Wine Reviews: Black Kite Cellars

Posted by | Posted in Wine Reviews | Posted on 04-18-2020

This week, I’m highlighting a California producer that I’ve enjoyed over the years: Black Kite Cellars.

Based in Mendocino’s Pinot capital of Anderson Valley, Black Kite produces a range of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay from single vineyards in the Anderson Valley, Santa Lucia Highlands and Sonoma. Started in 2003, co-founders Rebecca and Tom Birdsall were inspired by a bike trip through Burgundy. And Rebecaa’s parents had purchased a plot of land near the Navarro River in Anderson Valley in 1995, which would become home to their estate vineyards. The wines are made by Jeff Gaffner, who worked at Chateau St. Jean and Arrowood.

The Pinots show a juicy, fruity, but floral and spicy style, each with unique signatures of its vineyard. The Chardonnays are mouthwatering and delicious, treated the same way in the cellar, spending 16 months in 1/3 new French oak. There’s a lot of nuance and complexity in these wines, and they’re worth exploring if you like California Pinot and Chardonnay.

These wines were received as trade samples and tasted sighted.

Chardonnay

2017 Black Kite Chardonnay Gap’s Crown VineyardUSA, California, Sonoma County, Sonoma Coast
SRP: $62
Deep yellow color. Aromas of honey, ginger, with lemon zest, meringue, orange peel, apricot, sea salt, dandelion – all sorts of awesome things going on, here. Medium-bodied on the palate with a crisp, nervy, racy aesthetic that hits target. Plush apricot, lemon curd, orange peel and kiwi, delicious fruit, mixed with complex stony, mountain stream, mineral and limestone. Deep but brisk, age-worthy but open for business. This wine leaves me salivating. So, so good. (93 point IJB)

2017 Black Kite Chardonnay Soberanes VineyardUSA, California, Central Coast, Santa Lucia Highlands
SRP: $48
Deep yellow color. The nose gushes with lime, papaya, topped in honey, cinnamon crumb cake, with sea salt and slate notes. Full-bodied but not heavy on the palate, creamy but bright, this is well-balanced and bright. Lime, kiwi, yellow apple fruit, open and expressive, but still brisk, with notes of honey, raw almond and gingerbread combining with oyster shell, saline and flinty tones. It’s all mixed together quite nicely. Very pretty Santa Lucia Highlands Chardonnay. (90 points IJB)

2017 Black Kite Chardonnay Sierra Mar Vineyard USA, California, Central Coast, Santa Lucia Highlands
SRP: $48
Medium yellow color. Bright aromas of peaches, lemon curd, yellow apples, with honey butter, shaved ginger, peanut husk. Plush texture on the palate, but the wine is medium-bodied and shows vibrant acidity. Yellow apples and apricot, lemon bars, the fruit mixes with ginger and peanut brittle, but there are also these chalky, mineral, oyster shell undertones that keep the wine zesty and alive. Pretty, well-balanced, delicious stuff. (91 points)

Pinot Noir

2017 Black Kite Pinot Noir Gap’s Crown VineyardUSA, California, Sonoma County, Sonoma Coast
SRP: $62
Aromas of dark cherries, red currants, with rose petals, black tea, clay, earth, tar. Full-bodied, medium acidity, with saucy black cherries, spiced cranberry jam, accented with spiced black tea, coffee, roasted chestnut, clove. A bold, darker style, but delicious, deep but still well-balanced. Aged 17 months in ½ new French oak, 14.8% alcohol. The fruit is sourced from 23 rows in this Petaluma Gap vineyard. (90 points IJB)

2017 Black Kite Pinot Noir Sierra Mar VineyardUSA, California, Central Coast, Santa Lucia Highlands
SRP: $45
Bright cherries and deeper plums on the nose, with smoky, earthy tones, clove, rose petals. Full-bodied, with suave, velvety tannins, medium acidity, this is bold but nicely balanced. Red cherries and raspberry fruit mix with rhubarb, tobacco, black tea, chai, rose petals. This is juicy but brisk with balanced, fresh elements in addition to the vibrant fruit and complex earthy, dusty notes. This should age nicely but has a lot to show right out of the bottle. Aged 17 months in ½ new French oak, 14.6% alcohol. A higher elevation vineyard, this is only the third Black Kite vintage from this site. (92 points IJB)

2017 Black Kite Pinot Noir Kite’s RestUSA, California, North Coast, Anderson Valley
SRP: $50
Ripe but cool cherries on the nose, juicy raspberries, spiced cranberry jam, with rose petals, rhubarb and white pepper. Full-bodied but fresh, with round tannins, chewy texture is balanced with fresh acidity. Lots of delicious, deep, but fresh raspberry, red plum, black cherry fruit. Elements of spiced tea, black pepper, cola, coffee, earth, add complexity. Very expressive and pretty now, but this could use some air or two to three years. Aged 17 months in 2/3 new French oak, 14.5% alcohol. A blend of specific blocks from three other vineyards (Redwood’s Edge, Stony Terrace and River Turn. (91 points IJB)

2017 Black Kite Pinot Noir River Turn USA, California, North Coast, Anderson Valley
SRP: $62
Dep ruby color. Nose shows black cherries, currant jam, with cola, sarsaparilla, menthol, spicy grill rub. Full-bodied on the palate, but the acidity is quite vibrant, and the tannins and chewy and deep. Cool black cherry fruit, cranberry sauce, topped in spiced tea, wild herbs, cola and coffee. Fruity and deep, but nice earthy, soy, floral undertones, too. Ready to go, but this will open up nicely over the next few years. Aged 17 months in 2/3 new French oak. (91 points IJB)

2017 Black Kite Pinot Noir Redwoods’ Edge USA, California, North Coast, Anderson Valley
SRP: $62
Juicy ruby color. Aromas of sweet red cherries, strawberry jam, with plenty of rhubarb, mint, black pepper, roasted chestnut, and black pepper. Medium/full-bodied on the palate with smooth but chewy tannins, a ripe, juicy feel, but moderate acidity. Flavors of sweet cherries and juicy plums mix, dark and juicy, but it also stays lively. Notes of rhubarb, coffee, cola and vanilla add complexity. Aged 17 months in 2/3 new French oak. (90 points IJB)

Comments are closed.