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The Freewheel line with a couple of English friends.

It takes a lot of beer to keep the wine business running smoothly. Here in Redwood City, we are very fortunate to have a great English style ale producer right in our backyard: Freewheel Brewing Company. The staff of K&L are fictures at our local pub, and it is a rare moment when one of us isn't there having a pint and a bite of their excellent food. We are also lucky enough to be the first place to offer their bottled beer for sale. If you have never had it, the Freewheel Brewing "FSB" Freewheel Special Bitter, California (500ml) is the benchmark in fresh, balanced, smashable ale. We will do our best to keep some in stock for you, the customer too!

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Entries in Tempranillo (20)


Spanish & Portugues Wine News: Tales From Ribera, Part IV

Castillo de PenafielThis morning began with a tour and tasting at Bodegas Aalto. Bodegas Aalto is the brainchild of the former winemaker from world-famous Vega Sicilia, Mariano Garcia, and business partner and former President of the Consejo, Javier Zaccagnini. The photograph above shows the first two of 5 floors of their winery, built into the hills outside the village of Aranda de Duero. In addition to using state-of-the-art de-stemmers that are the same de-stemmers used by Chateau Margaux in Bordeaux, Mariano Garcia invented an A-shaped 15,000 litre custom stainless steel fermentation tank, because he wanted to control the cap of the must during the remouage. With his genius invention, the skins and wine are manipulated as little as possible. In addition to pioneering winemaking techniques, Bodegas Aalto does not have any estate grown fruit at the moment. Helas! you say? Nope. It's great- they source fruit from 200 proud vineyard plots in 8 nearby villages. They vinify the fruit from every village in separately in different tanks, bottle it, and then blend it into Aalto. I got to try the 2009 and 2010 of the villages La Horra and Aguilera, and then the Aalto for 2009 and 2010 that included these villages. Young, huge, and stunning.

As winemaker at Vega Sicilia, Mariano Garcia had an agreement with several older people in the villages surrounding the winery to buy their exceptional quality grapes and use them in his wines. Many of these older people do not have family members who want to take over the care of their vines once they retire or pass on. Garcia and Zaccagnini decided that they wanted to make sure that these incredible vines were not ripped up and lost, so they got permission from their owners to take cuttings of the vines to plant at Aalto. They have vowed to tend the vines for 40 years, to get to know each vine and its expression on their land, before making wine with any of them. Incredible.  

Convento San Francisco

Next stop: back to our little town of Peñafiel, to Convento San Francisco. While the convent was founded in 1290 and has long since been unoccupied by nuns, the current residents are a team of the sons of two local families, whose grandmothers have been friends all of their lives. The dynamic younger generation regularly seek the advice of their winemaking elders in the area, producing traditionally styled wines reflective of the region. 

An interesting lunch followed our visits to these two innovative wineries. We had the pleasure of tasting 5 wines with our meal seated next to the 5 winemakers (or export managers) who made the wines. In attendance was Eduardo Garcia, one of the sons of Aalto's Mariano Garcia, who with his brother have their own winery project nearby. His wine, Astrales, from Bodegas Los Astrales, was particularly delightful. We also tasted wines from Protos Bodegas Ribera Duero de Peñafiel, Bodegas y Viñedos Sanz Moneo, Bodegas Felix Callejo, and Viñedos y Bodegas Garcia Figuero.

The Castille de Peñafiel, "our" town's castle (top of page), was our final destination for the day. After a really cool tour of the castle- I stood at the very top of that watchtower, and had a 360 dgree view of the entire Ribera Del Duero region!- we had another RiberaConnect tasting with 15 more wineries seeking importers. The photo below is from the Castille, which has a Museo de Vino inside, housing wines from all over Spain. The sign shows all 6 DOs of the region, including Ribera Del Duero.

We had the evening free (sort of). The wineries we met the day before sent samples from their portfolios over to the hotel for us to try so we could get a better feel for their lineups. Needless to say, it was nice to enjoy a (small) gin & tonic on the terrace as a palate refresher before revisiting some of the wines from the day before. We all had "tinto teeth" at this point, the consequence of tasting Tinto Fino for 3 solid days. I think I brushed my teeth about 4 times a day, to no avail!

There are more stories to share, and I'm back in now, so stay tuned for part 5 of the tales! 

Available now on   

2008 Aalto Ribera del Duero ($49.99)

95 points Robert Parker's Wine Advocate: "A glass-coating opaque purple color, it is already displaying a complex aromatic array of sandalwood, smoke, espresso, lavender, Asian spices, and assorted blue and black fruits. Smooth-textured, succulent, and structured, it will evolve for 2-3 years and offer a drinking window extending from 2013 to 2028+. In the scheme of things, it offers great value in top-flight Ribera del Duero." (06/11)


For the collectors out there, it just so happens we have a handful of bottles of Vega Sicilia in stock at the moment as well, including one bottle of the 2000 "Unico", below:  

2000 Vega Sicilia "Unico" Ribera del Duero ($349.99)

98 points Robert Parker's Wine Advocate: "The 2000 Unico is deep crimson-colored with an ethereal perfume aided by its extended upbringing. Aromas of Asian spices, lavender, incense, truffle, and confiture of black fruits are compelling. Sweet, forward, rich, and hedonistic, it nevertheless has the balance and structure to continue evolving for another 5-10 years. In strong vintages Vega Sicilia drinks well at age 50 and I would expect the same of the 2000." (06/11)





Sarah C. Covey

Wine Sales Professional

K&L Wine Merchants - Redwood City



Need wine advice? Check out my wine reviews on!



Spanish & Portuguese Wine News: Tales from Ribera, Part III

RiberaConnect at the Consejo

The fun continues as Uncorked follows K&L staff member Sarah Covey in her adventures touring and tasting in Ribera del Duero...

Our first appointment of the day took us to the Consejo building in Roa, where the technical director of the Consejo, Agustin Alonso Gonzalez, gave us a wonderful lecture on the history of Ribera Del Duero as a region, with facts and figures about the D.O. Afterwards we met with 15 producers seeking representation in the United States. The wineries were allowed to show one wine, and many chose to feature their Crianza from 2009. 2009 was a great vintage in Ribera, and this allowed us to have a very clear picture of the vintage as well as a variety of winemaking styles. A delightful rooftop lunch followed, with many delicacies from the region, but queso was a large feature, as the region is also well-known for their sheep and goat cheeses. Hooray for cheese! I only got through about half of the table...

Our first winery appointment was at Bodegas Rodero, in Pedrosa de Duero, Burgos. Carmelo Rodero and his daughter, winemaker Beatriz Rodero, run an operation of innovation. Carmelo invented a piece of equipment that allows their platform above the stainless steel tanks to rotate around the tops of the tanks for easier access. He is very concerned about the ease and well-being of work for his employees. He also stores his barrels in barrel rooms with dim lighting and plays a loop of Benedictine chants for the wines, as he believes that a relaxed environment will help the wines age more gracefully!

From there we went to Vizcarra. JC Vizcarra runs another family operation in another part of Burgos- Mambrilla de Castrejon. His wines are all organic and biodynamic, believing that by treating the land and wines as holistically as possible, you will end up with the best possible products. In his town, people used to store their wines in underground cellars, accessible at street level by gated doorways. Most are now abandoned, but the entire town has these ghostly entrances along the road.

Bodegas Hermanos Perez Pascuas- Vina Pedrosa in was our last stop for the day. After a brief tour of their production area and cellars we learned that one of the past vintages of Vina Pedrosa had been used in the Christmas mass at the Vatican! Pretty neat in terms of putting Ribera Del Duero on the map. The winery then tasted us on their new releases, threw us a huge BBQ, complete with a singing chef, grilled baby lamb, and multiple older vintages of their wines. We met all three of the original brothers Perez, in their 80+ year old glory. The full moon over the vines completed the night. We giggled all the way back to the hotel.

Amazingly, that was just the first official day. Stay tuned for more!

In the mean time,  consider unwinding with a plate of aged sheep's cheese and a bottle of the 2009 Vizcarra Ramos Roble, in stock now for only $17.99!

2009 Vizcarra Ramos Roble Ribera del Duero ($17.99)

90 points Robert Parker: "The 2009 Roble was aged for 7 months in seasoned French and American oak. Purple-colored, it gives up a first-class perfume of mineral, Asian spices, violets, and lightly roasted black fruits. This is followed by a succulent, full-flavored, voluminous wine with excellent balance and a long, fruit-filled finish. It is an outstanding value that over-delivers in a big way as well as a sneak preview of just how good the top wines from Ribera del Duero will be when released 2-3 years from now."





Sarah C. Covey

Wine Sales Professional

K&L Wine Merchants - Redwood City



Spanish & Portuguese Wine News: Tales from Ribera, Part Two

Roman Aqueduct, Segovia

K&L staff member Sarah Covey is on location in Ribera del Duero! Follow her adventures on Uncorked!

Ribera Del Duero is broken down into 4 main provinces of Castilla y Leon: Burgos, Segovia, Soria and Valladolid. Our first stop after the Madrid airport was Segovia. Segovia is a tiny town with multiple churches, monuments, and most importantly- the town's famous specialty: Cochinillo. After wandering the town, we hit up the restaurant where we had our little cochinillo- which I quickly learned meant roasted suckling pig. 

Jose Maria Restaurant

There was nothing that could quite prepare me for the sight of my little roasted piggies for lunch, but thankfully there was an appetizer of deep fried piggies which preceded it, accompanied by my first Ribera Del Duero wine in country: the Pago de Carraovejas 2011. Not officially classified as a Cosecha, or Joven, wine because it had not been in bottle long enough, it was made by the owners of the restaurant specifically for use in the restaurant. Delicious and just what our jet-lagged selves were needing!

Then, with much fanfare, they brought out the little roasted piggies, which had been roaming around Segovia not 2 days before...


The cochinillo were then ceremoniously whacked over their little noggins and down their spines with a ceramic plate, and then the plate was thrown onto the floor to break so as to prove to us at the table that there was no steel in the plate- the piggies were just that crispy and juicy. Quite a show!

From Segovia we drove to our home base for the week- Penafiel, where we have been staying in the hotel owned and operated by the famous Ribera winemaker Alejandro Fernandez of Tinto Pesquera. His family runs the hotel in addition to other parts of his winemaking business. The hotel is a beautiful interpretation of the classic architecture of the town and the more modern Spanish architecture, with stylistic accents which are similar to the Tinto Pesquera bottle labels.




The view from our hotel of the Castille de Penafiel is an incredible backdrop to ponder our experiences in the region...


Next up: our first days with wineries in the region. Stay tuned! In the mean time, give this classic Ribera del Duero from Tinto Pesquera a try, in stock now at K&L:

91 ST: "Deep, bright violet. Blackberry, cherry-vanilla and licorice on the oak-spiced nose. Deep, sweet and pliant, but with very good juicy character and spicy lift to its dark fruit preserve and licorice flavors. Finishes velvety and long, with fine-grained tannins, a repeating notes of licorice and impressive clarity."






Sarah C. Covey

Wine Sales Professional

K&L Wine Merchants - Redwood City

Need wine advice? Check out my wine reviews on

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