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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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For the complete calendar, including lineups and additional details related to our events, visit our K&L Local Events on or follow us on Facebook.  


Visit our events page on Facebook or the K&L Spirits Journal for more information.

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Entries in Personal Sommelier (6)


Coravin: What we all want (need) for Christmas

Coravin Brand Video from Coravin on Vimeo.


To order your own Coravin contact us directly via email or at 877-559-4637 

The Coravin is at the top of my own Christmas list. Released earlier this year, it has taken the wine world by storm. It somewhat resembles a rabbit wine opener, but what it does will blow you away. Once you manually attach the Coravin to a bottle of wine, you easily press down on the top of the contraption, inserting a thin, hollow, medical grade needle through the capsule and the cork, into the wine bottle. A small tab allows you to pressurize the wine with argon gas (the gas in wine preserver Private Reserve, and built-in wine dispensing cabinets), and pour out exactly what you want to drink, remove the needle, detach the Coravin, and the cork reseals itself! The wine never come in contact with oxygen! What does this mean? It means that you can drink a bottle one glass at a time over days, weeks, months, possibly years without any compromise to the freshness of the wine. It means that the wine will naturally continue to age as though it had never been touched. It means that you can see if a bottle of wine is ready to drink, past its prime, or needs to be left alone in the depths of your cellar for a while more. It means that you can try every wine in your cellar. It means that you can see if a wine is corked before you take it out to a fancy restaurant with massive corkage fees...

As the first two units at K&L were sold to Clyde and Ralph, we were given immediate and ample feedback on their value. Legend has it Ralph went into his cellar with his Coravin the first night that he had it and didn’t come out until the next day! Talk about a kid in a candy shop.

I personally had the privilege of spending a weekend in Napa Valley with the K&L Domestic buy team tasting incredible wines from the wineries during the day, and then indulging in wines from Clyde Beffa’s personal cellar that night. Two days in a row we tasted first growths, second growths, California wines from the 1960s, Crozes Hermitage; by day three I had to head back to the K&L base and knew I would be missing out on other once in a lifetime wines that were planned to be opened at a restaurant the next night. Taking advantage of Clyde’s generosity I asked to try out the Coravin on the magnum of 1975 Pavie Decesse before I left. Excited to use the new toy we attached it was corked. Luckily this was discovered at home and not in the restaurant, giving Clyde the opportunity to replace it with a magnum of perfectly delicious 1997 Gloria.

"If you have special reservation at a nice restaurant and are bringing a special bottle of wine--why not try it before you bring it?  It is so bad and so expensive to find out it is dead or corked after you get to restaurant." -Clyde Beffa

"The most transformational and exciting new product for wine lovers that has been developed or invented in the last 30-plus years." -Robert Parker

To order your own Coravin contact us directly via email or at 877-559-4637



Personal Sommelier Online: It's Dunce Day! Fun November Holidays and Wines to Match

November 8, 2011


The month of Thanksgiving and Black Friday, of All Saints Day, All Souls Day and Dia de los Muertos. Of Veterans Day. At K&L, November is also Burgundy month, when our shelves are stacked high with recent arrivals from France. Nevertheless, despite all this activity and potential, most food and wine discussions in November revolve around turkey.

It gets old.

So, if you’re tired of talking turkey (like me) or simply appreciate any excuse to drink Burgundy (also like me), here are some of my favorite lesser-known November holidays to celebrate this month, with Burgundies to match.


November 8th: Dunce Day

Although the conical dunce cap is today symbolic of stupidity, Dunce Day is meant to celebrate learning, in the name of the influential and controversial Franciscan theologian Johannes Duns Scotus, who believed that the cone-shaped hats increased learning potential. While that cap may not have aided Duns’ cause much, the Stelvin closure (screwcap) continues to win serious believers the world over. Even in traditional winemaking locales such as Burgundy, producers are finding that this style of closure seals in and preserves freshness most effectively for wines meant to be enjoyed young, like the 2010 Domaine des Nembrets Denis Barraud Mâcon “Source de Plaisirs”* ($12.99). With its citrusy and Golden Delicious apple-scented nose, creamy mouthfeel, mineral layers and acidity, you would be a dunce to ignore this one. 

November 17th: Take a Hike Day

It is easy to forget what Pinot Noir actually smells and tastes like, given that so many Pinots these days are bombarded by new wood. Well, those wines can take a hike while we get back to the roots of Pinot Noir, celebrating pure varietal expressions like the 2009 Domaine Anne & Arnaud Goisot Bourgogne Côtes d’Auxerre Pinot Noir* ($12.99) on what might be one of the last hikeable days of the year (at least in Northern California). Grab a bottle of this clean, fragrant, unoaked Pinot Noir from the northerly region of the Côtes d’Auxerre, pack a hearty picnic lunch and head to the woods. Hike not an option? Don’t worry: You can still observe this holiday in the comfort of your dining room. 


November 23rd: National Cashew Day

The only requirement on National Cashew Day is to eat cashews. And don’t we love how a handful of these fatty nuts can be the most profound complement to a glass of Corton-Charlemagne! The buttery flavors and creamy texture of the roasted and salted cashew enhance the taste sensation of this powerful, layered expression of Chardonnay. Splurge on the 2009 Domaine Dubreuil-Fontaine Corton-Charlemagne Grand Cru* ($89.95), which is surprisingly approachable, or give the 2009 Domaine Dubreuil-Fontaine Pernand-Vergelesses 1er Cru Blanc “Clos Berthet”* ($36.99) a try. Sourced from the only Premier Cru monopole for white wine in the area, the “Clos Berthet” will floor you with its power and density at half the price of the Corton.

November 28th: Make Your Own Head Day 

It’s not as weird as you think. Initiated by teachers to inspire creativity and imagination in school children, who on this day are asked to draw a new head for themselves. Why not give your wine collection a facelift and design your own customized wine club through the K&L Personal Sommelier Service? Learn more about the options and benefits and get started by visiting


Happy November & Cheers,



Chiara Shannon

Head Sommelier - Personal Sommelier Service

K&L Wine Merchants

Tel: (800) 247-5987



"It is well to remember that there are five reasons for drinking: the arrival of a friend; one's present or future thirst; the excellence of the wine; or any other reason."

-Latin saying


Personal Sommelier Online: California Cabernet Gets Interesting


"Stay thirsty, my friends." What do Mexican beer ads have to do with California Cabernet?

Not much, except as the source of inspiration for my article in the September issue of the K&L Wine News, our monthly newsletter. The theme this month is California Cabernet. As I set about to write, I realized couldn't remember the last time I bought a California Cabernet to take home and drink myself. "I don't drink Cabernet that often," I said to my veteran coworker later that day in the tasting room, "but when I do, I prefer Bordeaux."

"Yes... I used to prefer California Cab," he responded, "but you know they don't make them like they used to." 

While I'm not nearly as interesting as actor Jonathan Goldsmith's character in the Dos Equis ad campaign that ran in the United States in 2006, this particular coworker could give him a run for the money.

What do you prefer?

With all due respect to the great winemaking traditions of my native state, I know for a fact that I'm not alone in this - let's call it frustration - with the opulent style that has come to characterize the wines made around here.  Many of my Personal Sommelier Service Wine Club customers, for example, enlist in the program with the same requests: "No fruit bombs," they ask. "Balanced, Old World-styled Cabernet or blends preferred." It is the very fact that they can subscribe to a wine club and have overly oaked Cabernets filtered out that motivates them to cancel their other clubs and stick with this one only. Some even go so far as to justify this request with an excuse similar to that of my coworker: "I used to drink a lot of California Cab," one customer explained. "But not any more - too oakey, too expensive, too much of the same." 

It's my job to find wines that suit my customers' tastes and preferences. When it comes to Cabernet, if a customer expresses and preference for a more restrained, Bordeaux-like style, I have often come up short at the local level and must look elsewhere - Bordeaux, South Africa, or even Spain - for wines to suit his or her tastes. This has been the case even if the customer wishes to source locally if possible, and despite my desire to support my local industry.  Wines with less attitude and more soul at fair price can be hard to come by around here. 

Which is why I am so excited to report in this issue that demand for unique, terroir-driven, and handmade wines, not just from California but from all over the world, seems to have finally reached the tipping point, and local industries are responding.

Even California.  Larger, established producers are diversifying their product mix, dialing back the oak and coming up with fun, new, balanced wines at the entry level. New boutique producers are popping up with small-production Cabs and blends meant for drinking tonight. And the guys that have been quietly making wines this way all along are making better wines than ever before.

This is no joke.  California Cabernet - and California wine in general - is getting interesting again.

Check these out, if you're interested:  

2009 Ancient Peaks Paso Robles Cabernet Sauvignon ($12.99) Ancient Peaks has flown under the radar as a producer of distinctive, value-driven wines from the Margarita Vineyard, its single estate vineyard, for some time. The wine from this family-run operation shows pure varietal Cabernet aromas and flavors, and it is defined by an earthy, mineral-driven quality that speaks to its unique terroir. It is structured without being heavy or overdone, and drinks well above its retail price.

2008 Broadside “Margarita Vineyard” Paso Robles Cabernet Sauvignon ($18.99) Ancient Peaks had fruit to share in 2008, and the talented, up-and-coming young winemakers Chris Brockway (Broc Cellars) and Brian Terrizzi (Giornata) got their hands on some. The result is a refreshing, black currant-scented, mineral-accented, fine-boned and effortlessly clean Cabernet made (and priced) for drinking.

2009 Robert Craig “Mt. George Cuvée” Napa Valley Red Wine ($24.99) Former Hess Collection CEO Robert Craig has been making serious Cabernet and blends from top hillside sites under his own label since 1992. The new Mt. George Cuvée takes the best of the “leftovers” from the winery’s pricier “Affinity” bottling and crafts a softer, entry-level version for drinking tonight. This Left Bank inspired blend spent just six months in French oak before release. It’s medium-bodied, fragrant and forward, with a nose of dark fruits and rose petals accented by subtle hints of vanilla and spice. The palate is soft, round and generous, with moderate tannins adding a little grip at the finish.

2008 Obsidian Ridge “Obsidian Ridge Vineyard” Red Hills Lake County Cabernet Sauvignon ($27.99) Lake County, Napa’s wily backwoods neighbor, is fast-becoming an exciting destination for affordable Cabernet. Named for the black obsidian boulders that mark the landscape and define the terroir, the nose is dark-fruited and deep, with a complex array of spicy, herbal aromas that morph into dark chocolate and barbecue smoke with some air. This is medium-bodied, but framed by firm tannins and acidity. It is a bit more serious, with a long, chewy, mineral-driven finish, and needs some time to open up, but it might be one of the most interesting California Cabernets I’ve tasted in a long time.

-Chiara Shannon


Drink More Interesting Wine. K&L’s Personal Sommelier Service is our customizable wine club that allows you to set the price range, number of bottles, origin, style preference and be in direct communication with your chosen K&L sommelier to better tailor your “club” to suit your needs and tastes. Visit to learn more or get started.