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One of the most serious English Sparkling producers. This historic estate has been in the Goring family since 1743. The tiny 16-acre vineyard is close-planted on a steep south-facing chalk escarpment described as 'similar to the Côte des Blancs' in Champagne. The fruit is picked very selectively with quality being the absolute focus. The grapes are pressed gently using a traditional Coquard press. After three years on the lees this wine, composed of 45% Pinot Noir, 33% Chardonnay & 22% Pinot Meunier, is hand disgorged and balanced with a minimal dosage of just 4g/L. It has a fine counterbalance between toasty richness and power from the wines élevage in Burgundian French Oak barrels, with racy acidity, tension and a focused chalky minerality.

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Entries in food and wine pairing (15)

Friday
Feb082013

Champagne Friday: 2002 Moet & Chandon Dom Perignon Rose 

2002 Moet & Chandon Dom Perignon Rose paired with mushroom risotto.

By: Gary Westby | K&L Champagne Buyer

One bottle: 2002 Moet & Chandon Dom Perignon Rose

Cinnamon and I do not drink a lot of tete de cuvee Champagne from the grand marques at home. They don’t suit our tastes as much as the more human-scaled, terroir-specific grower wines, not to mention the fact that they are very expensive! This past Saturday night was an exception; we wanted to make the most of it and enjoy this bottle of 2002 Dom Perignon Rose in the spirit that it was intended. Cinnamon came up with the idea of making a mushroom risotto to pair, and her instinct for pairing was right on.

I cannot think of another producer that has such a huge difference in production scale and wine quality between their rose and regular blanc bottling than Moet with their Dom Perignon. While Moet has released 38 vintages of the Dom Perignon blanc, they have only released 22 vintage of rose skipping widely declared vintages such as 1976 and 1999. While no producer guards their production figures as closely as Moet guards their Dom Perignon figures, it is easy to see how much less of the rose is made. Every Costco stocks big stacks of DP blanc, you will find it on nearly every nice restaurants wine list and available at hotels from Norway to Chile, while the rose is rarely seen. It is always allocated to K&L and we can never get enough to satisfy demand.

Details on the composition of Dom Perignon wines are almost as difficult to come up with as the production figures. The two websites of Dom Perignon, http://www.creatingdomperignon.com/dom-perignon-rose-2002/ and http://www.domperignon.com/rose2002/ have lots of descriptive notes, and in case of the second some very fancy flash graphics, but no objective facts on the wine. This approach is frustrating to me, since real information on the wine itself allows the wine fan to make an informed purchasing decision and give us a deeper appreciation for the bottles that we drink.

Richard Juhlin in his book 4000 Champagnes describes Dom Perignon as a blend of approximately 50% Pinot Noir and 50% Chardonnay, and notes the source of the red wine as Ay when he notes it at all. Since I can’t think of any writer that has spent more time at Moet or tasted more bottles of Dom Perignon (all of them, multiple times) we’ll use that as a reasonable approximation of the composition of the 2002. I wish I could do better, and will endeavor to!

While researching the background of this bottle was frustrating, drinking the wine could not have been easier. The 2002 Dom Perignon Rose is among the most elegant Champagnes that I have ever drunk. While past bottles of DP rose have been full of Vosne-Romannee savor, this 2002 has a much more pure strawberry like fruit at its core. The mushroom risotto that Cinnamon and I prepared to go with it coaxed out the Burgundian elements, but this wine could easily have made a great partner for wild salmon, or just a sunset. The wine is also very, very dry for grand marque Champagne, especially Dom Perignon, which has always leaned to the richer side. The cleanliness of the finish, with nice hints of chalk is not austere. Nothing sticks out 11 years from the harvest, and I can only imagine how much depth and complexity this wine will have with another 10, 20, 30 or more years in the cellar. If I could buy a case and follow its evolution over the years, I would.

I am certainly lucky to have had a chance to drink this wine once - certainly a better thing than getting to taste it twice! Wines of complexity do not reveal their secrets quickly; they give me the most pleasure with charming company and a thoughtful food pairing. Cinnamon provided both to me, as well as the recipe that follows for the risotto that we enjoyed.

Porcini, Chanterelle, and King Trumpet mushrooms.

Cinnamon Westby's Mushroom Risotto

Using a wide shallow pan, soften 1 diced shallot in a generous glug of olive oil on medium heat, add aprox 1 cup Arborio rice to coat with oil and stir around for about 4 minutes. Pour in a glass of dry white wine. (Don’t forget a glass for the chef!)

Begin adding hot chicken stock (homemade is best) one ladleful at a time, and stir until fully absorbed before adding the next. (It’s useful to have a second person in charge of adding the stock, and stirring the risotto)  While this is happening, soak approximately ¼ cup dried porcinis in hot water to reconstitute them, and coarsely chop your other mushrooms. (We used chanterelles and king trumpets). 

After soaking for about 10 minutes, the porcinis can be chopped and added to the risotto as you continue to incorporate the hot chicken stock. 

Sautee the other mushrooms on medium high heat with a pat of butter, being careful not to overcrowd the pan and giving them plenty of time to brown. You could also add another glug of wine to the mushrooms and some chopped fresh thyme to the mushrooms for extra flavor.

Preparing the risotto.

When the risotto is done to your liking and still a little runny (about 25 minutes), add salt and pepper to taste and stir in ¾ cup whipped cream. (To make things easier, whip the cream and stick it in the fridge before you start the risotto. 1/3 cup cream becomes aprox ¾ cup, when whipped).

Dish up the risotto into warm bowls and top with the sautéed mushrooms and a sprinkle of Parmesan cheese.

If you can afford a splurge, you will not be disappointed in the 2002 Dom Perginon Rose. Drink your bottles when the occasions come- this is spectacular Champagne now, and will continue to evolve and improve for decades. We are expecting ours to arrive at the end of the month, and it is available as special order here.

Cheers!

A toast to you,

-Gary

Wednesday
Oct102012

Food & Wine Pairings: Short Ribs & Nebbiolo

By: Gary Westby | K&L Wine Buyer

Nebbiolo Dinner

With fall here, Cinnamon decided to make our short ribs from the ½ steer that we bought from Fred Manas and Manas Ranch. That inspired me to brush up on the wines of Piemonte- specifically the great Nebbiolos from this rightly famous wine region. As you will see in today's video, Greg St. Clair, K&L's Italian Wine Buyer recommended a great pair of Langhe Nebbiolos to go with this extremely rich dish.

Because of the heady power and slow developing nature of these wines, the steps that you take at home with these bottles to improve your experience make all the difference. The size of these wines lends themselves to drinking a bit cool- just over cellar temperature. They also need a lot of time to open up, so decant well in advance of drinking. I put our two wines into carafes 2 ½ hours ahead of time, and the Ruggeri didn't show at 100% until the second half of the bottle! Glassware also makes a big difference. The Burgundy/Pinot Noir glass is the way to go for these wines.

2010 Ruggeri Corsini Nebbiolo Langhe ($17.99)The 2010 Ruggeri Corsini Langhe Nebbiolo ($17.99; K&L Direct Import) was poured first- which was a mistake. This is Nebbiolo at its purest, with aromas of meat, tar and roses. It took a long time to open up- we decanted it way ahead, but it was only after 3 hours that it really started to show. This is incisive wine and a perfect partner to short ribs. The high acidity and tannin in this bottle will be great with all manner of braised meats, but certainly not a bottle to have by itself in front of the TV. The light color is very deceiving- this is a powerhouse. At the end of the meal the understated class of this wine showed through… It was delicious!

The 2006 Aldo Conterno  "Il Favot" Langhe Nebbiolo ($26.99; K&L Direct Import) took me completely by surprise. This dark, almost thick red shows a lot more oak and extraction than wines that I generally enjoy, but it fit the fruit so well that I loved it. I just bought a case for the cellar! Taming the Nebbiolo beast with a few modern winemaking techniques is not such a bad thing- this wine was still all Piemonte, and very identifiably Nebbiolo, as a matter of fact, this journeyman Italian taster would have guessed Barolo rather than Langhe due to the high level of polish and care that went into this wine. The Conterno managed to have sweet black berry fruit to balance out the meaty tannin and finished long and fine.

Italian wine must be enjoyed with food in order to fully appreciate it. The short rib recipe that we paired with these Nebbiolo’s comes from Cinnamon’s mom, Margaret. It was adapted from a Sunset magazine article. It really makes a big difference to use homemade beef stock, luckily, our ½ cow came with plenty of bones!

Margaret's Short Ribs Recipe (Adapted from Sunset Magazine)

Ingredients:

4#s boned, fat-trimmed beef short ribs (I always just use bone in and remove the fat after cooking)

1 orange (With vegetable peeler, pare orange part of peel from orange and sliver it)

1 onion, peeled and finely chopped

About 1 cup beef stock

1 cup dry red wine

½ cup port or cream sherry (I use port)

¼ cup balsamic vinegar

2TBS soy sauce

1tsp dried thyme or 2 tsp fresh thyme (I use fresh)

3 or 4 very thin slices (quarter size) peeled fresh ginger

½ tsp Chinese five spice

1# mushrooms

2TBS butter or olive oil

2TBS cornstarch

Salt and Pepper

¼ cup chopped fresh chives

Preparation:

  1. Rinse meat and place in a 5-6qt slow cooker
  2. Cut mushrooms in half lengthwise and place in a 10-12inch frying pan; add butter

 Enjoy the Nebbiolo!

–Gary  

 

 Check out more educational wine and spirits videos from Gary and the experts at K&L on YouTube!

Friday
Sep072012

Champagne Friday: Pierre Paillard Mother Vines

By: Gary Westby | K&L Champagne Buyer

Pierre Paillard Mother Vines

How often can a Champagne lover taste a great growers two best plots, both individually and then blended together- and all as finished wines? For this Champagne lover, I have only done it once, with the Pierre Paillard Acte 1 Blanc de Blancs, Acte 1 Blanc de Noirs and 2002 Grand Cru Brut Vintage. Some good friends of ours had come over for dinner on Sunday, and we had a little bit of each one with some appetizers that I had made. We stoppered up the three bottles and drank them again with sushi on Wednesday. The stoppers did an excellent job and I will open way more than necessary for many occasions to come! 

The Paillard family has 11 hectares total, all in the grand cru village of Bouzy. They choose to propagate their own massal selections for all of their plantations, and do not use any commercial clones. When Antoine & Quentin Paillard got involved with the family business, the first thing they decided to do was make two wines from the two “mother plots” that they propagate the new vines from. The idea is to make them every year as single varietal, single vineyard, and single harvest wines, numbered in series. The first releases are just now out, and are both based on 2007, and are serialized as “Acte 1”. The 2008 will be labled as “Acte 2” and so on from there.

The 0.8 acre Motellettes is the site for the Pierre Paillard "Acte 1" Grand Cru Blanc de Blancs Champagne ($49.99) and was planted to Chardonnay in 1961. Like other great mountain of Reims Chardonnays that I have had, this wine has a touch of white stone fruit flavor to balance out the chalky minerality and haunting texture. It is great Champagne, subtle, complex and worth coming back to in order to get to know. The wine is dosed at only 8 grams per liter and comes across as very dry. I served it with popcorn with grated parmesan, drizzled with white truffle oil and sprinkled with fleur de sel. This was a good pairing for it and brought out the creamy elements in the wine. With the sushi, it was the most flexible wine of the three and went great with the embarrassing rolls that I like to order.

Pierre Paillard "Acte 1" Grand Cru Blanc de NoirsThe Maillerettes plot for the Pierre Paillard "Acte 1" Grand Cru Blanc de Noirs Champagne ($49.99) is also just 0.8 acres and was planted to Pinot Noir in 1970. It is very powerful, dry Pinot Champagne also at 8 grams per liter of dosage. I find it to have black cherry Pinot flavor married to a chalky cut that is all Champagne. This bottle really shined with potato chips topped with crème fraiche and smoked salmon, bringing out the savory elements of this top class Pinot Noir Champagne. With the sushi it went best with the fish, we had salmon again and hamachi. This is very, very serious, very great Champagne.

2002 Pierre Paillard Grand Cru Brut VintageBoth the Maillerettes and the Motellettes are blended together in equal proportions for the 2002 Pierre Paillard Grand Cru Brut Vintage Champagne ($59.99 in 750); ($119 in magnum). The extra five years of ageing given to marry these exceptional plots makes for something very special. The great 2002 vintage is no doubt also beneficial to the end result: one of the greatest Champagnes in stock at K&L at any price. On Sunday I served this with a piece of simply prepared wild pacific salmon. My attempt to make a popcorn crust (and thus tie together the two previous courses as the vineyard sites are tied together) failed miserably- the popcorn refused to be chopped into anything I could use as a crust! I guess I need to stick to the wine business! Pairing Champagne from Bouzy with wild salmon is about as inventive as serving claret with steak, but classics are classics for a reason. With the sushi, I found the 2002 to be a great all around bottle, but it really had synergy with the spicy tuna roll and the avocado maki. It will also make a fine foie gras Champagne if you live in a state where it is still legal.

I hope that you will try these fantastic wines, as they are in the top class of what is available in Champagne. Many of you enjoyed the regular brut in the K&L Champagne Club, and I promise that these bottles are a worthy progression from there.

A toast to you!

–Gary

***

Check out more educational wine & spirits videos from the experts at K&L on YouTube!