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2000 Labégorce, Margaux $39.99

A great value in Bordeaux! This bottle is mature enough to drink now, but has time in hand if you want to keep it in the cellar for the future. We love it for its laid back elegance and classic balance. A must try for your next nice steak dinner.

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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 race (2)

Tuesday
Jun292010

Follow the Tour de France...with Bottles!

The 2010 Tour de France Organizers Must Like Wine!

The organizers of the Tour de France have been very kind to the wine lover this year, sending riders pedaling through many of the best wine regions of France. Why not sip while the riders suffer? I like the idea so much that Cinnamon and I are going to head out to Champagne to see the Reims finish and the Epernay start this July… I am sure we will be able to find something to drink there!

The Tour starts Saturday, July 3rd with a prologue in Rotterdam. The race heads into Belgium on the next day, and on the 6th the drama begins with seven cobbled sections on the stage to Arenberg Porte du Hainaut. This is a great day for a bottle of the La Chouffe Belgian Ale (750ml $9.99), the classic beverage of the Ardennes. The Tour could be lost on these godforsaken roads. The only guarantee besides excitement on this stage is that the fans will show up, drink beer and eat frites by the kilo.

On the 7th, the riders will enjoy a flat, fast stage to Reims for what promises to be a bunch sprint in the largest city in Champagne. For this stage we look to one of the few Grand Marque houses that are still family-owned, Louis Roederer. Mr. Frederic Rouzaud, the man in charge, is even a bike rider himself. The Louis Roederer "Brut Premier" Champagne ($36.99) is a Reims classic, and as predictably good as Mark Cavendish after a fast Team Columbia lead out.

The next day, the riders start in Epernay, according to the itinerary. If you dig a little deeper into the map, you will see that the actual start is in Moussy, just south of the city. I will be there with Mr. Bruno Michel, who makes great Champagne in that village. I hope we can get a good vantage point with him to see the start! The AG2R pro John Gadret, who rode so well in the Giro d’Italia, used to work for him. I invite you to join us in drinking the Bruno Michel "Blanche" Brut Champagne ($32.99), an organically grown, meticulously made blend of half Chardonnay and half Meunier. Have a toast to Gadret; he could end up winning a stage in the mountains this year.

On Bastille Day, July 14th, the Tour will go from Chambéry to Gap, covering some of the lavender-covered fields of Provence on a rolling course. What could be more French than dry rosé from the region? The 2009 Commanderie de la Bargemone Coteaux d'Aix-En-Provence Rosé ($15.99) will be the perfect thing to sip while watching Cofidis, AG2R and Boygues Telekom kill themselves to make the break and get some TV time. Watch for the seasoned veteran Christophe Moreau, he might be free to fly now that his team leader has been suspended!

On July 23rd, after many brutal days in the mountains, the race winds down with a flat, sprinter's finish in the greatest wine city in the world: Bordeaux. For many years, my father and I would always plan a special wine dinner in honor of the Bordeaux finish. I suggest that you do the same, and start with the bracing Sauvignon zip of the 2008 Reynon "Old Vines" Bordeaux Blanc ($13.99) with a nice piece of halibut, since turbot is hard to get here. You could then move on to steak au poivre with a bottle of the 1999 Lanessan, Haut-Médoc ($19.99), which is a perfect, medium-bodied Cabernet, and to me one of the finest values in the entire K&L portfolio. Finish the evening out with a half bottle of the scandalously underpriced nectar 2007 Petit-Védrines, Sauternes (375ml $11.99) and a cherry clafoutis. Perhaps we can toast a great win by American Tyler Farrar on the most beautiful sprinting boulevard in the world!

The next day, when your guests have left your Bordeaux dinner party, the riders will be battling it out on the last decisive day of the 2010 Tour, the 52km individual time trial from the city of Bordeaux up the Médoc to Pauillac. Along the way the riders will go past a roll call of the finest Châteaux; at 22k they will pass Château Margaux, then pick off Ducru at 45k and the great Léoville estates at 47k, before finally ending in the town that gives us Pichon-Lalande, Mouton, Lafitte and Latour. This is a night for a simply-made steak, potatoes and asparagus, paired with a great bottle of Médoc from your cellar. If you would rather plunder our cellar, I would recommend the 2005 Cordeillan Bages, Pauillac (Was $60 Now $34.99), which is a great value that just needs some decanting… We always have some interesting older Pauillacs at good prices as well, so check our website. Long time trials like this can be devastating, so look for rarely-fed climbers like the Schleck brothers to give up large amounts of time (and positions on GC) while Contador, Armstrong and specialists like Fabian Cancellara dominate the day.

I can’t wait! Tour fever has already taken hold of me.

Gary Westby

Thursday
Aug132009

A Drinking Tour of Spain with K&L's Joe Manekin & Gary Westby

On August 29th, the Vuelta España (the Spanish equivalent of the Tour de France) begins its three week journey in the oddest of places: Holland. After briefly passing through Germany and enjoying a stage finish in Belgium, the race enters its home country for its final two weeks, passing through many wine regions and providing us with plenty of excuses to drink the local wines. While the racers will have to cover 2,040 miles, including five mountain-top finishes and three individual time trials, we thought we would just drink seven bottles. Are you fit enough to join us?

Since neither of us are particularly fast starters, we have decided to wait until Stage 4 on September 1st to begin the festivities. This stage spans three countries and is the longest of the whole race at 224 km. The finish is Liege, and the course through the Ardennes promises to be similar to a spring classic. We will be drinking the local beer, La Chouffe Belgian Ale (750ml $9.99) and eating moules frites with mayo while taking in the action on the short, sharp climbs.

We start the Spanish wine drinking in earnest for Stage 5 on September 3rd when the riders hit the first mountains of the race. We’ll have the 2007 Viñedos de Ithaca “Akyles” Priorat ($21.99) from vineyards just outside the idyllic, highly perched town of Gratallops, one of the centers of production for Priorat. A blend of Garnacha Negra, Garnacha Peluda (translated as “hairy garnacha”—don't worry this unusual grape variety is actually quite delicious) and a touch of Cabernet Sauvignon, this wine boasts incredible balance at nearly 15% alcohol (only Joseph Swan Zinfandel comes to mind as a wine that is so simultaneously fruit forward, rich and finessed at once).

The riders tackle the Valencia Formula 1 circuit with a 30k individual time trial for Stage 7 on September 5th. While each rider suffers alone against the clock, we’ll drink a bottle of the 2005 Celler la Muntanya Almoroig (Was $29.99; Now $14.99), which shares a similarly fruity yet balanced flavor profile with the aforementioned Priorat, perhaps with a bit more oak influence. Supple, fruit forward, and a lot of wine for las pesetas—ay perdona—los euros.

On Stage 10, September 8th, the riders will hit the Cresta del Gallo climb and many of the main contenders are tipped to show their cards on this famous ascent. We’ll be rooting for an old school rider to win (maybe Valverde?) while we enjoy the old school charm of the 2003 Primitivo Quiles “Raspay” Tinto Alicante, Spain ($22.99) from the oldest producer of wine in the Alicante region. This winery dates back to the late 18th century! If you enjoy old school Rioja, you will surely enjoy this slightly richer, more oxidative, but wonderfully original, take on classic Spanish winemaking. Braised lamb or short ribs, as well as aged cheeses, would be a perfect match for this incomparable staff favorite.

Another three passes are on the menu for the riders on the 191km Stage 11 on September 9th, including the Collado Bermejo, which has never been scaled in the race before. They will also tackle the 3,600 foot Moratalla climb with only 18km to go, setting up an exciting descent to the finish. We’ll have the 2007 Bodegas Olivares Altos de la Hoya, Jumilla ($10.99), a wine from the cooler Jumilla sub-zone of Las Hoyas de Santa Ana, a distinction that shows in the marked minerality and red fruited character of this Monastrell from old, ungrafted vines.

The Vuelta eases up for Stage 15 on September 14th, with only a couple of smaller climbs early in the 170km stage. This will likely be a bunch finish, but we will hope for a breakaway. While the riders battle out the stage we will contemplate the complexities of the 1979 Albala Don PX Gran Reserva (375ml $29.99), a gloriously sweet wine made from Pedro Ximenez grapes that have been dried on mats and aged in earthen amphorae for all of these years. This very rich wine is a great match for a big plate of Spanish cheese. The adventurous should try a full throttle spicy and sweet wine versus a spicy and rich cheese pairing by buying a chunk of Valdeón or Cabrales, both top-notch Spanish blue cheeses.

 For the final mountain contest of the Vuelta, Stage 19 on September 18th, the race covers four brutal mountain passes over 174 grueling kilometers. This will be the last chance for the pure climbers to press an advantage over the better time trialists in the race. Watching a stage this hard makes us a bit parched, so we’ll be refreshing ourselves with the 2008 Vidal Soblechero “Viña Clavidor” Verdejo, Rueda, Spain ($12.99), a wine that manages to quench your thirst as well as impress your palate with its focused white peach, melon and mineral flavors from 50- to 80-year-old vines outside the tiny winemaking town of La Seca.

Joe Manekin & Gary Westby