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K&L Staff Recommendations
Cabernet Sauvignon excels at Ancient Peaks' estate Margarita Vineyard, where it achieves both ripeness and balance amid one of the coolest, longest growing seasons in the Paso Robles region. Here, their Cabernet Sauvignon vines are planted to a range of soil types, bringing added natural complexity to the wine. Taste Notes from the Winery: "The 2013 Cabernet Sauvignon presents multidimensional aromas of plum, raspberry, tobacco and toasted oak. Rounded flavors of black cherry and black currant are interwoven with earthier hints of olive, mint, black tea... Read More »
Organically grown, Justin's 2014 Cabernet is rich and full bodied. Black fruit, spice, tobacco, violet and savory herbal notes will satisfy any red wine lover.
Though the 2014 vintage has yet to be professionally reviewed, Robert Parker praised the 2013: "The 2013 Foxglove Cabernet Sauvignon, which is a nearly 11,000-case cuvée, comes from northern Paso Robles from all hillside vineyards and represents a soft, round, juicy, succulent style of Cabernet. It has black and red currants, loamy soil notes and plenty of juiciness. The wine is delicious and best drunk over the next 2-3 years. The following notes include value-priced wines from the Varner brothers under the moniker Foxglove and they are indeed great va... Read More »
91-93 points Robert Parker's Wine Advocate: "I think even a step up over the killer 2013, the 2014 Cabernet Sauvignon is loaded with notions of black raspberry, cassis, spice and licorice. More textured, voluptuous, layered and concentrated than all of the previous vintages... (JD)" (8/2015)
Ancient Peaks has become known for producing one of Paso Robles’ most acclaimed Zinfandels. Here, amid one of the region’s coolest growing environments, the Zinfandel grape achieves a rare balance of robust flavors and elegant structure. Zinfandel has been a cornerstone variety of Paso Robles for more than 100 years, and the folks at Ancient Peaks are proud to feature it in their small family of wines.
Vinous: "Opaque ruby. Dark berries, licorice, cedary oak and a hint of pipe tobacco on the pungent nose. Gently sweet and velvety in the mouth, offering warm cherry and blackcurrant flavors and a hint of bitter chocolate. Dusty tannins frame the smoke-accented finish, which leaves behind a touch of coconut. This wines was aged in a 50/50 blend of French and American oak, 30% of it new. (JR)" (9/2015)
91 points Stephen Tanzer's International Wine Cellar: "Bright purple. Ripe raspberry and blueberry on the nose and in the mouth. Juicy, spice-accented berry compote flavors show an appealingly silky quality and pick up a floral nuance with air. Closes on a gently sweet note, with lingering blue fruit and spice qualities. No shortage of fruit here. (JR)" (11/2012) Robert Parker's Wine Advocate: "The 2010 Lothario is another of the more restrained wines in this lineup from Kukkula. It shows good depth and persistence, with pretty notes of tobacco, wild flowers and dried cherries that linger on the finish. Lothario is a blend of equal parts Gre ...Read More »
The Benito Dusi Ranch in Paso Robles is the only vineyard that Ridge uses south of the San Francisco Bay area. Originally planted by Sylvester and Caterina Dusi in 1923 after emigrating from Italy, these old vines produce phenomenal fruit. With excellent Zinfandel-growing temperatures and rocky soils, the Dusi Vineyard wines are known for their juicy bramble fruit and velvety tannins. According to the winery, these are wines that "consistently show deep, juicy bramble fruit on the palate, along with notes of black cherry, gravelly earth, and rich chocola... Read More »
Harvested from the newly designated Santa Margartia Ranch and Estrella District AVAs in Paso Robles, Broadside crafts their Cabernet Sauvignon with minimal intervention for the sake of varietal purity and expression of vintage and terroir. The wine is aged for 14 months in neutral oak (both French and American). From the winery: "Our 2014 Paso Robles Cabernet Sauvignon highlights a beautiful vintage. A balanced growing season lent itself to producing impeccable fruit, not unlike 2013, with slightly greater intensity and concentration. A strong showing of... Read More »
Cabernet Sauvignon excels at Ancient Peaks' estate Margarita Vineyard, where it achieves both ripeness and balance amid one of the coolest, longest growing seasons in the Paso Robles region. Here, their Cabernet Sauvignon vines are planted to a range of soil types, bringing added natural complexity to the wine.
93 points Wine Enthusiast: "*Editors' Choice* Red cherry, vanilla, chaparral scrub and cranberry puree show on the nose of this bottling from the longtime estate, and then come the intriguing olive and Middle Eastern spices. The palate hones in on that Mediterranean spice character, with Kalamata olives blending into lavender, exotic mulberry and thyme-laced cherry-plum sauce." (7/2016) K&L Notes: The 2014 Classic Estate Pinot was a Double Gold Winner at the 2016 San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition. From the winery: "Rich and sumptuous, it offers aromas of roses and spice, followed by flav... Read More »
The flagship Bordeaux blend of Justin, the 2013 Isosceles is 75% Cabernet Sauvignon, 16% Cabernet Franc, 9% Merlot and was aged 21 months in 100% French oak barrels. The winery notes: "The 2013 vintage shows a balance on release of generous, approachable fruit and complex flavors backed by firm tannins and crisp acidity, making the 2013 ISOSCELES accessible now, but definitely cellar-worthy."
Jeff Runquist banked 19 years making wine in California before opening his own winery. During that time, he developed close relationships with growers and is now able to source first-rate fruit for his own wines. Petite Sirah is the best selling varietal for Jeff Runquist Wines, who is based out of Amador County. This Salman Vineyard bottling hails from the Clarksburg AVA on the delta of the Sacramento River where it benefits from cool breezes from the San Francisco Bay. Although there are many quality vine plantings in Clarksburg, grapes are almost alwa... Read More »
The second label of Pali Wine Co., Tower 15 was inspired by the iconic lifeguard towers that dot the SoCal shoreline. Tower 15 is devoted to affordable wines from the Central Coast that are delicious right out of the gate. The Swell Bordeaux blend is dark and brooding, with notes of ripe plums, cherries, rosemary, and dark chocolate. It's the perfect match to a juicy cheeseburger at a beachside BBQ. Drink early and often!
Jancis Robinson: "Blackcurrant juice, chocolate and lots of new oak spice on the finish. Clay-textured tannin, smooth and fruity and balanced." (5/2015) K&L Notes: This'll be your go-to BBQ Cab. Fire up the grill! From the winery: "Aromatic with ripe black cherry, blackcurrant, and berry fruit with vanilla, cinnamon and subtle dried fall leaf accents. Classic cabernet with moderate plus blackcurrant and cherry fruit and baking spice flavors on the entry. Sweet tobacco and savory herbal notes arrive on the mid palate, along with beautifully balanced tannins that provide a structure tha... Read More »
Inventory: Main Warehouse
Connoisseurs Guide: "*One Star & a "Good Value"* There may be a note of candied simplicity to the wine, and its fraction of Syrah goes wholly unnoticed, but it more than makes up in vital young fruit for what it lacks in complexity and a light trim of spice keeps it in the Rhône camp. It is medium-full-bodied and balanced to firmness with a bit of tannin to lose, but it will do the trick in washing down grilled steaks in the short term and looks sure to improve for a couple of years." (3/2015) Robert Parker's Wine Advocate: "The Cotes du Rhône-like 2013 Patelin de Tablas Proprietary Red (a 5,900-case blend o ...Read More »
Jancis Robinson: "Spice red and dark fruit with a floral lift. Crisp, linear focus and lots of palate tension with still giving flavour. Taut tannin with balancing acidity and a peppery finish. The structure to age. *Very Good Value* Drink 2015-2025. (ECB)" (2/2016)
Vinous: "Light yellow. Ripe peach and melon on the nose, with a hint of candied fig emerging slowly. Round and open-knit, offering subtly sweet orchard and pit fruit flavors along with some warmth on the back half. The melon note repeats on the persistent finish. (JR)" (9/2015) Wine Enthusiast: "This genre-busting blend of 54% Viognier, 22% Vermentino, 15% Verdelho and 9% Sauvignon Blanc invites the nose with ripe red and pink apples, lime blossoms and zest and a shred of bubble gum. The quite-ripe palate sizzles with cider notes as well as more lime and Gala apple elements. (MK) ...Read More »
From Niven Family Wine Estates and their SIP (Sustainability in Practice™) certified vineyards, this good-value Paso Cab is typically bold and rich, "loaded with blackberry jam, cherry, black currant, exotic spices and cola, with notes of caramelized oak," according the winery's note.
Double Gold Medal winner from the San Francisco Chronicle. From the winemaker: "Mountain Zinfandel is an aggressively fruity, dark, rich wine. Jammy aromas of raspberry and plum are balanced by floral lavender and violet. A lush, round mouth of plum and cherry flavors lead to a finish that is long and satisfying. This wine is bold enough to accompany spicy fare brilliantly - try it with spicy sausage like Andouille or Opolo's own Cevap Cici!"
Jancis Robinson: "Zesty and floral with bright fruit and cucumber accents. Lots of persistent, bracing acidity. Crushed quartz, chalk, and saline throughout. Drink 2015-2020. *Good Value* (ECB)" (2/2016) Vinous: "Green-tinged yellow. Tightly wound citrus fruit and floral aromas unfold slowly picking up a hint of candied ginger. Taut and linear on the palate, offering bitter lemon and lime zest and pear skin flavors, plus a touch of anise. Closes on a tangy note, with good lift and citrus bite. Most of the Ancient Peaks wines are priced for a large target audience at what are very lo ...Read More »
Wine Enthusiast: "Very ripe, almost overripe, with an edge of raisins. But the structure of tannins and acids is fine, and the pruniness acts as a foil against the blackberries, cherries and cedar wood. Drink now." (10/2009) K&L Notes: Notes from the producer's website: "The highest expression of JUSTIN Vineyards & Winery is our ISOSCELES Reserve. Sourced entirely from our home estate vineyard planted in 1981 this wine reflects the pinnacle of our efforts. Vines planted on native root stock, in nutrient depleted soils, dry farmed and hand harvested produce tiny yields that are big on ... Read More »
Inventory: Main Warehouse
100 points Robert Parker's Wine Advocate: "Utter perfection, and one of the most profound Rhone Ranger wines I have ever tasted... As with many prodigious wines, the extraordinary freshness, purity, equilibrium, and singularity of this effort is breathtaking. Its dense purple color is accompanied by an extraordinary, incredibly pure, all enveloping, intense, sweet nose of black raspberries, kirsch, spring flowers, spice box, and pepper. Full-bodied with not a hard edge to be found, it is stunningly concentrated with unreal purity, a voluptuous texture, and remarkable freshness for a wine of such ...Read More »
With grapes from nine different sites within the Paso Robles AVA, the 2015 Patelin de Tablas Blanc is a blend of 56% Grenache Blanc, 23% Viognier, 12% Roussanne, and 9% Marsanne. This fruit was whole cluster pressed with fermentation taking place in stainless steel tanks with only native yeasts used.
Vinous: "Bright ruby. Fresh dark berries and licorice on the fragrant nose. Smooth, gently sweet and broad on the palate, offering smoke-tinged cherry-vanilla and blackberry flavors that tighten up with aeration. Fine-grained tannins give shape to the smoky, oak-spiced finish. (JR)" (9/2015) K&L Notes: From the Winery: "The Power of 4 – this Paso blend is more delicious than the sum of its parts. It combines grape varieties mainly from our prestigious Huerhuero Vineyard, located in the rolling hills of Paso Robles. Here, warm afternoons and cool evening breezes influence the ... Read More »
Robert Parker's Wine Advocate: "The 5,800-case cuvée 2013 Foxglove Zinfandel, which comes from Paso Robles, exhibits a medium-ruby color, hefty, full-bodied...sexy, briary and berry fruit, and a Pinot Noir-like lushness and sensitivity with virtually no oak in evidence. This is a well-made, stylish and seductive Zinfandel to drink over the next several years. (RP)" (10/2015) Vinous: "A rich, boisterous wine, the 2013 Zinfandel literally jumps from the glass with exuberant, racy red fruits. Aging in steel keeps the flavors bright, focused and floral throughout. (AG)" (7/2015)
96 points Robert Parker's Wine Advocate: "The brilliant 2011 Syrah Broken Stones comes from a cooler block of the James Berry Vineyard and checks in as a blend of 78% Syrah, 18% Mourvedre and 4% Petit Sirah. Relatively forward (especially when compared to the locked up Bone Rock), with fabulous purity and freshness, it exudes notions of creme de cassis, blueberry, pepper, crushed flowers and sweet oak on the nose. Full-bodied, seamless and elegant, yet with building richness and rock star length, it’s an elegant version of the cuvee to drink over the coming 15 years or more. (JD)" (8/2014) 95 points Vinous: "A dark, ...Read More »
Inventory: Main Warehouse
Vintage notes: "The 2013 vintage started with a very dry winter followed by a warm, dry and early spring. The weather turned hot in late May and staying that way through July. The first 10 days of August were cooler and slowed things a bit, but the heat returned and we began harvesting on August 19, making 2013 our fifth earliest harvest start in JUSTIN history. September and October gave us perfect conditions to harvest cabernet franc from mid-September through early October with an attractive red fruit and finesse while the earlier ripening merlot star... Read More »
92-94 points Robert Parker's Wine Advocate: "Tasted from barrel, the 2014 Optimus shows more red fruit than the '13, with lots of black raspberries, dried flowers and violet characteristics present in its full-bodied, rich, expansive and mouth-filling profile. It has surprising complexity as well as a great mid-palate, so I suspect it will shine on release. (JD)" (6/2015)
Producer Note: "The 2013 J. Lohr Seven Oaks Cabernet Sauvignon is showing exceptionally dark color with a bright hue at release. Intense fruit aromas of black cherry, plum and blueberry are accented by a barrel bouquet of hazelnut, dark chocolate and toasted pastry. Sturdy tannins strike the palate and finish with the hightoned fruit signature that typifies the Paso Robles appellation." -Steve Peck, red winemaker
Out of Paso Robles, these wines follow the aesthetic of its winemaker Russell P. From--"all the facts with none of the filler."
91 points Vinous: "Green-tinged yellow. Ripe pear and nectarine aromas show very good depth and clarity, turning spicier with air. Smooth, warm and open-knit, offering an array of pit and citrus fruit flavors that tighten up on the back half. A floral note comes up on the fragrant, focused, fruity finish." (9/2015) 90 points Robert Parker's Wine Advocate: "Probably the leanest example of this cuvee I've tasted, the 2013 Esprit de Tablas Blanc checks in as 71% Roussanne, 21% Grenache Blanc and 8% Picpoul that saw 10 months in mostly neutral foudre. It offers pretty, salty minerality in its leafy herbs, citrus and sto ...Read More »
97 points Robert Parker's Wine Advocate: "Sporting a vibrant ruby, semi-opaque color, the 2010 James Berry Vineyard is the most tight, backward version of this cuvee that I can recall. A blend of 52% Grenache, 26% Mourvedre, and 22% Syrah, it has a decidedly savory bouquet of blackberry liqueur, kirsch, violets, bouquet garni, ground pepper, and graphite. Full-bodied and layered on the palate, with brilliant mid-palate concentration, superb freshness, and masses of tannin, this brilliant Rhone blend from Paso Robles will stand toe-to-toe with the best wines out there, but it is not for those see ...Read More »
Inventory: Main Warehouse
96 points Robert Parker's Wine Advocate: "Reminding me of a top 2010 Chateauneuf du Pape (the 2010 Raymond Usseglio Cuvee Imperiale to be exact), the 2011 James Berry Vineyard is a blend of 69% Grenache, 13% Mourvedre, 13% Syrah, 2% Counoise, and a splash of Roussanne, that was aged in a combination of concrete (Grenache) and larger oak puncheons. A fresh, detailed and more elegant example of the cuvee, it offers gorgeous notes of ripe berry fruit, loads of exotic spice, violets, pepper and lavender to go with a full-bodied, beautifully pure and layered profile on the palate. It’s no blockbuster ...Read More »
Inventory: Main Warehouse
91 points Wine Spectator: "Ripe and burly, with a good backbone of loamy acidity and tannins, this shows accents of smoky raspberry, grilled herb, licorice and peppered beef. Drink now through 2025. 492 cases made." (3/2016) K&L Notes: Russell From is the man behind Herman Story Wines, a Central Coast phenomenon since 2001. Unpretentious, unmanipulated, and undeniably good wines. 93 points Antonio Galloni for the 2011 vintage of Late Bloomer: "Bright ruby-red. Fresh red fruit and floral pastille scents are complicated by hints of smoky minerals, allspice and white pepper. Graceful, focused and... Read More »
Inventory: San Francisco
92-94 points Robert Parker's Wine Advocate: "Still not bottled, the 2013 Esprit de Tablas (40% Mourvedre, 28% Syrah, 22% Grenache and 10% Counoise) reveals a deep ruby color to go with lots of kirsch, black cherries, rose petal and underbrush. Full-bodied, nicely concentrated, with solid mid-palate depth and a great texture, it should drink nicely on release and keep for a decade or more. (JD)" (8/2015) 93 points Vinous: "Bright ruby. High-pitched red berry, cherry and floral pastille aromas are complicated by suggestions of allspice and smoky minerals. Sappy and concentrated, showing strong spicy lift to its bitter ch ...Read More »
91 points Vinous: "Green-tinged yellow. Ripe pear and nectarine aromas show very good depth and clarity, turning spicier with air. Smooth, warm and open-knit, offering an array of pit and citrus fruit flavors that tighten up on the back half. A floral note comes up on the fragrant, focused, fruity finish. (JR)" (9/2015) 90 points Robert Parker's Wine Advocate: "Probably the leanest example of this cuvee I've tasted, the 2013 Esprit de Tablas Blanc checks in as 71% Roussanne, 21% Grenache Blanc and 8% Picpoul that saw 10 months in mostly neutral foudre. It offers pretty, salty minerality in its leafy herbs, citrus an ...Read More »
Fruit was destemmed and hand-sorted before fermentation took place over 20 days in stainless steel. The wine was then aged for 12 months in neutral French barriques. From the winery: "Fresh ripe berries, smoke, brown spice, dark chocolate on the nose. Flavors of fig paste, plum, mint, and licorice followed by a bright, lush and balanced finish."
Inventory: San Francisco
Producer tasting notes: "Bramble, sweet leather, red licorice, candied cherry, red plum, cherry cola, rhubarb, vanilla, pecan pie, green peppercorn, applewood smoked bacon, spearmint."
Mainly Paso Robles Cab with a twist, this 2014 is 94% Cabernet Sauvignon and 6% Syrah, from four vineyards: 48% Jack Knife, 25% Blind Faith, 21% Stones Throw and 6% Spanish Springs. The winery's note: "This is a deeply colored, purple hued, densely colored red wine with a lot of nice aromas...classic scents of red currant and blackberry with subtle notes of sage and coriander. This is a food friendly Cabernet Sauvignon with gentle, fine tannins and a lingering finish of small dark-red berries."
94 points Robert Parker's Wine Advocate: "Another sensational effort that does everything right is the 2012 Syrah Toasted Slope. Similarly concentrated as the Old 900, it has more elegance, fine tannin and polish to go with full-bodied, ripe, decadent notes of cassis, licorice, smoked herbs, pepper and violets. The blend here is 90% Syrah, 8% Grenache and 2% Viognier, all of which saw the same elevage as the other reds here (67% new French oak for the Syrah, 8% new for the Grenache). Drink this inky colored, balanced and layered beauty anytime over the coming decade. (JD)" (8/2015) 91 points Vinous: "Inky purple. In ...Read More »
Inventory: Redwood City
92 points Vinous: "(100% syrah): Inky purple. Spicy blackberry and licorice aromas are complicated by suggestions of smoky minerals and violet. Very syrah! Sweet red and dark berry flavors show very good depth and definition, with anise, olive and candied floral qualities building with air. The clean, persistent finish offers a zesty kick of cracked pepper, along with echoing dark berry notes. (JR)" (11/2013)
Inventory: Main Warehouse
The Margarita Vineyard, part of the Ancient Peaks estate that was originally planted by Franciscan missionaries in 1780, is truly a site to behold. Located in the southernmost corner of Paso Robles between the the Santa Lucia mountain range and fourteen miles from the ocean, this is one of the coolest vineyards in the region. There are five distinct soil types here; shale, sedimentary, ancient sea bed, volcanic, and granitic soils are all found on different blocks of the vineyard. The ancient sea bed soils are the most impressive - massive white oyster f... Read More »
90 points Robert Parker's Wine Advocate: "A year in, year out excellent value, the 2013 Cotes de Tablas (55% Grenache, 30% Syrah, 10% Counoise and 5% Mourvedre, raised mostly in foudre) offers pretty, juicy and lively aromas and flavors of crunchy black cherries, blackberries, peppery herbs, and underbrush. Medium-bodied, balanced and easy drinking, it still has the depth and class to evolve for a 7-8 years (I know as we had just finished an '05 retrospective). (JD)" (4/2015) 90 points Vinous: "Vivid ruby-red. Aromas of fresh red berries, potpourri and allspice, with a bright white pepper note adding urgency. Sappy ...Read More »
91 points Vinous: "Dark purple. Powerful, slow-to-open aromas of cassis, cherry compote and licorice, with a smoky topnote. Chewy and tightly wound, offering concentrated dark berry and bitter cherry flavors and a suggestion of fruitcake. Shows very good energy on the clinging, youthfully tannic finish, which features a suggestion of dark chocolate. (JR)" (6/2015)
94 points Wine Enthusiast: "A tremendous wine that easily held its own against Napa Cabs and blends, and a worthy followup to the wonderful 2006. Mainly Cabernet Sauvignon, with small amounts of Cabernet Franc and Merlot, the wine is extraordinarily rich and balanced and refined, showing Paso softness, but no absence of complexity. Really impresses for the depth and range of berries, currants, licorice, mocha, herbs, spices and oak." (12/2010) 90 points Stephen Tanzer's International Wine Cellar: "Inky ruby. Lively aromas of red and dark berry preserves, with subtle floral and oak spice notes adding complexity. Juicy, gently sweet cherry ...Read More »
Inventory: Main Warehouse