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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 New Zealand (16)

Sunday
May182014

{Terra Ignota} Exploring The Diversity Of New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc 

In honor of this years International Sauvignon Blanc Day (June 16th) we hosted a fantastic seminar here at K&L to highlight the huge array of styles and regional diversity of New Zealand Savvy. We were delighted to welcome Master of Wine Bob Campbell to the Redwood City store to talk about the wines and NZ wine as a whole. Bob, who is from New Zealand, is perhaps the foremost authority on the country's wines with decades of experience tasting, judging, and writing about them.

The lineup was chosen to represent both the diversity of styles being produced in NZ, as well as the distinct regional and even sub-regional flavor profiles you can find within a category so often unfairly stereotyped as “Gooseberry / grassy / herbal / jalapeno” in character.

Click to read more ...

Thursday
Jul252013

{Terra Ignota}: Seresin - One of NZ's Finest Estates

Working with the wines of Seresin Estate is a true pleasure. These are most definitely some of the best examples of authentic Marlborough wines I have ever come across.

I believe Seresin has truly become an iconic producer for the region that has elevated the quality of Marlborough wine. They have achieved this by making brave decisions in the vineyard and sticking by their convictions in the cellar. To paraphrase renowned British critic Jancis Robinson, they have raised their head above the parapet of mediocrity.

It is commonly known that most wineries founded by movie industry folks lack authenticity or shall we say - enological inspiration. Many are very commercial projects that simply pump out generic wines in very rigid, manipulated styles. However, heralded cinematographer Michael Seresin (known for works such as: Bugsy Malone, The Midnight Express and Harry Potter – The Prisoner of Azkaban) who founded this estate of the same name, clearly had more ambitious, engaged and dynamic visions for his vinous adventure.

Hillside Vines

The principles of Seresin are literally grounded in organic and biodynamic viticulture. They take the truly holistic approach to grape growing with a strong belief that natural balance and health in the vineyard will ultimately produce the truest expressions of place and vintage. The estate operates a full farm producing their own compost and biodynamic preparations. Beneficial cover crops, Goats and Chickens take the place of modern herbicides and pesticides. Their own cows fertilize the vines, and horses are used to do much of the labor in the vineyard reducing soil compaction from tractors etc. 

I have previously written at length about the erroneous application of Old World / New World labels. I much prefer to talk about producers using the terms Traditional vs. Modern. Seresin is a perfect example of this debate being that they are certainly geographically located in the “New World” but most definitely philosophically located in the “Old World.” These methods, carefully applied by winemaker Clive Dougal, have resulted in a line up of characterful wines, each an honest and vibrant representation of vineyard and climate. Every wine is a product of passion and dedication to healthy vines and delicate yet precise winemaking.

Seresin’s wines are loosely divided into two programs with the upper tiers of “Seresin” wines and the lower tier of “Momo” wines.  “Momo” meaning “offspring” in the native Maori pays homage to Momo’s place in the larger Seresin family. I believe the Momo range has long represented some of the best values in the category. The fruit is still largely estate grown and soon to be even more so. The fruit is farmed organically and some biodynamically.  The 2010 Momo Pinot Noir is taken mostly from the flat parcels of Seresin’s estate vineyards that lay on the floor of the Wairau Valley. Here the vines grow in deep alluvial gravels, producing bright fresh Pinot Noir. The Momo Pinot is hand picked, hand sorted and gently de-stemmed. The ferment is open top and uses only wild yeast. Post ferment, the wine is gently transferred to French Oak barriques, mostly older wood, for eleven months maturation. The wine is then bottled with very minimal, if any, fining or filtration, mercifully leaving the texture and authenticity of the wine intact. This wine represents way more true Pinot character than any other sub $20 contender I can think of from anywhere around the world.

2010 Momo (Seresin) Pinot Noir, Marlborough, NZ $16.99

The wine exhibits beautiful aromatics of crushed dark berries, plum skin, poultry herbs of sage and rosemary, earthy, fresh cut mushrooms. On the palate the wine is medium bodied with nice ripeness and moderate extraction. Again gently crushed berries and herbs take center stage with nice spicy French oak tones chiming in at just the right moment. The wine has great energy and life, with the freshness of the acidity and moderate extraction lifting the finish elegantly. This is serious wine at twice the price.

2012 Momo (Seresin) Sauvignon Blanc, Marlborough, NZ $14.99

The 2012 Momo Sauvignon Blanc also has dynamic drive and freshness. Snappy acidity of citrus and grapefruit with some tropical notes typical of the warmer areas from which these grapes are grown in the Wairau Valley. There is only a subtle hint of that “greenness” more commonly found in Awatere Valley Sauvignon Blanc. The wine is very dry, very refreshing, quaffable with nice chalky minerality and little more substance than most of it’s competitors. A great seafood wine for oysters etc.

Seresin's Horse Drawn Biodynamic Preparation Spayer

2011 Seresin Sauvignon Blanc, Wairau / Omaka Valley, Marlborough, NZ $25.99

Moving now into the Seresin upper tiers, everything is Biodynamically certified fruit. Again everything is very carefully hand picked  / sorted and wild yeast ferment. The 2011 Seresin Sauvignon Blanc is surely up there as one of the most impressive wines I have tasted from New Zealand. The grapes were sourced from the upper terraces of the Home vineyard, which are comprise of varied Waimakiriri type soils of alluvial origin. This was supplemented with portions from the Tatou vineyard which is made up of a mixture of alluvial shingles, and the clay rich Raupo Creek vineyard. All in all twenty different individually fermented vineyard parcels of Sauvignon Blanc are painstakingly blended together to make this wine. The finishing touch is two small parcels of Semillon added to the blend. 15% of the wine is fermented and aged in neutral French oak barriques to give texture and complexity. The wine has such exotic, floral aromatics and yet tremendous restraint and balance to boot. Fresh cut herbs, freshly grated citrus rind and tropical flowers. The palate has phenomenal texture and persistence that is quite remarkable.  Fine minerality runs through into the finish that is immeasurably long because it will still be there when you are reaching for another sip (or bottle!) Truly special wine, and exactly what Jancis was talking about when she noted how Seresin have set about separating themselves from the plethora of others good producers in the area.

2010 Seresin "Leah" Pinot Noir, Wairau / Omaka Valley, Marlborough, NZ $29.99

The 2010 Seresin “Leah” Pinot Noir is named after Michael Seresin’s daughter. This beautiful wine is created from carefully selected parcels of fruit coming predominantly from the clay rich soils of the Raupo Creek vineyard in the foot hills of the Omaka Valley. The remainder coming off the alluvial soils of Tatou vineyard and the Home vineyard. The fruit underwent a long cold soak. During the native yeast ferment the cap was gently punched down by hand. Post-ferment came another two weeks of carefully observed maceration. The Pinot was matured in French oak barriques, 20% new, for 11 months. It is bottled completely unfined and unfiltered. This wine has a stunning perfume of crushed rose petals, red fruits with darker cherry notes. Savory elements are also on show with tree bark, moss, and warm toasted spices. This wine has a fantastic density and saturation on the palate whist remaining poised and bright. The tannin structure is super fine and silky as you would expect from the clay based soils. Succulent and rich, fuller bodied than the Momo with a rounder feel on the mid-palate and a touch more extraction. The wine finishes long and supple with invigorating acidity and excellent concentration of flavor.

Seresin also make some fantastic single vineyard wines that we hope to make available to K&L customers through a special direct purchase deal. Please keep an eye out for more Seresin wines coming soon. For now I implore you to try any of these wines. The Momo's are perfect to make your everyday drinking a little more interesting or the Seresin tier to really give you an extra special experience with these magic wines. If you have any questions please feel free to contact me or leave comments below.

Cheers!

Ryan Woodhouse, NZ / Aussie Specialist

***

 Terra Ignota is Latin for "Unknown Land". It was the name for the South Pacific region during intial mapping and exploration of Australia and New Zealand. As we are going to be exploring new and exciting wines from this region, we think this is a fitting title for our blog series on wines from this part of the world. Stay tuned for more!

 

Wednesday
Jun052013

{Terra Ignota} K&L Exclusive Direct Import of Spectacular Te Mata Estate Wines

During my travels around New Zealand in 2011 I visited over 50 wineries. In general I was amazed by the quality and diversity of the wine I encountered. Marlborough was great, Central Otago too, but I think it was Hawke’s Bay on the east coast of New Zealand’s north island that really blew me away. The cornerstone of that revelation was most definitely the wines of Te Mata Estate. 

The famous landmark of Te Mata Peak that towers over the winery

I was so impressed that on my return to K&L I worked hard to develop a relationship with them and am pleased to say that we are now the exclusive importer of the Te Mata wines to the USA. Te Mata Estate is New Zealand’s oldest family owned winery. Founded in 1892 by an English immigrant, the winery still uses the original plots nestled into the lower slopes of Te Mata Peak, a dramatic rocky out crop that towers above the flat plains of Hawke’s Bay. The vines grow only a couple miles from the ocean and are perfectly tempered by cool sea breezes. These rocky free draining soils are perfect for balanced, finessed wines but with the concentration and power I have come to expect from Hawke’s Bay.

The orignal Coleraine Vineyard first established in 1892

Te Mata’s wines are held in very high regard and many immediately sell out upon release from the winery. Their four most iconic wines have long been regarded as the most prestigious and awarded wines in New Zealand. The long lived, Bordeaux like Coleraine. The undeniably rich and delicious Awatea. The complex, layered, very Burgundian Elston Chardonnay and perhaps the most sought after all, the stunning Bullnose Syrah. We have also brought some of their other estate wines to the US as part of a K&L exclusive direct import. These wines are truly the pinnacle of what New Zealand can produce.

2009 Te Mata Estate “Coleraine” Bordeaux Blend, Hawke’s Bay, NZ $49.99

This is a stunningly complex and delicious Bordeaux style blend that takes its name from the tiny vineyard directly adjacent to the winery. The Coleraine has been produced since 1982 and is regarded as one of New Zealand's finest and most age worthy wines. Quite compellingly the wine is made each year using a blind tasting and blending of the estates fine parcels of Bordeaux varietals.

The winemaker describes it as “saturated magenta in color with concentrated aromas of blackcurrants, spice and dark old fashioned roses. The palate opens with the dense sweet, dark berry fruits indicative of a great year. The focus quickly turns to rich fine tannins that fill the mouth, leaving a lasting impression of a wine of significant ageing ability. Coleraine '09 [is] considered amongst the greatest Coleraines. A blend of 52% cabernet sauvignon, 43% merlot, and 5% cabernet franc, it will continue to develop in bottle and provide great enjoyment up to 15 years from harvest.” My personal notes echoed these, being particularly impressed with the balance between rich dark fruits and a firm structure. This is clearly a wine for the long haul but with just enough extraction to please the bigger cab drinkers and those who enjoy riper Bordeaux vintages such as 2000, 2005, 2009.

Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate also gave great reviews to this wine awarding 95 points and writing:

“Blackberry, dark chocolate, a touch of sloe and liquorice. The finesse is there on the long, languid finish. A masculine Coleraine with great intensity and promise for the future.”

James Suckling writes: “94 points, this is an awesome Bordeaux blend with light mint, flowers and dark fruits. Currants and slightly dried fruit. Full-bodied, with layers of ripe tannins and long, long finish. Still slightly chewy. Needs another three to four years to come around.”

2010 Te Mata Estate “Awatea” Cabernet Blend, Hawke’s Bay NZ $29.99 

This is the 2nd wine to the Coleraine, made in a slightly more plush, drink earlier style and represents an excellent value for a remarkable bottle of wine. Te Mata Estate believes this to be one of the finest Awatea’s it has produced to date. Winemaker’s notes: “2010 Awatea is a dark magenta colour with aromas of fresh blackberry and raspberry infused with rosemary and sandalwood. The palate is pure, powerful, and well balanced, with mineral freshness and fine powdery tannin warmth contributing to its length. Awatea ’10 is a blend of 42% cabernet sauvignon, 40% merlot, 12% cabernet franc and 6% petit verdot. It will continue to evolve in bottle, providing great enjoyment up to 10 years from harvest. It is a natural partner for savoury red meat dishes and hard cheeses.”

I found this wine to be very expressive right now with a touch more generosity. Dark lush fruit and spice box with wonderful energy and brightness on the palate. A dynamic wine that evolves beautifully in the glass. The perfect steak wine! Truly over achieving against any other $30 Cab blend I would put in it’s category.

The 2010 Awatea has not been professionally reviewed yet, however the 2009 garnered 92 from Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate.

2009 Te Mata Estate “Bullnose” Syrah, Hawke’s Bay, NZ $31.99 

This wine sells out immediately upon release in New Zealand, it’s almost a national treasure! Made from a tiny, steep single vineyard, the winemaker writes: “An impressive deep magenta colour, with aromas and flavours of raspberry and sweet cherry, baking spices and lavender. The rich palate displays velvety tannins underpinning plum and cream notes, leading to a long, elegant finish. It will continue to evolve in bottle for eight years from harvest.” This is a stunningly elegant and perfumed Syrah again playing a perfect balance between old world structure and beautifully pure new world fruit.

Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate awards 94 points and writes: “Produced since 1992, the vines for the Bullnose Syrah are now 20 years old. Purple-black in color, the 2009 Bullnose Syrah gives up a pronounced nose of blueberry compote and blackberry pie filling with hints of cloves, moss covered bark, allspice, toast and aniseed with a whiff of white pepper. Medium bodied and concentrated in the mouth, it gives a good structure of crisp acid and firm, ripe, rounded tannins, finishing long and peppery. Drink it now to 2018+.

2011 Te Mata Estate “Elston” Chardonnay, Hawke’s Bay, NZ $29.99

Once more finding a perfect balance between the restraint and mineral intrigue of great white Burgundy and the slightly more exotic fruit expression of New Zealand. This wine is fascinating as it tip toes across the palate and goes on and on in the finish. The winemaker describes it beautifully: “Elston ‘11 has a brilliant, green gold colour, and lovely aromas of nectarine and white peach, with a background of oatmeal and cedar. It is elegant and intense, with a mineral tension in the extended palate that suggests considerable cellaring potential. Elston ‘11 will continue to evolve in bottle for five years + from harvest and matches well with full flavoured dishes based on seafood, poultry and white meats, as well as soft ripened cheeses."

The 2011 vintage has not yet been professionally reviewed, but the 2010 garnered 95 points from James Suckling with him writing “This is really fabulous with insane density like grand cru Burgundy. Full and layered with great concentration and structure. Lemon rind, apple pie and mineral undertones. It's all about tension and structure here. Needs time to come around. Better in 2015.”

I think the 2010 is a better wine than the 2009 with more brightness and minerality. This wine is considered one of New Zealand’s most prestigious Chardonnays and I urge you to try it.

2011 Te Mata Estate “Cape Crest” Sauvignon Blanc, Hawke’s Bay, NZ $19.99

 

One of New Zealand's top Barrel Fermented Sauvignon Blancs. The Winemaker describes it as “fermented and aged in a combination of new and used French oak barrels. Eight months aging on the lees lends this Bordeaux-style blend (85% Sauvignon Blanc, 11% Semillon, and 4% Sauvignon Gris) incredible mid-palate richness and length on the finish. It reveals intense aromas of tropical fruit, citrus, pear, and blossom in the nose, with accents of buttered toast and vanilla. The palate is layered and creamy, with fine acid structure and a very long lingering nutty finish.” Very classy stuff and a gives a whole new meaning to most peoples understanding of Kiwi Sauv Blanc.

James Suckling writes: 92 points “This is like top white Bordeaux with lemon / lime, green apple and mineral character. Great intensity. Full body with lovely balance of fruit and oak. Excellent finish. Drink now.

Jancis Robinson writes: 17/20 Brilliantly forthright oak, like all-butter shortbread. Lemon citrus and vegetal notes present on the palate, good restraint despite the potent nose. This could be Graves or Pessac-Léognan.

Last but not least is the wonderful if not slightly quirky 2012 Te Mata Estate Gamay Noir, Hawke’s Bay, NZ $16.99.

Made in a very convincing Beaujolais style with partial carbonic fermentation, this is such a fun and delicious wine. Spicy, crunchy red berries with silky, supple tannins and just a whiff of cracked black pepper to distinguish it as a Hawke’s Bay wine. Perfect for summer BBQ with chicken and fish. Once you try one this will be a new favorite I’m sure!

James Suckling agrees saying: “90 points, amazing Beaujolais style to this wine with grapy, wet earth character. It's medium-bodied, with fresh acidity and a long finish. So much going on here. One of the only producers in New Zealand of Gamay. It was started in 1995. Cuttings came from Beaujolais. Lovely texture to it. Drink now 

Please check out these wines. They are all truly remarkable. Any feedback will be truly appreciated.

 Cheers

 -Ryan Woodhouse, Aussie/NZ Specialist

 ***

Terra Ignota is Latin for "Unknown Land". It was the name for the South Pacific region during intial mapping and exploration of Australia and New Zealand. As we are going to be exploring new and exciting wines from this region, we think this is a fitting title for our blog series on wines from this part of the world. Stay tuned for more!