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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 »
Cool climate Carneros fruit and Rombauer's house style of élevage make this Chard a top choice vintage after vintage.
Once in a great while you find wines from the Mâcon so good that tasting them blind you are forced to apply some much higher (and more expensive) appellation to it. Often, such a wine comes from hillside vineyards, with better drainage and cooler nights. This is such a wine, from the slopes below the giant monolith of rock that is Solutré. Domaine Renaud is a small operation, making Mâcon, Pouilly-Fuissé and St. Veran from 12 hectares of estate vineyards. Their cellar is modern, and they use upright ovals for many of the wines, and stainless for others. ... Read More »
Allen Meadows - Burghound: "A ripe and fresh nose expresses moderate Chablis character on the pretty nose that is composed of pear, apple and citrus scents. There is good volume and richness to the seductively textured medium weight flavors that possess just enough energy and acidity to suggest that this should reward a few years of cellaring." (10/2015) Stephen Tanzer's International Wine Cellar: "Pale yellow. Lime, peppermint and a touch of spice on the fresh, restrained, slightly metallic nose. Bright notes of white pepper and fresh herbs give thrust to the middle palate, with some unabsorbed CO2 making the wine hard to asse ...Read More »
There are still treasures to be found in the Mâcon, where small producers fly under the radar. Our most recent acquisition is Château Vitallis. In classic Burgundian fashion, the Dutron family has been growing vines since 1835, and now owns some of the oldest and best parcels in the village of Fuissé in the Pouilly-Fuissé district. Our buyers happened upon the château during a trip to Burgundy last October, and it was quite evident upon their return that they’d found something special. Perhaps it was the haste with which the samples were chilled and open... Read More »
Jancis Robinson: "Unoaked organically grown Chardonnay 'with a splash of Chenin Blanc' from the fringes of Limoux. Quite ripe and intense on the nose and then crisp and appley on the palate - much zestier than the average Mâconnais white. Very well made. Clean as a whistle." (5/2016) K&L Notes: Domaine Begude is a small family-owned property located high in the foothills of the Pyrenees in the Limoux region of the Languedoc. The long, cool growing season lends itself perfectly to the production of crisp and delicate wines. From predominantly clay and limestone soils on southeast facin... Read More »
This Chardonnay is produced by the three brothers Couillaud at the Château de la Ragotière, a few minutes from the Atlantic near the mouth of the Loire River, where the maritime climate is ideal for producing whites that are refreshing and bright. The Couillauds age most of this wine on its lees until bottling to add weight and texture with around 10% being barrel-fermented in French oak for the faintest touch of toastiness. Saveur magazine wrote about a previous vintage: "This value-priced Chardonnay tastes crisp and bright. It comes from the western Lo... Read More »
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.
92 points Decanter: "Ripe lemon and apple crumble with a real sense of minerality. A bright and energetic palate with fine fruit persistence and weight and an overlaying mineral presence. An elegant and accomplished wine." (7/2016) 91 points Wine Spectator: "#47 Wine Spectator's Top 100 Wines of 2015!! A textbook flinty aroma gives way to green apple, lemon and mineral flavors in this white, which shows fine depth and richness, offset by vibrant acidity. Excellent length. Drink now through 2020." (11/2015) Allen Meadows - Burghound: "This was initially backward and required a bit of swirling to open the nose to reveal a softly fruit ...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."
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 »
93 points Vinous: "The 2013 Chardonnay Dierberg Vineyard is super-polished and finessed from start to finish. Scents of almond, lemon peel and flowers open up in this striking, effortless Chardonnay. Orange peel and slightly more tropical notes develop with air in a Chardonnay that offers superb textural depth and tons of personality, all in a laid-back, understated style that is such a signature of Santa Maria. I have high hopes for Dierberg and its sister property, Star Lane. Winemaker Tyler Thomas, who was previously at Donelan, arrived in 2013, while Charles (AJ) Fairb ...Read More »
Maison Jacques Bavard is a tiny negociant producer in Puligny-Montrachet. He comes from a long line of winegrowers, and is dedicated to working with organic and biodynamic growers. We found him a few years ago on a tip, and found the balance and freshness of his wines to be most impressive. Thanks to importing his wines directly, we have them available at a very modest price. His 2014s may be the finest vintage we have had a chance to offer! This rich Chardonnay comes from vineyards below Puligny-Montrachet.
For the last two years we've had the distinct pleasure, and honor, of being able to blend our own Chardonnay with the team at Talley Vineyards. Last year this bottling was a huge success with our customers and we think it is every bit as good this year. Just like last vintage the 2014 comes from Talley's non-contiguous Oliver's Vineyard located in the Edna Valley. This year we had many more barrels to blend with which made our jobs tougher but the final wine that much better. The final blend this year came from five barrels all French oak, one of which w... Read More »
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)
The Ariston's vineyards are vastly different than those of the other blanc de blancs producers that we carry. The steeper slopes, less chalk and more fossils in the soil of Brouillet make for a rich, creamy style Chardonnay Champagne that will appeal to just about anyone. This is one of my favorite toasting Champagnes. All of the flavors are up-front; it is open knit and fun. It is a perfect way to start a party. (Gary Westby, K&L Champagne buyer)
Jacques Bavard is a tiny negociant located in Puligny-Montrachet. He comes from a long line of wine-growers, and is dedicated to working with organic and biodynamic growers.
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)
91 points Decanter: "Quince and manadarin aromas with layers of warm butter and caramel. Great roundness on the palate with hints of caramel and new oak, well complimented by the thrilling grapefruit acidity and impressive length" (7/2016) K&L Notes: Vitallis is a new "hidden gem" our buyers found in the Mâcon, where small producers fly under the radar. In classic Burgundian fashion, the Dutron family has been growing vines since 1835, and now owns some of the oldest and best parcels in the village of Fuissé in the Pouilly-Fuissé district. Our buyers happened upon the château during a tr... Read More »
To plant Chardonnay in one of Barolo's most prestigious vineyards, "Bussia," was viewed as a rather heretical move back in 1982. But once you taste the results in today's wine, you can thank them. Fermentation in stainless steel with extended lees contact. The wine shows a forceful minerality and a long finish.
92 points James Halliday: "From the Beenak, Coldstream, Gladysdale and Woori Yallock districts, all hand-picked. Has masses of fruit that could only come from the Yarra Valley, its length unmistakable, but not at the expense of mid-palate presence. Made to be enjoyed right now." K&L Notes: Last vintage we sold thousands of bottles of this wine from K&L direct import Oakridge Estate. Made by 20+ year veteran, Yarra Valley winemaker David Bicknell. David is considered by many as one of the best Chardonnay producers in all of Australia. The "Over The Shoulder" label is basically estate fruit that... Read More »
Allen Meadows - Burghound: "There is a hint of matchstick character to the mostly citrus-infused nose that leads to attractively vibrant, cool and delicious flavors that deliver solid persistence on the clean, dry and inviting finish. (AM)" (6/2015) Jancis Robinson: "Bottled September 2013. Two parcels, from St Aubin and Puligny. Lusher on the nose than most. Correct with real chalky chew and life and interest. Juicy. Quite long." (11/2014) Robert Parker's Wine Advocate: "The 2013 Bourgogne Chardonnay, which had been bottled already when I visited Pierre-Yves, has a light and pretty, floral bouquet rather than fruit-driven. The palat ...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)
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!"
95 points Vinous: "The 2014 Chardonnay Bee Block is the standout in this lineup of Chardonnays from Bob and Jim Varner. Wonderfully complete and layered, the 2014 is all about balance, harmony and proportion. Everything is in the right place. The combination of phenolic intensity and creaminess is deftly balanced in a Chardonnay endowed with both tension and enough mid-palate intensity to give the wine its sense of openness. (AG)" (7/2016) Jancis Robinson: "A little cooler than the Home Block. Solid stuff with good extract. Sweet start and proper beginning, middle and end to this wine. Very d ...Read More »
94 points Wine Spectator: "Rippling with tension, featuring Jonagold apple, white peach, mirabelle plum and honeysuckle notes coiled at the core. Citrus oil- and mineral-edged finish. Best from 2017 through 2022." (6/2016) 90 points Decanter: "Creamy and complex, with aromas of lemon biscuit and white citrus laced by a gravelly, mineral thread. Seamless and smooth on the palate, filled with pithy lemon, a bright acidity and a lovely, saline finish." Robert Parker's Wine Advocate: "Hamilton Russell is one of South Africa’s premier estates and both their Pinot Noir and Chardonnay have enjoyed a loyal following for good reason...exemplary ...Read More »
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 »
From the producer: "The 2013 Blanc de Blancs has bright and fresh aromas of grapefruit, mango, apricot,lemon, and white peach. The fruitful fragrance intermingles with hints of fresh bread, vanilla cream pie, and rose petals. Freshly sliced Gravenstein apples, zesty citrus, and bright pineapple flavors carry vibrant length on the palate.” – Winemakers Sean Thompson and Hugh Davies
94 points Vinous: "Beringer's 2013 Chardonnay Private Reserve emerges from Gamble Ranch in Oakville. Classy, polished and restrained, the 2013 is absolutely superb. Above all else, the 2013 is a wine of finesse. Hints of pastry, baked apple and spices are woven into the super-expressive, oily finish. This was my first tasting at Beringer following Laurie Hook's move into the role of Winemaker Emeritus. Mark Beringer, the great-great grandson of founder Jacob Beringer, is the newly arrived Chief Winemaker. These are all Laurie Hook's wines, though. Needless to say, it will ...Read More »
This delightfully rich white Burgundy is made as an homage to Olivier Leflaive's Uncle Vincent Leflaive, the founder of the famous Domaine Leflaive. It comes entirely from vineyards in the communes of Puligny-Montrachet and is fermented in small French oak barrels. It is satisfying and mineral-driven, as well as rich and buttery. From Olivier Leflaive: "Only grapes from the territory of Puligny-Montrachet, a village he loved so much, could pay tribute to my uncle Vincent. He has been a model for me and a valuable support during the creation of Maison Oli... Read More »
94 points Wine Enthusiast: "****#29 in Wine Enthusiast's Best of Year 2015 and an Editors' Choice**** This is a tremendous blend of various vineyard sites, coaxed together into a stunning combination of beautiful floral aromas, ginger and baked lemon. Given time in half new oak, it takes on flavors of apple and vanilla, never venturing out of range and remaining balanced and textured. (VB)" (12/2015)
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 & Spirits: "Warm and leesy, this has the textural weight and body of a Rhône wine and some musky green flavors. Serve it well chilled with boudin blanc." (4/2016) K&L Notes: Olivier Leflaive primarily makes Les Sétilles from vineyards at the foot of the slope in Chassagne-Montrachet and Meursault with an average vine age of 40 years. Grapes are carfully sorted in the cellar and typically more than 2/3 of the harvest is aged in barrel (around 10% new) with the balance of the wine aged in tanks. The result is a white Burgundy that showcases freshness, texture, and a purity of mine... Read More »
Allen Meadows - Burghound: "There is plenty of Chablis character to the floral and citrus aromas where the former continues onto the cool, pure and racy flavors that possess plenty of punch along with ample salinity on the clean, dry and crisp finish. Lovely stuff and worth a look and note that this would make for an excellent house white." (10/2015) Wine Spectator: "The 2014 Petit Chablis was cropped at 60 hectoliters per hectare from 30-year-old vines and matured for six months in stainless steel. It has a straightforward but nicely defined bouquet with apple blossom and grass-clipping scents that ...Read More »
Jancis Robinson: "Dusty, chalky/stony nose and bright, almost steely, citrus fruit. Extremely crisp and direct but long and really quite powerful." (1/2016) K&L Notes: Jean-Paul and his son Benoît have five centuries and fourteen generations of winemaking behind them. Notes from Stephen Tanzer: "Some early impressions: The Vaillons showed lovely acid snap and tension and was perhaps more typically Chablis-like than the fruitier, more generous but less taut Montmains." (06/2015)
93 points Vinous: "The 2013 Chardonnay Estate is gorgeous. Rich and oily on the palate, with considerable texture, the 2013 boasts tons of texture and breadth. Candied lemon, white flowers, almonds and chamomile add shades of nuance as the 2013 opens up in the glass. The 2013 boasts tons of oiliness and viscosity for a Chardonnay with no malolactic fermentation. Best of all, the 2013 is a great value. 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 ...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 »
Far Niente is a benchmark for quality in Napa Valley. The 2014 vintage has yet to be reviewed, but the 2013 earned 92 points from Wine Spectator with rave reviews: "Firm and intense, well-focused and vibrant, centered on spicy citrus, green apple and pear flavors, with hints of honeysuckle, white peach and flinty stone. Lingers on the finish, with a pithy edge to the lemon and green stone fruit notes. Drink now through 2019." (06/2015)
Wine Spectator: "Shows a strong, pithy lemon peel bitterness that subsides a bit but dominates the core fruitiness. (JL)" (6/2015)
93 points Robert Parker's Wine Advocate: "The 2014 Saint Aubin 1er Cru en Remilly has a sense of completeness on the nose, as if taking the best parts of other premier crus and putting them together. Think of it like a Saint Aubin "Greatest Hits". The palate is fresh and taut on the entry, the acidity superbly judged and for me, more complex and vital than the other Saint Aubin. It just gently builds but never overpowers, thereby combining power and finesse to quite magical effect. (NM)" (12/2015) 92 points Allen Meadows - Burghound: "A discreet touch of reduction still allows the ripe pear, white peach and citrusy aromas to shine. Th ...Read More »
From the winery: "It’s hard to keep your pinky up when you’re drinking wine from a 375 mL can. These are the most approachable and ready-to-travel anywhere wines we produce. Whether you’re sitting in a hot tub after a good day of riding or heading where other wines dare not travel, we have you covered without sacrificing the craft taste Union is known for. Tasting notes: White peach, apple, and lemon."
This fantastic direct import has been in the Moreau family since the late-1800s, who have acquired an impressive range of parcels in Grands Crus, including a monopole, and Premiers Crus like this Vaulignot. This 10-hectare vineyard in the village of Beines has a southeast orientation and calcareous soils, which creates sublime Chablis. this is done entirely in stainless steel to preserve freshness and minerality. It always finishes with a pronounced silex, or powdered stone taste on the palate.
95 points Wine Enthusiast: "*Editors' Choice* This 100% varietal wine from the cooler outpost of Freestone is so deliciously crisp, bright in minerally lemon and fresh pear. It lingers on the palate in complex ways, elusive one moment, then exuberant the next-a celebration of ideal vintage and place." (12/2015) 92 points Wine & Spirits: "There’s a taut and penetrating depth of flavor at the core of this chardonnay, from a wind-cooled vineyard among the redwoods near Freestone. It’s resolutely dry, with a tangy blood-orange verve, the grip of oak and creaminess of lees providing a context for the clean intensit ...Read More »
92 points Robert Parker's Wine Advocate: "The less expensive label for Paul Hobbs is his Crossbarn label. He has done a magnificent job of elevating the quality of these wines, which are all made from purchased fruit. Take, for example, the Crossbarn 2014 Chardonnay from the Sonoma Coast. There are over 16,000 cases of this wine, which is bone-dry. Ten percent is barrel-fermented, and the rest aged in steel, so it is essentially a naked style of Chardonnay, and the 2014 is just a beauty, with crisp acidity, notes of apple blossom, tangerine oil and honeyed lemons in an extroverted, beautifully p ...Read More »
In 1989 Walt and Joan Flowers, with great expertise in agriculture and nurseries, turned their attention and passion to the beautiful Sonoma Coast and its perfect position for growing both Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. Their success in this venture is quite well known in the wine collector world now, and they produce some of the most striking Sonoma wines around. They produce both estate wines from their Camp Meeting Ridge and Sea View Ridge vineyards, and wines from vineyards they carefully oversee and control in Sonoma County. Their wines always show the ... Read More »
91 points Wine Enthusiast: "Tightly structured and quiet in oak, this wine instead exudes bright notes of lemon peel and orange blossom, offering plenty of well-traced minerality on the palate. It finishes lean and crisp, refreshing enough to enjoy all night long.(VB)" (11/2015)