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K&L Staff Recommendations
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 »
92 points Wine Spectator: "Lightly papery tannins underline the loamy earth-inflected cherry and spice flavors on a lovely, sleek and open-textured frame. Shows complexity and deftness, finishing long. Drink now through 2022." (2/2015) Stephen Tanzer's International Wine Cellar: "Light, bright red. Lively spice-tinged red berry scents show good focus but a touch of heat. Tangy and sharply focused on the palate, offering bitter cherry and redcurrant flavors and a hint of bitter orange pith that gains strength with air. The redcurrant note repeats on the rather rigid finish. (JR)" (8/2014) Wine Enthusiast: "A penetrating whiff of wintergreen is ...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 »
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 »
90 points Wine & Spirits: "Fragrant with scents of rose petal and pinecone, this is clean and brisk. Lifted rather than layered or complex, it’s ready to decant for herb-stuffed trout baked in parchment." (4/2015)90 points Wine Enthusiast: "Shy and reserved, this cool-climate wine opens coyly with a burst of spearmint on the nose, evolving into layers of flavor steeped in rhubarb, black cherry and tea. Soft and lilting, the wine’s finish conjures thoughts of strawberry cream." (7/2015) Antonio Galloni: "The 2013 Pinot Noir (Sonoma Coast) is an excellent choice for drinking now and over the next few years. The flavors are floral ...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.
92 points Wine Enthusiast: "Savory, earthy aromas of mushrooms, black pepper, iron and cranberry arise from this blend of nine vineyards, many of which are usually featured in single-vineyard selections. Umami rules the palate, and it’s quite full for a lighter-colored wine, with brown spice, light red fruit flavors and expertly balanced acidity." (3/2015) Antonio Galloni: "Calera's 2013 Pinot Noir is quite pretty, lifted and expressive. In this vintage, savory and floral overtones dominate over some of the more overt, fruit-driven notes that are often found in this bottling. The 2013 is made from a n ...Read More »
Robert Parker's Wine Advocate: "The 2012 Mt Jefferson Cuvée Pinot Noir comes from vines located above the winery augmented by purchased fruit from notable vineyards. It contains around 40% whole-cluster fruit (one of the central tenets at Cristom), and only undergoes one racking during its 12 months in barrel: one just before filtration and then just before bottling. It has an attractive tertiary/woodland-scented bouquet with dried rose petal notes coming through, much less fruit driven than many other 2012 Pinot Noirs. The palate is medium-bodied with a gentle grip on the entry. It is ...Read More »
A darling of the critics, Sea Smoke remains of the Central Coast's cult Pinot producers. Southing is sourced entirely from the Sea Smoke Estate Vineyard in the Sta. Rita Hills and saw 16 months in 55% new French oak barrels. From the winery: "Each year, our goal for Southing is to create the ideal marriage of complexity and elegance. The ever-changing nose of the 2013 Southing exhibits dusty red fruit, savory spices and rose petals. The fine tannins and minerality are enhanced by our estate vineyard's characteristic cool climate acidity."
Killer new price! Produced and bottled by Brewer-Clifton, the "B-C" Kessler Haak Pinot Noir is a single vineyard wine that comes from the organically farmed Kessler-Haak Vineyard. It is located off Highway 246, about 7 miles west of the town of Buellton, in the heart of the Sta. Rita Hills appellation. The blend is made up of 25% Clone 667, 25% Clone 113 and 50% of Clone 115. Only 161 cases were bottled of this unique wine.
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, cherry, candied rose and peppery spices, with a smoky mineral undertone. Offers a gently sweet red fruit character on the palate, picking up a floral element with air. This pure, open-knit Pinot finishes with good sweetness and focus and gentle tannic grip. (JR)" (6/2015) Connoisseurs Guide: "*One Star* Solidity and fruity muscle take precedence over anything ...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 »
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 »
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 »
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.
Antonio Galloni: "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 with air while retaining an urgent character. Closes clean and lively, leaving a subtly sweet red berry note behind. 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 correct to call them mini-Talleys, the comparison is apt as ...Read More »
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. Drink now through 2021. (Insider)" (6/2015) K&L Notes: If it looks like a duck, that's because Goldeneye is indeed part of the Duckhorn Vineyards family of wineries, including Migration and Decoy. Goldeneye is the Napa Valley winery's far-north outpost, in Anderson Valley.
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."
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."
Wine & Spirits: "In 2012 the dry-farmed vines at Hallberg gave a simple, welcoming pinot noir with dark fruit that suggests black plum and blueberry. The plump texture finds its balance against juicy acidity, ready for a pork chop roasted with a sprig of rosemary." (4/2015) Wine Enthusiast: "This is a high-toned, structured wine with vibrant acidity that is layered in earth, spice, raspberry and black tea. After a medium-sized weight to the midpalate, it finishes soft and round." (2/2015)
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."
92 points Antonio Galloni: "The 2013 Pinot Noir Estate Sta. Rita Hills is gorgeous. Bright red berries, red currants, rose petals and mint all lift from the glass in a beautifully delineated Pinot endowed with striking beauty. This is a great introduction to the Melville wines and house style. The 2013 is a blend of 16 clones across the property, done with 35% whole clusters. 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 with huge yields. As always, Brewer ...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.
This is the same delicious Underwood Pinot Noir as the bottle, but in an easy-to-transport pop top can! No, it doesn't affect the taste--it's still packed with strawberry and pomegranate fruit, with the same supple texture, acidity and peppery spice and minerally finish. Perfect for summer sipping, for camping, boating, picnicking, beaching or rocking out at the Hollywood Bowl!
Ponzi's Tavola ("table" in Italian) Pinot Noir--is just that: wine for the table. It is a go-to food-friendly wine for weeknight dinners, and it won't disappoint on charm. Bonus: it's certified sustainable! From the winemaker: "This forward wine is filled with lush aromas of plum, black cherry, cola and caramel. The mouth follows suit with white pepper and mint notes intermingled with the sweet fruit mid palate leading to a finish of soft, but present tannins."
Robert Parker's Wine Advocate: "The 2013 Dundee Hills Pinot Noir is matured 100% in oak for 11 months of which 20% is new. It is a little more backward on the nose compared to the Willamette Valley Pinot Noir '13, probably because it had only recently been bottled. The palate is medium-bodied with supple tannin that ensure this is very easy drinking. No hard edges here: smooth in the mouth with strawberry and raspberry coming through on the finish." (3/2015) K&L Notes: The Drouhin family were the first Burgundians to get a foothold in Oregon after the wine world noticed that great Pinot Noir was be... Read More »
90 points Wine Enthusiast: "*Editors' Choice* This is an easy-to-like wine, light, clear and spicy in aromas of cardamom and flowers. Earthy, silky and tingling in acidity, it offers a spicy experience on the tongue backed by enough crisp red fruit to please many palates. For the comparatively modest price, it’s a steal." (7/2015) Antonio Galloni: "Crushed flowers, sweet red berries, mint and spices lift from the glass in the 2013 Pinot Noir (Sonoma Coast). Savory and floral notes add nuance on the ethereal, somewhat fleeting finish. This mid-weight, young-vines Pinot is an excellent choice for drinki ...Read More »
Winemaker's Notes: "Destemmed in 1¼ ton lots, Jim’s light touch in the winery allows the intrinsic character of the wine to blossom. Passive temperature management ensures spontaneous fermentation proceeds and is monitored and guided by sensory analysis, gentle extraction techniques and low peak temperatures. Immediately upon reaching dryness, the lots are gently pressed in a half-ton wood bladder press and settle 2-4 weeks before being transferred to 5%-10% new French oak barrels for twenty months. They are only racked to prepare for bottling. Maresh Vi... Read More »
96 points Robert Parker's Wine Advocate: "The 2012 Pinot Noir Mills Vineyard comes from 26-year-old own-rooted vines and was harvest September 20 to October 17. Aged 18 months in 30% new French oak, its semi-opaque ruby color is followed by sensational notes of ripe currants and darker fruits, scorched earth, smoked meats, licorice and chalky minerality. Big, rich, full-bodied and layered, with a huge core of fruit that never seems over the top or heavy, this elegant, profound Pinot Noir can be enjoyed anytime over the coming decade or more. These latest 2013s from Josh Jenson were superb across ...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 »
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 »
93 points Robert Parker's Wine Advocate: "The 2012 Pinot Noir Cahill Lane is an equal part blend of clones 115, 114 and the Rochioli selection that Tom Rochioli gave Steve Hansel. There are 957 cases of this wine, which spent time in 60% new French oak. A dark plum/ruby/purple color is accompanied by notes of black cherries and black raspberries intermixed with baking spices, plums, underbrush and forest floor. A sweet entry is followed by a medium to full-bodied wine with structural tannin in the finish. This 2012 Pinot will be even better with six more months of bottle age, and should evolve f ...Read More »
According to the winemaker: "Classic Russian River Valley red fruit aromas of pomegranate, cherry and strawberry leap from the glass accompanied by hints of oak-inspired spice. The vibrant red fruit is echoed on the palate, where lovely pumpkin pie spice notes of nutmeg and clove carry through to a long, satisfying finish."
94 points Wine Enthusiast: "This includes grapes from the winery’s Jerusalem Hill vineyard in the Eola-Amity Hills AVA, in addition to the Dundee Hills sites, hence the more general Willamette Valley designation. It was aged in 65% new French oak for 16 months. It’s open and generous, offering bright berry, cherry and red currant fruit matched to defining acids, all set in a fine-tuned frame of new oak. Re-tasted 24 hours after being opened, it remained fresh, dense and satisfying." (8/2015)93 points Robert Parker's Wine Advocate: "The 2012 Pinot Noir Evenstad Reserve was picked from late summer after one of the driest on r ...Read More »
DuMol was established in 1996 by Kerry Murphy and Michael Verlander. Andy Smith joined as winemaker in 2000 and partner in 2005. Most of the grapes are sourced from the Green Valley appellation where DuMOL has a 25-acre Estate Vineyard, with other grape sources originating in the Russian River Valley, Sonoma Coast and Carneros. Since the beginning, DuMol has striven to make well balanced wines. Known for their Pinot Noir and Chardonnays, they also do small amounts of Syrah and Viognier. For much of the winery's existence, the wines have generally been so... Read More »
92 points Wine Spectator: "Plush, with floral strawberry and brioche aromas and rich, layered flavors of blood orange, gingerbread and almond. Drink now" (10/2015) K&L Notes: From Winemakers Sean Thompson and Hugh Davies: “The 2012 Brut Rosé has generous aromas of mixed red berries, orange blossom, and white peach. Its fruitful nose is complemented by notes of shortcake and cream. The palate bursts with flavors of raspberry sorbet, lemon custard, and summer apricot. The wine has a fresh and juicy acidity which drives to a supple, round finish.” 76% Pinot Noir, 24% Chardonnay
94 points Wine Enthusiast: "Delicious aromas of ripe cherry pie and black cardamom are quite sexy. The palate is far more complicated and layered, with the tartness of plum skins, richness of strawberry, balsamic reduction and spiciness of black sage." (7/2015)90 points Stephen Tanzer's International Wine Cellar: "(made from fruit grown in the Bien Nacido, Riverbench and Solomon Hills vineyards; no new oak): Bright red. Highly perfumed scents of spicy redcurrant, raspberry, fresh flowers and smoky minerals. Juicy red berry flavors pack a solid punch but come off as lithe. Brisk red berry skin and white pepper qualities dominate a long, ...Read More »
Inventory: San Francisco
Stephen Tanzer's International Wine Cellar: "Vivid ruby-red. Wilder and deeper in pitch than the 2011 version, displaying powerful black raspberry and boysenberry scents and smoky floral and herbal nuances. Juicy acidity adds lift and structure to the ripe, subtly spicy dark berry flavors. The finish features chewy tannins, an echo of candied flowers and very good persistence." (6/2014) K&L Notes: An entry level Pinot Noir from one of K&L's longtime favorite producers.
90 points Wine Enthusiast: "There are equal parts strawberry and earth in this Pinot, sourced from the who’s who of vineyard sites in Russian River, including Toboni, Hallberg, Floodgate, Rochioli and Bacigalupi. The components come together in mesmerizing ways, making for a balanced and restrained Pinot that’s fresh in strawberry and cherry as well as seasonings of herb and cinnamon spice, building power as it goes." (12/2014) Robert Parker's Wine Advocate: "The dark ruby-hued 2012 Pinot Noir Russian River reveals a seductive bouquet of black cherries, plums, earth, spice and a hint of oak. Medium-bodied, well-bal ...Read More »
From an environmentally oriented winery that's owned by noted philanthropists, a followup to the 2012, which was scored 91 points in Wine Enthusiast, with the following notes: "The winery’s most accessible and available Pinot Noir-still quite small in production-is from several vineyards, including single-vineyard sites like Jenkins. It offers classic Russian River Valley cola spice and bright aromatics and acidity, the texture soft and structured, a smaller percentage of new French oak used for aging." The winemaker is Shane Finley, formerly assistant a... Read More »