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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 (30)

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

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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!

Thursday
Oct102013

It's Back! 2012 Waterkloof Circumstance "Cape Coral" Mourvèdre Rosé $16.99!

The weather this time of year here in the Bay Area is perhaps the worst kept secret about Northern California. The dog days of summer have passed, fog is all but a distant memory, there's no need to even check the weather report, we know it's going to be 75-80 and clear until at least November! So...I say lets enjoy one last round of Rosé Season.

The 2012 Waterkloof "Cape Coral" Mourvèdre Rosé from Stellenbosch, South Africa was hands-down one of the most exciting Rosés of the year for me. Made from 100% Mourvèdre grapes from Biodynamically farmed 50-year-old dry farmed bush vines, this elegant, dry, complex rose did a fantastic impersonation of top quality Bandol Rosé and many of you (our customers) realized what a fantastic deal it was at $16.99! There are just a few cases left of this wine before it goes away for another vintage. I think it will also be a fantastic Rosé pick for Thanksgiving (the unofficial last hurrah of Rosé season) being a fantastic pairing with the old stuffed bird. So grab some while you can. Below are some notes on the wine for those of you who missed it the first time around, plus a link to the Blog about the producer Waterkloof Estate (which is a fantastic Biodynamic, world class producer that we secured a K&L Exclusive import from!) Please check it out.

2012 Waterkloof Circumstance "Cape Coral" Mourvèdre Rosé, Stellenbosch, South Africa $16.99

This wine is produced from Biodynamically farmed, 50 year old, Mourvèdre bush vines overlooking the ocean in the cool Helderberg sub-region of Stellenbosch. There is an old saying that notes "Mourvèdre loves a sea view" relating to it's tempramental qualities and the fact that it thrives looking out over the Mediterranean in the town of Bandol. Waterkloof follows time-honored traditional winemaking techniques in its state-of-the-art gravitational cellar and in their pursuit of more terroir driven wines. The team relied on natural, wild yeast fermentation which took five months to complete. The wine was left on the primary lees for another five months to add further complexity before bottling. The wine is incredibly elegant, crisp, dry, with orange peel and fresh Provencal herbs. This wine has tons of minerality and for what it deliberately eschews in fruitiness, it makes up for in complexity and persistence on the palate.

Waterkloof's Winery and Restaurant Over Looking False Bay

As with all of Waterkloof’s wines this Rosé is made very much with food in mind. Waterkloof is a fantastic estate that we have recently partnered with to bring some of their wines in to the USA exclusively for K&L. See a previous blog post about then HERE. Buy some of this incredible Rosé HERE, or come into any of our stores and pick some up in person!

Cheers!

-Ryan

Ryan Woodhouse

South Africa, New Zealand & Australia Wine Buyer

K&L Wine Merchants - Redwood City

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Thursday
Aug082013

Keith's Burgundy Hotline: Ballorin - New Arrival from Burgundy!

By: Keith Wollenberg | K&L Burgundy Buyer

Gilles BallorinHello Burgundy Lovers,

As you know I am always scouting the back roads and alleys of Burgundy for unknown growers, making terrific wine.  Our latest discovery has just arrived. To my pleasure, Allen Meadows also found this grower, so we even have some reviews on a few of his wines, besides out own.

Gilles Ballorin is an iconoclastic guy, who grew up in Dijon, and worked harvest in Corgoloin for many years.  He later went to work for the cooperative in Igé, and then for Antonin Rodet.  But he got bored and wanted to try something new, so off he went to wine school, and he and his wife Fabienne became wine-growers, starting a few years ago with 0.2 Ha (1/2 an acre!), in Chenove, north of Marsannay, while he was still in school.  He then rented the neighboring 04Ha, and started with a whopping 1.5 acres in his first vintage  He has gradually acquired more vineyards, with the help of some investors content to take their share in wine, and now farms about 6 Hectares, he tells me.   These vineyards are scattered from north of Marsannay to south of the Clos de Maréchale in Comblanchien. He does much of his work by hand, since it takes him almost a half-day to drive his tractor from his northernmost vines to his southernmost!

By 2006, he was Demeter certified as biodynamic. He presses his grapes with an old-fashioned plate press, which we prefers, not a more modern pneumatic press.  He believes in a cold soak, using dry ice to retard the fermentation, which is always by native yeasts.  He refuse to pump his wine, but likes to minimize the amount of punching down to ensure gentle extraction.  He solution was to do his remontage (usually translated as pumping over) by hand, with a bucket.  He will draw wine from the bottom of the cuve, and pour it over the cap, as needed. 

He manages to extract a clear sense of terroir from each wine, with little in the way of a house signature.  The aim always to let his careful vineyard work express itself in the finished wine.  As he puts it: “My style is to not have a style.”  In 2011 he harvested later than many, only commencing on September 15th, in order to get riper phenolics, as he felt acidity levels were  good in the vintage.

They say that wines reflect their winemaker.  In this case that expresses itself by almost an excess of enthusiasm and boundless energy, and a restlessness combined with a positively Pablo Neruda like sensuality and intimate connection with the earth.  Try Gilles’s wines, and you will see why I am excited.

 

The Wines:

 

2011 Domaine Ballorin & F Bourgogne "Passetoutgrains" $18.99

Allen Meadows - Burghound

Fabiènne and Gilles Ballorin are behind this new and 100% biodynamically-farmed domaine that was started with the 2005 vintage. 2012 was my fourth visit and the domaine clearly continues to fashion impressive quality emanating from relatively modest appellations. The goal is to craft wine in a minimalist style from their 5 ha of vines that they have put together piece meal with various private investors who want only wine from their investments. Or, as Ballorin so eloquently and aptly puts it: 'My style is to not have a style.' In 2011, Ballorin noted that he was one of the very last to pick as he didn't start until the 15th of September. While he was very happy with the quality of the raw materials, he lamented that he averaged no more than 25 hl/ha, not much in the context of his appellations

K&L Notes  

An unusual AOC, Bourgogne Passetoutgrains may contain both Pinot Noir and Gamay, but must contain at least 1/3 Pinot noir. Unusually, this is 90% Pinot Noir!, since as the vineyard was replanted, it was to hat varietal. the average vine age is 55 years. This is both Organically and Biodynamically grown, and certified as such. The grapes are grown in a vineyard known as "En Bollery". It is just across the RN74 form the Clos de Vougeot, Grand Cru. The wine is open and bright with a very pretty , spicy character, but not a ton of mid-palate. Nice Pinot Noir mouthfeel. Tasty! (Keith Wollenberg, K&L Burgundy Buyer, 03/2013)

 

2011 Domaine Ballorin & F Bourgogne Rouge "Le Bon"   $24.99

Allen Meadows - Burghound: "A fresh and bright nose features notes of red pinot fruit with hints of earth that complement the moderately earthy, supple and very round flavors that possess a lovely mouth feel. This delicious effort is already drinking well." (1/2013)   K&L Notes: Named after Philip III, the best of the Dukes of Burgundy, also known as Philip the Good (Le Bon). And, Gilles says with a wink, this is good Burgundy. Fresh and bright, with focus, acidity and a nice mid-palate richness, this is most satisfying. (Keith Wollenberg, K&L Burgundy Buyer, 03 and 08/2013) 

2011 Domaine Ballorin & F Côte de Nuits Villages « Le Village » $29.95

Allen Meadows - Burghound

Pungently earthy aromas of both red and dark pinot fruit lead to attractively textured, delicious and sappy flavors that are quite forward and like the Bourgogne should drink well immediately. (1/ 2013)  K&L Notes: This vineyard was planted just after the war, in 1946. it is below the RN74, just a hop and a skip from Clos de Maréchale, He makes 5 barrels of this wine, with one being new. It is concentrated and spicy on the palate, with a pronounced spine. It is medium in weight, with good charm. The fruit, behind the spine of concentration, is bright and pretty, with a bit of delicacy in character. When tasted in March, it was feminine and lovely. Tasted after arrival, it show more structure and needs some cellar time, as you would expect from a wine next to Nuits-St-Georges. (Keith Wollenberg, K&L Burgundy Buyer, 03 and 08/2013)

 

2011 Domaine Ballorin & F Marsannay "Les Echezots" , $36.99

Allen Meadows - Burghound

A perfumed and very pretty nose offers up notes of cherry, black raspberry and a hint of wood influence. There is good richness to the delicious and refreshingly vibrant flavors that possess good volume on the tangy but ripe finish. (1/ 2013)  K&L Notes: Here, the soil is composed of fossilized oyster shells, which results in more red fruit notes, interesting layering and a fruit profile that is both complex and pretty. His holding is relatively high in the small valley that contains this vineyard, so it is a cooler site, resulting in a wine that is sensuous, earthy and very expressive in a most charming fashion,. (Keith Wollenberg, K&L Burgundy Buyer, 03/2013)

 

2011 Domaine Ballorin & F Marsannay "Clos du Roi",  $39.95

Gilles feels that the Marsannay Clos du Roy vineyard is his best site. It is also one of the sites suggested for promotion to Premier Cru, although there is a lot of opposition to this move among some other villages. The soil is a substance called Grèzes Litée. This is type of soil composed of a sandy and gravelly mixture of decomposed limestone bedded in on a slope. This is the same type of soil as is found in the lower portion of Charmes Chambertin, Gilles pointed out to me. This has extremely lovely fruit, and is both rich and expressive. This wine is what the French call Aérienne, "Of the Air", rather than earthy in character. (Keith Wollenberg, K&L Burgundy Buyer, 03/2013)

 

2011 Domaine Ballorin & F. Fixin "Les Chènevrières"  $46.99

89 points Allen Meadows - Burghound

A ripe, pure, cool and unusually elegant nose of essence of red pinot fruit and soft earth aromas give way to rich, delicious and velvet-textured flavors that display a discreet minerality on the mildly austere finish. This is sufficiently ripe and forward that it could be enjoyed now but I would advise waiting for a few years first. Recommended. (1/ 2013)

K&L Notes:

Here, the vineyard name comes from the Old French word for Cotton Fields, to which once, centuries ago, this low-lying vineyard may have been planted. It The soil here is a mixture of soil and gravel, and the character of fruit tends towards that harder character Fixin has been known to. Highly aware of this fact, Gilles tends to treat this cuvee particularly gently, as well as using canopy management and careful control of temperature at fermentation to ensure a gentler extraction. It is more structured that the Marsannays, with bright minerality following on the heels of the rich entry, with rounder fruit from the heavier clays in this soil. The profile of this wine is so pretty and so seamless that I am confident a bit of time in the cellar will richly reward you. (Keith Wollenberg, K&L Burgundy Buyer, 03/2013)

 

2011 Domaine Ballorin & F. Nuits-St-Georges "Les Damodes"  $57.99

       The view from Nuits Damodes, looking down to the plain below.

This comes from high on the hill near the Vosne Romanée border. The shallow topsoil overlays a hard white limestone. The result is a much lower vigour for the wines here. In response, Gilles works them entirely by hand and with a horse, doing no hedging or cutting of the wines, merely training the shoots back on to the wire, instead. This is an extremely lovely effort, with a very Vosne-like mid-palate and very attractive floral notes. The fruit here is so gorgeous, it is hard to believe this could be village Nuits! (Keith Wollenberg, K&L Burgundy Buyer, 03/2013)

 

A santé,

-Keith

 

Mr. Keith WOLLENBERG

Directeur Commercial Bourgogne

K&L Wine Merchants

http://www.klwines.com

+1-650-556-2724 Direct Line

Keithw@klwines.com