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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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Entries in Dungeness crab (2)


Keith's Burgundy Hotline: Dungeness Crab, Chablis, the world is good.

By: Keith Wollenberg | K&L Burgundy Buyer

Hello Burgundy Lovers,

Another container just landed, with some wines I have been waiting impatiently for.  They are a range of superb Chablis from Jean-Claude Bessin.  He has not had a West Coast Importer, until I talked him into selling us a few cases.  Before he would sell me any wine he wanted to know who I worked with in Chablis, about our stores, what I knew about Chablis, etc. etc.  It was a challenging and rewarding visit.

Our supplies are limited, and these should go quickly, once people taste the wines.  You know I am not prone to hyperbole, but tasting in his cellar last summer was a highpoint of my trip. These are wines of Raveneau or Dauvissat quality.  He works by hand, with no machine harvesting, no herbicides, no pesticides and  use of cover crops. 

Let me make 2 bold predictions:

1)      You WILL NOT be sorry to have these brilliant wines in  your cellar and on hand when crab season starts.

2)      You WILL be sorry later if you miss these wines.  I bought some bottles for my own cellar before I sent out this email.  ‘Nuff said.

Here is what Jean-Claude has to say about his domaine (From an interview in our November newsletter, translated from the French by yours truly)


How would you describe your winemaking philosophy?

“The Art of the Vines”:  To be guided by nature.

“The art of Winemaking”: Simplicity.


What wines or winemakers helped influence your philosophy?

No one particular wine or winemaker.  We apply all the traditional methods, which we adapt and change according to our sensibilities, staying in tune with nature.


How involved in grape-growing are you? Is there a particular vineyard site that excites you year after year?

I am 100% involved in grape-growing, as wine is made in the vineyard.  Each of my vineyard sites reveals its secrets over the years as I work with it in successive vintages.


How do you think your palate has evolved over the years? How do you think that has influenced your wines?

The purity of our wines has always been a priority.  When I was younger, I liked wines which were perfumed, with richness and roundness, but today I prefer elegance, finesse and personality in wine.  I leave it to you to taste my wines and tell me how this change has influenced my winemaking!


What kinds of food do you like to pair your wines with?

Sashimi of Scallops, Wild Sea Bass ...


What changes are planned for coming vintages? Any new (top secret) varietals, blends or proprietary wines on the horizon?

We intend no grand changes, just to continue to work with, and listen to, each vineyard site.


Is there a style of wine that you think appeals to critics that might not represent your personal favorite style? How do you deal with it?

No comment.


What do you drink when you are not drinking your own wine?

All the good wines!


Do you collect wine? If so, what’s in your cellar?

Burgundies, of course, but also the wines of the Loire Valley, Rhone Valley and other regions.


What do you see as some of the biggest challenges facing the wine industry today?

I will not venture an opinion on this subject.  I consider myself a craftsman, and feel that the greatest challenge facing small growers (such as I am) is to remain artisanal.


These wines are in stock in all locations, and available on  the web  or by phone, while they last. 


2009 Domaine Jean-Claude Bessin Chablis "Vieilles Vignes"   $19.99

100% Hand-harvested, all wild yeast fermentations, and a full 18 months of élevage. Reserved with lots of concentration. Made from 45-55 year old vines. Nice minerality, with a bit of floral notes on the nose. Very nice weight on the mid-palate from the old-vine concentration. (Keith Wollenberg, K&L Burgundy Buyer, 03/11) Allen Meadows writes: "A pretty nose of modest Chablis character also features notes of pear, white peach and apricot that lead to rich, generous and relatively full-bodied flavors that possess a seductive texture on the delicious... Read More » 

2009 Domaine Jean-Claude Bessin Chablis 1er Cu "Montmains" $24.99

Very lovely character, with clean, focused fruit and nice minerality threaded behind it. This is very good. It sees some (not much) neutral wood in its élevage. (Keith Wollenberg, K&L Burgundy Buyer, 03/11) Allen Meadows scores this 90 points and writes:"A fresh, elegant and floral nose is nuanced by hints of stone, spice and green fruit that merges into middle weight flavors that possess good richness but also good detail, all wrapped in a delicious, balanced and solidly complex finish." (Burghound, 10/11) 

2009 Domaine Jean-Claude Bessin Chablis 1er Cu "La Fôret"    $26.99

This I thought was truly terrific Chablis, with very, very pretty fruit and wonderful concentration on the palate. Absolutely singing at this juncture. Notes of honey combine beautifully with the minerality here. Has that characteristic of the acidity that makes you r mouth water, quite literally. As Jean-Claude told me: "This terroir typically has lots of freshness and tension, from the limestone rocks in the soil here." " (Keith Wollenberg, K&L Burgundy Buyer, 03/11) Allen Meadows calls this "Outstanding", scores it 91, and writes:"This is a bit f... Read More » 

2009 Domaine Jean-Claude Bessin Chablis 1er Cu "Fourchaume"   $26.99

From several parcels, in the heart of Fourchaume and one in Homme Mort. Open and pretty in character, with lovely floral notes and a rather round character on the palate for a young Chablis. (Keith Wollenberg, K&L Burgundy Buyer, 03/11) Allen Meadows Scores it 91 and writes: "(from a 2 ha parcel in Fourchaume with a small portion in L'Homme Mort). This also displays white orchard fruit aromas with hints of exoticism but here there is more of a floral influence that slides gracefully into rich and big-bodied flavors that possess fine depth and length, ... Read More » 

2009 Domaine Jean-Claude Bessin Chablis 1er Cu "Fourchaume" "La Pièce au Comte"   $31.99

This is Jean-Claude's oldest vines, aged 58-78 years old. It is very, very elegant on the palate with more extract and focus. It also shows terrific poise and energy. Lots of little tine white flowers on the nose, with pronounced minerality and a more powerful finish. Terrific! (Keith Wollenberg, K&L Burgundy Buyer, 03/11) Allen Meadows calls this Outstanding!, scores it 92 and writes: "(Bessin explains that this is essentially the old vines Fourchaume). This appears to have better integration of the wood than is typical at this early stage with a s... Read More » 

2009 Domaine Jean-Claude Bessin Chablis Grand Cru "Valmur"   $49.95

Ok, folks, hold your hats. This is the most concentrated, high-energy 2009 I tasted on my March trip. It comes from the Domaine's oldest vines (more than 80 years, but no one knows how old they actually are!) Lots of energy, lots of tension, more size than any of the 1er Crus, terrific concentration. In a word, superb! (Keith Wollenberg, K&L Burgundy Buyer) Allen Meadows scores this 93, awards a "Sweet Spot" and notes: "A visible if discreet touch of wood allows free rein to the green fruit and spiced pear aromas that complement the rich, serious and... Read More » 


A Santé, and enjoy Dungeness crab season, if you are in the right part of the country. 




Directeur Commercial Bourgogne

K&L Wine Merchants

+1-650-556-2724 Direct Line



Food-Pairing Friday: Crab Season

Up until a few years ago, if you asked me where I was from, the answer was a twisting word game with an ever-changing answer. Often I'd turn the question back on the asker, "What do you mean by from? Do you mean most recently? Or originally? Or where do I live?" These days, the answer hinges on something other than an existential dilemma regarding identity, or what part of my personality (the New Yorker, the mountain girl or the wino) I'm currently cultivating. These days it hinges on what I'm eating, and for that reason I can say, unequivocally, that I'm from California. 

You see, it's crab season in California, and up and down the coast, hard-working fisherman, with their leathery, callused hands, are pulling up trap after trap from the icy Pacific teeming with Dungeness crabs. Of course, savvy Southern Californians don't get as giddy about Dungeness crabs because our supply of local, sweet, meaty Red and Yellow Rock Crabs are so plentiful year-round (though they are at their best this time of year). Nonetheless, while our brethren across the nation are cooking up dry turkeys and Honeybaked hams for Christmas, the truly Californian among us are conceiving of recipes--from crab cakes to chili crab to cioppino--for their festive seasonal meals, myself included.

For the drinker, crab is remarkably friendly, with pairings only limited to the stretch of your imagination. K&L's Cindy Westby loves to pair her husband (and K&L Champagne buyer) Gary Westby's crab cakes (recipe below) with a riper Chablis like the 2007 Domaine Vocoret Chablis 1er Cru "Les Forêt" ($19.99), which still manages to maintain its limestone minerality despite its round fruit and is, frankly, a steal for only 20 bucks. K&L's Anne Pickett, on the other hand, likes herb crab with an Asian flair: Roasted Dungeness Crab with Garlic Noodles, topped her list, a homemade riff on an tangy, spicy dish at San Francisco's Thanh Long. Rather than pair the dish with a slightly sweet Riesling to cut the spice, or a spicy Gewurztraminer to play it up, Anne suggests pairing it with a medium-bodied, slightly tannic Nebbiolo like the 2004 Travaligni Gattinara ($29.99). Melissa Lavrinc Smith says, "Eek. I'm a simple girl when it comes to crab: steamed whole, served with mayo and a Muscadet (Le Clos du Chateau "L'Oiseliniere" Muscadet Sèvre et Maine) or Sancerre (Millet Insolite)." 

Earlier this week (I was getting my festive on a little early) I enjoyed a homemade version of a Hungry Cat favorite, Red Rock crab with whole grain mustard butter and toast points, with a dry glass of Amontillado Sherry from Herederos de Argueso ($24.99), but the dish would have been fantastic with a saline, oxidized wine like the 1991 Lopez de Heredia "Viña Tondonia" Blanco Reserva or the vibrant, slightly tropical 2009 Pierre et Catherine Breton "La Dilettante" Vouvray Sec ($21.99). And, of course, if you're looking to make merry, you can never go wrong with Champagne! The Michel Loriot "Cuvée Reserve" Brut Champagne ($29.99), which is made entirely from fat-loving Pinot Meunier will definitely elevate any celebration from merely fun to fabulous.

Are you inspired yet? Here are a few more crab recipes to make any Scrooge into a regular Bob Cratchit:

Sunset Magazine's 22 Ways with Dungeness Crab

Rasa Malaysia's Chili Crab

Judith's Dungeness Crab Cioppino

Foodwoolf's Improvised Maryland Crab Soup

Gary's Crab Cakes

1 crab

1 shallot

3 tbsp sweet butter (plus more for cooking finished cakes)

1/4 cup dry white wine

day old sourdough in small cubes - approx 1 1/2 cups

1 egg

Pick crab meat into large bowl, set aside. Sauté shallot and bread in butter until shallot is translucent, add wine. Once the wine is evaporated/absorbed, let cool. When cool, add to crab mixture. Add egg to crab mixture;sa mix lightly and season to taste with salt and pepper.  Form crab cakes with hands and place on plate lined with wax paper. Refrigerate for 2 hours (if possible). Sautée crab cakes in more hot butter until brown on both sides and heated through.  Garnish with parsley and lemon wedges if desired.

Leah Greenstein