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The Freewheel line with a couple of English friends.

It takes a lot of beer to keep the wine business running smoothly. Here in Redwood City, we are very fortunate to have a great English style ale producer right in our backyard: Freewheel Brewing Company. The staff of K&L are fictures at our local pub, and it is a rare moment when one of us isn't there having a pint and a bite of their excellent food. We are also lucky enough to be the first place to offer their bottled beer for sale. If you have never had it, the Freewheel Brewing "FSB" Freewheel Special Bitter, California (500ml) is the benchmark in fresh, balanced, smashable ale. We will do our best to keep some in stock for you, the customer too!

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Entries in Rioja (28)


Iberian Wine News: Miguel Merino and Bodegas Puelles 

By: Joe Manekin | K&L Staff Member


Exciting week, let's get to it.... 


1)  DI's! Direct Imports!  Direct from the farm to our stores to your cellar!

Well, the unthinkable is happening this week:  we are actually receiving a container from Europe on time in 2011!  And not just any container.  We are introducing our first two purely direct (unbrokered, visit the folks, shake hands, agree to be partners) wines which we have worked with in Spain.  They are both Rioja producers  and I'd love to introduce you to them.


Miguel Merino is a bodega, the man behind the bodega, as well as his son Miguel who - you guessed it - also helps out at the bodega.  Located in the beautiful town of Briones in Rioja Alta, Miguel Merino describes his wines as "updated classics."  The classic component would include very well situated, mature vines planted in calcareous clay in a cool part of the D.O.  These roughly eight hectares of vines are cultivated organically, still plowed by horse, and owned both by Miguel and a close friend of his.  "Updated" likely refers to Miguel's penchant for used barrels (used meaning 2-4 years old, not 2-4 decades old), coopered from a blend of French and American oak.  The wines taste like Rioja but are less marked by wood than many examples of both the traditional and more modern styles.  All of the Miguel Merino wines should age quite nicely.  I really look forward to turning people on to these wonderful wines.


Bodegas Puelles is a winery located in Abalos, another small Rioja Alta town, and it is run by Jesús Puelles and his brother.  Jesús works the vineyards, his brother handles the cellar.  Their vines are also farmed primarily organically, with a minimum use of treatments and naturally growing cover crops utliized between the rows.  They face north towards the majestic Sierra Cantabria mountains - they are very, very close affording the visitor quite a view.  Though we currently only carry a wonderfully bright and satisfying 07 crianza along with what is perhaps my favorite unoaked white rioja, we hope to bring in a few more wines from these folks; these wines are seriously good values.  And, if you are ever visiting in Rioja, the Puelles family runs a lovely inn with a few rooms offering beautiful views of their vines.  I hear that Jesús is quite the host, and having spent a brief amount of time with him, I do not doubt it.


2008 Miguel Merino "Viñas Jovenes" Rioja Alta - $19.99 


2005 Miguel Merino Reserva Rioja Alta - $29.99 


2004 Miguel Merino Gran Reserva Rioja Alta - $39.99  


 2009 Miguel Merino Mazuelo de Quinta Cruz Rioja Alta - $24.99 


2009 Bodegas Puelles Blanco Rioja - $11.99 


2007 Bodegas Puelles Crianza Rioja - $15.99


2) Txakoli Tasting this Friday!
Cold Basque white wine - does it get any better on a Friday??  There will be some fresh 2010 Isastegi cider as well.  Apples never tasted so good.
Friday, 9/23/2011 5pm-6:30pm $5


TXOX! (if that's a new expression for you, you'll learn all about it on Friday)


3) Non-DI Spanish Wine of the Week

In a world where commodity wines with goopy textures and sweet oak flavors tend to garner much of the attention, it provides some level of comfort that affordable, rustic wines of character such as this one still exist.






Hasta la proxima semana....



Joe Manekin is the K&L Buyer for the wines of Spain, Portugal, and South America. He is committed to supporting the hard-working folks out there making honest wines that show a sense of place. When he is not at K&L, Joe enjoys cooking, traveling, supporting his friends at Terroir, doing occasional PR, booking and recording work for reggae band JohnStone, and writing for his wine, food and music blog, Old world Old School (


¡Oye Tio! Iberian Wine News: Announcing New Direct Imports from Rioja

By: Joe Manekin | K&L Staff Member

Welcome to our new Spain & Portugal weekly update! 

Lots of new stuff to talk about, as well as upcoming events and other news items of notes. 

I do hope that you find the updates on products and information you read here useful and decidedly less sales pitchy/bombastic than the usual online retail fare. 

And, here we go…

Direct Imports from Rioja, Spain

We are quite pleased to soon be bringing in Riojas from Miguel Merino (Briones, Rioja Alta) and Puelles (Abalos, Rioja Alta).  You’ll be hearing (and, hopefully tasting) much more when these arrive in the next several weeks.  For now, though, I am thrilled to have heard from several customers who visited Miguel Merino and/or have drunk his wines on the east coast.  Both Merino and Puelles are small and know Rioja inside out, Miguel more on the wholesale side (until his fairly recent “retirement project” that is his winery) and Puelles on the viticultural side.  They are both super talented, crafting very terroir driven expressions from vineyards based around their respective towns.  We took our time finding the right Rioja DI’s and I believe that the extra time and lack of hurry to find the right producers will prove to be well worth it.


For Your Consideration

A short list of wines I'm excited about right now:


2004 Viña Valoria Blanco Crianza Rioja - $15.99

Classic white Rioja, reminiscent of LdH Viña Gravonia and less $.


2008 Vega de Ribes Sauvignon Blanc Penedes - $14.99

Sauvignon Blanc?  From Spain?  Trust me.  If you like Clos Roche Blanche, I think you may have a winner here.


2005 Quinta das Bageiras "Garrafeira" Vinho Branco Bairrada - $14.99

Aged white from one of the best producers in arguably Portugal’s most exciting region.


2009 Bodegas Mendall Roig Finca Caiballes "R" - $29.99

Not for the timid!  Read up and know what you’re getting into for this wine.  That said, I find this to be most exciting.


Alfredo Maestro Tejero "Viña Almate" Tempranillo - $17.99

Single vineyard organic tempranillo, mineral, NO TOAST French oak.  Seriously well made.


Upcoming Events and Tastings


Tastings with Vibrant Rioja

Vibrant Rioja is helping us to promote Rioja wines this Fall.  We will have in-store tastings each month featuring some of our favorite Rioja producers.

Here is the schedule:

Redwood City – Third Thursdays from 5-6:30pm (9/15, 10/20, 11/17)

San Francisco – First Fridays from 5-6:30pm (10/7, 11/4)

Hollywood – First Fridays from 5:30-7pm (10/7, 11/4)

Also, perhaps 1-2 other events TBD.  We might have some Palacios chorizo, sheep’s milk cheese, even paella on hand? Stay tuned.


In-Store Tastings

@ K&L Redwood City (5-6:30pm)  map 

Friday 9/23TXAKOLI!  This is always a popular tasting.  Get there early before it gets nuts.  Or, get there later if you prefer the crazy.

Friday 10/7 – Riojas from Bodegas Ontañon.  Very solid producer, with a wonderful story, great vineyards, very good wines.  Taste ‘em for yourself.

Friday 10/14 – Jerez-Xeres-Sherry.  We take our sherry very seriously and do not plan on taking this one lightly.  Holly from De Maison (Spanish & French importer, as well as a leading light of all things sherry) will be pouring the good stuff. 


@ K&L Hollywood (5:30-7pm) map

Thursday 9/15 - Golden State Wine Co. will be pouring wines from their very strong portfolio.


Alrighty, until next week.  As always, feel free to contact me with questions.





Joe Manekin is the K&L Buyer for the wines of Spain, Portugal, and South America. He is committed to supporting the hard-working folks out there making honest wines that show a sense of place. When he is not at K&L, Joe enjoys cooking, traveling, hanging out with his dog Clem, doing occasional PR, booking and recording work for reggae band JohnStone (, and writing for his wine, food and music blog, Old world Old School (


Wine of the Week: 2009 Burgo Viejo Rioja ($9.99)

The 2009 Burgo Viejo Rioja ($9.99) is one of our favorite young Riojas we have yet to taste this year -in stock now at the K&L near you and available online at!

We love Rioja. The wines are so versatile: they are generally sufficiently fruit forward to drink upon release, often times structured and serious enough to age, and amongst the most food friendly reds around. But the unoaked wines are not without merit as well. Especially for summer drinking, where fresh fruit expression often trumps oak derived nuances.

Based in the Rioja Baja town of Alfaro, Burgo Viejo consists of six families pooling together their vineyards and resources to produce very good wine. In the 2009 Burgo Viejo Rioja, Tempranillo forms the backbone, bolstered by Garnacha and Mazuelo (Carignane). This wine is all red macerated cherries, with excellent purity, texture and character, no doubt due in part to the malolactic fermentation and ageing taking place the old fashioned way, in concrete vats. This is undoubtedly one of my favorite young Riojas I have yet to taste this year. (Joe Manekin, K&L Spanish wine buyer, 8/22/2011) 

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