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K&L Staff Recommendations
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)
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) 90 points Decanter: "Complex dark fruit aromas with toasted oak and mineral notes and nuances of tobacco. Zesty, intense palate of raspberry coulis, a touch of oak, soft tannins, and acidity that is refreshingly clean and long." (7/2016) K&L Notes: $20 Pinot Noir is a competitive category, but not always tops with the critics: if the wines are praised, more often than not it's in the "great for weekni... Read More »
This is part of the higher-end Center of Effort brand. From the winery: "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... 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 »
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 »
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 »
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 »
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 »
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)
92 points Wine Spectator: "The subtle intensity builds and gains depth, holding focus and delivering a mix of dusty wild berry, plum, black licorice and cassis notes. Impressive on the finish. (JL)" (6/2015) 91 points Wine Enthusiast: "This is a taut and trim wine, but with plenty of toasted oak aromas and rich maple and cherry flavors to fill out its firm frame. Flavors combine cinnamon, cardamom, plum and Bing cherry. The texture is moderately tannic and firmly crisp for an attractive, lip-smacking quality. (JG)" (12/2015) K&L Notes: If it looks like a duck, that's because Goldeneye is indeed part of the Duckhorn Vineyar... Read More »
91 points Wine Enthusiast: "*Editors' Choice" Sourced from two vineyards, including Sangiacomo Amaral Ranch, a cool site near the bay, this is a tremendous offering for the price. The wine is light, bright and brambly in raspberry and cherry kirsch, with a mischievous streak of cola. Pretty and fresh, it finishes in a tease of black tea." (5/2016) K&L Notes: 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 fores... 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."
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.
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: "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."
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 »
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."
Toulouse’s scenic vineyard is established as a proven site that has produced 94 point wines. Their fruit is purchased by some of the most renowned winemakers in Anderson Valley, such as the McPhail Family Wines, Phillips-Hill Estates, and Baxter Winery.
90 points Wine Spectator: "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)"
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.
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 is a blend of Pommard and Dijon clones from carefully selected vineyards in the Carneros region. All grapes are hand-picked at night and early mornings to keep the fruit at optimal temperatures. The fruit is then de-s... 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 »
Producer Note: "The release of the 2015 Red Car Rosé of Pinot Noir is upon us. Harvested at a cool 21º brix and immediately whole cluster pressed, our dry and aromatic Rosé is a true vin gris, fermented like a white wine without skin or seed contact. In 2015, the wine is bone dry at 12.9% alcohol, in a dashingly light shade of pale melon-pink and with an aromatic profile of tangerine oil, pink grapefruit, and bing cherries. Cool-climate West Sonoma Coast vineyards give the wine its hallmark style, with the biodynamically-farmed Bybee Vineyard in Sebastop... Read More »
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) K&L Notes: The 2014 Classic Estate Pinot was a Double Gold Winner at the 2016 San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition. From the winery: "Rich and sumptuous, it offers aromas of roses and spice, followed by flav... Read More »
The 50 by 50 Estate is a twenty-three acre property situated southeast of the Atlas Peak AVA and north of the Wild Horse AVA. More specifically, it sits on the Monticello Road incline in the Wooden Valley of Napa, California. Starting at a roadside elevation of 830 feet, it meanders pleasantly down to 600 feet. The gentle slopes are covered with forward gravelly loam, a rich volcanic soil that drains well and lends itself perfectly to the Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc and Merlot varietals that are presently being planted there for the purpose of pro... Read More »
Banshee changed things up a bit in 2015, and for the first time sourced their rosé from Mendocino County when they found some exciting new vineyard sources. Banshee takes their rose production very seriously, and employs hand-harvesting and whole cluster pressing of Pinot Noir grapes designated for rosé from the beginning, rather than bleeding some runoff juice of a wine destined to be a red. The primary new vineyard source for this aromatic and bright rose is biodynamically farmed, and the attention to detail from start to finish shows through in the bo... Read More »
Connoisseurs Guide: "Freshness rather than fruity volume is the major message here, and, if the wine is light on richness, it gets good marks for vigor and its close-to piquant, red cherry and strawberry traits. Its acidy inflection becomes more pronounced at the finish, and it may prove to be a little too tart for some tastes, but it will make useful drinking with entrees that call for a crisp Rosé with decidedly zesty acidity as a mate." (7/2016) Vinous: "The 2015 Rosé Hopkins Ranch is crisp and refreshing, with plenty of cranberry, orange zest and floral notes. The 2015 is absolutel ...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 »
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!
90-91 points Vinous: "Vivid ruby-red. Sexy, assertive aromas of candied raspberry and cherry, with an emphatic spicy overtone. Silky and expansive on the palate, offering juicy red berry and rose pastille flavors that deepen with air. Fruit-driven, smooth Pinot with very soft tannins building slowly on the finish. (JR)" (8/2015) Connoisseurs Guide: "Nicely defined with respect to the juicy, black cherry traits of good Pinot Noir and a wine that is less concerned with nuance, this direct, easy-to-access youngster is all about straightforward fruit. It is medium-full-bodied and slightly rounded in fe ...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)
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."
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.
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)
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 »
90 points Wine Enthusiast: "Small in production and clearly defined from Carneros, this Blanc de Noirs blends 92% Pinot Noir with 8% Chardonnay to great effect. Pretty in peach color, the intense flavors are a combination of fresh-cut herb and strawberry kirsch." (12/2014) Connoisseurs Guide: "*Good Value* On the one hand bright and fruity and on the other showing a bit of yeasty richness even as it flirts ever so slightly with candied cuteness, this effervescent offering is lifted by its youth and finds a very comfortable place in the mainstream of affable, easy-to-drink California Blanc de Noirs that a ...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 »
Inventory: Main Warehouse
91 points Wine Enthusiast: "This is an impressive wine at the price and production level, a great go-to for multiple occasions. It delivers earthy, candied strawberry around a light, bright core, remaining soft and smooth in texture and intensity, finishing with a tease of milk chocolate." (11/2015) Wine Spectator: "Fresh, clean and lively, with a complex mix of green apple, lemon and subtle earth notes. Gains depth and amplitude on the finish. Drink now. (Web Only - 2015)"
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 »
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 »
According to the winery: "This country style Pinot Noir is a blend of various vineyards in the area. The clones used are 115, 667, 777, and Pommard. Beautiful floral and red fruit aromas are on the nose."
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 Rohlffs' 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 »
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: This is the flagship wine from Kenneth Volk, made by blending fruit from the Bien Nacido, Garey Ranch, Sierra Madre and Steiner Creek vineyards. The 2012 vintage was warmer and more typical than the past tw... Read More »
Inventory: San Francisco
Veteran winemaker Eric Laumann makes wine from some of the more obscure and unsung grapes of the Central Coast, like Albariño, Tannat and Dornfelder—but of course, Pinot Noir as well.
"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.