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K&L Staff Recommendations
Kalinda can be a lot of things. It can be really good bulk wine that is available to us. It can be a wine that we help create from scratch from a winery we have a great relationship with and wants to work with us. Or in the case of the NV Kalinda North Coast Pinot Noir it can be from a famous and elusive winery that had some extra bits and pieces that they pieced together not because they didn't work for them but because the recent vintages just didn't produce enough fruit to make to make them financially viable for the "secret" winery. Bottom line is th... Read More »
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) 91 points Wine Enthusiast: "*Editors' Choice* This is a lot of heady wine for a relatively affordable price. Aromas of black-cherry syrup, baked black plum, nutmeg, clove and gingerbread make for an attention-grabbing nose. The hearty palate shows similar elements, along with black peppercorn, Christmas spice, dense blackberry paste, chaparral scrub and pine-forest notes." (10/2016) 90 points Decanter: "Complex dark f ...Read More »
90 points Wine Enthusiast: "*Editors' Choice* This lower-priced Pinot from the Center of Effort team punches way above its weight in the vintage, showing light cherry-blossom and black-cherry aromas mixed with gamy meat and wet slate. Blackberry pie is cut with orange rind on the sip, with an earthy grip showing flavors of juniper, crushed clove and pipe tobacco." (10/2016) Robert Parker's Wine Advocate: "I found the 2014 Pinot Noir Fossil Point to be straightforward and a touch simple, but at 19 bucks, who can argue. Medium-bodied, well made and with pretty notes of sweet cherries, framboise and spice, this value ...Read More »
93 points Robert Parker's Wine Advocate: "A blend of three clones - Dijon clones 114 and 115, as well as Rochioli material - the 2013 Pinot Noir Cahill Lane has a dark ruby color and a fragrant style with floral and earth tones intermixed with strawberries and black cherries. The sweetness of the tannin as well as the heady glycerin and lushness make for a hedonistic and intellectually satisfying Pinot Noir to drink over the next 7-10 years. Some of the best values in Chardonnay and Pinot Noir emerge from Stephen Hansel’s winery in the Russian River Valley. He also has the wonderful Walter Han ...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 »
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 »
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 »
93 points Wine Enthusiast: "Light but plump red strawberry fruit mixes with sandalwood, dried sage and thyme on this nose of this estate wine from winemaker Greg Brewer. Lots of spicy herbals show on the palate, from peppercorn and cardamom to thyme and oregano, giving deeper character to the light red-fruit core. (MK)" (12/2015) 92 points Robert Parker's Wine Advocate: "One of the best values in Pinot Noir out there is Melville's 2013 Pinot Noir Estate and it overdelivers in just about every vintage. Firing on all cylinders on this occasion, with complex red fruits, rose petal and sous bois aromas and flavors all soaring fr ...Read More »
96 points Robert Parker's Wine Advocate: "The cool-climate 2014 Pinot Noir Bondi Home Ranch, from the Green Valley in the Russian River, is absolutely spectacular. It saw 80% new oak because it was so concentrated, and it seems to have sucked it up and only reveals just a slight wood spice to its full-bodied, beautifully textured, black raspberry and blackberry fruit. This is one of the profound 2014s and should drink well for 15-20 years. One of the great families of Northern California, and of course, one of the highest quality producers, the Martinellis - and rather remarkably so - only esta ...Read More »
90 points Vinous: "The 2012 Pinot Noir Bench Break is a classic Cambria wine with exuberant fruit, deep color and exotic spice overtones. Lavender, menthol and cloves add complexity to the dark red and blue-toned fruit. The firm tannins could use another year or two to soften. (AG)" (7/2014) Robert Parker's Wine Advocate: "Better, with a deeper, richer color, the 2012 Pinot Noir Bench Break offers a straightforward, subtle bouquet of black fruits, cherry blossom, underbrush and pretty floral notes to go with a medium-bodied, nicely concentrated profile. Aged 10 months in 40% new French oak, it can be enjoy ...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) Vinous: "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 »
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 »
"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 a modest price.
Named for founder Rudy von Strasser, the "Rudy" label is best known around here for top-quality, well-priced Cabernet Sauvignon from Napa Valley. Look for fine tannins that complement good acidity and rich, red fruit flavors. 2014 is the 25th vintage for the von Strasser winery, during which time they've won the "Winery of the Year" award from Wine and Spirits magazine an astonishing 12 times.
Robert Parker's Wine Advocate: "The 2013 Pinot Noir is a seductive style of Pinot, with a medium ruby color, notes of black cherry and raspberry, light tannin, and not much depth, but it is superficially attractive and supple. Drink it over the next 3-4 years. (RP)" (3/2016)
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 »
92 points Robert Parker's Wine Advocate: "Readers looking for a classic, incredibly well made Pinot Noir to buy by the case should look no further than Josh's 2014 Pinot Noir from the Central Coast AVA. Supple, sexy, seamless and elegant, with classic Calera notes of raspberries, mulled cherries, spice and dried soil, it has no hard edges, a core of sweet fruit and a beautiful finish that keeps you coming back to the glass. I'm sure it will keep for 4-5 years (probably longer), but there's no need to delay gratification. Don't miss this fabulous effort and bravo to the Calera team for delivering ...Read More »
88-90 points Vinous: "The 2014 Pinot Noir (Russian River) is an attractive, mid-weight wine, especially within the context of the Russian River, where the wines can be much more exuberant. Bright red cherry, game and spice notes open up in this very pretty, delineated Pinot from David Ramey. There is plenty to look forward to. Vineyard sites are: Westside Farms, Bucher and Keller. (AG)" (2/2016)
92 points Wine Enthusiast: "There's a very candied red-cherry quality to the nose of this wine from a vineyard that the winery will cease using with this vintage, along with sexy aromas of violet, lilac, clove, cola, peppercorn and rose. A sage-driven character emerges once sipped, giving spice to bright red, slightly sour cranberry fruit. (MK)" (12/2015) 91 points Robert Parker's Wine Advocate: "Coming from the estate Verna's Vineyard in the Sta. Rita Hills and 60% destemmed, the 2013 Pinot Noir Estate Verna's Vineyard was fermented in 1.5 ton open-top stainless-steel fermenters before aging 11 months all in neutral oak. It ...Read More »
95 points Robert Parker's Wine Advocate: "There are just under 900 cases of the 2013 Pinot Noir Ryan Vineyard, and like the de Villiers cuvee, it spent 19 months in 30% new barrels. This is a big, rich, yet still graceful Pinot Noir that's loaded with notions of mulberries, sappy underbrush, licorice, violets and dried earth. Mouth-filling, polished, balanced and concentrated, this changed dramatically with extended airing, and where it was a touch burly on opening, the tannin sweetened up beautifully and it showed much more polish with air. Nevertheless, there's ample tannin here and it should ...Read More »
Producer notes: "The 2014 Luli Pinot Noir has a beautiful combination of aromatics and texture. Deep ruby in color, the wine starts out with an exuberant display of wild strawberry, rich raspberry, earl grey tea, and dried rose petals. The cool summer temperatures of the Santa Lucia Highlands create these expansive aromatics. While the rugged, granite soils deliver the wine's texture - layers of tannins unfold into a broad finish with great depth of flavor and bright acidity."
93 points Vinous: "The 2013 Pinot Noir South Slope once again stands out for its boisterous, explosive personality. Bold, intense flavors race across the palate as this powerful, resonant Pinot shows off its class and personality. Expressive spice notes wrap around a core of dark red fruits in an expressive Pinot that delivers the goods, and then some. Stephen Hansel is one of the most intelligent winery owners in Sonoma. More interested in getting people to drink his wines than in maximizing short-term profit, Hansel continues to offer some of the very best wines readers ...Read More »
93 points Wine & Spirits: "The Husch family planted the first pinot noir in Anderson Valley in 1971, before selling the winery to the current owners, the Oswalds, in 1979. Vineyard manager Al White has farmed the firm’s grapes since 1974. That wealth of experience and history pays dividends in this bright, refreshing pinot noir from five vineyards, including the Husch estate in Philo and Ferrington in Booneville. The wine is sunny and red-fruited, with a crisp structure, moderate ripeness and a lovely floral aroma that lasts: pure Anderson Valley." (12/2015) K&L Notes: A top value and reliably... Read More »
Inventory: San Francisco
95 points Vinous: "The 2013 Pinot Noir de Villiers Vineyard is intense, pure and brilliant. Dark red cherry, blood orange, lavender, mint, star anise and wild flowers give the de Villiers an exotic edge in this vintage. Plush and deep on the palate, the 2013 is shaping up to be a jewel of a wine. Sweet floral and red-fleshed fruits add freshness on the finish. Today, the De Villiers is sublime, but it also needs time to fully come together. One of the things that separates world-class wineries from the merely excellent is consistency across the entire range. That is exactl ...Read More »
91 points Robert Parker's Wine Advocate: "The 2014 Pinot Noirs are richer wines. The 2014 Pinot Noir Russian River, which is in bottle, displays a seamless integration of acidity, tannin, medium to full body, and lots of raspberry and black cherry fruit that moves toward bluer fruits on the palate. This is a beauty to drink over the next 7-8 years. (RP)" (3/2016)
From Fort Ross Vineyard's estate property, the Sea Slopes bottling sources Calera, Pommard, Swan, and Dijon clone vines. The wine was aged for 10 months in French oak (10% new) before being bottled unfined and unfiltered. From teh Our Sea Slopes Pinot Noir is blended for earlier release and is ready to enjoy sooner than our other Fort Ross Vineyard Pinot Noirs. This expressive ruby hued Pinot Noir has bright black cherry, wild berry, and violet aromas that are gracefully balanced by touches of dried orange peel. Generous raspberry and mulberry integrated... Read More »
Grapes from sites throughout Central Coast were harvested at optimal maturity, then de-stemmed and gently placed into open-top stainless steel fermenters and cold soaked for 3 days prior to initiating fermentation. During fermentation, each tank is punched down two to three times per day. The fermented wine then was racked to oak for aging. During the aging process the wine lots were tasted throughout and blended back together.
91 points Robert Parker's Wine Advocate: "The 2013 Pinot Noir Estate, made mostly from Rochioli clonal material and a small portion of the so-called Swan clone, is a beautiful Pinot Noir, very Burgundian, with notes of forest floor, loamy soil undertones, sweet black cherries and Asian plum sauce. It is dark ruby, lush, medium to full-bodied and ideal for drinking over the next decade. Some of the best values in Chardonnay and Pinot Noir emerge from Stephen Hansel’s winery in the Russian River Valley. He also has the wonderful Walter Hansel Wine & Bistro on Guerneville Road in Santa Rosa... The ...Read More »
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) 91 points Robert Parker's Wine Advocate: "Coming from a number of vineyards spread throughout the Central Coast (30% from Laetitia Vineyard, which is the largest component), the 2013 Pinot Noir Central Coast spent 11 months in 10% new French oak prior to bottling. It has a ...Read More »
Praise from the Prince of Pinot for the winemaker: "Gary Farrell is considered by many the father of Russian River Pinot Noir. Since the 1980s, his wines have been among the best from the Russian River Valley." Winemaker's tasting notes: "Many of the vineyard lots used to make this cuvée sat on skins for about a week after fermentation. My intention was to increase the tannin to add more complexity in the mouthfeel after some cellaring. This wine is quite approachable and crowd pleasing and I recommend opening the bottle about 15 minutes before drinking ... Read More »
95 points Wine Enthusiast: "*#12 in Wine Enthusiast's The Enthusiast 100 of 2015 and an Editors' Choice* This might be one of the best values on the market, given the quality. Equal parts pretty and funky, it’s a tightly wound, savory, fruity wine that’s elegant and compelling. The tannins and oak are lightly imprinted around strawberry-rhubarb and fresh-cut rose, and the texture seductively silky. This is a delicious treat of a wine that should also age." (12/2015) Connoisseurs Guide: "*One Star* Perhaps, because it is not quite so severe, we like this bottling a tad better than its mate below. It is, o ...Read More »
Stephen Vincent Wines is a partnership between Stephen Vincent Situm, (marketing guru behind such brands as Mondavi, J. Lohr, and Louis Roederer) founder of La Crema, Bob Goyette, vineyard manager Hossein Namdar, and sales and marketing master Stephen Vincent Situm III. Together these men have 100 years of experience in different facets of the wine business and they seek to use that experience to create exceptional wines at super-attractive prices.
90 points Wine Spectator: "*Smart Buys* Offering gorgeous floral scents of lavender, plum, smoke and raspberry, this casts a wide net of red and dark fruit, veering toward toasty oak on the finish. A nice ride from start to finish. (Web-2016) (JL)"
A small Santa Barbara winery specializing in single-vineyard Pinot Noirs. The Scarlett is a silky, balanced wine that shows bright red berry aromas--strawberries, raspberries, and dried cranberries--plus an earthy hint of forest floor.
92 points Vinous: "Healthy medium red. Captivating scents of black raspberry, minerals, licorice and lavender. Dense, sweet and spicy, with raspberry and crushed rock flavors showing an almost chocolatey richness and communicating an impression of chewy extract. Finishes with serious but fine-grained tannins and excellent juicy length. Even more extroverted today than the Hyde Pinot but has the stuffing and structure to age. 92+? (ST)" (5/2015) 92 points Wine Enthusiast: "Pungent, spicy earth and cinnamon rise out of the wine's bouquet, inviting one to enjoy a structured expression of cranberry, raspbe ...Read More »
92 points Vinous: "The 2014 Pinot Noir (Sonoma Coast) is a fabulous wine at this level. Sweet spices, rose petal, mint and succulent cherry/plum notes all lift from the glass. Supple and beautifully layered throughout, the Sonoma Coast hits all the right notes. A final burst of fruit rushes across the palate on the refreshing, inviting wine. There is so much to like. (AG)" (2/2016) 91 points Wine & Spirits: "The nine vineyards that go into this wine range from Olivet in the middle of the Russian River Valley to Bohan and Hirsch on the far-coast ridges. It’s inviting, with plump red fruit and tangy aci ...Read More »
Wine Spectator: "Offers a rich candied-apple mix of red and dark berry fruit that has a hibiscus scent and a perfumed presence on the finish. (JL, Web-2016)"
93 points Wine Enthusiast: "*Editors' Choice* A complex and complete wine with everything in place, this tastes delicious from the first whiff to the lingering finish. It has fresh-baked bread and light peach aromas and white-cherry flavors. Well balanced, it’s layered on a subtle level and harmonious." (12/2015) 90 points Wine Spectator: "Vibrant and focused, with aromas of strawberry and mineral leading to crisp flavors of raspberry, nectarine and spice." (12/2015) Stephen Tanzer's International Wine Cellar: "Pale orange. Orange zest and rhubarb on the spice-accented nose. Dry and chewy, with good clarity to its bitter red fruit and citrus pith flavors. ...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)
91 points Wine Enthusiast: "*Editors' Choice* Lighter, leaner flavors like cranberry, rhubarb and tart cherry light up this wine from the first sniff through the tangy finish. Balanced on the fresher, crisper side of the spectrum, it has firm tannins, an appetizing dry texture and medium body. The focused fruit flavors and light spicy accents make it distinctive. (JG)" (10/2015) Wine & Spirits: "This is simple and approachable, with a soft red cherry flavor that ends with spark of alcohol, the fruit accumulating just enough sandy grip to hold everything together." (4/2016) Wine Spectator: "Well-focused on a narrow mix ...Read More »
93 points Robert Parker's Wine Advocate: "From a site located just to the west of Comptche, ten miles east of Mendocino, the 2014 Pinot Noir Oppenlander (harvested on October 1st) saw 35% whole clusters and was aged in 20% new French oak. Bottled unfined and unfiltered, with no acid or alcohol adjustments, it offers a creamy, polished, layered character as well as classic notes of black cherries, black raspberries, crushed flowers and incense. Medium to full-bodied, textured, forward and downright sexy, this is a terrific Pinot Noir that has both texture and freshness. I'd drink bottles over the ...Read More »
Michael Skurnik has been on the importing side of the wine biz, for years, but in 2009, he jumped head first into the winemaking side of things with one simple goal: to make "wine for the palate, the pocket, the people." After more than 25 years of importing wines from around the world, Michael reached out to his roster of quality winemakers to help him craft the finest quality Pinot Noir on the market for under $20 per bottle. With help from the deft hands of a consulting winemaker, a soft, silky, fruit-forward, drinkable, and high-quality Pinot Noir wa... Read More »
91 points Connoisseurs Guide: "*Good Value* Possessing such a wealth of juicy, well-focused cherry-like fruit that this wine would garner enthusiastic recommendation and a tip of the hat for fine value on its fruity virtues alone, Migration's basic appellation offering is a surprisingly serious Pinot Noir with the depth and careful construction of upper-echelon offerings. It is clean and constant with impeccable varietal focus and layered richness to spare, and, as very good, generously fruited Pinots are wont to do, it is certain to tempt early drinking even though its best lies some ...Read More »
94 points Vinous: "Mount Eden's 2013 Pinot Noir is going to need at least a few years to come into its own. Dense and powerful, yet also very tightly wound, the 2013 is in no mood to show all of its cards. Still, the intensity of the vintage is impossible to miss. The 35% whole clusters are nearly buried by the sheer intensity of the fruit. This ample, large-scaled Pinot will reward those who wait. I will not be surprised if the 2013 is even better in another few years, as it holds considerable promise. 94+ points. (AG)" (6/2016)
93 points Wine Enthusiast: "*Editors' Choice* Stemmy earth and dark, savory pine give in to sautéed mushroom and cinnamon in this lean, soft and delicious estate-grown wine. A tension of acidity buoys a backdrop of wild strawberry and cranberry on the palate, ending with just the right amount of weight and length, succulent to the end." (12/2015) 91 points Wine & Spirits: "Joseph Phelps made a significant bet on coastal pinot noir and chardonnay in 1999, stepping outside of Napa to develop 100 acres of vineyards in the fog-cooled hills near Freestone. Those vines now grow a polished and silky pinot, with sunny ...Read More »
Poppy hails from Monterey County, one of the coolest climates in California, where the long, slow growing season results in fragrant and supple Pinot that really stands out from the competition in the under $15 category. A long-standing staff and customer favorite, Poppy Pinot is typically fruity and easy to drink, perfect for entertaining or for Tuesday night takeout.
This is the second label of Russian River Valley's beloved DuMOL, made from younger fruit with an eye toward value and food-friendliness. The wine is aged in French oak for ten months before release. Notes of cola, cranberry and cherry harmonize on the rich palate and bright finish.
Lynmar is an environmentally oriented winery that's owned by noted philanthropists. The 2014 promises the same quality as their entry-level 2013 Russian River Valley Pinot, which scored 94 points with Wine Enthusiast, and was picked as an Editors' Choice. From a mix of Dijon and heritage clones, vineyard sources include the winery's estate properties in the Laguna Ridge area of the AVA, Quail Hill Vineyard and Susanna’s Vineyard. The winemaker is Shane Finley, formerly assistant at Kosta Browne.
91 points Decanter: "Stern cherry nose, underlaid by sweet oak. Rich and fleshy with good concentration and typicity and a lively, spicy finish. Assertive and long but not heavy. (GH)" (8/2015) 90 points Wine Enthusiast: "Red-cherry and strawberry aromas meld with rich fruit and warm baking-spice flavors to make this full-bodied wine hard to resist. The style is in the ripe, pastry shop mode, and soft tannins and acidity complete the picture." (8/2016)