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K&L Staff Recommendations
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 »
Inventory: Special Order
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 »
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 »
91 points Wine Spectator: "This red offers a lively, refreshing and complex mix of snappy wild berry and raspberry flavors that are firm and vibrant, ending long, clean and complex. Drink now through 2020. Tasted twice, with consistent notes." (9/2015) Wine Enthusiast: "The price-quality ratio is inviting for this wine, a light, lifted expression of cranberry and herb. The grapes were sourced from both the Russian River Valley and Sonoma Coast appellations, about half of each, before aging less than a year in managed oak, 30% of it new. The wine finishes in swirls of vanilla-cola." (6/2015) K&L Notes: From our fr... Read More »
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 »
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.
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 »
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.
Inventory: Main Warehouse
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 »
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."
Inventory: Redwood City
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 »
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."
A joint project from your K&L domestic buying team and a high-profile winery in the Santa Barbara area. The fruit for this wine comes from a cooler vineyard site with a north-facing slope. Clone 828 is a Dijon clone that matures early and often shows lots of structure, color and complexity. In general, the clone shows great acidity, red and blue fruits and palate presence. Because of its roundness and completeness, clone 828 makes an excellent individual bottling.
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 »
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.
Inventory: Redwood City
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." (7/2014)90 points Wine Spectator: "Relatively light in structure, with fine tannins around a glowing core of cherry, cinnamon and cream flavors, persisting into a long, vivid finish." (2/2015)
Inventory: Redwood City
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 »
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 »
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 »
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 »
Robert Parker's Wine Advocate: "Though the 2013 Underwood Pinot Noir does not have the faintest chance of winning "Pinot of the Year," for this price I have included it in this report. Pretty light red berries on the nose, the palate tart and fresh, a little disjointed on the finish, but hey, for $12.00 you'll still finish the bottle, something I cannot guarantee for some of the pricier Oregon Pinot Noirs. (UK readers should note that this is actually stocked by retailer M&S. They have good taste.) (NM)" (3/2015) K&L Notes: From the wWinery: "This Pinot works hard for the working people. Telling a ... 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 »
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 »
From the winery: "2013 was a year of big clusters with big, intense flavors. The 2013 Layer Cake Pinot Noir has layers of dark berries, ripe plums and big juicy black cherries wrapped in a glycerol creamy mouthfeel. This is a big Pinot Noir and calls for smoky meats and rich fish...enjoy!"
The Jezebel is a fruit-forward, early-drinking Pinot Noir, with the balanced acidity and bright fruit flavors that you would expect from Oregon Pinot. It is a blend of wine from vineyards in the Willamette Valley and from the Applegate Valley in southern Oregon. The fruit is cropped around two to three tons per acre and fermented in small lots with a variety of yeasts that are chosen to bring out the fullest expression of the fruit. Most of the wine is aged in neutral French oak but a small portion is produced in stainless tanks, to create a wine that is... Read More »
Antonio Galloni: "Brilliant red. Musky red berries, cherry pit, dried flowers and underbrush on the fragrant nose. Bitter cherry and redcurrant flavors show good depth and a palate-numbing medicinal flourish. Closes with good focus and firm tannic grip, leaving a chewy cherry skin note behind." (6/2015) K&L Notes: According to the winery: "Our Talbott Pinot Noir, Logan is made to strike a perfect balance between the pure fruit character of our estate grapes, and the influence of our winemaker Dan Karlsen—a Pinot Noir specialist. It shows beautiful aromas and flavors of cherry, blueber... 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 »
Connoisseurs Guide: "Tilting a touch to the slightly tart end of the red cherry spectrum in its youthful Pinot Noir aromas while still being a little reserved at this point, this wine is more supple than firm at its heart, and the brisk acidity that rises at the end does little more than add to the wine's lively nature. A couple of years in bottle will be useful." (10/2014) K&L Notes: From the winery: "This garnet-colored wine has earth tone aromas of forest floor, ripe black fruits and Five-spice. On the palate, the wine is firmly structured with flavors of blackberry, cassis and Bing c... Read More »
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 »
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 »
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."
From the Winemaker Larry Brooks; The 2013 vintage strongly favored the Winery blocks as 70% of the wine is from there. These are the youngest vines on the Estate, so that may be the correlation. Each year is unique, so it’s no surprise that top quality seems to move around from one area to another. This wine is almost 50% Dijon 667 clone, which has long been a reliable producer of the best quality for us. It seems to make reasonable color and balanced tannins, while at the same time being generous in fruit expression. The 2013 vintage encouraged larger t... Read More »
Gallo's "Signature Series" wines are billed as a return to hands-on winemaking for third generation winemaker Gina Gallo. Indeed, this wine is a single vineyard selection, from the Olson Ranch, "a cascading vineyard perched atop the terraces of the Santa Lucia Mountain Range with a terroir that echoes that of Burgundy." The "Signature Series" Pinot Noir has received positive tasting notes and a 93 points from Wine Enthusiast in recent vintages. Confidently bearing the Gallo name, this wine represents the new era of quality for the winery...yet at a very ... Read More »
According to the winemaker: "Always one of my favorite bottlings, this year's Eola Amity blend greets one with dense and pure black and red cherry and hints of cinnamon. Those cherry flavors follow through to the lively mid-palate where fresh herbs and plum flavors join, followed by a silky finish."
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.
Robert Parker's Wine Advocate: "The 2013 Pinot Noir Three Vineyard is much more refined on the nose compared to the 2012, with well-behaved crushed strawberry and Morello scents neatly aligned. The palate is medium-bodied with sappy red berry fruit, moderate acidity and a slightly chewy but appealing finish." (3/2015)
Wine Spectator: "Presents a tight beam of cherry-laced gravel, dried herb and cedar notes, ending clean and vibrant. Drink now through 2020." (9/2014) K&L Notes: Once upon a time, when La Crema "Vinera" was founded in the late 1970s, the quality of wine produced by the young, ambitious winemakers varied from sublime to...variable. Today, of course, La Crema is a veritable "old faithful" of Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir. The 2012 vintage fit right into the La Crema program, according to winemaker Elizabeth Grant Douglas' notes: "This exceptional release offers up vibrant red cherry aromas t... 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 »
Antonio Galloni: "Siduri's 2013 Pinot Noir (Sonoma County) is quite pretty. Soft, supple and expressive, the 2013 is an excellent choice for drinking now and over the next few years. Black cherries, plums, spices, earthiness, leather and tobacco flesh out on the dark finish. Adam and Dianna Lee announced they had sold Siduri and Novy Family Winery to Jackson Family Estates just as we were going to press, citing the pressure of running two labels both with broad lineups. Making wine seems romantic, but the business side of things can be much more daunting and is certainly ...Read More »
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)
91 points Wine Enthusiast: "*Editors' Choice* To call it entry level does not do justice to the quality here-this would be reserve level at many wineries. A generous mix of blueberry and black cherry fruit rolls seamlessly through the fruit-driven core, annotated with barrel notes of cola, coffee and cream." (6/2015) Wine Spectator: "Firm and focused, with earthy undertones to the tar and blackberry flavors, persisting against fine tannins. Best from 2016 through 2020. 3,184 cases made. (Web Only, 2015)"
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: "Pink apricot in color. Strawberry, rose and freshly cut watermelon aromas greet you in the glass. A creamy texture on the palate with flavors of strawberry rhubarb pie, complemented by a thrill of sour cherries. Finishes with a grip of orange zest and delicate accents of clove and fig....Vintage 2014 in Oregon may be remembered as the vintage of a lifetime; one of those rare vintages, reminiscent of 1988 and 2002, when you have high quality and high quantity simultaneously....giving us wines that show as fruit focused, quite concentrate... Read More »