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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.

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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.

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Entries in Grenache (9)

Tuesday
Mar082011

Behind the Wine: Mick Unti of Unti Vineyards

Mick Unti at the sorting table during harvest.

George Unti of Unti Vineyards *looks* like a farmer. He's got a purposeful gait, weathered features and the firm handshake of someone who digs in the dirt. In the winery, he comes across quiet, like someone who prefers the silence of the vineyard, at least at first. Once you get him going, you quickly realize that this unassuming man, who spent 39 years managing Safeway supermarkets, is also whip smart and incredibly personable. His son, Mick, who handles all of the marketing and a large chunk of the winemaking (with Sebastien Pochan) will be pouring the winery's lineup, including a tank-sample of the winery's highly-anticipated 2010 rosé, at K&L San Francisco this Thursday night from 5-6:30 p.m. ($5), follows in his father's footsteps: always quick to smile, and wonderfully enthusiastic when he talks about his vines and his wines. 

We recently caught up with Mick to ask him a few questions in anticipation for this week's tasting. This is what he had to say:

K&L: How did you get into the wine business?

Mick Unti: Went wine tasting in Hecker Pass region, near Gilroy, one day when it was too cloudy to go to Santa Cruz. Watched Thomas Kruse get off his tractor to pour us some wines and was infatuated with small wineries. Then worked in wine departments in Safeway while I was attending University of Washington. I last worked for Jess Jackson doing National Sales for Artisan and Estates in 1996 before starting Unti Vineyards with my dad, George.

K&L: What’s your winemaking philosophy?

MU: Grow varietals that are well-suited to your climate. Use farming methods that encourage healthy vines naturally (organic, biodynamic, etc.). Maintain moderate to low-yields. Have a very good understanding of the world’s best versions of these wines (that means blowing a bunch of money at K & L on European wines). Study the various methods used by artisan wineries, and if financially possible, apply some of those methods when making your wine. Learn from your own experience to make the wines that are true to your sites. Stay true to your own ideals regarding wine.

What are some of your favorite restaurants?

Delfina in SF, Farmhouse in Forestville, Boulevard in SF

What did you drink last night? (Or the last time you had a glass of wine that wasn’t your own?)

Cascina Ca Rossa 2007 Barbera d’Alba Mulassa, Donnhoff Oberhauser Leistenberg 2009 Kabinett.

What’s your position on wine-pairing and what do you like to pair your wines with?

I’m not that formal. Our wines are made from grapes that are native to the Mediterranean. As such they are moderate-to-low in tannin, fruity and have nice acidity. As such, they are versatile. You can serve our wine with simply seasoned grilled meats or spicy ethnic dishes. Amazing how easy this process is when you drink balanced wines.

What advice do you have to offer people just getting into wine?

As Al Davis might say, “Just drink a wide variety, baby.”

If you could have dinner with any three people in history, who would you invite and what would you serve them?

Do they have to be dead? If so, John Lennon, Bill King (sportscaster) and Esther Peaker (my grandmother) or Dick Unti (my uncle).  Awesome micro-brew Champagne (Pierre Gimonnet) with oysters, Comte de Vogue Musigny with grilled Hawaiian fish. I’m sure we’d break out a few other great wines. Siro Pacenti Brunello, JJ Prum Wehlener Sonnenurhr, you get the idea.

***

Don't live in San Francisco? Can't make the tasting? Set up your own Unti tasting at home with these three in-stock beauties:

2007 Unti Vineyards Dry Creek Grenache ($26.99) This has intense raspberry, blackberry, tar, pepper, licorice, and dried herbs aromas that are evocative of Châteauneuf-du-Pape. Full of fruit on the palate, with an earthy, licorice-tinged undercurrent, this captures the Dry Creek landscape and still maintains the balance we've grown to expect from Unti. An ager.

2007 Unti Vineyards Dry Creek Zinfandel ($24.99) It's no coincidence that the Dry Creek Valley has become synonymous with Zinfandel, and of the region's and varietal's best characteristics are packed into this bottle. Briar fruit and black pepper aromas and flavors are accented by subtle floral tones. There's plenty of structure, and the wine is completely dry, with the signature ripeness of the vintage and the balancing acidity that marks all of Unti's wines.

2008 Unti Vineyards "Petite Frere" Dry Creek Rhône Blend ($16.99) Unti's version of a Côte du Rhône, this is Grenache-dominated blend with small amounts of Syrah and Mourvedre. Full of ripe Dry Creek fruit with firmer tannins than previous vintages, this is like some of the CdR's from France in 2007, blessed with juicy red fruit, but needing a little time to integrate.

Wednesday
Feb232011

Wine of the Week: Domaine la Garrigue "Cuvée Romaine" 

When the mercury drops, I want wine that will warm me up. Sometimes that means a heavy, tannic red to match with the hearty stews I have bubbling away on the stove, other times it's a wine that transports me to someplace I imagine to be warmer, where the sun's rays will bake me like I was a loaf of bread. Sometimes I want a little of both.

Enter the 2008 Domaine la Garrigue "Cuvée Romaine" Côtes du Rhône ($10.99), this week's Wine of the Week, grown and produced by six generations of the Bernard family, who have worked their estate's vineyards in the Southern Côtes du Rhône communes of Vacqueyras, Gigondas and Sarrians since the 1850s. The winery's name comes from the wild scrub that lends the Provençal landscape its distinctive look and, moreover, its characteristic scent, and the wine gets its moniker from the Roman artifacts excavated on the property back in the late 1970s and early 1980s.

The 2008 vintage is actually declassified Vacqueyras and is made from 65% Grenache, 25% Mourvèdre and 10% Syrah. It's a classic representation of that Provençal wine, with a bouquet of sun-baked scrub, plum and raspberry fruit that tickles your nose with an underlying blend of roasted game sprinkled with freshly-ground white pepper and cinnamon stick. Full and bright in the mouth, I actually preferred this to the 2007, which seemed a little blousy and overripe for my tastes. I like my Côtes du Rhône to be earthy and tense, and this fits the bill with plenty of tannin to keep the crunchy red fruits from seeming too frivolous. With some time (or air) the tannins resolve to reveal and complex palate with all of the aforementioned spice and fruit complemented by a thread of smoked bacon and violets.

What I love most about this wine, and there's a lot to love, is that it feels like a summer in Provence and while substantial enough to be drunk alongside braised shortribs while contemplating the rain and snow, it will also be lovely come summer when I'm grilling lamb burgers.

Leah Greenstein

Tuesday
Jan252011

Tasting This Weekend: The Rhône Valley

Attention all Rhône Valley wine fans (this means you, William): K&L's Rhône Valley and French Regional wine buyer (and author of the fantastic wine blog mumu les vignes), Mulan Chan-Randel, is putting together a list of red and white Rhône wines to pour at all three K&L stores this coming Saturday, January 29th (click for times). 

Quick lesson: The Rhône River actually begins high in the Swiss Alps, pouring into Lake Geneva and then tumbling through the Jura Mountains south through Lyon and Avignon, into Arles until it spills into the Mediterranean west of Marseille. In the wine world, however, the Rhône Valley refers to the growing region in Southeastern France along the river that begins near Vienne and ends near Tavel. Divided into two distinctive regions, the Northern Rhône is the source of some of the world's finest Syrahs, grown in famed appellations like Côte-Rôtie, Cornas and Hermitage, and Viogniers from Condrieu. The Southern Rhône produces exceptional Grenache-based reds like those from Châteauneuf-du-Pape, as well as intriguing and complex white blends using Roussanne, Marsanne and Viognier. 

What this means to you: Mulan works hard to find the best-tasting deals from the Northern and Southern Rhône, both from the aforementioned appellations as well as more value-oriented wines from the Côte du Rhône and Côte du Rhône-Villages appellations. If you're already into these wines, then Saturday's tasting is the perfect opportunity to take some new arrivals for a test drive. If you've never tasted wines from the Rhône before or have had minimal experience, it's an affordable way to find out what suits your palate and your budget best. We hope to see you there!

What we'll be pouring:

Southern Rhône 

2009 Château de Montfaucon "Comtesse Madeleine" Côtes du Rhône Blanc

2008 La  Ferme Saint Martin "Saint Martin" Beaumes de Venise Rouge 

2008 Pierre Usseglio "Tradition" Châteauneuf-du-Pape

2008 Domaine du Vieux Telegraphe "La Crau" Châteauneuf-du-Pape

2008 Le Vieux Donjon Châteauneuf-du-Pape

2009 Comte Louis de Clermont-Tonnerre "Hervé" Châteauneuf-du-Pape

2009 Comte Louis de Clermont-Tonnerre "André Eleazar" Châteauneuf-du-Pape 

Nothern Rhône 

2007 J. Boutin "Bonnevaux" Côte-Rôtie (Stéphane Vedeau) 

2008 Domaine Vincent Paris "Granit 60" Cornas    

2009 A. Clape Côtes du Rhône

Leah Greenstein