from the Margaret River are represented in this 2011 Sauvignon Blanc/Semillon blend. Warm mid-summer temperatures coupled with they typically cool ocean influences are captured in the fresh elegance of the finished wine, which features a very modest alcohol level. From the winery: "We are aiming for very clean, fresh and crisp characters in this wine. Aromas of passionfruit and pear and a lively crisp palate of lime and green apples are the marks of this classic Margaret river blend."

92 points James Halliday: “Pale quartz; an elegant light-bodied wine that creeps up on you, gently unfolding lime, apple and passion fruit on the palate, the acidity is precise and balanced. 

Cheers!

-Ryan

Ryan Woodhouse - Wine Buyer for Australia, New Zealand & South Africa

K&L Wine Merchants - Redwood City

Contact

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!