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K&L Staff Recommendations
91 points Wine Enthusiast: "A generously fruity, just-ripe and refined wine, this offers classic notions of the appellation in a warm, welcoming vintage, from rhubarb, cranberry and cherry to cola spice and clove. Still young, it shows an intensity that should meld and mellow in the bottle in short order. (VB)" (5/2016) Robert Parker's Wine Advocate: "The 2014 Pinot Noir from Russian River has a similar medium to deep ruby color and notes of sassafras, cola, red cherries and strawberries. It is a little more primary and fruit-driven, but remains medium-bodied and, in this case, very Côtes de Beaune-like. Drink it o ...Read More »
Wine & Spirits: "Made by Banshee, one of W&S’s 2015 Wineries of the Year, this contains declassified barrels of their Sonoma Coast wines as well as fruit from Anderson Valley, Monterey and Santa Barbara. It’s aged almost exclusively in used wood, resulting in a balanced Pinot Noir with clean, bold dark-cherry flavors and tangy acidity that drinks far above its humble price." (4/2016) Wine Enthusiast: "A smooth texture and ripe, inviting black cherry flavors make this medium-bodied wine easy to drink and enjoy. Light spicy accents give it extra interest and moderate tannins help build the su ...Read More »
91 points Wine Enthusiast: "*Editors' Choice* This is such a good offering at this price, or many other prices, that it would be a worthy house wine to stock for regular consumption. Richly luxurious and softly layered, its texture stands out among well-integrated jolts of earth, black tea and strawberry-rhubarb." (6/2016)
Vinous: "The 2014 Pinot Noir (Sonoma County) is a pretty, attractive wine to drink now and over the next few years. Sweet red cherry and floral notes grace the mid-weight, feminine finish. This is a very pretty, understated appellation Pinot that delivers a compelling combination of quality, value and production. The Sonoma County is a blend of declassified barrels and some purchased fruit. (AG)" (2/2016) 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 winemake... Read More »
91 points Vinous: "Translucent red. High-pitched red berry, cherry and rose pastille scents are lifted by blood orange and mineral nuances. Silky, weightless and focused on the palate, offering juicy raspberry and bitter cherry flavors that become deeper and sweeter with air. Shows impressive depth of flavor but comes off lithe, even delicate. Clings with serious tenacity on the gently tannic finish, which strongly echoes the red fruit and floral notes. Talley's side project, which is not exactly a second label as the wines may include fruit that is sourced from outside Ar ...Read More »
Field Recordings is a small winery in Paso Robles that was started by Andrew Jones, who began his wine journey as a nursery vine grower and has stepped foot in nearly all the vineyards on the Central Coast of California. All his vineyard expertise is translated into his bottled wine, Field Recordings and Wonderwall (and also wine-in-a-can under the labels Alloy Wine Works and Fiction). Wonderwall focuses on Chardonnay and Pinot Noir from extreme Central Coast vineyards.
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.
Outlier is a fitting name for this outfit run by winemaker/owner Derek Rohlffs, who orchestrates his unique efforts from his home base in the middle of the San Francisco Bay on Treasure Island.
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) Robert Parker's Wine Advocate: "Another undeniable value is the 2014 Pinot Noir Olema, a Sonoma cuvée that would qualify as a sleeper as well. Pomegranate, allspice and clove intermix with sassafras in this medium-bodied, deliciously fruity, round seductive Pinot Noir to drink over the next several years. Even the 2013 Cabernet Sauvignon Olema offers plenty of value in an elegant, tasty, cedary, blackcurrant-scented ...Read More »
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.
91 points Vinous: "Brilliant ruby. Vibrant, highly perfumed red and dark berry and floral scents show very good clarity and suave spicecake and cola nuances. Sweet, seamless and energetic on the palate, offering intense black raspberry and rose pastille flavors supported by a spine of juicy acidity. Finishes sappy and quite long; smooth tannins provide frame for the lush berry fruit. (JR)" (7/2016) K&L Notes: 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 strawberr... Read More »
94 points Wine Enthusiast: "It’s hard not to jump up and down about the outstanding value represented here, a wine made from Dutton Ranch fruit that’s juicy and generous in baked strawberry, earth and rose petals. A grippy structure provides weight around nuanced, spicy cherry-pie flavor and plenty of body to satisfy." (12/2016)
Entirely sourced from Edna Valley in San Luis Obispo County, Fossil Point is named for the headland area along the rugged coastline. The marine breezes have a distinct influence on the Edna Valley terroir that is itself uplifted, ancient sea floor. Pinot Noir grapes grow in small clusters and Fossil Point vinifies traditionally in small lots before the wine is aged in neutral and once-used French oak barrels. The wine displays floral aromas with bright and vibrant cherry and berry fruit, leather, and vanilla.
Wine Enthusiast: "This is the brand’s first bottling under new ownership, and the result of this blend of Monterey, Sonoma and Santa Barbara county fruit is familiarly ripe— due in part to the inclusion of 10% Merlot, 6% Chardonnay and 2% Syrah. Pomegranate, clove, vanilla and rum aromas lead into a juicy palate of candied red fruit, slate, anise and Earl Grey tea. It’s slightly sweet but easily enjoyable. (MK)" (4/2017) Wine Spectator: "An enticing if weighty mouthful, rich and deeply flavored, anchored by tiers of blackberry, blueberry, wild berry, cherry and raspberry flavors. Round and ...Read More »
91 points Vinous: "Bright ruby-red. Blackberry, cherry pit and a hint of licorice on the fragrant, spice-accented nose. Juicy and seamless on the palate, offering bitter cherry and dark berry flavors that tighten up and become sweeter with air. A smoky nuance arrives on the gently tannic finish, which hangs on with strong, spice-driven persistence. One of the pioneering wineries in the region, Talbott’s first vines were planted in 1982 at the Diamond T Vineyard. By the end of the ‘80s the Talbott wines were already on most wine lovers’ short lists of top California Chardon ...Read More »
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 »
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)"
If it looks like a duck, that's because Goldeneye is indeed part of the Duckhorn Vineyards family of wineries, including Migration and Decoy. Goldeneye is the Napa Valley winery's far-north outpost, in Anderson Valley. From a stellar vintage, the 2014 Pinot is the whole package: superb balance, texture and flavor. Notes from the winery: "Nestled amongst the coastal redwoods of the majestic Anderson Valley, Goldeneye’s estate vineyards yield wines that exude the characteristics of their surroundings. Charming, but with a hint of wildness, plush yet rustic... Read More »
92 points Wine Enthusiast: "Husch is one of the original Anderson Valley wineries and has not been a particular Pinot Noir star, but this fantastic 2014 may start a trend. Fresh and alive, the wine is medium bodied but packs lots of tangy cherry and almost jammy plum flavors into a smooth but lightly tannic texture that provides great structure. Simply delicious, it’s balanced well enough to enjoy time after time. Editors’ Choice. —J.G." (3/2017) K&L Notes: Robert Parker writes: "This fine winery continues to turn out well-made, fruity, mid-weight wines that are elegant, vibrant, and immensely ... Read More »
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. (JG)" (12/2015) 92 points Connoisseurs Guide: "*Good Value* While many sparkling Rosés emphasize vinosity and substance, Roederer versions have always aimed in a brighter, more buoyant direction, and this latest is no exception. It marries plenty of vigorous young, lightly cherry-like fruit with well-delineated yea ...Read More »
For everyday drinking, JackHammer is your go-to Pinot Noir. Founded by California wine industry veterans Stephen Dooley and Sandy Garber with the express purpose of making delicious wine that won't break the bank. Juicy, fruity, and not to be missed!
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.
Poppy Reserve hails from the Santa Lucia Highlands, one of the coolest climates in California and in close proximity to the Pacific Ocean. The long, slow growing season results in a fragrant and complex Pinot that really stands out from the competition in the under $20 category. Fruity and spicy, with a hint of earth, this is a versatile and food-friendly wine.
As the name indicates, this Pinot Noir is vinified entirely in stainless steel. After hand sorting and destemming, the berries are fermented a style similar to carbonic maceration, resulting in a very aromatic, bright wine.
91 points Wine Enthusiast: "Peppery spice and a nose of violets and roses mark the entry and midpalate of this wine, priced moderately for the appellation. Layered, with a twinge of yeasty baked bread, it has a strong personality, stemmy and feral, with a lasting linger of grenadine. (VB)" (7/2016) Robert Parker's Wine Advocate: "The 2013 Pinot Noir displays straightforward pomegranate, red currant, and sweet and sour cherries in a medium-bodied, pleasant style. (RP)" (3/2016)
The Cherry Tart bottling pulls fruit from three distinctive vineyards in different parts of California: Sonoma Coast, Santa Lucia, and Santa Barbara. From the winery: "The 2014 Cherry Tart Pinot Noir jumps from the glass with aromas of raspberry, nutmeg, sandalwood and light smokiness, lifted by a floral note. Silky and delicate up front, with ripe acidity framing the rich, sweet flavors of red berries, red cherry and earth. Offers good fat without excess weight, finishing with a fine dusting of tannins and very good length."
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)
The "Overlook" Pinot Noir is meant to capture the essence of that year's vintage by sourcing and blending the grapes from the finest cool climate vineyards in California. The 2013 is rich with cherry, spearmint, black tea, baking spice, raspberry and forest floor.
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)
With fruit sourced from three vineyards, this wine spends 11 months in neutral French oak barrels before bottling. 13.8% ABV
90 points Connoisseurs Guide: "*One Star, Good Value* This engaging, nicely crafted Blanc de Noirs does an exceptionally nice job at being fruity and fresh and moderately yeasty all at the same time. It smacks mildly of juicy cherries while showing plenty of creamy autolysis and is enlivened by perky acidity and a full, frothy mousse. It stands out from its similarly priced, large-production cousins and is an out-and-out steal when found at a discount as it routinely is." (11/2016) 90 points Wine & Spirits: "This isn’t complex, but something about its sweet, sunny fruit and gentle precision feels properly Califor ...Read More »
Inventory: San Francisco
90 points Wine Enthusiast: "This is an impressive wine at the price and production level. Well made and light in color, it has streaks of cool-climate sandalwood, floral spice and soft blueberry and cherry marking a medium bodied palate." (10/2016) K&L Notes: Producer Notes: "Our Carneros Pinot Noir is medium-bodied with rich aromas of dark berry, plum, leather and tobacco. On entry, the wine displays plum and dark berry flavors with earthy and sweet oak notes throughout the mid-palate. The spicy finish lingers on the palate framed by fresh fruit and silky round tannins. Our Pinot Noir fruit ... Read More »
Inventory: Redwood City
Vinous: "The 2014 Pinot Noir Hometown is a refreshing, light-weight wine to drink now and over the next few years. Crushed flowers and sweet red cherry fruit are the signatures. In 2014, the Hometown is on the lighter side. As such, I would prefer to drink it sooner rather than later. In 2014, the blend includes a dollop of Valdiguie. (AG)" (9/2016)
Bottled unfined and unfiltered, this wine finds its roots on the 18-acre ranch that sits in the foothills of the Los Padres Mountains--a cooler site that boasts loamy soils accented with gravel. This wine was made 50% whole cluster in neutral French Oak barrels.
90 points Vinous: "Pale, bright orange. Pungent red berries, orange pith and candied rose scents are sharpened by a suggestion of spicy white pepper. Smooth and fleshy yet lively as well, offering juicy red currant and strawberry flavors that show a refreshingly bitter edge. Clings very nicely on the finish, leaving behind suave floral and spice notes. (JR)" (6/2016) K&L Notes: As with all of Tatomer's wines, production is very small, so grab this excellent rosé while you can! According to the winery: "A lively, fresh rosé with an elegant yet firm texture. Its color is light pink/salmo... Read More »
Allen Meadows - Burghound: "A cool, pure and restrained nose offers up appealingly fresh aromas of various red and dark berries that exhibit gentle hints of spice, floral and tea. There is good verve to the lighter weight (though by no means dilute) flavors that possess a lovely sense of detail, all wrapped in a dusty, clean and delicious finale that displays just a hint of austerity. I like the delivery and while there is the barest hint of a backend edge, this is really quite good in the context of a larger production volume wine." (4/2016) Wine Enthusiast: "*Editors' Choice* From multiple vineyard ...Read More »
Robert Parker's Wine Advocate: "While their generic cuvée, the 2014 Pinot Noir Sonoma Coast, comes from multiple cool-climate sites, the wine offers Burgundian, earthy forest floor notes, with hints of red cherries, pomegranate, raspberry, a touch of earth, underbrush and forest floor. Vibrant red fruits dominate in this elegant, medium-bodied style. This is their largest cuvée of Pinot Noir at 11,300 cases. Drink it over the next 3-4 years. (RP)" (4/2016)
Deep, dark ruby in color, this wine offers aromas of ripe fig, pumpkin seed and strawberry coulis. The palate is tightly focused with flavors of bright currant, cola and a hint of pungent, wild mushroom. The mouthfeel is supple yet structured with well integrated tannins that provide the integrity for this charming wine.
Vinous: "Crushed flowers, sweet tobacco, dried cherries and mint are some of the notes that lift from the 2014 Pinot Noir Los Alamos Vineyard. Distinctly savory and aromatic, the Pinot is a very pretty wine. Ideally, it might have a bit more mid-palate richness to fill out its frame, but nevertheless, this is a strong debut from the Varner brothers. And the price? A steal in the realm of handmade wines. (AG)" (7/2016) K&L Notes: About the producer: "Varner Wine is devoted to the production of handmade Santa Cruz Mountains, Santa Barbara and Paso Robles wines."
93 points Wine Enthusiast: "*Editors' Choice* Red cherry, vanilla, chaparral scrub and cranberry puree show on the nose of this bottling from the longtime estate, and then come the intriguing olive and Middle Eastern spices. The palate hones in on that Mediterranean spice character, with Kalamata olives blending into lavender, exotic mulberry and thyme-laced cherry-plum sauce." (7/2016) Robert Parker's Wine Advocate: "A well made, charming effort that offers lots of raspberry, cherry and spice aromas and flavors, the 2014 Classic Estate Pinot Noir (from various clones) is forward, nicely textured and ready to go. I ...Read More »
Founded in 1972, the home base of Clos du Val has always been the Stags Leap District but they source Pinot Noir and Chardonnay from an estate property in Carneros. A perfect growing season in 2014 was only marred by an earthquake that left a large crack running through the middle of this estate vineyard, but the damage was only cosmetic. From the winemaker: "Brilliant red in color, this Pinot Noir has great clarity. Clove, nutmeg and bayleaf absolutely leap from the glass. This wine is just loaded with an array of spices. The complex nose leads to bold ... Read More »
Named for founder Rudy von Strasser, the "Rudy" label is best known around here for top-quality, well-priced Cabernet Sauvignon from Napa Valley. This is the winery's first Pinot Noir from the Paicines, in the Central Coast. "This delightful Pinot Noir has a bouquet of fresh blackberries and blueberries," according to winery tasting notes. Look for fine tannins that complement good acidity and rich, red fruit flavors.
Inventory: Redwood City
Move over Bacchus, Oeno is here and she's ready for her time in the sun. The Greek goddess of wine is this project's spiritual patron, created by industry pro Amy Atwood. Unable to find affordable domestic wines made with native yeasts and neutral oak, she sought out California winemakers who would make these wines to her specifications.
Mignanelli focuses on making Pinot Noir from cool climate and mountainous vineyards.
Inventory: Redwood City
Robert Parker's Wine Advocate: "The 2014 Pinot Noir is a bright ruby color and exhibits nice, straightforward cherry and strawberry notes as well as medium body, good purity and ripeness. (RP)" (3/2016)
Inventory: Redwood City