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K&L Staff Recommendations
91-93 points Robert Parker's Wine Advocate: "The jaw-dropper in the lineup was the quality of the 2015 Haut Cotes de Roussillon Villages les Vignes de Bila Haut. While the entry level wine from this estate, the quality here is incredible, especially at the price point. Made from 50% Grenache, 40% Syrah and 10% Carignan from a mix of the estate’s terroirs, aged in concrete tanks and stainless steel, it offers a rich, concentrated and serious feel to go with fabulously pure notes of blackberries, black raspberries, crushed rock and melted licorice. Thick, unctuous and luxuriously textured, this will ...Read More »
One of our most popular rosés, this fresh and balanced wine comes from one of our favorite co-ops in the south of France. It's a blend of Syrah and Grenache grown in volcanic soils in the heart of the Languedoc. With aromas and flavors of ripe strawberries and raspberries, this crisp, medium-bodied rosé is an ideal complement to spring green salads, light cheeses, mac and cheese, mozzarella cheese salads, goat cheese, cheese and crackers with olives and salumi... or enjoy as an evening aperitif, cheese optional.
92 points Robert Parker's Wine Advocate: "A steal from Lafage is the 2014 Bastide Miraflors, which is a Cotes du Roussillon, and a blend of 70% Syrah and 30% Grenache, with the Grenache aged in concrete tanks and the Syrah in 500-liter demi-muids. Lafage makes more expensive wines than this, but certainly excels with his value lineup. He has really hit a home run with this 10,000-case cuvée. It is deep, ruby/plum/purple, with fresh notes of blackcurrants, plums, Provençal herbs as well as licorice. Deep, medium to full-bodied, with amazing fruit, the purity, authenticity and Mediterranean upbrin ...Read More »
92 points Robert Parker's Wine Advocate: "A crazy value, the 2014 IGP Cotes Catalanes Tessellae Carignan Vieilles Vignes is one of the best examples of this variety from the Roussillon, and the fact that it sells for a song is just icing on the cake for the consumer. Coming all from schist soils and 70-year-old vines, raised 12 months in a mix of concrete tanks and demi-muids, it offers tons of black raspberry and black cherry fruit, licorice and dried spices to go with a super sexy, heady, seamless style on the palate that keeps you coming back to the glass. Drink this blockbuster over the comi ...Read More »
91-93 points Robert Parker's Wine Advocate: "What looks like another great vintage here, the 2015 AOP Languedoc les Darons is made from 75% Grenache, 20% Syrah and 5% Carignan; grapes were completely destemmed, and fermented and aged all in concrete tanks. It sees absolutely no oak whatsoever. This medium to full-bodied, plump, rounded, downright sexy 2015 has lots of blueberry, violets, and jammy black cherry aromas and flavors; it has terrific purity of fruit, good acidity and an overriding sense of elegance. If it came from a more prestigious appellation in the southern Rhone, it would go for th ...Read More »
90-93 points Robert Parker's Wine Advocate: "A blend of 50% Syrah, 30% Mourvedre and 20% Carignan that was aged in 50% new demi-muids, the 2014 Kerbuccio Maury Sec has an inky color to go with lots of upfront black raspberry, cassis, licorice, wilder herbs and violet-like aromas and flavors. Coming all from the black schist soils of the newly created Maury Sec AOC, this full-bodied, sexy, supple and yet still fresh and lively 2014 will drink nicely on release and have 4-5 years or evolution. I don’t think it has the depth of the 2013, but it’s not far off. (JD) Jean-Marc Lafage’s Maury-based estat ...Read More »
Just to the north of Corbieres and to the east of the walled city of Carcassonne, lies Minervois. The appellation has equally diverse soils like Corbieres but limestone and clay are its primary ones. This is a warm region with a very Mediterranean climate. The hills are covered with the local scrub, known as garrigue, forests and vineyards. Our newest producer from the region is Domaine Tour Boisée. The domaine dates back to 1826 and is still run by its descendants. Now farming about 200 hectares of vines, the winery was recently certified organic. This... Read More »
This delightful salmon-pink wine is produced using the traditional saignée process. After macerating on the skins for approximately 10 hours, the juice is then pumped off and fermented in temperature-controlled, stainless steel tanks. Aromatics of strawberries and crushed red fruit leap from the glass. In the mouth, it is fresh with excellent acidity, some mineral components and good length. Very food friendly, it is a great companion to just about anything you want to throw at it.
Inventory: Redwood City
I met winemaker Sophie Guiraudon a few years ago at the organic wine fair Millésime Bio. It's an annual event where organic winemakers from all over the world gather to show their wines. I tasted with her and was immediately impressed with the quality of the wines. So much so, I made an arrangements to visit her winery right after the fair ended. Sophie is a true one-woman show, farming 25 acres of vines while running her humble facility in the region of Corbieres. The vines for the "Lolo" cuvee are planted on silty-clay limestone soils which lend freshn... Read More »
93 points Robert Parker's Wine Advocate: "From one of the warmest sites in France, the 2014 Cotes du Roussillon Villages Lieu Dit La Narassa comes from 70-year-old vines planted in the black schist soils of Maury. Despite the rugged, hot terroir from where this beauty comes, the wine is pure silk and elegant, with lots of black raspberry, chocolate covered currants, pepper and olive notes giving way to a full-bodied 2014; it has polished tannin and a seamless texture. (JD)" (4/2016) K&L Notes: Proprietors Jean-Marc and Eliane Lafage have become synonymous with quality and value from the Roussillon. They con... Read More »
An organically farmed, naturally made Grenache-Cabernet blend from Aubais, a small medieval village south of Nîmes. Winemaker Mark Haynes may be many things: entrepreneur, winemaker, tango dancer; but there is one thing that he is not--conventional. Mark is a spirited man who came to winemaking late in life when he realized that so many producers in the Gard region were turning their backs on winemaking and farming. The region is in the south of France about 30 minutes from Nîmes. It was his summer home in his childhood and he always had a fondness for i... Read More »
90 points Robert Parker's Wine Advocate: "Checking in as a blend of 50% Grenache Blanc, 30% Chardonnay and 20% Roussanne that spent four months in tank, on lees, the smoking good 2015 IGP Cotes Catalanes Cote d’Est comes from vineyards located right up against the Mediterranean Sea. This medium-bodied, juicy and deliciously fresh white is almost overflowing with notes of orange blossom, peach, salty sea breeze and honey on the nose. It’s a terrific value that should be bought by the case... I’ve raved time and time again about the quality - and value - coming from Domaine Lafage’s Jean-Marc La ...Read More »
Jancis Robinson: "*Very Good Value* From Limoux, but without Chenin Blanc in the blend it can't be called Crémant de Limoux. Full bodied, showing some lovely development with a neat bead. Mouthfilling citrus tang, and very satisfying. Would put many champagnes to shame, quite frankly. (TC)" (7/2014) K&L Notes: Outstanding sparkling wine from the Languedoc? Absolutely and resoundingly, yes! There may be those who would scoff at the price of this wine, and claim that a sparkling wine set so low could never be worth any serious consideration. Well, we're happy to confidently report a cou... Read More »
Praise for the producer from Jeb Dunnuck: "I continue to be blown away by the quality coming from Domaine de la Bila Haut, which is run with the Chapoutier team. They’ve continued to grow these Roussillon releases, and even at the entry-level price point, the quality is stunning... In short, these are fabulous wines that show classic characters (most are aged all in concrete) and represent incredible values. Don’t miss them."
Outstanding sparkling wine from the Languedoc? Absolutely and resoundingly, YES! There will be those of you who scoff at the price of this wine, and claim that a sparkling wine set so low will never be worth any serious consideration. Well, those of you would be WRONG. One of the rising stars of the Languedoc, Jean Louis Denois makes exciting, world class wines that nonetheless remain amazingly inexpensive, owing to his location more than anything else. His vineyards sit in the very southwestern corner of France, at the foot of the Pyrenees, and he produ... Read More »
93 points Robert Parker's Wine Advocate: "More ripe and decadent than the 2013, the 2012 Costières de Nîmes Lou Coucardie (49% Mourvèdre, 35% Grenache and the balance Syrah) is a big, mouth-filling effort that gives up loads of chewy black raspberry, black currants, smoked earth and pepper. Full-bodied, concentrated and dense, yet still showing elegance and purity, it has some rustic tannin that needs a year or two to integrate and will be at its best from 2016-2024. (JD)" (1/2015) 92 points Vinous: "Deep ruby. Black raspberry, vanilla, black pepper and candied flowers on the highly fragrant nose. Offers palate-stai ...Read More »
Robert Parker's Wine Advocate: "The 2014 Languedoc-La Clape la Cote is a medium-bodied, juicy effort that gives up lots of darker fruits, damp underbrush, violets and pepper in a pretty, nicely balanced style. Made from 30% each of Carignan, Syrah and Grenache, with 10% Mourvèdre that was aged in equal parts tank and concrete, it has plenty of fruit, good freshness and a lovable, easy-drinking character. Drink it over the coming 4-5 years. (JD)" (4/2016) K&L Notes: Negly's La Cote is a "CGSM," or 30% Carignane, carbonically macerated, with Grenache, Syrah and Mourvedre. Aged in 50% oak and 50% conc... Read More »
Domaine Begude is a small, family-owned property located high in the foothills of the Pyrenees in the Limoux region of the Languedoc. The long, cool growing season lends itself perfectly to the production of crisp and delicate wines, all organically certified by Ecocert. This is a zippy and bright Chardonnay, with citrus, apple and pear notes underlined by a refreshing minerality.
Wine & Spirits: "This sparkler's zingy lemon-lime flavors evolve into fuller pineapple and citrus notes, a yeasty character adding breadth and weight. The full flavors and light, cardamom-like spice suit it to the dinner table, with rich fish or roasted chicken." (6/2010) K&L Notes: You should always have a handful of bottles of this sparkler on hand for impromptu parties (because a sudden Tuesday night fete with your pals is, of course, better with bubbly). This wallet-friendly "Blanc de Blancs" drinks like an expensive French Champagne, with a rich yeasty nose and body to match. It... Read More »
The Grande Cuvée from Antech is a blend of 50% Chardonnay, 40% Chenin Blanc and 10% Mauzac. In 2010, the winemakers liked the vintage so much they set aside a portion of the wine for for extended sur latte aging. This was disgorged after six years of aging.
Robert Parker's Wine Advocate: "The 2013 Languedoc Equilibre is a blend of Syrah, Carignan and Grenache that offers a fresh, lively and medium-bodied profile to go with impressive berry fruit, licorice and floral characteristics. Aged mostly in foudre, yet with a tiny percentage in 1 and 2-year-old barrels, it has juicy acidity, good overall balance and a hard to resist profile. (JD)" (4/2015) Wine Spectator: "This supple, full-bodied red layers dried plum, kirsch and milk chocolate notes accented with tobacco leaf and herbal flavors. Smooth tannins surround the sweet spice and floral finish. (GS, Web-20 ...Read More »
Domaine Begude is a small, family-owned property located high in the foothills of the Pyrenees in the Limoux region of the Languedoc. The long, cool growing season lends itself perfectly to the production of crisp and delicate wines, all organically certified by Ecocert & NOP. The "Exotique" is 100% Grüner Veltliner, a grape not authorized for cultivation in France. James Kinglake, owner of Begude, wanted to experiment so he sought out cuttings from his friend Markus Huber of Huber winery located in the Traisental region of Austria. The experiment succee... Read More »
We met Marie Chauffray at the Vinifilles tasting in January of 2015 in Montpellier. The Vinifilles (which means "wine girls") is an association of women producers who own and operate their own estates. From growing to winemaking to marketing, they are involved in every aspect of their wineries' successes. I was invited by our friend Francoise Antech-Gazeau (our sparkling wine producer from the Limoux) to visit and taste her wines and meet some of her other grower-producer friends. Chauffray's was one of the most impressive wines we tasted at the event, a... Read More »
Jancis Robinson: "*Good Value* Apple nose. Refreshing but not much depth. Very clean. Not a bad value...Super clean and long." (9/2011) K&L Notes: Antech's Brut Nature is produced with no added dosage, which translates to a super clean and crisp glass of bubbles. It is composed of 90% Mauzac, 5% Chenin Blanc and 5% Chardonnay. All harvesting is done by hand. Fermentation takes place in stainless steel, and the wine undergoes a 12 month elevage on the lees a la methode traditionelle for 12 months before being disgorged. The Brut Nature is the perfect way to start off the evening's fest... Read More »
Inventory: San Francisco
90 points Wine Spectator: "*No. 55 Wine Spectator's Top 100 of 2016* Full-bodied and powerful, with decadent layers of raspberry compote, kirsch and red plum notes that are met with savory details of herb and cured meat. Offers a tangy, hot stone-accented finish. Drink now through 2025. (GS)" (11/2016) K&L Notes: Though growing up in a wine producing family, Gerard Bertrand's path to top winemaker is a little more circumspect. At the age of 19 he became a top rugby player in the French leagues and had where he had a distinguished career for 17 years even serving as captain of Stade Francais.... Read More »
90-92 points Robert Parker's Wine Advocate: "The 2015 Cotes du Roussillon Centenaire is a racy, medium-bodied blend of mostly Grenache Blanc (and Gris), with 20% Roussanne. Crushed rocks, mint, lime and citrus blossom are some of the nuances here, and it hits the palate with medium-bodied richness, beautiful purity of fruit and a clean, dry finish. It’s certainly an outstanding white to enjoy over the coming 2-3 years. I’ve raved time and time again about the quality - and value - coming from Domaine Lafage’s Jean-Marc Lafage. A large estate that pulls from vines in the Agly Valley, the Aspres r ...Read More »
Jancis Robinson: "Organically grown in the hills of Limoux. Very delicate - a light touch - but definitely fully ripe from a rewarding year. It needs a bit more time to develop seductive perfume but I am confident it will grow into something really very charming. Excellent texture and balance. Nothing in excess. GV for lovers of red burgundy." (5/2016)
94 points Robert Parker's Wine Advocate: "A tour de force in wine that should be snatched up by readers, the 2015 Languedoc-La Clape la Falaise (55% Syrah, 25% Grenache and 20% Mourvèdre) sports a deep, inky color to go with a killer bouquet of ripe black currants, licorice, salty seawater and peppered meats. Big, rich, full-bodied and downright decade, it needs to be tasted to be believed. I haven't had any aged examples of this cuvee as a reference point, but I'm sure it will keep beautifully for at least 6-7 years." (4/2017) K&L Notes: Chateau de la Negly represents the pinnacle of production in the La Cl... Read More »
Does Jean-Louis Denois ever fail to impress us? So far, this talented winemaker has an exceptional track record with K&L customers and staff alike. Denois' latest offering is this nifty little red that seriously over-delivers in the price-quality ratio department. The 2014 "Les Garrigues" is composed of Syrah, Grenache, Merlot, Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon. It exhibits a gorgeous pomegranate color, with fresh aromas of small red berry fruit and delicate hints of spice box. Subtle notes of tobacco leaf and licorice provide extra dimension that be... Read More »
An organically farmed, naturally made Chardonnay-Viognier blend from Aubais, a small medieval village south of Nîmes. The aromatic and supple Albion won the Gold medal from the Gilbert & Gaillard Wine Guide in 2011 and stands as winemaker Mark Haynes's signature white. Mark is a spirited man who came to winemaking late in life when he realized that so many producers in the Gard region were turning their backs on winemaking and farming. The region is in the south of France about 30 minutes from Nimes. It was his summer home in his childhood and he always ... Read More »
Winemaker Mark Haynes may be many things: entrepreneur, winemaker, tango dancer; but there is one thing that he is not—conventional. I first met Mark in New York at a trade fair and we immediately hit it off. I loved his wines, so this meeting led to a visit to his winery on my April buying trip. Mark is a spirited man who came to winemaking late in life when he realized that so many producers in the Gard region were turning their backs on winemaking and farming. The region is in the south of France about 30 minutes from Nimes. It was his summer home in... Read More »
Sophie Guiraudon is a one woman show, farming 25 acres of vines while running her humble facility in Corbieres. Sophie calls this her "Sunday" wine or "Occasion" wine (Dimanches means Sunday in French) as it is her best parcel selection and oldest vine fruit. The vines for the "Dimanches" are planted on gravelly clay-limestone soils. The cepage is 60% Carignan (80 year old vines), 30% Syrah and 10% Grenache. The deepest and richest of Sophie's wines, this is bold Corbieres with loads of black fruit and minerality. Approachable now but perfect for a few y... Read More »
Just to the north of Cobieres and to the east of the walled city of Carcassonne, lies Minervois. The appellation has equally diverse soils like Corbieres but limestone and clay are its primary ones. This is a warm region with a very Mediterranean climate. The hills are covered with the local scrub, known as garrigue, forests and vineyards. Our newest producer from the region is Domaine Tour Boisée. The domaine dates back to 1826 and is still run by its descendants. Now farming about 200 hectares of vines, the winery was recently certified organic. The v... Read More »
Domaine Begude is a small, family-owned property located high in the foothills of the Pyrenees in the Limoux region of the Languedoc. Proprietor James Kinglake believes that Viognier has incredible potential in the region. The natural climatic influence of the Pyrenees to the south, the Atlantic to the west and the Mediterranean to the east provides a haven for grape varieties that excel in a cooler climate. The Viognier vineyards are at approximately 240 meters and are planted on a mix of clay-limestone soils. Though they are not going for Condrieu, ... Read More »
Situated in to the east of the walled city of Carcassonne and in the shadow of the Montagne Noire (Black Mountains) lies Minervois. The village of Laure-Minervois is home to the winery Chateau Saint Jacques d'Albas a 90 hectare estate in the hills above the village. Some 26 hectares of the estate are planted to vines with the rest composed of forests and creeks acting as a natural barrier to their neighbors. At the winery, a small team led by owner Graham Nutter, craft superb reds, whites and rosés, all of which are farmed organically. The "Le Chateau... Read More »
An organically farmed, naturally made old-vine Carignane from Aubais, a small medieval village south of Nîmes, and unconventional winemaker Mark Haynes. Mark is a spirited man who came to winemaking late in life when he realized that so many producers in the Gard region were turning their backs on winemaking and farming. Half of the grapes for this wine undergo carbonic maceration to preserve freshness in the fruit and the other half are fermented traditionally. The result, as the winery puts it, is an "engaging nose of red fruit flesh with a delicate, ... Read More »
Jancis Robinson: "Aromas of guavas and tarte-tatin. Soft, feathery mousse. Honeyed, baked pears, delicately floral. Very creamy, like thick Greek yoghurt and honey. Lime and elderflower piquancy to balance the sweetness. A wonderful wine to have with apple pie or fruit salad and cream. (TC)" (7/2009)
A small estate of only 10 hectares owned by Pascale Riviere, who has converted the vinification to entirely organic practices. The La Pimpanela is a blend of Grenache, Syrah (from 30 year old vines), Carignan (from 50 year old vines), and Cinsault (from 100 year old vines). The wine is martured entirely in vats.
A field blend of mostly Carignan, with Grenache, Syrah, Grenache Gris, Macabou and Terret, the wine is vinified with no sulfur during fermentation, and enjoys a low-impact elevage in used Burgundy barrels from a producer in Chassagne-Montrachet. Importer Kermit Lynch says of the vintner: "Maxime is part of the new wave of passionate viticulteurs who cultivate their vines with the utmost respect for nature and the soil. He’s certified organic, but also incorporates biodynamic practices into his vineyard management." The producer has caught the attention ... Read More »
David Schildknecht gives an interesting perspective on this Languedoc producer: "Jean-Louis Denois is a troublemaker – for example, he battled the French authorities for the right to plant Riesling in the Languedoc – and we all know that a lot of good (though in his case no right to Riesling) can come from troublemakers."
This intense, ruby-colored wine is from the extreme south of France, where the Pyrenees meet the Mediterranean and the vines grown on steep, schistous terraces. Rimage is a Catalan word which means vintage. Therefore a Rimage Banyuls is a fortified wine in which all grapes come from a certain vintage, much like a Colheita or vintage Port. Made from Grenache Noir, the wine's bouquet is full of ripe, red fruits with hints of vanilla spice. On the palate, flavors of chocolate and cherry dominate and the finish is long and elegant. Sometimes referred to as ... Read More »
Rivesaltes is a small appellation in southern France's Languedoc-Roussillon region known in particular for its stunning fortified wines. This particular wine, which had been resting in large casks, undisturbed, until its recent bottling in 2011, is an exquisite example of the style. Amber-hued, with mellow roasted coffee aromas and flavors, a touch of sprightly orange zest and a nutty almond finish, this would be delicious served with hard cheeses, fruit desserts or paired simply with good after-dinner conversation. Buy for yourself or as a very special ... Read More »
Vigneron Marc Barriot has been producing wines in Roussillon since 2004. He sought out ancient vines and uses traditional practices to deliver some truly distinctive wines. Marc uses biodynamic methods, even plowing by horse, and uses minimal sulfur in his winemaking.
This is a "maderised" orange wine made from 100% old vines of Maccabéo with lots of garrigue essence. It's aged 10 years in double barrels (demi muid), without any addition of wine, which leads to strong oxidation. Bottled in October 2014, this beauty is ready to drink from 2015. Hunker down kids, this wine is going to rock your world.
The Reserve d'O Blanc is a small one acre parcel on the domaine that is co-planted with Chenin Blanc, Roussanne and Grenache Blanc. The Chenin is not legally allowed in the Terrasses du Larzac appellation, so it is declassifed to the IGP Saint Guilhem le Desert. Another interesting thing about this parcel: it is co-harvested in one pass, pressed together and co-fermented. Elevage is in stainless steel tanks to preserve freshness in the wine. Wildly unique and super cool wine. (Keith Mabry, K&L French Regional Buyer)
David Schildknecht muses over the "Old Collection" from Cazes: "Lavail also showed me an impressive supplemental range of old fortified wines during a tour in the U.S., as Cazes is now making available many of their old reserves (under the rubric “Collection Cazes”), those I have reviewed on this occasion having been bottled in 2012 or early 2013. The perpetuation of this entire genre is endangered because although there are a lot of old stocks salted-away in its region of origin, the number of estates still active in vinifying their ilk keeps dwindling ... Read More »