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K&L Staff Recommendations
The 50 by 50 Estate is a twenty-three acre property situated southeast of the Atlas Peak AVA and north of the Wild Horse AVA. More specifically, it sits on the Monticello Road incline in the Wooden Valley of Napa, California. Starting at a roadside elevation of 830 feet, it meanders pleasantly down to 600 feet. The gentle slopes are covered with forward gravelly loam, a rich volcanic soil that drains well and lends itself perfectly to the Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc and Merlot varietals that are presently being planted there for the purpose of pro... Read More »
90 points Wine Enthusiast: "Clean, crisp and bright, this was fermented in stainless (with just 10% in neutral wood), and not put through malolactic. The blend is 60/40 Chardonnay/Pinot Noir, yielding fresh fruit flavors of apple and melon that are focused and precise. A streak of ginger runs through racy acidity." (1/2016) Connoisseurs Guide: "*One Star* So lively and bright that it could very easily pass for a Blanc de Blancs on the nose and then following with a very steady and confident mix of mildly citrusy fruit and fresh yeast running its length, this spry, finely bubbled effort earns high marks f ...Read More »
If you're looking for a Pinot Noir that expresses the "Red Hills of Dundee" or know nothing about Dundee, but want a fresh, foward-drinking Pinot Noir, the Arterberry Maresh will be right up your alley. It's a fantastically red-fruited Pinot Noir, with dense Dundee flavors deftly interwoven with spice and earth notes. This is declassified Maresh fruit (planted in 1970), with some supporting fruit from the exemplary Juliard and Winderlea vineyards.
The best of Santa Barbara Pinot Noir. This one is just fantastic… rich delicious flavors, perfect balance. Drink or hold but don't miss out!
Inventory: Main Warehouse
Banshee changed things up a bit in 2015, and for the first time sourced their rosé from Mendocino County when they found some exciting new vineyard sources. Banshee takes their rose production very seriously, and employs hand-harvesting and whole cluster pressing of Pinot Noir grapes designated for rosé from the beginning, rather than bleeding some runoff juice of a wine destined to be a red. The primary new vineyard source for this aromatic and bright rose is biodynamically farmed, and the attention to detail from start to finish shows through in the bo... Read More »
As difficult as it is to produce excellent Pinot Noir, it is even more difficult to do so at a fine value. In their development of the Banshee label, the winemakers gained a stable of quality sources for Pinot fruit from the finest AVAs in California. The 2014 Sonoma County Pinot Noir is the sixth vintage from the enterprising team at Banshee Wines. A large percentage of it is still sourced from the Sonoma Coast, often declassified barrels from vineyards that close followers of top-tier West Coast Pinot may recognize. From the producer: "As with past vin... Read More »
Deep, dark ruby in color, this wine offers aromas of ripe fig, pumpkin seed and strawberry coulis. The palate is tightly focused with flavors of bright currant, cola and a hint of pungent, wild mushroom. The mouthfeel is supple yet structured with well integrated tannins that provide the integrity for this charming wine.
91 points Wine Enthusiast: "*Editors' Choice" Sourced from two vineyards, including Sangiacomo Amaral Ranch, a cool site near the bay, this is a tremendous offering for the price. The wine is light, bright and brambly in raspberry and cherry kirsch, with a mischievous streak of cola. Pretty and fresh, it finishes in a tease of black tea." (5/2016) K&L Notes: 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 fores... Read More »
Handcrafted by Talley Vineyards, Bishop's Peak offers consistently excellent values in Central Coast Pinot Noir. Thanks to El Nino, theses vineyards in Southern San Luis Obispo County received above average rainfall in 2011. A wet spring followed by a long, cool summer resulted in very low yields (30% below average) of concentrated Pinot Noir fruit for Bishop's Peak, allowing the grapes to ripen slowly over a long hang-time while preserving natually fresh acidity. The result is a delicious, balanced Pinot Noir packed with birght cherry and strawberry ar... Read More »
Inventory: Main Warehouse
90 points Vinous: "Bright ruby-red. Lively, spice-accented aromas and flavors of fresh raspberry and cherry, with subtle anise and white pepper notes adding complexity. Bright and penetrating on the palate, showing no excess fat. A sexy floral nuance emerges on the back half and the berry note repeats on the finish, which is given shape by even tannins. This label, which owner Brian Talley is quick to say is not a second label for Talley, has steadily improved in recent years and the wines, without exception, deliver big bang for the buck. While it might not be exactly cor ...Read More »
Connoisseurs Guide: "*One Star* This bright and lively youngster successfully aims for fruity vibrancy rather than volume or striking depth and is made in an eminently likeable, medium-bodied style that invites early drinking. Its easy-drinking simplicity recalls that of a well-made Beaujolais, yet it consistently keeps Pinot Noir within its sights, and, if a long way from complex, it is hard not to like." (6/2015) Vinous: "Vivid red. High-pitched red berry and floral pastille scents show a spicy overtone. On the palate, peppery redcurrant and strawberry flavors deepen and stretch out ...Read More »
Inventory: Main Warehouse
Vinous: "Vivid red. Fresh raspberry and spicecake aromas show good energy as well as a touch of jamminess. Smooth and seamless on the palate, offering gently sweet red and dark berry flavors that tail off a bit on the back half. Finishes on a fruity note, with very soft tannins and a touch of white pepper. (JR)" (10/2015) K&L Notes: From the winery: "The Willamette Valley Pinot Noir is a blend from highly regarded vineyards in the Willamette Valley. Black raspberry, anise, and spicy notes of nutmeg, cinnamon. Mid-palate burst of balanced acid and tannin with flavors of black ... Read More »
90 points Wine Spectator: "Broad and open-textured, with firm tannins around a generous core of cherry and spice flavors, lingering well. Drink now through 2020. 3,811 cases made." (2/2016)
Veteran winemaker Eric Laumann makes wine from some of the more obscure and unsung grapes of the Central Coast, like Albariño, Tannat and Dornfelder—but of course, Pinot Noir as well.
90 points Vinous: "The 2012 Pinot Noir Bench Break is a classic Cambria wine with exuberant fruit, deep color and exotic spice overtones. Lavender, menthol and cloves add complexity to the dark red and blue-toned fruit. The firm tannins could use another year or two to soften. (AG)" (7/2014) Robert Parker's Wine Advocate: "Better, with a deeper, richer color, the 2012 Pinot Noir Bench Break offers a straightforward, subtle bouquet of black fruits, cherry blossom, underbrush and pretty floral notes to go with a medium-bodied, nicely concentrated profile. Aged 10 months in 40% new French oak, it can be enjoy ...Read More »
Inventory: Main Warehouse
Cameron Winery is a small operation in the Dundee Hills. They are dedicated to producing sustainably-farmed, naturally made wines from unirrigated vineyards. Owner and winemaker John-Paul Cameron says of the wine: "Aromas of rhubarb and fennel give way to ripe strawberries in the round and luscious mouth. The palate finishes with soft tannins and moderate acidity. A perfect accompaniment to Pecorino, Saint-Aubert or a triple cream blue cheese…which we happened to be tasting the last time we opened a bottle."
90 points Wine Spectator: "Light and focused, with real transparency to the cherry and rooibos tea flavors, dancing deftly against polished tannins on the sleek finish." (2/2015)
Inventory: Redwood City
Connoisseurs Guide: "Freshness rather than fruity volume is the major message here, and, if the wine is light on richness, it gets good marks for vigor and its close-to piquant, red cherry and strawberry traits. Its acidy inflection becomes more pronounced at the finish, and it may prove to be a little too tart for some tastes, but it will make useful drinking with entrees that call for a crisp Rosé with decidedly zesty acidity as a mate." (7/2016) Vinous: "The 2015 Rosé Hopkins Ranch is crisp and refreshing, with plenty of cranberry, orange zest and floral notes. The 2015 is absolutel ...Read More »
Estate-grown Pinot Noir from Ridgecrest Vineyards (60%), Corral Creek Vineyards (31%), and Stoller Vineyards (9%). Aged 11 months in barrel, 8% new, 12% one-year-old, and 80% neutral. According to the winery: "2014 was one of those rare vintages when everyone is excited - writers and winemakers love the quality, grape growers had no handwringing to do, and yields pleased bankers, which also means customers will see reasonable prices! Wine quality is excellent, based on full ripeness... this vintage is deeply colored, seriously structures with perfect bal... Read More »
The Cherry Tart bottling pulls fruit from three distinctive vineyards in different parts of California: Sonoma Coast, Santa Lucia, and Santa Barbara. From the winery: "The 2014 Cherry Tart Pinot Noir jumps from the glass with aromas of raspberry, nutmeg, sandalwood and light smokiness, lifted by a floral note. Silky and delicate up front, with ripe acidity framing the rich, sweet flavors of red berries, red cherry and earth. Offers good fat without excess weight, finishing with a fine dusting of tannins and very good length."
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 »
Founded in 1972, the home base of Clos du Val has always been the Stags Leap District but they source Pinot Noir and Chardonnay from an estate property in Carneros. A perfect growing season in 2014 was only marred by an earthquake that left a large crack running through the middle of this estate vineyard, but the damage was only cosmetic. From the winemaker: "Brilliant red in color, this Pinot Noir has great clarity. Clove, nutmeg and bayleaf absolutely leap from the glass. This wine is just loaded with an array of spices. The complex nose leads to bold ... Read More »
According to the winery: "With the color of freshly cut cantoulope, our 2015 “Tous Ensemble” Rosé evokes distinct aromas of racy citrus fruits and delicate white flowers. On the palate, juicy watermelon and fresh strawberries are supported by lively acidity to give this gorgeous wine a food friendly structure. The 2015 vintage will be remembered for high quality and lower yields. The growing season started out with unseasonably warm temperatures in late winter and early spring. Cooler temperatures in May caused some uneven fruit set that contributed to s... Read More »
91 points Wine Enthusiast: "Pretty is the word that comes to mind upon sniffing and sipping this wine, with its beguiling strawberry and cherry fruit. It gathers strength in its core, while maintaining an elegant, well-structured acid/tannin frame. It's an outstanding value in Oregon Pinot from a top producer. (PG)" (4/2016)
93 points Wine & Spirits: "This blend is focused on Cristom’s four Eola-Amity Hills vineyards. It’s a dense mélange of stem spice, smoke, graham flour and tobacco, with plummy fruit that absorbs the savory elements, and a sturdy oak component that cradles the lot of it in a warm embrace. Tasted over several days it gains polish and elegance, the oak integrating into something more burnished and structural, lending direction without weight." (4/2013) 91 points Robert Parker's Wine Advocate: "Kept for 18 months rather than the Jefferson Cuvee’s 12 months in barrels, a higher percentage of which are new, Cristom’s 2009 Pinot N ...Read More »
This wine is a collaboration between Jesse Skiles of Fausse Piste, Tom Monroe of Division Winemaking Company, and Barnaby Tuttle of Teutonic. According to Olga Tuttle of Teutonic: "The Tripod Project was formed by a three-way friendship between Barnaby, Jesse and Tom who share the same philosophy about wine, but different winemaking techniques and styles. They wanted to see how a wine would taste made literally three different ways and then brought back together. The Riesling and Pinot Noir fruit was split up three ways and all went to separate wineries ... Read More »
Inventory: San Francisco
Located on SE Division in Portland, Oregon, Division is an urban winery inspired by the wines of the Loire, Beaujolais, Burgundy and the Northern Rhone.
Inventory: San Francisco
According to the winery: "True to its growing season, our 2014 Dundee Hills is a medium-deep garnet color, with a dark core. On the nose, the wine is refined, with clear notes of spice, rose, black cherry, plum, and sweet red fruits, all wrapped in an earthiness that lends a surprising rustic touch. On the palate, the aromatics follow through with layered spice, white pepper, dark cherry and black berry, framed by youthful tannins. The finish is long and the texture has real depth."
According to the winemaker: "Always one of my favorite bottlings, this year's Eola Amity blend greets one with dense and pure black and red cherry and hints of cinnamon. Those cherry flavors follow through to the lively mid-palate where fresh herbs and plum flavors join, followed by a silky finish."
Inventory: Redwood City
Elegant and Burgundian in style, organically and dry-farmed, Evesham Wood's wines are simply gorgeous examples of Oregon Pinot. From the winery: "Very forward with plum, dark cherry, red cherry with a slightly sweet smokiness reminiscent of a toasted marshmallow. It will be fun to watch this wine evolve over the next five years."
This is part of the higher-end Center of Effort brand. From the winery: "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... Read More »
90 points Wine Enthusiast: "Small in production and clearly defined from Carneros, this Blanc de Noirs blends 92% Pinot Noir with 8% Chardonnay to great effect. Pretty in peach color, the intense flavors are a combination of fresh-cut herb and strawberry kirsch." (12/2014) Connoisseurs Guide: "*Good Value* On the one hand bright and fruity and on the other showing a bit of yeasty richness even as it flirts ever so slightly with candied cuteness, this effervescent offering is lifted by its youth and finds a very comfortable place in the mainstream of affable, easy-to-drink California Blanc de Noirs that a ...Read More »
91 points Decanter: "Stern cherry nose, underlaid by sweet oak. Rich and fleshy with good concentration and typicity and a lively, spicy finish. Assertive and long but not heavy. (GH)" (8/2015) 90 points Wine Enthusiast: "Red-cherry and strawberry aromas meld with rich fruit and warm baking-spice flavors to make this full-bodied wine hard to resist. The style is in the ripe, pastry shop mode, and soft tannins and acidity complete the picture. (JG)" (8/2016)
92 points Wine Spectator: "The subtle intensity builds and gains depth, holding focus and delivering a mix of dusty wild berry, plum, black licorice and cassis notes. Impressive on the finish. (JL)" (6/2015) 91 points Wine Enthusiast: "This is a taut and trim wine, but with plenty of toasted oak aromas and rich maple and cherry flavors to fill out its firm frame. Flavors combine cinnamon, cardamom, plum and Bing cherry. The texture is moderately tannic and firmly crisp for an attractive, lip-smacking quality. (JG)" (12/2015) K&L Notes: If it looks like a duck, that's because Goldeneye is indeed part of the Duckhorn Vineyar... Read More »
92 points Wine Spectator: "The texture is plush, with lots of complex flavors, ranging from plum to anise to dusty, cedary oak. Satisfying from start to finish, ending with dusty, nutmeg-scented tannins. (JL)" (6/2016) 90 points Decanter: "Complex dark fruit aromas with toasted oak and mineral notes and nuances of tobacco. Zesty, intense palate of raspberry coulis, a touch of oak, soft tannins, and acidity that is refreshingly clean and long." (7/2016) K&L Notes: $20 Pinot Noir is a competitive category, but not always tops with the critics: if the wines are praised, more often than not it's in the "great for weekni... 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)
For everyday drinking, JackHammer is your go-to Pinot Noir. Founded by California wine industry veterans Stephen Dooley and Sandy Garber with the express purpose of making delicious wine that won't break the bank. Juicy, fruity, and not to be missed!
The Jezebel is a fruit-forward, early-drinking Pinot Noir, with the balanced acidity and bright fruit flavors that you would expect from Oregon Pinot. It is a blend of wine from vineyards in the Willamette Valley and from the Applegate Valley in southern Oregon. The fruit is cropped around two to three tons per acre and fermented in small lots with a variety of yeasts that are chosen to bring out the fullest expression of the fruit. Most of the wine is aged in neutral French oak but a small portion is produced in stainless tanks, to create a wine that is... Read More »
90 points Vinous: "Deep, lurid pink. A wild, highly perfumed bouquet evokes medicinal red fruits, blood orange, potpourri and quinine, with a zesty white pepper overtone; smells exactly like a Negroni. The palate offers incisive redcurrant and bitter cherry flavors and a jolt of orange pith, along with a hint of candied ginger. Dry and minerally on the long, precise finish, which shows resonating spice and floral notes. The Brooklyn and Portland crowd will especially go nuts for this but I suspect that plenty of un-hip wine lovers will as well; I did and I'm an old suburba ...Read More »
Inventory: San Francisco
Medium to medium-deep ruby red in color, this lovely Sonoma Coast production from this great vintage offers distinctive dried rose petal to strawberry fruit aromas with chalky, slate-like mineral notes in the nose which carries over nicely to a well-balanced, well-integrated set of flavors. Good complexity, excellent structure and acid backbone, this Gem is integrated, deep in flavor, and long on the finish. Rusty has ordered me to bring home several cases of this Gem for our near-term consumption over the next four to seven years. This is a Great Value ... Read More »
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: This is the flagship wine from Kenneth Volk, made by blending fruit from the Bien Nacido, Garey Ranch, Sierra Madre and Steiner Creek vineyards. The 2012 vintage was warmer and more typical than the past tw... Read More »
Inventory: San Francisco