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K&L Staff Recommendations
92 points Robert Parker's Wine Advocate: "A smokin' effort, as well as a terrific value, the 2014 Pinot Noir Hahn SLH (mostly from the Smith Vineyard) offers classic notes of forest floor, toasted spice, licorice and tons of Pinot Noir fruit in its medium-bodied, textured and layered profile. At 30 bucks, I'm hard pressed to come up with a better value in Pinot Noir. Drink this pleasure bent beauty over the coming 4-5 years. An estate that has hit another level of quality over the past few vintages, Hahn Family Wines focuses on estate vineyards in both the Santa Lucia Highlands and the Arroyo Se ...Read More »
Kalinda can be a lot of things. It can be really good bulk wine that is available to us. It can be a wine that we help create from scratch from a winery we have a great relationship with and wants to work with us. Or in the case of the NV Kalinda North Coast Pinot Noir it can be from a famous and elusive winery that had some extra bits and pieces that they pieced together not because they didn't work for them but because the recent vintages just didn't produce enough fruit to make to make them financially viable for the "secret" winery. Bottom line is th... Read More »
92 points Wine Enthusiast: "This full-bodied wine packs a lot of punch in terms of mouthfeel and flavor. The color is extremely dark, and the flavors resemble dark chocolate, black cherries and baking spices. It is dry in style, with lip-smacking, nicely astringent tannins that counterbalance all that richness. (JG)" (11/2016) Robert Parker's Wine Advocate: "The best red is the 2013 Proprietary Red Eruption, another intriguing blend of Malbec, Syrah, Petite Sirah and Mourvèdre. The good news is there are 23,000 cases of this excellent value, which exhibits dark berry fruit along with some plums, Asian spice, and to ...Read More »
As difficult as it is to produce excellent Pinot Noir, it is even more difficult to do so at a fine value. In their development of the Banshee label, the winemakers gained a stable of quality sources for Pinot fruit from the finest AVAs in California. The 2014 Sonoma County Pinot Noir is the sixth vintage from the enterprising team at Banshee Wines. A large percentage of it is still sourced from the Sonoma Coast, often declassified barrels from vineyards that close followers of top-tier West Coast Pinot may recognize. From the producer: "As with past vin... Read More »
The 2014 Rickshaw Pinot Noir is the sixth vintage from the team at Banshee Wines, known for elegant, food-friendly coastal Pinot and Chardonnay. Via the Rickshaw bottling, Banshee can offer a phenomenal value, thanks to relationships they've built with growers over the years from the finest AVAs in California. The largest share of fruit is sourced from the Sonoma Coast, followed by Anderson Valley and the Central Coast. The appeal of the wine is driven by its balance of fruit and earth tones, so just 10% of the juice sees new oak (the remainder being onc... Read More »
91 points Wine Enthusiast: "***Editors' Choice*** This is such a good offering at this price, or many other prices, that it would be a worthy house wine to stock for regular consumption. Richly luxurious and softly layered, its texture stands out among well-integrated jolts of earth, black tea and strawberry-rhubarb." (6/2016)
90 points Wine Enthusiast: "*Editors' Choice* This lower-priced Pinot from the Center of Effort team punches way above its weight in the vintage, showing light cherry-blossom and black-cherry aromas mixed with gamy meat and wet slate. Blackberry pie is cut with orange rind on the sip, with an earthy grip showing flavors of juniper, crushed clove and pipe tobacco." (10/2016) Robert Parker's Wine Advocate: "I found the 2014 Pinot Noir Fossil Point to be straightforward and a touch simple, but at 19 bucks, who can argue. Medium-bodied, well made and with pretty notes of sweet cherries, framboise and spice, this value ...Read More »
James Suckling: "A bright and fresh pinot noir with sliced lemon, strawberry and flower character. Medium body, crisp and clean. Light tannins and clean and fresh finish. Drink now." (6/2016) K&L Notes: Olema is produced by the folks at Amici Cellars. Fruit for their 2014 Pinot Noir is 50% Russian River Valley, 25% Sonoma Coast, and 25% Sonoma County. The wine was aged in 35% new French oak barrels before bottling. From the winery: " A burst of fresh black cherry, ripe strawberry and cola spice on the nose lead to deep flavors of red fruits with hints of earth, warm spice and vio... Read More »
Robert Parker's Wine Advocate: "A California Côtes du Rhône look-alike, the 2012 Mountain Cuvée is a blend of 36% Cabernet Sauvignon, 45% Merlot, 8% Zinfandel and the rest small dollops of Cabernet Franc, Syrah, Petit Verdot and Malbec aged 14 months in mostly French oak. It reveals spicy, peppery, meaty notes intermixed with hints of Provençal herbs, dense black cherry and plum-like fruit, medium to full body, an attractive texture, and a seductive finish. (RP)" (11/2014) Wine Enthusiast: "An unidentified mix of Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot sourced from throughout the county, this is a smoky, leathery e ...Read More »
If you try to find the exact cepage on this always-fantastic red blend, you might find yourself gazing up at the heavens for an answer, since you won't get one from the winemaker. The Pleiades might be the only super-allocated, cult California wine for under $25, and it's sure to sell out quickly, as previous vintages have. From "one of California's most iconic and mystical winemakers," says Robert Parker: "Sean Thackrey has logged in 20 or more vintages of consistently stunning wines that perhaps say it all with the simple quote on his label: -Sean A. T... Read More »
91 points Wine & Spirits: "For all its plumpness, this feels sophisticated, its sense of fatness coming from abundant, perfectly ripe tannins rather than jammy, overripe fruit. Its clean, dark berry flavors are harmonious and lasting, the structure seeming at one moment supple and easy, at the next more deep and stony. Give it another five years in the bottle before pouring it with a standing rib roast." (2/2016) 90 points Vinous: "The 2013 Cabernet Sauvignon Knights Valley is terrific... Sweet red cherry, pomegranate, spices, mint and gravel meld into the voluptuous, racy finish. There are plenty of ...Read More »
A very shy producing vineyard with soils of volcanic ash and boulders, this site produces old vine Zinfandel of immense proportions.
93 points Wine Spectator: "Plump and luscious, this is jam-packed with fruit. Lively blackberry, pepper, and other spice box aromas lead to ripe and rich flavors of black raspberry, caramel, and licorice. There are more complex Zinfandels, but few that are more enjoyable to drink. Drink now through 2022." (12/2015)
91 points Vinous: "The 2013 Cuvée Le Bec, Beckmen's entry-level Rhône blend, is absolutely gorgeous. Dark, sensual and inviting, the 2013 hits all the right notes. Black cherry, plum, spice, menthol and licorice blossom into the supple, deeply expressive finish. The 2013 is a bit more Syrah-heavy than in some previous years, which contributes to its personality. Best of all, the 2013 is an absolute steal. The blend is 45% Syrah, 40% Grenache, 8% Counoise and 7% Mourvèdre. (AG)" (8/2015) 90 points Robert Parker's Wine Advocate: "Made from 45% Syrah, 40% Grenache, 8% Counoise and the rest Mourvedre, the 2013 Cuvee le ...Read More »
94 points Wine & Spirits: "Jay Heminway got his start in Bordeaux as a college student in the 1960s, working a summer with Alexis Lichine. He founded Green & Red in the eastern hills of Napa Valley in the 1970s, focused on zinfandel. This wine grows at the highest vineyard on the estate, topping out at 1,800 feet, where he planted a northeast-facing slope in the late 1990s. It’s a fruit-driven zin, the freshness and sunny aspects pointed up by his team’s work at the new sorting table installed in 2013. All that fruit seems to glow from within, surrounded by scents of bay and wild ...Read More »
Wine & Spirits: "A velvety blend based on merlot, this is simple but clean, its strawberry-red fruit lifted...It’s light enough for roast chicken." (8/2015) K&L Notes: Lyeth's Meritage is a blend of the five red Bordeaux varietals with 58% Merlot, 15% Cabernet Sauvignon, 14% Malbec, 11% Cabernet Franc and 2% Petit Verdot. With grapes sourced from select vineyards across Sonoma County, it is the flagship wine of the estate and delivers an excellent value. From the winery: "A brilliant garnet in color, this Meritage is rich with aromas of dark cherry, plum, and boysenberry with subtle ... Read More »
91 points James Suckling: "This is dense yet fresh and lively with ripe currant, plum and dried mushroom character. Medium to full body, crisp and delicious. Real Napa at a solid price. Drink now." (6/2016) Wine Enthusiast: "This soft, simple wine, with small touches of Malbec and Petit Verdot, delivers sizable tannin atop notable acidity. Tart red currant and cherry meet cedar and a taste of toffee, allowing for a pleasantness on the palate that’s rich and ripe." (12/2016) Wine Spectator: "Fresh herb, dill and charry oak notes make this distinctive, if a bit dry and smoky. Retains an elegant mouthfeel. (Web Only—2016)" ...Read More »
Robert Parker's Wine Advocate: "Their great value pick, which has essentially underwritten the winery’s success for many years, is their non-vintage Old Vine, and in this case, the NV Old Vine Red Lot 63, the sixty-third rendition of this lovely blend. Dominated by Zinfandel, but also containing Syrah and Petite Sirah, it’s always meant as a boisterous, exuberant Mediterranean-style red, the likes of which are easy to find in parts of Spain, Southern Italy and Southern France. The oak is pushed back to a minimum, and the NV Lot 63 includes wine from four vintages: 2011, 2012, 2013 and ...Read More »
92 points James Suckling: "A big and juicy style of Napa red for those who love the 1990s genre. Yet there's a form and tension to the wine with chewy tannins that make it very drinkable and intriguing. Drink or hold." (1/2016) 91 points Vinous: "A rich, full-throttle wine, the 2013 Red Blend Taken, a Merlot/Cabernet blend is one of the more flamboyant wines readers will come across in this vintage. Unctuous on the palate, the 2013 is loaded with tons of super-ripe fruit and French oak, with all of its elements nicely put together. (AG)" (9/2015) 90 points Wine Enthusiast: "This blend of 60% Cabernet Sauvignon with 40% Merlot is y ...Read More »
92 points James Suckling: "A firm and beautiful red with black currant and berry character. Full-bodied, silky and refined. Shows real Napa Valley Cabernet character. Drink or hold." (7/2015) 91 points Wine Enthusiast: "*Cellar Selection* Mostly from estate vineyards, and blended with other Bordeaux varieties, this wine balances dense, chewy, sizable tannins with a juicy core of blackberry, baking spices and leather. Given time, its sense of elegance should rule over its power, while for now, it finishes in bittersweet chocolate. Cellar through 2020. (VB)" (12/2015) Wine & Spirits: "Sour cherry flavors fill this soft Cabernet, ...Read More »
92 points Wine Enthusiast: "*Editors' Choice* Showing incredible depth for such an affordable wine, Andrew Murray does it again with this widely available bottling. The gamy nose shows lamb, rosemary, uncracked peppercorns, light tobacco leaf, soy sauce and a touch of tar. Purple flowers rule the palate, with lavender, violet and blossoming rosemary notes, with thyme and white pepper spicing up boysenberry fruit. (MK)" (7/2016) Robert Parker's Wine Advocate: "The 2014 Syrah Tous les Jours is a total charmer and checks in as 100% Syrah from a bevy of Santa Ynez vineyards (all are within five miles of the winery). No ...Read More »
Named for founder Rudy von Strasser, the "Rudy" label is best known around here for top-quality, well-priced Cabernet Sauvignon from Napa Valley. Look for fine tannins that complement good acidity and rich, red fruit flavors. 2014 is the 25th vintage for the von Strasser winery, during which time they've won the "Winery of the Year" award from Wine and Spirits magazine an astonishing 12 times.
91 points Wine Enthusiast: "Substantive flavors and a rich, tannic texture form a serious profile for this deeply colored, dry and full-bodied wine. It smells like raspberries, tastes deep and concentrated, and has a very firm and nicely astringent mouthfeel. Pour it with a big steak, chop or roast." (4/2016)
Robert Parker's Wine Advocate: "The 2013 Pinot Noir is a seductive style of Pinot, with a medium ruby color, notes of black cherry and raspberry, light tannin, and not much depth, but it is superficially attractive and supple. Drink it over the next 3-4 years. (RP)" (3/2016)
91 points Vinous: "Translucent red. High-pitched red berry, cherry and rose pastille scents are lifted by blood orange and mineral nuances. Silky, weightless and focused on the palate, offering juicy raspberry and bitter cherry flavors that become deeper and sweeter with air. Shows impressive depth of flavor but comes off lithe, even delicate. Clings with serious tenacity on the gently tannic finish, which strongly echoes the red fruit 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 Ar ...Read More »
Though the 2014 has yet to be professionally reviewed, the 2013 garnered 91 points and praise from Wine Advocate: "A blend of 80% Zinfandel, 11% Carignan, 8% Petite Sirah and a splash of Alicante Bouschet, the 2013 Three Valleys has lots of berry fruits, bramble, spice-box and licorice in its medium-bodied, supple, nicely textured, and delicious profile." (JD, 10/2015)
89-90 points Vinous: "Sbragia's 2012 Merlot Home Ranch jumps from the glass with sweet dark cherries, plums, spices, new leather and menthol. A joyous, exuberant wine, the Home Ranch captures the best qualities of the 2012 vintage. Layers of deeply spiced dark red/blackish fruit inform the finish. There is a lot to look forward to here. (AG)" (2/2014) Robert Parker's Wine Advocate: "A bevy of wines made from Bordeaux varietals include the 2012 Merlot Home Ranch, a solidly made, plump, corpulent Merlot revealing notes of black cherries and white chocolate, medium body, a fleshy mouthfeel and a soft finish. (RP ...Read More »
After the last few years I think just about everyone has heard us pontificating about just how good, and how insanely inexpensive, the York Creek wines are. Luckily for us and our thirsty customers Fritz Maytag kept deep cellars over the years and still has plenty of wine for us to sell. After the rousing success of past vintages we just keep reloading because the wines are that good and you keep asking us for more. Our latest find is a horizontal of sorts with all three wines coming from the great 2005 vintage. We have two single block Cabernets and a r... Read More »
Rudy Von Strasser may have got his start in the wine business as an intern at prestigious Chateau Lafite-Rothschild, but he hasn't let his head, or his prices, ascend into the stratosphere. The wine is made up of 100% Diamond Mountain fruit, some of which comes off the Von Strasser Estate. This is a concentrated, elegant, and eminently drinkable Cab delivering more-than-everyday quality for a fantastic price. From the winery: "This bold Cabernet Sauvignon has great perfume of violets. Intertwining aromas of blueberry,cassis and coffee all lead into a ric... Read More »
90 points Vinous: "The 2012 Pinot Noir Bench Break is a classic Cambria wine with exuberant fruit, deep color and exotic spice overtones. Lavender, menthol and cloves add complexity to the dark red and blue-toned fruit. The firm tannins could use another year or two to soften. (AG)" (7/2014) Robert Parker's Wine Advocate: "Better, with a deeper, richer color, the 2012 Pinot Noir Bench Break offers a straightforward, subtle bouquet of black fruits, cherry blossom, underbrush and pretty floral notes to go with a medium-bodied, nicely concentrated profile. Aged 10 months in 40% new French oak, it can be enjoy ...Read More »
Producer notes: "The 2014 Luli Pinot Noir has a beautiful combination of aromatics and texture. Deep ruby in color, the wine starts out with an exuberant display of wild strawberry, rich raspberry, earl grey tea, and dried rose petals. The cool summer temperatures of the Santa Lucia Highlands create these expansive aromatics. While the rugged, granite soils deliver the wine's texture - layers of tannins unfold into a broad finish with great depth of flavor and bright acidity."
Robert Parker's Wine Advocate: "The 2014 Cabernet Sauvignon is an excellent value that has classic Cabernet notes of black currants, plums, graphite and some herbal aromas and flavors. Blended with 16% Syrah, 4% Cabernet Franc and 2% Zinfandel, and aged 16 months in French and American oak, drink this medium-bodied, nicely balanced 2014 over the coming 4-5 years. (JD)" (8/2016) Vinous: "Dark purple. Spice-accented dark fruits and pipe tobacco on the perfumed nose. Supple and appealingly sweet, showing good depth to the ripe black currant and cherry flavors. Finishes smooth, broad and a touch warm ...Read More »
Grapes from sites throughout Central Coast were harvested at optimal maturity, then de-stemmed and gently placed into open-top stainless steel fermenters and cold soaked for 3 days prior to initiating fermentation. During fermentation, each tank is punched down two to three times per day. The fermented wine then was racked to oak for aging. During the aging process the wine lots were tasted throughout and blended back together.
Though the 2014 vintage has yet to be professionally reviewed, Robert Parker praised the 2013: "The 2013 Foxglove Cabernet Sauvignon, which is a nearly 11,000-case cuvée, comes from northern Paso Robles from all hillside vineyards and represents a soft, round, juicy, succulent style of Cabernet. It has black and red currants, loamy soil notes and plenty of juiciness. The wine is delicious and best drunk over the next 2-3 years. The following notes include value-priced wines from the Varner brothers under the moniker Foxglove and they are indeed great va... Read More »
90 points Wine Enthusiast: "This screaming deal is majority varietal, with small amounts of Merlot, Malbec and Cabernet Franc. It works deliciously, thick and concentrated in cherry, cranberry and a tease of orange peel, staying crisply intriguing and amazingly light bodied on the palate. This is well worth case-stocking in one's home. (VB)" (5/2016)
From one of the most legendary of vintages we've secured a Cabernet deal that brings both the sensational quality of the Napa Valley with the perfect growing conditions of 2013 and combines them into one unbeatable price. The dark fruit envelopes the palate on the initial sip, while plenty of tannic structure carries through to the finish. This is simply a beautiful wine you can open tonight, or any other day of the week, but with potential to go much longer in the cellar! While we have to remain quiet about the source of this beauty, we can tell you tha... Read More »
92 points Wine Enthusiast: "There's a very candied red-cherry quality to the nose of this wine from a vineyard that the winery will cease using with this vintage, along with sexy aromas of violet, lilac, clove, cola, peppercorn and rose. A sage-driven character emerges once sipped, giving spice to bright red, slightly sour cranberry fruit. (MK)" (12/2015) 91 points Robert Parker's Wine Advocate: "Coming from the estate Verna's Vineyard in the Sta. Rita Hills and 60% destemmed, the 2013 Pinot Noir Estate Verna's Vineyard was fermented in 1.5 ton open-top stainless-steel fermenters before aging 11 months all in neutral oak. It ...Read More »
Robert Parker's Wine Advocate: "Consistently one of the great values in Cabernet Sauvignon from Northern California is Louis M. Martini’s Sonoma County 2013 Cabernet Sauvignon. This is a blend of 85% Cabernet Sauvignon and the rest Merlot, Petitie Sirah, Cabernet Franc and Malbec. They make 353,000 cases of it, so there shouldn’t be many complaints about finding it. This is another beauty from the Martinis, aged in a combination of French and American oak staves in tank. The wine is dark ruby/purple and displays delicious black and red currant fruit with some underlying soil and underb ...Read More »
91 points Vinous: "The 2014 Old Vine Zinfandel is deep, rich and luscious, with plenty of up-front fruit and tons of appeal. More of a field blend than a true Zinfandel, the 2014 is soft and forward, with expressive red-fleshed fruit, bright acidity and terrific overall balance. The Old Vine is 77% Zinfandel and a generous 23% mixed blacks. Best of all, the Old Vine Zinfandel is a fabulous value. This is a stellar set of wines from Morgan Twain-Peterson and Chris Cottrell. In general, the 2014s feel a bit brighter and more acid-driven than most recent vintages. Readers sho ...Read More »
Ancient Peaks has become known for producing one of Paso Robles’ most acclaimed Zinfandels. Here, amid one of the region’s coolest growing environments, the Zinfandel grape achieves a rare balance of robust flavors and elegant structure. Zinfandel has been a cornerstone variety of Paso Robles for more than 100 years, and the folks at Ancient Peaks are proud to feature it in their small family of wines.
Producer Note: "Native fermentation, 100% de-stemmed, 100% whole berry, 100% neutral French Oak, unfined and unfiltered, 85% Seaton vineyard in Dry Creek Valley, 15% Totem Ridge vineyard in Knight's Valley. Tasting notes: This full-bodied red wine has blackberry and cocoa flavors, with some pepper and spice on the finish."
80% Cabernet Sauvignon, 8% Petite Sirah, 7% Petit Verdot, 5% Merlot. Fermented in 100% stainless steel and aged in 75% neutral oak, 25% new French Oak. According to the winery: "Our Cabernet Sauvignon is a rustic wine with a deep, dark nose of blackberry, currants and cocoa, which show off the natural structure and power of each varietal in the finished blend. Enjoy with a sliced venison loin or hangar steak seared in cast iron and finished in the oven. Chop up some new potatoes; cover them with fresh rosemary and your favorite olive oil. Grab some black... Read More »
Wine Enthusiast: "Simple but classy aromas of red currant and raspberries show on the nose of this bottling from an all-star team of the appellation. The palate is light and easy, with tart cranberry and a large boost of tannic grip, a surprise for how light it feels. (MK)" (12/2015)
Poppy hails from Monterey County, one of the coolest climates in California, where the long, slow growing season results in fragrant and supple Pinot that really stands out from the competition in the under $15 category. A long-standing staff and customer favorite, Poppy Pinot is typically fruity and easy to drink, perfect for entertaining or for Tuesday night takeout.
90 points Robert Parker's Wine Advocate: "Their newer non-vintage blends ratchet up the level of quality, such as the NV Arme Lot 3, a blend of 76% Cabernet Sauvignon, 11% Merlot and the rest Malbec and Petit Verdot. This is a big Bordeaux blend, aged up to three years in neutral oak prior to being bottled. It’s a blend of three vintages, 2011, 2012 and 2013. All the fruit comes from not only their estate, but from many of their close friends located in Sonoma and Mendocino. The wine is a 6,000-case North Coast appellation, with elegant black cherry and blackcurrant fruit as well as tobacco leaf ...Read More »
Fruit-forward with soft tannins and restrained oak, this Cabernet Sauvignon is made in a vibrant and substantial style that is very drinkable in its youth. Cabernet Sauvignon grapes were sourced from select vineyards across Napa Valley and vinified by Christian Moueix's winemaking team (also responsible for Dominus) at their facility in Yountville. This excellent value in Napa Cab evokes tones of red fruit, cassis, and eucalyptus.