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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 »
93 points Wine & Spirits: "This blend is focused on Cristom’s four Eola-Amity Hills vineyards. It’s a dense mélange of stem spice, smoke, graham flour and tobacco, with plummy fruit that absorbs the savory elements, and a sturdy oak component that cradles the lot of it in a warm embrace. Tasted over several days it gains polish and elegance, the oak integrating into something more burnished and structural, lending direction without weight." (4/2013) 91 points Robert Parker's Wine Advocate: "Kept for 18 months rather than the Jefferson Cuvee’s 12 months in barrels, a higher percentage of which are new, Cristom’s 2009 Pinot N ...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)
91 points Wine Spectator: "*Smart Buy* Fresh and inviting, open-textured and refined, with plum, currant and floral flavors that dance through the supple finish. Shows generosity and finesse, finishing on a roasted note. (Web-2016) (HS)" Connoisseurs Guide: "*One Star* Nicely ripened and yet balanced to firmness with a solid streak of youthful, cherry-like fruit running its length, this well-made, mid-sized Pinot wine goes right to the varietal point. It is slightly juicy and comes with a careful trim of sweet oak, and, if not an especially potent wine, it has the fruity confidence and balance to hold u ...Read More »
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 »
92 points Wine & Spirits: "*Best Buy* Ponzi's entry-level red, this lacks any pretension and airs. But its youthful energy, a lively red cherry scent, a plush middle-palate and a Jory-soiled redness to the fruit flavors, not to mention a volcanic grip of tannins, make this a lot of wine for the dough." (2/2016) 91 points Wine Enthusiast: "*Editors' Choice* Who puts their lowest-priced Pinot Noir in 20% new French oak, and includes fruit from their best vineyards in the blend? Ponzi does, and the result is a terrific vintage for Tavola. Bright, compact, aromatic and lushly fruited with plum and black cherry, th ...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.
If you're looking for a Pinot Noir that expresses the "Red Hills of Dundee" or know nothing about Dundee, but want a fresh, foward-drinking Pinot Noir, the Arterberry Maresh will be right up your alley. It's a fantastically red-fruited Pinot Noir, with dense Dundee flavors deftly interwoven with spice and earth notes. This is declassified Maresh fruit (planted in 1970), with some supporting fruit from the exemplary Juliard and Winderlea vineyards.
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."
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)
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 Enthusiast: "*Editors' Choice* This new sister label from Elk Cove offers 100% Willamette Valley Pinot Noir at an everyday price. Fresh cranberry and raspberry fruit is framed by herb-tinged tannins. The immaculate craftsmanship and clean direct flavors are light years beyond budget Pinot Noir from most other regions. This is your perfect salmon wine. (PG)" (8/2016)
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."
Inventory: Main Warehouse
Elegant and Burgundian in style, organically and dry-farmed, Evesham Wood's wines are simply gorgeous examples of Oregon Pinot. From the winery: "Very forward with plum, dark cherry, red cherry with a slightly sweet smokiness reminiscent of a toasted marshmallow. It will be fun to watch this wine evolve over the next five years."
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.
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.
91 points Wine Enthusiast: "Pretty is the word that comes to mind upon sniffing and sipping this wine, with its beguiling strawberry and cherry fruit. It gathers strength in its core, while maintaining an elegant, well-structured acid/tannin frame. It's an outstanding value in Oregon Pinot from a top producer. (PG)" (4/2016)
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 »
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 »
About the producer: "Patricia Green Cellars is located in the Ribbon Ridge Appellation of the Willamette Valley on a 52 acre estate purchased in 2000 by Patty Green and Jim Anderson. The winery, and thus the two friends and business partners, are noted for producing a tremendously broad selection of vineyard designated Pinot Noirs from several vineyards representing some of the better sites in the Willamette Valley with a particular emphasis over the years on Ribbon Ridge, Dundee Hills and the Chehalem Mountain appellations."
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!
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 »
90 points Wine Enthusiast: "*Editors' Choice* This opens with a full and succulent burst of fruit, notably cherries and plums. The rich and juicy flavors are highlighted with a streak of cola and buoyed with ample acids. This is just flat-out delicious." (4/2016)
It's a rare treat to find a solid, everyday Pinot Noir that over-delivers for under $30, let alone under $15—and from Oregon, at that. This wine is sourced from vineyards across Oregon, and is made to highlight the rich, juicy flavors of the state. Recent vintages have been reviewed favorably, if not in the 90+ point realm (you want the world for $11.99?), by Wine Spectator, Wine Advocate, and even Burghound. Fun fact: If you didn't see it here first, you might have seen Underwood at UK retailer Marks & Spencer, who feature it as their only U.S. Pinot No... 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 »
About the producer: "In 2003, Andrea and James Frey founded Trisaetum (tris-say-tum) in one of the few places where climate, soil, and entrepreneurial spirit combine to produce some of the world's best Pinot Noir & Riesling. Today, the family owned and operated winery in the heart of Oregon's Ribbon Ridge AVA produces small lots of acclaimed Pinot Noir and Riesling from its three estate vineyards. Trisaetum's first commercially available vintage was 2007. Our Coast range estate is a 22-acre vineyard within the foothills of the Coast Range mountains ou... Read More »
Wine Enthusiast: "Fresh and forward flavors mix rhubarb, ripe strawberries and sweet Bing cherries. This vibrant wine finishes with a refreshing snap of acidity, making it a pleasure to drink." (6/2016)
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 »
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)"
Ryan Harms is the owner and winemaker at Union Wines, whose motto is "drink with your pinkies down." Union makes killer Oregon wines at different price points (Kings Road represents the middle tier) that showcase the terroir while providing extreme value for your buck. From the winemaker: "Our flagship Pinot is hard to beat. A combination of rich red fruit flavors with freshness and vibrancy unique to Pinot Noir grapes grown in our beloved Willamette Valley, this wine truly reflects the character of this region. We think the best vintage is pretty much r... 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 »
90 points Wine Spectator: "Broad and open-textured, with firm tannins around a generous core of cherry and spice flavors, lingering well. Drink now through 2020. 3,811 cases made." (2/2016)
90 points Wine Spectator: "Light and focused, with real transparency to the cherry and rooibos tea flavors, dancing deftly against polished tannins on the sleek finish." (2/2015)
Inventory: Redwood City
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."
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 »
Estate-grown Pinot Noir from Ridgecrest Vineyards (60%), Corral Creek Vineyards (31%), and Stoller Vineyards (9%). Aged 11 months in barrel, 8% new, 12% one-year-old, and 80% neutral. According to the winery: "2014 was one of those rare vintages when everyone is excited - writers and winemakers love the quality, grape growers had no handwringing to do, and yields pleased bankers, which also means customers will see reasonable prices! Wine quality is excellent, based on full ripeness... this vintage is deeply colored, seriously structures with perfect bal... Read More »