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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.
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 »
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.
91 points Wine Enthusiast: "This beautiful Pinot Noir is a blend of various vineyards throughout the appellation. It shows classic coastal acidity, dryness and silkiness, with appealing raspberry, red licorice, cola and pomegranate flavors, wrapped into finely ground tannins. Decant and drink now." (6/2014) Antonio Galloni: "Sweet red berries, mint, flowers, hard candy and spices all inform the 2012 Pinot Noir (Sonoma Coast), the only 2012 Pinot that was in bottle at the time of this tasting. The 2012 is quite a bit racier and silkier than the 2011, a wine I have enjoyed on multiple occasions. There i ...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." (5/2015) Wine Enthusiast: "This has a very deep-red color with a reddish-purple rim, followed by very ripe, jammy aromas like boysenberry jam with spicy, smoky oak accents. Flavors are ripe, effusive and nearly sweet, as the wine goes for broke in terms of well-ripened grape flavors and generous helpings of sweet-sp ...Read More »
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 »
94 points Wine Enthusiast: "Delicious aromas of ripe cherry pie and black cardamom are quite sexy. The palate is far more complicated and layered, with the tartness of plum skins, richness of strawberry, balsamic reduction and spiciness of black sage." (7/2015)90 points Antonio Galloni: "(made from fruit grown in the Bien Nacido, Riverbench and Solomon Hills vineyards; no new oak): Bright red. Highly perfumed scents of spicy redcurrant, raspberry, fresh flowers and smoky minerals. Juicy red berry flavors pack a solid punch but come off as lithe. Brisk red berry skin and white pepper qualities dominate a long, ...Read More »
91 points Wine Spectator: "Presents a lively, refreshing, complex mix of snappy wild berry and raspberry flavors, firm and vibrant, ending long, clean and complex. Drink now through 2020. 6,000 cases made.—J.L." (6/2015) K&L Notes: 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 point... 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 Robert Sinskey's certified organic vineyards in Carneros, this Vin Gris of Pinot Noir is a rosé made the right way. Grapes were hand-harvested at night before being whole cluster pressed and vinified as rosé from start-to-finish rather than being bled off of a vat of crushed grapes destined to be a red. Fine Pinot Noir fruit from an excellent estate vineyard is dedicated to this limited bottling, and the results are never disappointing. From the winery: "This Vin Gris of Pinot Noir has a luminosity that cannot be pinned down with one or two descript... 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 »
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 »
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 »
Killer New Price! -Produced and bottled by Brewer-Clifton, the "B-C" Kessler Haak Pinot Noir is a single vineyard wine that comes from the organically farmed Kessler-Haak Vineyard. It is located off Highway 246, about 7 miles west of the town of Buellton, in the heart of the Santa Rita Hills appellation. The blend is made up of 25% Clone 667, 25% Clone 113 and 50% of Clone 115. Only 161 cases were bottled of this unique wine.
94 points Antonio Galloni: "Crushed red berries, mint, flowers and cinnamon lift from the glass in the 2012 Pinot Noir Estate Sta. Rita Hills. This is one of the most polished, refined and aromatically expressive wines I have tasted from Melville. What a gorgeous, radian and totally sexy wine this is." (7/2014)92 points Stephen Tanzer's International Wine Cellar: "Deep, vivid red. Sexy raspberry preserve and blood orange aromas are complemented by white flowers and Asian spices. Silky and round on the palate, with tangy minerality lifting pliant red fruit preserve flavors. Balances opulence and vivacity and finishes sappy, focused an ...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."
94 points Robert Parker's Wine Advocate: "The 2012 Pinot Noir Cuvée Alyce, a blend of clones 115 and 777 grown in heavy clay soils, was made from tiny yields of one ton of fruit per acre. There are 1,125 cases of this stunning Pinot. Aged in 60% new French oak and the rest one-year-old barrels, the wine exhibits beautiful, sweet black raspberry and black cherry fruit, a touch of graphite and subtle wood, a medium to full-bodied mouthfeel, and an opulent, sexy personality. Consume this beautiful Pinot Noir over the next decade or more." (12/2014)92 points Antonio Galloni: "Hansel's 2012 Pinot Noir Cuvée Alyce is a blend of c ...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 »
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 »
$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 »
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 »
93 points Stephen Tanzer's International Wine Cellar: "Vivid ruby. Sexy red berry and rose pastille aromas show very good clarity and a good dose of Asian spices. Silky, sweet and expansive on the palate, offering energetic raspberry and cherry flavors and an exotic touch of blood orange that adds a bitter edge. Pure and precise, with excellent finishing lift, cut and gentle tannins that fold into the lively red fruit. The most elegant of this set of Pinots today, and one that should age well on its balance." (5/2014)91 points Antonio Galloni: "The 2012 Pinot Noir South Slope is likely to be the last of the 2012s to be released, and wit ...Read More »
92 points Robert Parker's Wine Advocate: "he 2012 Pinot Noir Russian River, which comes from 7 different vineyards and multiple clones, is the largest cuvée, 4,775 cases. Notes of forest floor, wild strawberries, sweet raspberries and cherries notes in addition to roasted meats and herbs are all present in this gorgeous, perfumed, medium to full-bodied, silky textured, pure Pinot Noir. This big-time winner stands up to the single-vineyard bottlings. Drink it over the next decade or more." (12/2014)91 points Antonio Galloni: "A gorgeous entry-level wine, DuMOL's 2012 Pinot Noir (Russian River Valley) is laced with sweet red ...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 »
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 »
Antonio Galloni: "Crushed flowers, sweet red berries, mint and spices lift from the glass in the 2013 Pinot Noir (Sonoma Coast). Savory and floral notes add nuance on the ethereal, somewhat fleeting finish. This mid-weight, young-vines Pinot is an excellent choice for drinking over the next handful of years. (AG)" (1/2015)
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 »
Inventory: San Francisco
89 points Wine Enthusiast: "This is a high-toned, structured wine with vibrant acidity that is layered in earth, spice, raspberry and black tea. After a medium-sized weight to the midpalate, it finishes soft and round." (2/2015) Wine & Spirits: "In 2012 the dry-farmed vines at Hallberg gave a simple, welcoming pinot noir with dark fruit that suggests black plum and blueberry. The plump texture finds its balance against juicy acidity, ready for a pork chop roasted with a sprig of rosemary." (4/2015)
Stephen Tanzer's International Wine Cellar: "Vivid ruby-red. Wilder and deeper in pitch than the 2011 version, displaying powerful black raspberry and boysenberry scents and smoky floral and herbal nuances. Juicy acidity adds lift and structure to the ripe, subtly spicy dark berry flavors. The finish features chewy tannins, an echo of candied flowers and very good persistence." (6/2014) K&L Notes: An entry level Pinot Noir from one of K&L's longtime favorite producers.
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 »
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.
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 »
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.
93 points Wine Spectator: "Spares no expense, with lavish smoke and black licorice-scented oak framing a rich core of dark berry, anise, boysenberry and savory herb notes. Full-blown and expressive through a persistent, mouthcoating finish. Drink now through 2024." (10/2014) K&L Notes: Winery notes: "Located in one of the highest-plantable sites in the southern portion of the Santa Lucia Highlands in Monterey County known as the "Mission District." This pristine bench offers the vineyard cool, coastal days but it enjoys warmer afternoon temperatures and tamer winds than the northern portion of... Read More »
Inventory: Main Warehouse
90 points Wine Spectator: "Shows off ripe plum and wild berry flavors, with firm, grippy tannins. Gains depth and richness, adding a touch of dried herb. Needs time. Drink now through 2022." (4/2014) Wine Enthusiast: "Burgundian in its earthy, feral aromas, yet simultaneously jammy in flavor, this boasts gamy undertones and a soft texture. The producer recommends decanting an hour minimum before serving, and this will most likely help to blow off the wine’s rustically wild side." (8/2014) K&L Notes: The 2012 Carpe Diem Anderson Valley Pinot Noir displays admirable power, depth and density with deep aromas of blac... 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."
92 points Wine Spectator: "Exhibits a rich array of flavor and personality. Spicy, toasty anise and black licorice notes join cedary oak details, lending this a distinctive edge, with the blackberry and raspberry elements slow to move to the forefront. Ends with a persistent finish. Drink now through 2023. 3,720 cases made." (12/2014)
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 Connoisseurs Guide: "* Good Value * Generously fruited with a wealth of ripe cherries well-matched with temperate oak, this deep and very well-balanced bottling is one that outperforms at the price. It is long and insistent with a great sense of precision, and its fine sense of crafting makes it eminently inviting right now even though it is a wine that will age famously. Drink it up soon without guilt if patience comes hard, but know that good things lie ahead for those who are willing to wait for another three to six years." (2/2015) Antonio Galloni: "The 2013 Pinot Noir Santa Lucia Highland ...Read More »
92 points Wine Enthusiast: "Savory, earthy aromas of mushrooms, black pepper, iron and cranberry arise from this blend of nine vineyards, many of which are usually featured in single-vineyard selections. Umami rules the palate, and it’s quite full for a lighter-colored wine, with brown spice, light red fruit flavors and expertly balanced acidity." (3/2015) Antonio Galloni: "Calera's 2013 Pinot Noir is quite pretty, lifted and expressive. In this vintage, savory and floral overtones dominate over some of the more overt, fruit-driven notes that are often found in this bottling. The 2013 is made from a n ...Read More »
91 points Wine Enthusiast: "A minty aroma wafts from this wine, fresh and herbal, intermingled with the smell of sun-warmed tomato leaves. In taste, cranberry and savory black tea surround soft layers of well-built acidity and subtle red cherry fruitiness. It’s an intriguing wine that gets better in the glass." (10/2014)90 points Wine Spectator: "The plum, black cherry and raspberry flavors are pure and intense, showing some finesse, with star anise, clove and black pepper details that crescendo on the finish. Drink now through 2018." (9/2013)
90 points Wine Enthusiast: "There are equal parts strawberry and earth in this Pinot, sourced from the who’s who of vineyard sites in Russian River, including Toboni, Hallberg, Floodgate, Rochioli and Bacigalupi. The components come together in mesmerizing ways, making for a balanced and restrained Pinot that’s fresh in strawberry and cherry as well as seasonings of herb and cinnamon spice, building power as it goes." (12/2014) Robert Parker's Wine Advocate: "The dark ruby-hued 2012 Pinot Noir Russian River reveals a seductive bouquet of black cherries, plums, earth, spice and a hint of oak. Medium-bodied, well-bal ...Read More »
91 points Connoisseurs Guide: "*Two Stars* There is plenty of youthful, lightly cherry-like fruit in play here, and it is joined by a deft bit of carefully fit yeast, but what is most striking about this finely bubbled working is its marvelous sense of energy and freshness. It is tight and balanced to crispness with an uncommon sense of sophistication and finesse for a wine of such extraordinary drive and fruity vigor, and, while there is no doubt about its ability to last for a very long time, it is so bright and buoyant that it begs drinking now." (2/2015)
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)
90 points Robert Parker's Wine Advocate: "A few 2012 Pinot Noirs had been bottled and were tasted, including their largest cuvee (15,700 cases), the 2012 Pinot Noir Sonoma Coast. This beauty is a real steal in terms of high quality at a reasonable price. Deep ruby, this exuberant, delicious Pinot offers up notes of roasted herbs, forest floor, plum sauce and black cherries followed by a deep, rich, full-bodied, round and luscious wine. Drink it over the next 3-4 years. Patz and Hall has a long and enviable track record, making Chardonnay and Pinot Noir from some of the very finest single vineyar ...Read More »
92 points Wine Spectator: "Smooth-textured, with zesty wild berry, raspberry and black licorice flavors, showing spicy floral scents and a touch of lavender, gliding through on the finish. Drink now." (8/2015)91 points Stephen Tanzer's International Wine Cellar: "Bright ruby-red. High-pitched red berry and floral scents are sharpened by suggestions of white pepper and allspice. Juicy and precise on the palate, offering intense raspberry and bitter cherry flavors that become fleshier and sweeter with air. Fruit-driven and accessible, finishing with strong punch, repeating florality and slow-building supple tannins." (12/2014)
Antonio Galloni: "The 2012 Pinot Noir Estate San Andreas Fault is fresh, floral and lifted in style, with lifting fruit and good overall balance. The high-acid style of the vintage at Hirsch comes through in spades. Crushed flowers, savory herbs, iron and a host of saline-infused notes flow through to the finish. The 2012 comes across a bit compact, with hints of reduction that mask the fruit. Today, the overall impression is of angularity. Hirsch fans will have to be exceedingly patient with the 2012 Pinots, as they are massively tannic, high-acid wines, even by the stan ...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 »