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K&L Staff Recommendations
Lovely Angeline, always a value, but never cheap... This wine comes to us via Sonoma County's Martin Ray Winery, owned by Courtney Benham (creator of the Blackstone brand). This multi-county blend of Pinot Noir has been well-received in recent years, maybe not tipping the point-scales over 90, but earning consistent praise for its solid, varietal character and good value.
From winemaker Rob Mondavi, Jr, the 2013 Spellbound Chardonnay displays a lively and lush tropical profile of pineapple, guava, and kiwi fruit. To contribute the rich complexity of vanilla and crème brûlée, 90% of the wine was fermented in oak barrels, with the remaining 10% fermented in stainless steel to maintan a bracing vein of freshness and acid.
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 »
Aptly named and always a favorite in the rich California style, Butternut is a luxuriously textured Chardonnay. Aromas of baked apple, hazelnut, and creme brulee fill the nose and reverberate on the palate with notes of peach, fig, butterscotch, and toasty oak. Grapes for the 2012 bottling were sourced from important growing regions across California including Napa, Sonoma, Mendocino, and Monterey. The result is a generous and concentrated Chardonnay that creates a statewide snapshot of the bountiful 2012 harvest.
Robert Parker's Wine Advocate: "http://www.yelp.com/biz/mercato-centrale-firenze-firenze-2" (8/2014) K&L Notes: The Varner brothers make some of our favorite value wines in California under their "negociant" label, Foxglove--always fruit-filled, balanced and polished--and this under $15 Chardonnay is a fantastic offering from the perfect and boutiful 2012 vintage. We like it, and so do the critics. The 2012 has not yet been professionally reviewed, but all previous vintages reviewed by Robert Parker's Wine Advocate have scored from 90-91 points (2007-2011 vintages).
New Price - A Steal! A rich, but not over-the-top Chardonnay from a prominent Napa Valley winery who has also made wine under our Kalinda label. Creamy and toasty with a fine core of acidity makes for easy drinking. For those who like a full but not too full-bodied Chardonnay. (Clyde Beffa Jr., K&L Wine Merchants Co-Owner)
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 »
The 2013 Kalinda Napa Valley Chardonnay comes from one of the top domestic Chardonnay producers, but as part of our agreement to acquire the wine, we cannot divulge to you who it is. Suffice it to say, this is always among the best bargains in the store--a luscious Chardonnay that would normally sell at a much higher premium. We're guessing it won't be around for long. This Chardonnay has a slight connection to the famous Chateau Montelena Chardonnay that won the French-American tasting in 1976.
A dry vintage and an ocean-influenced, cool climate add up to a great value in 80% barrel-fermented Santa Lucia Highlands Chardonnay. The winery's tasting note: "A combination of barrel and stainless steel fermentation resulted in bright and floral aromatics, with layers of pear, apple and citrus, highlighted with a hint of vanilla. The intense fruit in this wine is beautifully integrated with refreshing acidity and French oak. Sleepy Hollow's signature mineral character and creamy textures add complexity to a long, explosive finish."
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 points and calling it, "A terrific value in California Pinot." Here's the 2013, same great price, from the same great folks--and a similarly great vintage!
From fruit grown on several sites in Anderson Valley, Tous Ensemble is an immediately appealing Pinot Noir with a crunchy and vigorous red-fruited profile. It is great introduction to the style of winemaker Wells Guthrie, who delivers cool climate terroir which isn't sullied by high alcohol or too much wood. A perfect and long growing season in 2012 saw a two week harvest extending well into October but at only a 13.6% finished alcohol level in the finished wine, which was aged for nine months in neutral French oak. From the winery: "The delicately perfu... Read More »
90 points Wine Spectator: "*Smart Buys* Rich and approachable, driven by layers of blackberry, wild berry, cherry and plum flavors. This is well-proportioned and maintains a fruity profile amid firm tannins. Drink now through 2022. 14,000 cases made." (8/2014) Stephen Tanzer's International Wine Cellar: "(from Sonoma County, Monterey County and Santa Barbara fruit): Moderately saturated medium red. Aromas of raspberry, smoke and earth. Soft and easygoing, with red fruit and woodsmoke flavors offering immediate appeal. Finishes with supple tannins and a slight tartness. (ST)" (6/2014) K&L Notes: 49% Sonoma Coast, 43% Monterey County and 8... Read More »
Formerly run by Rombauer, Napa Cellars has been a Trinchero family property since 2006. Winemaker Joe Shirley introduced French oak to the Chardonnay program there, for a more finessed version of the rich, buttery (and eminently affordable) Napa Valley Chardonnay for which they've become known.
93 points Robert Parker's Wine Advocate: "The impressive 2012 Chardonnay Sonoma Coast displays delicate honey, white peach and floral notes followed by a medium to full-bodied Chardonnay with good freshness, excellent purity and fine texture. This cleanly made, beautifully crafted, well-balanced 2012 should be consumed over the next 5-6 years. (RP)" (12/2014) K&L Notes: A blend fruit from Anaba's estate vineyard (named J McK) in Carneros, Denmark Vineyard in the southern end of the Sonoma Valley and choice vineyards from the acclaimed Dutton Ranch (Mills Station Vineyard and DuttonHouse Block) in the Russian... Read More »
From the winery: "Grapes sourced from our preferred clones of Chardonnay provide the tropical notes folks have come to love. A slow cold primary and secondary fermenta:on on our proprietary combinaion of oak create an ethereal creaminess balanced with a vanilla finish. Fruit from our favorite cooler climates in California produce delicate aromas of baked lemons, pear, peach and apple that seamlessly evolve on the palate with a finish that is uniquely Butter!"
93 points Wine Enthusiast: "This is a delightfully floral and lemony-crisp wine, with a touch of creme brulee blanced between layers of citrus. Despite the rich accent, it's light-bodied and easy to like, offering subtle complexity and a sultry, spicy finish." - Advanced Buying Guide" (12/2014) K&L Notes: Au Contraire comes from California’s prestigious Sonoma Coast AVA. With over 2,000 acres of vineyards, this appellation extends from San Pablo Bay in the south to the border with Mendocino County in the north. With most vineyards located above fog line, a cool climate and beneficial rainfall l... Read More »
We couldn't be more excited to bring you another installment in what hopefully will turn out to be a long, fruitful project with wineries from around the United States, working with us directly to make exclusive bottlings for our customers. The Domestic team here at K&L has spent a great deal of time kicking around the idea of approaching wineries or winemakers we love, and asking them to work with us to create exclusive wines to our specifications. Furthermore we wanted to not only promote these outstanding wines, but the wineries behind them (rather th... 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 »
93 points Wine Enthusiast: "Ripe aromas of passionfruit, kiwi and nectarine rise alongside greener elements of celery stalk, wet thyme and Granny Smith apple on this promising early look at the vintage. The tongue tingles throughout the sip, with flavors of crisp apple, yellow melon and crushed chalk. Buttercream appears on the finish." (2/2015) Antonio Galloni: "Bright yellow. Ripe yellow plum and orange aromas show a touch of heat and pick up a spicy element with aeration. Fleshy and broad in the mouth, offering pliant pit and orchard fruit flavors that could use more structure. Finishes with decent ...Read More »
Antonio Galloni: "The 2013 Chardonnay is another fabulous wine for the money. This racy, impeccably balanced Chardonnay delivers the goods, and then some. Pear, spice and melon notes flesh out in a delicious, hugely attractive wine to drink now and over the next few years. Brian Talley's Bishop's Peak label is full of affordable, everyday wines that mostly over deliver next to their very reasonable price points. (AG)" (7/2014) Wine Enthusiast: "Talley Vineyards’ bargain brand offers light lemon and chalk aromas before delivering a palate where brisk acidity is the primary player. White rock ...Read More »
Antonio Galloni: "The 2013 Chardonnay (Sonoma Coast) is gorgeous. Apricots, honey, mint, orange blossom and wild flowers are all laced together in the glass in a racy, perfumed Chardonnay to drink over the next handful of years. Simply put, this is a fabulous wine for the money. The 2013 was done 90% in oak and 10% in steel. (AG)" (1/2015)
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 delivered both a richly textured and vibrant wine--a character one obtains from such cool climate regions as the Santa Lucia Highlands."
90 points Wine Enthusiast: "The savory side of Pinot Noir shines in this bottling from a vineyard south of the Arroyo Seco appellation. Aromas include stewed tomato and green olives with pimento. Falling in line are the Middle Eastern spices and olive tapenade on the palate, with tight pomegranate fruit. Serve with lamb gyros." (10/2014)
Inventory: San Francisco
92 points Wine Enthusiast: "The nose on this wine from nine vineyards ranging from Santa Clara to Santa Barbara reflects much of what the large appellation offers, but in subtle ways: touches of Golden Delicious apples, grilled pineapple, toasted coconut and chalk. The flavors surround a Meyer lemon zest tension, with apple flesh fruits and a zesty acidity that holds throughout without biting." (3/2015)90 points Antonio Galloni: "Calera's 2013 Chardonnay (Central Coast) is absolutely stunning in this vintage. Peach, apricot, wild flowers, honey and spices all meld together in a supple, generous Chardonnay that ...Read More »
MacRostie's Sonoma Coast bottling is definitely a top choice for an under-$20 California Chardonnay. Grapes were sourced from several select Sonoma Coast vineyards including the "A-list" Sangiacomo Vineyard, vineyards belonging to the Dutton and Martinelli estates, and MacRostie's own estate properties. The beatifully ripe and pristine fruit was whole-cluster pressed into 20% new French oak for fermentation where it aged for an additional 6 months. A few lots were fermented in stainless steel to retain some special emphasis on aromatic fruit characterist... Read More »
A great value California Pinot Noir with a solid CV: It's a second label of Belle Glos, the Pinot Noir arm of Napa's Caymus Vineyards. And it's a consistent favorite here at K&L. The 2013 Pinot Noir is sourced from coastal Sonoma County, Monterey and Santa Barbara counties--thus the California appellation.
Stephen Tanzer's International Wine Cellar: "Bright full yellow. Musky aromas of candied apple, nutmeg, honeysuckle and toasty oak, complicated by a leesy nuance. Round, sweet and ripe, with a savory aspect to the flavors of ripe apple, pineapple, toast and brown spice. This rather glyceral Chardonnay shows a saline umami quality but holds its shape nicely. Finishes with good lingering fruit. Remarkably inexpensive." (5/2014) Wine Enthusiast: "New French oak brings plenty of buttered toast and vanilla to this sweet, rather simple Chardonnay. It’s a wine with universal appeal, with bright pineapple, lemon-meringue ...Read More »
From the winery: "The wine is bone dry at 12.7% alcohol, in a dashingly light shade of pale melon-pink and with an aromatic pro le 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 Sebastopol Hills making up the backbone for this wine." From Stephen Tanzer for the 2013 vintage: "Extremely pale pink. High-pitched strawberry and citrus zest scents show good clarity and a spicy note of white pepper. Light-bodied, emphatically dry c... Read More »
90 points Antonio Galloni: "Light peach skin color. Fresh tangerine and peach aromas show a hint of white pepper. Juicy and seamless on the palate, offering zesty citrus and pit fruit flavors that put on weight with air. Lingers with very good spicy intensity on the finish, which leaves a refreshingly bitter peach pit note behind." (3/2015) K&L Notes: From a relatively young project that just keeps impressing us, for flavor and quality, year on year. The nose on this fresh, pink wine is full of fresh fruit and lively berry aromas. Not too sweet, it has a great lifted floral character on the pal... 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."
This is a delicious new Chardonnay made in collaboration with Talley winemaker Eric Johnson. All of the fruit comes from Talley's Oliver's Vineyard. It is a compilation of five different barrels that domestic buyer Bryan Brick chose alongside Johnson down at Talley earlier this year. Here's a breakdown of the components: Barrel #1 is the backbone of the blend; it's earthy and savory, with a wealth of complexity. It's made from the oldest block in the vineyard and the same block that goes into Talley's vineyard designated Chardonnay. Barrel #2 comes from ... Read More »
Wine Enthusiast: "This unoaked Chardonnay is so ripe and rich, you won’t miss the buttered-toast flavor of oak. It’s incredibly potent with limes, mangoes, oranges and pineapples, uplifted with brisk acidity. A weekend brunch of scrambled eggs and smoked salmon will be the perfect occasion." (12/2013) K&L Notes: From fruit sourced from Yountville, the 2013 Napa Valley Chardonnay offers great value for the pedigree of the fruit. The winery's tasting notes: "Hoopla 2013 Chardonnay has a beautiful clear bright golden color. From the first pour, it explodes from the glass with tropical f... Read More »
90 points Robert Parker's Wine Advocate: "The amazing 2012 Chardonnay Sonoma Coast possesses lots of tropical fruit, honeysuckle, pineapple and tangerine notes. Half went through malolactic and the other half was blocked. With lots of minerality as well as a Chablis-like character, it is a major sleeper of the vintage. This beauty should drink well for 1-2 years. (RP)" (12/2013) Antonio Galloni: "The 2012 Chardonnay Sonoma Coast is beautiful. All the elements fall into place nicely in a Chardonnay that is bright and crisp, but with good depth in its fruit and no hard edges. Lemon oil, pear and pastry notes meld int ...Read More »
Antonio Galloni: "The 2013 Chardonnay (Sonoma County) is absolutely delicious. Apricot pit, peach, honey, mint and chamomile flesh out in a bold, racy Chardonnay to drink now and over the next few years. Once again, Lioco delivers superb value with the Sonoma Coast Chardonnay. Lioco stands out for wines that deliver pure pleasure. Every glass seems to call for another in these superb, impeccable whites and reds. Winemaker John Raytek makes the Lioco wines in a slightly riper style than he favors at Ceritas, which puts Lioco closer to the center. Best of all, pricing rema ...Read More »
91 points Antonio Galloni: "The 2012 Chardonnay Sta. Rita Hills is beautiful. Dried pear, almonds, orange peel and spices meld together in a textured, resonant Chardonnay laced with gorgeous depth and balance. Never content to stay put, Greg Brewer and Steve Clifton continue to push the envelope on quality in the Sta. Rita Hills. Over the years, Brewer and Clifton have had an enormous impact on the region, both directly and indirectly, in giving advice to newly arrived owners and developing a number of vineyards they no longer farm. The most recent development at Brewer-Clifton is ...Read More »
93 points Antonio Galloni: "Dierberg's 2012 Chardonnay is gorgeous. Lemon oil, tropical fruit and butter are all tempered by the cool microclimate here. The flavors remain bright, focused and nuanced in a crystalline Chardonnay that stands out for its precision. A hint of sweetness from the oak adds complexity, but overall, the 2012 is a wine built on energy. Dierberg, and its sister property, Star Lane, is in a bit of a transition at the moment. New winemaker Tyler Thomas took over with the 2013 vintage, while the 2012s were finished by assistant winemaker Jeff Connick. Thomas ma ...Read More »
Bishop's Peak is a second label of Talley Vineyards representing the greater Central Coast region. The fruit is sourced from the McCullough, Stone Corral, C-Bar, Las Ventanas, East Rincon, and Marcam Vineyards. From the winery: "Brilliant garnet in color, the 2013 vintage of Bishop’s Peak Pinot Noir bursts with aromas of strawberry and raspberry complimented with subtle notes of earth and soil. This medium bodied wine has elegant flavors consistent with its aromas, soft tannins and refreshing acidity. Enjoy a glass with a wedge of Fontina cheese or garl... Read More »
Robert Parker's Wine Advocate: "A percentage of the 2012 Chardonnay Estate comes from the same clone planted on the famous Alexander Mountain estate of Jess Jackson's (the Upper Barn clone of Chardonnay). The wine is aged for eight months, half in oak and half in stainless steel. The impression is one of a full-throttle Maconnais with loads of white peach, apricot, honeysuckle and buttered/caramelized citrus. It is elegant, fresh, seems relatively neutral when it comes to oak seasonings, and has good depth and richness. This is a beauty to drink over the next several years. (RP) ...Read More »
93 points Robert Parker's Wine Advocate: "The 2012 Chardonnay Estate, from a vineyard planted in 1976 and 1989, was aged in 38% new Francois Freres barrels, and goes through malolactic with lees stirring for about 6-8 weeks. Another terrific value, this 1,000-case beauty exhibits lots of white peach, honeyed citrus, brioche and pineapple notes enhanced by a gentle seasoning of wood spice, a full-bodied mouthfeel and loads of fruit as well as exuberance. There is a heavy underpinning of minerality running through this attractive Chardonnay. (RP)" (12/2013)91 points Stephen Tanzer's International Wine Cellar: "Bright yellow. Potent orchard and citrus f ...Read More »
Stephen Tanzer's International Wine Cellar: "Light gold. Aromas of fresh pear and melon, with a honeyed aspect adding depth. Juicy and open-knit, offering plump orchard fruit flavors braced by a touch of lemon curd. Closes with good sappy cling, an echo of bitter citrus zest and spicy persistence. This wine's balance of richness and energy makes it highly flexible with food; it's also quite easy to drink by itself." (12/2013) K&L Notes: Always a crowd pleaser and great value in Central Coast Chardonnay. From the winery: "A pure fruit expression of our vineyard, Talbott Chardonnay, Kali Hart is lush and live... Read More »
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 »
93 points Wine Enthusiast: "**The Enthusiast 100 of 2014 - #17** Buttered toast, oaky smoke and a slight mango tropicality converge for an epic nose on this Chardonnay from a vineyard that was planted in 1976. There are layers of flavor too, lime citrus at first evolving toward brioche with a butterscotch finish, and some salt and cracked pepper throughout." (11/2014)91 points Antonio Galloni: "The 2012 Chardonnay Wolff Vineyard is once again striking. Honey, almonds, apricots, dried pears and spices meld together in a resonant, deeply expressive Chardonnay from a late ripening site in Edna Valley. This is one ...Read More »
91 points Robert Parker's Wine Advocate: "The 2012 Chardonnay Grand Reserve (200,000 cases produced) is composed of Monterey and Santa Barbara fruit that spent nine months in largely French oak as well as smaller quantities of American wood. One-third is new, and this cuvee is put through full malolactic fermentation as opposed to the other Chardonnays where it is generally partially or completely blocked. Copious quantities of tropical fruits, pineapples, mangoes, apricot marmalade and honeyed citrus are found in this clean white that finishes with good acidity and a distant minerality. It was ...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 »