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K&L Staff Recommendations
93 points Wine Enthusiast: "Crystalline cranberry, concentrated violets and rose petals and a shred of cola show on the nose of this upper-level bottling from one of the appellation’s longtime stars. The palate shows graphite and dried strawberry fruit amped up with woody coyote scrub elements, reflective of the chaparral that surrounds the property." (12/2015) 92 points Wine Spectator: "Impressive, showing density, concentration, depth and persistence, with layers of blackberry, mocha, cedar, spice and berry pie. Finishes with a strong presence." (10/2015) 90 points Vinous: "Brilliant ruby-red. Perfumed scents of raspberry, cherr ...Read More »
90 points Wine Spectator: "*Smart Buys* A zesty red, with personality to spare, offering notes of licorice, blackberry, smoky pepper and grilled herbs. Zinfandel, Petite Sirah, Syrah and mixed Italian blacks. Drink now through 2019." (6/2015) Robert Parker's Wine Advocate: "One of my perennial best buys is Marietta Cellars’ non-vintage blend of Zinfandel, Carignane, Petite Sirah, Syrah and a few other varietals. The current example, the non-vintage Old Vine Red Lot 62, is a 90,000-case cuvée that represents one of the finest value-priced wines in the United States. It exhibits excellent color, beautiful ripeness, ...Read More »
From the winery website, "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 weathered into place over millennia. It became a place of deep beauty and vast potential. Fossil Point is a rugged headland with sweeping views of the coastline stretching from Port San Luis to the Guadalupe Dunes. The Point is just five miles due west of the vineyards that are its namesake. Sunny afternoons are cooled by marine breezes sweeping off the Pacific Ocean, along Fossil Point to the v... Read More »
92 points Vinous: "Sweet dark cherries, smoke, graphite and grilled herbs flesh out in the 2012 Cabernet Sauvignon Alexander Valley, a voluptuous, racy wine that captures the essence of the vintage. Firm yet well-integrated tannins support the fruit in a powerful, structured Cabernet Sauvignon that delivers tons of quality for the money." (1/2015) 91 points Wine Spectator: "*#78 on Wine Spectator's Top 100 of 2015* Exhibits ripe and juicy, yet firm, flavors of currant and blackberry amid a gravelly earthiness before finding focus on the finish, where the tannins are chewy, revealing a licorice touch. ...Read More »
92 points Wine Spectator: "A lively, zesty red that offers bright cherry and tarragon aromas and sleekly layered flavors of briary raspberry, nutmeg and fresh-cracked black pepper. Drink now through 2021." (4/2015) Robert Parker's Wine Advocate: "The 2013 Zinfandel Sonoma is an exuberant, richly fruity, medium-bodied effort displaying plenty of raspberry, blueberry and cherry fruit, 14.8% natural alcohol, and a lusty personality. It should drink well for several years. (RP)" (12/2014) Wine Enthusiast: "Made in large quantities, this is juicy and complex, offering soft, leathery layers of mocha and blackberry, with plenty of oomph and ...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 »
Bench is one of the labels of Brack Mountain Wine Company, which sources this Pinot Noir mostly from the renowned Sangiacomo vineyard in the Sonoma Coast AVA. From the winery: "Deep ruby purple in color, this wine offers intense, dark forest fruit and notes of plum on the nose. The palate is tightly focused with bright currant, cola and cedar. The mouthful is supple with well integrated tannins that provide the integrity for this noteworthy wine."
91 points Wine Spectator: "This red offers a lively, refreshing and complex mix of snappy wild berry and raspberry flavors that are firm and vibrant, ending long, clean and complex. Drink now through 2020. Tasted twice, with consistent notes." (9/2015) Wine Enthusiast: "The price-quality ratio is inviting for this wine, a light, lifted expression of cranberry and herb. The grapes were sourced from both the Russian River Valley and Sonoma Coast appellations, about half of each, before aging less than a year in managed oak, 30% of it new. The wine finishes in swirls of vanilla-cola." (6/2015) K&L Notes: From our fr... 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 »
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 »
Wine Enthusiast: "Red currant and clove mark this wine that’s lean in yeasty bread tones, with soft tannins." (12/2014) 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.
90 points Wine Enthusiast: "*Editors’ Choice* A layered and spicy offering, this is mostly Zinfandel, with smaller amounts of Petite Sirah, Primitivo and Carignan. Soft and inviting, it opens with smoky notes of blackberry cobbler and black cherry. Elegant on the palate, with a balance of power, it finishes in black licorice and cardamom." (9/2015) 90 points Wine Spectator: "*Smart Buys* This zesty Zin is loaded with lively fruit, with floral raspberry and pepper aromas leading to layered, jammy flavors of wild berry, licorice and smoky sage that take on weight and ripe tannins on the finish. Drink now through ...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. Drink it over the next several years. (RP)" (11/2014) Wine Enthusiast: "An unidentified mix of Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot sourced from throughout t ...Read More »
90 points Robert Parker's Wine Advocate: "The real star, and a sleeper selection for sure, is the outstanding 2013 Petite Sirah. This wine has an inky, ruby/purple color, notes of cassis, blueberry, blackberry fruit, incense and camphor. This is a medium to full-bodied beauty to drink over the next 5-6 years, possibly longer. These are excellent wines once again as this winery has appeared frequently in these Best Buy pages. (RP)" (8/2015)
Robert Parker's Wine Advocate: "The more serious from Avalon is the 60,000-case cuvée of 2012 Cabernet Sauvignon Napa. Also 100% varietal, it was aged 16 months in French and American oak. It exhibits a dark ruby/plum color along with notes of sweet blackcurrants and plums intermixed with forest floor, licorice and subtle roasted herbs. Fleshy, round and seductive...(RP)" (11/2014) Wine Enthusiast: "Soft and round, this 80% Cabernet Sauvignon also has 16% Merlot and 4% Cabernet Franc and was given 16 months of oak aging. Flavors lean toward red berry and cedar." (2/2015) Wine Spectator: "Trim and tight, offering chewy, ceda ...Read More »
Inventory: San Francisco
A blend of the traditional Bordeaux varietals: 43% Merlot, 34% Cabernet Sauvignon, 11% Petit Verdot, 7% Malbec and 5% Cab Franc. The aromas are bright and ripe upon opening and show vanilla, cedar, baking spice, cracked black pepper, cassis, French oak and red fruit. On the palate, the wine coats the mouth with notes of ripe red plums, dark cherry, black and red currant and baking spice. The wine is certainly big and rich, but wears its 14.5% ABV very well. The finish is complex and elegant, with a long, granular tannin structure. It is the perfect exam... 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 »
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 »
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 »
91 points Robert Parker's 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. It doesn't have the structure or depth of the Lytton Spring, but it's a full-flavored, delicious wine to drink over the coming 7-8 years. This was a terrific set of wines from Ridge. The 2012 Bordeaux releases all have brilliant purity of fruit, with surprising freshness and focus. They’ll need short term cellaring t ...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 »
85% Cabernet Sauvignon & 15% Petit Verdot. Aged in 50% stainless steel, 35% neutral oak, and 15% new French oak. According to the winery: "The 2013 Cabernet Sauvignon is a rustic wine, with a deep, dark nose of blackberry, currants and cocoa. This is a broadly textured wine, showing 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 b... Read More »
Founded in 1983 by Claiborne (Clay) Thompson and Fredericka Churchill, former teachers at the University of Michigan (Clay specialized in Old Norse Languages and Literatures and Fredericka taught German), the winery focuses on Alsatian varietals in the first straw bale winery in California. Grapes are purchased from premium growers around the cool Edna Valley, with 2/3 of the production being Dry Riesling and Dry Gewürztraminer. At Claiborne & Churchill, traditional European winemaking techniques prevail, including extensive use of barrel-fermentation an... Read More »
91 points Robert Parker's Wine Advocate: "The 2013 Cabernet Sauvignon Estate has a more saturated purple color, gorgeous notes of blueberry and blackberry fruit, stunning depth and purity, full-bodied opulence and impressive richness and length. This is another super wine, and a great value from Buehler. Drink now-2030." (12/2015) 91 points Vinous: "The 2013 Cabernet Sauvignon Estate wraps around the palate with gorgeous depth. Black cherry jam, plum, hard candy, wild flowers, cloves and new leather are nicely delineated in the glass. The 2013 is not particularly complex, but it is tasty, and should drink well for a ...Read More »
92 points Stephen Tanzer's International Wine Cellar: "Bright purple. Youthfully wound-up aromas of blackberry, mulberry and violet, plus a strong note of licorice. Deeply pitched dark fruit flavors are given an exotic character by notes of violet pastille and star anise. Supple and expansive on the firm, gripping, intensely spicy finish. This textbook syrah should age well. (ST)" (5/2011) Robert Parker's Wine Advocate: "The 2009 Syrah Estate Reserve is a peppery, meaty effort that gives up plenty of spice, ground pepper, green olive and rendered bacon fat to go with a medium-bodied, moderately concentrated and focused palate. Nicely balance ...Read More »
Cabernet Sauvignon makes up 90 percent of this sumptuous wine, with Merlot, Cabernet Franc, and Petit Verdot rounding out the blend. It's got the chutzpah to stand up to a weeknight burger, but is elegant enough for a sleek Saturday night fête. From the winemaker: "Bright black cherries lead the charge, followed by dusty cocoa and roasting coffee beans. Dense texture and a fine sense of balance enhance the pleasing aromatics of blackberry, currants, vanilla bean and dark chocolate. Approachable and immediately delicious. 2013 Twenty Rows Cabernet is an a... Read More »
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 source... Read More »
Great wines at very good prices. That is what you get from Foxglove. This is a side project from Bob and Jim Varner, who bring us the great wines from the Varner and Neely labels. The Foxglove Cabernet is amazingly well balanced. Beautiful berry and cassis fruits with nicely integrated tannins and just a hint of earthy tannin. Tremendous value.
Praise for the last vintage of this wine from Antonio Galloni: "A rich, boisterous wine, the 2013 Syrah Tous Les Jours is all about fruit and texture. Dark red cherry, plum, black pepper and spice notes are all pushed forward in a Syrah that captures the generous personality of the wines of Santa Ynez. The style is bold and intense, with considerable up-front fruit and terrific overall balance. Once again, the Tous Les Jours delivers superb quality and value." (06/2015)
A very shy producing vineyard with soils of volcanic ash and boulders, this site produces old vine Zinfandel of immense proportions.
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 »
90 points Wine Enthusiast: "From Michael Mondavi’s portfolio, this affordable Cabernet is concentrated in red berry and savory leather, a nod to the small amounts of Syrah and Petite Sirah that are included in the blend. French oak provides a hint of vanilla and cardamom, while the medium-bodied palate and attractive finish is washed in coffee." (12/2015) Robert Parker's Wine Advocate: "The two Bordeaux reds from Oberon are competent and above-average quality wines that are reasonably priced, especially coming from Napa Valley. The 2013 Cabernet Sauvignon from Napa is aged 14 months in about 45% new French oak and ...Read More »
92 points Wine Enthusiast: "The first winery to plant Syrah in the county continues to produce powerful but layered expressions. This delivers rich aromas of cherry, stewed plum and blackberry alongside sage and a wisp of vanilla. On the palate, it starts rich, until bright acidity and tannins bring balance amidst mocha and blackberry jam flavors and an oak-powered vanilla finish." (2/2015)
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)
95 points Wine & Spirits: "The vines that grew this supremely elegant wine were planted in 1999 on the red volcanic loam of a hillside and benchland vineyard in the southeast corner of Alexander Valley. Douglas and Nancy Ousterhout purchased the vineyard in 2009 and hired a pinot noir winemaker, Micah Wirth of Joseph Jewel, to create this silky, delicate zin. It’s as bright as a red cherry fresh off the tree, feeling almost weightless on the palate. As the wine takes on air, the tannins provide an edgy minerality that focuses and amplifies the fruit into a sunny, ruby-red laser be ...Read More »
The Wetzel family has been growing Cabernet Sauvignon in Alexander Valley since the 1960s, and embody the Sonoma County spirit of winemaking, charging very fair prices for estate-grown, Alexander Valley wines, yet always innovating and pursuing quality. Wines are aged in their own shotcrete-walled caves, just steps from the winery. According to the winery: "The 2013 Cabernet Sauvignon is a classic Alexander Valley wine with medium body, great fruit flavors and grippy tannins. There are aromas of dark fruit, blackberry, cherry, cassis, plum, vanilla and a... Read More »
Napa Valley-based Louis M. Martini has always had a focus on Sonoma County Cabernet Sauvignon, not least because Mr. Martini himself developed the Monte Rosso vineyard there in the 1930s. This county-wide blend, which Robert Parker Jr. has called "Always one of the best buys in Cabernet Sauvignon" (Wine Advocate, 10/2014), is generally a blend of Dry Creek Valley vineyards like Frei Ranch with Alexander Valley fruit.
From the winery: "Aromatic with ripe black cherry, blackcurrant and berry fruit with vanilla, cinnamon and subtle dried fall leaf accents. Classic cabernet with moderate plus blackcurrant and cherry fruit and baking spice flavors on the entry. Sweet tobacco and savory herbal notes arrive on the mid palate, along with beautifully balanced tannins that provide a structure that supports the wine through its perfectly balanced, clean finish."
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.
The 2012 vintage in Sonoma County was a productive one, and this mostly Alexander Valley Cabernet Sauvignon, with a few lots from Sonoma Valley and Dry Creek Valley, didn't need more than 7% Merlot, 1% Petit Verdot, 1% Cabernet Franc and 1% Malbec to help flesh it out. The grapes are sourced 90% from Alexander Valley, 6% Sonoma Valley and 4% Dry Creek Valley. The wine is aged for 16 months in 100% small oak barrels of which 24% are new French oak and 10% new American oak. A beautiful wine on the nose, the 2012 Simi Alexander Valley Cabernet Sauvignon is ... Read More »
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 aged 10 months in neutral oak. It reveals terrific notes of cassis, peppered meats, blackberries, licorice and wood smoke to go with a full-bodied, ripe, yet beautifully balanced and layered feel on the palate. Given all the Syrahs and Pinot Noirs from Santa Barbara going for three times the price, the quality here is remarkable. In short, it's a no-brainer that will drink nicely for at least another 4 ...Read More »
Arguably the most popular of the co-branded wines with our staff last year was the 2010 version of this wine so it had a lot to live up to this year. The good news is the staff is every bit as excited about it this year and we hope that enthusiasm will rub off on you. Bob Lindquist was more than happy to work with us again this year and put together this 100% Syrah bottling from certified Demeter biodynamically grown vines in the cool Edna Valley Appellation. Unmistakably Syrah from the first sniff of the nose the bold cracked black pepper, fried bacon, ... Read More »
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 »
Inventory: Redwood City
From the producer: "Our 2014 Tous Ensemble Pinot Noir’s aroma is layered with fresh red fruits, rose petal, and vanilla. The body is redolent of damson plums, red apple skin and bing cherries, with a silky texture and smooth tannins."
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)