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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.

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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.

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Entries in Pinot Noir (78)


Keith's Burgundy Hotline: Champy Wines Arrive (+Jayer)

By: Keith Wollenberg | K&L Burgundy Buyer

Hello Burgundy Lovers,

We just got our limited supplies of the Champy 2010s, both Domaine and Maison.  Their estate bottlings are all organically and biodynamically farmed (most Ecocert certified or in conversion to Ecocert).  This is a terrific range of wines, and worth your attention, either for everyday drinking, or for their top wines.  This is an outstanding range, and they represent compelling values.

On another note, if you are looking for something particularly rare, our auction site currently has a bottle of 1978 Henri Jayer Échézeaux Grand Cru up for bid,  Click Here to see it.

The selection of Champy wines is below.  These are in-stock, on the web, and available either there, or by calling us at 1-800-247-5987.


2011 Champy Mâcon-Villages Price: $12.99 

Champy's Mâcon-Villages is bright, clean Chardonnay, unoaked and fermented with wild yeast and aged in stainless. It's crisp, bright and delicious. It's finished with the deluxe version of a screwcap, to preserve freshness. (Keith Wollenberg, K&L Burgundy buyer) 

2010 Champy Bourgogne Chardonnay "Signature" Price: $18.99

Allen Meadows - Burghound: "This is noticeably oakier than the straight Bourgogne and the wood dominates the wine and in particular the nose. On the plus side, there is clearly more underlying material as well as more complexity on both the nose and the palate, all wrapped in a sappy and solidly lingering finish. This is a better wine than the regular Bourgogne but I prefer the style of the former as this has too much wood for me."   K&L Notes: The 2010 Signature has rich, toasty oak notes, combined with minerality from the fruit, which comes from Puligny and Meursault. A great value. Aged in 1/3... Read More » 

2010 Domaine Champy Pernand Vergelesses "Clos de Bully" Rouge Price: $23.99

From an estate vineyard, farmed biodynamically and certified organic. The vineyard is on the back side of the Hill of Corton, a natural amphitheater, facing Southeast, and has been planted to grapes since the 12th century It is at 300 meters in elevation, a high altitude in the Cote d'Or.  It's fine and elegant in character, with a very long finish and nice minerality.  (Keith Wollenberg, K&L Burgundy Buyer, 03/12)

Allen Meadows - Burghound: "A similar but more elegant aromatic profile displays slightly less earth influence though there is plenty on the detailed, pure and textured flavors that are supported by somewhat finer tannins though there is still enough rusticity present such that I would not call this a wine of refinement."    

2010 Domaine Champy Chorey-lès-Beaune Price: $23.99

This comes from an estate vineyard, farmed organically and biodynamically, and legally in conversion to organic certification.  The vineyard is called Les Champs Longs, and is located just below Aloxe Corton Les Cras, so it shows a bit more structure than many Choreys. It has rich, pretty cherry fruit, a pretty mid-palate and lots of plush charm.  Very appealing and very well-priced. (Keith Wollenberg, K&L Burgundy buyer, 03/12)

Allen Meadows - Burghound: "A distinctly earthy character suffuses the very fresh nose of dark berry fruit and humus nose. There is good richness to the agreeably textured and round flavors that are delicious if not especially complex, all wrapped in a mildly rustic finish. Solid if not special quality here." (4/2012)  

2010 Champy Beaune "Vieilles Vignes" Price: $24.99

This is off the charts!  It may represent among the most compelling Price/Quality ratios of any red burgundy we have to offer.  It was planted in 1947, and shows concentration and beautiful black fruit notes. It is from one vineyard, called Prevolle, at the bottom of the slope with deeper soils.  It is biodynamically farmed, and located just above the Route de Pommard south of Beaune. The wine shows fine tannins, good acidity and an elegant structure. (Keith Wollenberg, K&L Burgundy buyer)

89 points Allen Meadows - Burghound: "*Outstanding. Top value.* This was bottled the same day of my visit so it's difficult to know whether that considerable manipulation materially altered the wine though given how well it showed, I don't believe that it did. A dense, brooding and ripe nose of layered dark berries, earth and floral hints precedes the textured medium-bodied flavors that enjoy an abundance of dry extract that buffers the firm tannins and coats the palate on the lingering and overtly austere finish. This rustic and quite serious effort is built to age and while it's not refine ... Read More » 

2010 Domaine Champy Savigny-lès-Beaune "Aux Fourches" Price: $29.95

The Aux Fourches is an estate vineyard, with deep soils, farmed biodynamically and certified organic.  It is aged in older barrels, and shows a concentrated and rich character, due to the low 25hl/ha yields (about 1.75 tons/acre), with ripe black fruit, serious character, very pretty depth of fruit and old vine concentration, made from carefully and biodynamically tended grapes. (Keith Wollenberg, K&L Burgundy buyer)

87-90 points Allen Meadows - Burghound: "As is usually the case, this is even earthier with a brooding but ripe and fresh nose of plum and forest floor. The delicious, round and sappy flavors offer up plenty of Savigny character that adds breadth to the rustic, intense and lingering finish. This won't win any awards for elegance but then refinement isn't why one buys a villages Savigny in the first place. I like the honest and direct style plus this should age well over the medium term." (4/2012)  

2010 Domaine Champy Pernand-Vergelesses 1er Cru "En Caradeux" Blanc Price: $36.99

Located high on the hillside, with shallow soils and lots of limestone, this faces East, and is very reminiscent of Corton Charlemagne in character.  It has a bit of wood, but more than enough weight and charming stone fruit notes that the wood is never dominant.  This manages to walk that line between richness and elegance, seemingly without effort.  (Keith Wollenberg, K&L Burgundy Buyer, 03/12)

91 points Allen Meadows - Burghound: "*Outstanding. Top value* A deft touch of wood frames a ripe mix of both white and yellow orchard fruit aromas that are followed by complex, rich and mouth coating flavors that possess fine mid-palate concentration. There is very solid persistence and excellent depth on the impeccably well-balanced finish. A lovely effort that should age well." (6/2012)   

2010 Champy St-Aubin 1er Cru "Murgers Dents De Chien" Price: $36.99

This wine offers Puligny character for a fraction of the cost. This is rich and concentrated with lovely texture. and a flavor profile that sings of Puligny or Chassagne, and a much higher price than it actually sells for.   It's going into my personal cellar, for certain. Total production is only 100 cases, so all we could buy was 20 cases .I(Keith Wollenberg, K&L Burgundy buyer)

90 points Allen Meadows - Burghound: "This is also distinctly cool, airy and reserved with a citrus-inflected nose composed primarily of spiced pear and acacia blossom. There is more volume here with a slightly muscular character to the delicious, rich and solidly intense flavors that are shaped by somewhat firmer and well-integrated acidity. Lovely and this should deliver 3 to 5 years of upside development potential." (6/2012)  

2010 Domaine Champy Volnay Price: $39.95

This comes from four parcels in Volnay, both above and below the village. The combination of deeper clay soils on the lower slopes, and soils as shallow as four inches on the upper slopes, makes for an exciting wine, with lovely, concentrated black fruit, vibrant energy and terrific quality. Like all the estate vineyards, they are farmed organically and biodynamically. (Keith Wollenberg, K&L Burgundy buyer)

88-91 points Allen Meadows - Burghound: "A pretty and relatively elegant nose offers up a perfumed mixture of wood, plum, violet and earth nuances. There is good verve and plenty of sleek muscle to the lightly mineral-infused flavors that possess lovely detail on the dusty, serious and solidly long finish. A complete villages that is supported by relatively firm but ripe tannins." (4/2012)   

2010 Domaine Champy Beaune 1er Cru "Champs-Pimont" Price: $39.99

Aged in 1/3 New French Oak, this has rich black fruit and good acidity. There are lots of very, very fine tannins on the finish. It will need time in bottle, but will be excellent. It is elegant and bright, and terrific, but not an easy wine in its youth. (Keith Wollenberg, K&L Burgundy Buyer)

91 points Allen Meadows - Burghound: "*Outstanding!* An expressive nose of a ripe and agreeably fresh mélange of red cherry and black raspberry is cut with warm earth nuances that continue onto the rich, round and quite fleshy flavors that possess good dry extract that coats the palate on the vibrant, balanced, detailed and persistent finish. Excellent quality here." (4/2012)  K&L Notes: Aged in 1/3 New French Oak, this has rich black fruit and good acidity. There are lots of very, very fine tannins on the finish. It will need time in bottle, but will be excellent. It is elegant and bright, and terrifi... Read More » 

2010 Domaine Champy Beaune 1er Cru "Aux Cras" Price: $39.99

This shows riper fruit than the Champs Pimont, a rich mouthfeel,, and bit of a chalky note, coming from the limestone-rich soil in this vineyard. There is great purity of fruit, with well-robed fine tannins and pretty high-pitched red fruit notes.. (Keith Wollenberg, K&L Burgundy buyer, 03/12)

89-92 points Allen Meadows - Burghound: "Mild wood frames the otherwise appealingly fresh and bright red berry fruit and stone where the latter element is more prominent still compared to the Champs Pimont. There is excellent detail and outstanding vibrancy to the medium-bodied flavors that possess impressive depth and perhaps even better length. A classic Cras and the only nit is that there is, at least at present, a bit more oak influence than I personally enjoy." (4/2012)   

2009 Maison Champy Beaune 1er Cru "Champs-Pimont" Price: $41.99

Aged in 1/3 New French Oak, this has rich black fruit and good acidity.  There are lots of very, very fine tannins on the finish.  It will need time in bottle, but will be excellent.  It is elegant and bright, and terrific, but not an easy wine in its youth. (Keith Wollenberg, K&L Burgundy Buyer)

92 points Wine Spectator: "A vibrant edge of acidity leads the way for cherry, strawberry and mineral flavors in this firm red, which is light-weight and athletic, lingering with a mineral element. Best from 2015 through 2028" (4/2012) 91 points Allen Meadows - Burghound: "*Outstanding!* A rustic and somber dark berry fruit nose is set off by a discreet touch of oak that does not continue onto the rich, full and attractively textured flavors that possess excellent vibrancy as well as obvious minerality on the complex, palate staining and lingering finish. This moderately structured effort is a wine of harmony if not ne ... Read More » 

2010 Domaine Champy Pernand Vergelesses 1er Cru "Iles des Vergelesses" Price: $44.95

This elegant and focused wine has minerality, energy and precision. It comes from the best 1er Cru vineyard in the commune, after which Pernand-Vergelesses is named. It has ample, but very fine tannins, and lots of density. Some time in the cellar would of great benefit, as is often the case with young Corton and Pernand reds. (Keith Wollenberg, K&L Burgundy Buyer)

89-92 points Allen Meadows - Burghound: "As one might reasonably expect, this is the most refined of these three Pernand 1ers with its pure and cool nose of wafting red pinot fruit and subtle mineral nuances. The equally transparent flavors also ooze a fine stony character before terminating in a firm, delicious and textured finish that is shaped by dense but relatively fine-grained tannins. This is built to age and will require plenty of cellar time." (4/2012)  K&L Notes: This elegant and focused wine has minerality, energy and precision. It comes from the best 1er Cru vineyard in the commune, after which P... Read More » 

2009 Domaine Laleure-Piot (Champy) Pernand Vergelesses 1er Cru "Iles des Vergelesses" Price: $44.95

The "Iles de Vergelesses" vineyard is the best in the entire village. It is the most highly regarded site, after which the village is named. Located mid-slope, below Savigny Vergelesses, it is an amazing place. This has black fruit notes, a rich, mineral-driven mid palate, supple ripe tannins, lots of length on the finish. It is a bit structured at the end, indicating some time in the cellar will benefit it, for sure. In short, this is terrific and reasonably priced to boot. (Keith Wollenberg, K&L Burgundy Buyer, 03/11) 

2009 Maison Champy Chambolle-Musigny Price: $49.99

88-91 points Allen Meadows - Burghound: "A pretty if not actually elegant nose offers up notes of soft wood, earth and ripe red currant aromas that merge gracefully into rich, delicious and quite round middle weight flavors that juxtapose a suave mouth feel against a mildly austere and solidly persistent finish. This is quite good if not exactly an archetype of a classic Chambolle." (5/2011)  

2010 Domaine Champy Volnay 1er Cru "Taillepieds" Price: $63.99

An over-the-top great Burgundy for your cellar. Period.  Taillepieds is one of the most highly regarded sites in Volnay.  It is an extremely steep hillside, and got its name from the fact that due to the steepness, you were likely to cut your feet when pruning. The organically and biodynamically grown grapes give a deep dark character and focus.  It's intensity is not immediately evident, but over time it becomes apparent that this is very special, and has an extraordinary finish.  (Keith Wollenberg, K&L Burgundy Buyer)

90-92 points Allen Meadows - Burghound: "*Outstanding* Discreet wood serves to highlight the ripe dark berry fruit aromas where the underlying stone character is almost pungent it's so strong. The rich and velvety flavors also display plenty of mineral influence and the intensity does a slow build from the mid-palate all the way to the explosive but impeccably well-balanced finish. Like the Grands Epenots, this is clearly built to age and if the complexity deepens with bottle age it's possible that my range may be viewed as unduly conservative." (4/2012)   

2009 Maison Champy Gevrey-Chambertin 1er Cru "Cazetiers" Price: $69.95

89-92 points Allen Meadows - Burghound: "A deft application of oak does not compromise the expressiveness of the unusually high-toned cherry and red pinot fruit though the hallmark earth and animale notes are present if in the background. There is very good energy to the mineral-inflected flavors that possess reasonably good depth and length..." (6/2011)  

2010 Domaine Champy Corton Grand Cru "Rognet" Price: $79.95

Both red and black fruits here, with lots of power and an interesting earthiness. Very impressive, but patience will clearly be required, as you expect from Corton. (Keith Wollenberg, K&L Burgundy Buyer...

93 points Allen Meadows - Burghound: "*Don't miss!* A highly layered nose blends notes of both red and dark berries, plum, clove, earth and hints of the sauvage. There is good richness to the intensely earthy broad-shouldered flavors that brim with dry extract before terminating in a muscular and powerful finish that delivers outstanding length. A very serious Corton that is built to age." (4/2012)  

2010 Domaine Champy Corton Grand Cru "Bressandes" Price: $83.99

Rich, fine and elegant in character, with exuberant red fruits on the nose.  Unmistakable Grand Cru, with terrific life force.  (Keith Wollenberg, K&L Burgundy Buyer 03/12)

91-94 points Allen Meadows - Burghound: "Interestingly, this is quite spicy with an abundance of floral character to the fresh red berry fruit liqueur and softly mineral infused aromas. There isn't the same power, size and weight here that there is in the Rognets but as one might expect, this is finer and more understated though every bit as serious with the same outstanding length. At the same time, there is a bit more underlying material in the Rognets and it will probably ultimately be the better wine though it will require 12 to 15 years before that prediction is proved to be right or wrong ... Read More » 

2010 Champy Gevrey-Chambertin 1er Cru "Cazetiers" Price: $89.95

There were only 75 cases produced for the entire world.  It is big and rich, with lots of spice and a slightly burly frame.  It has lovely black fruit and very nice spice notes. This has structure, but more than enough volume to easily handle it. (Keith Wollenberg, K&L Burgundy Buyers)

91 points Allen Meadows - Burghound: "*Outstanding* Bottled two weeks prior to my visit and thus it's not unusual that the nose would be moderately reduced. There is by contrast fine richness and volume to the large-scaled, intense and mineral-inflected flavors that possess excellent volume and mid-palate concentration on the tension-filled, overtly structured and lingering finish that evidences plenty of Gevrey character." (4/2010)  

2010 Champy Vosne-Romanée 1er Cru "Suchots" Price: $94.99

My personal favorite is the Suchots from Vosne-Romanée, with an exuberant bushel of lovely red fruit notes. It has lots of drive and a finish that shows drive and length,  Lovely! (Keith Wollenberg, Burgundy buyer), 03/12

92 points Allen Meadows - Burghound: "*Outstanding!* A notably ripe and exuberantly spicy blend of red and black cherries, cassis, plum and anise hints. The highly seductive flavors caress the palate with plenty of dry extract that also serves to buffer the otherwise moderately firm tannins on the sappy, balanced and relatively powerful finish. Textbook Suchots." (4/2012)  

2009 Maison Champy Echézeaux Grand Cru Price: $135.00

Lovely, forward, with terrific fruit character and that unmistakable Grand Cru Vosne texture.  You'll want to fall in to this glass.  (Keith Wollenberg, K&L Burgundy Buyer)

90-92 points Allen Meadows - Burghound: "Moderate wood influence is not enough to dominate the nose but neither is it subtle as it fights somewhat with the ripe and exuberantly spicy black berry fruit aromas that merge into rich, full and quite serious big-bodied flavors that display firm and dusty tannins on the finish. This is a bit like the Cazetiers in that it's not quite as complex as one might expect. Moreover, this is awkward at present as the balance isn't what it could be." (6/2011)  

2010 Champy Charmes-Chambertin Grand Cru Price: $144.49

This comes from the original Charmes portion of this vineyard, from organically certified grapes.  It is extremely rich and concentrated, with lots of beautiful fruit notes.  What is most impressive is the length on the finish, and the combination of size and poise.

91-94 points Allen Meadows - Burghound: "This is restrained to the point of being almost timid yet it is also exceptionally pretty with a really lovely nose of plum, earth and a hint of the sauvage that carries over to the exceptionally rich, textured and velvety flavors that culminate in a very serious and quite firmly structured finish. As my description of the nose suggests, this is still very primary and while a bit awkward today it should harmonize in time as there is an abundance of extract and good phenolic maturity to the structural elements." (4/2012)   

2010 Champy Mazis-Chambertin Grand Cru Price: $154.99

91 points Allen Meadows - Burghound: "A classic Mazis nose evidences an abundance of sauvage character on the very fresh and impressively layered aromas of red currant, wild raspberry, cassis and earth. This is a big wine with excellent volume as well as fine mid-palate concentration to the powerful, focused and intense flavors that deliver striking length but not nearly the same overall depth as the Clos de Vougeot. While it's a near certainty that this will add considerable depth before it reaches its peak, there just isn't the same underlying quality of material, good as this is." (4/2012) ... Read More » 

2010 Champy Echézeaux Grand Cru Price: $159.95

Lovely, forward, with terrific fruit character and that unmistakable Grand Cru Vosne texture.  You'll want to fall in to this glass.  (Keith Wollenberg, K&L Burgundy Buyer)

93 points Allen Meadows - Burghound: "*Don't miss!* This is also exuberantly spicy and quite ripe with primarily black fruit aromas though there are nuances of warm earth and exotic tea present as well. This is even richer and more seductive than the Suchots with a mouth feel of velvet and satin that largely hides the otherwise very firm tannins though not enough to suppress a touch of backend rusticity on the hugely long finish. This is a very impressive effort but despite its present upfront appeal, this is also expressly built to age and it will require plenty of it." (4/2012) 


A Santé,




Directeur Commercial Bourgogne

K&L Wine Merchants

+1-650-556-2724 Direct Line


Keith's Burgundy Hotline: Direct Import Bessin Chablis & Chateau de Charriere (Yves Girardin) Arrival!

By: Keith Wollenberg | K&L Burgundy Buyer

Our Direct Imports of Bessin Chablis and Chateau de Charriere (Yves Girardin) have arrived! 

These wines are mentioned in my column in the October newsletter (inserted below for your quick reference), which should have reached many of your doors by now. Jean-Claude Bessin had a very small crop in this vintage, so supplies are extremely limited on his Chablis. The wines are currently in our San Carlos warehouse, after which will make their way to all three K&L stores. If you have any questions about these wines or to inquire about placing an order, please contact me or purchase online at once they become available. I have already gotten many inquiries about these wines and advise you to act fast if you are interested! 

K&L Wine News: October 2012 

Pour Votre Plaisir By Keith Wollenberg

We have a number of exciting wines that recently arrived from Château de la Charrière. In 2003, Yves Girardin, a 10th generation grower in Santenay (and brother of Vincent Girardin) acquired this property and built a new winemaking facility. More recently, after completing technical training, Yves’s son Benoit has joined him, bringing to 11 the consecutive generations of the family to grow wine in Santenay. Working in their new cellars, they have really improved quality a tremendous amount in the last few years, and we are excited to present their wines to you.

We are bringing in three whites from the domaine. The 2010 Château de la Charrière Bourgogne Blanc* ($14.99) is rich and charming, with an open and easy elegance about it. Their 2010 Château de la Charriere Savigny-lès-Beaune “Vermots Dessus”* ($23.99) comes from a site on the slopes just above the village of Savigny, enroute to Bouilland. It is always a vineyard with terrific minerality, since it has the cooler air descending from the Rhoin Valley, as well as shallower topsoils. Charming and elegant, with bright minerality, attractive citrus and lemon notes, lots of complexity and a long and elegant finish, this is simply terrific. Their 2010 Château de la Charrière Chassagne-Montrachet 1er Cru “Clos St. Jean”* ($44.99) is a terrific value in Chassagne-Montrachet. What attracted me to this wine instantly was the white flower notes on the nose. On the palate it is fine and rich in structure. It is poised and elegant, with nice minerality and a most attractive finish.

We also have a number of red wines from this domaine to offer you. We’ll start by tempting you with two wines to help you understand that you can afford to drink Burgundy on a regular basis. I like to, so why shouldn’t you? The 2010 Château de la Charriere Bourgogne Rouge* ($14.99) comes from estate vineyards just south of Chielly-lès-Maranges. It has a very pretty nose, with notes of red cherries and raspberries. On the palate it shows a bit more weight and structure, but remains open, charming and most attractive in character. If your favorites are a bit more exuberant and you love open character, try this.

“After completing technical training, Yves Girardin’s son Benoit has joined him, bringing to 11 the consecutive generations of the family to grow wine in Santenay. Working in their new cellars, they have really improved quality a tremendous amount in the last few years, and we are excited to present their wines to you.”

Their 2009 Château de la Charriere Hautes Côtes de Beaune Rouge* ($16.99) is also very charming in nature, with fine and elegant fruit. It is less overt and richer on the palate than the Bourgogne Rouge. There is a core of terrific energy here, and a very pretty finish. If you like your Burgundies a bit subtler and brighter, this is for you. We also have the 2010 Château de la Charriere Santenay 1er Cru “Clos Rousseau”* ($23.99), from one of the best vineyards in the commune. It is rich and attractive in character, with lovely fruit on the entry, followed by more structure on the finish. This is attractive, clean, honest Pinot, with a real sense of place. Finally, we have the 2009 Château de la Charriere Beaune 1er Cru “Vignes Franches”* ($24.99), from one of my favorite Premier Cru vineyards in Beaune, Les Vignes Franche. It is located adjacent to and north of the famous Beaune Clos des Mouches. The topsoil is shallow and the potential very high here. This is flat-out superb wine. It has lovely cherry fruit, and a more charming, transparent and less earthy character than the Santenay.

Our extremely limited supplies of Domaine Jean-Claude Bessin Chablis* have also just arrived. From the first taste of his first wine there was no doubt that this was a producer I was excited to work with. Make no mistake about it, these are absolutely world-class Chablis, with the sort of laser-like focus, precision and crystalline quality that I so often look for, and so often do not find. Jean-Claude’s work in the vineyards is mostly what he does, working organically, in the style of Raveneau or Dauvissat, harvesting entirely by hand in all of his vineyards, and using cover crops and plowing, not herbicides. We have six different Chablis, each brilliantly revelatory of its place. To see how good these are, all you need to do is try the 2010 Domaine J-C Bessin Chablis “Vieilles Vignes”* ($19.99). But I strongly recommend all of his wines to you; we have four different Premier Crus and one Grand Cru as well. For a complete list of these, and of all of our Burgundies, go to

A Sante,




Directeur Commercial Bourgogne

K&L Wine Merchants

+1-650-556-2724 Direct Line


Sonoma Road Trip Stories Part III: Chasseur & Unti

 Lavender fields at Unti Vineyards.

By: Kyle Kurani | K&L Staff Member

A Walk Through Sonoma: Visiting Chasseur & Unti

Last month I was lucky enough to accompany one of our Domestic Wine Buyer Bryan Brick and a pair of colleagues on a trip through the Sonoma Valley. This was my first professional trip to Wine Country and I couldn’t wait to go and learn more about the wines that we have on the shelf. I was excited for the trip for the obvious meet winemakers, taste new wines, learn about the different regions in Sonoma, and get out of the wine shop for a little while to enjoy the country...but I was even more excited when I got back!

I returned brimming with enthusiasm from the walks through the vineyards, from feeling how warm they are in the morning to just how cold they get at night. It was interesting to hear how the different winemakers fared in each vintage depending merely upon what day they decided to pick and to learn what makes each individual winery unique in its little corner of the world. Seeing and experiencing everything that goes into a bottle of wine--the history, the effort, the land--is what truly brings the wine to life.

I hope my words can aptly paint a picture of the wines and the people, who are behind them, but I urge you to try the wines that seem interesting, talk to us about them, but then go and see where they come from - it's a trip you won't forget!

Here are a few of the places we visited with links to learn more about some of the wines we enjoyed:

Unti Vineyards, Dry Creek Valley

2009 Unti Vineyards "Petit Frere" Dry Creek Rhône Blend In the hubbub and glitz of modernized tasting rooms, complete with tasting flights and member exclusives, it is so refreshing to walk into a winery that cares more about talking about their wine than mesmerizing you with shiny objects.  Unti Vineyards is a family-run winery nestled just off of Dry Creek Road. Their tasting bar consists of unvarnished wooden boards on top of wine barrels, in the temperature same controlled room where they store their wine. No frills, just the wine and a cool escape from the midday heat.  The winery is run by Mother, Father, and Son, with a winemaker from France that loved California so much he just stayed.

Unti follows a hands-off winemaking philosophy, in which they seek to let the unique terroir of the vineyards shine through. This gives their wines a sense a place that cannot be duplicated. We tasted many stunning wines, but the 2009 "Petite Frere" Dry Creek Rhone Blend and the 2009 Dry Creek Grenache (both in stock now at K&L) stood out to me. In addition to growing Zinfandel, Syrah, Mourvedre and Grenache, they have also planted some Mediterranean varietals. They believe that the warm climate of Dry Creek offers an environment where  grapes  like Segromigno, Sangiovese, and Montepulciano, can thrive. They have the potential to make some very interesting wines - keep an eye out for these wines when the vines have matured.

Chasseur's tasting "office".Chasseur Wines, Western Sonoma

2008 Chasseur "Blank Vineyard" Russian River Valley Pinot Noir Chasseur is a far cry from the traditional winery, with no vineyards, no  tasting bar, not even the usual winery dog to greet you at the door - just a warehouse that used to process apples. But don’t let the humble surroundings fool you! Bill Hunter, the winemaker at Chasseur, is one of the most talented winemakers we met on the trip. His no-nonsense attitude and up front way of speaking hide neither his passion for the wines he makes nor the quality that is the end product of that passion. Chasseur is such a small winery that K&L is lucky to have any of Bil's wines to sell at all. We are indeed very grateful to have the opportunity to share these wines with you.

Pinot and Chardonnay are the focus at Chassuer (though a Syrah or two sneaks in once in a while) and attention to detail is the order of the day. Fruit is selected from vineyards with the highest pedigree, carefully maintained and farmed to his specs. Pinot is fermented in tiny one ton fermenters so that each block can show off its unique characteristics. All of the Chardonnay is barrel fermented to give the wines depth and texture. These wines are rich and lush, but never overwrought, and always beautifully pure.

For Burgundy and California drinkers alike, there is simply no arguing with good wine. We tasted wines out of barrel that showed great potential, but the 2008 Chasseur "Blank Vineyard" Russian River Pinot Noir and the 2008 Chasseur "Durrell Vineyard" Sonoma Valley Chardonnay impressed me for their immediate drinkability. Luckily, both are in stock now at K&L and available for you to take home and enjoy tonight.