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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.

>>Upcoming Special Events, Dinners, and Tastings

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Entries in Trip Reports (21)

Wednesday
Jun122013

New Wonders from the Central Coast: Saarloos & Sons 

 Left to right: K&L Domestic Buyer Bryan Brick, staff members Jeff Garneau, Jim Boyce and Sarah Covey, with Rarig Ross and Keith Saarloos.Featured in the June 03 2013 Edition of the K&L Electronic Newletter! Click to read

New Wonders from the Central Coast: Saarloos & Sons 

By: Jeff Garneau, K&L Staff Member

When I walked into the Saarloos & Sons tasting room in Los Olivos a couple of months ago, I wasn't sure quite what to expect. Which, in hindsight, is just as well, since Keith and Brad Saarloos are pretty good at defying expectations, challenging preconceptions, and gleefully poking with a stick anything that smacks of convention and pretense.

We tasted a lot of great wines, most of which I don’t remember well because Keith insisted I stop taking notes. At some point he also insisted I stop spitting, so tasting became drinking.

So we drank and we talked. About wine, about grapes, about music, art, and life.

 

It is worth noting at this point that Saarloos & Sons are farmers first and foremost. They grow grapes of exceptional quality, most of which they sell to other winemakers. A small amount they hold back every year to make their own wine. They sell exclusively direct to consumer, not through retail wine shops. But at the end of that evening they paid us the ultimate compliment. They offered us a couple of wines to make available to our K&L customers: the 2009 Saarloos & Sons "His" Santa Ynez Valley Cabernet Sauvignon ($39.99) and the 2010 Saarloos & Sons "Hers" Santa Ynez Valley Grenache Blanc ($26.99). I absolutely recommend a visit to their tasting room in Los Olivos to taste their full selection, but until your next trip we are honored to share these two wines with you.

Saarloos & Sons is a very special find for us here at K&L. Family owned & operated since its inception, the focus stays on family & quality grape growing. Keith Saarloos says, "We pay homage to those that have gone before and honor those that are to come". Each wine created honors a family member, and are named accordingly. Try the 2009 Saarloos & Sons "His" Santa Ynez Valley Cabernet Sauvignon ($39.99) with a juicy grilled steak - in stock now at K&L! I enjoyed the  2009 Saarloos & Sons "His" Santa Ynez Valley Cabernet Sauvignon ($39.99) at dinner the other night with my nephew. We grilled a 2 lb “Fred Steak” from Schaub’s in Palo Alto, serving it with roasted baby Yukon potatoes and fresh local asparagus. The Cab was a perfect companion to the spicy, smoky meaty deliciousness that is Fred steak. A hint of violets and new wood on the nose. On the palate the wine has a rich, silky texture with notes of blackberry jam and cassis. Imagine the blackberry jam your grandmother used to make, heading out before dawn to her secret spot to pick fresh wild blackberries, then spending the rest of the day canning blackberry preserves. There is a sweetness of fruit, a ripeness perfectly offset by a liveliness and a freshness that keeps the wine in perfect balance. The finish is framed by fine tannins that lie lightly on the tongue, caressing the palate like a finely woven cotton blanket on a cool summer night. If there is a perfect California Cabernet Sauvignon, this is it. Expertly crafted, and a pure joy to drink. 

 

 

Saarloos & Sons are farmers first and foremost. They grow grapes of exceptional quality, most of which they sell to other winemakers. A small amount they hold back every year to make their own wine. They sell exclusively direct to consumer, not through retail wine shops, but they have offered us two special wines to make available to our K&L customers!

This STUNNING Grenache Blanc, "Hers" is made in honor of Keith Saarloos's grandmother.

2010 Saarloos & Sons “Hers” Santa Ynez Valley Grenache Blanc ($26.99) K&L Notes: "Each wine created honors a family member, and are named accordingly. This is 100% Grenache Blanc from the Saarloos estate. It is deep and rich, perfectly pitched in its offering of ripe pear and lemony citrus aromas and flavors. Breadth on the palate is balanced by fresh acidity that drives toward a textured, mineral-laced finish. Rhone-like in elegance, with California approachability, this makes a statement about the potential for Grenache Blanc in California."

Saarloos & Sons has some great videos about their wines and winemaking on their website, too. To check them out and learn more about this great family producer, click here.

Cheers,

-Jeff

Monday
May062013

Blasting Through Sonoma: A Euro Palate's Perspective

Euro wine geek Eric Story puts Sonoma to the test, with surprising results!

By Eric Story | K&L Alsace, Austria, Croatia, Georgia, Germany, Greece, Hungary & Loire Valley Wine Buyer

A European Palate in Sonoma?

Let's start off by getting one thing straight, I DO NOT HATE CALIFORNIA WINE. In fact, it is just the opposite. One of the best wines that I have ever had was from this great state. What I am adverse to is the utilitarian recipe, gimmicky marketer style of wine which--let's face it--exists in all wine regions, but is a trend born largely from California and its influence on the industry in recent times. You know the wines that I'm talking about - wines that lack all individuality, presence of place and, worst of all, a complete disregard for integrity and pride. Get 'em fruity, a dash of this, a dash of that, make some friends in the right places and you got yourself a 92 pointer. Mmmm, well done!

But enough with my ranting.

When I found out that I would be included on the Sonoma tour along with one of our domestic buyers, Michael “Lead Foot” Jordan, Patrick “I’ll Hang In There” Cu, and Scott “Can I Have a Nap” Beckerley I was pretty fired up to say the least. I have been a fan of Sonoma for quite a long time and was excited to get my teeth purple and make my gums sore. Many asked why one of the import buyers was going on such a trip. This answer is simple: my name was the first to be pulled out of a hat. But, there is a more serious purpose: I have deeply immersed myself into the belly of European wines for the last 10+ years, crudely ignoring my own back yard. Pretty weak on my part. It was time to step up the game.

So, we were off, bulgey eyed and full of coffee, up the 101 corridor. We made our appointments in a timely manner, for the most part did our thing, grabbed a few tacos from a truck on the side of the highway – a must do for any occasion – went to sleep and did it all over again the next day. We tasted A LOT of wines, but the purpose of this trip was getting to know the faces behind the labels, getting your shoes dirty in the vineyards -  the bigger picture kind of thing. I was curious about the back story behind these producers and the whether the wines were points-driven or a product of passion.

This is just a starting list of highlights of the many wines tasted that to me reflect this intimate relationship between the land and farmer, all are currently in stock at K&L:

2011 Cyprus Russian River Valley Chardonnay ($21.99) K&L Notes: The 2011 Cyprus, from our friends at Brack Mountain Wine Company, is made from fruit grown at Dutton Ranch Mill Station Vineyard in Green Valley. Entirely barrel-fermented in a combination of new and neutral French oak, this viscous, nutty Chardonnay rewards with pear, citrus and green apple fruit on the nose and palate. Long and satisfying.

2010 Copain "Tous Ensemble" Anderson Valley Chardonnay ($19.99) K&L Notes: As with his Pinot Noir, Copain founder Wells Guthrie aims for a Burgundian expression with the 2010 Tous Ensemble Anderson Valley Chardonnay. Very limited use of oak and "hands off" winemaking results in a clean, bright Chardonnay that is balanced, food-friendly, and made for immediate enjoyment.

2010 Porter Creek Mendocino County Old Vine Carignane ($22.99) K&L Notes: In addition to the lovely range of wines made from the Porter Creek estate in the Russian River, the winery makes a small amount of old vine Carignane from an organically-farmed, 60-year-old vineyard in Hopland, Mendocino County. The juice is aged in half large wooden tanks and half small barrels for 11 months, rounding out the grape's rustic edges while imparting just a little bit of spice on the nose and palate. None of the wood character overpowers the pretty red raspberry and strawberry fruit, anise qualities or peppery elements that make this surprisingly elegant wine and a joy at the dinner table.

2009 Acorn "Medley" Russian River Valley Red Wine ($34.99) (Blend of 44% Syrah, 14% Cabernet Franc, 13% Sangiovese, 11% Cinsaut, 7% Viognier, 5% Muscats, 3% Zinfandel, and 3% other varietals) K&L Notes: Field blended, food-friendly wines are the specialty at Acorn Winery and the "Medley" exemplifies this philosophy - a blend of field blends that sings in harmony. Winemaker Bill Nachbauer co-ferments 18 different varieties including syrah, cinsault, mourvèdre, viognier and black and white muscats, zinfandel, sangiovese and cabernet franc in two lots with different yeasts. After fermentation the lots were pressed into 50% new oak barrels for aging. The lots were then blended after three months and aged further prior to release. The 2009 is a crowd-pleaser, with lots of plum and black fruit, pepper, and chocolatey oak spice.  To learn more, check out Patrick's post about our visit to Acorn Winery here.

Here are a few snapshots...  

Porter Creek is a family-owned and operated winery located alongside Porter Creek, one of the Russian River's major tributaries. To showcase their unique hillside terroir, this father and son team focuses on Rhone and Burgundian varietals, which they farm organically to produce primarily vineyard-designated wines,but the make some killer Zin and Carignane!

K&L's Michael "lead foot" Jordan (left) with Porter Creek winemaker Alex Davis.

Wells Guthrie founded Copain in 1999 with the intent to produce Pinot Noir and Syrah in styles inspired by his travels and experiences in France, where he was influenced by producers in Burgundy and the Northern Rhone.It took ten years for Copain to release a Chardonnay, the first vintage of which was 2009.

Tasting at Copain.

In a nutshell, the wineries visited included Iron Horse, Porter Creek, Ridge, Copain, Acorn, Alexander Valley Vineyards, Stonestreet, Preston, Bella, and Brack Mountain Wine Co. Overall, as a native to the area,  I experienced a great sense of pride and a vision for a fantastic future by the end of those two days. We are surrounded by ton of the “recipe” wine in California but if you look deeper you will find wines and producers with a great sense of being and a story to tell. Every winery we visited had real people with a passion behind the wine.

These are the people that are making, not only each other better but everyone else better too. These are the men and women who are setting new standards each and every year and lending inspiration to those who are looking to become the best at what they do, because they are the best at what they do. These are the people who think Sonoma is a special place, care about the land they are farming, the people that they work with and ultimately the quality of wine that goes into the bottle which gives them their identity. We have to remember that most of these wineries are typically first, maybe second, rarely third generation. Hopefully this type of commitment and passion will be passed down another ten of fifteen generations, and I think that it will.

Thank you to all who opened their doors and took the time to share all of this with us. It was and is appreciated many times over. And, to those of you who we missed, don’t worry, we’re out there and on the prowl.

-Eric

 

Friday
Apr262013

Spanish & Portuguese Wine News: Pedro Lopez de Heredia, rest in peace

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

Greetings all,

Sad news this week. Pedro Lopez de Heredia, grandson of founder Rafael Lopez de Heredia y Landeta, passed away on this past weekend at the age of 85. I never met Pedro, though I feel like through stories I hear from his daughter María José, those of others, and drinking lots (LOTS) of bottles of his Riojas over the years, I can and should piece something together.

Lopez de Heredia wines, as I'm sure anyone who knows them will attest, are unapologetically old school. Their style has never changed with the times. Even at the height of the trend towards rich, extracted, purple colored new fancy cooperage French oak influenced wines in Spain, Lopez de Heredia carried on making the same wines as only they knew how: using estate grown fruit, very old oak fermentation vats, and well used barrels. No "vinos de autor," no modern cuvees, no new product launches. Despite the multiple veiled critiques from colleagues accusing traditional Riojas such as theirs as lacking color, complexity, a sense of place, Lopez de Heredia stuck to their guns and continued on their path. This was before the gushing New York Times reviews, pieces on NPR, and mandatory placements on wine lists of dozens of American Michelin starred restaurants that have all brought so much acclaim to this winery over the past decade or so. If nothing else, it proves that in wine as in fashion, pop culture and the arts, all things do eventually come back around. I would be hard pressed to think of a Spanish winery that is more deserving of their recent success than Lopez de Heredia.

 

Of the current generation at Lopez de Heredia (Mercedes, Julio and María José), it is María José, the incredibly energetic, tireless spokesperson and public face of the winery, who I have come to know over the past several years. And this is where the story gets a little personal. My last visit to the winery, my wife, another couple and I joined María José for a walk through Viña Tondonia and an impromptu picnic in the center of this beautiful place, framed as it is by a centuries old village, mountains, a winding river in the distance. Pedro had recently suffered a stroke, and María José was going to be the primary caretaker, making frequent trips to Madrid (at least four hours from her home base of Haro) in order to be with her father and insure that he receive the best care possible. She was in a talking mood, so we let her talk and listened. To hear María José speak about her father, about her love as well as the huge amount of respect and love that others in the industry had for Pedro, it reminded me not only of  the strength of family and community, but also brought to mind a very similar situation I had experienced not even a year earlier. Another very well respected, strongly opinionated older man, someone who had set up a successful family business, and who had given back as best he could to the community that fostered his success, was ailing. That man was my grandfather, and his primary caretaker was my dad.

 I cannot overstate the influence my grandfather has had on me, and I cannot think of a single winery in Spain or anywhere else for that matter, that I feel as personally connected to as Lopez de Heredia. Pedro Lopez de Heredia, rest in peace. I hope you all will join me in toasting the man this weekend with your favorite bottle of wine from the winery he helped to usher into the modern era -- without losing sight of history and tradition.

Un saludo,

Joe

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Joe Manekin
Spanish, Portuguese, Latin American Wine Buyer
K&L Wine Merchants
Ph: 877.559.4637 ext. 2748