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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)

Wednesday
Apr242013

{Terra Ignota} The Exceptional Wines of Fromm Winery

We are pleased to announce the next wave of releases is here from the brilliant Fromm Winery in Marlborough, New Zealand. We have cultured a great direct relationship with winemaker Willy Hoare at Fromm and are very excited to offer these wines exclusively in the USA.

I visited Fromm estate back in April of 2011 and knew that these wines were something special. I had previously experienced the wines in the UK selling wine in London. The wines have always been very pure, balanced and structured for great longevity. In fact I have had many great experiences drinking wines from this property at 10+ years of age, including Pinot Noir and their phenomenal Rieslings. The most recent Fromm releases from the excellent quality 2009 and 2010 vintages have struck me as even more exciting than the wines of old. The winemaking seems to be finding a way of combining a little more youthful exuberance and richness with the same classic underlying structure for extended cellaring. This means great wines for now…and the potential to lay some down if you can keep your hands off them long enough!

Fromm farms several estate vineyards in Marlborough’s various sub-regions. The vineyards are well down the road in conversion to organic and Biodynamic viticulture. Total production for the winery was around 5000 cases when I last checked. Winemaker Willy amazingly got his start in wine at the tender age of nine “helping out” at the world famous Cloudy Bay. You could say his Marlborough roots run as deep as some of Fromm’s old vine plantings in the gravel soils of the Wairau Valley. He, along with winemaking partner Hätsch Kalberer, certainly craft what I think are some of the best examples of truly inspiring Marlborough Pinot Noir I have tasted.

Thankfully I am not the only person waxing poetic about these wines of late. James Suckling’s recent visit and tasting of the wines brought a flood of 94-95 point ratings and comparisons to Grand Cru Burgundy! This high praise was a very welcome development for us as long time believers in the wines and was a great reinforcement for our direct relationship that had just recently been forged. We have just emailed the latest Fromm wines to our mailing list and they are probably going to snapped up quickly so grab some asap if you are interested. Below is a list and notes on the current Fromm offerings:

2010 Fromm Winery "La Strada" Pinot Noir, Marlborough, New Zealand $21.99

94-95 points James Suckling “A seamless red that starts off with pure strawberry and berry aromas and flavors. Full with beautiful tannins and natural beauty. It goes on for so, so long. Yes!” (12/ 2012)

This Pinot has a phenomenal bright, perfumed nose of crushed spicy red fruits and dark rose petals complicated by rich soil tones and a subtle Thyme note. This is a layered wine of real depth and intrigue. On the palate beyond its pure dark red fruit character lays an array of subtle complexities that really take it to another level of distinction. The wine has an effortless balance and silky elegant texture. This is wonderfully complete and stylish Pinot Noir at an everyday price thanks to our direct purchase from the winery. An exceptional value that will continue to develop and impress for another 8-10 years without a doubt.

Comments from the Winemaker: "Dense with nice clarity. A bright and lively wine offering ripe plums, black cherries and a hint of blueberries. Adding to the mix are spicy aromas (cloves, liquorice) and violet florals which combine with an earthy complexity to round off the nose. The palate opens with ripe, sweet fruit and shows good depth and concentration with ripe tannins providing structure. Quite a powerful wine yet one of refinement."

2009 Fromm Winery "Brancott Valley" Pinot Noir, Marlborough, New Zealand $29.99

95 points James Suckling “This is so powerful and rich with a dense structure and lightly chew tannins. So long and structured. Grand crus Burgundy character. Muscular. Better in 2015.”

A powerful nose of dark red fruits, black cherry and bramble. This wine is rich, dense and fleshy. A subtle whole cluster stem character adds structure and complexity and brings brightness to a fairly saturated mid palate. This wine is currently exuberant and youthful, brimming with fruit and has a plush texture. Despite this obvious density and power, the wine retains elegance throughout finishing with exotic warm spices and a tickle of fine tannins that suggest this wine will be a fantastic prospect for the cellar, as well as immediately rewarding. I have had many releases from this estate with 10 years of bottle age and can attest that they develop beautifully.

Comments from the Winemaker :"The 2009 Fromm "Brancott Valley" Pinot Noir shows intense, bright black plums and dark cherries with subtle mocha aromas and an underlying savouriness. On the palate, again generous cherry/plum fruit with trademark Brancott Valley spice. Ripe fine tannins contribute to a lovely silky texture. An expansive wine of refined structure and elegance - a juxtaposition of power and finesse."

2010 Fromm "Clayvin Vineyard" Pinot Noir Marlborough New Zealand $40.99

92+ points Robert Parker  “Medium deep ruby-purple in color, the 2010 Clayvin Vineyard Pinot Noir is slightly closed, revealing subtle hints of cranberries, black raspberries and red cherries plus suggestions of lavender, cardamom and pepper. Medium-bodied and crisp with a medium level of grainy tannins, the fruit is taut and it finishes long and layered. It needs 6-12 months more in bottle and should drink to 2019+”. (92+)

Comments from the Winemaker: Dense, deep plum-cherry colour. Intense, vibrant wild berry aromas with dark, lightly toasty mocha notes. Concentrated, spicy fruit with lots of underlying power and richness; well structured and supported by fine, ripe tannins. Dense and silky textured with great presence and harmony, resulting from pristine fruit in a top year. A classic Clayvin Pinot Noir.

2010 Fromm "La Strada" Syrah, Marlborough, New Zealand $21.99

James Suckling “Blackberry and tar and asphalt undertones with hints of black peppers. Full and rich with lots of fruit, yet balanced and delicious now.”

Comments from the Winemaker: "Deep crimson in colour. This Syrah shows dense but bright blue fruit with lifted sweet aromatics of juniperberries and five spice, all combining with florals of dark violets. The palate is concentrated and mouth filling but retains an elegant, easy drinking quality thanks to balancing acidity. Ample flavour and fine, well layered tannin support provide for lovely length. An expressive young Syrah, drinking well now but will happily develop for another 2-3 years."

2012 Fromm Riesling, Marlborough, New Zealand $18.99

Fromm is well known for their spectacular Rieslings. This wine is made in a Spätlese style at 7.5% Alc and 94g/L of Residual Sugar. The wine is so concentrated and powerful. Tons of honeyed apricot and tangy preserved lemon is punctuated by lime zest acidity. Some subtle river stone mineral notes and citrus peel linger on the very long finish. This wine is very young, forward and primary right now, despite it being super moreish and drinkable at present, experience with older bottles from this great estate tells me this wine will continue to develop as only great Riesling does for another 10yrs+. This is a spectacular value and a must try for all Riesling lovers!

Comments from the Winemaker: "Clean ripe fruit on the nose of limes, nectarines, pristine red apples and subtle mandarin. Also offered are lifting florals of orange blossom and honeysuckle all combining with focussing minerals. The palate is one of rich concentration, bright fruit and alluring sweetness - refreshed by cleansing acid. This is a Riesling of purity, free of botrytis and low in alcohol. Drink well chilled. Alcohol 7.5 % Total acidity 9.4 g/l pH 2.76 Residual sugar 94 g/l

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
Mar152013

More Champagne Friday: Updates on Direct Import Champagnes 

By: Gary Westby | K&L Champagne Buyer

Happy Champagne Friday (again)!

Earlier this morning I posted a piece about the Dom Perignon seminar lead by Stephane Henry, Senior International Brand Education Manager from the maison, that I attended yesterday. He shed a little bit of light on this very secretive Champagne brand.  The star of the show was the 2002 Rose, which I wrote up last month- it showed spectacularly, and I will be getting a little bit more in later this month. We also tasted the 2002 Moet & Chandon "Dom Pérignon" Brut Champagne, which we still have available in magnum, the 2003 Moet & Chandon "Dom Pérignon" Brut Champagne and the excellent 1996 Moët & Chandon "Dom Pérignon Oenothéque" Brut Champagne.

I'm also excited to share some important updates about our Direct Import Champagnes due in soon.   Elisabeth Goutorbe "Cuvee Eclatante" Brut ChampagneWhile our Launois and Aspasie are late in arriving, they should be back in by the first of April. The Bonville wines will be right behind them. I've shared the video I made last summer during the Tour de France about the Launois family and their wines so you can get excited about their arrival as I am!

We also just received a container with the Goutorbe Champagnes, and this great producer from Ay is one of the jewels of our direct import program. I visited them for the first time in 2007, the same week as Terry Theise. He chose the Henri Goutorbe wines for his portfolio (which are excellent as well) and I chose the Elisabeth Goutorbe wines from the daughter’s vines. They are all made in the same facility in Ay where the Goutorbe family has worked since 1918.

2005 Elisabeth Goutorbe Brut ChampagneSince we work direct, we are able to offer these estate bottled Champagne’s at fantastic prices. The Elisabeth Goutorbe "Cuvée Eclatante" Brut Champagne ($34.99) is a blend of 70% Pinot Noir, 25% Chardonnay and 5% Meunier, a composition that matches the estate's vineyard make up almost exactly. The wine is composed of 85% 2007 and 15% a blend of 2006, 2005 and 2004. It is dosed very lightly at only 9 grams per liter. The Pinot comes through on the nose with very pretty candied cherry interlaced with fresh baked bread. On the palate it has a lot of body, firm, dry black cherry fruit, and tons of savory, masculine Pinot Noir flavors. It has a good finish with a line of chalky minerality that is uncommon in Pinot Noir-based Champagnes. The 2005 Elisabeth Goutorbe Brut Champagne ($39.99) is a more concentrated, longer finishing wine with excellent ageing potential. If you haven’t tried these- don't miss them!

Just this week, we received our first shipment of Thienot Champagnes, which were selected for this year's Academy Awards. I don't know how the Academy did in regards to selecting the best of Hollywood in 2013, but they sure did a very nice job picking out this Champagne. The Thienot Brut Champagne ($39.99) is composed of 45% Chardonnay, 35% Pinot Noir and 20% Meunier and has surprising red fruit driven concentration and power at this reasonable price point. The Thienot Brut Rosé Champagne ($64.99) has the same composition, but 7% is Red Pinot Noir from very old vines in Ay. It is a very focused, driven rose with great black cherry fruit from the Ay rouge.

Also new in stock are the very reasonably priced Champagnes from Canard-Duchene. The Canard-Duchene "Authentic" Brut Champagne ($29.99) impressed me and the rest of our staff with its easy drinking, toasty style. It is composed of 43% Pinot Noir, 25% Meunier and 20% Chardonnay and comes off very well balanced at 10g/L of dosage. The Canard-Duchene Brut Authentic Rose Champagne ($34.99) is our best priced rose from a big house and very tasty. This Champagne is composed of 45% Pinot Noir, 30% Chardonnay and 25% Meunier. It has a great strawberries and cream nose, yet is completely dry on the palate. This is a delightful wine at a bargain price!

A toast to you!

-Gary

 

Friday
Mar012013

Champagne Friday: The Mountains of Reims and the Grand Valley of the Marne

Pinot Noir at Champagne Pierre Paillard in Bouzy.

By: Gary Westby | K&L Champagne Buyer

Champagne Itinerary #3: The Mountain of Reims and Grand Valley of the Marne

This is my third installment on travel to the Champagne region, the first covered Epernay and the Cotes des Blancs and the second the Western Valley of the Marne. For this edition, I repeat the information on the hotel Ibis in Epernay, as it a great base for exploring the region. I strongly recommend picking up a picnic lunch to enjoy on the many roadside tables in the vineyards before leaving, as a sit down lunch will take up more than half of the day! I have some tips for great places to put together a picnic in Itinerary #1.

Hôtel Ibis, Epernay

This is a great hotel for folks who have come to Champagne as travelers to taste and learn about the wines instead of hanging out in your hotel room. The rooms are clean, simple and comfortable, and the friendly, professional, accommodating staff is available around the clock. Many of them I count as personal friends. The wifi always works, so it is easy to get back in touch with home, and the location could not be more central for visiting the vineyards. Epernay is a small city, and everything is in walking distance. Given how good the food and wine is, walking to and from dinner is a must!

19 rue Chocatelle
51200 Epernay

03 26 51 14 51

http://www.ibis.com/gb/hotel-0852-ibis-epernay-centre-ville/index.shtml

 

Elisabeth Gourtorbe with K&L's Scott Beckerley.

Champagne Goutorbe, Ay

Try Elisabeth Goutorbe "Cuvée Eclatante" Brut Champagne ($34.99) Just fifteen minutes from Epernay, the village of Ay is the heart of the Champagne vineyards in the Marne. Parking is tight in this ancient village, so make sure to leave yourself plenty of time to get to your appointments. This is the chalkiest of all the Pinot Noir terroir in the region, and also some of the steepest. Big names such as Bollinger and Deutz are here in this village as well as a roll call of great growers. Instead of visiting the big guys, going to see Goutorbe is a great plan, since it is a two for one: you can taste the wines of both Champagne Henri Goutorbe and Champagne Elisabeth Goutorbe. After more than 100 years of making Champagne, the Goutorbe family had never had a visit from an American importer. The week that I visited, I was the third! The family decided to go national with their main brand, Champagne Henri Goutorbe, and chose the great book of Mr. Terry Thiese.  Elisabeth, the youngest generation of vigneron in the family, suggested working with K&L, and we have been directly importing her wines ever since. These Pinot dominated power houses have minerality like no other Champange from this grape variety. The Goutorbe wines are great examples of this grand cru.

9bis, rue Jeanson

F. 51160 AY-CHAMPAGNE
03 26 55 21 70

info@champagne-henri-goutorbe.com

website

 

Champagne Philipponnat, Mareuil-sur-Aÿ

I have always felt that there is a real difference between the big houses in Epernay and Reims and the ones like Philipponnat that are in the vineyards. The people are prefer to tell you the story of the wines that they make rather than talking about their gift boxes or spinning tales of luxury. This house makes the great single vineyard Clos de Goisses, from a walled vineyard which is just up the road from the winery. When making your appointment, make sure to ask for a vineyard tour of this site, as it is one of the most spectacular vineyards in all of Champagne. It is so steep that they run stairs up it for the vineyard workers! This house is now owned by the Lanson-BCC group run by Bruno Paillard, cousins of the Pierre Paillard family who you will visit next. Everyone is connected in this region!

13, rue du Pont

51160 Mareuil-sur-Aÿ

03 26 56 93 00

commercial.export@philipponnat.com

website

Quentin PaillardChampagne Pierre Paillard, Bouzy

Try: Pierre Paillard "Acte 1" Grand Cru Blanc de Noirs Champagne ($49.99) Just five minutes up the hill from Mareuil-sur-Aÿ is the village with the best name in the wine world, Bouzy. This is the number one village for making the red wine in Champagne, and a huge number of houses use this Pinot Noir for making their rose. It can also be found bottled alone as a still red wine, and the Paillards make one of the best. All of their wine comes from massale selected vineyards and they are unusual in this Pinot village for planting quite a bit of Chardonnay. The' Acte' series wines, which are single harvest, single varietal and single vineyard, are some of the best, pure terroir wines in Champagne. The two young brothers Quentin and Antoine now run the family firm with their father Benoit, and all of them are fascinating individuals. Talk to them - you will learn a lot!  

2 rue du XXe siècle

51150 Bouzy - France

0 3 26 57 08 04

contact@champagne-pierre-paillard.fr

website

Benoit MarguetChampagne Marguet Pere et Fils, Ambonnay

Try: 2007 Marguet Pere et Fils Brut Rosé Champagne ($49.99) Minutes away from Bouzy, the neighboring village of Ambonnay is equally famous for the quality of its wines. The Marguet house is across an alley from Krug's "Clos d'Ambonnay" and is surrounded by producers like Billiot and Egly-Ouriet. Benoit Marguet is one of my oldest friends in Champagne, and no one in the region is more dedicated to the craft of Champagne than him. You can see his dedication and attention to detail in my video interview with him where he speaks about his custom made egg shaped barrels. His wines are some of the most streamlined, dry and multifaceted that we carry, and the 2007 Marguet Pere et Fils Brut Rosé Champagne ($49.99) is my favorite rose at K&L. He also has a great sense of humor, and speaks better English than I do, so you are bound to have a great time with him!


1 Place Barancourt
F - 51150 Ambonnay
(0)326 537 861
james@champagne-marguet.fr

website

 

Restaurant Patrick Michelon at Les Bercaux, Epernay

After a big day of tasting you will be ready for a great meal. Chef Patrick Michelon serves the most elegant dinner in Epernay. Park the car under the Ibis, drop off the Champagne that you bought in the room and walk across the square and around the corner to the restaurant. The wine list is exhaustive, with too many Champagne’s to even read through properly at the table. I usually show up ahead of my guests to have a ratafia and read ahead! They also have a very nice selection of Burgundy for their excellent meat courses, and the last time I dined there I enjoyed an excellent 2000 Pommard from Parent with my lamb course. As with any really great restaurant, I recommend the tasting menu as it offers the best of what the market has to offer and the best inspiration of Mr. Michelon. This is the sister restaurant to Bistro 7, and right in the same building.

Bon appétit!

-Gary

 

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