Stay Connected
What We're Drinking

2000 Labégorce, Margaux $39.99

A great value in Bordeaux! This bottle is mature enough to drink now, but has time in hand if you want to keep it in the cellar for the future. We love it for its laid back elegance and classic balance. A must try for your next nice steak dinner.

Recent Videos

Tasting with Oliver Krug

Upcoming Events

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.

>>Upcoming Special Events, Dinners, and Tastings

See all K&L Local Events

Archives

Entries in travel (4)

Friday
Mar012013

Champagne Friday: The Mountains of Reims and the Grand Valley of the Marne

Pinot Noir at Champagne Pierre Paillard in Bouzy.

By: Gary Westby | K&L Champagne Buyer

Champagne Itinerary #3: The Mountain of Reims and Grand Valley of the Marne

This is my third installment on travel to the Champagne region, the first covered Epernay and the Cotes des Blancs and the second the Western Valley of the Marne. For this edition, I repeat the information on the hotel Ibis in Epernay, as it a great base for exploring the region. I strongly recommend picking up a picnic lunch to enjoy on the many roadside tables in the vineyards before leaving, as a sit down lunch will take up more than half of the day! I have some tips for great places to put together a picnic in Itinerary #1.

Hôtel Ibis, Epernay

This is a great hotel for folks who have come to Champagne as travelers to taste and learn about the wines instead of hanging out in your hotel room. The rooms are clean, simple and comfortable, and the friendly, professional, accommodating staff is available around the clock. Many of them I count as personal friends. The wifi always works, so it is easy to get back in touch with home, and the location could not be more central for visiting the vineyards. Epernay is a small city, and everything is in walking distance. Given how good the food and wine is, walking to and from dinner is a must!

19 rue Chocatelle
51200 Epernay

03 26 51 14 51

http://www.ibis.com/gb/hotel-0852-ibis-epernay-centre-ville/index.shtml

 

Elisabeth Gourtorbe with K&L's Scott Beckerley.

Champagne Goutorbe, Ay

Try Elisabeth Goutorbe "Cuvée Eclatante" Brut Champagne ($34.99) Just fifteen minutes from Epernay, the village of Ay is the heart of the Champagne vineyards in the Marne. Parking is tight in this ancient village, so make sure to leave yourself plenty of time to get to your appointments. This is the chalkiest of all the Pinot Noir terroir in the region, and also some of the steepest. Big names such as Bollinger and Deutz are here in this village as well as a roll call of great growers. Instead of visiting the big guys, going to see Goutorbe is a great plan, since it is a two for one: you can taste the wines of both Champagne Henri Goutorbe and Champagne Elisabeth Goutorbe. After more than 100 years of making Champagne, the Goutorbe family had never had a visit from an American importer. The week that I visited, I was the third! The family decided to go national with their main brand, Champagne Henri Goutorbe, and chose the great book of Mr. Terry Thiese.  Elisabeth, the youngest generation of vigneron in the family, suggested working with K&L, and we have been directly importing her wines ever since. These Pinot dominated power houses have minerality like no other Champange from this grape variety. The Goutorbe wines are great examples of this grand cru.

9bis, rue Jeanson

F. 51160 AY-CHAMPAGNE
03 26 55 21 70

info@champagne-henri-goutorbe.com

website

 

Champagne Philipponnat, Mareuil-sur-Aÿ

I have always felt that there is a real difference between the big houses in Epernay and Reims and the ones like Philipponnat that are in the vineyards. The people are prefer to tell you the story of the wines that they make rather than talking about their gift boxes or spinning tales of luxury. This house makes the great single vineyard Clos de Goisses, from a walled vineyard which is just up the road from the winery. When making your appointment, make sure to ask for a vineyard tour of this site, as it is one of the most spectacular vineyards in all of Champagne. It is so steep that they run stairs up it for the vineyard workers! This house is now owned by the Lanson-BCC group run by Bruno Paillard, cousins of the Pierre Paillard family who you will visit next. Everyone is connected in this region!

13, rue du Pont

51160 Mareuil-sur-Aÿ

03 26 56 93 00

commercial.export@philipponnat.com

website

Quentin PaillardChampagne Pierre Paillard, Bouzy

Try: Pierre Paillard "Acte 1" Grand Cru Blanc de Noirs Champagne ($49.99) Just five minutes up the hill from Mareuil-sur-Aÿ is the village with the best name in the wine world, Bouzy. This is the number one village for making the red wine in Champagne, and a huge number of houses use this Pinot Noir for making their rose. It can also be found bottled alone as a still red wine, and the Paillards make one of the best. All of their wine comes from massale selected vineyards and they are unusual in this Pinot village for planting quite a bit of Chardonnay. The' Acte' series wines, which are single harvest, single varietal and single vineyard, are some of the best, pure terroir wines in Champagne. The two young brothers Quentin and Antoine now run the family firm with their father Benoit, and all of them are fascinating individuals. Talk to them - you will learn a lot!  

2 rue du XXe siècle

51150 Bouzy - France

0 3 26 57 08 04

contact@champagne-pierre-paillard.fr

website

Benoit MarguetChampagne Marguet Pere et Fils, Ambonnay

Try: 2007 Marguet Pere et Fils Brut Rosé Champagne ($49.99) Minutes away from Bouzy, the neighboring village of Ambonnay is equally famous for the quality of its wines. The Marguet house is across an alley from Krug's "Clos d'Ambonnay" and is surrounded by producers like Billiot and Egly-Ouriet. Benoit Marguet is one of my oldest friends in Champagne, and no one in the region is more dedicated to the craft of Champagne than him. You can see his dedication and attention to detail in my video interview with him where he speaks about his custom made egg shaped barrels. His wines are some of the most streamlined, dry and multifaceted that we carry, and the 2007 Marguet Pere et Fils Brut Rosé Champagne ($49.99) is my favorite rose at K&L. He also has a great sense of humor, and speaks better English than I do, so you are bound to have a great time with him!


1 Place Barancourt
F - 51150 Ambonnay
(0)326 537 861
james@champagne-marguet.fr

website

 

Restaurant Patrick Michelon at Les Bercaux, Epernay

After a big day of tasting you will be ready for a great meal. Chef Patrick Michelon serves the most elegant dinner in Epernay. Park the car under the Ibis, drop off the Champagne that you bought in the room and walk across the square and around the corner to the restaurant. The wine list is exhaustive, with too many Champagne’s to even read through properly at the table. I usually show up ahead of my guests to have a ratafia and read ahead! They also have a very nice selection of Burgundy for their excellent meat courses, and the last time I dined there I enjoyed an excellent 2000 Pommard from Parent with my lamb course. As with any really great restaurant, I recommend the tasting menu as it offers the best of what the market has to offer and the best inspiration of Mr. Michelon. This is the sister restaurant to Bistro 7, and right in the same building.

Bon appétit!

-Gary

 

Friday
Feb012013

Champagne Friday: The Western Valley of the Marne

 

Michel Loriot checking his vineyards by mountain bike.

By: Gary Westby | K&L Champagne Buyer

Itinerary #2- The Western Valley of the Marne

Visitors to Champagne often miss the Western Valley of the Marne, which is a pity, since I find it to be the most beautiful parts of the whole region. Here you will find steeper slopes and higher peaks than the Mountain of Reims and a more mixed agricultural landscape than the Cote des Blancs. This is the home of Pinot Meunier, the indigenous Champagne variety. It is also home to a lot of the region’s most innovative producers, vignerons working with small barrels, ancient varieties and organics.

We’ll start the day off at the Hotel Ibis in Epernay again, whose information I will repeat below. Grabbing lunch before departing to eat on the road is a great idea, as a three hour lunch will turn a good day of visits into a two stop affair. For information on great spots to pick stuff up in Epernay, check out last week’s Champagne Friday.

Hôtel Ibis, Epernay

This is a great hotel for folks who have come to Champagne as travelers interested in tasting and learning about the wines rather than hanging out in your hotel room. The rooms are clean, simple and comfortable. The friendly, professional, and accommodating staff are there around the clock; many of them I count as personal friends! The wifi always works, so it is easy to get back in touch with home, and the location could not be more central for visiting the vineyards. Epernay is a small city, and everything is in walking distance. Given how good the food and wine is, walking to and from dinner is a must!

Hotel Ibis :: 19 rue Chocatelle :: 51200 Epernay :: 03 26 51 14 51

 Taste: Leclerc Briant "Les Crayères" Single Vineyard Brut Champagne

Champagne Leclerc Briant, Epernay

Start your day on foot by walking up the hill from the Ibis to Leclerc Briant, whose historic holdings were mostly in the western valley of the Marne. The vineyards have now all been sold, and the winery is now owned by a family from the US, but the stocks are all from the original estate, and will be for at least another couple of years. Here you will be able to taste single vineyard, bio-dynamic Champagne from the village of Cumieres, which is just a few kilometers west of Epernay. On your way to your next appointment you will drive right by their Les Crayeres site.

Leclerc Briant :: 67, rue Chaude Ruelle -BP 108 :: 51204 Epernay :: 03 26 54 45 33/Fax: 03 26 54 49 59 info@leclercbriant.com

 

Taste: Tarlant "Cuvée Louis" Brut Champagne Champagne Tarlant, Oeuilly

American Champagne lovers have been sad for over a year now, because Tarlant is not available here in the USA anymore. I keep on working on my friends Benoit and Melanie Tarlant and I am sure one day these great wines will be back on the shelves at K&L. For now, we’ll have to be content to visit them in Oeuilly, and carry back as much of their great Champagne as we can fit in our luggage. The Tarlants make some of the very best grower Champagne in this part of Champagne, or anywhere for that matter. They have done a lot of work with small oak barrels and use them with Krug-like mastery. They are also the biggest proponents of low and no dosage Champagne, period. Tarlant wines have incredible depth, terroir expression and yet maintain crisp drinkability. To get there you will need to climb to the top of the village, once you have turned into what seems like a dead end alley, you have made it to the right place. Arrive early to your appointment here so you can take in the view of the Marne valley from their driveway- it is one of the best views in Champagne. If you don’t get a chance to taste their excellent Cuvee Louis while you are there, buy a bottle. You won’t be disappointed. You can check out a video that I made last year tasting with Benoit here: http://blog.klwines.com/httpblogklwinescomuncork/live-blogging-from-champagne.html

Tarlant :: 21 Rue de la Coopérative :: 51480 Epernay :: 03 26 58 30 60/Fax: 03 26 58 37 31 champagne@tarlant.com

 

Taste: 2006 Michel Loriot "Pinot Meunier Vieilles Vignes" Brut Champagne, in stock now at K&L ($49.99)Champagne Michel Loritot, Festigny

Continuing west, our next stop is Champagne Loriot in Festigny. Michel Loriot is not just the champion of Meunier, he is also the president of the Independent Vignerons of Champagne (see him in the picture at the top of the page, checking his vineyards by mountain bike!) His wines are respected throughout the region for being all that the 'big houses' say Meunier cannot be: serious, structured and age- worthy. The village of Festigny is tucked away in its own little valley just south of the Marne, and is full of horses, cows and of course, vines. All of the wines here are feremented in enamel-lined tanks that look like giant Le Creuset cookware. The wines never go through malolactic fermentation and have plenty of crispness as well as power. His flagship, the Michel Loriot "Pinot Meunier Vieilles Vignes" Brut Champagne comes from a vineyard that was planted in the middle of World War 2, and should not be missed by any fan of Champagne. For a sneak peak of their tasting room, click here.

Michel Loriot :: 13, rue de Bel Air –51700 Festigny :: 03 26 58 34 01/fax 03 26 58 03 98
contact@michelloriot.com

Yours Truly, tasting Tarlant.

Bistro Les 7, Epernay

Drink: Franck Bonville "Prestige" Brut Blanc de Blancs Champagne After a busy day tasting, you will be ready to eat! One of the hottest spots in Epernay is Bistro Les 7. Make your reservations well in advance, and get ready to run into vignerons, export managers from big houses, and all sorts of Champagne personalities. This place gets full every night! Start off with a glass of the Ratafia, a Champagne specialty from the mistel family which is half unfermented grape juice from the appellation and half marc made from Champagne. While the Champagne by the glass here is always served in magnum, there is no reason not to go for a bottle from their list, which is only a little bit more expensive than K&L’s retail prices. I recommend the Bonville Prestige, which I drank the last time I was there. The prix fixe menu is very reasonable; I love the duck confit (when it is on the menu), as well as the rabbit pate! They also have a formal restaurant, Les Bercaux, which is great as well. I’ll save that for another post!

Bistro Les 7 13 Rue des Berceaux, 51200 Épernay :: 03 26 55 28 84

 

A toast to you!

-Gary

 

Wednesday
Jun012011

Behind the Wine: Courtney Kingston and Kingston Family Vineyards (Chile)

 Courtney Kingston with winemakers Bryan Kosuge and Evelyn Vidal in the Kingston Family's estate vineyards in the Casablanca Valley.

 

Kingston Family Vineyards is a family-owned operation in the Casablanca Valley of Chile that began as a cattle farm in the 1920s and today is one of Chile's pioneers in the production of artisanal wines from cool-climate sites.

This Friday, June 3, from 5pm-6:30pm, we are excited to welcome Courtney Kingston to the Redwood City tasting bar for a special tasting of current releases.  Courtney Kingston is a Portola Valley local that splits her time between Casablanca and the Peninsula while managing the family wine business - sounds like a sweet deal to us!

In anticipation of Friday's event, we asked Courtney to share some insight into her family's history in the Casablanca Valley, the challenges of making wine in Chile, and tips for tourists:

Q&A: Interview with Courtney Kingston

How did the Kingston family get into the wine business?  What is your role?

Our great-grandfather went to Chile back in the early 1900's, looking for gold.  He made a big bet on the Casablanca Valley.  When the gold didn't pan out, he inherited what today is our family's farm.  Five generations of Kingstons have lived on the farm for almost 100 years now.  We have a dairy farm and beef cattle grazing in the fields. In the mid-1990's, we planted our first grapevines up in the far western hills.

What makes the Kingston estate's terroir unique?

We are only about 12 miles as the crow flies to the ocean.  The influence of the Pacific and the cooling Humboldt current is ever-present in the almost daily morning/afternoon fog and the steady ocean breezes.  I split my time between California and Casablanca, and in many ways western Casablanca reminds me of California's south-central coast, similar to the Santa Rita Hills, but flipped south of the equator.

Describe the Kingston winemaking philosophy.

Our goal is to blend the best of the Old and New Worlds.  Our winemakers, like our family, are Chilean/American.  Byron Kosuge (from Napa) and Evelyn Vidal (our Chilean winemaker) work together to leverage Californian small-lot winemaking expertise to uncover the potential of our coastal vineyard in Chile.

What are some of the challenges of producing wine in Chile's Casablanca Valley? 

Our vineyard in western Casablanca is quite cool---almost 5-8 degrees cooler than some of our peers on the eastern side of the valley.  So spring frosts are a big issue for us.  We also typically farm at only 2-3 tons per acre, just to ripen our crop. 

From your perspective, what effect has the emergence of the global economy had on the wine business in Chile as a whole?

Because it's such a small country, Chile's wineries have always been export-oriented and focused on their role in the global economy.  With only 16 million people, Chileans alone can't drink all the wine it makes.  (Unlike our larger neighbor to the east--Argentina--with 40 million people, where they can and do drink a significant amount of their own production.)  I think Chile has done a great job on the world stage proving its wines are great values.  The challenge for Chile is to make sure that the world knows that 'value' does not mean 'cheap';  Chile makes excellent wines at all prices levels.  It's also important for people to know that Chile has many small, family-owned wineries, in addition to the larger brand names that have the widest distribution.

How has your experience in Chile influenced your attitude towards wine and wine consumption? What's your position on wine pairing and what do you like to pair your wines with? 

At Kingston, we went against conventional wisdom by planting pinot noir & syrah in Casablanca, a valley known for whites.  Our neighbors thought we were crazy (and some people probably still think we are) to try to ripen syrah so close to the ocean.  I think that experience---of being the underdog, of having to prove ourselves---has made me more open to new wines, new places.  I deeply respect the centuries of winemaking experience of our European peers, and I now couple that respect with a love for discovery of new wine regions around the world.

Many people think pairings are all about rules they are supposed to memorize (e.g. red wine with red meat).  I find the most exciting pairings are the unexpected.  At a James Beard Foundation dinner in New York this April, Amangani Resort Chef Rick Sordahl paired our Kingston Family 'Cariblanco' Sauvignon Blanc with a lamb tenderloin carpaccio.  Not conventional.  And it was amazing.

What advice do you have to offer wine lovers travelling in Chile?

I think the neatest thing about traveling to Chile is how much it has to offer in addition to wine.   If you'd like to spend your entire vacation exploring all the different wine regions you can definitely do that, but you can also combine your passion for wine with your love of the outdoors.  That's my favorite thing to do.  Wine lovers can spend an afternoon tasting wines on the terraza at Kingston in Casablanca (an hour's drive from Santiago), having skied the day before in the Andes or having just returned from a trip south to Patagonia.  Or if you're more into city living, you can explore the fish stands at the Mercado Central in Santiago and walk the winding streets of the old port city of Valparaiso.  There's so much to explore and discover.  The flight over to Mendoza, Argentina is only 45 minutes, and so you can also easily combine visits to both countries without stretching yourself too thin.

 *

TASTE

Tasting Kingston Family Vineyards with Courtney Kingston
Friday June 3
5pm-6:30pm @ K&L RWC
Cost of tasting: $5

Meet Courtney Kingston and taste through the following:
2009 Cariblanco Sauvignon Blanc $14.99
2008 Tobiano Pinot Noir $19.99
2007 Alazan Pinot Noir $29.99
2008 Lucero Syrah $17.99

and...

2006 Bayo Oscuro Syrah $26.99

Walk in only. Final lineup and cost subject to change.

Check out all K&L's upcoming events and tastings

**

SHOP Kingston Family Vineyards on KLWines.com