Stay Connected
What We're Drinking

 

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.

Recent Videos

Tasting with Oliver Krug

Upcoming Events

We host regular weekly and Saturday wine tastings in each K&L location.

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

 

Free Spirits Tastings at K&L! Now that we have our license for spirits tastings in Redwood City and San Francisco, we’re excited to host regular free spirits tastings in those locations.  Check the Spirits Journal for an updated tasting schedule.

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.

>>Upcoming Special Events, Dinners, and Tastings

See all K&L Local Events

Archives

Entries in Pinot Blanc (4)

Friday
Jun212013

Champagne Friday: Brouillet: One of a Kind Terroir in Champagne

Gouttes d'Or Vineyard (Brouillet)

By: Gary Westby | K&L Champagne Buyer

Brouillet: One of a Kind Terroir in Champagne

Since I first met Caroline and Paul Vincent Ariston of Champagne Aspasie in Brouillet, I have never gone to France without visiting them. The Ariston’s make top class Champagne at very reasonable prices, and were the very first that we brought in direct here at K&L. When I first met them, they just had their daughter Bertille- now she is 14… Time goes by much too quickly! Cinnamon and I just returned from a short (only four nights!) trip to Champagne, and we spend the day with the Ariston’s. As usual, we had a great time and also learned many new things about what makes their wines so special.

Brouillet, circled on the Larmat Atlas of Champagne.

Brouillet is in the far Northwest corner of Champagne, between Reims and Soissons. This area could not be more different than the intensively planted mono-culture of the Cote-des-Blancs and Mountain of Reims. Here, polyculture is still the rule, with wheat and canola making a patchwork with the vineyards. Only hillside sites with the right soil are granted the appellation here and abundant chalk is found here alongside sand and clay. This area is one of the last in Champagne to be harvested, and Paul Vincent likes to pick ripe, so he often harvests 10 days after most of the appellation.

On this trip I learned something that I did not know about the Aspasie wines. They are in fact an RM, and sell their wines as such within France. Because of the complexities of exporting, and in order to fairly compensate the members of his family, Paul Vincent set up a negociant business for export. The only wine sold under this negociant label is their estate grown Champagne.

The Ariston Aspasie "Carte Blanche" Brut Champagne ($27.99, $15.99 375ml) has always been our number one selling direct import Champagne. This is for great reason- no producer is as patient with their entry level wine, ageing it for five years before selling it. The value for money is off the charts. This wine has plenty of richness and weight, but keeps its balance with excellent refreshing qualities as well. The toastiness of this wine is all natural and arrived at by long ageing.

For me, one of the most special wines from this estate is the Ariston Aspasie Blanc de Blancs Brut Champagne ($34.99, $79.99 magnum) which is almost all from the old vine Chardonnay in the Gouttes d’Or parcel. This is the second steepest vineyard that I have walked in Champagne- only the Clos des Goisses was steeper. Unlike most Chardonnay in Champagne, the Gouttes d’Or faces West, and on this trip it was a furnace. When we got back to the car, the thermometer read 41 Centigrade- 105 in old money!

Returning back to the house, Paul Vincent treated us to a comparison of the 2008 based Blanc de Blancs and the recently disgorged 2009. The last of the 2008 just docked here in California, and it is simply spectacular. Looking back at my notes from tasting the wine as vin clair on May 25th of 2009, I found it to be both racy and rich at once. On June 17th of this year, that had not changed- it had snap and refreshment that cannot be beat while also filling the mouth with rich, creamy texture. This bottle reminded me of the quote “A bottle between four of us, thank God there aren’t more of us” and went down very quickly! Later on, just before dinner, we had the Blanc de Blancs from magnum, and this batch is still based on 2007, with a full extra year on the lees. The magnum gained a lot in complexity without losing any of the freshness of the 2008. If you have more than two people, this is the way to go!

Aspasie: a new plantation.

 

Grillmaster Caroline Aspasie.

It is hard for me to say more about the Ariston Aspasie "Cepages d'Antan" Brut Champagne ($99) than I have already said- it is simply one of the best Champagnes that money can buy. Not only does it offer the kind of incisive cut that one finds in Salon, but it is nearly exotic enough to be Condrieu. The Viognier like fruit expression on the nose also has flinty, bready elements and the palate is a kaleidoscope of complexity. The finish, which lasts and lasts has the brightness of the best of the appellation. Paul Vincent calls it “a wine for squirrels” as the high acidity raises his cheekbones! It is based on 2006 and composed of 40% Meslier, 40% Arbanne and 20% Pinot Blanc.

A toast of Aspasie to you!

–Gary

Thursday
Aug022012

{Terra Ignota} Pyramid Valley Vineyard Wines In Stock!

We now have a large range of these spectacular wines in stock

By: Ryan Woodhouse | K&L NZ & Aussie Wine Specialist

On very rare occasions do we find wines that truly inspire—the magic moment we all chase in a simple beverage made from crushed grapes. For this to happen I believe three things have to be in harmony: fruit, structure and terroir. I found these things intricately aligned in the wines of Pyramid Valley. Based in North Canterbury on the east coast of New Zealand’s South Island, the wines made by Mike and Claudia Weersing are truly world class.

Pyramid Valley's Home Vineyard in North Canterbury under a blanket of snowTheir “Home Vineyard” is one of the most carefully cultivated sites anywhere, farmed using biodynamic principles and a whole lot of Claudia’s “blood, sweat and tears.” Beyond their estate they have also forged relationships with growers and small vineyards all over New Zealand. They choose sites of distinction and convert everything to the same stringent biodynamic principles they apply at home. The resulting wines are nothing short of spectacular, perfectly illustrating New Zealand’s plethora of microclimates and diverse terroirs. The winemaking at Pyramid Valley parallels the profound attention to detail in the field: They work with all wild yeasts, tread the grapes by foot and ferment in tiny clay vessels, with an unwavering focus on quality and authenticity.

We have just received a huge range of their spectacular wines into stock, in stores and online:

2009 Pyramid Valley Vineyard “Angel Flower” Pinot Noir, North Canterbury ($59.99)

Opulently aromatic: soft berry fruits, exotic spice, hints of warm earth. On the palate: supple, elegant andenergetic. Fine polished tannins and relatively light extraction. The exuberance and depth of this wine suggests its longevity will belie its attractive, graceful structure.

2009 Pyramid Valley Vineyards “Earth Smoke” Pinot Noir, North Canterbury ($59.99)

A powerful and brooding Pinot with darker black cherry, bramble fruit and charcoal, plus ground nutmeg and
clove and an intense, earthy or leaf-litter component. The tannins are more prominent, which perfectly matches the heavier palate weight. Cellaring will no doubt bring reward.

2009 Pyramid Valley Vineyards Growers Collection “Cowley Vineyard” Pinot Noir, Marlborough ($29.99)

The Cowley Vineyard is in the hills and has a more complex soil composition than much of Marlborough, including clay, glacial deposits and granitic stone. This Pinot is dramatically floral, with crushed red berries and hints of anise. The palate is vibrant and concentrated, with spice and rich depth. A touch more forward in style.

2009 Pyramid Valley Vineyards Growers Collection “Calvert Vineyard” Pinot Noir, Central Otago ($39.99)

From a Vineyard shared between some giants of NZ Pinot Noir. (Craggy Range, Felton Road and Pyramid Valley) All farmed Biodynamically. This is the warmest region PV work with and it is reflected in this wines powerful fruit core of Blackberries and dark cherry. Rich and unctuous on the palate, yet retaining freshness and drive. Some dark earthiness and ripe silky tannin. Probably the best cross-over wine for California Pinot drinkers interested in trying Pyramid Valleys offerings.

2007 Pyramid Valley Vineyards Growers Collection “Howell Family” Cabernet Franc, Hawkes Bay ($35.99)

From the Bridge Pa district of Hawkes Bay, known for its iron- and mineral-rich red loam soils that impart a distinctive complexity into the wines. The winemaker’s notes are perfect here, “hugely perfumed fruit, violets and a tapenade-like mix of olive, black pepper and herbs, especially thyme. Black fruits turn redder with air: blackberry morphing to raspberry.”

2009 Pyramid Valley Vineyards Growers Collection "Rose Vineyard" Riesling, Marlborough ($21.99)

Intense mineral and lime zest aromatics with a hint of dry grass or straw. A really vivacious palate with tons of citrus notes, some mulling spice, bright floral notes of orange blossom. A lovely weight in the mouth, rich and persistent on the finish.

2007 Pyramid Valley Vineyards Growers Collection "Kerner Estate" Pinot Blanc, Marlborough ($21.99)

Rich citrus preserve, sweet orange marmalade. Some roasted grains and lees character on the nose give an interesting savory component to an other wise fruit laden bouquet. On the palate this wine is beautifully viscous and mouth filling. A very fleshed out wine that has evolved fantastically in the bottle. All this richness is perfectly balanced by a brisk acidity and long lingering savory minerality on the finish. Very food friendly.

2009 Pyramid Valley Vineyard "Field Of Fire" Chardonnay, North Canterbury

A beautiful bright Chardonnay dominated by perfectly ripe orchard fruits and again those toasted grain notes I get from so many of the PV wines, I think it must be from the good healthy lees contact. A rich and engaging multidimensional wine with excellent fruit, a subtle touch of oak and limestone character running throughout the tail. Excellent depth and persistence.

Cheers!

-Ryan

Ryan Woodhouse

NZ & Aussie Wine Specialist

K&L Wine Merchants - Redwood City

Contact

 ***

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!

Friday
May182012

Champagne Friday: Visiting the Vineyard at Champagne Aspasie

By: Gary Westby | K&L Champagne Buyer

Visiting the Vineyard: Champagne Aspasie

On my trip to Champagne, I had a chance to join Paul-Vincent Ariston in the tiny vineyard where he grows three grape varieties that almost went extinct in Champagne - Meslier, Arbanne, and Pinot Blanc. He shows us the vineyard and explains a little bit of the history & challenges of these rarities.

The wine that comes from this vineyard is my personal favorite special occasion Champagne, the Ariston Aspasie "Cepages d'Antan" Brut Champagne ($99). I often feel guilty that my own consumption has impacted the global supply- they only made 3000 bottles!  

Ariston Aspasie "Cepages d'Antan" Brut Champagne ($99) Composed of 40% Meslier, 40% Arbanne and 20% Pinot Blanc, on the palate the Champagne makes for a double take: it is very rich and textural, but finishes with a laser beam of chalky acidity that just goes on and on. It is fantastic first course Champagne, and pairs well with a wide variety of foods, we tried it with both foie and oysters to equal delight! 

 

 

 

***

Check out more educational wine and spirits videos by Gary and other experts from K&L on YouTube!