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K&L Staff Recommendations
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 »
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.
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 »
91 points Wine Spectator: "Presents a lively, refreshing, complex mix of snappy wild berry and raspberry flavors, firm and vibrant, ending long, clean and complex. Drink now through 2020. 6,000 cases made.—J.L." (6/2015) K&L Notes: From our friends at Amici in Napa Valley, this great value Pinot Noir is sourced mainly from the Russian River Valley. Last year's lovely little 2012 (we've still got some as of this release) was scored 90 points by Wine Enthusiast: "It’s rare to get a twenty buck Pinot Noir this good." And Stephen Tanzer's International Wine Cellar agreed, scoring the 2012 90 point... Read More »
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 »
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 »
92 points Wine Spectator: "Offers an exciting interplay of berry, oak, earth and spice notes. This is rich yet medium-weight, with subtle edges to the blueberry, raspberry, mocha and fresh-turned earth flavors, ending with a tasty melted black licorice aftertaste. Drink now through 2020." (5/2015) Wine Enthusiast: "This has a very deep-red color with a reddish-purple rim, followed by very ripe, jammy aromas like boysenberry jam with spicy, smoky oak accents. Flavors are ripe, effusive and nearly sweet, as the wine goes for broke in terms of well-ripened grape flavors and generous helpings of sweet-sp ...Read More »
Great Buy - Just Reduced! On our recent trip to Oregon this summer we certainly found plenty of great wines and met with a multitude of amazingly talented people. Many of the wines we found on that trip have already come in and sold out mostly due to our sheer excitement about the quality of wines we found. One of the most exciting opportunities from that trip was to work closely with our friends at Bethel Heights to put together a Pinot Noir exclusive to K&L as part of our burgeoning Co-Branded project. This 2013 Bethel Heights/K&L Wine Merchants Eola-A... Read More »
92 points Wine Enthusiast: "*Cellar Selection* This is an impressive effort, especially considering it is the winery’s mass-production cuvée. All in proportion, it’s built upon an acid/mineral base, with tangy, just-ripe berry fruit. It feels quite delicate, yet has the persistence and structure of a more substantial wine. Aged for 10 months in one-quarter new French oak, it’s worth tucking a few bottles away for a long-term look." (12/2014)92 points Wine Spectator: "*Smart Buys* Taut, tart and surprisingly generous, blooming with juicy, cranberry-accented blackberry, cherry and spice flavors that linger easi ...Read More »
The bounty of the 2012 vintage is certainly showing its stuff. The Kirkham Peak Santa Lucia Highlands Pinot Noir was made for us by a very notable Central Coast winery (we can't tell you who), and this bottling is the real deal at a fraction of the price. The winery who (for contractual reasons) needs to remain nameless, has a long list of highly-rated wines from various critics. And with the perfect raw materials in 2012, they've fashioned another winner. This has a profile of bright fruit--lovely raspberry and strawberry aromas that reverberate on t... 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 »
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 »
$11.99 for California Pinot Noir? Yes, you read correctly. Under the Four Bears label, Sean Minor consistently produces solid, easy-drinking values that are balanced, food-friendly, and generously overdeliver for the price. According to the winery: "Our Central Coast Pinot Noir is a medium bodied wine which displays aromas of floral components, red fruit and dark cherries. On the palate, the Pinot offers luscious flavors of dark cherry, strawberry and violets, combined with subtle layers of spice. The integrated bright acidity and sweet oak nuances provi... Read More »
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 »
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 »
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 »
Evesham Wood harvests their entry-level 2013 from several vineyards in Northern Willamette Valley. With a focus on quality viticulture, these vineyards are all dry-farmed and cultivated sustainably. Grapes are harvested and sorted by hand, fermented in small lots, and aged in French oak (10% new) for 10 months before bottling. This adds up to an excellent value for deftly handmade and terroir-driven Pinot Noir. The winery describes the profile as "Bright and crunchy with cranberry, red cherry and cinnamon with a bit of firmness on finish."
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 »
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 »
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 »
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.
90 points Wine Spectator: "Refreshingly clean and vibrant, with well-structured flavors of snappy raspberry and wild berry, offering firm, modest tannins and a complex aftertaste that echoes dusty earth details. Drink now through 2021. 1,200 cases made." (6/2015)
91 points Robert Parker's Wine Advocate: "The 2011 Brut is a blend of 60% Pinot Noir and 40% Chardonnay undergoing a 5% malolactic fermentation and disgorged in September 2014. It was matured in 20% neutral oak and 80% stainless steel. It has a vibrant citrus-driven bouquet that is well defined and offers a little touch of peach with aeration. The palate is well balanced with crisp acidity, touches of brioche and pineapple with a fresh, vivacious finish. Excellent - and great value, too." (3/2015)90 points Wine Spectator: "Light and appealing, with an airy texture and smoky, toasty watermelon and floral flavors, finishing ...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."
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 »
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 Enthusiast: "A powerful spice rack of mace, allspice and cinnamon stick coat aromas of roasted tomatoes on this wine from the longtime Alsatian-focused producer. The flavors come and go quickly, but feature orange peel-driven acidity, squeezed plum fruit and cranberry juice." (2/2015)
Inventory: Main Warehouse
From the winemaker: "Wild strawberries, crushed rose petal, lavender and pink peppercorn lead to a palate reminiscent of watermelon salt water taffy, amaretti cookie and red currants. The bright and briny acidity is perfectly balanced with a touch of fruit sweetness. The 2014 Ponzi Pinot Noir Rosé is a blend of fruit from high elevation sites Merten and Dion Vineyard, and saignée from Ponzi’s finest Pinot noir lots."
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.
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 »
According to the winery: "This rosé is vinified differently from most: fully barrel fermented in neutral oak, it is aged 6 months before bottling. Full-flavored and rich, with creamy strawberry notes. It is balanced with a lingering finish that lasts just long enough for you to pour yourself another glass.
90 points Stephen Tanzer's International Wine Cellar: "Bright violet color. Smoky cherry and dark berries on the nose, with hints of licorice and dried flowers building in the glass. Sappy and focused, offering bitter cherry and black raspberry flavors and a touch of succulent herbs. Finishes spicy and tight, with an echo of smokiness and strong tangy bite. Quite lively for a 2012: this shows the nerviness that I associate with better 2011s." (7/2014)
Small-production Oregon Pinot Noir can be hard to find outside of the state. It's more often the "big names," established in the 1970s, that you will find--if any! Holloran is a small winery located in West Linn, a suburb of Portland, Oregon. Since 1999, they've sourced from small, estate vineyards in Dundee and around the Willamette Valley.
90 points Stephen Tanzer's International Wine Cellar: "Bright ruby. Appealing, expressive aromas of black raspberry, cherry compote and candied flowers are lifted by a hint of white pepper. Pliant red and dark berry flavors become sweeter with air, picking up spice and cola nuances. Shows very good energy and cut on the spicy finish, which is firmed by silky, harmonious tannins." (8/2014)
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)
Winemaker's Notes: "Destemmed in 1¼ ton lots, Jim’s light touch in the winery allows the intrinsic character of the wine to blossom. Passive temperature management ensures spontaneous fermentation proceeds and is monitored and guided by sensory analysis, gentle extraction techniques and low peak temperatures. Immediately upon reaching dryness, the lots are gently pressed in a half-ton wood bladder press and settle 2-4 weeks before being transferred to 5%-10% new French oak barrels for twenty months. They are only racked to prepare for bottling. Maresh Vi... Read More »
McKinlay is a small, 1,000-case family winery on the slopes of Parrett Mountain in Oregon's Willamette Valley that crafts exquisite Pinots. Made by Matt Kinne, the great-grandson of Oregon orchard farmer George Angus McKinlay, who uses native yeasts, minimal new oak and no additives. The wines are unfined and unfiltered. Don't let this wine's affordable price lead you to believe it's anything but stellar. No matter the vintage, Kinne crafts wines of elegance and delciousness.
Inventory: Main Warehouse
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
From the winery: "The Willamette Valley Pinot Noir is a blend from highly regarded vineyards in the Willamette Valley. Black raspberry, anise, and spicy notes of nutmeg,cinnamon. Mid-palate burst of balanced acid and tannin with flavors of black cherry, cranberry and spice with a crisp full mouth finish. A successful blend from the best of the Willamette Valley 2013 vintage."