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K&L Staff Recommendations
91 points Antonio Galloni: "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)
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 »
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 »
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 »
The 2013 vintage has yet to be reviewed, but the 2012 garnered 96 points from Robert Parker: "They appear to be immune to some of winedom’s less than intelligent trends and fads that we see from time to time." That bottling from the '12 vintage (which celebrated their 40th anniversary) was the single largest selling wine for us over the past year. Given that '13 is also an excellent vintage (a twin to '12), we expect lots of interest for this Napa benchmark.
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 »
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 »
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 »
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 points Wine Enthusiast: "**Best Buy** Richness, depth and generosity are good traits of this full-bodied but smooth-textured Cabernet. Light oak accents don't cover up the ripe, juicy, almost jammy blackberry and cherry flavors that fill the mouth and linger on the finish. It's an all-around crowd pleaser that has everything in balance." (1/2015)
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 »
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 & 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 »
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 »
"Year in and year out one of our best values is Pinot Noir. If you don't believe me, just ask any K&L customer." (Illya Haase, K&L Staff Member) This wine comes to us from Sonoma County's Martin Ray Winery, owned by Courtney Benham (creator of the Blackstone brand). This multi-county blend of Pinot Noir has been well-received in recent years, maybe not tipping the point-scales over 90, but earning consistent praise for the solid, varietal character it delivers for only a modest fee.
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 »
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 »
94 points Antonio Galloni: "The 2013 Zinfandel Geyserville is every bit as fabulous from bottle as it was from barrel last year. Ripe and voluptuous on the palate - yet with a super-classic conception of structure, the 2013 offers superb depth and impeccable overall balance. Waves of dark red cherry, pomegranate, spice, tobacco lead to more savory/ferrous notes that develop in the glass. Saline notes give the 2013 much of its energy and vivacity. This is a tremendous effort from Ridge. As is my custom, I have included Ridge's Sonoma wines here for ease of reference. Readers should ...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 »
92 points Robert Parker's Wine Advocate: "The impressive 2012 Reserve Tapestry, a blend of Bordeaux varietals, is more elegant and slightly less intense than the Private Reserve. It offers up sweet black cherry fruit notes intermixed with licorice, spice box and dusty, loamy soil undertones. Medium to full-bodied and deep with loads of ripe fruit, low acidity and sweet, velvety tannins, it can be enjoyed over the next decade." (10/2014)
93 points James Suckling: "A wine with currant and blackberry aromas and flavors. Full body, fine tannins and a long and beautiful finish. Lovely tension and finesse. Drink now." (7/2015)90 points Robert Parker's Wine Advocate: "The 2012 Cabernet Sauvignon Faust is designed as a second wine so that only the top lots end up in the Quintessa. It exhibits a dense ruby/purple color, sweet crème de cassis fruit, chocolate, licorice and underbrush characteristics in a delicious, fruit-forward, open-knit style. Enjoy it over the next decade or more." (10/2014) Stephen Tanzer's International Wine Cellar: "Bright, full medium ruby. Brooding aromas of cassis and black cherry sh ...Read More »
93 points Antonio Galloni: "The 2012 Cabernet Sauvignon Signature is fabulous. Dark red cherries, plums, smoke, savory herbs and wild flowers race across the palate in a bright, aromatically lifted Cabernet Sauvignon endowed with gorgeous precision and nuance. Distinctly ferrous and savory notes add nuance to the radiant, generous 2012 fruit. Dollops of Merlot, Petit Verdot and Malbec round out the blend. The Cabernet Sauvignon is partly made from purchased fruit. It is also one of the very best wines readers will find in its price range. (Antonio Galloni)" (12/2014)93 points James Suckling: "Aromas of dark f ...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 »
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 »
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: "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 »
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 »
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)
90 points Robert Parker's Wine Advocate: "Already bottled, the 2012 Cabernet Sauvignon Artemis is similar to its siblings. It offers delicious blackcurrant fruit, not as much complexity as the Fay or S.L.V., but an attractive meaty, rich blackcurrant fruitiness, well-integrated wood, and hints of spice and oak. Fleshy and medium-bodied but also made in the elegant style sought by this winery, it should drink well for 10-15 years. (RP)" (10/2014) Antonio Galloni: "Crushed flowers, sweet red berries, mint and spices are all laced together in the 2012 Cabernet Sauvignon Artemis. Soft and silky throughout, the Artemis ...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.
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)
92 points Wine Spectator: "Shows a good touch of bottle age and a notably oaky presence, marked by dill, vanilla bean and coconut notes wrapped around a rich, authoritative, full-bodied core of loamy earth, dark berry, licorice and espresso. Drink now through 2028." (4/2015) K&L Notes: The 2010 Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon is a blend of 84% Cabernet Sauvignon, 13% Merlot, 2% Petit Verdot and 1% Cabernet Franc. As always the wine goes to 100% new American oak barrels for aging. From the winery: "Our 2010 Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon is a seamless wine that expresses bright, fresh fruit char... 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 »
91 points James Suckling: "A red with lots of iodine, stone, currant and spice character. It's full-bodied, chewy and juicy. I like this slightly better than the Estate Bottled in 2010. Needs a least three or four years to soften: better in 2016." (5/2014) Robert Parker's Wine Advocate: "The 2010 Cabernet Sauvignon’s dark ruby/purple color is followed by clean, pure aromas of black currants and underbrush, medium body, excellent purity and an alluring texture. This delicious, accessible Cabernet Sauvignon should also drink well for 7-8 years. Moreover, the pricing is realistic for Napa. (RP)" (10/2013) Wine & Spirits: "This is a new ...Read More »
Wine Enthusiast: "There’s some age showing on the nose of this wine, with cherry liqueur aromas most prevalent. It’s very tasty once sipped, and still strongly tannic, with dark cherry and black clove." (12/2014) K&L Notes: From Central Coast winery owner Nebil "Bilo" Zarif, who also founded Barnwood Vineyards, Summerland is a small (3,000 cases in the single vineyard collection) Pinot Noir specialist. The famed Bien Nacido Vineyard was planted in 1973, before the modern era of the Dijon clones, to Pommard and Martini.
Inventory: Main Warehouse
94 points Robert Parker's Wine Advocate: "From one of the cooler terroirs on the estate, the 2012 Pinot Noir Ryan Vineyard offers full-bodied richness and depth to go with ample sweet black cherries, cassis, sassafras, crushed flowers and toasted spice. A decidedly hedonistic, full throttled example of this cuvee, this superb Pinot Noir firms up nicely on the finish and has a full, layered mid-palate. Drink it now, or cellar it for a decade. These latest 2013s from Josh Jenson were superb across the board and at the top-end were some of the most impressive Pinot Noirs I was able to taste for th ...Read More »
92 points Robert Parker's Wine Advocate: "The 2013 Proprietary Red Blend The Prisoner is a creative blend of 44% Zinfandel, 20% Cabernet Sauvignon, 16% Petite Sirah, as well as Syrah, Grenache and Chardonnay. This dense, full-bodied, opulent red reveals gutsy, rich, peppery, meaty, blackberry, blackcurrant and licorice notes. A savory, lusty, heady red, it begs for a grilled steak or a big, juicy hamburger. Drink it over the next 4-5 years." (10/2014) K&L Notes: A perennial favorite as a crowd-pleaser and fun Napa red, the 2013 Prisoner is a Zinfandel-based (44%) blend with the balance in Cabernet Sauvignon,... 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.
The brand-new release of this cult California Cab comes from a cooler, late-ripening vintage, the conditions of which have endowed the wine with the structure to age for the long haul. A blend of 90% Cabernet Sauvignon, 7% Merlot, 2% Cabernet Franc, and 1% Petit Verdot. From the winery: "Our 2011 Alexander Valley Cabernet Sauvignon is a harmonious and vibrant wine. This full-bodied, classic expression of Alexander Valley Cabernet in a cool vintage has a bright ruby-red color with purple undertones. The nose exudes aromas of black cherry, cedar and black ... Read More »
Killer New Price! -Produced and bottled by Brewer-Clifton, the "B-C" Kessler Haak Pinot Noir is a single vineyard wine that comes from the organically farmed Kessler-Haak Vineyard. It is located off Highway 246, about 7 miles west of the town of Buellton, in the heart of the Santa Rita Hills appellation. The blend is made up of 25% Clone 667, 25% Clone 113 and 50% of Clone 115. Only 161 cases were bottled of this unique wine.
92 points James Suckling: "Mineral and floral character with dark berry and dark chocolate. Full and firm. Shows an intensity and depth. Drink or hold." (7/2012) Robert Parker's Wine Advocate: "The 2012 Cabernet Sauvignon is ruby/purple with notes of plum and blackcurrant with the attractive aromatics followed by a medium-bodied wine. It starts off well and shortens ever so slightly in the finish. This is certainly good, stylish Cabernet Sauvignon, but this is the high end in terms of quality. (RP)" (10/2014) Wine Spectator: "On solid footing, with sassy tannins, this offers a core of mocha, blackberry and dark berry flavors that ar ...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 »
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 »
94 points Wine Enthusiast: "Delicious aromas of ripe cherry pie and black cardamom are quite sexy. The palate is far more complicated and layered, with the tartness of plum skins, richness of strawberry, balsamic reduction and spiciness of black sage." (7/2015)90 points Stephen Tanzer's International Wine Cellar: "(made from fruit grown in the Bien Nacido, Riverbench and Solomon Hills vineyards; no new oak): Bright red. Highly perfumed scents of spicy redcurrant, raspberry, fresh flowers and smoky minerals. Juicy red berry flavors pack a solid punch but come off as lithe. Brisk red berry skin and white pepper qualities dominate a long, ...Read More »
93 points James Suckling: "A subtle red with red pepper, berry and sweet tobacco character. Full-bodied, balanced and refined. Very fine and polished tannins. Needs a few years to come completely around. Drink or hold." (7/2015) 89-90 points Stephen Tanzer's International Wine Cellar: "Bright red-ruby. At once riper and more medicinal on the nose than the 2011, offering aromas of plum syrup, blueberry and spices. Firm and nicely refined, with an attractive juicy quality to the black fruit and spice flavors. Finishes with rather suave tannins. This cuvee seems to be better than ever, as Bo Barrett has done a good job of leavening the concen ...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."
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 »