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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 Oregon (8)


K&L Trip Reports: This One Time, at Pinot Camp...

Soil types at Penner Ash.

By: Jim Boyce | K&L Staff Member

Oregon Pinot Camp 2013 kicked off with a reception at Sokol Blosser winery with fifty producers in attendance. With temperatures in the mid '80s, the weather could not have been any better for soaking up the beautiful wine country view, enjoying great food and wine, and meeting great people. We were informed that Oregon summers do not typically start until July 4th, so (this being early - June 22nd) we best enjoy the sun while it lasted. Sure enough, the next three days had us dodging raindrops and using the graciously provided umbrellas!

The goal of attendees at Pinot Camp is to get the vineyard-to-bottle rundown of what it takes to make wine in the crazy climate of Oregon. We were brought to Penner-Ash, where they had dug two pits - the first of marine sedimentary origin; the second of volcanic basalt only 200 feet away -  to demonstrate the vast difference in terroir characteristics of the Willamette Valley. While there, we were presented with a small group Pinot Noir tasting to highlight how wines grown in each distinct soil type differ. (For example, Pinot Noir grown in marine sedimentary soils usually has a darker fruit profile, with prevalent baking spice notes and “spikey” tannins.)

After that, we were brought to Elk Cove Vineyards for the farming presentation. Here we were educated on vineyard and clonal selections, canopy and water management techniques, and farming decisions for the future. They really emphasized the fact that finding the right sites to plant is paramount, farming in the Oregon climate requires constantly adapting in the vineyard and trying new, innovative technology on all scales. 

Moving on to Lemelson, we learned about (and tasted) the impact that winemaking decisions have on the wines. Decisions that relate to timing of harvest, reception, pre/fermentation, aging, and finishing all have a perceptible effect. Each producer has their own definition of the 'best' strategies, and what works for one producer can differ greatly from the next guy. Steve Doerner illustrates this point very well at Cristom, where he will use different percentages of whole clusters depending on the vintage in his winemaking.

The camaraderie of Oregon winemakers stood out as they told stories of how it is not usual to call around to see how a neighbor is dealing with early frost or migratory birds decimating the crop. Or how they dealt with the 2010 vintage, the coldest on record in the past 30 years of Oregon winemaking. (Only to be outdone by 2011, which had the latest latest bud break in history!) As the winemakers talked about all these tough vintages, they always paid homage to Oregon's pioneer winemakers who,  in the late 1960s and early 1970s, decided against popular opinion that great Pinot Noir could be made here, and dove in head first.

We tasted many Pinot Noirs from the 2010 and 2011 vintages, which offered a refreshing look at how these two difficult vintages are coming along now. (They are coming along beautifully, in case you were wondering).

But what's a Pinot Camp without whites? Pinot Gris and Pinot Blanc, the faces of Oregon whites, took center stage, but from the very beginning we also saw many other white varietals including Chardonnay, Riesling, Grenache Blanc, Roussanne, Viognier, Gruner Veltliner, Gewurztraminer, Moscato, and Tocai Fruilano! While a few of these newcomers have yet to find their footing, the majority were serious winners. 2011 - a cold, wet, and very late vintage - produced some of the finest white wines I've had from Oregon to date.  

Overall, we experienced a nice balance of old favorites and new arrivals, and it was great to see some long lost old faces to make grand returns. The perennial offerings from Bethel Heights, Chehalem, Cristom, Domaine Drouhin, Elk Cove, Eyrie, Ponzi, St. Innocent, and Willakenzie continue to impress, along with new personal favorites like Anne Amie, Stoller, and Trisaetum.

We lingered at the Trisaetum tent more than once to 'cleanse our palates' with some of their insanely good Rieslings. The 2012 Coast Range Dry Riesling (24.99) is full of nervy, racy acid, great weight, and mouthwatering minerality. The 2012 “Estates Reserve” Riesling (a 50/50 blend of Coast Range and Ribbon Ridge fruit - $34.99) is a Spatlese style Riesling with plenty of stone fruit and mouthwatering acidity. The 2010 Trisaetum "Coast Range Estate" Yamhill-Carlton Pinot Noir ($49.99), made from a blend of four barrels, has huge aromatics, juicy berry fruit, cola notes, and baking spice nuances. Keep an eye out for a K&L/Trisaetum Pinot Noir coming in the near future!

While the summer is still here, make sure to try a bottle of 2012 Patton Valley Willamette Valley Pinot Noir Rosé ($16.99), easily one of the favorites of the trip. Full of fresh strawberry and watermelon fruit, light spice, and impeccable balance, this is a refreshing warm weather winner. The 2010 Stoller "Reserve" Dundee Hills Chardonnay ($25.99) and 2011 Domaine Drouhin "Arthur" Dundee Hills Chardonnay ($29.99) are both shining examples of what Oregon can accomplish on the Chardonnay front, with both showing a combination of new world fruit and old world acidity and balance.

The last night of OPC was a traditional salmon bake at Stoller Winery. This is where the big guns are pulled out, with magnums and jerobaoms of older vintage wines as far as the eye could see! My notes (and memory) became a little fuzzy that night, but I do remember trying some older Argyle sparkling, '05 Willakenzie and '08 Penner Ash “Shea Vineyard” Pinot Noirs, in addition to another 20-30 more wines.

Salmon bake at Stoller.

My last day finished up with some important stops in Portland: breakfast at Voodoo Doughnuts, a tour at Clear Creek Distillery, and a house smoked pulled pork sandwich and beer at Cascade Barrel House, all of which are must visits for anyone in the Portland area! OPC really reinforced my adoration of Oregon wine. With the beautiful countryside, great people, and delicious food, wine, and beer, Oregon should be near the top of everyone's travel list!




K&L Wine News: August 2012 Online Newsletter and Staff Picks

We've posted the latest electronic copy of our printed newsletter in PDF format online, available for view or dowload at -- here are some of our highlighted recommendations this month:

2011 Domaine Begude Pinot Noir Vin de Pays d'Oc Rosé ($12.99) This elegant and crisp Pinot Rosé hails from Domaine Begude, a small family -owned property located high in the foothills of the Pyrenees in the Limoux region of the Languedoc.

Chiara Shannon: What's not to love here? With fresh watermelon and strawberry aromas and flavors lifted by hints of tomato leaf and chalky minerals, this 100% Pinot Noir rose is fruity and refreshing without skimping on complexity. Served chilled, this is delightful on its own or accompanied by a fresh nicoise salad. It would also make a cleansing counter pairing to a more substantial dish, such as a provencal chicken or sausage stew with tomato and fresh rosemary.

2010 Eyrie Vineyards Estate Dundee Hills Pinot Gris ($13.99) 93 WE A blend of grapes from all four of their Dundee Hills vineyards, Eyrie's estate Pinot Gris was a trailblazer for the varietal in Oregon with its first bottling in 1970.

Bryan Brick: On a recent week long trip to Oregon scouting out wines with my counterpart in San Francisco Mike Jordan we found tons of great stuff. We met with something like 30 wineries and were impressed by pretty much everyone; however few of our visits rivaled the one we had with Jason Lett at Eyrie Vineyards...From what may be some of the oldest Pinot Gris vines in the Willamette Valley this Pinot Gris is head and shoulders above all that we tasted on our trip...more


2009 Bodegas Norton "Privada" Mendoza ($17.99) 93 WE | 91 RP | 91 WS Bodegas Norton is back in a big way with their Privada bottling from the very solid 2009 vintage made of nearly equal parts Malbec, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot.

Joe Manekin: Though I'm not a "brand hater"...the larger guys need to continually prove themselves and earn a spot here. And this year, Norton really earned it. Their 2009 privada bottling is all pure, fresh, focused red fruits, with a satisfying texture and persistent finish. For the price, you could not ask for a tastier new world Malbec Cab blend.


 2010 Sarno Fiano di Avellino ($24.99) Tenuta Sarno's organically farmed vineyards are situated on 4.5 hectares and are planted on rich soil deposits of calcareous clay and limestone characteristic of the region- a phenomenon attributable to the great eruption of Mount Vesuvius in 1944.

Chris Miller: Citrus, foral notes and minerals blossom on the mid-palate of this rich, textured white. The long , elegant fnish gives way to notes of honey and toasted hazelnuts. Hands down, one of the best Fiano d'Avellino I've ever tasted.

2002 Domaine Moillard Vosne-Romanée 1er Cru "Malconsorts" ($74.99) *Outstanding* 89-94 BH With Pascal Marchand consulting and a movement to biodynamic growing, the estate wines from this negociant are getting better and better. 

Susan Thornett: We don't often get beautiful, direct-from-France, well-aged Burgundies so it is a real pleasure to have this 02 Malconsorts available to sell. It needs some time to open in a decanter as it is still a little young. Lots of forest-floor and rich mushroomy goodness on the nose, the structure is quite firm and well balanced, do enjoy this one with food!



Want to see which wines are most popular with our customers? We constantly update our lists of bestselling wines, online at:  


We offer five excellent wine clubs and a new exclusive Personal Sommelier Service, that allow you to sample outstanding wines from all over the world. Due to our bulk purchase power and longstanding relationships, the quality and value offered by these clubs are tremendous. Unlike winery clubs where you typically taste the same wines year after year, our clubs offer phenomenal variety that is strictly selected by our panel of buyers. See for yourself.



CA vs. OR Pinot Noir Blind Tasting Challenge: The Results Are In! 


It was a packed house last Saturday, as 50+ K&L customers put their palates to the test in the Redwood City tasting bar. The annual CA vs OR Pinot Noir Blind Tasting Challenge is one of our most fun and popular customer tastings, drawing an enthusiast crowd of eager and open-minded Pinot aficionados.

In the end, California won by a landslide. Three wines were head and shoulders above the rest in terms of customer's votes. There was a tie for first place, each wine with 12 votes. Those wines were the 2009 Au Bon Climat Santa Barbara County Pinot Noir ($19.99) and the 2009 Calera "Mills Vineyard" Mt. Harlan Pinot Noir ($44.99) with the 2008 Holdredge Russian River Valley Pinot Noir ($32.99) coming in second with 11 votes.

Out of the Oregon entries, the 2009 Soléna "Grand Cuvée" Oregon Pinot Noir ($22.99) was the most popular, with 5 votes.

The Winners  (both with 12 votes):


Known as one of the “god-fathers” of Central Coast Pinot Noir Jim Clendenen began Au Bon Climat in 1982. Since then he has made some of the best wines in the area. This Santa Barbara County bottling in Jim’s Words is, “Just easy to drink…There is nothing pretentious here, just well balanced, nicely textured, brightly fruity wine that seems to go with everything.” We couldn't agree more, but the wine speaks for itself.



In 1975, Josh planted his first 24 acres of Pinot Noir in three separate parcels. Since then Calera has been widely recognized as one of the leading producers of Pinot Noir in the United States. The Mills Vineyard was originally planted in 1984 at an average elevation of 2,200 feet on pure limestone soils. The wine saw 16 months of 30% new French Oak. 1,599 cases were made from certified organically grown grapes as are all the grapes that are grown at Calera. 


K&L's Domestic Wine Buyer Bryan Brick assembled a lineup of 10 Pinot Noirs, 5 from Oregon and 5 from California, in the $19.99 to $49.99 price range and from vintages ranging from 2008 - 2010. The wines were brown-bagged and noted with a number. Tasting patrons received a blank piece of paper, with the numbers 1-10. The point of the challenge was not to guess all the wines correctly, but rather to thoughtfully evaluate the wines based on merit without letting preconceived notions obscure judgment and - most importantly - pick a personal favorite!

Tasters' "best-of" votes were submitted at the end of the tasting and tallied. The results reveal that the majority of tasting attendees showed a clear preference for fruit-forward and lush Pinots over lighter, brighter styles at this tasting.

What didn't seem to tip the scale much was price, with one of the least expensive wines ($19.99) tying with one of the most expensive  ($49.99) for first place.

Looks like CA Pinot producers don't have to worry about losing their loyal K&L Redwood City customers anytime soon! 


The Complete Lineup: CA vs. OR Pinot Noir Blind Tasting Challenge 4/28/12

For more information about the Pinot Noirs featured in the tasting, click on the links below:

Wine #1: 2010 Patricia Green Cellars “K&L Cuvée” Willamette Valley Pinot Noir ($27.99)  We work with Patty Green directly to bring in this exclusive bottling for K&L. The fruit in this bottling comes mostly from her Estate vineyard. Aged in less than 20% new oak we think this is a fantastic value.

Wine #2: 2008 Holdredge Russian River Valley Pinot Noir ($32.99)  John Holdredge produces less than 700 cases of this Russian River Pinot Noir. Using numerous vineyards throughout the appellation brings added complexity and depth. John is a “hands-off” guy letting the wine make itself, he likes to intervene as little as possible to let his raw materials shine through.

Wine #3: 2008 Easton “Durate-Georgetown Vineyard” Sierra Foothills Pinot Noir ($21.99) Bill Easton has been making wonderful wines under the Easton and Terre Rouge labels for years from his high elevation estate located in the Shenandoah Valley. This Pinot Noir was grown at 2,500 feet elevation and planted in 2007. 50% of the fruit was whole cluster fermented. The wine spent 11 months in 25% new French Oak.

Wine #4: 2009 Londer Anderson Valley Pinot Noir ($24.99) Shirley and Larry Londer began looking for a vineyard site in 1997 and settled in Anderson Valley a few years later. Focusing on Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Gewurztraminer mainly from the valley they have created some beautiful wines over the last decade. This Pinot comes from four vineyards including their Estate Vineyard and Ferrington Vineyard and is aged in 30% new French oak. 1532 cases were produced.

Wine #5: 2010 St. Innocent “Villages Cuvée” Willamette Valley Pinot Noir ($21.99) St. Innocent Winery was founded in 1988 by Mark Vlossak who continues to be the winemaker and President. Originally produced in 2002 the Villages Cuvee was an outlet for fruit from newly planted vineyards. Currently the vineyard blend is 65% Vitae Springs Vineyard, 15% Momtazi Vineyard, 17% Zenith Vineyard and  3% Freedom Hill Vineyard. The wine spent 12 months in 23% new French Oak before bottling.

Wine #6: Cristom “Mt. Jefferson Cuvée” Willamette Valley Pinot Noir ($25.99) Cristom may be the K&L staff’s favorite winery in Oregon currently. Steve Doerner has been the winemaker since the wineries inception in 1992, previous to that he made over 15 vintages at Calera Vineyards. Coming from both estate (38%) and purchased fruit this Pinot comes from 12 different vineyards throughout Willamette Valley. 37% of the wine was fermented Whole Clusters and wild yeast was exclusively used. Just short of 6000 cases were produced.

Wine #7: Arterberry Maresh “Maresh Vineyard” Dundee Hills Pinot Noir ($49.99) Jim Maresh maybe the most talented young winemaker in the Willamette Valley right now. Maybe that comes from his intensive knowledge of the Dundee Hills where he has lived his entire life and where 100% of his fruit originates from. It also doesn’t hurt that his family planted what is now the 3rd oldest Pinot Noir Vineyard in Willamette Valley and the oldest in the Dundee Hills sub-appellation. Jim’s wines are all about finesse and grace which we think this wine personifies.

Wine #8: 2009 Au Bon Climat Santa Barbara County Pinot Noir ($19.99) Known as one of the “god-fathers” of Central Coast Pinot Noir Jim Clendenen began Au Bon Climat in 1982. Since then he has made some of the best wines in the area. This Santa Barbara County bottling in Jim’s Words is, “Just easy to drink…There is nothing pretentious here, just well balanced, nicely textured, brightly fruity wine that seems to go with everything.” We couldn’t agree more.

Wine #9: 2009 Soléna “Grand Cuvée” Oregon Pinot Noir ($22.99) Laurent Montalieu (Mumm, Willakenzie) and Danielle Andrus Montalieu (Archery Summit) purchased an 80-acre estate to commemorate their marriage. In May 2002, they launched Soléna by releasing their first bottling and, shortly thereafter, opening a tasting room in Carlton. This 3,500 case cuvee comes from 5 vineyards located throughout Willamette Valley and is aged for 10months in 25% new French Oak.

Wine #10: 2009 Calera “Mills Vineyard” Mt. Harlan Pinot Noir ($49.99) In 1975, Josh planted his first 24 acres of pinot noir in three separate parcels. Since then Calera has been widely recognized as one of the leading producers of Pinot Noir in the United States. The Mills Vineyard was originally planted in 1984 at an average elevation of 2,200 feet on pure limestone soils. The wine saw 16 months of 30% new French Oak. 1,599 cases were made from certified organically grown grapes as are all the grapes that are grown at Calera.


Shop our wide selection of Pinot Noir and stage your own Pinot Noir Blind Tasting Challenge with friends at home!