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K&L Staff Recommendations
92 points Wine Spectator: "The texture is plush, with lots of complex flavors, ranging from plum to anise to dusty, cedary oak. Satisfying from start to finish, ending with dusty, nutmeg-scented tannins. (JL)" (6/2016) 90 points Decanter: "Complex dark fruit aromas with toasted oak and mineral notes and nuances of tobacco. Zesty, intense palate of raspberry coulis, a touch of oak, soft tannins, and acidity that is refreshingly clean and long." (7/2016) K&L Notes: $20 Pinot Noir is a competitive category, but not always tops with the critics: if the wines are praised, more often than not it's in the "great for weekni... 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)
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 »
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 Spectator: "Fresh herb, dill and charry oak notes make this distinctive, if a bit dry and smoky. Retains an elegant mouthfeel. (Web Only—2016)" K&L Notes: Olema is produced by the folks at Amici Cellars. Fruit was sourced from select vineyards around Sonoma County and blended with a splash of Merlot and Cabernet Franc. The wine was aged for more than a year in 30% new French oak before bottling.
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 »
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 »
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 »
90 points Wine Enthusiast: "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. Editors' Choice. - MK" (10/2016) K&L Notes: This is part of the higher-end Center of Effort brand. From 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 ... Read More »
92 points Wine Enthusiast: "*Editors' Choice* Truly a wine that overdelivers, this packs molten fudge cake, vanilla-laced black-currant syrup and chocolate pudding with a fresh sprig of mint on the nose. The palate is soft and dynamic, with ripe black currants given complexity though licorice and butter-softened roasting herbs, all wrapped in tannins that keep the flavors steady throughout. (MK)" (3/2016)
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) Wine Spectator: "Lively and zesty, with easygoing fruit, offering notes of raspberry, dark chocolate and smoky pepper. Drink now through 2023. (TF, Web-2016)" K&L Notes: Somewhat quietly o... 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 »
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 »
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 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 »
90 points Vinous: "Bright ruby-red. Lively, spice-accented aromas and flavors of fresh raspberry and cherry, with subtle anise and white pepper notes adding complexity. Bright and penetrating on the palate, showing no excess fat. A sexy floral nuance emerges on the back half and the berry note repeats on the finish, which is given shape by even tannins. 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 cor ...Read More »
A very shy producing vineyard with soils of volcanic ash and boulders, this site produces old vine Zinfandel of immense proportions.
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 »
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)
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 »
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)
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 »
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 »
James Suckling: "A wine that sneaks up on you. Full bodied, with polished tannins. This is peppery and fun but a little light in the finish. Made from 73% Syrah, 12% Grenache, 8% Petite Sirah and 7% Mourvedre." (11/2011) Robert Parker's Wine Advocate: "A big crowd-pleasing and quaffable effort that’s a blend of Syrah, Grenache, Mourvedre, Petite Sirah and Zinfandel, the latest N.V. Troublemaker is loaded with sweet blackberry, charred meat, tobacco and vanilla. Full-bodied, rich and loaded with fruit, it is a straightforward party wine... (JD)" (8/2013) Stephen Tanzer's International Wine Cellar: "(...made from a blend of wines from the 2010, 2011 an ...Read More »
92 points Robert Parker's Wine Advocate: "The 2013 Proprietary Red Blend Y3 Taureau is a blend of 45% Merlot, 25% Cabernet Sauvignon, 20% Syrah and 10% Zinfandel, all coming from of various sectors of Napa, ranging from Oak Knoll in the south, to Calistoga in the north. A beautifully sexy wine, with a dense purple color, big sweet kiss of blackberry and cassis liqueur, licorice and spice followed by lush, heady, full-bodied flavors that caress the palate. A beautifully rich, concentrated, irresistible style of wine to drink casually or with serious cuisine. The label is a bit wacky, but the wine ...Read More »
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)
94 points Wine Enthusiast: "This is likely the last vintage from this vineyard, which the family winery seemingly mastered in this bottling. There's an underlying umami-driven smoked meat backbone to the nose that also shows bold cherry blossom, olallieberry, pepper, dried herbs and blackberry-soy sauce. The palate is complex yet doesn't overpower, with bits of purple flowers, blueberry, black pepper and menthol. (MK)" (12/2015) 93 points Robert Parker's Wine Advocate: "Another blockbuster is the 2013 Syrah Verna's, which comes from a vineyard located north of the Sta. Rita Hills, near Los Alamos. It was 70% destemmed and ag ...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." (9/2015) 90 points Wine Enthusiast: "This blend of 60% Cabernet Sauvignon with 40% Merlot is youthf ...Read More »
92 points Wine Enthusiast: "*Editors' Choice* With small additions of Merlot and Cabernet Franc, this wine opens in green olive and celery, with a tease of mint, before unleashing a mouthfilling core of black cherry and cassis. Lively acidity presides over all, giving a powerful backbone to a sophisticated wine." (6/2016) Connoisseurs Guide: "*Good Value* Sweet oak makes an immediate play for attention in both the moderately rich aromas and flavors of this nicely rounded and fairly outgoing effort, but steady ripe cherry fruit soon catches up and expediently takes the lead. The wine is subject to a littl ...Read More »
Wine Enthusiast: "Soft and fruity in black cherry and plum, this wine offers a solid foundation of cinnamon spice atop a mountain of blackberry. The acidity is well measured and the finish medium in length and breadth." (11/2015)
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.
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 »
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."
Joel Gott's 815 is 100% Cabernet Sauvignon sourced from some of the most important appellations across California. With inclusion of fruit from Napa Valley, Sonoma, Lodi, Lake County, Paso Robles, and Monterey County, the resulting wine creates a broad snapshot of the stellar 2013 vintage. This perennial value is food-friendly and accessible with a modest 13.9% alcohol and 25% new oak barrels for aging. From the winery: "The 2013 Joel Gott 815 Cabernet Sauvignon has aromatics of mocha, roasted blue fruits, plums, and cherry spice. The wine enters sweet ... Read More »
Cabernet Sauvignon excels at Ancient Peaks' estate Margarita Vineyard, where it achieves both ripeness and balance amid one of the coolest, longest growing seasons in the Paso Robles region. Here, their Cabernet Sauvignon vines are planted to a range of soil types, bringing added natural complexity to the wine. Taste Notes from the Winery: "The 2013 Cabernet Sauvignon presents multidimensional aromas of plum, raspberry, tobacco and toasted oak. Rounded flavors of black cherry and black currant are interwoven with earthier hints of olive, mint, black tea... Read More »
Mike Berthoud worked under Richard Arrowood at Chateau St. Jean, then was winemaker at Arrowood Winery. After 15 years at Arrowood, Mike moved on to Mayo Family Winery. Ursus is a blend of Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Malbec and Petite Verdot. Winemaker's notes: "As always all of the grapes used to produce the blend are grown on the Berthoud estate. Ursus is the Latin word for Bear, while Berthoud is pronounced Bear-2. Just like the bear, Ursus is a muscular wine while maintaining an elegant balance. It is an old world style wine that is b... Read More »
Back in August of last year I was approached by Anne Marie Coyne-Kashkooli, the daughter of Thomas Coyne, who was curious if we were interested in buying a large lot from the Thomas Coyne Winery. To hear that name was a blast from the past for me. For years before I came to K&L I sold the wines out of a little shop in Berkeley that I helped run, and they were always wildly popular with our customers. They were wines of zero pretense, full of charm and ease--so I was all ears. Turned out Thomas, who had been the moving force of the winery, had passed away... 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 »
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.
92 points Wine Spectator: "The subtle intensity builds and gains depth, holding focus and delivering a mix of dusty wild berry, plum, black licorice and cassis notes. Impressive on the finish. (JL)" (6/2015) 91 points Wine Enthusiast: "This is a taut and trim wine, but with plenty of toasted oak aromas and rich maple and cherry flavors to fill out its firm frame. Flavors combine cinnamon, cardamom, plum and Bing cherry. The texture is moderately tannic and firmly crisp for an attractive, lip-smacking quality. (JG)" (12/2015) K&L Notes: If it looks like a duck, that's because Goldeneye is indeed part of the Duckhorn Vineyar... Read More »
Inventory: San Francisco
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)
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."
Shebang! is inspired by the Bedrock Vineyard, which was founded in 1854 by business partners and then-Californians William Tecumseh Sherman and Fightin' Joe Hooker, who were trying their hand at the wine country life--until troubles back east pulled them back into government service. Later, it was replanted by Senator George Hearst. Vintner Morgan Twain-Peterson makes this field blend styled wine from 55% Zinfandel, with Carignane, Petite Sirah, Mourvedre, Alicante Bouchet, Grenache, Syrah, Barbera, and a few aromatic white varieties. Many of these sourc... Read More »
According to the winery: "Dark garnet in color, this wine showcases bright red fruits on the nose with hints of thyme, tea, and caramel. On the palate, dried cherry and tea flavors dominate the palate, along with secondary earthy, spicy notes, which come together for a long finish. Varietal Composition: 100% Pinot Noir from Santa Barbara County AVA in California. Cooperage: 10 months in barrel; 30% new French oak. Technical Data: 14% alcohol by volume; bottled June 2015, 3,140 cases produced."
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)
90 points Wine Spectator: "*Smart Buys* Offering gorgeous floral scents of lavender, plum, smoke and raspberry, this casts a wide net of red and dark fruit, veering toward toasty oak on the finish. A nice ride from start to finish. (Web-2016) (JL)"
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 »
Wine Enthusiast: "A blend of 41% Grenache, 37% Syrah, 14% Mourvèdre, 4% Counoise and 4% Cinsault from seven vineyards, this longtime Margerum-fan favorite shows boisterous wild berries, allspice-laced brioche, juicy hibiscus and fresh watermelon notes on the fun, inviting nose. It's juicy, light and easy drinking, with hints of anise and dried mint that give character to the bright red fruit. (MK)" (6/2016) Wine Spectator: "Fresh and snappy, with floral raspberry aromas and soft, grapey flavors of huckleberry, licorice and spice. Grenache, Syrah, Mourvèdre, Counoise and Cinsault. Drink now ...Read More »
Stolpman is an innovative family-run winery in Santa Barbara County that consistently churns out impressive juice, with rockstar winemaker Sashi Moorman at the helm. La Cuadrilla is their ode to the sharecropping model; each crew member farms a small parcel and earns a portion of the profits from the final wine. Though the 2014 vintage has yet to be professionally reviewed, the 2013 earned praise from Jancis Robinson: "68% Syrah, 20% Grenache, 6% Petite Sirah, 6% Sangiovese. Dusty dark purple fruit of berry and plum. Fresh, spiced and delicious with just... 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)