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K&L Staff Recommendations
Bench is one of the labels of Brack Mountain Wine Company, which sources this Pinot Noir mostly from the Sangiacomo vineyard in the Sonoma Coast AVA. Great aromatics of red fruit and orange peel and a smooth finish.
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 »
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 »
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: "Presents a lively, refreshing, complex mix of snappy wild berry and raspberry flavors, firm and vibrant, ending long, clean and complex. Drink now through 2020. 6,000 cases made.—J.L." (6/2015) K&L Notes: From our friends at Amici in Napa Valley, this great value Pinot Noir is sourced mainly from the Russian River Valley. Last year's lovely little 2012 (we've still got some as of this release) was scored 90 points by Wine Enthusiast: "It’s rare to get a twenty buck Pinot Noir this good." And Stephen Tanzer's International Wine Cellar agreed, scoring the 2012 90 point... Read More »
92 points Wine Spectator: "Offers an exciting interplay of berry, oak, earth and spice notes. This is rich yet medium-weight, with subtle edges to the blueberry, raspberry, mocha and fresh-turned earth flavors, ending with a tasty melted black licorice aftertaste. Drink now through 2020." (5/2015) Wine Enthusiast: "This has a very deep-red color with a reddish-purple rim, followed by very ripe, jammy aromas like boysenberry jam with spicy, smoky oak accents. Flavors are ripe, effusive and nearly sweet, as the wine goes for broke in terms of well-ripened grape flavors and generous helpings of sweet-sp ...Read More »
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 »
The bounty of the 2012 vintage is certainly showing its stuff. The Kirkham Peak Santa Lucia Highlands Pinot Noir was made for us by a very notable Central Coast winery (we can't tell you who), and this bottling is the real deal at a fraction of the price. The winery who (for contractual reasons) needs to remain nameless, has a long list of highly-rated wines from various critics. And with the perfect raw materials in 2012, they've fashioned another winner. This has a profile of bright fruit--lovely raspberry and strawberry aromas that reverberate on t... Read More »
Antonio Galloni: "The 2013 Pinot Noir Tous Ensemble is a gorgeous entry-level offering from Copain. Crushed flowers, sweet tobacco and red stone fruits are all laced together in a pretty, silky Pinot that over delivers for its very modest price tag. The Tous Ensemble is now made from 100% estate vineyards in Anderson Valley, which is quite remarkable at this level. (AG)" (1/2015) K&L Notes: From fruit grown on several sites in Anderson Valley, Tous Ensemble is an immediately appealing Pinot Noir and a great introduction to the style of winemaker Wells Guthrie, who delivers cool climat... Read More »
$11.99 for California Pinot Noir? Yes, you read correctly. Under the Four Bears label, Sean Minor consistently produces solid, easy-drinking values that are balanced, food-friendly, and generously overdeliver for the price. According to the winery: "Our Central Coast Pinot Noir is a medium bodied wine which displays aromas of floral components, red fruit and dark cherries. On the palate, the Pinot offers luscious flavors of dark cherry, strawberry and violets, combined with subtle layers of spice. The integrated bright acidity and sweet oak nuances provi... 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. A joint project of Master Sommelier Sarah Floyd and the Pisoni family, Luli was originally targeted at restaurants for by-the-glass programs. The wines are made by Gary Pisoni's son Jeff at t ...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 »
Bishop's Peak is a second label of Talley Vineyards representing the greater Central Coast region. The fruit is sourced from the McCullough, Stone Corral, C-Bar, Las Ventanas, East Rincon, and Marcam Vineyards. From the winery: "Brilliant garnet in color, the 2013 vintage of Bishop’s Peak Pinot Noir bursts with aromas of strawberry and raspberry complimented with subtle notes of earth and soil. This medium bodied wine has elegant flavors consistent with its aromas, soft tannins and refreshing acidity. Enjoy a glass with a wedge of Fontina cheese or garl... Read More »
90 points Wine Spectator: "Refreshingly clean and vibrant, with well-structured flavors of snappy raspberry and wild berry, offering firm, modest tannins and a complex aftertaste that echoes dusty earth details. Drink now through 2021. 1,200 cases made." (6/2015)
Wine Spectator: "Bold, ripe and vibrant, with expressive huckleberry, boysenberry and blueberry, this is as unbridled as you might expect for a 2012, but deliciously complex. Drink now through 2020." (11/2013) K&L Notes: This freshly released, wallet-friendly Pinot has a solid CV: It's a second label of Belle Glos, the Pinot Noir house of Napa's Caymus Vineyards, and a consistent store favorite here at K&L. The 2011 vintage earned 92 points from the Wine Spectator and a "Smart Buy" designation. The 2012 Pinot Noir, which is sourced from coastal Sonoma County, Monterey and Santa Barba... Read More »
Excited by the quality of their 2013 Pinot Noirs, the winery describes this multi-vineyard blend. "Strawberries and raspberries aromas slowly climb out of the glass. Overtime more of the anise and clove will mix with these other aromas. Currently the wine is young with mouth filling intensity. Complexity will increase as the wine ages, but this wine should stay youthful for 6 or 7 years. Like all Au Bon Climat wines, this is a food wine."
90 points Wine Enthusiast: "This is a mouthfilling, plush-textured, copper colored bubbly with hints of cherry and raspberry in the ripe flavors, firm acidity to balance them and tiny bubbles to keep it all lively. Made with 60% Pinot Noir and 40% Chardonnay, it finishes with a slightly sweet sensation." (12/2014)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 »
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 »
From the winery: "With a gorgeous hue of pale pink, our 2014 Rosé jumps out of the glass with crisp red fruit flavors. The supple texture is backed by a vibrant freshness and appealing acidity, making this a wonderfully versatile food wine. The 2014 vintage started dry but abundant February rain came just in time to break the winter draught. Warm spring temperatures encouraged an early budbreak that kept vineyard development ahead of schedule through the entire season. Our harvest was condensed beginning September 3rd and concluding on September 24th. Fo... Read More »
Connoisseurs Guide: "Quite dark in color and suggesting a fair sense of extract with a tilt to ripe cherries and plenty of size on the palate, this somewhat uneven youngster turns out to be a bit stiff in feel with obvious acidity providing a tart counterpoint to its short-lived sensations of suppleness. The richness first promised is hard to find at the finish, and, while it may find better integration with time, it is a wine that needs a few years of age and bit of good luck if it is to grow into real beauty." (2/2015) Wine & Spirits: "Ripe and grapey, this lasts on simple, sun-warmed blue f ...Read More »
Wine Enthusiast: "There’s some age showing on the nose of this wine, with cherry liqueur aromas most prevalent. It’s very tasty once sipped, and still strongly tannic, with dark cherry and black clove." (12/2014) K&L Notes: From Central Coast winery owner Nebil "Bilo" Zarif, who also founded Barnwood Vineyards, Summerland is a small (3,000 cases in the single vineyard collection) Pinot Noir specialist. The famed Bien Nacido Vineyard was planted in 1973, before the modern era of the Dijon clones, to Pommard and Martini.
Wine Enthusiast: "A powerful spice rack of mace, allspice and cinnamon stick coat aromas of roasted tomatoes on this wine from the longtime Alsatian-focused producer. The flavors come and go quickly, but feature orange peel-driven acidity, squeezed plum fruit and cranberry juice." (2/2015)
Inventory: Main Warehouse
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.
This fun, easy to like Pinot comes from Central Coast winemaker Stephen Ross, who's done more serious stints at Louis Martini and Edna Valley wineries. Central Coast Pinot Noir comes from the three counties that make up the Central Coast, Monterey, San Luis Obispo, and Santa Barbara.
Sourced from Mendocino's Yorkville Highlands, the Sonoma Coast, and a hillside vineyard in the Russian River Valley, this cool climate Pinot Noir reflects winemaker Derek Rahliffs' classic approach. The three lots are vinified separately and the approach in the cellar is low-intervention. According to the winery: "Aromas of cherry, herbs, and rose petal dominate the nose, while on the palate the wine is medium bodied with a silky smooth texture and a refreshing acid on the finish. Enjoy with pork tenderloin, salmon and poultry dishes where the crispness... Read More »
This is a lovely pinot noir from Alfaro Family Vineyards & Winery. They're located in the up-and-coming Corralitos area in the southern end of the Santa Cruz Mountains appellation and close to the cool Monterey Bay. One-time residents of the area might recognize this as another delicious product from the founders of the original Alfaro's Bakery! From the producer: "Ruby in color, medium in body. Bright cherry and raspberry on the nose, with abundant Bing cherry, spice and vanilla flavors on the palate. This wine has well-integrated tannins and refres... Read More »
Inventory: Redwood City
Wine Spectator: "Presents a tight beam of cherry-laced gravel, dried herb and cedar notes, ending clean and vibrant. Drink now through 2020." (9/2014) K&L Notes: Once upon a time, when La Crema "Vinera" was founded in the late 1970s, the quality of wine produced by the young, ambitious winemakers varied from sublime to...variable. Today, of course, La Crema is a veritable "old faithful" of Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir. The 2012 vintage fit right into the La Crema program, according to winemaker Elizabeth Grant Douglas' notes: "This exceptional release offers up vibrant red cherry aromas t... Read More »
91 points Wine Enthusiast: "This single-vineyard selection from the Jackson Family’s Santa Maria Valley winery kicks off with scents ranging from red, blistered tomato to pomegranate reduction and mole sauce. On the palate, flavors vary from sweeter berry to tart cherry, with a savory, roasted pork element rounding out the wine." (10/2014)
The Pinot Project was founded in 2009 by well-known wine importer Michael Skurnik. After more than 25 years of importing wines from around the world, Michael, who also represents a who’s who portfolio of the finest California wineries, reached out to his roster of quality winemakers with a project to help him craft the finest quality Pinot Noir on the market for under $20 per bottle. Along with the deft hands of a consulting winemaker who seeks out individual lots of Pinot Noir from the finest growing areas of Northern California, a soft, silky, fruit-fo... Read More »
93 points Wine Enthusiast: "* Editors' Choice * This is made from Pinot Noir grapes grown in two unlikely places in the Napa Valley: the Foss Valley near Atlas Peak and Spring Mountain. There is incredible deliciousness going on in this ever-so-lightly hued wine that is vibrantly crisp in grapefruit rind and earthy cranberry and raspberry. With the slightest salinity on the back palate, it remains thirst-quenching and memorable from start to finish." (6/2015)
Antonio Galloni: "Brilliant red. Musky red berries, cherry pit, dried flowers and underbrush on the fragrant nose. Bitter cherry and redcurrant flavors show good depth and a palate-numbing medicinal flourish. Closes with good focus and firm tannic grip, leaving a chewy cherry skin note behind." (6/2015) K&L Notes: According to the winery: "Our Talbott Pinot Noir, Logan is made to strike a perfect balance between the pure fruit character of our estate grapes, and the influence of our winemaker Dan Karlsen—a Pinot Noir specialist. It shows beautiful aromas and flavors of cherry, blueber... Read More »
90 points Wine Enthusiast: "This is a soft and intense Pinot Noir from three different appellations that’s affordable and approachable. It’s well-made, with earth, candied citrus and Bing cherry notes intermixed with hints of anise and subtle oak." (12/2014) Stephen Tanzer's International Wine Cellar: "(made from a blend of fruit sourced from vineyards in San Luis Obispo, Sonoma and Monterey counties): Dark red. Smoky redcurrant and cherry aromas are lifted by a peppery note. Taut, chewy red fruit and bitter chocolate flavors show good clarity and a tangy edge, along with a touch of mocha. Finishes with firm grip and dusty tan ...Read More »
From the Winemaker Larry Brooks; The 2013 vintage strongly favored the Winery blocks as 70% of the wine is from there. These are the youngest vines on the Estate, so that may be the correlation. Each year is unique, so it’s no surprise that top quality seems to move around from one area to another. This wine is almost 50% Dijon 667 clone, which has long been a reliable producer of the best quality for us. It seems to make reasonable color and balanced tannins, while at the same time being generous in fruit expression. The 2013 vintage encouraged larger t... Read More »
Antonio Galloni: "The 2013 Pinot Noir Hometown is a very pretty entry-level offering from Hitching Post. Partial aging in stainless steel keeps the flavors bright and nuanced throughout, with plenty of sweet red cherry, cherry pit, mint and spice nuances that come through. A dollop of Valdiguie rounds out the blend. At $21 a bottle, the Hometown is one of the best values in California Pinot Noir. Frank Ostini is quite humble in talking about how Sideways basically changed his life and made his Hitching Post II restaurant a hugely popular tourist destination, which in turn ...Read More »
Connoisseurs Guide: "Tilting a touch to the slightly tart end of the red cherry spectrum in its youthful Pinot Noir aromas while still being a little reserved at this point, this wine is more supple than firm at its heart, and the brisk acidity that rises at the end does little more than add to the wine's lively nature. A couple of years in bottle will be useful." (10/2014) K&L Notes: From the winery: "This garnet-colored wine has earth tone aromas of forest floor, ripe black fruits and Five-spice. On the palate, the wine is firmly structured with flavors of blackberry, cassis and Bing c... Read More »
From the Winery; A bright, beautiful, medium-bodied wine with penetrating rose petal, cranberry, cassis and plum flavors, accented by hints of cardamom and anise - all wrapped in a velvety texture. This Pinot's lively fruit will accentuate any wild game or bird dish, and it's power will cut through hot curry or Sechuan fare. Made by Lane Tanner with 100% Pinot Noir from Sierra Madre Vineyard. 800 cases produced. Drink now through 2030 or beyond.
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)
From the winery: "Sonoma-Cutrer’s best kept secret may be that we also make award-winning Pinot Noir wines. We have a separate winery specifically dedicated to crafting the best Pinot Noir. Pinot Noirs, more than other varietals, reflect the way in which they are handled. Sonoma-Cutrer’s Pinot facility was designed to utilize handcrafted winemaking methods to ensure this delicate varietal is blended using the most-gentle of techniques. Our artisan process allows us to create Pinot Noirs that are elegantly structured with a rich texture and juicy, red-ber... Read More »
Inventory: Main Warehouse
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)