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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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Entries in Pinot Noir (79)

Friday
Apr192013

Champagne Friday: Visit to Billecart-Salmon

By: Gary Westby | K&L Champagne Buyer

Earlier this month, Antoine Rolland-Billecart hosted my father and me at Champagne Billecart-Salmon in Mareuil-sur-Ay. This house rightly has one of the most famous names in all of Champagne, but produces relatively little in terms of quantity- about 2 million bottles a year. The family has been in the business a very long time, and will celebrate their 200th year in 2018. We started our tour with a walk in his Clos St. Hilaire, featured in today's video.

Walking with Antoine at Billecart-Salmon.

Of the 750 acres that Billecart-Salmon works with its 30 vineyard workers, only 25 acres are owned by them. They rent 300 acres and contract the rest of their supply, making them very much a traditional negociant. Of that land, over 42 acres are dedicated to growing Pinot Noir for red wine for their rose. These vines average over 50 years old and are located in the grand cru villages of Ay and Ambonnay as well as in Billecart’s own premier cru village, Mareuil-sur-Ay. In these special vineyards they prune extra short and even employ green harvesting to get the concentration needed to make the most famous rose Champagne in the world. For the rest of the vines, they are most concerned with picking at the right acid level, and look for a very high total acidity of 10 grams per liter at harvest.

The caves at Billecart-Salmon.

This high acidity is something that they seek to preserve in the wines, and fresh clean flavors are the focus of the house style at Billecart-Salmon. Antoine Roland-Billecart's grandfather was a brewer, and in 1950 they were the first house to utilize cold stabilization to clarify the must before fermentation. The alcoholic fermentation is done at a very cold temperature here- so cold that they have developed their own selected yeast strains that can operate in an environment that never goes above 57 degrees Fahrenheit. This primary fermentation is very slow- three weeks- creating less than half a degree of alcohol per day!

They do not have a specific policy on malolactic fermentation at Billecart, and have the cellar split into three separate zones so they can choose to allow certain lots to go through the process and block others. I was surprised to learn that Billecart-Salmon is now the fourth biggest house for the use of wood, behind Bollinger, Krug and Alfred Gratien. Only 3% of their production is done in barrel, and you can see the lots in the picture below. This goes to show that Champagne is still primarily a tank appellation!

Billecart barrel list.

Billecart-Salmon Brut Rosé Champagne The most famous wine from this great house is the Billecart-Salmon Brut Rosé Champagne ($74.99). It has earned its reputation as the benchmark for all rose 2000 Billecart-Salmon "Cuvée Nicolas-François- NFB" Champagne Champagne with its ethereal elegance, purity and lightness.

My personal favorite is the 2000 Billecart-Salmon "Cuvée Nicolas-François- NFB" Champagne ($89.99) which is less than 3% of their total production. This is classy, understated Champagne with just the right amount of nutty, bready richness to balance out its bright fruit. The bead and texture is near perfect- if you feel like a treat you will not be disappointed by the NFB!

A toast to you!

–Gary

Friday
Apr122013

Champagne Friday: Visiting Bruno Michel

By: Gary Westby | K&L Champagne Buyer

Bruno Michel Visit

Always a K&L Staff Favorite: Bruno Michel "Blanche" Brut Champagne ($34.99)One of the highlights of my trip to Champagne this year was visiting the Michel family in Pierry. First we took a trip up to the Brousses vineyard at the top of the village, the two-acre plot that his single vineyard cuvee de la terre bottling comes from. This southeast facing site was planted in 1964 and is one of the sources for the plant material that Bruno propagates himself for his massal selection vineyard plantings. This chalky site is high on the hill in the already quite cool climate of Pierry, and makes the most high-toned, incisive Blanc de Blancs that we carry. This Champagne is a huge favorite of mine, so it was great to get acquainted with the vineyard.

Superb Blanc de Blancs for a special occasion: 2002 Bruno Michel "Pauline" Blanc de Blancs Brut Champagne($69.99) After our trip to the vines, we came back down to the winery and tasted his 2012 vin clairs. Bruno explained that he lost half his crop in 2012 and that it was a very difficult year, especially for organic producers like him. All of the producers I spoke to, organic or not, had very low yields in this very difficult year. In the winter the temperature got so low that it killed some vines outright. In the spring, late frost on the 26th of April destroyed many of the buds, especially for the Chardonnay. During the flowering rain and cold temperatures interfered with the pollination of the plant further reducing yields. A rainy July caused mildew in the vineyard and the ensuing mud made getting into the vineyard to work almost impossible.

Last year, speaking to my grower friends in Champagne in spring and summer, they were all convinced that 2012 would be a near total loss. But mid-August brought a very fortunate turnaround, with sunny weather and some beneficial wind. While the sun began ripening the grapes at an even pace for a moderately late harvest, the wind dried out the vineyard and helped to get rid of the mildew. In late September Bruno, like most of the producers we visited, harvested a top quality, if tiny quantity vintage. I suspect that if the summer had been as bad with a generous amount of grapes on the vine, this quality would have been impossible.

Stunnin single vineyard Blanc de Blancc: Bruno Michel Premier Cru Brut Blanc de Blancs Champagne ($39.99)The 2012 vin clair samples that we tasted were very precise and aromatic. The Chardonnays were tightly wound; concentrated and very long while the Meunier was savory and round but still high toned and persistent. We also had the opportunity to taste the assembelage with the reserve wines added for his non-vintage wine, and I was impressed with the finesse even at this early stage. Bruno is obsessed with his wines, and his vin clair showed his attention to every detail.

Need a killer sushi pairing? Opt for the super dry Bruno Michel "Rebelle" Extra Brut Champagne ($39.99)After the still wines, Bruno started popping crown caps off of two flights of Champagne to do a dosage trial. First we tasted five different levels of sugar for the Extra Brut and after six examples of the regular brut. It was pretty dramatic to see the caps pop at a full six atmospheres- and you can see it in today's video.

The flights were done in random order of dosage level so we wouldn't be biased. Luckily, he didn't want us to guess which had more and which had less dosage, but rather just which ones we preferred. Bruno explained that it was perfectly normal for particular Champagne to taste sweeter with less sugar and drier with more on occasion, since the sugar mixture reacts with the other flavors in the wine in complex and unexpected ways. After tasting we found that the group consisting of his assistant wine maker, my father, his wife Catherine and I had decided on the same level of sugar in both wines as he and his oenologist had.

In my notes below, the first number is the order for the flight, and the bottom number (which is circled) was my preference. The dosage is abbreviated g/l for grams per liter.

 

At the top of the brut page I wrote MCR, which is rectified grape must, since this is the kind of sugar Bruno uses for dosage. Producers also sometimes use beet or cane sugar.

The fantastic 2002 Bruno Michel "Cuvee Millésime" Brut Champagne ($59.99) is better than ever.For the last part of our appointment we tasted through the current releases. The 2002 Bruno Michel "Cuvee Millésime" Brut Champagne ($59.99), which we have carried for almost four years is more impressive than ever. He has kept this wine he didn't sell right away on the lees so the batch that is for sale now has an extra 36 months of yeast contact, and it has become even more creamy and effortless. This blend of 80% Chardonnay from 45 year old vines and 20% Meunier from over 70 year old vines was one of the top wines of the trip.

For something to look forward to, we also managed to grab another importers batch of non-vintage rose in magnum- a batch based on 2006 that is full of spices and freshly baked bread. This excellent rose is completely different from his rose de rose that we carry in 750s even though they are both saignee Meuniers. The magnum is rich and has a subtle, laid back elegance and fantastic length. These should arrive in late summer.

I hope that you will taste some of the excellent Champagnes from Bruno Michel. His wines are among the most complex that we carry, and worth the effort to taste!

A toast to you,

-Gary

 

 

Friday
Apr052013

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)


 

 

Mr. Keith WOLLENBERG

Directeur Commercial Bourgogne

K&L Wine Merchants

http://www.klwines.com

+1-650-556-2724 Direct Line

Keithw@klwines.com

 

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