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K&L Staff Recommendations
92 points Wine Enthusiast: "*Editors' Choice* Coming from a vineyard first planted by Mondavi in the late 1990s, this well-priced and widely available wine shows blackberry, violets, black pepper and just snapped dark chocolate on the nose. Fresh, lively black cherries and blueberries meld with fennel, tarragon and lots of herbal spice, all held together by smooth tannins." (11/2015) Antonio Galloni: "Bright ruby. Lively aromas of redcurrant, cherry and peppery spices, with a subtle tobacco nuance emerging slowly. Tangy and focused on the palate, offering bitter cherry and spicecake flavors and a sugg ...Read More »
94 points Antonio Galloni: "The 2013 Cabernet Sauvignon Signature is bright, focused and nuanced throughout. Freshly cut flowers, mint, sweet red berries, pomegranate and cinnamon are some of the aromas and flavor that flesh out in the glass. Striking in its aromatics, with pliant, open-knit fruit and fabulous balance, the 2013 offers outstanding quality and even better value. The addition of Malbec and Merlot in the blend softens some of the contours. Polished and refined, the 2013 Signature is one of the best wines readers will find for the money. (AG)" (10/2015)
90 points Robert Parker's Wine Advocate: "The real star, and a sleeper selection for sure, is the outstanding 2013 Petite Sirah. This wine has an inky, ruby/purple color, notes of cassis, blueberry, blackberry fruit, incense and camphor. This is a medium to full-bodied beauty to drink over the next 5-6 years, possibly longer. These are excellent wines once again as this winery has appeared frequently in these Best Buy pages. (RP)" (8/2015)
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, we expect lots of interest for this Napa benchmark.
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 »
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 »
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 »
94 points Robert Parker's Wine Advocate: "As for Stonestreet’s red wines, these were by far the strongest efforts I have ever tasted from this estate. The five 2012 cuvées I tasted are all from amazing elevations. For example, the 2012 Cabernet Sauvignon Estate comes from vineyards between 500 and 2,400 foot elevations. A blend of 95% Cabernet Sauvignon and the rest Merlot and Malbec aged 17 months in 30% new French oak, it exhibits an inky/blue/purple color as well as a terrific nose of wet pebbles, blueberries, blackcurrants, lead pencil shavings and charcoal presented in a full-bodied, rich, ...Read More »
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)
The Wetzel family has been growing Cabernet Sauvignon in Alexander Valley since the 1960s, and embody the Sonoma County spirit of winemaking, charging very fair prices for estate-grown, Alexander Valley wines, yet always innovating and pursuing quality. Wines are aged in their own shotcrete-walled caves, just steps from the winery. According to the winery: "The 2013 Cabernet Sauvignon is a classic Alexander Valley wine with medium body, great fruit flavors and grippy tannins. There are aromas of dark fruit, blackberry, cherry, cassis, plum, vanilla and a... Read More »
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."
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 »
95 points Wine Spectator: "Remarkably elegant and refined for a wine of this size and depth, with tiers of plum, blackberry and currant, as well as subtle touches of black licorice that remain pure and graceful on the long, lingering aftertaste. Drink now through 2028." (11/2015) K&L Notes: This rich Napa Valley Cab continually earns top marks from the critics. The 2010 vintage was #9 on Wine Spectator's list of 2013's Top 100: "Lewis Cellars favors full-throttle Cabernet, yet for all their density and depth of flavor, the wines are graceful and refined, balancing size and elegance."
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 »
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 »
92 points Antonio Galloni: "Sweet dark cherries, smoke, graphite and grilled herbs flesh out in the 2012 Cabernet Sauvignon Alexander Valley, a voluptuous, racy wine that captures the essence of the vintage. Firm yet well-integrated tannins support the fruit in a powerful, structured Cabernet Sauvignon that delivers tons of quality for the money." (1/2015)91 points Wine Spectator: "*#78 on Wine Spectator's Top 100 of 2015* Exhibits ripe and juicy, yet firm, flavors of currant and blackberry amid a gravelly earthiness before finding focus on the finish, where the tannins are chewy, revealing a licorice touch. ...Read More »
92 points Wine Spectator: "A lively, zesty red that offers bright cherry and tarragon aromas and sleekly layered flavors of briary raspberry, nutmeg and fresh-cracked black pepper. Drink now through 2021." (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 »
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 »
From the winery: "2013 was a year of big clusters with big, intense flavors. The 2013 Layer Cake Pinot Noir has layers of dark berries, ripe plums and big juicy black cherries wrapped in a glycerol creamy mouthfeel. This is a big Pinot Noir and calls for smoky meats and rich fish...enjoy!" Best Pinot for the price I've tasted all year! And the name says it all -- juicy, supple, rich, ripe, soft yet sultry intensity, and just plain delicious! I can't think of a better party Pinot than this! Or just a great Tuesday night wine...or any night of the week fo... 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 »
A blend of the traditional Bordeaux varietals: 43% Merlot, 34% Cabernet Sauvignon, 11% Petit Verdot, 7% Malbec and 5% Cab Franc. The aromas are bright and ripe upon opening and show vanilla, cedar, baking spice, cracked black pepper, cassis, French oak and red fruit. On the palate, the wine coats the mouth with notes of ripe red plums, dark cherry, black and red currant and baking spice. The wine is certainly big and rich, but wears its 14.5% ABV very well. The finish is complex and elegant, with a long, granular tannin structure. It is the perfect exam... Read More »
93 points Wine Enthusiast: "*Cellar Selection* Bold aromas, thick layers of fruit flavor, and a supple but steely texture of fine tannins and acidity add up to a powerful and complex wine that should improve with age. Pure, dark-fruit flavors are accented by smoke and cardamom while the structure is mouth puckering with astringency but softened by the richness of body and fruit. Best after 2019." (12/2015) 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, chew ...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 »
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 »
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.
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 »
"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.
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 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 »
93 points Robert Parker's Wine Advocate: "The 2012 Cabernet Sauvignon Napa, which includes 65% Coombsville fruit from John Caldwell’s vineyard and the rest from Howell Mountain, is a big, deep, dramatic Cabernet Sauvignon, much in keeping with the vintage’s character. It is full-bodied and displaying flashy, flamboyant blueberry and blackberry fruit, licorice and background earth and oak, it is voluptuous and ideal for drinking over the next 15 or more years." (10/2015)92 points Antonio Galloni: "The 2012 Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley represents a bit of a departure for Dunn. Although not labeled as such, for the last few ...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 »
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 Wine Enthusiast: "Savory, earthy aromas of mushrooms, black pepper, iron and cranberry arise from this blend of nine vineyards, many of which are usually featured in single-vineyard selections. Umami rules the palate, and it’s quite full for a lighter-colored wine, with brown spice, light red fruit flavors and expertly balanced acidity." (3/2015) Antonio Galloni: "Calera's 2013 Pinot Noir is quite pretty, lifted and expressive. In this vintage, savory and floral overtones dominate over some of the more overt, fruit-driven notes that are often found in this bottling. The 2013 is made from a n ...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."
Since 1993, Overture, the second wine of Opus, has been only available at the winery and a few select restaurants. Made exactly like Opus One and sourced from the same estate vineyards, Overture is also a classic Bordeaux blend with Cabernet Sauvignon making up around 70%. Overture is made to be enjoyed upon release.
Wine Enthusiast: "Soft and fruity in black cherry and plum, this wine offers a solid foundation of cinnamon spice atop a mountain of blackberry. The acidity is well measured and the finish medium in length and breadth." (11/2015)
A darling of the critics, Sea Smoke remains of the Central Coast's cult Pinot producers. Southing is sourced entirely from the Sea Smoke Estate Vineyard in the Sta. Rita Hills and saw 16 months in 55% new French oak barrels. From the winery: "Each year, our goal for Southing is to create the ideal marriage of complexity and elegance. The ever-changing nose of the 2013 Southing exhibits dusty red fruit, savory spices and rose petals. The fine tannins and minerality are enhanced by our estate vineyard's characteristic cool climate acidity."
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)91 points Antonio Galloni: "The 2012 Reserve Tapestry, BV's Cabernet Sauvignon-based blend, is pliant and supple in style, with an extra kick of mid-palate juiciness from the Merlot and Malbe ...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 Sta. 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.
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 »
92 points Wine Enthusiast: "The first winery to plant Syrah in the county continues to produce powerful but layered expressions. This delivers rich aromas of cherry, stewed plum and blackberry alongside sage and a wisp of vanilla. On the palate, it starts rich, until bright acidity and tannins bring balance amidst mocha and blackberry jam flavors and an oak-powered vanilla finish." (2/2015)
97 points James Suckling: "Glorious purity of fruit here with blackcurrants, blueberries, dark chocolate, fresh herbs and forest floor. Hints of mint. Full body, seamless tannins and wonderful balance. Tight and compacted tannins with beautiful fruit and great length. Hazelnut and chocolate. Goes on for minutes. One of the best Opus in years. Compacted and beautiful. Hard not to drink now but better in 2018." (4/2015)96 points Antonio Galloni: "Rich, powerful and seductive, the 2012 Opus One blossoms in the glass with superb textural richness and volume. Dark red and black fruit, smoke, cedar, new leather and ...Read More »
92 points Wine Spectator: "Impressive, showing density, concentration, depth and persistence, with layers of blackberry, mocha, cedar, spice and berry pie. Finishes with a strong presence." (10/2015)90 points Antonio Galloni: "Brilliant ruby-red. Perfumed scents of raspberry, cherry, candied rose and peppery spices, with a smoky mineral undertone. Offers a gently sweet red fruit character on the palate, picking up a floral element with air. This pure, open-knit Pinot finishes with good sweetness and focus and gentle tannic grip. (JR)" (6/2015) Connoisseurs Guide: "*One Star* Solidity and fruity muscle take precedence over anything ...Read More »
94 points Wine Spectator: "Exhibits a delicious, up-front core of juicy dark berry, blackberry, black licorice and creamy, toasty, vanilla-scented oak. Appropriately tannic and structured, this is made in a style you can drink now or cellar for up to a decade. Drink now through 2026." (7/2015) K&L Notes: Just released! This is the "Special Selection" bottling, following on the heels of the regular 2012 Caymus Napa Valley bottling which (while celebrating the winery's 40th anniversary) was the most popular wine we've sold in 2015. We are awaiting reviews and scores on the wine, but given the ... Read More »
95 points James Suckling: "This is shows wonderful aromas of tar, asphalt, wet earth and pure cherries. Full-bodied, yet soft and velvety with a fine dusty texture to the finish. Fresh and austere. Dignified. This has no Cabernet Franc in it this year. Normally there is 3% to 5%." (4/2015)93 points Robert Parker's Wine Advocate: "The second wine, the 2012 Napanook Proprietary Red Wine has a similar profile, but certainly comes across as less nuanced and slightly less concentrated and profound compared to its bigger sister. It is a blend of 95% Cabernet Sauvignon and 5% Petit Verdot. It does reflect the fact that the select ...Read More »
For the second year in a row, Caymus has released the 1 liter size bottles! These were a huge hit last year and quantities are limited this year. 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, we expect lots of... Read More »