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K&L Staff Recommendations
91 points James Suckling: "This is really refined and fresh with sliced apple and lemon aromas. Hints of stone too. Medium to full body, an almost salty undertone. Medium finish. Bright and tangy. Gorgeous limey undertone." (6/2016) Robert Parker's Wine Advocate: "#1 in "Best of 2016: Robert Parker, Top 3 Greatest Value Wines of the Year"...The 2014 Chardonnay Olema at $15.00 from Sonoma is a heck of a bottle of wine, with honeysuckle, lemon blossom and a touch of white peach all present in this wine that offers clean, pure fruit, medium body and a distant hint of wood. This is a terrific value and sleeper selecti ...Read More »
We can tell you this much: our Kalinda private label hooks you up with awesome wine at a fraction of what you'd otherwise pay for this exact same wine under its normal label. While we have to remain quiet about the source of this beauty, we can tell you that it sells elsewhere at a much higher premium. Get it while it lasts: the 2014 Kalinda Dry Creek Valley Chardonnay is a soft yellow hue in the glass with aromas of dry hay, sweet lemon and floral notes. The palate is perfectly balanced with pear, apple and hazelnut flavors nicely mingled against good a... Read More »
We can tell you this much: our Kalinda private label hooks you up with awesome wine at a fraction of what you'd otherwise pay for this exact same wine under its normal label. While we have to remain quiet about the source of this beauty, we can tell you that it sells elsewhere at a much higher premium. Get it while it lasts.
From winemaker Rob Mondavi Jr, Spellbound is one of the most popular California Chardonnays we carry every year, and the 2014 was also a hit with K&L staff. Value priced, it typically lacks for nothing in lush, tropical fruit and acidity. A blend of barrel-fermented and stainless steel-aged Chardonnay.
Robert Parker's Wine Advocate: "The wine does not go through malolactic fermentation, and the aim is to produce pure varietal fruit with virtually no oak in the formula. The 2013 is a beauty with notes of flowers, white peach, honeysuckle and a touch of tropical fruit. It is crisp, elegant, medium-bodied and, as promised, very pure. (RP)" (10/2015) Vinous: "The 2013 Chardonnay is a fabulous wine for the money. Lemon oil, white flowers and white pepper are all laced together in an impeccably balanced, layered Chardonnay long on class and personality. The 2013 is a blend of fruit from vineyards in ...Read More »
91 points Wine Enthusiast: "Done in a more oxidized style, this wine shows marzipan, dried apricot, browned butter, dried pineapple and a gunmetal flint character on the nose. The palate is very focused, with flavors of preserved lemon, lime rind, sage-roasted chicken and a faint minty element. (MK)" (11/2015) Wine Spectator: "Trim and leesy, with enough richness and intensity midpalate on to sustain itself, showing a creamy touch to the fig, apricot and green apple flavors. (JL)" (7/2014)
93 points Wine Enthusiast: "From chalky soils planted on a unique rolling hillside site, this opens in wafty caramel and butterscotch, providing a decadent nose. The palate follows in luxurious, velvety waves balanced by buoyant acidity. With a mix of fresh peach and apricot, it finishes fresh, spicy and salty." (7/2016) 90 points Connoisseurs Guide: "*One Star* Creamy oak is neatly aligned to plentiful ripe apple fruit here, yet, if so forthrightly fruity in the nose as to presage a certain juicy simplicity in the mouth, this balanced and very well-crafted wine follows with continuous, surprisingly complex flavor ...Read More »
92 points Decanter: "Sweet spices and preserved lemons on the nose; memories of a weekend in Marrakech. A mineral palate with restrained oak, nice grip and lots of character. Long and very complex with a full body and promise of more to come." (5/2016) 92 points Wine Enthusiast: "*Editors' Choice* Josh Jensen’s appellation blend is arguably the best American white wine for the price. This vintage offers squeezed tangerine, fleur de sel, lily, apple blossom, apple fritters and a touch of tropicality on the nose. The palate is more steely in structure, with chalk and concrete minerality followed by grapefr ...Read More »
After working as the vineyard manager for Newton Vineyards for over 30 years, Lupe Maldonado bought a 10-acre piece of land in the cool southern tip of Napa (in Jamieson Canyon), and planted vineyards in the dark, gravelly clay soil. He brought in Jean Hoefliger from Newton as his consulting winemaker. Winemaker notes: "Clean and light with aromatics of white nectarine, citrus and orange blossoms... Fermented in Stainless Steel.
93 points Wine Enthusiast: "Using fruit mostly from the Bassi Ranch property he recently acquired, Mike Sinor delivers a bright, minerally wine, with aromas of scratched grapefruit skin, orange and peach juice, burned lemons, sea salt, ripe apples and nectarines and fresh-cut herbs. Flavors of salty, lime-juice nectarines emerge once sipped, with hints of butter and white flowers." (11/2015) 90 points Vinous: "Light, bright yellow. Fresh Meyer lemon, pear and jasmine scents are underscored by a zesty mineral quality. Taut, racy and precise, showing firm grip to its spicy citrus and orchard fruit flavor ...Read More »
93 points Wine Enthusiast: "This is a sublime, succulent and entirely rewarding white from the great vineyard site that is Durell. The vines used by this producer date back to 1994, 1995 and 2003. Richly defined, the wine is lengthy and complex in honeycomb, ginger and a powerful mix of acidity and texture, finishing in a bite of orange. (VB)" (10/2016) 92 points Vinous: "Butter, smoke, tropical fruit, apricot jam and spices meld together in the 2013 Chardonnay Durrell Vineyard. The creamy, open-knit finish only adds to the wine's considerable appeal in this attractive, classic, California barrel-ferme ...Read More »
91 points Vinous: "Pale gold. Pungent aromas of poached pear, peach and honey take on a hint of buttered toast with air. Broad and fleshy on the palate, offering lush orchard and pit fruit flavors accented by a refreshingly bitter pear skin nuance. Finishes smooth and round, leaving sweet butter and peach notes behind. One of the pioneering wineries in the region, Talbott’s first vines were planted in 1982 at the Diamond T Vineyard. By the end of the ‘80s the Talbott wines were already on most wine lovers’ short lists of top California Chardonnays. The vineyards are plante ...Read More »
This is a delicious collaboration between Talley winemaker Eric Johnson and our domestic buyer Bryan Brick. A wonderfully balanced, beautiful Chardonnay, if we do say so ourselves.
90 points Wine Spectator: "*Smart Buys* Features a delicious core of vibrant grapefruit and lemon-laced tangerine and white peach notes, with zesty acidity that keeps the flavors fresh and jumping. (JL)" (5/2016) Robert Parker's Wine Advocate: "A good crisp, Chablis-like character defines the 2014 Chardonnay Sonoma Coast. This wine reveals a touch of lemon oil, citrus blossom and green apple in a medium-bodied, refreshing and pure style. Drink it over the next 3-4 years. (RP)" (3/2016)
Vinous: "Light gold. Smoky orchard and pit fruit aromas are complicated by a hint of honey and a leesy quality. Round and pliant in texture; juicy nectarine and poached pear flavors pick up a subtle ginger note with air. Brighter citrus notes come up on the supple finish, which leaves behind a note of candied pit fruits. One of the pioneering wineries in the region, Talbott’s first vines were planted in 1982 at the Diamond T Vineyard. By the end of the ‘80s the Talbott wines were already on most wine lovers’ short lists of top California Chardonnays. The vineyard ...Read More »
92 points James Suckling: "Very pretty dried fruit with hints of mushroom and light toast. Lemon too. Medium to full body, very fine and tight. Hints of toffee and fresh fruit. Decadent and flavorful. Tight and textured." (6/2016) 90 points Wine Enthusiast: "Salty caramel rises to the fore of this lovely, medium-built wine, which begins thickly concentrated in Gravenstein apple and vanilla before finding its rhythm in more nuanced, elegant undertones. Lemon and lime lead the way to a hint of guava before finishing fresh and focused. (VB)" (8/2016) Robert Parker's Wine Advocate: "Their 2014 Chardonnay Sonoma Coast also represents a fair value a ...Read More »
90 points Wine Enthusiast: "The producer pulls from its estate Su'skol Vineyard for this wine, which opens in an aromatic flirtation of sweet honeysuckle, revealing the site's abundance of musqué clone. Crisp on the entry and midpalate, it shows a full-bodied style as it opens—notes of pear and fig are wrapped between spicy nutmeg and a viscous bite of oak on the finish. (VB)" (3/2017) Robert Parker's Wine Advocate: "Readers looking for one of the big-time sleepers of the vintage, and a great value, need look no further than the 2014 Chardonnay Estate Napa. This is 100% Chardonnay from Napa and it sells for a song ...Read More »
Stuhlmuller Vineyards sits at the southern edge of Alexander Valley where it borders both Chalk Hill and the Russian River Valley AVAs. Five blocks of the estate vineyard are planted with Chardonnay grapes, 80% of which are the sought-after Gauer Upper Barn clone. The wine was brought up in small barrels (82%) and larger casks (18%), all of which were French oak (6% new). The wine was fermented on the lees for eight months and underwent 80% indigenous malolactic fermentation. The winery's vintage note: "This medium-bodied wine offers an alluring orchard-... Read More »
Tolosa uses the same vineyard blocks for their No-Oak Chardonnay that they do for their barrel fermented Chardonnays. These are the best sites and clones from the estate's sustainably farmed Edna Ranch. They are found mostly in the older plantings a few miles south of the winery. They include the oldest block in the vineyard. They are a mix of field selected "Heritage" clones and more recently introduced Dijon selections. All are hand farmed with an almost obsessive attention to perfecting each block each vintage.
90 points Vinous: "Pale gold. Fresh pear and tangerine scents are complemented by ginger and honey. Smooth and broad on entry, then tighter in the mid-palate, offering sappy orchard and citrus fruit flavors and a hint of melon. Emphatically fruity Chardonnay with very good closing breadth and cling. 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 ...Read More »
Wine Spectator: "Casts Chardonnay in a pleasing fruit cocktail essence. Pure, moderately rich and persistent, if somewhat cloying on the aftertaste. Drink now." (12/2016) K&L Notes: According to the winery: "Rich, bold and luscious, this is an easy-to-love creamy California Chardonnay. Made in the tradition of Californian winemaking, the fruit we choose has juicy, ripe, stone fruit and baked-lemon aromas. Cold fermented to the perfect, rich creaminess and aged in our own blend of oak, gives this wine a lovely, long, vanilla finish that’s uniquely Butter!"
Connoisseurs Guide: "*One Star* Inclining to ripeness without abandoning fruit and finding a note of creamy sweetness to its dominant theme of juicy red apples, this slightly fat and full-bodied Chardonnay, while in no imminent danger of drying out anytime soon, is a flavorful, easy-to-taste offering whose ready richness and wide-open, soft-edged style make a strong case for drinking before the bloom of youth has faded and worn off." (11/2016) Robert Parker's Wine Advocate: "I enjoyed the Chardonnays, especially the outstanding value, the 2014 Chardonnay from Sonoma Coast. A heck of a Chardonnay for $23.00, ...Read More »
Banshee started in 2009 when three wine industry buddies made a gamble and bought eight barrels of Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir--a gamble that paid off when they were able to sell all the wine within five weeks. Since then, they've developed relationships with some of the best growers in the area and have been producing beautiful wines with winemakers Ross Cobb (Hirsch, Flowers, Williams-Selyem) and Katy Wilson (Larue, Flowers). The 2015 coastal Chardonnay comes from Charles Heintz Vineyard, Wildcat Mountain Vineyard in Petaluma Gap and Bohemian Green Valley.... Read More »
90 points Robert Parker's Wine Advocate: "The 2015 Chardonnay Oak Knoll District offers loads of crisp white peach, honeysuckle, apple blossom and citrus oil notes followed by a zesty, well-balanced and impeccably clean and fresh Chardonnay with the oak barely noticeable whatsoever. This is a medium to full-bodied, beautifully rendered Oak Knoll Chardonnay to drink over the next 7-8 years. (RP)" (12/2016) K&L Notes: Though few remember it today, Trefethen Chardonnay comes with "Olympic" credentials. At the 1979 Gault Millau World Wine Olympics, held in Paris three years after the famed "Judgment of Paris" ta... Read More »
Rombauer Vineyards began producing Chardonnay in 1982. In 1990, the Rombauer family made their first Chardonnay from the Carneros region, where San Pablo Bay meets the southern end of Napa and Sonoma valleys. There, the cool climate and clay soils offer ideal conditions for growing superior Chardonnay with the Rombauer hallmarks — intense fruit flavors balanced by fresh acidity. Enticing aromas of ripe apple, bright citrus and melon are layered with creme brulee, baking spices and a touch of butter. Vibrant flavors of tropical fruit, baked apple, citrus... Read More »
Wine Enthusiast: "This is a 100% varietal wine made to be widely distributed and enjoyed by a range of palates. With a slight perception of sweetness, which may just be ripeness, it gives way to fleshy flavors of baked apple and pineapple. (VB)" (6/2016)
92 points Wine Enthusiast: "Salted pineapple, lime-laced vanilla ice cream, a slight nuttiness and the warmth of beach sand show on the nose of this wine by veteran Larry Brooks. It zings with lively acidity on the palate, offering brisk apple slices, popcorn and sea salt, with the promise of a long shelf life. (MK)" (12/2015) 90 points Vinous: "Pale gold. Musky pear skin, peach pit and a hint of chamomile on the deeply perfumed nose. Sappy orchard fruit and melon flavors pick up a smoky nuance with aeration. Round and fleshy yet lively, finishing with very good cling and an echo of buttered toast. (JR ...Read More »
Wine Enthusiast: "This presents a balanced nose of seared pineapple and marzipan. The palate shows off a judicious use of oak, with a clean line of acidity cutting through brushes of stone fruit and citrus. (MK)" (2/2015) Wine Spectator: "Openly fruity, with a tangy edge to the core of tropical fruits. (JL)" (6/2015)
Inventory: San Francisco
Aptly named and always a favorite in the rich California style, Butternut is a luxuriously textured Chardonnay. Aromas of baked apple, hazelnut, and crème brûlée fill the nose and reverberate on the palate with notes of peach, fig, butterscotch, and toasty oak. Grapes were sourced from important growing regions across California including Napa, Sonoma, Mendocino, and Monterey. The result is a generous and concentrated Chardonnay that creates a delicious snapshot of the state's growing regions.
Connoisseurs Guide: "Bright and brisk with a bias to green apples and citrus with but a bare bit of subtle oak in the mix, this straightforward, medium-bodied effort eschews overt ripeness and instead charts a leaner, somewhat firmer course. It is more refreshing than it is rich, yet it keeps Chardonnay character in its sights and it will be most at home with milder fare." (1/2016) Wine Spectator: "Elegantly styled, with a delicate mix of green apple, citrus and quince flavors. Clean and refreshing on the finish. (JL, Web-2016)" K&L Notes: Although famous for their Cabs, Heitz Cellar has been making Chardo... Read More »
From the team at Banshee Wines, best known hereabouts for supplying us with excellently sourced Pinot Noir. Producer notes: "With the 2014 vintage we have a more than worthy follow up the popular 2013 version. Once again we tapped a plurality of sources (pretty much all coastal) from Santa Barbara all the way up to Mendocino that enabled us to create blend that hits a number of buttons simultaneously. We were able to pull some richness from warmer areas and some structure and aromatics from cooler areas. The resulting wine is fresh and vibrant aromatic... Read More »
Wine Spectator: "With time, the cedary oak edge should work into the core of green apple, melon and pithy citrus skin notes. (JL)" (6/2016) K&L Notes: This classic Chardonnay walks the tightrope between elegance and richness. In a creamy, medium-weight style, it exudes notes of pears and peaches, apples and melons, with a bright acidity and a ton of finesse.
Wine Enthusiast: "This is a pretty wine in terms of floral aromatics, resplendent shocks of orange blossom and orange peel inviting in their exotic freshness. Lime and orange follow on the palate, which is bristling in acidity, the finish light and bright. (VB)" (2/2015)
90 points Wine Enthusiast: "The majority of the fruit for this wine comes from Alexander Valley, with the remaining quarter from cooler Bennett Valley. A pretty taste of lemon chiffon and aroma of orange blossom show up first, with an intensity of caramelized oak to follow. Full bodied, it’s richly concentrated on the palate, with just enough citrus zest on the finish to refresh." (2/2017) Robert Parker's Wine Advocate: "The 2014 Chardonnay Sonoma is soft and round with notes of tangerine, citrus blossom, and some citrus oil in a pretty, medium-bodied, cleanly made style that keeps the oak at a minimum. Drink over ...Read More »
The Mer Soleil "Silver" is the winery's unoaked Chardonnay, which the Wagner family (of Caymus fame, and more lately Meiomi success) started bottling in a silver-grey ceramic bottle in 2009. The packaging reflects the stony minerality of their unoaked Chardonnay. The folks at Mer Soleil describe it as capturing "the crisp, pure, mineral essence of the classic Chablis style with the tropical elements found in Chardonnays of the Pacific coastline."
93 points Wine Enthusiast: "*Editors' Choice* Aged in oak, acacia and concrete, this is a tremendous example of a racy style done well. Aromas of crushed chalk, lightly braised apricot and slivers of cashew are seamlessly woven together, leading into a sip that shows brightness, fine-tuned acidity and structural grip. Rounded pear flavors and lime squeezed on nectarine ensure that it doesn't dive into sourness. (MK)" (10/2016) 90 points Robert Parker's Wine Advocate: "A terrific wine, as well as a great value, the 2014 Chardonnay Effort (100% Chardonnay, fermented and aged in French oak and concrete) offers rich, full-flavor ...Read More »
91 points Robert Parker's Wine Advocate: "The 2014 Chardonnay is a non-malolactic 100% Chardonnay that’s 45% barrel-fermented. The wine is sensational. There are nearly 10,000 cases of this wine, which shows loads of white peach, honeysuckle, green apple and melon notes in a distinctive, clean, steely Chablis-like style. There is some tropical fruit, such as pineapple, but the overall character is one of great acid, medium to full-bodied mouthfeel, and no real oak influence. (RP)" (12/2015) 91 points Wine Enthusiast: "Aged in stainless steel and small barrels of French oak, this wine remains smooth and silky with interweaved ...Read More »
90 points Wine Enthusiast: "The oak in this wine is restrained, partly because it aged in stainless steel and a sizable percentage of neutral oak. Still, a richness of apple and pear compote provide a steady level of richness, while a lemon squeeze of acidity keeps it fresh and youthful. (VB)" (8/2016) Robert Parker's Wine Advocate: "There are two Chardonnays. The 2014 Chardonnay Napa is fermented and aged in mostly neutral stainless steel or oak, with only about one-fourth of it seeing any new wood. Malolactic is blocked, as the style emphasizes high acids, citrus blossom, stone fruits, fresh melons and elegance. ...Read More »
92 points Vinous: "Despite its very reasonable price, the 2014 Chardonnay El Camino Vineyard delivers serious intensity, richness and nuance. Broad, ample and phenolic, the 2015 exudes all the classic Varner signatures, structure being the most obvious of these. Yellow orchard fruit, mint, candied lemon, chamomile and lightly honeyed notes are front and center. This is one of the most singular Santa Barbara Chardonnays readers will come across. The style and palate weight is more than a little reminiscent of the wines the Varners made in the Santa Cruz Mountains. The 2014 ...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)
91 points Wine Enthusiast: "One of the first releases since Charles Banks invested in Bob Lindquist's pioneering brand, this wine shows Japanese apple, lemon blossoms, lightly browned butter and a touch of tropicality on the nose. Still a bit wound up, the wine conveys potential length, with green-apple skins, nectarine flesh, cement-like minerality and a chive herb lift. (MK)" (6/2016)
Wine Enthusiast: "Light and fresh smells of Key-lime pie, grapefruit rinds and ripe nectarine show on the nose of this versatile bottling from the veteran San Jose-based winery. The grippy, assertive flavors are bright, tight and pithy, with lime rinds, kumquat tang and chalky minerality, proving refreshingly sour. (MK)" (4/2016)
Wine Spectator: "Weaves together a complex array of grapefruit, nectarine and tangerine flavors that are clean and refreshing. Oak is a non-factor. Drink now. 1,682 cases made." (12/2016) K&L Notes: Joe Czerwinski of Wine Enthusiast reflects on Alam Rosa: "Down south in Santa Barbara, Richard Sanford was the first to plant Pinot Noir in the area now known as the Sta. Rita Hills AVA. Some 45 years later, Sanford’s latest winery venture, Alma Rosa (founded in 2005), builds on his previous endeavors."
The Pirelli-Minetti family began making wines in California over 100 years ago, and the tradition continues today under the guidance of Andrew Perelli-Minetti.
Inventory: San Francisco
Wine Spectator: "Pure and well-focused on complex pear, apple, honeydew and light spicy oak notes. An easy-to-enjoy style. Drink now. 20,000 cases made." (12/2017) K&L Notes: Sourced from two distinct Russian River Valley vineyards, Buehler's Chardonnay is a tastefully made wine which represents a food friendly style at a reliable value. The winery employs minimal intervention in the cellar and an appropriately modest amount of new French oak so that the subtlety and terroir or the grapes show through. From Buehler: "The floral, mineral, and lime aromas and steely structure of the Ri... Read More »
Monterey's first winery sits atop the Gavilan Mountains and boasts vines planted in the highly-desirable granite and limestone soils found there. Perhaps this is why winemaker Robert Cook says, “Chalone isn’t a label; it’s a place on earth.”
93 points Wine Enthusiast: "Light on the nose, this shows delicate aromas of Asian pear, honeysuckle, squeezed lemon wedge, fresh coconut flesh and a tiny bit of butter. The palate is also demure yet delicious, with lightly poached apples, squeezed lime and a chalky textural grip. (MK)" (3/2017) 91 points Wine & Spirits: "Get past this wine’s initial toasty scent of oak and you’ll find some delicious fruit; its sunny papaya flavor and salty, marine tang feel like textbook Santa Rita Hills chardonnay, capturing this high-elevation south-facing hillside vineyard with roots in marine sediments. Serve it as you wo ...Read More »
Wine Enthusiast: "A hearty cradling of oak provides a tinge of vanilla sweetness here, before richer notions of apple pie and cinnamon tug at the wine’s fuller-bodied core. It’ll appeal to fans of this richer, riper style, while still finishing in a measure of acidity." (8/2016) K&L Notes: From the producer: "At Napa Cellars, the Chardonnay grapes are carefully hand-picked, harvested and crushed. At the winery, a portion of the juice is then cold fermented in stainless steel tanks. The balance of the juice is barrel fermented and aged for seven months, and then put through malolactic ... Read More »