BBQ and Bordeaux in Redwood City

Monday night, our founder and Bordeaux buyer Mr. Clyde Beffa threw a party for the Redwood City staff after hours. He fired up two gigantic kettle grills and treated us to some excellent salmon, dry-aged ribeye, and lamb chops from local superstar butcher Pape Meat in Milbrae. He and our master of all operations, Jorge Valencia, cooked up a storm for the twenty-six members of the team who came for the party. Naturally, some corks were popped. For some of our younger staff, it was hard finding a bottle that wasn’t older than them. Everyone had a great time.

We started things off with a Jeroboam of 1995 Launois Grand Cru Blanc de Blancs. This bottling has been in my list of top Champagnes of the year almost every year since we started importing them nearly twenty years ago. In this big bottle, the wine is aging gracefully and very slowly, and this one was full of magical fresh brioche, Devon cream, and yet, was still loaded with chalk and bright cut. The finish was nearly endless, but with a big crowd of thirsty K&L staff, the bottle was not! We drained it in the first fifteen minutes.

Clyde opened a three-liter bottle of the 1995 Labégorce, Margaux, which had the effusive bouquet for which this appellation is so famous. The nose was generous with leathery, sweet raspberry, and subtle forest-floor aromas. On the palate, the wine was still fresh and bright with a lovely aqueux quality that complemented rather than dominated the food. I was happy to have a second glass of it.

From St. Julien, we had two vintages of Léoville-Barton. Out of 750ml, we had the effortless, elegant, 1986 that had the delicate, cassis-like Cabernet fruit, and perfect texture that only thirty-three years can bring. Out of magnum, we had the still powerful 1995, with a big black currant bouquet and dark power in the mouth. Although this wine was the power hitter of the bunch, it did not seem heavy at all and finished grippy but bright with just 12.5% alcohol. I loved this claret with the lamb chops!

Clyde loves old-school Right Bank wine, and we had two vintages of the no-longer-producing Chateau Magdelaine from St. Emilion. Both were birth year bottles for several of the staff. The magnum of 1985 was unbelievably fresh, with new leather and supporting perfectly preserved fresh summer plum fruit. The wine was remarkably clean and pure, with resolved tannins and medium to full body and a seamless texture that only time can bring. The finish was super long and showed of the pure fruit of this still young 34-year-old wine. My wine of the night was the 1982 from 750ml, which had a rusty color but perfectly preserved sugar plum fruit. This wine was so generous, seamless and natural, with fabulous misty redwood complexity and so long finishing and loaded with all manner of confiture flavors that it is hard to accept that this Château is gone.

 Thank you, Clyde, for yet another great Bordeaux experience!


—Gary Westby