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A Terrific New Find from Santa Cruz Mountains - La Honda Winery - 02/27/2018 - Pinot Noir (domestic)

It’s a simple, but often forgotten truth that some of the best finds are no further than your own backyard. We were reminded of this when we tasted through the more than impressive portfolio of La Honda Winery. Located a few short blocks from our Redwood City location, La Honda has been quietly turning our world-class wines of unimpeachable quality. Sourcing fruit from small, independant vineyards in and around the Santa Cruz Mountains, La Honda has succeeded in capturing the best from the many varied micro-climates of this truly unique region. While their entire line-up left us more than impressed, two standouts were their 2015 Chardonnay and 2015 "Sequence" Pinot Noir. Both are more than the sum of their parts, offering a sublime experience that left us longing for more. Each in their own ways upend one’s preconceptions about these traditional Burgundy varietals. Sophisticated, aromatically complex, and graceful, they show the more refined side of California winemaking. The notes below detail the specific profiles of each, but common to both is a precision and clarity that will make any wine lover swoon. When we realized they pair would retail at just under $20, we knew immediately we had to load up. La Honda will definitely go down as one of our best finds of 2018. Given their more than approachable price, we strongly recommend you give them a try. You’ll be glad you did.

Vintage Item Name Score Qty Retail Link
2015 La Honda Santa Cruz Mountains Chardonnay 92 >60 $19.99 View
2015 La Honda "Sequence" Santa Cruz Mountains Pinot Noir 92 >60 $19.99 View

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2015 La Honda Santa Cruz Mountains Chardonnay ($19.99)

92 points Wine Enthusiast: "Key-lime rinds, pink grapefruit, crisp pluot, just-ripe pineapple, nectarine and a steely gunmetal aroma show on the nose of this bottling. There's an intriguing touch of sweet onion to the sip. The laser-sharp precision would pair well with shellfish, but a slightly buttered warmth makes the bottling quite versatile. (MK)" (03/2017)

Staff ImageRyan Woodhouse | K&L Staff Member | Review Date: February 21, 2018

A complex nose dancing between toasted hazelnut and saline oyster shell notes; spiced pear, autumn barley and crushed rock. A very mineral driven style, very Chablis like. It has a keen acid line and verve to it; great for Dungeness crab I imagine (I'll have to test it out)! Such a stunning value for Santa Cruz Mountain Chardonnay. Hand-selected from a patchwork of small, local vineyards around the appellation skillfully and seamlessly woven together by winemaker Colin McNany.

Staff ImageChristina Stanley | K&L Staff Member | Review Date: February 06, 2018

Winemaker Colin McNany has crafted a gem in this 2015 Santa Cruz Mountain Chardonnay, which opens with notes of dried pineapple, orange blossom, papaya and tangerine skin, and displays a clean, dry palate with bright acidity that balances the viscosity and adds a fresh element. The fruit is sourced from three vineyards: Saratoga, Woodside and Los Altos Hills, each of which lend unique characteristics to the wine. Overall this is a beautifully crafted Chardonnay, and a great value that will appeal to those who appreciate balance and a sense of terroir.

Staff ImageStefanie Juelsgaard | K&L Staff Member | Review Date: February 04, 2018

La Honda Winery has access to some very small and exclusive vineyards in the Santa Cruz Mountains and I relished the opportunity to taste wine from vineyards no one else has can utilize. This is a great balance between bright and fresh flavors, with a nice acid line form the partial malolactic fermentation, and just enough richness, texture, and depth from the oak use. The Santa Cruz Mountains are fast gaining recognition for their sophisticated Chardonnays and La Honda is no exception. It's amazing to have such tasty wines in our own backyard and at such an affordable price.

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2015 La Honda "Sequence" Santa Cruz Mountains Pinot Noir ($19.99)

92 points Wine Enthusiast: "There are a lot of intriguing and unique aromas on the nose of this bottling, from candied pomegranate and wild blueberry to olive, rosewater, cinnamon and carnation. Those deep fruits and exotic spices show on the sip as well, where a tense acidity leads into a tart cherry finish." (10/2017)

Staff ImageChristina Stanley | K&L Staff Member | Review Date: February 06, 2018

"Sequence" is named for the series of vines along Skyline on the perimeter of Silicon Valley, planted in clay and sandy soils. There is a distinctive saline minerality in this wine that you might find in a Santa Cruz Pinot three times the price, and a concentration of fruit and balance of acidity that makes this wine a good candidate for extended cellaring, if you were inclined. That said, it's a wonderful quaffer now, with classic smoky aromas of black and white pepper, dried rose petal and violet, and flavors of pomegranate, black and Bing cherry, and tart and ripe raspberries.

Staff ImageSteve Bearden | K&L Staff Member | Review Date: February 06, 2018

This starts out rather husky, with earth tones, rhubarb and mushroom before brighter notes of red fruits fill the middle and finish. The wine is medium-bodied with lively texture and some intriguing hints of spice and forest. This is a satisfying and food-friendly bargain.

Staff ImageStefanie Juelsgaard | K&L Staff Member | Review Date: February 04, 2018

This is a great find from the Santa Cruz Mountains from vineyards exclusively farmed by La Honda Winery. This Pinot has great freshness and a juicy line of fruit backed by the 10% whole cluster, which adds just enough structure to this wine. I think they added the perfect amount of new oak to this wine, because while I get the texture and strength from oak aging, I don't taste any oak characteristics, such as vanilla or coconut, which leaves the fruit to be the shining star. This is a great value in Santa Cruz, a region that is quickly gaining recognition for its sophisticated Pinot Noirs. A great find and addition to our California portfolio.

Staff ImageAdam Winkel | K&L Staff Member | Review Date: December 14, 2017

This is exactly the kind of Pinot Noir that I love having piled around the house. This example from La Honda is simultaneously savory and energetic with a persistence and juiciness that begs another sip. It has plenty of stuffing and a certain seriousness to the profile, but this bottle doesn't depend on cellaring to shed superficial baby fat. I find that to be a rare virtue, not a knock. The complexity here is really highlighted by the wine's purity. Such is the virtue of the Santa Cruz Mountains, which experienced particularly low yields of exceptionally high quality Pinot Noir in 2015. This bottle is equally fun for the SCM geek, or as a "gateway" wine for the uninitiated to get into the region's Pinots for a steal of an entry fee.

Staff ImageRyan Woodhouse | K&L Staff Member | Review Date: December 08, 2017

Highly perfumed crushed red berries. Brambly fruit, orange peel, Christmas cake spice. Lifted aromas of Redwood grove and fresh rain. Pure, long, elegant on the palate, weighing in at 13.7% alc. A lovely combination of fresh fruit and savory forest floor notes. It finishes clean, supple and bright with moreish acidity.