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Staff Favorites - Jeff Garneau
Jeff Garneau | Send Email | Subscribe to My Sommelier Service
Jeff has been a member of the sales staff in our Redwood City store for the past four years. His first introduction to wine was as a waiter in an upscale Italian restaurant in Hanover, NH more years ago than he likes to admit. He slowly made his way west to wine country, working his way across the US as a graduate student in geography, a public sector researcher in regional economic development, and briefly, in the wake of the Anderson-Enron scandal, a records management coordinator for one of the remaining Big Five accounting firms. Finally, surrendering to the inevitable, he accepted a position in the wine business here at K&L. His goals for the next four years include drinking more wines from Italy and France and trying to limit the number of open bottles on the dinner table on any given night to fewer than six.
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2009 Saarloos & Sons "His" Santa Ynez Valley Cabernet Sauvignon
Review Date: 4-25-2013
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, and the 2010 Saarloos & Sons "Hers" Santa Ynez Valley Grenache Blanc. 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. I enjoyed the Cabernet Sauvignon 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.
2009 Arnauton, Fronsac
Review Date: 2-25-2013
Fronsac lies alongside Pomerol and Saint Emilion on the Right Bank, producing Merlot-based wines of good quality at good prices. A long, warmer than average autumn meant that much of the Merlot crop got quite ripe in 2009, resulting in some cases in full-bodied wines with a floral, almost exotic character. The 2009 Arnauton is one of these, richly textured with sweet, plummy fruit.
Bruno Michel Premier Cru Brut Blanc de Blancs Champagne
Review Date: 11-30-2012
I recently enjoyed my first Dungeness crab of the season and this was the champagne I chose to drink with it. 100% Chardonnay from Bruno Michel's oldest vines. Crisp, clean and very dry with a very light toast. Bright citrus and tart green apple notes. Focused, precise, with tremendous concentration and length, this is serious wine.
Ariston Aspasie Blanc de Blancs Brut Champagne
Review Date: 11-30-2012
The current disgorgement of the Ariston Aspasie Blanc de Blancs Brut Champagne is perhaps a little firmer, a little less open knit than previous bottlings. But the tradeoff is more focus, more purity, and more length. Drink in place of an afterwork cocktail. Open a bottle for friends for no reason. I try to always keep a bottle in the fridge. Just in case.
Bruno Michel "Blanche" Brut Champagne
Review Date: 9-29-2012
For longtime fans of Moet White Star or Veuve Cliquot this is the perfect introduction to grower producer Champagnes. A blend of Chardonnay and Pinot Meunier from Pierry south of Epernay, the Bruno Michel "Cuvee Blanche" offers lightly toasty, classic "brioche" character, a creamy texture, and crisp, ripe apple notes supported by a firm mineral backbone. This is superb Champagne at a great price.
1999 Fugue de Nenin, Pomerol
Review Date: 9-26-2012
The 1999 vintage has always been charming, medium to full-bodied with lovely sweet, upfront fruit. This second wine from Chateau Nenin in Pomerol is very much in step with the vintage as a whole. Elegant and richly textured, it offers sweet, ripe cherry notes combined with soft tannins. Drinking beautifully now, it can be enjoyed for many years to come.
Franck Bonville "Belles Voyes" Brut Blanc de Blancs Champagne
Review Date: 8-17-2012
When most people talk about "value for money" they are thinking of a great $10 red. At $67.99 this is our best "value" in Champagne, easily the equal of wines selling for many hundreds of dollars. This wine was featured in our last staff Champagne tasting and elicited a collective moment of silence in sheer appreciation. If you think you can't appreciate a great Champagne, try tasting this alongside the Franck Bonville "Brut Selection" Blanc de Blancs Champagne at $32.99 - excellent in its own right - and you will see what I mean.
2008 La Parde de Haut-Bailly, Pessac-Léognan
Review Date: 7-16-2012
A small crop and a long, cool growing season at Chateau Haut-Bailly in 2008 produced balanced, concentrated wines with ripe fruit and lively acidity. The second wine, La Parde de Haut-Bailly includes a much higher percentage of Merlot than the grand vin--51% to its 30%--creating a softer, more immediately accessible wine. Smooth texture. Lovely mouthfeel and weight. Exceptional. One of the best wines I have tasted from this 2008 vintage. Should drink well over the next decade or more.
San Venanzio Prosecco Brut
Review Date: 6-24-2012
While the classic Italian Prosecco is "Extra Dry", with just a touch of sweetness on the finish, this charming sparkling wine from San Venanzio is made in a "Brut" style more familiar to American palates. At a mere 11.5% alcohol and at the very attractive, direct import price of $14.99, it's easy on both your palate and your wallet. Crisp, bone dry, refreshing. Low in alchohol. Low in price. An ideal aperitif you can enjoy every day.
Fleury Blanc de Noirs Brut Champagne
Review Date: 5-18-2012
This extraordinary 100% Pinot Noir sparkling wine comes to us from the Aube, the southernmost part of the Champagne region. In the early 1900s, when the boundaries of the Champagne appellation were being formally drawn, it seemed for a time that producers in the Aube would be excluded by their brother growers to the north. They took to the streets in protest and French troops had to be called in to quell the riots. Because we are buying these wines directly in France you can enjoy them today at a price that won't provoke civil unrest. Why would you drink anything else?
1997 Potensac, Médoc
Review Date: 4-17-2012
One of the very best properties in the Medoc, Chateau Potensac has been owned for many years by the Delon family of Leoville Las Cases in St. Julien. The quality of the wine can be attributed both to the superb character of the terroir at the Chateau and to the additional resources made available through its long association with a top second growth. The 1997 Potensac is one of the best I have tasted from this vintage. It is surprisingly youthful in character, displaying a deep purple to red color, a very floral nose with elements of new wood, and pleasingly ripe, sweet red and black fruits. Like most Medoc wines, it is a broad shouldered effort, very structured and firm. It needed a good hour in a decanter, and really started to shine about 2 hours into a meal of grilled ribeye steak with asparagus and roasted potatoes. At a price comfortably below that of the classified growths, this lovely wine should prove immensely satisfying to any lover of good claret.
2009 La Lagune, Haut-Médoc
Review Date: 3-6-2012
Deeply colored, aromatic, floral and spicy. Loads of dark, sweet fruit. Unbelievably bright and fresh. A superb effort.
Launois "Cuvée Reserve" Brut Blanc de Blancs Champagne
Review Date: 12-9-2011
I am embarrassed to admit that before I met Gary Westby, our Champagne buyer, I was not a drinker of Champagne. I probably had had one or two bottles of mediocre, bulk-produced sparkling wine (not Champagne) and dismissed all sparkling wines on that basis. Then Gary introduced me to grower-producer Champagnes like the Launois "Cuvée Reserve" Brut Blanc de Blancs Champagne. The quality--the authenticity--of the wines was a revelation. And the great prices made possible through our direct import program made it impossible not to try as many as I could. If you want to learn about the Côte des Blancs--the home of the finest Chardonnay in Champagne--about Grand Cru sites like Mesnil and Oger, then this is a tutorial in a glass. Fine bead. Clean. Crisp. Wonderfully mineral in its expression, while still rich in texture. Try it on its own as an aperitif or, better yet, with our local Dungeness crab.
2002 Bruno Michel "Cuvee Millésime" Brut Champagne
Review Date: 11-15-2011
2002 may very well be the finest all around vintage in Champagne since the trio of great vintages in the late 1980’s – 1988,1989,1990. Combining lively acidity with dense, powerfully concentrated fruit, the 2002 vintage invites comparisons with the fabled 1990 vintage. The 2002 Bruno Michel "Cuvee Millésime" Brut Champagne is a great example of the best of what the vintage has to offer. Tightly wound and complex yet richly textured, this wine is the epitome of restrained opulence. Lightly floral notes of acacia and wet stone give way to sweet, baked apple and cinnamon spice. A hint of brioche graces the very dry finish. While this wine can be enjoyed on its own (if you are in a particularly pensive mood), it will be at its best when paired with food. Try it with roast chicken or sole meunière, or, for a real treat, a bowl of lightly salted, freshly popped popcorn.
Antech "Brut Nature" Blanquette de Limoux
Review Date: 9-23-2011
The Limoux area of the Languedoc in southern France is the oldest sparkling wine producing region in the world, predating even Champagne. Blanquette is made mostly from the local variety Mauzac, which adds a delightfully crisp, fresh apple quality. The remainder is Chenin Blanc and Chardonnay. Antech's Brut Nature is produced with no added dosage, creating a wine that is super dry, crisp and clean, and bracingly refreshing. Delicious, and a terrific value!
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