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K&L Staff Recommendations
90 points Robert Parker's Wine Advocate: "A consistent, big-time winner in the value sweepstakes, the 2014 Chenin Blanc / Viognier is a blend of 80% Chenin Blanc and 20% Viognier (145,000 cases produced) is aged totally in stainless steel, has malolactic blocked, and offers what consumers love – big, flowery, fresh honeysuckle and tropical fruit, a light to medium-bodied mouthfeel, beautiful purity, texture and a long finish. (RP)" (8/2015) K&L Notes: Grapes for this perennial summertime value were sourced from Clarksburg, in California's Central Valley. Seriously quaffable but not to be underestimated—five ... Read More »
92 points Wine Spectator: "Shows excellent cut from the start, with pear eau-de-vie and green almond notes guiding the salted butter, brioche, fig and green melon flavors. The mouthwatering acidity is deeply imbedded on the finish. Drink now through 2018. (JM)" (5/2013)
Jancis Robinson: "Easy and mouthfilling. Tangy and definitely Chenin. A great introduction to New Wave South African wine!" (9/2015) Robert Parker's Wine Advocate: "The 2015 Secateurs Chenin Blanc has a slightly waxy, toffee apple-scented bouquet that perhaps lacks the complexity of some of the other vintages that I have tasted in the past. The palate is nicely balanced, quite primal in the mouth at first but settling down later on with lime cordial and peachy notes that deliver plenty of flavor. (NM)" (11/2015)
Wine Spectator: "Juicy quince, pear and green melon flavors move along with a fresh floral edged finish. Open-knit and inviting now. (JM)" (9/2015) K&L Notes: Established in 1890, the Domaine Sylvain Gaudron is now run by the third generation of the Gaudron family. It comprises 59 acres spread out over 50 little plots. The soils are limestone-clay on a sub-layer of tuffeau. This is an incredibly affordable Vouvray that belies its meager price, delivering honeycomb, jasmine and quince aromas. In the mouth it's explosive, with crisp apple, Mirabelle plum, minerals and honeysuckle flavo... Read More »
Maison Huet has been a leading force in the Vouvray appellation for quite sometime now, and today is regarded as one of the premier producers of Chenin Blanc in the Loire Valley, if not the world. Founded in 1928, the estate now covers 35 hectares, which are divided up between three properties — Le Mont, Le Haut-Lieu and Le Clos du Bourg — all that have been farmed biodynamically since 1990. These wines are stunning and are worth being in your cellar. In addition to its famous vineyard-designated wines, Huet also produces this delightful sparkling Pétill... Read More »
This affordable, semi-dry white comes from Domaine Sylvain Gaudron, a family-owned domaine in Vouvray. Made entirely from Chenin Blanc grown in the region's famed clay and limestone soils, this version is fresh and elegant, with delicious quince and apple aromas and flavors and is an ideal partner for spicy Morroccan tagines and Southeast Asian curries.
93 points Wine Enthusiast: "The aromas draw you in with notes of kiwi, pineapple and mango. Brown sugar and tropical fruit flavors are intensely sweet and rich, with an unctuous feel." (11/2015) Robert Parker's Wine Advocate: "The dessert-styled 2014 Red Mountain Chenin Blanc (which was harvest from frozen grapes on the vine) has lots of overt sweetness in its white peach, apricot and honeyed bouquet. This gives way to a pure, clean and well-made dessert wine that comes up a little short on acidity, and I liked the first sip better than the last. It is good, but best consumed over the coming year. (JD)" (6/2015)
The Champalou family farms 22 acres in Vouvray, making the Cuvée des Fondraux from 45-year-old Chenin vines grown in the area's prized clay, limestone and flint soils. Like all of their wines, it is distinctive, with incredible balance and energy ... a true representation of the soil. A great value.
Maison Huet is a leading force in the Vouvray appellation. Founded in 1928, the estate now covers 35 hectares, which are divided up between three properties: Le Mont, Le Haut-Lieu and Le Clos du Bourg - all of which have been farmed in the biodynamic method since 1990. Stretching over 9 hectares, Le Haut-Lieu provides extremely deep limestone and brown clay soils. Due to the heavy soils the wines from this site tend to have a richer, rounder character, with deep nuances of stone fruit, and finish off with a mouthwatering, juicy finish.
Viticulture and winemaking are done in a classical style at Domaine Laffourcade. The Chenin Blancs of Savennières are exclusively made in a dry style, and this example is a reliable winner for its expression and value. Vines averaging 20 years old are planted in sandy schist soils where they are harvested manually to modest yields. The juice is slowly fermented to preserve fresh aromatics and the wine is aged in tank on the lees before bottling.
Winemaker's Notes: "Expressive fresh, tropical fruit flavour with well structured minerality. Youthful, friendly and inviting, this wine is ready to be enjoyed now. Sirkel encapsulates our dream of fulfilling our mission to be custodians of earth and guardians of man, caring for what has been entrusted to us. This wine completes the full seasonal circle by giving back to the land and the people committed to its creation. Grapes are hand harvested before being de-stemmed, crushed and pressed. Spontaneous fermentation turns the juice into wine, with minima... Read More »
The Bretons have been farming their eleven hectares biodynamically since 1994. Pierre is the primary cellar master, but the wines under the "Dilettante" label are the pet projects of Catherine. This Vouvray sec is grown on 40 year-old vines, and treated with exquisite care: hand harvested, native yeast, low sulfur, low yields. From the winery: "Dry white wine, fresh and ripe from a ground of clay with flints. The happy medium of the minerality of the terroir, the acidity of the wine and the grape's ripeness."
94 points Robert Parker's Wine Advocate: "The 2014 Cartology Bush Vines is Chris Alheit's fourth release since it blazed onto the South African scene. It comes from the same vineyards as previous vintages. Chris said this is completely unfined and unfiltered with a very healthy pH. The nose has a sense of confidence about it, racing out of the blocks with orange zest, honeysuckle, jasmine and a touch of loganberry. The palate is lightly honeyed on the entry, beautifully balanced with a fine line of acidity, gently building in the mouth towards a complex, absorbing finish of lychee, white pepper ...Read More »
Inventory: San Francisco
93 points Wine & Spirits: "Xavier Weisskopf makes this wine from his youngest parcel of vines—30 years old—grown in silex and clay. Pascaline Lepeltier of NYC’s Rouge Tomate called this “a chenin for guys who like extra-brut Champagne—super lean, pristine.” That clean precision of chenin on silex captures the breadth of the vintage and cages it, slowly releasing stony minerality, a tart flavor of yellow apple skin, a spicy floral note of white flowers. This is a powerful young wine that won’t be ready to drink for five years or more." (4/2016) Wine Spectator: "This offers bright-edged peach, quince ...Read More »
Wine Spectator: "Ripe yet dry. Tastes more like Savennières than Vouvray, with mineral, smoke and citrus flavors. Crisp, yet muscular on the palate. A serious wine that needs to unwind. Best from 1998 through 2002." (5/1997)
96 points Wine Spectator: "Unctuous, concentrated and refined, this holds a large core of quince, creamed Anjou pear and white ginger notes in reserve for now, while heather, chamomile, orange blossom and white peach flavors take the lead. When the reserves stretch out and catch up with the floral accents, this will be a pure, precise stunner, with a long life. Best from 2018 through 2035." (8/2013) 94 points Wine & Spirits: "Glistening in golden hues, this chenin draws you in with its broad, luscious fruit then pounces with searingly fresh acidity and grape skin spice. Luxurious as a young wine, this integra ...Read More »
Some would call this pétillant naturel méthode ancestrale, which is loosely the same thing: a sparkling wine made in bottle with its native yeast and without any sugar additions (no chapitalization during initial fermentation, no sweet yeast liquor added for secondary in bottle, and no sweet dosage at disgorgement the bottles are simply topped off with the same wine and corked). Indeed, Originel is made without any additions or modern interventions of any kind. It is absolutely natural, a requirement enshrined by its makers and, as of 2007, by law for Pé... Read More »
Vines planted in primarily schist soils but with a bit of quartz and just a touch off sand as well. Quite an explosive wine. Full of ripe crunchy apple along with layer after layer of honeyed tea and roasted nuts. A definite candidate for the cellar. Or, even just having a glass a day over a week long span to see how this slow evolver will change. I put this into the Savennières powerhouse category. (Eric Story, Loire Buyer)
92 points Robert Parker's Wine Advocate: "The 2013 Old Vine Chenin Blanc comes from three vineyards between sandstone and granite soils, the former lending the weight and the latter, the freshness. It is raised 30% in oak and 70% in stainless steel for nine months. It has a tightly wound nose at first, with subtle quince and yellow flower, Mirabelle scents that take time to unfurl. The palate is well balanced with crisp acidity, rounded and voluminous on the entry and then curving in from both sides on the pretty, white peach and Mirin tinged finish. This is very classy. (NM)" (10/2014) 90 points Vinous: "(from vine ...Read More »
Robert Parker's Wine Advocate: "The 2013 Savennières Les Petites Gorgees ("pg de Damien“) is a full-bodied, aromatic, ripe and elegant Chenin Blanc that is rich and salty and nicely balanced, displaying attractive honey aromas as well as refreshing lime flavors in the delicate finish. It is a clear, fruity-mineral, well-balanced and accessible wine for early consumption, but it can also age for several years. (SR)" (10/2014) Stephen Tanzer's International Wine Cellar: "Bright yellow. Smoky aromas of hazelnut, linseed oil and crushed white pepper on the nose. Fresh, clean and tightly wound, with firm acid structure giving focus to t ...Read More »
93 points Robert Parker's Wine Advocate: "The 2013 Old Vine Series Skurfberg (100% Chenin Blanc) has a beautifully defined bouquet with scents of pressed yellow flowers and lanolin. The palate is very tense with deceiving weight in the mouth, almost distant at first but then those gorgeous honeycomb and citrus peel flavors crash upon the shore. Sublime. (NM)" (10/2014) 93 points Wine Spectator: "Richly layered, with Jonagold apple, white peach and mirabelle flavors, this is lined with verbena and chamomile notes and backed by a mineral-lined finish that sails on and on. Very pure and fine-tuned. Should be fun to watch this ...Read More »
Inventory: San Francisco
This "new California" Chenin Blanc was listed in the San Francisco Chronicle's "Top 100 Wines: The Best of the West Coast in 2014." Since-departed wine critic Jon Bonné explained this wine's appeal in this tasting note: "Winemaker Craig Haarmeyer preaches 'Sacramento terroir,' and this taps nearby Clarksburg’s best-known grape for a profound barrel-fermented Chenin. Austere on one side, almost like crushed oyster shells, but then revealing the grape’s full, funky apple-pulp side, with maitake mushroom and green olive accents, and a wonderful fullness to ... Read More »
Inventory: San Francisco
This Chenin Blanc from the Loire Valley comes from 50+ year old vines in a vineyard that follows organic and biodynamic farming principles.
Jancis Robinson: "Perdeberg and Kasteelberg. Spring herbs on the nose. Off-dry impression but with enough acidity. Good tang, this would be a fab house wine. (GV)" (9/2015) Robert Parker's Wine Advocate: "Only recently bottled, the 2015 Kloof Street Chenin Blanc comes from 40-year-old vines. Part of the fruit was matured in stainless steel, as it was done in 2014 for the first time. It has a perfumed pine cone and fennel-tinged bouquet that gently unfurls from the glass. The palate is well balanced, perhaps a little fatter than previous vintages with a fine line of acidity, direct pear, peach skin, and f ...Read More »
Vinous: "Vivid gold with an aggressive bead. A complex bouquet of ripe apple, pear and quince, with honey and beeswax nuances. Distinctly chenin blanc in character, offering dried orchard fruit and bitter lemon qualities and a strong mineral undertone. A touch of marzipan adds depth to the dry, stony, precise finish. This will be very flexible with rich fish or poultry dishes. (JR)" (5/2010) Wine Spectator: "Alluring, with ginger, quince and maple hints allied to a soft, brioche-filled palate. The friendly, open-knit finish has an off-dry hint. (JM, Web-2010)" K&L Notes: Produced from Chidaine... Read More »
Stephen Tanzer's International Wine Cellar: "Light gold with tiny bubbles. Subdued aromas of orange zest, lemon, dried pear and honeysuckle. Broad but energetic citrus and orchard fruit flavors are complemented by anise and honey, giving the wine an impression of richness as well as vivacity. The persistent finish repeats the honey and floral notes and clings nicely. This is weighty enough to handle richer fish dishes." (5/2010) K&L Notes: A petulant child might pout over dinner, refusing to eat and then throw a temper tantrum at bedtime, causing no end of anxiety, sleeplessness and stress to her parents. A Pét... Read More »
93 points Wine & Spirits: "Le Mont is often the most elegant of Huet's wines in its youth, and this 2005 is no exception. Succulent and refined, it takes time to open, slowly unfolding with vibrant apple, Asian pear and apricot flavors, strikingly balanced and pure." (4/2007) 92 points Wine Spectator: "Plump and juicy, with stone fruit, brown spice, humus, powdered ginger and acacia notes that run through the bright, well-defined finish, where the acidity kicks in. Drink now through 2018. 980 cases made." (3/2007) 90 points Robert Parker's Wine Advocate: "The 2005 Vouvray Demi-Sec Le Mont smells of pink grapefruit and orange blossom, quince and honeysu ...Read More »
Praise from Antonio Galloni for this vintage: "I was quite taken with the wines I tasted from Lieu Dit this year. Lieu Dit is a partnership between former sommelier Eric Railsback and winemaker Justin Willett that focuses on Loire-inspired wines." (08/2015) From old Chenin vines planted in the early eighties on very sandy soils in the Foxen Canyon district of the Santa Ynez Valley. The varied micro-climates and marine based soils of Santa Barbara County are ideally suited to this set of grapes. Lieu Dit centers on Sauvignon Blanc and more limited bottlin... Read More »
La Capitaine is a family-run winery that farms 27 hectares of the glorious Chenin Blanc grape. This sparkler made in the Champagne method shows a beautiful floral nose that leads to fine, elegant bubbles and a zippy finish. It's a festive wine for parties, but would also make a great accompaniment to a spicy Indian curry.
Importer notes: "The Breussin Estate in Vouvray has been family-owned and operated for five generations and covers 37 acres of Chenin Blanc. Yves and Denis Breussin tend to the vineyard with respect for the vines and the environment. Denis Breussin is a fifth-generation winemaker."
Chenin Blanc from vines planted in 1991 in limestone soil. Manual harvest, followed by slow pressing and fermentation with natural yeasts. Aging on the fine lees in concrete eggs.
Wine & Spirits: "This chenin’s broad flavors of quince paste have a fresh lanolin note. It’s bold and juicy, with sweetness cut by slightly starchy acidity, the wine’s youthful tension needing bottle age to mellow." (4/2016) Wine Spectator: "A forward style, with candied ginger, dried pear, quince and chamomile notes that are threaded together nicely. Lingering mineral edge through the finish. (JM, Web-2016)"
Jancis Robinson: "Light but distinctive nose, honey and lemon character. Gentle, soothing sort of character, and genuinely dry (even at 12%). Very subtle, and pretty short, but a great lunchtime option, with a lovely savoury finish. (RH)" (10/2013) Stephen Tanzer's International Wine Cellar: "Bright gold with a frothy mousse. Pear and white peach on the nose, with complicating floral and spice qualities and a hint of orange zest. At once fleshy and dry, offering tangy citrus and orchard fruit flavors and slow-building spiciness. The finish repeats the orange note and leaves a strong spicy quality behind. This impressi ...Read More »
A mineral intensive, rich, old vine Chenin Blanc with both concentration and elegance. We have been working with Ginny's beautiful Botanica wines for a few years now and the purity and depth of this Chenin continues to impress year after year. Ryan Woodhouse (K&L South African Wine Buyer)
Inventory: San Francisco
Robert Parker's Wine Advocate: "The 2014 Chenin Blanc is matured in used barrels for around ten months, undergoes a little SO2 and bottled. It comes from two vineyards. It has a phenolic bouquet, a little resinous with honeysuckle and jasmine, a touch of warm gravel. The palate is medium-bodied with a fine line of acidity, but this is more about texture than fruit with hints of ginger and lemongrass towards the finish. Drink over the next 5-8 years. (NM)" (11/2015) K&L Notes: Thinus Krüger, CEO / President / Winemaker / Grape crusher / Sole employee of FRAM, brings us these remarkable "wines of exp... Read More »
Maison Huet is a leading force in the Vouvray appellation. Founded in 1928, the estate now covers 35 hectares, which are divided up between three properties: Le Mont, Le Haut-Lieu and Le Clos du Bourg - all of which have been farmed in the biodynamic method since 1990. Stretching over 9 hectares, Le Haut-Lieu provides extremely deep limestone and brown clay soils. Due to the heavy soils the wines from this site tend to have a richer rounder character, with deep nuances of stone fruit and finish off with a mouthwatering, juicy finish.
Inventory: Redwood City
Montlouis is an appellation of 400 hectares located directly across the river from Vouvray. The soils of Vouvray and Montlouis are quite similar: sandy clay on a base of tuffeau. François Chidaine has worked alongside his father Yves for many years in two independent estates. Francois tends his vines the old-fashioned way but does not want any mention of organic viticulture on his bottles - even though he is certified organic. This demi-sec comes from Chenin Blanc vines ranging from 30-90 years old from across his entire Montlouis estate. Two or three bu... Read More »
Aged in amphora for seven months and then bottled. But, don't let that make you think that this is an "orange wine", it is not. Clos de l'Elu is an older property which was taken over in 2008 by Thomas Carsin and Gregoire du Bouexic. It is located in the small village of Saint Aubin de Luigne not too far from the city of Angers. Under the inspiration of growers such as Jo Pithon they have converted all of their holdings over to biodynamic farming and continue to acquire vineyards and convert as they grow. These wines are at the higher end of what the all... Read More »
Inventory: Redwood City
90 points Robert Parker's Wine Advocate: "The most recent release of Moulin Touchais (for more about whose unusual operation, see my report in issue 172) is a 1996 Coteaux du Layon that illustrates the striking combination of mineral and nobly sweet characteristics that were possible in this unusual vintage, though its notoriously high acidity is scarcely noticeable thanks to the balance lent by high sugar and the harmony conveyed by time in bottle. Alkaline and wet stone aromas here approach the effect of sticking one’s head down a moss- and algae-covered cistern, accompanied by scents of lily, ...Read More »
90 points Wine Enthusiast: "One of New Zealand’s pioneering biodynamic estates, Millton’s Chenin Blanc is perennially among the country’s best. The 2013 is a bit oily in texture and quite rich, with just a bit of residual sugar (7 g/L). Apricot and honey aromas and flavors linger extravagantly on the finish. (JC)" (3/2016) Jancis Robinson: "Hint of creamy barrel fermentation on the nose and already complex and layered - herbs, quince, spice. Smells rich and inviting, Great texture - dense but fine. I'm surprised how soft the acidity seems but maybe that is just the counterbalancing effect of the richn ...Read More »
89-91 points Vinous: "The 2014 Chenin Blanc, which emerges from 50 year-old vines, is rich, phenolic and intense to the core, with a real sense of apricot/peach pit character that dominates. Sweet floral and spice notes add nuance as the wine opens up, but the Chenin remains quite structured and intense, at least today. This is one of the most distinctive Chenin Blancs readers will come across. Proprietors Bill Wathen and Dick Doré are at the top of their game... These are some of the most expressive, singular wines being made in Santa Barbara County today. (AG)" (6/2015) 91 points Wine Enthusiast: "One o ...Read More »
92 points Robert Parker's Wine Advocate: "Pithon’s golden-colored 2011 Savennières Schistes has an extremely smoky aroma with fennel and other herbal flavors and concentrated fruit aromas of apricots. Powerful and full-bodied on the palate this is a profound, very mineral, juicy, always smoky Chenin with a piquant acidity and a persistent salty, very well structured finish. This is a thrillingly salty wine that should age at least for 2 or 3 years. The potential is very good. (Curiously it reminds me a bit of the wines of Matassa and Gauby from Calce/Roussillon where Jo’s brother Olivier runs th ...Read More »