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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 »
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.
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.
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.
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 »
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 »
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.
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 »
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 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)
91 points Wine Enthusiast: "Crisp, yet fuller bodied, with a creamy voluptuousness to the mouthfeel, this wine offers a taste of lemon pith and peach, accented by a floral bouquet of orange blossom. Measured acidity keeps it ebullient in the glass, ending in a hit of Tahitian vanilla." (12/2015)
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!"
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)
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 »
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
92 points Vinous: "Mount Eden's 2014 Chardonnay Old Vines, from a site in Edna Valley, is pretty, understated and gracious. Pear, white flowers and sweet spices are all nicely delineated throughout in this super-attractive, mid-weight Chardonnay. Readers will have a hard time finding a better wine for the money. The Old Vines is the current incarnation of the Wolff Vineyard Chardonnay Mount Eden used to bottle. Because of low yields in Wolff, Jeffrey Patterson augmented that fruit with fruit from Stoller and Niven. Quite simply, this is a fabulous wine for the money. (AG) ...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 »
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 »
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 »
Sourced from the Garvey, Genny’s, Stagecoach, Hudson & Hyde Vineyards. Harvested September 2-September 18, 2014 at 24.4-25.5 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."
Inventory: Main Warehouse
93 points Wine Enthusiast: "*Editors' Choice* An amazing wine for less than $30, this bottling by veteran Winemaker Dan Lee starts with tightly wound aromas of dried yogurt, Meyer lemon peel, honeysuckle and Asian-pear flesh. Great grapefruit-pith flavors kick off the sip, where lime juice and baking soda combine for a tight, bright, grippy, laser-focused and high-toned palate. (MK)" (9/2016) 90 points Connoisseurs Guide: "*One Star & Good Value* Never flamboyant, but still fairly rich and showing a measure of complexity that runs from its compact, deftly oaked, green apple aromas into its nicely composed flavors, ...Read More »
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)
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 »
From the team at Banshee Wines, best known hereabouts for supplying us with excellently sourced Pinot Noir. The Chardonnay is also sourced from mostly coastal vineyards, from Santa Barbara up to Mendocino County. This staff favorite aims at a crisp, fruit-forward style, with a bit of vanilla and oak to round it out.
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 »
Named 2012 Winery by the Year from the Connoisseurs' Guide to California Wine! The new Chardonnay release from Frank Family is sourced from Carneros, in the southern Napa Valley, and displays its signature volume and length, with ripe peachy and tropical citrus fruit aromas and flavors, a lush and creamy mid-palate, and layers of toasty oak spice. Praise for the last vintage from Wine Enthusiast: "Tropical in personality, with a leanness of pineapple and guava, this wine holds a concentration of oak-influenced flavor and texture at its heart. It ends gen... Read More »
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.
92 points Wine Enthusiast: "Asian pear, crisp lime juice and crushed chalk show on the nose of this very restrained wine from one of the region’s top-tier producers. The palate is framed in lively acidity and strong minerality, presenting flavors of white rocks, lemon peel and brie rind. A nice amount of grip will ensure some aging potential too." (8/2015) 91 points Vinous: "Peach, almond, apricot and spices meld together in the 2012 Chardonnay Santa Cruz Mountains. Sweet honeyed and floral notes add lift in a crystalline, entry-level offering that delivers the goods and then some. Drink this supple Ch ...Read More »
Inventory: Main Warehouse
Wells Guthrie received his winemaking training in France and built up his Copain brand over the years before selling to Jackson Family Wines in 2016. Guthrie has stayed on as winemaker and continues to explore new sites for his small-lot wines.
90 points Vinous: "Pale gold. Meyer lemon, quince, white flowers and smoky minerals on the lively, incisive nose. Nervy citrus and orchard fruit flavors show very good clarity and a complementary subtle honeysuckle quality. Juicy and precise on the clinging finish, which strongly echoes the mineral and floral notes. Talley's side project, which is not exactly a second label as the wines may include fruit that is sourced from outside Arroyo Grande, is a consistently excellent source for elegant wines that deliver very serious bang for the buck. The Chardonnay and Pinot Noir ...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)
Robert Parker writes: "Under owner Don Hartford, winemaker Jeff Stewart continues to produce a stunning succession of Chardonnays and Pinot Noirs (as well as Zinfandels) under the Hartford Court moniker from generally cool-climate sites. His is one of the bright stars in the Kendall-Jackson portfolio of small estate wineries."
"Things certainly have taken an uptick under Gallo’s ownership," Robert Parker noted in his October, 2016 notes on William Hill. Look for a great value in California Chardonnay with the 2015 vintage, which promises to check all the right boxes: Great price, classic creamy texture with vanilla and toasted oak, and not too sweet.
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 »
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. Praise for the recent releases by Antonio Galloni: "Jim Clendenen moves from strength to strength with this superb range of wines. Clendenen seems to be enjoying a sort of late career Renaissance now that he is ma... Read More »
The 2015 Farmstead Chardonnay is sourced from a vineyard in the southern part of Napa Valley, which is one of the coolest parts of the appellation due to the influence of the San Pablo Bay. Fermentation is in stainless steel and full malolactic fermentation and aging takes place in neutral oak barrels.
Inventory: San Francisco
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)
Robert Parker's Wine Advocate: "A real beauty is the 2014 Chardonnay Robert Young Vineyard, a non-malolactic Chardonnay that sees a little oak and comes across like a premier cru Chablis. It is elegant, with notes of honeysuckle, white peach and citrus blossom. Fresh, medium-bodied, pure and tasty, it should be drunk over the next several years. It should not be forgotten just how many excellent value wines Château St. Jean continues to produce, especially their lower level Chardonnays and Sauvignon Blancs. (RP)" (12/2016) K&L Notes: Antonio Galloni praised the producer's 2014 vintage: "Chateau St... 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 »
Proprietor Blair Pence teams with winemaker Sashi Moorman to produce the Pence Ranch wines in Santa Barbara. Pence says, "We strive for honesty and elegance in our wines, reflecting the beautiful landscape where our grapes are grown, the richness of the clay soils feeding their roots, and the abundant sunshine that provides life’s energy. The colors, aromas, and flavors in each bottle are the pure manifestation of our vineyard and our efforts to support it."
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 »
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 »