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K&L Staff Recommendations
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 »
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 »
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 »
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 »
Bench is one of the labels of Brack Mountain Wine Company, which sources this Pinot Noir mostly from the Sangiacomo vineyard in the Sonoma Coast AVA. Great aromatics of red fruit and orange peel and a smooth finish.
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 Antonio Galloni: "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 Enthusiast: "There’s some age showing on the nose of this wine, with cherry liqueur aromas most prevalent. It’s very tasty once sipped, and still strongly tannic, with dark cherry and black clove." (12/2014) K&L Notes: From Central Coast winery owner Nebil "Bilo" Zarif, who also founded Barnwood Vineyards, Summerland is a small (3,000 cases in the single vineyard collection) Pinot Noir specialist. The famed Bien Nacido Vineyard was planted in 1973, before the modern era of the Dijon clones, to Pommard and Martini.
Inventory: Main Warehouse
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 »
Antonio Galloni: "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 with air while retaining an urgent character. Closes clean and lively, leaving a subtly sweet red berry note behind. 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 correct to call them mini-Talleys, the comparison is apt as ...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."
A joint project from your K&L domestic buying team and a high-profile winery in the Santa Barbara area. The fruit for this wine comes from a cooler vineyard site with a north-facing slope. Clone 828 is a Dijon clone that matures early and often shows lots of structure, color and complexity. In general, the clone shows great acidity, red and blue fruits and palate presence. Because of its roundness and completeness, clone 828 makes an excellent individual bottling.
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 Antonio Galloni: "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 Antonio Galloni: "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 »
90 points Wine Enthusiast: "This is a mouthfilling, plush-textured, copper colored bubbly with hints of cherry and raspberry in the ripe flavors, firm acidity to balance them and tiny bubbles to keep it all lively. Made with 60% Pinot Noir and 40% Chardonnay, it finishes with a slightly sweet sensation." (12/2014)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 »
Antonio Galloni: "The 2013 Pinot Noir Tous Ensemble is a gorgeous entry-level offering from Copain. Crushed flowers, sweet tobacco and red stone fruits are all laced together in a pretty, silky Pinot that over delivers for its very modest price tag. The Tous Ensemble is now made from 100% estate vineyards in Anderson Valley, which is quite remarkable at this level. (AG)" (1/2015) K&L Notes: From fruit grown on several sites in Anderson Valley, Tous Ensemble is an immediately appealing Pinot Noir and a great introduction to the style of winemaker Wells Guthrie, who delivers cool climat... 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!"
Antonio Galloni: "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 tannic grip, leaving a chewy cherry skin note behind." (6/2015) K&L Notes: According to the winery: "Our Talbott Pinot Noir, Logan is made to strike a perfect balance between the pure fruit character of our estate grapes, and the influence of our winemaker Dan Karlsen—a Pinot Noir specialist. It shows beautiful aromas and flavors of cherry, blueber... Read More »
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 »
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 »
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 »
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 »
Gallo's "Signature Series" wines are billed as a return to hands-on winemaking for third generation winemaker Gina Gallo. Indeed, this wine is a single vineyard selection, from the Olson Ranch, "a cascading vineyard perched atop the terraces of the Santa Lucia Mountain Range with a terroir that echoes that of Burgundy." The "Signature Series" Pinot Noir has received positive tasting notes and a 93 points from Wine Enthusiast in recent vintages. Confidently bearing the Gallo name, this wine represents the new era of quality for the winery...yet at a very ... Read More »
This fun, easy to like Pinot comes from Central Coast winemaker Stephen Ross, who's done more serious stints at Louis Martini and Edna Valley wineries. Central Coast Pinot Noir comes from the three counties that make up the Central Coast, Monterey, San Luis Obispo, and Santa Barbara.
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 »
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 »
Antonio Galloni: "Siduri's 2013 Pinot Noir (Sonoma County) is quite pretty. Soft, supple and expressive, the 2013 is an excellent choice for drinking now and over the next few years. Black cherries, plums, spices, earthiness, leather and tobacco flesh out on the dark finish. Adam and Dianna Lee announced they had sold Siduri and Novy Family Winery to Jackson Family Estates just as we were going to press, citing the pressure of running two labels both with broad lineups. Making wine seems romantic, but the business side of things can be much more daunting and is certainly ...Read More »
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)
This is a lovely pinot noir from Alfaro Family Vineyards & Winery. They're located in the up-and-coming Corralitos area in the southern end of the Santa Cruz Mountains appellation and close to the cool Monterey Bay. One-time residents of the area might recognize this as another delicious product from the founders of the original Alfaro's Bakery! From the producer: "Ruby in color, medium in body. Bright cherry and raspberry on the nose, with abundant Bing cherry, spice and vanilla flavors on the palate. This wine has well-integrated tannins and refres... Read More »
Inventory: Redwood City
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."
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)
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) Antonio Galloni: "Fess Parker's 2012 Pinot Noir Sta. Rita Hills is a supple, forward wine to drink now a ...Read More »
Antonio Galloni: "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 cherry, cherry pit, mint and spice nuances that come through. A dollop of Valdiguie rounds out the blend. At $21 a bottle, the Hometown is one of the best values in California Pinot Noir. Frank Ostini is quite humble in talking about how Sideways basically changed his life and made his Hitching Post II restaurant a hugely popular tourist destination, which in turn ...Read More »
2010 Panthea "Siren" is a blend of 4 single vineyards selections in the Anderson Valley. Ranging from the warmer Boonville climate to the coolest plantings in the "Deep End", the Siren expresses the diverse climates and soil types of the AV Appellation. We combine these grapes, each unique to its terrior to create an unforgettable wine that is unmistakably Panthea. The fruit is whole berry fermented using wild and heritage Burgundian yeasts in single-ton open top fermenters. A multi-day soak followed by a slow fermentation, all gently hand pushed down f... Read More »
From Summerland: "Our Vintners Select Pinot Noirs are the offspring of the acclaimed Single Vineyard Collection wines and represent the first regional blends on our label. With the quality being so high across the board in 2005 we were inspired to create blends from the vineyards in the three appellations we source in Pinot Noir fruit. All of the vineyard lots were vinified and aged separately under the guidance of winemaker Etienne Terlinden using the same traditional winemaking techniques employed on the single vineyard wines. These superb additions to... Read More »
Inventory: Redwood City
92 points Wine Enthusiast: "**Editors' Choice** A fascinating wine, it was processed in a carbonic fashion, in which the juice is allowed to ferment inside the mostly intact grape skins, much like what’s done in Beaujolais. The result is a transparent, ruby red wine that offers scents of a dust storm mixed with crushed rock and chile pepper herbaciousness. It’s warm and soft on the mouth with a presence that suggests something between peppercorns and bell peppers." (9/2014)90 points Antonio Galloni: "Pale red. Sexy, high-pitched aromas of wild red berries, Asian spices and white pepper, with a minerally nuance ...Read More »
From the winery: "Sonoma-Cutrer’s best kept secret may be that we also make award-winning Pinot Noir wines. We have a separate winery specifically dedicated to crafting the best Pinot Noir. Pinot Noirs, more than other varietals, reflect the way in which they are handled. Sonoma-Cutrer’s Pinot facility was designed to utilize handcrafted winemaking methods to ensure this delicate varietal is blended using the most-gentle of techniques. Our artisan process allows us to create Pinot Noirs that are elegantly structured with a rich texture and juicy, red-ber... Read More »
Inventory: Main Warehouse
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)
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.
From the Winery; A bright, beautiful, medium-bodied wine with penetrating rose petal, cranberry, cassis and plum flavors, accented by hints of cardamom and anise - all wrapped in a velvety texture. This Pinot's lively fruit will accentuate any wild game or bird dish, and it's power will cut through hot curry or Sechuan fare. Made by Lane Tanner with 100% Pinot Noir from Sierra Madre Vineyard. 800 cases produced. Drink now through 2030 or beyond.