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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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We host regular weekly and Saturday wine tastings in each K&L location.

For the complete calendar, including lineups and additional details related to our events, visit our K&L Local Events on KLWines.com or follow us on Facebook.  

 

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 sparkling wine (38)

Friday
Oct192012

Champagne Friday: Champagne Tent Events This Weekend! 

By: Gary Westby | K&L Champagne Buyer

Happy Champagne Friday! I am looking forward to seeing 550 Champagne-loving K&L customers this weekend, and I hope that you will be among them. We are hosting two back-to-back sold out Champagne Tent Event tastings, starting on Saturday from 4pm-6:30pm at our Hollywood store, followed by Sunday from 2pm-5pm in San Francisco. These should be the best Champagne Tent Events we have hosted to date.

Folks often approach me at these events to ask what they should look out for, so this year I have prepared a little guide with my highlights.

Complex and intense, the 2002 Pierre Paillard Grand Cru Brut Vintage Champagne is a must try! Quentin Paillard from Champagne Pierre Paillard will be attending for the first time. He is pouring one of the most intriguing flights of wines under the tent, with two single vineyard, single varietal Champagnes: the Pierre Paillard "Acte 1" Grand Cru Blanc de Blancs Champagne and the Pierre Paillard "Acte 1" Grand Cru Blanc de Noirs Champagne. These two sites are blended together in equal proportions in the 2002 Pierre Paillard Grand Cru Brut Vintage Champagne. I can count on one hand the number of times that I have been able to taste sites like this separately as finished wines, and then blended together as an older vintage… Don’t miss it!

Also brand new this year are the Louis Sostene wines. They are being shown by Martine and Pierre Gonet, and are primarily made from vineyards in Chigny-les-Roses, the same village that brings us Lassale and the Ace of Spades. These are great values and far too easy to drink.

We are excited to welcome back Jeremy Fluteau (right) to K&L! Another young producer, Jeremy Fluteau will be returning for the 2nd time. His families vineyards are in the far south of the Aube, and they make one of the darkest, most intensly fruity, all Pinot Noir roses in the world of Champagne. This is a love it or hate it style, and a must to taste. His mother is from Chicago, so don’t pitch him easy questions. He speaks perfect English!

Beauty and substance: 2004 Perrier Jouët "Belle Epoque" Brut Champagne One wine that does not get enough respect is the 2004 Perrier Jouët "Belle Epoque" Brut Champagne. Just because it has a pretty flower on it doesn’t mean that it isn’t serious on the inside! No vintage is more recommendable to collect right now, as classic, cool, even growing seasons are now very rare due to climate change. This Belle Epoque gets its soul from great estate vineyards in the grand cru of Cramant, and will more than hold its own with any tete-de-cuvee.

The biggest Rodney Dangerfield wines in Champagne are the sweeter styles. They really have a hard time getting any respect at all, and usually for good reason. To many producers treat them as a throw away, and figure that people with bad palates are going to drink them with cake when they are already half in the bag. On producer who is coming wants to change your mind about them, Michel Loriot. He makes a great sweeter style in his Michel Loriot "Marie-Leopold" Sec Champagne which shows how good these wines can be. He created it as a historic style to celebrate the 100th anniversary of his family as growers in Festigny. He is the current president of the independent vignerons of Champagne, and all of his wines are worthy of the respect his peers have bestowed on them.

Champagne Lanson, most famous for being stolen out of Prince Charles fridge, will be showing two great tete-de-cuvees that they just premiered. Both the Lanson Extra Age "XA" Brut Champagne and the Lanson Extra Age "XA" Blanc de Blancs Brut Champagne are great examples of long aged non-vintage wines without malolactic fermentation, this batch of Lanson Extra Age is based on a blend of 2000, 2002 and 2004. It is composed of 60% Pinot Noir and 40% Chardonnay from Grand and Premier Cru villages and aged for more than five years on its lees. Check it out!

The rare Ariston Aspasie "Cepages d'Antan" Brut ChampagneTwo producers will be showing Champagne made from varieties that almost went extinct after phyloxera, and if you have never tried wines like this, now is the time! The Ariston’s will be showing the show stopping  Ariston Aspasie "Cepages d'Antan" Brut Champagne made from 40% Meslier, 40% Arbanne and 20% Pinot Blanc, which is one of the best Champagnes at K&L at any price. Morganne Fleury, who is coming to pour for the first time, will show her tribute to her great-great grandfather, the Fleury "Cuveé Robert Fleury" Brut Champagne, which is a barrel fermented blend of Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Pinot Blanc. This is big stuff!

Taste the NEW Charles Heidsieck "Brut Reserve" Champagne! At the Charles and Piper Heidsieck table, Jim Pollock (one of the most fun guys in the wine business!) will be pouring the brand new Charles Heidsieck, which I wrote about last week. (If you mised this post, which includes the video of my interview with CEO Cecile Bonnefond, you can catch up here). This brings an almost Krug like solera of old vintages (which are 40% of the blend and average 12 years of age) to the Champagne lover for a very reasonable introductory price of $44.99. This wine has it all- freshness from great chalky crus and honest depth from the generous portion of old wines in the blend.

Speaking of old Champagne at reasonable prices, head over to talk to Eric de Brissis at the Champagne Baron Fuente table. His Baron Fuente "Esprit" Brut Champagne gets seven years on the lees! This wine is a must try for anyone who loves the toasty style. Instead of using dilute fruit to bring the toast to the front, at Baron Fuente they get the toast the old fashioned way- they age this bottle for seven years on the lees!

See you at the tasting!

A toast to you,

Gary

Friday
Oct122012

Champagne Friday: The “New” Charles Reserve

By: Gary Westby | K&L Champagne Buyer

The “New” Charles Reserve

It is not often that I get as excited as this by "big house" Champagne. Comparing the "new" Charles Heidsieck Reserve (which premiers today) to the "old" Charles Heidsieck Reserve made a huge impression on me. These are great wines- both of them- and the new Charles is the most exciting new release from a big house in many years. The new Charles is a must try, and it is a great opportunity to compare the new to the old while we still have the last batch in stock.

On August 27th I had the pleasure of meeting with and interviewing Cecile Bonnefond, the CEO of Charles and Piper Heidsick. Cecile is not new to running Champagne houses- she ran Veuve Clicquot for eight years before moving over to Charles and Piper Heidsieck. Her first great piece of work is the release of a new Charles Heidsieck "Brut Reserve" Champagne. It has gone up in price, but instead of citing “increased global demand” or “increasing grape prices from greedy growers” or “a weak dollar” this Champagne has costly improvements to the wine itself. First of all, the number of vineyard sites for the Reserve has been cut in half, leaving only what they feel is the very best going into the blend. Also, the average age of the reserve wines has gone up significantly. You can hear Cecile explain it in her own words here in this clip from the interview.

The old label Charles Heidsieck has always been great, and we still have some in stock at the "old" price of $34.99! The old label Charles Heidsieck has always been great, and we still have some left. This is a fantastic opportunity for any Champagne lover to compare the two cuvee’s side by side and see the difference that this great house has made. Once the old cuvee that we have is gone, it is gone for good.

Charles Heidsieck NEW "Brut Reserve" Champagne ($44.99) It is funny to call this the “new” Charles when it actually has more old wine in it! The first difference between this wine and the old label is that is made from just 60 vineyard sites in Champagne rather than the previous 120. It is still composed of a third each Chardonnay, Meunier and Pinot Noir and includes 40% reserve wines that average 10 years of age, up from the 8 year average previously. This Charles has more of the depth and power that fans of the Charles have come to love, but also much more freshness and elegance- a coup for a wine that is actually older. This is a great bottle multi-vintage Champagne for the price and a testament to the blenders art.

Charles Heidsieck "Brut Reserve" Champagne ($34.99) Warning- this is the last of the old cuvee of Charles Heidsieck "Brut Reserve" Champagne . This bottle is made 40% of reserve wine and these reserve wines are what really sets Charles Heidsieck apart, they average 8 years old and have elements going back as far as 15 years. The patience to curate this solera of old wines gives the wine texture and complexity rarely encountered in grand marque Champagne, especially at this price. The wine is composed of 1/3 each Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Meunier and is all vinified in stainless steel tanks with full malolactic fermentation. When I visited we tasted vin clair from all over Champagne- they own 150 acres and contract many more. If you love a toasty, rich style of Champagne with lots of complexity this is a very good choice. I expect it will sell for just under $50 when this batch runs out.

A toast to you,

Gary 

 To watch the rest of the interview click here.

Friday
Aug032012

Champagne Friday: Pinot Power

Patrick Arnould at his forklift during bottling

By: Gary Westby| K&L Champagne Buyer

Michel Arnould: Pinot Power Champagne

Champagne Michel Arnould is our top producers of dry, powerful Pinot based Champagnes. Located on the Mountain of Reims, Verzenay is one of the most exciting and unique terroirs in all of Champagne. The furthest north of all of the Grand Crus, it faces north away from the sun and still manages to produce some of the most powerful Pinot Noir in the region. Some of the locals say that a mysterious warm air current is the explanation for this ripening anomaly; others will say that it is impossible to explain, like the flight of the bumblebee. I love the distinct, hazelnut quality that this special village stamps on its wines, and I feel very lucky to have convinced Mr. Patrick Arnould to sell us some of his great wines.

Patrick is the fifth generation of Champagne Michel Arnould. They own 27 acres in the village of Verzenay, a quite sizable holding in this high rent area. It is planted to 80% Pinot Noir and 20% Chardonnay, which reflects the average plantation for the village. The black Pinot is king here. The Arnould’s have quite a few plots of vines that are very old and positioned in the golden band of the mid slope, where the sun exposure is best. They have a high proportion of old vines (40 to 50 years old) and all of the wines undergo complete malolactic fermentation in stainless steel and enamel vats.

If you have enjoyed the wines of Lallement, Bollinger and Krug in the past, I think you will very much enjoy Michel Arnould. Here is what we have from Arnould:

Michel Arnould Verzenay Brut Reserve Champagne $32.99 750ml/ $64.99 magnum: This is a blend of 75% Pinot Noir and 25% Chardonnay, entirely from estate vineyards in the grand cru of Verzenay. This is a great party Champagne, since it is full of flavor yet refreshing and moreish. The hazelnut Pinot character so unique to the village of Verzenay is pronounced in this wine, and many good tasters have mistaken it for barrel fermented (it is actually all stainless and enamel fermented) when presented the wine blinds. The texture is full and the bead is refined- a Champagne that you will be proud to serve to your guests, or perhaps not too proud to save for yourself!

 

Michel Arnould "Grand Cuvée" Brut Champagne $34.99: Exclusively from the 2002 harvest, although not labeled as such, this Champagne is composed of two-thirds Pinot Noir and one-third Chardonnay. The color is gorgeous gold studded with tiny bubbles. The aroma is amazing. The Champagne has a graceful, delicate balance that Verzenay wines sometimes lack but with the signature hazelnut Pinot core. I found it to have creaminess to complement its racy cherry fruit on the palate, and an extraordinarily long, dry finish. It is dosed at 9 grams per liter: very dry! It will age very well.

 

Michel Arnould Verzenay Brut Rosé Champagne $34.99 750ml/ $74.99 magnum:  100% Pinot Noir Grand Cru, acquired by assembling different vintages and red Coteaux Champenoises coming from old vines. This lovely Rosé Champagne offers hints of raspberry, strawberry and redcurrant. Very refined on the palate where more berries and finally grenadine notes emerge.

 

 

Michel Arnould Verzenay Extra Brut Champagne $39.99: Although not labeled as a vintage, this is based entirely on 2005 juice. It is 100% pinot noir from Verzenay, the northernmost of all the Grand Crus in this northernmost of French wine regions. The whole village faces north, the wrong way, away from the sun, and yet miraculously ripens pinot noir, the most difficult Champagne variety to ripen perfectly. Some say it’s because of a meteor that in prehistoric times hit the area that is now the village, creating the faux de Verzenay, a forest where the trees bend and fold in on themselves like a dark wood in The Lord of the Rings. Pair this wine with salmon, smoked as an appetizer or even served as sashimi.

Happy Champagne Friday!

-Gary

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