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The Freewheel line with a couple of English friends.

It takes a lot of beer to keep the wine business running smoothly. Here in Redwood City, we are very fortunate to have a great English style ale producer right in our backyard: Freewheel Brewing Company. The staff of K&L are fictures at our local pub, and it is a rare moment when one of us isn't there having a pint and a bite of their excellent food. We are also lucky enough to be the first place to offer their bottled beer for sale. If you have never had it, the Freewheel Brewing "FSB" Freewheel Special Bitter, California (500ml) is the benchmark in fresh, balanced, smashable ale. We will do our best to keep some in stock for you, the customer too!

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We host regular weekly and Saturday wine tastings in each K&L location.

For the complete calendar, including lineups and additional details related to our events, visit our K&L Local Events on or follow us on Facebook.  


Visit our events page on Facebook or the K&L Spirits Journal for more information.

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Entries in Dolcetto (3)


St. Clair vs. Suckling - K&L Takes the Suckling Wine Challenge Round 2: Italy

K&L Wine Challenge Round 2: Italy!

St. Clair vs. Suckling: K&L Takes the Suckling Retail Challenge

Challenge #2: Italy

When noted wine critic James Suckling challenged K&L to his retail challenge, our Italian buyer Greg St. Clair was on the first flight to LA to meet him at our Hollywood store to take him up on it.

In this edition of the Wine Challenge, Greg chose three wines from Italy for James to taste blind. All three must meet the price requirement of being $30 or less.

What wines did Greg choose? How did they show? Click the picture above to watch the video from Challenge #2 and find out what wines succeeded and how they scored. 

(We've also posted a cheat sheet of the results with links learn more about each wine below.)

K&L Challenge #2: Italy - Suckling's Scores and Reviews

Click the links to learn more about these wines currently in stock at K&L:

Wine #1

91 pts   2008 Cantine Ascheri Barolo ($29.99)  A wine with really lovely fruit and a citrus and berry character. Full body, with firm tannins and a juicy finish. Long and delicious. So pretty, balanced. Drink now. So right now.

Wine #2

93 pts   2010 Anna Maria Abbona "Maioli" Dolcetto di Dogliani ($20.99) This is crazy with a subtle berry and juicy character. Full and very balanced with fine tannins and complex flavors. Turns firm and gorgeous.

Wine #3

93 pts   2010 Riecine Chianti Classico ($23.99) A wine with fresh fruit and chocolate, berry and juicy character. Lovely undertones of sliced orange. Long. Intense.


Links to Past Challenge Videos

K&L v. Suckling Challenge #1


Stay tuned for more Suckling Wine Challenge videos and related posts on Uncorked...


K&L Italian buyer Greg St. Clair and James Suckling in the K&L Hollywood store.


The Oliver McCrum Piedmont Tour

By: Gary Westby | K&L Wine Merchants

The Oliver McCrum Piedmont Tour

Last Thursday night, K&L Redwood City was treated to a visit from three great producers from the northwest of Italy, Piedmont. They all make very different styles of wine from this high quality, diverse region but have one thing in common: very strong value for the money. Oliver McCrum brings all of the wines in, and he is an importer I look up to for his integrity, palate and belief in value wines.

Marco Porello

We started the tasting with Marco Porello’s excellent  2011“Camestri” Arneis from Roero ($16.99). This bright, aromatic white wine was light enough to make a great aperitif, but had enough stuffing in it to keep the interest of the most demanding wine fan. It is entirely from the small Camestri vineyard in Vezza d’Alba planted in 1980 at an altitude of almost 1000 feet on limestone and sand. High quality Arneis like this gives those looking for a Viognier like aromatic experience a basket of exotic fruit on the nose, but finishes dry and long because of the good acidity.

Marco PorelloHe also showed the elegant 2010 Marco Porello Nebbiolo d’Alba ($16.99) that is produced from two vineyards, one in Canale and one in Vezza d’Alba. The vines were planted between 1980 and 1985 at an altitude of 980 feet. This wine is vinified in giant 800-gallon Slovenian oak botti for one year. The wine shows the rose petal side of Nebbiolo more than the tar side, and is quite delicious to drink right now. It has plenty of perfume, a seamless texture and a nice finish that has grip with out being chalky. I need some of this for my cellar- I’ll start drinking it right away and hold onto a few for the next five years or so.

Maria Abbona in Dogliani

We were also honored by the presence of Federico Schellino from one of the best Dolcetto producers in the world, Maria Abbona in Dogliani. These Dolcettos have been favorites of mine for years, and getting a chance to meet the man behind them was a real treat for me. He showed the 2011 Anna Maria Abbona “Sori dij But” Dolcetto di Dogliani ($16.99) first. This rich Dolcetto comes from a selection of seven and a half acres of vineyards that average 45 years old. The 1600 to 1700 foot elevation of these sites explains the excellent snap that this full bodied wine has- this is not your average low acid Dolcetto! If you are looking for a full-bodied, dark fruited wine for rich dishes, this is it. I bought some immediately!

Federico Schellino

My personal favorite wine of the night was the powerful, impressive, perfectly balanced 2009 Anna Maria Abbona Dolcetto di Dogliani “Maioli” ($20.99). This wine comes from one four-acre site at 1640 feet that was planted in the 1930s. It wasn’t enough to just taste this with Federico, I had to buy some and bring it back home to Cinnamon for our pasta! Too many wine fans dismiss Dolcetto as simple, but a taste of the “Maioli” will dismiss that stereotype instantly. It is full of wild blackberry fruit and is very full bodied with a long, grippy finish. Most wines that are this big and rich come across as overweight, but this flagship Dolcetto has the acidity to finish with focus.

Marco Dogliotti

We finished up with two charming Moscatos from Marco Dogliotti’s excellent La Caudrina from Castiglione Tinella on the Asti/ Monferrato border. His father was the first producer of high quality, estate grown Moscato in Piedmont; most of the production in this area is sold off in bulk as juice to big negociants. Marco poured the La Caudrina Asti “La Selvatica” ($19.99) first, which at 5 atmospheres is almost at full Champagne pressure. It is produced from 37-year-old vines at about 900 feet. This spumante is perfect for wine lovers looking for something a little bit drier, more bubbly, and fuller bodied than Moscato d’Asti. I found it to have lots of exotic aromas, a nice mousse and a sweet but clean finish.

Marco DogliottiFinally we tried the 2011 La Caudrina Moscato d’Asti ($17.99) from slightly younger 34-year-old vines also at about 900 feet of elevation. This is one of the very best Moscato d’Astis that I have had the pleasure of trying. Effortlessly light, full of charming perfume and welcoming sweetness, this is the perfect dessert wine for an elegant meal. At only two atmospheres of pressure and 5% alcohol it won’t make you feel full of bubbles or knock you over the head.

I can’t wait to get back to Piedmont and see these guys again!




Asparagus is Okay 

Taste | Explore | Enjoy

Personal Sommelier Online

April 2010

Are you afraid of asparagus? Fear not, dear wine lover - there are many wines out there that make wonderful pairings with asparagus and the other fresh vegetables of spring. If you see asparagus in your future, are vegetarian/vegan, or are simply interested in trying veggie-friendly wines from all over the world, you can create your own personalized wine club through the K&L Personal Sommelier Service.

 April 1, 2010

Asparagus is Okay

There, I said it.

For the farmers’ market obsessed, April means one thing: asparagus! For the food-and-wine-obsessed, April can present a pairing conundrum: asparagus?

This herbaceous perennial native to Europe, Asia, and North Africa has been appreciated for its flavor, health benefits and ability to grow in soils where no other vegetable will grow (okay, and its shape) since the ancient Egyptians. It is also notorious for containing a chemical that reacts negatively with compounds in wine, particularly tannic reds and oaked whites. 

But guess what? Asparagus is okay.

The world of wine is big.  There are lots of asparagus-friendly options out there.  To get your asparagus juices flowing, look to regions in Europe where asparagus is traditionally cultivated and consumed (with obsession, in some cases). You're guaranteed to find tasty wines to match.   

The White Stuff

White asparagus is king in the classic white wine producing regions of Germany and Alsace, France. It is less acidic and herbaceous than green asparagus, and has mellower flesh and subtle sweetness in flavor that drive the locals wild. White asparagus is harder to cultivate because the spears must be grown without exposure to the sun.

Such is the passion for the spear in this part of the world that it comes as no surprise that the local Riselings make great asparagus pairings. If dry is your style, go for a classic Alsacian bottle, like the 2008 Roland Schmitt "Glintzberg" Riesling. This crisp, broad Riesling has the right balance of acidity and richness on the mid-palate to complement white asparagus served a number of ways, from simply prepared and drizzled with vinaigrette to the hearty classic Alsatian dish asperges jambon—ham and asparagus. 

If you like your white asparagus with creamy hollandaise sauce, then consider a German Riesling from the Rheingau, where both ripeness and acidity are emphasized. The 2007 Josef Leitz "Magic Mountain" Riesling Trocken is an exceptional drier option that will play well with a variety of asparagus preparations.  Leitz's Rüdesheimer Berg Schlossberg Riesling Spätlese, possessing added complexity and weight, will take your cream of asparagus soup to a whole new level. All three of these Rieslings also complement spicy flavors, so you can be more adventurous with your asparagus and still stay safe on the wine front.

Going Green

Easier to cultivate than white asparagus, green asparagus is the more common variety and can be found in markets all over the world pretty much year round, although its season in the northern hemisphere is typically April through June.  The arrival of garden-fresh asparagus to market in April often coincides with the beginning of spring and the celebration of Easter in many western cultures. As a result, asparagus is often featured on traditional spring and specifically Easter menus, especially in France and Italy, where there is no disputing its consumption with the local red wine.

A good rule of thumb when dealing with tricky vegetables is to opt for balanced, fruity, medium-bodied reds with some complexity and spice that aren't too tannic, like the Grenache-based blends of the Southern Rhone.  The 2006 Moulin de la Gardette “Cuvée Ventabren” Gigondas, for example, is a real beauty, with a nose of provencal herbs and ripe black and red berry fruit, a textured mid-palate and a long-lasting, savory finish.  With fine, sweet tannins and loads of fruit, this promises to please everyone at the table, even when sparagus is involved.

More structured wines can also complement menus featuring asparagus, depending on its preparation and the weight and style of the other dishes. My go-to in this case would be Piedmont, where a light and fruity Dolcetto, like the 2006 Bricco del Cucù "Bricco San Bernardo" Dogliani makes a safe but satisfying pairing with asparagus prepared simply, with or without the accompaniment of meat. 

For menus featuring bolder flavors and richer textures - think grilled asparagus and herb-roasted lamb - many options present themselves. There's Cote Rotie, California Cabernet, Aussie Shiraz...but my heart is still with Piedmont. I'd go with Nebbiolo - either a young, fresh and mineral-driven effort like the 2007 Ruggeri Corsini Nebbiolo d'Alba, which, though simpler than big brother Barolo, offers incredible value for the price, or (of course) Barolo. But Barolo that is ready-to-drink now, like the 2003 Elio Grasso Barolo Gavarini "Chinera." In the youthful Corsini, acidity is key. This wine cuts right through the fat, and its tart cherry and earthy flavors provide the ideal backdrop for the smokey and savory flavors of the dish to pop. In the Grasso, the initially super-ripe fruit and upfront tannins have softened with bottle age, and the resulting wine showcases leathery flavors and smokey complexity, complementing - rather than contrasting - the gamey, smokey, and vegetal flavors of the herb-lamb-asparagus combination. Either way, it's a win-win in my book.

At the end of the day, the winning pairing is really what makes YOU happy. Just remember, asparagus is okay.


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