How to Chill Wine: A Professional’s Guide to Cooling Fermented Grape Beverages

Thirst is an affliction that can strike at any moment. The desire to satisfy this vicious desire can be overwhelming, especially in the summertime when the sun’s rays tempt us beyond reason to sit down and enjoy a cool glass of wine. Consequently, I have compiled a list of proven methods to properly chill your wine in virtually any situation. It is not an all-inclusive list; however, I hope it will inspire you to be creative and resourceful so that you may make the most of every bottle, even in the most unlikely of places.

In the mountains

Nothing compares to taking a whiff of fresh mountain air. Pair this with a glass of fresh mountain wine, and you are in heaven. André and Michel Quenard’s Chignin epitomizes the idea of Alpine refreshment. Its crystalline purity parallels that of fluffy white snow, and its delicate aromas will prompt you to slow down to take in the surrounding beauty.

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From Savoie to the Sierras  (Lake Tahoe)      © Anthony Lynch

In a fountain

Provence is known for its old roman fountains as well as its fresh rosé, and the two happen to go quite well together.

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Try at your closest fountain (Aix-en-Provence)      © Gail Skoff

At the beach

The ocean provides countless opportunities to bring your wine to the ideal temperature. Marcel Lapierre’s Raisins Gaulois tastes great at the beach, as it is light-bodied with a fruity deliciousness that pairs perfectly with a day of relaxation in the sun.

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Gone for a swim (Ocean Beach, SF)                       © Sam Imel

In…a sink

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Desperate times call for desperate measures     © Anthony Lynch

July Newsletter: Staff Selections, Pique-Nique Packs, 2011 Domaine Tempier P-A

The June newsletter is now available.
Click here to download the pdf.

Highlights from this month’s newsletter…

 STAFF SELECTIONS

by Steve Waters, Retail Manager

It’s so refreshing when clients come into our store describing an experience with another vendor and state unequivocally, “You just don’t get the same high level of customer service that you get here.” Can I get an Amen, please!?! We’re old-school at the retail shop and pride ourselves on providing you with a personalized, hands-on shopping experience. When we ask, “Can we help you find anything?” we really mean it.

Our staff is an eclectic mix of wine biz and restaurant veterans, foodies, a former bookseller, a stock market broker, an Armenian refugee, musicians, and a chip off ol’ Kermit’s block. We’re united in the passionate pursuit of good food and wine and are more than happy to share our knowledge with you. So come into the wine shop or call us on the phone, seek out a salesperson, and make them your own. Perhaps these staff selections will help make it easier for you to see what makes us tick.

 

Left to right: Anthony Lynch, Jennifer Oakes, Nile Mitchell, Mark Congero, 
Bryant Vallejo, Michael Butler, Steve Waters, Molly Surbridge

 

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PIQUE-NIQUE PACKS 

by Jennifer Oakes

Insects and foul weather can threaten to spoil a picnic, but with the right liquid fortification, even those annoyances fall by the wayside. Whether your picnic day out is beside the oyster shack, grilling something meaty at the park, or merely spent lounging in the backyard, we’ve put together a versatile assortment to cover your summertime al fresco needs.

Try something sparkly to get the party started, Beaujolais for easy-drinking comfort, Chablis or Muscadet for those day trips to the beach, and of course a summertime rosé. You’ll also need a smoky red to go with your grill’s bounty, and why not throw in a fantastic Fié Gris, the ultimate fish taco wine, or an Edelzwicker, because it’s a full liter! We’ve got two sampler options, one for absolutely everybody who shows up and one for people you like just a little bit more. The only guests you won’t need to please are the ants.

CASUAL PICNIC

per bottle

2012 Bardolino “Chiaretto” • Corte Gardoni

$12.95

2012 Edelzwicker • Meyer-Fonné

18.00

Clairette de Die • Achard-Vincent

25.00

2011 Beaujolais • Domaine Dupeuble

14.95

2011 Muscadet • Domanie Michel Brégeon

16.95

2010 Bronzinelle • Chateau Saint Martin de la Garrigue

18.95

Normally $106.80

Special Sampler Price $80

(a 25% discount)

FORMAL PICNIC

per bottle

2012 Bandol Rosé • Domaine du Gros ’Noré

$30.00

2011 Chablis • Roland Lavantureux

24.00

2010 Fié Gris • Éric Chevalier

24.95

NV Grande Réserve Brut 1er Cru • Veuve Fourny & Fils

47.00

2011 Île de Beauté Rouge • Domaine de Gioielli

36.00

2011 Morgon “Vieilles Vignes” • Jean-Paul Thévenet

32.00

Normally $193.95

Special Sampler Price $145

(a 25% discount)

June Newsletter: Rosé Time!, Exploring the Store, P-A Les Pallières, P-A Brunello

The June newsletter is now available.
Click here to download the pdf.

Highlights from this month’s newsletter…

DON’T POSSESS A HUNDRED RUBLES

by Katya Karagadayeva

I recently came across an interview in which Kermit talks about comparing wines to old friends. Makes sense, right? Just like people, each wine has his or her different personality, and for every situation in life there is a perfect match. In Russia we have a saying that goes something like “Don’t possess a hundred rubles, but possess a hundred friends.” I would like to introduce you to six friends of mine.

VINO ROSATO “GRANGIA” • TINTERO

If Grangia is already your go-to white, you will love her sister. Pretty in raspberry-pink, easygoing, pleasant. Her upbeat personality gets your attention at a first interaction and has you coming back for more. Don’t call her if you want to discuss politics over a steak, but enjoy her unpretentious company in any other situation.

$9.95 per bottle  $107.46 per case

2012 TAVEL ROSÉ • CHÂTEAU DE TRINQUEVEDEL

Everyone needs a powerful friend, a friend with connections. A true aristocrat: his predecessors rubbed shoulders with French kings and were admired by Ernest Hemingway. He is a man of grand stature, his manners are perfect, but his fiery spirit shines through. And he is one of those lucky few who only benefit from aging.

$18.00 per bottle  $194.40 per case

2012 BANDOL ROSÉ • DOMAINE DU GROS ’NORÉ

His shirt might be a delicate salmon hue, but there is a true strength underneath. A former boxer with thick, soil-encrusted hands, he is well built and resilient. There is so much generosity, flavor, soulfulness—but also true finesse. Have you seen photos of Alain Pascal, the winemaker of Domaine du Gros ’Noré? Look him up—you’ll know immediately what I mean.

$30.00 per bottle  $324.00 per case

SEASONAL SAMPLER

by Mark Congero

Recent events have got me thinking about my childhood—living with my mom on Long Island. Summer was the best season for food, and two annual excursions signaled that summer was upon us.

First, we would take a drive upstate with the goal to hit as many roadside stands and farms as we could. I remember on more than one occasion getting a tummy ache after eating way too much on the way home: fresh string beans with their crisp, off-the-plant snap, sweet corn ready to peel and eat, beefsteak tomatoes, beautiful plump cherries and blueberries. If I had been a good helper and co-pilot, on the way home we would stop at my favorite Chinese restaurant and I’d order lobster Cantonese, the delicious end to a perfect day.

Later in the summer we would drive out to Montauk to go fishing. There was never a time that I didn’t catch my fill of delicious fluke or flounder. My mom would panfry the fish with butter and lemon and serve coleslaw on the side. I’ve never really thought about it much, but those are important memories I will cherish forever. Summer is family time and fun time, hopefully.

We have a lovely mix of summer wines for you to enjoy. I will also add a few favorite summer recipes to the box. Remember, it’s only June, so you may want to buy a couple samplers to get you through the summer, and at 30% off there is no reason not to!

per bottle

2011 Langhe Arneis • Tintero

 $12.95

2011 Chardonnay • Éric Chevalier

 13.95

2011 Coteaux du Loir Blanc • Pascal Janvier

 16.95

2011 Gentil d’Alsace • Meyer-Fonné

 17.95

2011 E Prove Blanc • Domaine Maestracci

 18.95

2012 Languedoc Rosé • Château de Lascaux

 17.00

2011 Bardolino “Pràdicà” • Corte Gardoni

 17.50

2009 Montagne-Saint-Émilion • Château Tour Bayard

 22.00

2009 Languedoc Rouge “Podio Alto” • Domaine du Poujol

 22.00

2011 Bourgueil “Cuvée Trinch!” • C. & P. Breton

 22.00

2010 Moulin-à-Vent • Domaine Diochon

 24.00

2011 Côtes du Rhône “Il Fait Soif” • Maxime Laurent

 27.00

Normally $232.25

Special Sampler Price $163

A 30% discount

Pique-Nique Wines

Everybody loves a picnic, especially now that summer is around the corner. It is time to plan a day at the beach, lake, river, pond, park, or even in your own backyard, where you can decompress in the sun with good friends, food, and maybe a bottle of wine or two. Okay, definitely a bottle of wine or two.

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© Molly Surbridge

The choice of wine, however, is crucial! At this intersection of the outdoors and picnic food, the wine you pick must match the free-spirited contentment of sitting on a patch of cool, green grass with your close ones. When selecting a bottle to bring on a picnic, I value wines that are above all fun, fresh, and delicious. Secondary factors are versatility and chill-ability. Before you load up the cooler, consider my top picks—I speak from experience:

2011 SAUVIGNON BLANC “UNIQUE” • DOMAINE DU SALVARD
Bright and zesty, keep it as cold as possible for maximum refreshment.
$14.95 per bottle

2011 PETTIROSSO ALLEGRO • PUNTA CRENA
Pink, bubbly, full of life, what more could you ask! Sure to put a smile on your face and get you feeling vivace.
$18.00 per bottle

2012 LANGUEDOC ROSÉ • DOMAINE DU POUJOL
Try it with some cold cuts and cheese or just pour it on its own. On a picnic, you might appreciate its screw cap.
$16.00 per bottle

2011 RAISINS GAULOIS • M. LAPIERRE
Light, juicy faux-Morgon…a classic. Chill it and drink it! Roll over in the grass laughing when you consider what you paid for it.
$12.95 per bottle

2011 BOURGUEIL “TRINCH!” • C. & P. BRETON
Fruit-driven Cabernet Franc that goes great with roast chicken, a chicken sandwich, or whatever you decide to eat.
$22.00 per bottle

2011 CORVINA VERONESE “BECCO ROSSO” • CORTE GARDONI
In the event you find yourself in the vicinity of a grill and happen to come across some raw meat during your picnic, you’re in luck! The Becco Rosso has your back in such situations.
$18.00 per bottle

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 © Melanie Yee

The (Im)possible Pairing: On A Mission

I am proud to present the first edition of what will be an ongoing segment of the KLWM blog: The (Im)possible Pairing. Here’s the idea: we enjoy eating all sorts of food types, and we think that every meal should be accompanied by a good glass of wine. Some foods, however, are more problematic than others when it comes to wine pairing. The best match may be unexpected or take trial and error to discover. In this blog, we challenge ourselves and our readers to find the most appropriate wines to accompany these atypical foods, in a quest to come up with…the (im)possible pairing.

Our first episode will revolve around pairing wine with Chinese food. Alright, not just any Chinese food: a good friend of mission chinesemine has a new job cooking the boldly flavored Szechuan-influenced cuisine of Mission Chinese, in San Francisco’s Mission District. Three of us KLWM salespeople and our guests set out to prove that fine wine has its place on any table, even one where the amount of hot chili fumes in the air can cause spontaneous coughing fits. Much discussion preceded this epic meal, and each of us had our own ideas as to what would shine alongside Mission Chinese’s intense umami flavors that are often topped with a mix of Szechuan peppercorn and sizzling-hot chilis.

We decided on three wines that we hoped would quench our thirst, quell the spice, and stand up to the food.Our first wine was a 2011 Cassis Rosé from Clos Ste. Magdeleine. Sipping it while waiting for our first wave of food to arrive only increased the sense of anticipation brewing in us. Soon thereafter, the feast began, and the wine was put to the test. Provençal rosé was a no-brainer when deciding what to bring, as its combination of full body, fresh fruity flavor, and crisp acidity makes it perfect for almost all types of food. It delivered once again, and before we knew it the bottle was empty. Our next wine, the Champalou’s “Cuvée Fondraux,” is an off-dry Vouvray that we suspected would balance out the spicy flavors in the food. The wine worked exceptionally well, and not just with the spiciness. The sensually tender Tiki Pork Belly struck a chord with the Vouvray, with the wine’s slight residual sugar and fresh acidity perfectly complementing the sweet, fatty bites of braised pork. The “Fondraux” also enhanced the Spicy Octopus and Lamb Tongue’s Salad, each component of the dish bringing out different qualities in the wine.

After this second bottle was rapidly drained, the time came for main courses. To stand up to the savory overload we were about to dive into, we opened a bottle of Abbatucci’s “Rouge Frais Impérial.” Rice cakes and fermented black beans are not traditional staples of Corsican cuisine, but if the island’s Sciaccarellu-based refreshment could dictate this, we’d be seeing these ingredients alongside figatelli and boar stew on the Corsican dinner table. The Rouge Frais’ light body allowed the food to express itself, while the wild fruit and herbs came around strongly with each swallow. We finally finished our meal, our palates buzzing from the potent spice and our heads buzzing from the delicious wine. It came as a surprise that all three of our wines worked so well with such peculiarly bold, flavorful food, especially in an establishment where the norm is to have a cold beer on hand to gulp down when the heat kicks in. We left Mission Chinese that night wondering what other bottles would pair so well with this cuisine, a cuisine that is not known for being especially wine-friendly. But in fact, the opposite turned out to be true, as the intense Szechuan flavors had us constantly reaching for our glasses. We had only one regret as we walked off into the night, remarkably full-bellied: that we did not bring enough wine—something that could easily be rectified on our next visit!

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2011 Cassis Rosé • Clos Ste. Magdeleine
$32.00 per bottle    $345.60 per case

2011 Vouvray “La Cuvée des Fondraux” • Champalou
$22.00 per bottle    $237.60 per case

2011 Rouge Frais Impérial • Comte Abbatucci
$25.00 per bottle    $270.00 per case

Mission Chinese Food
2234 Mission St.
San Francisco, CA 94110

May Newsletter: Pure Grenache; Producers, Not Vintages; Fresh Favas, Butter and Salt

The May newsletter is now available.
Click here to download the pdf.

Highlights from this month’s newsletter…

MEDITERRANEAN WHITES

by Dixon Brooke

2011 ÎLE DE BEAUTÉ BLANC • YVES LECCIA

I chose these three wines for their freshness and elegance, qualities I value highly in southern, sun-ripened white wines. Leading the charge is this Vermentino-based beauty from the Leccias in northern Corsica. Salty and lemony, bright and maritime, it’s a great way to awaken the palate before a meal, to cut through cured sardines, or to enliven and complement fresh seafood.

$26.00 per bottle   $280.80 per case

2011 LANGUEDOC BLANC “SAINTE AGNÈS”
ERMITAGE DU PIC SAINT LOUP

The Ravaille family’s blanc keeps getting better every year, to the point that to my taste it has become one of the reference points for all of southern France. Precision, freshness, and finesse are the first three adjectives that come to mind. There are many secrets to this achievement, most importantly terroir. The backbone of the wine comes from Roussanne grown in a pocket of dolomite high on the Pic Saint Loup (the only location like this in the entire appellation). Combine that with ninety-year-old Grenache Blanc, Grenache Gris, and Clairette vines, harvesting before the grapes get too ripe, raising the wine in small Alsatian-style foudres and demi-muids, and the mystery begins to reveal itself. What impresses me the most is the touch on the palate—it is a textural masterpiece. The sensuality of Botticelli’s Venus and the backbone of Michelangelo’s David rolled into one. This suggestion is so much more banal than the Italian Renaissance, but I can’t help imagining a melon and prosciutto appetizer as an ideal pairing.

$23.00 per bottle   $248.40 per case

2011 BANDOL BLANC • DOMAINE DE TERREBRUNE

Reynald Delille’s Bandols are in a league of their own. All three colors! Reynald values finesse above all, and his soil of Trias limestone, his vines gazing down upon the Mediterranean—they help him execute his vision. When I visit, he regularly uncorks ancient whites from his amazing cellars that display mind-bending complexity and the freshness of youth. His rosé and rouge get most of the attention, but his blanc is truly a gem, too. La Revue du Vin de France recently called it one of the four best whites of southern France. I might be tempted to go farther. Buy a case and drink six bottles this year—put the other six in your cellar to witness the magic unfold over the next ten years. You won’t believe how it blossoms and deepens.

$32.00 per bottle   $345.60 per case

Fishing the Med’                                 © Gail Skoff

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NORTH AND SOUTH

by Steve Waters

Unlike the regional differences that plunged the United States into civil war one hundred fifty years ago, this North/South rivalry has battled over a more thirst-inspiring objective—great wine! Let’s take a trip together and explore a few wines from one of the most distinctive wine-growing regions in all of France, the Rhône Valley.

Philippe and Lionel Faury                   © Domaine Faury

2011 SYRAH “L’ART ZÉLÉ” • DOMAINE FAURY

Talk about a great opportunity to get yourself in on the ground floor. This KLWM first-ever release, a young-vine Syrah, is from the celebrated northern slope of Côte Rôtie: Côte Brune. I’ve always thought Faury makes the prettiest Syrah—so redolent of lilacs, but also with trademark aromas of bacon fat and slate that make all the great Côte Rôties distinctive. This is no exception. The uniqueness of this wine is that because of the young vines it is very drinkable now. Oh, and by the way, at this exact moment in time, this is Anthony Lynch’s favorite wine!

$32.00 per bottle   $345.60 per case

2010 LIRAC “LE CLASSIQUE” • DOMAINE DU JONCIER

Okay, I’m not going to hesitate in saying this—Marine Roussel, proprietress of Domaine du Joncier, is an extremely talented winemaker. The release of her wines is eagerly anticipated vintage after vintage. She’s also a helluva nice person who is deeply committed to the art of her craft. Grenache, Syrah, Mourvèdre, Cinsault, and Carignan (all grown among the galets roulés, the rounded stone–littered landscape of the southern Rhône) are the core ingredients that give this wine its terroir and typicity. By the time you finish your first bottle, you’ll be hankering for more, because this is also one of the best southern Rhône values we have to offer.

$24.00 per bottle   $259.20 per case

An Update from André

Once or twice a year, André Ostertag takes pen to paper to keep us up-to-date on how the current vintage in Alsace is progressing and to provide us with his most recent philosophical musings. Winter is typically a quiet time in the winery and vineyards—monitoring fermentations and pruning vines only take so much time—and André takes full advantage of this freedom to write.

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The first of the two pieces he sent is called: 8 Arguments to Wring the Neck of 8 Common Preconceptions About Alsace Wines, And Turn Them Into As Many New Ideas!

Below are the eight preconceptions that André dispels and click here to download the English version (translated by André himself)—a must read for any Alsace skeptics.

1. Alsace wines are too complicated!

2. Alsace wines are has-been!

3. Alsace wines give you headaches!

4. Alsace wines are sweet!

5. Alsace wines smell after petroleum!

6. Alsace wines do not cellar!

7. Alsace wines drink with Choucroute!

8. Alsace is freezing cold!

The second piece is: 2012: Great Dry Whites and Other Digressions

Here’s an excerpt:

“Today, in Alsace, our main challenge is to make great dry whites from ripe grapes.

And “ripe grapes” it is, not harvested too early and/or chaptalized! To me, grapes are ripe when their pips—or reproductive organs—are ready for offspring, since this is the very job of fruit in nature. And fruit will not be ready to be cut off from their foster shoots until they reach their full reproductive capacity. Indeed, once reached, most fruit will fall off. Grapes will then be ripe when berries come off easily and pips are brown in color and lignified and taste of sweet almond, so nothing to do with the ripeness governed by pure oenological prerequisites. It is true, however, that grapes harvested too early are not a fermentation issue, and lead to a lower alcohol content than ripe ones!”

Download André’s entire text on the 2012 vintage here.

Wine Fallacies: Champagne With Meal?

There are a number of misconceptions about wine that many members of the industry seem to be on a tireless crusade to end. At the top of this list of fallacies you’ll find tired adages like “All Rieslings are sweet” (no, they are not), and, worst of all—“Beaujolais sucks.” If you’re reading this, then you are likely to bring a Morgon or Côte de Brouilly to a friend’s house for dinner just to spite them into admitting they actually do like Beaujolais.

Another one of these misconceptions is that Champagne is only meant to be drunk for celebrations and never with food. The brilliant marketers from Champagne (whose predecessors are at fault for creating the idea that Champagne is only for celebrating) have been trying to change this idea by claiming that Champagne makes for a wonderful wine to pair with a meal. On the surface, this notion might seem like a thinly veiled attempt to boost sales during the non-holiday months of the year. That might be true, but behind it was most likely a stunning first-hand experience, similar to the one I had a few weeks ago when I paired a heritage pork chop with the J. Lassalle “Cachet Or” and had a food-pairing revelation. Instead of immediately taking to Facebook and screaming, “I get it!,” I took a step back to fully understand why people don’t pair Champagne with food more often. Then I realized that Champagne is the problem, not the fine wine drinking public.

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When people say, “pair Champagne with food,” they mean real Champagne—sparkling wines of great complexity, hailing from the Champagne region of France. Quality Champagne starts around $35 per bottle—a sum that for many customers is a little pricey, and falls in to the “special bottle” category. And isn’t that what Champagne is after all? A bottle for an extraordinary occasion?

The issue here is that there are few substitutes for Champagne. Consider a dinner of grilled halibut. What to pair? If you walked in to our retail shop, a salesperson might recommend the 2011 Bordeaux Blanc from Château Ducasse at $16 or the 2010 Pouilly Fuissé “La Croix” from Robert Denogent at $39. Two very different wines but both would make great pairings. For a toast on New Years Eve, Prosecco can substitute for Champagne, but when it comes to pairing with a nice meal, it just doesn’t work—when considering food, you need a sparkling wine with depth of character and some grip and length on the palate.

The myriad of other sparkling wines available are great for sipping by themselves, toasting an occasion, mixing with cocktails, and pairing with oysters and consequently I drink Prosecco, Vouvray Pétillant, and Clairette de Die more often Champagne. But give it a go. Trend towards white wine pairings but consider rosé Champagne as another option for a red wine pairing. Enjoy a bottle of Champagne at a nice restaurant or have it at home with a special dinner—you’ll be pleased and surprised at the possibilities.

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April Newsletter: Quintarelli

The April newsletter is now available.
Click here to download the pdf.

Highlights from this month’s newsletter…

 BORDEAUX FOR ALL

by Anthony Lynch

2010 SAINT-ÉMILION GRAND CRU
CHÂTEAU TERTRE DE LA MOULEYRE

To understand the meaning of the term grand cru, have a taste of this Saint-Émilion. It is indeed grand, with a deep and impressive feel on the palate. Right now the velvety texture and luscious fruit aromas draw the glass to my lips. However, its hefty structure suggests that several years in a cool cellar will give a majestic wine, a true mark of its grand cru status.

$65.00 per bottle $702.00 per case

2009 MONTAGNE-SAINT-ÉMILION
CHÂTEAU TOUR BAYARD

Serve your Saint-Émilion grand cru to impress a distinguished guest at your table after you have toiled all day to fix the perfect dinner. Save the Montagne-Saint-Émilion for when it’s just you and your buddies making burgers. Château Tour Bayard’s Montagne is bold and juicy, and thanks to its reasonable price you won’t feel obliged to lick up any drop you might spill. Although, with its ample fruit flavors and smooth finish, nobody could blame you if you did . . .

$22.00 per bottle $237.60 per case

2008 POMEROL “CLOS PLINCE”
CHÂTEAU GOMBAUDE-GUILLOT

If my grandparents drank Pomerol, then this would be the Pomerol of my grandparents. It is the perfect example of a fine, elegant version of Merlot—the exact opposite of the wines that give the grape a bad reputation. Claire Laval bottles this single-vineyard cuvée from her oldest vines, and after a few hours in a decanter, it will reach its peak with silky tannins and a refined mouthfeel. I challenge you to hold back from drinking a few bottles and let them evolve slowly in your cellar!

$58.00 per bottle $626.40 per case 

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LOIRE

by Dixon Brooke

2011 MUSCADET CÔTES DE GRAND LIEU
ÉRIC CHEVALIER

A few examples of KLWM daily standards: our namesake Côtes du Rhône and Monferrato Rosso bottlings, Dupeuble Beaujolais, Coutale Cahors, Salvard Cheverny, Corte Gardoni Custoza, Fontsainte Gris de Gris. Here’s another one: Chevalier Muscadet. Dry, crisp, always pristine, always thirst-quenching, a fantastic and versatile value.

$14.95 per bottle $161.46 per case

2011 SAVENNIÈRES “CUVÉE SPÉCIALE”
CHÂTEAU D’EPIRÉ

When the resurgence of knowledge about Savennières (currently in motion) is complete, you will no longer be able to buy these incredibly complex dry whites, capable of aging thirty years or longer, for thirty dollars. These Chenin Blancs, or Pineaux de la Loire, rival the greats from Alsace and Burgundy in terms of complexity and aging potential—but not price. The French press recently called Luc Bizard, owner and head wine man at Epiré, the last remaining holdout making truly traditional Savennières, crafted with no compromise whatsoever. Amen to that.

$30.00 per bottle $324.00 per case

2010 CHINON “LES GRÉZEAUX”
BERNARD BAUDRY

Baudry’s name stands tall in the circles of those who appreciate the Loire’s best Cabernet Francs. Many years ago Charles Joguet gave Kermit Baudry’s name, and Kermit has returned to the Baudry cellars every year since his first visit. Both the man and his wines are bastions of tradition, humility, and old-fashioned good sense. These Chinons aren’t just brilliant in their own right, they are pillars of a very old and grand tradition in the central Loire, and there aren’t many of these left.

$27.00 per bottle $291.60 per case

2010 SANCERRE ROUGE “LE CHANT DE L’ARCHER”
DANIEL CHOTARD

It’s back already! The 2009 flew out of here, and we quickly got the new vintage on a boat to California. Here’s to delicious Pinot Noir at a price that makes you a little less hesitant to pull the cork whenever the mood strikes. The combination of this noble grape, the Kimmeridgean limestone marl in Sancerre, and barrels from Burgundy for refinement makes for some really interesting pairings at table. Smooth as silk, beautifully balanced.

35.00 per bottle $378.00 per case

 

Unlikely Agers: Expanding Your Mind and Cellar

When it comes to laying down wines for ageing, never say never.  In this post, let’s explore the possibility of cellaring wines that aren’t necessarily known for their ability to age. In an effort to change the way we think about the age-worthiness of wine, I will first examine the reasons why we choose to lay down some wines and not others. Then, I will cite specific examples from my own experience to prove that it’s not always black and white, and there are in fact many gray areas that we can exploit for our own pleasure and thirst-quenching purposes.

What do the majority of the wines we choose to cellar have in common? More often than not, they stand apart from the rest thanks to two factors: prestige and price. Big names like Châteauneuf, Chambertin, Montrachet, Pauillac, etc., are obvious choices, and for good reason. Such wines can be truly majestic, and while patience is required to get the most out of them, they rarely disappoint in the long run. But why should we limit ourselves to these tried-and-true classics when a whole new world of ageable wine lies in the shadows? Not to mention that very few of us bring home the grand cru paycheck that allows us to make large investments. Bringing some new faces into your wine storage area can delight you with unexpected pleasures, all while reducing your cellar’s financial footprint.

A wine’s reputation is often what prevents us from observing its maturation after a few years stowed away. One such example is Aligoté. Known to many as poor man’s white Burgundy, Aligoté satisfies in its youth with its refreshing acidity. The finest examples, including Aubert and Pamela de Villaine’s Bouzeron Aligoté, can also show impressive structure and complexity, placing it a step above its longtime status as a simple bistro wine. In his book Adventures on the Wine Route, Kermit recalls his experience of opening an aged Bouzeron for none other than the de Villaines themselves!

In 1986 I served my last bottle of 1979 to de Villaine and his wife… Some creature in my cellar had devoured the label, so the de Villaines could not see what it was they were tasting. I asked what they thought it might be. At first sniff Mme de Villaine, an excellent taster, said that it showed some of the aromatic richness of a white Hermitage! Her husband said no, it was not from the south, it was more Burgundian. It might be a Meursault, but no, there was that firmness, that structure, that stony aftertaste. It might be a Chablis…?

devillaine_bouzeron_NV_lo_res
 Next on my list is Beaujolais, which shares Aligoté’s reputation of being simple and easy. Some Beaujolais is just that, perfectly at home in a little neighborhood joint next to a plate of paté and saucisson. But some Beaujolais, namely Cru Beaujolais, can pack a punch—full of wild aromas conveying fruit, earth, and spice, along with the tannic and acid structure of a very serious red. This is the Beaujolais to lay down.  One such Cru Beaujolais is Nicole Chanrion’s Côte-de-Brouilly. When young, the fresh berries on the nose make it hard to resist, but it’s evident that there is much more going on—a sleeping monster that needs years before it begins to stir, ultimately releasing a plethora of fascinating aromas. I recently had the privilege of tasting the last bottle of Nicole’s own stash of 1969s. “It was opened yesterday, so don’t expect too much,” she said, unnecessarily apologetically. We were all blown away by the wine’s silky texture and rich, complex flavors. It told a story, like a respected elder sharing wisdom with younger generations. Experiences like this one have taught me that ageing Beaujolais can be just as special as ageing Burgundy, only more affordable. The hard part is suppressing the urge to pull the cork today.Chanrion_cote_de_brouilly_400My third improbable ager is rosé. Why would anyone age rosé? It tastes so good now that it might seem silly to do so. However, the right rosé—fuller-bodied rather than your everyday quaffer—can be worth laying down. Bandol rosé, for example, has the crisp freshness and fruit that makes it delightful to sip on a summer evening. It also has the necessary structure to go the distance, allowing these bright flavors to evolve into something truly worthy of contemplation. Domaine de Terrebrune’s Bandol rosé is an obvious choice thanks to its food-friendly nature and overall deliciousness. Winemaker Reynald Delille shocked me by opening a 1993. Its color was no longer rosé, but some sort of golden amber. The nose was no longer saturated with fresh strawberries and grapefruit, but had moved on to candied citrus, anise, and I guess we’ll call it spice. Mind-blowing! A true rosé de gastronomie: not meant for sipping by the pool, but featuring the roundness and succulence that makes it great to drink at table with a roast chicken or some aged cheeses. Never dismiss an old rosé!

These are only three examples to show that the wines we lay down don’t need to be first-growths or premier crus. They can be white or red or rosé and can come from anywhere and at any price point. Practice open-mindedness and patience, and in five, ten, or twenty years from now, you’re in for a pleasant surprise.

Old terrebrune

© Laura Vidal
 

 

per bottle per case
2010 BOUZERON • A. & P. DE VILLAINE $29.00 $313.20
2010 CÔTE-DE-BROUILLY • NICOLE CHANRION 22.00 237.60
2011 BANDOL ROSÉ • DOMAINE DE TERREBRUNE 30.00 324.00