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Château de Brézé has a long and storied history, first being mentioned in texts in 1068, lauded by King René of Anjou in the 15th century and served at all the royal courts. In 1957, when the AOC of Saumur Champigny was established, the owner of Château de Brézé refused to be part of the appellation, saying that his estate's vineyards were the best and deserved an appellation all their own. And he was probably right. Unfortunately, the wines from those exceptional vineyards were terrible. Lucky for us, the winery sold in 2009 to Le Comte de Colbert, who recruited Arnaud Lambert from nearby Domaine de Saint Just to make the wine. He changed the vineyards over to organic farming and began producing truly stellar wines worthy of their source. The 2012 Château de Brézé Clos David is all estate-grown Chenin Blanc raised in stainless steel to preserve freshness. It has the slightly-oxidized note of a great White Burgundy and a lovely richness that allows it to pair with a variety of foods.

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Entries in Pinot Noir (80)


Keith's Burgundy Hotline: 2010 Domaine Joseph Roty wines arrive

By: Keith Wollenberg | K&L Burgundy Buyer

Hello Burgundy Lovers,

The extremely well-regarded wines from Philippe Roty of Domaine Joseph Roty have arrived, and are spectacularly good.

They are already here, ON THE WEB, and available at 1-800-247-5987, so I wanted to let you all know as soon as possible, since it was a somewhat short crop and I am unlikely to be able to get more of the top wines.

The Wines:

2010 Domaine J. Roty Bourgogne Rouge      $26.99

The winter frost of December 2009 was severe as temperatures descended to -20°C. We lost around 3,000 vines but that needs to be viewed against our normal loss rate of between 1,800 and 2,000 annually. So while we definitely lost more than I would like I don't think you can call it a catastrophe. The poor flowering and rampant incidence of shot berries however were much more significant in terms of yield. We were down between 30 and 40% relative to a normal crop. We began picking on the 25th of September and there was some sorting work necessary but not ... Read More » 

2010 Domaine J. Roty Bourgogne Rouge "Pressoniers"   $27.99

Allen Meadows - Burghound: "Outstanding Top value! A gentle touch of wood sets off ripe and very fresh aromas of red berry fruit, earth and cassis. There is good richness and volume to the vibrant and textured middle weight flavors that are shaped by phenolically mature tannins and fine length where a trace of oak resurfaces. This is a serious Bourgogne that will age. Recommended." (1/2013)   K&L Notes: This comes from a parcel that was classified as Gevrey Chambertin, until 1994, and from vines of more than 40 years of age. 

2010 Domaine J. Roty Marsannay         $37.99

89 points Stephen Tanzer's International Wine Cellar: "Good bright red. Sappy aromas of red and black fruits. Juicy and precise, with bright acidity giving cut to the black cherry and spice flavors. Finishes long and perfumed. An excellent basic Marsannay bottling." (3/2013)  Allen Meadows - Burghound: "Moderate wood still allows the ripe aromas of black cherry, cassis and a hint of underbrush to show through. There is a lovely vibrancy to the cool and delicious flavors that possess solid depth and length in the context of the appellation. This should drink well early on if desired yet reward mid-term cellaring as well." (1/2013)   

2010 Domaine J. Roty Marsannay "Les Ouzeloy"    $41.99

90 points Stephen Tanzer's International Wine Cellar: "Good deep red. Black cherry, licorice and menthol on the nose and palate, lifted by a note of violet. Bright, minerally and gripping, with firm tannins that coat the teeth. Finishes with intriguing saline minerality and the structure to age. 90(+?) points" (3/2013)  89 points Allen Meadows - Burghound: "Here the wood treatment is more discreet if not invisible as it outlines the otherwise ripe, pure and fresh aromas of red cherry liqueur and wet stone nuances. There is good volume to the very rich and concentrated flavors that possess plenty of extract that coats the mouth on the vibrant and  ... Read More » 

2010 Domaine J. Roty Marsannay "Boivin" 43.99

90 points Allen Meadows - Burghound: "Outstanding! Again moderate oak surrounds bright and fresh red pinot fruit liqueur aromas that merge seamlessly into dense and serious medium weight flavors that culminate in a dusty, complex, balanced and long finish. This doesn't have the same sappy mouth feel of the Ouzeloy but there is more overall depth here." (1/2013)  90 points Stephen Tanzer's International Wine Cellar: "(13.8% natural alcohol; Philippe Roty told me that he uses about 20% new oak to age his Marsannays): Good deep red. Reticent but pure and very fresh aromas of blackberry and menthol. Penetrating acidity intensifies the black fruit an  ... Read More » 

2010 Domaine J. Roty Gevrey-Chambertin "La Brunelle"  $68.99

91 points Stephen Tanzer's International Wine Cellar: "Good deep red. Sexy aromas of black cherry, smoked meat, flowers and minerals. Concentrated, lush and deep; really spreads out to coat the palate with redcurrant and spice flavors. Nicely pliant for the vintage, showing no hard edges. Finishes with sophisticated tannins and excellent length." (3/2013)  90 points Allen Meadows - Burghound: "Outstanding! A notably ripe nose primarily evidences red cherry liqueur and warm earth aromas that are trimmed in enough wood to be noticeable without actually being invasive. The rich, round and agreeably textured medium weight flavors possess a slightly  ... Read More » 

2010 Domaine P. Roty Gevrey-Chambertin "Champs Chenys" Vieilles Vignes  $69.95

89 points Allen Meadows - Burghound: "Outstanding! A similar if somewhat more deeply pitched and riper nose complements the rich, full-bodied and tautly muscular flavors that are blessed with an abundance of palate coating dry extract before culminating in a tension-filled finish. There is a backend touch of wood that surfaces but there is sufficient concentration present that this should have no problem integrating it quickly. A very impressive villages that is well worth considering." (1/2013)  89 points Stephen Tanzer's International Wine Cellar: "Medium red. Redcurrant, violet and a whiff of smoke on the nose. Supple on entry, then tight in   ... Read More » 

2010 Domaine J. Roty Mazis-Chambertin Grand Cru  $315.00  Limit of 1 per customer

93 points Allen Meadows - Burghound: "Moderate wood encloses a distinctly sauvage nose of spice, earth, underbrush and humus that add plenty of depth to the fresh and ripe wild red berry fruit aromas. There is both excellent volume and superb richness to the impressively concentrated and opulent yet very firm full-bodied flavors that possess outstanding length where an echo of the wood treatment from the nose arrives as well." (1/2013)  93 points Stephen Tanzer's International Wine Cellar: "(Roty's three grand crus were aged in 90% new oak): Deep red-ruby, the darkest 2010 to this point. Superripe, almost decadent aromas of kirsch and smoke accen  ... Read More » 

2010 Domaine J. Roty Griottes-Chambertin Grand Cru  $365.00 Limit of 1 per customer

95 points Stephen Tanzer's International Wine Cellar: "Full ruby-red color. High-pitched aromas of cherry, flowers and smoky oak. Powerful and vibrant in the mouth, offering exceptional energy to its dark raspberry and flinty mineral flavors. Gripping, sharply delineated Griottes with an explosively perfumed, brisk, palate-staining finish. I would not be surprised if this shut down soon for a long sleep. 95(+?) points" (3/2013)  93 points Allen Meadows - Burghound: "A wonderfully layered and ripe nose offers up notes of cassis, red currant and black cherry liqueur that precede the rich, generous and quite concentrated medium to full-bodied flav  ... Read More » 

2010 Domaine J. Roty Charmes-Chambertin Grand Cru "Très Vielles Vignes" : $399.95  Limit of 1 per customer

96 points Stephen Tanzer's International Wine Cellar

Full, saturated medium ruby. Superb nuance and lift to the aromas of kirsch, violet, licorice pastille and crushed stone. Wonderfully sappy and alive in the mouth, with outstanding energy and tension to its dark fruit, floral and minerals flavors. Conveys a powerful impression of dry extract, not to mention an exhilarating balance of sweetness and acidity. Noble tannins coat every square millimeter of the palate on the building, vibrant aftertaste. A great vintage for this consistently outstanding bottling: this may yet merit an even higher score 12 or 15 years down the road. 96(+?) points (3/ 2013)

95 points Allen Meadows - Burghound

There is just enough wood to be visible but it should be absorbed in short order. Interestingly, the aromatic profile is relatively similar to that of the Griotte, though this has significantly more depth and concentration to the full-bodied, powerful and explosive flavors that benefit greatly from the exceptional depth of material before culminating in a massively long and impeccably well-balanced finish. Sometimes the Roty Charmes displays its wood for years but the 2010 version appears as though it will eat it sooner than usual. In short, this is a stunner of a wine that clearly outclasses its two grands crus stable mates so if you can find it buy it. (1/ 2013)




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Champagne Friday: 2004 Moet Grand Vintage has arrived!

By: Gary Westby | K&L Champagne Buyer

Moet Grand Vintage- the 2004 has arrived!

2004 Moet & Chandon "Grand Vintage" Brut Champagne ($64.99) "Judging by the excellent structure and acidity of this wine and the history of older vintage of Moet, this wine will make a great candidate for the cellar!" This past Sunday I was lucky enough to be invited to Tamarine Restaurant in Palo Alto for the debut of the 2004 Moet Grand Vintage. The group was hosted by Moet winemaker Elise Losfelt who is part of the ten person team that oversees Champagne's largest producer. Elise comes from a long line of female winemakers, from the other side of France near Montpellier. She also has experience in Bordeaux, having worked at Chateau Beychevelle in St. Julien and was extremely qualified to speak on the subject of Champagne- not just as an insider, but also with great perspective.

Moet is a giant landholder in Champagne and owns more land than anyone else in the region by a long shot. They currently own just under 3000 acres of vineyard - easily over a billion dollars worth of land under vine. In addition, they have many long-term contracts with growers to supply the house more fruit for their very large production. If you take a look at the Larmat Maps that are available on this blog for free download, you can see the spots in red that they owned back in 1943. These have changed some in the past 70 years and their holdings have expanded, but the amount of vineyard marked red as belonging to Moet is simply amazing.

Moet & Chandon "Imperial" Brut Champagne ($37.99) "This was certainly the best Imperial I have drunk, with a discreet nose of bread dough and apple-like Meunier fruit. It was easy to drink, dry and clean and a nice way to start an evening."We started off with an aperitif of Moet & Chandon "Imperial" Brut Champagne ($37.99) which I learned got its name from Napoleon, who was close friends with the Moet family. This wine replaced the White Star in the US market in the fall of 2009, due to the fact that American Champagne lovers were demanding a drier style. The White Star was an Extra Dry, and curiously the first Imperial to arrive on these shores was as well - but not labeled with any style statement. If you see a bottle of the Imperial that does not say 'Brut' on it, snap it up… One day it will be a collector's item!

These first bottles were dosed at 13 grams per liter for the US market only. At the same time they were selling bottles to the Asian market at 11 grams per liter and the rest of the world at 9. Starting in the summer of 2012, all the Imperial began to be labeled 'Brut' with the dosage the same worldwide at 9 grams per liter. It is composed of what Elise describes as a “big third” of Pinot Noir a third of Meunier and a “small third” of Chardonnay. I thought this was a great way to describe the moving target- since they blend four batches of the Imperial a year, keeping the winemaking team and bottling lines busy. She also mentioned that since they use the produce of over 200 villages in the bottle, the blend of Imperial closely matches the percentages of plantings in Champagne as a whole. Elise explained that the first blend in January following the harvest uses the most reserve wines- around 30%, while the last blend of the year will use around 20% because of the better maturity of the base wine. Since they want a fresh style of wine at Moet, they only use one to two year old reserve wines. All Imperial produced is aged for 30 months on the lees before release.

This was certainly the best Imperial I have drunk, with a discreet nose of bread dough and apple-like Meunier fruit. It was easy to drink, dry and clean and a nice way to start an evening.

We sat down to dinner and the 2004 Moet & Chandon "Grand Vintage" Brut Champagne ($64.99) was served with lime coconut scallops. This wine, although significantly older than the Imperial that preceded it, smelled and tasted much younger. It is composed of 38% Chardonnay, 33% Pinot Noir and 29% Meunier and dosed at just 5 grams per liter- making it eligible to be called an 'Extra Brut'. It has a very fresh, chalky aroma and the classic drive of this very good 2004 vintage.

Judging by the excellent structure and acidity of this wine and the history of older vintage of Moet, this wine will make a great candidate for the cellar! The cut of the wine was perfect with the rich scallop, and those of you who would like to open some now will be thrilled with how well this 2004 goes with shellfish.

Next we were served a fantastic plate of spiced honey seared duck to accompany the 1993 Moet & Chandon "Grand Vintage" Brut Champagne. This wine showed wonderful maturity at 20 years old and a great aroma of toast and oyster shells. This bottle was disgorged in October of 2011 as part of a special batch set aside for the future and aged on corks rather than the crown caps that they used for the initial vintage release in 1998. This was the first vintage that Moet started this program with, and Elise said that they have been thrilled with the results. The wine is dosed at 7 grams per liter of sugar and has plenty of toast and butter on the palate, flavors that the duck amplified. I loved the refreshing finish of this wine and loved the pairing with the duck.

The main course of the night was Lemon Grass Sea Bass served with both the 1983 and 1973 Moet & Chandon "Grand Vintage" Brut Champagnes. The 1983 was never released commercially and only bottled in magnums for the wine making team (and luckily for a dinner or two). It is composed of 60% Pinot Noir and 40% Chardonnay and a small part of the wine was barrel fermented. This 1983 was very bright for a 30 year old with a white gold color. On the nose, the crushed oyster elements of the 1993 were here in even great quantity and the wine was a real belemnita fossil experience. In the mouth the wine is very rich and buttery and yet has the lift to clean up on the long, driven finish. What a treat!

I was very excited to taste the 1973 Moet & Chandon "Grand Vintage" since it is a great vintage in Champagne, and also my birth year. The records of the blend were destroyed in a fire at Moet, so Elise said the best we could do was guess. I was pleased that it was just the records that burned up and not the wine! She did note that at this time a portion of the wine would have been barrel fermented. This was a great bottle, and I loved the truffle infused, baked apple aroma that offered so much depth and complexity. On the palate this wine is so rich and intense and the sea bass brought out great sweet, clean fruit from this forty year old. This incredible Champagne had a very long finish that had hints of prosciutto to go along with its mineral drive. I hope I’ll get a chance to taste this again!

K&L’s great friend Wilf Jaeger, who is a partner in the RN74 restaurants, was kind enough to bring a bottle of the 1966 Moet & Chandon "Dom Pérignon" Brut Champagne to share with us at the dinner, and it was a huge treat for everyone in attendance. This bottle had no signs of slowing down at 47 years of age, and the hazelnut aroma that I always associate with grand cru of Verzenay jumped from the glass. On the palate the wine was seamless, nougaty, and had plenty of citric refreshment. This bottle had it all- savor, fruit and velvet like ease. No wonder Dom Perignon has earned such a big reputation!

This great evening reinforced how much ageing potential the wines of Champagne have- and Moet in particular. I have tasted Moet as old as 1914, and have never tasted a properly stored bottle that was over the hill. These wines are worth keeping!

A toast to you!



Blasting Through Sonoma: Iron Horse Vineyards

Iron Vineyards in Green Valley, Sonoma County.

A team of K&L staff from the San Francisco store recently headed up north for a jam-packed jaunt through Sonoma. Intensive tastings at twelve wineries in two days is exciting, but it is hard work! Stay tuned for pics and posts over the next couple weeks as we chronicle their visit on Uncorked...

Iron Horse Vineyards

By: Scott Beckerley | K&L Staff Member

Our first stop on our whirlwind visit to Sonoma was Iron Horse Vineyards, located in the foggy Green Valley AVA of Sonoma County. We we were greeted and introduced to the winery by the lovely and engaging Barrie Sterling. Shortly thereafter, her father, Laurence Sterling, took us on a tour of the winery and vineyards. 

Iron Horse's first release was in 1980 and the vineyards sit on sandy loam soil in the Green Valley, which has a cooler climate perfectly suited to the needs of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. They use precision viticulture in determing where to plant vines and what vines to plant taking into account factors of irrigation zones, sun protection and rate of steepness of the land. For example, Pinot clones are situated according to sand content and irrigation runs according to this principal. Certain vineyard blocks are more suited to sparkling than to still wines. The winery is very happy with the Martini B clone, the Dijon clones and the Chard-Clone 4. Pressing of the grapes is done gently by the weight of the fruit. Riddling is done by hand and by machine for the sparkling wines.

2008 Iron Horse Sonoma County Classic Vintage Brut ($29.99) We tasted a number of the sparkling and still wines. Among the sparkling, we sampled the 2008 Classic Cuvee, a blend of 72% Pinot Noir and 28% Chardonnay. It had a pear, vanilla and apple nose which opened up with some bread dough notes. The palate was clean, with pear, stone fruit and cream notes. This was followed by the 2008 2008 Iron Horse "Wedding Cuvée" Green Valley Brut ($24.99)Russian Cuvee, the same blend, which revealed a light creamy nose with tropical scents and nectarine on the palate. It had a long, clean finish and fine, small bubbles. Then came the most well-known of the group, the 2008 Wedding Cuvee. This sparkler is a blend of 85% Pinot Noir and 15% Chardonnay with a big, rich nose. Strawberries and cherries on the palate with a clean finish containing some minerality.

After that came the 2007 “I am Giving” Ocean Reserve, composed of 100% Chardonnay, had a clean nose with hints of brioche. On the first sip, it is mineral driven and it opens up to citrus lemon flavors with bright nectarine fruit. Four dollars from every bottle goes to the National Geographic Foundation!

Lastly, the 2003 Brut LD, an even blend of 50% Chardonnay and 50% Pinot Noir, had a bigger nose of toasted nuts and more evident oak than the other bottlings. On the palate, yeast and brioche notes with a lemon/lime and tangerine finish.

Iron Horse winemaking facility.

Riddling in action at Iron Horse.

Four dollars from every bottle of Iron Horse sold goes to the National Geographic Foundation!

After the flight of sparklings it was onto the still wines, the first of which was the 2009 Un-Oaked Chardonnay. Loads of tropical fruit here with pineapple and orange fruit. It was medium in weight with some acidity on the finish. No malolactic fermentation. A perfect alternative to heavy, buttery Chardonnay!The 2010 Native Yeast Chardonnay showed more classic "California" style with its oaky nose and crisp apple fruit. Richer on the palate with yellow apple, honey and light oak notes.

Scott's Favorite: 2011 Iron Horse Green Valley of RRV Pinot Noir ($39.99) Now, for the reds...the 2011 Estate Pinot Noir had a lovely nose of ripe cherries, spice and herbs. Just a hint of earth. Initially, soft on the palate but, it ended with spicy fruit and a bright finish. This was followed by the 2010 Thomas Road Pinot Noir, which showed bright cherry fruit, tobacco and spice, and a long, pretty, big finish which fleshed out nicely. This was made from the Martini 13 clone. Our last red was the 2011 Russian River Pinot Noir, all raspberry, oak and earth. More delicate and bright in 2011, with fresh raspberry and cherry fruit and tobacco nuances. Excellent! My favorite. Now that spring is here, it was time for the 2011 Rose de Pinot Noir, a little beauty with a raspberry nose. Lively and bright, with clean minerality and acidity.

What a way to start the day!



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