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Bruno Michel "Blanche" Brut Champagne $34.99One of our best non-vintage Champagnes, this organically grown blend of half each Chardonnay and Meunier comes entirely from Bruno Michel's estate. It has been aged for six years on the lees and shows wonderful natural toasty quality as well as incredible vibrance! This was the big hit of our most recent staff Champagne tasting and we think you will love it too.

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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 Martin Ray (2)

Sunday
Sep072014

Eden in the Santa Cruz Mountains

A view to remember

The most picturesque and romantic place we visited on our trip to the northern Central Coast easily had to be Mount Eden Vineyards in the Santa Cruz Mountains. That's not to say it was easy to get there. Everyone we spoke to beforehand warned us about the 2.2 mile dirt road leading up a steep slope. Upon arrival, I was floored by the view. The vineyards sit atop a mountain that overlooks the entirety of Santa Clara Valley. It almost seemed like an oasis after the slog of a drive needed to get there. But in reality, this trek would deter only those with meager enthusiasm for wine tasting. The Mount Eden and Domaine Eden wines are worth every moment of your time.


The wines from both Mt. Eden and Domaine Eden are as beautiful as they have ever been.
Winemaker and part owner Jeffrey Patterson has been at the helm since the 1980s. He and his wife Ellie were hired to bring cohesion and continuity to the vineyard after the likes of Merry Edwards and Richard Graff passed through as previous winemakers. The site itself was bought by Martin Ray in 1943 under the advice of California wine pioneer Paul Masson. The focus has been on bottling premium Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Cabernet Sauvignon ever since, though an occasional Cabernet Franc Ros
é is also made. 

A somewhat recently acquired plot of land nearby allowed Patterson to increase production. The land used to belong to Cinnabar, and Patterson decided to bottle the newly made wine there under the name Domaine Eden. This was to differentiate the original site from the new one, and to allow Domaine Eden to have a more modern, soft, and fruit-forward profile than the Mount Eden wines. The Mount Eden wines have more depth, nuance, and are generally much better for aging.

From top to bottom their Mount Eden Estate wines exude class and high quality. The oak treatment is never heavy handed, and the Cabernet Sauvignon, in particular, is highly capable of being cellared and improving over time. We tried the soon-to-be released 2010 vintage, and fortunately still have some of the 2009 Mount Eden "Estate" Santa Cruz Mountains Cabernet Sauvignon ($59.99) in the store. Both are real treats, and I can only imagine how great they will be in 5-10 years time. 

Tastings at Mount Eden Vineyards are by appointment only, so make sure to schedule one before making the drive! And if driving is too much of a hassle, stop by the store for some bottles to try.

We have a nice selection of the wines in stock: 

2012 Mount Eden "Estate" Santa Cruz Mountains Pinot Noir ($59.99)

2010 Mount Eden "Estate" Santa Cruz Mountains Chardonnay ($59.99)

2011 Mount Eden "Wolff Vineyard" Edna Valley Chardonnay ($18.99)

2012 Domaine Eden Santa Cruz Mountains Pinot Noir ($34.90)

2011 Domaine Eden Santa Cruz Mountains Chardonnay ($26.99)

2010 Domaine Eden Santa Cruz Mountains Cabernet Sauvignon ($32.99)

Patrick Cu

Thursday
May122011

Santa Cruz Mountains Retrospective Dinner

Wednesday was a special night for K&L’s Old & Rare team. Our man in the know, Gary Westby—Champagne buyer and Old & Rare wizard, put together a wine dinner that would have delighted even the most ardent of “drink it young” fans. Along with a couple of special guests, we tasted through some extraordinary back vintages of Martin Ray and Hallcrest wines, some made whilst many at the table were in diapers or just a twinkle in their parents eyes!

Held in the dimly lit environs of John Bentley’s restaurant, a block or so down from our Redwood City store on El Camino, the wines were decanted and the glasses sparkling on the table when we arrived. One of our special guests, Darrell Corti, began the evening by providing some insights into the man that was Martin Ray. To use appropriate parlance for the time, it’s probably fair to say that Ray was considered by many as somewhat of a rascal. Tasting his wines more than 50 years on, though, perhaps visionary would be more appropriate! Ray was one of the first to use French, specifically Burgundian, oak. He also had a penchant for Champagne bottles—which he used for many of his early wines—giving them an unmistakable character.

As the first course, a seared scallop, arrived we were already well into our first flight of Martin Ray whites. This included 1952 Chardonnay, 1954 Chardonnay, 1956 Pinot Noir “Blanc de Noir” and 1957 Pinot Noir “Blanc de Noir.” All were slightly pink tinged and in fine condition… which led us to ponder how many 1999 California Chardonnays would be as good after only a decade! It was the 1954 Chardonnay, though, that stole the round for many with its lovely richness, caramel, nut and butterscotch notes.

We moved quickly onto a delicious quail dish and our first reds of the evening, the Martin Ray Pinot Noirs. Well, most of them were anyway. The flight started with a ringer: a 1945 Beaulieu Beaumont Pinot Noir that, amazingly, still had great color and a touch of fruit. The Ray wines started in glass two with a 1952 Pinot Noir, then carried on with 1954 Pinot Noir, 1954 Third Crush Pinot Noir and 1956 Pinot Noir. We understood from Darrell that the “Third Crush” was likely made from Ray’s own vineyards and was promoting the fact that three good vintages had been made with these grapes, whereas the regular 1954 had probably been made with purchased fruit. All of these wines were likely made with old massal selections not reminiscent of what we know as Pinot Noir today. Favorites changed as the wines developed in the glass, but it was actually the regular 1954—with its astounding chocolate mint characters—which seemed to provoke the most conversation.

The steak brought with it a change of pace as we moved into Cabernet territory. Along with Martin Ray NV “La Montana” Woodside Cabernet we enjoyed 1947 Martin Ray Cabernet Sauvignon and our first Hallcrest wines of the evening: 1950, 1951 and 1953 Cabernet.  Interestingly the 1950 Hallcrest was labeled 1948. It had been crossed through by hand and had “1950” written beside it in ink. The entire batch was the same. Chaffee Hall, it seemed, was a frugal guy, reusing labels from previous vintages to save money. Hall established the vineyard, just outside of Felton in the Santa Cruz Mountains, only five years earlier so I guess that’s understandable. His first release was in 1946, so this 1950 really was some of his early work.

Following the Hall trend we finished the last flight of reds over cheese. We started with the 1958 Hallcrest Cabernet then worked our way through the 1959, 1961 and 1964. There was no doubt at the table that these two flights of Cabernet were showing very well indeed. They had the color of a 2004 Napa Cabernet with really no discernable bricking. Unlike the many over-extracted Cabernets we know today, these savory, earthy examples were still well in the game.

As our evening drew to a close we had a mystery wine to end the meal. It was a rich, nutty color in the glass and showed apple, pear, citrus, butterscotch, caramel and slightly salty characters. Any guesses? Ok, so you cheated and looked at the photo. Yes, it was an 1880 Welsch Brothers Boal Reserve Madeira (no, that’s not a typo... 1880). Simply awesome. When this wine was made 130 years ago Richard Trevithick had just invented the steam locomotive! If there’s one thing we learnt from this evening’s tasting, it’s that wine really is history in a glass. Cheers!

Jamie Irving