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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 »
The owner of York Creek is Fritz Maytag (Of Anchor Steam beer fame). He has farmed the property since 1968, selling grapes from his 125-acre mountain vineyard to many outstanding names in the California wine industry (Ridge Vineyards among them). York Creek began making a small amount of its own wine in 1992, and today releases limited bottlings of classic Spring Mountain Cabernet and blends, produced entirely from estate grapes grown on Spring Mountain above St. Helena. Hillside vineyard blocks range in altitude from 1,200 to 2,100 feet.
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 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 Robert Parker's Wine Advocate: "One of the best values in Cabernet Sauvignon anywhere in the world remains Louis Martini’s Sonoma Cabernet Sauvignon. The 2014 Cabernet Sauvignon Sonoma County (89% Cabernet Sauvignon, 4% Merlot and the rest Petite Sirah, Cabernet Franc and other varieties) is just a beautiful wine. Dense ruby/purple with classic tobacco leaf, blackcurrant, loamy soil notes and a touch of wood spice, this wine (aged 16 months in French and American oak) has relatively modest alcohol for Cabernets these days (13.5%), and what’s even more remarkable is that there are 408,0 ...Read More »
We were so happy with the 2013 Kalinda Napa Cabernet that we went back to the same well for the 2014. From another exceptional year for Napa Cabernet, this wine is lush and quite rich with tons of cassis on the nose and palate. Still quite young and showing some rounded tannins, I would cellar this beauty for five years minimum, but if you must drink it, decant one hour at least and serve with a hearty meat course. One hint: the property whence the grapes came is located quite close to a town that really does not have a wine shop in it. - KL Staffer Dri... 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: "*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 »
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)
A very shy producing vineyard with soils of volcanic ash and boulders, this site produces old vine Zinfandel of immense proportions.
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 »
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 »
91 points Wine Enthusiast: "***Editors' Choice*** This is a strong wine for the price, unfolding with caramelized berries, kirsch, black cassis, wet river stone and tight plum skins on the dense nose. Cooked blackberries and black-cherry jam show on the palate, where elegant graphite tannins make for a very silky, earthy wine. (MK)" (9/2016) K&L Notes: Quietly Concannon Vineyard has one of the longest histories in the California Wine Industry. Dating back to 1883 when James Concannon set up his winery in the Livermore Valley, recognizing that it was strikingly similar to the terroir of Bordeaux... Read More »
This small-batch, hand-crafted Pinot is made with sustainably farmed grapes from small vineyards that surround the Monterey Bay.
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 »
90 points Robert Parker's Wine Advocate: "The outstanding 2013 Mountain Cuvée Proprietary Red, which is 80.4% Merlot, 17.4% Cabernet Sauvignon and the rest Malbec, was aged ten months in a combination of new and used oak. The good news is that there were 16,000+ cases of this outstanding wine. Dense purple in color with a big beautiful nose of black cherries, cassis, chocolate and espresso roast, this opaque, full-bodied wine has gorgeous purity, a beautifully layered texture and a heady, rich finish. This is a stunner and quite a steal in the marketplace. Gundlach Bundschu has hit home runs wit ...Read More »
93 points Wine Enthusiast: "*Editors' Choice* This amazing wine can match up against wines double the price. Brawny red berries and wild cherries mix with cut sagebrush, eucalyptus and crushed graphite on the nose. The palate combines bright red, acid-driven raspberry fruit with the darker structure of elderberry. Throw in thyme and bay leaf for the complete package." (12/2016) Connoisseurs Guide: "*Good Value* Very proper, nicely ripened, red cherry fruit is joined by subtle notes of tobacco and sweet oak in both the mid-density aromas and flavors of this measured middleweight, and, while never an espec ...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 »
Deep, dark ruby in color, this wine offers aromas of ripe fig, pumpkin seed and strawberry coulis. The palate is tightly focused with flavors of bright currant, cola and a hint of pungent, wild mushroom. The mouthfeel is supple yet structured with well integrated tannins that provide the integrity for this charming wine.
Field Recordings is a small winery in Paso Robles that was started by Andrew Jones, who began his wine journey as a nursery vine grower and has stepped foot in nearly all the vineyards on the Central Coast of California. All his vineyard expertise is translated into his bottled wine, Field Recordings and Wonderwall (and also wine-in-a-can under the labels Alloy Wine Works and Fiction). Wonderwall focuses on Chardonnay and Pinot Noir from extreme Central Coast vineyards.
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 »
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 »
Don't let this wine's reasonable price scare you off. Paying top dollar for a Napa wine isn't the only way to get a top-quality Cabernet. The offering from Obsidian Ridge is a blend of six blocks from their own vineyard in Lake County, aged in Hungarian oak barrels for 18 months, and blended with a small amount of Cabernet Franc. The fruit is pure and bright, tending toward the blackberry and plum end of the spectrum and underscored by mocha, cinnamon and warm nutmeg spice. The tannins are big but ripe, and just need a little air or time in your cellar t... Read More »
We couldn't be more excited to bring you another installment in what hopefully will turn out to be a long, fruitful project with wineries from around the United States, working with us directly to make exclusive bottlings for our customers. The Domestic team here at K&L has spent a great deal of time kicking around the idea of approaching wineries or winemakers we love, and asking them to work with us to create exclusive wines to our specifications. Furthermore we wanted to not only promote these outstanding wines, but the wineries behind them (rather th... Read More »
Wine & Spirits: "A velvety blend based on Merlot, this is simple but clean, its strawberry-red fruit lifted, the structure easy rather than gripping. It’s light enough for roast chicken." (8/2015) Wine Enthusiast: "This wine has a foundation of 57% Merlot, followed by almost equal parts Cabernet Sauvignon and Malbec, then smaller percents of Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot. Perfumed, it expresses itself in tight, chewy tannins before revealing cedar, pencil shavings and cranberry in a medium-bodied package. (VB)" (11/2015) K&L Notes: Lyeth's Meritage is a blend of the five red Bordeaux varietals with 58... Read More »
The Buehler Estate is situated in the mountains above Conn Valley and near the base of Howell Mountain, where the various rocky, high-draining soils are ideal for growing Bordeaux varietals (Cabernet in particular) with the structure to produce long-lived wines. Always a reliable bargain in California Cabernet, the 2014 vintage has not yet been professionally reviewed, but past vintages have regularly scored into the 90s.
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 »
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 »
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.
90-92 points Robert Parker's Wine Advocate: "The straight 2015 Cabernet Sauvignon should be another outstanding vintage of this cuvee and it has full-bodied richness, beautiful concentration and lots of dark chocolate, plum and smoked herb aromas and flavors. It has more obvious structure than the 2014 did at this stage as well. (JD)" (8/2016) 90-91 points Vinous: "Dark purple. Energetic, spice-tinged aromas of dried cherry, red currant, mocha and licorice. Juicy and tightly focused, showing very good energy and lift to the bitter cherry and red berry flavors. Becomes spicier and deeper with air and finishes on a youthful ...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) 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 »
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."
90 points Robert Parker's Wine Advocate: "A realistically priced wine from Napa, the 2012 Pauline's Cuvee is an outstanding blend of 75% Merlot, 20% Cabernet Franc and the rest Cabernet Sauvignon and Malbec (7,500 cases) is a beauty from four vineyards in Napa Valley, showing the vintage’s telltale purity, dense purple color, lushness and seductive mocha, espresso and chocolaty notes intermixed with black cherry and blackcurrant fruit. This is a medium to full-bodied, lush, heady wine to drink over the next 5-10 years. (RP)" (10/2015) 90 points Vinous: "The 2012 Pauline's Cuvée is a sexy Merlot-based red, is another ...Read More »
Two talented Paso Robles winemakers joined forces to craft this Cabernet - Curt Schlachlin and Andrew Jones. Curt is winemaker at Sans Liege, known for his high-scoring yet affordable wines, and Andrew is winemaker at Field Recordings and spends most days planting vineyards and walking just about every vineyard in the Central Coast! Tasting notes from the winery: "The 2015 Cabernet Sauvignon greets you with scents of lush blue fruit and memories of your grandfather’s briarwood pipe. As the flavor begins to march across your palate it leaves behind hints ... 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 »
Organically grown, Justin's 2014 Cabernet is rich and full bodied. Black fruit, spice, tobacco, violet and savory herbal notes will satisfy any red wine lover.
Wine Enthusiast: "A field blend with defined amounts of Petite Sirah and Alicante Bouschet, this wine is perfumed and light bodied, exhibiting soft, persistent waves of black pepper and crisp red fruit that give it a cool-climate edge of approachability and intrigue. (VB)" (4/2016)
Valravn is a small project by the folks behind Banshee Wines, with one clear mission: helping the Zinfandel grape live up to its potential glory. Their dry-farmed, bush-pruned vines range from 50 to 105 years old. Made by hand on a small scale, these wines are the antithesis to the jammy mass-produced Zins you can often find on the market. From the winery: "Layers of richness and complexity wrap around a core of wild strawberry and raspberry. Intoxicating aromatics with scents of mocha, espresso roast, violets and ripe red berries. Rich on the palate wit... 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."
Robert Parker's Wine Advocate: "For many years I have been touting the old-vine red put together by Marietta Cellars as one of the great values in all of winedom. I got to taste two of the old-vine reds, Lot 64 and Lot 65, and there is no reason to change my opinion. This is a blend of Zinfandel, Petite Sirah, Syrah and mixed Italian blacks. It usually hits about 13.5% alcohol, which is modest, and aged largely in neutral oak and stainless steel. Production is about 30,000 cases and, of course, they sell it like they are giving away free hotcakes it is so delicious. The NV Old Vine Red ...Read More »
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 »
90-92 points Robert Parker's Wine Advocate: "The 2015 Pessimist is one of the more forward, ready to go and sexy releases in the lineup. Made from 37% Syrah, 27% Zinfandel, 31% Petite Sirah and the rest Tannat and Grenache, it gives up tons of sweet dark fruits, spice box, vanilla bean and sweet oak in its full-bodied, nicely balanced, mouth-filling style. It will be ready to go on release.. (JD)" (8/2016)
Harvested from the newly designated Santa Margartia Ranch and Estrella District AVAs in Paso Robles, Broadside crafts their Cabernet Sauvignon with minimal intervention for the sake of varietal purity and expression of vintage and terroir. The wine is aged for 14 months in neutral oak (both French and American). From the winery: "Our 2014 Paso Robles Cabernet Sauvignon highlights a beautiful vintage. A balanced growing season lent itself to producing impeccable fruit, not unlike 2013, with slightly greater intensity and concentration. A strong showing of... 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)
92 points Wine & Spirits: "This wine emphasizes Zinfandel’s gentle tannins (rather than the more rustic tannins of thick-skinned mixed blacks, with which Zin is so often blended). It has the briary taste of black raspberries and a stemmy green scent of strawberry tops. Clean and saturated with flavor, this is ready to decant for ribs or other smoky barbecue." (2/2016) Wine Spectator: "A zesty red, with black cherry and smoky cracked pepper aromas and balanced flavors of plum, licorice and grilled herb. (TF)" (6/2015)
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.
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.
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 2014 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 2014 Joel Gott 815 Cabernet Sauvignon has aromas of blackberry and cherry with hints of vanilla and spice. The wine opens with dark, conce... 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 »