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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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Entries in Zinfandel (12)

Tuesday
Feb052013

ZAPPED! & I'm not talking Scott Baio...

By: Bryan Brick | K&L Domestic Wine Buyer

Last week a chosen few K&L staffers met at the San Francisco store to head down to the annual ZAP (Zinfandel Advocates & Producers) Zinfandel Festival taking place nearby. The journey to brave the wave of Zinfandel in all its bold glory consisted of a four city block walk, some bear traps, and a few unmentionables...We knew what we were getting into: an ocean of Zin, the good and the bad, but our mission to find the greats to share with you--our customers--kept us on track.

My philosophy at these sort of events is to not stray too far off the path of the known. You can get into deep water quickly with a bunch of 15+% ABV Zins that offer few redeeming qualities, so I generally choose to keep my cards close and my opinions closer with the exception of this little ditty about what I tasted there. A disclaimer: by no means did I taste even 25% of what was available for sampling (if anybody even got close to that they’d be wheeled out in the paddy wagon), but I did seek out and taste wines from a variety of producers and made sure to visit those in attendance that I believe to be leaders in the category.

The good news is that due to recent back-to-back difficult vintages (2010 and 2011), the wines from these vintages overall were surprisingly fresh. The longer, cooler growing seasons required lengthier hang-times for fruit to ripen and cooler average temperatures preserved acidity, lending them bright treble-y flavors along with great verve and life. Balance and restraint was a prevailing theme among many of the offerings; I didn’t nearly as many Zins higher than 15% ABV or that had excess residual sugar. Since heat wasn’t a disposable commodity in these vintages, you couldn’t get grapes to 25-28 degrees brix! The talk instead among producers was of their ridiculously low PH levels (3.3 anyone?) and dramatically reduced yields. Many producers reported being down 30% or more in case production.

It may be true that 2010 and 2011 were challenging vintages, but producers across the board did the most with what they had, and with great success. I tasted many delicious, crowd-pleasing Zins that didn't skip a beat in delivering the bold flavors and spicy intensity that has won Zinfandel its throngs of admirers. Many producers made some of the best wines I had tasted from them in years. Meanwhile, if you prefer higher acidity and restraint in their wines, be on the lookout: there are some truly outstanding, balanced, and terroir-driven Zins being released that I know you will love.

2011 Bedrock Wine Company "Saitone Ranch" Russian River Valley Zinfandel So, here is my personal list of the top Zinfandels I tasted at the event. As you will see, some of these are currently available while many have a while yet before being released. Prices range, but there are a handful on this list that in my opinion over-deliver for the price; these are the ones that excited me the most. I hope they excite you, too.

Oh, yeah - in no way is this list in any sort of order. Enjoy!

2011 Ridge Vineyards “Pagani Ranch” 

2011 Carlisle Dry Creek Valley

2011 Bucklin “Old Hill Ranch-Bambino”

2009 Bucklin “Old Hill Ranch-Ancient Vines”

2011 Bedrock “Saitone Ranch” (in stock $36.99) 

2010 Dashe Dry Creek Valley Zinfandel 2008 Green & Red “Tip Top Vineyard”

2010 Dashe Dry Creek Valley (in stock $22.99)

2011 Mauritson “Westphall Ridge”

2009 D Cubed Howell Mountain

2010 Easton “Estate”

2008 Noceto “Grandpere Vineyard”

2010 Bella “Lily Hill Vineyard”

2010 Kokomo Dry Creek Valley

NV Gamba Centurian

 

Wednesday
Nov072012

Sonoma Road Trip Stories, Part VI: Bedrock Wine Co.

Morgan Twain Peterson, Age 5. Photo courtesy of Bedrock Wine Co.

By: Kyle Kurani | K&L Staff Member

This was my favorite visit of our recent staff tasting trip to Sonoma. Morgan Twain-Peterson, the winemaker at Bedrock Wine Co., has been making wine since the age of five (seriously, being the son of Joel Peterson of Ravenswood fame has its perks). Morgan is a champion of old vine preservation and is one of the founding members of the Historic Vineyard Society. He has some of the most amazing heritage vineyard sites in Sonoma at his disposal, including Pagani Ranch and Monte Rosso, home to some of the oldest of the old vines in Sonoma. Ridge and Carlisle source from Pagani Ranch; Mondavi, Rosenblum, T-Vine, and many other producers have been proud to work with Monte Rosso fruit over the years. 

Sherman & Hooker's Shebang (Bedrock Wine Co.) "Cuvée V" Sonoma Valley Red Blend Morgan's wines are extremely hand-made. His motto is “It takes a village to raise a wine,” but you can taste the care and diligence that goes into each bottle. K&L customers might recognize Bedrock for its entry level Sherman & Hooker's "Shebang" Sonoma Valley Red Blend ($11.99), a non-vintage wine now in its fifth release and one of the best California wine values we offer, but all the Bedrock wines are worth seeking out. 

Morgan's productions are so low and his wines in such demand that they don't stick around long on the shelf and we rarely get the opportunity to taste them at K&L, so this visit was indeed special. We tried a dozen barrel samples in his cellar, and I felt like a broken record after every delicious, concentrated sip, badgering him with questions: How much of this did you produce? Will we be able to have it on the shelf at K&L? and so on. More often the answer was along the lines of three barrels, and he was afraid it would all sell out to his club members before we could have the chance to get our thirsty paws on it.

Nevertheless, persistence pays off, and we do have an assortment of amazing Bedrock wines in stock share with you. These are wines that bring me back to my family roots of drinking wine around the table with the people you care about; wines with soul and depth, from vineyards that have been almost forgotten by time and with an old-vine spirit that fancy winemaking cannot replicate. They are bold, yet complex wines, rich, yet superbly balanced. Just perfect for hearty fall and winter dishes.

To see our full offering and learn more about the wines we have in stock, use the search tool and search "bedrock" on KLWines.com.   

In the mean time, here are two that really stand out to me:

2011 Bedrock Wine Company "Saitone Ranch" Russian River Zinfandel ($36.99)

Made from vines planted in 1896 and consists of mainly Zinfandel with small amounts of Petit Sirah, Alicante and the usual other mixed-blacks suspects making an appearance. This wine has the depth and concentration of 100 year old vines, paired with the buoyant acidity you get from the cool climate of Russian River. Rich fruit, blueberries and dark cherry, with spice and a touch of earth, make this wine a perfect pairing for anything off the grill, or braised dishes that have been cooking all day.

2011 Bedrock Wine Company "Bedrock Vineyard-Heritage Wine" Sonoma Valley Red Wine ($36.99)

Perhaps my favorite wine from Bedrock, this is from Morgan’s family vineyards and truly embodies Bedrock is all about. This wine is made from 22 different varietals--a field blend is something of an understatement--from vines that were planted 123 years ago. Morgan has gone through and identified every vine on the property by hand...labor of love or maniacal wine maker? The main component is Zinfandel, with the remaining 40% of the wine a blend of what has been planted in the vineyard for the past century. Peppery fruit is in the lead with this wine, followed by plums and cloves. It is a very dark and textured wine, chewy and dense; a wine to be enjoyed with food, not as an aperitif. This wine has so much history in each glass. If you are a fan of the tradition and history of wine, this is something to be tried and shared with friends.

I hope this brief description of Bedrock’s wines has been enough to pique your interest in a winery that I find completely fascinating. These wines are steeped in history and deliver flavor profiles that are harder and harder to come by in this modern winemaking era. Good honest wines, made by a fantastic wine maker with great respect for tradition and the land, are wines worth trying to be sure.

-Kyle

 

Monday
Oct222012

Sonoma Road Trip Stories, Part IV: Limerick Lane Cellars

 

By: Sarah Covey | K&L Staff Member

Limerick Lane Cellars was on the top of my list for our recent K&L staff road trip to Sonoma. I had met current owner Jake Bilbro and his brother Scot (the winemaker) at an industry event in San Francisco earlier in the year. Not only were the wines delicious, but I found Jake to be a very friendly, genuine person. Over his homemade grilled sausages, Jake talked about how lucky he feels every day to be in his position. A man in his 30s with a young family, owning a winery and the surrounding land with a legacy to pass on to his children - it is a dream he never in a million years thought he would be able to achieve. I was inspired to learn more about this special place and the folks behind these intriguing wines.

A Little History

Limerick Lane Cellars is not a new name on the wine scene. Located just south of downtown Healdsburg, in the Russian River Valley appellation, the property was planted to grapes by the Del Fava family in 1910. Mario Del Fava, born in 1920, farmed grapes and prunes there until the 1970s when the estate was sold to the Collins family. “Brothers Mike and Tom Collins brought incredible passion and enthusiasm to the property selling the grapes as vineyard designates to several well known local wineries including De Loach, Chateau Souverain, Ravenswood, Davis Bynum and Gary Farrell," notes the Limerick Lane website. "The quality of the wines and reputation of the iconic Collins Vineyard quickly established Limerick Lane as a premier site for growing Zinfandel and Rhone varieties in Sonoma County. In 1986, the first estate wines were produced under the Limerick Lane label. The subsequent quality of the wines produced solidified Limerick Lane’s reputation as one of Sonoma County’s premier producers.”

Jake and his wife Alexis bought the house across the street from Limerick Lane in 2007. As is common in the Sonoma grape growing and winemaking community, Jake started helping Mike Collins with the harvest and in the cellars once he moved in across the street. Jake grew up in the wine business. His father is the owner of Marietta Cellars, where brother Scot is the assistant winemaker. In 2009, ready for the next chapter and unwilling to hang a “for sale sign” or sell it to the highest paying corporation, Mike gave Jake and his young family the opportunity of a lifetime. He approached Jake and asked him if he would like to buy Limerick Lane Cellars and the Collins Vineyard. Jake jumped at the chance, and Scot signed on as winemaker (in addition to making wine at Marietta Cellars) soon thereafter.

Limerick Lane Cellars is located just south of Healdsburg in the Russian River AVA.

 

Old Vine Heritage

A blend of head-pruned and trellised Syrah, the 2009 Limerick Lane Estate Syrah is simply delicious!With approximately 5 acres of the original vines planted in 1910 still in production today, it is the great pleasure and goal of Jake and his family to produce wines that live up to the 100 year heritage that preceded them. With the amazing fruit that the Collins Vineyard can produce, they are able to create wines that are noted not only for their exceptional balance and elegance, but wines with a sense of history and place as well. Vines planted in 1934 produce the grapes for the Limerick Lane "Block 1934-Estate" Russian River Valley Zinfandel; vines planted in 1970 provide the grapes for the Limerick Lane "Block 1970-Estate" Russian River Valley Zinfandel. The estate is also planted to both head-pruned and trellised Syrah, which in the future will be bottled separately as blocks, too. Right now their Limerick Lane Estate Russian River Valley Syrah is a blend of both, and is simply delicious! There is also old vine Furmint, which Jake told me he discovered in the old ledgers that used to be on the French Laundry’s late harvest dessert wine list! The Furmint is currently one of the varietals blended into their Cuvee Blanc, along with Sauvignon Blanc and Roussanne.

Understandably, Jake is as deeply connected to the land as he is to the wines. He is intimately familiar with each vine on the property, and his eldest son, Cruz, can identify each block by name and varietal. As Jake loved to do with his father, Cruz likes to ride the tractor and uses his shovel (with its real steel handle) to dig holes all around the vineyards!

The day we visited, Jake tasted us through the 2010 Pinot Noir from the estate, the 2010 Sonoma County Zinfandel, which has 1910, 1934 and 1970 blended in with sourced fruit, the 2010 Russian River Zinfandel, the 2010 Dry Creek Zinfandel, the 2010 Head-Pruned Syrah, the 2010 Trellis Block Syrah, and the famous "1023" Blend of Zinfandel, Syrah and Grenache from the estate. 1023 is the address for the winery on Limerick Lane. It was my personal favorite, and one that I can only get at the winery!

The wines of Limerick Lane are thoughtfully made, layered, nuanced and interesting. They are not the smack-you-in-the-face Zinfandels, Pinots, and Syrahs that so often come thumping out of the Valley over the hill from Sonoma. They are special wines expressive of land and vine, crafted by good-hearted, dedicated people who, along with the other young winemakers in Sonoma, are helping to reclaim history and revitalize the local industry. I highly recommend all of these wines.

And, if you want a calm, welcoming, warm tasting experience the next time you are in Sonoma, head to Limerick Lane. It is peaceful, quiet, and the wines are spectacular.

Tell them we sent you.

Cheers!

-Sarah

 

Sarah C. Covey, WSET Certified

Wine Sales Professional

K&L Wine Merchants, Redwood City, CA, USA