Staff Favorites - Gary Norton

Gary Norton

Reviews

  
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2011 Felsina "Fontalloro" Toscana
Review Date: 05-26-2017
Savory red fruit, dried herbs, mocha and leather are the hallmarks of this wine. Great restraint and length here as well, especially considering how hot 2011 was in Tuscany. It's a vintage that demands some selectivity, depending on what characteristics you gravitate towards. With a few years of bottle age on it already, the wine still has plenty left in the tank. Ten years at least in my opinion. There is no shortage of price to value ratio here - a true drink or hold.

2005 Three Dog Vineyard Santa Cruz Mountains Cabernet Sauvignon
Review Date: 05-03-2017
I don't often equate a sub thirty dollar bottle of wine with small production, single vineyard Cabernet from the Santa Cruz Mountains... it's largely non-existent in my world. After you get past the terrifyingly hokey label and endeavor into the wine itself it's captivating and vibrant, even with 12 years of age on it. Savory red fruits, tobacco leaf, baking spices and dried herbs are all over the place here. Come grab some, they're worth every penny.
Price: $29.99 Add To Cart

2013 Hacienda Monasterio Ribera del Duero Crianza
Review Date: 03-29-2017
There is often plenty of upside to difficult vintages and this bottle is a prime example of such. I'll roll the dice any day when I know that some incredibly high quality (and generally incredibly expensive) fruit is declassified and blended into an entry-level, or estate bottling. This wine is just seamless, showing notes of dark berries, leather and mocha. This should age gracefully for much longer than your average Crianza. This bottle is definitely worth a hard look but frankly, I don't expect it to be here for long.

2014 Maison L'Envoyé "The Attaché" Willamette Valley Pinot Noir
Review Date: 03-11-2017
A tremendously serious wine for thirty bucks, that's for sure. The wine shows notes of fresh purple fruits, baking spices and a smokey, almost syrah-like characteristic that comes in on the mid-palate. It's a wildly intriguing Pinot Noir that should age gracefully for another 5 to 8 years.
Price: $29.99 Add To Cart
VN 93 WS 92

2015 Clos de la Roilette Fleurie
Review Date: 03-02-2017
The 2015 Clos De La Roilette has more depth and concentration than most Gamays on the market. Packed with blue fruit and crushed granite on the nose that continues gracefully onto the palate. An exquisitely dense and structured wine considering how hot 2015 was in Fleurie. Check this wine out, it's well worth the money.
Price: $17.99 Add To Cart
VN 92 JG 90

2013 Lincourt "Steel" Sta. Rita Hills Chardonnay
Review Date: 02-28-2017
This wine is reminiscent of the success we enjoyed last year when we released the value-driven Alma Rosa Santa Barbara Chardonnay. It's totally unoaked, showing notes of grapefruit, yellow nectarine and Mandarin oranges. If you prefer linear styled whites and a touch of ripeness, this is a wine you should be buying by the case.
Price: Hidden View Price

2014 Obsidian Ridge "Obsidian Ridge Vineyard" Red Hills Lake County Cabernet Sauvignon
Review Date: 02-18-2017
I invite you to find a high elevation, single vineyard Cabernet from Napa that won't set you back less than one-hundred dollars. It simply doesn't exist. This wine is dense and structured, with notes of black fruit, blackcurrant, fennel seed and minerals. Many forget to consider the fact that Lake County is bordered by Mendocino, Napa and Sonoma Counties, three high profile designations that command a higher price point. To me, Lake County is synonymous for Value Town, and I plan to exploit the price to quality ratio for the benefit of my cellar until the masses finally catch up.
Drink from 2018 to 2018
Price: $25.99 Add To Cart
RP 92

2014 Gary Farrell "Russian River Selection" Russian River Valley Chardonnay
Review Date: 02-17-2017
2014 has, thus far, been an incredibly strong vintage for white varietals on the West Coast. Yet for some reason I've been mildly underwhelmed by a couple Chardonnays produced in the Russian River lately. Thankfully things changed in that realm shortly after I tasted the latest release from Gary Farrell. It's quite linear and driven, with notes of Satsuma orange flesh, stone fruits and pronounced notes of minerals on the finish.
Price: $29.99 Add To Cart
WE 95 WS 90

2012 Iron Horse "Wedding Cuvée" Green Valley of Russian River Valley Brut Sparkling Wine
Review Date: 02-09-2017
Delicate aromas of red berry fruit, lemon peel and pie crust lead into a forward, yet complex palate of red berries, grapefruit and baking spices. It's a lush and ripe style with enough acid retention to keep our Champagne purists happy. This bottle just got an astonishing 96 points from Wine Enthusiast so it's difficult to know if our allocation is going to survive through Valentines day.
Price: $29.99 Add To Cart
WE 96 WS 91

2012 Leeuwin "Art Series" Cabernet Sauvignon Margaret River Western Australia
Review Date: 02-01-2017
Year after year I find myself increasingly impressed by the value and overall quality of this wine. Robust, age-worthy, structured - the wine has it all. It's a classically styled Aussie cab, brimming with notes of tomato leaves, dried herbs, licorice, dark fruit and spices on the finish. In the early 1970s the estate was identified by none other than Robert Mondavi (presumably as a prospective buyer) as a premier site for high quality wine production and this bottle is evidence that he was absolutely correct.
Price: $39.99 Add To Cart
JS 97 JH 96

2015 Pencarrow Sauvignon Blanc (Palliser) Martinborough
Review Date: 01-31-2017
Pencarrow is the second label from the famed Palliser Winery in Martinborough. It's delicate and fresh, showing notes of jasmine, lime peel and Asian pear. The wine has gorgeous depth and purity for thirty bucks, but for less than eleven it's flat out fantastic. Great drive and minerality with a hint of richness on the midpalate. I expect to see this wine move quickly once it gains some traction with our customers.
Top Value!

2014 Jax "Estate" Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon
Review Date: 01-19-2017
Truth be told, fifty bucks is becoming the entry level price for an estate cab coming out of Napa these days. We are reaching an era of skyrocketing prices - some producers are doubling the rates for their 2015 releases. Literally. Less than 1000 cases of Jax's estate Cabernet was produced this year and our share will likely evaporate soon. It's a big, fruit-driven wine that is immediately accessible and will continue to be for the next 5-9 years.
Price: $49.99 Add To Cart
RP 93 WE 90

Cain "Cuvée NV12" Napa Valley Bordeaux Blend
Review Date: 01-19-2017
Cain's non-vintage "NV" offerings are some of the Valley's best value reds. If you are a fan of old-world styled, hearty red wines that carry a bit of a funky, bretty edge than this wine is a must try. Unfortunately, this type of wine is a dying breed in California as most wineries are shifting towards the production of bigger, rounder and flashier reds. The NV12 is a blend of 2012 and 2011 (59% & 41%, respectively) and consists of 50% Merlot, 32% Cabernet Sauvignon, 10% Cabernet Franc, 4% Petit Verdot and 4% Malbec. For those rustic wine lovers out there, this one's for you!
Price: $35.99 Add To Cart

2014 Jax "Y3 Taureau" Napa Valley Red Blend
Review Date: 01-19-2017
We discovered this production earlier last year and since that time a number of it's offerings have been very well received by the press. This particular blend is comprised of 45% Merlot, 25% Cabernet Sauvignon, 20% Syrah and 10% Zinfandel. It's an extractive style, very reminiscent of Bedrock. The wine is dense and full bodied, showing notes of dried violets and black fruits on the nose. The palate comes together with more dark flowers, black berries, black currant and cassis. This wine offers tons of fruit and finishes quite dry. It's a great wine and a steal for the money.
Drink from 2017 to 2017
Price: $19.99 Add To Cart
WE 90

2015 Averaen (Banshee) Willamette Valley Pinot Noir
Review Date: 01-11-2017
Six months ago if someone told me I could buy a twenty dollar Pinot Noir from the Willamette Valley that was produced from vineyards such as Meredith Mitchell and Eola Springs, I'd probably take offense to it. No one likes to be lied to! Alas, it's actually available. Made by our buddy Adam Smith (formerly of Bethel Heights & Shea - currently of Eisold Smith), this new project from the folks at Banshee Wine Company is an absolute knock out. Dark fruits, dried violets and a spicy finish. This is one of my top value choices of 2017.
Drink from 2017 to 2017
Price: $19.99 Add To Cart
VN 91

2014 Château de la Negly "La Côte" La Clape
Review Date: 01-10-2017
It's a lot of wine for twelve bucks, that's for sure. The carbonic maceration is clear, offering a ton of vibrancy and acid drive, while concurrently lending flavors of blue berries, red raspberry, and dried violets on the palate. You can comfortably pair this value driven red with a variety of dishes ranging from roasted poultry to seared duck to spicy sezchuan. I'd be completely satisfied if I paid upwards of thirty dollars for this bottle.
Price: $12.99 Add To Cart

2014 Hess Collection Napa Valley Chardonnay
Review Date: 01-10-2017
This year we have already enjoyed a tremendous run on value-driven Domestic Chardonnays. Well ladies and gents, the 2014 Hess Collection NV Chardonnay is another hit. Notes of butter, yellow nectarine and baking spices are front and center here. It's a richer, plusher style of Chardonnay, seeing roughly 20% new wood and going through partial malo. Another great wine from one of the best vintages for Domestic Chardonnay in recent memory.
Price: $17.99 Add To Cart
WE 90

2014 Domaine Drouhin "Arthur" Dundee Hills Chardonnay
Review Date: 01-10-2017
Loads of clove, cinnamon and baked apple on the nose of this young Chardonnay. The palate is racier than expected. While 2014 is a very lush, hot vintage, DDO's house style is consistently balanced in terms of acidity and ripeness. The wine is produced entirely from estate fruit (Dijon clones) and is fermented in both tank and barrel. This Chardonnay is always a show stopper in my eyes, and frankly, it's cheap considering the name and quality behind it.

2015 Charles Smith "Kung Fu Girl" Columbia Valley Riesling
Review Date: 01-10-2017
Tuesday night takeout has never met a better dinner companion. Whether it be Thai, Chinese or Sushi, this wine delivers the goods. Fresh acidity, notes of green apple, citrus flesh and a gentle minerality on the finish. For ten bucks I'm not looking for a life-changer, I'm looking for something to crack open and enjoy without any fuss. There's a reason we sell this stuff by the case!

2014 Mayacamas Mt. Veeder Chardonnay
Review Date: 01-06-2017
Green apple, racy lemon, yellow nectarine with a flash of vanilla and wet stone on the finish. This is an age-worthy, linear style of Chardonnay similar stylistically to Heitz Cellars'. It's steely and crisp, having spent time in neutral wood and stainless steel after fermentation. There's a reason Mayacamas has been in business for 125 years and it's because of bottlings such as this.
Price: $47.99 Add To Cart
VN 96 JS 94

2014 Olema Sonoma County Chardonnay
Review Date: 01-04-2017
Iv'e always been tremendously impressed with the pound for pound value that Olema (and Amici Cellars) offers on a consistent basis. This year's offering is a luscious and heavy expression of Sonoma County Chardonnay. It's brimming with notes of candied pineapple, Meyer lemon, satusuma oranges, marzipan and baking spices. For fifteen bucks it doesn't get better than this.
Price: $14.99 Add To Cart
JS 91

2013 Sinor-LaVallee San Luis Obispo County Chardonnay
Review Date: 11-30-2016
The Sinor LaVallee SLO County Chardonnay expresses richer tropical fruit notes such as Autalfo mangos and yellow pineapple plus the addition of torched marshmallow, crème brûlée, and baking spice. It's a lush and heavy wine with enough acid to keep it balanced. A phenomenal wine from the quaint little coastal town of Avila Beach, California.
Price: $21.99 Add To Cart
WE 93 VN 90

2004 La Tempérance Prestige, Haut-Médoc
Review Date: 11-29-2016
Fully matured Bordeaux for less than fifteen bucks? Yes, it exists. This attractively priced, right-bank bottling is showing notes of blackcurrant, dark fruit and an undertone of that classic Medoc terroir that I can only describe as sweet-dirt. Mmmmmm. Go getcha some!
Price: $14.99 Add To Cart

2014 Louis M. Martini Sonoma County Cabernet Sauvignon
Review Date: 11-15-2016
An age-worthy domestic Cab for less than fifteen bucks? Yes, it exists. This is an incredibly serious wine at a price point that is laughably low. Black fruit, licorice, blackcurrant, green bell pepper, baking spices. Toss in a well integrated, powdery tannin on the back end just for good measure. Dump this bottle into a decanter and don't tell your dinner guests how much you paid for the bottle, they'll be remarkably impressed by your generosity.
Price: $13.99 Add To Cart
RP 90

2015 Au Bon Climat/K&L Wine Merchants "Bien Nacido Vineyard" Santa Maria Valley Pinot Noir
Review Date: 11-10-2016
Another classic expression of Bien Nacido Pinot Noir. Wild strawberries, salted herbs, blood orange peel and baking spice on the finish. One more knockout from ABC and a terrific addition to K&L's line of co-branded wines.
Drink from 2016 to 2016
Price: $29.99 Add To Cart

2012 Honorío Rubio "Lías Finas" Blanco Rioja
Review Date: 11-09-2016
Remember the '05 Lopez de Heredia Vina Gravonia we had last year? Well this is it's twin brother who no one ever told you existed. Classic funky, petrol-ish, waxy, chamomile scents with notes of toasted oats, lemon and green apple on the palate. This is an awesomely nerdy wine that you should endeavor into.
Price: $27.99 Add To Cart

2009 Miguel Merino "Vitola" Reserva Rioja
Review Date: 11-09-2016
This is the perfect transition wine for those fond of American wines who are looking to try something new or are simply tired of paying a premium for wines with a Napa Valley designation. It's full bodied, rich and dark fruited. The wine has been aged for at least three years with at least one in barrel. A top quality, progressive style of Rioja.
Price: $19.99 Add To Cart

2012 Miguel Merino "Viñas Jovenes" Crianza Rioja
Review Date: 11-09-2016
Not only has Miguel Merino figured out how to make his Crianzas taste like Gran Riservas, but he's learned how to make wine produced from young vines taste like their from old vines. How the heck did he do it? I don't know. But this bottle of wine drinks way above it's price point. Notes of dark fruit, dark berry and dusty bramble notes enter and darker, richer tones of mocha, chocolate and baking spices round out the finish. Fair warning, if this is your first experience with a Crianza, compare it to learning how to drive in a Ferrari.
Price: $14.99 Add To Cart

2014 Ancient Peaks/K&L Wine Merchants Paso Robles Zinfandel
Review Date: 11-08-2016
Gobs of black plum, dark cherry fruit and a plush, spicy finish. Oh, all for less than twenty five bucks? Count me in. Pair this wine with your next round of grilled tri-tip or ribs. This co-branded Zin is easily my top value-red coming out of the Paso Robles.
Price: $24.99 Add To Cart

2014 Forman "Château la Grande Roche" Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon
Review Date: 11-02-2016
Year after year I'm impressed by Forman's "Chateau La Grande Roche" Cabernet. I often find myself underwhelmed by second labels and understand why they didn't make the cut for a classified bottling. Not this one. It's structured and grippy, with notes of graphite, tobacco and black fruits. Drink this guy in a few years or give it an hour in a decanter. Great buy.
Price: $44.99 Add To Cart

2015 Domaine de Biéville (Louis Moreau) Chablis
Review Date: 10-28-2016
This is a classically styled old vine Chablis -- super clean and linear, showing notes of citrus fruit and chalky minerality throughout. An easy drinking wine that's perfect for the upcoming holiday season.
Price: $16.99 Add To Cart

Del Bac "Dorado" K&L Exclusive Single Barrel Mesquite Smoked Malt Whiskey (750ml)
Review Date: 10-21-2016
This stuff is really, really, really interesting. It's a visceral spirit that takes me back to backyard BBQs back in Wisconsin. Aromas of mesquite barbecue sauce, blistered peppers, torched marshmallows and vanilla emanate from the glass of this Southwestern single malt. This is a must-have for any whiskey geek such as myself.
Price: $64.99 Add To Cart

2014 Concannon Paso Robles Cabernet Sauvignon
Review Date: 10-18-2016
I've always known about Concannon's history as the first American producer to bottle Petite Sirah under it's varietal name but I associated it more with the fact that was sold a twice in the eighties and again in the early nineties. I honestly figured the quality of their wines had diminished after changing hands so many times. Well, I stand corrected. Concannon's Paso Robles Cab is rich and structured, showing notes of white pepper, blueberry pie and boysenberry preserve. It's a plush and approachable cab at less than thirteen bucks. Doesn't get much better than this.
Price: $12.99 Add To Cart
WE 91

2015 Kalinda Willamette Valley Pinot Noir
Review Date: 10-18-2016
Finally! We were able to put together a smokin' deal to get some juice from the Willamette Valley bottled under the name of our in-house label. Made by our friends over at Chehalem, this particular bottling is less linear and acid-driven than their generally Burgundian, racy house-style. Notes of ripe raspberry, bright cranberry and lush red fruit kick around on the palate and taper down into baking spices and subtle earth notes on the finish. Barely edging out the North Coast Pinot Noir we released earlier this year, this is Kalinda's best red wine made to date.
Price: $24.99 Add To Cart

2013 Brassfield "Eruption - Volcano Ridge Vineyard" High Valley Red Blend
Review Date: 10-14-2016
A blend consisting of 38% Malbec, 36% Syrah, 16% Mourvèdre and 10% Petite Sirah, this is a very serious wine for sixteen dollars. Dark fruit, dark berries, solid fruit depth without any indication of jamminess. It's full-bodied and has a well-integrated, dusty tannin structure on the finish. Need I say more?
Price: $15.99 Add To Cart
WE 92

Michel Arnould Verzenay "Reserve" Brut Champagne (1.5L)
Review Date: 10-03-2016
This is a fantastic non-vintage bottling from Michel Arnould. The blend consists of a heavy dose of Pinot Noir (75%) and the rest Chardonnay, which creates a wonderfully delicate and floral nose that leads into heaps of red fruit and red berries. The finish is clean and citric. A truly special bottle of bubbles.
Price: $69.99 Add To Cart

2012 Hidden Ridge "55% Slope" Sonoma Cabernet Sauvignon
Review Date: 10-01-2016
This is one heck of a wine for less than a hundred bucks. It's currently expressing notes of cassis, dark fruit, fresh salsa, dried herbs and licorice. I'd pick up a few of these for now and a few more for the future. It's pretty wound up right now and needs at least an hour of air time if you're going to open it tonight, but I'm substantially certain this wine can withstand a decade or more in your cellar.
Top Value!

2013 Melville "Estate" Sta. Rita Hills Pinot Noir
Review Date: 09-21-2016
Red fruited and herbaceous, this year's estate bottling has plenty of structure and depth to offer. Notes of wild strawberry, dried cranberry and traces of dried rose petals on the finish. Melville parted ways with their head winemaker Greg Brewer (of Brewer-Clifton & La Voix) at the end of 2015 so there's only a few more vintages with his legacy attached to it.

2013 Mount Eden "Estate" Santa Cruz Mountains Chardonnay
Review Date: 09-15-2016
Mount Eden has released yet another lovely Chardonnay. Surprised? Well you shouldn't be. The latest vintage is a little bigger and flashy than it has been in the past, yet it still retains great acidity and focus. Aromas of green pineapple and fresh Bosc pear pour out of the glass. On the palate, yellow nectarine, more pineapple, and Meyer lemon. Another home run by our friends over at Mount Eden.

2013 Calera "de Villiers" Mt. Harlan Pinot Noir
Review Date: 09-08-2016
This particular bottling from Calera requires a bit of air time to soften up but is the most accessible vineyard-designated Pinot Noir of theirs right now (it will, however, only get better with a few more years of bottle age). Planted in '97, the De Villiers vineyard is Calera's youngest estate site. This bottling sees roughly 30% new oak and is aged in barrel without racking for 16 months. A top-quality wine from one of America's most respected producers.

2015 Boekenhoutskloof "The Wolftrap" Red Blend Western Cape
Review Date: 09-08-2016
It's forward, approachable, and darn delicious for under ten bucks. A blend of Mourvedre, Syrah and a tad Viognier (for some added lift), the wine shows notes of ripe cherry, game, dried cranberry and a hint of baking spice. I always keep a few bottles of the Wolftrap at my place for nights that I want a glass of good wine but don't want to break into anything too pricey.
Price: $8.99 Add To Cart

2013 Roth Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir
Review Date: 09-08-2016
Bright, full and luscious, this is a classic Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir that shows notes of dark berries, ripe red cherry, baking spices and soft, integrated tannins on the finish. My go-to crowd-pleaser for work events, weddings and parties. Great value.
Price: Hidden View Price

2015 Robert Cantin "Les Grezes" Pinot Noir Vin de France
Review Date: 09-08-2016
This is the best pound-for-pound Pinot Noir in the store. Period. It's a serious, quaffable Pinot at an obscenely low price point. Read my buddy Mahon's review below. This is a rare creature. Come get some before they roll out of the door, just like they did last year.
Price: $11.99 Add To Cart

Westland Sherry Wood American Single Malt Whiskey (750ml)
Review Date: 08-06-2016
My personal favorite of our current Westland lineup. Aromas of Fig Newtons, toasted pecan, mocha and dried yellow fruits to cap it off. It isn't too oily or sweet, it's an honest, lively whiskey that begs to be had neat, or with a single rock.
Price: $69.99 Add To Cart
WE 95

Westland Peated American Single Malt Whiskey (750ml)
Review Date: 08-06-2016
In the spectrum of American single malts, Westland is at the apex of my list. Each and everything they offer is of incredible quality and reasonably priced. Their peated whiskey, priced at $69.99, rivals most Scotch whiskeys that command upwards of $100.00. It's rich, focused and balanced, showing notes of smokey creme brulee, vanilla, pie crust and scorched orange peel. Easily one of the best American whiskeys on the market today.
Price: $69.99 Add To Cart

Westland American Single Malt Whiskey (750ml)
Review Date: 08-05-2016
Westland's American Single Malt is truly a show stopper. It houses very pure single malt Scotch-like characteristics (reminiscent of a classic Speyside) while adding some additional notes of vanilla extract, espresso bean and dried Medjool dates. This could be a game changer for you, come scoop a bottle and you'll understand what I'm talking about.
Top Value!
Price: $59.99 Add To Cart
WE 93

2014 Terra Valentine Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon
Review Date: 08-03-2016
Black plum, dark bramble fruit, baking spice, licorice and vanilla. This wine is truly at your disposal: Drink or hold. This dark fruited, structured cab is very approachable now but will certainly hold up in your cellar for ten plus years. A wine like this is tough to come by, especially at it's meager $29.99 price point.
Price: $29.99 Add To Cart
WS 91

2014 Chappellet "Signature" Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon
Review Date: 07-28-2016
Wow. The 2014 Chappellet Signature is strikingly approachable right now. Showing notes of dark berry fruit, bramble, red licorice, parsley leaf and mocha. Most releases from Chappellet (especially their flagship cab blend) need a year or two to settle in but this young wine is fresh, vibrant and drinking very well already. I have a strong feeling that this offering from Chappellet is going to garner high praises from the critics so it may be advisable to stock up now while they're still available.

2014 Martin Ray "Coast Grade Vineyard" Santa Cruz Mountains Pinot Noir
Review Date: 07-08-2016
The Coast Grade Vineyard is a steep hillside site that is located on the the coastal side of the Santa Cruz Mountains. 2014 was another vintage defined by drought, yields were lower but moderate temperatures enabled the vines to stay healthy and produce some exceptional grapes. Martin Ray's expression from this vineyard is racy and balanced, showing notes of bright cherry, dark berry, dried herbs, cedar and mocha. It's got points, it's got pedigree, and it's delicious.
Price: $34.99 Add To Cart
WE 95

2015 Domaine Renaud Mâcon-Villages
Review Date: 06-18-2016
Having a party and don't want to endeavor into the Domestic Chardonnay realm? Well, look no further. While it is on the riper end of the Burgundian spectrum, it's fantastic for the money. Fresh lemon, stone fruit and subtle mineral notes to cap it off. Really nice little wine.
Price: $13.99 Add To Cart

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