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2000 Labégorce, Margaux $39.99

A great value in Bordeaux! This bottle is mature enough to drink now, but has time in hand if you want to keep it in the cellar for the future. We love it for its laid back elegance and classic balance. A must try for your next nice steak dinner.

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Entries in direct imports (29)

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

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!