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One of the most serious English Sparkling producers. This historic estate has been in the Goring family since 1743. The tiny 16-acre vineyard is close-planted on a steep south-facing chalk escarpment described as 'similar to the Côte des Blancs' in Champagne. The fruit is picked very selectively with quality being the absolute focus. The grapes are pressed gently using a traditional Coquard press. After three years on the lees this wine, composed of 45% Pinot Noir, 33% Chardonnay & 22% Pinot Meunier, is hand disgorged and balanced with a minimal dosage of just 4g/L. It has a fine counterbalance between toasty richness and power from the wines élevage in Burgundian French Oak barrels, with racy acidity, tension and a focused chalky minerality.

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Entries in Sauvignon Blanc (23)

Wednesday
Jun052013

{Terra Ignota} K&L Exclusive Direct Import of Spectacular Te Mata Estate Wines

During my travels around New Zealand in 2011 I visited over 50 wineries. In general I was amazed by the quality and diversity of the wine I encountered. Marlborough was great, Central Otago too, but I think it was Hawke’s Bay on the east coast of New Zealand’s north island that really blew me away. The cornerstone of that revelation was most definitely the wines of Te Mata Estate. 

The famous landmark of Te Mata Peak that towers over the winery

I was so impressed that on my return to K&L I worked hard to develop a relationship with them and am pleased to say that we are now the exclusive importer of the Te Mata wines to the USA. Te Mata Estate is New Zealand’s oldest family owned winery. Founded in 1892 by an English immigrant, the winery still uses the original plots nestled into the lower slopes of Te Mata Peak, a dramatic rocky out crop that towers above the flat plains of Hawke’s Bay. The vines grow only a couple miles from the ocean and are perfectly tempered by cool sea breezes. These rocky free draining soils are perfect for balanced, finessed wines but with the concentration and power I have come to expect from Hawke’s Bay.

The orignal Coleraine Vineyard first established in 1892

Te Mata’s wines are held in very high regard and many immediately sell out upon release from the winery. Their four most iconic wines have long been regarded as the most prestigious and awarded wines in New Zealand. The long lived, Bordeaux like Coleraine. The undeniably rich and delicious Awatea. The complex, layered, very Burgundian Elston Chardonnay and perhaps the most sought after all, the stunning Bullnose Syrah. We have also brought some of their other estate wines to the US as part of a K&L exclusive direct import. These wines are truly the pinnacle of what New Zealand can produce.

2009 Te Mata Estate “Coleraine” Bordeaux Blend, Hawke’s Bay, NZ $49.99

This is a stunningly complex and delicious Bordeaux style blend that takes its name from the tiny vineyard directly adjacent to the winery. The Coleraine has been produced since 1982 and is regarded as one of New Zealand's finest and most age worthy wines. Quite compellingly the wine is made each year using a blind tasting and blending of the estates fine parcels of Bordeaux varietals.

The winemaker describes it as “saturated magenta in color with concentrated aromas of blackcurrants, spice and dark old fashioned roses. The palate opens with the dense sweet, dark berry fruits indicative of a great year. The focus quickly turns to rich fine tannins that fill the mouth, leaving a lasting impression of a wine of significant ageing ability. Coleraine '09 [is] considered amongst the greatest Coleraines. A blend of 52% cabernet sauvignon, 43% merlot, and 5% cabernet franc, it will continue to develop in bottle and provide great enjoyment up to 15 years from harvest.” My personal notes echoed these, being particularly impressed with the balance between rich dark fruits and a firm structure. This is clearly a wine for the long haul but with just enough extraction to please the bigger cab drinkers and those who enjoy riper Bordeaux vintages such as 2000, 2005, 2009.

Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate also gave great reviews to this wine awarding 95 points and writing:

“Blackberry, dark chocolate, a touch of sloe and liquorice. The finesse is there on the long, languid finish. A masculine Coleraine with great intensity and promise for the future.”

James Suckling writes: “94 points, this is an awesome Bordeaux blend with light mint, flowers and dark fruits. Currants and slightly dried fruit. Full-bodied, with layers of ripe tannins and long, long finish. Still slightly chewy. Needs another three to four years to come around.”

2010 Te Mata Estate “Awatea” Cabernet Blend, Hawke’s Bay NZ $29.99 

This is the 2nd wine to the Coleraine, made in a slightly more plush, drink earlier style and represents an excellent value for a remarkable bottle of wine. Te Mata Estate believes this to be one of the finest Awatea’s it has produced to date. Winemaker’s notes: “2010 Awatea is a dark magenta colour with aromas of fresh blackberry and raspberry infused with rosemary and sandalwood. The palate is pure, powerful, and well balanced, with mineral freshness and fine powdery tannin warmth contributing to its length. Awatea ’10 is a blend of 42% cabernet sauvignon, 40% merlot, 12% cabernet franc and 6% petit verdot. It will continue to evolve in bottle, providing great enjoyment up to 10 years from harvest. It is a natural partner for savoury red meat dishes and hard cheeses.”

I found this wine to be very expressive right now with a touch more generosity. Dark lush fruit and spice box with wonderful energy and brightness on the palate. A dynamic wine that evolves beautifully in the glass. The perfect steak wine! Truly over achieving against any other $30 Cab blend I would put in it’s category.

The 2010 Awatea has not been professionally reviewed yet, however the 2009 garnered 92 from Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate.

2009 Te Mata Estate “Bullnose” Syrah, Hawke’s Bay, NZ $31.99 

This wine sells out immediately upon release in New Zealand, it’s almost a national treasure! Made from a tiny, steep single vineyard, the winemaker writes: “An impressive deep magenta colour, with aromas and flavours of raspberry and sweet cherry, baking spices and lavender. The rich palate displays velvety tannins underpinning plum and cream notes, leading to a long, elegant finish. It will continue to evolve in bottle for eight years from harvest.” This is a stunningly elegant and perfumed Syrah again playing a perfect balance between old world structure and beautifully pure new world fruit.

Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate awards 94 points and writes: “Produced since 1992, the vines for the Bullnose Syrah are now 20 years old. Purple-black in color, the 2009 Bullnose Syrah gives up a pronounced nose of blueberry compote and blackberry pie filling with hints of cloves, moss covered bark, allspice, toast and aniseed with a whiff of white pepper. Medium bodied and concentrated in the mouth, it gives a good structure of crisp acid and firm, ripe, rounded tannins, finishing long and peppery. Drink it now to 2018+.

2011 Te Mata Estate “Elston” Chardonnay, Hawke’s Bay, NZ $29.99

Once more finding a perfect balance between the restraint and mineral intrigue of great white Burgundy and the slightly more exotic fruit expression of New Zealand. This wine is fascinating as it tip toes across the palate and goes on and on in the finish. The winemaker describes it beautifully: “Elston ‘11 has a brilliant, green gold colour, and lovely aromas of nectarine and white peach, with a background of oatmeal and cedar. It is elegant and intense, with a mineral tension in the extended palate that suggests considerable cellaring potential. Elston ‘11 will continue to evolve in bottle for five years + from harvest and matches well with full flavoured dishes based on seafood, poultry and white meats, as well as soft ripened cheeses."

The 2011 vintage has not yet been professionally reviewed, but the 2010 garnered 95 points from James Suckling with him writing “This is really fabulous with insane density like grand cru Burgundy. Full and layered with great concentration and structure. Lemon rind, apple pie and mineral undertones. It's all about tension and structure here. Needs time to come around. Better in 2015.”

I think the 2010 is a better wine than the 2009 with more brightness and minerality. This wine is considered one of New Zealand’s most prestigious Chardonnays and I urge you to try it.

2011 Te Mata Estate “Cape Crest” Sauvignon Blanc, Hawke’s Bay, NZ $19.99

 

One of New Zealand's top Barrel Fermented Sauvignon Blancs. The Winemaker describes it as “fermented and aged in a combination of new and used French oak barrels. Eight months aging on the lees lends this Bordeaux-style blend (85% Sauvignon Blanc, 11% Semillon, and 4% Sauvignon Gris) incredible mid-palate richness and length on the finish. It reveals intense aromas of tropical fruit, citrus, pear, and blossom in the nose, with accents of buttered toast and vanilla. The palate is layered and creamy, with fine acid structure and a very long lingering nutty finish.” Very classy stuff and a gives a whole new meaning to most peoples understanding of Kiwi Sauv Blanc.

James Suckling writes: 92 points “This is like top white Bordeaux with lemon / lime, green apple and mineral character. Great intensity. Full body with lovely balance of fruit and oak. Excellent finish. Drink now.

Jancis Robinson writes: 17/20 Brilliantly forthright oak, like all-butter shortbread. Lemon citrus and vegetal notes present on the palate, good restraint despite the potent nose. This could be Graves or Pessac-Léognan.

Last but not least is the wonderful if not slightly quirky 2012 Te Mata Estate Gamay Noir, Hawke’s Bay, NZ $16.99.

Made in a very convincing Beaujolais style with partial carbonic fermentation, this is such a fun and delicious wine. Spicy, crunchy red berries with silky, supple tannins and just a whiff of cracked black pepper to distinguish it as a Hawke’s Bay wine. Perfect for summer BBQ with chicken and fish. Once you try one this will be a new favorite I’m sure!

James Suckling agrees saying: “90 points, amazing Beaujolais style to this wine with grapy, wet earth character. It's medium-bodied, with fresh acidity and a long finish. So much going on here. One of the only producers in New Zealand of Gamay. It was started in 1995. Cuttings came from Beaujolais. Lovely texture to it. Drink now 

Please check out these wines. They are all truly remarkable. Any feedback will be truly appreciated.

 Cheers

 -Ryan Woodhouse, Aussie/NZ Specialist

 ***

Terra Ignota is Latin for "Unknown Land". It was the name for the South Pacific region during intial mapping and exploration of Australia and New Zealand. As we are going to be exploring new and exciting wines from this region, we think this is a fitting title for our blog series on wines from this part of the world. Stay tuned for more!

Friday
May172013

BDX Files: Ralph's 2012 Bordeaux Vintage Report Preview

By: Ralph Sands | K&L Senior Bordeaux Specialist

2012 Bordeaux: Is it too Late?

I have just returned from Bordeaux and the evaluation of the 2012 vintage. This marked my 44th visit to the region and my 23rd vintage evaluation. With well over 1000 wines tasted. I believe I’ve wrapped my arms around 2012 pretty well, understand the style of the vintage, and have identified the best wines.

As always, the weather makes the wine. In 2012, the weather was normal…which means very difficult! Near-perfect vintages like 2005 and 2009 are very rare. Almost every vintage has numerous problems during the growing season, and 2011 and 2012 certainly had their share of problems.

Weather-wise, 2011 and 2012 could hardly be more opposite. 2011 had a warm spring with early bud break and early but uneven flowering; a mixed bag from May to June, mostly cold and wet. The summer was overcast and very cool. The vintage was saved by a warm/hot September and an early harvest ensued.

In 2012 the opposite occurred. Cold/wet conditions kept bud break late. Uneven flowering spread out for weeks, pushing things almost a month behind. Cool and wet conditions continued, causing worry of mildew. On July 15th (on the dot!) the weather switch-flipped and sunny conditions took over August and September, causing some stress in some plots and continued uneven ripening. Harvest was late everywhere. Most of the Merlots were harvested at good ripeness and mostly in nice conditions but a lot of the Cabernet Sauvignons on the left bank were picked in the rains of mid October. The rain and the fact that some Cabernet Sauvignon was just not completely ripe at harvest keep 2012 out of the very good category. These conditions also resulted in a small crop overall, with most estates making about 50% of their normal amounts.

It is common to refer to a Bordeaux vintage as either a Cabernet Sauvignon vintage or a Merlot vintage, and 2012 is definitely a Merlot vintage. The Right Bank commune of Pomerol made some fantastic wines across the board, with very good consistent quality also in St-Emilion. The areas of Pessac-Leognan and the Medoc were very uneven with many wines showing aggressive dryness and green notes on the finish. That being said, there some fine successes in 2012 from the left bank that do not have those green and drying notes, but certainly not as many as I would have liked.

I’m lucky this year as I will be going back to Bordeaux in June and I am looking forward with great eagerness to taste many of these left bank wines again. The main reason for this return is that the one month lateness of the vintage at all stages, especially the lateness of the harvest, delays all the stages of fermentation/blending and putting into barrel. So when I along with everyone else tasted this year on April 1st , it was a month early as far as the wine was concerned, and the weather had been very cold. There is no dancing around the fact that these wines were well behind in their development and difficult to access. So the expectation is that the six week period of additional development along with warmer spring weather should give the Cabernet Sauvignon blends a much better and fairer showing in June.

While 2011 produced elegant wines with strong acidities, 2012 produced riper wines with a darker core of fruit and more flesh, so I absolutely prefer 2012 to 2011. Where does 2012 fit in comparison to other vintages? Well, while it may not be in the league of great vintages like 2010, 2009, 2005 or 2000, I like it at least as well if not more than 2008, 2006 and 2007. My strongest comparison at this early stage would be to 1998, also a late and very fine Merlot vintage while being much tougher and closed on the left.

I have learned over the years not to dismiss the “tough to taste young” vintages on the left bank too soon. These wines develop slowly and vintages like 2004, 2002 and 1998 have turned out much better than most of the scores and reviews reflected at the time of release. Many have fooled us at recent blind tastings in Bordeaux where we thought they were from outstanding years.

The Blancs: The whites from Pessac-Leognan showed very well, refreshing and floral wines that are more on the elegant side. The Petite Chateaux and inexpensive Blancs also showed very well. Overall, 2012 is a nice vintage for the Blancs.

The Sweeties from Sauternes and Barsac: For lovers of the sweet wines this will always be a confusing vintage because Ch. d’Yquem publicly stated that they would make no wine in 2012 before the En Primeur tastings, which leads many to assume there will be no wine made anywhere. This is simply not the case across the board. While it is true that in the slow-growing gravel soils of d’Yquem and in neighboring Fargues (Ch. Rieussec, Ch.Guiraud, Ch. Suduiraut, and Raymond Lafon), little to no wine will be made; the grapes were so far behind that when good conditions for the boytrytis happened in these soils, the rains and humidity took over. However, just north in the sandy, clay and limestone soils of Barsac, the grapes were further ahead maturity wise and handled the conditions just fine in between periods of rain. Some lovely wines were made. These wines are not in the big, thick and powerful style; they are sweet, but elegant, fresh and charming. While tasting these wines I could not help but think about how nicely these wines will drink, even by themselves, on a warm summer afternoon or evening because they are so refreshing and not big and thick. Lovely wines were made at Ch. Clemens, Ch. Doisy-Daene, Ch. Doisy-Vedrines, Ch.de Malle, Ch. de Myrat, and Ch. La Tour Blanche, Ch. Haut-Peyraguey, Ch. Rabaud Promis, Ch. Rayne-Vigneau and Ch. Siglas-Rabaud, to name a few.

The Prices: Last but not least is the question of pricing. This will be a key factor in the success of the vintage sales-wise. We firmly told everyone in Bordeaux who would listen that 2012 presents a great opportunity to get people back to loving Bordeaux before it is too late…that they should offer this good vintage at steeply reduced prices, giving everyone a reason to buy and stimulating the marketplace. We will see if they listen or not.

Please feel free to contact me anytime with any questions or for advice on the wines of Bordeaux. I can be reached at extension 2723 or by email at Ralph@klwines.com.

Cheers and Go Giants!

Ralph Sands

 

Ralph Sands

Bordeaux Expert

Senior Wine Specialist

K&L Wine Merchants

Redwood City and San Francisco Ca.

1-800 247-5987 Ext# 2723

Direct Line 650-556-2723

Email- Ralph@klwines.com

Company Website- klwines.com

 

 

Wednesday
Apr032013

Celebrate Mike Grgich's 90th Birthday with 2 Special Tastings at K&L in April!

Miljenko “Mike” Grgich celebrates 90th birthday this April. A native of Croatia, Mike arrived in Napa 1958 and worked at Souverain, Christian Brothers, Beaulieu Vineyards, Robert Mondavi Winery, and Chateau Montelena, where he crafted the Chardonnay that triumphed in the 1976 Paris Tasting, before founding Grgich Hills in 1977 in Rutherford.

Happy 90th Birthday Mike!

Mike Grgich, winemaker and founder of the famous Grgich Hills Estate, turned 90 years old on April 1st of this year. It was Mike Grgich, then winemaker for Chateau Montelena, who crafted the 1973 Chardonnay that 'beat' the French competition in the historic Paris Tasting of 1976. To celebrate this milestone birthday, K&L is hosting two special Grgich Hills Estate tastings in April in our Northern California stores. We invite you to join the party! Current releases of Grgich Hills' Chardonnay, Fume Blanc, Zinfandel, and Cabernet Sauvignon among other wines will be featured at both events. Come and raise a glass to one of Napa's great winemaking legends.

Thursday April 18th (5pm-6pm): Special Grgich Hills Tasting at K&L Redwood City ($5) rsvp on facebook 

Friday April 19th (5pm-6pm): Special Grgich Hills Tasting at K&L San Francisco ($5) rsvp on facebook 

 

For additional information on this event and other upcoming special events and tastings taking place at any of our locations, visit K&L Local Events on KLWines.com.

More About Mike, from Grgich Hills Estate

Mike's life sounds like a Hollywood movie, journeying from a peasant upbringing in communist Yugoslavia, to winemaker winning the Paris Tasting, and then becoming a winery owner in the Napa Valley. Mike arrived in the Napa Valley in 1958 after a four year journey from Croatia and worked for some of Napa's iconic wineries: Souverain, Christian Brothers, Beaulieu Vineyards and Robert Mondavi Winery, before becoming winemaker at Chateau Montelena. At Montelena, he crafted the Chardonnay that beat the best white wines in France in the now-famous 1976 Paris Tasting, helping to shatter the myth that only French soil could produce the world’s greatest wines and drawing international attention to Napa Valley wines.

Judges deliberating during the Paris Tasting of 1976. Image courtesy of Grgich Hills Estate.

On Independence Day 1977, Mike and Austin Hills broke ground in Rutherford to build Grgich Hills Cellar. Since starting Grgich Hills, Mike has continued receiving international awards for his wines and has been recognized for being a leader in sustainable vineyard practices.  Mike celebrated his 50th year of making wine in 2008, the same year he was inducted into the Vintners Hall of Fame. Today, all of Grgich Hills’ 366 acres are certified organic and the winery has converted to solar power and is completely estate grown.  

Check out the 2009 Grgich Hills "Estate" Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon ($49.99) and other Grgich Hills Estate wines in stock now at K&L.His influence has been so far-reaching that his famous beret, the suit case he carried to America, and a bottle of the 1973 Chardonnay that won the Paris Tasting are on display in the Smithsonian National Museum of American History’s first major exhibition on food history—“FOOD: Transforming the American Table 1950–2000”.  In addition, a Croatian TV documentary about his life, “Like the Old Vine,” premiered at the Napa Valley Film Festival in November 2012.

Visit www.grgich.comto see all of the winery's events, including a special Gala on April 13th, and the inaugural release of the Paris Tasting Chardonnay, crafted by Mike Grgich in the same style as the Chardonnay that won the 1976 Paris Tasting. Given Mike’s proven track record of creating elegant wines that improve with age, this Chardonnay is sure to become a collectable. The winery will launch a birthday cake decorating contest with the chance to win a trip to Napa Valley and celebrate Mike’s 90 years of accomplishments with the famed winemaker.

Grgich Hills Estate, located in Rutherford, CA, was founded in 1977 by Vintner Hall of Fame inductee Miljenko “Mike” Grgich and Austin Hills after Mike’s Chardonnay outscored the best of France in the now-famous 1976 Paris Tasting.

Today, this iconic winery farms 366 acres naturally, without artificial pesticides or herbicides, and uses its passion and art to handcraft food-friendly, balanced and elegant wines. Mike is assisted by his daughter, Violet Grgich, Vice President of Operations, and his nephew, Ivo Jeramaz, Vice President of Vineyards and Production. For more information, visit www.grgich.com.