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K&L Staff Recommendations
93 points Wine Enthusiast: "Crystalline cranberry, concentrated violets and rose petals and a shred of cola show on the nose of this upper-level bottling from one of the appellation’s longtime stars. The palate shows graphite and dried strawberry fruit amped up with woody coyote scrub elements, reflective of the chaparral that surrounds the property." (12/2015) 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 Vinous: "Brilliant ruby-red. Perfumed scents of raspberry, cherr ...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 »
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 »
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."
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 »
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 »
From the producer: "Our 2014 Tous Ensemble Pinot Noir’s aroma is layered with fresh red fruits, rose petal, and vanilla. The body is redolent of damson plums, red apple skin and bing cherries, with a silky texture and smooth tannins."
Medium to medium-deep ruby red in color, this lovely Sonoma Coast production from this great vintage offers distinctive dried rose petal to strawberry fruit aromas with chalky, slate-like mineral notes in the nose which carries over nicely to a well-balanced, well-integrated set of flavors. Good complexity, excellent structure and acid backbone, this Gem is integrated, deep in flavor, and long on the finish. Rusty has ordered me to bring home several cases of this Gem for our near-term consumption over the next four to seven years. This is a Great Value ... 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.
According to the winery: "Great value! A particularly wonderful vintage of this wine. Aromas and flavors of strawberries and raspberries are joined by anise and clove notes with mouth filling intensity."
91 points Stephen Tanzer's International Wine Cellar: "Vivid ruby-red. Red fruit preserves on the nose, with complicating notes of licorice and allspice. Lively raspberry and bitter cherry flavors show very good precision, complemented by a bright mineral quality that gains strength with air. This silky, energetic pinot finishes with strong cut, persistent sweetness and sneaky, interwoven tannins. (JR)" (12/2014) 90 points Vinous: "Crushed flowers, rose petals, sweet red cherries and mint lift from the glass in the 2013 Pinot Noir Estate Verna's. This is the most ethereal and delicate of the 2013 Melville Pinots. Following the h ...Read More »
90 points Vinous: "Brilliant ruby-red. Strawberry and raspberry on the perfumed nose, along with suggestions of allspice and smoky minerals. Deeper and darker in character on the palate, offering sappy red and dark berry flavors, with a hint of white pepper adding vivacity. This lithe, nicely focused Pinot finishes with appealing sweetness, easygoing tannins and very good persistence. (JR)" (6/2015) K&L Notes: Look for bright red fruits and spice in this wine: Pomegranate, Bing cherry, and raspberry with Earl Grey tea highlights, according to the winemaker's notes: "The vintage deliver... Read More »
92 points Wine Enthusiast: "*Editors' Choice* The nose of this excellently priced wine offers sour fruit from Montmorency cherries, earthiness from squeezed beets, spice from toasted sagebrush and umami from soy sauce. The palate is deep, with a sanguine character that’s enhanced by lots of cracked pepper. It delivers plenty of action for the price." (12/2015) Vinous: "Brilliant red. Musky red berries, cherry pit, dried flowers and underbrush on the fragrant nose. Bitter cherry and redcurrant flavors show good depth and a palate-numbing medicinal flourish. Closes with good focus and firm tann ...Read More »
Inventory: San Francisco
90 points Wine Enthusiast: "Oaky and full bodied, this conveys a strong impression of big berry fruit. Spice and herbal components are underplayed, letting the fruit come forth in all its glory. This is an attractive and ready-to-drink wine." (3/2015)
Inventory: Redwood City
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 Vinous: "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 »
Wine Spectator: "Intense and concentrated, with dark berry, earth, graphite and cedar pushing in several directions. Fans out and gains tannic muscle on the finish. Drink now through 2025." (3/2015)
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 amongst 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.
The Pinot Project was founded in 2009 by well-known wine importer Michael Skurnik. After more than 25 years of importing wines from around the world, Michael, who also represents a who’s who portfolio of the finest California wineries, reached out to his roster of quality winemakers with a project to help him craft the finest quality Pinot Noir on the market for under $20 per bottle. Along with the deft hands of a consulting winemaker who seeks out individual lots of Pinot Noir from the finest growing areas of Northern California, a soft, silky, fruit-fo... Read More »
90 points Robert Parker's Wine Advocate: "The 2012 Pinot Noir Sta. Rita Hills is a pretty, forward and classy effort that gives up plenty of strawberry and sweet red berry fruit, spice and hints of flowers to go with a medium-bodied, supple, beautifully textured feel on the palate. Aged 12 months in 46% new French oak, it won-t make old bones, but will dish out plenty of pleasure over the coming 3-4 years. This lineup, made by Blair Fox, is packed with outstanding wines. Most represent superb values." (8/2014) Stephen Tanzer's International Wine Cellar: "(46% new oak): Dark red. Pungent aromas of dried cherry, blackberry and musky herbs, w ...Read More »
From the Winemaker Larry Brooks; The 2013 vintage strongly favored the Winery blocks as 70% of the wine is from there. These are the youngest vines on the Estate, so that may be the correlation. Each year is unique, so it’s no surprise that top quality seems to move around from one area to another. This wine is almost 50% Dijon 667 clone, which has long been a reliable producer of the best quality for us. It seems to make reasonable color and balanced tannins, while at the same time being generous in fruit expression. The 2013 vintage encouraged larger t... 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." (12/2015) 90 points Wine Spectator: "Floral aromas of raspberry and white chocolate open to crisp, festive flavors of graham cracker, spice and red apple." (11/2014) Wine & Spirits: "This captures the frank, delicious energy of Anderson Valley pinot noir (60 percent of the blend) in tones of red raspberry, orange peel and cherry ...Read More »
Connoisseurs Guide: "*One Star* This bright and lively youngster successfully aims for fruity vibrancy rather than volume or striking depth and is made in an eminently likeable, medium-bodied style that invites early drinking. Its easy-drinking simplicity recalls that of a well-made Beaujolais, yet it consistently keeps Pinot Noir within its sights, and, if a long way from complex, it is hard not to like." (6/2015) Vinous: "Vivid red. High-pitched red berry and floral pastille scents show a spicy overtone. On the palate, peppery redcurrant and strawberry flavors deepen and stretch out ...Read More »
According to the winery: "Dark garnet in color, this wine showcases bright red fruits on the nose with hints of thyme, tea, and caramel. On the palate, dried cherry and tea flavors dominate the palate, along with secondary earthy, spicy notes, which come together for a long finish. Varietal Composition: 100% Pinot Noir from Santa Barbara County AVA in California. Cooperage: 10 months in barrel; 30% new French oak. Technical Data: 14% alcohol by volume; bottled June 2015, 3,140 cases produced."
Inventory: Main Warehouse
Connoisseurs Guide: "Quite dark in color and suggesting a fair sense of extract with a tilt to ripe cherries and plenty of size on the palate, this somewhat uneven youngster turns out to be a bit stiff in feel with obvious acidity providing a tart counterpoint to its short-lived sensations of suppleness. The richness first promised is hard to find at the finish, and, while it may find better integration with time, it is a wine that needs a few years of age and bit of good luck if it is to grow into real beauty." (2/2015) Wine & Spirits: "Ripe and grapey, this lasts on simple, sun-warmed blue f ...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!
On the other side of Mendocino County from Anderson Valley is Potter Valley, farther north and higher in elevation. Enormous blackberry bushes grow quite well here, and the grapes are pretty good, too. The winemaker's notes on this vintage: "I don’t believe in hands-off winemaking because I believe that growing grapes and making wine by nature is pretty hands-on, but when I see and taste good grapes, I feel a responsibility if not an obligation to stay out of the way. That is the case here. The 2014 Potter Valley Pinot Noir is 50% Pommard and 50% 115 fro... 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."
Inventory: Main Warehouse
Allen Meadows - Burghound: "This initially flirts with reduction and I would suggest giving this a few minutes in a decanter or leaving the bottle open for 30 minutes. With air the nose reveals notably more deeply pitched aromas of various dark pinot, plum and violet scents. Once again there is good verve to the delicious and well-delineated medium weight flavors that deliver solid if not truly special depth and length on the balanced finish. This offers excellent value at $22 and would make a fine choice for an age-worthy house pinot." (10/2015) Connoisseurs Guide: "*One Star & Good Value* Another of th ...Read More »
Inventory: Main Warehouse
93 points Wine Enthusiast: "* Editors' Choice * This is made from Pinot Noir grapes grown in two unlikely places in the Napa Valley: the Foss Valley near Atlas Peak and Spring Mountain. There is incredible deliciousness going on in this ever-so-lightly hued wine that is vibrantly crisp in grapefruit rind and earthy cranberry and raspberry. With the slightest salinity on the back palate, it remains thirst-quenching and memorable from start to finish." (6/2015)
Connoisseurs Guide: "Tilting a touch to the slightly tart end of the red cherry spectrum in its youthful Pinot Noir aromas while still being a little reserved at this point, this wine is more supple than firm at its heart, and the brisk acidity that rises at the end does little more than add to the wine's lively nature. A couple of years in bottle will be useful." (10/2014) K&L Notes: From the winery: "This garnet-colored wine has earth tone aromas of forest floor, ripe black fruits and Five-spice. On the palate, the wine is firmly structured with flavors of blackberry, cassis and Bing c... Read More »
Sourced from Mendocino's Yorkville Highlands, the Sonoma Coast, and a hillside vineyard in the Russian River Valley, this cool climate Pinot Noir reflects winemaker Derek Rahliffs' classic approach. The three lots are vinified separately and the approach in the cellar is low-intervention. According to the winery: "Aromas of cherry, herbs, and rose petal dominate the nose, while on the palate the wine is medium bodied with a silky smooth texture and a refreshing acid on the finish. Enjoy with pork tenderloin, salmon and poultry dishes where the crispness... Read More »
Stephen Tanzer's International Wine Cellar: "(made with fruit grown in seven different vineyards; includes 5% Valdiguie): Vivid red. Primary red berry and cherry skin aromas offer straightforward appeal. Tangy cherry and redcurrant flavors show good clarity and lift, with a peppery element adding bite. Finishes clean and slightly tart, with no obvious tannins and an echo of peppery spices. (JR)" (12/2014) Vinous: "The 2013 Pinot Noir Hometown is a very pretty entry-level offering from Hitching Post. Partial aging in stainless steel keeps the flavors bright and nuanced throughout, with plenty of sweet red cher ...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 »
Inventory: Redwood City
From the winery: "With a gorgeous hue of pale pink, our 2014 Rosé jumps out of the glass with crisp red fruit flavors. The supple texture is backed by a vibrant freshness and appealing acidity, making this a wonderfully versatile food wine. The 2014 vintage started dry but abundant February rain came just in time to break the winter draught. Warm spring temperatures encouraged an early budbreak that kept vineyard development ahead of schedule through the entire season. Our harvest was condensed beginning September 3rd and concluding on September 24th. Fo... Read More »
91 points Wine Enthusiast: "This single-vineyard selection from the Jackson Family’s Santa Maria Valley winery kicks off with scents ranging from red, blistered tomato to pomegranate reduction and mole sauce. On the palate, flavors vary from sweeter berry to tart cherry, with a savory, roasted pork element rounding out the wine." (10/2014)
Wild Hog is a small family-run operation situated east of Fort Ross, at 1400 feet in elevation five miles from the Pacific Ocean. Co-founder Daniel Schoenfeld started out as a home winemaker in 1977, born out of a passion for gardening, food and wine. Together with his wife Marion, the Wild Hog team is committed to sustainable farming and wine production; they have been certified organic by California Certified Organic Farmers since 1981. Wild Hog has been working with Saralee's Vineyard since 1994, not long after it was first planted. Fruit from Saralee... Read More »
According to the winery: "All wines at Chalk Hill are estate bottled, but our philosophy goes beyond the conventional definition. Each of our 60 vineyard blocks are tended throughout the year individually. The grapes are then hand harvested, parcel by parcel and fermented in small, distinct lots. This meticulous handling of the vines, grapes and finished wine allows the ultimate expression of Chalk Hill's many and varied terroirs."
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. This one comes from the Lakeville and Amaral vineyards, is hand sorted and de-stemmed, 25-30% whole cluster, native fermentation, neutral oak, unfined and unfiltered. Oeno's tasting note: "This medium bodied red wine is ... Read More »
Wine Spectator: "Presents a tight beam of cherry-laced gravel, dried herb and cedar notes, ending clean and vibrant. Drink now through 2020." (9/2014) K&L Notes: Once upon a time, when La Crema "Vinera" was founded in the late 1970s, the quality of wine produced by the young, ambitious winemakers varied from sublime to...variable. Today, of course, La Crema is a veritable "old faithful" of Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir. The 2012 vintage fit right into the La Crema program, according to winemaker Elizabeth Grant Douglas' notes: "This exceptional release offers up vibrant red cherry aromas t... Read More »
"Lola Pinot Noir North Coast is a blend from multiple vineyards scattered throughout Mendocino, Russian river and Sonoma coast in the North Coast of California. Each Vineyard is chosen for its unique characters present in the Pinot Noir grown there. This allows us to craft a beautiful coastal Pinot Noir with superior texture and mouth feel as well as balanced and bright acidity and relative low alcohol. Bright garnet in color with aromas of cola, blackberries, cherries and a sweet vanilla cedar note. The rich, layered mouth feel is abundant in flavor an... Read More »
Sommelier Rajat Parr and winemaker Sashi Moorman are responsible for some of the Central Coast's most interesting and tasty wines, separately and together. (The duo have also partnered on the Domaine de la Côte label and Sandhi Wines projects.) The started Lompoc Wine Company in 2012 with the goal of producing "an authentic and accessible wine that faithfully represents the unique and ideal qualities of southern Sta. Rita Hills Pinot Noir," says the winery.