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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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Entries in Launois (8)

Friday
Aug162013

Champagne Friday: Magnums!

Launois Special Club magnum.

By: Gary Westby | K&L Champagne Buyer

Anytime I can fabricate the occasion I like to open a magnum of Champagne. If there are four or more people, it is the right size for the aperitif; I can't remember the last time I had to stopper one up and put it in the refrigerator for the next day. Whenever I do a customer tasting, anything that is available in magnum gets poured from magnum, and when I tell the customers that I am cheating by doing this, they usually just laugh...but I am serious.

Magnums have many advantages over single bottles of Champagne. The most obvious one is that you get half the amount of oxidative ageing in this format, since the opening at the top of the bottle is the same as a 750, but the volume of the wine is doubled. Because of the slope of the bottle, you also get more contact with the lees while the bottle is ageing. But the biggest advantage of all is in the attitude of the producers to this great format, since they feel that they benefit from more ageing, they almost always keep them on the lees longer.

2002 Dom Perignon 1.5L ($449)One can see this trend in vintage Champagne easily. While we are offering the 2003 & 2004 Dom Perignon in 750, we still have the 2002 Dom Perignon in magnum. They are just starting to release the 2003 now, more than a year after the release of the 750s. We have moved to 2004 with Pierre Paillard in 750s, but have 2002 Pierre Paillard in magnum. With Champagne Bonville it is 2008 in 750 and 2007 in the big bottle. Louis Roederer’s Brut Rose is the same story, 2008 in 750, 2007 Rose  in magnum. Pol Roger’s excellent Winston Churchill is 2000 vintage in 750 and 1999 in magnum.

2002 Pierre Paillard 1.5L ($119) On my last visit to Champagne I started asking producers about the base age of their non-vintage magnums after doing an accidental vertical of the non-vintage Ariston Aspasie Blanc de Blancs Brut Champagne with Paul Vincent Ariston. We started with the 2008 in 750, which is what we have on the shelf currently, moved on to the 2009 base which is now on the water, and when we gathered for dinner he offered a magnum as the aperitif, based on 2007. This--the Ariston Aspasie Blanc de Blancs Brut 1.5L ($79.99)--is what we have on the shelf and what is coming in the next shipment...with a full year of extra ageing than what we have in 750, soon to be more when the new shipment arrives!

Pouring Marguet Brut Rose Champagne from Magnum.

2007 Franck Bonville "Millesime" Brut Blanc de Blancs Champagne 1.5L ($84.99)We have Bruno Michel Rose on the way that is two years older than the 750s. The Marguet Brut Rose ($79.99) that I am pouring in the picture above received more than an extra year on the lees than the 750s from the same shipment. Jacquesson released their excellent "Cuvée 736" Brut Champagne in 750 in early spring, but it is only just now shipping in magnum. Checking the IDs on Krug Brut Rose ($699), the 750 (Krug ID 212020) has a youngest element from 2006, while the magnum (Krug ID 212024) is aged a full two more years with a youngest element from 2004. Both were disgorged in spring of 2012. Additional ageing happens at almost every Champagne house.

Ariston Aspasie Blanc de Blancs Brut Champagne 1.5L ($79.99)This translates into more depth, nuance and complexity in the Champagne served from magnum, without any sacrifice in freshness. In fact, I find the magnums to show more freshness. I hope that you’ll join me in drinking more from this most ideal of Champagne formats! Here is what we have in magnum:

Marguet Pere et Fils Brut Rosé Champagne 1.5L (89.99)Ariston Aspasie Blanc de Blancs Brut Champagne (1.5L) $79.99

Ariston Aspasie "Brut Prestige" Champagne (1.5L) $84.99

Baron-Fuenté "Grande Réserve" Brut Champagne (1.5L) $49.99

Billecart-Salmon "Brut Reserve" Champagne (1.5L) $99.99

Billecart-Salmon Brut Rosé Champagne (1.5L) $169

Bruno Michel "Blanche Brut" Champagne (1.5L) $79.99

Collard-Picard "Cuvee Selection" Brut Champagne (1.5L) $74.99

Collard-Picard "Dom Picard" Brut Blanc de Blancs Champagne 1.5L $129

Collard-Picard "Prestige" Brut Champagne (1.5L) $89.99

Fleury "Carte Rouge" Blanc de Noirs Brut Champagne (1.5L) $84.99

Fleury Brut Rosé Champagne (1.5L) $109

Franck Bonville "Belles Voyes" Brut Blanc de Blancs Champagne (1.5L) $139

Franck Bonville "Brut Selection" Blanc de Blancs Champagne (1.5L) $69.99

2007 Franck Bonville "Millesime" Brut Blanc de Blancs Champagne 1.5L $84.99

Krug "Grand Cuvée" Brut Champagne (1.5L) $399

Krug Brut Rosé Champagne 1.5L $699

Laurent-Perrier Brut Champagne (1.5L) $69.99

Louis Roederer "Brut Premier" Champagne (1.5L) $89.99

2007 Louis Roederer Brut Rosé Champagne 1.5L $149

Marguet Pere et Fils "Cuvée Reserve" Brut Champagne 1.5L $89.99

Marguet Pere et Fils Brut Rosé Champagne (1.5L) $89.99

Michel Arnould Verzenay "Brut Reserve" Champagne (1.5L) $64.99

Michel Arnould Verzenay Brut Rosé Champagne (1.5L) $74.99

Michel Loriot "Cuvée Reserve" Brut Champagne (1.5L) $65.99

2002 Moet & Chandon "Dom Pérignon" Brut Champagne (1.5L) $449

Pierre Paillard Grand Cru Brut Champagne (1.5L) $79.99

1999 Pol Roger Cuvée Winston Churchill Brut Champagne 1.5L $499

Ruinart Brut Blanc de Blancs Champagne (1.5L) $129

Ruinart Brut Rosé Champagne Magnum 1.5L $149

1990 Veuve Clicquot "Cave Privée" Brut Vintage Champagne (1.5L) $425

Veuve Clicquot Brut Champagne (1.5L) $119

Veuve Clicquot Brut Rosé Champagne (1.5L) $149

 

You are invited to click this link to browse all Champagne Magnums on KLWines.com.

A toast to you,

Gary

 

Friday
Aug022013

Champagne Friday: Midsummer Roundup

By: Gary Westby | K&L Champagne Buyer

As much as I like to talk Champagne with all of you, I thought it might be a fun change of pace to share  some of my co-workers' favorite Champagnes this summer. Here is a roundup of some of the top staff selections from the last month. Enjoy!

Fleury "Carte Rouge" Blanc de Noirs Brut Champagne ($39.99) Consistently one of my favorite direct import producers in our champagne section- Fleury makes complex sparkling wine from 100% pinot noir vines. The result is a rich and decadent sparkler that doesn't sacrifice minerality or brightness for its lush texture. -Mike Barber

 Michel Loriot "Cuvee Reserve" Brut Champagne ($29.99) Top Value! Apple, pie crust toastiness, chalky minerality with a beautiful, persistent bead and balanced acidity. This is the real deal, folks. I love this 100% Meunier, insanely affordable Champagne! -Sarah Covey

2005 Amaury Coutelas Vintage Brut Champagne ($39.99) I had the fortune to revisit this incredible Champagne in the company of Angelique and Damien Coutelas, who were recently in town for a producer visit and consumer tasting. The 2005 impressed me before, and upon re-tasting I was amazed at how it has blossomed over the last six months in something even richer and deeper. Worth a serious revisit! 70 year old Pinot Meunier and Pinot Noir vines are the source of this enticing Champagne, and in the cooler 2005 vintage these naturally low-yielding vines yielded even less than usual. The result is a rich, complex Champagne with a creamy texture and savory elements that make it ideal for pairing with food. Lemony, bready aromas lead in the nose, followed by flavors of nutty lees and fresh-buttered sourdough toast on the palate. The dry finish that leaves lingering saline-like mineral and nutty flavors. This would be superb with many seafood dishes or a simple roast chicken, and makes a lovely gift. From a producer that is brand new to the US market and that you can only find at K&L, this is a real special deal here. -Chiara Shannon

Bruno Michel "Blanche" Brut Champagne ($34.99) I am just one in a long line of staff members at K&L to fall head over heels for this wine. It is the balance of mineral freshness with the pure and elegant fruit qualities that really set this wine apart. Great for the wine geek, and any sort of setting. Really delicious. -Kyle Kurani

2004 Launois "Spécial Club" Brut Blanc de Blancs Champagne ($59.99) Special wine and not just in name! As with all Special Club bottlings this comes from Launois' top parcels of vines. The wine has extra time on the lees which not only enhances its depth and quality but also gives the wine great oxidation resistance to allow for extended cellaring. The vibrant acidity of the 2004 vintage gives energy and life to this wine that is simply a delight to drink now and will only get better with time. -Ryan Woodhouse

Ariston Aspasie "Carte Blanche" Brut Champagne ($27.99) Vines have been cultivated on this tiny property in the hamlet of Brouillet for five generations, and it has remained a customer and staff favorite here for several years. Yeasty, full and complex, the Carte Blanche exhibits a fine intensely-focused bead with lively notes of tart apples, dried hazelnuts, vanilla and toast, all in all a remarkably well-built Brut that will compare well to cuvées at double the price. It is perfect for entertaining. Top Value! -John Majeski

Franck Bonville "Belles Voyes" Brut Blanc de Blancs Champagne ($67.99) Based on the 2004 vintage, this is a terrifically rich and very lovely champagne, made from old vines, planted in the 1920s, long before commercial clones were available. The reulting concentration and depth is a reward that exceeds many champagnes costing well over $100. -Keith Wollenberg


And of course, I couldn't resist adding one of my own...

Billecart-Salmon Extra Brut Champagne ($54.99/Wine Club) I love extra brut Champagne, and Antoine Billecart has made a great example of the style with this bottling. He and I drank this along with his team at Quince in SF the last time he was here, and with four years on the lees, it came across as dry, but without a hint of austerity. Many big houses lack respect for Meunier, but not Billecart- this wine gets its charm from the clean fruit that this indigenous grape brings to the blend. It is composed of 40% Meunier, 30% Chardonnay and 30% Pinot Noir and the long, cool fermentation and generous lees time has given this wine the fruit and balance to please even a first time extra brut drinker. To watch the video from my visit with Antoine at Billecart-Salmon in Mareuil-sur-Ay this past April, click here.

A toast to you,

-Gary

Friday
May102013

Champagne Friday: Tasting the Varietals

By: Gary Westby | K&L Champagne Buyer

Champagne Friday: Tasting the Varietals

One of the best and easiest ways to get more enjoyment out of Champagne is by getting an understanding of the grape varieties used in the region. A simple tasting of three wines (or four if you want to be a complete imbiber!) over dinner is all that is needed to get a pretty firm handle on these grape varieties. I promise this won't just be educational- it will also be fun!

The most planted grape in all of Champagne is Meunier, a variety that used to be thought of as a relative of Pinot Noir but is now recognized as completely indigenous to Champagne. The second most planted variety in the region is Pinot Noir and like the third- Chardonnay- is an import from Burgundy just a few hundred kilometers away. These three grapes make up more than 99.9% of the vineyard in Champagne, but they are not the only varieties in the region. Before phyloxera struck the region in the late 1800’s, Gamay, Pinot Blanc and local grapes Arbanne and Petite Meslier were widely planted. Now, these grapes are making a comeback among some of the best and most adventurous growers. Arbanne and Meslier are especially prized for being late ripening and high acid- two great properties in a warming environment.

To start off the tasting, I would recommend a blanc de blancs to cover Chardonnay. These bracing wines are perfect for the aperitif, and if you plan on doing the tasting over a dinner make a fine wine for the welcome of guests. You can easily transition from the aperitif into oysters, scallops or crab salad with this wine, since its lively acid and chalky character flatter shellfish like nothing else. I would recommend using the Launois "Cuvée Reserve" Brut Blanc de Blancs Champagne ($34.99) for this as it is round enough to be friendly on its own, but packs enough cut to pair with the richest of crustaceans.

In this bottle you will find classic Champagne Chardonnay aromas and flavors like white flowers and strong minerality. You can learn more about Launois here.

I would follow up with Meunier, which is often dismissed as simple and fruity by the big houses, but is capable of gorgeous purity and deep savor when handled by a contentious grower and made by a talented wine maker. If you are pairing the wines with food, nothing brings out the best in Meunier like pate or mushrooms. Cinnamon and I have treated ourselves many times to old vintages from the master Rene Collard paired with foie gras, but the wines shine just as brightly with a mushroom tart. I would recommend the Michel Dervin Brut Champagne ($32.99) for the representative of this varietal- the blend is 80% Meunier and 20% Pinot Noir, but the Meunier takes command.

By tasting this you will get plenty of the apple and pear fruit that this variety is known for, as well as a hint of the chantrele and truffle components that makes Krug prize this grape so much.

After the Meunier move on to Pinot Noir and taste the Elisabeth Goutorbe "Cuvée Eclatante" Brut Champagne ($34.99). While this wine is only 70% Pinot, the power of this variety, in this case primarily from the top village of Ay, is firmly in control of this Champagne. Pinot dominated Champagne loves a piece of salmon, and if it is warm enough my favorite preparation in on a cedar plank on the grill. Pinot Noir is hard to ripen in Champagne, and the last variety to be harvested, and even though the wines have no color, they still have the cherry aroma and flavor that one expects in the reds.

This is the most structured variety in Champagne, and you will feel the difference in concentration and power in the Goutorbe.

If you want to go for a bonus round, we have a very special bottle for you that is composed of 40% Meslier, 40% Arbanne and 20% Pinot Blanc. If you taste it, you will be among very few in the world to ever have had these ancient varieties. The Ariston Aspasie "Cepages d'Antan" Brut Champagne ($99) is worth every penny, and is high toned, incisive, exotic and long finishing. This would be excellent to open alongside the Goutorbe with the main course! You can learn more about this wine from the winemaker here.

Feel free to reach out to me at garywestby@klwines.com if you would like to talk about Champagne tastings! A toast to you!

 

Best,

Gary