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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 La Gatte (3)


Talking Turkey: An Ex-Pat Thanksgiving

Editor's Note: Everybody celebrates Thanksgiving just a little bit differently, which is why we've been hitting up some of our winemaking friends for some of their Thanksgiving recipes and wine pairings, which we'll be featuring over the next week. To me, no Thanksgiving meal is more intriguing than that of an American abroad--with all the inherent tweaks to incorporate local food customs and wines. Michael Affatato of Bordeaux's La Gatte was quick to share his family's tradition. And while Michael prefers older Bordeaux at his Thanksgiving table, we think his wines, with all their classic Bordeaux character, would make excellent pairings, too.

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Trey's Blog: Day 7 Bordeaux En Primeur

Friday, April 1st: The Right Bank

The K&L Team at Ausone

9 a.m. – Ausone

I have only been to Ausone a few times. It is hard not to be “star stuck” when you are here, though. We tasted several wines. My favorites included:

’09 Moulin Saint Georges: Perfume aromas, fleshy ripe nose, very expressive for being so young; I thought this wine was delicious.

’09 Ausone: – Concentrated flavors of red fruits, minerals, cedar and earth; this wine showed a bit tight, maybe due to the weather. It was not my favorite of the trip but I think I may be in the minority on this one.

9:45 a.m. – Moueix Tasting in Libourne

A fair number of wines were poured here. Highlights for me included the La Serre, Latour Pomerol, Bourgneuf and La Fleur Pétrus. They were all solid wines but nothing really jumped up and knocked me out. I was a bit disappointed in the Trotanoy—for me is was not easy to taste at this stage.

11 a.m. – Pétrus

’09 Pétrus: I think this will end up being my favorite wine of the trip. It was loaded with fresh crushed berries, spice, licorice, a velvety texture, pure ripe fruit and had a fresh, lively finish; an amazing balance between power and finesse.

The Vineyards at Lafleur

11:30 a.m. – Lafleur

The Lafleur tasting included the 2009 Grand Village, which they also make. It is reasonably priced and really a good value. 75% Merlot and 25% Cabernet Franc. This wine was fresh, clean and showed clean, mineral-driven fruit.

’09 Lafleur: Big, tight and intense, this wine is deep and powerful and showed firm tannins. I think the middle was a bit closed. Tough to taste so young.

Tasting and lunch at Ch. Le Gay

12 p.m. – Tasting and lunch at Le Gay

Our tasting included some really excellent wines before a light lunch.

’09 La Graviere: Spicy, sweet nose, fleshy fruit, very ripe mid palate and a velvety soft texture; could almost drink this wine now.

’09 Violette, Pomerol: Dark cherry fruit, sweet aromas, chewy dark chocolate texture and a lush, lush finish. Very good balance for such an extracted wine; I liked this.

’09 Le Gay, Pomerol: Loads of coffee, cola and sweet black cherries, spice, velvety texture and a long ripe finish, This is one for me to buy.

2 p.m. – Clos l’Eglise

A quick tasting of several wines, including Haut Bergey, Barde Haut, Branon and Clos l’Eglise. The two that stood out for me were the Haut Bergey and the Clos l’Eglise.  

2:30pm – Angélus

What I thought would be a quick tasting ended up being a room full of all the wines that Hubert de Boüard is involved in. We didn’t have time to taste all of them, so I focused on the wines that I knew we would buy. My favorites included:

’09 La Fleur de Boüard: Flashy, new wave style. This wine was intense, juicy and extracted without being out of balance. This is a wine I will buy if the price is reasonable.

’09 Angélus: Big and dense with a thick mid palate, chewy tannins and a firm structure. Seemed a bit disjointed, but that could be the sample.

3 p.m. – Pomerol UGC tasting at Gazin

We had a few standouts here, including a second tasting of the Petit Village, which again showed excellent. It is easily the best one I have tasted out of barrel. I was also impressed with the Gazin and La Croix de Gay. Both are solid efforts. The other real standout, next to the Petit Village, was the Clinet. One to buy if the price is reasonable!


4 p.m. – St-Emilion UGC tasting a Beauséjour-Becot

I think all of us were extremely impressed with the quality of the wines from St- Emilion. In recent vintages these wines have not been our favorites, as we found them to be a bit over-extracted and harsh. I think the combination of the vintage and, maybe, the owners not trying to do too much with the wines, helped make some of the more successful wines of 2009. Our highlights from here included the killer Troplong Mondot, Larcis Ducasse, Beauséjour-Becot and Canon. These were some of my favorite wines of the day.

5 p.m. – Canon-La Gaffelière

The last big tasting of the day is always difficult. Still the ’09 d’Aigulilhe showed well along with the La Mondotte. Both are in that flashy extracted style but I thought they showed well.

K&L Team with Helene and Michael Affatato at La Gatte

7 p.m. – Tasting and dinner at Château La Gatte

Sure we were at Pétrus, Ausone and Angélus today, but the most fun we had was at Château La Gatte with owners Hélène and Michael Affatato. We did some barrel tastings and had a terrific meal of grilled duck. The evening was very enjoyable and relaxed, just what we needed! We currently have their Blanc and Rosé in stock. Both are screaming deals at around $10.

Trey Beffa


Winery to Watch: Château La Gatte

An engraving on the floor in the back kitchen of Château La Gatte, just across from the wine cellar, hints at the property’s long history. It says: “1646: Pierre Gubon” and is marked with a dog’s paw print, a symbol of “good luck” for a new house. However, for more than 300 years of the Château’s existence, its wines were either sold under another name or as bulk wine to negociants. It wasn’t until husband-and-wife team Hélène Fenouillet and Michael Affatato purchased the Château in 2004 that the wines became available outside of France, except for a lone Swiss client.

Shrouded in history—the Château was originally built for the Marquis de La Tour du Pin’s mistress, but was best known as a Maison de Prostitution until it was shut down by the local police in 1979—the wines of Château La Gatte remain one of Bordeaux’s best kept Right Bank secrets. Located on the 45th Parallel in the village of Saint André de Cubzac, at the far western edge of the Right Bank, La Gatte’s soils are rich in limestone with a high natural pH that make them well-suited to growing low-yielding Merlot vines. The meandering Dordogne river is just 800 yards away, far enough where the soil isn’t marshy or damp, but close enough to benefit from the perpetual breeze off the water, which retards rot and keeps mildew at bay. The vineyard’s terroir contribute to the wine’s minerally, floral bouquet, balanced texture and longer finish by allowing the grapes to mature slowly and evenly.

Hélène and Michael, with the help of enologist Marc Soumet (Léoville-Las Cases, Haut-Brion and Cantenac Brown) and assistant Pascal Pauvif, have really pushed the quality of the wines since they bought the property, and increased exposure exponentially. Hélène has also built a lovely B&B at the Château. Though Michael is a native New Yorker, the intention has always been to allow La Gatte’s special terroir to shine through, rather than mimicking California fruit-forwardness, while embracing an earlier-drinking style that make them such a value, particularly in a vintage like 2005. This is by far one of our favorite wineries for value-priced wine.

La Gatte makes two red wines, the “Tradition”* (2005 $12.99) and the Cuvée La Butte* (2005 $14.99). The former blends approximately 80% Merlot and 20% Cabernet Sauvignon, and is classic claret for a remarkable price, thanks to a 1935 dispute that left La Gatte without an appellation designation. It’s got spice and grip, well-integrated tannin and lovely fruit that make it approachable now and a worthy drinker for the next decade or longer. The La Butte is the seductress of the two (the former being more like the girl next door), coming from a 104-hectare vineyard planted in 1958. Aged in French oak for 12-16 months, the sultry fruit, spice and voluptuous texture belie its modest price, reminding drinkers of a much more expensive Pomerol or St-Emilion.

They also make a saignée-style Rosé* (2008 $9.99) by bleeding off free run Merlot juice from the La Butte. The wine is fermented dry and is redolent of fresh-picked summer strawberries and herbs. It’s a perfect wine for the dog days of summer, but also as a refreshing complement to a savory winter meal that calls for something lighter in style. Try it with chicken or pizza or on with some prosciutto and melon when you watch the Perseid meteor shower on August 12.