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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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Thursday
Oct132005

Bearden’s Bordeaux: Direct from the Châteaux

1992 Pichon-Lalande 1.5L, Pauillac ($89.99) This mature wine has complex aromas of plum, cedar, coffee roast, wood smoke and flowers. The mid palate is round and silky with flavors of red cherry, cigar box and herb. The finish is mild but persistant and even shows a slight touch of ruby grapefruit. This was a huge hit at a recent Bordeaux tasting. Not to be missed. 1993 Pichon-Lalande 1.5L, Pauillac ($134.99) 4 stars Decanter: “Good solid nose. Tannic fruit on the palate. Good, big and sound ... Very deep red; closed nose, with a hint of smoky oak; fairly soft and approachable, reasonable concentration and grip, good acidity, no unripeness; quite good length.” (12/97) With more structure and richness than the 1992, this is a deeply colored, smooth, silky, classic Pichon-Lalande. There is lots of dark fruit and mineral in the plush mid palate which flowes into a very elegant finish showing licorice and olive. This is a classic to decant now or age further for a special occasion. 1994 Haut-Bailly, Pessac-Léognan ($44.99) This is a stunning example of Haut-Bailly’s habit of putting on extra fat and richness after at least five years of bottle age. Super elegant yet rich, this has gobs of ripe fruit, earth, mineral and oak in a sweet, complex and seamless package. Awesome old-school Bordeaux! 2002 Léoville-Las-Cases, St-Julien ($83.99) 95 points Parker: “The wine exhibits pure black currant, licorice-infused fruit, huge body, a viscous mid-palate, and a long, heady finish... This is certainly one of the half dozen or so candidates for wine of the vintage.” —Steve Bearden

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