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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.

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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.

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Entries in Trip Reports (21)

Tuesday
Sep112012

Sonoma Road Trip Stories, Part I: Copain Winery

Copain Winery

By: Sarah Covey | K&L Staff Member

A recent trip to Sonoma with Bryan Brick, Jim Boyce, and Kyle Kurani means many fun and educational Road Trip reports! I have a few stories to tell, and you will see my stories interspersed with Jim and Kyle's stories here for a while to come. As I put it in my thank you email to the people within K&L who made our trip possible: "The trip to Sonoma helped me personally to have a true understanding of the passion of the winemakers we visited as they spoke about what they do, to stand on the soil where their grapes are grown and to be able to see what they see in their visions for the future of their businesses. These kind of trips put faces on the bottles on our shelves, and help us develop a holistic understanding about the business we are in." We hope you enjoy reading our stories as much as we enjoyed creating them. Cheers!

Copain Winery, Healdsburg

Copain Winery was founded in the hills of the Russian River Valley in 1999 by Wells Guthrie. Tucked away atop a quiet hillside with a spectacular view, one feels an immediate sense of calm upon entering the property. Sitting on the terrace overlooking the valley on that warm summer morning, we were treated to a lovely tasting of Copain’s full portfolio, accompanied by delicious French and Italian cheeses.

First, some history: Mr. Guthrie worked as the Tastings Coordinator for Wine Spectator magazine for many years, and during his tenure there, he fell deeply in love with the wines of France- most specifically, the wines of the Rhône Valley. He decided to move to France to learn the art of winemaking from the people whose wines had inspired him. He worked as an apprentice to the famed winemaker Michel Chapoutier for two years, and was impressed not only by his experience with Chapoutier, but also by the general European attitude that wine is an essential part of life. He returned to California and apprenticed with other famous winemakers in Napa Valley before starting a winery which would reflect this same philosophy.

Wells Guthrie started his winery with an old friend, naming the winery Copain, which means “friend” in French, in tribute to their friendship. He chose to focus on pinot noir and chardonnay, and with his background in the Rhône, syrah also made perfect sense. Originally, Copain’s wines had much bigger fruit, but as time went on, Guthrie realized that the wines he was drinking at home- older French wines, lower in alcohol and higher in acidity- were the kinds of wines he wanted to produce for his clientele. Through the courageous act of changing his style to reflect this need, Copain has become even more successful than before. Sourcing fruit from a variety of vineyards, he worked with the landowners to plant the vines as he directed, and also dictated specific vineyard practices he wanted them to implement to get the results he was looking for, guaranteeing them that in return he would purchase all of the grapes if they did so. This practice continues today, Guthrie is able to create wines that show a distinct expression of the vineyard sites from which they come.

Tasting at Copain

Our tasting was hosted by Ezra Chomak, Copain’s gracious tasting room manager. We had the good fortune to try the full portfolio of Copain’s current offerings, which was a treat as we have just a few of the wines here at the store. We started with a couple of lovely 2010 Chardonnays, one from Anderson Valley AVA from the Tous Ensemble vineyard and another from the Brousseau vineyard in the Chalone AVA. The “Tous Ensemble” was all stainless steel with 10 months on the lees and no malo. It showed apple, pear, honeysuckle and brioche with a soft sweetness and medium acid. The Brousseau came from a 40 year old parcel with limestone and granite soil. It saw neutral oak for fermentation and ageing; its’ profile was of apple, bright pear, white flowers, butter, vanilla and toast. Combined with the brie on the plate in front of me, I could have been very happy to stop the day right there and just stay on that patio for the rest of our trip! Up next was a wacky, deliciously lip-smacking 2009 wine called “P2” from the Hein vineyard in Anderson Valley. It was 50% pinot noir and 50% pinot gris- a departure for Copain’s traditional Burgundian style. Cherry, smoke, earth, game, mineral, citrus, floral and somewhat ethereal, it was fresh, crisp, and had juicy acid. Incredibly food-friendly, quaffable and would be delicious with a slight chill on it.

Following these wines we tasted of a couple of Copain’s wines that we carry here at K&L, which was great for us to experience sitting on the terrace of the winery. First, the 2009 “Tous Ensemble” Anderson Valley Pinot Noir. This wine, translated from the French as “all together” is a blend from several vineyard sites within the southern part of Anderson Valley. Red cherry, spice, mineral, earth, some game, raspberry, hints of smoke. Medium plus acid and medium plus but fine tannins. Delicious! It appears that the 2009 is sold out, but the 2010 "Tous Ensemble" is here! Next was the 2009 “Les Voisins” Anderson Valley Pinot Noir, a wine which we sell out of almost immediately upon receiving it! “Les Voisins” means “the neighbors”, so logically these 3 vineyards are literally next door neighbors to one another. The vineyards are about 10 miles from the coast, in the Northwest corner of Anderson Valley, and as such, the sites are considerably cooler. Appropriately, the wine showed those cooler climate characteristics- red cherry, mineral, soft smoke, game, spice, strawberry, rose. It had medium plus acid, medium plus tannin, and was well-balanced and elegant.

Up next were a couple of wines from the Kiser vineyard sites. First was the 2009 “En Haut” (meaning above) Anderson Valley Pinot Noir and then the 2009 “En Bas” (meaning below) Anderson Valley Pinot Noir. Differences in the vineyard sites include: 1) the elevation- En Haut is at 800 feet and En Bas is at 650 feet and 2) the soils- En Haut is compressed sandstone, with almost no clay, while En Bas is clay and crumbly sandstone. Both sites produce distinctly different wines, classically styled, and with great potential to age.

2009 Copain "Les Voisins" Yorkville Highlands Syrah ($34.99)It was Syrah time, which I was admittedly very excited about. We started with a wine we carry- the 2009 “Les Voisins” Yorkville Highlands Syrah. Again, the wine is a blend of grapes from 3 neighboring vineyards, which have schist and granite soils, planted on the sloped mountainside of the rocky Yorkville Highlands in Mendocino County, which rise from 600 to 2500 feet in elevation. Guthrie employs whole cluster fermentation for 30% of the wine and does not use new wood for ageing. The wine was full of ripe blackberry, violet, and plum- quite floral for not co-fermenting with viognier, which is traditional in the Rhône for syrah. It also had a savory meaty character classic to Northern Rhône syrah. Amazingly, the wine was only 13.9% alcohol- so well-balanced that it fooled all 4 of us sitting at the table.

We tried two syrahs after that from the Brousseau vineyards in the Chalone AVA- the 2008 Brousseau Chalone Syrah and the 2010 Brousseau Chalone Syrah. The 2008 was blackberry, black plum, licorice, cedar, spice, rose petal, meat and an interesting cherry cola note. Refreshing at only 13.5% abv. The 2010 was much more high-toned, violet, plum, blackberry, black cherry, cassis and white pepper. It surprised us again at 13% abv. I had no idea that syrah could have this much depth and not be ridiculously high in alcohol. Eye-opening!

Ezra poured us a final wine to show us how far Guthrie’s wines had come- the 2009 James Berry Paso Robles Syrah. While loved for the character and expression of syrah from this area, Guthrie is choosing to focus further north in Anderson Valley and the Yorkville Highlands in the future. The James Berry was beautiful. The wine was another 100% syrah, this time from chalky limestone soil, a vineyard which lies 6.7 miles from the coast- so the range of temperatures between day and night is quite great. This means that the fruit gets ripe during the day but holds its acid at night, something very important for syrah. Strawberry, raspberry, cassis, mineral, violet and flowers, it felt much less like a classic syrah, but still very interesting, drinkable and delicious.

It was hard to drag us from the table, as we all wanted to just relax and enjoy a nice lunch, but many appointments beckoned. I have firm resolution to return, next time with a picnic and a loved one.

 ~Until Next Time,

-Sarah

 

Monday
Jun112012

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."

Saludos,

-Sarah

 

***

Sarah C. Covey

Wine Sales Professional

K&L Wine Merchants - Redwood City

sarahcovey@klwines.com

 

Wednesday
Jun062012

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

K&L staff member Sarah Covey is on location and blogging LIVE from Ribera del Duero! Follow her in her adventures on as she keeps us updated on Uncorked!

Saturday morning, I watched the sun rise over San Francisco. Sunday morning, I watched the sun rise over Madrid. Enjoying a cafe con leche in the balmy morning light, myself and three international wine professionals waited for the rest of our colleagues to arrive from the United States. 18 of us from all over the country were invited by the "Drink Ribera. Drink Spain" campaign to participate in a week long passport trip to Ribera Del Duero. 

Ribera Del Duero is located in Spain's northern plateau, about 2 hours north of Madrid. Officially, the Denominacion de Origen (D.O.) of Ribera Del Duero was founded in 1982, by a group of wine producers and growers who were committed to the promotion of standards of quality for their wines. Historically, wine has been made in Ribera since the Roman times, falling in and out of practice with Spain's complicated history, but only in the last 30 years has there been an explosion in the incredible quality of the region's wines. Today, Ribera Del Duero provides a benchmark for Spanish wines in the global market. 

95% of the wine in Ribera is made from Tempranillo, known locally as Tinto Fino or Tinto del Pais. The clone of Tinto Fino used here is specific to Ribera, and the wines are deeply expressive of this place. This is not your Tempranillo from Rioja or from Southern Spain! The Duero River Valley provides soil as diverse as those in Burgundy, with each little village producing incredibly varied expressions of this one grape. There are 8,356 growers and 270 wineries here, producing a mere 1/2 million litres of wine a year. Ribera is at high elevation (2,500 to 2,800 feet), and though the climate is very extreme- snow in the winter and blistering heat in the summer- it is perfect for quality winemaking.

Tinto Fino

The Consejo Regulador de la Denominacion de Origen Ribera Del Duero is the govering body that oversees all aspects of the viticultural and winemaking process for all of the wines in the DO. They dictate where the grapes originate, the varieties and percentages used, vineyard practices (including pruning, density, and yields), winemaking procedures, alcohol levels and labeling. Though this sounds terribly restrictive, it provides a fantastic structure in which producers are able to create truly outstanding wines. 

The Consejo Building

The schedule for the week is pretty incredible. We've got a lecture from the Consejo to start, 30 wineries to meet who would like to be represented in the United States, 11 wineries to visit which vary in history, winemaking and style, and many, many tapas to sample along the way. 

Salud & stay tuned!

-Sarah

 

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