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With the James Bond movie Spectre being released today, no time could be better to drink Bollinger. The most suave spy in the world has been sipping on Bollinger since Moonraker in 1979. While we can’t all drive a fully loaded, customized machine gun having Aston Martin, we certainly can chill down a bottle of Bolli! The 2004 Bollinger "Grande Année" Brut Champagne ($109) is as good as Champagne gets; all barrel fermented and full of masculine, Pinot Noir power and high class elegance. We even have a few bottles of the limited 2009 Bollinger "James Bond 007" Brut Champagne ($195) in stock for the diehard fan of Bond & Champagne!

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Entries in Sauvignon Blanc (25)


A Quick Mid-Harvest Visit To Some Napa Stalwarts


Heitz Cabernet Grapes looking perfect

By: Ryan Woodhouse | K&L Staff Member

For all that is good and bad about visiting and tasting in Napa these days, there are still many producers worth checking out. My family was recently visiting from England and I thought I would take the opportunity to show them around the valley during harvest--when all the action happens--and visit a few of my perennial favorites. Here are a couple of highlights and shots from the trip.

I kind of blew it right from the beginning in terms of saving the best for last...the first place we visited was the old property at Heitz Cellars. Kaj was kind enough to give us a great look around and popped a bottle of 2005 Martha’s Vineyard, it turned out (unsurprisingly) to be my favorite wine of the trip!

and these beautiful old upright FoudresHeitz wines mature in French oak Barriques

We started with the 2010 Heitz Cellar Sauvignon Blanc, which is really a delicate, restrained style with great drive and freshness with to much fat fruit. This is a wonderfully mineral laden wine with great persistence on the palate. Excellent drinking with oysters.

An old photograph of the Heitz estate and the historic stone winery

Then, as I said, we went right to the top with the 2005 Martha's. Wow - what a wine! So attractive and expressive now but you can just tell it's got another decade(+) in the tank. The quality that struck me most about this wine is that it's 100% Napa Cab, and a wonderful expression of exactly that; it’s not pretending to be Bordeaux. There's the power of the fruit and ripeness of tannin at the forefront. Then the wonderful warm dusty notes, and some minty, herbal edges. Fantastic wine, and very thoughtfully made, as evidenced by such an elongated drinking window. The 2007 Heitz Cellar Martha’s Vineyard Cab has been given the extra special honor of the colored label reserved for only the very best vintages of this stunning wine.

Stunning views from up on Howell Mtn

Next after grabing some picnic supplies we headed up Howell Mountain to Ladera Vineyards. This was my first visit to the property after years of enjoying their wines. The winery is one of the oldest bonded wineries in Napa. The original structure is now just a shell within which the modern winery exists. This beautiful restored stone building set into the rugged terrain of the mountain is spectacular. Again we started with their rare 2010 Ladera Howell Mountain Sauvignon Blanc. Perhaps just a touch more generous than the Heitz, but with a firm bright acidity and tons of rocky minerality under the citrus fruit. A "go-to" domestic SB for sure.

The beautifully restored winery from 1886The modern all gravity winery inside

Next we rolled through their excellent range of estate cabs. Most of the fruit is grown on Howell Mountain but they also have property on the cooler Mount Veeder which interlaces the big burly dark fruit and concentration of Howell Mountain with some touches of tobacco leaf and cedar from the cooler Veeder fruit. These are wines of balance, power, and integrity that make me happy.  They prove that not all Napa Cab has gone over to the big, jammy, soft, manipulated style.

Back now to the valley floor and the Silverado Trail side of St. Helena to Duckhorn Vineyards. I was excited about this visit after a nice stop at Goldeneye in Anderson Valley the previous week. In my opinion, Duckhorn wines are the real deal when it comes to Napa. They make quintessential Napa wines. The world is now so Cab centric and yet their offerings of Merlot are some of the best examples of Bordeaux varietal reds you’ll find anywhere. We toured the facility and saw everything in full swing. The fruit looked great and plentiful!

Winemakers and cellar crews in California have now been working around the clock for months bringing in what many think will be one of the best vintages in years, if not decades. Having left that game myself, I would like to applaud those people surviving the ravages of harvest and 14-16-18 hour days to bring us great wines year after year! Cheers to you all!

The Famous Three Palms Vineyard

Anyway, the barrel rooms at Duckhorn are stacked neatly away, holding their precious treasures. It was great to have a good look around at this top-notch facility. We were treated to a very comprehensive seated tasting of many reserve and single vineyard wines. There was not one bad wine on the table. We started with another beautiful Napa SB,(2011 Duckhorn Napa Valley Sauvignon Blanc), this one with some notable barrel character and a dash of Semillion giving it a very Bordeaux Blanc like sensibility. My other favorites included the Cab Franc and the Carneros Merlot. Sadly these do not get into distribution.

Upon tasting the 2009 Duckhorn Napa Valley Merlot, I was once again wowed by how good and consistent this Merlot really is. Duckhorn's "workhorse" Merlot, it combines fruit from their many great sites sources and is consistently one of my top Napa wines every vintage. Sure, the 2008 Duckhorn “Discussion” is the premier Bordeaux-style blend and a great wine, and the 2009 Duckhorn “Three Palms Vineyard” Merlot is the flashy, prestigious, sought after release (its concentration, richness, power and purity are also very impressive). However, I can’t help feeling enamored with the regular old Duckhorn Napa Valley Merlot. It's an everyman's wine with the pedigree and class to cellar for decades, and delivers on every level at a very reasonable price point. For me, it is benchmark for the varietal and region.

2 miles of caves, 2 million bottles all under Spring Mtn at SchramsbergThe next day after some perusing of the shops in Calistoga and St. Helena, we headed up to Schramsberg on Spring Mountain. I had been told that the Cave tour was not to be missed so I thought this would be a good way to finish off the trip. The history surrounding this property is enthralling as is the atmosphere. You begin by entering the two miles of underground caves, much of which were hand-dug with pick and shovel by Chinese workers in the 1870s, after completing Transcontinental Rail Road. Inside the caves, the walls are lined with millions of hand-stacked bottles ageing on their lees. Schramsberg still riddles their wines by hand. Riddling is an incredibly laborious process of rotating and tilting the bottles over many weeks to move the yeast into the neck of the bottle for disgorgement.

Schramsberg's A-frame riddling racks deep underground in the caves.In the underground caves, everything is covered by a thick dust and mossy webs, a perfect pre-Halloween treat! The tasting deep in the caves was excellent and the wines showed fantastically. The 2009 Schramsberg Brut Blanc de Blanc first was very fresh and zippy with bright acid and vivacious energy on the palate. The Brut Rose, good as always, was showing nice purity and weight in the mouth. If you like domestic sparklers this is the one for Thanksgiving, a very food friendly and versatile wine. The J.Schram (Blanc de Blanc) and Reserve (Pinot Noir) bottlings were a real treat. Both are very big rich wines with a minimum five years on the lees, sleeping deep beneath the Spring Mountain hillside. I sometimes find wines with this amount of lees contact bit much, preferring two to three years on lees over the late-disgorged versions. However, I must say that both of these wines showed excellent balance and brightness of character and I’m sure would be excellent cellaring candidates should you be lucky enough to get your hands on some. We normally get small allocations of both around the holidays so keep a look out or wait-list them if you are interested.

Tasting in the caves at Schramsberg

If you haven’t tried any of the wines we tasted on this trip, I highly recommend you do! This is not the glitzy, glam, “Disney Napa” that some people talk about. These are all wines of history and true substance. Every one of these properties deserves a few spots in the cellar or an outing to the dinner table. Enjoy!




{Terra Ignota} Get Kiwi Savvy on Sauvignon Blanc Day!

Te Whare Ra, Marlborough NZBy Jim Chanteloup | K&L NZ Wine Buyer

"Sauvignon Blanc is a strange grape. It evokes strong reactions. Those who love it, love it with a passion. Those who find its flavours less than subtle, tend to be less than subtle in their criticism of it." -Jancis Robinson

Can you tell the difference between Marlborough and Martinborough Sauvignon Blanc? Tasted blind, you might not be able to guess that latter was also from New Zealand. Under the right conditions, Sauvignon Blanc is a superb example of terroir, and nowhere is this trait more obvious than in New Zealand itself, where Sauvignon Blanc is king. While the region of Marlborough has become synonymous with the benchmark Kiwi style, you will find quite a different expression in New Zealand's more under-the-radar winegrowing regions, depending on factors of microclimate and soil-type.  

If you are curious about learning more about the varietal traits of Sauvignon Blanc, or have ambitions to one day become a Master of Wine like Jancis Robinson, do yourself a favor and get "Kiwi Savvy" by checking out the stylistic difference from Marlborough, Martinborough and Nelson with these wines recommended below. All three represent great character from their respective regions within New Zealand.

2011 Craggy Range "Te Muna Road" Sauvignon Blanc Martinborough ($18.99)

The limestone soils of Craggy Range's Te Muna Road vineyard in Martinborough lend minerality and elegance to this sophisticated single-vineyard Sauvignon Blanc from one of New Zealand's most esteemed producers. Fermented in 100% stainless steel and aged briefly for three months in used French oak, the 2011 exhibits classic Te Muna chalky minerality, which underscores inherently crisp citrus and green apple aromas and flavors accent by note of fresh cut hay and flowering herbs. Tangy acidity and a fleshy midpalate lead toward a focused finish. Enjoy this dry, refreshing, classic Martinborough SB with fresh seafood!

2011 Te Whare Ra Sauvignon Blanc Marlborough New Zealand ($18.99)

Te Whare Ra is a small, organic, family-run winery in Marlborough's Wairau Valley that we loved so much that we decided to import them directly! That means more bang for your buck. Their Sauvignon Blanc combines tropical passion fruit and lychee notes with cooler qualities of elderflower, citrus and gooseberry from the Awatere fruit. Great mid-palate texture and fresh, yet restrained, acidity on the finish.

2011 Neudorf Sauvignon Blanc Nelson ($16.99)

Neudorf Sauvignons are dry, with concentration and length reflecting low cropping rates, and a degree of mid palate texture and creaminess from a portion of (neutral) barrel ferment. This is intense and highly aromatic, with zesty blackcurrants, pineapple guava and lime aroma and flavors, and a touch of  flinty minerality. A textured entry leads to a palate that is smooth and round in the mouth, with a full creamy finish.

Ok, now that you're officially "Kiwi Savvy," it's time to raise a glass and join todays global tasting on Sauvignon Blanc Day!




June 21, 2012: Sauvignon Blanc Day Global Tasting

Taste with K&L and Sauvignon Blanc fans worldwide on Twitter! Pop open a bottle of your favorite Sauv Blanc, or buy a bottle of something new to try. Pour some wine and join the conversation on Twitter by tagging posts about your wine selections with #SauvBlanc. 


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!


Shop the Blanc: Check out our complete selection of over 200 Sauvignon Blancs in stock now on!


{Terra Ignota}: Te Whare Ra - K&L's First Direct Import from the Land of the Long White Cloud


Te Whare Ra, is a small, organic, family-run winery in the Wairau Valley of Marlborough.

Te Whare Ra (pronounced “Tea Far-ee Ra”, from Maori meaning “The House in the Sun”) is one of the premier boutique wineries in Marlborough and has some of the oldest vines in the area dating back to the 70’s. Since 2003, it has been owned and operated by Jason and Anna Flowerday. Both are winemakers by trade; Jason is a local to Marlborough and Anna is from McClaren Vale in Australia. The two were destined to have a winery of their own, and Te Whare Ra (TWR) is a culmination of their passion and dedication to quality.

Jason and Anna Flowerday

During some time in Marlborough last year my wife and I stumbled upon TWR. We were looking for small boutique wineries and personally gravitate toward organic/Biodynamic producers. We pulled into the front of the winery but everything looked closed. We rang the bell and Anna answered the door. We chatted a while and she explained that their first pick for the 2011 vintage was happening the next day and they had closed the tasting room to prepare the winery for harvest. Thankfully she offered to pour us some wines anyway and I was immediately stunned by the quality of all the wines.  After the tasting she took us for a wander through the winery and crushpad. Jason joined us and we talked about their viticulture, winemaking style and general philosophy. 

View of the Crush Pad and Individual Berry Sorting at Te Whare Ra

I was amazed by the small scale of production and extreme hands-on, detail-oriented winemaking they employ. The vineyards are farmed meticulously using organic and biodynamic methods. They even have their own cows for manure and other Bio preps. They are members of Organic Winegrowers NZ and are soon to be Bio-Gro certified. Most of the fruit is hand-picked and sorted. The Pinot is then de-stemmed and resorted by the individual berry! Fermentation is done in one-ton open fermenters for gentle extraction and finesse.

Jason Hand Plunging the Pinot Noir

Seeing and hearing all this made perfect sense after tasting the wines. Jason and Anna’s careful hand crafting and obsessive attention to detail define these wines; they are truly distinctive, expressing quality, purity, a dynamic sense of place, and a great thread of textural complexity and detail that shows though in every wine. We exchanged contact info, picked up a couple bottles to give to our Kiwi hosts and left vowing to tell any that would listen about how special these wines were. On returning to the US and getting my position with K&L I thought this would be the perfect opportunity for K&L's first serious collaboration with a single boutique producer from New Zealand through our Direct Import program. 

This is just was just the beginning as we continue to expand our offerings that already include: Oakridge, Dalwhinnie, Te Mata Estate and Waterkloof. You can also look forward to many more Direct Imports in the future!


Here is what we have in stock now, ready for you to try. Click on the links to learn more:

 2011 Te Whare Ra “D” Riesling Marlborough (Dry)* ($18.99)

Elegantly floral with a complex palate of concentrated citrus, with Kaffir lime and grapefruit. Zesty acid keeps the mineral laden finish snappy. 1,026 cases made.

 2012 Te Whare Ra Sauvignon Blanc Marlborough* ($18.99)

Combining tropical passion fruit and lychee notes with cooler qualities of elderflower, citrus and gooseberry from the Awatere fruit. Great mid-palate texture and fresh, yet restrained, acidity on the finish. More concentrated than the 2011 vintage due to low yields and meticulous fruit selection.

 2011 Te Whare Ra Chardonnay Marlborough* ($24.99)

Very Burgundian in weight and texture. The palate is packed with orchard and stone fruits. Beautiful texture and richness with perfect balance. Oak is well integrated with rich toasty notes of creamy hazelnuts and fresh ground grains leading into spicy elegant finish.

91+ RP: "The 2011 Chardonnay is scented of white peaches, lemon curd and baking bread with hints of almonds, gingersnaps and orange blossom. Medium to full bodied, there's just a suggestion of oak complimenting the stone fruit and toasty flavors with refreshing acidity, a silken texture and a nice long finish. Drink this one now to 2016."

 2011 Te Whare Ra Gewürztraminer Marlborough* ($18.99)

Crushed rocks and flowers! Overtly floral, but with serious mineral qualities. A big, rich and textural Gewürtz. Exotic Asian spice and tropical fruit dominate the palate. 510 cases made.

 2011 Te Whare Ra Pinot Noir Marlborough* ($24.99)

Beautiful strawberry and boysenberry fruit on the nose. In the mouth soft red and dark fruits. The typical bright, crunchy Marlborough acidity is balanced with rich savory undertones and depth from the old vines. 450 cases made.

After tasting each wine many times it still amazes me how this marriage of winemakers can excel with every grape variety that graces their estate. These are truly special wines. I hope you will try them!

The Flowerdays


- Ryan Woodhouse, NZ / Aussie 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!

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