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K&L Staff Recommendations
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) Wine & Spirits: "This wine’s scents of cola spice and red cherry take on a pipe-tobacco spiciness with air. The wine’s plush cherry flavor lasts in a texture that’s gripping and firm." (8/2016) Wine Spectator: "Light-footed, this is re ...Read More »
91 points Vinous: "Lurid red. Vibrant, sharply focused scents of ripe red berries and candied flowers are complicated by suggestions of cinnamon and allspice. Lithe and appealingly sweet on the palate, offering intense raspberry, cherry and spicecake flavors that deepen and spread out with air. The floral note comes back strong on the clinging, spice-laced finish, which is given shape by harmonious, slow-building tannins. This wine delivers outstanding value and is an auspicious inaugural offering for this project, which is owned by the proprietors of California Pinot Noir ...Read More »
92 points Wine Enthusiast: "*Editors’ Choice* Husch is one of the original Anderson Valley wineries and has not been a particular Pinot Noir star, but this fantastic 2014 may start a trend. Fresh and alive, the wine is medium bodied but packs lots of tangy cherry and almost jammy plum flavors into a smooth but lightly tannic texture that provides great structure. Simply delicious, it’s balanced well enough to enjoy time after time." (3/2017) K&L Notes: Husch, founded in 1967, is the oldest winery in the Anderson Valley appellation which over the last decade has become one of the hotbeds of Amer... Read More »
Vinous: "The 2014 Pinot Noir (Sonoma County) is a pretty, attractive wine to drink now and over the next few years. Sweet red cherry and floral notes grace the mid-weight, feminine finish. This is a very pretty, understated appellation Pinot that delivers a compelling combination of quality, value and production. The Sonoma County is a blend of declassified barrels and some purchased fruit. (AG)" (2/2016) 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 winemake... Read More »
A good example of what we can do when a producer doesn't mind us using their name under the Kalinda moniker is the 2015 Kalinda Willamette Valley Pinot Noir. On our recent trip to the Willamette Valley, we spread the word that we were looking for a 2015 Pinot Noir to bottle under our private label. We asked numerous wineries that we know and trust, and a lot of them sent us a lot of really great wine. We already knew 2015 was shaping up to be an outstanding vintage, but we felt that that the bottling we tasted from Chehalem was the best on the table. As ... 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)
Wine & Spirits: "Made by Banshee, one of W&S’s 2015 Wineries of the Year, this contains declassified barrels of their Sonoma Coast wines as well as fruit from Anderson Valley, Monterey and Santa Barbara. It’s aged almost exclusively in used wood, resulting in a balanced Pinot Noir with clean, bold dark-cherry flavors and tangy acidity that drinks far above its humble price." (4/2016) Wine Enthusiast: "A smooth texture and ripe, inviting black cherry flavors make this medium-bodied wine easy to drink and enjoy. Light spicy accents give it extra interest and moderate tannins help build the su ...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." (6/2016) Robert Parker's Wine Advocate: "Another undeniable value is the 2014 Pinot Noir Olema, a Sonoma cuvée that would qualify as a sleeper as well. Pomegranate, allspice and clove intermix with sassafras in this medium-bodied, deliciously fruity, round seductive Pinot Noir to drink over the next several years. Even the 2013 Cabernet Sauvignon Olema offers plenty of value in an elegant, tasty, cedary, blackcurrant-scented and flavor ...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.
91 points Vinous: "Translucent red. High-pitched red berry, cherry and rose pastille scents are lifted by blood orange and mineral nuances. Silky, weightless and focused on the palate, offering juicy raspberry and bitter cherry flavors that become deeper and sweeter with air. Shows impressive depth of flavor but comes off lithe, even delicate. Clings with serious tenacity on the gently tannic finish, which strongly echoes the red fruit and floral notes. Talley's side project, which is not exactly a second label as the wines may include fruit that is sourced from outside Ar ...Read More »
90 points Wine Enthusiast: "The nose of this wine is quite shy at first, and it takes patience to pull out aromas of plum, crushed berries and a touch of charcoal. The palate opens up more quickly, showing elderberries and elderflowers, plus rose hips and a touch of fennel. (MK)" (11/2016) 90 points Wine Spectator: "*Smart Buys* Strikingly rich and complex, with a dense core of dark berry, black licorice, earth and cedar flavors that hold their own, easing up on the finish. Drink now." (9/2016)
Field Recordings is a small winery in Paso Robles that was started by Andrew Jones, who began his wine journey as a nursery vine grower and has stepped foot in nearly all the vineyards on the Central Coast of California. All his vineyard expertise is translated into his bottled wine, Field Recordings and Wonderwall (and also wine-in-a-can under the labels Alloy Wine Works and Fiction). Wonderwall focuses on Chardonnay and Pinot Noir from extreme Central Coast vineyards.
Entirely sourced from Edna Valley in San Luis Obispo County, Fossil Point is named for the headland area along the rugged coastline. The marine breezes have a distinct influence on the Edna Valley terroir that is itself uplifted, ancient sea floor. Pinot Noir grapes grow in small clusters and Fossil Point vinifies traditionally in small lots before the wine is aged in neutral and once-used French oak barrels. The wine displays floral aromas with bright and vibrant cherry and berry fruit, leather, and vanilla.
90 points James Suckling: "A firm and chewy red with plum and berry character. Medium to full body and plenty of juicy fruit. Shows the structure of the vintage. Muscular and lively." (11/2016)
Elegant and Burgundian in style, organically and dry-farmed, Evesham Wood's wines are simply gorgeous examples of Oregon Pinot.
Outlier is a fitting name for this outfit run by winemaker/owner Derek Rohlffs, who orchestrates his unique efforts from his home base in the middle of the San Francisco Bay on Treasure Island.
90 points Wine Spectator: "*** Smart Buy *** 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 beginning to end. Drink now. (JL)" (8/2016)
94 points Wine Enthusiast: "It’s hard not to jump up and down about the outstanding value represented here, a wine made from Dutton Ranch fruit that’s juicy and generous in baked strawberry, earth and rose petals. A grippy structure provides weight around nuanced, spicy cherry-pie flavor and plenty of body to satisfy." (12/2016)
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) Robert Parker's Wine Advocate: "A well made, charming effort that offers lots of raspberry, cherry and spice aromas and flavors, the 2014 Classic Estate Pinot Noir (from various clones) is forward, nicely textured and ready to go. I ...Read More »
Wine Enthusiast: "This is the brand’s first bottling under new ownership, and the result of this blend of Monterey, Sonoma and Santa Barbara county fruit is familiarly ripe— due in part to the inclusion of 10% Merlot, 6% Chardonnay and 2% Syrah. Pomegranate, clove, vanilla and rum aromas lead into a juicy palate of candied red fruit, slate, anise and Earl Grey tea. It’s slightly sweet but easily enjoyable. (MK)" (4/2017) Wine Spectator: "An enticing if weighty mouthful, rich and deeply flavored, anchored by tiers of blackberry, blueberry, wild berry, cherry and raspberry flavors. Round and ...Read More »
As the name indicates, this Pinot Noir is vinified entirely in stainless steel. After hand sorting and destemming, the berries are fermented a style similar to carbonic maceration, resulting in a very aromatic, bright wine.
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 »
91 points Wine Enthusiast: "Peppery spice and a nose of violets and roses mark the entry and midpalate of this wine, priced moderately for the appellation. Layered, with a twinge of yeasty baked bread, it has a strong personality, stemmy and feral, with a lasting linger of grenadine. (VB)" (7/2016) Robert Parker's Wine Advocate: "The 2013 Pinot Noir displays straightforward pomegranate, red currant, and sweet and sour cherries in a medium-bodied, pleasant style. (RP)" (3/2016)
Poppy Reserve hails from the Santa Lucia Highlands, one of the coolest climates in California and in close proximity to the Pacific Ocean. The long, slow growing season results in a fragrant and complex Pinot that really stands out from the competition in the under $20 category. Fruity and spicy, with a hint of earth, this is a versatile and food-friendly wine.
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. (JG)" (12/2015) 92 points Connoisseurs Guide: "*Good Value* While many sparkling Rosés emphasize vinosity and substance, Roederer versions have always aimed in a brighter, more buoyant direction, and this latest is no exception. It marries plenty of vigorous young, lightly cherry-like fruit with well-delineated yea ...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 »
The fruit is all Pinot Noir from Laurel Vineyard. One of the highest elevation vineyards in Oregon (1250 feet in elevation), the grapes are all Alsatian Coury clones (brought back to Oregon from Alsace in 1965 by Charles Coury). The soil type at Laurel Vineyard is wind-blown loam and the vines were planted in the 1980s. The fruit came in rather late (good physiological ripeness) but they decided to make Rosé instead of Pinot Noir with it. They only kept this fruit on their skins for 2 hours and then sent it off to the press (more vin gris in style). All ... Read More »
91 points Vinous: "Bright ruby-red. Blackberry, cherry pit and a hint of licorice on the fragrant, spice-accented nose. Juicy and seamless on the palate, offering bitter cherry and dark berry flavors that tighten up and become sweeter with air. A smoky nuance arrives on the gently tannic finish, which hangs on with strong, spice-driven persistence. One of the pioneering wineries in the region, Talbott’s first vines were planted in 1982 at the Diamond T Vineyard. By the end of the ‘80s the Talbott wines were already on most wine lovers’ short lists of top California Chardon ...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)
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 points Vinous: "Dark red. Ripe red fruits, pungent flowers and a hint of cola on the perfumed nose. Juicy and seamless in the mouth, offering pliant black raspberry and cherry flavors and a refreshing jolt of spicy white pepper. Finishes sweet and long, displaying smooth tannins and lingering floral and dark berry notes. (JR)" (11/2016) Robert Parker's Wine Advocate: "The 2014 Pinot Noir is a blend of six vineyard sites that goes through a barrel selection, matured in wood for ten months. It offers brambly red fruit on the nose, a little darker than some others, but nicely defined and full of charm. The ...Read More »
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!
Wine Enthusiast: "Juicy acids brighten up the mouthfeel, with pineapple, citrus and black-cherry-cola flavors commingling. This was aged nine months in 20% new French barrels. (PG)" (6/2016) Wine Spectator: "Taut and expressive, layered with plum, guava, floral and spice flavors that persist against light, crisp tannins on the sleek finish. (HS)" (5/2016) K&L Notes: 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 ... 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."
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.
Bottled unfined and unfiltered, this wine finds its roots on the 18-acre ranch that sits in the foothills of the Los Padres Mountains--a cooler site that boasts loamy soils accented with gravel. This wine was made 50% whole cluster in neutral French Oak barrels.
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)
Inventory: San Francisco
90 points Connoisseurs Guide: "*One Star, Good Value* This engaging, nicely crafted Blanc de Noirs does an exceptionally nice job at being fruity and fresh and moderately yeasty all at the same time. It smacks mildly of juicy cherries while showing plenty of creamy autolysis and is enlivened by perky acidity and a full, frothy mousse. It stands out from its similarly priced, large-production cousins and is an out-and-out steal when found at a discount as it routinely is." (11/2016) 90 points Wine & Spirits: "This isn’t complex, but something about its sweet, sunny fruit and gentle precision feels properly Califor ...Read More »
Inventory: San Francisco
With fruit sourced from three vineyards, this wine spends 11 months in neutral French oak barrels before bottling. 13.8% ABV
Teutonic is making some of the finest German-inspired wines in the U.S. They work with cooler, higher-elevation sites to allow their grapes to hang on the vine longer and develop more physiological ripeness. In fact, Laurel Vineyard is located at one of the highest elevations in Oregon at 1250 feet. This is an elegant rosé that's low in alcohol (which means you can drink it by the gallon!), showing notes of dark plum, pink apples, and cassis.
Inventory: Redwood City
90 points Vinous: "Full red. A lively, incisive nose displays red berry and cherry scents accented by hints of white pepper, game and musky herbs. Juicy red currant and bitter cherry flavors unfold slowly, showing very good clarity and a touch of medicinal bitterness. Taut and racy in style, finishing with firm thrust, dusty tannins and a suave, lingering floral pastille quality. I like this wine's tension and detail. (JR)" (11/2016)
Vinous: "The 2014 Pinot Noir Hometown is a refreshing, light-weight wine to drink now and over the next few years. Crushed flowers and sweet red cherry fruit are the signatures. In 2014, the Hometown is on the lighter side. As such, I would prefer to drink it sooner rather than later. In 2014, the blend includes a dollop of Valdiguie. (AG)" (9/2016)
Andrew Jones learned to make wine from the ground up. He started as a vine nursery fieldman, planting and planning vineyards for wineries all over California. This gave him firsthand knowledge of nearly every vineyard on the Central Coast and a knack for finding "diamonds in the rough." Meanwhile, he was building friendships with some great California growers, who'd often offer him small lots of their best grapes on the side. From these beginnings he has built a catalog of delicious, affordable wines that hum with personality.
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)
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 »
Inventory: San Francisco
If it looks like a duck, that's because Goldeneye is indeed part of the Duckhorn Vineyards family of wineries, including Migration and Decoy. Goldeneye is the Napa Valley winery's far-north outpost, in Anderson Valley. From a stellar vintage, the 2014 Pinot is the whole package: superb balance, texture and flavor. Notes from the winery: "Nestled amongst the coastal redwoods of the majestic Anderson Valley, Goldeneye’s estate vineyards yield wines that exude the characteristics of their surroundings. Charming, but with a hint of wildness, plush yet rustic... Read More »
From winemaker Cody Wright, son of Ken Wright (Ken Wright Cellars), this wine comes from the hottest vintage on record for Oregon. This wine delivers the fruit and spice for the price.