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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 »
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 »
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."
94 points Wine & Spirits: "*Best Buy* Beringer has made wine from Knights Valley, northwest of Napa, since the late 1970s, and now farms 500 acres of grapes on the cobbly soils that have sloughed off of the volcanic hillsides above. This 2012 is a bundle of energy, the structure tight and stony, the fruit pure, its bold and refreshing black raspberry tone interlaced with aromas that suggest resinous pine needles and a hint of smoked tea. It’s bright and accessible enough to decant now, but in ten years, it will be a rich, savory pleasure to open for prime rib." (10/2015)90 points Antonio Galloni: "The 2012 Ca ...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." (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 »
90 points Wine & Spirits: "Fragrant with scents of rose petal and pinecone, this is clean and brisk. Lifted rather than layered or complex, it’s ready to decant for herb-stuffed trout baked in parchment." (4/2015)90 points Wine Enthusiast: "Shy and reserved, this cool-climate wine opens coyly with a burst of spearmint on the nose, evolving into layers of flavor steeped in rhubarb, black cherry and tea. Soft and lilting, the wine’s finish conjures thoughts of strawberry cream." (7/2015) Antonio Galloni: "The 2013 Pinot Noir (Sonoma Coast) is an excellent choice for drinking now and over the next few years. The flavors are floral ...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 Wine Enthusiast: "*Editors' Choice* This crisp and balanced wine offers lemon, guava and papaya, tropical without being cloying. With enough viscous creaminess to keep it medium in weight, it’s soft and herbal, with measured acidity and a golden color. It finishes lean and savory." (8/2015) Robert Parker's Wine Advocate: "There are an astonishing 14,000 cases of the 2013 Chardonnay from the Sonoma Coast. It reveals good minerality along with crisp, honeysuckle, orange zest, white peach and tropical fruit notes. At $15 a bottle, this medium-bodied, fresh, lively Chardonnay is a sensational value. Drink it ...Read More »
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 »
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.
95 points Antonio Galloni: "The 2013 Lytton Springs has really come together over the last year, far exceeding my early expectations. Powerful and explosive in the glass, the 2013 boasts tons of inky blue/purplish fruit, mocha, spices, new leather, lavender and licorice. Readers will have to give the Lytton Springs at least a few years to shed some baby fat, but it is nearly impossible to resist, even at this early stage. Once again, the team at Ridge has produced an absolutely compelling Lytton Springs. The 16% Petite Sirah in the blend adds an unmistakable air of gravitas. (AG) ...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."
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 »
Antonio Galloni: "The 2013 Chardonnay (Sonoma Coast) is gorgeous. Apricots, honey, mint, orange blossom and wild flowers are all laced together in the glass in a racy, perfumed Chardonnay to drink over the next handful of years. Simply put, this is a fabulous wine for the money. The 2013 was done 90% in oak and 10% in steel. (AG)" (1/2015)
MacRostie's Sonoma Coast bottling is definitely a top choice for an under-$20 California Chardonnay. Grapes were sourced from several select Sonoma Coast vineyards including the "A-list" Sangiacomo Vineyard, vineyards belonging to the Dutton and Martinelli estates, and MacRostie's own estate properties. The beatifully ripe and pristine fruit was whole-cluster pressed into 20% new French oak for fermentation where it aged for an additional 6 months. A few lots were fermented in stainless steel to retain some special emphasis on aromatic fruit characterist... Read More »
93 points Wine & Spirits: "A captivating balancing act, this blend of fruit from the Camp Meeting Ridge estate and other coastal sites feels at once concentrated and weightless. The first impression is one of healthy, plump fruit-ripe apricot, perhaps a hint of caramelized sugar-but it hews to a clean line, the flavors growing more earthy as taut acidity pulls toward crisp, green-tinged suggestions of seashells and borage flowers. More than the flavors themselves, it’s the overall impression of satiny grace that gives this coastal white its beauty." (4/2015)92 points Antonio Galloni: "The 2013 Chardonnay (Son ...Read More »
93 points Wine Spectator: "Impeccably focused and distinctive, with floral cherry, mineral and fresh sage aromas and flavors that combine subtle power with lively acidity, offering notes of raspberry and spicy herb. Drink now through 2024." (10/2015) K&L Notes: From a top Sonoma County Zinfandel producer, and sourced from near the top of Sonoma County, high above Dry Creek Valley in the stony, thin-soiled Rockpile AVA, this Zinfandel displays spicy aromas, with "intense flavors of currant, candied apple and Zinfandel’s briary essence. Soft entry with focused acidity and an extremely long finis... Read More »
93 points Stephen Tanzer's International Wine Cellar: "Inky ruby. A complex bouquet presents dark fruit liqueur, licorice, violet and fruitcake, with a smoky overtone and a hint of black pepper. Stains the palate with sappy boysenberry and cherry-cola flavors that spread out on the back half and pick up a suave floral pastille nuance. Dusty tannins build through a sweet, strikingly persistent finish brightened by a vibrant, spicy jolt of peppery spices. I suspect that this will be the longest-lived of this year's set of Zins here, but I don't think that it will take forever to unfold, either." (5/2014)91 points Connoisseurs Guide: "*Two St ...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.
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 »
89 points Robert Parker's Wine Advocate: "This is a beautiful Zinfandel and the good news is there are over 30,000 cases of it. Coming from three of Gallo’s top Zinfandel vineyards, Stephani, Frei Ranch and Chiotti, most of them in Dry Creek, this blend of 98% Zinfandel and 2% Petite Sirah tips the scales at a lofty 14.8% natural alcohol. The wine has a deep ruby color, and a seductive, peppery, meaty, Côte du Rhône-type nose revealing lavender and roasted herb characteristics. No hard edges are found in this medium to full-bodied, fleshy, nicely concentrated Zinfandel. Drink over the next 2-3 y ...Read More »
90 points Robert Parker's Wine Advocate: "This winery deserves kudos for their remarkable cuvées of Fumé Blanc, all of which qualify as values. A fabulous bargain, the 2013 Fumé Blanc Sonoma (25,000 cases produced) is not put through malolactic, 70% is aged in stainless steel and 30% in older oak. It offers flowery, perfumed, melony, caramelized grapefruit and citrus notes, medium body, exuberant, fresh, lively fruit, and outstanding purity as well as texture. (RP)" (12/2014) Antonio Galloni: "The 2013 Fume Blanc is a pretty, aromatic white to drink now and over the next year or two. Green apple, pear and jasmine a ...Read More »
From the winery: "Our two vineyards perched in the hills above the Sonoma valley, one in the Mayacama range to the west and one on Sonoma Mountain to the east both produce elegant, lifted wines that speak to the elevated nature of the plantings and the remarkable, well drained volcanic soils present at both sites."
90 points Wine Spectator: "Crisp and lively, with green apple, cream and fennel aromas and vibrant tropical fruit. The lemon and spice flavors finish on a clean mineral note." (11/2013) Connoisseurs Guide: "J's new Cuvée 20 is an inviting, very-easy-to-sip bubbly, the star player in which is lively, lightly candied, lemon-like fruit, yet there is a nice trim of subtle yeastiness at work as well, and the wine is clear about its champenized origins. It is fresh, clean tasting and frothy, and, while it finishes with plenty of bright, palate-cleansing acidity, it is never so tart or austere that it cannot a ...Read More »
Connoisseurs Guide: "*One Star and a Good Value* Clean as a whistle, mid-density in weight and volume and evident if moderate oakiness lifting its mix of ripe and slight green apple fruitiness, this wine is exactly what a $20 Chardonnay should be. It is somewhat rounded in texture with enough youthful energy for balance ..." (5/2015) Wine Enthusiast: "High-toned Meyer lemon and edgy minerality give this coastal wine a freshness on the palate, along with a complexity of fennel and apple. Juicy and medium bodied, it picks up a fullness on the texture as it goes, while remaining balanced and pleas ...Read More »
Robert Parker's Wine Advocate: "The biggest cuvée is the 20,100 cases of their 2013 Sauvignon Blanc Sonoma, which comes from their estate vineyards in Bennett Valley. This is blended with about 5.5% Sauvignon and has almost 22% of the Musqué Clone, which gives the wine more tropical and exotic characteristics. The wine is dry, delicious, and offers up notes of honeyed figs, exotic melons, fresh acids and crisp lemon blossom with a touch or orange skin. It’s quite refreshing, medium-bodied and beautifully fruited. Drink it over the next several years. (RP)" (12/2014)
Robert Parker's Wine Advocate: "A Zinfandel dominated blend that incorporates 16% Alicante Bouschet and 7% Petite Sirah, the 2013 Zinfandel Pagani Ranch has a decadent, sweet profile and shows lots of black raspberry, sweet cassis, licorice, candied violets and spice on the nose. Sweet, full-bodied and layered on the palate, it has a kiss of residual sugar, a full texture and a great finish. It's a hedonistic, sexy red to drink over the coming 5-6 years. (JD)" (10/2015) K&L Notes: From the producer: "Deep garnet color. Aromas of dried fig, oak spice, and clay minerals. Opulent and full bodied with... Read More »
According to the winery: "A bountiful crop of 88.53 tons were harvested by hand, destemmed, and the berries "broken" before being pressed (the majority to stainless steel tanks, and the balance to large oak casks). Fermented on the fine lees, with no battonage for 7-months. Malolactic fermentation occurred naturally and finished completely. A gentle cross-flow filtration was performed prior to bottling. A selection of complementary Sonoma county vineyards compose this wine, with an emphasis on the Russian River Valley, Dry Creek Valley, and Sonoma Coast ... Read More »
93 points Antonio Galloni: "The 2012 Lytton Springs is quite reserved, compact and inward at this stage. There is good density and depth in the glass, but the elements aren't fully formed just yet. While most of Ridge's 2012s are quite open today, that is not at all the case with the Lytton Springs. The 2012 is going to need time. In 2012, Lytton Springs is 70% Zinfandel, 21% Petite Sirah, 7% Carignane and 4% Mataro (Mourvèdre)." (7/2014)91 points Connoisseurs Guide: "*Two Stars* Although its aromas do not jump from the glass, this carefully made Zin exhibits fine focus and very articulate varietal fruit that gai ...Read More »
93 points Antonio Galloni: "The 2012 Chardonnay was bottled just two weeks before this tasting. Lemon, almonds, spices, butter and French oak blossom effortlessly in the glass. A creamy, voluptuous, full-bodied Chardonnay, the 2012 boasts superb depth and volume all the way through to the oily, textured finish. Here, the heavy toast barrels are in evidence, but the wine seems to have more than enough stuffing to handle the oak. I can't wait to see how the 2012 ages." (2/2014)93 points Stephen Tanzer's International Wine Cellar: "(14.9% alcohol; 90% new oak): Full, bright, green-tinged gold. Sexy lime leaf, tropical fruits and leesy ha ...Read More »
Inventory: Redwood City
93 points Wine Enthusiast: "*Editors' Choice* In this crisp, tangy white from a cool-climate home, tangerine and pineapple play off each other around a fluffy backbone and structured minerality. More of that tang comes to the fore on the finish, this being a bang-for-your-buck kind of wine that will delight at the dinner table or in the kitchen while cooking." (7/2015)92 points Antonio Galloni: "The 2013 Chardonnay (Sonoma Coast) is a terrific appellation-level bottling. Lemon oil, apricot pit, white pepper and chamomile are all very much alive in this beautifully expressive, pliant Chardonnay. The finish bris ...Read More »
90 points Robert Parker's Wine Advocate: "The amazing 2012 Chardonnay Sonoma Coast possesses lots of tropical fruit, honeysuckle, pineapple and tangerine notes. Half went through malolactic and the other half was blocked. With lots of minerality as well as a Chablis-like character, it is a major sleeper of the vintage. This beauty should drink well for 1-2 years. (RP)" (12/2013) Antonio Galloni: "The 2012 Chardonnay Sonoma Coast is beautiful. All the elements fall into place nicely in a Chardonnay that is bright and crisp, but with good depth in its fruit and no hard edges. Lemon oil, pear and pastry notes meld int ...Read More »
93% Zinfandel, 7% Petite Sirah. According to the winery: "After a dry winter, bud-break came early at this Russian River Valley vineyard. The resulting long season extended hang time, and provided superb flavor. We picked Old Vine block on October 8, and returned October 11 for Front and Back blocks. Following fermentation, we chose the eighty-five-year-old Old Vine block — a mix of Zinfandel and a small amount of Petite Sirah — and the Front block, for their aromatics and dark fruit. Enjoyable now, this cool-climate Zinfandel will be at its best over th... Read More »
Wine Spectator: "Lively and light-footed, with appealing notes of fresh raspberry, anise and white pepper. Drink now through 2019." (6/2015)
Stephen Tanzer's International Wine Cellar: "Dark red. Musky blackberry and cherry pit scents are complicated by notes of licorice, underbrush and mocha. Offers sappy dark berry and bitter cherry flavors that take on a tart edge with air, along with a touch of rhubarb. Finishes with good cut, grip and gentle tannins, leaving a note of orange marmalade behind." (6/2014) Wine Spectator: "Offers a pleasing mix of fresh, snappy wild berry and blueberry, turning simple but holding the flavors longer than most Flowers wines. Pinot Noir, Syrah, Pinot Meunier, Dolcetto and Chardonnay. Drink now. (Web-2013)" K&L Notes: The 2011 Flowers... Read More »
From the winery: "From its first aromatic impressions, this lovely wine delivers classic Cabernet Sauvignon character, with ripe blackberry and boysenberry notes complemented by hints of toasty oak, sweet cocoa and baking spices. On the palate, beautiful structure and supple, mouth-coating tannins underscore the fruit and add to the long, layered finish."
Wine Enthusiast: "Entirely stainless-steel fermented and aged, this wine offers a tremendously fair deal. Peach and apricot form the core of this light, subtle white that has a solid backbone of acidity and is finished in a taste of lemon verbena." (12/2015) Wine Spectator: "Vivid and intense, with a tropical note of passion fruit running through the citrus and melon flavors. Floral, spice and lemon verbena details echo on the juicy finish. Drink now. 5,100 cases made." (11/2015)
90 points Wine & Spirits: "This wine’s initial impression of oak makes way for intense, coastal chardonnay fruit: the juicy, on-point ripeness of midsummer peaches lifted into seashell and airy chamomile tones—a big wine that maintains a buzz of energy." (10/2014) Connoisseurs Guide: "*Good Value* Here is a wine that is easy to recommend for its combination of very fresh, well-defined, green-apple fruit as well as its brightness and fine balance. It is cleansing and crisp yet sports a fair sense of depth with integral highlights of minerals and a careful touch of sweet oak, and, while moderately full-bo ...Read More »
96 points Robert Parker's Wine Advocate: "Another outrageous effort is the 2012 Cabernet Sauvignon (100% Cabernet Sauvignon). Its opaque purple color is followed by aromas of pen ink, graphite, blackberry and blueberry liqueur, charcoal and flowers. Dense, full-bodied, multidimensional, long, silky and opulent, this stunning Cabernet can be drunk now or cellared for 15-20 years. These 2012s, made by winemaking consultant Mark Herold for proprietor Robert Kamen, are the finest wines yet produced by this small boutique operation located largely with the relatively new AVA of Moon Mountain. There a ...Read More »
By focusing exclusively on Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, Patz & Hall has become one of the standout names among California wineries intent on stealing a bit of Burgundy's thunder. The 2012 edition of their Sonoma Coast blend scored 90 points with Wine Advocate, Stephen Tanzer, and Wine Enthusiast. Props from Robert Parker: "Patz and Hall has long been a model for how to run a high-quality négociant business, buying fruit from top vineyards and crafting it into wines that can compete with the finest from estate vineyards. They now own one estate vineyard, bu... Read More »
91 points Antonio Galloni: "Lemon peel, white flowers and mint are some of the notes that take shape in the 2012 Chardonnay (Sonoma Coast). Softened a bit by the generosity of the year, the 2012 is unusually open and expressive today. Drink this supple, textured Chardonnay over the next handful of years. (AG)" (1/2015)91 points Connoisseurs Guide: "This rich, carefully proportioned young wine shows many of the same pieces and very nearly the same sense of admirable depth of its pricier, single-site mates, and it does so in a slightly more open manner. It is full and firm in feel with plenty of balancing acidity s ...Read More »
Wine Enthusiast: "Smoky tar and plum highlight this approachable wine that’s straightforward in focus and intent. Meant for enjoying now, it stays firm and flavorful in the glass, finishing without a fuss." (9/2015)
Wine & Spirits: "Warm and buttery, this ends on a burst of tropical ripeness, a sweet pineapple tang driven by an edge of volatility. It’s stylized, but there’s flavorful fruit at the center." (6/2015) Wine Enthusiast: "Creamy vanilla complements a medium use of oak in this weighty, tropical wine, given to pineapple, peach and Meyer lemon flavor. Straight forward, inexpensive and intended to be a crowd pleaser, it hits those marks, finishing ripe and layered." (10/2015) K&L Notes: From the Winery: "To preserve this extraordinary vintage, we harvested the grapes at 24 brix and whole cluster pressed the f... Read More »