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K&L Staff Recommendations
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: "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 grapefruit skin and lime ...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, the 2014 Spellbound Chardonnay displays a lively and lush tropical profile of pineapple, guava, and kiwi fruit. To contribute the rich complexity of vanilla and crème brûlée, 90% of the wine was fermented in oak barrels, with the remaining 10% fermented in stainless steel to maintain a bracing vein of freshness and acid.
Wine Enthusiast: "A well-crafted wine made in relatively large quantity, this has a tropical edge, sidelining stone fruit and apple. It also offers a lightness of pear skin, atop light, ripe layers of vanilla and oak. The finish puts memorable touches to a generous, expressive palate. (VB)" (10/2015) Wine Spectator: "Easy-drinking, with fresh flavors of zesty tangerine, melon, Golden Delicious apple and light baking spices, ending clean and refreshing. Drink now. 35,000 cases made. (JL)" (7/2015)
92 points Wine Enthusiast: "*Editors' Choice* This bottling by pioneer Richard Sanford is much more widely available, affordable and stylistically accessible right now than the single vineyard option. It’s delicate on the nose with bright lime spritz, Meyer lemon pith, crushed lemon verbena and a grippy brie cheese rind component, then proves tangy on the nuanced palate, with lemongrass and pomelo skin meshing into nectarine and apple flesh." (7/2016) K&L Notes: For years the Sanford winery produced amazing, intense, under-priced wines from the Central Coast. Richard Sanford, the former owner o... Read More »
89 points 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 Santa Barbara County and Paso Robles, done entirely in steel, with no malolactic fermentation. It is also one of the very best values in California Chardonnay readers will come across. Bob and Jim Varner's Foxglove wines remain some of the very finest values readers will find anywhere in the world. The wines are al ...Read More »
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 fermentation."
91 points Robert Parker's Wine Advocate: "A small step up over the Katherine’s Vineyard, the 2012 Chardonnay Bench Break shows slightly more toasty oak in its apple and orchard fruits, white flowers and hints of nuttiness. Full-bodied, rich and layered, it’s a big, full-flavored effort that stays beautifully balanced and pure. Spending roughly 10 months in 57% new French oak, enjoy bottles over the coming 3-4 years. (JD)" (8/2014) 90 points Stephen Tanzer's International Wine Cellar: "Light yellow-gold. Ripe, lees-accented orchard fruit and melon aromas are complicated by notes of orange pith, tarragon and sweet butter. Smooth and expansive on the pa ...Read More »
Vinous: "The 2014 Chardonnay (Sonoma Coast) is one of the best California Chardonnays readers will find in its price point. Orange blossom, apricot pit and buttery notes meld together in an exquisite, beautifully layered entry-level Chardonnay ... (AG)" (2/2016)
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 »
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 Enthusiast: "Quite restrained on the nose, this nicely priced bottling slowly unleashes sea salt, apple peel, key lime pith and chalk aromas. It’s tightly wound on the palate with lemon skin and pear skin tartness, proving very racy in style." (8/2016) K&L Notes: Though the 2014 vintage has yet to be professionally reviewed, the 2013 earned praise from Wine Spectator: "Combines rich tiers of fig, apricot, melon and green apple with vibrant acidity and a clean, pure finish." (07/2015)
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.
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!"
90 points Wine Enthusiast: "Unusually dry and crisp, this gives up tangy green apple, kiwi and lemon flavors backed by electric acidity, rather light body and a touch of enervating astringency that’s unusual in a white wine. Fresh oysters, please." (2/2015) Connoisseurs Guide: "Bright and brisk from the outset and a wine that reins in ripeness without sacrifice of keen Chardonnay fruit, this tangy offering is true to the racy Carpe Diem style and sports plenty of acid yet never wanders into lemony austerity. It shows a nice sense of polish and is complete without being big and bold, and it will make a fi ...Read More »
Robert Parker's Wine Advocate: "For starters, there are four Chardonnays, which include the 2014 Chardonnay Home Ranch – a terrific value in Chardonnay that is barrel-fermented in about 30% French oak and aged 10 months prior to bottling. The wine reveals discrete oak, caramelized citrus, a touch of honey and has an attractive, light gold color with a greenish hue. It is medium-bodied and exhibits a gravelly minerality. Drink it over the next several years. (RP)" (2/2016) K&L Notes: From Ed Sbragia, the winemaker behind many great vintages at Beringer. As Robert Parker says, "Sbragia has always de... Read More »
Sourced from the Garvey, Genny’s, Stagecoach, Hudson & Hyde Vineyards. Harvested August 28 - September 27, 2013 at 22.4 - 26.2 Brix. Elevage takes place in 30% new French oak 30& used oak, and 40% stainless steel with 50% malolactic fermentation. According to the winery: "Sourced from low-yielding vineyards in Napa Valley, our Chardonnay is characterized by crisp apple, ripe melon and citrus flavors gently balanced with toasty French oak. Our winemaker uses a malolactic fermentation in moderation to retain the wine’s bright acidity. More than a decade af... Read More »
92 points Wine Enthusiast: "This offers good quality for the price from this historic producer, which heads south to this dry-farmed vineyard planted in 1976. The wine shows lots of lemon scents, from blossoms to peels, along with browned butter, sea salt and smoke. The palate offers singed lime peels, red grapefruit skin, iodine and sour yellow apple peels, proving quite complex." (12/2015) Robert Parker's Wine Advocate: "Coming from the Edna Valley, the 2013 Chardonnay Wolff Vineyard has lots of matchstick-like minerality, apple blossom and white flower notes in its medium-bodied, supple, juicy and easy drinking ...Read More »
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 a ...Read More »
Vinous: "Lioco's 2014 Chardonnay (Sonoma County) is brilliant, focused and nuanced, with plenty of citrus, lemon peel, white pepper and orchard fruit nuances. This is one of the very best values in California Chardonnay readers will come across. Vinfication and aging in steel keeps the flavors fresh throughout. (AG)" (2/2016) K&L Notes: According to the winery: "A bountiful crop of 88.53 tons were harvested by hand, destemmed, and the berries "broken" before being pressed (the majority to stainless steel tanks, and the balance to large oak casks). Fermented on the fine lees, ... 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.
Second label of Alysian Wines. Led by the Hambrecht family in partnership with esteemed winemaker Gary Farrell, they are committed to sourcing from the best vineyards in the Russian River Valley. From the winery: "In keeping with the tradition of second label wines, which originated in the cellars of 18th century Bordeaux, ours is a collection of barrels that do not quite fit the philosophy of Alysian. This flexibility in the cellar allows us to select and blend barrels of small lot wines from exceptional and off the beaten path vineyards and craft an ap... Read More »
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)
According to 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 vast potential. Fossil Point is a rugged headland 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 vines and grapes. The result are grapes perfectly ripene... Read More »
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 »
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: "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)
Connoisseurs Guide: "***Good Value*** Clean as a whistle, mid-density in weight and volume and evident if moderate oakiness lifting its mix of ripe and slight green apple fruitiness, this wine is exactly what a $20 Chardonnay should be. It is somewhat rounded in texture with enough youthful energy for balance ..." (5/2015) Wine Enthusiast: "High-toned Meyer lemon and edgy minerality give this coastal wine a freshness on the palate, along with a complexity of fennel and apple. Juicy and medium bodied, it picks up a fullness on the texture as it goes, while remaining balanced and pleasing. (VB) ...Read More »
91 points Vinous: "Pale gold. Aromas of orange, pineapple, white flowers and smoky lees. Spicy, high-pitched and focused, with juicy citrus and orchard fruit flavors given further punch by building minerality. Shows strong tension on the smoky, floral finish, which leaves behind a suggestion of iodine. (JR)" (9/2015) 90 points Robert Parker's Wine Advocate: "Another medium-bodied, Burgundian-style effort is the 2013 Chardonnay Estate Arroyo Grande Valley. Seeing nine months in 15% new French oak, it has classic apple blossom, white peach and citrus aromas and flavors, medium-bodied richness and a vibrant, clean and ...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." (8/2016) Wine Spectator: "Taut and vibrant, with a tender edge to the ripe pear, melon and spicy ...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)
Au Bon Climat winemaker Jim Clendenen has been a driving force for high quality wines in Santa Barbara County since the early '80s. His signature style, which deftly merges Old World sensibilities with New World flair manifests in tasty, well-crafted wines from regional blends like this one, to the most sophisticated single-vineyard bottlings. According to the winery: "The 2014 Santa Barbara County Chardonnay is a beautiful example of the Au Bon Climat style. The flinty, stony aromas stand out while in the background is a hard spice note from surlee barr... Read More »
Antonio Galloni praised the producer's 2014 vintage: "Chateau St. Jean and winemaker Margo Van Staaveren excel with a range of wines that deliver an appealing combination of quality and availability, with many wines that are also budget friendly. As always, there is a real stylistic difference between the whites and reds here, that suggests the wines are made for two totally different audiences. The whites are crisp and vibrant, often with partially blocked malos, while the reds are much more opulent and flamboyant." (01/2016)
Influenced by his experiences making wine in Europe as well as from two decades working with the respected wine importer Kermit Lynch, Bruce Neyers was an early adapter of the hands-on, natural and organic winemaking approach in the Napa Valley when he and his wife Barbara founded Neyers in 1992. His point of reference for Chardonnay are the great Burgundies of France. "After you try a Chablis from Raveneau or a Burgundy from Méo-Camuzet," he tells us in an Uncorked interview from April of 2011, "you have a frame of reference, an objective to seek." The ... Read More »
Wine & Spirits: "Sourced from more than 20 vineyards throughout Sonoma County (with a bit of Bien Nacido fruit from Santa Barbara sneaking in), this is balanced between toasty lees, ripe mandarin-scented fruit and some discreet spice from oak. It’s generous and polished, a lobster wine par excellence." (12/2015) Wine Spectator: "Straightforward flavors of ripe apple, pear and citrus show a touch of edgy citrus peel. Gains depth and complexity on the finish, where the oak adds a touch of buttery spice. (JL)" (7/2015)
The 2014 vintage had early rains, a warm spring, and an early harvest. Once the grapes were gently pressed, the wine was fermented in a combination of stainless steel and neutral oak. All of this resulted in a ripe, balanced Chardonnay with elegance and a lively lemon zestiness. Look for aromas of green apples and honeysuckle, then pair this delectable offering with a chilled cucumber and cream soup.
90 points Vinous: "Light, bright yellow. Aromas of ripe melon, peach and toasty lees, plus a suave floral overtone. Smooth and smoky on the palate, offering pliant honeydew and pit fruit flavors that expand on the back half. A mineral note adds cut to the finish, which leaves a hint of iodine behind. This is quite Burgundian in style. (JR)" (8/2015) Robert Parker's Wine Advocate: "Brought up in 60% neutral barrels and 40% stainless steel, the 2014 Chardonnay Santa Lucia Highlands has lots of juicy apple, peach and mango notes in its medium-bodied, fruit forward and deliciously textured profile. Clean, fres ...Read More »
Made in a classic California Chardonnay style, but with plenty of complexity and breed, this is a blend of grapes from eight of Farrari Carano's estate vineyards. It is richly tropical, verging on fat, owing much of its body and voluptuousness to 100% barrel fermentation, 95% malolactic fermentation, and 10 months barrel aging with lees contact. According to the winery: "The 2014 Ferrari-Carano Chardonnay from Sonoma County has superior lots of wine from our vineyards in Alexander Valley, Dry Creek Valley, Russian River Valley and Carneros. This full-bod... 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."
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 »
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." (12/2015) K&L Notes: Winery Taste Notes: "A very pale-golden color, tinted with green, announces this wine. The fruit aromas are of lemon and apple. The spice aromatics are toward cinnamon and cedar. There’s a bit of honeycomb as well as a smoked almond note. The minerality is present, ... Read More »
Producer Note: "A blend of Chardonnay from several vineyards, each in its own distinct micro-climate within the appellation. The wine was barrel- fermented and aged sur lie in Burgundian oa k for ten months. This wine displays all the classic Santa Cruz Mountains regional character and complexity for which this area is famous."
According to the winery: "Ripe melon, tropical fruit, mango and baked apples all mingle amid the round, luscious texture. Dishes with full flavor are great partners to the Chardonnay. Chicken marinated with fresh lemon and rosemary then grilled, panko-crusted halibut or crostini topped with white bean puree are all excellent choices."
Wine Enthusiast: "Fleshy fruits of white peach and guava and fragrant white flowers trend tropical on the nose of this bottling, but are cut by green apple and citrus skin flavors. The palate is broad with guava cream, apple blossoms, mango and lime chiffon flavors. Quite tasty, but very tropical." (7/2016) K&L Notes: Winemaker tasting notes: "Fruit-forward citrus aromas, accented by hints of mineral and brown spice."
Another project from celebrated Central Coast duo, winemaker Sashi Moorman and sommelier Rajat Parr, LWC was founded to bring Pinot Noir and Chardonnay from excellent vineyards in the Sta. Rita Hills region, at a great value.
Inventory: Redwood City
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 River Vineyard are complemented by the peach and apricot aromas and more fleshy structure of the Wood Vineyard. Balance and proportion best describ... Read More »