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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 »
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.
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 »
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 »
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. 317,592 cases made." (5/2015) K&L Notes: A great value California Pinot Noir - this is a second label of Belle Glos, the Pinot Noir arm of Napa's Caymus Vineyards. And it's a consistent pick among customers here at K&L. The 2013 Pinot Noir is sourced from coastal Sonoma County, Monterey and Santa Barbara count... Read More »
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!
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 »
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 »
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 »
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 »
$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 »
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 »
91 points Wine Enthusiast: "The nose is reserved at first, but then offers a mushroomy earthiness alongside fresh raspberry, chopped black sage and olive tapenade. There is a solid blend of tannins, fruit and acid on the palate, like black tea and espresso with berry syrup." (10/2014) Allen Meadows - Burghound: "A pretty, spicy and attractively complex nose features notes of plum, dark cherry and soft floral nuances. There is good volume and reasonably good verve to the delicious and velvety middle weight flavor that possess a seductive mouth feel before terminating in a supple, round and generously proportione ...Read More »
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."
93 points Wine Enthusiast: "*Editors' Choice* Berry fruit leather, raspberry iced tea and dark spices weave together on the intriguing nose of this wine, which is as good if not better than similar wines from the appellation charging twice the price. Roasted figs and black cardamom rise on the palate, yet the wine remains light on its feet." (12/2014)91 points Robert Parker's Wine Advocate: "Kicking off the Pinot Noirs and coming all from sandy soils, the 2012 Pinot Noir Santa Maria Valley is another rocking value from this estate. Exhibiting classy cassis, toasted bread, creamy licorice and loads of spice, this medium to f ...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."
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 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 »
Wine Spectator: "Bold, ripe and vibrant, with expressive huckleberry, boysenberry and blueberry, this is as unbridled as you might expect for a 2012, but deliciously complex. Drink now through 2020." (11/2013) K&L Notes: This freshly released, wallet-friendly Pinot has a solid CV: It's a second label of Belle Glos, the Pinot Noir house of Napa's Caymus Vineyards, and a consistent store favorite here at K&L. The 2011 vintage earned 92 points from the Wine Spectator and a "Smart Buy" designation. The 2012 Pinot Noir, which is sourced from coastal Sonoma County, Monterey and Santa Barba... 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 »
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 »
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)
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."
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 »
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 »
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. From 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." They suggest that it would nicely complement pork tenderloin, salmon and poultry ... 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.
90 points Wine Enthusiast: "* Editors’ Choice * It’s hard to find a tastier Pinot Noir for this price. Aromas of rose petals, pungent violets and raspberry juice show just a touch of chai tea, and the palate proves juicy and fun, with cranberry, pomegranate and raspberry elements. Black tea and mocha flavors add just enough seriousness." (5/2015)
Inventory: Main Warehouse
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
Allen Meadows - Burghound: "A fruity but attractively complex and softly spicy nose mixes both red and dark currant aromas with briar and earth hints. There is a sleek and restrained mouth feel to the equally fruity middle weight flavors that that offer reasonably good length though not the depth suggested by the nose. This is attractive in its fashion and could be enjoyed now." (1/2015) Stephen Tanzer's International Wine Cellar: "Brilliant red. Red berries and herbs on the spice-inflected nose and palate. Tangy and focused, showing a slightly tart edge to its red fruit and good back-end cut. Serve this one slightly chilled. ...Read More »
From the Winery "This Pinot works hard for the working people. Telling a truly Oregon story, the wine draws from vineyards across the state. Each site adds its unique mark to the final Underwood blend, which highlights the rich juicy flavors of Oregon Pinot at an extraordinary price. The perfect wine to enjoy anywhere, any day of the week. Underwood is fast-becoming one of Oregon’s best values in Pinot Noir. Light and pretty raspberry fruit gains mass and flavor interest with well-integrated veins of stem and earth. It’s nicely balanced and true to varie... Read More »
From a newly planted vineyard in its second leaf, the Muska is a new addition to the Pinot lineup at Brooks. Like this winery, with an amazing story of people coming together to continue the vision of well-liked, late winery founder Jimi Brooks, this will be one to follow in the coming years.
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)
91 points Wine Spectator: "Combines delicacy with finesse, featuring a subtle mix of candied apple, strawberry, blueberry and wilted rose notes, with fine-grained, earth-laced tannins that linger. Drink now through 2023. 2,873 cases made. J.L." (10/2014) Wine & Spirits: "You can feel this wine’s ripeness in the dimpled fruit-skin texture of its tannins, but it’s surprisingly brisk, the acidity taking the fruit toward a red apple–skin spice that’s bold and direct. Try it with braised pork belly. (2,873 cases)" (2/2015) Wine Enthusiast: "Fresh and clean aromas of raspberry and a wild array of red fruit flavors characteri ...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."
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)"
Inventory: Redwood City
Wine Spectator: "Intense and concentrated, with dark berry, earth, graphite and cedar pushing in several directions. Fans out and gains tannic muscle on the finish. Drink now through 2025." (3/2015)
From Alfaro Family Vineyards & Winery, 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 refreshing acidity. Aged 8 months in 25% new... Read More »
Inventory: Redwood City
90 points Wine Enthusiast: "This is a soft and intense Pinot Noir from three different appellations that’s affordable and approachable. It’s well-made, with earth, candied citrus and Bing cherry notes intermixed with hints of anise and subtle oak." (12/2014) Stephen Tanzer's International Wine Cellar: "(made from a blend of fruit sourced from vineyards in San Luis Obispo, Sonoma and Monterey counties): Dark red. Smoky redcurrant and cherry aromas are lifted by a peppery note. Taut, chewy red fruit and bitter chocolate flavors show good clarity and a tangy edge, along with a touch of mocha. Finishes with firm grip and dusty tan ...Read More »