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One of the most serious English Sparkling producers. This historic estate has been in the Goring family since 1743. The tiny 16-acre vineyard is close-planted on a steep south-facing chalk escarpment described as 'similar to the Côte des Blancs' in Champagne. The fruit is picked very selectively with quality being the absolute focus. The grapes are pressed gently using a traditional Coquard press. After three years on the lees this wine, composed of 45% Pinot Noir, 33% Chardonnay & 22% Pinot Meunier, is hand disgorged and balanced with a minimal dosage of just 4g/L. It has a fine counterbalance between toasty richness and power from the wines élevage in Burgundian French Oak barrels, with racy acidity, tension and a focused chalky minerality.

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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 what we're drinking (11)

Friday
Sep162011

Personal Sommelier Online: California Cabernet Gets Interesting

 

"Stay thirsty, my friends." What do Mexican beer ads have to do with California Cabernet?

Not much, except as the source of inspiration for my article in the September issue of the K&L Wine News, our monthly newsletter. The theme this month is California Cabernet. As I set about to write, I realized couldn't remember the last time I bought a California Cabernet to take home and drink myself. "I don't drink Cabernet that often," I said to my veteran coworker later that day in the tasting room, "but when I do, I prefer Bordeaux."

"Yes... I used to prefer California Cab," he responded, "but you know they don't make them like they used to." 

While I'm not nearly as interesting as actor Jonathan Goldsmith's character in the Dos Equis ad campaign that ran in the United States in 2006, this particular coworker could give him a run for the money.

What do you prefer?

With all due respect to the great winemaking traditions of my native state, I know for a fact that I'm not alone in this - let's call it frustration - with the opulent style that has come to characterize the wines made around here.  Many of my Personal Sommelier Service Wine Club customers, for example, enlist in the program with the same requests: "No fruit bombs," they ask. "Balanced, Old World-styled Cabernet or blends preferred." It is the very fact that they can subscribe to a wine club and have overly oaked Cabernets filtered out that motivates them to cancel their other clubs and stick with this one only. Some even go so far as to justify this request with an excuse similar to that of my coworker: "I used to drink a lot of California Cab," one customer explained. "But not any more - too oakey, too expensive, too much of the same." 

It's my job to find wines that suit my customers' tastes and preferences. When it comes to Cabernet, if a customer expresses and preference for a more restrained, Bordeaux-like style, I have often come up short at the local level and must look elsewhere - Bordeaux, South Africa, or even Spain - for wines to suit his or her tastes. This has been the case even if the customer wishes to source locally if possible, and despite my desire to support my local industry.  Wines with less attitude and more soul at fair price can be hard to come by around here. 

Which is why I am so excited to report in this issue that demand for unique, terroir-driven, and handmade wines, not just from California but from all over the world, seems to have finally reached the tipping point, and local industries are responding.

Even California.  Larger, established producers are diversifying their product mix, dialing back the oak and coming up with fun, new, balanced wines at the entry level. New boutique producers are popping up with small-production Cabs and blends meant for drinking tonight. And the guys that have been quietly making wines this way all along are making better wines than ever before.

This is no joke.  California Cabernet - and California wine in general - is getting interesting again.

Check these out, if you're interested:  

2009 Ancient Peaks Paso Robles Cabernet Sauvignon ($12.99) Ancient Peaks has flown under the radar as a producer of distinctive, value-driven wines from the Margarita Vineyard, its single estate vineyard, for some time. The wine from this family-run operation shows pure varietal Cabernet aromas and flavors, and it is defined by an earthy, mineral-driven quality that speaks to its unique terroir. It is structured without being heavy or overdone, and drinks well above its retail price.

2008 Broadside “Margarita Vineyard” Paso Robles Cabernet Sauvignon ($18.99) Ancient Peaks had fruit to share in 2008, and the talented, up-and-coming young winemakers Chris Brockway (Broc Cellars) and Brian Terrizzi (Giornata) got their hands on some. The result is a refreshing, black currant-scented, mineral-accented, fine-boned and effortlessly clean Cabernet made (and priced) for drinking.

2009 Robert Craig “Mt. George Cuvée” Napa Valley Red Wine ($24.99) Former Hess Collection CEO Robert Craig has been making serious Cabernet and blends from top hillside sites under his own label since 1992. The new Mt. George Cuvée takes the best of the “leftovers” from the winery’s pricier “Affinity” bottling and crafts a softer, entry-level version for drinking tonight. This Left Bank inspired blend spent just six months in French oak before release. It’s medium-bodied, fragrant and forward, with a nose of dark fruits and rose petals accented by subtle hints of vanilla and spice. The palate is soft, round and generous, with moderate tannins adding a little grip at the finish.

2008 Obsidian Ridge “Obsidian Ridge Vineyard” Red Hills Lake County Cabernet Sauvignon ($27.99) Lake County, Napa’s wily backwoods neighbor, is fast-becoming an exciting destination for affordable Cabernet. Named for the black obsidian boulders that mark the landscape and define the terroir, the nose is dark-fruited and deep, with a complex array of spicy, herbal aromas that morph into dark chocolate and barbecue smoke with some air. This is medium-bodied, but framed by firm tannins and acidity. It is a bit more serious, with a long, chewy, mineral-driven finish, and needs some time to open up, but it might be one of the most interesting California Cabernets I’ve tasted in a long time.

-Chiara Shannon

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Drink More Interesting Wine. K&L’s Personal Sommelier Service is our customizable wine club that allows you to set the price range, number of bottles, origin, style preference and be in direct communication with your chosen K&L sommelier to better tailor your “club” to suit your needs and tastes. Visit KLWines.com/Sommelier.asp to learn more or get started.

Thursday
Sep152011

Wine of the Week: 2000 Coufran, Haut-Médoc ($27.99)

Direct from the Chateau, perfectly aged and ready to drink! Enjoy the 2000 Coufran tonight (K&L Founder Clyde Beffa recommends it with prime rib roast) - in stock now for $27.99 at KLWines.com. One thing we hear all the time at K&L is that Bordeaux has become too expensive. While it is true that the 30 or so top names have taken their prices to the moon, it is unfair to say that the whole regions prices are too high. This 11 year old bottle from one of the great modern vintages - 2000 Coufran, Haut-Médoc ($27.99) - is a fine example of extraordinary value in Bordeaux. It is polished, poised and very complete with loads of black fruit power, fine tannins and mineraly grip. It could be enjoyed tonight with a thick cut New York strip steak or laid down for another 10 years.  - Gary Westby, K&L Staff Member, 09/13/2011

 

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K&L's Gary Westby, loves his aged Claret! But above all, he loves value. His pet peeve? "Prestige" labels that under-deliver in the bottle. Go figure. From obscure, old & rare wines to local gems, if you are looking for the best deals in town, you are in good hands with Gary as your guide. 

Check out Gary's and other K&L staff reviews or choose Gary to be your Personal Sommelier  and receive customized monthly wine selections to suit your budget and interests!

Thursday
Sep082011

Wine of the Week: 2009 Ataraxia Sauvignon Blanc Western Cape, South Africa ($18.99)

Relax with a bottle of this stunning South African Sauvignon Blanc, the 2009 Ataraxia Western Cape ($18.99) - in stock now at KLWines.com'Ataraxia' (Greek for 'tranquility'), is a term used by Pyrrho and Epicurus for a "lucid state, characterized by freedom from worry or any other preoccupation."* The next time you find yourself seeking a wine to complement your moment of relaxation - be it watching the sun set at the beach, walking through the garden, sunning by the pool, or cocktails on the dock, you will find this invigorating and complex Sauvignon Blanc from South Africa - the 2009 Ataraxia Sauvignon Blanc ($14.99) - to be a worthy sipping companion. No pungent herbaceous notes here; this wine smells of meyer lemons and apples, with accents of flint and white pepper. The palate is round and deep, with juicy acids that lead to a persistent and mouthwatering finish. Fans of Sancerre take note. 

"Situated on 125 acres of some of the most stunning elevations in Walker Bay, these vineyards are planted in billion year old granite and weathered shale soils exposed to the cooling breezes of the nearby South Atlantic. The result is a Sauvignon Blanc of terrific purity and finesse, with subtle flavors of grapefruit, lemon zest, melon and fleshy gooseberry interwoven upon the palate, finishing with a fine thread of green tea and minerality." -John Majeski, K&L Staff Member

91 points Stephen Tanzer's International Wine Cellar, Mar/Apr 11

90 points Wine Spectator, Sept 11

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More From Down Under: K&L San Francsico-based John Majeski specializes in wines from South Africa, Australia, and New Zealand. Check out John's latest wine reviews as well as hundreds of recent reviews by other K&L staff members on the K&L Staff Review Page.    

 

 

*Source for definition of 'ataraxia': Wikipedia