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K&L Staff Recommendations
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.
The 2013 Rickshaw Pinot Noir is the fifth vintage from the team at Banshee Wines. 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, and Rickshaw was born out of this bounty. 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... Read More »
Antonio Galloni: "Banshee's 2013 Pinot Noir (Sonoma County) is supple, racy and flat-out delicious, especially for the money. Raspberries, crushed flowers and soft spices linger on the effortless, gracious finish. Drink this soft Pinot over the next few years. This is one of the best values readers will find in Sonoma Pinot Noir. (Antonio Galloni)" (1/2015) K&L Notes: 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 fro... Read More »
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 »
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 »
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 »
93 points Antonio Galloni: "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 »
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."
From the winery: "2013 was a year of big clusters with big, intense flavors. The 2013 Layer Cake Pinot Noir has layers of dark berries, ripe plums and big juicy black cherries wrapped in a glycerol creamy mouthfeel. This is a big Pinot Noir and calls for smoky meats and rich fish...enjoy!" Best Pinot for the price I've tasted all year! And the name says it all -- juicy, supple, rich, ripe, soft yet sultry intensity, and just plain delicious! I can't think of a better party Pinot than this! Or just a great Tuesday night wine...or any night of the week fo... Read More »
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 Antonio Galloni: "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 »
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 »
"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.
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 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!"
Antonio Galloni: "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) 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) K&L Notes: The Var... 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 »
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 Antonio Galloni: "Brilliant ruby-red. Perfumed scents of raspberry, cherr ...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 »
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 Antonio Galloni: "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 »
90 points Antonio Galloni: "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 »
A joint project from your K&L domestic buying team and a high-profile winery in the Santa Barbara area. The fruit for this wine comes from a cooler vineyard site with a north-facing slope. Clone 828 is a Dijon clone that matures early and often shows lots of structure, color and complexity. In general, the clone shows great acidity, red and blue fruits and palate presence. Because of its roundness and completeness, clone 828 makes an excellent individual bottling.
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 »
Antonio Galloni: "The 2013 Chardonnay (Sonoma Coast) is gorgeous. Apricots, honey, mint, orange blossom and wild flowers are all laced together in the glass in a racy, perfumed Chardonnay to drink over the next handful of years. Simply put, this is a fabulous wine for the money. The 2013 was done 90% in oak and 10% in steel. (AG)" (1/2015)
MacRostie's Sonoma Coast bottling is definitely a top choice for an under-$20 California Chardonnay. Grapes were sourced from several select Sonoma Coast vineyards including the "A-list" Sangiacomo Vineyard, vineyards belonging to the Dutton and Martinelli estates, and MacRostie's own estate properties. The beatifully ripe and pristine fruit was whole-cluster pressed into 20% new French oak for fermentation where it aged for an additional 6 months. A few lots were fermented in stainless steel to retain some special emphasis on aromatic fruit characterist... 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."
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) Antonio Galloni: "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 »
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.
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."
91 points Antonio Galloni: "The 2013 Chardonnay Estate is another superb value from Hansel. Lemon peel, honey, almonds, wild flowers and mint are all laced into the super-expressive finish. In this vintage, the Estate is subtle, polished and exceptionally beautiful. Best of all, it is a fabulous value. 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. In particular, the Estate Chardonn ...Read More »
90 points Wine Enthusiast: "A lightly textured wine that suggests lemon chiffon, this has plenty of body to make it feel rich on the palate, along with ample acidity to keep it refreshingly crisp. Apple and pear rise to the fore, maintaining the fruitiness from start to finish." (12/2015) K&L Notes: Chardonnay has been called the "Queen Bee" of white grapes. With roots in the prestigious soils of Burgundy, this singular varietal has gained renowned status the world over. Chardonnais is a cleverly named French-inspired Chardonnay from Napa Valley. The wine is made to be rich and full bodied, wi... Read More »
93 points Antonio Galloni: "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 »
93 points Wine Enthusiast: "*Editors' Choice* A complex and complete wine with everything in place, this tastes delicious from the first whiff to the lingering finish. It has fresh-baked bread and light peach aromas and white-cherry flavors. Well balanced, it’s layered on a subtle level and harmonious." (12/2015)90 points Wine Spectator: "Floral aromas of raspberry and white chocolate open to crisp, festive flavors of graham cracker, spice and red apple." (11/2014) Wine & Spirits: "This captures the frank, delicious energy of Anderson Valley pinot noir (60 percent of the blend) in tones of red raspberry, orange peel and cherry ...Read More »
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!
Poppy hails from Monterey County, one of the coolest climates in California, where the long, slow growing season results in fragrant and supple Pinot that really stands out amongst the competition in the under $15 category. A long-standing staff and customer favorite, Poppy Pinot is typically fruity and easy to drink, perfect for entertaining or for Tuesday night takeout.
92 points Wine Enthusiast: "Menthol and sweet sage aromas leap off this wine from Steve Clifton. They spice up the black cherry and blackberry juice backbone that comes from this Nipomo vineyard, located seven miles from the Pacific. The palate shows lots of energetic verve, with flavors of dried cranberries, raspberries, licorice and slate, finishing long on a sagebrush-driven sense of chaparral." (8/2015)91 points Antonio Galloni: "Brilliant red. High-pitched raspberry, floral pastille and Asian spice aromas are deepened by notes of cola and licorice. Nervy and precise on the palate, offering sweet cherry an ...Read More »
90 points Robert Parker's Wine Advocate: "The amazing 2012 Chardonnay Sonoma Coast possesses lots of tropical fruit, honeysuckle, pineapple and tangerine notes. Half went through malolactic and the other half was blocked. With lots of minerality as well as a Chablis-like character, it is a major sleeper of the vintage. This beauty should drink well for 1-2 years. (RP)" (12/2013) Antonio Galloni: "The 2012 Chardonnay Sonoma Coast is beautiful. All the elements fall into place nicely in a Chardonnay that is bright and crisp, but with good depth in its fruit and no hard edges. Lemon oil, pear and pastry notes meld int ...Read More »
93 points Wine & Spirits: "The Husch family planted the first pinot noir in Anderson Valley in 1971, before selling the winery to the current owners, the Oswalds, in 1979. Vineyard manager Al White has farmed the firm’s grapes since 1974. That wealth of experience and history pays dividends in this bright, refreshing pinot noir from five vineyards, including the Husch estate in Philo and Ferrington in Booneville. The wine is sunny and red-fruited, with a crisp structure, moderate ripeness and a lovely floral aroma that lasts: pure Anderson Valley." (12/2015)
93 points Antonio Galloni: "Dierberg's 2012 Chardonnay is gorgeous. Lemon oil, tropical fruit and butter are all tempered by the cool microclimate here. The flavors remain bright, focused and nuanced in a crystalline Chardonnay that stands out for its precision. A hint of sweetness from the oak adds complexity, but overall, the 2012 is a wine built on energy. Dierberg, and its sister property, Star Lane, is in a bit of a transition at the moment. New winemaker Tyler Thomas took over with the 2013 vintage, while the 2012s were finished by assistant winemaker Jeff Connick. Thomas ma ...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 »
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 Robert Parker's Wine Advocate: "The real superstar, if you want to spend a few more dollars, is the 2013 Chardonnay Grand Reserve, which is a blend of 54% Monterey estate fruit with 46% Santa Barbara estate fruit. This is aged in 31% new French oak and a touch of American wood as well, for nine months prior to bottling. The wine shows honeysuckle, brioche, pineapple, mango, and orange notes in a boisterous, exuberant, richly fruity, but pure, medium-bodied style with the oak kicked to the background. In some extremist circles it is fashionable to criticize anything that’s big and succe ...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 »
According to the winery: "A bountiful crop of 88.53 tons were harvested by hand, destemmed, and the berries "broken" before being pressed (the majority to stainless steel tanks, and the balance to large oak casks). Fermented on the fine lees, with no battonage for 7-months. Malolactic fermentation occurred naturally and finished completely. A gentle cross-flow filtration was performed prior to bottling. A selection of complementary Sonoma county vineyards compose this wine, with an emphasis on the Russian River Valley, Dry Creek Valley, and Sonoma Coast ... Read More »