Stay Connected
What We're Drinking

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.

Recent Videos

Tasting with Oliver Krug

Upcoming Events

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 KLWines.com or follow us on Facebook.  

 

Free Spirits Tastings at K&L! Now that we have our license for spirits tastings in Redwood City and San Francisco, we’re excited to host regular free spirits tastings in those locations.  Check the Spirits Journal for an updated tasting schedule.

All tastings will feature different products from the Spirits Department and take place on Wednesdays in Redwood City and San Francisco. Visit our events page on Facebook or the K&L Spirits Journal for more information.

>>Upcoming Special Events, Dinners, and Tastings

See all K&L Local Events

Archives

Entries in Food and Wine (11)

Friday
Aug092013

Champagne Friday: Cellar Candidate - 2004 Bollinger La Grande Annee

By: Gary Westby | K&L Champagne Buyer

Cellar Cantidate: 2004 Bollinger La Grand Annee

This Saturday Cinnamon and I drank a fabulous bottle of 2004 Bollinger "Grande Année" Brut Champagne with an equally great piece of Salmon from local fisherman Pietro Parravano. As I have repeated as often as possible, to anyone who will listen, the 2004s are the vintage to collect right now and put in the cellar. While good and great vintages on either side of 2004 have many attributes to recommend them by, 2004 is alone in its classicism. The Bollinger is one of the strongest examples of this vintage that I have tasted.

This wine is composed of 66% Pinot Noir and 34% Chardonnay, vinified entirely in barrels at Bollinger in Ay. It has been aged for more than six years on the lees in its bottle, and on cork rather than on crown cap. They selected 16 villages for this blend, all from their own estate and the final product is 88% Grand Cru and 12% Premier Cru.

2004 Bollinger La Grande Annee ($109) in currently available at K&L.This great Champagne has not yet reached its potential, but like many great young vintages it was all too easy to drink now- especially with a meal. Cinnamon had broiled the salmon fillet with a miso-mayonaise glaze and served it with perfectly fried rounds of rosa bianca eggplant. She cooked the ultra-fresh salmon perfectly and we were able to enjoy it as seared sashimi in the middle and fully cooked on the thinner sides. The salmon played well to the vinous, Pinot power of the Bollinger that on its own was quite light on its feet. It was quite a treat to come home to this after work!

I think that Cinnamon put it better than I could when she said this bottle had “the freshness of 2004 with the blue-blood classic richness of Bollinger.” I think this freshness will remain for many years to come and its well structured frame will fill out with both more weight and complexity. I prize the transparency of this vintage and the juxtaposition of the packed house style. I think this is a legend in the making. Now all I have to do is keep my hands off of what I buy!

A toast to you,

Gary

 

 

 

 

Friday
Jul052013

Champagne Friday: To the Winner Goes the Spoils

 

By: Chiara Shannon| Champagne Lover and Director of the K&L Personal Sommelier Service

K&L staff members have great fortune to taste a lot of wine and compare notes with leading experts in the the business on a routine basis. We participate in weekly staff tastings hosted by our respective buyers, and rare is the day when assorted wines aren't opened in the tasting room for the purpose of staff education. Seriously! Listen in on a conversation between two K&L staff members discussing a wine, beer, or spirit at any given time, and you will come away reaffirmed that you are shopping at the right place, assisted by folks who know their stuff. I am constantly humbled by the depths of knowledge and experience of the collective K&L palate.

Which is why I am inspired to write this week's Champagne Friday. You see, in the latest round of the K&L Staff Blind Tasting Competition (although tasting roulette is more like it), I miraculously won. The prize? My all time favorite Champagne, Amaury Coutelas "Cuvee 1809" Brut Champagne ($59.99) Here are my notes from my first tasting of this marvelous Champagne:

This is incredible Champagne, and very unique. Drawing on winemaking techniques of the 19th century, it was fermented in barrel (no malo), aged for 8+ years on the lees in bottles sealed with corks, manually disgorged, and finished with a cork and twine closure. Stylistically, you could say it's to Champagne what Lopez de Heredia is to white Rioja, but unlike 19thcentury Champagne, this modern revival is dry, with a very low dosage. It offers a stunning array of complex earthy and nutty aromas and flavors with biscuit, mineral, mushroom, and honey accents. The texture is luxuriously rich and layered, but naturally high acidity and the low dosage keep this Champagne fresh and invigorating, with a dry, crisp finish that goes on and on. If you like white wines from the Jura, traditional white Rioja, or are a Champagne fiend looking for something to blow your mind, here you go. Highly recommended.

In late January this year, I brought this Champagne with me to dinner at a well-known restaurant in Napa. I was stunned at the way it revealed layer upon layer of complexity throughout the evening, complementing each course from start to finish in different yet profound ways. It is hard to imagine having the patience to allow a Champagne to last through multiple courses, but this one has so much substance and depth that every sip is a new experience worth savoring for as long as possible. The standout pairing was the duck liver mousse course, but this Champagne held its own with both lamb and steak entrees as well!

As if that isn't praise enough, it is worth mentioning that this Champagne was also K&L Senior Bordeaux Specialist (and HUGE Giants fan) Ralph Sands' choice for toasting when the Giants won the World Series. Now that says something. 

The Challenge

This past Tuesday, the Redwood City managers generously offered to man the store and phones while the rest of the staff members enjoyed a prolonged, catered lunch together. Lawn (well, parking lot) games like ping pong were set up, hip-hop was blasting on the stereo, delicious food was abundant, and so were the wines, which is why when I learned that a ten wine blind tasting had been organized with a prize going to the winner, my first reaction was to mentally decline. Blind tasting is hard! It requires a lot of focus and can be intensely frustrating. Enjoying my ice cream doused with caramel after a huge lunch, I figured my palate was not in the best condition for such a challenge. The potential for embarrassment was high.  

My curiosity got the better of me, however, and eventually I wandered over to the tasting table. There were ten wines, brown bagged; eight in 750ml bottles and two in large format. The tasting sheet demanded five sets of criteria per wine: Vintage, Varietal Composition, Country, Region, and Producer. The rules were simple--No Peeking!--and one point would be awarded per correct answer for each criteria, leading to a total of five points per wine.

My strategy in casual blind tasting is to run through the lineup first, jotting down very short notes on aroma and flavor, but making no conclusions. Then I go through and consider each wine again, with the intention of making a swift decision with minimal mind-changing based on a combination of first and second impressions. I am a big believer in going with the gut; over-thinking a wine has only pushed me farther from accuracy in past tastings.

It was a doozy! In this case 'winning' meant a total of 19 points out of a possible 50 - nowhere near a perfect score (technically an F!) but a respectable effort nonetheless, considering the challenge we were up against. I will spare you the details of the tasting and my notes (including those parts that I got embarrassingly wrong) but in case you are curious, here is the 'answer' key to the challenge:  

Wine #1

Vintage: NV

Varietal: Pinot Meunier   

Country: France

Region: Champagne

Producer: Loriot

 

Wine #2

Vintage: 2009

Varietal: Gruner Veltliner

Country: Austria

Region: Kamptal

Producer: Allram

 

Wine #3

Vintage: 2011

Varietal: Grenache Blanc/Roussanne/Viognier

Country: France

Region: Costiere de Nimes

Producer: Gassier

 

Wine #4

Vintage: 2009

Varietal: Barbera

Country: Italy

Region: Asti

Producer: Chiarlo

 

Wine #5

Vintage: 1998

Varietal: 50% Cabernet Sauvignon, 40% Merlot, 10% Cabernet Franc

Country: France

Region: Bordeaux

Producer: Grandis

 

 

Wine #6

Vintage: 2007

Varietal: Graciano

Country: Spain

Region: Rioja

Producer: Vina Ijalba

 

Wine #7

Vintage: 2001

Varietal: Cabernet

Country: US

Region: Yountville/Napa

Producer: Grgich Hills

 

Wine #8

Vintage: 2005

Varietal: CS

Country: US

Region: Napa/Rutherford

Producer: Nickel & Nickel

 

Wine #9

Vintage: 1971 Mouton Cadet

Varietal: Merlot/Cab

Country: France    

Region: Bordeaux

Producer: Mouton Cadet

 

Wine #10

Vintage: 1972

Varietal:Cabernet Sauv

Country: US

Region: Napa Valley

Producer: Inglenook

 

The next challenge? Choosing the perfect occasion in which to open this gorgeous Champagne!

When will I open this? What will I pair it with? Who do I invite to share it with me? So many things to consider...

I would like to thank Champagne Buyer Gary Westby for donating this bottle for the prize, and our fearless managers for organizing a great event and tasting. Your efforts are appreciated!

A toast to you,

Chiara

 

Friday
Jun282013

Champagne Friday: Avizes – A Reservation Worth Wrangling

Cindy Westby outside Les Avizes.

By: Cindy Westby | K&L Staff Member

Hotel (and Restaurant) Avizes – A Reservation Worth Wrangling

As many of you know, my husband “Champagne Gary Westby” keeps a running list of the very best places to eat and sleep in Champagne. After visiting the region every year for well over a decade, I think he has just about tried them all! I was lucky enough to join him on his most recent visit to Champagne (his second trip this year), and we were both thrilled to discover a brand new restaurant for “the list”.

Located on the Cotes de Blanc in the tiny village of Avize is Hotel and Restaurant "Les Avizes". It opened in 2011 and is operated by Corrine and Anselme Selosse, who are also associated with the intriguing Champagne house Domaine Jacques-Selosse. The hotel offers only ten rooms, and reservations at the restaurant can be difficult to obtain if you are not a hotel guest. Nevertheless, if you are planning a trip to Champagne, I recommend trying to wrangle a reservation however you can!

As is tradition in the nicer restaurants of France, you are invited upon arrival into the salon prior to dinner in order to take the aperitif, peruse the menu and plan the meal. This is perfect for Gary and me - we have no problem spending several happy minutes trying to convince each other to order a certain dish so that we can have a favorite wine with the dinner...Fortunately, at Les Avizes, the daily menu is fixed and so the only thing we had to agree upon were our wines.

 

Try this at home! Franck Bonville Extra Brut Blanc de Blancs ($39.99) It was a great pleasure to look over their wine list, which contained many things I wanted to drink at very reasonable prices. We selected the Franck Bonville Extra Brut Blanc de Blanc for our aperitif. And, after sneaking a peek at the daily menu which was chalked on the door of the kitchen, we also selected 2007 Lafarge Volnay as the red wine for our meal.

The menu that day struck me as very “provincial” with courses featuring mussels in a curry broth, cod with pesto and lamb accompanied by a modern riff on ratatouille. The extra brut with its super-low dosage was the perfect aperitif to revive us after being awake for some 36 hours en route to France, and played surprisingly well with the curried mussels, emphasizing their sweetness. After all, the Champagne had only traveled around to corner from its birthplace to reach our lips! 

The 2007 Lafarge Volnay, decanted in advance, was also a winner. Already showing a touch of brick color on the edges, this was open and aromatic, nicely structured, and elegant in the mouth.

The atmosphere of the hotel and restaurant is very fresh with soaring ceilings, tons of windows and a clever mix of antiques and modern design elements.  Service was warm and comfortable, with the Chef overlooking his guests from a small elevated kitchen and one bustling woman acting as host, sommelier, AND waiter…all supervised quite competently by an elderly wire-hair terrier who ensured that all guests were greeted, and that no crumbs hit the floor.

A toast to you,

–Cindy