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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)
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 »
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 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 »
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)
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 »
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)
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.
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 »
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.
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."
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)
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 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)
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 »
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.
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."
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 »
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)
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 »
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.
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!
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.
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 »
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 »
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.
Deep, dark ruby in color, this wine offers aromas of ripe fig, pumpkin seed and strawberry coulis. The palate is tightly focused with flavors of bright currant, cola and a hint of pungent, wild mushroom. The mouthfeel is supple yet structured with well integrated tannins that provide the integrity for this charming wine.
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 »
92 points Wine Spectator: "*Smart Buys* Lithe, supple, lively and expressive, layering boysenberry, pomegranate, floral and coffee notes on a sleek frame, with powdery tannins. Finishes with presence and persistence. (HS)" (8/2016) 90 points Wine Enthusiast: "Deceptively light and tight when first opened, this wine has flavors and character more in line with Gamay than most Pinots. Tart cranberry and raspberry fruit carries into a tangy finish, with citrus, mineral and herbal highlights. (PG)" (8/2016)
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 »
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 »
Winemaker Matt Kinne describes his winemaking methods: "What separates Pinot noir from other red varietals is its ability to express itself in such a confident and understated form. Pinot noir at its finest is red, not black; freshly fragrant; richly and brightly flavored with complexity and length. The winemaker's hand is light to balance, not mute these attributes and promote the purest possible expression a vineyard has to offer. Appropriately, McKinlay Pinot noir ferments with native yeasts, without enzyme additions; ages in modest percentages (25% o... 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 »
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 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)
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* 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 Robert Parker's Wine Advocate: "The 2012 Argyle Brut is a blend of 60% Chardonnay and 40% Pinot Noir from high elevation sites, partly from the Spirit Hill Vineyard. It has a lifted lime flower and white peach-scented bouquet, floral in style and very well defined. The palate is fresh and vibrant on the entry with squeezed lime and green apple notes, well-judged acidity and a zesty finish that is just the ticket on a warm summer's day. Recommended. I am often impressed how New World sparkling wine stacks up against much of Champagne, and Argyle is no exception. Nate Klosterman makes s ...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."
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.