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When it comes to wine, France stands alone. No other country can beat it in terms of quality and diversity. And while many of its regions, Bordeaux, Burgundy and Champagne most obviously, produce wine as rare, as sought-after and occasionally as expensive as gold, there are just as many obscurities and values to be had from little known appellations throughout the country. To learn everything there is to know about French wine would take a 100 lives. To understand and appreciate French wine, you only need to begin tasting them. Check out some of the top picks that our buyers have tracked down - several of these wines are imported directly from France.
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K&L Staff Recommendations
1990 Montrose, St-Estèphe $569.99
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 »
95 points Decanter: "Enjoys a deep nose with white pepper, graphite notes and bright red fruits. The palate is powerful and intense with black cherry and dark, muscular berry fruit, crisp acid and some neat, grippy, slightly salted tannins. The finish is long with berries and spice." (6/2016) Jancis Robinson: "Tank/cask sample. 65% Grenache, 20% Syrah, 10% Mourvèdre, 5% Carignan and other varieties. Four months in foudres and stainless steel. Rich and complete. Nice peppery note. An interesting wine." (10/2014) Robert Parker's Wine Advocate: "The 2013 Cotes du Rhone is mostly Grenache and Syrah, and has a classic southern Rhone ...Read More »
96-97 points James Suckling: "This shows fabulous depth of fruit and ripe tannins that last for minutes. Full body. Insane finish. Powerful. Greatest ever from here." (3/2016) 95-97 points Vinous: "The 2015 Malartic Lagravière is a total rock star. Deep, powerful and exotic, the 2015 sweeps across the palate with stunning richness and intensity. The creamy voluptuousness of the vintage is on full display. The blend of 53% Cabernet Sauvignon, 35% Merlot, 7% Petit Verdot and 5% Cabernet Franc works beautifully here. Rich, unctuous and also super-expressive, the 2015 is bursting at the seams with intensity. Da ...Read More »
Inventory: Main Warehouse
The Verquiere estate has been passed down from father to son for many generations and is now managed by brothers Romain and Thibaut Chamfort. Following age-old traditions and sustainable practices, the estate was recently certified organic. The Cotes du Rhone is a blend of 80% Grenache and 20% Syrah, grown on chalky clay soils with loads of large pebbles in the vineyards. Verquiere recently returned to us after a long hiatus and we are pleased to have them back.
Inventory: San Francisco
According to the importer: "This new Loire Valley project is a partnership with Rodolphe and Ludivine Marteau, who took over their family’s estate in 2010 (they are the 4th generation) The 29 hectare property is located on South bank of the river Cher, on siliceous-argilo (clay and flint) soils. Of the 29 hectares of estate vineyards owned by the Marteau family, 20 are planted to Sauvignon Blanc. These vines average 30 years in age and are meticulously tended by the family. Short-cane pruning, selective ploughing, spring debudding, deleafing, grass cover... Read More »
Château Bois-Malot is located in Saint Loubes and situated on the shoreline of the Dordogne River. The soils are clay and light limestone with a subsoil of red pebbles and clay. The blend is 50% Cabernet Sauvignon, 30% Merlot, and 20% Cabernet Franc. It is aged for eighteen months in large vats and then an additional six months in oak. Won Best Of Class, Gold Medal, in the Los Angeles Wine & Spirits Competition, 2013.
A blend of 80 percent Grenache and 20 percent Carignane from a family-run winery in Châteauneuf-du-Pape.
Francois and Jean-Marie Cherrier with father Pierre produce steely and citrus-driven Sancerre from fine parcels of Sauvignon Blanc planted in Sancerre's silex (flint) and chalky soils. Yields are kept low and harvest is done strictly by hand before fermenting in 100% stainless steel. Vibrantly aromatic and mineral-driven, this is quintessential Sancerre.
92 points Wine Enthusiast: "Peyrabon is owned by a branch of the Bernard family that also owns Domaine de Chevalier. This powerful, complex wine shows its pedigree. Dark tannins and ripe black fruits are all evidence of its aging potential. Drink from 2018." (5/2015) Wine Spectator: "Light loam and charcoal shadings line a core of plum skin and macerated blackberry fruit. A loamy edge lends a slightly chewy twinge to the finish. This has put on a bit of weight since the barrel tasting. (JM, Web-2015)"
Vinous: "Pale orange. Aromas of tangerine, strawberry and white peach are energized by a hint of white pepper. Clean and racy on the palate, offering fresh red berry and pit fruit flavors and a subtle hint of succulent herbs. Closes taut and nervy, showing good focus and length and lingering spiciness. (JR)" (6/2016) Wine Enthusiast: "This is an immediately attractive, fresh wine with red-currant and clementine-zest flavors. With its light, dancing character, it jumps out of the glass, full of fruit and with a delicious refreshing aftertaste. (RV)" (7/2016) K&L Notes: Domaine de la Colombe is b... Read More »
This Chardonnay is produced by the three brothers Couillaud at the Château de la Ragotière, a few minutes from the Atlantic near the mouth of the Loire River, where the maritime climate is ideal for producing whites that are refreshing and bright. The Couillauds age most of this wine on its lees until bottling to add weight and texture with around 10% being barrel-fermented in French oak for the faintest touch of toastiness. Saveur magazine wrote about a previous vintage: "This value-priced Chardonnay tastes crisp and bright. It comes from the western Lo... Read More »
90 points Robert Parker's Wine Advocate: "A custom cuvee created by importer Eric Solomon, the 2015 IGP Cotes Catalanes Novellum is a smokin’ value that’s made from 100% Chardonnay that spent three months in tank (on Viognier lees) followed by three months in barrel. Tasting like it cost three times the price, it offers lots of orchard fruits, white peach, honeysuckle and a hint of vanilla to go with a medium to full-bodied, crisp, yet still textured and mouth-filling style on the palate. You can’t go wrong at the price and this is a terrific wine to enjoy over the coming year or two. (JD) ...Read More »
Michel & Nathalie Delhommeau farm 28 hectares of vines planted on almost pure rock in this region. Dominating the estate is gabbro which is essentially rock formed from molten lava. Many of the vines are quite old, producing low yields and very complex bottlings. Michel vinifies only by soil type, separates tanks out by vine age, and keeps volumes quite low. Aside from producing great wine, this young couple represents the opposite of the jaded and often pretentious winemaker set one can easily find. Humble and quiet, they are turning out impressively co... Read More »
Wine & Spirits: "Gentle strawberry fruit fills this soft rosé, its zesty finish keeping it clean. A fine aperitif." (4/2014) Wine Enthusiast: "Full, ripe wine, layered with fruits and a dry, more mineral core. The wine has good depth of flavor, strawberries, red currants and a citrus cut that keeps the wine fresh at the end. (RV)" (11/2013) K&L Notes: This delightful sparkling rosé wine comes from Burgundy. It is made of 80% Pinot Noir and 20% Gamay Noir. The charming eye of the swan color comes from the addition of Pinot Noir to the wine when the lees are disgorged, following the traditional fermentati... Read More »
96 points Decanter: "A sophisticated array of aromas and flavours; acacia, lemongrass and lemon curd with hints of smoke and minerality. Complex on the palate with lip-smacking acidity, creaminess and juicy fruit. An elegant length is topped off with a fine grained flinty finish. Charming and harmonious." (7/2016) Wine Enthusiast: "Soft and fruity, this is a lemon-scented wine that has an attractive tang of minerality. The texture is laced with acidity, with a nervous energy. It's fresh and ready to drink. (RV)" (10/2015) K&L Notes: This is a special commemorative label to memorialize the 200th anniversary ... Read More »
Château Malescasse is an historic property ideally situated on gravel soils close to the Gironde River just north of Margaux. While it is true that 2007 will never have the power or authority of the finest vintages of the decade, the best wines display a remarkable ripeness and an admirable richness of texture. These are medium to full-bodied reds with soft tannins that will make great near to medium-term drinking. They are priced appropriately and many, like this 2007 Malescasse, offer exceptional value.
Robert Parker's Wine Advocate: "Praise for the producer from Wine Advocate: "One of my favorite Crozes Hermitage estates is the Domaine des Rémizières, which is run today by the Desmeures family, with Philippe Desmeures joined in 2005 by his daughter Emilie and in 2009 by his son Christophe. The estate is located near the town of Mercurol and they make a bevy a terrific Crozes Hermitage, a solid Saint Joseph and two sensational Hermitage (a red and a white). The winemaking is relatively modern and they destem all of their grapes and utilize plenty of new oak; nevertheless, the wines ha ...Read More »
93 points Robert Parker's Wine Advocate: "One of the top Vacqueyras out there, the 2012 Vacqueyras G is an even split of Grenache and Syrah that’s aged 12 months in barrel. Tasting more like a Chateauneuf du Pape than a Vacqueyras, it boasts stunning notes of black raspberry, kirsch, licorice, roasted meats and spice-box, all of which have sticking purity, freshness and detail. Full-bodied, voluptuous and also concentrated, this is one sexy 2012 to drink over the coming 7-8 years, if not longer. (JD)" (1/2015)
This is a charming Chardonnay from a small grower in the Mâcon. Lionel Rhedon-Marin is a recent graduate of the College of Viticulture in the nearby village of Davaye, where Guffens trained. All of their young-vine fruit is sold in bulk to one of the better negociants, who is pleased to have it, since Lionel is such a careful grower. But their old-vine fruit, all over 45 years of age, is kept for the Domaine's wine, which is tantalizing and elegant.
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.
94 points Robert Parker's Wine Advocate: "Bottled 3 weeks prior to my visit, the 2015 Côte de Brouilly was very closed on the nose though you can tell that it is packed to the rafters with fruit. The palate is medium-bodied with intense red and black fruit, superb mineralité and harmony, gradually building in the mouth with a compelling, tensile finish. What a fantastic Beaujolais in the making - about as good as it gets to be quite honest. If I taste a better QPR wine this year...no, just impossible. The good thing about visiting Château Thivin with only a sketchy idea of its location is that ...Read More »
Jancis Robinson: "Beautiful fresh, clean, creamy nose. Neat citrus lift, floral, appley. Good buttery biscuit and brioche character. A fabulous example of Crémant de Limoux. (TC)" (7/2009) K&L Notes: From La Maison Antech, located in the Southern France region of the Languedoc, comes this beautiful example of Cremant de Limoux. Named after the grande dame of the estate, Eugenie Limouzy, this Cremant is composed of 50% Chardonnay, 40% Chenin Blanc and 10% Mauzac. It is produced along the lines of methode champenoise and spends 12 months on the lees before being disgorged. This balanced... Read More »
90 points James Suckling: "Soft and pretty now with currants, mineral and stone character. Medium to full body, rough tannins." (10/2015) K&L Notes: This second wine of Château Cantemerle is primarily sourced from younger vine parcels from the esteemed estate. The wine has a similar profile to the Grand Vin, but is ready to drink within several years of harvest. That's now! A quick decant reveals generous fruit and and good terroir that is always welcome for under $20. The blend is 61% Cabernet Sauvignon, 29% Merlot,and 10% Cabernet Franc. Even as a second wine, grapes were individually hand s... Read More »
93 points Robert Parker's Wine Advocate: "The best Pauillac I ever tasted (and this wine has been a revelation ever since they first introduced it), the 2010 from Latour represents 24% of their production. It is a blend of 55% Cabernet Sauvignon, 44.5% Merlot and .5% Cabernet Franc. An amazingly opulent, round, delicious wine, and a great buy when they finally release it – assuming it comes in under a three-digit price – it possesses wonderfully silky tannins, classic black currant, cedar wood and forest floor notes, and rich, full-bodied opulence as well as a terrific purity and palate presence ...Read More »
Inventory: Special Order
Wine Spectator: "Soft, delivering ginger, brioche and pear notes, with a friendly, open finish. Drink now. (Web Only-2013) (JM)" K&L Notes: A pale yellow wine with tiny bubbles, this Cremant de Loire Brut is rounded and delicate with a fine, nervy, complex nose and the freshness of Chenin Blanc, floral Chardonnay and fruity Cabernet Franc from 20- to 30-year-old vines. With its lively attack, it evolves gracefully across the palate with nice aromatic persistence in the mouth and lingering notes of fresh peaches and pear. A great opener to a memorable night! 12.5% abv. (Eric Story, Lo... Read More »
Wine Spectator: "Very fresh, with a racy edge to the blood orange, white cherry and savory notes. Drink now. (JM, Web-2016)"
The appellation of Picpoul de Pinet covers about 3000 acres just off the coast of the Mediterranean. It is famous for two things, oysters and this wine of origin Picpoul. Picpoul itself is the grape and means "lip stinger," which has become a running joke in our Hollywood store. Whenever we taste a new Picpoul we ask each other if it "pics your poul?" We want to know if it has the vibrancy and minerality that are the hallmarks of the region. That brings us to the Montmassot, which is produced at the local cooperative in the village of Florensac. It is so... Read More »
Domaine Renaud is a small operation, making Mâcon, Pouilly-Fuissé and St. Veran from 12 hectares of estate vineyards. Their cellar is modern, and they use upright ovals for many of the wines, and stainless for others. This value is a great alternative to California Chardonnay and an entry into white Burgundy.
Domaine de Biéville was established by Jean-Jacques Moreau in the village of Viviers in the 1970s. The contiguous, 65-hectare vineyard was selected for its textbook truffières soil terroir and south/southwest exposure which resembles the premier cru classified vineyards of Chablis. Now with 45+ year old vines, Domaine de Biéville produces a textured and classically styled Chablis which shows its old vine pedigree on a complex and mineral-driven finish.
93 points Wine & Spirits: "*Wine & Spirits 100 Best Buys of the Year* - In 2007, wine importer Dan Kravitz purchased this 13.5-acre domaine, with Grenache vines dating back 60 years. Today he farms 18 acres, and works with the local cooperative to vinify his wines: Serge Soulatge takes care of the vines, and Nicolas Burger makes the wines. This 2014 blends 60 percent old-vine Grenache with new- and old-vine Carignan and Syrah. It has a lovely transparency to its flavors, the richness of the plummy fruit balanced by fine, ferrous tannins and soft, dark earth. Entirely pretension-fr ...Read More »
Côtes de Gascogne is primarily known for the production of Armagnac; it wasn’t until the last 20 years or so that producers began to take table wine production seriously. Traditionally, these wines would have been distilled into Armagnac. Producers found that by fermenting at lower temperatures in stainless steel, they could develop and preserve more powerful aromatics. Though yields are high, costs have stayed low and the wines are consequently some of the best bargain whites in France. Domaine de Millet is first and foremost an Armagnac producer. They ... Read More »
Made from 20-year-old Pinot Noir planted in chalk and clay soils, vinified entirely in stainless steel, this is a super fresh and fun style of Pinot. It has everything you want in a Pinot--a touch of spice, pretty red and blue fruits, light tannin and a fresh, juicy finish.
Marie and Frederic Chauffray began their career in wine when they took over Fred parent's wine shop in a suburb outside of Paris. They ran the business successfully for many years but Marie always wanted to pursue winemaking. After 8 years of searching they found the perfect terroir in a small vineyard in the hills above the city of Montpellier. Since 2005, they have made wine their way, with respect for nature and following organic and biodynamic principles. The Bilbo represents their everyday wine. It is composed of 60% Grenache, 20% Syrah and 20% Ci... Read More »
In 2003, Yves Girardin, a 10th generation grower in Santenay (and brother of Vincent Girardin) acquired this property and built a new winemaking facility. More recently, after completing technical training, Yves's son Benoit has joined him, representing the 11th consecutive generation of the family to grow wine in Santenay. Working in their new cellars, they have really improved quality a tremendous amount in the last few years, and we are excited to import their wines directly. This is from 50 year old vines, and has both more focus and more weight than... Read More »
93 points Wine Spectator: "Ripe quince, honey, lemon zest and brioche notes are layered with a chalky undertow in this well-structured Champagne. Vibrant, with juicy acidity. The creamy bead carries spice, salted almond and ripe fruit flavors on the finish. Drink now through 2026. (AN)" (8/2016)
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 »
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 »
From a 4.5 hectare plot of vines which average 30 years of age and planted in flint and clay soils. All hand harvested, vinified in 100% stainless steel tanks along with about a week of carbonic maceration. Bright fruits with spice and fresh palate feel. This is a fantastic wine for those mixed meat grill outs, a dream with salmon and a perfect pairing with an array of Asian foods.
Wine Enthusiast: "This is the equivalent of a second wine from Les Valentines, a lighter version of the estate wine. With lively acidity, it is fruity while rounded, crisp but also sweet with ripe strawberry flavors. The acidity at the end is soft, light and bright. (RV)" (7/2016) Wine Spectator: "Pure and fresh, with a core of white peach and cherry pit, backed by subtle tea and wet stone notes on the finish. Cinsault and Grenache. Drink now. (JM)" (6/2016) K&L Notes: The winegrowing estate of Chateau les Valentines is more than a century old. The estate originally brought their grapes to the local ... Read More »
If you liked the 2008, you are going to love the 2009 from Brison! This Champagne is composed of half Chardonnay, entirely barrel fermented, and one-half Pinot Noir that was fermented in two-thirds stainless and one-third barrel. This Champagne has perfect texture, medium body and a spectacular bead of compact streamers. It has aromas and flavors of cream, nuts and white fruit, and a very detailed, mineral-driven finish. It finishes quite dry, but I would never guess how little sugar has been added—only three grams per liter! The warm, ripe 2009 vintage ... Read More »
90 points Wine Enthusiast: "A rich, ripe while still mineral wine, this is concentrated and dense with fruit. It has a good texture as well as a layer of toast that gives extra depth. The wine has spice and a stylish, crisp aftertaste. Drink from 2017." (8/2016) K&L Notes: Once in a great while you find wines from the Mâcon so good that tasting them blind you are forced to apply some much higher (and more expensive) appellation to it. Often, such a wine comes from hillside vineyards, with better drainage and cooler nights. This is such a wine, from the slopes below the giant monolith of rock th... Read More »
91 points Robert Parker's Wine Advocate: "The light pink colored 2015 Cotes de Provence Rose Cuvee Marie Christine is fabulous. Silky, layered and seamless, with notes of orange blossom, caramelized cherries, salty seawater and distinct minerality, it's impeccably balanced, has perfectly integrated acidity and a great finish. Impressive and Bravo! (JD)" (5/2016) 90 points Wine Enthusiast: "From a 1,350-acre family estate divided among five chateaus, this crisp wine is packed with red fruits cut with citrus acidity. Refreshing and mineral textured, it will make a fine apéritif. (RV)" (7/2016) Vinous: "Light, bright pink. Musky red berri ...Read More »
Wine Spectator: "A mix of strawberry and cherry highlights this balanced red, which shows enough structure to stay focused, extending the earth-tinged finish. (BS)" (12/2015) K&L Notes: Relatively serious for a Bourgogne rouge, with nice rich fruit, lots of length. This has both weight and charm. A value! (Keith Wollenberg, K&L Burgundy Buyer, 06/2014)
Inventory: San Francisco
Once in a great while you find wines from the Mâcon so good that tasting them blind you are forced to apply some much higher (and more expensive) appellation to it. Often, such a wine comes from hillside vineyards, with better drainage and cooler nights. This is such a wine, from the slopes below the giant monolith of rock that is Solutré. Domaine Renaud is a small operation, making Mâcon, Pouilly-Fuissé and St. Veran from 12 hectares of estate vineyards. Their cellar is modern, and they use upright ovals for many of the wines, and stainless for others. ... Read More »
Robert Parker's Wine Advocate: "There are 100,000 bottles of this beautiful sleeper of the vintage, which offers terrific value. The proprietor is the son of Bernard Magrez, who has crafted a blend of 75% Merlot, 20% Cabernet Sauvignon and the rest Cabernet Franc. Fruity and Bordeaux-like, with notes of tobacco leaf, blueberries, black raspberries and incense, this explosively fruity, delicious, complex wine is relatively easy to consume yet should continue to drink well for 7-8 years, if not longer. (RP)" (2/2013) Wine Spectator: "A forward, flattering style, offering quite lush raspberry and plum sauce ...Read More »
Wine Enthusiast: "Light and bright with plenty of fruit and a lsoft texture, this lemon-flavored wine has crisp acidity and a ready-to-drink freshness. (RV)" (11/2015) Wine Spectator: "Good chive and gooseberry flavors ripple from start to finish, with a zip of lemon zest at the very end. (JM, Web-2015)" K&L Notes: Sancerre at half the price! The Fournier family, with roots as deep as their vines in this region, seem to be related to just about everyone in some way. They've been farming and producing wines in Sancerre for generations. We are pleased to have been offered this wine, yet again, at such a g... Read More »
91-93 points Wine Enthusiast: "Barrel sample. If you're looking for great, ripe black currant fruits, this is where to come. The wine is full and hugely fruity, but it still manages a good Bordeaux sense of proportion." (6/2006) Jancis Robinson: "Smokiness dominates the nose at the moment but there’s still evidence of fresh and aromatic cassis underneath. Rich and yet juicy. A slightly leafy aftertaste may not to be everyone’s taste but it does finish fresh. (JH)" (12/2007) Robert Parker's Wine Advocate: "The 2005 Coufran is much more concentrated than normal, with a big, rich, black cherry, earthy, spicy mouthfeel. Medium-bodied, with a ...Read More »
94 points James Suckling: "An subtle nose with plenty of fine autolysis aromas of fresh bread and sweetly fragrant yeasty notes, plus some gentle spice and chalky notes. The palate unleashes beautiful wild strawberry fruit flavors, super fresh, fleshy and pure. Great balance and depth." (7/2015) 93 points Wine Spectator: "A lovely rosé in an almost vinous style, with mouthwatering acidity and a fine, lacy mousse carrying appealing flavors of ripe raspberry, white cherry fruit, star anise, mandarin orange peel and honeysuckle. Lightly chalky on the lasting finish. Enjoy with food. Drink now through 2020.— ...Read More »
95 points Wine Enthusiast: "A deliciously ripe wine, full of fruit as well as a great mineral texture. It completely expresses the exceptional 2008 with all its structure. Still young, it’s all fruit and freshness that promise serious bottle aging. Drink this complex, serious wine from 2017. (RV)" (12/2014) 93 points Vinous: "The 2008 Brut races across the palate with gorgeous depth and resonance. Dried pear, spice, mint, anise and wild flowers meld together in the glass. Broad, ample and voluptuous, the 2008 possesses fabulous richness in all dimensions. Beams of acidity and minerality give the 2008 m ...Read More »