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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 food and wine pairing (17)


On the Sherry Side of the Street: Bodegas Hidalgo - La Gitana

By: Chiara Shannon | Head Sommelier - K&L Personal Sommelier Service


A small but dedicated crowd attended last week's Sherry tasting in the Redwood City store. Together we explored a sampling of Sherries produced by the "king" of Sherry: Javier Hidalgo. Bodegas Hidalgo - La Gitana is one of the oldest producers in the Sherry district of Jerez (in production since 1792) as well as one of the few bodegas that remains 100% family-owned and managed, under a 6th generation direct descendant of the founder.

It didn't take long for any prejudices folks might have brought to the bar ("Aren't all Sherries sweet?", "Isn't Sherry more of a winter drink, like Port?") to evaporate once we kicked things off with the crisp salty tang of the La Gitana Manzanilla Sanlucar de Barrameda ($13.99), a classic bone dry Fino and one of world's most refreshing aperitifs. As we made our way up the age and complexity scale, progressing through nutty Amontillo, and perfumed Oloroso to end with a rich and smokey Palo Cortado VORS (Very Old Rare Sherry), it became clear that these Sherries represent some of the best values in wine money can buy, bar none.

Indeed, life's pretty good on the Sherry side of the street.

Here is what we tasted along with some of my impressions. You can shop and learn more about these Sherries by clicking the links below:

Hidalgo La Gitana Manzanilla Sanlucar de Barrameda (500ml) ($13.99)

Saline, nutty aromas and flavors with accents of savory herbs (celery salt). The palate is clean and fresh, with tangy acidity and floral/hay accents to nutty flavors. Pure, focused, refreshing, and long on the finish with salty aftertaste.  Try with: Marcona almonds, fresh seafood, Manchego cheese.

Hidalgo Pastrana Manzanilla Pasada Sanlucar de Barrameda ($26.99)

A single-vineyard Manzanilla, with extended ageing (twice as old as the regular La Gitana Manzanilla Fino) for a richer, fuller, more "old-fashioned" but still bone dry style. This has pronounced nutty and leesey aromas and flavors, a rich, creamy mouthfeel, full body matched by vibrant acidity, and subtle hints of honeyed wood spices on the finish.  A serious Manzanilla with a lot of substance. Enjoy with salted and/or smoked nuts, cured pork, savory dumplings, fried calamari.

Hidalgo "Napoleon" Amontillado Sanlucar de Barrameda (500ml) ($17.99)

Here we start to see a little sweetness introduced, but only in the aromas, with more complex caramel/toffee/toasted nut aromas followed by delicate sweet cream and candied notes on the palate. This smells sweeter than it is however, as high acidity provides intensity and focus, and cleanses the palate for a dry finish. Try a classic Amontillado like this with lobster bisque and you're in for a real treat.  This was named for--you guessed it -- Napoleon Bonaparte.

Hidalgo Oloroso "Faraon" Sanlucar de Barrameda (500ml) $18.99

Aromas of salted caramel and yeasty flor present, followed by smokey and mineral undertones. Oloroso is a more oxidized version of Amontillado, and in this Sherry the extra oxidation brings in layers of added complexity. More savory flavors counter to the slightly sweeter nut and honey profile for a Sherry that has a lot of that "umami" thing going on. Try it with sushi.  

Hidalgo Wellington Palo Cortado VORS (500ml) $79.99

Named for the Duke of Wellington, this is the sweetest in the lineup, but it is as racy and fresh as it is sweet. It offers a rich and complex nose of sweet baking dough, raisin, and cinnamon, salted caramel, and toasted nuts. It's intense, rich, and mouthfilling, with a distinctive smokiness to its profile. The layers of depth to this wine seems to go on and on. VORS stands for Very Old Rare Sherry, a designation that requires a minimum of average 30 years in age, but this Sherry comes from Hidalgo's original solera (late 1800s) and thus is much, much older than that. A fascinating wine to contemplate, and surely one to convert you to the Sherry side of things...if you haven't crossed over already.


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Wine of the Week: 2006 Belisario Rosso San Leopardo ($24.99; $21.99 with Club Discount)

Review By: Matthew Callahan | K&L Staff Member

The 2006 Belisario Rosso San Leopardo ($24.99; $21.99 for Wine Club Members) is a complex and intriguing blend of 50% Sangiovese, 20% Cab, 20% Merlot and 10% Cilegiolo. There's fruit without being overly extracted, with earthiness and spice that belies its modest price. This has to be one of the better values in Rosso in the store. Pick one up and experience the balance, intensity and restraint of this beautiful wine.


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Behind the Wine: Courtney Kingston and Kingston Family Vineyards (Chile)

 Courtney Kingston with winemakers Bryan Kosuge and Evelyn Vidal in the Kingston Family's estate vineyards in the Casablanca Valley.


Kingston Family Vineyards is a family-owned operation in the Casablanca Valley of Chile that began as a cattle farm in the 1920s and today is one of Chile's pioneers in the production of artisanal wines from cool-climate sites.

This Friday, June 3, from 5pm-6:30pm, we are excited to welcome Courtney Kingston to the Redwood City tasting bar for a special tasting of current releases.  Courtney Kingston is a Portola Valley local that splits her time between Casablanca and the Peninsula while managing the family wine business - sounds like a sweet deal to us!

In anticipation of Friday's event, we asked Courtney to share some insight into her family's history in the Casablanca Valley, the challenges of making wine in Chile, and tips for tourists:

Q&A: Interview with Courtney Kingston

How did the Kingston family get into the wine business?  What is your role?

Our great-grandfather went to Chile back in the early 1900's, looking for gold.  He made a big bet on the Casablanca Valley.  When the gold didn't pan out, he inherited what today is our family's farm.  Five generations of Kingstons have lived on the farm for almost 100 years now.  We have a dairy farm and beef cattle grazing in the fields. In the mid-1990's, we planted our first grapevines up in the far western hills.

What makes the Kingston estate's terroir unique?

We are only about 12 miles as the crow flies to the ocean.  The influence of the Pacific and the cooling Humboldt current is ever-present in the almost daily morning/afternoon fog and the steady ocean breezes.  I split my time between California and Casablanca, and in many ways western Casablanca reminds me of California's south-central coast, similar to the Santa Rita Hills, but flipped south of the equator.

Describe the Kingston winemaking philosophy.

Our goal is to blend the best of the Old and New Worlds.  Our winemakers, like our family, are Chilean/American.  Byron Kosuge (from Napa) and Evelyn Vidal (our Chilean winemaker) work together to leverage Californian small-lot winemaking expertise to uncover the potential of our coastal vineyard in Chile.

What are some of the challenges of producing wine in Chile's Casablanca Valley? 

Our vineyard in western Casablanca is quite cool---almost 5-8 degrees cooler than some of our peers on the eastern side of the valley.  So spring frosts are a big issue for us.  We also typically farm at only 2-3 tons per acre, just to ripen our crop. 

From your perspective, what effect has the emergence of the global economy had on the wine business in Chile as a whole?

Because it's such a small country, Chile's wineries have always been export-oriented and focused on their role in the global economy.  With only 16 million people, Chileans alone can't drink all the wine it makes.  (Unlike our larger neighbor to the east--Argentina--with 40 million people, where they can and do drink a significant amount of their own production.)  I think Chile has done a great job on the world stage proving its wines are great values.  The challenge for Chile is to make sure that the world knows that 'value' does not mean 'cheap';  Chile makes excellent wines at all prices levels.  It's also important for people to know that Chile has many small, family-owned wineries, in addition to the larger brand names that have the widest distribution.

How has your experience in Chile influenced your attitude towards wine and wine consumption? What's your position on wine pairing and what do you like to pair your wines with? 

At Kingston, we went against conventional wisdom by planting pinot noir & syrah in Casablanca, a valley known for whites.  Our neighbors thought we were crazy (and some people probably still think we are) to try to ripen syrah so close to the ocean.  I think that experience---of being the underdog, of having to prove ourselves---has made me more open to new wines, new places.  I deeply respect the centuries of winemaking experience of our European peers, and I now couple that respect with a love for discovery of new wine regions around the world.

Many people think pairings are all about rules they are supposed to memorize (e.g. red wine with red meat).  I find the most exciting pairings are the unexpected.  At a James Beard Foundation dinner in New York this April, Amangani Resort Chef Rick Sordahl paired our Kingston Family 'Cariblanco' Sauvignon Blanc with a lamb tenderloin carpaccio.  Not conventional.  And it was amazing.

What advice do you have to offer wine lovers travelling in Chile?

I think the neatest thing about traveling to Chile is how much it has to offer in addition to wine.   If you'd like to spend your entire vacation exploring all the different wine regions you can definitely do that, but you can also combine your passion for wine with your love of the outdoors.  That's my favorite thing to do.  Wine lovers can spend an afternoon tasting wines on the terraza at Kingston in Casablanca (an hour's drive from Santiago), having skied the day before in the Andes or having just returned from a trip south to Patagonia.  Or if you're more into city living, you can explore the fish stands at the Mercado Central in Santiago and walk the winding streets of the old port city of Valparaiso.  There's so much to explore and discover.  The flight over to Mendoza, Argentina is only 45 minutes, and so you can also easily combine visits to both countries without stretching yourself too thin.



Tasting Kingston Family Vineyards with Courtney Kingston
Friday June 3
5pm-6:30pm @ K&L RWC
Cost of tasting: $5

Meet Courtney Kingston and taste through the following:
2009 Cariblanco Sauvignon Blanc $14.99
2008 Tobiano Pinot Noir $19.99
2007 Alazan Pinot Noir $29.99
2008 Lucero Syrah $17.99


2006 Bayo Oscuro Syrah $26.99

Walk in only. Final lineup and cost subject to change.

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