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Château de Brézé has a long and storied history, first being mentioned in texts in 1068, lauded by King René of Anjou in the 15th century and served at all the royal courts. In 1957, when the AOC of Saumur Champigny was established, the owner of Château de Brézé refused to be part of the appellation, saying that his estate's vineyards were the best and deserved an appellation all their own. And he was probably right. Unfortunately, the wines from those exceptional vineyards were terrible. Lucky for us, the winery sold in 2009 to Le Comte de Colbert, who recruited Arnaud Lambert from nearby Domaine de Saint Just to make the wine. He changed the vineyards over to organic farming and began producing truly stellar wines worthy of their source. The 2012 Château de Brézé Clos David is all estate-grown Chenin Blanc raised in stainless steel to preserve freshness. It has the slightly-oxidized note of a great White Burgundy and a lovely richness that allows it to pair with a variety of foods.

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Entries in sparkling wine (38)


Champagne Friday: Talking with Pierre Casenave of Veuve Clicquot 

Video by: Gary Westby | K&L Champagne Buyer

You've made it to Champagne Friday! Today Gary chats with Pierre Casenave of Champagne Veuve Clicquot about the vintage wines of Clicquot. Pierre is in California for Pebble Beach Wine and Food, and stopped by to give K&L a preview of the Cave Privee vintages that will be released later this year.

For more information about these special Champagnes, visit our website by clicking on the links below.


2002 Veuve Clicquot "Gold Label Reserve" Brut Champagne ($69.99)





2004 Veuve Clicquot Brut Rosé Champagne ($74.99)





Top 10 Sparkling Staff Picks and Happy New Year Wishes from K&L

It's still a little early to officially ring in the New Year, but we want to take a second to thank you for your business these past 12 months. We'd also like to extend our wishes for a fun and safe weekend. We look forward to helping you in 2012.

To kick off the festivities for this New Year's weekend, here are the K&L Staff's Top 10 Sparklers of 2011 - just in case you need some last minute sparkling inspiration!

Cheers & Happy New Year,

-The Staff at K&L

 Any Special Occasion Champagne

1. Launois "Cuvée Reserve" Brut Blanc de Blancs Champagne (34.99) With its impressive old-fashioned bottle shape, this spectacular Champagne from Mesnil is one of the most sought after in France. 100% Chardonnay and all Grand Cru from the villages of Mesnil, Oger, Cramant and Avize - a roll call of the finest crus for Chardonnay in all of Champagne, it is also and Veritas-certified for sustainable agriculture.

Chiara Shannon, K&L Head Sommelier, Redwood City: "This Blanc de Blancs, made from 100% Grand Cru Chardonnay, enjoys cult status in France. The vintage-inspired bottle shape is eye-catching, but what’s inside the bottle is truly brilliant. From Mesnil, the southernmost Grand Cru in Champagne (home to Salon and Krug’s Clos de Mesnil), it has a crisp, mineral-driven nose, with subtle lees and butter undertones and a hint of fennel. The flavors deepen on the palate, expanding to coat the mouth, ending with a long, refreshing finish. It steals the show as an apéritif, accompanied by light, salty snacks, but possesses the depth and complexity to pair with richer foods as well. It is a favorite of mine. I love to give it out as Christmas gifts but always "accidentally" overbuy so I have at least one for myself on New Years!"

2. Philippe Gonet Brut Rosé Champagne ($39.99) Champagne Philippe Gonet is a big favorite at K&L, and this 100% rosé made entirely from estate grown Pinot Noir grown in Vertus, Champagne's southernmost Premier Cru is a fantastic addition to their line.

Illya Haase, K&L Hollywood: "The time has come for me to choose my New Years Eve's Philippe Gonet Brut Rosé! This, my friends, is made entirely from estate grown Pinot Noir. And, did I mention Premier Cru grapes! WHAT?! All this for $39.99? It's a steal. Happy New Year!"

Kirk Walker, K&L San Francisco: "This is classic Gonet, very elegant; with a new twist 100% Pinot! Intense red berry fruit with a floral hint and just a touch of savory to tie it all together. Elegant and intense, that is just what I want in a bottle of Rosé Champagne!"


3. 2004 Ariston Aspasie Vintage Brut Champagne ($39.99) The most focused and elegant from the Aristons, any Champagne lover will be very impressed with the 2004 Vintage Brut, composed of 1/3 Pinot Noir, 1/3 Chardonnay and 1/3 Pinot Meunier from estate vines of 30 years of age. Full bodied without being heavy, it's pretty darn perfect.

Jim Barr, K&L Redwood City: "Lush yeasty, nutty, creamy tones erupt from the glass, while in the mouth you will be treated to an amazingly complex, full flavored, viscous, well-structured Champagne that shows a brioche, sour dough bread quality, yet with excellent acidity. This is an absolutely wonderful Champagne that should not be missed and will be our house Champagne for however long it is around, according to the The Bean. 12.5% ABV"

 Jacques Moreira, K&L Hollywood: "It's all about those 6 years of aging on the lees. Rich, delicious notes of brioche, pain grille, hazelnut, baked apple, caramelized baked apple, and yet, delicate and incredible classy... Need I say more?"

4. 2006 Michel Loriot "Pinot Meunier Vieilles Vignes" Brut Champagne ($49.99) One of the best single-vineyard Champagnes we carry at K&L, from the l'Arpent vineyard, which is slightly less than one acre in the village of Festigny. The vines were planted in 1942 and come from an old massal selection of Meunier. This is Michel Loriot's top wine; he produces only 3,000 or 4,000 bottles in vintages that he considers good enough. Otherwise this juice goes into the other blends. The exotic spice on the nose leads to a surprisingly creamy flavor. It is very full-bodied and powerful Champagne, yet finishes with excellent minerality.

Jeff Garneau, K&L Redwood City: "In the typical Champagne blend of Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, and Pinot Meunier, it is Pinot Meunier that is the odd man out, the perennial third wheel. Many of the largest Champagne houses don't even include it in their blends. However, when yields are kept low, particularly in the case of older vines, it can produce wines of stunning complexity. The wines of Michel Loriot, one of our newest grower producers, are all 100% Pinot Meunier. This is his very best wine, wonderfully rich, dense and complex, with a signature spiciness that is the hallmark of great Pinot Meunier. A rare treat, and a tremendous value." 

 Kyle Kurani, K&L Redwood City: "Mr. Loriot has continued to impress all of us here at K&L with his stunning Champagne. His old vine Meunier is astonishingly rich and complex but that richness is so perfectly balanced with notes of citrus and mineral that round this wine out to be something very special indeed. Depth, complexity and freshness all wrapped up in one beautiful glass of bubbles."

Perfect Host/Hostess Gift

5. Ariston Aspasie "Carte Blanche" Brut Champagne 375 ml (15.99) Made of 40% Chardonnay, 30% Pinot Noir and 30% Meunier, these are the freshest half bottle around, direct from the Aristons in the small commune of Brouillet in Champagne! Clean and powerful, incredibly balanced and sophisticated Champagne, in irresistible half-sized bottles.

Susan Thornett, K&L San Francisco: "Could this perfect half-bottle of Champagne be the perfect holiday morning gift?"

Sarah Covey, K&L Redwood City: "A teeny-tiny version of the Aspasie classic Carte Blanche? Get me a picnic basket or a seat by the fire! I'm in! A miniature version of the well-balanced, delicious Champagne that we sell by the, well, boatload as it were. Get it now- this is all that is left!"

High Rollin'

6.  1998 Krug Brut Champagne ($219.99) 96 points and a "Collectibles" designate, Wine Spectator: "Shows gorgeous lemon, peach, toast, leather and spices. The attack is rich and forceful, backed by a racy structure that keeps this pure and drives the finish. Perhaps not as expansive on the aftertaste to match the attack, but long nonetheless, with spice and mineral notes lingering. Still needs time. Best from 2012 through 2035." (12/09)

Scott Beckerley, K&L San Francisco: "As a warning, I am just going to let you know that I am pretty biased towards the Champagnes of Krug. I had the extreme pleasure of pouring the 1998 vintage Krug last Saturday (12/10). While it is still L'enfant, it is still a wonderful wine. Lemon curd, peaches, nectarines and apricots on the nose. On the palate, more stone fruits with a hint of golden apple and loads of spice and minerality. This wine will surely go for another 20 years. If you collect Krug, enjoy (or keep) this vintage and hold onto your 1996 vintage Krug."

Fun Party Bubbles

7. Conte di Santa Chiara Prosecco ($8.99) A great choice for winter entertaining, this value sparkler of the Veneto is tasty, refreshing, dry but not at all austere. Everything you are looking for in a Prosecco at a very affordable price.

Sarah Covey, K&L Redwood City: "Bright, light and easy drinking! Want a twist on Kir Royales for your party? Use the Conte Di Santa Chiara Prosecco with the Mathilde Cassis Liqueur and your party will be bright and sparkly too! In addition to being fun on its own, a truly delicious Prosecco for New Year's Mimosas and Bellinis! Let the good times roll!"

Illya Haase, K&L Hollywood: "This is the perfect party Prosecco! I poured this at one of our local events. It was a hit! I kept the price to myself until they tried it. Every single person was shocked that something so good could be so affordable!! Bring some to your next party and watch it disappear."

8. 2009 Antech "Cuvee Eugenie" Cremant de Limoux ($13.99) From La Maison Antech located in the southern French region of the Languedoc comes this beautiful example of Cremant de Limoux, composed of 50% Chardonnay, 40% Chenin Blanc and 10% Mauzac. It is produced along the lines of methode Champenoise and spends twelve months on the lees before being disgorged. At less than half the price of a bottle of champagne, the cuvee Eugenie is the perfect choice for your house sparkling wine or to feature at parties where quality and good taste matter.

Ryan Woodhouse, K&L Redwood City: "Great Bubbly! Antech is one of our staples for delicious sparklers...The wine has a crisp acid but enough fruit and weight to feel richer and more textural than expected for this budget. 12 months on the lees gives some of that bready nuance, but this is really a fresh and fruity party wine. Stock up for your next gathering and let the bubbles flow!"

9. 2008 Taltarni "Taché" Brut Rosé Sparkling Wine Victoria ($16.99) A bubbly blend of Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Meunier predominantly from Victoria, with a little fruit from South Australia and Tasmania. "Taché" is French for "stained" and that's how this rosé gets its color--a staining splash of red wine is added to the bottle at disgorgement. Creamy strawberry aromas and flavors, with hints of toasty brioche and red fruit on the palate.

Adam Parry, K&L Hollywood: "Simply fantastic bubbles. Using all the champagne varietals to make this exquisite rosé. Try this for the upcoming New Year Eve parties."

Maybe Next Year...

10. Tarlant QV Discobitch Champagne ($49.99) A blend of 1/3 Chardonnay, 1/3 Pinot Meunier and 1/3 Pinot Noir made from Tarlant Cuvée Louis reserve wine, this is named for the French electro-pop band Discobitch and only a very, very limited amount is released each year...

Chiara Shannon, K&L Head Sommelier, Redwood City: "I love this Champagne. Not only does its somewhat naughty, sequin-embellished label inspire an instant party mood, but it's damn good stuff - rich, intense and mouthfilling, with creamy layers and a wonderful toasty finish. One of my favorite K&L direct import grower-producer houses Champagne Tarlant has produced a small amount of Discobitch since 2009 as a tribute to the French electro-pop group of the same name whose hit single "C'Est Beau La Bourgeoisie" rocked the charts that year France. It's been my New Years, birthday, and any other festive celebration go-to ever since. Extremely limited in supply, and, sadly, just sold out. Luckily, you can add yourself to the K&L waiting list and be among the first to know when our next shipment arrives in 2012!"


Behind the Wine: Keith Hock and Schramsberg 

Schramsberg winemaker Keith Hock "sabers" open a bottle of Schramsberg Brut Rosé at *Taste of Vail* in April of last year. The technique of using a saber to open a bottle of sparkling is called "sabrage" and became popular in France during the reign of Napolean. Photo by Dominique Taylor/Vail Daily.

It is easy to miss the sign marking Schramsberg Road while zooming north on Highway 29, just outside the town of St. Helena.  Though Schramsberg is one of the oldest wineries in the Napa Valley (established by German immigrant Jacob Schram in 1862), it is not by any stretch of the imagination the most opulent or advertised.  You can see the neighboring V. Sattui castle from across the valley, and you have to be blind to miss the historic Beringer property on the edge of town, but on any given day a good percentage of the calls to the Schramsberg front desk are from would-be visitors parked on the side of the road in Calistoga, wondering where they went wrong. I know because I used to answer that phone.

Schramsberg Blanc de Blancs was the first American sparkling wine to be served at U.S. diplomatic events (for Richard Nixon's "Toast to Peace" in Beijing in 1972) and remains the White House's house sparkler.

The reason Schramsberg doesn't need a big sign or a castle is simple: méthode Champenoise, and the tradition of style and class that Shramsberg's founders, the late Jack and Jamie Davies, built into the brand over the years. The Davies' purchased the old Schram property as a fixer-upper in 1965, and by 1972 had  given it new life as the first winery in America to produce sparkling wine by the same method as in Champagne, using the traditional Champagne grape varietals Chardonnay and Pinot Noir.  Visitors to Schramsberg's historic wine caves (the original caves were hand-dug in the late 1800s!) get to witness first-hand the labor-intensive steps of sparkling wine production, including the process of riddling the bottles to concentrate the dead yeast cells for removal during disgorging.  At Schramsberg, riddling is still done by hand. 

While the idea of a cave-dwelling riddler spinning still wine into sparkling has a certain fairy tale quality to it, you can't produce first class bubbles without starting with a first class wine, and Keith Hock is the man we have to thank for that.  Keith oversees everything that happens in the winery, from crush through primary fermentation and the all-important step of assembling the cuveés (assemblage) which are the final blends that get bottled and undergo the rest of production in the bottle.  Since each vineyard source delivers unique fruit each vintage, and Schramsberg produces vintage sparkling wines each year (with the exception of the nonvintage Mirabelle line and the ultra premium J. Schram Brut Rosé, which is only made in exceptional years) Keith must craft final blends made from individually fermented blocks that are reflective of the vintage but stay true to the style of the wine for which they are destined, from the flagship Blanc de Blancs to the premium J Schram.   

We are thrilled to welcome Keith to our San Francisco tasting bar this Thursday, February 10 at 5 p.m. and to our Redwood City tasting bar this Friday, February 11th at 5 p.m. for special Pre-Valentine's Day Bubbly Tasting.  In anticipation of the occasion, we thought you might want to get to know the man behind the bubbly a little. Here, Keith dishes on bubbly, biking, and where to get a good bite off-the-beaten-path in Napa:

Behind the Wine: Winemaker Interview with Keith Hock

K&L: How did you get into the wine business?

KH: I was living in France racing bicycles for a French cycling team. The team Soignier educated me on the wines from the different growing areas in France, however, it wasn’t until I moved back to the US, and to Napa, CA that I discovered that I could earn a degree in winemaking. 

K&L: How long have you been making wine at Schramsberg?

KH: I have been with Schramsberg since 2002.

Did you always want to make sparkling wine? 

No, I have worked for several other wineries. However, I enjoy Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, so Schramsberg is a perfect match.

What are some winemaking challenges unique to sparkling wine production?

The challenge with making sparkling wine is that it’s a labor intensive product, where each bottle of wine has to be touched numerous times prior to the wine being released for sale.

What makes Schramsberg unique?

Schramsberg is unique for several reasons: there is the  history of the property, being the second oldest winery in Napa Valley, in addition to our caves and hillside vineyards. We have stayed true to the mission that Jack and Jamie Davies set out to do in 1965 when they re-established Schramsberg as a sparkling wine house--making the absolute best vintage sparkling wines year in and year out. There is a tremendous amount of pride, respect and heritage that goes into each and every bottle of Schramsberg wine!

What did you drink last night? (Or the last time you had a glass of wine that wasn’t your own?)

Last night I had a glass of Argentinean Malbec, Tierra Secreta.

What’s your position on wine-pairing and what do you like to pair your wines with?

Wine and food are a natural. Pairing brings out flavors in both the food and wine that aren’t there without the other.  Sparkling wine and Kettle style salted potato chips are a savory pairing! (Thanks for the tip!)

What are some of your favorite restaurants?

We are fortunate to have so many fine restaurant in the Napa Valley, a few new ones that I like are Bistro Sabor, it casual and fun, [and] ZUZU for tapas. There are too many to name, "spoiled" comes to mind when I think of all the restaurants.

What advice do you have to offer people just getting into wine?

Don’t be afraid, be open-minded and try any and everything. Wine is an exciting and interactive experience.



What: Pre-Valentines Day Bubbly Tasting with Schramsberg Winemaker Keith Hock


When/Where: Thursday, February 10th, 5-6:30 p.m. at K&L San Francisco and Friday, February 11th, 5pm-6:30pm at K&L Redwood City




Visit the K&L Local Events page for updates on this event and to check out all upcming K&L events and tastings!

We look forward to seeing you!

Chiara Shannon