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We have a little cult here at K&L of steak and claret on Friday nights. If you drop by the store near closing, you will no doubt over hear many of us discussing cuts of beef, potato preperations and the Bordeaux to pair with the beef. One of our favorites for current drinking is the 1999 Cantemerle, Haut-Médoc ($49.99) which is drinking perfectly at 16 years old. The composition is 55% Cabernet Sauvignon, 35% Merlot, 8% Petite Verdot and 2% Cabernet Franc. This is a plummy wine from the high percentage of Merlot and I loved the minty focus on the back end. This is long finishing stuff, and has the good acid on the back cut the richness of a big steak. What a treat! 

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Entries in Susan Thornett (1)


Getting to Know: Susan Thornett

What's your position at K&L and how long have you been with the company?

I've been with K&L for two years and a bit. My official position is liaison for Loire, Alsatian, French regional, German and Austrian wine at the San Francisco store. My unofficial but main responsibility is making sure everyone is well-supplied with crispy pints!

What did you do before you started working here?

I worked at a San Francisco restaurant, Campton Place, with a number of inspirational chefs, wine directors and generally wonderful folks. I worked a range of jobs there from runner to restaurant manager. Before that I waited tables in Santa Monica, Sydney, London and Birmingham.

What do you like to do in your spare time?

Two words: crispy pints.

What’s your favorite movie?

Wallace & Gromit in the Curse of the Were-Rabbit. Some quality gags and a great score.

What was your "epiphany wine"—the bottle or glass that got you interested in wine? Is there a current wine that you consider the equivalent?

Honestly, I don't really know what the wine was. It was likely snaffled by my best friend Kate from her parents' cellar and consumed with some nice French cheese and bread at their place after work. Good wine, good friends and a little food are all that most people need to get hooked on the good stuff!

Describe your perfect meal (at a restaurant or prepared at home). What wine(s) would you pair with it?

I don't have menu details for you, but if it was to be perfect it would be a long, all-day affair with many simple courses prepared by my husband and me and with plenty of quality, easy-drinking grower fizz like Michel Arnould or Elisabeth Goutorbe on hand for the chefs.

How do you think your palate's changed over the years?

I now favor highly extracted, high alcohol wines with lots of new oak… ha! Only kidding, but I always wish someone would say that in this segment! Truly, we have so much well made, honest wine to choose from here at K&L, I've become less accepting of flavors that seem artificial—you know, when it *really* tastes like passionfruit or blueberry syrup there is a problem!

What do you like to drink?

Besides crispy pints? I’ll tend to go for an everyday SW French or Tuscan red with dinner, a Mâcon or Touraine white for everyday drinking. If I'm out I love a glass of Crémant or Champagne, or some kind of aromatic whiskey cocktail.

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

Taste as much as possible! Seek out wines that go with the kinds of food you enjoy. Don't fret if you don't taste the same things as others, our palates are all built differently. Describing fruit flavors found in wine only works well for some people, for many others the character and structure are far more useful.

If you could have dinner with any three people in history, who would you invite? What wine would you serve each of them?

I'd invite three of my favorite composers and serve wines I think pair with their music.
JS Bach would have to get an exquisite, pure, perfectly balanced Mosel Riesling, probably a Kabinett from a classic vintage. Béla Bartók would get an aged Barolo, something vibrant with streaks and flashes of volatile brilliance. Dmitri Shostakovich would get a rich, buttery Meursault paired with a seared piece of Foie Gras; I think it would cheer him up.

Want to drink like Susan?

From crispy pints to Barolo, she knows her stuff.

Join K&L's Personal Sommelier Service

and select Susan to buy wine for you!