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K&L Staff Recommendations
70% Zinfandel, 15% Carignane, 12% Petite Sirah, 3% Alicante Bouschet. Ridge has made the Geyserville as a single-site Zinfandel in every year since 1966. Winemaker's tasting note: "Saturated ruby color. Intense dark berry fruits, gravel earth, black licorice, mint, and exotic spices. Powerful bramble fruit entry, sensuous, well-defined tannins, great depth of flavor, enjoyable lengthy finish." (EB, 2/2017)
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 »
91 points Vinous: "The 2013 Cabernet Sauvignon Estate is a gorgeous, entry-level wine for the estate. Dark cherry, plum, mocha, licorice, spice and gravel are all pushed forward. This is an unusually forward wine although there is plenty of the typical savory/graphite notes that are so typical of this site. (AG)" (2/2016) 90 points Robert Parker's Wine Advocate: "The 2013 Cabernet Sauvignon Estate from Monument Ridge is 98% Cabernet Sauvignon aged 18 months in 37% new French oak. It is an outstanding wine, with the oak pushed to the background. Notes of crushed rocks, spring flowers, blackcurrants, plums, and Asian ...Read More »
This new release from Silver Oak is a blend of 98% Cabernet Sauvignon and 2% Merlot that was aged for 24 months in American Oak barrels (48% new, 52% once-used) and an additional 15 months in bottle prior to release.
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)
90 points Robert Parker's Wine Advocate: "Their newer non-vintage blends ratchet up the level of quality, such as the NV Arme Lot 3, a blend of 76% Cabernet Sauvignon, 11% Merlot and the rest Malbec and Petit Verdot. This is a big Bordeaux blend, aged up to three years in neutral oak prior to being bottled. It’s a blend of three vintages, 2011, 2012 and 2013. All the fruit comes from not only their estate, but from many of their close friends located in Sonoma and Mendocino. The wine is a 6,000-case North Coast appellation, with elegant black cherry and blackcurrant fruit as well as tobacco leaf ...Read More »
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 »
93 points Robert Parker's Wine Advocate: "The 2015 Arbe Garbe is a blend of Malvasia, Tocai and Ribolla Gialla. This is an exotic fruit cocktail of a wine with gorgeous aromatics of mango, caramelized melons, honeysuckle, apricot, a touch of pineapple, strawberry and even cherry notes, making for an intense, round and juicy wine. It is an intriguing wine that merits serious attention from Wine Advocate readers. These are two terrific wines from Italian winemaker Enrico Bertoz, who hails from the Alto Adige sector of Italy. (RP)" (10/2016) 92 points Vinous: "The 2015 White Wine (Sonoma County) is absolutely gorgeous. ...Read More »
Inventory: San Francisco
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 »
96 points Wine Enthusiast: "An offering meant to toast all manner of celebrations, this wine wows, blending 78% Pinot Noir with 22% Chardonnay in a near-perfect union. Dry and beautifully floral, it opens in a bouquet of marzipan, peach and honey. The mousse is fine, while supporting acidity lends a lemon peel and grapefruit lift. The memory imprinted on the palate will linger long after all the toasts to the happy couple (or whatever else you're celebrating) have been made. (VB)" (3/2017) 91 points Wine Spectator: "Delicate rose petal and strawberry aromas lure you in for a taste, leading to graceful notes of ...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 Wetzel family has been growing Cabernet Sauvignon in Alexander Valley since the 1960s, and embody the Sonoma County spirit of winemaking, charging very fair prices for estate-grown, Alexander Valley wines, yet always innovating and pursuing quality. Wines are aged in their own shotcrete-walled caves, just steps from the winery. According to the winery: "The 2014 Cabernet Sauvignon is a classic Alexander Valley wine with medium body, great fruit flavors and polished tannins. Winemaker Kevin Hall added 6% Merlot for structure, a touch of Cabernet Fran... Read More »
94 points Robert Parker's Wine Advocate: "The 2014 Zinfandel Estate is primarily Zinfandel, but there are other grapes in this mixed black field blend, including Peloursin, Négrette, Syrah, Petite Sirah and Carignan. This is a sensational Zinfandel, with an explosive nose of pepper, raw meat, blackberry, black raspberry and cherry. Deep, chewy and dense, it finishes at 14.8% natural alcohol... The owners of the well-known Marietta Cellars, the Bilbro family, have taken this once-moribund producer, Limerick Lane, and resurrected it to impressive heights of quality. This estate always had some fab ...Read More »
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 »
92 points Connoisseurs Guide: "*Two Stars* Finding a place at the lighter end of the Rosé spectrum and, in fact, a wine that could easily pass for a Blanc de Noirs, this lightly yeasty version fixes on energetic, slightly juicy, young fruit as its main motif. It is briskly balanced, but its ample acidity enlivens without ever once seeming sharp, and it is wholly free of the astringency that marks its more vinous mates." (11/2015) 90 points Robert Parker's Wine Advocate: "The N.V. Brut Rosé is 66% Pinot Noir, 33% Chardonnay and 1% Pinot Meunier. The wine shows a light/pale pinkish color, crisp acids and dry medium-bodied cranber ...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."
92 points Rhone Report: "The 2008 Martinelli Syrah Hop Camp Vineyard 'Gravel Lens' (Grave lens refers to the rare soil characteristic of alluvial soil layers interleaved with layers of gravel) is a big, beautifully fruited Syrah that possess touches of northern Rhone like qualities mainly on the nose. Blackberry, cracked pepper, mineral, and hints of chocolate all emerge, and this fleshes out over the evening and gains floral and violets characteristics, as well as notable complexity and a layered profile. This full-bodied, beautifully textured Syrah has an overall seamless feel ...Read More »
90 points Robert Parker's Wine Advocate: "The Bordeaux varietals from Château St. Jean have always done well and again are realistically priced. The 2013 Cabernet Sauvignon Alexander Valley was blended with 5% Merlot, 4% Cabernet Franc and 2% Petit Verdot and spent 20 months in a combination of mostly French but some American oak. The wine is a sleeper of the vintage at this price point. Meaty, earthy berry fruit as well as lavender, underbrush, blackcurrants and black cherries jump from the glass of this seriously endowed, fleshy, medium to full-bodied Cabernet Sauvignon with noticeable but rip ...Read More »
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 »
91 points Robert Parker's Wine Advocate: "There are approximately 12,000 cases of the NV Christo Lot 3, which is a hedonistic blend of Grenache, Syrah, Petite Sirah and a touch of Viognier to uplift the aromatics. This is, again, aged in neutral oak for two years and a blend of three vintages: 2011, 2012 and 2013. This is my favorite of all of these wines – a wine of exceptional purity and intensity and plenty of character, as this one is 70% Syrah and the rest the other three grapes. It tips the scales at a lofty 15.3% alcohol, but it’s well hidden behind a cascade of blackberry and cassis frui ...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 »
94 points Vinous: "A rich, boisterous wine, the 2015 Zinfandel Giuseppe & Luisa is explosive in the glass. Here, too, the flavors are bright and vibrant. Red-toned fruit and expressive floral notes abound. Voluptuous and intense, the 2015 possesses tremendous thrust in its flavors and overall feel. Even with all of its intensity, the 2015 retains considerable freshness and acidity to play off the forward fruit. (AG)" (3/2017)
90 points Robert Parker's Wine Advocate: "The outstanding 2013 Cabernet Sauvignon Alexander Valley is slightly more expensive, but a beauty. It has some hefty alcohol at 14.8%, and spends 14 months in a combination of French, American and Hungarian small casks. More earthy and tannic than its Sonoma cousin, but rich, extracted, dark ruby/purple, with loads of cassis, earth, spice box and cedar wood, this is a rich, classic Alexander Valley Cabernet Sauvignon that’s made from a blend of 90% Cabernet Sauvignon and 10% Petite Sirah. It should drink well for 10-15 years. This winery was created in 1 ...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 »
Robert Parker called the Martinelli family "one of the great families of Northern California, and of course, one of the highest quality producers." Vigneto di Evo is a blend of multiple vineyard sites farmed by the estate. From the winery: "The 2013 Vigneto di Evo Zinfandel has aromas of dark red fruit, Bing cherries, and hints of conifer and rose petal. The palate is medium weight with flavors of sour cherry, raspberry, and red plum skin, with a slightly earthy/mineral finish."
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
91 points Connoisseurs Guide: "*Two Stars* The annual picking of favorites among the latest crop of new Ravenswood's Zinfandels is a happy, if next-to-impossible task, yet this one clearly vies for a place at the head of the class. It is a potent, yet slightly succulent wine that is at once full-bodied, fleshy and sturdy, and, even if young, it already shows tantalizing suggestions of layered richness. A very slight flare of finishing heat is its one caveat at this point, but age is in order and three to five years in the bottle will make a very good thing even better." (1/2016) 91 points Wine Enthusiast: "This wi ...Read More »
95 points Robert Parker's Wine Advocate: "A real killer effort is the 2012 Cabernet Sauvignon. Alexander Valley has been producing more and more top Cabernets and deserves certainly to be considered up there with some of the best AVAs in Napa. This opaque purple wine has a beautiful nose of blueberry, blackberry, licorice and earthy undertones. Stunningly full-proportioned the wine has terrific depth of fruit and richness. Scherrer was telling me the Cabernet was planted on the old St. George rootstock that was favored and not prone to the Phylloxera scourge that took out all of the AXR rootstoc ...Read More »
Inventory: San Francisco
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 »