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K&L Staff Recommendations
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)
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 »
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 »
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92 points Decanter: "Sweet spices and preserved lemons on the nose; memories of a weekend in Marrakech. A mineral palate with restrained oak, nice grip and lots of character. Long and very complex with a full body and promise of more to come." (5/2016) 92 points Wine Enthusiast: "Josh Jensen’s appellation blend is arguably the best American white wine for the price. This vintage offers squeezed tangerine, fleur de sel, lily, apple blossom, apple fritters and a touch of tropicality on the nose. The palate is more steely in structure, with chalk and concrete minerality followed by grapefruit skin and lime ...Read More »
From winemaker Rob Mondavi, Jr, the 2014 Spellbound Chardonnay displays a lively and lush tropical profile of pineapple, guava, and kiwi fruit. To contribute the rich complexity of vanilla and crème brûlée, 90% of the wine was fermented in oak barrels, with the remaining 10% fermented in stainless steel to maintain a bracing vein of freshness and acid.
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 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... Read More »
The 2014 Rickshaw Pinot Noir is the sixth vintage from the team at Banshee Wines, known for elegant, food-friendly coastal Pinot and Chardonnay. Via the Rickshaw bottling, Banshee can offer a phenomenal value, thanks to relationships they've built with growers over the years from the finest AVAs in California. The largest share of fruit is sourced from the Sonoma Coast, followed by Anderson Valley and the Central Coast. The appeal of the wine is driven by its balance of fruit and earth tones, so just 10% of the juice sees new oak (the remainder being onc... Read More »
91 points Wine & 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 »
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 »
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 »
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." (7/2016) Wine Spectator: "Lively and zesty, with easygoing fruit, offering notes of raspberry, dark chocolate and smoky pepper. Drink now through 2023. 12,000 cases made. (Web Only, 2016)" K&L Notes: So... Read More »
From the producer: "At Napa Cellars, the Chardonnay grapes are carefully hand-picked, harvested and crushed. At the winery, a portion of the juice is then cold fermented in stainless steel tanks. The balance of the juice is barrel fermented and aged for seven months, and then put through malolactic fermentation."
90 points Robert Parker's Wine Advocate: "A consistent, big-time winner in the value sweepstakes, the 2014 Chenin Blanc / Viognier is a blend of 80% Chenin Blanc and 20% Viognier (145,000 cases produced) is aged totally in stainless steel, has malolactic blocked, and offers what consumers love – big, flowery, fresh honeysuckle and tropical fruit, a light to medium-bodied mouthfeel, beautiful purity, texture and a long finish. (RP)" (8/2015) K&L Notes: Grapes for this perennial summertime value were sourced from Clarksburg, in California's Central Valley. Seriously quaffable but not to be underestimated—five ... Read More »
89 points Vinous: "The 2013 Chardonnay is a fabulous wine for the money. Lemon oil, white flowers and white pepper are all laced together in an impeccably balanced, layered Chardonnay long on class and personality. The 2013 is a blend of fruit from vineyards in Santa Barbara County and Paso Robles, done entirely in steel, with no malolactic fermentation. It is also one of the very best values in California Chardonnay readers will come across. Bob and Jim Varner's Foxglove wines remain some of the very finest values readers will find anywhere in the world. The wines are al ...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 »
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 »
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 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 »
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 »
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 »
For the last two years we've had the distinct pleasure, and honor, of being able to blend our own Chardonnay with the team at Talley Vineyards. Last year this bottling was a huge success with our customers and we think it is every bit as good this year. Just like last vintage the 2014 comes from Talley's non-contiguous Oliver's Vineyard located in the Edna Valley. This year we had many more barrels to blend with which made our jobs tougher but the final wine that much better. The final blend this year came from five barrels all French oak, one of which w... Read More »
A very shy producing vineyard with soils of volcanic ash and boulders, this site produces old vine Zinfandel of immense proportions.
Wine Enthusiast: "A well-crafted wine made in relatively large quantity, this has a tropical edge, sidelining stone fruit and apple. It also offers a lightness of pear skin, atop light, ripe layers of vanilla and oak. The finish puts memorable touches to a generous, expressive palate. (VB)" (10/2015) Wine Spectator: "Easy-drinking, with fresh flavors of zesty tangerine, melon, Golden Delicious apple and light baking spices, ending clean and refreshing. Drink now. 35,000 cases made. (JL)" (7/2015)
According to the winery: "With the color of freshly cut cantoulope, our 2015 “Tous Ensemble” Rosé evokes distinct aromas of racy citrus fruits and delicate white flowers. On the palate, juicy watermelon and fresh strawberries are supported by lively acidity to give this gorgeous wine a food friendly structure. The 2015 vintage will be remembered for high quality and lower yields. The growing season started out with unseasonably warm temperatures in late winter and early spring. Cooler temperatures in May caused some uneven fruit set that contributed to s... Read More »
Vinous: "The 2014 Chardonnay (Sonoma Coast) is one of the best California Chardonnays readers will find in its price point. Orange blossom, apricot pit and buttery notes meld together in an exquisite, beautifully layered entry-level Chardonnay ... (AG)" (2/2016)
Picked as a "Best Buy" by Wine Spectator in the 2014 vintage, Honig's Sauvignon Blanc regularly gets a good word from Wine Advocate, as well. Through a variety of trellising options, yeast selection, and mostly stainless steel aging (just 8% in neutral oak tanks, Honig dials in a balance between zingy grapefruit acidity and tropical fruit. The blend is 95% Sauvignon Blanc and 4% Semillon, sauced up with just 1% Muscat.
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 »
Wine Enthusiast: "Quite restrained on the nose, this nicely priced bottling slowly unleashes sea salt, apple peel, key lime pith and chalk aromas. It’s tightly wound on the palate with lemon skin and pear skin tartness, proving very racy in style." (8/2016) K&L Notes: Though the 2014 vintage has yet to be professionally reviewed, the 2013 earned praise from Wine Spectator: "Combines rich tiers of fig, apricot, melon and green apple with vibrant acidity and a clean, pure finish." (07/2015)
According to the winery: "Rich, bold and luscious, this is an easy-to-love creamy California Chardonnay. Made in the tradition of Californian winemaking, the fruit we choose has juicy, ripe, stone fruit and baked-lemon aromas. Cold fermented to the perfect, rich creaminess and aged in our own blend of oak, gives this wine a lovely, long, vanilla finish that’s uniquely Butter!"
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 »
We like Groth's Cabernet Sauvignon, and offer several library vintages of perfectly aged Cab that comes direct from the winery's cellar, as well as the current vintage. But for an aperitif before the main course and the Cabernet, try this vibrant Napa Valley Sauvignon Blanc from the same producer. Blending is the key: fruit from both warm and cool areas of the Napa Valley provide a balance of acidity and ripe melon fruit, and some sur lie aging adds complexity.
92 points Wine Enthusiast: "*Editors' Choice* This bottling by pioneer Richard Sanford is much more widely available, affordable and stylistically accessible right now than the single vineyard option. It’s delicate on the nose with bright lime spritz, Meyer lemon pith, crushed lemon verbena and a grippy brie cheese rind component, then proves tangy on the nuanced palate, with lemongrass and pomelo skin meshing into nectarine and apple flesh." (7/2016) K&L Notes: For years the Sanford winery produced amazing, intense, under-priced wines from the Central Coast. Richard Sanford, the former owner 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 »
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 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 »
From the team at Banshee Wines, best known hereabouts for supplying us with excellently sourced Pinot Noir. Producer notes: "With the 2014 vintage we have a more than worthy follow up the popular 2013 version. Once again we tapped a plurality of sources (pretty much all coastal) from Santa Barbara all the way up to Mendocino that enabled us to create blend that hits a number of buttons simultaneously. We were able to pull some richness from warmer areas and some structure and aromatics from cooler areas. The resulting wine is fresh and vibrant aromatic... Read More »
Though the 2014 has yet to be professionally reviewed, the 2013 garnered 91 points and praise from Wine Advocate: "A blend of 80% Zinfandel, 11% Carignan, 8% Petite Sirah and a splash of Alicante Bouschet, the 2013 Three Valleys has lots of berry fruits, bramble, spice-box and licorice in its medium-bodied, supple, nicely textured, and delicious profile." (JD, 10/2015)
Salvatore Emmolo immigrated from Italy to Rutherford in 1923 and planted vines. Emmolo was a leading supplier to Napa vintners until Cheryl, the third generation, launched Emmolo Wines in 1994. Today, it's in the fourth generation's hands, with fruit still grown on their grandparents' property. The 2014 Sauvignon Blanc shows fresh citrus notes and lively minerality, making it infinitely sipple.
92 points Wine Enthusiast: "*Editors' Choice* The fruit flavors are apparent, fresh and lively in this medium-bodied, beautifully balanced brut. Light pear and pineapplearomas are followed by richer pear and citrus flavors, and subtle hints of baking spices, almonds and a nice earthy touch emerge." (12/2015) 91 points Wine Spectator: "*Smart Buy* Sleek and charming, with yeasty apple torte and floral cherry aromas and rich, crisp flavors of lemon curd, spicy vanilla and fresh ginger." (10/2015) Connoisseurs Guide: "As always a very bright and vital wine and, in this case, one that emphasizes freshness more than yeasty complexity, th ...Read More »
93 points Vinous: "The 2013 Chardonnay Estate is gorgeous. Rich and oily on the palate, with considerable texture, the 2013 boasts tons of texture and breadth. Candied lemon, white flowers, almonds and chamomile add shades of nuance as the 2013 opens up in the glass. The 2013 boasts tons of oiliness and viscosity for a Chardonnay with no malolactic fermentation. Best of all, the 2013 is a great value. Winemaker Greg Brewer turned out a gorgeous set of 2013 Pinots at Melville. The wines are consistently of very high quality, something that was not easy to achieve in a year ...Read More »
Stuhlmuller Vineyards sits at the southern edge of Alexander Valley where it borders both Chalk Hill and the Russian River Valley AVAs. Five blocks of the estate vineyard are planted with Chardonnay grapes, 80% of which are the sought-after Gauer Upper Barn clone. The wine was brought up in small barrels (82%) and larger casks (18%), all of which were French oak (6% new). The wine was fermented on the lees for eight months and underwent 80% indigenous malolactic fermentation. The winery's vintage note: "This medium-bodied wine offers an alluring orchard-... Read More »
While the Central Coast is certainly known for its Pinot Noir, there are plenty of other great wines there as well. Take, for example, the wealth of Rhône-styled wines in the greater area. The 2011 De Su Propia Cosecha "La Cosecha" Central Coast Rhône Blend is one of the new steals we found on our recent Central Coast trip. With pretty tones of violet, rich pork fat, fine spices and a touch of blackberry, this juicy, plump wine was a treat and a shocking value. Cocoa powder, beef au jus and black pepper dovetail seamlessly to create a fun yet serious win... 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 sourc... Read More »
91 points Wine Enthusiast: "*Editors' Choice" Sourced from two vineyards, including Sangiacomo Amaral Ranch, a cool site near the bay, this is a tremendous offering for the price. The wine is light, bright and brambly in raspberry and cherry kirsch, with a mischievous streak of cola. Pretty and fresh, it finishes in a tease of black tea." (5/2016) K&L Notes: 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 fores... Read More »