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K&L Staff Recommendations
93 points Robert Parker's Wine Advocate: "Sbragia displays a Midas touch with Chardonnay, and the 2013 Chardonnay Home Ranch is a big-time winner. Aged in 50% new oak and 50% older oak, it exhibits buttery crème brûlée and tangerine oil notes intermixed with honeysuckle and pineapple. Medium to full-bodied and luscious, with admirable fruit intensity as well as a long, textured, luscious finish, it can be drunk over the next 2-3 years. This is also a stunning value for a Chardonnay of this quality. Highly-respected, long-time veteran winemaker Ed Sbragia received some terrific reviews in the Nap ...Read More »
93 points Wine Enthusiast: "Crystalline cranberry, concentrated violets and rose petals and a shred of cola show on the nose of this upper-level bottling from one of the appellation’s longtime stars. The palate shows graphite and dried strawberry fruit amped up with woody coyote scrub elements, reflective of the chaparral that surrounds the property." (12/2015) 92 points Wine Spectator: "Impressive, showing density, concentration, depth and persistence, with layers of blackberry, mocha, cedar, spice and berry pie. Finishes with a strong presence." (10/2015) 90 points Vinous: "Brilliant ruby-red. Perfumed scents of raspberry, cherr ...Read More »
This is textbook Russian River Chardonnay with the medium-bodied weight of the palate meshing beautifully with the refreshing fruit on the finish. It's the perfect California white wine. We can talk to you for hours about how delicious this new Kalinda Chardonnay is--how we fell in love with the wine from the first moment we tasted it--we just can't tell you where we got it from. We can tell you this much, however: our Kalinda private label hooks you up with an awesome wine at a fraction of what you'd otherwise pay for this exact same wine under its norm... Read More »
We can tell you this much: our Kalinda private label hooks you up with awesome wine at a fraction of what you'd otherwise pay for this exact same wine under its normal label. While we have to remain quiet about the source of this beauty, we can tell you that it sells elsewhere under the winery label at a much higher premium. Get it while it lasts.
Robert Parker's Wine Advocate: "The 2013 Chardonnay shows tropical fruit, especially tangerines, mangoes and pineapples. It has fresh acidity, not much evidence of wood, but good cleanliness, freshness and a medium-bodied, nice fruity mouthfeel. Drink it over the next several years. These are excellent wines once again as this winery has appeared frequently in these Best Buy pages (RP)" (8/2015) K&L Notes: From winemaker Rob Mondavi, Jr, the 2013 Spellbound Chardonnay displays a lively and lush tropical profile of pineapple, guava, and kiwi fruit. To contribute the rich complexity of vanilla and c... Read More »
Inventory: San Francisco
From the winery website, "When we say Fossil Point rocks - we mean it! Calcareous shale and coarse sand were uplifted from the floor of an ancient ocean and then weathered into place over millennia. It became a place of deep beauty and vast potential. Fossil Point is a rugged headland with sweeping views of the coastline stretching from Port San Luis to the Guadalupe Dunes. The Point is just five miles due west of the vineyards that are its namesake. Sunny afternoons are cooled by marine breezes sweeping off the Pacific Ocean, along Fossil Point to the v... Read More »
91 points Wine Spectator: "This red offers a lively, refreshing and complex mix of snappy wild berry and raspberry flavors that are firm and vibrant, ending long, clean and complex. Drink now through 2020. Tasted twice, with consistent notes." (9/2015) Wine Enthusiast: "The price-quality ratio is inviting for this wine, a light, lifted expression of cranberry and herb. The grapes were sourced from both the Russian River Valley and Sonoma Coast appellations, about half of each, before aging less than a year in managed oak, 30% of it new. The wine finishes in swirls of vanilla-cola." (6/2015) K&L Notes: From our fr... Read More »
The 2014 Rickshaw Pinot Noir is the sixth vintage from the team at Banshee Wines, known for elegant, food-friendly coastal Pinot and Chardonnay. Via the Rickshaw bottling, Banshee can offer a phenomenal value, thanks to relationships they've built with growers over the years from the finest AVAs in California. The largest share of fruit is sourced from the Sonoma Coast, followed by Anderson Valley and the Central Coast. The appeal of the wine is driven by its balance of fruit and earth tones, so just 10% of the juice sees new oak (the remainder being onc... Read More »
Bench is one of the labels of Brack Mountain Wine Company, which sources this Pinot Noir mostly from the renowned Sangiacomo vineyard in the Sonoma Coast AVA. From the winery: "Deep ruby purple in color, this wine offers intense, dark forest fruit and notes of plum on the nose. The palate is tightly focused with bright currant, cola and cedar. The mouthful is supple with well integrated tannins that provide the integrity for this noteworthy wine."
As difficult as it is to produce excellent Pinot Noir, it is even more difficult to do so at a fine value. In their development of the Banshee label, the winemakers gained a stable of quality sources for Pinot fruit from the finest AVAs in California. The 2014 Sonoma County Pinot Noir is the sixth vintage from the enterprising team at Banshee Wines. A large percentage of it is still sourced from the Sonoma Coast, often declassified barrels from vineyards that close followers of top-tier West Coast Pinot may recognize. From the producer: "As with past vin... Read More »
From the winery: "Grapes sourced from our preferred clones of Chardonnay provide the tropical notes folks have come to love. A slow cold primary and secondary fermenta:on on our proprietary combinaion of oak create an ethereal creaminess balanced with a vanilla finish. Fruit from our favorite cooler climates in California produce delicate aromas of baked lemons, pear, peach and apple that seamlessly evolve on the palate with a finish that is uniquely Butter!"
92 points Wine Enthusiast: "The nose on this wine from nine vineyards ranging from Santa Clara to Santa Barbara reflects much of what the large appellation offers, but in subtle ways: touches of Golden Delicious apples, grilled pineapple, toasted coconut and chalk. The flavors surround a Meyer lemon zest tension, with apple flesh fruits and a zesty acidity that holds throughout without biting." (3/2015) 90 points Vinous: "Calera's 2013 Chardonnay (Central Coast) is absolutely stunning in this vintage. Peach, apricot, wild flowers, honey and spices all meld together in a supple, generous Chardonnay that ...Read More »
"Year in and year out one of our best values is Pinot Noir. If you don't believe me, just ask any K&L customer." (Illya Haase, K&L Staff Member) This wine comes to us from Sonoma County's Martin Ray Winery, owned by Courtney Benham (creator of the Blackstone brand). This multi-county blend of Pinot Noir has been well-received in recent years, maybe not tipping the point-scales over 90, but earning consistent praise for the solid, varietal character it delivers for only a modest fee.
Qupe should be on the radar of any California Chardonnay drinker who is interested in a wine with moderate alcohol and loads of character. Y Block is one of the older Chardonnay blocks at Bien Nacido. It’s located on the gravelly river banks of the Cuyama River, just opposite the winery. Qupé is the only winery that gets these grapes. Lucky for them (and for us), because this fruit-forward, though balanced Chard is wonderfully tasty and a considerable value, too!
Robert Parker's Wine Advocate: "The 2012 Chardonnay Foxglove is my favorite of the bunch and gives up clean and classy white peach, apple blossom and subtle spice in its medium-bodied, juicy and delicious style. Brought up in stainless steel, it’s hard to beat at the price and should be purchased by the case for drinking over the coming year or so. (JD)" (8/2014) Vinous: "Lemon oil, white flowers, mint and slate meld together in the 2012 Chardonnay. Racy and beautifully layered on the palate, this tank-fermented, non-malo Chardonnay delivers exceptional quality for the money. (AG)" (7/2014) K&L Notes: The Var... Read More »
This is 100% estate grown fruit from Talbott's Monterey vineyards (with the majority coming from the Sleepy Hollow Vineyard in the Santa Lucia Highlands) finished in 90% stainless and 10% French oak. Juicy, with just a touch of fruity sweetness at the finish, this has mandarin and honeydew fruit aromas and flavors galore. Medium-bodied on the palate, there's a touch of spice and a roundness mid palate from the small amount of oak aging. According to the winery: "The rich, inviting nose shows bright tropical notes that continue on the palate, where refres... Read More »
Founded in 1983 by Claiborne (Clay) Thompson and Fredericka Churchill, former teachers at the University of Michigan (Clay specialized in Old Norse Languages and Literatures and Fredericka taught German), the winery focuses on Alsatian varietals in the first straw bale winery in California. Grapes are purchased from premium growers around the cool Edna Valley, with 2/3 of the production being Dry Riesling and Dry Gewürztraminer. At Claiborne & Churchill, traditional European winemaking techniques prevail, including extensive use of barrel-fermentation an... Read More »
93 points Vinous: "The 2013 Chardonnay Estate is gorgeous. Rich and oily on the palate, with considerable texture, the 2013 boasts tons of texture and breadth. Candied lemon, white flowers, almonds and chamomile add shades of nuance as the 2013 opens up in the glass. The 2013 boasts tons of oiliness and viscosity for a Chardonnay with no malolactic fermentation. Best of all, the 2013 is a great value. Winemaker Greg Brewer turned out a gorgeous set of 2013 Pinots at Melville. The wines are consistently of very high quality, something that was not easy to achieve in a year ...Read More »
91 points Wine Enthusiast: "The winery is making new strides by finding the best sites for its wines rather than trying to grow everything on its estate. This Chardonnay is a case in point. High in acidity and low in oak influence, it offers restrained layers of tropical mango, lemon and ginger snap." (3/2015) Stephen Tanzer's International Wine Cellar: "Light yellow-gold. Lively citrus and orchard fruits on the spicy nose. Shows hints of sweet butter and ginger on the palate, complementing Meyer lemon and apple flavors that tighten up with air. Closes tangy and dry, with an echo of ginger and good, nervy persistence. (ST) ...Read More »
From the producer: "Our 2014 Tous Ensemble Pinot Noir’s aroma is layered with fresh red fruits, rose petal, and vanilla. The body is redolent of damson plums, red apple skin and bing cherries, with a silky texture and smooth tannins."
Medium to medium-deep ruby red in color, this lovely Sonoma Coast production from this great vintage offers distinctive dried rose petal to strawberry fruit aromas with chalky, slate-like mineral notes in the nose which carries over nicely to a well-balanced, well-integrated set of flavors. Good complexity, excellent structure and acid backbone, this Gem is integrated, deep in flavor, and long on the finish. Rusty has ordered me to bring home several cases of this Gem for our near-term consumption over the next four to seven years. This is a Great Value ... Read More »
91 points Wine Enthusiast: "The largest production offering of this variety for this producer, this features fruit sourced from a who’s who of local growers, including Sangiacomo, Dutton and Martinelli, in addition to the estate-run Wildcat Mountain Vineyard. The result is satisfyingly impressive in viscous oak, graham cracker and Meyer lemon. Tangy and flinty on the finish, it’s smooth and focused." (1/2016) 90 points Wine Spectator: "Presents a delicious core of vibrant grapefruit and lemon-laced tangerine and white peach notes. Those who value zesty acidity will love this, as the acidity keeps the flavors f ...Read More »
93 points Vinous: "The 2012 Chardonnay Bien Nacido Reserve Block Eleven is rich and voluptuous in the glass, with copious apricot pit, honey, chamomile, butter, spice and orange blossom. This is a decidedly flashy, buttery Chardonnay, but all the elements are in the right place, even if this style can't exactly be called subtle. If these new releases are any indication, Qupé is going through a transition following the sale of a majority interest to Charles Banks' Terroir Selections. It will be interesting to see how the infusion of capital manifests itself here. As for the ...Read More »
From the winery: "Monterey County is one of the best appellations in the world for producing Chardonnay. This region benefits from cool morning fog and afternoon breezes that result in a long growing season, producing intense fruit flavors balanced with vibrant acidity. Mer Soleil Silver is a pure, clean expression of our estate-grown Santa Lucia Highlands Chardonnay. The grapes that go into this Chardonnay are of the highest quality for a number of reasons: the unique climate, our vineyard location on east-facing slopes, vine-to-vine uniformity, low-yie... Read More »
For the last two years we've had the distinct pleasure, and honor, of being able to blend our own Chardonnay with the team at Talley Vineyards. Last year this bottling was a huge success with our customers and we think it is every bit as good this year. Just like last vintage the 2014 comes from Talley's non-contiguous Oliver's Vineyard located in the Edna Valley. This year we had many more barrels to blend with which made our jobs tougher but the final wine that much better. The final blend this year came from five barrels all French oak, one of which w... Read More »
Robert Parker's Wine Advocate: "Attractive aromas of white peach, poached pear and caramelized citrus are followed by a creamy, medium to full-bodied, pure, well-made Chardonnay that is best drunk over the next 4-5 years. (RP)" (12/2014) Wine & Spirits: "A plump, warming, oak-laden Russian River Chardonnay with decadent scents of ginger, butternut squash and roasted corn, this would fare well with a good chill and a crab salad." (2/2015) Wine Enthusiast: "Golden-hay in color, this has a luxurious toffee-caramel imprint accompanied by apple and pineapple notes. Soft and medium in acidity, it’s a bright, layered wine that fol ...Read More »
90 points Wine Enthusiast: "A bowl full of complex aromas and flavors are bundled together in this full-bodied, lush-textured wine. The aroma resembles wet earth for a moment, then transitions to buttery, bakery spices. Ripe and honeyed pear flavors come out on the palate and the mouthfeel is nicely viscous." (7/2015)
Grapes from sites throughout Central Coast were harvested at optimal maturity, then de-stemmed and gently placed into open-top stainless steel fermenters and cold soaked for 3 days prior to initiating fermentation. During fermentation, each tank is punched down two to three times per day. The fermented wine then was racked to oak for aging. During the aging process the wine lots were tasted throughout and blended back together.
From the winery: "2012 was an abundant and ideal growing season in the Sta. Rita Hills. The grapes ripened evenly producing both high quality and quantity due to a mild spring and summer with little rain, and no frost. The moderate weather provided for low disease pressure during the growing season. Sta. Rita Hills is one of the premier AVAs for Chardonnay in California. The wines have that rare combination of power and structure that can only come from low yielding, cool-climate, coastal vineyards. This 2012 offers a bouquet of crème brulee and lemon me... Read More »
Although famous for their Cabs, Heitz Cellar has been making Chardonnay since their founding in 1961. Fruit is sourced from across the Napa Valley, and the resulting wine is layered with an emphasis on mineral and fruit. French oak is employed in vinification, but the wine is not marked by new wood or high alcohol. From the winery: "All of the best elements of the varietal are seamlessly aligned in our 2014 Napa Valley Chardonnay. This rich, complex Chardonnay is surprisingly bright and elegant on the palate. Lush aromatics open effortlessly into flavors... Read More »
According to the winery: "Great value! A particularly wonderful vintage of this wine. Aromas and flavors of strawberries and raspberries are joined by anise and clove notes with mouth filling intensity."
90 points Vinous: "Brilliant ruby-red. Strawberry and raspberry on the perfumed nose, along with suggestions of allspice and smoky minerals. Deeper and darker in character on the palate, offering sappy red and dark berry flavors, with a hint of white pepper adding vivacity. This lithe, nicely focused Pinot finishes with appealing sweetness, easygoing tannins and very good persistence. (JR)" (6/2015) K&L Notes: Look for bright red fruits and spice in this wine: Pomegranate, Bing cherry, and raspberry with Earl Grey tea highlights, according to the winemaker's notes: "The vintage deliver... Read More »
90 points Wine Enthusiast: "*Editors' Choice* This crisp and balanced wine offers lemon, guava and papaya, tropical without being cloying. With enough viscous creaminess to keep it medium in weight, it’s soft and herbal, with measured acidity and a golden color. It finishes lean and savory." (8/2015) Robert Parker's Wine Advocate: "There are an astonishing 14,000 cases of the 2013 Chardonnay from the Sonoma Coast. It reveals good minerality along with crisp, honeysuckle, orange zest, white peach and tropical fruit notes. At $15 a bottle, this medium-bodied, fresh, lively Chardonnay is a sensational value. Drink it ...Read More »
92 points Wine Enthusiast: "This offers good quality for the price from this historic producer, which heads south to this dry-farmed vineyard planted in 1976. The wine shows lots of lemon scents, from blossoms to peels, along with browned butter, sea salt and smoke. The palate offers singed lime peels, red grapefruit skin, iodine and sour yellow apple peels, proving quite complex." (12/2015) Vinous: "The 2013 Chardonnay Wolff Vineyard is quite powerful in this vintage. Succulent apricot pit, peach, almonds and chamomile laced together in a deep, resonant Chardonnay endowed with a real sense o ...Read More »
91 points Stephen Tanzer's International Wine Cellar: "Vivid ruby-red. Red fruit preserves on the nose, with complicating notes of licorice and allspice. Lively raspberry and bitter cherry flavors show very good precision, complemented by a bright mineral quality that gains strength with air. This silky, energetic pinot finishes with strong cut, persistent sweetness and sneaky, interwoven tannins. (JR)" (12/2014) 90 points Vinous: "Crushed flowers, rose petals, sweet red cherries and mint lift from the glass in the 2013 Pinot Noir Estate Verna's. This is the most ethereal and delicate of the 2013 Melville Pinots. Following the h ...Read More »
93 points Robert Parker's Wine Advocate: "The deepest gold-colored wine in the lineup, the 2013 Chardonnay Ashley's Vineyard spent eight months in 51% new French oak, with the balance in 1-, 2- and 3-year-old barrels. Rich, full throttle and medium to full-bodied, it offers sensational notes of ripe apple, buttered citrus, brioche and a touch of honeysuckle. This is a classic Chardonnay that has tons of character, excellent richness (which is lacking in too many Santa Barbara County Chardonnays) and a clean, classy finish. (JD)" (8/2015) 93 points Wine Enthusiast: "There’s a sharp element of lime rind and brie cheese skin at ...Read More »
Connoisseurs Guide: "*One Star and a Good Value* Clean as a whistle, mid-density in weight and volume and evident if moderate oakiness lifting its mix of ripe and slight green apple fruitiness, this wine is exactly what a $20 Chardonnay should be. It is somewhat rounded in texture with enough youthful energy for balance ..." (5/2015) Wine Enthusiast: "High-toned Meyer lemon and edgy minerality give this coastal wine a freshness on the palate, along with a complexity of fennel and apple. Juicy and medium bodied, it picks up a fullness on the texture as it goes, while remaining balanced and pleas ...Read More »
90 points Wine Enthusiast: "Oaky and full bodied, this conveys a strong impression of big berry fruit. Spice and herbal components are underplayed, letting the fruit come forth in all its glory. This is an attractive and ready-to-drink wine." (3/2015)
Inventory: Redwood City
Wine Spectator: "Intense and concentrated, with dark berry, earth, graphite and cedar pushing in several directions. Fans out and gains tannic muscle on the finish. Drink now through 2025." (3/2015)
If you've shopped K&L over the past few years, you probably know that the wines made by Bob and Jim Varner are not only among our favorites, but we think they are among the finest Chardonnays and Pinot Noirs made in California.