On the Trail

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