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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 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 »
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 »
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 »
91 points Wine Spectator: "Ripe, with vivid blueberry and boysenberry fruit, harnessed on the back end by a bold graphite edge. Anise and violet notes add range. Drink now through 2019. 25,000 cases made. (JM)" (11/2016) K&L Notes: It's unusual to see 100% Syrah coming out of the southern Rhone but this has become one of the signature wines of prestigious Gigondas producer Chateau de Saint Cosme. The fruit comes from the Vinsobres appellation in the northern part of the southern Rhone and the terraces of the Villefranchian subregion on the Gard side of the Rhone River. Imbued with the full f... Read More »
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 »
A blend of 80 percent Grenache and 20 percent C arignane from a family-run winery in Châteauneuf-du-Pape.
Baron Fuente is a négociant that owns almost 90 acres of vines and purchases another 90 acres "sur pied," meaning that they pick the grapes. This is an important distinction since many négociants buy "sur lattes," meaning in bottle! The Grand Millésimé is a blend of 45% Chardonnay, 40% Meunier and 15% Pinot Noir that spent more than seven years on the lees.
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.
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 »
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)"
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 »
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.
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 »
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 and elegant sparkling wine reveals subtle hints of citrus fruits, toast and honey. At less than half the price of a bottle of Champagne, the Cuvée Eugenie is the perfec... Read More »
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 »
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.
One of K&L's very finest buys from France. This is a reserve cuvée, made from Millet's chalkiest limestone soils. There is a long maceration at very low temperatures to extract as much flavor and character as possible. The resulting wine is intensely charged with stone fruit and minerality, with bright citrus notes. However, due to the amazingly warm vintage, it's quite soft, with layers of rich fruit.
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 »
Brothers ("freres") Michel and Robert Perroud who aim to follow in the footsteps of their father at their Beaujolais house. "Together we invested in our roots and bought our first 4 acres of vines in Brouilly. Then we decided to reconstruct a vineyard from a few of our old family plots in Cogny, on clay-limestone, located under the castle of Montmelas. We planted Chardonnay, Viognier, and Pinot noir, on the same lands where our maternal grandfather grew vines and made wine. All our young vines are under organic conversion since 2007 and our old vines are... 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.
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 »
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.
Costières de Nîmes is at the southernmost part of the Rhône Valley sitting on the opposite bank of Chateauneuf du Pape. One of our best new finds is Chateau de l'Ermitage which produces three terrific values with imminent drinkability. The estate's history traces back to the 12th century when the winery produced wine for the pilgirms of Saint Jacques de Compostelle who were traveling the Santiago de Compostela. The property is now owned by Castillon family and today Michel and his son Jerome manage the vineyards and winemaking. The "Victor" is named for ... Read More »
The Antech "Emotion" is a little something different: a blend of Chardonnay, Chenin Blanc, Mauzac and Pinot Noir from AOC Cremant de Limoux in the Languedoc region of southern France. It was a huge hit with our staff beginning with the 2012 vintage; now it is back, to make our evenings and dinner parties sparkle just that much more. Pale pink hue, fine bead, delicate hints of cherry and strawberry with white floral notes. A crisp, elegant sparkler made in the traditional method, spending 15 months in the bottle before disgorgement. At about half the pric... 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 Spectator: "Ebullient cherry and raspberry fruit flavors stream along, lined with a light licorice note. Open-knit finish. Drink now. 1,250 cases made. (JM)" (11/2015) K&L Notes: An 88-acre estate, Château de Montfaucon sits just across the Rhône River from the esteemed vineyards of Châteauneuf-du-Pape. It is owned and operated by Rodolphe de Pins, a UC Davis graduate and former member of the winemaking staff at Domaine du Vieux Telegraphe. Over the years, Château de Montfaucon has developed a HUGE following amongst both our staff and customers.
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 »
This spectacular Champagne is one of the most sought-after in France, and Launois' cult status made it very difficult for us to make a purchase. We lucked out, and now we buy it directly, passing massive savings on to you. This house is from Mesnil, the southernmost Grand Cru in Champagne and home to Salon and Krug's Clos de Mesnil. This Champagne is all Chardonnay and all Grand Cru from the villages of Mesnil, Oger, Cramant and Avize--a roll call of the finest crus for Chardonnay in all of Champagne and all Veritas-certified for sustainable agriculture.... Read More »
90 points Wine Spectator: "Chalky in texture, this fresh, balanced version features a hint of smoky minerality underscoring ripe pear, candied black currant and lemon meringue pie flavors. Drink now through 2018. (AN)" (10/2015) Connoisseurs Guide: "If never as far reaching and complex as those bottlings allowed extra time on the years, Feuilllatte's basic Brut is a complete and carefully crafted Champagne of fine balance and brightness. Its lightly yeasty elements are nicely matched by a trim bit of citrusy fruit, and both its energetic mousse and its keen sense of focus are sustained to the end. And, ...Read More »
91 points Wine & Spirits: "This blend is mostly Pinot Noir and Meunier, including 10 percent red wine for color. Chardonnay accounts for 10 to 20 percent, including a portion of reserve wines that may be providing the oceanic, oyster-shell notes that bring to mind Champagne’s Kimmeridgean limestone. This is broad and loose up front, with fruity scents of orange and pomegranate. Then the wine keeps buzzing with brisk acidity, tightening up and extending the flavors with energy. An impressive release of Impérial." (12/2015) 91 points Wine Spectator: "Toasted hazelnut and smoke notes are rich and focused in this ...Read More »
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 great price. Soft, subtle mineral notes are wrapped up in aromatics of melon and citrus. Clean, bright and refreshing, this is a perfect little Sauvignon Blanc. Tropical fruit, citrus and spice aromas and flavors, with vibrant acidity and minerality. Perfect for goat ... 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. (AN) ...Read More »
Robert Parker's Wine Advocate: "This Haut-Medoc sleeper of the vintage from Bordeaux visionary Bernard Magrez possesses copious quantities of black currant and cherry fruit as well as supple tannins presented in a medium-bodied, opulent style... (RP)" (6/2007) Wine Enthusiast: "Now mature, this is a powerful wine for the vintage. It has a spice note, plus tannins that are still present and likely to develop further. The flavors of truffle, gamy beef and beet are are testaments to the age of this wine." (2/2013)
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 is how Nouveau is supposed to be, but very rarely is! This new wine naturally settled in the tank as the chilly fall air circulated through open windows for months, then it was bottled unfined, unfiltered and unsulfured, and shipped by plane in mid-November. The wine was made with natural yeasts only and was not chaptalized. You are getting wine in its most natural state possible. (You don't want to know what most people do to stabilize their Nouveaux.) This domaine doesn't worry about preservation because their wine is drunk up so quickly. Besides,... Read More »
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 »
Outstanding value white from a reliable source.
Wine Enthusiast: "This is the main non-vintage wine from this southern Champagne Aube-based producer. It’s a cuvée based around the producer’s specialty of Pinot Noir. With fresh acidity over rich white fruits, apples and pears, it is balanced, fragrant and ready to drink." (9/2015) Wine Spectator: "A modest version, with a smoky undertow and a tangy palate of kumquat, melon and lemon curd. Drink now. Tasted twice, with consistent notes. 5,980 cases made. (Web Only - 2015)" K&L Notes: This all Pinot Noir Champagne is a blend of many small plots on the Josselin estate in Gye-Sur-Seine. It is aged for thr... Read More »
This Sancerre has a pale yellow color with hints of flashing green. Aromatically, it possesses a nice fruity component of crispy white peaches, melon, yellow plums and the typical presence of place notes of flinty minerals. On the palate, it has a richness and persistence which is nicely balanced with fruit texture, mineral and acidity. The excellent length gets even better as the bottle breathes. If you can get your hands on a round of Crottin de Chavignol, call it a day. Or, try this with pan roasted shellfish with just a touch of butter and a squeeze ... 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.
Wine Spectator: "This light-bodied red displays a creamy palate of cherry, pureed raspberry and marjoram flavors, with licorice snap and light smoke details lingering into the lightly chewy finish." (11/2016) K&L Notes: C'est Arrivé! The Beaujolais Villages Nouveau is always produced in much smaller quantities than the regular Beaujolais Nouveau bottling, and our staff finds it to be the much better wine. This is the gold standard in Nouveau, and certainly always popular. An excellent foil for holidays dishes like turkey and ham - lentil loaf, too.
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 »
Vitallis is a new "hidden gem" our buyers found in the Mâcon, where small producers fly under the radar. In classic Burgundian fashion, the Dutron family has been growing vines since 1835, and now owns some of the oldest and best parcels in the village of Fuissé in the Pouilly-Fuissé district. In the glass, the wines live up to the hype: subtle, like any good white Burgundy, but complex, mineral-driven and poised. Denis Dutron uses all French oak, again with minimal new oak, and he also employs traditional “batonnage” practice, stirring the lees through ... Read More »
Allen Meadows - Burghound: "Ripe but not really exotic aromas of pear and white peach are trimmed in a hint of wood. There is good concentration to the relatively powerful medium-bodied flavors that possess good intensity on the extract-rich finish where a hint of bitter lemon arrives just at the last. This is really quite good for its level and should drink well both young and after a few years of bottle age." (10/2015) Wine Enthusiast: "From vines at least 30 and up to 90 years old, this is the top of the Chablis range from La Chablisienne. Lightly wooded to bring out extra richness from the fruit, ...Read More »
90 points Vinous: "Brilliant red. Energetic, spice-tinged red berries and fresh flowers on the fragrant nose. Juicy and precise, offering gently sweet raspberry, cherry and violet pastille flavors that deepen and spread out with air. Clings with very good tenacity on the long, supple finish, which shows just a hint of fine-grained tannins. (JR)" (8/2016)
We love these wines for their freshness, charm and affordability, and this is easily our best value Sancerre in the store. From soils of clay and chalk in the village of Bue near the Domaine. The Millet keeps you coming back for more. It is vinified entirely in stainless steel to preserve the wonderful citrus and slightly grassy aromatics and gentle mineral finish.
There are still treasures to be found in the Mâcon, where small producers fly under the radar. Our most recent acquisition is Château Vitallis. In classic Burgundian fashion, the Dutron family has been growing vines since 1835, and now owns some of the oldest and best parcels in the village of Fuissé in the Pouilly-Fuissé district. Our buyers happened upon the château during a trip to Burgundy last October, and it was quite evident upon their return that they’d found something special. Perhaps it was the haste with which the samples were chilled and open... Read More »
Vinous: "Bright violet. Extremely primary, displaying dark berry and cherry aromas and flavors enlivened by peppery spices. Shows good focus and energy thanks to tangy acidity, and picks up a subtle floral nuance as the wine slowly opens up. Finishes taut and refreshingly bitter, leaving hints of cherry pit and black currant behind. (JR)" (8/2016)
Jacques Bavard is a tiny negociant located in Puligny-Montrachet. He comes from a long line of wine-growers, and is dedicated to working with organic and biodynamic growers.