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K&L Staff Recommendations
92 points Vinous: "The 2014 Pinot Noir (Sonoma Coast) is a fabulous wine at this level. Sweet spices, rose petal, mint and succulent cherry/plum notes all lift from the glass. Supple and beautifully layered throughout, the Sonoma Coast hits all the right notes. A final burst of fruit rushes across the palate on the refreshing, inviting wine. There is so much to like. (AG)" (2/2016) 91 points Wine & Spirits: "The nine vineyards that go into this wine range from Olivet in the middle of the Russian River Valley to Bohan and Hirsch on the far-coast ridges. It’s inviting, with plump red fruit and tangy aci ...Read More »
95 points Wine Enthusiast: "*Editors' Choice* Bringing together multiple sites in one wine, this provides a fine example of the sum equalling more than the parts. Well balanced and crafted, it offers aromas of sandalwood and smoked meat that contrast with more exuberant, textured layers of black cherry and citrus peel. (VB)" (2/2017) 90 points Wine & Spirits: "Sourced from vineyards throughout the Russian River Valley, including Hallberg and Galante in the cooler Green Valley AVA, this is a refreshing and mouthwatering pinot noir with the crunchy, tart flavor of blackberries growing in the shade. Open a bottle ...Read More »
94 points Wine Enthusiast: "It’s hard not to jump up and down about the outstanding value represented here, a wine made from Dutton Ranch fruit that’s juicy and generous in baked strawberry, earth and rose petals. A grippy structure provides weight around nuanced, spicy cherry-pie flavor and plenty of body to satisfy." (12/2016)
95 points Wine Enthusiast: "Dark yellow in color, this wine shows tangy green apple and a richer, more concentrated element of applespice cake, with supportive, balanced acidity. With a bright, lifted finish, this less-expensive offering compared with many of the producer’s single vineyard designates never lets up on complexity or deliciousness." (2/2017) 90 points Wine Spectator: "Features a tight mix of leesy, pithy citrus, pineapple skin and blood orange rind flavors. Complex, with a long, sustained finish. (JL)" (12/2016) Wine & Spirits: "Drawn from seven Russian River vineyards, including pedigreed sites like Rochioli and A ...Read More »
91 points Wine Enthusiast: "Spicy nutmeg meets a reckoning of lemon zest and grapefruit pith in this light, bright, elegant white that's subtle in oak. Notions of just-ripe pear follow around a rounded, medium-bodied build, providing plenty of juiciness and structure. (VB)" (8/2016)
95 points Robert Parker's Wine Advocate: "The two vintages of Chardonnay I tasted come from the Jos. Belli Vineyard in Russian River. The 2015 Chardonnay Jos. Belli Vineyards was made from small yields, and according to Dick Arrowood, it is one of the top three vintages in his 50 years of experience. This wine offers loads of peach, honeysuckle, delicate apricot, caramelized citrus and apple blossom in a full-bodied, rich, discreetly oaked style. It is long, promising and super-concentrated. If this is an example of just how strong many 2015s will be, we’re in for another treat from Northern Cal ...Read More »
92 points Connoisseurs Guide: "This serious, nicely composed opus impresses in all of the ways that very good Chardonnay can, and it hits the right marks from its concentration and keen focus to its exemplary balance and vitality. It teams deep, optimally ripened fruit with just the right amount of sweet, ever so slightly toasty oak, and, while always quite rich, it is wonderfully lively and dynamic from beginning to end. There is so much going on that it is fascinating right now, but this is one that will prove just how well fine Chardonnay can age, and we see it improving for at lea ...Read More »
93 points Vinous: "The 2014 Pinot Noir (Russian River Valley) is terrific. Bright, nuanced and savory, the straight Russian River Pinot has all the attributes of this strong vintage. Sweet floral notes round out a Pinot that is understated and silky. This is a rare appellation-level Pinot that could use another few years in bottle to fully flesh out. Paul Hobbs describes 2013 as a consistently warm, dry year but without excesses. I remember stopping by in January of that year, and being quite surprised when Hobbs told me he was likely to start irrigating imminently, which ...Read More »
Rod and Lynn Berglund carry the mantle for this historic Russian River Valley winery as it marches into its 50th year.
97 points Vinous: "The 2015 Pinot Noir Bondi Home Ranch, from Marinelli's coolest Pinot site, is another stunner. Silky, nuanced and wonderfully expressive on the palate, the 2015 possesses remarkable intensity but in a decidedly mid-weight style by Martinelli standards. Dense and compact in its center, the 2015 needs at least a few years to open up. Even today, though, it is dazzling. Early to bloom and late to ripen, Bondi Home Ranch enjoys an especially long growing season. (AG)" (3/2017) K&L Notes: Bondi Home Ranch is planted with Pinot Noir clones 115, 777, 667, 828, 943, and Cale... Read More »
92 points Robert Parker's Wine Advocate: "Fashioned from yields of 2 to 2.5 tons of fruit per acre, the 2013 Chardonnay North Slope sees 30% new and 70% used barrels. It has nowhere near the generosity of its 2012 counterpart, but it exhibits beautiful nectarine, tangerine and other assorted tropical fruit notes, crisp, zesty acidity and a hint of wet stones that provide unmistakable minerality. Drink now-2018. The consistently run Walter Hansel winery (now in the capable hands of Steve Hansel) has over 40 acres of Chardonnay and 40 acres of Pinot Noir, all family-owned. Visitors to the Sonoma V ...Read More »
The 2014 Bella Vigna Pinot Noir is likely to become a go-to wine. This approachable pinot is bright and fresh, with wonderful aromas of plum, red apple and hibiscus tea. Flavors include juicy cherry pie, currants and hints of cinnamon and vanilla.
Winemaker Rod Berglund, who inherited the job from his father-in-law, the legendary Joseph Swan himself, first made a Pinot Noir from one single row of Saralee's.
92 points Connoisseurs Guide: "*Two Stars* More than once we have found a great deal to like in the straight appellation bottlings of top-notch Pinot producers, and here is just such an example that rivals and even surpasses several of its pricier cellarmates with respect to balance, fruity depth and real varietal beauty. It is moderately full, slightly fleshy in feel and very well-balanced, and, while it impresses as a Pinot of many parts, it impresses at least as much for the way in which those parts are seamlessly joined. It is no stretch to see richness and refinement intersecting ...Read More »
93 points Vinous: "The 2013 Chardonnay The Meadows has a real sense of phenolic weight and density, yet the flavors remain bright, focused and beautifully nuanced throughout. Lemon peel, hazelnut, butter, spice and mint blossom as this beautifully textured, layered Chardonnay shows off its notable personality and pure class. Stephen Hansel is one of the most intelligent winery owners in Sonoma. More interested in getting people to drink his wines than in maximizing short-term profit, Hansel continues to offer some of the very best wines readers will find for the money. I ...Read More »
A member of Jackson Family Wines, Hartford Court is an award-winning producer of appellation-designate and single-vineyard Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and old vine Zinfandel from low-yielding vineyards in prime regions throughout Sonoma County.
92 points Vinous: "The 2014 Chardonnay Estate is a very pretty, understated wine. Lemon curd, mint, white pepper and expressive floral notes are all pushed forward. This is an especially strong appellation-level Chardonnay and also a harbinger for the year at Rochioli. (AG)" (2/2016) 91 points Robert Parker's Wine Advocate: "The 2014 Chardonnay Estate comes from both Wente and Hanzel clones of Chardonnay. It displays loads of caramelized citrus and orange blossom, a rich, full-bodied mouthfeel, great minerality and freshness, and a floral personality. This wine sees about one-third to 40% new oak and is bottled unfi ...Read More »
Inventory: Redwood City
The few other labels that carry the Rochioli Vineyard designation may be better known, but Castalia is at the heart of it: winemaker Terry Bering is cellar master at Rochioli Vineyards. From the winery: "This wine should age for at least ten years and be in its prime in from 4 to 7 years. Castalia Pinot Noir possesses the full-bodied complexity and subtle cherry essence that are so typical of the finest Russian River Pinot Noirs."
93 points Robert Parker's Wine Advocate: "The 2014 Pinot Noir Estate is another realistically priced wine from Stephen Hansel and is a super value with its sweet cherry and raspberry fruit, allspice, subtle background oak and a medium to full body. It is a beautiful wine made mostly from Rochioli cuttings and a small amount of the Joseph Swan clone. Like most of these Pinot Noirs, it sees about 60% new French oak and the rest used barrels. All of these Pinot Noirs are bottled unfined and unfiltered just like the Chardonnays. This is an enviable winery run by Stephen Hansel with exceptionally hi ...Read More »
Robert Parker writes: "Under owner Don Hartford, winemaker Jeff Stewart continues to produce a stunning succession of Chardonnays and Pinot Noirs (as well as Zinfandels) under the Hartford Court moniker from generally cool-climate sites. His is one of the bright stars in the Kendall-Jackson portfolio of small estate wineries."
The 2014 Bella Vigna Chardonnay has a light, delicate nose of citrus and crisp pear. The palate offers a lush, focused vitality of licorice, orange blossom, apple and toast.
92 points Wine Enthusiast: "Like a fresh-picked cherry off the tree, the aromatic entry into this appellation wine is compelling and memorable in Proustian ways. Medium bodied, it’s a highly quaffable experience, sultry on the palate while maintaining bright of acidity that ping-pongs between lush and lean. (VB)" (2/2017) Robert Parker's Wine Advocate: "The least expensive Pinot Noir is the generic 2014 Pinot Noir Russian River, and it’s also the largest production at just over 3,000 cases. It is soft and ripe, showing attractive apple skin notes intermixed with pomegranate, cherry and a hint of strawberry in a str ...Read More »
90 points Stephen Tanzer's International Wine Cellar: "Ruby-red. Blackberry, cherry, sassafras and rose petal on the smoky nose. Pungent, spicy and broad, offering good weight to its dark berry jam, herb and spicecake flavors. Picks up a wild, cured meat nuance with air that carries through a warm, powerful finish firmed by juicy acidity and dusty tannins. Rod Berglund is another grower/winemaker who told me that as seductive as the 2012s can be, the 2011s probably intrigue him more because "there's a freshness, a balance and a restraint to them that's just so classically pinot." With that in mind he thinks ...Read More »
Second label of Alysian Wines. Led by the Hambrecht family in partnership with esteemed winemaker Gary Farrell, they are committed to sourcing from the best vineyards in the Russian River Valley. From the winery: "In keeping with the tradition of second label wines, which originated in the cellars of 18th century Bordeaux, ours is a collection of barrels that do not quite fit the philosophy of Alysian. This flexibility in the cellar allows us to select and blend barrels of small lot wines from exceptional and off the beaten path vineyards and craft an ap... Read More »
91 points Connoisseurs Guide: "*Good Value* Possessing such a wealth of juicy, well-focused cherry-like fruit that this wine would garner enthusiastic recommendation and a tip of the hat for fine value on its fruity virtues alone, Migration's basic appellation offering is a surprisingly serious Pinot Noir with the depth and careful construction of upper-echelon offerings. It is clean and constant with impeccable varietal focus and layered richness to spare, and, as very good, generously fruited Pinots are wont to do, it is certain to tempt early drinking even though its best lies some ...Read More »
90-92 points Robert Parker's Wine Advocate: "As for the 2014 Chardonnays, they all possess great acid and obvious intensity. I’ll keep my notes short, but they are all brilliant wines, including the 2014 Chardonnay Russian River, which has plenty of citrus oil, white flowers, quince and peach. Paul Hobbs has emerged as one of the great success stories in Northern California. He’s an international consultant known for his outstanding work in Argentina. He is also now involved in a joint venture in the Finger Lakes region of New York, so hopefully we can anticipate some interesting Rieslings and po ...Read More »
90 points Wine Enthusiast: "This is a creamy, thick and food friendly white with highlights of honey and green apple and a lingering decadence of ginger, just hinting at anise. Medium-bodied, it represents the vintage and the appellation well, at a price that's nice. (VB)" (8/2016) 90 points Wine Spectator: "Elegantly styled and moderately rich, with nectarine, honeydew, anise and green apple flavors. This is a wine of finesse, showing more grace than power and richness. Drink now. (JL)" (6/2016)
Robert Parker's Wine Advocate: "A real beauty is the 2014 Chardonnay Robert Young Vineyard, a non-malolactic Chardonnay that sees a little oak and comes across like a premier cru Chablis. It is elegant, with notes of honeysuckle, white peach and citrus blossom. Fresh, medium-bodied, pure and tasty, it should be drunk over the next several years. It should not be forgotten just how many excellent value wines Château St. Jean continues to produce, especially their lower level Chardonnays and Sauvignon Blancs. (RP)" (12/2016) K&L Notes: Antonio Galloni praised the producer's 2014 vintage: "Chateau St... Read More »
93 points Wine Enthusiast: "The producer’s flagship wine, this is sourced from several Green Valley sites, including Amber Ridge and Manna. Both contribute a full-bodied wealth of packed-earth flavor in a generously layered, rich explosion of dark cherry, plum and pomegranate. Along the way, streaks of citrus and black tea provide exotic interludes. (VB)" (12/2016) Wine Spectator: "A very agreeable mix of savory and dried herb, red berry and dusty earth notes, this is elegant and refined, ending with a graceful aftertaste. (JL, Web-2016)" K&L Notes: EnRoute is an allocated Pinot Noir that comes to us from the fol... Read More »
91 points Connoisseurs Guide: "Every bit as fruity, as rich and as generously filled as its pricier partners and a wine that aspires to a bit of opulence, this one is by the smallest margin the slightly preferred of Chasseur's two appellation Pinot Noirs, and it earns a second appreciative nod of approval for its noteworthy value. It is both slightly velvety and solidly structured with plenty of back-palate firmness, and it winds up just edgy enough to commend a few years of waiting." (2/2017) Wine Spectator: "Broad and fleshy, with a delicate mix of anise, cherry, plum and blueberry notes, this is mode ...Read More »
Inventory: Main Warehouse
Enkidu is a small, nearly under-the-radar outfit based in a warehouse south of the town of Sonoma, co-founded by career winemaker Phillip Staehle, that turns out big wines with concentration and individuality.
94 points Vinous: "The 2014 Pinot Noir Altamont, from red soils at the hilltops of the estate, shows a darker and more powerful side of the property. Dark cherry, plum, leather, smoke and deeply spiced notes all flesh out, but it is the wine's breath and overall texture that are most distinctive. A dollop of whole clusters (10%) adds lovely nuance throughout. Over the last few years, Eva Dehlinger has introduced puncheons into the aging regime for the Altamont. (AG)" (3/2017) 92 points Wine Spectator: "An underlying sense of harmony and finesse elevates this wine. The core of plum and raspberry is sha ...Read More »
Robert Young has been in the Chardonnay business for so long, they grow their own "Robert Young" clone of the grape. It's also the source of one of Chateau St. Jean's top single vineyard Chardonnays. The winemaker's tasting notes: "Our 2014 Chardonnay brings the tropical beach vacation to you. The golden color is like a warm sunrise. Swirl the glass and the aromatics transport you to a rainforest fruit grove of rich mango, fresh sliced papaya and ripe honeydew melon. Your palate is beckoned to sample the lush combination of kiwi, guava and nectarine. Ju... Read More »
96 points Vinous: "The 2015 Pinot Noir Zio Tony Ranch is another fabulous wine from Martinelli. Dark, round and inviting, the 2015 possesses striking depth and intensity. Succulent black cherry, plum, spice, leather and rose petal shape this utterly compelling Pinot. Sweet floral notes add attractive aromatic lift and refinement. (AG)" (3/2017) K&L Notes: Zio Tony Ranch is planted with clones 777, 115, 828, Calera, and Quail Hill. The 2015 vintage was marked by an early growing season and a reduced crop which finished with very good quality. The wine was aged in 70% new French oak for ... Read More »
92 points Wine Spectator: "Intense yet refined, elegant and zesty, with a core of rich citrus, peach, pear and honeydew. Adds layers of smoky, toasty oak and tapers the flavors on the finish. Sails along gracefully, echoing the core elements. Drink now through 2020." (1/2017) K&L Notes: From one of K&L's favorite Napa producers. The winery notes: "Blazing tropical fruit, exotic spices and sexy ripe citrus come together in this tangerine dream. Like a beach volleyball Olympian, the wine has explosive power plus tremendous depth and range on the palate. Richness and precision are continually on ... Read More »
93 points Vinous: "The 2013 Chardonnay Cahill Lane is another beautiful, precise wine loaded with class and personality. As is the case in this vintage, the flavors are bright, but there is plenty of the signature Hansel texture underpinning the fruit. Lemon, pastry and brioche are some of the notes that meld into the racy, beautifully textured finish. Stephen Hansel is one of the most intelligent winery owners in Sonoma. More interested in getting people to drink his wines than in maximizing short-term profit, Hansel continues to offer some of the very best wines readers ...Read More »
94 points Vinous: "The 2013 Chardonnay Ritchie Vineyard stands out in this range for its striking aromatics. Sweet floral notes open up first. The Ritchie is just as subtle and nuanced on the palate. Classy and polished throughout, the Ritchie is all about finesse. It should drink well for the better part of the next decade. It's hard to know where to begin with these wines from David Ramey, as there are so many highlights, but one common theme is the quality of the entry-level wines. The appellation-level Chardonnays, Pinot, Syrah and Claret all deliver serious quality fo ...Read More »
Wine Spectator: "Pure and well-focused on complex pear, apple, honeydew and light spicy oak notes. An easy-to-enjoy style. Drink now. 20,000 cases made." (12/2017) K&L Notes: Sourced from two distinct Russian River Valley vineyards, Buehler's Chardonnay is a tastefully made wine which represents a food friendly style at a reliable value. The winery employs minimal intervention in the cellar and an appropriately modest amount of new French oak so that the subtlety and terroir or the grapes show through. From Buehler: "The floral, mineral, and lime aromas and steely structure of the Ri... Read More »
95 points Vinous: "One of the many highlights in this lineup, the 2014 Pinot Noir Estate Vineyard is deep, fleshy and inviting. Blood orange, pomegranate, succulent red cherry, mint and white pepper overtones give the 2014 its aromatic lift and palate presence. A silky, polished, mid-weight wine, the 2014 speaks to finesse above all else. With time in the glass, the wine gains volume, breath and vibrancy. There is so much to like here. (AG)" (3/2017) 94 points Connoisseurs Guide: "Fully ripened and abundantly fruity with a swath of sweet oak adding to its considerable and ongoing richness, DuMOL's Estate ...Read More »
90 points Vinous: "The 2014 Chardonnay (Russian River Valley) is rich, creamy and supple, with lovely textural richness and depth, especially at its level. Peach, apricot, dried flowers, vanillin and a touch of French oak give the wine its racy, supple personality. This is a gorgeous appellation level wine from David Ramey. (AG)" (3/2017)
94 points Vinous: "The 2013 Chardonnay Woolsey Road Vineyard is one of the most expressive and complete wines in David Ramey's range. Apricot, peach, smoke, crushed rocks and dried herbs all blossom in the glass. The Woolsey captures a gorgeous stylistic middle ground that balances richness with nuance. The 2013 finishes with great texture that points to a brilliant future. Woolsey Road was planted by the Martinelli family for David Ramey from clonal material taken from Platt. It's hard to know where to begin with these wines from David Ramey, as there are so many highligh ...Read More »
Sourcing fruit from a variety of great locations in Napa and Sonoma, Lewis (headed by race car driver turned vintner Randy Lewis) produces a number of consistently opulent and intense wines. Always a favorite with K&L's customers, their small production wines tend to sell out fast. The Barcaglia Lane fruit comes from a unique Dutton Ranch vineyard planted just for them and produces a very small amount of quintessentially Sonoma-styled Chardonnay.
90 points Wine Spectator: "There's lots to admire in this rich, creamy-textured effort, with touches of citrus, apricot, honeydew and spicy oak. Starts and ends clean and pure. (JL)" (2/2017)
91 points Vinous: "The 2013 Chardonnay (Russian River Valley) is another terrific entry-level Chardonnay from David Ramey. Here it is the wine's richness and creaminess that really stand out. Honey, apricot pit, mint, butter and dried flowers blossom are some of the signatures. This is a real overachiever in its class. It's hard to know where to begin with these wines from David Ramey, as there are so many highlights, but one common theme is the quality of the entry-level wines. The appellation-level Chardonnays, Pinot, Syrah and Claret all deliver serious quality for the ...Read More »
Inventory: San Francisco
Robert Parker's Wine Advocate: "The 2013 Pinot Noir is a seductive style of Pinot, with a medium ruby color, notes of black cherry and raspberry, light tannin, and not much depth, but it is superficially attractive and supple. Drink it over the next 3-4 years. (RP)" (3/2016)
Dutton Ranch is a well-respected Sonoma vineyard that Patz & Hall has been working with since 1998. This is mainly an old vines vineyard, with the original block planted in 1969 to California heirloom Chardonnay selections. All the grapes are hand harvested and sorted in the field, then moved to the winery, where they are sorted again and whole cluster pressed. After pressing, the juice is racked into French oak barrels where it ferments slowly on its lees, generally finishing alcoholic fermentation in early winter. The wine then undergoes full malolacti... Read More »
Winemaker Kent Humphrey is a former advertising copywriter who's now a mad man of wine, making Syrah, Pinot and Chardonnay deep in the Copain Custom Crush facility in an industrial area of Sonoma County. But there's artistry in the bottle, as well as on the bottle: each new release is labeled with a unique, commissioned painting. The 2012 Luke's Grove bears the work of Pacific Northwest folk-inspired artist Jo James. The winery's note: "Fruit-forward and wonderfully textural, this Chardonnay wins us new friends every vintage. Classic Russian River Valley... Read More »
94 points Robert Parker's Wine Advocate: "The 2014 Pinot Noir Lolita Ranch offers an almost grand cru Burgundian Musigny note, with powdered stones, strawberries and black cherries. It has terrific concentration and density, a full-bodied mouthfeel, great acidity, and well-integrated oak, alcohol and tannin. Give it 1-2 years of bottle age and drink it over the following 15+ years. One of the great families of Northern California, and of course, one of the highest quality producers, the Martinellis – and rather remarkably so – only estate-bottle 15% of their production from over 300 acres of b ...Read More »
Inventory: Redwood City