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K&L Staff Recommendations
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.
Lovely Angeline, always a value, but never cheap... This wine comes to us from 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 »
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 »
A fantastic Cabernet value from the great 2013 vintage. This wine was made by Yountville's most famous property. We can say no more. Very elegant for the vintage with layers of ripe red berry fruit. Silky texture with tons of latent tannin. Serve with a rack of lamb after decanting for an hour
90 points Wine Spectator: "*Smart Buys* A zesty red, with personality to spare, offering notes of licorice, blackberry, smoky pepper and grilled herbs. Zinfandel, Petite Sirah, Syrah and mixed Italian blacks. Drink now through 2019." (6/2015) Antonio Galloni: "Marietta's NV Old Vine Red Lot 62 is one of the very best California wines readers will find for the money. Zinfandel plays the leading role in a hearty, racy red bursting at the seams with flavor. Sweet red cherries, flowers, cedar and new leather add the final notes of complexity. Brothers Jake and Scot Bilbro seem to have breathed new life i ...Read More »
Great Price - Just Reduced! Last year’s Ancient Peaks/K&L Zinfandel bottling was such a hit with our staff and customers that we could have done another vintage of it and we all would have been incredibly happy. However, that would be too easy, and that is simply not the K&L way. I started talking to the folks at AP early this year when we began the discussion about doing another bottling together. We both knew that we wanted to, but I really wanted to show off the winery's incredible Cabernet vines and I didn’t know if they had enough Cab to let us have... Read More »
Robert Parker's Wine Advocate: "The 2012 Cabernet Sauvignon shows little Cabernet character, yet has good fruit and an up-front, straightforward feel in its red currants, licorice and spice. Medium-bodied and well made, it should be consumed in its first 3-5 years of life. (JD)" (8/2014) K&L Notes: From Niven Family Wine Estates and their SIP (Sustainability in Practice™ certified vineyards, this good value Paso Cab is typically bold and rich, "loaded with blackberry jam, cherry, black currant, exotic spices and cola, with notes of caramelized oak," according the winery's note.
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 »
Stephen Tanzer's International Wine Cellar: "Red-ruby color. Vibrant aromas of cassis, black cherry, shoe polish and oak spice. Firm, focused dark berry flavors are supported by a solid spine of acids and tannins. Very unevolved but not hard or tart. Should age slowly and well." (6/1999) Wine Spectator: "Tight and firm, with a compact focus on the chunky currant, mineral, plum and blackberry flavors, it slowly unfolds to reveal more nuances. Should reward patience in the cellar. Made by Cathy Corison." (1/2000)
Rudy Von Strasser may have got his start in the wine business as an intern at prestigious Chateau Lafite-Rothschild, but he hasn't let his head, or his prices, ascend into the stratosphere. The wine is made up of 100% Diamond Mountain fruit, some of which comes off the Von Strasser Estate. This is a concentrated, elegant, and eminently drinkable Cab delivering more-than-everyday quality for a fantastic price. From the winery: "This bold Cabernet Sauvignon has great perfume of violets. Intertwining aromas of blueberry,cassis and coffee all lead into a ric... Read More »
If you try to find the exact cepage on this always-fantastic red blend, you might find yourself gazing up at the heavens for an answer, since you won't get one from the winemaker. The Pleiades might be the only super-allocated, cult California wine for under $25, and it's sure to sell out quickly, as previous vintages have. From "One of California's most iconic and mystical winemakers," says Robert Parker: "Sean Thackrey has logged in 20 or more vintages of consistently stunning wines that perhaps say it all with the simple quote on his label: -Sean A. T... 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: "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 »
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 »
92 points Wine Spectator: "Combines firm, dark fruit and chewy tannins with a measure of finesse and refinement. Ends with gripping, cedary tannins, bolstered by good length and depth. Drink now through 2024." (4/2015) Wine Enthusiast: "This chewy, still-tight Cabernet is full-bodied on the palate, revealing savory, herbaceous characteristics. Made in a robust style, it’s approachable and enjoyable now." (4/2015)
Olema is produced by the folks at Amici Cellars. Fruit was sourced from select vineyards around Sonoma County and blended with a splash of Merlot and Cabernet Franc.The wine was aged for more than a year in 30% new French oak before bottling.
Robert Parker's Wine Advocate: "Made from purchased grapes and vinified in the winery, as opposed to buying bulk wine and blending it, it is indigenous yeast-fermented, and comes across as a high-octane, delicious/yummy, big, full-bodied red with lots of pepper and meaty notes intermixed with red and black fruits, earth, and spice. I believe some of the declassified lots from the Bedrock cuvées also end up in this blend. A terrific bargain, it should drink well for several years. (RP)" (12/2014) K&L Notes: The base for this wine comes from more than 100-year-old vines from the Bedrock vineyard, and... Read More »
Martin Ray specializes in crafting Cabernet Sauvignon from the most esteemed sub-appellations of Napa, Sonoma, and the Santa Cruz Mountains, and offers an amazing value over what you'd usually pay for such wines. 80% of this vintage is from the Stags Leap District, and is 90% Cabernet Sauvignon blended with 6% Malbec and 4% Petite Sirah. The winery's tasting notes: "This complex but sophisticated Cabernet Sauvignon is sourced from some of the most sought-after regions in the Napa Valley showcases its roots from many of its mountain sources. Featuring ent... Read More »
92 points Wine Spectator: "A lively, zesty red that offers bright cherry and tarragon aromas and sleekly layered flavors of briary raspberry, nutmeg and fresh-cracked black pepper. Drink now through 2021." (12/2014) Robert Parker's Wine Advocate: "The 2013 Zinfandel Sonoma is an exuberant, richly fruity, medium-bodied effort displaying plenty of raspberry, blueberry and cherry fruit, 14.8% natural alcohol, and a lusty personality. It should drink well for several years." (12/2014) K&L Notes: Seghesio blends Alexander Valley and Dry Creek Valley Zinfandel into the Sonoma County, with loads of dark fruit supported by brambly fla... Read More »
With just over 2500 cases made of this delightful red, the winery notes that this is "a zesty blend from our three mountain vineyards at 1000 to 1700 ft overlooking Chiles Canyon. Dark cherry and raspberry flavors with tinges of bay leaf and clove. Accompanies wood grilled vegetables and marbled meats."
The wine is made up of 68% Cabernet Sauvignon, 20% Merlot, 10% Cabernet Franc, and 2% Petit Verdot. It drinks well right now but should hold for several years. Members of the K&L staff had a chance to go down and spend a couple hours with Doug and his crew at the winery. The thought was to make a red blend from Happy Canyon, which K&L had never done before. Happy Canyon is the smallest AVA in Santa Barbara County. It lies north and west of Lake Cachuma and is home to six major vineyards: Cimarone, Grassini, Happy Canyon Vineyard, McGinley, Star Lane, and... Read More »
Robert Parker's Wine Advocate: "The 2012 Cabernet Sauvignon from Edge (75% Cabernet Sauvignon, 14.5% Merlot, and the balance Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot and Malbec), is composed of grapes from various sources. It exhibits a dense ruby/purple color, lots of fruit, and a round, seductive style with good ripeness and a heady finish. Drink it over the next 6-8 years. (RP)" (10/2014)
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 »
$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 »
Bench is one of the labels of Brack Mountain Wine Company, a winery devoted to hand-crafted wines at reasonable prices. The 2012 Cab is sourced from rocky, volcanic vineyards along the western side of the Mayacamas Mountains. Fog in the morning and sunshine in the afternoon helped make this a stellar vintage, with exceptional fruit and nuanced, balanced wines. From the winery: "Deep, dark purple in color, this wine offers aromas of violets, huckleberry and a touch of vanilla spice. The palate is elegantly wound with dusty tannins and a supple, velvet tex... Read More »
From the team at Banshee Wines, best known hereabouts for supplying us with excellently sourced Pinot Noir.
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 »
90-92 points Robert Parker's Wine Advocate: "I think the 2013 Cabernet Sauvignon will be even better, and it has more depth and texture, with gorgeous blackcurrants, violets, licorice and smoked earth all emerging from the glass. The texture here is really something, and this should be a smoking value. Made from 88% Cabernet Sauvignon, 8% Merlot, 2% Cabernet Franc and the balance Malbec and Petit Verdot, it will have 10-12 years of longevity. (JD)" (8/2014)
Lyeth's Meritage is a blend of the five red Bordeaux varietals with 58% Merlot, 15% Cabernet Sauvignon, 14% Malbec, 11% Cabernet Franc and 2% Petit Verdot. With grapes sourced from select vineyards across Sonoma County, it is the flagship wine of the estate and delivers an excellent value. From the winery: "A brilliant garnet in color, this Meritage is rich with aromas of dark cherry, plum, and boysenberry with subtle notes of mocha and cedar completing the nose. Flavors of blackberry and anise are lush and pronounced on the palate and are followed by hi... Read More »
Inventory: San Francisco
The Wetzel family has been growing Cabernet Sauvignon in Alexander Valley since the 1960s, and embody the Sonoma County spirit of winemaking, charging very fair prices for estate-grown, Alexander Valley wines, yet always innovating and pursuing quality. Wines are aged in their own shotcrete-walled caves, just steps from the winery. According to the winery: "The 2013 Cabernet Sauvignon is a classic Alexander Valley wine with medium body, great fruit flavors and grippy tannins. There are aromas of dark fruit, blackberry, cherry, cassis, plum, vanilla and a... 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)
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."
Robert Parker's Wine Advocate: "The more serious from Avalon is the 60,000-case cuvée of 2012 Cabernet Sauvignon Napa. Also 100% varietal, it was aged 16 months in French and American oak. It exhibits a dark ruby/plum color along with notes of sweet blackcurrants and plums intermixed with forest floor, licorice and subtle roasted herbs. Fleshy, round and seductive...(RP)" (11/2014) Wine Enthusiast: "Soft and round, this 80% Cabernet Sauvignon also has 16% Merlot and 4% Cabernet Franc and was given 16 months of oak aging. Flavors lean toward red berry and cedar." (2/2015) Wine Spectator: "Trim and tight, offering chewy, ceda ...Read More »
A partnership between three Paso Robles families who jointly own Margarita Vineyard, the southernmost in the region, just 14 miles from the Pacific Ocean. Their Cabernet Sauvignon is a deep and generous wine, with black fruits, toasty caramel and cedar notes and a rich, silky palate.
Jon and Susan Pey are talented, passionate vignerons with access to some incredible vineyard sources throughout Northern California. They produce a collection of wines that over-deliver in quality for the price under their various boutique labels. The fruit for the 2013 Cabernet Sauvignon comes from the Oak Knoll, Rutherford, and Oakville appellations. From the winery: "Vintage 2013 followed the excellent 2012 and led to debates as to which vintage was 'better.' Our sense is they are both very, very high quality; both had abundant sunshine, cool evenings... Read More »
91 points Robert Parker's Wine Advocate: "Another non-vintage cuvée introduced by the sons is the non-vintage Arme Lot #1. A Bordeaux blend of 88% Cabernet Sauvignon, 6% Merlot, 4% Malbec and 2% Petit Verdot, it is a deep, delicious, full-bodied, 5,000-case cuvée boasting a dark ruby/purple color as well as attractive notes of cassis, dusty, loamy soil and foresty undertones. Lush and heady, it is ideal for drinking over the next decade or more. The Bilbro brothers, Jake and Scott, have taken over for father, Chris, who is still very much involved, but the newer generation has the responsibili ...Read More »
Praise from the Wine Advocate: "Without a doubt, Steve Clifton is producing some of the finest examples of Italian variety wines in California. While I think you get the most bang for the buck from Steve’s more inexpensive whites and reds, his upper-tier Nebbiolos and blends certainly have unique characters and offer high quality." (JD, 08/2013) And from Antonio Galloni's Vinous: "Is there anything Palmina doesn't do well these days? In the past, this lineup of Italian-inspired wines has always had one or two slight underachievers, but not this year. Eve... Read More »
Sourced from Mendocino's Yorkville Highlands, the Sonoma Coast, and a hillside vineyard in the Russian River Valley, this cool climate Pinot Noir reflects winemaker Derek Rahliffs' classic approach. The three lots are vinified separately and the approach in the cellar is low-intervention. According to the winery: "Aromas of cherry, herbs, and rose petal dominate the nose, while on the palate the wine is medium bodied with a silky smooth texture and a refreshing acid on the finish. Enjoy with pork tenderloin, salmon and poultry dishes where the crispness... Read More »
91 points Wine Spectator: "A zesty red, with briary cherry and sage aromas that lead to lively and layered flavors of wild berry, anise and smoky cracked pepper. Drink now through 2021." (1/2015)90 points Antonio Galloni: "The 2013 Old Vine Zinfandel is once again fabulous and one of the very best wines readers will find in its price range. Rich, powerful and explosive, the 2013 hits the palate with an array of dark red stone fruits, tobacco, menthol and licorice. The Old Vine Zinfandel comes from a smattering of sites, most of them in Sonoma Valley, Alexander Valley and the Russian River Valley. As always, t ...Read More »
Arguably the most popular of the co-branded wines with our staff last year was the 2010 version of this wine so it had a lot to live up to this year. The good news is the staff is every bit as excited about it this year and we hope that enthusiasm will rub off on you. Bob Lindquist was more than happy to work with us again this year and put together this 100% Syrah bottling from certified Demeter Bio-Dynamically grown vines in the cool Edna Valley Appellation. Unmistakably Syrah from the first sniff of the nose the bold cracked black pepper, fried bacon,... Read More »
92 points Antonio Galloni: "Sweet dark cherries, smoke, graphite and grilled herbs flesh out in the 2012 Cabernet Sauvignon Alexander Valley, a voluptuous, racy wine that captures the essence of the vintage. Firm yet well-integrated tannins support the fruit in a powerful, structured Cabernet Sauvignon that delivers tons of quality for the money." (1/2015)91 points Wine Spectator: "Exhibits ripe and juicy, yet firm, flavors of currant and blackberry amid a gravelly earthiness before finding focus on the finish, where the tannins are chewy, revealing a licorice touch. Drink now through 2025." (4/2015) Robert Parker's Wine Advocate: "The 2012 C ...Read More »
Inventory: Redwood City
92 points Wine & Spirits: "**Featured in the Year's Best U.S Cabernet and Blends 2014 Issue** From a vineyard planted at 2,600 feet on the volcanic slopes above Clear Lake, this is a sophisticated cabernet, the fruit as deep and dark as blackberry juice, rich yet clean and spicy, laced with mountain aromas of pine straw and dry brush. Firm and almost formidable in structure, it opens into savory layers, lengthened by refreshing acidity." (12/2014)90 points Wine Enthusiast: "Big and rich, this needs time or a great steak to bring out its best. The color is very dark to the rim. Aromas are closed but the flavor ...Read More »
Connoisseurs Guide: "*One Star & Good Value* Although its somewhat juicy, sweetly oaked aromas of ripe cherries send a signal that this is a wine that could and should be enjoyed soon, it turns out to show a little more structure once past its early plumpness and is one on which it would be wise to wait. It has the right fruity pieces in place to commend four or five years of keeping, and it delivers far more than do most at its price level." (11/2014) Wine Enthusiast: "This vineyard from the Santa Margarita Ranch at the southern end of the appellation produces a wine with blackberry, mint, sla ...Read More »