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So why is the 2012 Ladera Cabernet—made from almost entirely from Howell Mountain fruit, from an incredible vintage—sitting pretty at $34.99? I honestly can't tell you. Maybe it's because no one knows how good the Ladera holdings in Howell Mountain are. Or maybe it's the pride that winemaker Jade Barrett takes in making a serious wine for a reasonable price. Or maybe it's because Ladera is an overlooked gem in a sea of Napa alternatives. For whatever the reason, I'm not going to complain. We tasted the 2012 vintage at our staff training yesterday and I was just floored by the quality of this wine. Dark, fleshy fruit cloaked in fine tannins, bits of earth, and in total balance, with enough gusto to go the long haul in your cellar. It's a whole lotta wine for $34.99, and it's made primarily from Howell Mountain grapes, harvested during a great vintage. 

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Tuesday
Aug262014

1989 Lanessan, Haut-Medoc: An Exotic Beauty

Steak and claret- a daring pairing.

Last night, Cinnamon and I stuck to our once a week tradition of steak and claret. I had asked Clyde for a recommendation on the Bordeaux, and he suggested the 1989 & 1990 Lanessan, and I bought both. We decided to try the 1989 first, and Cinnamon decanted it about an hour before we sat down to dinner. Since we are adventurous, she prepared a dry aged ribeye, baked potatoes and peas to go with the wine. So cutting edge!

Our Bordeaux buyer and owner Clyde managed to talk the folks at Lannesan out of quite the cache of old wines, and over the next weeks I hope to try at least all of the ones from the 80’s. More potatoes will have to be baked! Here is what we got:

2011 Lanessan, Haut-Médoc $14.99

2010 Lanessan, Haut-Médoc $19.99

2009 Lanessan, Haut-Médoc $19.99

2004 Lanessan, Haut-Médoc $19.99

2003 Lanessan, Haut-Médoc $19.99

1999 Lanessan, Haut-Médoc $19.99

1998 Lanessan, Haut-Médoc $19.99

1990 Lanessan, Haut-Médoc $69.99

1989 Lanessan, Haut-Médoc $69.99- this is the one we drank last night!

1985 Lanessan, Haut-Médoc $69.99

1970 Lanessan, Haut-Médoc (1.5L) $199.99

1964 Lanessan, Haut-Médoc $79.99

1952 Lanessan, Haut-Médoc $169.99

 

The meat was fresh and the wine was old- heaven!

The 1989 was in fantastic shape, even though we rushed it. Older bottles generally like some time to settle after shipping, and we didn’t wait. In general, even if they have been in the country for years and come out of a good private cellar, we will wait a couple of months to open a wine of this age. The sediment is easily disturbed by moving the bottles from the store to home, and this bottle was no exception. We lost about a glass to soupy sediment, and ran this part through a coffee filter and set it aside, saving the “free decanted” portion for our dinner.

I am glad that I wasn’t given this wine blind, because I would have missed it entirely. It was an impressive dark color and looked quite young in the glass. The bouquet had an amazing aroma of lavender in it, and that combined with a warm earthiness made it a dead ringer for old fashioned Châteauneuf-du-Pape. Since my experience has taught me that first impression is always the most accurate when tasting blind, I would have blurted out Châteauneuf-du-Pape… And been dead wrong! The seamless, medium bodied texture of the wine was all claret, and it lead into a mineral strewn, lively, long finish.

I have often heard the term “exotic” applied to the very warm and ripe 1989 vintage, and now I know why. This is a truly exotic Bordeaux, but without the excess baggage of alcohol, wood and clumsy thickness that one usually has to endure to get that exoticism. If you have occasion to drink an a special bottle of claret, this is a great candidate!  More Lanessan notes to come!

Gary Westby

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