On the Trail

Drinkable Bordeaux for the Holidays

Clyde Beffa Jr.

We’re getting into the thick of the holiday season here at K&L, which means we’re packing as many shipping containers full of Bordeaux as we can and having them sent over the Atlantic as fast as possible. As K&L’s co-owner and Bordeaux buyer, I’m constantly on the search for wines we can drink now. My cellar is packed with fantastic vintages from my favorite properties, but some of my collection is either too precious for Wednesday evening or too young to open tonight. That’s why I put together a shipment of delicious and reasonably-priced Bordeaux selections that can be consumed at any point between now and the next five years. As the days become cooler and the sun sets earlier, I’m practically itching to get back home and start decanting my bottle for dinner. Here are a few of our most recent arrivals to enjoy this holiday season without breaking the bank:

From Chateau Meyney, one of the great Cru Bourgeois Exceptionnel of St. Estephe:

2010 Prieur de Meyney, St-Estèphe $19.99 – This is the second wine of Meyney and it offers much of the flavor for half the price. This sold out quickly last time (mostly to our staff) and will likely fly out this time. Toasty aromas with sweet and delicious fruit that you can enjoy right now. 2010 was a fantastic vintage and second wine deals like this are becoming few and far between.

2000 Meyney, St-Estèphe $49.99 – Even though this is a sixteen year old wine from the outstanding 2000 vintage, this wine is drinkable, but it’s not quite ready today. Give it a few more years. It’s a great near-term cellar addition you can drink in 2020 and beyond. Drink the Prieur de Meyney while you’re waiting. 

If you’re are interested in large format wines for the holidays, we received in a few magnums from La Fleur de Bouard, a Lalande-de-Pomerol property owned by Angelus. I’m really enjoying the freshness and the charm of the 2012 vintage, especially for drinking today. If you’re having a few guests over for dinner, decant one of these for the roast:

2012 La Fleur de Boüard, Lalande-de-Pomerol (1.5L) $59.99 - With some decanting you can enjoy this wine right now. It’s made in a very approachable in style with dark fruits and subtle hints of spice and earth. This got 91 points from Parker and James Suckling, but it would get a few more from me. 

Also from the Right Bank (and another over-looked vintage) is a stunning wine from one of our favorite producers here: Chateau Barde-Haut in St. Emilion. We tasted through a number of older vintages at the property this past Spring when we visited and our entire team agreed: the 2004 was a winner, especially for the price.

2004 Barde-Haut, St-Emilion $29.99 - There are only 25 cases and it was, purchased directly from Hélène at the property. 91 points from the Wine Spectator and a rave review from our Bordeaux boys. Our assistant head buyer David thought this was one of the best wines he tasted on the trip. Deep ruby in color with a silky smooth finish.

For stocking stuffers, we’ve got half bottles of our best selling Bordeaux of the last five years: the 1997 Potensac, a wine I’ve enjoyed more than fifty times over the last decade. This is the wine that earned me the name: “the king of the off-vintage” because I was able to appreciate the subtlety of a less-ripe, more classically-tailored claret. For $12.99, it’s an over-achiever.

1997 Potensac, Médoc (375ml) $12.99 - This is made by the people at Léoville-Las Cases. It's a superb older Bordeaux for an extremely reasonable price. The latest in a recent string of wildly popular and affordable '97 vintage Bordeaux bargains.

The last three wines are properties to watch in Bordeaux. They’re renowned at K&L for their value, quality, and their relatively below-the-radar status. When the K&L staff wants to drink a little claret after work, we’ll often be opening a wine from one of these producers:

2009 Tronquoy-Lalande, St-Estèphe $39.99 - We’ve already sold out of this wine on three separate occasions, so we’re back for another round to help satiate demand. Full of black fruit and licorice, this wine demonstrates great complexity and length. Rated one of the top 100 wines of 2012 by the Wine Enthusiast and a 91 from Parker, this is a great value from a great vintage.

2010 Poujeaux, Moulis $39.99 – Poujeaux is the darling of the staff here at K&L. Ralph Sands thinks it’s one of the best values in all of wine, and the 2010 got a string of 90+ scores from just about every major reviewer. This is a juicy and expressive wine that you can drink now or hold for another decade.

2012 Lespault-Martillac, Pessac-Léognan  $24.99 — TOP VALUE! This is a winery to keep your eye on. Their initial wines have been top notch and since it’s owned by the folks at Domaine de Chevalier, you know it’s going to be good. Olivier Bernard is a great winemaker, known for his plush and mineral-driven style. You’ll be competing with our staff members for these bottles.

-Clyde Beffa, Jr.

The Launois Lifestyle

David Driscoll

Deep in the heart of Champagne country between the rolling hills and the numerous vineyards, sits the Launois estate; a house located in the village of Le Mesnil-sur-Oger that dates back to 1872. Located on the prestigious Côte des Blancs, where only the best grand cru quality chardonnay grapes are grown, are the Launois vineyards; almost fifty hectares of immaculate fruit that makes some of the most elegant and graceful Champagne in the region. For eight generations, Launois has been a family-run house and today the operation is managed by Bernard Launois with his daughter Severine. Together they continue to honor the tradition of their ancestors, harvesting their vineyards with great care and using old world methods to make a focused and electric style of Champagne. 

Using the best possible grapes from the best possible terroir, while doing much of the winemaking by hand in small quantities, you would think the Launois wines would demand the highest of price tags. Bernard himself is a man of strong principles. He doesn't like to use stainless steel for fermentation, opting instead for the enamel-lined iron tanks he's been using for decades. He believes in the techniques and values passed down from previous generations. Yet, it's precisely because of this practical and old-fashioned mindset that the wines of Launois remain incredibly affordable, especially considering their popularity here at K&L and their limited quantities. We buy as much Champagne as we possibly can each year from the Launois family and it's still never enough. The bottles move out in cases for customers just as quickly as they're unloaded off the truck. After years of drinking big house brands, the clear-cut quality and value of the Launois wines is a clean and apparent as the vibrant acidity and laser-like flavor within them. They represent luxury within reach; a top-shelf experience for a mid-range fee. 

Another container of Launois has just landed just in time for the holidays, so once again we're alerting our most passionate Champagne drinkers of its arrival. Our full selection of Launois can be seen here. To me, Launois is one of the best possible examples of what K&L offers wine lovers as a retailer, it's one of the best products we carry and it's indicative of a lifestyle that I enjoy living: drinking the best the world has to offer for prices I can afford. My first bottle of the Launois "Cuvée Reserve" was an absolutely delicious, world-changing, life-altering experience. When you first taste it and you realize that you only paid $35, you start to wonder what else you've been overpaying for? What about those shoes you ordered online? What about that special cheese you bought from the artisan market? Maybe there are other secrets like this out there that you just don't know about. 

-David Driscoll

On the Trail with Eva and Ava Bai

David Driscoll

Wine and jewelry aren't all that different in many ways. Both make life a bit more colorful and enjoyable, many people consider them to be necessities to happiness, and stylistically they leave much up to personal taste. If you work in the wine industry, much of your time is spent developing a palate, a sense of what constitutes quality, and how your own understanding of these factors fits into a strategy for the general market. As I've come to learn during my discussions with the Bai sisters—Eva and Ava—becoming a successful jeweler requires the same set up skills, you just need the right eye rather than the right set of taste buds. My wife and I came to meet the two thriving designers during one of our annual shopping trips to New York; my spouse having spent countless hours drooling over the Vale Instagram page, plotting her exploits in advance. We had spotted their elegant designs on A-listers like Kelly Ripa and Sarah Jessica Parker, and my wife had become quite enamored with their stackable, multifaceted rings. After receiving some incorrect information about what we thought was a Vale retail location, we stumbled into Eva and Ava's workshop like a couple of clumsy tourists and to our extreme embarrassment. While not technically a den for potential clients, the two sisters greeted us with huge smiles, welcomed us into their design space like old friends, and set to helping us pick out a few selections. After an hour of friendly and open conversation, numerous emails, and several shipments of fine booze and previous stones between San Francisco and Manhattan, I've come to adore both what the Bai sisters have accomplished and what they stand for as artists. Their goals and desires for the designer jewelry industry are closely linked with what we believe in here at K&L: that fine products of quality and integrity should be delivered to customers with care and precision, free of snobbery or pretension. 

Not only do Eva and Ava create graceful and elegant pieces for their clients, they also source their stones from ethical and responsibly-mined sources, bringing into focus another connection between our businesses: the curation of a global experience for our customers. Within ten minutes of meeting them I was already deep into a dialogue with both sisters, comparing and contrasting the aspects of our work and finding a number of incredible similarities. When I learned how much they liked to drink, I knew it was time for an On the Trail interview. I tracked the girls down this past weekend for a quick chat over the phone. Our conversation is below:

David: How did you both learn how to make jewelry and how did the idea come about?

Ava: After Eva and I graduated from college we both worked jobs we were interested in, but weren’t necessarily excited about. We also happened to work about eight blocks away from each other in New York, so we decided that after a long day of work we wanted to get together and do something fun. On a whim we thought: why not take a jewelry class over at this local city school? We did one class together and we both fell in love with it, so we started taking more. After a while we decided it was something we could possibly turn into a job—our passion. It’s worked out pretty well, I think.

David: It absolutely has! Especially considering you need more than just talent to start a business. You need to learn the fundamentals of your industry as well. How did you first start selling your pieces?

Eva: For this day and age our experience was probably a little backward because we opened up a shop early on. Because we didn’t have a background in the jewelry business and we were doing something so different from our previous jobs, we just started cold calling right off the bat. We got out there and began talking to the stores we liked and eventually the stores who liked our things bought some of them. Then we started to meet other designers at events in New York and a bunch of us got together and decided to open up a store together on the lower east side. We had that for about a year, I think?

Ava: Yeah, about a year and a half. This was around 2000 when there wasn’t much going on in terms of commerce on the lower east side. There were a bunch of clubs and bars, of course, and if you wanted to get Turkish food at 2 AM you could get it there. I remember having to stay open until 11 PM on some nights just to get some of that post-drinking business. 

David: You’ve gotta know your clientele!

Ava: That’s right! A little bit of alcohol, a little shopping. It’s a great combination.

David: I think we should be teaming up. I’ll get them drunk and send them to you. So you’re staying open late and selling jewelry…

Eva: Right, and remember this was back when things were still a bit gritty, less gentrified. We’d be there hanging out with friends, opening a bottle of wine, getting to know the local neighborhood very well.

Ava: It was a fun time, even though we were barely breaking even every month. I look back on that era with a lot of fondness. 

David: Ah…when things were so simple! But then you started growing. How does that happen? I know how it works with wine and spirits in that you began making more connections and you start sourcing more products, but how do you source precious gems and stones? How did you learn how to navigate that market?

Eva: It was a lot of trial and error, actually. To give you a bit of background, many of the people in this business have family in the trade, whether it’s the stone trade, or the metal trade, or what have you. Because we jumped into the jewelry business without any of that experience or those connections, we made a lot of mistakes, but we also learned quickly from those mistakes. 

Ava: It was mostly trial by fire and we didn’t have a lot of room for error. We were self-funded, we didn’t have any money from family, and we weren’t taking money from investors. We wanted to do this on our own. Working our junior corporate jobs we tried to piece together whatever savings we could, so whatever money we had to spend was precious. We couldn’t buy anything in bulk, so we just muddled our way through. We learned as much as we could about stones from reading, but also by handling them and working with them. 

Eva: We also tried to get as much information as we could from every vendor, but a lot of them didn’t want to part with that information because this business is still a bit secretive. The industry is shrouded in some ways. People are protective about the knowledge they have and their sources. They want to be proprietary about where they source their stones from, but that’s changing today because there’s more push back from the consumer end. Customers are concerned about ethical sourcing and people working in the stone trade have had to learn to be more open. Over time, however, you learn who to talk to, who to trust, who has good materials, and that’s how we progressed.

David: That sounds very much like the whiskey industry right now. There are a number of brands who don’t want to divulge where from they’re sourcing their whiskey, but consumers are more demanding than ever about these details. It’s completely changed the industry. You have to provide a certain level of transparency now, not just because of ethical sourcing like with blood diamonds, but simply because customers are interested in learning more about each producer. People want to have a deeper level of knowledge about everything today, about almost all of their hobbies or interests. 

Ava: Transactions today are as much about the experience as they are about the purchase. People want to be engaged and to feel like they’re a part of the story. At the very least, they want to relate to the story and they want to be able to retell it to others. 

David: Right! That’s exactly what’s happening with wine and whiskey today. We’re almost curating these special moments for people, not merely selling them something to drink or wear. I have to be able to answer so many more questions beyond what’s simply in the bottle. I need to know the history of the brand, and the name of the winemaker, and possibly be able to set up appointments for people should they want to visit the winery. We’re almost like travel agents at this point. Speaking of travel, didn’t you both go to Italy recently and do some wine tasting?

Eva: Yes, we started in Milan and then we decided to head to south and visit Naples.

Ava: Then shortly after we went to Sardinia, too. 

Eva: We didn’t make it up to as many wine regions as we wanted to, but we did drink a lot of Italian sparkling wine!

David: What is it about Italy and Italian wine that interests you? I know that’s what you both like to drink as that’s what you’ve asked me for in the past. 

Ava: I like that Italian wine is steeped in history and tradition, but it’s not necessarily as serious or at least taken as seriously as French wine. It’s just a seamless part of the lifestyle there. Going back to what we were talking about with curating experiences, there’s something wonderful about sitting on a small terrace in Italy and sipping on a glass of sparkling wine. It’s beyond the pure quality of the wine itself at that point; it’s just an enjoyable experience as a whole.

Eva: I don’t know if this is what people in the wine industry think, but it seems to me like Italian wine is less pretentious of a subject. It’s simply woven into the fabric of daily life there—eating and drinking with friends and family. You can just drink table wine in Italy and it’s great. It doesn’t cost a lot of money, but you’re still drinking really well. Don’t get me wrong: I love French wine too, but I’ve always felt there was just a little more pretentiousness involved. Am I right in thinking that Italian wine is on the whole a bit more rustic and down to earth?

David: I think you’re 100% right. I think snobbery as it pertains to wine has to do with reputation and one’s ability to brag about what they’ve drank or where they’ve been. When you say the names Bordeaux, Burgundy, and Champagne, everyone knows what you’re talking about, so those wines carry a certain amount of prestige and pretense because people use them as social currency. However, I rarely meet people who brag about having drunk nero d’avola in Sicily or having visited the Abruzzo region, but that’s because there’s no one to impress that information upon. If people cared more about Barolo and Brunello, I think there would be more pretense, but because Italian wines and varietals are so specific to Italy itself, the wines are more functional and food-oriented. Do you look for less pretentious bars at home, too? Where do you like to go in New York when you go out drinking? 

Ava: We’ve gotten to know some of the people at The Smith where they have a wide range of wine and whiskey, but honestly we go there because of how nice everyone is. Enjoying a drink has so much to do with the environment you’re in. Like we just said about Italy where you’ve got your beautiful cafe terrace and your delicious table wine, it’s the same thing here in New York. When you know the staff and you feel comfortable, almost like you’re with family, it enhances the experience. We go to the one in the Lincoln Square area. They have a good selection, but the wine isn’t necessarily the star of the evening there; it’s the people for sure.

Eva: There’s a great place on 53rd we like to go to called Tomi Jazz. It’s the cutest little bar. They have jazz every night, but it’s a Japanese jazz bar, so a lot of the artists who come through aren’t known by many people. It’s very small and intimate, and the entire staff is so friendly and knowledgable. You can get little Japanese bites like ramen or pork belly, and they have a really good selection of wine, but their focus is more on cocktails. It’s very cute and subdued.

David: Kind of like your jewelry, right? Your pieces aren’t necessarily meant to jump out, grab the attention, or be the star of the show—to dominate the conversation. They’re more cute, elegant, and atmospheric, in my opinion. They’re functional and understated.

Eva: We’re like the Italian wine of jewelry (laughs). You’re absolutely right. One of the terms we use for our work is “personal jewelry.” It’s something that may not necessarily stand out—it’s not ostentatious—but it still brings a little bit of sparkle to your outfit. It’s something you add to your life with personal feeling and sentiment. In that case it’s a lot like wine. Wearing it may cause you to think of a special event, a setting, or a moment that you associate really good feelings with. It conjures up those memories. 

Ava: We tried to create a line that was very personal and without pretense, pieces that you can wear and enjoy on your own, but also that are special enough to be sentimental. Drinking wine always makes me sentimental, so I can see the similarity! 

Eva: A customer of ours actually coined the term “low-key luxe” when describing our jewelry. I think wine can be like that, where you enjoy a really nice bottle, but it’s not necessarily big or bold, nor does it have a fancy name associated with it. 

David: That’s the natural progression of most people I’ve worked with in this industry. We start by drinking really big, rich, sweet, or intensely-flavored wines and whiskies that grab your attention. I think when you’re young and you go to Barney’s or Saks, you immediately look for the biggest diamonds because they’re so impressive. Eventually, however, you learn about restraint, nuance, and grace. You learn that bigger isn’t better.

Ava: There’s something to be said for maturing into a style or finding yourself. You end up knowing what you actually love, rather than simply reacting to all the things that are placed in front of you. We try to make jewelry that feels very personal, that allows people to express who they are without trying to pretend like they’re someone else. You don’t have to pair a specific outfit with it, or tailor it to a certain occasion, you can wear it on its own. 

Eva: When it comes to maturing, I think it takes a certain amount of experience and confidence to actually get there—to where you don’t depend on labels or name brands. You get to a point where you’re reacting to the piece and not the label, to where you know who you are and what you’re about. That can happen with both wine or jewelry, I think. 

-David Driscoll

Aubai Mema: The Unconventional Tango Man

Keith Mabry

Mark Haynes is many things: entrepreneur, winemaker, and tango dancer, but there is one thing that he is not and that's conventional. After meeting Mark at a wine fair in New York, I was immediately taken with his wines. I first noticed them at a round table dinner where bottles moved freely around the restaurant without context, but I liked what I tasted and remarked to myself that I wanted to visit his table at the more formal tasting. The next day, I stood in front of Mark and I began peppering him with questions about farming practices, age of the fruit, where in the world is Gard (south of France to the west of Nimes) and so forth. He told me a story about the village of Aubais (in the Gard region) being his summer home in the south of France and his inventive organic and biodynamic practices. He even mentioned some super crazy winemaking practices that almost sounded like magic crystals or maybe it was magnets somehow being involved. I got a little lost on that one, but the resulting quality of the wines spoke for themselves.

Mark is a spirited man and he 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 timing couldn’t have been more perfect because Mark was looking for a new challenge in his life and fled to the south of France to the village of Aubais and began investigating. After a few years of research, against his better judgment (as he jokes), Mark began purchasing vineyard land in what is known as the Liverna Valley. Aside from our mutual admiration for good food and drink, Mark and I became quick friends when we found out that we had another shared interest in Argentine Tango.  I personally danced for several years but I must confess that I am terribly rusty.  I am still utterly fascinated by the style and beauty of the dance and Mark is absolutely obsessed.   

So my New York trip yielded a visit to the Aubais Mema winery and Mark and I planned for a tasting and visit at his winery while I was on the Languedoc leg of my tour through the south of France.  The added plus, there was going to be a Tango Milonga (tango dance party) that evening at the winery.  I arrived in the afternoon and we sat down in his kitchen/dining room for a late lunch and tasting.  While, Mark jumped back and forth between telling me more of his personal story, preparing a lovely stew for the night’s festivities and rescuing me from a six-week old kitten bent on clawing my pants to pieces, we whiled away the afternoon tasting through his exceptional line-up of wines.  

Some pertinent details about Mark’s winery and winemaking: Aubai Mema is the original name of the village of Aubais where the winery is located. Mark began organic farming when he purchased his first vineyards in 2002. The winery is housed in the defunct cooperative facility which Mark purchased in 2006 and began renovating. Aubai Mema has ten hectares of vineyards and produces about 4000+ cases of wine annually, but the cooperative actually had the capacity to make upwards of 5,000,000 bottles annually before it closed. Many of the old concrete tanks of the cooperative were so large that Mark cut them open and converted them into barrel and bottle storage for top cuvees.  A large chunk of the building was turned into a dance studio where Mark hosts his weekly milongas or “Argentine Tango dances.”  The next phase of the renovation will be to convert another chunk of the winery into a bed and breakfast.      

The line-up of wines began with the Doux Charmes, a blanc de noir made from 100% grenache noir that is directly pressed before any skin contact can color the wine. It is a delightful white with white cherry and overtly fruity notes; kind of the porch pounder style. Next came the 2014 Albion, which is a blend of 50% chardonnay and 50% viognier.  A small portion of the chardonnay is aged in new oak barrels. This was a rocking concentrated white with apple, roasted pear and citrus notes; a bit of orange peel and stony finish rounded it out. The beauty of this wine is the harmonious marriage of these two distinct varieties where neither dominates the other. They become almost something new unto themselves. The workhorse red is the Liverna, which in most vintages is a blend of grenache and cabernet sauvignon; a seemingly unusual blend, but in the Gard you can kind of do whatever you want. It really works well here with currant and pipe tobacco notes. The grenache adds an element of juicy red fruit which rounds out the flavors of the wine. This makes for great everyday drinking.  

One of my favorite cuvees from the winery has to be the 100% old vine carignan which he calls “l’Insoumise.”  The word translates to “rebel” or “indomitable one” and when one “knows” carignan as a grape variety it all begins to make sense. This is a tricky grape often changing its yields dramatically from year to year. The vines don’t even really start producing great fruit until they turn 50 years of age. It’s a love-hate relationship for many winemakers but when it’s great, it can be really great. Full of deep purple fruit, supple tannins and light floral tones it is pure pleasure in a glass.  

We finished our tasting with the “tete de cuvees.” The “La Douzieme” is predominately syrah with a splash of viognier, modeled after a Côte Rotie.  A touch fleshier and fruitier than a wine from that region, it still offers great complexity and comparatively priced is an absolute steal. And the flagship wine: “Lunatico.”  It is a lush and velvety grenache made from old vine fruit from a north-facing vineyard that Mark farms biodynamically. Lunatico in French is a person who is changeable or ruled by the phases of the moon. In Spanish and English we think of someone who is lunatico as crazy.  It’s almost too on point when you think of Mark’s story and his journey into wine. He will admit you have to be lunatico to be in the wine business, both changeable and a little crazy. We finished our tasting and I left to get cleaned up and prepared for the tango dance party later that evening. When I returned, the winery was transformed with nearly a hundred people already dancing, eating and drinking. It was a remarkable evening meeting everyone from the surrounding villages coming together in a way I had not expected. I got out my oil can, shook off some of the rust and danced a little tango myself. We ate, drank and danced. It was a remarkable evening.

A great take away from my experience with Mark and his exceptional winery is that you may have to be a little crazy to immerse yourself this deeply in the life experience.  But with all the joy and pleasure that his hard work brings from winemaking, to dancing, to living life to its fullest, you have to be a little lunatico not too.

-Keith Mabry

On the Trail with Nicole Curran

David Driscoll

With the NBA season back in full swing and the Warriors on another great winning streak, I figured now would be the perfect time to talk wine with Nicole Curran. You’ll usually find her sitting next to her fiancé, Warriors owner Joe Lacob, at every Dubs game and she’s now as much a part of the scene at Oracle Arena as Mark Cuban is in Dallas. Her stylish outfits are always a must-see and her taste in wine is even more impeccable. How do I know this? Because, as neighbors to our Redwood City store, Nicole and Joe are two of our best customers and I've been personally helping Nicole with her wine selections for years. Seeing that we’re all huge Warriors fans at the store, when I saw the opportunity to do a little K&L/GSW collaboration I knew it needed to get done. Nicole is a hoot, a dedicated drinker, and I knew she would make a great subject for our On the Trail interviews. 

"Are you sure you want to interview me?" Nicole asked, humble as usual. "Joe would be the bigger draw."

"Joe is great," I said, "and I know he enjoys a drink. But you're the one who really drinks. And this is an interview about drinking," I replied. Our conversation is below:

David: Before you were sitting with your fiancé, Warriors owner Joe Lacob, court-side at every Warriors game, you used to work in the booze business just like me; a fact I learned in the store one day when you came in and wowed me with your wine knowledge.

Nicole: I did.

David: What led you into that wonderful profession?

Nicole: It was an interesting path. I started off as a high school teacher and I always said that the kids were the ones who drove me to drink (laughs), but that wasn’t really the case. When I was younger I collected wine, and was always fascinated by it, so I ended up moving from Arizona to Napa. My first job was at La Jota, where I lived and worked at the winery, handling all their sales and marketing. After that I worked for LVMH and I repped Krug, Dom Perignon, and Veuve Clicquot in the Bay Area for high-end accounts.

David: LVMH has such a great portfolio. Were you drinking as much Champagne as you were selling?

Nicole: I was drinking that stuff all the time! I still think in the Champagne world that the Dom Rose is my favorite. It was a very good job and it was very suited to my love. I basically got paid to drink for a living.

David: I know exactly what that’s like! You told me once there was a funny story involving wine and meeting you Joe. Is this while you were working for LVMH?

Nicole: Yes, I met him during that time in Pebble Beach. When we first met he said to me, “Oh, you’re in the wine business? I have this favorite wine, but I can’t remember what it is. Can you give me your email because I want to hear what you have to say about it when I figure it out.” I thought that was a bit strange, and definitely one of the more interesting pick-up lines. He ended up emailing me and said his favorite wine was the 1982 Latour. I responded immediately to him, saying: “That’s too bad. The 1982 Lafite is so much better.”

David: Wow! Matching power for power!

Nicole: Yes, I thought he was a little full of himself with that (laughs), but I later realized Joe wasn’t all talk and actually has an incredible palate. I try to fool him all the time with wine, asking him what’s French and what isn’t, and he can always tell the difference. It wasn’t him trying to be pretentious; he really did just like the 1982 Latour because he thought it tasted good! But after doing a side-by-side tasting, we did eventually determine that the 1982 Lafite was the better wine. For each of our first dates he brought a bottle of Bordeaux from 1982. 

David: Whoa, that’s no joke, huh?

Nicole: Yeah, that’s my kind of courting process! 

David: One of my favorite things that I got to experience at a Warriors game was the wine dispenser you had installed in your private lounge. I ran into you one time as we were both walking to the exit during halftime and you pulled my friend Joel and I into your entourage, so we followed you into the owner's area. It has all of your favorite bottles on tap, which we both thought was the coolest thing ever.

Nicole: It doesn’t have my favorite wine in it, unfortunately, but it does have some very nice selections hand-picked by me! 

David: How often do you switch them out?

Nicole: I probably change it on a yearly basis, although I am considering changing out one of the whites we currently have in there to something more fitted to my palate.

David: We saw professional poker star Phil Hellmuth hanging out in there as well. That was pretty crazy. But he didn’t seem to be as into the wine machine. I think he was drinking from the bar.

Nicole: Phil was indeed there drinking Scotch.

David: That’s one bitchin’ hangout room. Was that leftover from the previous owners, or did you have it installed just for you? 

Nicole: When Joe took over the team there was a room there, but we spent a year redecorating it and expanding it slightly. All the furnishings were picked out by me, all the light fixtures, and we just added the wine machine this year. That’s my favorite piece, of course.

David: It is by far the coolest thing in that room. We were very impressed.

Nicole: I think for Valentine’s Day I want one of those for home use (laughs).

David: Do you think you can drink enough on your own to justify having one?

Nicole: Hmmm……I like to share with good friends a lot.

David: Do you pre-party at home before the games just to loosen up, or do you wait until you get to the arena?

Nicole: I’m very superstitious so I actually have a drinking routine. 

David: Really?! What is it?

Nicole: I have one glass of wine before the game with food, in the room we just spoke about. At halftime, I bring a glass of wine out to the floor and walk by this fan who sits behind this sign—he always bangs on the sign during the game, and he’s really our number one fan. He’s never missed a game as long as I’ve been there. So I bring him a Pepsi and a shot of tequila. When we started that tradition of toasting each other we went on an incredible win streak. So now every game I bring him the tequila and the Pepsi and I toast him with the glass of wine that I drink.

David: That’s just fantastic.

Nicole: If we have a really big win we have tequila shots in the owners room for everyone.

David: We know you’re always there cheering on the team, but what’s something you do for the Warriors that maybe most casual fans don’t know?

Nicole: Well, I work very closely with the Warriors Foundation. Last year we gave away a million dollars in grants and I personally went to twenty-five of the applicants, interacted with the kids, looked at their programs, and evaluated them. Right there with winning, I think it’s one of the most valuable experiences I’ve ever had and I really enjoy doing it.

David: You and I have two things in common. We’ve both taught high school, and we’ve both worked in the booze business. But I have yet to play a part in owning an NBA franchise, so I’ll have to ask you: which of the three careers have you found most enjoyable? Kids, booze, or basketball?

Nicole: Honestly, I’ve enjoyed all of them, and they’ve all contributed to making me the person I am. 

David: If anything you’ve combined them all into one super job with your work with the foundation.

Nicole: Right! I get to help children, drink, and do it while watching basketball! Although I have to say that I do spend most of my time drinking at home not watching basketball (laughs).

David: Who is someone that you got to have a drink with while working with the Warriors that you were excited to meet?

Nicole: Wow, good question. I think I take for granted all the incredible people you get to meet doing this. I’ve never been star crazy. People will see a photo with me and someone else and they’ll say, “Wow, you got to meet this person or that person.” I don’t really think twice about it, but I would definitely say that seeing Jerry West every time I’m in the owner’s room still awes me. 

David: Does he ever have a drink with you at the game?

Nicole: You know, he doesn’t drink all that often, but I have to say that he really enjoyed the Radio-Coteau pinot noir I put in the wine machine. He loved it so much he couldn’t stop talking about it, so we sent him a case.

David: That’s what Joel and I drank when we were in there, too! He has good taste. Or, I guess, you have good taste.

Nicole: Or maybe that means you have good taste. Both in wine and basketball teams.

-David Driscoll

The Gift That Keeps On Giving

David Driscoll

While most of this year's K&L trip to Bordeaux focused on tasting and evaluating the 2015 vintage, we managed to squeeze in quite a few appointments with negociant houses in the region in order to load up on back vintages as well. While it was great to taste some of the great 95's and more from the fantastic 2005 harvest, I have to admit: the more I continue to taste the wines of 2012, the more I'm absolutely captivated by their subtlety, elegance, and overall quality. We've spelled out the situation before as to why pricing for 2012 has remained relatively low: the wines were difficult to evaluate in their youth and none of the main critics wanted to stick their neck out for an uncertainty (just in case the wines ended up being terrible). It turns out that not only were the wines really good; in fact, most of them were down right delicious. We just brought in a few more shipments from this past Spring's purchases that offer more evidence of this phenomenon:

Top quality Margaux for forty bucks? That's drinkable today? Yes, please! The 2012 Marquis de Terme is dark and fleshy with loads of cassis fruit and lightly gritty tannins that provide just enough structure for a quick five year cellar run. It's a pretty wine, one that expands for minutes on the finish. The power of our direct importation is on full display here with this value proposition. On the same container were fresh supplies of 2012 Issan, Chevalier Rouge, and even Gloria in magnums! All these wines are under sixty bucks and they're delicious (and the Gloria is two bottles worth!). For holiday drinking and short term cellar aging, we're sending our best customers home with the gift that keeps on giving: 2012 Bordeaux. For a full list of what's in stock right now, click here.

-David Driscoll

Teaming Up with Au Bon Climat

Bryan Brick

We couldn't be more excited to bring you another installment in what hopefully will turn out to be a long, fruitful project with wineries from around the United States, working with us directly to make exclusive bottlings for our customers. The Domestic team here at K&L has spent a great deal of time kicking around the idea of approaching wineries or winemakers we love, and asking them to work with us to create exclusive wines to our specifications. Furthermore we wanted to not only promote these outstanding wines, but the wineries behind them (rather than putting them in a private label with no winery attribution). We hope that you think that these wines offer a tremendous value and a slightly different expression of wineries that you are already familiar with. The one I want to tell you about today is the pinot noir expression we recently worked on with California winery Au Bon Climat, one of our favorite producers in the state.

While this isn't the first pinot noir project we've worked on with ABC, we wanted to improve on the last batch and bring our customers something even tastier. This year we incorporated the same blocks as previous vintages, Block 11 and Block 2 from Bien Nacido, but in different proportions and with a different clonal selection. Block 2 dominates this year, making up 90% of the blend, and within that are equal percentages of three parcels: one a mixture of clones 113 and 103—this was the nose and structure of the wine—and another is all clone 115, which added texture and power, while the other equal parcel was all clone 113, which made the finish of this wine something special. The other 10% came from Block 11 and is a mix of Swan and clone 115 that was whole-cluster fermented. This is the glue that holds the wine together, with snappy red fruits, warm spice, and a juicy feel that we think is wildly enjoyable. This is a plush, fresh and rich Pinot that has a little bit of something for everyone: Meaty spice—check. Ample, delicious fruit—check. Earthy savor—check. But possibly the best thing about it is the price. For $30 it is just an insane value—there is simply no other Bien Nacido-based Pinot Noir on the market for this price, or anywhere near it, honestly. As this was bottled in July 2016 I'd dump this in a decanter for an hour or two to really let it open up if you were going to drink it over the next six months to a year and I think this is going to be great five to seven years down the road.

Of course, it goes without saying that working with Au Bon Climat's mastermind Jim Clendenen is a true pleasure, both for me and the rest of my colleagues. Jim is one of the true pioneers of California pinot noir and we look forward to hanging out with him each time we travel down the coast to put this project together. This last time around he opened up a bottle of 1990 Au Bon Climat Chardonnay that was simply incredible. “Who said 1990 Chardonnay is dead? Tell them Jim said it’s still very much alive!" he said with a smirk. It goes without saying that our new ABC/K&L pinot noir belongs on your Thanksgiving table this coming Thursday, but if you need a white to go with it we just got the 2012 vintage of the Bien Nacido Chardonnay, one that I think has even more potential than the wine we tasted with Jim. It's simply one of the best values of the year and one of the top five Chardonnays I've tasted in 2016. One in a series of wines that Jim Clendenen makes to highlight the older "historic" vineyards in Santa Barbara County, all the fruit (like our pinot noir) is from the famed Bien Nacido Vineyard, and the quality of this vineyard site is universally agreed upon by vintners in the Central Coast. As this is a 2012 there is also just a touch of bottle age starting to creep in on the nose as well with a ribbon of caramel and an edge of torched sugar. However, the palate is fresh as can be, dare I say even electric at this point with superb entering flavors of lemon meringue, Clementine, marzipan and a wealth of floral material that reminds me of white roses and carnations. Soft and lush on the finish with vigor at its edges and a delicious white peach fruit that sings on this is a lovely, complex and serious Chardonnay. 

Au Bon Climat is the real deal. We're thrilled to be working directly with them.

-Bryan Brick

On the Trail at Maker's Mark

David Driscoll

If I had to pick one distillery in Kentucky that I thought offered the complete Bourbon experience from front to back, it would be Maker's Mark. That often comes as a surprise to younger whiskey drinkers who think the Bourbon world begins and ends with Buffalo Trace, Four Roses, and Heaven Hill, especially because Maker's Mark is just so.....available. While we in the industry are constantly forced to deal in current whiskey fashion and trends, we don't ever let a brand's enormous success and popularity put us off of a good product. Maker's Mark isn't only one of the best whiskies in America, it's also one of the most beautiful and hands-on distilleries. I was excited to fly out to Louisville this past Sunday to take part in their new Maker's 46 private cask program, one that lets retailers like myself customize a unique recipe using specially seasoned oak staves. The weather was cool and the holiday spirit was definitely in the air. I felt like I was in a Hallmark movie looking at the red ribbons from the wreathes on each window.

Maker's Mark is unique in the Bourbon world in that it's one of the few distilleries that uses absolutely zero rye in any of its recipes (and they only have one recipe). Rye is traditionally used in a standard Bourbon mash bill as a balancing act against the sweetness of the corn. The peppery character it imparts on the flavor acts as a ballast against the corn creaminess. When Maker's Mark founder Bill Samuels originally set out to create his own Bourbon, he wanted the sweetest, most front palate-loaded Bourbon possible. That's part of the reason he eventually chose a wheated recipe, opting for 16% winter wheat in place of rye as the flavor grain in the mash bill. He also dialed up the malted barley to 14% for extra creaminess (if you've ever wondered why people love Pappy Van Winkle so much, there are two main reasons: it's big and it's sweet. That's what wheated Bourbon is supposed to taste like). On top of that, he had the distillery season its barrels for nine months to a year before using them. What does "seasoning" wood actually mean? Basically, you leave the wood outside and let nature take its course. Through exposure to the elements, the wood begins to breakdown and dry out.

During that process the natural tannins in the wood will soften, which is why Bill wanted his barrels seasoned for an extended period. He didn't want wood tannins harshening his mellow, sweet, creamy wheated Bourbon. You know those bold, drying, astringent, and bitter notes you sometimes get in a real woody Bourbon? That's the wood tannins doing a number on your taste buds. Maker's Mark doesn't have any of that tannic character because they use heavily-seasoned casks. From 1954 to 2010, the distillery made only that one formula, but six years ago they added a twist to the portfolio: the Maker's 46, a French oak-enhanced formula that stimulates additional spice and richness by the addition of seasoned staves into the barrel during maturation. Ten expressive French oak planks are hooked on to a ring and inserted vertically into an empty Bourbon barrel, which is then refilled with mature, cask-strength Maker's Mark and aged for an additional nine weeks. The result is a richer, thicker, darker Maker's Mark that still accentuates the creaminess of the wheated recipe.

It wasn't until 2015 that I really understood the potential of the Maker's 46 seasoned-stave process or how far one could take it. I was visiting the distillery on business and my guide that day happened to have a sample of a Maker's 46 variation they had been working on at full proof. "Would you like to taste it?" he asked with a grin. I nodded, tasted, and rejoiced. The increased complexity in the whiskey was equally as drastic as the gulf that exists between the standard Maker's Mark and the cask strength edition—one of my personal favorites. "We're hoping to do a barrel program with this concept in the future," he continued. "Retailers like yourself can come out, pick your own staves, and make your own formula." A year later, I was back at Maker's Mark, ready to finally participate in the program I had been eagerly anticipating. It was finally happening. I flew out to Louisville with my Beam-Suntory rep Glen and we met up with Scott Mooney, who has been appointed to oversee the program. We met in the old Samuels house to put together a K&L custom recipe.

How did I do? Really well, I think! I had a plan—a goal in mind—and a good idea of what would get me there, so I didn't need too much time in the blending room. Before beginning, however, Scott asked me about my vision. "Well," I began, "I don't want to create some Frankensteinian version of Maker's Mark that no longer tastes like Maker's Mark. I want to keep the core elements intact."

He nodded and jotted down a few notes.

"This is a wheated Bourbon. I want it to still taste like a wheated Bourbon because that's what I like about it. Maybe we can somehow accentuate the sweetness; make it pop somehow in a way it didn't before. That would be nice."

I think we got there. After selecting my staves, filling my barrel, and rolling it into the rickhouse, I called it a day. Let's cross our fingers and hope our K&L cask tastes as good as the sample blend! We'll find out next Spring.

-David Driscoll

Beaujolais in the Big City

David Driscoll

Last night we invited a small group of K&L customers for a private Beaujolais tasting and three-course French meal at Mathilde in San Francisco, near our Harrison St. location. The goal was to create an atmosphere for enjoying French wine without the need to lecture or focus too heavily on the educational side of connoisseurship. As the ambassadors for Burgundy at K&L, Alex Pross and I were on hand to pour, answer questions, and provide tidbits of information about our recent imports from Beaujolais, but we didn't want this to feel like a stuffy wine event. We wanted a free-flowing, relaxed, and casual vibe that was conducive to socializing and would create a lasting impression. Mathilde's back patio tent is the perfect place for such an event. Everything about it—the lighting, proximity, and the service—generates a genuinely positive energy. We were ready to share that energy with our customers and friends.

For the first time ever, we decided to pair our French wine dinner with more than just French food. We had a live band playing French folk music as well and—let me tell you—it made all the difference. There's something about music that elevates dining to the next level. It inspires you to put away your cell phone, push away the pressures of daily life, and focus on the people around you. The mood was just right for the charming and delicious gamay-based wines of Beaujolais. 

What I also love about Mathilde is the variety of options. You don't have to order duck, or hen, or charcuterie when you dine there. I had the vegetarian option: house-made gnocchi with truffle oil and pesto—a fantastic pairing with the tartness and earthiness of the Brouilly wines we served during the main course. 

Rock star wine importer Charles Neal was on hand as well, but he went with the classic steak frites option, putting down plenty of Regnie from Domaine Colette alongside the pan-seared fillet. Overall, we were thrilled with the experience. This was a test run to see if customers would be interested in experiencing and learning more about French wine in a less-structured, more fun-oriented manner—one that involved a social element as well. I think the answer was an overwhelming: YES! Hopefully you'll join us next time around!

-David Driscoll

On the Trail with Kevin Nash

David Driscoll
Kevin Nash texts me a photo of himself drinking K&L's latest shipment this week

Kevin Nash texts me a photo of himself drinking K&L's latest shipment this week

I have to admit: it's pretty cool to get a text message from my childhood hero Kevin Nash that includes a selfie of him drinking a wine I recently sent him. I've been fortunate enough to meet a number of well-known folks at K&L over the years, and still I keep in touch with a good number of them, but there's something more moving to me about my friendship with Kevin (maybe because I spent my most formative years cheering him on from my living room). After meeting at the Hollywood premier for Magic Mike XXL last year, in which Kevin reprised his role as Tarzan, I found out that the WWE Hall of Famer had a soft spot for wine—California red wine, specifically. As one of K&L's head buyers, I told him it would be my honor to send him a case of interesting and captivating California wine selections; on me, of course. Getting the chance to buy Diesel a drink? That's a priceless opportunity if you grew up a wrestling fan like I did. We've been texting and emailing about our habits ever since. Throughout the nineties, Kevin Nash was WCW and WWE's biggest star, teaming with legends like Hulk Hogan, Scott Hall, and Randy Savage to dominate the sport. Seeing that Kevin is also a pretty captivating individual, full of clever quips and witticisms about life, I thought we should expand one of our conversations into an On the Trail interview for you all to read here. It's always interesting to hear about the booze habits of interesting people, don't you think? Our dialogue is below:

David: So when I ran into you at the Magic Mike XXL party and you were pouring yourself a glass of Singani 63, our friend Steven Soderbergh’s new beverage, was that the first time you had tried it?

Kevin: No, Steven had it on the Magic Mike set in Savannah. We tried it there first.

David: He brought a whole bunch for everyone to drink?

Kevin: For anyone who wanted it. But for most of the process of making the film no one was drinking alcohol.

David: Because you were working out so often?

Kevin: Yeah, just diet-wise because we couldn’t have any empty calories.

David: So you tried the Singani after the filming began winding down?

Kevin: It was after we finished shooting the dance sequences because after that we weren’t ever without our shirts on. So we had maybe a week of shooting left when I tried it.

David: How did Steven approach you with it? Did he give you the hard sell, or did he just kind of let you form your own opinion of it? Because it’s not something most people have heard of.

Kevin: He basically gave me some general information, about how he had even come across it, what it was—that it was a product of a grape only grown at a certain altitude in Bolivia. He didn’t hype it, he just said it was something that he enjoyed. Then he poured me a glass with a couple of rocks in it and I had some. 

David: And what was the verdict? Was it odd to you, or did it seem natural? I’m always very interested in the general feedback to stuff like this.

Kevin: I don’t really drink spirits, whatsoever—I’m not a Bourbon guy, or anything—so I mainly drink red wine exclusively. Occasionally I’ll have a beer, but this was one of those things that had a unique flavor. It’s a very sippable drink. It’s not something you can just chug. There are so many flavors within it. It’s very complex, and it was very enjoyable. Especially for my palate, which was pretty much all chicken and yams at that point in my training. 

David: As someone who trains as hard as you and doesn’t really drink hard liquor, how did you find Singani affected your body? I know Steven really enjoys it because it leaves him fresh in the morning with few ill effects.

Kevin: That was something he talked with me about the night we first drank it, and—sure enough—the next day I woke up crystal clear. 

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David: You can see how that really is a selling point for a lot of people; especially those who really watch what they ingest. So you’re primarily a red wine drinker. Have you always been into the reds, or was that something that happened later in life?

Kevin: No, I’ve probably been drinking red wine continuously since about 1978. I drink a lot of Australian wines, like shiraz, which usually has a higher alcohol content. Especially from the McLaren Valley. But for me, I mostly drink reds from Napa and Sonoma.

David: Wow, how serious are you? Do you collect?

Kevin:  I wouldn’t say I collect, but I’d say I consume. 

David: Do you have a cellar, or do you have a storage area where you keep your backstock?

Kevin: Yeah, I’ve got a pretty good storage area going.

David: When you’re wrestling, and you’re on the road, and your body is getting beaten up every night, do you have to take a break from alcohol during those periods, or is there a balance that you can find to enjoy it responsibly?

Kevin: I’d say alcohol was more of a necessity then than it is for me now. To go out in front of twenty or thirty-thousand people and feel that electricity every night, then drive another two-hundred or so miles to the next town, you’ve eventually gotta get the landing gear down. When you finally get to the hotel you’ve gotta get to sleep because you’re going to have to go back out there again the very next evening. Because alcohol is a depressant it helps to kick the adrenaline out of you a bit, and it gives you a chance to get some rest. 

David: So let’s say you’ve just finished up a show, and you’re finally at the hotel: do you then go up to your room, pop a bottle of wine, and have a few glasses before bed?

Kevin: Oh yeah. Even just the other night I did a personal appearance, then I had a two-hundred mile drive back to the hotel. When I got back to my room I sat down, turned on HBO, and opened up a bottle of wine. I ended up going to bed around 4 AM, but—you know—at least I went to bed. Which is why when we spoke earlier and you asked about a good time to call, I said, “1 PM.” (laughs). Because for my entire life I’ve been going to bed at 4 AM. So you figure: eight hours of sleep, it’s noon, then you get up, take a shower, have your coffee, and then it’s one o’ clock, which is when I start my day.

David: So you’re still on the road a lot for the WWE?

Kevin: Yeah, actually the WWE was here yesterday from 11-5 filming some stuff for the network at my house. I’m on a Legends Contract with them and I’ve got a good relationship with a lot of people in the corporation, so I do what I can do to help when they need something. Paul Levesque (Triple H) is one of the higher-ups, he’s one of my closest personal friends, and he’s married to Vince’s daughter, so I obviously I want to be a good friend.

David: That’s great that you’re so laid back about offering help. Your on-screen persona has always given off that same type of vibe. When I met you in person at the party you were incredibly nice and very relaxed. Everyone I’ve talked to seems to think you’re a very easy-going guy, to the extent that your nick name in the WWE was Big Daddy Cool. Would you say that your wrestling personality is really just an extension of who you are in your everyday life? 

Kevin: Yeah, I think I’m pretty laid back by nature. I can go zero to sixty pretty quickly if someone agitates me, but it takes a lot to get me there. 

David: (laughs) So what have you been drinking lately, now that the Magic Mike XXL madness has died down?

Kevin: My goal in life is to find the perfect $20 bottle of wine. That’s my quest. I’m mostly a cab/shiraz guy, but I’ll drink Bordeaux blends every now and again. 

David: Would you say you drink a bottle of wine every day?

Kevin: Oh yeah. Every day. Just for health reasons.

David: Absolutely (laughs). Do you drink it with food, or is it more to hang out with after the meal?

Kevin: I usually drink water with my meal, then usually I’ll pop a bottle around nine, let it breath for a half hour, then sit down with a glass and watch TV. Last night, for example, we put on True Detective and finished a bottle of wine off in about two hours, then I watched the news and went to bed. That’s it.

David: That’s my normal day, too. It’s great to hear you say that. It makes me feel so much better about my own consumption. 

Kevin: There are a lot of times where my wife and I will go out to eat, we’ll share a bottle of wine, then we’ll pop another one when we get home. My wife will often drink a bottle of wine on her own.

David: Mine, too!

Kevin: I’ll say: “That one’s yours, this one’s mine.” We’ll open them at the same time, she pours out of her bottle, I’ll pour out of mine. 

David: Besides your wife, who’s your favorite person to drink with? Maybe a former wrestler you you enjoy drinking with.

Kevin: Stone Cold Steve Austin.

David: Of course. So do you guys drink wine or beer?

Kevin: Yes.

David: (laughs) So you guys drink everything?

Kevin: Yes, I’ll actually drink Bourbon with him. We’ve even had espresso martinis. For some reason, Steve and I run the gauntlet. At the Wrestlemania-before-last we were down in New Orleans, staying at the Waldorf-Astoria, and we had these two massive suites right next door to one another—complements of the WWE. On the room service wine list they had the Orin Swift Prisoner, which we began ordering repeatedly. When we ran into the guys later they’d say, “Hey, we haven’t seen either of you all week,” and the joke was that we’d been “held prisoner”. Every single night we’d order more and more. At one point we were each drinking two bottles a night. At 14+ percent, that’s a pretty high alcohol wine. All those Orin Swift wines are pretty high up there—the Abstract, the Saldo, etc.

David: You really know your stuff, man! That's impressive. Who’s someone you never got to meet that you might want to drink with?

Kevin: God, I would have loved to drink wine with Andre.

David: Andre the Giant. 

Kevin: They said he wouldn’t even go out into the ring until he’d drunk six bottles. Six bottles—every night before he went to the ring. 

David: He was French, right? So that's to be expected.

Kevin: They say the normal French man consumes something like 723ml of wine a day, which is almost a bottle. Their diet is fat-based, but for some reason they have good heart health. Well, I’m 300 pounds, they’re on average about 150, so why shouldn’t I be drinking two bottles?

David: It makes perfect sense to me.

Kevin: Some nights I do have a bottle and a half, or even two, but—you know what?—I don’t ever wake up the next morning and say, “Oh man, I drank too much.” Worst case scenario, I’m feeling a little woozy, so I slam a Powerade Zero before bed and then I’m fine.

-David Driscoll