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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

Bergerac worthy of Cyrano

This month I would like share with you two wines from Bergerac. Like its famous neighbor, Bordeaux, red wines here rely on merlot, cabernet franc and cabernet sauvignon while the white wines are typically comprised of semillon and sauvignon blanc (Perhaps more famously, Bergerac is also home to the famous Cyrano de Bergerac). The 2004 Château de Calabre Bergerac Rouge ($10.99) is a lovely example of a merlot-based red from the appellation that is both inexpensive and extremely versatile at the table. Comprised of 80% merlot, 20% cabernet sauvignon and 20% cabernet franc, and vinified in stainless steel, the Calabre exhibits hints of black cherry, blueberry and violets. This would be just the thing with meatloaf! In 1994 Englishman Charles Martin purchased the Château de la Colline and immediately began restoring and re-planting the vineyards with semillon, sauvignon blanc, merlot and cabernet sauvignon. Carminé is the estate’s top red wine and is made from 95% merlot and 50% cabernet sauvignon aged in new oak barriques for 18 months. The 2001 Château de la Colline Bergerac Carminé ($17.99) is a rich and elegant southwestern red with crushed red raspberries and rich mocha notes. Enjoy with a gorgeous piece of filet mignon or braised beef shortribs. A bientot! —Mulan Chan

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