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K&L Staff Recommendations
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 »
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 »
92 points Wine Spectator: "Lightly papery tannins underline the loamy earth-inflected cherry and spice flavors on a lovely, sleek and open-textured frame. Shows complexity and deftness, finishing long. Drink now through 2022." (2/2015) Stephen Tanzer's International Wine Cellar: "Light, bright red. Lively spice-tinged red berry scents show good focus but a touch of heat. Tangy and sharply focused on the palate, offering bitter cherry and redcurrant flavors and a hint of bitter orange pith that gains strength with air. The redcurrant note repeats on the rather rigid finish. (JR)" (8/2014) Wine Enthusiast: "A penetrating whiff of wintergreen is ...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 »
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 forest fruit and notes of plum on the nose. The palate is tightly focused with bright currant, cola and cedar. The mouthful is supple with well integrated tannins that provide the integrity for this noteworthy wine."
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!" Best Pinot for the price I've tasted all year! And the name says it all -- juicy, supple, rich, ripe, soft yet sultry intensity, and just plain delicious! I can't think of a better party Pinot than this! Or just a great Tuesday night wine...or any night of the week fo... Read More »
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 »
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 »
92 points Wine Spectator: "Impressive, showing density, concentration, depth and persistence, with layers of blackberry, mocha, cedar, spice and berry pie. Finishes with a strong presence." (10/2015)90 points Antonio Galloni: "Brilliant ruby-red. Perfumed scents of raspberry, cherry, candied rose and peppery spices, with a smoky mineral undertone. Offers a gently sweet red fruit character on the palate, picking up a floral element with air. This pure, open-knit Pinot finishes with good sweetness and focus and gentle tannic grip. (JR)" (6/2015) Connoisseurs Guide: "*One Star* Solidity and fruity muscle take precedence over anything ...Read More »
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."
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 »
From the producer: "Our 2014 Tous Ensemble Pinot Noir’s aroma is layered with fresh red fruits, rose petal, and vanilla. The body is redolent of damson plums, red apple skin and bing cherries, with a silky texture and smooth tannins."
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 »
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.
According to the winery: "Great value! A particularly wonderful vintage of this wine. Aromas and flavors of strawberries and raspberries are joined by anise and clove notes with mouth filling intensity."
Ponzi's Tavola ("table" in Italian) Pinot Noir--is just that: wine for the table. It is a go-to food-friendly wine for weeknight dinners, and it won't disappoint on charm. Bonus: it's certified sustainable! From the winemaker: "This forward wine is filled with lush aromas of plum, black cherry, cola and caramel. The mouth follows suit with white pepper and mint notes intermingled with the sweet fruit mid palate leading to a finish of soft, but present tannins."
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 »
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 »
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 »
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.
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.
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 »
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 »
91 points Wine Enthusiast: "This single-vineyard selection from the Jackson Family’s Santa Maria Valley winery kicks off with scents ranging from red, blistered tomato to pomegranate reduction and mole sauce. On the palate, flavors vary from sweeter berry to tart cherry, with a savory, roasted pork element rounding out the wine." (10/2014)
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 »
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."
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)"
Inventory: Main Warehouse
91 points Wine & Spirits: "There’s a sumptuous oak character to this pinot, a blend drawn largely from Eola–Amity Hills sources including Zenith, Mark Vlossak’s estate vineyard. It takes a day for that nutty graham-cracker sweetness to recede, and when it does, some beautiful fruit is revealed, dark, concentrated and grippy. This needs a year in the cellar to knit." (10/2015) Antonio Galloni: "Vivid red. Fresh raspberry and candied rose aromas are complemented by suggestions of spicecake and musky herbs. Spicy and incisive on the palate, offering intense red fruit and peppery spice flavors that slowl ...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 »
90 points Wine Enthusiast: "A new, lower-priced cuvée for DDO, this uses both estate and purchased grapes. Chocolaty, soft and fresh, it is a graceful wine with generous raspberry and cherry fruit. Moderate acidity leads into flavors that are elegant and bright, with a gentle, lingering finish. Let it breathe for at least an hour for best results." (4/2015) Robert Parker's Wine Advocate: "The 2013 Dundee Hills Pinot Noir is matured 100% in oak for 11 months of which 20% is new. It is a little more backward on the nose compared to the Willamette Valley Pinot Noir '13, probably because it had only recently been bottl ...Read More »
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 »
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
Robert Parker's Wine Advocate: "The 2013 Pinot Noir aims to be a representation of the Willamette Valley, the fruit sourced from 12 vineyards. It has a pretty strawberry and red cherry-scented bouquet that is simple but nicely focused. The palate is quite pointed on the entry with tart red cherries and quite high acidity, fresh in the mouth, but needing a little more substance on the lightly spiced finish. (NM)" (3/2015)
Wine Enthusiast: "Black currants, cranberry, pomegranate and stewed plum fruits meet with pencil shavings and sagebrush on the nose. Flavors are relatively light and straightforward, with dark red raspberry ripeness and tart plum skin tannins." (5/2015) K&L Notes: Ken Brown is a key figure in Central Coast fine winemaking, having founded Byron Winery in 1984. Ken Brown Wines is a smaller operation, allowing Brown to focus his well-established talents on small lots of wine, like this cuvee of Pinot Noir: "This wine is luscious and fruit forward with appealing aromatics, expressive flav... Read More »
Inventory: Main Warehouse
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."
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 »
Antonio Galloni: "The 2013 Pinot Noir Hometown is a very pretty entry-level offering from Hitching Post. Partial aging in stainless steel keeps the flavors bright and nuanced throughout, with plenty of sweet red cherry, cherry pit, mint and spice nuances that come through. A dollop of Valdiguie rounds out the blend. At $21 a bottle, the Hometown is one of the best values in California Pinot Noir. Frank Ostini is quite humble in talking about how Sideways basically changed his life and made his Hitching Post II restaurant a hugely popular tourist destination, which in turn ...Read More »
In 1971, Ginny and David Adelsheim purchased the 19 acres that would become Quarter Mile Lane Vineyard. They shared a dream with a handful of families that Oregon’s climate and land could one day produce serious wines. A home was built, vines planted, and in 1978, the first commercial wines were produced. Over four decades, Adelsheim Vineyard grew up with Oregon’s wine industry.
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)