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K&L Staff Recommendations
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 »
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)
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 »
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 »
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 Wine Enthusiast: "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. Editors' Choice. - MK" (10/2016) K&L Notes: 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 ... 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 »
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 »
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 »
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 »
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 »
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.
The K&L Kalinda wines are consistently among the best values in our store. We work closely with top producers to bring you first-rate wine at reasonable prices. We can't reveal our sources, but we can say that this is a steal.
"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.
95 points Wine Enthusiast: "***Editors' Choice*** There’s a rugged earthiness and delicious meaty character to this fantastic bottling, which shows dried cranberries, dried olallieberry, smoked pork and hummingbird sage on the brawny nose. A similar power infects the palate, where red and black cherry meet with plum, mulberry, cola, shaved chocolate and a deepening sage character, finishing on crushed mint. (VB)" (8/2016)
Stephen Tanzer's International Wine Cellar: "Vivid ruby-red. Wilder and deeper in pitch than the 2011 version, displaying powerful black raspberry and boysenberry scents and smoky floral and herbal nuances. Juicy acidity adds lift and structure to the ripe, subtly spicy dark berry flavors. The finish features chewy tannins, an echo of candied flowers and very good persistence." (6/2014) K&L Notes: An entry level Pinot Noir from one of K&L's longtime favorite producers.
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."
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 »
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 »
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)"
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)
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 »
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.
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.
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 »
Robert Sinskey Vineyards is the cult winery that nobody calls a cult winery, an early adopter of organic and Biodynamic winegrowing on over 200 acres of vineyards in the Carneros and Stags Leap districts, and a very culinary-centric operation, too. The winery's note on the vintage: "The 2012 vintage created wines that are as close to perfect as we have ever seen. The translucent, ruby red color triggers symptoms of synesthesia as you think you can almost smell or taste the wine just by looking at its vibrant color. Aromas and flavors of cranberry and ras... Read More »
95 points Wine Spectator: "*#19 on Top 100 of 2015* A seamless, fleshy expression of juicy, enticing plum, cherry blossom and rose petal, with black cherry flavors at the core. A remarkably charming and seductive effort. Drink now through 2022." (9/2015) 94 points Robert Parker's Wine Advocate: "The 2013 Pinot Noir Altamont, which comes from the hilltop parcels spread across the family’s 45 acres of estate vineyards, is a smaller production cuvée. It offers more intensity, plenty of black cherry and blackcurrant fruit, with hints of licorice, underbrush and forest floor. It is round, juicy, full-bodied, and again, very pure ...Read More »
Vinous: "The 2014 Pinot Noir (Russian River Valley) is plump, juicy and forward. Dark cherry, plum, spice, menthol and cola race out of the glass. This exuberant, flamboyant Pinot is sure to deliver considerable pleasure over the next few years. The addition of the fruit that would have been used for the Sonoma Coast bottling has improved the Russian River Pinot. (AG)" (2/2016) Wine Spectator: "Offers lots of flavor in a layered style, with tiers of smoky oak and dark berry-roasted savory herb. Easy to enjoy now. (Web Only-2016) (JL)"
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 »
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 »
96 points Robert Parker's Wine Advocate: "The 2013 Pinot Noir Solomon Hills is the star of the show in 2013 and is possibly the finest Pinot Noir I've tasted from this estate. All about its incredibly pure core of fruit, it still stays balanced, seamless and layered, with no hard edges and perfect integration of its fruit, acidity and tannin. Giving up lots of black raspberry, strawberry, Bing cherry and floral notes, this is one Pinot Noir to not miss! This was another massive tasting with Ojai’s Adam Tolmach and assistant winemaker Fabien Castel. They have recently opened a new tasting room ...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.
Clark & Telephone Vineyard, named after the streets it borders in the Santa Maria Valley, benefits from Pacific wind and fog that winds its way down a channel of the Santa Maria River. The site is planted to the Martini clone of Pinot Noir, which is considered something of a lost treasure. The 2014 has yet to be rated, but the 2013 earned 90 points from the Wine Spectator: "Presents a distinctive mix of raspberry and huckleberry flavors that border on jammy, shaded by smoky, toasty oak. Turns graceful and elegant, with supple, refined tannins and lingeri... 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.
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!
91 points Vinous: "The 2013 Pinot Noir (Russian River Valley) is a wonderful introduction to the vintage. Plump, juicy and forward, but with good underlying energy, the 2013 is impeccably balanced from start to finish. Dark red cherry, blueberry, spice, new leather and menthol are pushed forward in an impeccable appellation-level wine to drink now and over the next handful of years. (AG)" (2/2016) Connoisseurs Guide: "...DuMOL's appellation bottling is a well-focused Pinot whose richness lends it a distinct family stamp. It is supple, slightly fleshy and moderately full on the palate with a touc ...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 »
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 »
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)
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 »
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 »
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 »
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."