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K&L Staff Recommendations
Antonio Galloni: "Banshee's 2013 Pinot Noir (Sonoma County) is supple, racy and flat-out delicious, especially for the money. Raspberries, crushed flowers and soft spices linger on the effortless, gracious finish. Drink this soft Pinot over the next few years. This is one of the best values readers will find in Sonoma Pinot Noir. (Antonio Galloni)" (1/2015) K&L Notes: 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 fro... Read More »
Bench is one of the labels of Brack Mountain Wine Company, which sources this Pinot Noir mostly from the Sangiacomo vineyard in the Sonoma Coast AVA. Great aromatics of red fruit and orange peel and a smooth finish.
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) Antonio Galloni: "Marietta's NV Old Vine Red Lot 62 is one of the very best California wines readers will find for the money. Zinfandel plays the leading role in a hearty, racy red bursting at the seams with flavor. Sweet red cherries, flowers, cedar and new leather add the final notes of complexity. Brothers Jake and Scot Bilbro seem to have breathed new life i ...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 »
The 2013 Rickshaw Pinot Noir is the fifth vintage from the team at Banshee Wines. 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, and Rickshaw was born out of this bounty. 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... Read More »
91 points Wine Spectator: "Presents a lively, refreshing, complex mix of snappy wild berry and raspberry flavors, firm and vibrant, ending long, clean and complex. Drink now through 2020. 6,000 cases made.—J.L." (6/2015) K&L Notes: From our friends at Amici in Napa Valley, this great value Pinot Noir is sourced mainly from the Russian River Valley. Last year's lovely little 2012 (we've still got some as of this release) was scored 90 points by Wine Enthusiast: "It’s rare to get a twenty buck Pinot Noir this good." And Stephen Tanzer's International Wine Cellar agreed, scoring the 2012 90 point... Read More »
Great Price - Just Reduced! Last year’s Ancient Peaks/K&L Zinfandel bottling was such a hit with our staff and customers that we could have done another vintage of it and we all would have been incredibly happy. However, that would be too easy, and that is simply not the K&L way. I started talking to the folks at AP early this year when we began the discussion about doing another bottling together. We both knew that we wanted to, but I really wanted to show off the winery's incredible Cabernet vines and I didn’t know if they had enough Cab to let us have... 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 »
92 points Wine Spectator: "Offers an exciting interplay of berry, oak, earth and spice notes. This is rich yet medium-weight, with subtle edges to the blueberry, raspberry, mocha and fresh-turned earth flavors, ending with a tasty melted black licorice aftertaste. Drink now through 2020." (5/2015) Wine Enthusiast: "This has a very deep-red color with a reddish-purple rim, followed by very ripe, jammy aromas like boysenberry jam with spicy, smoky oak accents. Flavors are ripe, effusive and nearly sweet, as the wine goes for broke in terms of well-ripened grape flavors and generous helpings of sweet-sp ...Read More »
92 points Wine Enthusiast: "Menthol and sweet sage aromas leap off this wine from Steve Clifton. They spice up the black cherry and blackberry juice backbone that comes from this Nipomo vineyard, located seven miles from the Pacific. The palate shows lots of energetic verve, with flavors of dried cranberries, raspberries, licorice and slate, finishing long on a sagebrush-driven sense of chaparral." (8/2015)91 points Antonio Galloni: "Brilliant red. High-pitched raspberry, floral pastille and Asian spice aromas are deepened by notes of cola and licorice. Nervy and precise on the palate, offering sweet cherry an ...Read More »
Martin Ray specializes in crafting Cabernet Sauvignon from the most esteemed sub-appellations of Napa, Sonoma, and the Santa Cruz Mountains, and offers an amazing value over what you'd usually pay for such wines. 80% of this vintage is from the Stags Leap District, and is 90% Cabernet Sauvignon blended with 6% Malbec and 4% Petite Sirah. The winery's tasting notes: "This complex but sophisticated Cabernet Sauvignon is sourced from some of the most sought-after regions in the Napa Valley showcases its roots from many of its mountain sources. Featuring ent... Read More »
Just 87 cases of the Mount Veeder Cabernet Sauvignon were produced in this 2011 vintage by Relyea-Wood. Their boutique winery sits on Montebello Road in Cupertino, where the gravity flow cellar sits adjacent to the estate vines overlooking Silicon Valley and not far from Ridge Vineyards. The 2011 growing season was fairly cool and the fruit was harvested in late October.
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 »
90-92 points Robert Parker's Wine Advocate: "I think the 2013 Cabernet Sauvignon will be even better, and it has more depth and texture, with gorgeous blackcurrants, violets, licorice and smoked earth all emerging from the glass. The texture here is really something, and this should be a smoking value. Made from 88% Cabernet Sauvignon, 8% Merlot, 2% Cabernet Franc and the balance Malbec and Petit Verdot, it will have 10-12 years of longevity. (JD)" (8/2014)
Robert Parker's Wine Advocate: "Made from purchased grapes and vinified in the winery, as opposed to buying bulk wine and blending it, it is indigenous yeast-fermented, and comes across as a high-octane, delicious/yummy, big, full-bodied red with lots of pepper and meaty notes intermixed with red and black fruits, earth, and spice. I believe some of the declassified lots from the Bedrock cuvées also end up in this blend. A terrific bargain, it should drink well for several years. (RP)" (12/2014) K&L Notes: The base for this wine comes from more than 100-year-old vines from the Bedrock vineyard, and... Read More »
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.
The bounty of the 2012 vintage is certainly showing its stuff. The Kirkham Peak Santa Lucia Highlands Pinot Noir was made for us by a very notable Central Coast winery (we can't tell you who), and this bottling is the real deal at a fraction of the price. The winery who (for contractual reasons) needs to remain nameless, has a long list of highly-rated wines from various critics. And with the perfect raw materials in 2012, they've fashioned another winner. This has a profile of bright fruit--lovely raspberry and strawberry aromas that reverberate on t... Read More »
From the winery: "Medium-garnet color. Briar, cherry/plum nose, with clay mineral, dried herbs, oak spice. Elegant fresh-raspberry entry; soft, textured tannins; sweet oak. Good finish."
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." (12/2014) 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." (12/2014) K&L Notes: Seghesio blends Alexander Valley and Dry Creek Valley Zinfandel into the Sonoma County, with loads of dark fruit supported by brambly fla... 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 »
A fantastic Cabernet value from the great 2013 vintage. This wine was made by Yountville's most famous property. We can say no more. Very elegant for the vintage with layers of ripe red berry fruit. Silky texture with tons of latent tannin. Serve with a rack of lamb after decanting for an hour
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 notes of mocha and cedar completing the nose. Flavors of blackberry and anise are lush and pronounced on the palate and are followed by hi... Read More »
Inventory: San Francisco
92 points Wine Spectator: "Combines firm, dark fruit and chewy tannins with a measure of finesse and refinement. Ends with gripping, cedary tannins, bolstered by good length and depth. Drink now through 2024." (4/2015) Wine Enthusiast: "This chewy, still-tight Cabernet is full-bodied on the palate, revealing savory, herbaceous characteristics. Made in a robust style, it’s approachable and enjoyable now." (4/2015)
90 points Antonio Galloni: "Brilliant ruby-red. Strawberry and raspberry on the perfumed nose, along with suggestions of allspice and smoky minerals. Deeper and darker in character on the palate, offering sappy red and dark berry flavors, with a hint of white pepper adding vivacity. This lithe, nicely focused Pinot finishes with appealing sweetness, easygoing tannins and very good persistence. A joint project of Master Sommelier Sarah Floyd and the Pisoni family, Luli was originally targeted at restaurants for by-the-glass programs. The wines are made by Gary Pisoni's son Jeff at t ...Read More »
$11.99 for California Pinot Noir? Yes, you read correctly. Under the Four Bears label, Sean Minor consistently produces solid, easy-drinking values that are balanced, food-friendly, and generously overdeliver for the price. According to the winery: "Our Central Coast Pinot Noir is a medium bodied wine which displays aromas of floral components, red fruit and dark cherries. On the palate, the Pinot offers luscious flavors of dark cherry, strawberry and violets, combined with subtle layers of spice. The integrated bright acidity and sweet oak nuances provi... Read More »
Antonio Galloni: "The 2013 Pinot Noir Tous Ensemble is a gorgeous entry-level offering from Copain. Crushed flowers, sweet tobacco and red stone fruits are all laced together in a pretty, silky Pinot that over delivers for its very modest price tag. The Tous Ensemble is now made from 100% estate vineyards in Anderson Valley, which is quite remarkable at this level. (AG)" (1/2015) K&L Notes: From fruit grown on several sites in Anderson Valley, Tous Ensemble is an immediately appealing Pinot Noir and a great introduction to the style of winemaker Wells Guthrie, who delivers cool climat... Read More »
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)
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 Bio-Dynamically 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 »
91 points Robert Parker's Wine Advocate: "The 2012 Cabernet Sauvignon Napa is also outstanding. Rich and dense with lots of crème de cassis and a hint of forest floor presented in a full-bodied, deep, lusty, opulent style, it can be enjoyed over the next decade. (RP)" (10/2014)
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.
Wine Spectator: "A wine of substance and density, firm, rich and concentrated, with a tight core of mineral and gravel-laced dark berry, espresso, cedar and graphite flavors, ending with dry, chewy tannins." (7/2015)
Bench is one of the labels of Brack Mountain Wine Company, a winery devoted to hand-crafted wines at reasonable prices. The 2012 Cab is sourced from rocky, volcanic vineyards along the western side of the Mayacamas Mountains. Fog in the morning and sunshine in the afternoon helped make this a stellar vintage, with exceptional fruit and nuanced, balanced wines. From the winery: "Deep, dark purple in color, this wine offers aromas of violets, huckleberry and a touch of vanilla spice. The palate is elegantly wound with dusty tannins and a supple, velvet tex... Read More »
91 points Stephen Tanzer's International Wine Cellar: "Vivid ruby-red. Red fruit preserves on the nose, with complicating notes of licorice and allspice. Lively raspberry and bitter cherry flavors show very good precision, complemented by a bright mineral quality that gains strength with air. This silky, energetic pinot finishes with strong cut, persistent sweetness and sneaky, interwoven tannins. (JR)" (12/2014)90 points Antonio Galloni: "Crushed flowers, rose petals, sweet red cherries and mint lift from the glass in the 2013 Pinot Noir Estate Verna's. This is the most ethereal and delicate of the 2013 Melville Pinots. Following the h ...Read More »
92 points Wine Enthusiast: "*Editors' Choice* This terrific Zin brings classic varietal character to the table, with a full body, robust alcohol, dryness and intensely concentrated flavors of blackberry, black currant, dark chocolate, Chinese plum sauce and black pepper. Showing a mastery of the art of blending, its grapes come from north to south in the valley, Calistoga to Atlas Peak and multiple appellations in between. This is one of the greatest Zinfandel values in recent memory." (5/2014) K&L Notes: Krutz Family Cellars souced their Magnolia Series Zinfandel from across Napa Valley and it... Read More »
From the team at Banshee Wines, best known hereabouts for supplying us with excellently sourced Pinot Noir.
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.
Jon and Susan Pey are talented, passionate vignerons with access to some incredible vineyard sources throughout Northern California. They produce a collection of wines that over-deliver in quality for the price under their various boutique labels. The fruit for the 2013 Cabernet Sauvignon comes from the Oak Knoll, Rutherford, and Oakville appellations. From the winery: "Vintage 2013 followed the excellent 2012 and led to debates as to which vintage was 'better.' Our sense is they are both very, very high quality; both had abundant sunshine, cool evenings... Read More »
What happens when a winery is able to secure small lots of fruit from some of the best vineyards in California, but not in large enough quanties to make affordable wine? Banshee's Mordecai is one winery's delicious solution. According to the winery: "The headline grabber of this year's "spice rack" is probably the Petite Sirah from Dry Creek. While not usually our favorite variety on its own, this particular one provides and incredibly deep, dark ballast to the prettier components of the wine. It is like the tuba in the marching band. The resulting wine ... Read More »
Excited by the quality of their 2013 Pinot Noirs, the winery describes this multi-vineyard blend. "Strawberries and raspberries aromas slowly climb out of the glass. Overtime more of the anise and clove will mix with these other aromas. Currently the wine is young with mouth filling intensity. Complexity will increase as the wine ages, but this wine should stay youthful for 6 or 7 years. Like all Au Bon Climat wines, this is a food wine."
Connoisseurs Guide: "*Good Value* It may not come with a sense of high pedigree, and it is admittedly a bit light on stuffing, but this well- scrubbed, moderately fruity wine hits the varietal marks that very few Cabernets of its price do. It is medium-full-bodied, slightly rounded in feel and consistently keeps defined fruit in its sights, and its gentle, nicely integrated tannins makes it one that can be comfortably enjoyed in the near- to mid-term." (12/2014)
92 points Robert Parker's Wine Advocate: "The 2013 Zinfandel Old Vine, which includes a dollop of Carignane, comes from vines averaging 80 years of age. This Rhône Ranger-styled effort displays notes of raspberries, black cherries, forest, earth, pepper and spice. Full-bodied, heady, seductive and lush, it can be enjoyed over the next 5-6 years." (12/2014)91 points Wine Spectator: "A zesty red, with briary cherry and sage aromas that lead to lively and layered flavors of wild berry, anise and smoky cracked pepper. Drink now through 2021." (1/2015)90 points Antonio Galloni: "The 2013 Old Vine Zinfandel is once again fabulous and one of the very best wi ...Read More »
Bishop's Peak is a second label of Talley Vineyards representing the greater Central Coast region. The fruit is sourced from the McCullough, Stone Corral, C-Bar, Las Ventanas, East Rincon, and Marcam Vineyards. From the winery: "Brilliant garnet in color, the 2013 vintage of Bishop’s Peak Pinot Noir bursts with aromas of strawberry and raspberry complimented with subtle notes of earth and soil. This medium bodied wine has elegant flavors consistent with its aromas, soft tannins and refreshing acidity. Enjoy a glass with a wedge of Fontina cheese or garl... Read More »
90 points Wine Spectator: "Refreshingly clean and vibrant, with well-structured flavors of snappy raspberry and wild berry, offering firm, modest tannins and a complex aftertaste that echoes dusty earth details. Drink now through 2021. 1,200 cases made." (6/2015)
The wine is made up of 68% Cabernet Sauvignon, 20% Merlot, 10% Cabernet Franc, and 2% Petit Verdot. It drinks well right now but should hold for several years. Members of the K&L staff had a chance to go down and spend a couple hours with Doug and his crew at the winery. The thought was to make a red blend from Happy Canyon, which K&L had never done before. Happy Canyon is the smallest AVA in Santa Barbara County. It lies north and west of Lake Cachuma and is home to six major vineyards: Cimarone, Grassini, Happy Canyon Vineyard, McGinley, Star Lane, and... Read More »
According to the winery: "The Cabernet Sauvignon is selected from well drained vineyards on cool rolling hills in Paso Robles. The vineyards receive plenty of mid-day heat and cool evening breezes to produce balanced grapes. The California Karma Cabernet Sauvignon is a rich and full wine with youthful, juicy fruit aromas. This wine finishes off balanced with soft tannins and a fleshy mouth feel. Enjoy this Cabernet along with some grilled meat or your favorite pasta dish."
Robert Parker's Wine Advocate: "The 2012 Cabernet Sauvignon from Edge (75% Cabernet Sauvignon, 14.5% Merlot, and the balance Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot and Malbec), is composed of grapes from various sources. It exhibits a dense ruby/purple color, lots of fruit, and a round, seductive style with good ripeness and a heady finish. Drink it over the next 6-8 years. (RP)" (10/2014)