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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 Limerick Lane Cellars (2)


Thoughts From ZAP: Surprisingly Fresh!

"The 2011 Zins are much better than I thought they were going to be," reports K&L's Bryan Brick after this week's marathon Zinfandel Advocates & Producers (ZAP) tasting in Alameda, CA.

By: Bryan Brick | K&L Domestic Wine Buyer

Yesterday marked one of the most physically difficult wine tastings in the business: The ZAP (Zinfandel Advocates and Producers) tasting. Just think about tasting dozens of Zinfandels, some dry and others not so much, some with superb balance and some with blaring alcohol levels, and I think you’ll sympathize with the way my mouth feels today. The tasting was held at Rock Wall Winery in Alameda, a wonderful location for a tasting of this size and scope. This year the powers that be separated the trade portion of ZAP from the public tasting, which really helped myself and my co-worker Jim Boyce to get a lot done in a short period of time. With many fewer tasters, we were able to taste much more wine this year than in years past and speak more to the principals of the wineries about their respective wines. Plus, there were a lot fewer drunk people falling down and breaking glasses, or themselves--which was nice.

What I very quickly learned is that the 2011 Zins are much better than I thought they were going to be. Most of you know, or maybe have heard rumblings that 2011 is already a bit maligned. It was cold, sugar levels never hit the numbers that California has become accustomed to, yields were small if not downright scary, with people running numbers around 30-60% down from an average vintage. So I was a bit hesitant. That went away quickly when I started tasting the wines. I found the vintage to be energetic, drinkable and full of personality. ABV levels are down; flavor, balance and structure are up. The sad part is that there just isn’t going to be a lot of this wine to go around. But as these wines begin to roll out, I’d highly recommend adding some to your cellar or everyday drinking rotations.

Here are some highlights of our fave 2011s, as well as wines from other vintages, with brief descriptions from the tasting yesterday. I’ve added hyperlinks to the wines we currently have in stock. The others probably won’t be far behind.

2011 Ancient Peaks Zin: Top Value!2011 Ancient Peaks Paso Robles Zinfandel ($13.99) A refresher course, as we've had this wine in stock for a month or so, but it really held up in the context of all these Zins. It's truly one of the best values out there in the world of Zin.

2011 ANDIS “Estate” Amador County An intriguing new winery that is making a bigger style of Zin but with rarely seen balance from the area.

The 2012 Bedrock "Old Vine" Zin is from some of the oldest and most interesting vineyards in the Sonoma Valley.2012 Bedrock Wine Company "Old Vine" Sonoma Valley Zinfandel ($24.99) This wine is from some of the oldest and most interesting vineyards in Sonoma Valley. Tcomplex nature and concentration of that fruit shows through here in spades. Another tremendous value in Zin.

2012 Bedrock "Evangelho Vineyard Heritage Wine" Contra Costa Red Blend ($32.99) These vines are planted in river delta sands on their own roots and were planted in the 1890s. A field blend of Carignane, Mourvedre, Zinfandel, Palomino, Alicante and Mission, this was one of my personal faves of the tasting. Electric, vivacious fruit with zingy acid and great old vine spice this is not to be missed

2012 Bedrock "Lorenzo's Heirloom" Sonoma Valley Red Blend ($41.99) Just the fact that Bedrock has three wines on this list should tell you everything you need to know. This is  Zinfandel, Carignane, Petite Sirah, Alicante Bouschet, Cinsualt, Valdigue and a few “odds and ends.” Powerful, brooding, dark and spicy, this inky beast has all the elements to be a masterpiece in a decade or more.

2011 Bella “Hills and Benches” Dry Creek Valley Zinfandel A lovely interplay between the spicy/peppery side of Zin and the more confectionery/cocoa-driven side of the varietal.

2011 Bella “Lily Hill Estate” Dry Creek Valley Zinfandel The 2010 version of this wine was one of my top wines from last year’s tasting, so I was excited to taste the 2011. There is something about this site that adds a super charming floral lace to the wine. It’s something akin to lavender or lilac. Add a bunch of cocoa powder and dried blueberry and this is delicious.

2011 Dashe “Florence Vineyard” Dry Creek Valley Zinfandel Maybe the biggest surprise of the tasting. Not because I don’t generally like the wines--I usually love them--but this just floored me with its energy, sexiness, bursting aromatics and strawberry fruit. I wanted to drink this by the bottle.

2009 D Cubed Howell Mountain Zinfandel ($32.99) This wine was out for a while but in no way does that diminish its deliciousness. In fact, the extra bottle time may add to it. Super tangy with tons of blueberry and crushed stone, this shows the tannic structure of Howell Mountain.

2012 Easton Amador County Zinfandel ($14.99) Another front runner for the value of the tasting. Pitchy red fruits with a touch more ripeness than usual and the mineral-driven undercurrent I’ve come to expect from this inexpensive stunner.

2010 Easton “E” Fiddletown Zinfandel Certainly the best “E” bottling I’ve seen from them. I loved the unflinching iron/bloody aspect of this Zin. A true old-school Gold Country Zin.

2011 Hendry “Blocks 7&22” Napa Valley Zinfandel This just garnered a huge score by a respected wine mag and I can see why. Like a melted wild berry cobbler with a scoop of chocolate ice cream, but somehow never coming off close to sweet.

2011 Mike & Molly Hendry “R.W. Moore Vineyard” Napa Valley Zinfandel We loved the 2010 last year at ZAP and this year may be even better. Deep and earthy with warm, sunny earth and perfectly ripe, briary black fruits. Some may know this as a vineyard that Biale works with but Mike Hendry farms the vineyard for them.

2011 Limerick Lane Russian River Valley Zinfandel ($29.99) We love what the Bilbro brothers have been doing since they purchased this winery a couple of years back. Now that we are in the 2011s, the wines are the first they’ve made from beginning to end. Big, boisterous Zins with more soul than James Brown.

2011 Limerick Lane “1910 Block” Russian River Valley Zinfandel From the oldest block planted at their estate, this Zin may have won the award for the most intense Zin of the day. Long, drawn out and powerful this is still a baby but it floored us. “Amazing” is one of the descriptors I wrote in my notes.

2011 Sobon Estate “Cougar Hill” Amador County Zinfandel ($13.99) Value city! Every year Sobon Estate rocks something that just wildly over-delivers on its asking price. This year it is the Cougar Hill with its unabashed ripeness, cherry cola fruit and a lifting sensation. I don’t remember the Coug being this good.

2011 Troon “Estate” Applegate Valley Zinfandel Maybe the most eye-opening wine of the day. This southern Oregon Zin held its own with classiness and elegance. From vines planted in 1972, this wine is all about balance. Very open and engaging


Sonoma Road Trip Stories, Part IV: Limerick Lane Cellars


By: Sarah Covey | K&L Staff Member

Limerick Lane Cellars was on the top of my list for our recent K&L staff road trip to Sonoma. I had met current owner Jake Bilbro and his brother Scot (the winemaker) at an industry event in San Francisco earlier in the year. Not only were the wines delicious, but I found Jake to be a very friendly, genuine person. Over his homemade grilled sausages, Jake talked about how lucky he feels every day to be in his position. A man in his 30s with a young family, owning a winery and the surrounding land with a legacy to pass on to his children - it is a dream he never in a million years thought he would be able to achieve. I was inspired to learn more about this special place and the folks behind these intriguing wines.

A Little History

Limerick Lane Cellars is not a new name on the wine scene. Located just south of downtown Healdsburg, in the Russian River Valley appellation, the property was planted to grapes by the Del Fava family in 1910. Mario Del Fava, born in 1920, farmed grapes and prunes there until the 1970s when the estate was sold to the Collins family. “Brothers Mike and Tom Collins brought incredible passion and enthusiasm to the property selling the grapes as vineyard designates to several well known local wineries including De Loach, Chateau Souverain, Ravenswood, Davis Bynum and Gary Farrell," notes the Limerick Lane website. "The quality of the wines and reputation of the iconic Collins Vineyard quickly established Limerick Lane as a premier site for growing Zinfandel and Rhone varieties in Sonoma County. In 1986, the first estate wines were produced under the Limerick Lane label. The subsequent quality of the wines produced solidified Limerick Lane’s reputation as one of Sonoma County’s premier producers.”

Jake and his wife Alexis bought the house across the street from Limerick Lane in 2007. As is common in the Sonoma grape growing and winemaking community, Jake started helping Mike Collins with the harvest and in the cellars once he moved in across the street. Jake grew up in the wine business. His father is the owner of Marietta Cellars, where brother Scot is the assistant winemaker. In 2009, ready for the next chapter and unwilling to hang a “for sale sign” or sell it to the highest paying corporation, Mike gave Jake and his young family the opportunity of a lifetime. He approached Jake and asked him if he would like to buy Limerick Lane Cellars and the Collins Vineyard. Jake jumped at the chance, and Scot signed on as winemaker (in addition to making wine at Marietta Cellars) soon thereafter.

Limerick Lane Cellars is located just south of Healdsburg in the Russian River AVA.


Old Vine Heritage

A blend of head-pruned and trellised Syrah, the 2009 Limerick Lane Estate Syrah is simply delicious!With approximately 5 acres of the original vines planted in 1910 still in production today, it is the great pleasure and goal of Jake and his family to produce wines that live up to the 100 year heritage that preceded them. With the amazing fruit that the Collins Vineyard can produce, they are able to create wines that are noted not only for their exceptional balance and elegance, but wines with a sense of history and place as well. Vines planted in 1934 produce the grapes for the Limerick Lane "Block 1934-Estate" Russian River Valley Zinfandel; vines planted in 1970 provide the grapes for the Limerick Lane "Block 1970-Estate" Russian River Valley Zinfandel. The estate is also planted to both head-pruned and trellised Syrah, which in the future will be bottled separately as blocks, too. Right now their Limerick Lane Estate Russian River Valley Syrah is a blend of both, and is simply delicious! There is also old vine Furmint, which Jake told me he discovered in the old ledgers that used to be on the French Laundry’s late harvest dessert wine list! The Furmint is currently one of the varietals blended into their Cuvee Blanc, along with Sauvignon Blanc and Roussanne.

Understandably, Jake is as deeply connected to the land as he is to the wines. He is intimately familiar with each vine on the property, and his eldest son, Cruz, can identify each block by name and varietal. As Jake loved to do with his father, Cruz likes to ride the tractor and uses his shovel (with its real steel handle) to dig holes all around the vineyards!

The day we visited, Jake tasted us through the 2010 Pinot Noir from the estate, the 2010 Sonoma County Zinfandel, which has 1910, 1934 and 1970 blended in with sourced fruit, the 2010 Russian River Zinfandel, the 2010 Dry Creek Zinfandel, the 2010 Head-Pruned Syrah, the 2010 Trellis Block Syrah, and the famous "1023" Blend of Zinfandel, Syrah and Grenache from the estate. 1023 is the address for the winery on Limerick Lane. It was my personal favorite, and one that I can only get at the winery!

The wines of Limerick Lane are thoughtfully made, layered, nuanced and interesting. They are not the smack-you-in-the-face Zinfandels, Pinots, and Syrahs that so often come thumping out of the Valley over the hill from Sonoma. They are special wines expressive of land and vine, crafted by good-hearted, dedicated people who, along with the other young winemakers in Sonoma, are helping to reclaim history and revitalize the local industry. I highly recommend all of these wines.

And, if you want a calm, welcoming, warm tasting experience the next time you are in Sonoma, head to Limerick Lane. It is peaceful, quiet, and the wines are spectacular.

Tell them we sent you.




Sarah C. Covey, WSET Certified

Wine Sales Professional

K&L Wine Merchants, Redwood City, CA, USA