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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 Tannat (3)


What We're Drinking

John Lewis, K&L Redwood City: I'm drinking Brasserie La Botteresse Belgian Blond Ale, Belgium (330ml $5.49). Absolutely perfect for the summer--smooth with a little lemon zest and, I believe, a great price.

For wine, I'm drinking the 2009 La Graside Blanc, Bordeaux ($10.99). Good by the pool, lake, river, ocean, etc.

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More than Malbec

K&L Personal Sommelier Service Online Newsletter - July 2010 Edition

South American Adventures: Interested in discovering new styles of wine from South America? Whether you're on a mission to learn or simply want to develop your palate and discover something new, get started today by creating a customized wine club through the K&L Personal Sommelier Service.

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More than Malbec?

Yes. There is more than just Malbec produced Argentina.

Although I don't blame you for asking. Over the last decade, Malbec has risen to the top of the list of celebrity brand exports from Argentina, surpassing Evita, Tango and the Gaucho. From $2 guzzlers to fancy high-end bottles that merit cellar space, North Americans love Argentine Malbec.

Don’t get me wrong, there is a lot of great Malbec produced in Argentina. But just because it’s been your tried-and-true inexpensive Cab alternative for so long doesn’t mean it’s the best or only option. There is a lot more to Argentine wine than Malbec, and a lot more to South America than Argentina - exciting stuff you just might love more. 

2008 La Madrid Bonarda Mendoza ($14.99) I’ll let you in on a secret: real Argentines don’t tango, they cumbia, and when they enjoy their tinto with friends and family at a traditional asado dominguero, it’s most likely Bonarda, perhaps poured from a recycled glass bottle refilled from a barrel at the corner market and not a flashy, brand-name Malbec wrapped in tissue. Whether Argentine Bonarda is a descendent of the Piedmontese variety of the same name, or is actually California’s Charbono grape (a majority of sources favor the Californian theory), there is no disputing the fact that the 2008 La Madrid Bonarda is honest, unpretentious, food-friendly table wine. Loaded with black fruit and plum flavors, with subtle earthiness and baking spice notes, this medium-bodied red is a perfect wine for dominguero, complementing the variety of sausage and grilled beef preparations in addition to the numerous other foods involved, from savory emapanadas to desserts slathered with dulce de leche.

2008 In’Ka Carmenere Colchagua ($12.99) Carmenere is to Chile what Malbec is to Argentina: an immigrant varietal from Bordeaux that is better suited to the growing conditions of South American soils than in its French homeland. If you are looking for a tasty example of the Chilean version, this is well worth a try. Deep purple in color, this is a Carmenere with some heft. The nose shows characteristic earthiness, but these aromas are supported by rich black fruit and anise accents, as opposed to the ash and roasted jalapeño so often associated with mass-market Carmenere. The palate is lush and plummy, with medium tannins and good grip. Vanilla and mocha spice add complexity to the finish. This is a hearty wine that would work well with anything grilled—a great alternative to a bolder style of Malbec.

2007 Don Pascual Tannat “Roble” Juanico Uruguay ($16.99) Don Pascual Harriague, an immigrant from France, was the first to introduce Tannat to Uruguayan soils in 1870, and this family-run domaine continues to lead the pack in quality Tannat production today. Despite its purple-hued, Madiran-esque robe, this is fruity, generous, modern Tannat, worlds apart from its tannic, inaccessible French counterpart. A big brother to the light and fruity “Pueblo del Sol,” the Roble sees 12 months in barrel and exhibits a wide array of aromas and flavors, from black plum, cassis and fig to espresso bean and graphite. Here we have a great example of what Tannat produced in the cool, maritime climate of Juanico can be: a world-class red wine that is balanced and complex, showing more robust fruit character and smoother tannins than the French iteration, but still substantial enough to hold its own at table.

Chiara Shannon

Head Sommelier

Personal Sommelier Service | Tastings

Want more? For additional recommendations for other exciting South American wines, write to



World Cup Match-Up: Uruguay

While South Africa battles it out against Mexico today in the World Cup, the wine world's powerhouse, France, goes up against the tiny South American country of Uruguay. Two-time World Cup winners, the Uruguayans are considered the underdogs in today's game. But when it comes to wine I think they've got the French beat on one account: Tannat.

Uruguay's winegrowing history is relatively short - having been introduced by the Basques in the late 1800s - though according to the Oxford Companion to Wine their per person wine consumption is rivaled in South America only by the Argentines. In the past 20 years, Uruguayan viticulture has vastly improved as less successful hybrid grapes have been switched over to international varieties including Pinot Blanc, Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Viognier, Cab Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon and, of course, the aforementioned Tannat, which is sometimes called Harriague.

Tannat is a thick-skinned red grape variety that can out-Nebbiolo Nebbiolo in the mouth-puckering tannin category. Its heretofore best known iterations have been southwest France's Madirans and Irouleguys, and since most people are familiar with neither of these, get the point. Uruguayan Tannat is different, though. In the unoaked, low-alcohol and extremely affordable 2008 Don Pascual "Pueblo del Sol" Tannat ($7.99) pictured at left, the variety comes across fresh and juicy, with raspberry and strawberry fruit notes so pure you can almost feel the tiny hairs on the berries tickling your tongue. This is an incredibly easy-drinking, everyday wine that will make you root for the underdogs today, if you weren't already.

The 2007 Don Pascual "Roble" Tannat ($16.99) is a much more serious wine - think Camus compared to the Pueblo Sol's Tao of Pooh - with deep Mission fig notes, hints of tar, espresso bean and Flavor King pluot. It has a richer tannin profile, but it doesn't overwhelm the wine, and the acidity is still fresh and food friendly.

Finally, we have the 2007 Bodega Bouza Tannat ($16.99), which isn't as brooding as the Roble but is more substantive than the Pueblo Sol. Pomegranate and boysenberry fruit dominate, with hints of vanilla from its time in French and American oak. Fotunately the oak treatment didn't add to the wine's tannic structure, instead it smoothed out the Tannat's rougher edges, giving this a lovely, sultry texture. Save this baby for the steaks you grill when Uruguay plays South Africa on June 16th.

Leah Greenstein