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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 (37)

Thursday
Dec132012

Spanish & Portuguese Wine News: Funky Mas Codina

By: Joe Manekin | K&L Spanish & Portuguese Wine Buyer

Three words:  Funky MAS CODINA.

When I'm not drinking 2002 Pierre Paillard (man is this stuff good!) our new DI cava, Mas Codina, is a mighty fine, affordable bubbly to have on hand, one of the best I've come across. All estate grown fruit on vineyards that have been cultivated on the same land in the Penedes by the Garrida family since the

Mas Codina Cava Brut Reserva Penedès ($12.99)17th century. Everything is still riddled and disgorged by hand, the dosage is not too high, it is not a sulphur bomb, just beautifully balanced...in short, very well made stuff for a fair price. We may have other cava choices for those who like it dry (Loxarel, Raventos rosé, Agusti Torello Mata), but Mas Codina sure is a good one to have on hand for the season....

Mas Codina Cava Brut Reserva Penedès - $12.99

 http://www.klwines.com/detail.asp?sku=1110445

 

Saludos,

Joe

 

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Joe Manekin

Spanish, Portuguese, Latin American Wine Buyer

K&L Wine Merchants

Ph: 877.559.4637 ext. 2748

joemanekin@klwines.com

Tuesday
Oct232012

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!

Cheers,

-Ryan

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

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